Monday, November 29, 2010

iMagery in the tower

For a while I wasn't happy with the tower. I'm doing it as a learning experience, getting used to using different materials and stuff like that. A bit boring . . .
Then I had an idea of decorating the walls, and it has taken over my life (in the best way) for the past few days! I'm loving it - I can have images of things I love, and of course my enchanter loves them too :)
These are for the upstairs room - I want this to be a light and airy room, so I've kept it pale and simple.
First is a dragon. It's medieval enough as an image, but for me it has become the Green Dragon which the pub in Hobbiton was named after in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Because it's a hobbity, friendly dragon, I found one which isn't too scary and copied it as best I could.
Next is a tree. The Tree of Life, the Spirit of Nature, the seasons, woodland beauty, and finally a representation of the mallorn trees of Lothlorien. Tolkien again, but I do love his Middle Earth!!
And now a rendition of a medieval border. This was copied from a book on DIY calligraphy and illuminations.
A window border. I made this one up.

BTW it's nerve-wracking drawing straight onto the paperclay walls, mistakes can't be fixed easily, smudging happens, too much coffee makes the hands shake, there are interruptions like sleeping and eating, and the cats love to sit on whatever I'm doing.

I used colouring pencils for these, and watercolour pencils for the dragon. I realised I have to remember not to use a wet sealer on it or it will be dragon-smear time and a very unhappy me, haha.

I'm working on the walls of the lower room, now. Having fun!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Floor test update

The floor test I did in a previous post had interesting results.

Because the tile sheet was dried unattached to anything, it bent slightly, but held together. The gaps between the tiles widened as it dried - hopefully this would eliminate any cracking. You can now see a little daylight through some of the gaps, and the whole thing is slightly flexible and forgiving.
The problem is that the underside is not flat, as you can see in the second photo, with ridges where the gaps are - difficult to glue down :(
The extra separated tiles, however, each warped as they dried - again, difficult to glue down! :( My advice is, don't go there!!

So I did another test, using Jovi (as in the first test) and Paperclay. This time I glued them onto a board while wet, and tried three methods of marking the lines.
The top third is marked with a piece of veneer (less than 1mm thick).

The centre third is marked with veneer, but with a (loose but flat) layer of cling film on top of the clay. This smooths and rounds off the edges of the clay, and gives a type of bevelled effect. This also enlarges the gap a little more.

The lower third is marked with a piece of extremely fine brass sheet. I was hoping to give the effect of flagstones, where no mortar is needed (oh please, yes!!). The gaps still widened a bit, but are very crisp.

I have also tried painting the Jovi - it has a smooth surface, more like polymer clay, and shows every brush mark, and would not take a wash very well at all. If anyone can tell me what DAS is like, I'd be grateful :)
For painting I prefer Paperclay because of its absorbency - takes a light wash beautifully :)

For this technique I'd advise that you tidy all the intersections with a pin or fine toothpick at the leather-hard stage of drying. The more careful you are in the marking process, the less you'll have to tidy later. And make very sure that the marker is exactly the right length between the pinholes.

I'd also advise placing a flat layer of clingfilm between the wet clay and the paper pattern, and pricking the holes through both. The paper pattern buckles on the damp clay.

The gaps made with the veneer would need to be grouted - not my favourite activity!!
The gaps made with the brass sheet could pass for flagstones, not needing grout. I say this hopefully! :)

The Paperclay shrank more than the Jovi - the gaps were wider after drying.

So there it is so far. I hope it may help - sorry I get too pedantic in my explanations, it's a bad habit that I can't throw off . . .


Sunday, November 21, 2010

A lacemaker's light

I found this amongst my stash today. I've always wanted to make a miniature lace pillow with real worked lace on it - this is still on the ten year plan, lol :)

These lights were used by lacemakers in the days before electricity, or even gas lighting. They needed good light for doing detailed work at night, and the glass globes reflected and focused the light of the candle directly onto the work, much like a magnifying glass can do. The candle height was adjustable as the candle burned down.

A lacemaker's lot was not a happy one - usually a woman made only one pattern of lace ad infinitum (boring . . .), and was paid by the yard. The payment was low, and part of the payment was sometimes in goods at a local merchant, who was also the lace dealer. Quite often the dealer could pay less, claiming low quality, if he was a scoundrel. This was a typical type of arrangement in the 18th and 19th centuries for craftspeople doing outwork.

This all ended with the arrival of machines which could produce lace cheaply.

I thought that this type of lighting arrangement would be an interesting one for alchemy and wizard scenes - or just add a candle beside your crystal ball . . .

I can't remember who made this - I bought it at the Sydney Minis Fair about ten years ago when I lived in Australia. It's very nicely made.

You can see a 1:1 pic of these lights here - and a good article about them.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Floor test for the tower

I've been thinking of ways to do the bottom floor in the tower.

I like the idea of hexagonal flagstones here. They're an organic shape, my enchanter likes to study the natural world, and they echo the shape of the tower.

I printed off a hex grid in the right size (from this site - they do a brickwork graph too).

Then I rolled out some air-dry clay (I love Paperclay but I found a less expensive one in an art supply shop - it has a different feel but works well) on a plastic sheet.
I put the paper grid lightly on the clay, and pricked holes with a pin at all the corners of the hexes.
With a piece of fine veneer (strong card would work but you'd have to replace it every so often to keep it dry and clean) cut to the length of the grid lines I pressed it into the clay halfway through, using the pinholes as a guide. Otherwise known as 'join the dots' :D

Then I tried a second test, pressing all the way through to the bottom, so that when it dries the tiles will be separate. I'm not keen on having to deal with the clay cracking in a large sheet.

Now to wait for it to dry . . .


