The true beauty of any design is in the details. After transforming my bland hallway from the white walls, white doors, and white trim to an area popping with color and texture, I realized that the outdated antique brass finished knobs looked ridiculously out of place. I found cobalt blue glass pressed glass switchplates some time ago, which looked terrific on the color washed walls, and all of the picture frames on the walls had a nickel finish. For the utility room, where I may be carrying large baskets of clothes or a ladder for the attic, I didn't want the glass knobs that are abundant in other areas of my house. So, I found a set of new nickel finished knobs at the hardware store for less than $10. Aside from having to chisel out a recessed area for the locking mechanism, that installation was straight forward as the knobs had built in rosettes that fit the hole already in the door. But for the two bedrooms off of this hallway, I wanted something really special. I found some beautiful reproduction cobalt blue cut to clear glass knobs while shopping online and had to have them. The knobs arrived with two glass bulbs on a shaft. The shaft had two settings to accommodate the width of a door, and unfortunately neither of them fit my doors exactly. Plus, I needed a rosette (i.e., a doughnut shape piece of metal that rests between the knob and the door) to cover the locking mechanisms. There are some beautiful vintage brass rosettes out there specifically made for this purpose, see Figure 1. However, they are hard to find and could actually be more expensive than the glass knobs that they are meant to accent.

Figure 1: Rosette Hardware from the Late 1800s

So, I developed a process to make my own using scraps of the sculpted wallpaper used on the lower portion of the walls in this area, see Figure 2. These steps are designed to teach you the simple process for creating decorative rosettes in an afternoon.

Figure 2: The Decorative Rosettes In Progress

Tools needed:

Sculpted vinyl wallpaper
Pen or pencil
Utility knife
Scissors
A cutting mat or old magazine
A plastic bag
Plain rosettes (sold in packages of 2)
Sand paper (fine grit)
White gloss paint
Faceted glass beads or pearls
Weldbond glue (or any clear drying glue that works on paper and metal)

2 1/4 inch plumbing flange (quantity varies depending on thickness of doors and length of doorknob shaft)
Screwdriver (flat head)


Mysts of Avalon small bulletCovering the Rosettes

 

To keep costs down, I went to the hardware store and got the basic rosette hardware that is commonly available, see Figure 3. A set of two costs less than $5.

Figure 3: The Basic Rosette Hardware

Before covering the brass finish with the sculpted vinyl wallpaper, tape off the screw holes, see Figure 4. When the doorknob fits snugly to the door, there is no reason to screw it in place. Taping off the holes aids in reinforcing the wallpaper, so a hole is not pushed through the wet paper when working out the seams later.

Figure 4: Reinforce the Wallpaper by Masking Off Screw Holes

Begin by cutting as many pieces of the sculpted wallpaper into a 3x3-inch squares as needed for the project. Place the rosette on the wallpaper square and trace around the circumference of the rosette. Trim the wallpaper in a circle just inside the line traced with the scissors. In this particular pattern of wallpaper, the center of each tile had a floral center that was the exact size of the hole in the hardware. Working on the back of an old magazine, I used the utility knife to trim out the center part of the wallpaper. Repeat for each rosette.

Once the edges are trimmed, take the doughnut-shaped pieces of wallpaper to the sink and run them under warm water. Book the prepasted sides together to allow the wallpaper to shrink and activate the adhesive.

Apply the wallpaper doughnut to the metal rosette and press firmly. Since the paper is flat and the rosette is domed, massage the wet paper and smooth out any air bubbles and creases. Repeat for each rosette and allow at least an hour for drying time.

Since the shiny metal may repel the wallpaper adhesive, it is best to secure the molded wallpaper shell to the hardware with a clear drying glue like Weldbond. Especially concentrate on gluing down the seams between the metal and the paper on the inside and outside circles. Repeat for each rosette and allow at least half an hour for drying time.

Mysts of Avalon small bulletPainting the Rosettes
 

Lightly sand any rough edges of the covered rosette and wipe the surface clean, see Figure 5. For the sake of time, I used a white gloss spray paint to coat the rosettes since white is not too hard to match. You may want to use a foam brush and paint the rosettes the exact color of the door or trim.

