Happy Birthday!

I turned 48 on Friday, May 15th, and I will tell you about the most exciting birthday I’ve had in a long time!

How sweet!
How sweet!

But not because of the cake, though it was sweet and thoughtful! It was about the Window!
The last time we saw the quatrefoil window , the frame was remade. Meanwhile, glass artist extraordinaire Tom Newton had been plotting and planning the glass art for the window.

 

Shadowed in Mystery!
Shadowed in Mystery!
???...
???…

Today was the day. The window was to arrive, and installation was to begin!

But let’s go back in time…on May 15, 1967, a young woman named Carolyn (Ma!) was giving birth to a 10 pound baby. That was me. Sorry, Ma.  Fast forward 48 years, and that baby now weighs 133 pounds and now a project taking nearly four years and much of her resources to gestate is finally coming to fruition. But, as with any good thing, its beauty is from the Grace of God and the reflection of him in the people around us. Tom and Sandie are such reflections.

Here’s Sandie putting the clear glass down on the outside.

It fits!
It fits!

Next comes the artwork.

The little sticker says, "Made In Germany"
The little sticker says, “Made In Germany”

The glass is pre-war WW2 german glass the Tom acquired in a business deal. The clear glass goes on the outside, the precious colored glass on the inside. I was honored when he noticed the glazing I had done on the Church windows and asked if I’d like to help glaze this window. Yes please!
So here’s the process:

Outer Pieces
Outer Pieces

Next:

Inner Circle piece
Inner Circle piece

And altogether:

Ahhhhhhh!
Ahhhhhhh!

And so. The little pieces of tape help align the glass pieces. The tacks (unseen) hold the glass in, and the glazing seals the whole bit.

Tom and Sandie cleaned it up and got it ready for the install.

They clean it with a fine powder that takes all the fingerprints off!
They clean it with a fine powder that takes all the fingerprints off!

The install was a feat of engineering. The chief engineer this day happened to be our electrician, Dave Schramski. It was a perfect example of teamwork. Dave had an idea, and we all wanted someone with a good idea to tell us how to get this work of art up a ladder without breaking it!

A frame was built!

That's Schramski on the faaaar right...
That’s Schramski on the faaaar right…

The window was laid in…

Careful there!
Careful there!

And then wrapped for uber protection aloft.

Are we mailing this to Hong Kong?
Are we mailing this to Hong Kong?

No, just trying to get it safely to the window opening…

It's not a hauling project without ropes!
It’s not a hauling project without ropes!

So two men were carrying it up the ladder, and Mike and I were on the ropes pulling it up. It went quite smoothy, but I couldn’t take pictures since I had promised to have both hands on the rope! Luckily Sandie did and was kind enough to send them to me. But I do believe Kind is Sandie’s middle name!

Upsy-daisy!
Upsy-daisy!

Up it went in its cocoon, and Chief Shramski went out on the ladder to make sure the window didn’t get pushed through to the ground. ( I still have shocking memories of having pushed an air conditioner out a second story window trying to install it!)

He didn't like it when a gust of wind pushed the door against the ladder…
He didn’t like it when a gust of wind pushed the door against the ladder…

Inside, the boys had to loft the window into place.

Careful!
Careful!
And of course, final adjustments must be made!
Rotate Counterclockwise. No, that's Clockwise to you!
Rotate Counterclockwise. No, that’s Clockwise to you!

It was a logistical puzzle. But we did it, and the window was installed. All that remained was for nature to light it up!

And, of course, nature showed up for the job!
What do you think?

It's in!
It’s in!

And so, God said, let there be light!

Let There Be Light!
Let There Be Light!
Happy birthday, Glorious Window!
Yes!
Yes!
– The White Church Gallery

Confidence

I recently had a conversation with a lovely woman I met while out shopping for mid-century furniture in Berkley, MI. Somehow we got on the conversation of renovation and we quickly connected about our feelings of confidence when it came to approaching a project. She had painted a brownstone. I had painted a church. The bottom line was that after doing a large project, we felt able to snap our fingers at the small stuff. Like scraping and painting the garage, for example.

Snap!
Snap!

During the week, I stay downstate to keep Mike company and to take care of issues around the house. And he “lets” me. He’s very supportive in this! A few years ago (pre-church, namely!) he might not have felt comfortable leaving me alone with a power washer, a scraper and gallons of primer and paint. Anything could go wrong in the hands of a rookie. Now, he dashes off to work with barely a twitch when I tell him I’ll be re-landscaping the yard and painting the garage this week.

