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, October 26, 2010

Dancing Dragon Inn - Week Seven

The Inn continued to grow with the addition of the third level. As usual I had to revise my intentions for this floor in order to fit everything in and keep it accessible from the front. Although the rooms may be a bit more cramped than I intended and the hallway has a curious dogleg in it, I did manage to fit all the features into this level that I orginally wanted!

There are two bedrooms on this level plus the hallway/stairwell area. On the left will be the "grand" bedroom for the Inn's richer clientele, on the right will be a more modest room. The hallway will be in the middle. The stairs up to the top floor will probably move from their position in these photos to run back to front, or maybe front to back.

The first step of adding this level was to cut out a piece of board to fit over the tavern level and cut out a gap for the stairs to come up through. The underside of the board was given a rough plaster finish by skimming it with pollyfilla and painting it off-white. When this was dry it was then glued down over the ceiling beams of the tavern. Floorboards in the form of more craft sticks (i.e. ice cream sticks sold without the best part) were laid over the entire floor before I started to add the posts and external walls.

Next up I need to add the internal walls and decorate them, then add the ceiling beams before moving on to the next (and final) floor. For the "high" bedroom I have a page of the Tudor Freize by Jackson's Miniatures. The hallway and second bedroom will be much plainer, either given a rough plaster or wood panelled finish (or a combination of the two). Only the high room will have, uh, facilities. This will be in the form of a garderobe in the back wall. The other rooms will have to settle for chamber pots.

Later on there will be the last floor in the attic, the roof and the opening front panels to go!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Regency Drawing Room - Week Seven

Drawing Room - Week Seven
Originally uploaded by Alennka
After weeks of not really going anything to this room while I tried to find a suitable rug and make my mind up about the furniture to include in the room I came to the conclusion that I'd dithered about enough.

I gave up on my dream of an oval rug and settled for a rectangular one. No Aussie store had any the right size that didn't have a lot of red in it, so I had to order a rug from Canada that will hopefully fit the space and suit the colour scheme. As for whether the pattern is right for the Regency era . . . . well, it's probably about as acurate as the rest of the room (which of course means not very acurate at all).

For the centre of the room I bid on and won an ebay auction for a pair of chairs and a small table. These are ex-display items from a store so were relatively cheap. Again, they may not be perfect "Regency" but re-upholstered and painted (not necessarily in that order, mind) they are going to do.

Now all I have to do is wait for everything to arrive in the mail! The chairs should be here this week, but the rug may well take longer. In the meantime, I have re-organised the existing furniture once more, taking out both the chaise and the cabinet and putting in a small black side table "borrowed" from another project. I think this will work better, but need to see the chairs I've ordered in the space before I can be absolutely certain there won't be any more rearrangement and replacement of furniture.

Just to make it look like I'd done something for the room this week (aside from add the overmantle mirror, which incidentally is a perfect fit for the space I'd left bare of vines, which is pretty good guesswork!) I dressed the naked lady whose been standing about in the room for weeks. Her gown is in Regency fashion with a high waist and sleeves that puff at the shoulder. The colour of her gown is another matter. I have to admit that I don't recall ever seeing a Regency gown in such a strong colour, I think the more fashionable colours of the time were all soft and pale. However, when I was going through my collected fabrics looking for the right one for this gown, it struck me that this colour (a deep rose pink) matched the centres of the flowers on the walls and was a good contrast to the room. Holding a piece of this fabric in the room just looked better than any other the other options, so I just figured to heck with historical accuracy, as I've already said I'm not doing a terribly good job of it anyway. I chose this doll for this room as her hair was already suitable, being curled at the front and pulled into a bun at the back. I think she needs something to hold onto before she is finsihed . . . perhaps a mini Jane Austen novel?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

DD Inn & Drawing Room - Week Six

For yet another week, not much has changed in the Drawing Room. I have been looking for a suitable rug, but not been able to find one. I've been trying to find out what type of lights would be suitable, but not been able to find any good examples. Basically, I'm about ready to give up on finding anything I need to finish this room off. My Overmantle mirror arrived in the mail this morning. I haven't had the chance to see what it looks like in position yet, but I have a feeling it is going to be a bit too large for the space I've left for it which will mean repainting some of the vines over the fireplace. The only change actually made to the room lately is the addition of two as yet incomplete seats. The furniture arrangement in this room still isn't working for me and I'm really very close to pulling the whole lot apart and forgetting the whole thing.

Luckily I'm doing better with the Dancing Dragon Inn.

I started the week by making the decision to change the colour of the woodwork. The "oak" colour I had been using was too new and unweathered looking. As I mixed it to match the colour of a relatively new, varnished oak cupboard of my mothers this shouldn't really have been a surprise. So I altered my pot of "wood stain" (i.e. acrylic paint and water) until the colour was a more silvery-brown. The result is a more settled been-around-for-a-while look with out the oak looking like it's centuries old. I think the end reuslt is much better than the original although repainting all the wood visible in the building was one of the most tedious things I've done lately.

