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, October 28, 2013

A Trio of Sorceresses and a Tonne of Books

Chrysta has been joined by new friends Amethyst and Gemma.  Amethyst (Amy for short) wears a purple gown while Gemma is in black.  Like Chrysta, they're all handmade from the same mould (hence they look like triplets).  While Chrysta was made from Cernit clay, Amy and Gemma are both made from Sculpey.  As you can see, the Cernit definately gives the better result, it has more of a 'glow' and a more translucent finish that make it more realistic.  It is however so much harder to work with than the Sculpey.

As you can see with the three ladies standing in the garden, Gemma just gets lost in her black dress, but both she and Amy fit in much better than Chrysta due to their narrower skirts.  Chrysta is still my favourite though and I think either she or Amy will get the job of tending the Crystal Garden permanently.  (I welcome all opinions on who it should be).  The two remaining sorceresses will find homes in later rooms of the ToM.

 The garden itself is practically finished now that water has been added to the fountain.  The pool is made of Solid Water while the fountain is done with Scenic Water trained up thin wires.  The fountain part is a bit messy but somehow looks more like crystal than water - perfect for the Crystal Garden!  Floating in the pool are lily pads (wire and faux leadlighting paint) and flowers (resin beads).

 Hopefully, the garden will be finished by next week and if I'm lucky and actually get to see some sunshine I may even manage to get some decent photos of it.

 Meanwhile, after their modelling job in the garden last week, Saskia and Artie have dropped by the Library on their way back to Castle Starcaster.  After weeks of neglect and being slept in by cats, there is finally some progress for them to see.  I've taken down the arches from the shelf tops and run some coving stained to match the rest of the shelves around the top instead.  I'm not sure about the fancy trim on the top.  I don't have enough to go all the way around, so I was going to just do the ends of the shelves as it is in the photo, but it doesn't look right does it?  And Artie reminded me that it's the same trim used in Castle Starcaster's library and it might look a bit 'samey' if I used it in another library.  So I guess it's time to think up plan B.

 I have installed the mirror in the back corner creating the illusion of continuing shelves.  Everything behind the red curtain is mirror.  I wasn't clever enough to postion the mirror so that it reflected only shelf from every angle so to compensate I hung the curtain to block the side of the mirror where you tend to see things beyond the library.  I'm very pleased with the overall effect, it works really well.  It will be impossible to fill the shelves down this aisle area after the centre shelf is permanently glued in place so I had a marathon book making session and managed to make enough books to fill this area and glued them in place.  Next time I decide to make a room filled with books, someone please hit me.  What I've found to be a good rule of thumb for making books is to make as many as you think you'll need, then make as many again and an extra dozen on top and you may have enough.  By the time I've filled the remaining three quaters of the library I will definately be swearing never to make a book again!

Monday, October 21, 2013


Meet Chrysta, the sorceress who tends the Crystal Garden. 

 Her gown is made of magenta chiffon over black polished cotton.  The chiffon has a loose pattern of made sparkly paste of some kind.

 Her jewellery is mostly flat backed faux pearls and crystals.

Her head dress is decorated with real beads and crystals (though the pearls are still fake).

Chrysta is completely hand made, from the doll (made from Cernit polymer clay obviously the help of a mould!) to her dress to her wig.

I'm very pleased with the way Chrysta turned out, just what I wanted for the garden.  There's just one slight problem though . . . . . . .

When you stand Chrysta in the Crystal Garden, she looks too squashed in.  Her skirts are too full and the paths too narrow.

Where ever she stands, there's the same problem!   Even with the central fountain pushed to the side, she still looks cramped.

She does fit best at the back, but then she's lost behind the central fountain.

Test model Harry proves that someone in trousers looks much more fitting in the garden.

Artie and Saskia from Castle Starcaster stopped by.  Saskia in her more triangular shaped skirt fits in much better than Chrysta.  Even Artie in his wizardly robes looks quite good (although he does have to walk sideways along the paths).

