Monday, 27 August 2018

Dealing with treasures, cont.

If you are curious about what I did with all the treasures I showed in my previous post, here are some reports.

I was right about the unusual chest of drawers: it looks great in the yarn shop. The old table was, like in so many projects, a temporary solution that just hanged on, until the right piece turns up. I have put some stuff in drawers.  The cash machine is probably slightly too big, but I don't think it matters. It looks much better than the old, modern one made from a printie.

Removing the glass and putting it back was easy, so my glazing solution works well. (You can see the before-image of the shop in the linked post).

Replacing the chandelier in the reception room was surprisingly painless. I didn't even have to remove the whole floor above, just lift it a bit. I think I did the same when I put up the current one. This is possible because I always assemble floors on card so they are relatively easy to remove or lift.

Since the new chandelier has a hanging hook rather than a ring, I thought about a new way of attaching it. Rather than using thin wine wire as before, I made a loop from champagne wire, put the ends through the hole and bent the ends. It is a stronger fixture; it looks both neater and more natural. The whole operation took me about five minutes. In case you wonder, the ceiling rose is made from a cheese box lid.

Obviously, I had to remove all objects from the drawing room above, and when I was putting them back I thought that the new clock would look nice on the chest. And more period-correct.

This is what happens: adding and replacing all the time. We do this in our 1:1 life as well, don't we?

I planned to move the chandelier from the reception room to the upper hall, but it proved next to impossible. The floor above is firmly attached, with a staircase glued on to it, so that would demand serious reconstruction I am not prepared for.


After trying the chandelier here and there, I have decided to replace the one in the music room. I am doing it reluctantly and with a strong sense of guilt because this chandelier was among the very, very first objects I made, more than ten years ago. I still like it and will use it in another project. But at the moment this feels the right thing to do.

Again, I didn't have to remove the whole floor, and I used my newly acquired technique, although this chandelier has a ring rather than hook. So this time I did the opposite: made a hook out of wire, ran it through the whole and bent, then hung the chandelier on it. This way, next time I want to change the light, I won't have to remove floors. Why haven't I thought about it before? Seems elementary now.

So the music room now looks like this (I see I need to adjust the candles - they keep falling off). 

Wait a minute, you are probably saying now, what about the master bedroom that was supposed to get one of those grand chandeliers to match the mirror? Ah, do you remember the two-arm chandelier I was planning to put into the working kitchen? It is now going into the master bedroom. The room above is nursery which doesn't even have a hardwood floor (reminder to improve this!) so it was as easy as it can be. And here we are. Yes, the ceiling rose is a yogurt lid. 

Full view of the room:

I am sooooo pleased with all these changes, not least because they turned out to be significantly less arduous than anticipated. And as I am looking at the rooms, it feels they have always been like this. A good sign.

I now have two nice lights to use somewhere else. I am sure I will think of the right place for them.

The outcome of this exercise is that I have discovered carefully suppressed flaws that need attention (not just the nursery floor), and I am looking forward to returning to Womble Hall after a long pause while I was occupied with other projects.

Come back soon.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Dealing with treasures

On my annual visit to Stockholm I spend incredible amount of money in a particular shop. It is only open a couple of hours on Saturdays so I always contact the owner in advance to make sure they are there. I plan to spend at least an hour in this teeny tiny shop because by now I know what I am looking for and how much it would cost, so I need careful inspection. First time I discovered this shop I was overwhelmed. I still get very excited going there.

Here is this year's catch:

It may seem unsystematic and eclectic, but it is fully consistent with my previous purchases. I buy things I cannot make myself; I buy things that match stuff that I have, I buy unusual things, and I buy things that are slightly broken and that I know I can mend. For instance, I managed to mend a brass chandelier (from the same shop) as well as pewter candlesticks and wooden wardrobes. Several things in this bundle (if it's appropriate to use "bundle" for expensive stuff) need mending.

The chest of drawers - I bought it because I have never seen anything like it, and I still need to find out where it comes from. If you know, please tell me. But one knob was missing. I added a bit of a chess piece.

It isn't a perfect match, but I have tried other options, and this was the best. I can always replace it if I find something better. I don't know where this chest goes, probably in the retro house. Or I may build a vignette around it, because it is really unique. 

The vintage telephone - we had one like this when I was a child - will obviously go to the retro house. I am in two minds whether to repaint it.

The clock was hopelessly broken: 

I managed to bend it back into shape and glue together with superglue. The pendulum can move, and I have added hands from my stash of watch parts. It will go into my clockmaker shop. (Scroll down a bit in the linked post to see it).

The lovely fruit bowl can go almost anywhere (except maybe Tudor), and I have filled it with apples. These are real berried and will probably wither, but right now they look perfect. 

