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.

Monday, October 29, 2012

House of Firsts, Room of Seconds

I'm flying along with Tilli's house.  All three floors are assembled and decorated and the exterior cladding is in place.  There are a lot of "firsts" for me with this house; it's my first 1/24th scale house, the first house I've cladded with weatherboards, the first house I've adapted to include dormer windows and believe it or not the first house I've done with a proper bathroom.

The weatherboard cladding is made of thin balsa wood cut in strips about 1cm wide and glued onto the walls so that each strip slightly overlaps the one below it.  In the middle of each side wall is a chimney.  The chimneys are made of solid blocks of balsa wood with cavities carved out to create recessed fireplaces in the rooms.  The thick, solid wood helps to keep the thin foam walls straight and sag free.  The wood was covered in pollyfilla into which a random stone pattern was made with a toothpick and painted stoney grey.

 At the moment, the front of the house does look a little odd, a little unbalanced.  This is because I decided the positions of the windows based on how the furniture was arranged on the inside rather than how it looked outside.  Hopefully once I add a porch/balcony onto the front and make windows and doors to fill the holes it will look better.  The roof has been adapted to include three dormer windows, two in the bedroom and one in the bathroom.

 Inside the house is progressing well too.  Each level was wallpapered before the house was assembled.

 In Tilli's bedroom on the top floor I used a floral fabric as the "wallpaper".  The floor is made of more balsa wood.  A sheet was cut to the size of the floor and then I used a ball pointed stylus to press lines into the balsa to give the impression of separate planks.  Dots drawn with a lead pencil give the impression of nails holding the boards down.

The bathroom next to the bedroom is papered in the same fabric with white wooden panelling on the lower walls.  I bought a "1/24th scale" bathroom suite to go in here.  As you can see in the above photo, it's basic, but adequate although the sink could stand to be a fraction higher so Tilli doesn't have to bend to wash her hands.

The bath tub is a different matter however . . . .

Tilli may be able to clean her feet in that, but to take a bath there's no chance.  I'll have to use some clay to make a built-in bath along the back wall, one Tilli can actually get all of her in at once.

 For the middle floor I bought some sets of Avon furniture that was going cheaply on ebay.  It's a fraction small for 1/24 scale, but then so are the rooms it's going in.  the study is papered with some striped wallpaper that came free with a DHMS magazine years ago while the bedroom walls are covered in more fabric.  The floor in both rooms is covered in a buff carpet.

Between now and Christmas I want to finish Tilli's house and one or two other small projects and organise myself to start my next "big" project over the Christmas break.  The first of those other small projects is a roombox bedroom to display the very lovely, very pricey bedroom furniture I bought for Preston House, but didn't use.  Would you believe that at the moment no one seems to make a room box in kit form?  The exception here is the Dollshouse Emporium, but theirs is very small and very over-priced.  I had to buy a ready built room box which isn't ideal for two reasons, first the postage cost of a built box will always be higher than a flat packed room and second, the built box will be more likely to be damaged in the post than the flat packed. 

Still, at least now I have a roombox and have started working on it.  It's been patched up where it got banged about in the mail and given a coat of sealer.  I pulled out the fancy chinoserie style wallpaper that I also bought for Preston House and then decided not to use and instantly decided it looked wrong with the furniture - too fussy.  So out came every other paper I have and eventually I settled on a grey-green scrapbooking paper with a pale medallion pattern.  I've always envisioned pink sheets/covers on this bed so the question now is, what colour flooring to use . . . . ?

Buff Carpet. . . . . ?

Cream Carpet . . . . . ?

My favourite, Green Carpet . . . . . ?

Or wooden floorboards, maybe with a fancy rug?

 Hmmm . . . . . What to choose?  I like the green carpet the best, but is it too "butch" for what is otherwise a very feminine room?

Monday, October 22, 2012

After Dark, Restoration and the 24th House

The sun has set on Preston House, but before I move on to new properties, here are a couple more views of the house taken in the dark.

When I tore myself away from admiring the glow of Preston House, it was time for some long overdue restoration work on some older properties.  Do you remember Highcroft Castle?  It was the castle before the castle before the last one.  Yes, I do like castles but sadly so do my cats.  When I was working on Highcroft it was under the window in the full sun and not a day went by when one cat or another could be found streched out ontop of it.  Once it was finished, I moved it into another room, still under a window.  This window had less sun, but more birds outside to hunt through the glass, so it's still a popular cat perch.  Unfortunately, the way onto the top of the castle involves taking a flying leap from the floor or the table halfway across the room.  It's too high/far for a single bound, so each leap involves hooking their claws over the top and using their back legs to scramble up.  After years of taking the impact of fast moving feline hind legs, the doors of the castle had been beaten in.

