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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Happy New Year!
and The Transfiguration of the 'Villa de Cuivre' Windows

I hope you all are having a grand holiday season!   I wish you all a very Happy New Year too! 

One thing I really love about the holiday's is that I always get to do that project that I have wanted to do, just hanging around, waiting patiently for it's heyday.  This year, that project was getting solidly off and running on the Steampunk…. Villa de Cuivre… I guess.  Doesn't roll off the tongue in quite the same way!

In my last post, I shared with you some of the first efforts I would be making toward getting started this year with miniatures again.  Of those, I have finished fixing the kitchen door (and broke the other one in the process!  That still is not fixed. I needed more practice I guess.  One step forward, one step back...!)  The main project for me this week was working on the transfiguration of the Villa's front windows.

The old windows were kind of cool....  in their own way.

But the more I looked at them, the less they looked like they belonged on this villa.  They belong on a forest cottage.  You know, snuggled back into the deep dark forest on the gothic inspired cabin that Briar Rose grew up in.  Now those are the right windows for that. 

But when I compared these windows to the other windows and doors on the villa, they just did not play well together in my mind. 

There are the butterfly reminiscent windows for the grand parlor;

The Victor Horta Reincarnation windows for the Grand Entry..

And the Victorian Double Doors in the Kitchen.

And then this....

See my point?  Even the "pocket gingerbread" beneath the windows upstages the windows... So I had to rethink. 

I knew I wanted something that had the same sort of effect...but this reincarnation had to be more in the spirit of the other doors and windows in the house (and in it's future!).  They had to take on the bold, brash elegance of the rest of the house as well.  

I also knew I wanted to keep the arched and somewhat Noveau air of the windows.  And I wanted to open up the view into the rooms from outside the villa.  

It actually took me a while to come up with the new ideas, because I was also working on the ideas for the new Grand Entry door that was such a dismal failure before.  I wanted them both to integrate together, and also to echo the spirit of some of the other elements of the Villa.  More on that dang door in another post.  

In the end, I ended up with this:   

I think it accomplished what I set out to do. 

I used the same basic processes I used in the first set of windows I constructed.. piecing together the frame using basswood strips.  But I learned a lot from the first set of windows I did, and I feel that these are much better constructed.  Using the square, measuring more carefully, adjusting the amounts of glue and removing excess glue, all things that come from experience... made the job much easier and much faster this time around. 

Over and above the basics, there are several "new" techniques I used for these windows.  

First, I actually purchased acetate (at Hobby Lobby of course!) for the windows, because sometime in the last few years the plastic being used to package fruit, bread and other perishables has lost it's shape.  It is so much thinner than it was?  Or maybe it is just Texas.  Who knows.  I was just not happy with it.  And given the opportunity to do this again, I will purchase the "real meal deal" again.  It makes such a difference in the final product.  Not quite as easy to cut, but the result is much nicer.

Secondly, there are actually two layers of window in this set.  This is because sandwiched in between the two window layers are two arches made of copper tubing.  This extra set of window surfaces really made this window feel more realistic... it loses some of it's detail in the photo, but it really gives the window a sense of being multi-dimensional.  

To make the arches, I used bendable copper tubing (also a hobby lobby snag - Gotta love Hobby Lobby!)

I bent the tubing into arches using a jig I made up from cardboard, a piece of old molding, and a socket...  Yes, you heard me.  I glued a socket to a piece of cardboard.  (Very long story... I have a son who carried off my tools regularly.  I could probably replace Sear's inventory of socket wrench supplies!) 

It was relatively simple to bend the tubing into arches of generally the same shape and size using this tool.  I just placed the tubing next to the wood molding and bent the tube around the socket by pulling the tubing around the socket, as you see above. 

Perfectly arched copper tubing every time!  With the slightest bit of adjustment and straightening... I had perfect arches ready for my window.  

Once the arches were bent, trimmed out, and straightened, they were sandwiched between two sheets of the acetate.  The whole thing is held together by tension.  

I did glue the wood trims in, but the wire is not glued, and is held by ensuring that there was just enough tension to keep the two wire arches in place, and enough pressure from the two pieces of acetate to keep them straight and level in the window.  I felt pretty pleased with myself!  

To finish off the windows and to help hide a few (minor) sins, I used skewers you can buy from the grocery store, with tiny carvings at their tops, and cut them to size to add some elegance to the window assembly.  

I cut the tips off at just the right place to again create a tension, so that I did not have to glue over the window.  I painted them the copper color and installed them... three to the inside, and 1 to the outside.  I liked the final effect a lot.

There is still some work to do.  I have not painted all of the mullions yet... I am stuck on the horns of a dilemma… I cannot decide whether to paint the mullions the same color as the windows themselves, or to go to black.  I am leaning toward the black (not pictured), since I think it will add the contrast that is missing on the left... you can see the contrast of the wood tone to the copper, and I like that effect, so am thinking I will duplicate it with black instead.  Any opinions are welcomed!  

