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.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dancing Dragon Inn - Week Three

With most of the week's focus on the Regency Drawing Room, I'm really surprised how much I got done on the Inn as well. I started by finishing the route to the first floor by making the stairs up from the boardwalk. Now the stairs and walk only need handrails adding.

Most of the work this week was on the shop section. I made a door and two windows to fill in the holes in the walls. The door and shuttered window are both made of balsa wood and open and close by pivoting on pins inserted through the frames. The rounded window at the front is made from a frame of balsa wood around which a piece of acetate sheet has been secured. Before glueing and pinning the acetate in place I used some faux leadlighting outliner to create a pattern of leaded panes. At some point I may add some clear faux leadlighting paint to the window to make the glass look a little imperfect. This window isn't quite finished yet as it still needs some more wooden trim around the top and bottom of the curves. The corners of the shop have been trimed with balsa wood to resemble wooden posts and more wood has been added along the top of the bricks to neaten up the join between brick and wall. Some more bits of decorative trim (like those all ready above the curved window) on the walls will pretty much finish off the exterior of the shop.

Before starting work on the next floor I still need to add some decorative brackets to the posts, finish off the area around the stream, add a railing to the steps and finish off the front edge of the base. Fairy Meadow Miniatures recently sent out an email newsletter in which they mentioned having new stock from Dollshouse Emporium, so I went over to their site to take a look. Amongst the other items listed I spotted one item I just had to have. It's Dexter the Digging Dog Isn't it fortunate I'm working on a project with some muddy ground? I've ordered Dexter and plan to have him digging by the stream. They also have an item called "Soggy Moggy in a Bucket" that made it into the order as well, I can imagine the poor pussy landed in the bucket after falling off a rail or other high perch with another more fortunate cat still up there looking down at his bedraggled buddy! I haven't decided yet exactly where the bucket and perch will be, but will try and work it into the Inn at some point.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Welcome to yet another new follower!

I'm not sure what's going on lately, but everytime I look there seems to be yet another new follower. This is something I always find to be turely amazing.

Welcome to the newest follower, Ana, whose blog Mi mundo en rosa features some lovely hand made minis. And just in case you missed it at the bottom of the past post, welcome again to Natasha and Cyndy, neither of whom appear to have blogs at the moment.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Regency Drawing Room - Week Three

Now technically, this post should be entitled Week Five, but I've decided that as the past two weeks have seen no work done on the room while I waited for the fireplace to arrive that they won't be counted in the time taken. Hence I'm picking up again at week three of the project. The long wait for the arrival of the fire surround ended last Tuesday when my package from Jennifers of Walsall arrived. I love this fireplace and it was $30 cheaper than most of the others I'd been looking at for this room. Once I had the fireplace I centred it on the back wall and drew around it so i had a pencil outline of the fireplace on the wall. Next I made a final decision on the height of the panelling and drew a line around the wall at that height. Next came the hard part. I wanted to give this room a chinoserie style and the only way to do what I wanted was to hand paint the walls. It's not the painting that scared me, it was the trying to have it turn out looking like it was supposed to. Art is not a strong point of mine so making a picture where there was nothing before is very difficult. I started by drawing the position and shape of the vines in pencil, leaving space above the fireplace for an overmantle. This is why I wanted the firesurround before I started, so I could be certain the vines grew around the fireplace without being too close or too far away. Once I was more or less happy with the shape and position of the vines it started to paint. I used a brush called a 'blade' or a 'dagger' to paint over the lines with a beige acrylic paint. Then I went over the beige in places with a light brown to give the vines some character. Next I used some green to paint random leaves onto the vines, trying to keep the leaves smaller at the top and larger at the bottom with sometimes limited success. While I had the green out I added some grass around the bottom of the wall, or rather the top of the panelling, between the vines. Last were the flowers. Some experimentation on scrap paper proved that I can not paint a flower. Period. So I settled for light pink blobs with a deep pink dot in the centre.
A chinoserie wall would normally have birds among the vines as well. There is no doubt that I can't paint a bird, so decided not to push my luck. Perhaps I could find some bird decals and use them? Anyway, even without the birds I am quite proud of the walls. I may have to stop claiming I can't paint if I keep getting results like this!
For the panelling around the bottom of the walls I had six plain picture frames purchased from D's Miniature Collectables on ebay. From memory their username is restless61 and they are well worth looking up. I positioned the frames on two strips of thin cardboard cut the height of the panelling. Unfortunately, having turned the corners of the walls into curves meant that I couldn't position the frames at even distances because the solid frame could not curve with the wall. Hopefully by the time the room is furnished you won't notice the big gap between the frames either side of the curves. After the frames were glued in place, the lot was painted with some white gloss and glued onto the walls. Next I need to find some braid to trim the top and bottom of the panelling, again curves mean that wooden trim and skirting board is not an option.
On the ceiling I added some pieces of scroll like . . um . . bits in the middle of which there will eventually be a ceiling rose and light fixture. Now I just need to figure out what sort of light fixture that should be and where to get one or how to make one. The other key feature still to be addressed for the room is a floor rug, but I'm yet to see one that would look all right with lavender, pink and green walls. It should be an oriental rug, but can't be too busy. I was also thinking that the curved walls might make an oval rug a good idea.
And finally, a warm wlecome to this blog's newest followers Natasha and Cyndy. I can't seem to find a blog for either of you, but let me know if you have one and i'll add the link.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Marions' Giveaway and Welcome to my Fifty-Second Follower!

