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, December 17, 2012

2012 in Review - Part Two

Almost the entire time I was working on Dawncrest Castle at the start of the year I was thinking about my next project, The Dig Site.  It was one of those crazy ideas that come out of nowhere and grab you by the throat shouting "make me now".  Somehow, I made it wait until after the castle was finished but once Dawncrest was finished in early April I immediately set about making the Dig Site into a reality.

The Site is divided into two parts, the "inside" and the "outside".  Outside a team of archeologists are excavating the ruins of an ancient Egyptian temple or tomb that has been sealed for thousands of years.

 Inside, the structure has been perfectly preserved over the millenia due to it being undisturbed for so long.

Kikerikotep the mummy has been disturbed by the archeologists digging outside and has come to investigate the disturbance.

 The Dig Site took a little over a month to complete.  A few weeks after it was finished, the editor of Dolls house and Miniature Scene magazine saw the pictures I'd been throwing all over the internet and asked if she could use it in the magazine.  Needless to say she didn't need to ask twice and months later my Dig Site appeared in the Novemeber issue of DHMS!  This was certainly one of the high points of my miniature year!

With the Dig Site done, I started on the next project which was the renovation of an old house I had never liked.  This was something I'd been planning for over a year and I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  It was too bad that when I stripped out the old house and tried to re-form it into the new house I wanted it decided to resist me every step of the way.

Eventually, I had to accept I couldn't have absolutely everything that I wanted, but only after I'd tried everything to squeeze it all in.  The rooms I ended up including were the Bedroom:

 The Nursery:

The Drawing Room:

 The Library:

The Dining Room:

The Hall:

The Kitchen:

The Basement Hall:

And the Laundry:

Only after the house was finished did I settle on the name "Preston House".  It is set in the Georgian era and is a mis-mash of pretty much the entire hundred years from 1700 to 1800.  There are over twenty people spread through the nine rooms of the house.

 The house itself fought against what I wanted it to be and there a lots of things in the house that aren't quite right and even more items I bought specifically to put in the house that just refused to fit in.  Still, I thing the final result was worth all the irritation.

 Next week I'll add the final part of my "2012 in review" including for the first time Tilli's House and the bedroom roombox completely finished!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012 in Review - Part One

With 2012 rapidly coming to an end, here's a look back at a year in miniature.

Technically, the Oriental Folly was finished on the last day of 2011, but I didn't blog about until 2012, so it sneaks in as the first property of the year.  The Folly was made from a DHE "Retreat" kit modified so that the roof gable runs side to side rather than back to front.  The entrance is flanked by a pair of "foo dogs" while the rails and posts are made from balsa wood.

Inside, the Folly is packed with oriental artifacts.  The stairs and much of the furniture are made from balsa wood.  The walls are all "papered" with cotton fabrics which hides the joins in the extended walls wonderfully.  A small desk and chair at the top of the stairs allow the owner to keep the catalogue of his collection up to date in style.

The ornaments were largely hunted down on line with only a few being found in local variety shops.  Do you see the outfit on the mannequin in the corner of the photo below?  I'd completely forgotten about it.  When I made the Dragon Wizard more recently I thought it was a totally original idea but it seems I'd already done something very similar!

The second property for the year was Dawncrest Castle.  This was a renovation of an earlier castle which was the very first miniature building I designed and built from scratch.  In it's first life it looked like this:

 I completely stripped the entire castle and moved and removed many of the internal walls.  The castle lost it's kitchen entirely as this was replaced by the "Magician's Cave" beneath the castle.

The walls and structures of the cave were made with foamboard and cardboard which was then covered in airdry clay and painted to create a rough stone effect for a cavelike atmosphere.

Lots of little dragons and gremlins made by Nicky Cooper add to the setting.  You can tell the difference between Nicky's critters and my own attempts.

A local shop that was going out of business provided some cut price geodes and polished rock slices.

Lighting in the cave is minimal to hold onto that underground feel.

The cave is a busy place with two sorceresses, a wizard and a ghost at work within.

Next door to the Cave is the castle's crypt.  The sarcophogus was reused from the original castle with the crypt rearranged so it can double up as the castle's treasury.

Above the Magician's Cave is the Great Hall.  The high, dark wall panelling that was originally in here was stripped away and replaced with lower panels in much lighter colours to make the low ceilings look higher.

Next door is the armoury, bristling with weaponry.

