Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's amazing what a little paint can do

I found a "honey brown" paint today and my deer is much improved. I really like the way he turned out.

I visited the library today to confirm that I will be doing a large display of dollhouses and room boxes for October - National Dollhouse and Miniatures Month in the US. It's going to be a lot of work to get everything moved but I'm very excited. There will even be a write up in our local newspaper. I'm mostly taking room boxes but I am going to take the castle and the pioneer log cabin. Later in October I will take Santa's house, Wanda the witch's kitchen and the Thanksgiving cornucopia to set up in the children's wing of the library. Santa will probably stay through December.

Minor changes at the castle

The deer head was sculpted from polymer clay and I'm mostly happy with it. I need to make the fur color a bit more golden and then he'll look pretty good, I think. Not bad for a first attempt anyway. ;-)
I also decided the armory walls would look better with a plaster finish. The weapons show up better and the lighter color brightens the room a bit. I also put beams on the ceiling in Ariana's bed chamber and added a large bowl of grapes to the feast on the banquet table. I am just fine tuning things at this point but that's generally my favorite part other than the original decorating. I usually leave a "finished" project sitting out where I see it often and add and subtract from it until it really is finished. We (hubby and I) do still need to do the lighting but I'm waiting for him to have some time...could be a long wait but there's no real hurry.

Well, I'm off to run errands. Have a great day!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Carved" Panels

One of my miniature books suggested using corrugated cardboard to simulate the ornate carved panels found in Tudor manors. I used skinny sticks to frame the panels and it looks really nice. Poke the picture to see the details. Someday I'm going to get inspired before rather than after getting a room almost finished. It was a bit more challenging to add the skinny sticks and stain everything. ;-)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Meet Prince Randolph

Prince Randolph has come to ask the king's permission to court Ariana. They've known each other since they were children and Ariana really wants the king to say yes. She's been banished to the chapel while the men talk. Randolph looks a bit nervous, don't you think?

Too much hair!

That's what Ariana told me first thing this morning. And she was right. Her hair was too thick and overpowered her face. So I removed about half of it and added waves to the new thinner hair. We also decided to change her headpiece into a small crown. Here she is playing her mandolin in the chapel. The chapel is the place she feels closest to her mother so she spends a lot of time there.

Poke the picture to make it bigger.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I can't believe I did it!

I really wanted to have a mandolin for the castle but I didn't want to spend a lot of money and I wasn't sure I could make one. Today I decided to sort through my miscellaneous wood pieces to see if I had something I could use as a starting point. I was very excited to find a piece that looked like half of a wooden ball with a hole in the center of the large side. That had real possibilities. I got out the Dremel and sanded the ball into more of a teardrop shape like a mandolin. I added a skinny stick, some beads, pins, thread, paint and bits of cardstock and ended up with something that looks a lot like a mandolin. :)
Ariana likes it and she plays quite well.

Poke the pictures to see more detail.

Still adding the details

A coat of arms banner for the great hall in blue and gold to match the feathers on the armor helmets. I just cut a section of patterned cardstock that I liked and added the design with gold paint and a toothpick.
Ariana's bedchamber now has a door. Gotta keep all those knights running up to the armory from peeking in her room. ;) The door is actually stationary and is made from a kit leftover piece that is exactly the right height.
Aran now has a gold and ruby cross pendant on a very heavy gold chain. The price some people pay to show off their wealth..:-D
And, finally, I used some embossed stickers to add hinges to the front door. I used the same type on Ariana's door. I don't think there is much more to do to call the castle finished. I want to make a visiting prince who's come to ask permission to court Ariana and I will continue to add some details as inspiration strikes but it looks good as it is now.

Oh, except for lighting. Hubby is going to help me make some battery powered LED lights. He can do the electronics and I can make the candles/stands so hopefully our collaboration will be successful.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chapel Bench

What do you get when you mix air dry clay, scrap wood, rubber stamps, lace, cocktail sticks, and paint? Well, this time you get this monk's bench for the chapel. A monk's bench is the storage area the monk used to store his vestments before there were closets. My bench doesn't actually open but it looks as though it could. It has also been aged with paint to make it look as though it's been in that chapel for a long, long time.

Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest places

I was drinking a bottle of water and all of a sudden I noticed the inside of the bottle, under the label. It was a perfect diamond pattern for making a leaded window. My daughter thought I was crazy because I'd take a drink, look inside the bottle and then do the whole thing again. You'd think she'd be used to such behavior by now, lol. Anyway, the stained glass window in the chapel is the result of that discovery. The lead lines are just Sharpie marker traced over the embossed pattern. The diamonds were filled in with glass paint.

The Dasani bottle I used also had a lovely embossed border pattern. I didn't notice it until it was too late to save it - but the next time I will figure out a way to use that part, too. Isn't turning trash into treasure fun?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ariana's Daddy

is King Aran. Ariana was named for her father and her mother, Rianna. Aran is wearing a royal blue satin tunic over black trousers. He's wearing black "leather" boots and a fur trimmed metallic striped overcoat. His crown is one of the crowns I made earlier. Poke the picture to see more details.

