Hearth & Soul

A Pain in the Sash

Dear Suzy,

Here's another question from the "my home was built in the Thirties and I want to..." department. A lot of the panes of glass in my sashes are very old. You know the type; you can see those wavy lines that make looking through them very akin to looking at a mirage. Well, I have several cracked or broken windows, but I want to put some of that wavy glass in them. I like the way the "mirage" glass looks even if no one else notices.

Obviously, I can't go to a glass shop and buy that type of glass, as the quality of newly made glass is too high. So, I'm left with salvaging panes from old sashes. My question is: how do I remove those old panes of glass from the sashes without breaking them? Any pointers would be appreciated.

- Clifford W.

Dear Clifford,

You can get the effect of wavy glass without going to all that trouble by following these easy steps I discovered this week. First, hurt your foot in some mysterious fashion so it swells up like boiled sausage and feels like you're giving birth to a full grown porcupine out of your big toe. Go to a doctor who gives you a vague diagnosis of "soft tissue damage" and sends you home with a nice bottle of pain pills. Take the pills (as prescribed). Soon all the glass in your house - including mirrors, TV screens, and computer terminals - will look like that fabulous old wobbly stuff. The side effects are nausea, laziness, and extreme stupidity, but I feel that's a small price to pay for the illusion of authentic restoration of an older home.

If this doesn't pique your interest, try Renaissance Glass (5200 Burnet Rd., 451-3971). I talked with a woman named Pilar, the only glass professional I encountered in my search that didn't answer my question with grunts and confused moans. She said Renaissance carries two kinds of restoration glass: simulated antique, with the requisite waves, bubbles, and imperfections; and German Near Antique, which has silk threads running through it that give the appearance of small cracks. The simulated antique sounds ideal and runs $8.40 per square foot. They can cut it to size, you can pop it in, and then scratch this project off your never-ending to-do list.

If you feel I've skirted your real question, you're right. There is no sure-fire way to remove those panes without breaking them. NASA ought to reformulate that old glazing to use to glue the tiles on the shuttle, because I've never seen another adhesive that's more tenacious. I was going to "help" a friend remove the beautiful, old glass from his windows because the wooden dividers had rotted and all the panes had slipped down, leaving a nice 1/4" gap at the top to let in north winds and roaches. After I'd broken about 20 panes (don't ask me how they slipped and yet were simultaneously glazed in place), I slunk away and never heard from my friend again.

Write me c/o The Austin Chronicle, PO Box 46099, Austin, TX 78765 or at SuzeBe@aol.com.

(Happy Eleventh Anniversary, My Hunk, My Hero)

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle