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, April 30, 2012

Small Additions in Clay

Ignoring the "inside" section of the Dig Site completely, I pulled out the polymer clay and made a few things to scatter around the camp.

I'm guessing this cobra is looking for a safe place to spend the night amongst the fallen stones.

For the camp I made a very cauldron-eske cooking pot filled with stew and a blue enamel splatterware look coffee pot and four matching cups.  Amother snake is looking for refuge under the camp bed.

For the archeologists there is a variety of hammers, picks, shovels and a brush (with soft bristles) to help dig up treasures.


These are the archeologists themselves, but as you can see they haven't pulled themselves together yet.  Hopefully next week you'll be able to see them dressed and assembled.  The little half scale doll is not for the Dig Site but will take Dan's place as test dummy for the 24th scale house when I get around to it.  There are also a few little alabaster look pots and jars in the bottom corner.

 Okay, these are not handmade (at least not by me).  The leather hat and pistol were bought on ebay from seller tolly03 in the US.  They will be worn by the lead archeologist.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Inner Sanc-Dumb

 First of all a quick reminder, the giveaway closes in less than a week.  If you are yet to enter but would like to, please click this link now!

 At some point in any project there comes a time when I am certain the only way to make it work is to rip it out, burn it all and start again.  This is how I'm feeling about the "inside" space or inner sanctum of the dig site.  It is truely, hideously wrong and just looking at it makes you want to cry.  All the problems are against the back wall where the lumpy columns are still lumpy and too short and they are topped off by a truely bizzare platform that is all just so ugly.

Sigh . . . .

Of course there was a time when I felt similarly about the Magician's Cave in Dawncrest but I kept working on it anyway and look how well that turned out in the end.  Still, I think this time 'round it's a case of ripping it out and trying again.

 I hate to waste the work that has already gone into the columns/platform structure, so have been playing around with some Egyptian accessories to see if I like it any better with more in the room than just the columns.  I don't.  I do however think that the statue of Anubis in glossy black and gold looks absolutely striking and is definately a keeper.  Anubis and both the smaller seated figures are polyresin ornaments I bought years ago from a $2 shop and repainted as did the three heads above the "door".

Have you spotted Martha peering around one of the columns?  Imagine her a few thousand years older and dressed in bandages and you have an idea of who will be peering around the column on a more permanent basis.  Whatever sort of column ends up there . . . .

Fortunately, the outside is progressing better.  Dan has been busy and dug up some artifacts.  He's started packing a stone ram's head into a crate to ship back to the museum and also managed to find a small sphinx and a bust of Nefertiti in perfect condition. Nefertiti?  I guess they must be digging at Armana.

Some supplies for the crew have started arriving too and been stowed away in the tent.  Does it matter that the archeologists are supposed to be in the 1920s and their biscut tins say "Coronation Biscuts"?  Oh well, they are at the back of the tent and you need really good eyesight to read the labels.

This last photo is proof that whatever mistakes I make on this project aren't my fault.  I'm constantly supervised and any errors are due to the supervisor falling asleep on the job!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Camping Out

Next time I tell you I'm planning a project that involves making something look like stone, please remind me about the mess involved first!  I don't know how you go about painting a stone effect, but my method involves getting paint on everything in the room.  Creating a suitably sandstone-eske effect involved countless layers of washes and dry brushing until I was happy with the colours.  Then all I had to do was get the colours off me!

With the stone painting finished, I could attach the backboard with it's sunset scene.  Even if I say it myself, the backdrop looked truely incredible in place behind the sandstone foreground so naturally the very next thing I did was to start blocking it off completely from view.

The Dig Site is out in the desert, too far to commute to the nearest luxury hotel every day (my preferred method of archeology) so the workers have a small camp on site.  The tent frame is made from bamboo skewers cut to length and tied together with string.  A dab of glue re-enforces the joints.  The ground the tent rests on is clay over polystyrene and thus soft enough that the tent frame was secured in place by pushing the supporting skewers into the ground.  I made a cover for the frame out of a cotton fabric and glued it in place over the frame.  I made a simple camp bed for inside the tent by stretching a piece of fabric between two balsa wood poles.  A short piece of balsa at the end of each pole act as legs.  Over this I threw a linen sheet and pillow and a woollen blanket.

In front of the tent is the firepit.  A ring of stones surround the fire made of red and black seed beads.  Skewer offcuts from the tent were tied together to create a tripod from which will hang a cooking pot.  Like the tent this is held in place by driving the tips into the ground.  A pair of stools were made by cutting toothpicks in half, tieing three halves together with string and glueing a triangular pice of fabric on the top.

Today, we are used to seeing Egyptian carvings in bare stone, but originally they would all have been brightly painted.  So I added touches of coloured paint to the wall carvings and rubbed it off again to create the effect of remanants of ancient paint clinging to the stone.

Beyond the wall lies the "inside" area.  The idea is that this space has been sealed for thousands of years and is untouched by the passage of time.  That is why I am not happy with the columns I made.  I painted them this week in the hope they would look better in colour and they do . . . but they are still obviously crooked with bulges in strange places.  Still, if I get more clay and try again from scratch, there is no reason to believe I'll do any better.  To use them or not to use them  . . . . .?  The pilars will flank a false doorway opening onto a corridor.  I've painted the false corridor on a piece of card and by the time everything is in place I think it will blend in well enough.  On the left of the photo above you can see a piece of the wallpaper I'm using on the walls.  Yep, I've decided to cheat and am using "Egyptienne" paper from Jackson's Miniatures.  I'll show you more of it next week when I've installed it all properly.

