Tuesday, August 9, 2022




In Spite of a serious Heat Wave (days and days of above 90 degrees temperatures) Dear Readers, I decided that I might as well apply the grout to the Lord's Bed Chamber floor tiles. It would not take too long to do, and I could begin in the early part of the day before it became just too hot to think clearly. Above you can see I got right at it! I am using the pre-mixed grout I have used many times, bought from Hobby Builder's Supply. This time I did not have to wait for months for it to arrive. The basic plan is you smear it on making sure it gets into all the cracks and then before it begins to harden you wipe the extra grout off with a sponge. You have to wipe repeatedly because it doesn't all clear of in one swipe. So you apply it for a while then wipe for a while...

It leaves a film of grout that becomes chalky as it dries,
 so you go over it again with a damp sponge more than once.

I remembered to take some pictures as I went...

You have to not wipe too hard or too soon
 or it just pulls the grout out of the cracks.

You need to keep coming back for a while
 to make sure you have wiped the surface clean.
But as I was making one of these inspections, Dear Readers,
 I noticed an alarming problem!

I noticed that the "varnish" on the tiles had peeled in places!

And on closer inspection I could see it was partly gone from many of the tiles...
 including some of the ones with the painted roses!

Ay-yi-yi! What to do?
I had to just walk away.
It was too hot.
I couldn't think.
I have never had this problem before!

And the following morning... 
(still even hotter than the day before...)
Could I even bear to look....?

I know... you can't see a thing without the spotlight...
but I could tell it had not fixed itself overnight.
I reasoned that I needed to "muddy up" the grout anyway,
 in order to seal it and age it.... this is an old Castle after all...!
If I was going to have to apply more varnish to the entire floor,
 the grout would need to be aged first anyway.

This is another messy task. 
I mix a very watery blend of black and burnt umber acrylic paint,
 and slather it onto the floor with a large-ish paintbrush, 
and quickly wipe the mixture off the tiles
 before it has a chance to dry.
The grout soaks up the paint mixture,
 which is largely water, 
so you can't really tell how dark it will be when it is dry.
You just have to carry on... mix, slather, wipe and repeat.

And I was hoping it would not further alter the partly bare tiles...!
But it had to be done.

Then you have to leave it to dry thoroughly.
And when it is... the next day... or two even...
 because it is too hot and I don't dare look....

Can we see where we stand?
The grout looks fine.....if a little blotchy....
The tiles need a lot of repair.


It really does need a lot of repair.

Just when I thought I had tiles and grout all figured out, Dear Readers,
 it appears I have a whole lot more to learn!
Unexpected Challenges.......!

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Lord's Bed Chamber Floor...



Way back in the Springtime, Dear Readers, as I was contemplating the future flooring for the Lord's Bedchamber, I could only imagine a deep rich agate-esque green tile floor. I was envisioning a forest glade in springtime with dappled sun on green! So I bought sculpey in various green and blue versions, not being sure how they would combine or look when baked. In the above picture you can see the first run of green, teal and silver tiles. The silver are so beautiful and glittery, I couldn't resist. And once the teal ones were baked, they revealed a lovely iridescence too! But how would they look in the dark gray rocky walled chamber? Well, I had to do a sample test run.

Here you can see a batch of the tiles, on a sheet of cardboard....
Slid in on top of all the construction debris....
 just to see if it looks about right...
And I think it is heading in the right direction!
But I needed to design a "pattern" for the colors...
Not just an ordinary checker-board bicolor scheme.

And after some experimentation, 
I arrived at a basic green,
 crossed with diagonals of teal,
and bordered in silver.
But it still lacked something of sparkle....
 until I decided to paint a gold rose
 in the center of some of the green tiles.
As if the blossoms were strewn on the forest floor!

Here you can see them from above...
 all laid out for testing the spacing.
The gold roses are in the centers
 of the diamonds formed by the teal tiles.
Sorry, I don't have any pictures of the "before"
 with no painted roses.
As far as I was concerned, 
it looked good enough for a bed chamber!
So all I had to do was glue them all in place!
This is harder, and slower than it sounds!

First, you have to have enough light, and room to manouver,
So I removed the ceiling and propped a lamp in place.
And spent the hot days of the weekend slowly gluing tiles.
In order to keep the pattern correctly laid out,
 I remove several rows of tiles, in order,
 onto a strip of cardboard...

Here I have already glued all the rows
 from the hearth forward to the open section.
Two rows of tiles are on the cardboard.
 I glue the next row in place, 
then slide the remaining row up
 and remove two more rows onto the cardboard,
 keeping them in order as I go.
Then I glue two rows in place...
 slide the third row up and repeat....! 
It took two days...
But it was hot... and I took breaks....!

Another view from above.
I left the tiles in the side alcove unglued until the end.
It was harder to reach into that space 
and the tiles needed careful fitting.

And eventually I got right up to the front...

And realized there was a gap where the floor
 should meet the "proscenium" of the room below... but didn't quite!
I needed to add a sliver of floor to keep the grout in place!
Which meant removing the proscenium of the room below....
(good thing it is still just screwed and not yet glued!)

Here it has been removed...
And because I have saved all sorts of those slivers of trimmed plywood.....

I had a decent selection to choose from!

I think this one looks usable...!

There! Now That is satisfaction!!
(Compulsive savers are vindicated again!)

And with the front row of tiles glued in place!

The bed alcove carefully fitted and glued!

And the chapel niche too!
All we need now is the Grout!

I don't know about you, Dear Readers,
 but I love how it is looking!
And I can't wait to see how it looks with the grout!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

More Stitching....


Great Progress...!

