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Welcome to my blog. Please feel free to leave a comment. I assure you I always read and appreciate everything you have to say. Unfortunately, thanks to Blogger being, well . . . Blogger, I can not respond to comments nor leave any on your blogs. They simply disappear into the ether. Occasionally I will remember to respond in the next blog post I put up, but usually these good intentions slip my mind. So if you want to ask a question or get a response to any comments you may have please leave an email address or other contact method in your comment and I will get back to you.

I have also added a separate page to the blog for the Tower of Magic with a brief summary of all the rooms of the ToM in the one spot. The link is just below this and above the main body of the blog, or you can just click here.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Workshop

The Workshop for the Tower of Magic is now finished.   There isn't anything particularly magical about it; in fact the clockwork gears under the table give it more of a steampunk feel than anything.  Still, I hope it will blend in well enough when it's put with the other rooms of the ToM.

In the back corner is an area for woodwork with a wall mounted rack for spare timber from which also hangs a range of tools.

Next to this is a painting station with a range of paints and brushes stored in a hanging shelf unit.

On the central table a broken orrery is being repaired.

The fire in the back corner is largely lost behind everything else in the room.

And my other current project, the 48th scale Woodnock Cottage, now has thatching on it's roof and is ready to have furniture added inside.  (And for an idea of scale, the blue surface you can see under the cottage is the top of the Workshop).

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Workshop, a Cottage, and a House . . .

One of two new projects I've started work upon is yet another room for the Tower of Magic.  This is the last of the boxes I've been using for the ToM so unless I can find more to match this might be the last room of the ToM as well.  The room is the 'Workshop' where assorted magical devices and contraptions are built.

 The Workshop has an open stone fireplace which can be employed as a forge to heat metals for working.  In the corner beside the fire is a stone stair that disappears behind the chimney and provides the illusion of access to the room.

The furniture in the workshop has been painted in a range of different colours and for a change I actually like how the paints I've chosen are working together.

While waiting for paint and glue to dry at various stages in the Workshop I filled in time by starting my next Petite Properties kit.  It's another 48th scale property and is called 'Woodnock Cottage'.

Woodnock is another rear open job (I won't remind you again how much I dislike open at the rear houses) but in this case altering it to be front opening wasn't really practical so I've assembled it more or less as the manufacturer intended.  I really must be slipping.

The main room on the ground floor is going to be a country tea room.

The adjoining room will be the kitchen where the goods on offer in the tea room will be prepared.  

There are also two rooms upstairs.  At this point I'm not certain whether these will be an apartment for the operators of the tea room to live in or possibly a more 'commercial' space, say an art gallery selling local landscapes or a shop selling handicrafts?

One change I did make to the basic kit was to move the internal wall dividing these upstairs rooms across a bit so I get two good sized rooms instead of one huge and one small room.

Finally I went into the local Post Office the other day and found this child's dollshouse kit reduced to $20 from $90.  How could I refuse?  It's about 24th scale in size and very nicely finished for a basic child's toy.  Now the only question is what to do with it . . . ?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

No Ravens Here

The 48th scale house I started as my Christmas project is now finished.  It's a kit called "Raven's Perch" by Petite Properties.  They intended it as a spooky Halloween sort of a house but I made it into a neatly maintained home.  Inside it has seven rooms over four floors.

Above you can see the basic kit how it is meant to be built.  Needless to say, I did not build it this way.  The kit is one of those with no back walls with the rear left open for access and viewing (and also for dust and cat paws).  I always find houses made this way hard to arrange inside so whenever possible I adapt them to open at the front.

This is what I did with Raven's Perch.  I used foamboard to create solid back walls and glued the front walls and porch together but left them separate from the main structure so they simply lift off.  Adapting the roofs was a little more tricky.  Like the walls, the two areas of roof were supplied open at the back.  For the roof over the main house it was a matter of using a piece of cardboard to create a back roof section which is fixed to the back of the house and then leaving the top and front roof section loose.  Some struts made of foamboard glued inside the roof hold the roof in the proper curved shape.  This meant that I had to cut the chimney at the roof line so that the bottom of the chimney was affixed to the house but the top was glued to the removable roof section.

The tower roof also formed the walls of the top room in the tower.  At first I thought this would mean I had to fix three sides of the roof in place and leave just the front panel removable so that the room still had walls when it was opened for viewing.  What I couldn't figure out was how to hold this one removable piece in place.  I solved the problem by using cardboard to add separate walls for the top floor that are fixed to the house and tuning the roof into a cap that sits over the top of these walls and lifts off.

I don't quite understand how the folks at Petite Properties managed not to put a balcony on top of the porch.  To me it just seems like such an obvious thing to do especially at the porch roof was flat.  I altered the double window that overlooked this area by extending the frame down to the porch roof so that the window looks like a set of doors and added a railing around the edge of the porch roof to create a balcony.  The railing is a piece of lace painted to match the rest of the trim on the house.  I would have liked to cut out the railing around the porch and replace it with this lace rail especially as the rails that came with the house were left crooked to add to the spooky abandoned feel the manufacturers were after.  I decided attempting this was too dangerous as it was too likely I'd inadvertently damage the posts that hold up the roof/balcony and end up with a right mess.  Instead I settled for painting the porch railing the same colour as the floor so they blend in and the crooked bits aren't too noticeable (at least in theory).

The house is covered in strips of cardboard to simulate weather boards.  The roof is clad in shingle look strips made by Petite Properties.  Two packs of these strips was the perfect amount to cover both sections of roof on this house.

