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, June 29, 2010

Highcroft Castle - Week Twenty

Firstly, I need to apologise to the readers of this blog.  Last week, I misled you.  I said that once the existing parts of Highcroft were finished that I would start work on the garden wing.  Within hours of posting that I went back to the castle, studied it a while and came to the conclusion that it was big enough as it was.  The unit that will hold the castle permanently is only 10cm wider than the castle, so the garden would have to be very narrow or overhang the edge.  I came to the conclusion to abandon the plans for the garden, at least for now.  I may still add the garden at some point in the future, but for now I'm calling the castle complete without it.

With that decision made, the next thing to do was to seal off the doorway that was supposed to lead to the garden from the Great Hall.  It looked pretty silly as a gaping hole leading nowhere, plus it gave access to cat's paws when their owners decided to pull everything out of the castle! So the doorway became a stained glass window. The basic pattern for the window was downloaded from the internet from of all places a colouring-in site. Once I had the pattern, I used Gallery Glass paints to create the window on a piece of acetate sheet. The clear acetate was laid over the pattern. Liquid lead was used to copy the pattern onto the sheet and once that was dry, it was just a matter of colouring in the spaces.  When it was all dry, the window was glued in place.  As the window is going into a doorframe I made (i.e. a slightly lopsided, uneven one) I used a little extra lead outliner to fill the occasional gaps between the "glass" and the frame.  Should I ever come back and add the garden, the window should be easily removed although I will need to repaint the doorframe.

I kept to last week's intentions in the bedroom.  I thought the walls needed a strip of panelling around the bottom and once I added them, I saw I was right.  Even though the furniture arrangement hides most of it from view, the panelling adds a depth and warmth to the room that it sorely needed.  The panelling itself is just a strip of white cardboard two and a half inches high with narrow strips added vertically every one and a half inches.  It was then painted to look (something) like wood and glued in place.  It was incredibly simple, but it makes such a big difference to the room.  While in the bedroom, I finished off the bath area curtains by adding the tie backs and recycled a plant stand made from a newel post that was in the orginal house.  A few flowers and the mandatory naughty cat finish off the bedroom.  Some more cats have appeared playing at the bottom of the spiral stairs.

The outside of the castle was given a few finishing touches.  The vines that have been on the front of the main building for months were adorned with some blue polymer clay flowers, while a vine and purple flowers were added to the tower front.  The catacombe front was finally attached to the catacombes and had it's own climbing vine.  At this point, I started having trouble finding things that still needed doing.  Somehow, the end of a project always creeps up on me and it comes as a surprise when I go to do the next task and can't find one to do.  Highcroft was like this; I thought there was another week or two of work to do to it, but suddenly it was all done!  So I'm offically calling Highcroft Castle complete!  I'm sure there are still things missing or that need changing but just can't see because I've been looking at them so often for so long.  So, I'll ignore the castle for a couple of weeks then come back and take another look at it to see if anything new jumps out at me.  In the meantime, you can find all the pictures of Highcroft (from start to finish) here in my Flickr account

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Highcroft Castle - Week Nineteen

After last week's gargantuan effort to dress all those people, I spent this week working at a more relaxed pace, mainly fussing with a few of the small bits and pieces that still needed finishing off. Down in the Treasury, I finally covered up the melamine ceiling with some wood veneer and added a wooden beam to cover up where the stone didn't quite meet the ceiling. I moved the gate from the arch to the back wall. Originally, the plan was that the actual Treasury would be at the front, then there would be the gate in the arch, behind which would be the guard room. The problem with this was that when the gate was in place, you couldn't see the guard's table behind it. I bought this table especially for this space and was didn't see the point in it being there if it couldn't be seen. By moving the gate to the back wall, the table becomes visible but the guard room now becomes part of the Treasury rather than being separate from it. This means that the guards on duty in the guard room could nip into the actual treasury and pinch some of the kingdom's valuables with ease. I guess they'll just have to put guards on the guards! With this sorted out, I finished off the Treasury by arranging the crowns I had made previously on stands and adding a selection of bottles, semi-precious stones and other bits and pieces on the shelves. The finishing touch was to add a rug to the floor. Although it looks like animal hide, it is actually a scrapbooking paper. With the exception of one or two details I may have overlooked, this is the Treasury room finished.

