Cummins Stehn Restorations

Above all, restoration is about securing the fidelity and longevity of Australia’s magnificent national and international stained glass heritage.

Why Restore?
The Condition Report
In Studio Work
Public Awareness
Our Restorations





The tragic scene of the Childers Backpackers’ hostel fire, which astonishingly, the front door surround survived.



Looking through the missing windows behind the altar after cyclone “Larry”.

Looking through a missing chancel window and down to damaged clerestory windows after cyclone “Larry”.
Another view through a missing chancel window and out through missing clerestory windows after cyclone “Larry”.
Panels recovered from area around the church after the cyclone. Big or small, all pieces of broken glass should be kept as they may be priceless.

Hail & Vandalism


Hail and vandalism end up with the same result. The glass piece needs to be repainted.


Windows wear out. Because they are remarkably maintenance free it comes as a surprise when custodians realise that 100 year old leads have fatigued, the water-proofing putty has washed out, and the window needs removal, restoration and reinstallation.


A window which disintegrated during removal and where the nearest pew became the hospital ward. Note emergency on-site Styrofoam splint supporting part of the window.

Previous Restoration

Astonishing though it may be, our experience is that far more windows have been, and are being, destroyed by deleterious and ruinous previous restorations than all other combined causes.

Note extensive glass paint breakdown on this face probably caused by caustic soda cleaning.

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All restoration begins with an on-site inspection and resultant Condition Report, irrespective of the age of the window.


1868 John Hardman (U.K.) Studio chancel window from St Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart, restored by Cummins and Stehn in collaboration with Gavin Merrington of Hobart in 2004/05.

Early 16th century Flemish window currently under restoration.
Exquisitely painted “Coronation of the Virgin” window dated 1526 currently under restoration.
The condition of the glass paint is all. This shows glass paint being inspected on site under magnification.
The field notes from which the Condition Report will be made.
Condition Report Eg1 Sample pages from Condition Reports, which sometimes comprise forty pages of text and several hundred annotated photographs.
Condition Report Eg2
The Condition Reports and Restoration Reports we write are not the minimum required to persuade a custodian to give the restoration job to us, but to tell future generations everything we see about a window now and how we restored it. This information will be useful in a century or more when the windows needs restoring again.
Broken Head
What we find is astonishing. Here a 130 year old head has been fractured by stone(?) impact with resultant paint damage.
Close-up Head
Close-up of the damaged head from the panel above.
MayerFaceDamage A superbly painted Mayer (Germany) Studio face. The Condition Report established glass paint breakdown in the hair at the neck, blue enamel glass paint loss in the hair band, prodigious water leakage through failed putties, and accumulated dirt embedded in the glass paint.
Another face from the Mayer panel above.
REMOVAL of windows can take one to dizzying heights.

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In-studio documentation consists of a constant written and photographic record of what is discovered and the techniques used.

In Studio Documentation

Rubbings of removed panels done on 500 year acid free paper, upon which is annotated all aspects of the existing work, including paint loss, previous repairs, original studio mistakes, etc.


The early 16th century Flemish “God the Father” window being dismantled. Dismantling is not just pulling the window apart, it requires constant attention and the ability to discern and the results noted on the prolific documentation.

As a result of this discernment and documentation the pattern of the window’s history emerges. The image on the left records the leads, including repairing leads, which accumulated on the window during its 500 year history. The image on the right shows the leading system as it would have been when the window was first made 500 years ago.


The more dirt there is on the painted surface of a stained glass window the more dirt and moisture it collects.

Rain Damage

The inner surface of a portrait of Christ viewed in reflected light showing where rain water has streamed down the inner painted surface through leaking putties and the resultant embedded dirt.

A preliminary conservation grade cleaning of a panel seen in reflected light. The closer half of the panel has been cleaned.
Carefully cleaning the surface dirt off the glass exposes the condition of the underlying paintwork.
Half Clean
Embedded soot and smoke damage to the right transom panel (right of photograph), compared with the cleaned left panel (left of photograph) from the Childers backpackers’ hostel.
Another fire damaged panel half cleaned and half still sooty.
The same image as above when held up to the light.

Two John Hardman (U.K.) Studio panels from the same window laid side by side in transmitted light. The right panel has been cleaned but the left has not. Comparison of the borders is revealing. The mustard garment of the bottom right figure is the same colour glass as the dirt obscured mustard of the base of the cross in the left.