See how the plaster around the doorframe has broken away?  How the "hinges" have come apart?

And how the door now leans back into the castle instead of being flush with the frame?  Perhaps you can pick out the marks left by sharp claws in the soft balsawood door?

I popped the door out of the frame and used polyfilla to repair the broken surround.  The door was re-stained to conceal the claw marks, the supports behind the door were beefed up to help it stand up to a few more years of cat impacts and the door put back in place.  The surround was repainted to hide the patches (and yes, anyone but me would have done that before the door was repositioned) and the restoration was finished.

Next up was the "Dragon's Maiden".  This was in a very sorry state, for example, here's what the front panel looked like:

 It was so bad it couldn't even be positioned on the tower any more.  The whole lot had fallen off the building a couple of months ago and broken into it component parts, uprooting the free in the front garden as it went.  But mostly, it needed restoring because the glue I used on the wall stones and roof shingles wasn't good enough.  On every hot day the glue would soften and tiles would start sliding off the roof.  Here's the result of a few years of hot summers:

 The wall stones were letting go too.  None had actually fallen off the wall but most of the stones had curled in the middle and only habit was keeping them in place.

The first job was to take all the stones off the walls row by row and re-glue them into place with a more effective glue.  They were so loose the only tool I needed to pry them off was my fingernails.  Now you'll need a chisel to shift those suckers, they are thoroughly stuck on.  The roof was a different matter.  More tiles had fallen off than were still in place and although I had tried to save all the tiles as they came down, I was pretty sure that some had gotten lost.  Put that together with the fact that the angles of the roof mean that each tile would have to go back where it came from and dozens of tiles in a jumbled sticky pile would have been impossible to sort out, I decided to remove all the tiles, throw them away and start again from scratch.  But what to use?  I think this mosaic paper would have been striking, but alas all I had was this remenant and no where near enough for the whole roof.  It would have looked like a dragon skin roof!

So I found a roof tile pattern on a miniature printables website (I think it was Jim's Printables), printed out a few pages of them and stuck them on the roof.  Pretty horrid aren't they?

 I think I need to get some air clay and use it to tile the roof "properly" or how about some corrugated cardboard to make a "tin" roof?  I don't know, but this will do until I have time to think up something better.  Any suggestions?  I think what I really want is the original roof back, that roof was perfect. 

And finally for the week, something new.  Remember the little foam houses I picked up very cheaply several months ago?  They were intended as childrens toys, but are just large enough to make a 1/24th (or 1/2") scale house.  This is what the basic house looks like:

By cutting the top floor off one of the two house kits and stacking the other house ontop of it, I now have one three floor house.

 The top floor will be Tilli's bedroom and bathroom, the middle floor is the study and guest bedroom while the groundfloor will be one open space incorportaing the kichen, dining and living areas. 

The ground floor decoration has been started.  The floor was covered with a thin coat of pollyfilla and a toothpick was used to mark lines to form 'tiles'.  When dry they were painted grey to resemble slate.  The walls were papered with scrapbooking paper in a floral design.  The post will help support the upper floors and is actually painted a very pale blue even though it looks white.  The furniture you see here is set I bought ages ago from Linda of Linda's Miniature Musings and is proper 24th scale stuff.  Sadly, patches of the paint has rubbed off when the furniture was stored away, you can see the ding in the back of one of the chairs, so I'll have to refinish all of it (sorry Linda).  Tilli, the lady who will live here, I made several month ago in anticipation of starting this house.  She is three inches tall and kind of bossy.  She wants a timeless,  classy, feminime house with a fully plumbed bathroom, a garden out the front and a porch/balcony building on too.  Doesn't want much does she?  At least she hasn't asked me to wire the house for lights.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Welcome to Preston House

Five months on and the house is now officially finished!  It has four levels, nine rooms, twenty-three people, four cats, four mice, eighteen light fittings, eight doors and only two windows.  Did I mention twenty-three people?  I think that must be some kind of record.

 I have procrastinated quite grandly when it comes to selecting a name for this property, but I've finally settled on naming it "Preston House".

Well, what do you think?  Can you see anything you think needs adding to or altering in any way?  Please feel free to criticise.

Starting from the lowest floor and working up through the house, here are close ups of the details in the finished rooms (remember you can 'poke' the photos to make them bigger):

The Kitchen . . . .

