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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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 In Review Part Three - Including Box House Finished

 After finishing the Observatory I returned to 48th scale and completed the second kit I purchased from Petite Properties, the "Old Rectory".

As the size of 48th scale is so small I feel I can get away with 'faking' things in a way I would never consider doing in 12th scale.  All the 'wood' panelling through the house is from images of printable wood panels found on the internet.  The "Tudor Freize" around the top of the walls in the hall is from a design by Jackson's Miniatures which I scanned and reduced in size.

The fire surrounds are also largely printed out images.  Some of the furniture in the house is from kits by Petite Properties, but much is made from balsa wood.

There are still two things I dislike about this scale though - the availability (or lack thereof) of DIY parts and accessories as well as the lack of cheap, pose-able people.  O scale railway people are the right size, but try and find a model railway person dressed in anything earlier than Victorian fashion and even 1800's fashions are hard to find.

Seeing as I was having so much fun in 48th scale I then went on to make another 48th sized project, this one totally from scratch.

The Japanese garden is built inside a small fish tank that I picked up cheaply some time ago.  I has a (badly) hand painted backdrop of a mountain against a pale, cloudy sky.

The tea house is made from mount board and features non working sliding front doors as well as a smaller side entrance through which visitors would crawl in to show humility to their hosts.

Blossoming cherry trees were made of wire which was painted brown and the 'branches' coated in pink flower soft.

In the front of the garden is a shallow pond lined with bushes.

Remember this?  The Sitting room for the Tower of Magic was started next but has lately disappeared from the blog.  I reached this point and couldn't quite decide how the furniture should be laid out or what it should look like.  So I decided to focus on finishing the box house first before coming back to this room.  You will be seeing more of it very soon.

And that brings us to the last project of 2014, badly named the Box house as it is built inside two cardboard boxes joined together.  After it drove me crazy for months I have finally finished it (and thank goodness for that!).

On the top floor is one of two bedrooms, this one featuring panoramic views through some of the only windows in the whole house.  I really like the colours of the walls in this room, but couldn't find any fabrics for the furnishings that really worked with it.

Next to this bedroom is what was to be a boudoir but became a bit of a nothing room containing only a chaise and small cupboard with french doors opening onto a small balcony.

In the centre of the top floor is the hall with a myriad of doors and a small writing desk.

In the bathroom, Clara is checking her hair in the mirror before leaving.  As the most badly wigged of the twelve dolls in the house she needs to!

Finally on the top floor is the second bedroom which features twin beds copied from the fabulous work of artist June Clinkscales.  Hers are better, but I still really love how mine turned out.

On the middle floor is the Study/Library in which Herbert is relaxing with the newspaper.

Next door is the Sitting room which boasts a knole sofa and pair of wing chairs.

In the central hall, one of the maids is dusting.  The room looks a little bare as the cupboard that was supposed to be in here refused to look right and was eventually simply eliminated.

The last room on this level is the double sized music room.  The raised floor and faux hallway at the back of the room are both things that seemed like a good idea . . . until I tried to make the furniture fit in in  a pleasing way.

Down on the bottom floor is the kitchen in which cook is busily working while one of the household cats chases . . . well it might be a mouse or a spider or just a figment of it's own imagination.

The dining room is next door to the kitchen.  Like the sitting room and library it boasts a hand painted faux marble fireplace.  It also boasts one of the most hacked about door frames in the house.  Never buy cheap plastic doors.

It took three and a half tries to get the entry hall right.  Eventually I ripped out the stairs and reoriented them.  If you are three inches tall and try to walk up the stairs as they are now you'll need to bend your head to fit under the ceiling, but apart from that one small issue this layout works better than any of the others I tried in here.  In the back corner is a long case clock from a kit by Petite Properties.

The Red room is still my favourite in the house, perhaps because it is the only one that didn't fight me every step of the way.  I love the round central sofa and will be looking for places to use more of these.

Finally, the last room in the house is the morning or breakfast room.  Large windows on two walls are designed to capture all the morning light.  The dining chairs in here are balsa legs and seats with jewellery finding backs.  The heavy metal findings mean that the chairs had to be glued to the floor to prevent them from toppling backwards, but are otherwise quite effective.

And that brings us to the end of 2014.  I hope all of you have had a great Christmas/New Year period and have a fabulous 2015.

Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 In Review . . . . Part Two

Eventually even I had to admit I am running out of room for miniatures.  Let's face it when you have a love of castles and multi room mansions, miniatures aren't really all that miniature.  That's why this year has seen me create a lot of smaller scale projects.  This is my first serious attempt at 48th (1/4").  It's based in a kit from Petite Properties.  They call it 'Le Petit Palais'.  I call mine 'Le Not-so-Petit Palais' due to the extra wings on either side of the main building and the added basement.

 Inside, much of the furniture is from kits by Petite Properties.  In the entry hall for example both tables are from their kits.

Other furniture pieces are from kits by 'A Sheila's Shed' such as the dining table.  Both ranges of kits have good and bad elements to them but on the whole I'd gladly recommend both brands.

Some furniture was made from scratch like the bed and chaise in the yellow bedroom.

And a final type of furniture in the house is the 'printable' furniture such as the wardrobe in the dressing room.  For the smaller scales this type of furniture can be really effective although I wouldn't recommend it for 12th scale.  There is a large range of this type of furniture available on the internet for free, some designed for miniatures, some for barbie size dolls and some taken from other sources such as vintage paper doll books.

