Saturday, 16 December 2017

Castle Black

After 4 successful creations, I was feeling a lot more confident and for my next project I decided to do something a bit different. Bea Broadwood at Petite Properties is on Facebook and posts her new designs. I was in bed sipping my morning tea and scrolling through my Facebook feed when I spied The Watchtower!

Now, I should explain that we are HUGE Game of Thrones fans. We love it! You can always tell when it's on due to us all being in the front room oohing and ahhing at the latest twists and turns -we don't usually like the same TV as I like antiques programmes (I've fully embraced middle age) and Charlie likes survival shows (he hasn't)-. I saw The Watchtower and I immediately thought, Castle Black! I had visions of a mini John Snow prowling the mess room and The Lord Commander in his quarters with Pyp and Grenn in the armoury. I went to the PP website and bought it immediately!

It arrived, complete with instructions for the basic construction and it seemed really complicated! It had so many little bits, and none of the finishing instructions I'd been so used to. I read through the instructions twice relating them to all the parts and even after that, it still seemed a little daunting. It wasn't so much the construction of the house, but the finishing....I needed a more detailed plan. In the show, Castle black is stone built and the interiors were also stone or plain drab wood, very utilitarian.

I decided that I would do a stone walled armoury on the ground floor and the mess hall on the first floor,  Maester Aamon's library on the second floor would be wood panelled with floor to ceiling bookcases and finally, the Lord Commander's chamber would be at the top.

So, I had my plan! I then went through the instructions annotating when I would do when so I had my own step by step instructions.

The first issue I faced was the claywork. I'm pretty confident with external claywork, but my plan involved internal claywork too. The first thing I did was a mock construction, carefully marking off all the areas that needed to be kept clear for windows and stairways etc. I repeated this throughout the build to make sure it would all fit together at the end. Then I just got stuck in, handscribing as I went. I did the whole interior in one sitting so as to keep it consistent. The wood panelling was constructed out of cereal packet strips and heavily dirtied. All the floors and ceilings were similarly constructed. Then it was just a case of following Bea’s instructions to construct the first 3 floors. To finish. I dry brushed the edges with a little white paint to age it up.

At each point in the build I made sure the pieces still fit!

It all fitted together!

Next was the colossal job of  the exterior claywork (pardon the use of colossal in small scale work, but that’s how it felt). The first thing I did was another mock construction as there were bits I had to keep clear for windows etc. I did a wall at a time but it still took ages to scribe the clay. I was so pleased with the results.

But, disaster struck as it started to dry it also began shrinking, and cracking. Despite all my efforts, all I could do was watch as my lovely stonework cracked and flaked. I should explain that to do the outside I’d had to buy another block of clay. It seemed the usual good quality but was definitely wetter than previous blocks and that was obviously the issue. I now had two choices, scrape off and start again, or repair. I went for the later. 

I pasted clay into the cracks and cut strips to counter the shrinking. One big issue was that the windows didn't line up anymore. So I had to gentle scrape the clay from the insides of the windows until it all lined up again and then fill the gaps. It was certainly a lot less pristine than previous efforts, but actually, that wasn’t such a bad thing and gave a bit more authenticity to the crumbling ancient stonework. That’s my spin on it at any rate 😀.

After all that, it was time to paint it. I decided not to go for any moss or vegetation as it's very cold at The Wall and I wanted to create a bleak menacing feel to the place. Instead I went for dark foreboding greys. I really took my time with the dry brushing creating layer upon layer of greys and finished it off with a dry brushing of white to age it up.

Then it was on to the roof of the tower, this was not in MDF but in thick card and boy was it fiddlely to put together. It was worth it though as the wonky walls really give the design a touch of authenticity. The decoration was a lot simpler though as there was no stonework, I just painted it a light grey and then dry brushed on the muddy paint. The floor was the same plan boards as I used in the lower floors. I cut my own roof tile strips by eye and tried to recreate a hand cut wood tile effect. When finished, I painted the whole roof top in black, sponged on some dark brown and finished by distressing with white. I was really please with the finished product.

