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, August 27, 2012

Still Switching . . . .

I've managed to make it through a couple of months without Blogger doing anything weird to me, so I guess I was overdue.  Today's mystery error is that the photos aren't loading properly.  Some are here in their entirety, some seem to be only partially present and no matter how often they are reloaded, they still aren't coming up.  I'll leave these faulty photos in the post, maybe you'll be able to see them properly even though I can't.

As you may be able to see, this week's focus was on the bedroom.  The bed itself is the sleigh bed that came out of the house before I started renovating it.  I added an overhead canopy draped with a puce coloured silk and an ivory pre-pleated fabric finished off with a few ribbon roses.  The frame of the canopy is a half circle of cardboard held up on a balsa wood stand.  The bed is covered in more of the silk overlaid with a wide lace.  I still need to make lots of pillows and cushions to finish the bed off.  On the side wall is the dressing table.  Again, this is all cardboard and balsa wood hidden under fabric.

 Next a small writing desk was made from more balsa wood, some prebought legs and the tops of some fancy toothpicks.  The final item made for the room was a "Duchess Brisee" a sort of chair and footstool all in one that was covered in gold silk.  (I still don't have any short legs, so it's currently being held up by my pot of Tacky Wax).  All of this, plus an old chest of drawers make the room look like this:

 But then it could look like this,  or this, or this: 

Okay, so you probably can't see what I mean, but let's just say that like in the Drawing Room last week, there are a number of ways I could move things around and I'm not sure yet which is best.  The decision is made harder by the fact that the desk also works well in the Study.  It fits in the corner by the door or along the "front" wall with the wing chair in the spot the desk isn't.

So, do I use the desk in the bedroom and make another the same size for the Study, or I not have a desk in the bedroom and just use this one in the Study?  Where will it go?  The wing chair (again, currently leggless) is another creation in balsa wood with a little foam padding for cushions and upholstered in a tapestry fabric. 

Hmmmm . . . . . . The styles and fashions of the Georgian era were really quite effeminate by modern standards, but the study was supposed to be the one room in the house that ws a little more "butch", instead it has a desk made for the "girly" bedroom and a chair covered in flowers!   Opps!

 I made a small sofa for the Drawing room to either replace the chaise or just add to the existing furniture, so I'm still rearranging things in here and trying some of the furniture out in other rooms too.

 The photos above and below here should be of the Hall.  I doubt you can see them though.  I did tell you I was going to add something else in the Hall and these photos should show you the start of it.  (If you can't see it here try clicking here to see it in my Flickr). It's a sedan chair and eventually, there will be a lady climbing out of it having just arrived for the dinner party being prepared in the Dining room.  It is huge and takes up a lot of the Hall, but as you can see from Dan's modelling, it really couldn't be any smaller than it is.

This week it's time to tackle the last completely unfurnished room in the house, the Nursery.  Then all I need to do is figure out which furniture is going in which room and whereabouts in that room it will be.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Place to Withdraw . . .

The furnishing of the house continued this week with the focus on the Drawing Room this time.  In many respects this is the easiest room in the house to deal with because even when you make a piece of furniture to fit in one particular spot, it can still be moved and look just as good somewhere else.  This is a relief from the other rooms which due to the position of doors and fires means that furniture made to fit in one place will be totally the wrong size and shape to fit anywhere else in the room.  The downside to this is that you can keep rearranging furniture for hours and hours and hours and never actually get anything done.

This photo shows one possible arrangement for the furniture both made and collected for the room and below is a slightly different arrangement:

Which looks best?  I can also swap the chess table on the back wall and the spinet harpsichord on the right wall too.  See what I mean about hours of indecision?

 Regardless of exactly where they end up in the room, these are all the key pieces of furniture for the room.  The chess table and matching chairs on the back wall (currently) along with the cream coffee and side tables are high quality items.  The little davenport desk in the back corner is a fairly standard cheap piece, as were the two armchairs.  Although the davenport desk is untouched, the chairs have been totally transformed.  They started out with basic red velvet upholstery and really red (and icky) mahogany stain.  The chairs were repainted in gold and a jewellery finding was added to the top front and also on the back for some extra detail.  The cushions were reupholstered in a pink brocade.  Now they look far too good for anyone to ever sit on.