Updates and edits

The bed mattress sits much lower now (Ariana won't need a step ladder to get into bed now, lol) and she has a fur throw that she can use for extra warmth on the bed or on the cold stone floor. The vanity has had a makeover and now looks more "royal" and has more presence with the draping over the mirror. I also added some necklaces to the vanity top. And you can't see it, but there's a fire in the fireplace.
The banquet is complete now. I added a pastry and jugs for ale and wine. The tankards are filled with "ale" or they will look like it once the glass paint is dry. This photo doesn't show it but there's also a fire in this fireplace. All of the food was made with Crayola air dry clay. Normally I would use polymer clay but I want to use the air dry stuff before it dries out.
This isn't the best photo but I wanted to show you that there are little birds and a cannon on top of the castle tower. The cannon is an aquarium decoration that was perfectly scaled.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I love it when I surprise myself!

I made a trestle table and two benches for the great hall. The table turned out great - but it's hidden under the tablecloth. I also made the roasted turkey, boar's head, bread and "pewter" goblets. The plates are buttons and the tankards were made by Sandy Copeland. The portrait over the fireplace was done by my friend, Gary in New Hampshire. I'm pretending the lady is Ariana's mother who died when Ariana was very young.
The bed gave me some trouble - mostly because I don't have the right tools to cut wood so none of my ends were straight. Eventually I got it all to stay together and the finished bed looks really good. This would be the surprising myself bit, ;). The vanity is also a new addition. Harriet in the boarding house got a new vanity (pics coming soon) so her old one became Ariana's. I made the mirror and brush from air dry clay. The flower arrangement near the armoire was done with real tiny dried flowers and greenery.

This is a very satisfying project - I think because the entire design is mine and I've been challenging myself with some of the furniture and accessories. Still to come - a monk's bench for the chapel, the king, a visiting prince, and more details. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Here's the baby dragon on the roof. He's sitting on another egg in the process of hatching. Hmm, I wonder if the king and Ariana know what's going on up there?
The great hall - I need to make a trestle table and benches and some food to put on the table. I found some great jewelry findings to make "pewter" goblets. I've also added a red satin cushion to the throne.
This is Ariana's bed chamber. She's obviously lacking a key item since she doesn't yet have a bed.
I think I want to try to make a monk's bench for the chapel and maybe a kneeler.
The armory is much more rustic than the rest of the castle but then it doesn't need to be pretty. :)

All of the stone floors were cut from peel and stick tile and grouted with regular spackle mixed with acrylic paint. The stone areas at the back right are the stair wells. Those walls were made with Crayola air dry clay as was the inside of the great hall door. I originally was not planning to have open windows but just fake ones on what would have been the back of the castle. That's why the door is not an opening one. However, I needed more light and since the bookcase back is basically cardboard I just cut the windows out. The wallpaper all came from a really cool scrapbook pack. I also used that to make really awesome ceilings. You can see the chapel ceiling in that photo.

I think I'm going to eventually end up with another bookcase tower so I can get the rest of the rooms I want. I didn't have room for the wizard and his office, the king's bed chamber or the kitchen. The bookcase units are so inexpensive that I can expand gradually until I have all the rooms I "need." LOL

Hey, it's not a bookcase anymore!

Here's the castle front. I painted the exterior with stone textured paint. The turrets on the top are from cut down Pringles cans rather than oatmeal boxes. There wasn't as much room up there as I originally thought.

I will post more photos later of the interior. It's mostly finished - I just have some furniture pieces and dolls to make and then whatever accessories I decide I need. :) It's been a very productive few days.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

More fun stuff

I don't have photos yet but today I got stone paint and trim for the castle and a dog for the king and the coolest baby dragon hatching. Eventually, I'm going to have to landscape this project so the unicorn and dragon have someplace to be. :0)

I've been scouring every thrift store in the area looking for a chair or loveseat for my daughter. I found lots of castle goodies but not the right chair. However, I found a sale on dorm sized recliners at Menard's today. Yay! She's in an apartment but the living room is tiny so the chair will be perfect.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Castle Plans

I spent some time yesterday planning the layout of my castle. If you poke the photo you'll get a larger one and should be able to read my notes. The lower level will be the Great Hall. There will be a large banquet table and benches and thrones for the King and his daughter, Ariana. The second floor will be Ariana's bed chamber. The third floor will house the chapel and the armory. There will be 4 corner towers at the top. This is just a section of the whole castle. The King's bed chamber, the kitchen, staff housing, etc. are in another area. ;)

I made weapons for the armory this evening. It was fun to figure out how to make things.