Give each rosette two to three even coats of paint covering all paper and exposed metal. Allow at least half an hour for drying time between coats of paint.

Figure 5: The Covered Rosette

Mysts of Avalon small bulletApplying Finishing Details to the Rosettes
 

In order to hide any uneven edges and add a bit of sparkle, a string of beads around the rosette adds the finishing touch. I chose clear faceted acrylic beads for this project.

Start by lining the work area with a plastic bag. Place the rosettes on the plastic and space them out so there is plenty of room to play. Pick up a rosette and line the edge of the painted rosette with the clear drying glue used earlier to affix the wallpaper and place it back down on the plastic. Gently position each bead or pearl in the glue and press it firmly against the edge of the rosette. Ensure that the holes in the beads or pearls are facing in toward the rosette and out away from the project. The holes should not be visible when the rosette is flat, see Figure 6.

Figure 6: The Beaded Edge of the Rosette

Work bead by bead until the entire rim of the rosette is trimmed with the decorative edge. Repeat for each rosette and allow them to dry overnight. Gently peel the rosettes off of the plastic and pull off any loose glue.

Mysts of Avalon small bullet Installing the Doorknobs
 

Disassemble the doorknob by removing the screw on the outside edge of the base of one of the knobs with a flathead screwdriver. Pull off that end of the knob and insert that end of the shaft through the rosette, then through the hole in the locking mechanism of the door. This is usually a square-shaped shaft with a square-shaped hole, so twist the knob until the shaft passes through the door. Place the second rosette on the opposite side of the door and replace the knob. Reinsert the screw into the base of the knob and tighten with the screwdriver. Twist the knob to ensure that the lock is functioning before shutting the door and locking yourself in our out of the room.

Occasionally, the rosettes are not thick enough and the knob has too much "play" even when the shaft of the knob is inserted through a rosette on each side of the door. In this case, there was a significant gap that I filled using a chrome plumbing plate between the rosette and the door. I left it shiny silver for Figures 7 and 8, so it is clear what role this additional piece plays in the installation. It can be painted the same color as the rosette or a contrasting color for accent.

Figure 7: A Close-up of the Doorknob

Figure 8: The Finished Project, As Always the Hound Is Optional

Now that I have demonstrated how I completed my project, here is a summary of the steps involved in this decorative rosette for doorknobs. Give it a try and let me know the results!

To Make This Decorative Rosette:

  1. Tape off the screw holes on the rosette.
  2. Cut a piece of the sculpted wallpaper into a 3x3-inch square.
  3. Place the rosette on the wallpaper and trace around the circumference of the rosette.
  4. Trim the wallpaper in a circle just inside the line traced with the scissors.
  5. Cut out the center part of the wallpaper swatch to expose the center ring of the rosette hardware.
  6. Take the doughnut-shaped pieces of wallpaper to the sink and run them under warm water.
  7. Book the prepasted sides together to allow the wallpaper to shrink and activate the adhesive.
  8. Apply the wallpaper doughnut to the metal rosette and press firmly.
  9. Massage the wet paper and smooth out any air bubbles and creases and let the paper dry.
  10. Secure the wallpaper doughnut to the hardware with a clear drying glue concentrating on edges and let the glue dry.
  11. Lightly sand any rough edges of the covered rosette and wipe the surface clean.
  12. Paint the entire rosette with two or three even coats of paint and let the paint dry.
  13. Line the work area with a plastic bag.
  14. Place the rosettes on the plastic and space them out so there is plenty of room to play.
  15. Line the edge of the painted rosette with the clear drying glue.
  16. Place each bead or pearl in the glue and press it firmly against the edge of the rosette. Ensure that the holes in the beads or pearls are facing in toward the rosette and out away from the project.
  17. Work bead by bead until the entire rim of the rosette is trimmed with the decorative edge and allow them to dry overnight.
  18. Gently peel the rosettes off of the plastic and pull off any loose glue.
  19. Install the doorknob using the rosettes to hide the locking mechanism within the door.
  20. Stand back and admire your work. :^)

Illustrations and text used in this tutorial are © 2002 The Fifth Choir Designs by Melanie Parker unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.

E-mail me!Please contact me if you would like to reproduce parts of this tutorial or need advice on your decorative doorknob project.

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