Sunday, January 02, 2011

The New Frontdoor Window

So, I've decided to venture in to the mysterious and intimidating world of stained glass. {Deep Breath} I'm going to attempt to make my own stained glass windows for my front doors {Exhale}.

Now, a lot of you probably have one or two ideas of what it takes to make stained glass or what are the requisite parts of a stained glass window. From what I can tell, stained glass falls largely in to three broad categories of construction. Old school stained glass uses lead came. These are the 'H' shaped pieces of lead (sometimes zinc) that are soldered together around the pieces of glass. The more modern method, which is a late 19th or early 20th method, uses copper foil that is wrapped around the edges of the glass and then soldered together. The last method uses wood instead of copper, zinc, or lead to separate and secure the pieces of colored glass. I believe these would be called muntins.

If you lived Back East 100+ years ago the leaded stained glass windows could be easily ordered from suppliers in almost every size and shape imaginable. There were huge catalogs of designs to chose from and even modest homes might have a front window with a leaded stained glass sash. It was quite popular.

A very eclectic design from The Carson Mansion (1887)

There are some fine examples of Victorian era leaded glass in Eureka, but really it is limited to the mansions. If you walk around Eureka, almost every home you see from the turn of the century has at least one stained glass window on it. What you don't see though, are a lot of the leaded stained glass. Most here are made with wood.

Two in the parlor

Better view of the large parlor window

Upstairs hallway

Close up of glue chip pane in hallway

Close up of blue glass

With lead came the designs can be as intricate and elaborate as you want. With wood, the designs are limited to using mainly squares, rectangles, diamonds, and the occasional circle. Historic House Parts of New York refers to these simple wood and colored glass windows as “Cottage Windows”. The Petch House came with 3 of them originally, as seen above.

In keeping with the original windows, above is my first design for the front door windows I want to make. The muntins will be redwood, of course. These are roughly 38X22. The corner squares are roughly 5X5. I added yellow to the mix because I have yellow glass left over from the butler's pantry cabinets. Next week I'm going to visit a local shop to see if they have anything that matches the purple glass that is in the big front window. I would like to match the color, but also that texture.

To see some eye-popping original Victorian windows from the 19th century visit the links below. I will not be held responsible for damage to any computer equipment while viewing these sites. Cover the keyboard with a towel and have your drool buckets handy. You have been forewarned.

Easy Boo (UK)

Historic House Parts (US)


slateberry said...

If you are getting into stained glass I hope you have time to poke around Dusty's blogs at Lumberjocks.

I read his This Old Crack House blog (not to be confused with Gary's) a couple of years ago, and while it is very different from your blog, I would still rate it highly. He started as an excessively modest (read: painfully low self-esteem) untrained carpenter dealing with a permanent injury to his left hand. He was just so down on himself and naive I didn't know how he'd ever get anywhere. Happily I was wrong (spoiler alert). He built his skills, helped neighbors, grew his business, trained and hired people, and became a world class stained glass artist. My favorite thing about his blog is the transformation of self-image he goes through as a result of the work and experiences he has. And boy, he's got nearly as many cans of grunt work opened and used up as you do!
To be honest I don't know if you'd find any information useful to your project on his blogs, but since you mentioned stained glass I couldn't resist mentioning Dusty.

I like your plans for your front door. The asymmetry of the design is bold but balanced and eye-pleasing. I assume that since there will be two adjacent windows, they will together have bilateral symmetry? If you have time could you post a sketch of the two together? As you play around with color ideas, have you ever noticed the way some Victorian stained glass designs cleverly combine drab or washed out colors with intense ones? It is a favorite motif of mine, because the contrast between drab and plain with bright and vivid enhances both. Not sure how to incorporate that into your design, as the colors you have chosen all relate to existing glass in your house, which seems the best way to go to me. Although you could play around with different plain-ish colors for the center pane, see if you get anything that you like better than obscure clear. It could even be a pale gray.

Anonymous said...

oh this is just awesome. i hope you will show us how to make redwood muntins.

Greg said...


That's interesting, I didn't know there were 2 blogs called "This Old Crack House". I'll be sure t check it out.


You can bet there will be an endless supply of step-by-step photos of how to make muntins. That is, I'll post them if I don't screw them up.


slateberry said...

Just stumbled on this window:

It's an interesting combination of the style you plan to do, and that carson mansion crazy-quilt style window you showed in this post. Whodda thunk?

Greg said...

That is nice. Would that be called A leaded cottage window.

slateberry said...

ha ha, your friends would be flabbergasted!