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Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Language of the Eyes - Window Box Progress

Hi folks,

Something about a window speaks volumes about what is inside a house.  Like our eyes, they display our secrets, telling the world about how we live, who we are, and what we love.

My Grand Parlor windows are still in progress, I think now I have spent close to 30 hours working through this window set! The gestation period for these ideas was much longer than most!  But, halfway through, I am seeing the spirit of the house come alive, as I add more and more details around the box windows.  It is an exciting and rewarding period in the construction of this Chateau.

But what secrets lie behind these eyes, do you suppose?   

Secrets of Love?

Stories of Horror and Destruction?

Maybe just the work of a very odd artist?  

Whatever secrets are buried within the depths of the Chateau, I am sure they will come out one day. Secrets have a way of wiggling themselves into the Light.

My first secret is that I have discovered the difference between an artist and a craftsman!   I have been reading my "new" old library book, 'The Secrets of the Doll House Makers' that I got off of Amazon for only 11 dollars!  (This book has been priced over one hundred dollars when I have looked before)

Since I began building the Chateau in January of 2014, I have felt secretly guilty, since I have not "drawn out a plan".  I kept reasoning with myself that a "reasonable man" would draw everything out, have every duck in a row, and everything generally "put together" before starting.

As I read through the well written articles about each of the mini masters of the past (and present!) I have learned about the way that each of them worked, and while MOST DO have detailed plans and spend hours and hours taking photographs and planning every move, there are SOME who operate just the way I do...and I feel oh so vindicated!  I share my building approach with Robert Stubbs of all people!   It's a relief to know I am not "wrong" in my approach!

It was very clear to me as I read through this book that we all approach our work so differently, yet most of us fall into one of two camps - the artist, or the craftsman.  I just happen to be the "artist" type.  Tall, good looking, and oh so romantic...ooops, that just slipped out.  Please forgive me!

However, this IS the reason that I struggle with many of my designs, each an idea that needs a (sometimes long!) gestation period before coming unbidden into the world.  But I know now, that I have the soul of an artist, responding to the moment of creativity, and to the muse within.  I am just not a craftsman!  :0)

I spent three or four days obsessing about the color to use on the end caps of the Chateau.  I loved the color of the Chestnut Brown on the front windows, but I did not want to carry that clear around the house, as I thought that would be too much of a good thing!  I finally settled on a brick red color, and once I had it on the Chateau, it really spoke to me!  It's all "Steampunk and Victoriana" like, and that pleases me.

As with everything at this stage of the game, none of this is anywhere near complete, but the brick red and chestnut brown will make a wonderful backdrop for the architectural and decorative trims yet to come.

I chose to close in the windows just a bit, and provide some additional detail, which I think has worked out wonderfully.  I would have liked a fully open window, but I knew I wanted to carry the theme from the kitchen doors across to the other end of the house, and as I cogitated, stared, and cursed over the window design, it finally came to me that this treatment would meet my needs, and would add an additional element of interest to the windows both inside and out.

In the inner sanctum - a view of the new window from inside.  Still has the sticker on it!  :0) 

I love the effect created by the additional wall space added under the window.  It cries out for some fancy molding and trims, and provides me with a wonderful opportunity!  My wife is a talented painter, and she has agreed to paint this area with small murals, and I am stoked.  I have "dreams a dancin' in my head".

The Bones of the Window Insert

The windows are made, so far, of 5 parts.  You can see above the four panels that make up the wood portion of the windows, along with the small acetate piece that goes into the squared off opening. 

Inner Window with Sandwiched 1/32 inch basswood and acetate window

Each "nouveau" window cut out is 3/32" basswood, while the narrower slice that holds the acetate and the nouveau trim piece on the outer window are of 1/32 inch basswood.  The pieces are stacked one upon another to create the thickness of the window.

Stacked Window pieces

The Outer Window surface was added over the top of the two pieces pictured above, and then Art Nouveau inspired trim was cut using a craft knife, and added to the outer surface for trim

Window Trim

To this trim will later be added some additional decorative trimmings and architectural details, that echo and morph the effects on the kitchen doors. The empty spaces on the window base will include some of this trim. 

Glued up stock, ready for carving

To build up the trim below the windows, I used a very similar process to the process I used to create the doors, though since these were much larger pieces to carve, I glued up several pieces of varying heights which helped to set the basic profiles before carving, and allowed for less wasted wood.

Carved and Sanded Panels 
The decorative panel below the windows has a slightly modified profile, as I wanted the panel to line up along the base of the window well.   As with the doors, I sanded out the shape I wanted using a progression of sandpaper and steel wool, 

Kitchen Doors with Brick Red Surround

My next tasks are to complete the windows by adding the metal decorative rods, staining the doors, and adding the decorative trims to further imitate the kitchen doors.  Once I've completed that much, I'll be moving on to the exterior Entry Door and Windows, and then I will be working inside the Chateau again, and will resume work on the trims. 

