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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Highcroft Castle - Week Eleven

This was another week of working furiously to finish the exterior and major construction jobs of the castle. The good news is that I've finally finished it! Almost. In all honesty there are a few things that still need doing to the outside, but these are either small tasks or things I haven't decided for certain to do yet. So officially I'm calling the outside finished and turning the main focus of my attention to the inside of the castle. Of course, first I should tell you about the past week's work on the outside . . .

The small tower windows were shaped from air drying clay last week. Once thoroughly dried they were painted cream and then given a coat of 'stone' to match the exterior of the castle. Like the other windows, these were glazed with fine black mesh and mirror paper cut to size. Four of the windows were then glued onto the outside front of the tower while the remaining four will be added to the inside walls after I've decided where they look best (which will depend on the size and position of the as yet unmade furniture).

The tower front was made by curving a piece of board over arched 'ribs' of balsa wood. But the course of a week proved that the front board tended to pop off the ribs and no amount of glue or pins was going to hold it securely. So I decided to "sew" it together. I used a kitchen skewer to punch holes through the board on the inside and threaded twine through the holes in much the same way as you might lace up an old fashioned corset. This pulled both sides of the curved front together and holds them securely on the ribs. All the front needs now is possibly some vines/plants growing up it and maybe the wooden bay windows painting a cream stoney colour to match the rest of the stonework.

Originally, I had intended for the side of the tower closest to the main building to have no wall - the main building's outside wall would be the tower section's wall. This would have worked marvellously . . . if the tower was shorter than the main building. As the tower is taller, there is a jolly big gap between the roofline of the main building and the top of the tower. If I put a solid wall floor to ceiling here, it would block the doorway from the main building. After passing on several ideas I cut a piece of foamboard the width of the wall that covers the entire space between the top of the tower and the main building roofline, then tapers toward the back of the building. It's basically a rectangle sitting on top of a triangle. This makes it look like a full, solid wall from the outside but doesn't interfere with the doorway inside. The exterior was "stoned" with paste and a stencil to match the rest of the outside. On the inside side I had a problem. It should have been covered with stone paper to match the paper on the wall behind the steps, but I didn't have enough left. So I covered the side with a thin layer of polyfilla and carved a stone pattern into it. Many layers of paint later and the resulting stone effect is really quite passable . . . too bad it doesn't even come close to matching the paper. It needs yet more paint to make it yellower if it is going to match the paper, but I honestly don't think even that will look right and I suspect I will soon be ordering more stone paper to cover this section.

While I had the polyfilla out I added some to the pillars and arches for the catacombes in a thin layer and marked out stone patterns with a toothpick. Once dry and given a base coat of cream, the pillars and arches were glued in place in the catacombes. Although I experimented with several pillars (of balsa wood dowel), in the end I decided to use just two as this was enough to give a subterranean 'dungeony' feel without clogging the space and making it look like a hypostyle hall out of an Egyptian temple. Again, successive and numerous coats of paints later and the catacombes are starting to look like they're made of stone . . . too bad the stone is too brown to match the rest of the castle. So here too, I need more paint before I call the task complete.

The last major exterior task was to cut and paint a front piece for the catacombes. This was cut from foamboard and stenciled to match the rest of the exterior. This used the last of my stone paste, so I hope there is nothing else in this castle that needs to look like the same stone as the outside! This piece now just needs attaching with hinges and a catch adding to hold it in place. This I'm leaving until I'm happier with the paint work in the catacombes to avoid the risk of getting paint where it doesn't belong.

This week I'll (hopefully) be working on the Kitchen and Treasury (these two rooms seem to be a good place to start work on the inside given the fact I've cheated and already done some work on them previously). In the kitchen I need to sort out the fireplace, adding such things as a spit, and I need to figure out how to make a big wash tub. The kitchen staff are going to be in the process of clearing up after the banquet going on upstairs, so a big tub of water to wash all those pots will be essential.


  1. I smiled at the thought of you sewing your tower front, but hey, if it works, don't knock it. You can always cover bits with lots of vine if needs be. You're storming ahead with this project, I'm enjoying following it and I like the catacombe idea.

  2. it looks wonderful and sewing it together was actually a genius idea :-)