Modern Loft Series: Custom Windows

The very first thing I start with when making a room or scene is the window placement.  How many and what kind of view?  While shooting several different sets with modern miniatures I've learned that the window is always what brings the most lifelike illusion to the photograph. I've also learned that custom handmade wood windows are extremely tedious and difficult to make! (I applaud all you who have mastered that art!)  You might remember in my loft series I made these really large windows.  
I needed something simple without the hassle of cutting and gluing tiny sticks of wood in straight lines.  If I didn't have access to a laser cutter now I most likely would have continued using this method for all my future builds.   So if you haven't discovered this method and need something simple I encourage you to give it a try!

First you need transparent printing paper.  I got mine from a local printing/photocopy store.  These sheets of transparent plastic are most used with overhead projectors.  They sometimes come with a protective backing on each sheet.

You can go about making the grid lines either manually or digitally:  
1. You can take a ruler and permeant maker and draw each line right onto the transparency.  
or
2. Draw the lines on plain printer paper and scan onto your computer.  Then use an inkjet printer to print onto the transparency.
3. Use photoshop or another drawing application (as I did) to make a grid and then use an inkjet printer to print onto the transparency.

If you don't have a printer, or as in my case your printer doesn't print dark enough, take your file to your local business/photocopy centre.  They should be able to print it for you and most places have the transparent printing paper there.

Here is my grid:

I chose thinner lines for the mullions so that they wouldn't be too visible.  The window I was making had 3 large sections but remained as one piece.  I added thick black lines to show where the pieces of the frame would go.  These thicker lines were made based on the approx thickness of the framing I was using.  By adding these into your design your grid will be evenly spaced on either side of the framing.

The thickness of your framing depends on the thickness of your walls. I was using 1/4" foam board so my wood was 1/4" thick.

Next I glued the pieces together to make a frame using the dark lines as a guide.
The frame.
Paint the frame.
Glue the grid sheet to the bottom of the frame.







The Back.  Personally my roombox was only meant to be seen from the front so I never finished the back... to finish:

Make a second frame to give yourself a complete window.  That would give you a front frame, window grid sheet, and back frame. (Not shown).  
OR
Place the window inside your wall and add strips of trim around the outer edges on the back.


You could finish with trim on the front too if you wish.




And there you are! Windows without the fuss. Or glue.  Or straight edge lining up. Or pulling your hair out because something just nudges a piece the wrong way and it all just falls apart... you know.

A big thanks to Mini Mod Pod for requesting this and then waiting so so long for me to post ;)  And for another cool idea for transparencies check out what the The Shopping Sherpa did with her cafe logo.  Makes me think a few more experiments are in order...coloured stained glass maybe?

Hope you are all off to a great week!  I'm looking at rain rain rain more rain and the possibility of snow... Good stay inside mini making weather. :)

25 comments

  1. Awesome! I had always thought I was going to be cutting a million tiny slices of wood (and cutting off my finger tips as usual) but this is BRILLIANT! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I am terrible at cutting the wood and not myself ;) So many battle scars on my fingers! Hopefully we can avoid save our fingers a bit now :)

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  2. Wait!! Snow??...Just a bunch of rain here. Thanks, for the window pattern. I will have to custom make windows in my next project. These are great!!

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    1. I know snow! It looked like Christmas again last week here :( Hopefully you get some good flowers out of that rain. Looking forward to seeing your HBS kit come along :)

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  3. This is a really great way to get a cool window without having to cut a lot of tiny pieces. I've noticed an increase of people putting fake scenes in the back too which always adds to the scene. I'd be interested to know how you do yours - how you light it, how you chose the background. Great post =0)

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    1. Hmmm my top secret methods for lighting I suppose I could share ;) I've always done it because a) my real life space is always a mess when I photograph and b) I'm a sucker for illusions in miniature. I always take a behind the scenes shot when I take pictures so it will be fun to share those. Thanks :)

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  4. Thanks for sharing this great tutorial. The windows look really effective and set the scene.

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    1. Thank you! It took awhile to get the lighting to hit on the sofa but I do think they add something special.

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  5. Make me feel old, why don't you? ;-)

    When I first started in minis there were books of stained glass patterns you could buy to photocopy onto overhead projector film. They're still available: http://www.amazon.com/Ready-Dollhouse-Stained-Windows-Coloring/dp/0486237400

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    1. I've seen stained glass before on clear sheets but I never thought of diy'ing it and photocopying the image onto them though. Duh! The book looks really neat - a whole lot of designs too. I do like the photocopying idea though because then maybe I could come up with some more modern designs.

      I was actually very shocked at how hard it was to find transparencies now. Only at specialty shops. I guess overhead projectors are really that obsolete.

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  6. Ditto what Pepper said. I'd love to know how you did the lit up skyline too.

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    1. Well since the two of you have asked so nicely... :)

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  7. Wonderfuly done! I love seeing a bit of a landscape through mini windows it always adds to the feel of grandness even in small scale!

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    1. Thank you Jane. I agree it adds a lot more depth to the space.

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  8. Beautiful window and scene.

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  9. El ventanal me parece estupendo. Gracia por la información.
    Me encanta la escena.

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  10. Yep, yep, yep! Brilliant! I've done the stained glass insert a couple of times on the Heritage, for the bathroom and the front doors. :D Gives a great illusion!

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    1. Yes you did! *Goes to revisit and fall in love with the Heritage all over again* Your inserts are amazing too! Actually when I mentioned the stained glass in my post I did think of your Brownstone and thought I had seen some there.

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  11. Hi Kristine! You are so right about the necessary placement of windows and the need for a great view. It is interesting that even when the window is cut out, it is just a hole in the wall. It is not until it is framed in and the glass inserted that the window becomes "A Window". It just doesn't have the same effectiveness otherwise. Yours look Fabulous!!!! :D

    elizabeth

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth! Yes it's a magical moment when you add the framing. I've always loved the Houseworks windows because I could just cut a simple hole and pop them in. Suddenly the scene took on a whole new level of realism.

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  12. Kristine, I only found your blog in the past month, but I've read it from beginning to end since then. As a miniaturist who was never a big fan of contemporary miniatures, you have now converted me. I am very very impressed with you modern kitchen. Thanks for sharing your unbelievable miniature project. Thanks!

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    1. Thank you so much Wanda! Your comment is so sweet. I decided to take a look through my blog after reading your comment and find it really interesting to see just how much of a contemporary style I've developed over the past couple years. I find a lot of contemporary spaces in real life to be cold and feeling empty so it's definitely a challenge to try and balance the minimal aesthetic with an inviting atmosphere. So I can understand where you are coming from! Hopefully I'll be able to share pictures of the kitchen completed soon!
      In the meantime I'm heading over to check out your blog - another Canadian. You probably still have snow in your forecast too :)

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  13. Hello Kristinе!
    I love windows! Windows are the eyes of the house!
    Great job!
    Tatiana

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