So . . . Having spent days working on Chrysta, do I now set her aside and try to find a spot for her in a different room and make another doll for the Crystal Garden (or leave it people-less)?  Or do I squish her in whether or not she really looks comfortable? . ? . ?

 In the garden itself, the edges of the beds have been capped with strips of mirror paper to finish them off, a backdrop of stairs leading to other rooms of the tower has been added in the doorway and work has begun on the central fountain.  The fountain is topped by a slice of geode, the only real crystal in the Crystal Garden.  I would say it's nearly finished, but then if I have to make another doll . . . . . . .

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow . . . .

The Crystal Garden has now been filled with plants.  A vine made of glass leaf shaped beads and flower shaped seaquins has grown around the doorway (for which I still haven't filled in the background - next week I promise!).

I took out the plants I had "planted" last week and mulched the garden beds with some purple glass shards (designed to vases and floral arrangements.  Once the oasis foam was covered in the mulch, a mix of PVA glue and water was pured over to hold the mulch in place.  As this was drying, I pushed the plants through the mulch into the foam in what I hope was a pleasing arrangement.

I found the large pink round beads in my craft store.  They are wooden beads around which strands of seaquins had been wrapped.  To the naked eye each seaquin looks a little like a flower bud about to open, sadly they don't look as effective in a photo.

The red glass paint flowers from last week are planted in one of the front flower bed.  I forgot to leave enough length on their stems to be able to twist them into a single bush, so they are growing as indivual flowers.

And the other front garden bed which sports some rather unusual blue cube flowers.   Scattered through the garden are four golden butterflies enjoying the beautiful blooms.

The outside of the central bed has also been filled with plants, including some flowers made from clear/pearly flower shaped beads.  The central area will be the water feature.  The white flowers currently scattered there are resin beads that will be painted and with the addition of some glass paint lily pads will be floating lillies.

And for those of you who are wondering what's going on in the Library . . . . .

Monday, October 7, 2013

Spring Gardening

In Spring, some people go outside to work in the garden.  In Tasmania you only go outside in Spring if you want to drown or be blown half way to New Zealand.  So sensibly, I've been doing some gardening indoors.

I started making the tallest plants for the Crystal Garden first and will fill in the shorter plants around them later on.  They're all made the same basic way with a few variations along the way.  Here's a quick tutorial on how the plants are made.  Please excuse the poor video quality, I needed both hands to work so had to record by wedging the camera under my chin.

 Cut some jewellery wire into lengths about three-four inches long (this measurement varies depending on how high you want the finished plant to be, cut the wire about 1 1/2" longer than you want the finished height to be).  You want between 20-40 lengths of wire per plant.  Next thread a bead onto the end of a piece of wire and fold the end of the wire back and twist it around the main stem of wire to secure the bead.  Repeat this for all the lengths of wire.

When you have secured beads on all the pieces of wire, pick all the wires up by pinching the middle and buch them together with all the beads at one end.  Pinching the bunch of wire in the middle, twist the ends together tightly so that the bundle stays together (you may want to use pliers to do this).  Trim any uneven bits of wire from the ends of the stem.   Tease out the bead 'flowers' and plant the plant by pushing into some oasis foam which has been inserted into a pot or garden bed.

Another way to create 'crystal' flowers is to use wire and faux leadlighting paints.

To do this cut some wire into 1 1/2" lengths.  Twist the ends of each piece of wire together to form a loop.  If you want, use pliers to manipulate the shape of the loop into a more petal like shape.

Sit the loop on a clean plastic document pocket and fill with faux leadlighting paint.  It is instinct to try and hold the end of the loop  to hold it still while filling, but it actually works better if you refrain from touching the loop at all.  Leave several hours to dry.  When dry the glass paint will peel off the plastic pocket and you can trim and overflow from around the outside of the wire with a fine pair of scissors.

Twist the stem of a few petals together to form a flower.  You can glue a small bead into the centre of the flower if desired.

Ten plants down  . . .  Many, many more to come  . . . .