Marion of Marion's Miniatures is currently offering a fabulous giveaway on her blog to celebrate reaching 100 followers.  Congratulations Marion!  As you can see in the photo it is a magnificent knitted outfit for an infant.  To enter, simply go to her blog Marion's Miniatures and leave a comment .

I don't have as many followers as Marion, but yet again the number I do have has risen thanks to Berri Jones deciding to sign up.  Welcome Berri!  I can't seem to find a blog for you, but if you have one just let me know and I'll be glad to add the link here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dancing Dragon - Week Two

Dancing Dragon - Week Two
Originally uploaded by Alennka
This week started with a few days of doing nothing while I considered the problem of the cracked clay. In the end I decided to leave it as is and call it 'rustic'. I could have pulled it all off and tried again, but chances are the clay would have just cracked all over again anyway. So that decision made it was time to start painting the clay to look like bricks. I started with a coat of sealer and then added some sploggy coats of reddish-orange and brown and filled the cracks in with some dark brown. I then covered the whole lot with a coat of the main brick colour which is a sort of orangish-brownish red. The earlier coats of paint showed through this layer giving the bricks some variation in colour. Next can the 'mortar', some grey paint which was carefully rubbed off the bricks so it was visible only in the gaps between bricks. I then dry brushed some more brickish reds and oranges over the top until I was happy with the look of the bricks. All this was then covered with a matte sealer.

The upper walls of the shop were given a rough coat of pollyfilla to look like render and painted in a creamy yellow (who said tudor buildings alway have to be white?). The stream bed was painted a muddy brown and lined with fine gravel. A photo of a tudor-eske street somewhere in England has become the backdrop of the arch.

These things done it was time to start on the wooden skeleton that will support the upper floors. At the moment they look a little like a forest of pillars, but hopefully over the next couple of weeks it will all start to make sense. Directly outside the shop is the road, running from the arch to the front where it joins another road running the length of the front. Next to the road is a market space where a trader will have some kind of as yet undefined stall. Next is the stream which will be surrounded by plants. At the back of the market space are some steps that lead up to a bridge crossing the stream. At the moment the bridge leads nowhere, but in time there will be a staircase leading from it up to the next level where the tavern of the Inn will be. There will also be another lower bridge on the road at the front.

Aside from re-arranging the furniture (or small boxes the approximate size and shape the furniture will be) nothing much happened in the Regency Drawing Room again this week. I'm still waiting for the fireplace to arrive before I go any further. Hopefully it will come this week.

Welcome More New Followers

The Waggon
Originally uploaded by Alennka
Wow! More than fifty followers now! I really should try and think up something to do as a giveaway to celebrate . . . . .

But more to the point, welcome to the newest followers of my blog!

