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Thursday, May 28, 2015

How To Window Decor
Steampunk Style!

Hello out there!  I hope you are all well, happy and occasionally working on your projects! 

I've had a couple of long awaited days off from work, and have spent them relaxing and catching up on the Manor. We spent the Memorial Day weekend in Sequim, Washington (pronounced Squim), after first visiting my Mother on Saturday, so we've been doing a bit of traveling.  We had some good eats and some incredibly relaxing family time,   We've had beautiful weather, and all is well with the world.  I am sure you wanted to know all that!

Today I wanted to share with you how I went about creating the new facade decorations below the kitchen and grand parlor windows!  This bit of work was a lot of fun, and I can see that the techniques used are applicable to many different projects, so I thought I would share them with you tutorial style!

Carving the Wood Base

You will need straight, close grained wood to carve from.  I used Balsa Wood (it's soft and cuts like butter!) that was 3/8 inch wide.  My local craft store didn't carry 3/8 inch balsa or basswood, so I glued together two 3/16" pieces to create the 3/8 inch width I wanted.

The red and black "clamps" are Closet Spacers I bought from an Estate Sale!  They worked beautifully for this application. 

The curves for the window base were drawn using a French Curve so that I could easily create a "flowing" curve that was pleasing.  After establishing the curve on one side, I used tracing paper folded over in the center to trace the other side, so that both curves were very similar, if not the same.


For my project, I had to carve four nearly identical profiles on the front, so that the finished pieces look the same.  To facilitate that, I established lines to use as a gauge to help me ensure that I was carving the same basic thicknesses and shapes at each measuring point.  I transferred each line I established on the first piece to each of the other pieces using a ruler and extending it across to the new piece.  I then used a pencil and a measuring caliper to establish points in a curve that were identical at each line on each piece.

Before carving out the unwanted material with a gouge, I used a chisel to create a Stop Line wherever I did not want the wood to split out.  For this piece, I created a stop line at the top and the bottom, to protect the "sill" and the "foundation piece".  You can see the piece carved to the stop line at the top of the photo below, and the stop line(s) at the bottom of the photo as well.  These aid in getting a straight cut across the piece.

Then using the gouge, I removed the unwanted wood down to the lines I had drawn on both ends of each piece.  Finally, using the chisel once more, I smoothed the basic carving surfaces and sanded out the gouge and chisel marks, to create a smooth finish.

I was placing a medallion in the center of the carved pieces, so I needed to create a flatter area in the center of the carved piece.  Again, the stop cut comes into play.  I used a stop cut to trace the shape of the medallion I was going to use, and then carved out the center to create a flat area to hold the medallion.

I used the same stain as I have used on the doors and windows already completed (Gunstock by Minwax) to stain the well sanded piece, and the carving step was completed.

Adding Steampunk Details

Now it was time to add the details that help to establish this window base as Steampunk.  To do this, I chose to use polymer clay to create brick colored tile for the window.

I cut a template from card, and then traced around the template with my knife to ensure that my shapes were the same.  I also traced around the medallion to establish the shape into which it would fit, and cut that out of each piece.

I used a knife to create the effect of tiles by cutting through the clay on diagonal lines. 

I used four colors of acrylic paint to create the textural depth of the brick.  The base was Brick Red, the next coat was a powder blue, the third a coat of Burnt Sienna, and the fourth a coat of "Burnt Sugar" (a golden brown color).  All coats except the first were applied and then  wiped off, leaving only traces of each color to create depth.  I then added more brick red to a gloss varnish to deepen the colors just a bit more.  The entire surface was then coated with a clear glossy varnish.

The last step was to add the "black stone" details, which I did again with polymer, this time painted black and coated with a matte finish.  

You'll probably note that all through the tutorial, I have had the base "upside down"....actually this was a "fortuitous" discovery.  When I had completed the piece, I turned it over to do something to it, and realized I liked it MUCH better "upside down"... so the "upside" is the "bottom-side" in the picture above...or what is now TOPSIDE.   :0)  I thought it looked even more steamy this way...and I think you will agree, it looks rather sporty on the facade of the Steampunk Manor. 

That's all for tonight folks!  I hope you enjoyed the "tutorial" such as it is, and that someone will find portions of it useful for their own projects.   I again have to apologize for the quality of some of these photos.  I have much to learn, it appears, about more than just minis...!

Until next time!

