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.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dancing Dragon Inn - Week Twelve

There's not a lot to say about this week. In fact the photo says about all of it. I've made a start at tiling the roof, but have only managed to add half a dozen rows of tile on two sections of roof. There are a number of reasons why I've not made a great amount of progress this week and here they are:

Firstly, to make the tile involved marking out tile shapes on a piece of cardboard and then cutting them out. The marking out was fairly easy (aside from when there was a cat sitting in the middle of the cardboard trying to catch the ruler) but the cutting was a different matter. After a while not only does the sound of all the bones in the back of my hand popping as they move about indepentantly (shouldnt they have all fused together by the time a person gets to be 28?) really start to get annoying but it also starts to get sore and worse I get a semi permenent scissor handle shaped depression in the flesh of my thumb. So I can only cut so many tiles at a time before I have to stop and do something else for a while - such as read a chapter of a book. The problem here is that I was reading one of Terry Pratchett's discworld novels and they don't have chapters so I tend to just keep on and on reading rather than just reading a chapter and going back to something vaugley useful.

The next reason why the Inn hasn't progressed that much this week is that Christmas is coming - only 29 days more! That always means a lot of work. Cupbaords need to be cleaned out so that there will be room to pack them full of Christmas goodies, there are boxes to be decorated so that presents can be put inside them, my Grandma's silver teapot needs it's annual polish, etc, etc. My mother pulled up the carpet in the front room and has set my father to laying a laminate floor and of course someone ended up helping to clear out the room first. I'm sure everyone reading this is familiar with the bustle that is December. So in short, there isn't a lot of time left over for working on dollshouses. And it's only going to get worse between now and Christmas.

I will try to keep up work on the Inn, but frankly, I doubt I will even get the roof finished before Christmas. I will (try) to keep the blog up to date and add some seasonal posts such as pictures of the Gingerbread house I want to try to make (if it turns out to be presentable). If however I get behind, I appologise in advance.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dancing Dragon Inn - Week Eleven

There have been no dramatic changes to the appearance of the Inn this week. The front has been finished off with the addition of a multitude of wooden strips, not only on the fronts, but also on the sides of the building. I'm not sure I'm happy with the look of this - I think the tavern level in particular is a bit too busy. However, it's too late to change now, so this is how it is going to remain.

The other addition this week is the windows. It doesn't show up well in all the photos, but all the black holes in the walls now have acetate "glass" filling them in. I used some faux leadlighting outliner on the clear acetate to create the look of a leaded window with a multitude of small paynes comprising the whole. This leading was done in a vareity of patterns in the hope of giving the Inn a bit of an "added to over time" look.  I suspect when the Inn was fiest built none of the windows had glass and this was added over time as the proprietors could afford it.  Certainly the Inn must have been doing a roaring trade to be able to afford to glaze all it's windows at once.

The window that opens on the balcony by the Inn's front door was given a bit of extra attention. Some time ago I downloaded an image of a dragon from a free online colouring-in site and printed it out in a range of sizes to use when I make the signs for the inn. I still haven't made the signs, but have added the dragon image to the front window. I simply placed the acetate window over the printed image and "traced" it using the outliner. I then added a pattern of leading over the whole window and when the leading was dry, coloured in the dragon and parts of the leading with Gallery Glass paints.

Once all the leading on the windows was dry they were glued into the prepared frames of the Inn. Mostly, these are simple rectangles flush with the front of the Inn. The window in the removable section of the tavern front, as well as the window in the side wall of the tavern overhanging the stairs from ground level are both built out about 3/4" and the two large windows on the top floor jut out to make a two payne bay window.

The next task to be tackled is the roof. I have been through various plans for this, including thatch and clay tile. Last week was to use terracotta air dry clay to make indivual tiles to cover the roof. Needless to say that plan has changed; I've come to the conclusion that making that many tiles is going to take from now 'till Christmas . . . 2011! Not to mention where am I going to put all those tiles where they can lie flat while they dry? So the revised plan is to cut tiles from some thick cardboard and paint them to suit. I would have had to use paint on the clay tiles to get the right effect anyway so hopefully the finished effect won't be too different. The final rationalisation for taking this short cut is that without the aid of a stepladder, most of the roof is kind of hard to see anyway.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dancing Dragon Inn - Week Ten

This was one of those weeks when I seemed to spend a lot of time busily working away on the Inn, but with very little to show for it at the end. My goal of the week was to make the front panels and finish off the exterior of the Inn, excluding the roof and windows. As you can see in the photo, the Inn does have front walls now, but they still need work, namely the addition of more decorative wooden strips/noggings and securing to the building. At the moment the fronts are held in place with either clamps, pins or luck. I'm not sure whether to try using hooks and eyes to hold them on or to try and find some form of magnetic catch. One would be visible on the outside while the other would be visible on the inside and neither would look very pretty.