Above the armoury is the Solar.  A large archway opens the room to the Hall below and a doorway give access to the adjoining Gallery.  the panelled walls are decorated with a series of eagle images while a little fire keeps everything cozy.

The Gallery survives from the original castle virtually untouched.  It has a new ceiling, bench seat and railing.  The Tudor Frieze remains even though it no longer really blends in with the rest of the castle which has a much softer, airier colour scheme.

The top floor houses the master bedchamber with a dressing room or wardrobe at one end and the bedroom at the other.

The large bed was deigned to help hold up the patched ceiling (where previously there was an open courtyard). 

A new pediment accross the top of the house gives the open fronted structure a more castle like look.

 Come back next week for part two of 2012 including the Dig Site and Preston House.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Too D##n Good!

A couple of weeks ago I shared photos of my entry in DHMS's Fantasy Doll Dressing competition.  Well, the folks at DHMS have chosen the winners . . . . {insert drum roll here} . . . and my "Dragon Wizard" won!  It goes without saying that this is a great honour and a huge thrill.  When it comes to competition results, I usually find that I like the lesser place entries over the one that won, so I'm certain that there were entries in the competition that were far better than mine.  But you've heard it said haven't you; you just can't please some people?  I entered hoping that I might win third prize, a fabric pack from the Silk Route because good fabrics for miniatures can be so hard to find in my part of the world.  Instead I had to go and win first prize, a gift voucher from Pat Kay Toys and Dolls. 

 And here's where my good luck becomes yours.

Ms. Kay doesn't have an online store and admitted that she offered the gift vouchers as a prize intending for the winner to spend them at her table at one of the miniature fairs in London.  Living as I do about as far away from London as you can get and still be on Earth, this isn't much use to me.  Ms. Kay and I have been exchanging emails trying to think up something in her stock suitable to send me, but without online pictures to browse through I find it hard to know what sort of thing to ask for.  So it seems the only thing to do is for me to give the gift voucher away to someone who can actually make use of it.

If you will be attending any one of the three miniature shows in London (but not Miniatura) over the next twelve months and would like £30.00 to spend at Pat Kay's table, please register your interest by leaving a comment or otherwise contacting me by Friday 7th December and I will randomly draw a name over the weekend.  If I pick you, I'll send your contact details to Ms. Kay and ask her to send the gift voucher to you directly.

Coming back to current projects now and the Roombox Bedroom is . . . well, possibly finished.  Everything has been re-arranged again and the fireplace has been ditched.  The canopy over the bed is glued in place on the back wall, so the bed now can not be moved from it's current position.  I'm not sure I'm totally pleased with where everything else is. 

 I tried finding something covered in more of the picnk fabric to go on the left side wall to balance out the curtains on the right wall, but nothing really worked.  The chaise is now tucked up in the back left corner where it is virtually invisible, but if I put it back where it was intended to go in the front right corner, what will go in the back left one?  There are minimal accessories in the room, but as the idea is to show off the classy furniture I don't want to obscure it with too much junk.  But it all looks so empty!  Maybe I should take Martha out and dress one or maybe even two dolls to stand in the room instead?  I think whatever happens here, we're back to a case of "you can't please some people".

Tilli's house too is nearly finished.  Lots of little accessories have been added this week.

 In the bedroom, there are lamps for each bedside table as well as a small vase for the far table and a book for the near one.  The lamps (as well as the ceiling lights you'll notice in each room) are made from jewellery findings.  Gallery Glass paint was used to "colour-in" the open spaces in the design of a half round finding.  When this was dry the finding was threaded onto a piece of wire with a long silver bead and small bell cap to form a lamp.

On Tilli's dressing table are some tiny perfume bottles made from crystal beads.  This still looks a little bare and in need of something more . . . ?

 The only changes in both the Library and the Guest Bedroom are the lights and a couple of vases of flowers.  The vases are all beads with small dried flowers poked into the top.

On the ground floor there are again a profussion of lights and flowers in vases.  There is also a birdcage with two birds.  One of those birds is currently hanging upside down on his perch, perhaps it's a circus bird?

Out the front of Tilli's the vine that grew up last week has burst into flower this week.

 The leaves were created from green paper using a leaf shaped punch.  The flowers were made by dipping the tips of short pieces of green wire into some tacky glue and then into some Flowersoft.

Along the left side of the house some plants have grown that for some reason make me think of the Day of the Triffids.

The planting is less ominous along the right side of the house with a few small bushes and a stepping stone path leading around to the back.