I could not resist the cash register. I have been looking for it for a while. It is a pencil sharpener, and I have a number of miniatures in the same style, probably by the same manufacturer. Another thing to research.


I will try it in my yarn shop. (Again, scroll down; it's the same post). Wait, maybe the chest will look good in the yarn shop? This will need some testing, which involves taking off the glazing. Something for long autumn evenings.

The pewter teapot had no lid. I have exactly the same teapot from the same shop, with a lid and a pretty tripod. 


I know some people would make a lid from fimo or something like that, but I am not good at sculpting. I am good at saving things that can come handy. In this case I remembered metal buttons I got last year from a friend. One of those became a perfect lid.

The other pewter things I thought were straightforward - I also had some of these before - so I just put them randomly on a tray. 

But see, that was completely wrong. When I looked closer, they were two different designs. 

The sugar bowl on the left is smashed, and someone probably tried to mend it and broke it, so I will leave it as it is. After all things get broken in 1:1 world as well. I am not yet sure where these objects will go. They look great in glass cabinets. Or maybe the Tudor household needs more pewter.


The plates also turned out to be all different and not like any other pewter plates I have. One day I will do some proper research on these miniatures. Meanwhile, they are definitely going to the Tudor house.

The magnificent standing mirror has replaced the simple one in master bedroom. There was nothing wrong with that mirror, and I will use it elsewhere. But this looks really grand. In all confidence, it cost almost as much as everything else together. I couldn't resist it.

It now feels imperative to replace the chandelier with one to match the mirror. There will be a massive replacement of chandeliers following my new purchases. This chandelier has to go into the reception room.

Then the chandelier from the reception room can perhaps go to upper hall, and the chandelier from upper hall can move to the bedroom. To perform all these replacements, I will have to remove floors in rooms above, so it will take some time.

But I will start with this two-arm chandelier that will go into the working kitchen.

This will be a challenge because I cannot get the main house off the basement to use the drilled hole in the ceiling. (Sometimes I imagine the horror of having to move the house, and I stop quickly). I will have a think of some clever way to attach it neatly.

All in all, my annual miniature binge has resulted in many interesting objects most of which lead to new projects rather than just finding a place for them. Have I ever mentioned that a dollhouse or a room box is never finished?

Come back soon.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Roman turret, part 8 in which a fire is lit and various items are added

Read the previous posts about this project: part 1, part 2,  part 3, part 4 and part 5, part 6 and part 7.  

As I mentioned in the last post, I cannot finish the exterior until we have eaten enough eggs, because I need egg cartons to make stones. I had just enough to finish the right and left wall, but now I will have to wait. It doesn't really matter because it is just the back wall, but I still want to cover it.

Meanwhile, there are many small things to attend to. For instance, I was dissatisfied with the fire because it just didn't look right. After a number of various attempts, I gave up on using a tea light - it doesn't work in this scale. Instead, I cut a quarter-circle from a piece of foam board, painted it to match the walls and built a fire with twigs from my garden. I burned the twigs slightly on a candle for the effect.

Then I covered it with glue and sprinkled some red glitter on.

Next, I added two metal bowls. If you want to know how I made them, read this. I am glad I remembered them because they fit in nicely. And then of course there must be some food cooking in the bowls. The large one is couscous (reluctantly, as I don't like using real food in miniature projects, but it was less than a teaspoonful), and the small just tiny bits of leftover twigs. I think it looks like chunks of meat. I may add onions. 

The wall behind the fireplace must be blackened with soot. For soot effect, I burned some matches and crushed them, then painted with my finger on the wall.

Maybe not enough? I put some more twigs in a pile by the side.

Not sure whether the large cauldron is right here. But I am not attaching things permanently yet.

On the same wall, I wanted a shelf with some kitchenware. I made the shelf from craft sticks. The bowl and plates are from the same set. The shelf wouldn't stay so I had to support it and leave to dry overnight.

The metal ornament hanging from the ladder is an earring of unknown origin. I think it looks like a Roman thing.

On the upper floor, I wanted a wall bracket with a torch. In my Tudor house, I made wall brackets from beer rings, so I thought I would do it again, but see, the scale didn't work! And I wasn't sure how to make a Roman torch, although Wikipedia was helpful with images. I first tried to make flames from tissue paper, but it didn't work at all. I was about to give up, but browsing Pinterest, without results, I suddenly got an idea.

It's the same technique as making dolls' hair, and I think it worked fine.


I made a bracket from a small eyelet.

The sign from Hadrian's wall also had a rack on the upper floor with some fabric hanging on it - not sure whether it's supposed to be clothes, maybe a cloak?

