Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 24 Autumn 2010 Contents INSITE AUTUMN 99
Perth's leadlight heritage owes
much to three generations of the
one family, whose contribution
-- both in restoring and making --
spans 62 years. At 29, Bree Harper Mainstone
is not only the most recent generation to join
the family leadlighting fold, but also one
of the youngest professionals in Australia.
It was Robert Mainstone senior -- Bree's
beloved "Pop" -- who opened the first
Mainstone leadlighting business in 1948
and it's a business he still runs today in the
original store in Beaufort Street. Meanwhile,
Bree's mother Tracey Boshart Mainstone and
uncle Rob Mainstone have run West Perth
Glass and Leadlights for two decades. Bree
joined their team five years ago.
"I wasn't brought up with the expectation
that I would go into this business," she says.
"I'd always done glass at home and, as a little
girl, I used to draw with the artists in Pop's shop,
but Mum wanted me to have a different career."
Bree studied coastal land management
and worked in hospitality before travelling
in Australia and overseas. When she arrived
home, however, it was obvious where her
passion lay. "So, Mum said 'alright then, you
can come and play here now!'"
Western Australia has few leadlight
artisans, so there's no shortage of work
-- particularly in restoration. Bree reveals
that often a panel brought in for repair turns
out to be one that has met the Mainstones on
previous occasions. "A smashed window that
my grandfather or mother made or repaired
may come to me to be repaired again for
Identifying a Mainstone original relies on
a lifelong knowledge of the family's work.
"As a child, I might have watched my mother
or grandfather making the piece, or I may
recognise it from when I flicked through the
portfolios," says Bree.
e Mainstone portfolio archive of
design drawings, which are called cartoons,
numbers many hundreds -- Bree says it
would be impossible to give an exact figure.
Asked how strictly the cartoons are
catalogued, she laughs and rolls her eyes.
"All I can say is that we have a system that
works for us! Basically, there are separate
folders for feature panels, geometrics, Art
Nouveau, Art Deco and so forth."
It's an advantage if a leadlight brought in
for repair was one created by her relatives
because she can refer to a cartoon. It is much
more challenging when a badly damaged
panel has been made by another artisan
because the original drawing isn't available.
"It's like trying to piece together a glass
jigsaw puzzle," she explains. "So, first I take
a rubbing so that I have a template of the lead
lines. Even then, with complicated pictorial
panels, I prefer to remove and replace the
glass one piece at a time," explains Bree.
While the process is painstaking,
successful repair is guaranteed if it's done
methodically. However, it's not just the glass
that gets an overhaul. In most cases, Bree
also replaces all the lead because it weakens
over time. So, this is good prevention against
future stresses on a piece.
"Older glass is usually thick and heavy,
and with a full door panel there's a lot of
swing, so there can be slight movement of
LOOK SHARP: (far left) Bree
Mainstone; (above) cutting a
'came', which is the name used
for a length of lead, to shape.
(left) Bree keeps notes on the
repairs needed and carried out
in a special notebook. (opposite)
A mix of antique and new studio
glass ready to be used for repairs.
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