Once I have completed the windows, I plan to begin on the infamous grand entry door.  I have some new ideas that I think (I hope), I can execute this time! 

Enjoy Your Holiday!  Until Next Time, 

Doug S

Saturday, November 17, 2018

VILLA de Cuivre (the Villa of Copper)
and a Catchup

Two years have passed, and so much more along with it, since I last posted.  I expect many of you thought me gone for good, but I have always intended to return to finish my manor house.  I have wanted so badly to just stop and indulge my artistic muse again!

Instead, I was  caring for my father until his passing in October 26th of 2016.  He had been bedridden for nearly 5 years.

Just over one year later, on February 26th of 2018 we lost my mother.  She had congenital heart failure, and internal bleeding... the combination is inoperable.  We lost her suddenly, in a matter of three hours.  She was "mom" right up until the end.

My parents in the 1950's 

I probably do not need to say that I have spent the last year or so working through the aftermath.

Nothing makes you appreciate your parents more than losing them.  And it has changed me entirely.  I am still the same old me, but the "patina" is much, much deeper, and I think along with that has come a much richer "luster".

My inner landscape has changed entirely. These experiences have made me much more grateful for what God gave to me.  It transformed my sometimes bitter memories of my father into the "true" reality of the deep love I felt for him, and it altered as well my view of who my mother was an angel abiding on earth, albeit an imperfect one, and beautiful to the core.

Beautiful, wonderful parents.  I could not have had better. 

Inevitably, these experiences have also altered my own trajectory in life.  I won't take you through the details of all that, but in the end, it has resulted in my family, lock, stock and barrel, moving to Temple,  Texas!  I think we needed a new start, and an opportunity to alter the emotional landscape that we had slidden into.  Life had become a trial and a burden, we as a family had forgotten how amazing and beautiful life truly is.

A view out over our new property at dusk, just today.

The strangest and most wonderful thing is that it was very clear that this move was orchestrated by God.  Independently from one another, 4 adults who would never have considered moving away from Washington arrived at the same conclusion.  We were going to move to Texas.   Why?   I still don't know, but I do know that the string of "coincidences" that followed, from provision of money that we didn't know we would have, to unbelievable timing in the process of selling our home, to how we found our real estate agent,  to the home we have ended up living in.... EVERYTHING has been orchestrated perfectly.

The new house and the huge. beautiful, live oaks!

And with the incredibly recognizable stamp of God's work in our lives....

Translate that to UP and Down, never quite sure what was going to happen next; to the death of our "vision" of moving to Texas; to the resurrection of that same vision without us lifting a hand to make it happen.  What a terrible and wonderful thing it is to blindly follow a path not understood, and to find such peace and new joy in the end.  It has transformed us in the absolute best ways.

Our almost nightly view from the front of our house!

We have moved out of the busy rat race of the Seattle area, and stepped back in time at least 10 years.  What a peaceful, beautiful place was provided to us. Each and every one of us had those little secret desires that we really don't share because they are unlikely to happen.  For every one of us, in some way, the home and surroundings we have ended up in met all of those hopes and dreams...just a little bit differently than expected, but OH, so much better.  We are in awe of our Creator.  He who loved us and knew us enough to grant our secret wishes.  God has granted our family a New Season.

The front portion of our new property.  It is HUGE. And SCARY! 

So you HAVE to be wondering now what the heck the title of this post has to do with the above... and you would be right to wonder.  It has nothing to do with it.  I just wanted to share with you why I was so long gone, and how incredibly grateful I am to be in this world, and to be back working on my small and stately project.

Now that I have you all caught up with our lives in the last couple of years, let's get to the subject, shall we?

'Villa de Cuivre' in it's new surroundings

The reason for the title of this post is that I wanted to let you know my "Steampunk Manor" has FINALLY named itself.  I have been moving toward getting restarted with the Manor inside my mind, but we are still settling in here in Texas and getting our home into habitable form.  But my head is with the Manor now... and I look forward to again experiencing the joy of a "tiny" problem to solve.  :0)  

Anyway, try this on for size...  The Steampunk Manor's new name is ……

Villa de Cuivre! 

In other words, "the villa of copper".  The title of this almost unrelated post!

The French version sounded so much more mysterious and elegant...and I think it fits the manor to a T.   As I was cogitating on the name, it suddenly was clear.... Villa de Cuivre.  I knew it was right the moment I thought of it.

As I have been wrapping my head around how to get started again building Villa de Cuivre, I have realized several things....

I love the lines if I do say so myself.  :0) 

First, WOW what a beautiful manor!  LOL.   (Well, you have to imagine it's beauty at the moment, but I can see it coming!)