I concentraited on finishing all the tasks that needed doing on the first floor before the second floor was put on top and restricted access. The first floor is entirely devoted to the Tavern. The right side of the tavern is dominated by the fireplace. The brick back and base of the fireplace is made of MDF brick board that I pulled out of the house that became Highcroft Castle. I repainted it to match the other brickwork and added some black "soot". The front and sides of the fireplace are balsa wood. It still needs some decoration to finish it off, perhaps some sort of crest or heraldic shields on the front above the lintel and of course a firemark and a fire (etc).

The left side of the tavern is where the counter or bar is located. Made of balsa wood (well, what else?) I gave it a carved look by adding some lace over the wood and staining the whole lot. I'm not sure a floral design is quite right for a tavern, but try to find some lace with a more "manly" design. On the back wall over the bar are some shevles which help to frame the "doorway" into the "kitchen". If you took a peek behind the curtain covering the door you'd find only a blank wall. I'm a bit diaspointed I had to leave the kitchen out, but there simply wasn't room for it. Between the arrangement of bar and fireplace I've left myself a pokey little space under the stairs I'm not quite sure what to do with. All suggestions are gratefully accepted.

Beams accross the ceiling were added to make it look like the next floor is being supported by something more than luck. The front door was made (yep, balsa wood again) and installed and the railing was added around the balcony between the steps and the front door. Aside from a bit to finish off around the kitchen door and some rails for the stairs, this pretty much has the taven ready to be built on top of!

Opps! Looking at the photos just now I've realised I've added beams accross a space that was supposed to be open to the next floor in a sort of gallery. I'll need to think about this.

Anyway, that's pretty much the progress for the week. This week should hopefully see the next floor going up and the first two bedrooms of the inn starting to rake shape!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

DD Inn & Drawing Room - Week Five

My goal of the week was to get the first floor on the DD Inn. The first step in this process was to cut a piece of foamboard to act as the actual floor. The underside of this was given a coat of polyfilla and painted off white to resemble render. Once dry, this was glued in place over the ground level structure. Some "beams" of balsa wood were glued to the underside of the floor so it would look like there was actually something holding it up and on the top side, floorboards were added. The floorboards are popsicle sticks (from a craft shop, not used) with the rounded ends cut off. These were cut, glued in place and then given a coat of stain to match the rest of the woodwork.
Next came the hard part . . . figuring out where to position the walls and supporting posts. Looking at the space I could see straight away there wasn't room to put the tavern and a kitchen on this level, so the kitchen is going to be imaginary, accessed though a false door in the back wall. The next change of plan came when I realised that if I put a balcony with railing all along the front, having the front open would be incredibly difficult. After much debating of the alternatives on how to achieve the right 'look' while still being able to get into the Inn, I came up with a compromise. A section approximately five inches long from the stairs up from ground level accross the front will have a balcony, the front wall behind the balcony not opening. The front wall will then step forward to the front edge of the floor and open for access. With this decided, I marked out where to position the wooden posts and drilled down into the floor and up into the posts and used toothpicks as dowels inserted in the holes to secure the posts to the floor. The posts were all then connected at the top by more balsa wood beams. Next I cut sections of foamboard to fill the space between the posts for the walls. The exterior of the walls were given a pollyfilla rendered look while the inside was painted with a woodgrain effect to act as a base for the wood panelling look I'll be adding later.

The next problem was the stairs up to the second floor. The original design I had in mind for them would have had them emerging in the middle of the second floor bedroom instrad of in the hallway were they were meant to be. After considering several alternatives and calculating where they would emerge on the next level, I settled for the layout you see in the photos, an "L" shaped stair with the main section pointed to the right side of the building. At the moment the stairs look like they're floating, but there will be posts and a railing that will make it look more secure added sometime in the future.

While waiting for various bits of the Inn to dry, I worked on some bits and pieces for the Drawing Room. I made a firescreen for the fireplace our of some pieces of wooden trim and a picture cut out of a cross stitch catalogue. Somehow, this construction ended up being too tall for the fireplace. Now I'm not sure whether to leave it as it is or to try cutting it down a little. The oriental cabinet that was going to be basically black has become much more colourful. I printed out a chinoserie image I collected some time ago the appropriate size and wrapped the cabinet in it. It still needs the doors (which don't open) marking out properly and hinges and handles adding. The finished result is definately going to be over the top, but then so is the gold piano. I've finally ordered a mirror for over the mantle that should fit in the empty space over the fireplace. I've also added the pair of Dresden figures I bought at the Honart Miniature Fair back in July and a couple of vases. Now the room only needs a rug, a couple of suitable chairs and some lights. Oh, and some clothes on the lady doll might be a good idea too. And maybe a table. Trim around the top of the panelling. Okay, so there's still a lot to do in here and I'm not having much luck getting it done. I can't find a rug that's about 6"x9" oval and the right colours and pattern and I've not gotten very far trying to figure out what lights should be in a Regency era room.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dexter vs the Dragon

