Friday, September 25, 2009
Having gone to the trouble of making a staircase and installing it before realising that the arrangement wouldn't work, I have re-designed the second floor staircase as pictured above. There will be either a fake door, fake windows or a bookcase along the back wall of the 'gallery' section. Possibly a combination of the above. As you can see, the gothic theme is upheld by use of a dark woodstain and repeated use of the classic gothic arch. For the curved stairs from the bottom to middle floors I wanted to do something that was different, but still at least a little gothic. I also needed some sort of railing that can be made to curve to match the staircases. I found some felt ribbon intended as a scrapbooking embelishment in the local craft shop. It is cut out to make an ornate swirly design. First I have to push out the pieces that were supposed to be cut out, but weren't, then I ironed the lengths of ribbon and painted them with very watered down wood stain so they will match the rest of the wood in the house. Next they recieved a coat of fabric stiffener to make them more rigid. Now all I have to do is cut the lengths of ribbon to the right size, add some supporting posts and newel posts at the top and bottom of the stairs and install the stairs and railings in place. Oh, and figure out how to make a handrail that curves for along the top. Then, once I find 16 suitably gothic finials for the posts, the stairs will finally be finished! With the work on the stairs (probably the single biggest task in the house) nearly done, I've been playing with furniture in some of the rooms as shown in the photo below.
I'm still concentraiting on finishing the staircases for MB's, so progress on the Bakery is going slowly at the moment. The photo below pretty much tells the story for the week - the oven is (mostly) finished and installed and the access ladder has been made and installed. Not shown in the picture is the sewer section, which I have made look a little 'dirtier' and added 'water' to the central channel.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Inbetween futsing about with staircases for MB's, I started work on the bakery oven. It is made in two parts, the base and the top. The base is made out of foamboard, is rectangular with two arched openings in the front and is where the fire that heats the oven will be located. The upper section is made of airdrying clay. I started creating a 'form' out of alfoil and bits of cardboard and foam that was about the right size and shape as I wanted the finished oven to be. Then I rolled the clay out to a few mm thick and draped it over the form and cut the clay to fit. Next I removed the clay from the form and lay it flat again. I cut out the arched opening in the front (so that the bakers can get the bread in and out of the oven)and used a toothpick to make grooves to give the impression of bricks. The clay was then put back over the form do that it dried to shape.
Sometimes things go right and all the pieces just fall into place. Then there is the house of Madame Bellerose. It is one of those projects that just refuses to co-operate and come together. First there is the kitchen, which just looks plain horrible at the moment. It is being brought down by two things, the floor and the doorframes. The floor should look better after furniture and people are added to the room as this will make the floor less visible. The real problem is the doorframes as the only way to take them down will probably involve ripping the wallpaper, which will lead to the need to re-paper the walls and possibly redo the panelling as well. For the time being I am ignoring the kitchen while waiting for a brainwave on how to make it look better to strike. Then there are the staircases. The pair of curved stairs joining the bottom floor to the middle are acutally progressing quite well. They have been cut out, glued together, filled, roughly sanded and painted with a watery mix of paint and pva glue. They only need the be filled again, re-sanded and then painted/stained and varnished. (Then they need banisters and rails, but that is another problem for another time). It is the much simpler straight stairs joining the middle to the top floor that is the problem. I used some recycled premade straight stairs to create two sections of stair separated by a landing. Under the lower section of stair I built a bookcase with two gothic arches. As the stairs came with a railing built into the wrong side, I had to remove the exisiting railing and fill the holes. I stained the whole lot and added a 'carpet runner' up the middle of the stairs. Finished, I glued the stair assembly into place. This took all day. Then I looked at what I had done and realised that for a 12th scale person to walk up the stairs, they would have to bend double at the landing as it was only about 2 1/2" from the ceiling! So after bashing my head against the table a few times I had to carefully pry the staircase out (which I did manage with only minimal damage to the wall and floor papers already installed) and come up with a new staircase design. This new design should work, it may even be an improvement, but I'll judge that after I have made it work! Once I have the stairs finished, they will need rails/banisters. I have plenty of the mass produced ready made spindles and newel posts in my supply box, but I really want something more 'gothic' to add to the character of the house. I have no ideas at the moment what I will use for the railings but I can guarentee I will want to throw the curved ones through the nearest window at least once before they are done to an acceptible standard! Not only do I need to figure out how to make them curved, I need to make them with the same curve as the stairs.
Friday, September 11, 2009
The following are a list of newspaper headlines, some clearly quite old, that came to me via the friend of a friend's friend's friend. (Or something like that). I have no idea of the actual origin of them, but they are worthy of a giggle! # Prostitutes appeal to Pope # Panda mating fails; Vetrinarian takes over # Include your children when baking cookies # Something went wrong in jet crash, expert says # Police begin campaign to run down jay walkers # Safety experts say school bus passengers should be belted # Drunk gets nine months in violin case # Survivor of Siamese twins joins parents # Iraqi head seeks arms # British left Waffles on Falkland Isles # Lung cancer in women mushrooms # Eye drops off shelf # Teachers strike idle kids # Clinton wins on budget, but more lies ahead # Enraged cow injures farmer with ax # Plane too close to ground, crash probe told # Miners refuse to work after death # Juvenile court to try shooting defendant # Stolen painting found by tree # Two sisters reunited after 18 years in checkout counter # Never withhold Herpes infection from loved one # War dims hope for peace # If strike isn't settled quickly, it may last a while # Cold wave linked to tempuratures # Deer kill 17,000 # Enfields couple slain; police suspect homicide # Red tape holds up new bridges # Typhoon rips through cemetery, hundreds dead # Man struck by lightning faces battery charge # New study of obesity looks for larger test group # Astronaut takes blame for gas in spacecraft # Kids make nutritious snacks # Chef throws his heart into helping feed needy # Arson suspect held in Massachusetts fire # Ban on soliciting dead in Trotwood # Local high school drop outs cut in half # New vaccine may contain rabies # Hospitals are sued by 7 foot doctors
Week three was largely swallowed by working on the Bakery. The only work to MB's I got done was in the kitchen where I added the panelling and the frames over the scullery doorways. Unfortunately . . . . . . . It all looks horrid and will probably be pulled out just as soon as I decide what else to do with it!