When I made the ceiling in the Great Hall, I left three spaces where the balsa wood strips crossed bare so that lights could be hung from these points. If I used lights that "work" I would have had to wire them in long before now, but all the lights in the castle are dummy lights. The two side lights were actually taken out of the house as it was originally decorated (i.e. before I stripped it to turn it into a castle). I merely added some plastic candles and hang them from a hook. I think perhaps they need to be on a slightly longer chain, but otherwise I think they work quite well. The central light was more of a problem. After playing around with all the bits and pieces I had that might be useful, I came up with the design for the light. It consists of two metal scrapbooking embelishments, a cheap hoop earing and some pre-bought candle sconces. The scrapbooking embelishments were secured to the hoop earing by weaving a length of wire through the holes in the embelishments and over the hoop. This made them one solid piece. The candle sconces were simply glued in place around the outside of the embelishments. Unforntunately, I've had these sconces for a while and some were bent out of shape and others had loose arms. After a lot of careful fiddling, they are still a little crooked, but probably as good as they are going to get. Some gold chain attaches the lot to the ceiling.

As you probably already noticed in the picture of the lights, some tapestries have appeared in the Great Hall. There are now also tapestries in the bedroom, the solar and the sorcerer's study. These were all printed on transfer paper, them ironed onto some adia fabric. The texture ot the adia makes them look more like they were stitched than a flat fabric would. They are all hung by glueing loops of ribbon to the top and threading a painted toothpick or skewer (depending on the length needed) through the loops. The toothpicks/skewers were finished off by adding a metal bead to each end.

In the catacombes, I was going to fill the shelves primarily with books, but decided on scrolls instead as they are sooooooooo much easier to make and I was feeling lazy at the time. Some glass jars occupy the bottom shelves holding a range of powders and liquids, including my first attempts at colouring Scenic Water. Food dyes do seem to colourise it quite well, but in a jar no more than an inch high, it's hard to get a small enough amount of dye, hence the liquid in the jars is quite strong in colour.

Lastly, this week I did a little work in the bedroom. As mentioned earlier, I added some tapestries to the walls, two large tapestries over the bathtub and two smaller ones flanking the bed. Next I made some curtains from purple chiffon to enclose the bath. Their purpose is purely decorative and they help to soften the join between the white wallpaper and the black marble. Some off-white lace trim finishes them off and acts as a pelmet around the top. The opposite side of the bedroom still looks wrong somehow. I have decided to panel the bottom two inches or so of the walls at this end of the room in the hope that this will add the warmth and interest the room needs.

This leaves very few things that need attending to in the castle. Most of the remaining tasks won't affect the overall appearance of the castle such as attaching the front panel to the catacombes and finishing the inside of the front cover of the main castle. This, however, does not mean the castle is almost finished. It simple means that the centre and left wing of the castle is almost finished. You might have noticed the doorway in the right hand wall of the Great Hall and wondered where it leads. Well, right now it leads absolutely nowhere. In time it will lead to the castle gardens. I haven't quite decided the final size or layout of the garden yet, but this is roughly the current concept: Beneath the garden (on the level of the kitchen) will be a cave, the home of the dragonets in the castle and their much larger mother dragon. Above this (on the level of the Great Hall) will be the castle gardens. The gardens will have all the usual features - trees, flowers, a water feature of some sort, perhaps some kind of pavillion, etc. It will be inhabited by some of the more mystical of the castle's denizens such as faeries. As with the tower wing on the left of the castle, this garden wing will be a separate unit to the main building.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Welcome to (even) more new followers!