As I said in yesterday's post, Dexter the Digging Dog arrived in the mail that morning.  Since he was so cute, I couldn't wait to get him in position digging up the ground be the stream.  I managed to squeeze in a special stop at the hobby store for some miniature railway gravel to use as dirt and got to work.  Here is the result - Dexter and his pile of dirt!

Dexter is made by the Dollshouse Emporium and I purchsed him from Fairy Meadow Miniatures in Sydney.

Also, I need to welcome yet another new follower to the blog.  Vickyg has her own blog, Vicky's Houses featuring some of her lovely houses.  Welcome Vicky!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Week Four - Drawing Room & D.D. Inn

Yikes!! Even more new followers! At this rate I'm going to need to start giving serious thought to what to do as a 100 follower giveaway . . . . And that is something I never thought I'd have to say! Welcome to the newest followers: Clara of lavidaen miniatura , Marie ofle petit monde merveilleux and cathy_b_1 who doesn't appear to have a blog.

The Piano "Before"
In the Regency Drawing Room I've been arranging and re-arranging the furniture for weeks and reached the conclusion that the Spinet piano was just too big for the space. Having bought it espeically for the room, I didn't want to not use it and add it to the ever growing box of furniture bought but for one reason or another not used. Thus with a great deal of trepidation I began to cut it down to a more suitable size. This involved removing the legs and cutting along the back and side of the piano to reduce both it's width and depth. I was very nervous about doing this as I can't cut straight and was really worried about ruining the piano all together. I credit luck more than skill that the new back and side edges are reasonably straight. After the legs were reattached, the piano was painted gold and decorated with some flower decals. It is now a much better size for the room . . . just as long as you don't look at the back which is just a little rough.

The Piano "after"
Another furniture problem I had with the room was the chaise. The one I was going to place in the room had a partial back on one of the long sides. This meant to look right from the viewer's perspective the chaise had to be in the room with the 'back' at the far side. Yet from the point of view of the person in the room, it should be the other way around. Emboldened by my success with the piano I decided to solve the problem by removing the back piece entirely. This too was painted to match the piano and reupholstered in purple velveteen. I also started painting the cabinet I put together some weeks back out of balsa wood and some ready made legs. The plan is to laquer it and turn it into an oriental style cabinet to add to the chinoserie feel of the room. Now I've seen it in the room in black, it looks too dark for the space. Even when it's been made shiny and had lots of gold added to it, I think it will still look wrong. So, do I try and paint it a different colour? But which colour? I've seen this style of cabinet in black or red, but neither is going to work in the room. I'm not sure it would look right painted say, plum pink to match the fireplace. So maybe I should leave the cabinet out of the room and put the chaise against the wall (in which case it could have kept it's back). I need to give this some more thought.

The few other touches added to the room include some braid around the ceiling to act as a cornice or coving (depending on what part of the world you're in), more braid for the skirting board and a hearth and a back for the fireplace made from air dry clay and the same impress mould I used on the Dancing Dragon's brickwork. Now technically, the fireplace should be deeper than just the surround, but to do that now would require cutting a hole in the back of the box and having the fire place permanently jutting out the back. I decided that the better solution was to place a firescreen infront of the fireplace and hope no one notices that it isn't as deep as it should be.

Not too much happened to the Dancing Dragon this week. I've added a railing along the stairs up to the next level. This is made from staircase spindles carefully split at the top so a split ring could be inserted. Through the rings a length of string was threaded to create a handrail. I've also built the bridge over the stream at the front. This is all balsa wood and consists of two curved supports over which planks have been laid. The posts along the front edge will eventually be joined by a handrail of some sort. Finally, I've started adding some plants to the 'wilderness' section around the stream. Dexter the Digging Dog, who I mentioned in the last post, arrived in the mail just this morning (and he is as gorgeous in real life as he was as a photo on the internet!) and as soon as I get into town to buy some 'dirt' I'll place him by the stream with a pile of dirt he's dug up. Eventually, I'll also add his young owner fishing off the bridge.

The good news is that I think I've finished all the jobs that require access from above, so I'm ready to start work on the next level. The problem is that I need to make a final decision on the layout of the second floor. Most of it will be occupied by the tavern of the Dancing Dragon. What I haven't decided is whether the rest of the floor should be the kitchen, a private 'back room' or just an extension of the tavern.