A new door for the jurta

December 24, 2011

Edited to add:  The door described in this post is now mounted on the wall of my sewing room.  After eight years, we built a new, new door in 2012.

Tourney season is coming up and I really need to stop procrastinating. You see, in September of 2001, as we were coming back from a crown event, my jurta door, which was bungied to the roof rack of my SUV, came loose and went flying. It flew pretty well, but the bouncing wasn’t pretty. Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, the doors themselves were a total loss, though Olin was able to save the frame. Yay Olin!

The following season, I used a keen felt blanket as a door, which was mostly fine but I never found a way to keep the blanket from falling at inopportune moments. Besides, I’m rather fond of the wooden door thing as it’s easier to keep strange beasties from making themselves at home. You know – dogs, other people’s children, that sort of thing.

In the fall, Olin built my new doors, primed them and painted the red base coat. I used an outdoor enamel paint. Cheap, durable stuff. And then they just sat around.

The design

The first step was to come up with a design. I’m a fair copyist, but I missed out on the gene that can draw anything beyond a stick figure. Consequently, I’ve been stuck on this whole design thing for several months. As it turned out, maybe my procrastination wasn’t such a bad thing as I found several more books with Magyar and nomadic art in the interim.

While the inspiration for this door was actually a Kirghiz felt rug, similar motifs have been used in Magyar and Eurasian art over the course of thousands of years.

pouch fitting

© Hungarian National Museum

Harness/belt mounts

© Hungarian National Museum

The square design in the photograph above, is a central locking mount of a Magyar sabretache pouch. It was recovered in 1912. A coin found in the grave was issued in the reign of Berengar (888-915). These harness mounts are from a 1927 grave find in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county. Identical metal mounts were found in the Karos II excavation and used as belt decorations.


The tools I’ve used in this project are pretty basic. Painters tape. A pencil. A window used as a light board. Small brushes. Metal embosser. Various sized rulers, tape measure and a t-bar. Paint.

Making progress

My light-board and a view of the neighbor's house

I drew a single panel of the repeating design, taped it to my high-tech light board and put together the central motif. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of hearts. I like to pretend I don’t see them when the design is complete.


The door panel is five feet high and about 15 1/2 inches wide. There will be two of them. I’ve used one inch painters tape (that’s the blue stuff), to mark off the diamonds. I transferred the design with an embossing stylus. Embossing stylus can be found in craft stores where the metal (tin, brass) embossing supplies are kept. Essentially, it’s a metal pencil like thing with different sized balls on the end. I bought a package of three and found that the one with the smallest sized ball worked the best to dent the design in the base coat.

Once the design was transferred to the door, I began painting. As I was unable to locate the same brand of enamel paint as the base coat, so I picked up a quart of water-based latex. This makes cleaning up my brushes and mistakes so much easier, though I’m concerned about how the oil-based base coat and the latex will stick together over time. The plan is to put a durable poly-urethane over the surface of the door when I’m completely finished, so that ought to protect it pretty well..

The photograph at the top of this article is one door panel with a single coat of paint on the design. It definitely needs a second coat. Next step is repeating the process on the second door panel and then start on the second color of paint and the additional designs.

Finished door.

Here is the finished product after a hard season of wear and tear. Naturally, I didn’t get a picture of the doorsbefore they got all beat up.

We found out when we hung the door panels that the frame itself is not square, hence the misalignment of the door design. Yeah, we could have fixed it. But as we hung the door panels about 30 minutes before leaving for the event, I wasn’t about to pout about it. I was just happy to have the hinges on.

I quite like the use of the gold. I think it makes the design “pop” a bit. Hopefully, next season I’ll actually get a picture of the yurt all tricked out on it’s bad self.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Amagyarjurta on Pinterest


    Translate to: