Windows on the World

Michael Strickland of Stained Glass Associates displays the new glass he installed in our windows.

One of the unique and special charms of our home is its lunette windows. Our house has three of them, and two were intact but missing several panels. We set out to create exact replicas of them to re-install them when we paint our home exterior.
These “lunette windows” are found in many older homes across Eastern North Carolina and we decided to utilize their design for our logo for Preservation Zebulon.

These windows were in each of our home’s three front gables when viewing the house from Horton Street. A window on the far right (which fronts our attic) was missing, and a former resident had tried to replicate its effect by spraying the pattern onto plastic and installing it in the window opening. Not a good repair!

Scott and Dan load an intact original window for use as a template for a new one.

We requested a quote from a carpenter who specializes in custom work, and it was very high and out of our budget. Then a local carpenter from down the street offered to re-create them at a reasonable price as a project that would bridge several months. We quickly agreed, and removed the left lunette window from behind an upstairs closet for him to use as a template.

We decided to create the window frames and casings out of mahogany, and visited a custom lumber shop in Gibsonville, Hardware Store of North Carolina, to buy our supplies. Mahogany is very strong, and is likely to last 100 years or more, so we bought 25 boards that were 8/4 in dimension – more than enough to craft three windows.

The local carpenter, Dan Wagner, who runs Innovative Concepts in Zebulon, lives on our street and used our original window to craft a template and then replicate it for the second window. He built a third window on a bit smaller scale to fit into our front porch lower gable. We bought special router bits, and he carefully constructed the windows in a work shop behind his home.

Once the window frames and casings were ready, we painted them with an oil-based paint to keep it in stock. Oil based paint lasts longer on windows and is more authentic to how windows were finished. We don’t want to paint the frames and casings again for a long, long time. Each coat took 24 hours to dry, and we placed two coats on each side, working in the garage of our Raleigh home.

A newly made wood frame for our first reproduced window was ready in February.

Once the paint was dry, I took them into Knightdale to be fitted with stained glass. I brought a cobalt blue pane with me from the original window to attempt to make a match. The old glass displayed a “hammered” pattern with slight ripples. Michael Strickland, owner and president of Stained Glass Associates, helped me find a reproduction glass that was very close to the original.

I picked out our trademark five colors – rays of cobalt, emerald, ruby, and amethyst and a golden yellow below to represent the “sun” below the rays of color. He lay each pane against the window so I could see how the color would change with sunlight (much brighter color) than under indoor lighting, which made their hues darker. We had several shades of purple, green and blue from which to choose in this “hammered” style, and we chose colors that were the same as the original.

An original lunette window had some clear glass “rays” and a decaying frame.

Selecting the glass in the shop was a treat. In large cases dividing the huge work room into two were thousands of pieces of stained glass in all colors of the rainbow. In addition to solid colors, there was slag glass gleaming with striations of yellow, greens, purple, and blue in sizes ranging from my fist to whole sheets larger than my front entry door. There was opalescent glass, and shelves of clear leaded glass as well. Several church windows were awaiting repair on four tables, and a new custom floral piece was being created for some lucky person’s home. Cartoons of patterns lined the walls. I felt it was a sensory treat just to stand in this shop and have a talented local artisan helping us recreate these windows.

While I was there, I picked out a piece of slag glass that was bottle green striped with cream to repair one cracked section of shade for an antique lamp that I owned. Michael had thousands of choices for me, and we selected just the right match.

In about a month, the windows were ready for pickup. The price was very reasonable, and I have an authentic match to our original lunette windows. They are now resting in our home awaiting the right time for installation – in the Spring.

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