Greeting go out to Lara and Mirel Korhonen, the newest followers of my blog.  They each have their own delightful blogs which can be found at the following links:

Lara:   http://larasminiatureworld.blogspot.com/

Mirel Korhonen:   http://minimami.blogspot.com/

Monday, June 21, 2010

And the Winner is . . . .

Thanks to the ten people who entered my giveaway.  I'd love to give all of you a present, but unfortunately I've only made one sofa.  I am pleased to announce that the randomly selected winner (thanks to Random.org) is:

Heather, please let me know your postal address and fabric preference by sending an email to celestial@y7mail.com or if you prefer by just leaving a comment on this post.  Remember that you can choose from more fabrics than just the ones pictured, so just let me know what colour and or pattern you would prefer and I'll see if I have something to suit.

For those of you who are interested, the random list order was:

There were 10 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

1.Heather C-R







8.Dangerous Mezzo



Timestamp: 2010-06-21 00:54:05 UTC

Welcome New Followers!

A warm welcome to my four newest followers:

Alafosca whose blog is here : http://nocturnacottage.blogspot.com/

Iris whose blog is here :  http://irisnukkekoti.blogspot.com/

mini_babies & Christine who don't appear to have blogs, but as always if you do have a blog, just let me know and I'll gladly add it here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Giveaway Reminder

Remember you only have until Saturday - that's tomorrow - if you want to enter my giveaway. To enter, just go down to the post titled "Dollshouse Daydreams First Giveaway" and leave a comment.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Welcome to another new follower

A warm welcome to Doc, my thirtieth follower!  You'll find her blog here: http://clayminis.blogspot.com/  Doc is also the admin for the yahoo group Dream Dwellings, a place where folks interested in miniature castles, tudor mansions, fairy houses and fantasy dollshouses share ideas, resources and inspirations.  If you're interested in learning more about the group, visit their site here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Dream_Dwellings/  (You may just recognise their current cover photo!)

And another reminder to all my followers, don't forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a knole sofa!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Highcroft Castle - Week Eighteen

Last week I started to dress a couple of dolls with the plan of doing a few every week until I had the twenty-odd dolls for the castle all done.  Like most plans it lasted a few days.  At the start of this week I thought I should get out all the dolls I'd collected and assign each doll to a roll in the castle before I started dressing them to make sure I wasn't left needing a doll to sit down when I only had dolls with solid, unbendable legs left (etc).  So on several sheets of scrap paper I wrote the various rolls needed for the castle like "cook" and "banquet guest 1" and placed a doll for the job under each heading, rearranging them until I was pleased that I had the right dolls playing the right parts.  Then I piled the dolls on their papers on one side, leaving just the one page of about five dolls to work on to start with.  I make my dolls clothes partly by sewing and partly by glueing them together so I always like to work on several outfits at a time so I can keep working on outfit A while the glue dries on outfit B.  Once I'd finished some of the dolls on the first page, I still had some left to finish, so I figured while I had all the fabrics out anyway, I'd keep going on the next page of dolls so I still plenty of outfits going at once.  This continued until I had all the dolls dressed (and those that needed wigs, wigged).  I've lost count of exactly how many dolls there are in the castle, but I spent so many hours working on them this week I doubt I'll ever be able to get my back uncurved again.  As usual, no one turned out as I originally intended them and I did cheat on some dolls by not finishing neatly the backs of those dolls that would be positioned facing the front (and vice versa).  Still, i'm quite pleased with the way they turned out on the whole.