 I had fun with this house, but in completing it I found what I consider to be the two major flaws in 48th scale.  First is the lack of DIY materials.  This room would for example look better if the white columns were not quite so obviously 12th scale stair spindles.  Some purpose designed 48th scale columns would be nice, but don't seem to exist.

The second fault is the lack of 48th scale accessories.  Most of the rooms in this house are much more sparse than most of my rooms would usually be.  You can't just buy some cutlery for the table in 48th scale.  Either you make your own or you do without.  The same applies to people.  Until this changes or I get a lot better at such tiny DIY accessories my 48th scale projects are always going to look a little bare.

After the Not-So-Petit Palais I returned to 12th scale and the Tower of Magic for another couple of rooms.

The sorceress' chamber was supposed to be a triumphant opposite to the maligned master's chamber.  It is an improvement, but it's a long way from the best room of the ToM.  The dimensions of the box of the room need to be wider for this room to really work.  As it is, it just looks cramped and therefore messy.  The room also isn't really big enough to carry off such a heavily patterned wallpaper.  Plan walls or possibly a smaller print would have looked better in here.

Another thing against this room is that it really doesn't have much of a magic theme to it.  There is nothing to suggest this is the room of a sorceress rather than just a plain ordinary woman.

The next room for the ToM was the Observatory.

The only issue I have with this room is that it may be a little too blue.  Even the starry night skies visible through the open roof and from the rear balcony are blue rather than black.

In the centre of the room is the main array of telescopes which incorporated a recumbent seat and writing surface.  I think it may be my all time favourite crazy contraption with it's choice of three telescopes and various gears and levers.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 In Review . . . Part One

The year began with the third room of the Tower of Magic, the Great Hall.  My one complaint with this room is that it really needs to be bigger, it's more of a 'Quaint' Hall than a 'Great' Hall.  It's certainly a crowded hall with three people, an owl, dragons, fairies, cats, mice and one flying pig crammed in.  The hammer beam style rafters hold a lot of these critters including the large polymer clay dragon.

 Much of the furniture in the Hall was recycled from earlier (now defunct) projects.  The table for example used to be in Bellerose House before it was stripped and renovated.

At the same time I also worked on the Steampunk Wizard's Tower in 24th scale.  This is built from a kit that is a cheap Chinese knock off of DHE's defunct Toll House kit.  The tower represents what I might have done with the Toll House in 12th scale if DHE hadn't (as usual) discontinued the kit before I got around to buying one.  The outside is covered in 'stones' made from egg cartons and painted in a sandstone tone.

On the ground floor is the study with desk and a pair of not so comfy looking armchairs.  I really like the grandfather clock in here but find the octopus light fitting less successful.

Upstairs is the workroom with a table full of half made gadgets and gizmos. The stand out in here is probably the tank with the octopus or maybe the bejewelled vaulted ceiling.

But my personal favourite of the year would have to be the next project, the Lab for the Tower of Magic.

This is another very busy room bursting at the seams with pretty much every piece of magical paraphernalia a dedicated wizard could ever want.  The walls are polyfiller scored and painted to resemble stone blocks.  The hood over the fire was a gift from the wonderful Lorraine of Fairy Meadow Miniatures.  It deeply affected the design and layout of the room.  There is no way I can describe all the details in this room as it would take until the end of next year to do it.

At the same time as working on the Lab, my favourite room of the year, I was working on my decidedly least favourite room, the Master's Chamber.

It's the wallpaper, right?  I need a totally, completely different paper on the wall and then this room might just work.  I mean the ceiling is fabulous, the furniture is all right, the accessories are fine and the layout is not what I originally intended, but OK.  It has to be the walls.

After the Master's Chamber I filled in the remaining couple of weeks before Easter renovating and restoring some older projects.

This bedroom was moved into this wider box which made the furniture layout much more pleasing.  I also went with a solid wall colour in place of the original patterned paper.

My conservatory had been stripped of all it's contents as they were gradually 'borrowed' to use in other projects.  It was given a coat of paint, some new curtains and then filled with new furniture.  The sofa and table were another part of the gift from Lorraine of Fairy Meadow Miniatures, as was the gold planter although it was a cradle when it arrived and not a planter at all.

The final quick renovation job was this old roombox shop.

Like the conservatory, everything in it had been 'borrowed' and used elsewhere.  I needed to find something for the shop to sell that I already had on hand and so it became a perfume and jewellery store using assorted beads from my stash to create the bottles and jewels.

At some point I have to come back and finish this store off by adding a sales assistant and a customer or two.  The only thing I still don't like about this shop is that due to the design of the kit it is built in the inside can be viewed only from above.

Next came the steampunk airship in 24th (1/2") scale.

The ship is constructed of balsa wood and cardboard.  A lot of the metallic surfaces are wood or card wrapped in kitchen foil.

I don't count it as a great success, it's one of those ideas that looked a lot better in my head than it does in reality.  Partly, this is because in reality you have to be practical.  I had to do away with an entire level below decks resulting in the cargo being carried on deck instead of in the hold and the engine room being reduced to a tiny niche behind the kitchen and it does not really look sufficient to power an entire ship.

I think maybe I should have made it two rooms wide instead of one, but that would have meant making opening walls for the outside so you could access all the rooms inside.  Curved and slanted opening wall?  I'm not brave enough to have tried that!

And from behind you can really tell how crooked the balloon is.

One side is open for viewing but the other is clad in balsa wood strips that curve around the shape of the ship.

All of this took place in the first five months of the year (or so).  Part two of the year is coming soon!