So there it is, by far my most difficult project but I had been well prepared by my previous projects.

Next time, I furnish Castle Black which includes making some medieval weapons...gulp!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Bluebell Cottage Part.2

So, we are finally up to date, 4 houses finished, one in the pipeline (my next project is a bit exciting, more about this later) and one that needs some furniture.

This time, I decided that I'd make all the furniture, and all the accessories myself to build up the skill set I need for my next project which will require me to design AND make some rather unique pieces. That said, I still needed guidance at my current skill level in order to furnish Bluebell Cottage. So, I used Bea Broadwood's fantastic 'Making Furniture in 1/48th Scale' books to guide me. These are really excellent books and very reasonably priced. I've learned so much from them. Well worth purchasing!

There were two rooms to furnish, a kitchen and bedroom, so I started with the kitchen. Bea's instructions were really straight forward and I started to add my own little touches and changing the designs to fit my plans where necessary. All the designs for the kitchen are in the book so I won't rant on about them.  I added some tile -printed- and some microbeads as door handles. I will say that they were all great fun to make.

However, I've learnt that what really makes a miniature scene come to life are the finishing touches so it was time to get my beads, fabrics and polymer clay out. Now, I'd bought cup cake and chocolate moulds from Stewart Dollhouse Creations -they have fantastic kits and silicone moulds well worth a look - on Etsy and I'd been dying to try it out. So, I thought, why not do a tea for two. I had an old book on making miniatures with polymer clay. It's for 1/12th scale, but I thought I'd scale it down for 1/48th, how hard could it be?!?! Turns out, really bloody hard! Fiddly does not cover it. I was planning to do a sugar bowl and milk jug, but after doing 3 cups and a teapot I'd lost the will. Mrs. Mouse and her friend will be drinking Earl Grey. After this, I was rocking in a corner and very close to throwing all my polymer clay out of the window. But, I had my lovely moulds, so I thought I'd give them a go. I'm glad I did, because they were brilliant! Filling and baking the little silicone moulds was a doddle, and decorating the cupcakes with a syringe was so much fun. A Cup Cake Emporium has now been added to my list of projects. All, in all I was really pleased with my little kitchen  and it was so satisfying to know that everything was made by my own two hands.

On to the bedroom. The carpet in the bedroom was made of fabric I brought at Little Trimmings and I had some matching fabric to use for the bedspread. This being my second bed, I was able to do a much better job of it as I knew some of the pitfalls. I adjusted Bea's design slightly to make the bed a little bigger.

I went for more of a dark wood  finish for this furniture. The wardrobe, desk and chest of drawers were very easy to put together. For accessories, I went for a hat box on top of the wardrobe, a bedside lamp and an inkwell for the desk. I made a little stool out of beads and card and upholstered it in the same fabric as the bed.

To make this little house a home I painted a couple of tiny pictures and framed them in matchstick wood. This was my first attempt at miniature paintings and I was really pleased with finished articles.

So that's it. Bluebell Cottage is  complete, my little mouse moved in and I now feel ready to tackle my biggest challenge yet!

Next time: I attempt to make Castle Black from Game of Thrones.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Bluebell Cottage

Are you an impulse buyer? I am, especially's just too easy to buy things...I'll be browsing Etsy or Ebay or any number of other sites, spot something I like, it's mine. I am just as bad in person. At my recent trip to the Kensington Dolls House Fair, I impulse bought a tiny fairy and a automata. Both wonderful things in their own right, but where on Earth am I going to put them? Here is my little Automata it's by St Legers.

Well this project starts with one such impulse buy. Whilst browsing Etsy one day, I found an adorable little mouse in a blue dress on Suzy's Creations. I bought her immediately and was very pleased with her but had nowhere to put her. She sat on my shelf for over a year. I was always worried she'd be knocked off the shelf and hoovered up by accident so she ended up in a box in a drawer and she's far too pretty to be in there so I decided I'd better build her a little house to live in.

