Volume 40,   Issue 8                                  August  2005


Looking for Wrinkles
New is Out and Old is In with Some Glass Jobs
by Dez Farnady

I remember the day when I looked into the mirror and first began finding small wrinkles. The crow’s feet by my eyes and the deepening of the fold from the side of my nose down my cheek, I figured, only helped to broaden my smile. The creases between my eyebrows and along my forehead, however, I have come to identify as telltale signs of age. If I were not afraid that, like so many aging stars, I, too, would end up looking like Michael Jackson, I would consider going under the knife; or maybe just some sandpaper. 

But cheer up. The retro movement of the 21st century that brought us the boxy Hondas and the Mini Coopers may bring us and our wrinkles back into fashion. Retro is in. It is enough for junk just to be old in order to be valuable. 

Changing Times
The homes surviving from another age, the “stylish” Craftsman designs, the restored little pseudo-Victorians and even the tiny Eichler tract houses of the 1950s are all coming back. The economic changes that are causing dilapidated neighborhoods to be upgraded are creating value out of what not so long ago had nearly been the target of the wrecking ball.

If age is becoming valuable there may be hope left for those of us who have also survived the junk heap of the glass business. Age has certainly become a valuable commodity in wrinkled window glass. 

I now have to re-evaluate some of my kitchen windows, particularly the ones that have escaped the junk heap. There are three pairs of single-glazed, double-hung, putty-glazed, wood sash windows in my kitchen. On bright mornings when the rising sun hits them, I can spot the new replacement lites from 10 feet away. And I can also see all the old ones with the sag and the wrinkles. 

My house was built in the 1940s and what little is left from the original house that has not been revised, re-built or re-finished, still contains remnants of an age that is now coming back into fashion. Hey, some of my house is “retro.” Maybe someone will bail me out of it and buy it for a lot of money as an antique. If not, I will just have to sell my wrinkled window glass to make a killing. 

Market Growth 
No fooling, there seems to be a growing market for that stuff. Put a piece of 8-inch float glass next to one of these relics and you may never complain about the quality of float glass again. But restoration people are out looking for that original, nasty-looking glass all the time and we just don’t make it anymore. 

There are rolled and drawn glass products on the market trying to fill the need for the antique glass look, but it is just not the same. I have stumbled onto restoration projects in the past where the rotten sash had to be repaired or replaced, but the glass was supposed to be saved and re-used to retain the authentic look. There is no way that you can do that type of sash repair or reconstruction without loosing a few lites of glass. So then what?

Where do you go to replace what you lost to try to match the remaining window glass that is 100 years old? Anything that is retained or restored for its historical value has to have old wrinkled glass. Hooray for wrinkles. Tell that to Michael. The demand for old and wrinkled is back. 

I know that there are glass houses in San Francisco, and other places in the country as well, which buy, stock and re-sell old glass with all its distortions. The more wrinkled the better. There is plenty out there, it’s just a matter of finding it or matching up a demo guy with the right glass house. I just sent one local contractor to the glass house in the city that saves old glass. A match made in the bank. The contractor would have to pay to dump all the glass out of a multi-story structure as opposed to having someone take it from him and maybe even actually paying something for it.

I am finding a new respect for old things. I suppose when you get to be my age you, too, will have respect for the “antique,” just so long as it’s old. As for me, while I don’t get much, I will take respect anywhere I can get, it even if it’s only for being old. 

Dez Farnady serves as general manager of Royalite Manufacturing Inc., a skylight manufacturer in San Carlos, Calif. His column appears monthly.

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