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The tower proceeds

Finally! I got more paperclay to clad the exterior walls of the tower.

I couldn't decide whether to set the windows and door in first, or last, or somewhere in the middle of the process. I ended up by gluing them in while the applied paperclay was damp. After it dried I had to fill the gaps left around them with more clay. Untidy. There will have to be vines or ivy to cover some of the worst bits :)
An interesting learning process!
This was all difficult to decide, as the MDF bends and bows when the damp clay is put on, making it tricky to put in the windows and door at any stage, but I kept pressure on the frames as the glue dried, and it seemed to help force the walls to behave and be more straight.

If I did it again, I think I'd wait until all the paperclay was totally dry, then press the walls under weights until they lay flat, then glue in the windows and door. You'd have to be sure to cut away enough clay while damp so they'd fit properly.

This project is taking on a life of its own - it is drifting away from my first ideas. One of the things that has changed is the colour - of the roof support, the roof ridges and the windows and door surround. I wanted a rich golden semi-aged oak look, but with MDF you can't use washes or age it, so solid colour is necessary. I'm not a fan of black tudor, and paler oak colours looked milky. The final choice was a rich chocolate brown as you see (72% cocoa, not pale Cadbury's milk choc!!) made up of 1 part burnt umber to 3 parts yellow oxide.
A lot more contrast than I wanted, but I'm getting used to it :)

The sleepy Green Man ornament is from Mainly Minis - they have several others, fun and quirky (search for 'garden ornament').

Next I have to decide on the floor.
I'm making haste slowly, especially as other new projects keep trying to take over my thinking time :)


Monday, November 15, 2010

And the winners are Whittakers Miniatures, and Heleni!

Many thanks to all who took part in my giveaway!! :)
Congratulations to Kate at Whittaker's Miniatures who won Set #1 - the four hanging potion bottles and the beaded pentagram!
And congratulations to Heleni who won Set #2 - the rush mat, baskets, leather pouch and journal!

Will you both please contact me with your adresses and I'll send your parcels :)
LinkHappy mini-making!!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tree, star and candle

Just some little Christmas Tree decorations made of paper and beads :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Decent at last

I can say with relief that The Dread Machine is now back sulking in its lair. I have a love-hate relationship with my sewing machine, but I usually manage to win :)

My enchanter can now show his face without blushing for lack of clothing.

The tunic and pants that he has now is a style that I wanted - of no one particular culture or time period. They remind me of early medieval men's clothing (pict, viking, saxon, rus, etc), the salwar kameez of eastern lands, and native american clothing, to name a few.

The fabrics I had set my mind on were, of course (call me perverse), ones that fray very easily - linen and silk. The silk looks a bit odd in the photo, it's better in real life :).
I won't go into gory detail, but the vision I had in my mind before I started was just a bit ambitious!! Ain't that the way . . . In the end Simplicity became my goal, apart from just finishing the damned things! :D It took three attempts for the trousers, and two for the tunic.
I tried a few samples of embroidery but decided that I'd save that sort of silliness for his next outfit.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Giveaway time - almost 250 followers :)

I know that I have been remiss in welcoming new followers to my blog, and in thanking those friends who have been with me for a longer time - I do appreciate your interest, support and comments!! :)

As a thankyou I'd like to offer a giveaway in two parts.

The first part is Set #1, four large hanging potion bottles and a beaded pentagram. The pentagram measures 13mm (1/2") across. It was made as a witchy Yule decoration.
The second part is Set #2, a rush mat, a leather pouch, a journal with an oak leaf motif, and two baskets.
To enter, all you have to do is be a follower of my blog, and leave a comment saying which set you prefer.

The drawing will be on November 15th. Good luck!


Parcel from Lorraine - yippee!!

Recently I asked Lorraine over at Dollhouse Miniatures by Dfly Creations to make me some minis. Lorraine's polymer clay work is outstanding - quirky and fun, extremely finely detailed, and so beautifully crafted :)
I had sent Lorraine a parcel recently, and we also included some swaps, both minis and 1:1 items.

When I got this parcel, I was gobsmacked by the contents!!
My first request was for dribbly candles - perfect in all settings!!- and here they are in a lovely beeswax colour, lots of splendid shapes and sizes :)
Next I asked for some barn owl eggs, and these are just unbelievable - they're exquisite, with incredibly subtle colour variations, and are sooo tactile! Lovely!!
And some mistletoe - I realised after I requested this that it was a big ask, being very intricate to make, but again Lorraine worked her magic, and sent these sprigs - they're just so lifelike I can't believe it. I hope she didn't tear her hair out doing this!! :))))
Dragon scrolls - just especially for my future dragon-keeper's room - great detail and wonderfully well made!
I purchased two wands from Lorraine's Etsy shop to include in the order - a curly one and a rustic one - she is the Wand Queen!! I can guarantee that if you buy one you will want more!!! They are very fine!!
But the surprise - Lorraine included her new skull wand in its box!! When I picked myself up from the floor it was still there, I hadn't imagined it! It is just so amazing - my photo doesn't do it justice - the colour is blended from 'bone' to charcoal, and the tiny skull has a character all of its own. The box is a work of art, too - a black velvet lined box with a top to perfectly match the wand. I absolutely love it to bits, and it now has pride of place in my mini collection of very special pieces! :)))))
Not only but also!! As part of the swap, Lorraine (knowing that I like ceramics) generously included a large collection of pots - ceramic, wood and cloisonne - and a watering can and a sweet birdhouse! :))
You can find Lorraine's fabulous work for sale at Etsy here. her work is of the highest quality, and the prices are very friendly!

I am so very pleased with everything you sent me, Lorraine - I can't thank you enough!!! From an extremely happy Glenda :)))