Kevin & Karen of the Tudor Dolls House are making an absolutely amazing Tudor building. I'm jealous!

Casita Mini of the Casita Mini blog also has some wonderful photos on her blog. Until I figure out the whole translation thing I can't really say any more than that!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dancing Dragon Inn - Week One

First off, a quick note on the progress of the Regency Drawing Room. Basically, there wasn't any. I put a couple of coats of varnish on the floor and used air drying clay and a mould to create some cornicing/coving for around the top of the walls. This shrank something wicked as it dried and had to be removed from the room. The Spinet piano I ordered for the room has arrived and it bigger than I'd imagined. Now I'm worried that it's going to be too dominating in the room. As usual I've barely started and I need more space! Hopefully the fireplace will arrive this week (but most likely it won't until next week) then I can finish the walls.

Now on to the Inn . . .

I started with a piece of MDF. I glued some 0.75cm thick foamboard over most of this leaving only an off centre channel which will form a stream bed. Over this I added a thin layer of air-dry clay. I used a clay impress mould by Malcom's Miniatures to make a herringbone brick pattern in the clay where the road and buildings will be, leaving the stream bed and surround 'natural'. The mould works really well and I was pleased with the result. The only complaint I can make about them is their size. When you're trying to cover a large area like I was, the small size of the mould means you have to make a lot of impressions with it and that means there are lots of chances for you to make a mistake and go off square. The trouble with getting off square is that one row of bricks doesn't quite line up with the next. I started in the back corner and worked forward, so all the bits where I ended up off square were at the front. My tip for anyone wanting to use this type of mould is to start at the front and work back, that way if you do gradually get out of line, it will be at the back where it will be less noticable.

Next I started work on the back wall which is made of a piece of Tough Foamboard. I'm pleased that the shop has started to keep this tougher foamboard as it doesn't warp as easily as the usual stuff. I just made one mistake with it. I read the label that said "Easy to cut foam core" and thought it meant the whole thing was easy to cut. When I tried to cut it I soon realised it meant exactly what it said, the foam core in the middle is easy to cut, the tough coating on either side of that core is most definately not easy to cut. I'm thinking I should lift the embargo on power tools and borrow my mum's Dremel to see if that has a blade that can cut it. Or failing that perhaps the circular saw. Making two cuts with my craft knife took most of an afternoon but at least I have no fear of the stuff warping or collapsing when a cat jumps on it. When I had managed to cut through the board for the back wall plus three smaller walls for the "shop" on ground level, I again got out the clay and coated the back wall and used an impress mould to 'brick' the entire wall, leaving one clear archway to give the impression of a street behind the wall and a smaller arch through with the stream emerges. I added a two inch high strip of clay "bircks" arond the bottom of the walls for the shop.

Once the clay was just dry enough to handle I started to assemble the walls. I drilled down into the MDF base and inserted cut off toothpicks into the holes to act as dowels. The foamboard walls were then lowered over the toothpicks, the toothpicks piercing the soft foam core and locking both pieces together with the help of a little glue of course. The exception to this was the side wall of the shop space which has a single toothpick in it's bottom allowing it to pivot open for access.

This was all then left to dry thoroughly. By the next morning all the air dry clay was horribly cracked, the result of shrinking as it dried. All air clays do this a little, but this was a great deal worse than I had allowed for. The only thing that stopped me from tearing off all the clay and starting again was the fact that the next lot of clay could crack just as badly (although as I said earlier, the Drawing Room project's cornicing didn't survive and will need a second attempt). At this point I've been considering what to do about this for a couple of days and have decided to leave the clay bricks cracked and go with a "rustic" look. Some of the cracks will be covered by wooden posts and battons while others will hopefully look like old, cracked bricks.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Furniture for Sale!

I have just listed a dozen or so pieces of furniture on ebay for the bargain starting price of $0.99 each.  Some of it is a little damaged, some is as new, all of it has been hanging about for years and I've reached the conclusion that I'm just not going to find a use for it.  Scarily enough taking this lot out of my spare furniture box hasn't left it any less overflowing with the furniture I am keeping!

