Friday, July 23, 2010


If Eyes Are The Windows of the Soul, Are Windows the Eyes of the House........

Lest anyone think I have forgotten the Lovely Old Dollhouse in my Castle Building Frenzy, I will reassure you that nothing could be farther from the truth! While my recent posts have been all about the Castle, the Lovely Old Dollhouse has seen a number of VERY important improvements during this time. The most important one, and the one of which I am the MOST proud is the windows! You may recall me mentioning in an earlier post that long list of improvements needed in order to repair the Lovely Old Dollhouse and to make it the house I had always dreamed of. Well, the tasks I have already undertaken that were on my original list, have each seemed to grow and change and blossom into something unexpectedly MORE than the original idea once I started them. The chimney with it's original fireplace became two chimneys with four hearths! The trim and wainscoting became MORE elaborate and decorative. The front door, while replacing the original in the same framework, became MUCH more detailed and elegant. And NONE of these outcomes were the least bit expected by me as I set out to do the project! So you may forgive me for developing a sort of anxiety about starting on the windows! WHAT would I be getting myself in for?

To begin with, I must explain that, as with the wainscoting, I had set the pattern for the windows all those years ago in my teens. You see, from the earliest years I had wished my dollhouse had "real" windows. There was always something so empty and unfinished about those holes in the walls called "windows"! I can't describe exactly why it is, but those empty window holes just feel so unprotected, so bare, so vulnerable, as though the soul of the house was just ......blind or missing altogether! So right from the very beginning I have intended to make real windows and I actually completed one entire window frame with real panes of glass when I was working on the house in my teen years! I had carefully carved and notched the wooden pieces for the frame, made from some of the "lumber" my brother had brought from his woodworking classes, and cut and inset panes of glass, complete with glazing putty to hold them in place! You must remember that this was AGES before I had any idea of window kits or ready made stock lumber. And because the whole frame was never glued into the dollhouse, it was removable and was carefully stored away with all the other dollhouse furniture in that box marked "Betsy's Dollhouse Furniture". So, THERE IT WAS when I finally opened that box last year and started to work on the re-building of the Lovely Old Dollhouse! It was the simplest thing to slip it into place in the window opening of the parlor - the room it had been made for - as you can see in the picture below!

And while nobody had washed it in the thirty plus years it was packed away, it was unbroken and fit as though it had never been removed. You can sort of see the outside of the framework in the picture below. There has always been, for me at least, a heartwarming sense of cosiness in looking into lit rooms from outside in the dark of night, it makes me think of winter when the dark comes early and everyone is heading home to warmly lit houses.......

The frame had never been painted and was just the tiniest bit lop-sided and uneven...... but I had been quite young when I made it and I think it came out pretty well! It certainly fits with the rather rough look of the rest of the woodwork in the house. So, while I considered VERY BRIEFLY starting over with entirely new windows and just not using that original one...... I was just too fond of it to NOT use it! So that meant all the other windows were going to HAVE to be made the very same way.......... slowly....piece by piece....

As you can see from this picture of the master bedroom with the beautiful hunting scenes wallpaper, the empty window is just not acceptable!

And the same is true of the bathroom........without a window with glass........ it looks so unfinished and somehow so vulnerable........

And even the cheerful second best bedroom, which is slowly being painted with a sort of Chinoiserie mural, it looks DESPERATE for a real window with GLASS panes!

So after a great deal of dithering and considering and planning I pulled out my box of lumber that I had saved for all those years and started to carefully measure and cut each window frame to fit into the opening of each room. I needed to make five more windows in all. I hoped that the lumber I had would be enough to make all the windows as it was more or less the same dimensions as the wood of the original window I was copying. I am sorry that I did not take more pictures of each step of the process, but I was not yet thinking about blogging or tutorials.

Here you can see three more of the frames fitted to their windows.

Here you can see the frame inset into the window before the glass panes were added........

And the frame for the bathroom window............(as well as the rest of the tiles on the walls)

And the frame for the window in the Master Bedroom too......... you can see that the frame already makes the window feel more "present" and somehow protective.....

So, dear readers, it was about this point in my life that I had started my blog!.....and was now thinking of taking more carefully detailed least when I remembered to! So I have some shots you might like of the windows getting their glass panes cut and fitted......

