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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Of Witches and Dragons

Being a report on Castle Starcaster Week 19 and Witch Shop Week Eight.

Firstly this week I have two more new followers to welcome.  I'm up to 97 followers now and isn't that amazing.  The two newcomers are Caraloo of Lilac Hill News and Rosamargarita of Chiquicosas.  Thanks for following.  In other news, Linda of Linda's Miniature Musings is currently offering a giveaway on her blog.  For a chance to win a 1/144 scale house kit, please visit her blog here.

Those of you who have been following for a while will know that because I added extra doors in the Castle, I was short of door handles.  So a couple of weeks ago I ordered some more handles to match the others.  While browsing the store to see if there was anything else I needed that I could put on the same order I found a 1/12 scale bicycle.  By no means was this something I needed, but the moment I saw it I could see it being ridden by a slightly eccentric witch who was having difficulties with her broomstick and was forced to resort to an alternate means of transportation.  From that moment, I had to have the bike and when it arrived in the mail early in the week I couldn't wait to get started on making the witch to ride it.  And here she is:

Her name is Minerva (Minnie for short).  I can't tell you how proud I am of Minnie as every part of her was made from scratch.  A week ago she was only a lump of polymer clay, some wire and foam.   Before you start thinking I'm really something and managed to sculpt her by hand I'd better admit that I used push moulds to create her face and hands.  I've had the push mould of 1/12 scale faces, hands and feet for years, but only used it once before.  I was disapointed that all the faces were the faces of ugly old hags and because old hags are only a small portion of the population that discovery really sapped my enthusiasm for the push mould and because I can't make faces without help (at least not ones even uglier than those in the moulds) there died my ambitions of making my own dolls.  Minerva, however, would have to be a hand made doll if she was going to fill the vision in my head and fortunately she was supposed to look like an old hag so the moulds for once proved perfect.

I mixed even amounts of Super Sculpy and translucent Sculpy to create her skin colour and pushed a ball of this into the mould.  A tip to remember is to lightly spray the mould with water to prevent the clay from sticking.   I then carefully curled the excess clay back to create a head shape behind the face.  I adapted the face by enlarging the nose by inserting a ball tipped stylus up the nostrils and carefully swirling it about and pushing forward.  The mouth was opened by carefully cutting between the lips with a thin blade and the stylus was again used to work it open and create a cavity for the mouth.  Another minus with the moulds is that none of the faces have ears so I attached some cresent shaped bits of clay to the sides of her head.  They look nothing like ears, but they are covered by her hair and gave me something to attach her earings too later on.  Minnie's hands also came out of the mould.  Her fingers were carefully cut apart and curled about the bike's handlebars so she would be able to grip them.  Minnie's feet and lower legs were made without the aid of a mould which is why one boot is larger than the other.

Once baked and cooled, Minnie's face was painted with chalk pastels for her cheeks, lips and ears and normal acrylics for her eyes and eyebrows.  Her shoes and legs were also painted with acrylics, black for the boots and black and white stripes for the stockings.  Her "bits" were all joined using a heavy gauge wire which was then wrapped in thin foam to create a slightly chubby body.  Her hair is merino wool which varigates from white to orange and is parted in the middle.

Minnie's clothes were all hand made too.  She wears red bloomers, a red petticoat (not visible in the photos), a black dress with a green sash at the waist and a matching green hat.  Her outfit is completed with sun and star earings that match the cresent moon in her hat.  I dabbed super glue onto the bike's axles and pedals to stop them moving and then glued Minnie onto the bike.  Her broken broom is tied onto the back so she can take it into the shop to get it repaired and she has a couple of books in the front basket as she's late for the book meeting in the Reading room of the shop!

Alongisde Minerva, I made two more dolls in the same way.  They are Hector and Agatha.  Agatha is a kindly old witch whose come to attend the book club meeting.  Hector is the renowned author of many books on magic and witchcraft and has been invited to attend the book meeting as a guest speaker.

The past few weeks, the Witch Shop has been getting much more attention than the Castle, so once I had finished with Minerva, Hector and Agatha I decided to concentrate all my attention on the castle for a few days.  I decided to accessorise the room on the top floor of the castle which is a room for the studying of dragons. 

To get a better view of the dragons flying over the distant mountains there is a telescope on a stand positioned by the windows.  The telescope came from ebay while the stand is four fan blades painted brassie gold and glued around a block of balsa wood painted black.  In the back left corner of the room an articulated dragon skeleton is displayed.  This is one idea that didn't work so well.  The basic skeleton is that of a duck billed dinosaur with polymer clay wing bones glued on it.  Sadly, it just looks like a dinosaur with weirdly positioned antlers on it's back.  I think this is going to have to be replaced by something else.

On the right side wall is a tall cupboard made from a kit.  It holds a range of items from books and scrolls to dragon scales and potion bottles. 

A lovely open book and dragon embryo in jar bought from ebay seller whydgc is the focal point on the central table made by Angela Downton.  The table was further accessorised with some books made from cut up old phone directories and a jar of "dragon scales" (i.e. cut up Easter egg wrappers).  On the left wall by the door to the roof garden is a rack from which two cloaks hang so folks can go out into the garden even in bad weather.  This room still needs a few touches and accessories, but is getting fairly close to being the first castle room to be finished.

Despite the fact I said no more Witch Shop this week, I did make far too many potion bottles for the Dragon Room, so I positioned some of the leftovers on the shop shelves.  I filled up half the shelves and still have potion bottles left over!


  1. love Minerva!!! she is fabulous!! :D Linda x

  2. I love your dolls! Minerva is perfect on her bicycle :)


  3. Wow, Alennka! You have been busy! I love Minerva! She is quite the Witch! And the others too! Your Witch's shop is filling fast!

  4. Thanks Linda, DS Victoria and Daydreamer. I love Minerva too!

  5. Absolutely adore your cycling witch!