If you haven't entered the giveaway yet, don't forget it closes on 30th April and you'll find the link at the top of the page.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Painted Desert

As promised, the 150 follower giveaway is now open.  If you look up just a little I'm sure you won't be able to help noticing the link that'll take you straight to all the details.

With Dawncrest finished last week, it was time to start work on a new project.  This one is entitled "The Dig Site" and is set in Egypt sometime around 1920.  Part serious archeology but mostly adventure movie, the Dig Site encompasses a camp ouside the ruins of an ancient Egyptian temple sealed for thousands of years.  The explorers prepare to break through the long sealed doors against the backdrop of the setting sun (or is it rising?).

I added two layers of polystyrene over two thirds of an MDF board and cut out three steps from the inside end.  More polystyrene forms walls, cutting the floor area in two the the end of the flat polystyrene and at the far end of the board.

All the polystyrene was then covered with a thin layer of air drying clay.  While the clay was wet, blocks of stone were marked out along the edges of the board.  I also added some "carvings" to the walls at this point as well.  This was done by tracing a pattern onto greaseproof kitchen paper.  The paper was then laid over the clay and the design pressed into the clay with a ball pointed stylus.

With the little left over clay I had I made, or attempted to make, a pair of pillars in "lotus bud" style.  They are two balsa wood dowels wrapped in alfoil to pad them out a little, then covered in clay.  Um, did the Egyptians make crooked, lumpy columns?  Because that's what I did.

Beyond the dividing wall the floor was covered in "tiles" made of cut up egg cartons.

All this was then covered in a coat of sandstone toned paint, but there are still many layers left to go before the right effect is (hopefully) achieved.

The whole scene will have a solid back wall.  On the part of the wall that will be behind the "outside" section I painted a desert scene over which the sun is setting.  I am very pleased with how this turned out.  If you poke the photo to enlarge it you might be able to see the fleet of fishing boats on the Nile heading home after a hard day's fishing and a man leading three camels along the horizon.

Finally for the week I made a broken fallen column by stuffing an empty roll of kitchen paper towel with newspaper, cutting it into three uneven parts then covering it with Texture Paste tinted with sandstone paint.  I drew a toothpick accross the wet paste to create the effect of stone blocks.

150 Follower Choose Your Own Giveaway!

To celebrate reaching the colosall total of 150 fabulous followers, I'm offering not one but two giveaway prizes! 

Prize One: Magical

 Prize one consists of a "mad stack" of books, a pair of dragon eggs and a small selection of mushrooms.  The books have real leather covers and are glued together.  If you would rather use the books separately, they should pop apart without too much difficulty.

Prize Two: Lady's Selection

Prize option two consists of an elegant hat, three crystal perfume bottles and a floor rug.  The stool is not included.  The hat can either be displayed on a stand or worn by a doll.  Martha insisted on showing you how the hat would look on and you can see her modelling it in the photos below.

 Entering the givaway is easy, just do the following:

1. Be a follower of this blog
2. Leave a comment on this post and state your preferred prize (Prize 1:Magical, Prize 2:Lady's Selection or you can ask to be included for both prizes).

Entries close on 30th April 2012 and the winners will be drawn on 2nd May.  Each prize will be drawn separately, therefore if you enter stating you would like to win either prize, you effectively get two chances to win.  If you fail to state your preferrence I will randomly assign you to one or the other before I conduct the draw.

Good Luck and Thank You for following!

Monday, April 9, 2012


Wow!  My humble little blog has reached 150 followers!  Welcome to all the newbies and a big thank you to all my followers.  There will be a 150 follower giveaway, so keep an eye out for it to start later in the week.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dawncrest Castle

The castle is now finished! . . . . . .I think.  Please feel free to point out anything you see that you think is wrong or would change if it were your castle.  You are already familiar with most of the castle's features so I won't repeat myself by explaining them again.  Instead, I'll let the photos speak for themsevles . . . . .

With the Lights On . . .

The Armoury . . . .

Accessories have been added to the desk . . . .

What better place for a cat to relax than on a cozy rug before a fireplace?

Have you noticed the doorways flanking the fireplace have changed slightly from their orgininal look?

The Gallery still sticks out as mismatched.  Hmph.

Boxes, jewellery stands and bottles of purfume (etc) on the cupboard in the wardrobe

Accessories on the Wardrobe chest of drawers

The Red Lady has become the Red Sorceress, solving my issues with the Grotto

That is one crowded cave!

The wizard has some star stickers on his robe to liven it up, conveniently positioned so you can't see them.

As usual, if you want to see even more photos of the castle, take a visit to my Flickr account here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dollshouses/sets/72157628690402585/

Well, what do you think?

Now it's time to do something completely different.  My next tasks will be the 24th scale house, the Dig Site and the Georgian Houses, not necessarily in that order.

But before I start any of those, I spent a little time finishing off a doll I started a couple of weeks ago when I made the Wizard for the cave.  She's an elf girl with the mandatory pointy ears and curly shoes.  I have no idea what I'll do with her now apart from put her in a box until I come up with a new project she'll be at home in.

Would you like her?  As per my previous post I am trying to raise a little extra money at the moment so if you would like to make an offer . . . . . Cough, not that anyone has made any offers on the furniture I offered in the last post.