It was Dreadfully Hot all last week, Dear Readers, making it impossible to even Think about working on anything at all, no matter how little! The temperature was in the nineties farenheit nearly every day. A few thundershowers passed by every other day, but most of them missed us and we remain much too dry in this part of the Valley. Where I work, only 35 miles to the North of here, they have had twice as much rain as we have had all month! It cooled off on Monday night and has been quite comfortable, even chilly in the 50's in the morning! Needless to say, I got very little done last week. But I actually surprised myself by finishing the stitching on the brocade gown.... just a few stitches at a time! In the above picture you can see where I had gotten by Saturday morning. My chief problem at this point was figuring out the folds for the cloth as it "pools" on the ground. My first sketch was very inadequate!

Here you can see the chart before I had
 refined any of the details at the bottom.

And while I didn't get the design all figured out before stitching more... 
This picture shows the final chart. 
I had to really try to see where the folds would fall
 and where the highlights would be the most pale
 and where they would fall in the Lady's own shadow.

I started by completing the highlighted side of the gown
 because the folds there were the simplest.
I worked the blue trim at the hem first,
 and then brought the folds down to meet the hem.
It stayed pretty much the same as the original chart.
The tricky part was the front center folds...
 the cloth needed to angle differently than the tapestry Lady's gown,
 so I needed to really think about placement of the folds.
And as always, at a certain point,
 I needed to just start stitching to see if it would look okay...
 and after a while it is too late to make changes!

And it was so hot... I was taking a lot of breaks
 and forgetting to take any pictures!
So here the front fold is completed.
And I think it works pretty well!
This cloth has to feel heavy... not light and flighty!

And then starting to work the "shadowed" side of the gown.
Notice I stuck one of the spring meadow blossoms in
 to overlap the hem a little bit...
(it is hard to spot!)

And then I needed to make the hindmost folds
 look natural and fit in the space...
The Lady in Waiting is Not treading on her Mistress's Gown!

And I did the last shadowed fold after I had done the farthest back one,
 the better to judge how they related to each other.
It needed to be shadowed, but highlighted enough to look like a fold.....
Yes, I was overthinking all these parts!
And now the gowns are finished!
But the "Tapestry" is far from done, Dear Readers!
I have plans for the remaining space...
 as well as all the lovely "meadow flowers" to add.

But here you can see the "tapestry" sections together....
And I am aware that there is all sorts of extra canvas above the Ladies....
The only limitation is the space it needs to hang in!
So all in all, Dear Readers,
 while it seemed like only a little more stitching...
 I actually made Great Progress!

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

A Tiny Visit With My Sister....


 We Had Sew Much Fun....!

I had a week of Vacation, Dear Readers, and by Far the best part was the overnight visit I had with my sister who was visiting her grandchildren not too far away. I brought her to my house so we could have an overnight and get caught up on the Minis. Of course, she also visited my overgrown garden, and I snagged a good picture! We spent the evening of the first day looking at all the Big Mini projects I have underway.... not a small undertaking! Fortunately she is a Happy participant in the process. And the next morning, after the garden tour, she was poking around in some of my boxes of parts and pieces of in-progress builds... in this case, The Sugarplum Studio, aka The Dollmaker's Studio parts and pieces, and discovered a couple of little doll kits I had forgotten I had! They are also by Sandra Morris of Tower House Dolls, purchased at the same time I purchased the petite "Atelier de la Poupee" Vignette Kit which has become the "Dollmaker's Studio" project. We took one look at each other and agreed instantly that we were going to make them right away! The kits were to assemble a little Victorian Porcelain doll with all the bits: shoes, stockings hat wig and gown! They were alike but not identical. It took us less that five minutes to get started!

The kits are wonderfully well made!
The instructions are detailed and full of closeup pictures.
All the parts and pieces are ready to use...

Here we go! Undies under way!

And with the bunka trims added...
But look... who do we see over there...?

Is she cute or what?

And stockings too.... 
but I think I didn't make them cover enough of the foot...

And the fashion show begins.....

Starting the shoes...

This made us laugh hysterically....

But all in a good cause....
Next they got some "soles"....

At about this point, Dear Readers, 
we realized that the project would take
 a little longer than we had assumed...
 but we were enjoying ourselves so So much, 
we abandoned all our previous schedules...
The day was ours! 
Nothing was going to stop us!

And the kits were not identical, 
so here the instructions diverged...
My petticoat was simple and traditional...
And by now she has acquired the name "Petunia"...

And her pleated skirt over the petticoat.
And the beginnings of stitching the seams for the jacket...

 My sister's doll, Valerie, has the petticoat lace
 as an over-layer on the skirt...
And her Jacket is edged with a picot braid!

 Here is Valerie in her jacket.... 
before the sleeves are added!
Isn't she something???

Meanwhile Petunia's Jacket is getting sleeves....
You have no idea how difficult it is
 to gauge the proper length for the hems,
 and to turn them inside out!!!

Then the lace collar....

And Valerie is as done as we have time for....
It is time for me to return my Sister to her grandchildren...
My sister, who is a cancer survivor,
 loves Valerie's bald look and might even keep her that way.
I had enough time to add Petunia's
 buttons and picot trim before we drove off.

But didn't get a picture until much later 
when I was home again and it was dark.

And the following day, 
I completed her hair and hat...

A Much quieter, contemplative, process!

All those curls!

You almost hate to add the hat!

Until you see her with the hat, of course!

Ah, Dear Readers, the time went by Much to fast... 
and was years overdue....
But look what I have to remember it by....
Welcome Petunia!
I had a Tiny visit with my sister
 and We had So Much Fun!