Archive for Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Wichita craftsman to repair Cathedral

October 5, 2004


— A recent storm and its high winds damaged several of the large stained glass panels at St. Fidelis Church, an attraction better known as the Cathedral of the Plains.

The job of making repairs has fallen to Dale Lott, a Wichita craftsman who says he's one of only three or four people in the state who do that kind of work.

Lott, owner of Wichita Stained Glass Co., is obviously pleased about getting the assignment.

"These are probably the most famous windows in the state," he said, "and they picked me."

Some of the glass pieces in the windows have to be replaced with exact replicas. Lott said the trickiest part is creating the new pieces of replacement glass.

"You have to make a replacement that matches the original, brush stroke for brush stroke," he said.

Working with panes of hand-blown German glass, Lott mixes paints from various powders -- cobalt for blue, iron oxide for green. He uses special brushes to duplicate the original artwork, then heats each piece at about 1,300 degrees.

Lott said the windows were made in 1912 by a studio in Germany. Returning the windows to the original maker for repairs was not an option, Lott said, because "they were bombed out of existence by the 8th Air Force in 1943."

Most of Lott's work is for local homeowners and businesses, but he has taken assignments from several churches around the state. He began doing work for St. Fidelis in the early 1990s.

Lott said his bid on the current job was "a fraction of what the other offers were," in part because he was born in Garden City and feels a kinship with the people who built and maintain the Cathedral of the Plains.

"I'm from western Kansas and I came from dirt-poor farmers up there who are not afraid of hard work," he said.

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