The next challenge was positioning the finished dolls in the castle.  Those dolls in a standing position had a little tacky wax put on the soles of their feet and simply stood in place.  It was the seated dolls for the Great Hall that were a challenge.  Although I checked that all the dolls to be seated had soft legs from the knee up I forgot to check whether they had a wire frame or not.  Three of the dolls were pure stuffing and although I could bend their legs, I couldn't make them stay bent.  Luckily, these three were all women in dresses, so wrapping wire around their legs wouldn't show, but when I tried this I decided that it wan't going to be enough to hold them in place.  I felt an awful ghoul to do it, but in the end all I could do to make them sit properly was to cut off their legs.  Again, thank goodness they were in dresses so it wouldn't show!  Much fiddling and a little glue saw everyone seated and ready to enjoy the feast.  Despite depleating my supply of dolls, I was still a few short, so stole a couple of polyresin wizards I've had for years from my ornament collection.  They're the twins Jory and Oswin and by sheer luck happen to be 1/12 scale.  Oswin is in the Great Hall entertaining the guests with some magic tricks while Jory is checking out the catacombes.  At the same time I took a couple of small dragons to join the castle's cast.  One is Hubert, who overcome by the excitement has gone to sleep beneath the table in the Great Hall.   The other is Connar who is playing with the children in the throne room.

The weekend was a long one as most of Australia took the day off to celebrate the Queen's birthday.  Why we do this in June when she was born in April?  Well, I think the answer lies in the fact that politicians choose the nation's public holidays and when did a politician ever do anything logical and rational?  In short, I had a whole extra day to devote to the castle.  Much of this day was taken up sorting out and putting away all the fabrics I'd been pulling out of boxes all week, but I still managed to get a few extra bits and pieces done too.  After intending to finish off the fireplaces for months, I finally added the coals and some logs to the fireplaces in the Great Hall and kitchen.  I arranged the food, plates and cutlery on the table in the Great Hall and used Tacky Wax to hold them in place.  The table setting is now finished with the exception of the candleabras.  The two I have are different sizes with different coloured candles and will be replaced as soon as I get two the same.  I added  a banner of red velveteen and gold trim to the throne room as well as a paper crown and pretend septre for the children to play with.  Finally, I organised the table in the Sorcerer's Study adding a mortar and pestle I made a few weeks ago from polymer clay, a couple of glass jars filled with "magical" ingredients and some books and papers.
For the first time in weeks, I made it through the whole, entire week without breaking anything or having it broken for me by a cat!

Finally, just a reminder that I am currently running a giveaway.  If you would like the chance to win a knole sofa like the one in the castle's solar, please see the post entitled "Dollshouse Daydreams First Giveaway" before Saturday 19th June.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Follower Elis' Blog

Welcome again to Elis and thanks for letting me know your blog. I don't understand a word of it, but the photos prove you do some lovely miniatures! For those who want to visit her blog, you'll find it here

Dollshouse Daydreams' First Giveaway!

As those of you who read through all the comments on this blog know, I have promised to offer a giveaway this week. I am offering followers the chance to win a knole sofa like the one pictured below.
The sofa on offer is an identical copy of this one with the exception that I have not yet upholstered it. The winner of the sofa will be able to choose the fabric they would like. Below is a selection of patterned fabrics that could be chosen. In addition to the fabrics pictured I have a range of plain fabrics to choose from. I will negotiate this in more detail with the winner.
Knole sofa's have been around since the early 1600's and will look at home in any period dollshouse of this era or later. To enter the giveaway, simply sign up to follow this blog (if you aren't already) and leave a comment on this post. Entries will close on Saturday 19th June and the winner will be randomly selected and announced on Monday 21st.

Friday, June 11, 2010


My appologies to Irene for listing her as blog-less when welcoming her. I even follow her blog so should have known where to find it! Here it is: http://the-tenement.blogspot.com/ Irene also runs a couple of other blogs for her other miniature projects. You'll find them here and here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Welcome to another new follower!

