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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Highcroft Castle - Week Fifteen

I decided that as the catacombes had not been touched for weeks, it was time to give them a little TLC. I finished the paint work on the stones by adding another couple of layers of 'washes' then adding some rub on paint in brown and copper to give some extra variation to the colour and to make things look a little dirty. Next I filled the two shelves in the left side wall with the remains of VIPs who had been intered in the catacombes long ago. The two bodies are actually one skeleton separated into pieces. Each is covered with a velvet shroud. The shrouds were given an aged decayed look by holding them over a candle flame to burn holes in strategic spots, then dumping them in water before the whole lot caught fire. The burials were finished with a bit of bling - the crown on the top skeleton is actually an old, cheap ring which looks like a crown from a distance but if you look really closely you might notice the design is actually of teddy bears. On the opposite wall I made a built-in shelving unit in what was previously a big hole in the wall. This is where the castle's chronicles and other important documents are stored securely. It may seem strange to keep papers in an underground space that is probably a little damp, but keep in mind that long ago in it's history, the castle was built by a Sorcerer-King, so a little spell to preserve the paper wouldn't have been hard to come by. The snake in the photo is a glass pendant I found in the local craft store and thought would make a good addition to the Sorcerer's Study. When I put him in there I discovered he looked more effective when you look down on him rather than up at him as you have to in the Sorcerer's Study as it is at the top of the tower. So the serpent has taken up residence in the catacombes.
The Sorcerer's Study itself is looking quite good, in fact it is the most complete room in the castle. I filled the bookself with faux books, scrolls and a few other odds and ends. The books are two blocks of wooden books that came with the shelf and two lots of books printed from a miniature printables website (Jim's Miniature Printables). I was going to have real books on the shelves and had been collecting them over the past few months - then discovered the books didn't fit on the shelves! A couple of the real books did make it on, lying in a pile on the bottom shelf. The scrolls are quite simply white paper 'aged' with coffee and rolled into . . . well, a roll and cut into scroll sized segments. On the top shelf are some jars made from colourful beads. The top of the drawers at the back of the room was similarly piled with books, jars, a crystal ball and a small pewter dragon. The gemstone tree beside the doorway was my find of the week; at $6 there is no way I could have bought the components to make my own. On the wooden perch made last week I have used air-dry clay to make a bird shape which I will paint and feather to (hopefully) create a stunning fantasy bird. Suspended from the ceiling is a bird perch made of air dry clay which houses an owl from Town Square Miniatures. As the perch is right over the table I hope the Sorcerer has a spell to stop owl dung dropping straight down or he is in for a messy time! Under the table and hiding under a dropped book a cat is hunting the fantasy bird. This room pretty much complete, it just needs a floor rug, accessories for the table and a sorcerer to be complete!
I have made a start on 'lights' for the castle in the form of torches and candlesticks. These aren't working lights (I used working lights just once and have a long list of reasons for not doing so again). The torches wre made from staircase spindles painted black for the handles and black wire twisted about to form . . . well, I don't know what this bit is actually called, but it's the bit where the fire is. These hang from the walls (or pillars) in the catacombes, treasury and kitchen. I have also made floor standing candlesticks to spread through out the castle. These are made from air dying clay supported on bamboo skewers. Once dry they were painted with a metallic paint in a pewter tone and each was topped with three or four candles. The candles were made from real wax by using drinking staws as moulds. The instructions for this were in one of the more recent dollshouse magazines, though I forget which at the moment. These will be scattered about the castle wherever there is an empty spot in need of filling. This pretty much leaves only ceiling lights to make. I need something grand for the great hall, something practical for the kitchen and as for the other rooms, they may not even get any at all and settle for floor standing candlesticks or wall mounted torches and candles.
I spent a lot of time this week trawling through the internet looking for two things: Ideas for the "Mystery Room" and supplies for the castle. If you've been following this blog you'll be familiar with my dilema over the Mystery Room - I just can't decide what to put in it! Thanks go out to Irene for sending me some very useful links about castles, but sadly they didn't really help me make a choice. The problem is that all of the really interesting rooms don't belong halfway up a tower. A few days ago I decided that I'd try to make a throne and that if it turned out all right, I'd put it in the Mystery Room to make it a throne room. The photo to the left is the result. The piece of white card on the floor is for the back of the chair and will fill the space between the two white 'swirls'. Once it's been painted and upholstered I think it will look quite convincing as a throne, but is it right for the castle? I'm still not entirely sure that I'm going to use the Mystery Room for a throne room. That said I do have a picture in mind of what will be going on in the throne room - some children who are up past their bedtime have sneaked (or is that snuck?) in to the throne room while the adults are occupied down stairs and are pretending to be kings and queens.
As for the other time consuming internet search of the week - supplies. I started looking for something to use as a table runner for the table in the Great Hall. I had in mind a nice, brightly coloured jacquard ribbon with a pattern suitable medieval/castle somewhere between 3cm and 6cm wide. I could find countless ribbons that were 1cm wide or 10cm wide that would have been perfect if they were a different width. Eventually I found some ribbon being sold by an ebay seller (heratigetrading) that looks like it will do the job. I am a little nervous about buying things from India, but the seller also has some stock in the US and pretty good feedback, plus it was all I could find I liked, so I took a chance and placed an order for two different ribbons so I can pick which looks best when they arrive. Also on ebay, I bought a cauldron, some pots and a candlearbra from seller muireannrua from whom I've bought before with no problems. The cauldron and pots are for the kitchen while the candleabra is for the table in the Great Hall. Lastly on ebay, I went to the extravagance of buying a book slope to sit on the table in the Sorcerer's Study. It was bought from seller amd5758 whose items are just lovely. I was actually just looking to see if they were selling some more fretwork (like that used in the Great Hall chairs) to use in my own book slope, but they didn't have any listed and they did have a book slope that looked perfect for the job. The final purchase for the week was from minidolls.com where I finally found some straw braid in a natural straw colour to make some straw mats from. I also ordered some braid in different colours and some wigging in various colours.


  1. Your castle would be great to explore if I was a mini person. Your stone walls look so realistic.

  2. Thanks Margaret. I think most miniaturists wish they were 12th scale in order to explore each other's creations or perhaps to live in their own!

  3. I love your inhabitants of the Catacombes - great idea. I hope you're getting further with ideas for your Mystery Room as well.

  4. Thanks Irene. As of right now there's no further progress on the Mystery Room, but I have made a firm decision that it will absolutely, positively be a Throne Room . . . maybe.