I look forward to the day when I can batten down the hatches and glue everything together.  That, however, may be a while in coming!  It is a good thing I enjoy the creative process, because I spend about 80 percent of my time thinking and about 20 percent actually building anything!  But that is the progress on the Chateau since my last post, 

I wish you all the best, every one of you!  I enjoy your comments, and treasure every one of you who take the time to give me your thoughts and impressions!  I look forward to revealing future secrets and look forward to that someday when the story of the Steampunk Chateau will be fully expressed!

Until Next Time!

Doug S


  1. Hey There Mr."GOOD LOOKIN!!" :D Your windows are LOOKIN GOOD!
    You know it is funny Doug, but I had some of those same ideas about my methods of artistic expression too, and just like you, I found I felt better about myself when I discovered that I was not alone in how I worked. I know now that everyone has their own way which is the Best way for them! I can not ( and I have tried) plan everything out before hand and then stick to the plan. Like you I work Organically, and you seem to be Feelin it too, as you are building your Steampunk manor! The way that you have emphasized these windows is so Creative and they appear as though they have Always looked this way. They also tie in with the stone foundation that you've got going on. You are really listening to the house. You are the artist and the house is your muse. :D
    Well done Doug and looking forward to seeing you wife's painted murals. What a terrific contribution! :D


    1. Good Morning Elizabeth!

      It is very nice to know I am not alone in my artistic fog! It is so true that I am "feelin it" as I go along. I know "exactly" what I want to accomplish, but I usually don't know "how". I once thought I would like to be an Interior Designer, but I have realized it is a good thing I didn't go down that path! I think it would have been a hard road, because I just don't "think" that way. Working to a specification is a frustration to me, as most of the time my mind is going wild with ideas as I create.

      I do draw out many things (my drawings are quite like Picasso's, I must say!) before I actually start building, but I RARELY stick 100% to the "plan". And I really do think I like it that way!

      I am very excited about my wife's contribution to the Grand Parlor. I need to find a few pictures to suggest to her the basic ideas I have, and then she will turn them into something delightful. She always does!

      Thanks Elizabeth! So good to hear from you!


  2. Hi Doug, I'm loving it all. I just think the colour scheme is so rich! The windows are fabulous and the room is gorgeous....but you already know I love it anyway. I am dying to see what delights your wife comes up with for your Manor!
    All the best and take care,

    1. Hey Vivian! Thanks! I am glad you are loving it! That makes me happy!

      I am very excited about my wife's contribution as well! She always does such a great job, so I am sure it will be most wonderful!

      This build is all about color and texture, I think. At least that is what I am concentrating on. I love the rich colors too! That is one of the draws of the steampunk genre for me, the over the top richness of it all tickles my "I feel rich and famous" gene. :0)

      Have a great week! Make sure to let your other half know you expect the Queenie treatment for Mother's day coming up on the 10th! :0) We males need a little encouragement that direction sometimes.


  3. Ann I the only one who can't read this blue font on the multi colored background? Every so often I can pick out a word or two...

    1. Hi there! I've bolded the font, perhaps that will help. The Blogger platform is extremely limited in what it can do, so I've made the best of it. Hope that helped.


  4. Hello Doug,
    These pictures are wonderful! I love that you made your own unique doors. they look fantastic! I also have that book and love it. I think, when you work on a project that has the size and scale of your chateau, you need to spend a lot of time planning. On a small project fixes are not as time consuming and I think they are easier to work around. On a project like yours paint color and little details like that can completely ruin the effect you are going for...especially with such a strong style like steampunk. Obviously the way you work, regardless of other artists ways, works because the proof is in your amazing chateau. Keep up the great work and I cannot wait to see the murals.
    Big hug,

  5. Hey Giac, you flatterer! There you go again. I am glad you like the way the windows developed...It was a [very] long process to figure this one out. And you are right, we do have to "plan". . . what's more, I know that! I just haven't ever had to draw so much in my planning! I do not draw "confidently". I can often, once I commit, turn out some pretty cool stuff, but I avoid drawing like the plague, because it brings every insecurity I ever experienced right into my head and heart. I am forcing myself more and more to draw out things, though I wouldn't show my best friend some of my drawings! :0) It does help, because it forces you to think farther ahead...and that ends up creating a more detailed and interesting result, I think.

    I look forward to the murals too! I may look forward to them for a very long time! My wife is the best person in the world, and truly my soulmate, but "fast" in no way describes her! She'll get to it when she does...and I'll live with it [gladly, I might add!]. Her work is always special, so I am excited for that "SOMEDAY". :0)

    Best wishes!



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