Doug S


  1. Hi Doug, I just love seeing a notification of a post being added to your blog! I had always admired steampunk style.....but watching your Manor coming together has really made me fall in love with the style. I love the fact that, basically, anything stylish, nostalgic and elegant fits!! The base of the windows are just lovely. The additions of the 'tiles' and medallion are just what I imagine steampunk to be about. You could have left it plain...wood! But those little extra touches make such a difference. Love it!
    All the best

    1. Howdy Ms. Vivian! I am glad you are enjoying the does wonder, I am sure you know!

      What you speak of regarding Steampunk style is exactly what drew me to finally commit to that genre for this build...Steampunk is still a "create your own" genre, it is new enough that the "icons" are a few key items, and everything else is totally up to you...I think that is why there are so many "sub genres" for Steampunk. Me, I am into the elegant, totally unrealistic, fantastic, over the top decor, the unexpected shapes and the wild touches of things either "lost in time" or "never were" is a full spectrum of just plain cool "stuff"! I do like the automatons, and some of the other Steampunk touches...eccentric clothing, odd pictures, unexpected items in the "wrong" places...but most of that is still to come! I haven't gotten anywhere near most of that yet.

      I sure had fun adding those Steampunk details. I added up the time spent...7 hours one day, and 5 the second...12 hours total for those carved and decorated babies. :0) But so worth the effort when you get all excited about the end result, right?

      Maybe you have to give me some competition with your next ARE coming close to finishing your current one right? :0))

      Watching Harry Potter on television (my daughter has it on!) has a lot of cool ideas that might lend themselves to Steamy decor...I am going to have to watch about 15 hours of Harry Potter and see if I can cull some more!

      Have a great week!


  2. Hi Doug! Just like your real life, mine kept me busy too, but okay: here I am ;)! Now, I'm sitting with my cup of tea (just for a moment before work) I've read with much interest this tutorial blog of you, thank you for sharing :)! It's a feast for the eyes to see the results of your hard work, the steampunk style of your window decoration is absolutely beautiful. Like you, I love to use different materials with/through each other and now you have created with yours such a beautiful steampunk style decoration, it's great work! Even if the topside is down, indeed it looks so much better ;O!
    I wish you a nice weekend.
    Kind regards, ilona

    1. Hi Illona! I am glad that you enjoyed the "tutorial". I feel a bit unsure and unsafe putting up "tutorials" because I have SO much to learn. But I do love when others share their "How To"s, so I am working on finding my way to comfort there.

      One of the things I have been SLOWLY learning about miniature work is that spending that precious commodity "Time" is key to getting a good result. I still try to hurry through things and every time I make mistakes that I have to go back and fix, or have to "recover" from. So I am patiently working toward that nirvana state of "true patience". At any rate, all that to say... I love the mix of materials too, and part of that is planning...and planning the way I am talking about here is difficult for me! :0) I can plan my way through major events and other huge accomplishments, but to sit down and "draw" or "sketch" or whatever you want to call it is like pulling teeth for me! But THAT is what pays off when it comes to this miniature diversion. The ideas that come which make things special are those which were conceived with a little "hard" work... Sigh.

      I DO like the "topside down" much better too! :0) Pure accident!

      Have a great week Illona!

  3. Hello Doug,
    I was away from blogging for a while and have just caught up on all your posts. I have to say, this impressed me the most. Fantastic work! They are such an amazing detail and you crafted them perfectly! Well done my friend. I just love them. They are a fantastic base and really add a lot of grandeur.
    Big hug,

  4. Hi Giac,

    The window bases remind me of huge pockets...every time I look at them I see pockets. :0) But they are STEAMPUNK pockets, so that is great! I think that they have added a lot of interest to the front of the manor, so I am happy with them. :0)

    Glad you liked them, and so glad to hear from you again!


  5. Hi there Doug! Well what Beautiful work this is! Your carving skills as well as your design skills are put to good use with all of the embellishments incorporated into the exterior window treatments! I really admire your innovative and imaginative decoration of the windows and the layered look that you have executed is Perfect for this Manor. Well done Doug and looking forward to the next Great Thing that you do! :D


    1. Hi Elizabeth! Thanks so much! I am glad you like what you are seeing... There certainly are a lot of embellishments...:0) But that is part of what Steampunk is all about!

      Good luck next weekend as you show off your Greenstreet cottage at the West Coast Miniature Show! I imagine you are nose down finishing everything up for that! I'll be thinking of you!


    2. Ooops! I meant 41 Green Dolphin Street! :0))


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