June 29, 2012Reproducing A Vintage-Style Etched Glass Shower Door – Reader Jason Tells Us How
By Eartha Kitsch
Hey everyone! I was super excited when Ruth asked me to cover this story of a vintage inspired shower door belonging to Albuquerque reader Jason and his wife, Katie. I’m sure that many of you are like me and have appreciated the beauty of etched glass shower doors in vintage homes in the past and wished that similar doors were still being made today. Why can’t we still get mermaids and fish and woodland creatures on our shower doors straight from the manufacturer? That’s a lament for another day but first, let me show you Jason’s shower doors:
This is the original shower door that was in his home when he bought it:
And this is his brand new shower door!
Pretty sweet, huh? And nope, it’s not vintage. Read on to learn more! Jason writes:
When we bought our house three years ago, we were immediately drawn to those original midcentury elements that were still intact. These included the bathroom tiles and cabinets, kitchen cabinets, the fireplace/hearth/mantle area, and several light fixtures both inside and outside the house. Of these, the shower door was the most unusual and just screamed “Midcentury” to us. It’s just not the sort of thing you see new anymore at all (which makes the fact that we were able to get a brand-new version that much more exciting!)
I’m giddy just reading about their house and that door. Unfortunately, the shower grout had some issues and the door had to be replaced due to decades of hard water and soap scum that couldn’t be removed – and a miserably cracked and rusted frame that could not be replaced. Modern frames will not hold the size of glass that their door contained. And from the way it sounds, the hinges were just barely hanging on. None of us look forward to this kind of project so I asked Jason to tell us what got the shower redo moving:
The whole project began when we realized the shower itself was leaking into the subfloor through old, cracked grout. Fortunately, living in a dry climate, we were able to catch it in time before any serious damage occurred to the subfloor, although we were terrified that we would have to rip out the whole shower for a while.
Yikes! But never fear… Jason says that a shower gut wasn’t needed. They are currently working on regrouting the shower. And that beautiful new door? Using their old door design as a template, Jason and Katie had the underwater scene reproduced by Evan at Etched Glass Designs in Albuquerque. I asked Jason to tell us more about that process:
The door and frame were just standard issue from a local glass company. We were recommended to him by the glass company as someone who could probably reproduce the original door design, so it wasn’t hard to find him at all in that respect. Had it not been for the recommendation, though, I wouldn’t have even thought to look for anyone. Much of what Evan does is trophies and awards and such, so I expect there is someone of a similar skill set in just about every city.
Ooh! Intriguing! Jason said that the door itself was about $300, including installation. The etching came in at around $450. Jason notes that the cost was “not cheap, but not outlandish either, especially for something so cool!” I’d have to agree with him there. It’s a beautiful custom job and the door can be enjoyed for many, many decades just like the old one was.
He noted that some modifications had to be made such as not using the pebbled type glass that was on the old door due to a higher risk of the glass cracking during etching. Also the new door had a much wider frame than the old door did, so the piece of glass was not nearly as wide. As a result, the original design had to be scaled down a bit to fit on the new glass. He also says,
You can see that the new door does not have the bubbles like the old one does, unfortunately. I didn’t even notice when the artist sent me the proof drawing before he did the etching, as I did not have the original in front of me. So a little bit of a bummer there but still very happy with the new door.
I can’t blame him there. It’s absolutely stunning! Jason adds “Hopefully, armed with this knowledge about glass etchers, everyone can now go out and get a great midcentury shower door!” and I agree with him. My mind goes back to this incredible design that I saw once in a shower door in an old home with deer and pine trees. Hmm…. just think about it – the possibilities are endless. You think up a design – anything in the world – and it can be etched into a shower door for your home.
Jason was kind enough to share some other photos of the other sweet features in their bathroom. Here is a great telescoping towel/washcloth holder:
The tiled shower:
The vanity area with original sink:
And their newly installed floor which has a decidedly retro look. He says that it’s from the Medintech line from Armstrong. It’s worth checking that line out. Looks like they have some really cool options.
I don’t know about you all but I’m quite impressed with the work that Jason and Katie have done to preserve the original beauty and integrity of their fantastic bathroom. Thanks to Jason for sharing their story with us and for filling us in on how we too can have our own retro inspired etched shower door!