Normally I post my weekly blog post on Monday or Tuesday . . . . . Today is Friday. In addition to my own personal inclination towards sloth, I have been distracted getting ready to do some 1:1 scale, real life re-decorating. Plus, when I've sat down at a PC, I've ended up looking for oriental style miniatures rather than writing a blog post. The latter has taught me that there is very little in the way of 'authentic' oriental miniatures out there. Mostly all there is is in chinoserie style which is more oriental fantasy than real oriental and not what a traveller would have collected on his travels. So my tips for anyone else who wants to do an oriental project like this is to be prepared to make most of your own furniture. As far as ornaments and accessories go, look in bonsai shops, garden centres and aquarium shops for some oriental style statuettes and figurines. Try homewares stores for 'matchstick' bamboo placemats which can be cut down to bake bamboo blinds, placemats made of a wider, flatter bamboo which can make floorboards or other items and woven straw like placemats are good to make tatami mats (tradtionally used on floors in Japan). i would be very interested to know if anyone has any other suggestions where to find small oriental items, particularly DIY components.
Despite the distractions, I have done a little work on the Retreat itself, albeit only a little. First, I dismantled the dry-built structure and coated all the MDF with sealer (PVA glue, water and a little paint to make it obvious where I've missed). I then re-assembled the structure, glueing securely together. The foamboard extensions on the top floor were connected to each other using pieces of bamboo skewer as dowels for extra strength. For even more strength, all the joins were covered with duct tape. To smooth over the various joins, I covered the outside with thin card, attaching it with a wallpaper paste. Once this was dry, I covered the card with cotton fabric, again using wallpaper paste. The fabric is a neutral beige-y sort of colour and will be the final colour for the outside walls. It will eventually be livened up with some wooden trim, vivid red posts and either a green or blue-grey roof with the porch railings in the same colour as the roof.
Progress on miniatures will be slower than usual over the next couple of weeks as I still have that 1:1 redecorating to do. I have a whopping 80m2 of ceiling to paint and all the walls that hold it up, plus all the window and door frames and trim in the same area so it will take me a while to get it all done.