A Randomly Selected Newspaper Headline:

The following is a randomly selected newspaper headline from many years ago:

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.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Highcroft Castle - Week Fourteen

The Great Hall Table
I started this week by taking apart much of what I'd done the week before. As I rambled on about in last week's blog post, I didn't like the furniture I'd made for the Great Hall once I saw it in position. So I broke the original table up for salvage and moved on to plan C (having decided that plan B wouldn't work either). Sometimes the best solution to a problem is the simplest, so I designed a simple, straight table that runs the width of the Great Hall. The table top is a single piece of balsa wood, 10cm wide by 40cm long. It is supported on legs of balsa wood and wooden beads. I then made four bench seats, two for the far side and two for the near side of the table. Together with the chairs made last week, they provide seating for eleven "people". I didn't make a seat for the section of table opposite the chairs for a couple of reasons. First, where people are sat with their backs to the open front, they will block the view of people looking in and frankly, I am so proud of this table I want it to be seen! Second, it is in my plans that one of the guests at the coronation banquet being held in the Hall has arrived late and will be standing (or bowing) before the Queen, complete with attendants bearing gifts, thus occupying this space fully. Lastly, I think by the time I've dressed eleven people for dinner, I'll have had enough or just be too broke to buy another three dolls.

I had just finished assembling this furniture, placed it all the the Great Hall so it would be safe while the glue dried and started work on furniture for the Sorcerer's Study when there was an almighty crunching crash from the direction of the castle. I turned about just in time to see Ginny the cat falling to the floor. A few moments before she had been on the scratching post, about a 1.5 metres away and about as high as the top of the castle. I think she took a flying leap headed for the top of the castle where she likes to strech out and missed (by a mile), smacking into the Great Hall instead. The table had two broken legs, one bench seat was smashed to pieces, another had come adrift from it's legs and one of my lovely suits of armour had lost it's gauntlet and spear/halberd/whatever. The cat was in one piece, but wasn't seen to jump on anything for the rest of the day! There was however another odd noise from the castle's direction later that day. This time I turned around just in time to see Ginny actually climbing the side of the castle, using her claws to cling to the stonework. Thank goodness the major ingredient of the stone paste I used was intended for use outdoors and is very tough stuff!

After repairing the furniture for the Great Hall, I made a chair for the Sorcerer's Study to go with the table out of balsa wood and some Tiny Turnings and a perch for a bird from balsa wood, bamboo skewer and a small wooden cotton reel. I've seen a fabulous "peacock" being sold in an etsy store (click here for the item or here for the store and figure it shouldn't be too hard to create something similar of my own to sit on this perch. If all else fails, I'll just have to buy an original.  For the solar I've put together a simple tapestry frame and found a chair in my box of assorted furniture that isn't too out of place in the castle to go with it.

For the bedroom, I've made a folding screen, again largely of balsa wood. To make it look a little special, I used more Tiny Turnings in cut out panels at the top and relief stickers to create a carved look around inserts of mirror paper. I'm not altogether certain that there will be room in the finished bedroom for it, so it may yet end up in a different part of the castle.

All of this furniture (plus that made last week) was then painted in what I hoped would be a faux wood finish. Normally, I stain things with watered down brown paint, this doesn't cover the wooden beads used in some of the furnuture very well, so I tried something different. I started by painting everything a rather ugly and garish reddish pink and followed this with a couple of coats of slightly watered brown paint. The end result is a much richer, deeper colour than I normally achieve, but is perhaps still a touch too red for my taste. I probably should have gone for one more coat of brown. A couple of layers of gloss varnish gave everything a nice sheen.

The bulk of the furniture for the entire castle is now made and mostly finished (things like the bed still need finishing by being dressed). Remaining to do are some shelves to fill in that gaping hole in the catacombe wall and something to put in the middle floor of the Tower. At the moment, this space is being called the Mystery Room, because I still haven't decided what to do with it. I've discovered that being round makes a room smaller than it looks and very hard to furnish. Some weeks back I put a poll on the Dollshouse Emporium Forums asking what people thought I should use this space for. I suggested (another) bedroom or an armoury. The vast majority thought it should be an armoury. . . . But. . . . Halfway up a tower seems a pretty odd place for an armoury - when someone attacks the castle you don't want to have to run away from the doors, up a couple of flights of stairs to grab a weapon before heading all the way back to defend the castle! Besides, you need to control just who can grab a weapon, so an armoury in a room without a door seems like a poor choice. Last week I made a quick four post single bed and tried it out in the room. It was fine . . . provided you didn't mind climbing over the bed to get to the far side of the room. It was just oo big for the space, so I'm saving the bed to use in my next house and still need a good idea for the room. One of the suggestions I got on the forum was a "Sewing Room", which I wasn't too keen on at the time as I was going to have evidence of sewing in the solar. Now I'm thinking, what if I made a weaving loom and made it a weaving room? I remembered seeing instructions for a loom in one of the dollshouse magazines not too long ago, so I started going through all the magazines I've collected starting with the current ones and going backwards in time. As it turns out not very long ago was back in 2007! But now I do have instructions (not that I usually use them) and more importantly a picture to work from so I know what to do. I'm still not entirely certain this is what the room will be, but then what else could it be? You'll just have to keep reading future blog posts to see what I eventually decide.


  1. Hi Alennka, I am a bit mistified. You wrote a comment on my blog when I asked of 3 followers(Celestial, Christine and Naomi) if they had a blog. You said that, yes, you had a blog, but which of the 3 persons are you, because I can't find an Alennka on my followers list? Can you help me out please?

  2. Hi, Alennka! Wow, what a great and informative post. I LOVE your technique of using wooden beads in combinations to mimic the heavy turned legs of medieval furniture -- that's brilliant! I really love the new table -- for some reason it sets off the beautiful chairs you've made better.

    I had to laugh at your cat story (I'm very glad that you were able to mend your little creations) -- I have three cats, and the two boys are obsessed with getting inside the castle and having a good look around :) Your tortoiseshell girl looks very smug and content on top of the building -- perhaps your knights have to contend with a giant cat rather than a dragon, who is terrorizing the neighbouring countryside?


  3. Marion - Opps! Sorry about that. I am Celestial. For some reason I show up under that name when I follow other people's blogs, yet for everything else I do in blogger I'm Alennka. When I sign up to follow a blog it even asks me "Follow publicly as Alennka?" not as Celestial. I thought I had it fixed, but obviously not. I'll try again.

    Dangerous Mezzo - I only have two cats, but I've caught both of them trying to sneak into the castle through the side door! There's definately a giant feline menace around the castle! Thanks for the praise about the table too, though I think the chairs probably just look better because they have been painted rather than because of the table.

  4. Hi, could you tell me what magazine you found the weaving loom instructions in please! It would be perfect for my castle! many thanks, Heather

  5. Hi Heather,

    The loom is in "The Dolls' House Magazine", March 2006, No. 94, Page 16.

    If you have trouble finding a copy of the magazine, I can send you a scan of the relevent pages if you want (just don't tell the publishers, they probably wouldn't like it!)