If you're looking for some cheap furniture, please take a look at the links below.  For some extra incentive, any follower of this blog who is a winning bidder will find an extra bonus item enclosed with their item.  Just send me your blogger ID so I'll know who you are!

Cradle 2

Secreatary Desk


Hat Stand

High Chair

Dressing Table

Welsh Dresser

Ladies Chairs



I have also listed a more expensive, but still bargain priced, item.  It is a Wooten or Collectors Cabinet and a high qaulity item.  I've never used it because I decided it was just too big for the space I bought it for.  Here's the link:   Wooten

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Drawing Room and the Inn

With past projects close to finished, I've made a start on the new two on my list.  First is the Regency era (ish) drawing room.  As with all my projects I'm not likely to worry too much over the historically acuracy of this one, but it should look Regency-ish to anyone not overly fussy.  Instead of leaving it a rectangle I have used card to create curves instead of angles in the back corners, essentially turning all three walls into one continuous one.  The roombox is the same size and shape as the Blue Room and like the Blue Room it will probably end up being too small for everything I want to put into it.  I have already done some shopping and found a greecian inspired fireplace from Jennifers of Walsall which should suit the Regency fad for all things ancient Greek.  Provided it doesn't get lost in the mail, I will hopefully see it sometime next week.  From Rainbows and Dreams on Ebay I have bought a Spinet Piano which I hope to repaint.  A drawing room will also need chairs, probably a side table or two, maybe a display case, a chaise (as was fashionable at the time) and this will pretty much fill up the space, hopefully leaving enough room to add a doll in Regency dress.

The second project on my list is the "Dancing Dragon Inn" which is what, for now, I am calling my Tudor style tavern and inn.  This will be at least four floors and be built entirely from scratch.  Is anyone but me scared by that statement?  So far all I have really done towards this is to draw and re-draw the plans.  I have a piece of MDF I intend to use as a base and the below photo shows the base with some lego blocks outlining walls and features of the lowest level of the Inn.  This level isn't actually part of the Inn but will house a shop or two, a stream and a street.  On top of this will be the tavern and kitchen of the inn.  The next two floors will be guest rooms of the inn.  The guest rooms will vary from the grand for the rich customers to the dingy for the very poor.

Blue Room - Week Six

My main target this week was to finally finish dressing the bed. As I was running short of fabric my first stop for the week was the local fabric store. I wasn't lucky enough to find more of the same fabric and was forced to buy the nearest match I could find. This was a silk dupion in pale blue (I had previously been using a faux silk dupion). I used the real stuff for the curtains and managed to make the faux last out for the bed. The last of the faux fabric was just enough to make four swags for around the top of the bed (although it did take a little imagination to make them fit). I used a pattern from the 2010 Dollshouse Projects magazine special for the swags (and did anyone else feel great disappointment when they received their copy to discover most of the contents had been in earlier mags? I'd be ordering the 2011 version if I thought there would be something new in it). I had to reduce the number of folds in the swag get enough swags from the fabric I had left. The swags were then pinned into shape, steamed and starched so they would hold their shape. The swags were then positioned two along the near side of the bed and two at the foot (not enough fabric for two on the far side where they can't be seen anyway!) and glued in place. Once dry, I added some offcuts of lace (I was running short of that too) and some ribbons make from silk ribbon to finish off.
With the bed finally finished, I moved onto the curtains. These were made with the genuine silk dupion which sadly shows the mark of every pin put into it. The curtains themselves were quite simply rectangles of fabric pinned into pleats and steamed and starched to hold the shape. To break the blue I used a pink fabric with blue flowers to make blinds in the windows and tails over the curtains. Again the pattern for the tails was from Dollshouse Projects 2010 Mag and they weremade roughly as instructed in the mag. The blinds are two pieces of thin card cut to the right shape and then covered in fabric with some blue trim decorating the bottom edge. The whole lot was topped off with a pelmet of cardboard covered in more silk dupion adorned with a broach.
Some flowers and other accessories were added to the dressing table and a rug was made for the floor from more of the pink fabric leaving the room almost finished. It still needs the ceiling finishing off, perhaps some pictures on a wall or two and a few other little touches.