Welcome to Elis, the twenty-ninth follower of my blog.  She doesn't appear to have her own blog, but if you do have one Elis, I'll gladly post it if you let me know the address.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Welcome Followers Old and New

Up 'til now, I've not been welcoming new followers to this blog.  I have decided that from now on, I'll be polite and add a welcome for new followers as they come along.   I'll start by offering what in some cases are extremely belated welcomes to my existing followers:

Ma Del Carmen whose blog is http://elrinconminidemary.blogspot.com/

Merry Jingle whose blog is http://merryjingle.blogspot.com/

Daydreamer whose blog is http://aboutmydollhouses.blogspot.com/

Debbie whose blog is http://debbiestinytreasures.blogspot.com/

Marivigano whose blog is http://marivigano.blogspot.com/

Tiggy who doesn't seem to have a blog but sells her gorgeous dolls on etsy here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/MrsTiggywinkleDolls

Marion whose blog is http://marionsminiatures.blogspot.com/

Jody whose blog is http://jodysminiwereld.blogspot.com/

Christine whose blog is http://postwarthatchedcottage.blogspot.com/

Janice whose blog is http://onbeingaminimum.blogspot.com/

Margret whose blog is http://petit-parterre.blogspot.com/

Tallulah Belle whose blog is http://tallulahbelleoriginals.blogspot.com/

Rosy whose blog is http://rosyminiaturas.blogspot.com/

Dangerous Mezzo whose blog is http://tudordollhouse.blogspot.com/

Heather whose blog is http://thislittledollhouse.blogspot.com/

Casita Mini whose blog is http://casitaminicm.blogspot.com/

Dlsarmywife whose blog is http://dlsarmywife.blogspot.com/

Enchanicals who doesn't seem to have a blog but sells her lovely creations here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/enchanticals

The 666 whose blog is http://saving-the-energy.blogspot.com/

Mary whose blog is http://mizmaryminis.blogspot.com/

Loquacious Doll, Kayjay, Jaie, Irene, Shaz, Wanda and Kerdins don't appear to have blogs.  If you do have a blog, please let me know and I'll gladly add a link to it.

Thanks to everyone for choosing to follow my blog.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Highcroft Castle - Week Seventeen - Part Two

 Well, after many weeks of changing my mind about the "Mystery Room" I've finally made the firm, irrevocable desicion that it will be a throne room and started work to turn it into one. I had made the throne previously, but have now painted the structure gold and upholstered the seat and back with red velveteen. More velveteen was used to cover the small dias on which the throne sits as well as make the 'curtain' behind the throne and to create the canopy above it. Combined with the candlesticks and fake windows made earlier, these make the room quite impressive, but still leave it rather empty. I will add some banners or drapes against the walls to add some more colour to the room and to tie the red dias in with the rest of the space.

I've also spent weeks (and weeks, and weeks . . .) looking for the right fabric to dress the bed in the royal suite. The fabric I've finally settle on comes from an old book of sample fabrics. (You know, a collection of swatches you see in furniture stores for customers to choose from). Some years ago my parents ran a bedding store and my mother saved all the sample books when they were superceded. She was cleaning out cupboards the other day and dug one of these books out. In it was a fabric that is the closest I've seen to what I had in mind for the bed. If only the pattern was in 1:12 scale rather than 1:1 scale it would be perfect. Also, as the samples are quite small I had to use two different fabrics, the same pattern, but one a shade darker than the other. The darker fabric was used for the curtains and rear panel while the lighter is the main bedspread. Two more faux rag rugs fill in the empty floor space. Thanks to some very poor planing, much of the space in this room will have to remain empty or the room looks very disorganised. My main problem with this room at the moment is the curtains for around the bath. The room need them to help define the spaces and soften the join between the white and the black walls - but I don't have more of the bed fabric and nothing else I have looks right with the room.