I used a coffee stirrer and toothpicks to make a rack. I should have put a coin beside it for scale, but it's tiny. And it is probably a cloak hanging on a peg.


(Don't you love this character? I do. He told me his name is Cat).

There are probably other interior details I can add, but otherwise I feel that the project is finished. Of course, a project is never finished, but it is finished enough to be shared with people who are not interested in work-in-progress.

A picture doesn't do it justice. Maybe I should try to make a video to show it at various angles and zoom into details.

This has been a small but challenging project. Because I have been relatively free and because it has been far too hot for gardening, I have worked several hours a day so I estimate it took about 80 hours all in all. It gives a better sense of the scope of effort.

I enjoyed it a lot and I am really pleased with how it has turned out. If you enjoyed following my work please leave a comment.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Roman turret, part 7, in which the legion arrives and a wall is built

Read the previous posts about this project: part 1, part 2,  part 3, part 4 and part 5 and part 6.

I have never used action figures in my projects, I believe mainly because they are smaller than 1:12, which is my preferred scale, and also they tend to be rather ugly. But I knew I would never be able to make Roman soldiers from the kind of cheap dolls I purchase for upcycling, and these are wrong scale anyway. So I bought a set of Roman figures from ebay, trusting the seller's information about them being four inches tall. They were.

Apparently they are collectibles, randomly packed to encourage children to beg for more. So not all of them are Roman soldiers, some are gladiators, but I will have to live with it. I will do some research into who they really are. But I already have a favourite. Can you guess which?

The project became much more interesting with figures.

But their presence immediately made me realise that they needed more space. I had thought from start that I might add a bit of wall on both sides of the turret, since a turret is by definition not a solitary structure. Just a little bit of wall. Just enough for a warrior to be on it.

A fortification wall,  whether Roman or medieval, consists of two elements: wall walk on which soldiers can stand and shoot at the attackers, and parapet, a narrow structure that protects the soldiers from attackers' arrows or projectiles. The wall walk should be on the level of the upper floor so that the doors lead onto it. In short, quite sophisticated engineering.

I obviously used cardboard, making a square box and attaching it to the side wall of the turret.  I considered stripping the turret wall of stone masonry where the wall was to be attached and decided against it. Too much trouble, and the stones would certainly be damaged. The inner door, as I have made it, is in the wrong place in relation to the outer door, but I will leave it for the time being.

The parapet will be built, stone by stone, from craft cubes, just as I built the stone steps.

I started building the parapet first because I still haven't got enough egg cartons for the wall. I cut each cube in two, as uneven as possible, distressing them further and then painting, one by one, for colour variations.

To anticipate questions - yes, it took a long time. A very long time. Occasionally I get comments on my piece-by-piece work: "If you do it this way it will be quicker". But I don't want it to be quicker. I am not in a hurry. My marking is done, and it is far too hot for gardening. My room is cool and nice. Cutting and painting wooden cubes is peaceful and relaxing.

This obviously does not look natural, so once again, mock mortar.

That's better, isn't it? And better still after adding figures.

I think the figures really make a difference as they emphasise scale and generally make the scene livelier.

I won't show building the left wall step by step, because it was exactly the same.

In a close-up picture, you can see some details of stone masonry that, again, make it all look more natural. 

And here are the warriors:

Now, while I am waiting for us to consume all those omelets and scrambled eggs to finish the side and back walls, I will resume interior decoration. Googling "Roman material culture" yields hundreds of hits.

Come back soon.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Roman turret, part 6, in which woodwork is put in place

Read the previous posts about this project: part 1, part 2,  part 3, part 4 and part 5.

Now I can finally return to inserting the horizontal partition and the ladder. But first I need to build the stone steps. For these, I used wooden craft cubes, taking a long time to turn perfect blocks into uneven stones. Then I built the steps, stone by stone, leaving gaps that I then filled with mock mortar.

 After many trials and errors, I glued the ladder into the partition.

This turned out to be another, really big error, which just shows how even a tiny miscalculation is fatal in this scale. The bottom of the ladder came too close to the side wall, which did not look natural. So I had to detach it (and after drying overnight, it was a challenge). To move it, I had to detach one of the beams. It took three more attempts before I got it right, and not quite right anyway, but no one except myself will know.

While things were drying over and over again, I made a second door.


I haven't got exactly the same knob, but it doesn't matter. I don't think the Romans were too particular about the aesthetic bit.

With doors glued on and some utensils added: 

I am not happy with the fire: it doesn't look right, so I will have to think about it. There are other details I will be adding, particularly on the upper floor which at the moment looks rather bare. And of course it will be weeks before I have enough egg cartons to finish the walls. But the main part of the project is completed. I am really proud of it.