The Basement Hall . . . .

The Laundry Room . . . . 

 The Hall  . . . .

The Dining Room  . . . . 

 The Drawing Room . . . . .

 The Study . . . . .

 The Bedroom . . . . . 

 The Nursery . . . .

Monday, October 8, 2012

Two Down

Somehow, the end of a project usually creeps up on me; I think there is still lots to do but when I look at the house to see what needs doing, I can't find anything.  The Georgian house isn't finished yet, but much the same thing has happened, I thought there was weeks of work left to go, but as of right now there are two rooms that are basically finished and only a few bits and pieces to finish off for the rest of the house.  With any luck the house could be finished by this time next week!

 The first of the two "finished" rooms is the bedroom.  As you can see, the lady's maid has finally arrived to help tighten the lady's corset.  The pair are a shameless rip off a pair by artisan May Williams and you can see her orginals by clicking here : Georgian Maid and Lady

 Around these two, the rest of the room has been accessorised.  There are a range of perfumes and make-up in bottles on the dressing table.  These are of course made from various beads.  On a silver tray rests the lady's hair brush and combs.  Beside the dressing table the lady's headdress is on display ready to be worn.

 The cushions on the bed have finally been properly arranged, leaving just enough space for a cheeky cat to curl up for a nap.

Accross the room is a fire screen made from a McQueenie Miniatures kit.  It's purpose was to block the heat of the fire from ladies (and at this point in time often gents too) faces and thus prevent their make up from melting.  A landscape "painting" hangs over the fire.  Next to the fire a basin and jug rest on a stand.

 Although I'm calling this room finished I think it could use a couple of small pictures on the wall, maybe something on the mantle, but nothing that will really make a lot of impact.

The other "finished" room is next door in the Nursery.  Again, it could possibly manage to take in a few more toys, but I've run out of toys that I know were played with in the Georgian era to add.  Already scattered around the room (mostly on the chest of drawers) are a jack-in-the-box, a kite, two types of yo-yo, a pull along rabbit, some drums, a polymer clay "teddy bear" and a couple of dolls.  Not to forget the rocking horse.

The rest of the rooms are all very close to done, but all still need some work.  The Drawing room needs a floor rug and some better blinds or curtains.  Oh, and it also needs me to stop rearranging the furniture.  This is how it looks now, but I'm still not sure this is how it will stay.

The two men who were in the library last week have been joined by a third.  The man in blue was in the dressed but not wigged category last week.  Like the other two gents, his wig is made of felting wool, his in grey as opposed to the undyed wool of the others.  I'm not too sure what these three are planning, but they seem to be hard at work on something.

Despite the multitudes of people I had already made and dressed for the house, I still needed one more lady for the Dining room.  The lady is a Heidi Ott doll and she is wearing a gown of blue silk dupion..

She has a pale blue underskirt covered in layers of lace and floral trim.  Her sleeves are made of layers of elacticated trim and her wig is again felting wool.  She is definately my favourite lady of the house.

Here she is in the Dining room keeping an eye on the servant to ensure he sets the table just right for the impending dinner party.

On the dessert stand at the front of the room the final polymer clay flan base I made a few weeks ago finally has a jelly to top it off which you can see in the photo below.  This is the first time I've tried making jelly (of the miniature inedible variety)  and it works really well and is surprisingly easy.  I used a copper jelly mould (which can be bought from many miniature shops), scenic water and a drop of food colouring.  I put the drop of colouring in the mould, then carefully poured the melted scenic water ontop.  I stirred it carefully with a toothpick to mix the colour through and left it to set.  Once the scenic water had cooled and set I carefully prized the jelly out with a toothpick and had a perfect, realistic jelly.  I understand you can use liquid Fimo to create much the same effect, but I don't think it would look as realistic as the scenic water does.

I also made a green jelly which you can see below on a tray on the kitchen table.  I think the red makes a better effect than the green did, the green is too opaque and not see through enough for a jelly.

The kitchen has been tided up with the canisters painted and arranged on he shelves and evidence of lots of hard work to create tasty treats scattered over the table.  A cat is chasing a mouse on the chair.  Cook is mixing up  something for the evening meal . . . . 

 . . . . . . while her assistant is confronted with a sink full of dishes and an overflow of suds.

 Next door in the hallway the man in charge of the household accounts (I'm guessing that would be the butler?) is hearing a pitch from a street seller who wants him to buy her wares.

 Finally in the laundry the last of the servants is sweeping the floor in preparation for a busy day of washing tomorrow.

Come back next week to (probably) see the finished house!