Sunday was installation day for the Lotus Window. But first...
I was working away through Saturday to finish up the grouting and patina work. People always think that working with lead came is the serious chemical exposure part of stained glass, but unless you are eating the lead came for lunch, a simple and thorough hand washing keeps those brain cells safe.
The real toxic fare is involved in the finishing steps of construction. It's ventilation fan, mask wearing, and rubber gloves time. After all the intersections of the lead pieces are soldered on both sides of the window, a grout/cement mixture (a nasty smelling concoction that makes one think "sludge") has to be pushed in all the tiny spaces between the glass and the lead came. This is a tricky operation, since you basically have to solder one side and then flip the window to solder the other side-- without it bending, pieces falling out, etc. Then, the grouting/cementing has to be done quickly, while the sludge is pliable. After that is finished, the whole window is dusted with this stuff called whiting (pulverized portland cement), which dries up the leftover grout/cement, so you can brush it off. At that point, you have used so many toxic chemicals that you really don't care that you are going to next dab nitric acid patina on the solder joints to make lovley, smooth dark lead lines.
After several de-dustings, cleanings, scraping, more de-dustings, etc., etc, you finally get to see the final product. Voila!
My wonderful husband helped me with cleaning up the window and loading that baby into the SUV, and off I drove to New Jersey. Since the window was still gassing off, it was a little like driving with an open can of turpentine for company, but that probably helped lightnen my head enough to stop worrying so much about installation.
Of course, what REALLY calmed me down was that my friend Robert, master carpenter, steady influence, and all-around reliable person, was there to do the real work. While I nervously cleaned and cleaned the window on the ground, he removed the old window, installed some lovely wood framing, and got everything ready for the installation -- all of which happened between 10 to 14 feet off the ground.
New window owner, Akiko, and myself watched from the ground as he hoisted the window up there, and with some combination of Zen concentration, Tai Chi precicion movements, and just plain old chutzpah and skill, turned the window and set it exactly centered and flush into its permanent home. I will pause here to reiterate the term exactly flush, since there is no such thing as exactly square on any building...and making square objects look square in what is always a crooked opening takes much more skill than most of us ever have.
And, finally, Lotus Window was in place. It looked as though it had been there forever.
Akiko told me that she thought it must be hard to give my baby up, and until that moment, I had not realized how much I would miss having this window in my studio.
But this is certainly the best spot for it. Lotus Window couldn't live with nicer people! It looks lovely in their home, both inside and out, with the sun streaming in and the lights shining out through it into the night.