After what seems like an endless eternity of stenciling, the brickwork on the inside and outside of the bakery's basement block is finished! That means it's time to say the same thing I always say after using a stencil to create brick or stone work - I am never doing that again! This time I might actually be forced to keep my word on that as neither of the craft shops in town seem to be keeping the ingredients for my 'stone/brick paste' anymore. Something else I'll have to buy online perhaps. Ater finishing with the stenciling and allowing the last lot of brickwork to dry, it was time to 'wash' the bricks. I do this to all the brick and stone finishes I have created with stencils and the texure paste mix as it has several effects. First, it evens out the colour where I've had to mix another batch of paste and the colour inevitably comes out a little different. Second, and yes I know this is a bit of a contradicition, it creates variations in the colour of the brick/stone by making the wash heavier in some places than others. The wash itself is made from a little extra of the brick 'paste', extra stone effect paint and acrylic paints all mixed in a pot of water so that the final mix is only fractionally less viscous than plain water. The 'raw' bricks were a little to sickly in colour for my taste so I added plenty of extra red and black paint to the wash I put over them to darken them up - and they ended up pink! Deciding to settle for pink brick I then highlighted random bricks with chalk paint in shades of brown and applied a couple of coats of sealer and finally, the bricks were finished!
Thursday, September 3, 2009
If you're tired of the same old boring staircases that come in miniature scales, try visiting the following links for some inspiration. Included are stairs in just about every style imaginable and even afew that are impossible to imagine! Stair Parts Carved Custom Stairs and Trim Michael Burke Construction Inlaid Marquetry Stairs Nine Creative Staircases Bristol Joinery - Staircase Gallery Staircase Creative Designs
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Bricks, bricks and more bricks. The problem with covering a space inside and out in brickwork is that there are soooooo very many bricks to add. I've been using a brick stencil from Bromley Craft Products and my own mix of 'brick paste' to add the effect of bricks to the bakery's basement block. After two weeks I am almost finished adding bricks, just one more panel of the front and the top to go! Even then I'm still not quite done with the bricks as I have to add free formed bricks around the top edge of the arches on the front. I haven't figured out how to make the oven yet, but no doubt this will also need to be bricked!
Now that the exterior of Madame Bellerose's home is finished (at least until I change my mind about it) I have started on the interior decor. Normally I start from the ceiling of a room and work down (ceiling, walls, floor). This means that I don't have to worry about splashing the walls as I paint the ceiling, plus once the ceilings are finished, I generally don't need to turn the whole house upsidedown again. For M.B.'s I decided not to paint the ceilings, but to make a feature of the ceilings with embossed paper with balsa wood panelling. With that in mind I papered the ceilings, then the walls, then added the panelling to the ceilings as the paneling helps to hold both the roof and wall papers in place. The exception to this process is the ground floor where the kitchen has a plain ceiling and the 'hall' is completely covered in the embossed paper without any paneling. From the top floor down, the rooms have the following colour schemes: Bedroom: Has an oversided fler-de-lys pattern in lavender on purple. This 'wallpaper' is really a quilting fabric. The floor will be of wood-effect paper. Lounge/Study: Has dark forest green walls with a pattern of paler green vines. This room is papered with scrapbooking paper. Seance Room: Has floral patterned walls in burgundy on pink. Another fabric. Kitchen/Scullery: The scullery at the rear has plain white walls. The kitchen has a white ceiling, blue floral on cream upper walls while the bottom of the walls will have some gothic-influenced panelling. This is the only room with made to purpose mini wallpaper! The floor of both areas is already down, made from pieces of vinyl 'stone look' floor tiles cut into 'slabs', the gaps between slabs has been grouted. Entrance Hall: The walls are papered with cream scrapbook paper with a pattern of beige motifs. The floor is covered with made to purpose miniature victorian floor tile paper.
Argh! I just realised I overlooked adding Barehaven Miniature Pottery to my list of links. Click Here to see their site! They make the most amazing, tiny pottery products in 1/12 (or 1") scale. Butter churns, tea pots, cauldrons, vases and more are all hand thrown on a pottery wheel.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Today is the first official day of spring in Australia (and also the first day it hasn't rained lions and wolves - like cats and dogs only heavier! - in a week, or do I mean a month?) It has been a ridiculously wet winter in Tasmania. Naturally three months ago all the 'experts' were saying to expect a very dry winter! Australian spring starts on 1st September, summer on 1st December, autumn on 1st March and winter on 1st June. As a British colony we would logically have inherited these dates from the English (only in reverse). So why do the British and American seasons officially change on the solstices and equinoxes? I can't seem to find an answer to this question, but I assume that someone 'up north' decided to change the dates of the seasons sometime after Australia was colonised (the past 200 years) but forgot to tell us. Pushing the official seasons back does make sense as the earth's wobble on it's axis and variations in it's orbit (etc) mean that the seasons have changed over time. Why, the winter solstice was once celebrated as 'Midwinter', but now it is only considered the start of winter rather than the middle. If anybody knows when and why it was decided that the northern seasons officially start on the solstices and equinoxes or why us Aussies are different, I'd like to know so please leave a comment!