Keen observers will notice the differences in the borders, all of which are original but seem to have come from different parts of the Hardman studio.

Unfired Paint
Enthusiastic over-cleaning of glass paints can be more deleterious than none. An area of a restored window where the large pieces of glass have not been correctly fired in the kiln of the original studio. This has left the surface of the glass paint on the large pieces of glass semi-matt, while the small pieces have been fully fired to a correct glass. Trying to clean underfired glass paints is an agonisingly slow and difficult process.


When glass pieces have shattered, are missing or have been ruined by previous deleterious restoration, there is no option but to repaint the glass using the same colour and types of glass, the same kiln firing glass paints, stains and enamels, and identical techniques.

During a recent tour by Ausglass members, nobody was able to identify the repainted pieces.

Repainting after hail stone damage.
Repainted face reconstructed from the few remaining fragments of the original.
The restored window in which there are over twenty pieces of replaced repainted glass.
Bishop's Mitre
Attention to detail and research is important.
A repainted cross. The previous replacement was done with black “Dulux” which had worn off. Just what the cross should look like was provided by the Diocesan Heritage Officer. Assistance from historians and archivists is indispensable.
The original face is on the left and the glass paint has fallen off due to previous deleterious restoration practices. Gerry is in the process of painting a new face shown on the right.
Detail. The repainted piece has three layers of glass paint already applied and still needs three more – flesh tone, the hair colour and the “blush” on the cheeks and lips that give F.X. Zettler (German) Studio’s portraits their distinctive “look”.
The repainted piece on the light box of both the “Sacred Heart” portrait and the companion “St Michael”. It was decided in conjunction with the custodians that the previous replacement head for “St Michael” should itself be replaced by a more accurate depiction of an F.X. Zettler “St Michael” head, sourced from Dunedin in New Zealand. The garish 1960s replacement halos were also replaced with researched F.X. Zettler type halos.


Even when glass paint breakdown caused by age or previous ruinous restoration practices have totally destroyed the glass paints and enamels, it may not be necessary to replace all the original glass. This details shows where a piece of clear glass has had painted on it the tracelines, shading and enamels “lost” by restoration, which will then be replaced in the same lead (plated) on top of the original glass and stain, thereby preserving at least some of the original material whilst reinstating what the original piece looked like.

Edge gluing

One of the marvels of modern conservation and restoration is the use of conservation grade epoxy resins which can be used to edge glue back together shattered pieces of glass. Whilst this technique is less than perfect, the alternatives are to either repaint the piece and keep the fragments or use unsightly mending leads which mar the original integrity of the window.

Edge glued star fracture. The point of impact can be seen in the angel’s left shoulder.

Surrounded by supporting documentation, Jill Stehn examines a 1526 and 1725 panel to see if shattered pieces can successfully be edge glued back together again. This raises the delicious prospect of returning the panel to the custodian with pieces edge glued back together that may have been broken hundreds of years ago.


Releading panels more successfully and with better quality leads is a great pleasure.

An extremely complex piece of releading. To gain access to the myriad of tiny pieces, this area is leaded separately and then expertly slipped into its position in the matrix of the window.
Jill Leading

Restoration of windows requires constant attention and skill, including during the releading stage. There was an ugly spall on the edge of this superb portrait which may have endangered it. Special leading techniques were employed to ensure that no pressure was put on the spall.

Cold Enamels

In this example, the glass paint has disintegrated, leaving distracting pinholes of light.

This shows the same area after the lost glass paint has been reinstated using reversible cold (i.e. not kiln fired) enamels.

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Reinstallation can be a substantial undertaking. Reinstalling the John Hardman (U.K.) Studio window at St Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart, took four people almost two weeks, including the installation of glass protectors.

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Public Talks
The St Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart, restoration was done in a temporary studio in Hobart to save costs. Talks were given to the parish and the public twice a week.

A group of visitors on tour in the Cummins and Stehn Studio.

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The joy of restoration is in knowing that a restored window will last at least another century before requiring its next restoration. It is also deeply satisfying that our studio has the knowledge and skill to return the glass paints to their best possible condition.

