Preparing for the overhaul...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Making An Historically Accurate Tudor Window

In tudor times, glass was a precious commodity.  Only the wealthy could afford it and, even then, hardly ever in abundance.  Commonly, glass windows were only actually glass in a small portion.  Usually that portion was the upper half, or maybe just quarter, of the window.  The rest of the window was covered by a shutter.  In good weather, the shutter could be opened to let in fresh air; in bad weather, the shutter could be closed, but light could still get in through the upper part of the window.

From the early middle ages through to the modern era, two commodities were even more precious than glass: light and fresh air.  Windows from the time reflect builders', and homeowners' recognition of their importance.  Most tudor families lived in dank squalor, but not by choice.  A window like the one I'm building would've been popular for its ability to bring what light and fresh air there was into a room.

I'm about at the halfway point with this window, and thought you might be interested in seeing where I am.  Sometimes it's easier to understand how something's built when you see it mid-progress.  This is part of a project I'm working on right now, a tudor-era merchant's house and shop.

I made the frame for this window out of two Houseworks 12-light windows.  Since the original window isn't meant to have individual glass panes, I had to cut them out of plastic.  I just used the plastic supplied with the windows.

After I fitted them in, I glazed them into place with some of my trusty DecoArt glaze.  Here, I've finished one pane, so you (and I) can see how it'll look when it's done.  The rest have just been glazed into place. I laid the lead tape right over the glazing.  I think the secret, here, is to glaze with a light hand; it's hard to disguise lots of bumps and lumps.

Here's a close-up of one of the glazed panes.

Here's a close-up of the shutters.  So far, I've only attached shutters to one side.  The weatherly side is quite a bit darker and more aged than the interior side.

I liked the double hinged effect.  The Houseworks brass hardware isn't exactly historically accurate, but it's also the best-made hardware on the market.  There's plenty of more accurate-looking hardware, but I've tried a lot of it and most of it doesn't work.  One company's products (which purport to be American Colonial but could work in a medieval or tudor setting) were really disappointing to me, because the hinges bent.  They bent so much, and so easily, they couldn't support the weight of the door.  Even swinging it closed changed their shape.  Sometimes, modeling means trade-offs, and if it's a choice between accuracy and utility, I, personally, would rather have utility.

Here's a view from above.

And here's (sort of) what it'll look like from inside.

The shutter folds up, allowing it to be put out of the way when not in use.

I added some nail holes and gouges, to give this wood the effect of having been previously used.  It's tough to remember this, sometimes, but most things were recycled.  Completely new items, made from newly fabricated materials were a luxury.

So here we are...halfway there!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice; where's finished job?