The tavern level has a single removable front wall with a single large window (or at the moment a single black hole). It is cut from foamboard to fit between the wooden posts at either end of the opening. The panel was then given a thin coat of pollyfilla to create a rougher surface and it was painted in a pale green. Balsa wood strips were then glued to the front of the panel overhaning both sides so that they completely covered the supporting posts. These pieces cover the slightly wavering edges of the board to give a nice neat finish.

The remaining floors have three front wall sections each, one for each room and one for the hallway between them. They were made in the same fashion as the tavern panel with the exception that the wood strips on the inside edges of each of the side panels are wide enough to cover the supporting post and the edge of the centre panel. This means that the side panels hold the centre panel in place so only the side panels will need securing to the building.

Finally, I started adding thin balsa strips to decorate the fronts. I started by framing the holes for the windows and made it as far as almost finishing the fronts of the first bedroom level. I still need to work on the levels above and below this one, plus do all the sides which at this point have been painted to match the front panels. Then figure out how to permanently, but removably attach the fronts. Then made the windows. Then make the tiles for the roof. Then cover the roof. I think saying I will be ready to start working on the inside by Christmas is really quite optomistic, especially if making roof tiles is going to be as horrid and time consuming as I am expecting. Perhaps I should go back to plan A, thatch?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Drawing Room - Week Nine

Drawing Room - Week Nine
Originally uploaded by Alennka
At long last the room has a rug for the floor. It's not oval as I originally intended and I'm not sure it's exactly Regency, but at least it's a rug. I can always change it at some point in the furture if I ever find something I like better.

I'm still not sure about the furniture in this room, somehow no arrangement or subsitution seems to work quite right. However what you see in the photo is how it is going to stay, whether it looks right or not. To tell the truth, I am simply sick of fussing with this room. In the time I've spent fussing with this one single room I've built an entire four story Inn!

I think at this point I'll take a few weeks off this project and come back and finish it off later. The only main feature the room is missing at the moment are lights. These will of course be dummy (non working) lights which I will have to make. Right now I think I'll wait until the Dancing Dragon Inn is ready to have it's lights done and do the two at once.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dancing Dragon Inn - Week Nine

For some reason, Blogger isn't letting me add photos this week, so until I get this sorted out, please take a look the the photos on my Flickr account here: Dancing Dragon Inn

The final floor of the Inn was added this week and topped off with a roof.  As with all the other levels, this one started with a piece of foamboard cut to size and a hole cut in to allow the stairs to pass through.  The under side was given a skim coat of pollyfilla and painted off white to create the ceiling of the bedrooms below while the top side was covered in more popsicle stick "floorboards".  Once I has a floor, I added the walls to the sides and back of the floor.  These walls were only 3" high as most of the height of this level is under the sloping roof ontop of the walls. 

The exact shape and design of the roof is something that had been under debate in my head for weeks.  There were all sorts of ways I could have made it, but many of them left me undable to access the rooms within, made the roof too high or created low points where the mini residents would have to duck to walk underneath.  Finally I settled on a compromise mix of a few different ideas.  The result is a roof with three peaks, their ridges running back to front with the central ridge slightly lower that the two either side.  Like the walls, the roof was made by making a frame out of balsa wood and filling the sections created with foamboard.  At this point I made a discovery.  Peel the plastic-paper outer layer off the foamboard and you are left with a rough, off white surface that imitates a rough plaster finish reasonably well.  As this floor is where the cheapest rooms of the Inn are located, a cheap coat of "plaster" seemed like a good finish for the walls and peeling off the layer of foamboard was much easier than going over it with pollyfilla and painting it.  Strips of balsa wood were then added to the walls for some extra decoration.

