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.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Glimpse into the Future

With Dragonsdell Castle finished, I've spent some time considering what I want to do next.

It could be the Elizabethan manor house.  If you've seen the "Barnsdale Manor" by Barbara's Mouldings then this is the sort of house I have in mind except mine would be in 48th scale due to space/size restrictions.  Mine would be finished in red brick with (of course) lavish interiors much like the one you can see if you click this link.

Or I could make a start on the row of Victorian Terrace Houses.  These would be a series of separate houses each one room (and a staircase) wide and four or five floors high.  In appearance they would be much like these old kits from DHE: Baker Street or Eaton Square.  Again due to size I would have to do these in either 24th or 48th scale and although similar on the outside I'd tailor the interiors to the needs of the residents.  For example one could be the home of a doctor with his consulting room on the ground floor, the residents of another house could be preparing for a wedding while a third could be the secret headquarters for a gang of spies.  The possibilities are endless . . . and once I get started the number of houses I do will probably be too.

But . . . having been working in smaller scales of 24th and 48th for six months it really seems like time to do something in 12th scale for a change.

A couple of months ago I discovered that fishpond (kind of an Australasian version of Amazon) sell dollshouses.  Among the items listed was the "Orchid" kit by Corona Concepts (Greenleaf).  It's listed price was $125 and that is the minimum I would expect to pay for a kit like that, but it was reduced to just $65.  When you add in free postage . . . well, there was no way I could resist that deal.

So now I have this cute little cottage kit but no real idea what to do with it.  I hunted the internet for pictures of what other people had done with the kit and saved them to a board on Pinterest here.  What I learned from this research was that if you don't use the internal wall downstairs the top floor will sag (badly) unless you add a supporting post or ceiling beams, that it rather surprisingly looks great if adapted to have a Tudor look or given a stone finish, but I like it in weatherboard the best and that most people leave out the internal stairs.

To get a good grasp on what will and won't fit into a space, I really need to see that space, so I clamped the base and side walls together and started playing with furniture layouts.  Almost immediately I decided I would have to adapt the kit which was left open at the back to instead be front opening - there is simply no other way to go if you want to build in features like a fireplace and an old fashioned range oven.

Next up I learned why so many people don't include the stairs in the house - they leave no space to fit in and nicely arrange furniture in the rooms.  I hate houses without logical access to the rooms; stairs are ideal but failing that fake doors to give the illusion of the possibility of stairs is essential.  Fake doors won't really work in this kit, but every possible positioning and layout of stairs (at the side, the back, straight, L shape, etc) will not work.  Finally, I had the brainwave to include the stairs, but not inside the house.

Remember Pumpkin Cottage?  The stairs in that kit were in the little annex outside the main structure.  All I need to do is cut doorways in the side wall of the kit and I can add the stairs on the outside of the house and enclose them in a lean-to type structure.  Now there will be the space to have well laid out rooms in the house.

Of course, planning isn't all I've done this week.  This is the start of the next (ninth?) room for the Tower of Magic.  I'll leave you to guess at the purpose of this room until next week . . . .

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dragonsdell Castle

At long last the 48th scale castle officially has a name - Dragonsdell Castle.  The castle is also now finished.  I recommend giving the all the following photos a 'poke' to see all the small details.

The left side of the castle features the stair tower and from the basement up: Treasury and Well Room, Armoury, Library, Gallery, Blue Bedroom and Sitting room.

On the right side (again from the bottom up) there is : Dungeons, Kitchens, Great Hall, Purple Bedroom and Dressing room and finally Alchemists Lab and bedroom.

The Alchemists Bedroom features a bed that's something of a cross between a canopied four poster, a sleigh bed and a day bed.  There is a storage chest on the left side wall and a writing desk and chair in the centre of the room.

The Alchemist is at work in his lab.  He, and all the dolls in the castle were made from polymer clay on wire armatures.  As there doesn't seem to be such a thing as a 48th scale doll mould none of the people of the castle are exactly beautiful, most don't even look particularly human.  Sculpting, especially on so small a scale is not a skill I will ever have.  The Alchemist is wearing black and teal felt robes and sports a long wispy beard.

Various herbs hang from the overhead beam, drying ready for use in his future potions.

I've talked about how disappointed I was in the doors I bought from Petite Properties as they were too low to really be 48th scale.  You can see in this photo the Alchemist (who is the equivalent of six feet tall) would have to practically bend double to walk through the door.

And just to help show the scale of the rooms, here's 6" tall Harry standing in the Alchemists Bedroom.

Skipping down to the Armoury and Fred is preparing to start polishing all the weaponry to keep it all nice and shiny.

Down in the dungeons and the prisoner is still in chains and has acquired a pair of guards who are wiling away the hours of guard duty with a jug of ale.

Next door the torture chamber is vacant at the moment, but perhaps the hapless prisoner in the cell will be visiting it soon . . .

Through the door behind the seated guards is the well room where the castle's water supply is accessed.

The door on the right side of the well room leads into the treasury or strong room or vault (etc) where the castle's valuables are stored.

 Through the door on the left of the well room is the bottom of the stair tower where some extra storage has been slipped in.

Heading down the stairs to the well room is this maid sent to fetch some water.

Jumping up a few floors now, Rosie is in her bedroom, preparing to head out and face the day.

 A pair of ladies are having a chat in the gallery.  You may have noticed by now that the people are not only kind of ugly, they're also badly dressed.  Trying to sew fabrics for clothes this small tends to make the fabrics just disintegrate.  Felt works well, but is really too thick and make people look like they're wearing padded clothing.

 The the Great Hall, one lady has settled in a seat by the fire while another tests out the balcony overhead.

 The Hall is decorated with 'tapestries' and colourful runners on the tables.    None of the decorations I tried for the tables (candlesticks, goblets, plates, etc) really seemed to work, so aside from the runners, the tables are largely bare.

 In the kitchens below the Great Hall, the staff are busy working on the evening meal.

 At the kitchen end of the room, a pair of cooks are hard at work.

While at the 'buttery' end of the room (where the booze is kept) Sam is mixing beverages in an attempt to create the perfect accompaniment to the meal.

And from this angle you can see the Turkey roasting over the fire at the back of the kitchen.

In the Library someone is sneaking out of the secret passage.

The purple bedroom is empty of people as the residents have already gone out for the day . . .

 But their maid is left behind in the dressing room to catch up on mending some of her mistress' favourite gowns.

And in the Sitting room some of the ladies of the castle have gathered to practice the lute and exchange some gossip.

Outside, the castle was given a few finishing touches.  A vine grows up the front wall of the castle adding a bit of colour and filling in a section of wall that looked a little too bland before.

The little gatehouse has finally had it's roof added.  Some 'water' was added to the stream bed and some bushes planted along it's banks.  Makkena the dragon has taken up residence at the base of the gatehouse.

The sides of the castle were covered with clear acetate to protect the rooms inside.  I added a cut away roof over the acetate to finish it off.  The roof is a piece of thick card over which I laid tiles cut from the same foam as used on the walls and painted them a blue-grey.

I compromised a lot with the outside of the castle.  Originally, it was supposed to have more towers and turrets and crenellations and a much larger gatehouse but as usually I had to simplify for the sake of practicality, accessibility and ability.  This is why the outside doesn't look like a castle so much as a really tall stone house.  Still, not too bad for my first 48th scale scratch build.