Just look at that beautiful window sash! Isn’t it pretty? (Yes, Joy, we see you, too…)
I found this early 1930s window pane laying in the front yard in the rain of a local historic women’s club where I have dinner with friends almost every Sunday afternoon after church. It was left out in the rain like trash.
There is new leadership at the women’s club which have spent a little too much time on Pinterest… The place was built in the 1930s in a neighboring town. Beautiful original wood panneling, beautiful wood floors, beautiful HUGE twin fireplaces on each side of the large ballroom, and gorgeous wood windows… until somebody thought it was a good idea to paint the wood panneling a light gray and replace the original windows with cheap-looking vinyl windows. The original interior shutters have been removed, and they are planning on painting the original knotty pine paneling in the main ballroom. They also have the women’s club’s silver displayed as centerpieces on the tables of the side room, which they now call their “tea room”. The silver is horribly tarnished, and the women won’t clean it because they “like it that way”. Evidentially, they don’t realize that tarnish isn’t just a cosmetic issue for silver… Tarnish left for a long period of time will damage the silver. The historical charm that was once there has been gutted out of that room to follow the gray, white, and silver trends featured so much on Pinterest. So what if the room looked a bit dark? It was built to be that way. Once you paint that knotty pine panelling from the 1930s, you’ve changed the entire historical feel of the building. I usually like Pinterest, but sometimes it can be a historic building’s worst nightmare.
When the ladies paid thousands of dollars to have all of the original windows removed, when it would have cost much less to just reglaze, they cheapened the look of a once beautiful structure. They sold off a lot of the windows at a sale they had the Saturday before I saw this last pane lying in the grass, waiting for the garbage. It was lying there with one last original interior window shutter. I pitched a fit all through my meal, afterwards I and some friends hauled the window and one lone shutter to my house.
I decided I wouldn’t let this little piece of history go to waste, so I decided the window would make a nice frame of pictures of my farmhouse.
If you want to make your own window picture frame, here’s how!
I wanted to use the exterior of the window as the outer portion of my frame. I placed the window on a layer of newspaper and used a plastic putty knife to remove the loose paint from the window. As I wanted to have a bit of a rustic feel to the frame, I didn’t worry about removing all of the paint.
The next step was to remove all of the old, cracked window glaze. A good bit of it was already missing, and most of it popped off pretty easily with me just using my fingers to pry it off.
There was some stubborn glaze that didn’t want to come off by itself, so I had to pull out the heat gun to warm it up a bit.
If you find you need to use a heat gun on your project to soften the old window glazing, be VERY careful not to aim the heat directly on the glass! I cannot stress this enough! Also, keep the heat gun moving! If you concentrate the heat too closely to the edge of the glass, you will likely end up cracking the glass, like I did. Oops…
Once the old putty is gone, you’re ready to add new glazing! Yes, you can do this yourself. In fact, if you have an old house with windows that need reglazing, starting off with a project like this is a great way to learn.
I prefer the old putty style glazing to the newer kind that goes on with the caulk gun. I think it leaves a prettier edge. You can buy it from your local hardware store. I also find it’s best to apply it with a metal putty knife so you get a nice, sharp edge. I do not have a tutorial to post for this at the moment, but if you search for how to glaze wood windows on YouTube, you will find some good examples.
When the old putty is removed, you may find these little guys:
These are the window points that help to secure the glass in the window frame. Remember that this window is from the 1930s. Your window may not have points that look exactly like this. I recently restored an 1840s window for my bathroom addition that had tiny tack nails for points. I had to carefully wedge some of them back into the wood as they had somewhat worked loose over the years.
Once I reglazed the window panes, I gave it a day or two for the putty to dry. Look on the container to find the recommended dry time for your particular putty. I probably should have given it a bit longer, but I was a little impatient and wanted to try my hand and the new chalk paint.
Chalk paint is quite the “in thing” right now, so you will have a lot of options to choose from I purchased Americana Decor in the chalky finish of my choice, as well as a wax to apply to the dried chalk paint to give a nice, subtly smooth finish. Follow the directions on your paint of choice. You may choose not to use the wax finish for your project, but I do recommend using it.
Once the chalk paint had dried, I screwed two very strong picture hangers on the back of the frame, as well as added a decorative burlap ribbon for the frame to “hang” from. I printed the pictures on my home printer and carefully taped the pictures to the back of the glass.
Here’s the finished product:
The plan is to hang it on the wall in the living room, which is in a room that was once a storage shed/three-walled barn. As I am currently stripping the ceiling tiles from the original ceiling, it’s going to be a little while yet before I have that room finished.
What do you think? Isn’t it a great way to reuse these old, beautiful wood windows?
If you try this project yourself, let me know how it went for you!