The video below shows the steps I took to build this Florentine window, using materials that I picked up at local hobby, thrift and home improvement stores.I have broken the video down in the tutorial below.
I have never been to Florence, but I get to examine images from people who have, and I am intrigued by the amount of detail that most of the buildings and windows have.
On location, I have been working diligently to recreate an environment that looks and feels like Old World Florence. I have discovered an inexpensive way to create old stone windows by using embellishments from thrift stores along with foam core board and pieces of trim.
This tutorial is Part one. There are a lot of steps that I found myself doing so I wanted to break it down into three parts. This video and post focus mainly on building the window frame. Part two will to show how to make and age the ‘stone wall’ surrounding the window. Finally, in the last of this series, I will show how to create ‘stained glass’ and ‘lead’ pieces added to the window.
You can get as creative as you like when you are building your window. Be sure to explore images of actual buildings and windows that are interesting to you. I wanted to create this style window because it is a combination of several that I found from pictures of windows in Florence.
Step 1: Measure to find the center of the wall.
I love symmetry, so whenever I create a mural or these 3-D pieces on walls I like to find the center point.
Step 2: Draw the center line with your level
This will be the line that I created the rest of my vertical rectangle from. I measured from my center line and created the guidelines for the trim pieces to line up against.
Step 3: Find the measurements for my pieces of trim
Using the the lines I drew from my center line, I now measure the overall width and height of my window.
Step 4: Make trim cuts
Now I cut my pieces of trim at the lengths needed and then I go back and accurately cut my angles for a snug fit. I like to measure from the longest points. So for this window, I measured the outside to outside length.
My angles were 45 degrees on the side pieces and at the bottom. The two pieces that join at the very top were 45 degree as well but the angle that joins to the side pieces was a 22.5 degree cut.
To cut the angles I used a chop saw. If you do not have a saw or access to one then you can use this affordable option. You will want to be able to cut your trim as precise as possible, but it does not have to be a flawless fit. Many layers will be covering your frame and painter’s caulk will help cover any gaps as well.
Step 5: Adhere and tack the cut pieces of trim to the wall
Using my favorite adhesive, I apply a small bead to the back of the trim and apply it to the wall. Next, I immediately tap in some small finishing nails. To make this step easier you can also use painters tape to secure your pieces to the wall before you tap in your nails. However, I have found that when I try to tape larger sized pieces of trim, the weight sometimes pulls the tape and the trim off the wall. Just keep in mind that some pieces of trim are obviously more dense than others. I like to use this kind of trim on walls because it is lightweight.
Put your vertical piece up first, make sure it is level and then add your top angle, I like to put up the left side first. Then, once the side vertical and the top angle is up, take the bottom cut and install that. I then repeat the same steps on the other side.
Step 5: Section off the window using smaller pieces of trim
I used this kind of trim to section off the window. This gives me more areas to add embellishments to and it also gives the appearance of a more detailed window.
Step 6: Seal gaps with painters caulk
I like the illusion of seamlessness on all of my 3-D wall designs. Painter’s caulk helps to create this illusion.
Step 7: Add other decorative elements to the frame
These other decorative elements I have found at thrift/2nd-hand stores. A lot of times, there are some very interesting items that people over-look because possibly they don’t see the potential. What is great is that we are looking for texture, so once everything is coated with paint, it will give the appearance of a sculpted element on the ‘stone window.’ Use adhesive to mount these to the frame. If your items are too heavy, then screw them in and spackle the screw hole before you paint.
Step 8: Create a base for the cylinder pillars
I put up two 1″ x 2″ pieces of wood as a solid base for my cylinder columns on the window. I cut the pieces to fit right below the top angle cut of the frame. Then I have it sitting on the decorative element that I affixed in the bottom right and left hand corners of the window.
Step 9: Cut and install the cardboard tubing
I used a heavy duty wrapping paper tube and cut it length-wise. Then, I glued each half to either side of the window over the vertical wood bases.
I now apply adhesive on the tubing halves. I had to tack up my tubing halves with some finish nails to keep them up while the glue dried.
(Get creative with adding decorative pieces. On the top edges of my window, I cut two pieces of trim board and flipped them upside down. Remember, no one will know what you used to create the illusion of your “window” so don’t be afraid to use unconventional ways to create effects on your window.)
Step 10: Add foam core decorative elements
Now, I take a piece of foam core and slice it in two halves. I take one half and it bring it to the window where I draw out the design that I wish to see.
Once I like the shape, I then use a very sharp utility knife to cut out the pattern. It sounds obvious to use a very sharp blade, but I want to stress this so that you get a very crisp edge to your cut.
Take the pattern you just cut and use it as a template to trace it on the other half of foam board.
Take these two pieces and adhere them to your frame with adhesive.
Step 11: Add interior segments to the window
I take another piece of foam board and cut it in half making sure that there is enough area to match my measurements.After examining a reference photo of an old world window, I discovered that using the bottom of a paint can will give me the desired half circles of the interior segments that I am looking for.After drawing out the design, I cut the pattern. Again, use this cut out as a way to trace the design on your other half of foam board.
Glue these halves in their proper areas on the window.
Step 12: Add weather stripping to the edges of the window
This step cleans up the edges and gives a completed look to our ‘stone window’ once it is painted. The foam stripping is flexible and has an adhesive already on the back of it. There will be areas that may not stick however and in those instances I used small trim nails to tack it to the surface.
Step 13: Caulk additional gaps
Step 14: Prime the window
I use this primer, it is the best quality primer that I have found and once it it down , it provides a great surface for other layers of paint. This layer also allows us to see the window and all of its surface texture, in one solid color without the distraction of all the different materials we used to create it.
The window is now ready for the next step, aging and antiquing details. Before we begin that step, I will be showing a tutorial on how to add faux brick surrounding the window.
I would love to see how creative your window turned out – send me pictures or comments on your discoveries! And as always, keep creating!
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