Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This Is Spooky

This is like Twilight Zone material here.

If you recall yesterday I screwed up on making the cabinet door. For some stupid reason I wrote down the wrong measurements and I made the door exactly 6-inches too short. I didn’t want to make it over again so I added a drawer above it and hilarity ensued as I attempted to attach the dividing rail between the door and the drawer.

So today on my way home form work I stopped by Stafford Glass to see what was available in the way of obscure glass for the doors. Originally I was going to do raised panels but I switched to glass front doors. I didn’t want clear glass because I don’t want to have to look at a toilet brush and a nasty plunger all the time. Who would?

Stafford Glass is a small husband and wife shop that deals mainly in custom glass work and stained glass restoration. The last time I was there was to get some old wavy glass for the Frankenstein Hutch in the kitchen. Three of the 4 panes in the hutch were original, old wavy glass with flaws and bubbles and I needed a 4th piece. It was kind of an odd coincidence thing at that time too, but not on the same level as this time.

Ideally what I wanted to get was Florentine glass. This type of obscure glass was used extensively back in the 1890s and would be very period appropriate for the bathroom. I walked in to Stafford Glass and asked the woman about obscure glass for cabinets and she pointed me to 40 or so samples they had on display. All of the pieces were 4X6 inches and it was all clear glass with either some type of design etched in to it or some type of embossed pattern on it that obscured the view through the glass.

She pointed out to me a sticker on each piece showing the maximum dimensions of the glass, and she also made a few comments along the way and pointed out her favorites and what might work well for a bathroom cabinet. I scanned the group and quickly spotted the Florentine glass. It was the only sample that didn’t have a sticker on it. I pointed to it and said, “That’s it. That’s the one I want.” She said something like, “Oh yes, the Florentine. That’s very Victorian”. Then she paused a moment and said, “Hmmm, you know, this could be a problem”. Not what I wanted to hear.

She went on to explain to me that the Florentine glass is made by a specialty glass maker in Oakland and it was the only glass they got from that maker. If they didn’t have any in stock it would be absurdly expensive to ship one piece of glass from Oakland and she couldn’t even tell me how long it would take, or even if they could get it.

We walked out to the shop where her husband was working and she asked him if they had any. They chatted for a moment and decided they might have a few scraps. They asked me about the sizes I needed and then spent a good 5 or 10 minuets hunting through racks with dozens of pieces of all different kinds of obscure glass in them.

Eventually they found 2 pieces of Florentine glass. The smaller one was 8X25 inches. The larger piece had a nasty break at the top and so while it was long at one end the short end was only 28-inches. This larger piece was 18-inches wide. I got excited and told them I thought that might be enough but I would have to go home and measure.

I went home and measured the two cabinet doors to see what I would need. The piece of glass for the small cabinet needed to be 6X23 inches. Their small piece was 8X25. Perfect. The large piece I needed was 15X25 inches. There large piece was 18X28 inches so it would work as well. Yippee! The weird thing is, if I hadn’t screwed up and made the door 6-inces too short I would have needed a piece 31X15 and they would not have had enough {Play Twilight Zone music here}. Is that just too weird, or what?


purejuice said...

lemonade!!!! goes down so good!!!!

Gary said...

Well, let's face it. Eureka is kinda sorta in the "Outer Limits"....

Ragnar Bartuska said...

It's even weirder... here, in Vienna, Austria, several thousand miles away, I've got two sets of Frechn Doors with transoms with the exact same pattern of glass in my basement! It seems to have been used extensively in the 1890-1910 time frame here!

greetings Ragnar

Greg said...

Wow! That stuff was more popular than I thought. I wonder if it started over here or over there first?

derek said...

If it's Florentine, wouldn't it have originated in Florence, Italy? Just a guess.I like the pattern, way better than glue chip, or some of the other opaque glass.

Greg said...

That certainly would make sense.

Paul said...

I enjoy reading your progress on the house. Florentine glass is very nice indeed.

Greg said...

Thanks Paul. If you ever wanted to come and work on it, that would be great. :-)

Hamilton sure looks like a nice place. Losts of great buildings.

Ragnar Bartuska said...

I'm not all that sure that stuff really came from Florence... maybe it's just something like the Italian salad dressing ;-)

The earliest house I've seen it in was built in 1897, an apartment building where every apartment has glass panel doors with transoms to the stairway and Florentine glass all over. I saved two of those doors when the owner had two apartments m"modernized" and fitted with steel security doors - in Vienna a pretty useless expense in my opinion - decent locks on the old doors and maybe some reinforcing from inside would be a much better investment.
That was a full gut job anyway - vinyl windows, hollow core doors, laminate floors instead of solid oak, 4 large rooms connected to a huge 600 sq. ft. kitchen... you get it.
The other houses I've seen it were all built between 1900 and 1910.

Since apartment buildings were often built close together and with a somewhat twisted floor plan, resulting in bathrooms without windows and rooms with very few natural light doors with the top two panels glass instead of wood and sometimes interior windows (even bathrooms, kitchens and servants bedrooms with windows unto the public stairway were and are quite common) were used widely, necessitating opaque glass.
In the apartment where I'm sitting right now there are 3 doors with glass panels (bathroom, kitchen and the room at the far end of the dark hallway). The bathroom has a fixed window into the servants bedroom and the servants bedroom window goes to the stairway.

Greg said...

I’m not sure when the first installations were around here. The one place I see a lot of it is in exterior windows on the back-sides of commercial buildings. It seems they installed it there so people would not have to look at the alley, but they would still get light. Most of these buildings predate 1897 I’m sure.

Unknown said...

I bought 13 large church windows (6 arched, 7 rectangle) this summer, all have amber florentine glass. They are beautiful. Bought for $6 each!

Diane said...

I bought 13 large church windows (6 arched, 7 rectangle) this summer, all have amber florentine glass. They are beautiful. Bought for $6 each!