damaged panels etching texture color shape
Click image map links to kinds of damage. Photo © 2004 Albert Bates

location Wholeo guide, Wonder

Wholeo Dome Conservation Specifix - replacing glass

Rocks thrown through glass make holes. They can't be patched like simple cracks in glass. Replacing glass is a creative task since rarely will you have an exact match. You want to keep the color message intact. Here are some aspects of the problem. Matching the color is usually hard, but this example has a particular challenge. Finding an expressive texture of glass is difficult. Recreating etched or painted artwork is a dilemma. Getting a shape might be next to impossible.

The first step in repair is to study the panel as it relates to the rest of the dome. Label it with its panel number and note everything the panel needs. Gather resources: studio space, tools, materials, and people's schedules so that the panel is off the dome the shortest amount of time. If you have the glass, great; if not, get it.


panel 47Finding a color of glass to fit in the whole is the most important aspect. Red, amber, and green glass are abundant. The deep blue glass in Wholeo Dome is not made anymore (see broken panels 48a, 45, 47, and 52). It is a French flat glass from the 1960s. In 2004, I searched many glass importers and suppliers. Finally I found a Kokomo (American manufacturer) glass sample at The Glass House (Mt. Pleasant, TN) that matches the color, but it was not in stock. If you provide a sample they will make the glass, but it might take months. Remember that adding lead lines to the design is OK. Subdivide a piece to salvage as much of the original glass as you can. You can see several patches I made with this blue glass in installing Wholeo Dome in 2004. Unfortunately it is not transparent like the original, so you can't see through it. Here's one.

Kokomo blue glass


panel 58 The texture of this large piece of glass in panel 58 was like the turn of the galaxy or concentric ripples from a drop into a pond. I can't describe the visual poetry of how it related to the red and blue above. It expressed an angle of movement. Finding a close replacement for the color of this glass should not be difficult. If you can't find a swirl, consider other ways to simulate the effect. See the texture on the improvisational design on the history page. Possibly lead lines or a surface treatment would do it. In any case it is a morph, a transformation, and another stage in the development of Wholeo Dome.

Etching or painting

panel 67 Panel 64 is more complicated than the previous examples. The glass in the major motif has two layers, worked in an overall design. First I splashed acid resist on the whole sheet in a great spiral. Next I subdivided the sheet into smaller pieces of glass that could be individually etched. Replacing a broken piece is more than color and texture matching. The whole delicate brushwork is going to have to be reinterpreted. Look at how the swirl continues in lighter blue on white up to the left in the essence panel. This panel is part of a set of spiral arms in a larger star pattern.

If "you" (someone at The Farm) could find matching flash glass (deep ruby layer over medium cobalt blue base layer), you could do acid etching. You paint on a thick acid-resistant tar-like substance and then dip the glass in hydrofluoric acid. It removes the red glass, revealing the blue.

This is a design decision. If etching is hard to do right now, be creative. Look at the original pictures. Look at the whole section and see the intent. A really big swirl, a gesture. Somehow, reinterpret that to give the same feeling. To see a simple suggestion, click here.

This panel has an example of kiln-fired painting on glass in the fragments of the Glass Masters Alice in Wonderland. This kind of artwork is another variety of restoration challenge.


The round mounded shape missing in panel 48 was the top of a planter, found at an import store in San Francisco, California, in the early 1970s. There were 18 of them, flowing up over the top of the dome. I replaced two broken ones during installation in 2004. If there had been time, we had thought that perhaps Farm School people could create a personalized replacement, a small panel within a panel. New, but in harmony with the dome. How about now? We could transform negative destruction into positive renewal.

Click a photo to see a larger version. For an enlarged version of the main photo (© 2004 Albert Bates), click here. See the repair status of Wholeo Dome in spring, 2008. Back to Conservation or Wholeo Dome location.

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© 2005, 2008 Caroling. All rights reserved. Page created: 2005-01-24. Last modified: 2008-06-13