Inside, the basic kit had no supplied features aside from the bare chimney breasts.  No doors, just open doorways connecting the rooms of the main house to the tower rooms.  No stairs to connect the floors, no fire surrounds.  There is a trapdoor supplied to access the top tower room, but no ladder.

The ground floor in the main part of the house has the dining room and entry hall; the two areas being separated by a partition wall.  Another wall was added at the back of the dining room with an arch cut into it.  This does two things; it stops the room from being too deep and narrow and it gives the impression there is more to the house that you can't see.

The entry hall area has steps leading up to the next floor.  These are another kit from Petite Propeties intended to be used in the Le Petit Palais kit.  The hall stand by the stairs is another PP kit and is decorated with tiny umbrellas and felt hats.

Opening off the hall on the ground floor in the tower section is the kitchen.  This is probably my least favourite room in the house as the colours in here are just all wrong.  The walls are too neutral and the metallic pink cabinets too powerful against them.  I solved the no door problem by adding a simple piece of cardboard to create a faux sliding door.

The middle floor in the main house holds the living room.  Like the dining room I added a faux wall at the back to create a hallway behind the room.  Another set of stairs leads up to the top floor from this hallway.

It took me a while to find a furniture arrangement I liked in here and when I did I forgot one thing.  Remember the faux doors that open onto the balcony outside?  Well, it you were to walk through those doors you would smack right into the back of the sofa and need to climb over it to get inside.  Luckily the sofa is a deep colour that doesn't show looking in through the windows in the door and when the front is removed for viewing you tend not to realise there should be a doorway right there.

In the tower room on this level is the bathroom.  It opens directly off the living room which is . . . not ideal but there was no other place to put the bathroom.  I realise now that I should have blocked off the doorway that came with the kit and added a fake door in the back wall so that the bathroom opened off an imaginary hallway rather than the main living space.  The bath, toilet and sink in here are all more PP kits.  The shower in the corner is simply a piece of curved wire with pleated fabric curtains and another piece of wire looped at the end to make a showerhead (it's there, it's just hidden by the curtain in this photo).

The top floor of the main house holds the bedroom.  Like the two levels below it I added a fake wall at the back of the room, this time to block off the sloped roof at the back and instead have a straight rear wall.  A rather unconvincing fake door connects this room to the rest of the house.  Due to the supports inside the removable roof I couldn't add too much furniture at the front of the room or it would be pushed askew every time the roof was put in place.

The bed is a round jewellery finding that was cut in two to create a head and a foot which were connected by a piece of balsa wood.

Opening off the bedroom in the tower is the dressing room.  This room definitely needs a little something more but at this point I haven't thought what I might successfully do in such a small scale.  In the back corner is a balsa wood ladder leading up to the top room in the tower.

Up in the very top of the tower is a small study with a desk and chaise.  The desk is a little like the sarcophagus in the Great Pyramid, larger than the only doorway it had to come in through.  Maybe like the sarcophagus, the house was built around the desk?  Even the chaise would have been difficult to get up through that trapdoor.

You may have noticed a couple of rooms have people in them.  These are cheap 'O' scale model railway people.  They work reasonably well in 48th scale but have a couple of drawbacks.  Firstly, being cheap they're pretty badly painted but that's easy to improve although I wouldn't claim to be able to get them perfect.  Secondly, they're all dressed for the outdoors.  They wear overcoats, the women clutch their purses and so forth and they really don't look right inside.  Finally, they're all fixed in a set pose which makes it that bit harder to make them look at home.

So there you have it, my version of Raven's Perch which is decidedly minus the Ravens.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2015 In Review . . . Part Two

Starting in August I worked on this 24th scale house.  The house itself is two cardboard storage boxes joined together to create one large five floored town house.

It is the residence of a doctor whose surgery occupies the main floor.

Like all houses, this one did not turn out the way it was initially intended to.  The bedroom for example isn't really quite right for a respectable Victorian gent - it's too lacey but I like it too much as it is to redo it.

The attic holds what is probably everyone's favourite room of the house, the doctor's research lab.

Next I dropped down to 48th scale to fill this recessed frame with ten little boxes each containing a separate room or scene.

One of the first rooms finished for this project was the Roman dining room complete with chaises for the diners to recline upon while they eat.

The Art Deco room features some furniture kits from Petite Properties (the couch, chair and fireplace).  This was one of those rooms I just couldn't layout nicely.  I also apparently never managed to get a really good photo of it.

The Arabian room features (printed) tiles and lots of cushions (which are little squares of felt).

The modern kitchen is dwarfed by the really huge cake on the counter.

The Japanese room is simple and uncluttered.

The double height hallway uses pieces of bamboo fan blades to create a carved railing and the tops of fancy toothpicks for staircase spindles (too bad they're so crooked).

The Greek balcony has a stunning view and lots of potted colour.

The bedroom uses up left overs from when I did Le Petit Palais.

Finally, the garden room or conservatory is filled with colourful plants featuring flowersoft flowers.

Put together, the ten boxes (or nine rooms) look like this.  The best thing about this project is that the finished item hangs on the wall; no need to find shelf space for it.

By now it was December and not wanting to start anything major until after Christmas I worked on two 12th scale vignettes.  The first of which was this wizard's table laden with magical supplies and paraphernalia.

The second vignette was one of those things that refused to work out right.  It was initially supposed an empty sofa with a very colourful highly patterned upholstery.  This looked terrible so I substituted this sofa which then looked too empty so hastily dressed and added a lady to lounge upon it.  I don't really know if I like the end result or not.

Finally for the year was my project over the Christmas break.  It's the Petite Properties kit "Raven's Perch" in 48th scale.  Needless to say I haven't quite built it as the instructions say to but I'll tell you all about this project in detail in the next post.