Two totally handmade pieces in the room are the long chaise and the spinet harpsichord.  Experimentation proved that there was no room for a "full" harpsichord, so the answer was to make a smaller spinet harpsichord for the room.  As usual, it's made out of balsa wood with some pre-bought legs.  Getting it to this point was easy, but it's resisting being decorated.  The white is too stark so it will need to be repainted and then of course it needs it's top putting in place, strings adding inside and a keyboard.  I just need to decide what colour/s it should be.  The chaise is also balsa wood with ivory silk dupion upholstery.  I'm not sure whether to stick with this or to replace it with a proper sofa.  And by the way, it won't be sitting on a pair of half barrels forever, it will have proper legs someday, I just need to buy some more first!

 I've also made a start on the last room in the house that was still a complete blank slate, the laundry.  The laundry is at the right hand end of the basement.  If the overhead rack on the left looks at all familiar, that's because it was a rack in the kitchen of the pre-renovation Dawncrest Castle.  Now it is a rack to hang laundry to dry when the weather's too bad to take it outside.

 A washing copper has been made and installed in the back corner.  I had trouble finding a good and reliable image or description of a Georgian laundry to follow for this, so what I made is based on what was used in the later Victorian era.  It may not be quite right, but it does seem to look right at home.  The cupboard may or may not stay here, it's one of those items I bought ages ago because I took a fancy to it, but have never found just the right place to use it.

On the opposite wall is a bench which currently holds a small press, but eventually a sink will be placed here and the press will go on another bench at the front of the room.  The purpose of the press was to squeeze as much water out of wet clothes as possible so they would dry faster.  I want to make another, larger floor standing press for those bigger items (like bedsheets), but looking at the room now, I'm worried that a whopping great press in the middle of the floor is going to make the room look too crowded and block too much of the view into the rear of the room.   Maybe if I take the cupboard out and push it up against the side wall  . . . . . . ?

The rest of the week was spent (still, or maybe again)  mentally rearranging the furniture in the remaining rooms.  I think I have figured out how to fit everything I want in the study, including a desk, but I'm still not really happy with the plans I have for the Bedroom and the Nursery.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dining In Style

In my personal philosophy of dollshouse creation, there are five stages to the process.  First is Construction, second is Decoration, then comes Furnishing followed by Ornamentation and finally there's Population.  I'm very pleased to be able to say that stage two of this house is now, at long last,  finished and I can now move on to the next stage; Furnishing.

 But before we move on to stage three, I'd like to share some photos of the lights.  The main house is now positioned on top of the basment, so for the first time you can see the whole house with all the lights working.  There are concealed bulbs in the hallway behind the study over the staircase and another over the basement stairs.  The kitchen has a chandelier hanging from the ceiling and the dining room has two candlearbra adapted from identical chandeliers.  The rest of the lights were all hand made, that's why its such a shock they all work!

And now for stage three!

 The above photo is how the dining room looked last week.  Lovely wallpaper, grand fireplace, but otherwise just a table and chairs whacked in the middle of the floor.  All the remaining empty space has now been filled in.

Either side of the fireplace is a pedestal, each displaying an ornamental vase.  These came out of the pre-renovation house.  On the back wall behind the table is a low buffet/chest of drawers.  I know a higher display cabinet showing off the best china might be more appropriate, but that would block off a section of the wallpaper and, I think, ruin it's effect.  I kept all the furniture as low as possible to leave the scenic vista in full view.

 In the back left corner of the room is a small chaise made to fit the space.  The shaped legs were pre-bought, but the rest of this piece is entirely from scratch.  I think I should have curved it out more to be wider at the back, but I still love it.  It's upholsetered in a light blue silk dupion and the seats of the dining chairs have been recovered in the same silk to match.