The manor has a place in our new home that is PERFECT for it.  It's unfinished grandeur is so perfectly set off by its place against the wall in our Master Bedroom.  Seeing it in this "new light", and seeing it every night before crawling into bed, has been such a pleasure...  and a new awe of what I have started is dawning in my mind.  I feel like an artist!

Secondly, I have realized that there are a few things I want to change about the manor.  I have taken a page out of Giac's miniature book and I want to "remodel" a couple of things about the manor.  (At least Giac FINISHED a room before remodeling, but I, I can't!)

The "broken" door.  
One of the decorative grille pieces has come loose.

Our move was incredibly gentle on the Manor.  It came through with only one broken door for the kitchen, and that fix is minor.. so I won't call that a remodel, but I do need to fix that up.  It should be reasonably simple to do.

I am a bit amazed that the Manor came through in as good a condition as it did...2,105 miles in a Penske truck, stacked on top of by movers, during some of the hottest days I have experienced in some time... a bit amazing it arrived in one piece if you ask me.  (I guess technically it is still 9 pieces...more if you count all the bits n' pieces!)  

The nice, but not nice enough windows.  
Everything except the window grills will be left as is. 

One thing I came to realize as I set the Manor up in its new home is that I just don't like the windows I came up with for the first floor front facade.  They do not seem to fit the elegant forms of the rest of the manor.  I like the windows, just not on this manor!  So one of the first things to come is that I will be remaking the four box windows along the front of the manor.   The boxes will remain as is, but the window insert design will be simplified and I will be redesigning them to allow more ability to view the interior from the outside of the Manor.

At the very LEAST it needs a good scrubbing!

Another realization is that again, I am not happy with the fireplace in the Grand Parlor.  It's "cute".  Cute does not fit that room!  So I am going to try to remake the same basic fireplace but do it more conventionally (if you can call Art Noveau conventional!).  I want it to come across as elegant, not cute!  If I can rescue this one, I will, if not, I will start again from scratch.

The Grand Parlor as it stands today. This house must be built on a planet with two suns. 

The Grand Parlor ceiling is cool, but needs to be trifled with a bit to lighten it up.

The last "remodel" project will be the ceiling of the Grand Parlor.  I love the ceiling, don't get me wrong there, but it is way too dark for the room as it is... it needs a tweak to lighten up the room, so something will need to be done on that front.

Ugh!  Please do NOT remind me.  I bow my head in abject shame!

And THEN, there is that dang door.  I never did come up with a good result for that, and so it will also go back to the drawing board... though it never came to life in the first place!  I STILL don't have any really good ideas....but I will cogitate... Cogitating creates magic eventually...??

So those are my plans in the immediate future for the "little" Villa de Cuivre.  It is exciting to have room in my mind to cogitate on these "small" things again.  I really do look forward to getting back in the saddle and making "goodly progress" on the Manor!

Bless y'all!  (like that new "southern accent"?

My mug shot. I know you are glad to see me.  

Be Grateful for all you have!  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

On the Move

Hi folks!  It has been a bit too long since I posted!  And when I do, I post about something NOT mini related.  I hope you can abide a short detour.

I must offer an excuse, you know...maybe two or three.

In October 2015, I began working on our current home, getting it ready for sale.  I didn't know what I had started when I began!  What I thought would take me about 3 months of work took me 7.  Why am I surprised?  I am slow at about everything, so I should have known.

Goodbye Everett!  (Our Old Town home on the left.)

BUT, our sale closed this week, and we are 8 days away or so from closing on our new home.  I thought I would share the reason for my delinquency in posting.  Its been a long road, but we are finally there...(I think!).

At the moment, we are homeless...sort of.  We are still in the old home because our buyers were gracious enough to allow us to stay until the end of the month...avoiding weeks in a hotel or in our relatives home. Both we and the relatives, I am sure, are very happy about that!

Here are a few pictures of the new is larger and truly beautiful...totally turn key.  So I feel very blessed!

Here is the front of our new home...

We walk into the Living Room and Dining Area - Vaulted Ceilings!

A New Gourmet Kitchen...

And Best of All!  The soon to be mini room!

I am looking forward to getting back in the saddle...I miss working on the mini house!

Oh..and those other excuses.  Old computer dies...Doug buys cheap Chromebook to get by...  It took me six months to figure out how to save a photo because the Explorer folders were well hidden.  And gee....  I have been busy!  

Thanks for your patience!  I will be posting again some time [relatively!] soon.

Miss touching base with you all!

Doug S


The above was written at the end of May!  Obviously, I am still challenged in regard to posting!  

We have been in the new home now for 2 and one half months.  It is wonderful! I still have MUCH to do to get things all put away, but most of the important things are unpacked and [er hemmm] "arranged".  [That means they have been stuck somewhere out of the way for later sorting!]

