Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sigh of Relief!

Ten years in the making and the project is almost over. It was more than ten years ago when I bought the replacement glass for the big front window with the bullet hole in it and we finally got it in today! I was very nervous. This was a $350 piece of red colored glass being installed in an 1895 stained glass window.

So many things could have gone wrong, not the least of which was breaking the glass. It was a tight fit, so we did have to shave a little wood off to get it to fit in, but in the end it looks great. The wooden circle that holds the glass is made up of 4 pieces of wood, with each making up 90 degrees of the circle. Since the glass was out, I took the opportunity to squeeze some glue in to the joints.

Other fears were that I would find some rot in the muntins or frame of the window. It is surprisingly solid considering it was installed more than 115 years ago and faces east. Even so, I took the opportunity to drive in some nails and brads.

Megan came by to help get the glass in and to do the glazing. My past attempts at glazing have been barely passable and this is far too prominent a window to leave it for me to do. Megan has been restoring windows in a monster Victorian 6 blocks from here for the past two months, so it was an easy decision to let her do it. Not only that, I think she would have been mad at me had I not let her do it!

Only in Eureka will you be wearing a hoody and vest at the end of August!
I feel like an expectant father as I watch her put on the glazing putty (Steady, steady. Careful now)
After the big circle was safely in place and glazed we dug out all of the old glazing putty. It is my personal policy that I replace glazing putty every 117 years whether it needs it or not. In this case, it needed it in a big way. The old putty was almost effortless to get out.

Another thing we noticed when working on the window was that every piece of glass had a heavy mist of green paint on it. The idiots who painted the house 15 years ago over-sprayed on to the window. After Megan left I got back up there and cleaned each pane with paint stripper and steel wool. Most of the pieces are too heavily textured to just scrape with a utility knife blade. After the glazing has set, I will scrape minor paint residue off the interior side. It's going to be like a whole new window.

Tomorrow I'm going to go back up and scrape and sand the wood, and then primer the whole thing. Megan is going to come back on Tuesday and glaze all of the little pieces of glass, and then I'll repaint next weekend. It is going to be such a relief to have this done. It is so nice to know the window is strong, the wood is solid, and every thing is securely in place. It will be good to go for another hundred years.

And no more bullet hole!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bullet Hole Begone

New from Ronco it's Bullet Hole Begone!

This is a new, must-have product for any Crack House owner. Just spray it on and the bullet holes are gone! It's just that simple!

Oh, if only it were that simple. The time came for me today to remove the large piece of colored glass with the bullet hole in it. The glass was installed in 1895 and hasn't moved since. The bullet hole was from a drug deal gone bad, sometime in the 1990s. Getting the glass out was a bit of a nail biter. As always, when doing something like this, my mantra is, 'Above all else, do no harm'.

It was also more than a one person job, so fortunately Megan was here to add in her two capable hands. She may come back and re-glaze all 41 pieces of glass in the window once the new piece is in place. For the past few months she has been working at a monster Victorian six blocks away restoring all of the windows.

This is another one of those projects which has been playing out in slow motion over the past decade. One of the first things I did when I bought the house was to buy a 32-inch square piece of red glass from Kokomo Glass to fix the window.

Most glass makers only make glass in 24-inch widths, but Kokomo makes it in 32-inch widths. The problem was, there are no Kokomo distributers in the area, and shipping a single piece of glass would be crazy expensive. I found a distributer in the Bay Area who worked with Kokomo and had them order it with the normal shipment. I then had to make the twelve hour round trip to get it. All told, it cost nearly $350 for the glass. One thing lead to another, and I never did anything with it. It has been up in the attic for nearly ten years. Well, I'm doing the parlors, so I've got to fix the glass.

Unfortunately I could not find red flash glass in a large enough size, so I'm putting in red cathedral glass. I think one of the reasons I never put this in was because I always hoped I would find a manufacturer of red flash glass. Flash glass is essentially normal plate glass like you would put in a window, but it has the color flashed on to the surface. This is opposed to colored glass which has the same color all the way through. 

The glass shop owner in Arcata where I've gotten my other colored glass says he can get red plate glass in the size I need from a manufacturer in Germany. It would cost around $900 to get it. I'm hard-core, but I have my limits. That shop owner will be cutting the new circle for me this week, and hopefully I can get it installed next weekend. 

I won't rest easy until it is installed and glazed.

Note the classy piece of plywood. This is a piece of the same plywood they used to cover the failing plaster in the foyer. I have used and reused that plywood on soooo many projects over the years. If I ever do another house and it doesn't come with quarter inch plywood on the interior walls, I think I might just go buy a couple of sheets. It is very handy to have around.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I've fallen into Window Treatment hell. For me this is one of the nine rings of room restoration hell. I know choosing paint colors is one of the rings, and plaster work is in there, too. I can't really say what the others are, but I'm sure there are nine of them for old room restoration, if not more.

