Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn Connecting the Present with the Past - Page 15

sweet auburn | 2019 volume i The Rose Window. A rose window, sometimes called a wheel window, is a series of smaller windows radiating out from the center panel like flower petals or spokes of a wheel. Rose windows developed from a more ancient window type, small and round, called an oculus. With new building techniques, windows became more expansive, leading to what we now know as rose windows. The symbolism of a rose window lies in the geometry, which unifies many separate parts into one cohesive design. are in turn adapted from Islamic patterns in imitation of nature. The deep jewel tones of the glass—cobalt blues, ruby reds, greens, and purples—were selected to enhance the sun’s rays from the south and create a bright, dazzling effect. The glass is hand-painted with iron oxide paints, a process that has changed little since medieval times. Radiating out from the central panel (42 inches in diameter) are 12 lobed petals and 12 smaller rose panels, with 12 triangular windows called kites making up the border. The number 12 is rich with symbolism, recalling the 12 apostles and 12 months of the year. Traditionally, frames holding the panels of glass are made of stone or wood. According to stained glass consultant Julie Sloan, what is most unique about the Great Rose Window is that its frame is of cast-iron painted to look like stone. While these windows were made to last centuries, problems inevitably occur over time. The Great Rose Window was first surveyed by the Cummings Studio in 1998; at that time it was beginning to bow but it remained sound. By 2017, however, it was clearly in need of restoration. Conservator Roberto Rosa affirmed that it was a “very well put-together window,” but that the thin glass was broken in many places. In addition to built-up layers of silicone, epoxy, and waterproofing, the window was threatened by dirty, deteriorating replacement leads that obscured the original painted designs. On September 6, 2017, Rosa and the skilled conservators from Serpentino Stained and Leaded Glass in Needham, MA, began removing the glass panels from their cast-iron frames. Remarkably, the process took only one day, even though exceptional care was required to handle the brittle cast- iron frames. Once the glass arrived at the studio, full-sized rubbings were made of each panel on acid-free vellum, and the windows were thoroughly documented. Conservators washed the windows, repaired them with copper foil, and re-leaded them with thin lead strips (cames) matching the original lead profile used by Ballantine and Allan. Thoughtful decisions were made among conservator Roberto Rosa, stained-glass consultant Julie Sloan, and Mount Auburn’s curator and preservation staff. “Each panel must be addressed individually as subtly unique,” said Rosa. “The restoration is the same process used in the Middle Ages—it is painstaking, tedious, and delicate.” In September 2018 the Great Rose Window was reinstalled in the chapel. The clear glass borders around each panel are visible once again, and the new, thinner leads reveal the original painted designs. More than 4,268 pieces of handpainted sparkling glass are safely back in place. The play of light inside the chapel has dramatically transformed our experience of the chapel’s interior and made it possible once again to appreciate the beauty and elegance of Ballantine and Allan’s artistic expression. 13