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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Highcroft Castle - Week Nine

 At the start of the week I thought perhaps I could finish the construction phase of the castle by the end of the week. Naturally, I was wrong and now estimate it will take at least two more weeks. The one big job left to do is the tower exterior which will need to be stenciled to match the exterior of the main section. I could cheat and use the stone look paper I used inside the tower, but I think it would just look wrong against the stenciled stone of the main tower, plus it won't take being used as a scratching post by cats nearly as well as the hardwearing 'paste' used for the stencilling. The main ingredient of the paste is intended to create stone effects outdoors, so it pretty durrable. I have made the front for the tower section, so really have no excuse not to go ahead and finish off the exteriors. I just wish that the process of stenciling wasn't so dull and repetitive.

Anyway . . .

My first task of the week was wrestling a flat piece of board to form a curve to create the tower's front. The plastic board was actually easy to make curve, just really hard to make it stay curved and then go straight (for the front of the stairs) at the right angle. The curve was created using "ribs" of balsa wood on the inside for support and pins and lots of glue to hold them in place. The bit where it has to change direction to run accross the front of the stair section was harder, but was eventually managed using wedges of scrap balsa wood and anything else close to hand that looked useful. In retrospect, I should have cut this piece off from the curved bit and just glued it back on at the correct angle. Because the plastic board doesn't take paint well, the whole front will be covered with a thin cardboard - as soon as I get it painted and stenciled. Lastly, I need to add some mock windows and of course, figure out how to secure the front cover so it only comes off when you want it to.

With the cover underway, I turned my attention to the other part of the tower exterior still needing attention: the roof. Using a mix of part air-drying clay, part paper clay I made the crenellations as one long, flat oblong of clay with 'notches' cut out to make the crenels and wrapped this around the top edge of the tower. After first experimenting with the mix of clays last week I have found that it does indeed dry as hard as normal air-drying clay, but shrinks and cracks less much like paper clay. It is also more like paper clay to work with when wet which is another advantage.

While I had the clay out, I decided I should at least make a start on the last untouched room in the castle - the catacombes. The catacombes are located under the tower in the 'subterrainean' level of the castle. In keeping to the 'mix-n-match' styles of stonework already in the castle, I knew that I wanted to try using clay to create the stone effect in the catacombes. I started by adding the angled side walls (so there would be something to cover with the clay). I wanted the inside walls to be set in from the external walls so I could create 'niches' in the walls. I angled them so that it is easier to look in and see what is in those niches. With the walls in place, I rolled out large sheets of clay about half a centimetre thick, used PVA glue to stick them to the walls while wet and then used a toothpick to press a random stone like pattern into the clay. At this point I was running decidedly short on clay, so used cardboard eggcartons, again cut in a random stone pattern, to create the floor. I am going to add some columns to the space to give it a more underground/enclosed/catacombey feel to the room.

At some point (but don't ask me exactly when) I started to give the Treasury room some personality, adding shelves to the wall and putting some bling in (or should that be out?) the storage chest. Beyond the arch at the back of the treasury room is a barrel table and chairs where the Treasury guards play dice to pass the time. Eventually there will be a gate in the arch so that the Treasury can be securely locked. There will also be bolts of precious fabrics, perhaps a few racks of weapons and lots of shiny, valuable looking objects.

Going back to my quest to complete the exterior, I painted the roof of the main building. The first coat was a terracotta colour, followed by a couple of washes of watered down brown to give it a random, weathered look. The original dormer windows are still being made over. So far they have been given extra height and a curved top with more air dry clay and had new window frames made for the windows. Some paint should see them ready to be installed on the roof.

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