My little Easy impulse buy!

If you've been following the blog, you'll know that so far  I've been working through the Petite Properties 'Kit and Book' series. However, the next house in the Kit and Book series 'Washtub Cottage' wasn't quite what I had in mind for my next little mouse house. So, I looked at PP's Basic House range. This range come with construction instructions but don't have the finishing instructions that the Kit and Book series have. Of course you can still use the techniques in the Books to help finish the basic houses. So that's what I did. I bought a Gooseberry Cottage kit and the Washtub Cottage book. The techniques for constructing the Cottage were variations on what I'd learnt before. The challenge for this house I decided would be to make everything for it myself from scratch, not calling on my etsy friends.

First, I had to build the house though. I decided to go for a clay tile floor, similar to the one in Emelia's, but to experiment with the finish. After the claywork was done, I painted it white then I painted every other tile black -which was very cathartic-. Lastly, I sealed it all with gloss varnish. I was pleased with the effect. Then the walls had to go on. I papered and painted the walls before construction hoping for a cleaner finish. The ceiling of the ground floor room was beamed, but I wanted carpet on the first floor room which I was planning to be a bedroom so I used fabric to make a carpet -purchased from Little Trimmings-.

All the pieces ready to put together.

After gluing the house together it was time for the clay work. I've discovered that it's really worth putting in the overtime with claywork to get a better finish. After rolling out the clay and gluing it on to the house, I really take my time to do the scribing but it still looks pretty rough when it first dries.

Unfinished stonework

I start off by sanding the whole wall with very fine sand paper and then I scribe out every single stone again. This does take ages but is really worth the effort. Little bits of clay chip off but it just adds to the effect. I do love working with clay.

Ready to paint!

I went for a white-washed effect by giving the stone two coats of white and dirtying it up a little by dry brushing. The window sills and door were painted a lovely blue.

For the roof I wanted a terracotta effect so after cutting the roof tiles from thick card. I mixed 5 different shades of terracotta and individually painted each tile before laying the strips on the roof.

After fitting them, they looked a little too clean. Bea Broadwood does a great range of pre-mixed paints. One of these is called 'Muddy Paint' and it's brilliant for dry brushing external walls and roofs to make them look more authentic. It was this paint I used to muddy up my roof and it made all the  difference. I added the chimney pot and my house was done!

All ready for an afternoon's mini-ing!

Then my little Bluebell Cottage was ready for furniture. Next time...I build all the furniture for my kits and no cheating by buying ready made on Easy.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Tudor House

My much-put-upon husband, who loves me but thinks I'm nuts, kindly built me some shelves in our bedroom for me to display my mini creations. Secretly, I think he was just relieved that I wasn't going to buy another 1/12th Scale house for him to stub his toes on in the night! I could see the cogs going round in his head when he regarded the shelves thinking 'Well, it will take her a while to fill those up'.  by my estimation I will be able to fit 12 houses on those shelves before he needs to build me some more, challenge accepted 😉.

My third purchase from Petite Propertie's Kit and Book series was Toadstool Hall. This kit expanded my clay work skills as the scribing was irregular stone but to be honest, it was easier than the brick. Freehand cutting the card for the exterior and ceiling beams was also easier than the precision cutting needed for Emelia's. In fact, this was a relatively easy build and went together a treat.

The finished pieces ready to glue together.

Exterior Finish.

Petite properties do a great range of Quarter (1:48th) Scale Tudor furniture kits so I bought the lot. I glued them together and painted them a dark brown finishing them off with a coat of gloss varnish. I dressed the miniature bed using some foam board for the mattress and fabrics from Little Trimmings. I accessorised my little Tudor cupboard with fabric rolled around small pieces of card.

The furniture I made for the bedroom

I bought a gorgeous little Tudor bed from SimplySweetandSmall and a little icon and table from Morticia. I also tried my hand at making a Medieval chair our of Bea Broadwoods Furniture Book. I was pleased with the results.

