The Den of Slack

Stained glass windows

My first experience using Gallery Glass was in the Oak Shadow roombox, in a Guys from Texas class a million years ago. This was a 1:12, Craftsman style window with a very simple design, and we used silver tape to create the lead lines. I never got around to creating a gallery for this roombox, but here are a couple of pics.

Since then, I’ve had these bottles of Gallery Glass on my shelf (plus a few more I picked up on clearance at Michaels), all sad and neglected. Now that I’m working on the oval windows in the Victorianna’s towers, I decided to give them a chance to shine.

In theory, making a stained glass window is easy — you just lay down the lead lines and then spread Gallery Glass paint between the lines. But the lines are where I get tripped up. The Gallery Glass tape or lead tape you can buy is too thick for miniature lead lines, so it would need to be cut into thin strips, and I don’t exactly have a steady hand when it comes to cutting straight lines. Also I’m not sure how to use the tape to create curves. I’ve seen beautiful results that other people have done with tape, I just don’t have the skill to achieve it myself.

Last year I invested in some Gallery Glass Liquid Lead, thinking that would work better than tape for the lines. I tried making stained glass windows for the two round windows in the Queen Anne Rowhouse. The result was… not great. But practice makes perfect, right? (Well, maybe if you actually *practice* it does…)

For the Victorianna, I found a simple pattern online and scaled it to fit in the oval windows. Here’s what I managed to do with the Liquid Lead, which I spread with the tip of a toothpick.

Um, no, that’s not gonna fly. Nice try, though.

I was just about ready to nix the stained glass window idea and put the Gallery Glass bottles back on the shelf for another 10+ years when this eBay listing for stained glass inserts showed up. (Hi, karma! *waves* Thanks for stopping by!) These inserts are printed on acetate — something I’d opted not to do myself due to the expense of buying the special ink jet printer transparency sheets and replenishing my color printer ink and finding an appropriate design. I contacted the seller, Carol, and she agreed to a custom order for six window inserts, plus a larger panel for the oval door on the second floor.

Here’s how the transparency looks in the window frame. The size is perfect, and I like the design. The color is a bit “thin” though (even more so when it doesn’t have a white background behind it), and it definitely has the flatness of a printed design rather than the thick, wavy texture of stained glass.

So that got me thinking… what about using Gallery Glass on the transparency? I wasn’t sure if it would mess up the ink or the acetate somehow, but a quick search on the Greenleaf forum revealed that Gallery Glass on printed acetate is indeed an acceptable practice. Hey, I may not be able to make straight lead lines, but I can paint by number!

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Cupola roof and weathervane

Like the big tower roof that I completed in September, the roof of the Victorianna’s gazebo-turned-cupola is made from a wooden bell that I bought off Etsy. It’s slightly smaller than the octagonal base it’s sitting on, so I had previously added 1:12 crown molding around the edges of the base. That helped, but having the crown molding flush with the edge of the base rather than overhanging looked unbalanced, especially compared to the bigger tower roof.

The front edge of the crown molding plus the base it’s sitting on is 1/4″ inch tall. I bought a piece of 1/4″ cove molding to attach to the front edge.

Once again using the 67.5-degree angle on the miter box, I cut eight pieces to go around the outer edge of the base. I also marked the points on the bell with pencil so I’d know where to glue the piping.

Here’s how it looks on the cupola. The cove molding adds another ripple to the trim and provides a more natural looking overhang.

Next I glued leather braid onto the bell, like I did on the big roof. I didn’t bother drilling a hole in the top of the bell this time because 1) it came out off-center on the first bell and I thought that would happen again, and 2) I was too lazy to get out the drill.

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Finishing the spiral stairs

Continuing with the Victorianna’s spiral staircase — I wasn’t happy with how the stain turned out on the top step, so I painted it to match the landing.

I filled in the laser cut part with wood filler. That piece needed to be “bad side up” for it to face the right direction, so the design was a mirror image of all the other steps. My inner perfectionist just couldn’t take it!

I bought some brads to fill in the holes that resulted from the railing pieces not fitting properly, but I didn’t like how they looked.

The holes are about 1/8″ square. An 1/8″ piece of strip wood wouldn’t fit — presumably that’s also why the railing pieces didn’t fit — but the next size down that I had on hand, 3/32″, was slightly too small.

By cutting the 3/32″ dowel into pieces slightly longer than 3/32″, I was able to cram them into the holes so they’d stay put. On a leftover stair I tried one stained with walnut and one with ebony, to see which looked better. I decided to stick with the walnut (the same color as the steps).

This took a surprisingly long time to do. I kept cutting the pieces slightly too short or slightly too long, or dropping them or breaking them as I tried to cram them into the holes. I inserted them from the back, then added glue to the back to keep them in place.

Next I added risers between the treads. I added a side piece on the bottom step to help stabilize it but didn’t bother with side pieces on the rest since they’ll be up against the wall. The risers are cut at a 45-degree angle where they meet the center post.

It’s surely a code violation not to have a railing, but that would have made the whole thing a lot more complicated. I may not have had a choice, since the pieces didn’t fit, but in the end I’m glad I left it off.

I lost the ball glued to the top of the post while I was filling in the holes and couldn’t find it. Luckily I had one more (it’s cut off the top of a 1:12 Centurian newel post). This time I poked a hole in the ball and the post and inserted a piece of wire to hold them together, in addition to glue. (The wire isn’t that long! I cut it down after I took the picture.)

Here’s the almost finished staircase. I haven’t added a riser to the top step yet. I want to make sure that step is positioned exactly right inside the hole, so I’ll wait until I assemble the rest of the cupola to glue that step in place and add the riser.

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