|Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm)|
Cheap Mullions For Building WindowsWhen you're making or detailing buildings, you may discover that window frames are often hard to supply convincingly, especially the trim that separates panes on multi-pane glass windows, often called mullions.
Scrounging Useful Mullion Material - Each spring, when you start buying fresh fruit or visiting the plant nursery, keep you eyes open for a source of plastic mullions that will look nice and cost you nothing.
Plastic Fruit Baskets - When you're getting strawberries or other fruit in little plastic baskets, look at the sides of those baskets to see if the "grids" on the side are square or rectangular enough to serve as window frames.
I used grids from plastic strawberry baskets to finish the windows for a Cape Cod house that I "trashbashed" from a Fisher Price structure. The grid size was just about perfect. For more information about "trashbashing", see our article Trashbashing 101
Plastic Plant Trays from Nurseries - Better yet, when you are shopping for plants this spring, take a very close look at the trays those plants ship in. One of the most common styles has beautiful square grids in rectangular arrangements. Although the grids run diagonally, once cut from the tray, painted, and glued in front of a window pane, they are as very convincing for multipaned casement windows. Yes, some of the trays have diamond-shaped grids or other patterns that do you no good. (So "shop" carefully.)
A local nursery has a "recycle" bin for those trays, and they won't complain if you "borrow" a few, especially if you trade ones you can't use for ones you can. The larger grids from my nursery trays are waiting to be part of a city station or power station, when I decide what I need next.
Prime and Paint Anything Plastic - In either case, be certain to prime and spray the grids before you glue them into place (Sunlight will make them wierd and brittle in a season if you don't.) And be certain to glue the "pane" behind them to the walls of the structure and not to the grid itself, or you'll get visible glue splotches on your "windowpanes." Mullions cut from plastic baskets or trays are fragile, and without panes glued solidly behind them, you run the risk of punching holes through them if you pick the building up wrong.
Other Sources - Many garden railroaders use galvanized hardware cloth for windows. The resulting pane sizes are a little small for the larger scales, but it is a very sturdy material and will take paint. Get the biggest "mesh" you can.
What about Glazing? For window panes, I get scrap pieces of Plexiglass or Lucite or similar material from hardware stores where they cut window panes for customers. They may film up after a few years in direct sunlight, but they don't yellow and crystalize like some of the plastic "window panes" that come with building kits do. For more information about using Lucite or other acrylic window material, please see our article Glazing Windows with Lucite
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Thanks, and best of luck, all,
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