Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Plain to Fancy

Like most old houses (in our neighborhood) we have glass in the front door. It's Oak, super strong, reinforced with old beveled tempered hurricane glass. It needs some finish work after years of being exposed to the elements (a couple years ago I slathered on a few coats of shellac just as a temporary preventative.)

Unlike most of the doors in the neighborhood, ours has plain glass. Theirs have leaded, etched, patterned designs and I am jealous of them. When we moved in there were gathered cafe-style curtains cinched up top and bottom to provide a little privacy. But they were dusty, dingy grey and came down a few hours after moving in. We've lived in plain view of all the neighbors for years since.

To provide that privacy we lost with the curtains, I had in mind an etched pattern, similar to many I see on the paired interior doors of Italianate homes. I dug through my archives of patterns and found a greco-style pattern of anthemion and greek key that would do nicely on the front door. A fanciful explosion of Neo Grec stuff. I designed it in Adobe Illustrator, but I never had the pattern cut to do the etching.

Then a spark of genius: Why etch it when I can get a gigantic faux frosted glass vinyl sticker made. I won't harm the original glass, and its so much less messy. And being the consummate DIY-er, what if I screwed it up while I was doing the etching? I could barely mess up a giant sticker.

Procrastination Pays Off

I waited nearly a year to contact a local sign maker. When I did, I got a great price for cutting the vinyl. I stopped in their shop and chose the translucent vinyl (that mimics frosted glass) and got ready to send in the Illustrator file I created.

Then I created an even better design of an Eastlake-style flower in a pot. I struggled to create the highly symmetrical design in Illustrator in a timely manner since there's that house tour coming up in a couple of weeks. I was even able to incorporate the house number into the design. Many of the old houses in my "hood" have gilt and black painted house numbers in the transom above the front door, similar to ones I know you have seen in San Francisco row houses. We have leaded glass in that location and cannot put the number up there. The number, too, is cut vinyl in a metallic gold color and black. I simply layered the vinyl to get he appearance of back painted glass house numbers (the back is solid black, just the way the original gold-leaf numbers are)

It took about 4 hours to install the huge sticker, after watching many You Tube videos of just how to do it. It's tricky, but not difficult. The flower is cut out to expose the clear glass. Thanks Chris (from Precision Signs) for sending a whole bunch of extra leaf veins. At about 1/8-1/16 of an inch thick, they tore pretty easily, so it was good to have the extras for replacement.

If I tire of this design, I can change it. Maybe one day I can buck-up and etch the design onto the glass and actually gild the number. Until then, this looks pretty darned nice.

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