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.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Something New, Something Not Quite As New

At long last the Dragon Wizard finally has the beginings of a Lair, even if there is a long way to go before it's truely habitable.  The back wall and floor of the Lair are covered with images taken from the internet.  The floor is a single seamless tile pattern repeated over the whole floor while the backdrop on the wall is actually a free desktop background.  Both were printed on high quality paper and applied with wallpaper paste. The floor has a couple of coats of high gloss varnish to both protect it and give it a more glossly tile like look.  The back wall was finished off with a railing made from balsa wood and some "sliding" screens (glued firmly and unmovably in place) to give the illusion that the view can be closed off.

The ceiling is covered in a cotton fabric which may be familiar to you if you can remember as far back as Castle Starcaster.  With pattern on the floor and ceiling, the walls are being left a sedate and boring beige colour.  Plain, neutral walls doesn't really sound like me does it?  Not to worry, you won't be able to see too much of them by the time I'm finished, I promise.

I'm not altering the basic kit too much for the Lair, but there are a few changes being made.  First off, the side door has been blocked off as it just makes arranging things inside too awkward.  The next change is the roof.  The basic kit is designed to be accessed by lifting off the whole roof.  I hate roof only access so the plan is to leave the front panel removable.  To do this and to get a good view of the inside the roof still needs to lift at the front, but there's no need to lift away the whole roof, so the rear roof panel has been cut about 1 1/2" from the peak.  The lower section has been glued in place while the upper part has been glued to the front panel.  This forms a hook over the apex enabling the front roof to sit in place and be removed without the need to remove the whole rear roof.

 The front of the Lair will have a narrow porch added and the french doors supplied with the kit will be adapted to sliding doors.  Overall, the Lair will (hopefully) have a Japanese feel to it which will help stop it becoming a copy of the Oriental Folly (which has a more Chinese influence).

 Better late than never, I've finally remembered to photograph the extra window added to Pennicott's.  As you can see the the paint job is a bit wavery and the colour and size aren't quite a match to the other windows, but this window is a vast improvement over a blank wall.

 Okay, so the Magician's Lookout and Pennicott's really don't look right side by side.  Just be amazed that I actually found space for Pennicott's at all.

And one last look at the inside before we move onto to other things . . . . .

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Look Into the Future

I finished off Pennicott's this week adding a window in the blank panel above the front door.  What I apparently didn't do was take a photo of the changes.  So I'll show you the final version of Pennicott's later and for now I'll share with you a little of what I'll be doing now that's finished.

First of all is the "Cabin", the new kit from DHE.  This is the kit for their annual competition and was released at the start of March.  The kit has a very cute arched window on the front wall and an arched door on one end wall and a round porthole window on the other.  The the front window and door come with internal and external architraves to trim around them.  The porthole window only has external architrave, apparently DHE think the inside doesn't need to look neat.  Another complaint is that the front window opens, but only to about 45 degrees.  If a window is going to swing open it should open 90 degrees if not 180.  What use is a window that the miniature resident can't throw open?   As usual for a DHE kit it goes together very easily.  I can't tell you if the instructions are easy to follow or not as I didn't bother to read them, the kit is that simple to put together.

It's DHE's first wall mountable kit and comes with brackets allowing you to fasten it to a wall.  If I were going to design a wall mounted house I would probably make it at least an inch narrower than what the Cabin is.  Unless it is mounted on a wall over a piece of furniture it's going to project too far out to really look right in most cases.  It's also designed to be accessed by opening the roof only.  I'm never a fan of roof only access and wish DHE would stop producing kits that open this way in general, but in this case it strikes me as doubly silly.  If you mount your cabin on a wall, perhaps over the top of another dollshouse or a random piece of furniture there's a good chance it's going to be fairly high on the wall.  So, if it's fixed in place high up and you lift the roof off  only the very tall will be able to see inside.  I've said before that I get the impression that DHE don't always think their designs through properly and this is another example of that.

No doubt you're wondering what I have in mind for this kit.  Sadly, I can't tell you that just yet.  I was thinking I might enter the competition which means I have to keep all my plans secret until after the closing date in August or September.  I'll reveal the finished property to you then, but for the time being this is the last time I'll be blogging about the Cabin.

While I work on the Cabin behind a veil of secrecy, I have a few other projects planned that I will be able to share with you as normal.  First of these is the "Dragon Wizard's Lair".  Poor old DW has been collecting dust and dodging cat attacks for months now and needs a proper home where he can be safe.

This home will be built in another DHE kit, the "Garden Pavillion".  This has similar dimensions to the Cabin but is just a fraction deeper.  It's another roof open only kit and needless to say I'll soon be adapting it to open at the front as dollshouses should.  As DW is inspired by the Orient his Lair will be similarly themed. 