A detail from a Lyon & Cottier Studio (Sydney) window which has a superb flashed gold based pink garment, virtuoso painting and a beautiful deep auburn orange stain in the child’s hair.
LyonCottier2Reinstallation can be a substantial undertaking. Reinstalling the John Hardman (U.K.) Studio window at St Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart, took four people almost two weeks, including the installation of glass protectors.
Detail from the window above.
Another detail from the window above.
Another detail from the window above.

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The Abbey Museum, Caboolture, Qld. 2019
“Before” and “After” images of restoration of 16th century Renaissance “Catherine of Aragon” panel in the form of a triple centred arch.  It comprises Catherine’s Coat of Arms supported by two putti in armour.  65% of the panel is missing and has been restored by painting, silver staining and enamelling replacement pieces based on a 1936 black and white photograph.  The cracked and new pieces were edge glued using Hxtal NYL1 conservation grade epoxy resin.
The panel is 700mm wide x 550mm high.



Catherine of Aragon


Catherine of Aragon after


Somerville House Girls’ School, Brisbane, Qld. 2019
Restoration of the three superb Neo-Renaissance windows in the dining room of Cumbooquepa.  The restoration included repainting and staining shattered border pieces and hand spun roundels and edge gluing numerous cracked pieces. 
The total area of the windows is approximately 8 square metres.


The Abbey Museum, Caboolture, Qld. 2018. 
“Before” and “After” images of the restoration of  a heavily damaged 16th century Flemish(?) Renaissance “Donor King” window.  The restoration required painting many new pieces, including part of the head and a hand and painting stained and enamelled costume pieces using a 1930’s black and white photograph as reference material.  The broken and new pieces were then edge glued using Hxtal NYL1 conservation grade epoxy resin. 
The window is 750mm high x 600mm wide.



Donor King before


Donor King after

Warwick "West" windows

Warwick detail


St Mary’s Old Catholic Church, Warwick, Qld. 2018
Images of the restoration and reconstruction of sixty-five Ferguson & Urie (Melbourne) studio chancel, two transept and “West”  leadlight windows with painted and stained pearl and floret borders. 
The total area of the windows is approximately 15 square metres.

St Alban

St Michael's Church, The Abbey, Caboolture, Qld. 2017
“Before” and “After” images of the restoration of the Frederic Eden (England) 1930’s “St Alban”.  Oh what a muddle by the Brisbane studio who repainted the face and restored the window in the 1980’s – head on backwards, gorget removed, fitted facing the wrong way....!  The restoration required painting a new face to match the original using a 1930’s black and white photograph. 
The window is 1100mm high x 350mm wide.

Jesse tree bfore

Jesse tree detail

St Michael's Church, The Abbey, Caboolture, Qld. 2015
“Before” and “After” images of restoration of two 15th century "Jesse Tree" window headers originally in The Lady Chapel in Winchester Cathedral, England. The restoration included re-establishing the original branch, leaf, flower and fruit design, and matching and painting medieval glass shown in the detailed image. Size 700mm high x 620mm wide.



St Michael's Church, The Abbey, Caboolture, Qld. 2015
“Before” and “After” images of the restoration of "The Winged Lion of St Mark" and "The Winged Ox of St Luke" windows each 315mm wide x 540mm high. Flemish, early 16th century, possibly from Herkenrode Abbey. The restoration included removal of many previous poor replacements and replacing them with new painted and silver stained pieces using 1936 photographs as reference. The restoration also included significant edge gluing of previously fractured original and new pieces.



St Mark


St Luke

The Abbey header before

The Abbey header after

St Michael's Church, The Abbey, Caboolture, Qld. 2014
“Before” and “After” images of the restoration of two windows each containing three headers, each 600mm wide x 450mm high. Five of the six headers were 1492 headers from Winchester Cathedral in England. After extensive consultation with the custodians at The Abbey, and the assistance of Dr Geoff Down, and using photographs of the headers taken in Winchester in 1898 the headers were removed from their "Fragments" backgrounds, new pieces painted, including sometimes half of the angels’ faces, and silver stained after extrapolating what the original 1492 full size cartoons looked like, and reinstating the headers as they would have looked in Winchester in 1898, and possibly for centuries before that. This was a deeply satisfying, and often exhilarating, project.


St Michael’s Church, The Abbey, Caboolture, Qld. 2013
“Before” and “After” images of the restoration of “St Michael the Archangel” window, Edward Frampton (England) circa 1920.  Note repainted area at bottom left of window. 
Single lancet with trefoil head 2000mm high x 620mm wide.