Tomorrow I need to get stone finish spray paint, foam core, and wood trim. With everything coming together in my head now I can actually start building. Hopefully, progress photos will be coming soon!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ariana's New Dress

I left the top of her dress - just added undersleeves - but the bottom was completely redone. The underdress and undersleeves were made from a thrift store vest. The fabric has gold threads forming chain link style stripes and the edges of the vest were trimmed with tiny ruffles. They are the perfect size for the edge of the sleeves and skirt. The overskirt ends in a long train. Now she really looks like a story book princess!

Monday, September 12, 2011

It doesn't look like much now...

...but give me some time and I promise this will look like a castle. :) I know how I want to do the transformation but I don't have everything I need yet.
I was hoping to find a used shelf at one of the many thrift shops I visited today but there weren't any. I did, however, find some other good things. The dried greenery will be "growing" up the side of the castle. The embossed earrings and pendant will be shields. The pink and gold footed dish will be used somehow. I just like it. And, the two suits of armor are extremely under scale but on clearance and cool so I'll use them anyway. :) I was gone all day and still didn't find what I need for my daughter so will have to go out again this week. But I had fun searching out the little things I can repurpose for my castle.

Hope you all had a great day, too!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Crown Jewels

Well, jeweled crowns, anyway, :). The crown on the left and the tiara on the right were made with gold braid. The two in the middle were cut from thin sheet metal. I used tiny nail jewels and larger flat backed crystals to decorate them. I made crowns while watching our football team lose miserably. Kept my blood pressure down, lol.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you all that I lined the sleeves and hem of Ariana's gown in a matching satin ribbon. That made a huge difference in making the gown look rich. I can never seem to get just what I want in one try - I'm always thinking about the project and how to make it better. It usually only takes 2 or 3 tries. :P

Have a wonderful week!

Still thinking about that castle

I made these tapestries yesterday. They are cut from a catalog and then I used matte decoupage glue to put a layer of white tissue paper over the top. I stippled on another layer of the glue to give a fabric like appearance to the paper. I added fringe made from gold ribbon and ribbon hangers to hold the tapestries on the "bronze" rods. A fairly quick and easy project that results in a nice finished product.

As for that castle, I'm currently looking for a small used bookcase to convert into a castle. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow so I will check a couple of thrift stores while I'm in town. I'm also looking for a piece of furniture for one of my daughters so I have a legitimate reason for shopping, lol.

Friday, September 9, 2011

For the future castle

I used photos of some better quality mini furniture for inspiration. They had a lot of carving and I don't carve. So I embossed some metal sheeting instead to give the effect of carved wood.
I added pieces to trim the arms of the throne and then painted everything dark brown. I added some antiquing gel to give a woodgrained effect.
The armoire got Tudor style feet and new skirting. I think both pieces turned out pretty well - especially since I was only using materials I had on hand.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The lace had to go....

The bottom of her gown looks much better now. I removed the lace and added more of the velvet fabric with trim. She has a small train that comes to a point in the back.

Princess Ariana and her unicorn

The unicorn got a tapestry blanket and a turquoise leather harness. Then I made the princess. She has long auburn hair and green eyes. She's dressed in velvet and lace and at the moment is not permanently attached to the unicorn. I'm pleased with the pair of them and now need to think about how to make a tower and/or castle. I think I'm going to have to make a wizard to keep, too. Darius looks pretty good standing there. :)

Time for a castle?

A couple of times ago when the Round Robin swap box came my way, I found a solid brass unicorn in it. I wasn't sure what I would do with it but it said "keep me" so I did. ;) Yesterday I painted it (3 coats of Gesso, 1 coat of oyster paint over all, accent colors added, sealed with matte sealer.) I love how it turned out. I think I want to make a princess to ride on him or maybe make a castle tower and have the unicorn at the base. Ideas are still forming but, oh, the possibilities. :D

Monday, September 5, 2011

Inspiration comes when you least expect it

I was eating sunflower seeds this evening and as I looked at some of the seed halves I saw tiny little canoes. The natural shading on the shells looked like aged paint. I used Sharpie markers to color two of the shells to make decorative canoes for the beach house.
They are displayed on the window sill. I think you could add a paper or cloth sail to make a tiny sailboat. They are really cute, don't you think?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Odds and Ends Challenge Revealed

Here are the items we had to use. At least part of each thing had to be used in some way in the final project.
I made a scene in a cigar box. I have it hanging in my kitchen.
Here's a closer look at the counter. Can you guess how I used each item? (Hint: some things were dismantled and some were used in more than one way.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

And his name is...

...Darius Zook! I used a variation of one name with one of the other suggestions to come up with his name. Thank you to all who offered suggestions!

Minor Updates

Keisha is now ready for me to list in my zibbet shop. I gave her earrings and fine tuned her shoes and the stethoscope. Look for her to show up soon!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I had two dolls stuck in my head begging to get out. The second was this nurse, Keisha. She's dressed a lot like the nurses at my doctors' offices dress. Scrubs with a long sleeved Tshirt underneath and rubber clogs. She also carries a stethoscope.

Mr. No Name gets a wardrobe update

Well, he may not have a name but he looks good!