Here we have several frames already primed and stained or painted the correct well as the glass cutting tool and the metal straight edge I use. And you can see I have cut paper patterns from the graph paper to test fit in each opening of the frame before I cut the glass. My openings were not exactly consistent because they were all hand cut and fitted...... but the variance was within one eighth of an inch. But glass is fairly unforgiving and needs to fit closely. If I had a piece that was just a tiny bit too large, I sometimes shaved the frame off a tiny bit instead of cutting new glass......

And a closer picture of the frames with partly completed glass....

And an even closer shot of the framework....... click on the pictures to enlarge them if you REALLY want to see details of my rough building...........

GOSH , Another shot! With Glass! I AM so proud of these windows!

And ANOTHER view of the framework

And now, since you have been SO patient with me and put up with too many shots of the same is a view of the Lovely Old Dollhouse with the windows in place, showing the putty that holds the glass in place just like real old fashioned windows!

I don't know about you, but I just LOVE how they look!

And can you imagine how amazed I was when the amount of lumber I had kept for all those years was just the right amount with a little bit to spare? There are no words to describe how satisfying THAT was! And even after all my worrying and fretting, the cutting and fitting of the glass panes went together SO smoothly - I did them ALL in ONE evening! With NO bad breaks and misfit pieces! I'm sure it was because I made such good patterns first.......

So, It is with GREAT RELIEF I can now report that the LONG anticipated making of the windows for the Lovely Old Dollhouse yielded NO unforseen problems or unimagined outcomes! They are JUST EXACTLY what I was wanting them to be!

And I don't know if I am just imagining it, but.... I think the house looks.....well.....HAPPIER than it ever has though with the windows in place IT can SEE the world!

Windows ARE the Eyes of the House


  1. What an amazing job to build all those windows by yourself, and they are perfect! And yes, windows can make all the difference, the house looks lived in now.


  2. Beautiful work, the house looks so different now (and as you say, much happier) I love that you used putty around the glass, makes the windows look very real - and of course they are :-)
    The entrance opening looks fabulous too!

  3. You are absolutely right, Windows are very important and one of the first thing , apart from the doors that you must work on if you want your house to look complete. You know a house still looks good even without furnishings if the windows and doors are in place but not the other way around :).

    I really love this house, Betsy. I was reading about old American architecture and saw Colonial Revival with a pic exactly like this house. Of course I thought of you. I will trade in one of my newer dollhouses for this house anytime. :)

  4. Thanks Marit, Helene and Sans! I am amazed at the difference the windows make, and I'm really glad I took the trouble to make them all like the first one - they ARE real windows. And even though they will just be the background of the house when I get to the decorating part - they will always have that authentic feel.
    Sans, I really love architecture (my Dad is an architect) and I have always paid attention to the style of a building - that is why this house is being given so many of the details that this type of house would have! In this part of the country we have whole villages with every house a white colonial that looks just like this! The real ones always have small differences in detail - and that is what makes them so interesting to me. While most of the newer dollhouse kits are based on Victorian designs, I actually like the simple elegance of mine better!
    Hmmm, maybe I should build more of them....?
    Don't get me started! :)

  5. So so true, the eyes are the window to the soul and so are the eyes to this dollhouse, the windows. :

    You have done a fabulous job and they look so real. :) That is what we miniaturists love and aspire to.

    I'm still in awe that you made the windows. :)
    I enjoy simple elegance as well, but, flashy gold things do catch my eye. ;)

    Love the mural wallpaper. :)

  6. Thanks, Dale! I must admit that I agonized over making the windows for a very long time....I was sure they were going to be terribly hard! So when I finally went so much better than I had expected! I have to laugh at my worries now! And as usual, I'm SO glad I did them the real way.... because they DO look real!

  7. Wow Betsy that is an impressive job! After your comment on my blog I just had to find the windows you were talking about ;-)
    I found cutting the glass to the right size pretty difficult and you even cut all of the panes individually! And I love the putty, it is just perfect with the house. You are right to be proud!

    1. PS: I had to search for quite a bit before I found the right post. You posts do have labels, but you don't have them in your sidebar!

    2. Josje, I am so sorry to put you through that random search! (I didn't think you would come looking!) I have now added that List to my sidebar.... oh my it makes me look Very Random in my Labeling!... The list goes on Forever! Thank you for your comment it means a Lot to me!

  8. I am in awe of your real glass windows. Did you use 'regular' window glass? Amazing work. And how funny to see The Recorder sopping up the mess! I am really enjoying reading through your blog; Thanks again for sharing the journey!