St Michael before


St Michael after

Last supper

St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Forrest, ACT. 2010
Restoration of five 1934 Ashwin Studio fully painted and stained chancel windows “Last Supper” triple light, “Suffer the Little Children”, “Touch Me Not”, and two foliate windows.
Approximately 11 square metres in total.


St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Forrest, ACT. 2009-2010
Restoration of the fully painted and stained transept “Redemption” window executed by the Norman Carter Sydney studio in 1950.
The restoration comprises four lancets each 650mm wide and 2.8 metres high and 8 lancets each 300mm x 640mm.


St Stephen’s Catholic Cathedral, Brisbane, Qld. 2009
Restoration of the fully painted and stained Mayne / “Ascension” chancel window executed by the famous Irish stained glass artist Harry Clarke in 1923. This is the only window by Harry Clarke in Australia and consists of one central light 780mm x 8m high, two flanking lights 780mm x 6m high, and three quatrefoils.  Superb!



Abbey Museum, St Michael’s Church, Caboolture, Qld. 2008. 
“Before” and “After” images of the restoration of 16th century Flemish “God the Father” window, possibly from the Charterhouse of St Barbara, Cologne, which was pillaged by Napoleon’s troops on their way to Moscow. Restoration includes edge gluing of original glass and painting and staining modern glass to match original 16th century techniques.



God the father


God the father restored


Presbyterian Church of St Andrew, Canberra, ACT. 2008
Restoration of the fully painted and stained transept “Warriors” window executed by the Norman Carter Sydney studio in 1948.
Each of the four lancets is 650mm wide and 3.4 metres high.


Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Mackay, Qld. 2006-2008
Restoration of twelve 1950s Brooks Robinson (Melbourne) stained glass windows depicting the life of Christ.
Each window is 2 metres high x 900mm wide.


Government House, Brisbane, Qld. 2007
Restoration of the famous fully painted and stained “Bruce” stairwell window. Overall dimensions 3 metres high x 1.5 metres wide.

St Ignatius

St. Ignatius’ Catholic Church, Toowong, Qld. 2005
Restoration of the F.X. Zettler (Munich) “Sacred Heart” and “St Michael” stained glass windows, including repainting of ruined faces, hands and feet caused by a previous restorer.  We visited the church in 2017 and found original glass paint from other parts of the windows still falling onto the sill from the surface of the windows.  This is disgusting and must stop!!!
Each window 3 metres high x 550mm wide.

St Mary's

St. Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart, Tas. 2004-2005
Restoration of the significant 1868 John Hardman Studio (UK) chancel window in collaboration with Gavin Merrington of Original Stained Glass Studio, Hobart, and assisted by Sibila Rodriguez, stained glass artist, Melbourne. The restoration took six months and included total dismantling, full cleaning, releading and reinstallation of the window to near original condition. There were also public access tours of the restoration studio.

St Andrew's

St. Andrew’s Uniting Church, Cnr. Ann and Creek Streets, Brisbane, Qld. 2002-2003
Brooks Robinson 1922 fully painted and stained and plated “west” wall windows. 
Overall area approximately 24 square metres.

Moreton Bay College

Moreton Bay detaiil

Moreton Bay College, Manly, Qld. 2003
Restoration of twelve exquisitely painted and stained portraits and detail, each 600mm high x 450mm wide. Currently mounted in Moreton Bay College library.



Palace Backpackers Memorial Hostel, Childers, Qld. 2002
Heritage listed building. “Before” and “After” images showing removal of fire damaged front door surround stained glass windows, and later restored windows. Overall area 2.5 square metres.



Childers before


Childers after


All Saints Anglican Church, Tumut, NSW 1985. 
Restoration of three John Hardman (?) (U.K.) Studio Chancel Triptych window.  Overall dimensions approximately 2.4 metres wide x 11 metres high.


Hilton Hotel, Melbourne. Vic. 1983
Restoration of “Welcome” stained glass window formerly from Cliveden Mansion and now in NGV.  Damaged right panel painted and releaded.

Chancel St John's

St. John’s Anglican Church, Wagga Wagga, NSW 1982
Restoration of three Ferguson & Urie (Melbourne) - but some say John Faulkner Studio – Chancel Triptych window. 
Overall dimensions 2.4 metres x 10 metres.


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