While I'd been rummaging about in my fabric collection I was inspired to start dressing some dolls for the castle. First is the sorcerer, Tyrrol Tupani. Yes it is a very silly name and he does need a better one, but for now it's th eonly one he's got. He is a Del Prado doll and came dressed in a victorian outfit. He looks very different now that he's been dressed in an under-robe of faux silk dupion and an outer-robe of black velveteen. As his painted on mustache was reminded me somehow of Ming the Merciless (the villan from Flash Gordon) I gave him the high collar and no hair to enhance the resemblance. Tyrrol is not the sorcerer who owns the "Sorcerer's Study" room in the castle. Rather he is the good sorcerer's evil rival who is taking advantage of his absences to sneak into his study and have a poke about for secrets!

The second doll I've been working on is a lady in green. She was going to be Michelana, the newly crowned Queen. The Queen is suposed to be seated in the centre seat in the Great Hall, meaning that she won't really be visible from the waist down. Although she isn't finished yet, I think her gown is looking to nice to be hidden under the table. So perhaps she will become someone other than Michelana. Certainly I will remember to ensure the other women who will be seated in the Great Hall all have plain gowns from the waist down. The men too.

This last photo shows what comes of having cats. My cat Ginny had already managed to ruin the Great Hall furniture once, this time she just tipped the table over and spilt all the food and other items on it onto the floor. The knight/armour was the worst affected and was saved thanks to 5min Araldite. Between me and the cat being clumsy I really should buy some shares in the company who make Araldite. Aside from a few slivers that I couldn't find, the knight is now as good as new. Aside from one permanently mishapen candleabra, the rest of the damage was pretty light and easy to fix.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Highcroft Castle - Week Seventeen Part One

I'm not sure whether this post should be called "week sixteen and a half" or "week seventeen part one" as most of what I've done so far this week is to finish off things I started last week. In the kitchen I've added a wooden rail bearing hooks from which to hang the ladles and knives I made from polymer clay last week. I've also arranged the various pots, jars, plates (etc) around the kitchen, securing them in place with Tacky Wax. On the trestle table by the door are a range of dirty plates, cups and cooking bowls waiting to be cleaned in the wash tub. The shelves on the left hand wall have been filled with an assortment of items in pottery and wood. I've left some empty spaces as some of the things that belong on the shelf will be either in use or in need of washing before they go back on the shelf. I've added the mice around the garbage barrel and a few on the main table. One, on the counter next to the barrel, is in a spot of bother as a ginger cat has caught his tail!

If you study the photo, you should see four pieces of pottery with a brown glaze: a kettle hanging over the fireplace, a jug on the main table and two pots on the shelves to the left. These four items made it all the way from Ireland to Australia intact. As soon as I received them I dropped three of them on the very hard tiled floor. The pieces scattered for metres, not helped by the cats who thought they were great fun to skitter about. Eventually, I managed to gather up most of the pieces. The brown pots on the shelves had each lost a handle. The tall two handled jug on the next to top shelf had it's handle broken into two pieces, but a little 5min Araldite fixed this beautifully. The other pot is supposed to have three handles, but after over an hour searching for pieces, I only had part of the handle it lost. If you were to turn this pot around you would find a rather ugly patch of broken pottery, but positioned as it is, the scar is unnoticable. The other item to be smashed was the jug on the table. This was in at least a dozen pieces and again it was 5min Araldite to the rescue. Unless you look closely the cracks are almost invisible (unless you turn the jug around to look at the other side of it where more glaze shipped away). Overall, I was very lucky that they went back together so well.
In the Treasury, I've assembled the weapons for the weapon rack and added them . This is the last 'big' task for the treasury completed. Now I just have to arrange the crowns, jewels and other valuables on the shelves (and perhaps make some stands for the crowns), fix the gate in place and perhaps add a rug to the floor. Oh yes, and cover the white melamine ceiling with something more suitable.
As you can see in the adjacent photo, the two different ribbons I ordered as possible table runners have arrived. One is wider than I thought, the other narrower. I think after spending so many hours looking at different ribbons and measurements my mind had gone numb when I finally placed the order. Now all I have to do is decide which one to actually use. And should I have them running the length of the table as in the photo, or should I have a number of shorter lengths running the width of the table instead?