Google 'window treatments' and you get an eye full of styles and choices to choose from. My big issue with most of them is that they cover the millwork which surrounds the window. I guess in many homes this is not an issue. I mean, a lot of the times the millwork around the window can hardly even be called 'millwork'. In many modern homes it probably isn't even wood!

In my home the millwork deserves to be seen. At least I think so. Sure it looks nice with the 1X6' fluted casing and the complex head blocks which extend above the top casing. That's not really even the point for me. For me it is all of the effort that went in to stripping the paint and reproducing the head blocks. On one window, even the casing had to be re-milled and replaced. 

And now I'm supposed to cover it all up with window treatments!?!?!

I think not.

So, I've been flipping through pages of images of window treatments on Google trying to justify making the same choice on window treatments which I made in the dinning room. No such luck. In the dining room I had the drapes start at the inside edge of the casing.

What's odd, though, is that the more I look at the images on Google, the more I dislike the styles of window treatments which start a foot or two over the window and cover everything. I'm sure if I walked in to someone's home which had that style I wouldn't give it a second thought. But when you really start to look at something closely, the subtleties are exposed which may or may not rub you the wrong way. It's kind of like when you say the same word over and over it can begin to sound like you are saying it wrong. Hmmm, maybe that only works when you're stoned.

Anyway, I can not, with a good conscious, purchase and install window treatments which cover all of my hard work and 117 year old millwork. I can't and I won't. Let the traditionalist cringe and squirm all they want, and if they open their mouths, they will get an earful.

Now I just need to decide on the pattern and color of the drapes. Ugh! I think that is a ring in and of itself.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The home stretch {gasp!} Can'{cough!}

Next up, floors... Gasp!

Sunday, August 05, 2012


I started in on the painting first thing this morning. After I painted for a while I did a little more painting. Once I got tired of painting I switched to painting for a break from the monotony of painting. After that I did a little more panting.

I wish I could say that after all of the painting that I was finished with all of the painting, but I can't. Yes, that's right, there is still more painting to do. Everything that is nailed or plastered to the walls is painted, but there is still the picture rail and shoe molding.

I would like to say I finished making the picture rail, but I can't. I ran in to problems, which I won't go into, but I think most were related to fatigue. Yea, the painting. I deciding to just set it aside rather than damage the stock or an appendage.

Since I was not able to finish the picture rail I started in on installing hardware and light fixtures. All of the switch and outlet covers went on nicely, which is not always a given after a fresh plaster job. I got the two chandeliers installed, but then remembered that one of the sockets doesn't work on one of them. Actually the socket works, but the pull chain is missing and the chain is pulled in the off position. It will need to come back down.

I also discovered something very interesting today. Months ago I purchased six matching shades for the chandeliers from House of Antique Hardware. They were delivered in two boxes and at the time I only opened one to inspect. It had three shades and I assumed the other, identical box also contained three. I'm sure you can see where this is going. Today I opened the other box and it only contained two shades and a big wade of cardboard in place of the third. I ordered another shade today. I don't think I have it in me at this point to try and convince them they only shipped five instead of six. Had the shipment just arrived I would, but it has been a few months.

I want to get back in the shop tomorrow and finish the picture rail. If I can do that I'll still be on track to install it next Saturday. I still need to install the window hardware, and if I can do that this week, that means I will be done with everything except floors and window treatments.

You'll notice there was an "except" in that last sentence. There's always an "except". Someday I will write a post without an "except".

Pictures soon. I promise. It's looking pretty damn good.

Friday, August 03, 2012

On and on and on

The painting is taking forever. I started Monday and worked on it every night this week after work and I still don't have one coat on everything.

Even if I'm able to finish up on Saturday there is still the two plaster medallions and the two plaster corbels. Right now I'm giving them one coat of the trim paint, which the chamomile in semi-gloss. I have never intended to do a High Victorian, multi color paint job, but I would like to highlight some of the flora. I can see that I won't be finished until mid-week next week.

I'm going to try and make the picture rail on Sunday because that needs to get primed and at least one coat of paint on it before I install it. Installation probably won't happen until next weekend.

In the mean time I'm making a serious effort to shop for blinds, drapes, and rugs. It just goes on and on and on. At this point I feel like this will never end.

One good thing is that I'm starting to really like the color. I'm not sure the pictures do the colors justice. If I had to do it over, I would have made the ceiling color a shade darker, but all in all, I really like it. Whew!