A Randomly Selected Newspaper Headline:

The following is a randomly selected newspaper headline from many years ago:

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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, September 27, 2011

In a Witch's Garden

In a Witch's garden you may expect to find such things as Hemlock or Wolfsbane growing.  This particular garden is right near the front door of a witch supply shop and if you were on your way into the shop to buy a witch herb and saw some growing through the fence on your way would you still go into the shop and buy some or would you reach through the fence, grab a handful and run?  Gilda, the owner of the shop thought the latter might happen too often if she used this space for her "working" garden, so the herbs and witchy plants sold in her shop are grown in a hidden garden out the back and the front garden is purely ornamental for enjoyment.

Gilda bartered with Artie at Castle Starcaster for some Wacky Wisteria seeds and zapped them with a little magic to speed up their growth and she now has Wisteria vines growing in profusion in her garden and another vine at the far side of the shop growing over the external stairs.

The wisteria was made (um, grown) in the same way as that adorning Castle Starcaster with a leaf shape paper cutter and flowersoft blooms on green wire.  Another method borrowed from Starcaster is the topiary, but for this garden it was given a twist.  I took a cheap fairy ornament, painted her green and then painted her with glue.  Before the glue set she was sprinkled with model railway "turf" and became a beautiful, intricate topiary scuplture.  There is no chance I could have carved anything out of oasis foam (as Starcasters topiaries were) with this degree of detail and she is a great feature in the garden. 

On the side wall is mounted a lion head fountain.  The fountain is another feature plucked from the Old Castle, but until now never had any water in it.  I poked some thin wire into the lion's mouth and positioned it so that it curved gently into the bowl at the bottom.  Scenic Water was used to fill the bowl.  When the Scenic Water was partly cooled / set I used a syringe to apply it to the piece of wire to create the effect of water pouring out of the lion's mouth.

Although most of the attention for the week was on the outside of the shop, it insides weren't totally ignored.  The goblets I began making weeks ago were finally finished.  The cup part of them are made from polymer clay while the bases are little plastic chess men about 1cm high.  The two parts were glued together, painted in a pewter tone and given a bit of flash with some small stick on rhinestones.

Tisha, the fairy started last week finally received her wings and is flapping about the Reading Room.  Her wings are gold tone wire and fantasy film.

Remember Gilda traded with Artie for those Wacky Wisteria seeds?  Well, in return for those seeds, Gilda gave some of Artie's seeds a zap of growing magic to speed up the growth of some wisteria on the castle walls and the result is a new patch of wisteria growing over the bay window.

 The other thing Artie got in return for his seeds was a new resident for the castle; or rather for outside the castle.  In the photo about you can see him riding past the left side of the castle and below he's giving Ana a ride.  The castle's residents all feel much safer with this fellow on guard.

A little while ago I set the target of Launceston Show Day to have the Witch Shop finished.  It seemed a long way away at the time, but it's only next Thursday; a week and two days away!  Yikes!  I don't think I'm quite going to make it but it should be close.  The biggest task left to do is to address the space under the external steps.   I used the door that's supposed to go in this space in the back wall of the garden, so I need to make a gate, then think of what's going to go inside.  Um . . . . A garden potting shed . . . . A repository of cracked cauldrons . . . . A sleeping dragon . . . . What should it be?  What should it be?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Meet the Witches

This week I dressed and wigged the dolls for the shop.  To keep with the "no fixed era" feel of the shop, all the dolls have different styles, some that point to a particular era in history and some that are simply "kinda witchy".

Vivienne is definately a witch inspired by Georgian era fashions.  Vivienne herself is made from polymer clay using the female mould that finally arrived a couple of weeks ago.  Her underdress is red silk dupion overlaid with a soft black netting.  Her over gown is brocade in red and black with black lace trim around the neck and cuffs.  Her hat is red straw braid and her hair is pale blonde viscose. 

Gilda is more of a typical witch in a dark velvet coat and tall pointed hat.  She is the owner of the shop on lives in the grand house behind the green door in the garden.  She's a Heidi Ott soft bodied doll. 

Isis is another polymer clay and mould made doll.  She's the most exotic of the witches wearing a chiffon underdress and brocade overgown with ribbon and leather sandals and long black hair parted in the middle.

 Theya and Althea are a pair of junior witches sent out on an errand to collect some supplies from the shop.  Althea's dress was taken off a cheap porcelain doll who was redressed some time ago.  It was shortened and a yellow ribbon belt added.  A black shawl and junior sized witch hat finish off her outfit.  Theya is too young for the dark colours usually associated with witches, so her dark navy dress is covered with a colourful floral pattern and trimmed with pink ribbon.

 Tisha looks much like any of the other witches until you see her in the company of a 1/12th scale doll:

Tisha was made using the 24th scale doll mould.  When her wings are ready, she'll become a Faerie witch.  The doll used to show her scale is Ursa.  Ursa was actually dressed for another scene some time ago, but will likely settle in the witch shop for a while.

And finally, here's Hetty in her shop assistant outfit.  Firstly, let me say that the big blue bow is going to be replaced, perhaps with a nice broach or some such.  Hetty wears a blue and black lace trimmed apron to tie in the the decoration scheme of the shop.