 In the front left corner is a three tiered dessert stand.  Yes, I know the upper tiers are crooked and I will fix them.  Each tier is made of a plaster ceiling rose.  This gives the underside of each level a wonderful decorative feature.  The flat tops of each will eventually be covered in a myriad of delectable desserts.

I still need to add a rug to the floor, something in a soft blue I think, and lots of food, cultery, glasses, etc, but would you care to dine in this room?

Next door in the Hall, not much has changed, except that the pieces of, well, junk that had been hanging around has been cleared out.  The two tables and chair are all the furniture there will be in this room although I will be adding a feature in the middle of the floor that I'll build as part of the "furnishing" phase . . . . .

Working on furniture for the study has been a much harder task.  There are about three essential items to fit in this room; a desk, a wing chair for reading and a free standing circular bookshelf.  Using a sample chair, a round table and an assortment of desks and desk sided objects I have tried arranging and rearranging these items in the room and have come to the conclusion that they just won't fit.  The problem is the desk.  Once you add a desk, regardless of size, shape or position the room instantly looks awkward.  Can you have a study/library without a desk?  I'm thinking at the moment that I may have to!

One final piece of furniture for the week is this chest of drawers.  I bought the kit from the very first doll, bear and miniature fair I ever attended.  It was the only fair that I ever saw a good range of DIY items and the only time I have seen House of Miniatures kits available in Australia.  If I knew how rare these things were, I'd have bought more way back then.  As it is, this kit has been siting largely forgotten at the back of the cupboard since then.  I found it while rummaging around in search of furniture for this house and thought it would be perfect for either the bedroom or the nursery (probably the latter). 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Outer Space

Thus far all the work on this house has been on the inside, the outside being left a patchwork of original plywood walls, polystyrene extensions, foamboard and paper mached newspaper.  Not at all a pretty sight.  All that changed (or at least began to change) this week.  The first step was to hide all the dodgy alternations under a layer of airdry clay.  After carefully smoothing the clay onto the wall it was given some sound whacks with a scrubbing brush to create a rough stone texture.  I then used the edge of a metal ruler to create the impression of stone blocks.

This was done to both sides of the main house as well as the sides of the basement.  If you're wondering why the front of ths house wasn't also done this way, it's because there won't be a front on this house.  The front from the original house won't cover the added basement, won't fit with the altered roofline and was more Victorian than Georgian so won't be used for this renovation.  I'll give the house a clear perspex front instead.

Once dry, the clay was painted in a creamy sandstoney shade.  The front edges and the nuisance pediment were also painted in the same colour.  Way back when I started work on this house I beat the bejezers out of the pediment with a hammer in an (unsuccessful) attempt to shift it.  Being lazy by nature, I hid the residual hammer marks, as well as some damage on the front wall edges, by adding some texture paste to the paint and just sort of "splodging" it on to create a slight texture that does wonders at hiding imperfections.  Everything could still use another coat of paint, but otherwise the outside of the house is looking remarkably better than it did.

 While waiting for the various stages of the outside work to dry, I spent some time in the kitchen.  The copper utencils I bought at the fair in Hobart last week have been hung above the oven and a high shelf for those rarely used items has gone up on the right side wall.

The table is from the pre-renovation Dawncrest castle's kitchen.  It's a bit basic, but fits the space quite well, I just need to cover up that spot of white paint.  The ceiling light is another of Dawncrest's leftovers.  Technically, a Georgian era kitchen would probably not have a shiny brass ceiling fixture, but again being lazy, it was much simpler to add a single ceiling light than to try and conceal the wires for various wall sconces and handheld candle lamps.  Plus I already had the light and the basement is the only level of the house where the ceilings are high enough to use ceiling lights. 

 Of course, all the lights in the basement were added last week when I did the lights for the main house, but I still can't show you the effect with them turned on as the basement is currently on one side of the room, the main house is on the other so I can't plug the basment lights into the powerboard on the main house.  As soon as the final coat of paint is on (and dry) I can stack the house onto the basement and leave it there permenantly and finally show you the full effect of the lights.  With any luck by next week I will also be able to show you the fully built and decorated house and will have officially moved onto the next stage; furnishing!