Ain't no big thang!
Ain’t no big thang!

Now, the landscaping did cause a few scrapes, especially when I got my finger literally caught between a rock and a hard place (cement!) That brought a little mist to my eyes, but I walked it off and carried on like a big girl.

Mother Nature at work.
Mother Nature at work.
he battle ensues.
he battle ensues.

Casualty: one purple fingernail that will probably not realize old age.

But totally worth it!

Who's in charge? Me!
Who’s in charge? Me!

OK, maybe I’m feeling a little over-confident, but it’s better than sitting on my butt afraid to dig in. BTW, that green thing is a rain barrel. It’s not the most attractive thing but it sure is handy if you have flowers and a garden.

So what has all this to do with the church? Well, it’s been over two and a half years of work, and there’s more to go.

Lemme get the wonder bar…
Lemme get the wonder bar…

Every Friday, with few exceptions, we hop in our cars and head north. We get there with some project in mind. Most of the projects are things that neither of us had done before, at least on this scale. Mike owned a former department store turned studio/living space in Flint so he had some experience with heavy renovation, but I had none. The only thing I had going for me was ignorance and a sense of adventure…and the fact that both Mike and I have lifted weights and done yoga since we were young. Keeping our bodies strong certainly has helped, though age and gravity have taken a toll on our comfort levels.

No mount of yoga can prepare you for awkward repetitive motions!
No mount of yoga can prepare you for awkward repetitive motions!

So here I am, glazing a window in situ. I had spent a few hours scraping the window with a brush and a metal scraper, and I had painted the window frame and the outside frame white. Mike had calculated that we spent over 60 HPW (hours per window!) on the front windows by taking them out, sanding them to remove the paint, carefully picking out all the hardened brittle glazing, gingerly taking out the glass, painting, reinstalling the glass and re-pointing it, re-glazing and painting more coats. Meanwhile Mike had to cut out plywood “windows” to install over the hole while the real windows were out, and they had to be screwed in and caulked, and then deinstalled, etc. It was VERY time consuming.

Glazing a window!
Glazing a window!

That’s a lot of HPW! So we decided to do the windows a different way. I was able to scrape, paint and reglaze this window in one afternoon. An hour into the scraping, I was doubtful, mainly because my shoulders were sassing me about the fact that I had been scraping paint all week at the garage and they could use a break from awkward repetitive motions. But after a spell of listening to Jimmie Rogers (think cowboy yodeling!) I gave my body a stern talking to and it settled down into a more peaceful place. I actually was able to enjoy the process, and my doubts vanished. Meanwhile, Mike was working inside and had sanded, filled holes and painted TWO windows in the same amount of time. He had no doubts!

I know - it's hard to tell.
I know – it’s hard to tell.

Mike did a beautiful job, but it’s really hard to see, both in photography and in person, since there is so much light coming in through the windows. I should have gotten an evening shot, but we were too pooped by then!

Our in situ methods saved us approximately 50 hpw, since we both spent about five hours on our respective projects. Sure, it’s not quite as thorough as the other method, but there are seven more windows to do, and other projects that are a-waiting. I think it’s a great trade off, since the windows are weather-tight and look great.

So what’s the moral of the story? I guess I’m trying to convey a little of what I’ve learned from this adventure; mainly that there’s no sense in being afraid to try things. This church had gone back to nature when we found it. It’s amazing how one little hole in a roof can open the door to nature’s full fury in the guise of rotted wood, raccoon shanty towns, cracked and crumbling plaster and more. We really couldn’t have harmed it more than neglect had already done. Step by step, with a lot of help, but also with a lot of work ethic, we have gutted and scraped and sanded and painted and installed our way into a sense of confidence. Perhaps it comes naturally for men; how else could the Brooklyn Bridge and the Pyramids have been built? But for me, it’s been a great learning experience and a great confidence builder. I didn’t foresee this aspect of our adventure, but I’m very grateful for it. I think Mike is too, especially when he sees the fruits of my labor!

I’m good with it!

He's twice as strong, but I eat 1/3 less!
He’s twice as strong, but I eat 1/3 less!
– The White Church Gallery