Finally, here are a few pictures of how the new witches are settling in to the shop:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Heads Up Aussies

By sheer dumb luck I've discovered that the "Victorian Dolls' House Collector" magazine series has just started to be released in Australia. 

The first magazine is in newsagents at the moment for $1.95 and comes with a 17 piece dinner service.  Regardless of whether you want to collect the entire series or not, this price for a set of dishes is pretty remarkable and well worth a visit to your newsagents.  Mine only had one copy left, so I'd reccomend anyone whose interested to go out and find a copy now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Return to the Witch Shop

After dedicating my time and effort to the castle for the past month it was time to turn my attention back to the Witch Shop this week.  Even Ginny the cat was eager to help make a start, luckily DHE kits are strong and sturdy!

I'm having trouble writing about this week's progress because most of it was just fiddling about not really worth talking about.  Beyond that I had another (and for the shop I think final) session with polymer clay, creating a few more odds and ends for the shop, none of which are ready to go in the shop yet because they all need finishing off (painting, embelshing, clothing, etc).

Some balsa wood beams were added in the Reading room which gave me a place to hang a subtlely appropriate light fitting.  (Why is it appropriate?  Count the number of points on the star and think of shapes sterotypically associated with witches.)  The light is made from jewellery finding and is of course non working.  Boris the Bat is settling in at the left end of the beams and is waiting for his journals and papers to arrive.  I've added some fancy trim around the top of the bookshelves, added a coat rack with some cloaks and hats and just gernerally filled up the room with lots of shiny, colourful bits and pieces.

Inside the opening front panel of the shop I've finished filling up the shelves in the top floor "jut out" with books and a few scrolls.  In the bay window is a shiny gold orrery "borrowed" from the old castle.  I really have been merciless in my pilphering from the old castle, but the more I take out, the more I have an excuse to change when I start ro renovate it.  At first, the idea was just to tidy a few things up, switch a few rooms about and that was it.  At the moment I'm contemplating moving walls and staircases, cutting holes in floors and walls for extra stairwells, doors and windows and re-dressing all the people.  Still, the plans for the Old Castle haven't gotten as . . . extreme . . . as the plans for the other property I'm planing to renovate.  The Georgian House is currently three floors high, there is a good chance it will be four or five by the time I finish with it this time. That's the problem with plans you don't start work on right away, they tend to grow while waiting for you to get around to them.  That's why I'm hoping to finish the Witch Shop in one month.  Launceston Show Day is the first Thursday in October and my current goal is to have the shop finished by then so that I can start on something else before the plans for castle/house/Retreat have time to grow anymore!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Finished! . . . . Well, Almost

Thirty-One weeks, or about seven months, after starting work on the castle it's finally finished.  Well . . . almost finished anyway.  It's at the point where it's close enough to "done" that I need to ignore it for a couple of weeks then come back and look at it with fresh eyes so that all the flaws still needing to be fixed stand out.  So for the moment it's "done" even though it still needs work.

The one area that still needed the most attention at the start of the week was the exterior.  All that grey had to get broken up, so I added some "Wacky Wisteria" vines to the two side front panels.  Why is it Wacky?  Look closely and you'll notice that it has holly leaves instead of wisteria-type leaves and that the blooms are composed of three different colours, none of them the lavender purple wisteria is meant to be.  It was a case of making do with what I had on hand rather than wait weeks for the right supplies to arrive in the mail.  I figure it is a fantasy castle, so some fantasy wisteria is in order anyway.  The leaves were made from paper using a paper punch while the flowers are three shades of flowersoft mixed in together.  A piece of green wire dipped in extra tacky glue was rolled in this to create the flower.

The centre front panel has no wisteria on it, but I think I need to add some around the bay window and perhaps at the top as well.  Above the front door and under the bay window some decorative brackets were glued on to add some interest. 

The other task of the week was to finish off and arrange the dolls in the castle and here are the results:

I told you Artie would prefer Ana once she grew some hair!  They've snuck off to the Dining Room for a quiet chat.

Theron and Chester exchange stories of their adventures while Garnett listens politely, not believing a word of it.

With a castle full of hungry people, the kitchen staff are working flat out.

Katie shows young Cailin her treasured magical sphere in the bedroom.

May convinced Arianne to move out of my first (and soon to be renovated) castle to come and help her make music in Starcaster.

Almos is still asleep in the Library and a little dragon has decided to curl up on his lap.  Like Arianne, Glennis has decided she prefers Starcaster to the old castle and has moved in to help organise the library.  Her first decision was to relocate the library desk to the Dragon Study room upstairs.  Little Omyr the book-wyrm dragon refused to leave the library so jumped off the desk and settled on the top of the library steps instead.

Glennis' decision to move the desk upstairs meant that the cupboard had to get the boot.  I have to admit I like this room better without the cupboard but the catch is that the desk leaves only the narrowest space between itself and the top of the stairs meaning a person needs to be very skinny and agile to make it into the room.  Perhaps I should cut the desk down a little, but you can't actually see anything is wrong from the front so why risk ruining the desk?

As you can see, the castle is a very busy place.  If you'd like so see more photos of the (almost) finished castle, you'll find all them from the very start here in my Flickr.