A Randomly Selected Newspaper Headline:

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

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Highcroft Castle - Week Twelve - Part One

Reading other peoples blogs is a dangerous thing. A couple of weeks ago Dangerous Mezzo of the Medieval/ Tudor/  etc blog posted about her recent purchases from Suramics Pottery on Etsy. The pots looked so good I just had to follow the link to Suramics shop and the prices there were so good I couldn't resist buying some for the castle's kitchen. It took just seven days for them to arrive from the US (it usually takes longer for that to get mail sent from within Australia, so I was impressed). Suramics pots and jugs are fabulous for the price (about $3.00US each) but they are solid and none of the lids come off. In the photo to the side you'll see the Suramics pots migled with pots bought from Barehaven Miniature Pottery (bought 2 years ago for my last castle). The Suramics items are the two large brown jugs and the pots/jars with the blue and brown glaze. The Barehaven pots are smaller and hollow with removable lids, but about four times the price. I've decided to spread the two 'brands' of pottery between the new and old castles for variety and to give the old castle a bit of a change.

You may also have noticed in the photo that the kitchen table has changed since my last post. I spent all day Saturday "in the kitchen" and all the furniture for the kitchen is now finished. To the table (which I made a few weeks ago) I added a cage beneath where live chickens and other fowl that find themselves on the menu are kept alive right up until the last moment to ensure their freshness. It's empty at the moment as the evening meal has already been served.

Not only has the meal been served, but the kitchen staff have started to wash up the dishes, making the next item made a necessity: a washtub. Technically I suppose the washing up would have been done in a separate area (like a scullery) or even outside in the nearest stream, but I don't have room to add these to my castle, so I settled for a big tub in the corner of the kitchen. It was made from balsa wood in random widths cut to 4.5cm long. These were lined up and stuck on a length of duct tape. This created a single, flexible strip which was wrapped around a flat, round piece of wood (with the duct tape on the inside) to create the tub. Wooden beads were glued on the bottom to make feet. Eventually, the tub will be filled with washing up water and dirty pots. To reduce the amount of "water" needed to do this, I used an old paint tub lid turned upside down to make a tray that fits in the top of the tub.

The last piece of furniture to be made for the kitchen was a small trestle table that stands next to the wash tub. It will either be piled with dirty dishes waiting to be washed or clean ones waiting to be dried and put away. It consists of two trestles, each made from three balsa wood legs pinned to a top bar. The table top sits on these two bars. The hardest part of making this table was getting the right angle on the legs, not to mention the same angle on all the legs. It was a lot of fiddling to get a stable table of the right height, but I did succeed . . . Eventually.

With everything made, all the furniture for the kitchen (including the dresser and shelves I made previously) were stained with watered down brown paint to look like wood. When dry, I had fun pulling out my collection of bowls, plates, jugs, pots, baskets and other kitchenware and seeing how it looked in the kitchen. I was amazed how much I had amassed since first starting the castle only a few months ago. Of course, not everything I've collected is going to be used in Highcroft's kitchen - some is for the kitchen of my next project (unless I change my mind about what I'm doing next between now and when Highcroft is finished).

Between fiddling with furniture, I made a start on the fireplace. I made some whatchemacallits (things that support the spit for roasting meat) out of scraps of foamboard covered in scraps of cardboard with stencilled stone left over from the front of the tower. The front edge of these was covered in black card and hooks made from clay painted black were added at (almost) level increments. Some pieces of bamboo skewer were cut down to size and painted black for the spits. Soot was added to the fireplace, chimney and much of the kitchen. This was done using antiquing gel sponged on rather unsubtley. I still need to add another layer of soot with chalk paints for a softer, more graduated finish. Looking a the photo of the result, I realise that I've forgotten to mention the small stool for the spit boy to sit on while turning the spit to ensure the meat is evenly cooked. This is again just balsa wood cut to the right size and shape and glued toegther.

As I'm a little pressed for time at the moment, I'm splitting this week's update into two parts. I should add part two which covers the rest of the week's progress in a couple of days.

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