Stained glass at Camano Island Library a window on craftsmanship

A Goldfinch Brothers employee sandwiches one of 12 panes of stained glass between two layers of clear glass to create an insulated window for the Camano Island Library. Photo gallery

When great care is taken to create art, great care is called for when that art needs a bit of repair and the stained-glass window at the Camano Island Library is getting great care.

“The window frame has leaked since we opened and with the heavy rain, it was getting worse,” said library branch manager David Menard.

Jeanne Crisp, Director of Facilities & Special Projects for Sno-Isle Libraries, knew the leak had to be fixed, but she also wanted to save the window if at all possible and started looking for help. Little did Crisp know that her Request for Proposal would tap into a small group of local businesses and craftsmen with the skills and commitment to preserve the art.

The window is by Camano Island resident and artist Jack Archibald, commissioned for the former Islanders Restaurant by then-owner and Camano Island Coffee Roasters entrepreneur Jeff Ericson. When the restaurant closed, the library bought and renovated the building and kept the window.

First, Crisp brought in Archibald.

“Getting that window out was a fairly major undertaking,” Archibald said. “I told them they could just smash it up.”

There would be no smashing.

Titled “Frozen Explosion,” the window, actually a 12-window mural, uses “dichroic glasses and flashed mouth-blown Fremont glasses (to) change radically depending on the viewer’s position,” according to Archibald’s website. “When you look at it from one side, it is cold and blue and the other side is amber and warm,” Archibald said. “I wanted it to look a certain way during the day and a certain way at night.”

When Crisp opened the bids for the work that included removal, restoration and re-installation, the clear winner was Cobra Construction Co., Inc. of Everett. Which turns out to be fitting because libraries and stained glass are both labors of love for owner Jack Walkley.

“If you like stained glass, you’re drawn to them,” Walkley said. “We get involved in churches and special projects that most people don’t want anything to do with.”

And Walkley’s mother was a librarian.  “My mother started out with the bookmobile,” he said. “She was always reading.”

When Walkley gets a stained-glass project, he knows who to call: Stan Price at Covenant Glass and Eddie Perez at Goldfinch Brothers, both in Everett.

“There are a few of us old guys who do it,” Walkley said. “Stan won’t do it for everybody, but we go back 40 years. And then, we call Eddie.”

Price makes his part of the project sound simple: “Walkley brought me the windows to clean them.”

Windex?

“No, no, no ammonia,” Price says in quick response. “We use a spray cleaner with no ammonia. Then we clean each and every piece of glass on both sides. Those windows have some really nice glass in them.”

And then on to Goldfinch to be sandwiched into specially made insulated windows.

“The work is time-consuming,” said retail sales manager Brandi Hoskins. “We work a lot with Covenant Art Glass. We do this all by hand so the art can be displayed safely and last a long time.”

Walkley says it’s all about experience and good people.

“You learn a few things along the way,” he said. “We have good people, and Jack Archibald is good-people, too.”

Library branch manager Menard said getting the artwork out turned out to be pretty noisy and fully expects putting it back in will be noisy, too.

“They had to build a platform up by the window,” Menard said. “The workers did the very best they could, but it involved a lot of hammering. What was a little funny is that when they weren’t banging away, the workers spoke to each other in whispers because they were in a library.”

The timetable to put the windows back is weather dependent, needing two consecutive dry days.

“When the reinstallation happens, customers should expect it to be noisy again,” Menard said. Maybe noisy in the short run, but drier in the long run.