Since the above was written the "miniatures room" has moved.  Until a week or two ago, the "miniatures room" was really a pile of junk.  But over the last two weeks or so I have been able to sort through it all and now have just a messy room. Little steps. 

Things are finally beginning to settle enough that I "think" about working on my mini project again now.  Operative word?  "Think".   Every time I go near the room I see more to do that MUST be done now.  Not Later.  And so my project languishes.  Not for much longer though!  

I also haven't really been on the computer for any time at all since May.  So I haven't been reading blogs either... so I have a lot of catching up to do!  

I look forward to continuing my project and being able to share that with you all.  And I look forward to catching up with your projects again!  

Talk to you soon!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

(or Doug's Adventures in Miniature Stained Glass)

Disclaimer:  No Manor Doors were harmed during the disaster that follows

Train Wreck at Montparnasse in 1985

The Montparnasse derailment occurred at 4 pm on 22 October 1895 when the Granville–Paris Express overran the buffer stop at its Gare Montparnasse terminus.  The train was late and trying to make up for lost time, and entered the station too fast.  The driver crashed through the station wall and fell onto the street below - Place de Rennes, due to his air brake failing.  Unfortunately, a woman who was temporarily standing in for her husband as a newspaper seller was killed.  The driver was fined 50 francs. 

I am reasonably sure that the minor disaster our Steampunk Manor door experienced was not near as severe as the Montparnasse derailment.  No one was killed.  Rather, the manor door was rescued, and is awaiting a new and better experience next time.  We hope.  Desperately!

However, it was a truly traumatic experience, and what is worse?  It isn't over yet!  

The Starting Point

But I WILL get ahead of myself, won't I?  Slow down Doug, and tell the word at a time.

It began innocently.  As the creator of the Steampunk Manor, I have a very specific idea of what the Manor Door should look like.  It must be grand, interesting, and must mesh well with the already designed Front Windows.  A very simple request. Or so you would think. 

I tried...really I did.  I tried Glass Paint, I tried India Ink.  I tried them all over again.  I even thought about trying to find "the picture" of a stained glass window, and just print the crazy thing in 2D. Did it work?  

Well, you be the judge.

I DID manage to create the door of my dreams.  It was easy, if a bit time consuming. I cut out the wood shapes...varying each to provide interest on the two sides of the door (you get it, the INside and the OUTside, right?)  I dutifully sanded all sides, cut out a center third piece to act as the frame for the acetate window, and cut the acetate to fit.  All was well with the world.


We began an attempt to create a beautiful stained glass door.  I had an inspiration picture.  I loved it. I still do!

Forgive the Yellow Cast...My Dining Table is Yellow!

I even managed to capture the essence of the design that I wanted for the window, get it proportional, and add the Art Noveau detail of the side windows to the design. I was on my way to success. Right?

Oh! So Wrong.

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!

I started the little adventure using Liquitex Colored Ink.  Beautiful Colors, JUST the colors I wanted to use. 

I carefully painted each pane of the window design, using the utmost care to get even and beautifully blended colors.  This is what it looked like once it dried.

UGH!!!  Shiver, Shiver....Eeeew!    It looked HORRIBLE.  Victor Horta IS now turning in his grave! Right?!!

OK...grow up Doug.  The door is PERFECT.  Exactly what I wanted.

The Window?  Not so Much! 

It "SORT OF" achieves the effect I wanted in the dark....

And it is "SORT OF" OK from a distance.   But not really.  

So back to the drawing board.

So we tried Glass Paint.  This didn't even rate a serious effort.  It actually dries slightly better than this...but it is NOT the look I wanted for the Manor. 

I did find out that it looks somewhat better when added to a different kind of acetate. This is a specialty acetate that is designed to accept ink and paints. 

The Glass Paint worked SLIGHTLY better on this.  It would be the RIGHT look for a small forest cottage or a bathtub sliding door.  Something to file away for the future, but definitely NOT suited for the front door of the manor!

I also tried the India Ink again, and Yes, it was much better on this acetate, but it still does not achieve the clarity I wanted for the front of the manor.

So far, we have failed.  But not to worry...we have another idea up our sleeve!   My next try will be to use a product actually designed for Photography...a diffuser and color correction product made of polyurethane plastic and a layer of deeply dyed polyester.   The colors are beautiful...and there are a myriad of colors.

More than enough to get the variety I had hoped to get with the window, and an opportunity to get a MUCH better color range than I have had with the other mediums.  The product is slightly expensive, but I did a test before buying.  I wanted to see if clear glue would be obvious behind this product. So far, so good. 

Sort of!

Hope you enjoyed my learning curve!  Under any circumstance, I must say that my fail was not QUITE as large as the Montparnesse accident...but it was close.  :0) 

I am hoping to show you a finished product soon that is as beautiful as the one I have in my dreams!

Until next time!

Doug S