Ellet, the window-maker

You know that feeling when you've made a mistake and you're just realising?

Okay so maybe it wasn't the absolute smartest idea I've ever had to put two big ol' gaping holes into the cottage little over a week before absolute everyday-chaos were to ensue in our regular dwelling, but hey, life's short and let's chance the stability of a 130-year-old house just to live a little! We DID of course cover the holes but it just doesn't feel right to not have windows in spite of the need to renovate them, especially as the season's turning.


Again, the light…

Then again, it didn't matter that it dragged out for an extra two weeks because I realised after disassembling the windows, that this particular putty has to dry for FOUR WEEKS before I can paint them. I'd read everywhere that you just have to wait a few days before painting the windows, but this threw our entire schedule off. We had to go to the cottage and put up better protections over the frames because we counted on it taking like two weeks, not seven... Ahem. Very well, no harm no foul.

The expert's advice was to start off with windows that aren't as visible to like, visitors and general stragglers so I, of course, did the only reasonable thing and started off with both front-facing windows. Like a pro. Or you know, like a total newbie about to mess up the windows people will see first. Hurr-hurr.


To be honest, I chose those two windows because they need it the most and... last year really. One of the windows has just three millimeters of wood to putty outside of the glass, and... Entropy doesn't care that you're running out of time or the right season for redoing windows because you've been allergy-sick for eight weeks during the summer when you initially intended to start working on them. Entropy also doesn't give a flying fuck about winter rapidly approaching nor what the neighbours are saying now that windows are missing on that old cottage along the road. When that entropy has just millimeters of wood to pulverize before actual window panes are falling right out of their frames, even this newbie to window-renovations has to take her chances and take those windows home for six weeks instead of waiting for warmer times next year.


When we checked in on the cottage yesterday, the old owner puttered by on a charming tractor from the 1940s and waved, probably wondering where to we've gone off with the windows. Sold them? Slowly picking the entire cottage apart and selling it off in pieces? To be fair, it's probably more worth in pieces than as a whole to the general public but fortunately, I'm not the general public so I don't care that the National Land Survey institution values it as exactly 0 Swedish crowns or dollars or pounds or dragon dungeon dinar. Zero.

For me, *clutches necklace*, it's worth so much more than that!

Anyways, back to the windows.

Have you ever wondered what the demise of wood looks like? Like in detail? It can look like this. It's soft, fluffy and grey like a pleasantly plump chinchilla butt, but the delightful sensation of petting it is clouded with the notion that it's your house crumbling under your trembling fingers.


Here you can also see the devilish little white specks that will walk along with us in life from now on.


When scraping down this window, I found that it’s been blue earlier in its life. It’s details like that that really add to the character of the building for me, along with the window coming from another house some time ago. I suspect this one does because it’s the only blue one I’ve found.

Now it's your job to scrape all that fuzz off along with minuscule bits of white paint that spreads onto EVERYTHING, and by everything, I mean that you find them in your bed, having them randomly popping into your eyes for a little rummaging around blinding you, they're hanging around in rooms you haven't even entered since you started scraping the paint and you feel them between your buttcheeks while showering. Oh, and don't forget to take a shower before going out after doing ever so little of scraping, because even if you dust all the paint specks off that you can see, those people that you think are staring at your tits are in fact just trying to figure out why your entire chest is spattered with 2x2 millimeter bits of something stark white. Has she been eating sugared donuts in bed? Is she filthy rich and rolls around in marble all day? Is it bio-degradable "glitter"?

No, I'm sure she just spent three hours painstakingly scraping old windows until she couldn't feel her hands anymore, I'm sure that's it. Said no one.

But, when you've spent hours and hours... and hours of scraping, the soft grey fuzz has been replaced by the underlying hard, firm wood with life still going for it. Old windows are as a rule made from the best, densest pieces of wood because they have to be absolutely top-notch to survive seasons and weathers for generations to come in all their daintiness. And after looking so rough, scraping them down and slathering them gently in a mix of linseed oil and turpentine still makes them glow a little. It's all going in the right direction, though one of the kids skeptically did raise the question of why it smells so weird in the basement. Hey, a little linseed oil poisoning has never hurt anyone!


When working and the brain needs company, choose a good one. Like Rachel Maksy, a funny cosplayer-vintagey dog-loving creature on youtube. I highly recommend.

I'm not gonna get started on putting the glass sheets back into their frames onto putty though, because that may be the most frightening piece of DIY I've ever put my shivering fingers on. Okay, so I will get started on it. It's like, no I'll just put this putty all around the edge right, and then quite firmly press a sliver of thin (much thinner than modern glass), hand-blown glass evenly into the putty without breaking it. THEN, I'll just use this tong and hammer to shove little pins into the frame to hold the glass in place, without breaking the glass or shearing off shards or accidentally dropping the tools onto the glass surface. NO WORRIES RIGHT.

If I hadn't showered off all those bits of scraped paint I would have sweated them off in the process, that's for sure. Thus far, I've paned and puttied two out of four window sashes, pray for me and the rest.


This is what it can look like when you’re struggling with a really uneven surface of wood so you can’t use the putty knife, no distinct lines to level the putty with and three millimeters of space to put it in.


In my defense from the previous picture, this was my absolute first try of puttying a window. Having clear lines to follow and a deeper well to put it makes allllll the difference for this amateur.

I was planning on writing this post when the windows were finished and all fancy and stuff so I could flaunt them, but when I threw my entire schedule off I decided to talk about it anyways. It's been a process, that's for sure. There are six large outer windows and five small ones still in need of help, and then the inner windows to par. Hopefully, I can show you guys the result of the two in progress around Halloween!

It's like A says now and then after we moved into our house, "Having a house to plan around gives you an entirely new perspective on time." With my physical limitations and being realistic around life and its turns, if I really get into it maybe I'll have gotten through half the windows by next summer. Maybe. With all the things that need to be fixed in the cottage and at home, and in my personal life, and with school, and holidays and with friends, I don't have to worry about going idle.

Imagine that I, just over a year ago, lived as a single in a tiny studio apartment downtown and having fixed that place already, I had absolutely nothing that demanded my attention except for my day job and blogging when I felt like it. I remember feeling a little lost.

When one's hands work, the mind can rest. It's the best kind of busy.