This was actually the first house I'd completed that included a kitchen and dining room and this presented me with a new I discovered a wonderful miniaturist called Signe. Her food was so delicate and beautiful. I immediately contacted her and asked her to make some Tudor foods for me..the results were incredible.

Signe's wonderful food

Inspired, I decided to have a go at a few polymer clay accessories myself.  I thought fruit would be a good place to start as they were just little balls really. I made apples by rolling tiny amounts of clay into balls and putting a small whole in the top with a fine point scribe. Pewter plates were just bigger balls that I then squished them flat with a pen lid to and used a fine scribe to add a little shape.

 made a few more plates for my Tudor hutch and a tiny Tudor tapestry and the dining room was looking great.

Next, I made more plates a bowl and a cup to fill my little kitchen shelves. I have used one of Petite Properties ceramic fireplaces in the kitchen - a little artistic license was used here as the chimney is on the front of the house- and the shelves were made out of off cuts from Petite Property kits. A few beads added to the shelves completed the look and finished off my little Tudor kitchen.

That  was it, another house was finished. On the 3rd December 2016, I was lucky enough to go to the Kensington Dolls House Festival. If you haven't been I would highly recommend it. Whilst there I met the lovely Sally Reader and bought two of her Tudor dolls for my house.

I decided that I needed a bit of a challenge after this so I set myself the target that everything in my next house I would make all the furniture from kits, and no cheating by buying things on etsy...gulp 😳

Next time..Bluebell Cottage

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Emelia's Opens for Business!

I'm a teacher. One of the advantages of this is the long holidays with lots of time to indulge in hobbies. One of the disadvantages is that, come term time, my entire focus is taken up by not drowning under mountains of paperwork, keeping my house clean -that's actually a misnomer as anyone with children knows, trying to keep your house clean when there are children in it is like trying to shovel snow when it's still snowing- and feeding everybody. My point is, I don't have time to sit and make small things in term time. The building of Emelia's took place in the summer holidays..the furnishing of Emelia's took place in the Autumn term 2015. Therefore, not a lot was made by me. In a future post, there will be a house where everything was made by me, from scratch...but this isn't that! I still had loads of fun sourcing all the bits and bobs for Emelia's and was very pleased with the results.

Being hard up for time, I got in touch with my old friend Morticia at La Petite Maison D'AmourI asked her to make me a shop counter, display case and side table. I also asked if she could find me some buckets and a till in Quarter (1/48th) Scale. She did not disappoint..and even found me a cute little watering can.

My purchases from Morticia

I filled the buckets with reindeer moss and painted a few bits to look like flowers. I then set about making some larger flowers with the help of a tutorial I found on Pinterest. I was really pleased with the results...but needed LOTs more flowers. Luckily, I found some tiny potted plants on eBay -O Guage Model Railway accessories- so Emelia's filled up nicely.

Some of the flowers I made for Emelia's 

I filled the display cabinet with bead 'vases' and tiny rolls of coloured tissue and fabric. One thing I have learned about Quarter Scale is you just have to give the impression of something for it to work. I turned to my friend Morticia again to make me some ribbon and cellophane dispensers. I needed an 'Emelia' to run my little shop so I sent Sally Reader a picture of my shop and she designed and made a beautiful little doll for me. Such talented ladies!

Upstairs I decided to do an office. I bought the furniture kits from Petite Properties. The sink I decorated with tiles I printed from a picture I found on the internet. I imported the picture into Word then it was easy to resize using picture formatting as you can specify exact measurements. If you're not confident with Word please leave a comment below and Ill post a tutorial. I made the taps from jewellery pins. More bead vases filled the shelves and I made a few more accessories from beads. The rug is made from two pieces of material. I glued them together with the bottom white fabric overlapping and then I frayed the white edge sticking out to make the fringe. The result was really effective.

After printing out a few posters and bills for the desk and signs for the front of the house my little shop, and second project was finished, with a little help from my friends 😀.

I'd love to hear what you think so please leave a comment below.

Next time: A Tudor project - Toadstool Cottage