The exterior of the roof still needs to be covered in tiles.  A quick measure of the roof I'd created gave me an area of 480 square inches that need to be covered, requiring approximately 2000 standard twelth scale roof tiles.  Having seen the prices of roof tiles (and adding on the fact that I'd have to get them shipped from the UK or US) there was just no way I was going to finish the roof with pre-bought tiles.  Now I have two choices; use a sheet of preformed tile effect cladding or make my own tiles.  The preformed cladding sheets do look quite economical (even though I still can't find any in Oz), but every tile it perfect and identical and having seen other miniature tiled roofs (rooves?) around the internet, the roofs with cracked and slipping tiles absolutely look better than those with neat, orderly rows of tiles.  Acheiving this means using individual tiles, so I'm going to have a go at making my own.  The plan is to use terracotta air dry clay, roll it flat and cut it into tile sized rectangles.  I have a feeling the plan may be a simple one, but that it may take weeks to produce enough tiles to cover the roof.  The thought of what is sure to be time consuming and tedious work making tiles is why I'm thinking I'll work on making the removable front walls next and finish the roof off later.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dancing Dragon Inn - Week Eight

It may be a little late to mention this, but last week I gave the blog a quick make-over, changing the colours and adding a few gadgets. As a result, the tabs to change between the main page and links page seem to have become disjointed from the main body of the page. If anyone out there in blog land has had this problem and knows how to fix it, I'd appreciate it if you would leave me a few tips because nothing I do seems to work. Just for fun i've added a poll asking which of the miniature projects featured so far in my blog is your favourite. It is open until the end of December and you can vote for as many houses as you like. To help you choose, I'll add a page sumarising each project over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for new tabs at the top of the blog.

Now, on to business . . . .

Last week finished with the exterior walls of the second floor in place. This week saw the internal walls added and decorated. The first task was to make a "garderobe" (toliet facility) which lives behind the back wall of the "high" bedroom on the left. It is separated from the main room by a curtain. Sadly, the actual garderobe can't be seen once the walls and ceiling are in place, but trust me, it's there. Walls made of foamboard were then added to divide the bedrooms from each other and from the central hallway-come-stairwell. On the back wall at the top of the stairs is a (badly) hand painted scene of a hallway on the far side of the back wall to make the inn seem bigger than it is.

On the left is the "high" bedroom for use by the Inn's wealthy customers (this is why it is the only room with a garderobe). To give it a touch of luxury I covered the upper walls with "tudor frieze" by Jackson's Miniatures. The lower walls were panelled with thin balsa wood. More balsa made the door and door frame. As usual the door opens by pivoting on pins inserted in the top and bottom of the door. Eventually, this room will have a big four post bed and other accessories. The suit of armour you might spot in this week's photos prbably won't stay. He was bought for the hall, but it turns out he won't fit, so I'll probably keep him to use in the Tower of Magic, which will probably be my next project after the 'Dragon is finished.

The "low" bedroom, which isn't low so much as just a bit lower than the "high" room, already has it's bed. It's a cupboard bed built into the back of the room. Not so long ago it was comon for people to sleep enclosed in a cupboard to protect against draughts and keep heat in, the cupboard doing much the same job as the curtains around a four post bed. My cupbaord bed is a built in fixture of the room. Some wood turnings create a vent across the top of the bed door to guard against suffocation. The "carved" panels on each side of the bed are felt ribbon (intended for scrapbooking) laid over balsa wood and stained to match the rest of the wood. Having the bed built in at the back of the room leaves a large floor space free at the front of the room. In time this space will be filled with a table surrounded by some rather shady characters who are studying maps of the city in order to plan a daring robbery

All the walls of the "low" bedroom and the hallway are covered in wood panelling. This is made of very thin balsa wood with thicker strips over the top to create the panelled look. Once the walls were finished, the stairs up to the top floor were glued in place and ceiling beams were added. Although not shown in the photos, the next (and final) floor, another piece of foamboard, was then laid on top of the beams. By the end of this week, the final floor walls should be well underway and the roof should be started. I haven't decided what to cover the roof with yet. I had thought about thatching it, but when I thought about that idea I had to wonder - how do you get dust out of thatch? And the worse thought - how do you stop the cat eating, clawing and otherwise abusing the thatch? So for practical reasons I think thatching the roof is out. So maybe tiles? Anyway, that's something to decide after I've got it framed up.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Regency Room - Week Eight

Regency Room - Week Eight
Originally uploaded by Alennka
More re-arranging this week with the chaise coming back into the room. The two chairs arrived and the seats have been recovered in a cotton with a floral pattern. I left them the colour they came (wood) rather than repaint them as the logical colour to paint them is gold to match the rest of the furniture and I think gold chairs on top of gold everything else would really have been a bit too far over the top.

Once the rug arrives and I can see how it looks, I'll decide whether or not to add a table between the chairs (the one that came with them was too big!). Then it'll just be a matter of sorting out the accessories, adding a vase of flowers and some books, repainting the red candles, perhaps adding a few cushions or a throw to the chaise, etc.