 After the DW's Lair is finished I'll redo another of the old houses that I have hated since about five minutes after I first started to work on it.  The renovated house will have a late Victorian/Edwardian theme.  The house has five rooms and these will become a kitchen, a dining room (and entry hall), a gothic revival themed sitting room, a chinoiserie bedroom and the final room will (probably) be split into a bathroom and an artist's studio.  It's another "cabinet" house with no external details and a clear plastic front so I was planning to add a front door and faux windows on the back wall to give the impression that the front of the house is at the back as you look into it.  Dan, my reliable old test dummy, will be the master of this house for three reasons.  Firstly, I've been promising him a place of his own for years.  Secondly, his mustache marks him as circa 1900 (or possibly a much later biker) which drops him in the right period for this house.  And finally, he's been my test dummy so long he is starting to feel the strain.  His left foot frequently pops out of joint and is held in place only by his sock.  It's time he retired to an easier life.

If when I've done that the mood takes me (and at the moment it doesn't) I'll build an upper level onto the Apothecary chamber I've just finished where old Piers' potions are sold to the public.

 Lastly for this week I'd like to share a photo of the gown I made for Paula as the giveaway prize.  It's a modern gown with a dropped waist and a silver mesh overlay on the bodice.  It's made from what I think is some kind of charmeuse in a lavender tone.  I hope you like it Paula, and I hope you approve Christine.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Meet the People

Last week, they were appendages on the end of bits of wire.  Now they are fully dressed and wigged people ready to go about their business, mixing potions in the Apothecary or shopping at Pennicott's.

Piers Fitzwilkin is the master Apothecary.  He wears a long tunic of rust coloured silk over a white cotton undershirt.  His jacket is green silk trimmed with brown felt.  He was hand made, hand dressed and hand wigged.

Piers is assisted by Skip the bellows boy.  Skip's job is to work the bellows and keep the fires stoked at just the right tempurature for the potions brewing above.  Skip is a prebought porcelain doll still wearing the shorts and shirt he came in.  He wears hand made felt sandals and a ragged doublet (waistcoat) as befitting his lowly status.  Although it doesn't show up in photos his face, arms and clothes are smeared with "soot".

The addition of Piers and Skip probably competes the Apothecary chamber.  I may decide to add one more person, a senior apprentice to help Piers with the tasks still beyond Skip's training.  I haven't quite decided yet because where would he fit?

As you can see, there isn't anywhere he could sit or stand that wouldn't block the view of another feature of the Apothecary.

What do you think?  Another person or perhaps there should be something else added somewhere?

There is at least one piece of equipment vital to an Apothecary that poor Piers is missing.  Can you guess what it is?

Piers has no scales to weigh and measure the quantities of ingredients he uses in his in his concoctions.  I know he really ought to have some, but again, where would they fit?

Over at Pennicott's, the doors have been opened for business and the customers have started arriving.

This lady is wearing a dress that came on a cheap doll modified to have a more 50's look.  She is shopping for a hat for a special occasion, but isn't sure the purple feathers are really her.

The second customer is wearing a handmade dress in red with matching hat.  Despite her facial expression, she really is very pleased with her purchase.

Store owner Audrey is wearing what today would be described as a blue wiggle dress.  I'm not sure how it would have been described in the 50's but like peadal pushers (now capris), the term has undoubtled changed over the years.

Audrey is working the counter downstairs where the lady in red (Audrey didn't catch her name) has just made a purchase.

Upstairs, Audrey's employee Sylvie is helping their other customer choose a hat.

Sylvie is a pre-bough porcelain doll wearing a brown dress with a full skirt.

Pennicott's is also now nearly finished, I just need to finish off the outside.  I've already added a drainpipe running down the wall where the opening section meets the fixed wall.  This helps hide there the two parts don't line up quite perfectly and where I held the front wall upside down when applying bricks and therefore the brick pattern doesn't line up.

The one thing the outside really needs is somthing on the top floor angled wall above the door.  It certainly doesn't look right bare.  I had considered a protuding hanging sign, but I think this will be too easily banged and pranged and far too attractive to cats looking for something to chew on.  So . . . . a flat sign mounted on the wall?  Maybe I should cut another window to match the others?

If I do make another person for the Apothecary, I may add another customer or two to Pennicott's as well.

So, another week and then it's time to start on something new . . . a Lair for my Dragon Wizard and perhaps an entry in this year's DHE competition.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Drumroll Please . . . .

Courtesy of Random.org's list randomiser a winner of the giveaway prize has been chosen.

Congratulations to Christine who was placed at the top of the list!

In her comment, Christine asked that if she won would I give the prize to Paula instead.  Well, yes I will gladly do that, but first I'll give you the chance to change your mind and claim the prize for yourself . . . perhaps an heirloom wedding gown for the attic?  Please send an email to me at celestial@y7mail.com and we can discuss it.