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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Highcroft Castle - Week Ten

I'm trying to get the exterior and all the 'construction' work finished on this castle before moving on to adding furniture and accessories.  At the start of the week there was still plenty of work to do on the outside, so naturally I started making furniture for the kitchen.  I know, it doesn't make sense, but if you've been following this blog for a while, you should know that very little in my world ever does.  It was a simple matter of not having the time to start on one of the messy and time consuming jobs left to finish the exterior, so I worked on something quicker and less messy instead.  Rather than make a one piece dresser (or hutch) for storage I decided on a bench style dresser with separate shelves that hang off the wall above.  I chose a square table for my main preparation/cooking table because it fills the space better than a narrower rectangular one, plus rectangular kitchen tables are extremely common in dollshouses and I felt like being different.  Both items still need finishing off and staining, but they have already transformed the kitchen and made it look like, well, a kitchen.

The distraction of the kitchen furniture put aside, I went back to finishing the exterior of the tower.  I had already made the front for the tower out of presenation board, the next step was to give it a stone finish to match the front of the main building.  Just as with the main building I used stone paste and a stencil, the difference being this time I stenciled on a piece of cardboard.  When the stone paste was dry, I wrapped the cardboard over the tower front and glued it in place.  Rather than go to the trouble of stencilling the back of the tower, I simply covered it with a solid coat of stone paste.  It is the back after all, no one is ever going to actually see it.  At the same time I covered the very pink air clay crenellations I added to the tower last week with more stone paste and they now look much more at home atop the tower.

Next job were the windows.  There were three groups of windows that needed making: the dormers for the main building roof, a multistorey bay type window for the tower section front (infront of the stairs) and small windows to scatter around the walls of the tower.  All of them are fake windows glazed with a fine metal mesh (painted black) in front of a piece of mirror paper (the same as the windows in the main building front).  The mirror reflects light, giving the impression light is actually shining out the windows while the mesh breaks up the reflected image so you don't really notice that you're looking at yourself in a mirror.  For the dormer windows I used the basic window that was on the original house.  I took out the original window frame and removed the roof.  I made a new, larger window frame from air-dry clay and extended the height and altered the shape of the dormer with more clay.  Once dry, painted and glazed, I was prepared to attach the new windows to the roof when I realised that the windows had no roof, just a big hole on top.  So I used cardboard to create a curved roof for the windows.  These just need painting and the dormers can be attached to the roof.

For the bay window I used a single piece of balsa wood for the front with two strips for the sides.  After creating a pattern out of graph paper I cut the window openings out of the front piece.  I stained the whole window section to look like wood, glazed the windows and attached the piece to the front of the tower.  I chose to give the windows a wood effect for a bit of difference and interest.  Seeing it in place on the wall, I'm not sure that the wood look really works and I may paint it in the paler stone colour sometime later.

For the smaller tower windows I again made use of air-dry clay.  I made a template for a simple, somewhat gothic window on graph paper and used this as a guide to cut about eight windows from a sheet of rolled out clay about half a centimetre thick.  These still need painting and glazing, but will soon adorn to tower's front fascade and also the inside walls to give the impression that the rooms actually have a view.

Finally, inbetween doing these various bits and pieces I made a start on painting the catacombes.  First with a coat of cream to kill the ghastly pink of the clay and then with a wash made of various stoney coloured acrylics and some of the stone paste used on the outside of the castle.  Already the faux stones look quite good and not at all like clay, egg cartons and polyfilla (there are stones in this room made of all three).  I will add the pillars and roof arches before adding further paint layers so that all the stone in the room can be finished at once from the same mix of paint.  If I finished the walls before adding the pillars (etc) I can guarentee that the pillars would end up a different colour to the walls.

So that leaves me with ten windows to finish off, the main section roof to install in such a way that it can actually open, a 'front' panel to make for the catacombes and a few other little touches here and there and the outside will finally be finished!


  1. Oh, I love what you're doing! How exciting to see someone else blogging about a castle :) I think it's looking great, and I love your creative suggestions.

  2. Thank you Dangerous Mezzo, but actually a lot of the credit for this castle goes to you. Some months back I had the idea for this castle, but told myself it ws too big and impractical and talked myself out of it. Then I discovered your blog and your lovely castle and even though the two are nothing alike, your castle inspired me to go ahead and start on Highcroft.

  3. Oh my...this is awesome. I love it all.