Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Tower Windows....


Details, Dithering Details...

It took me most of another day, Dear Readers, to finish painting the grout lines on the Tower wall and the crenelations. By the time I was done there was no daylight to see by, so I had to use flash to record the completed wall. It sure gives a hint of what the Castle will look like when it is done! I can't tell you how much I look forward to that eventual day! And I have to stand back so far to catch the whole Tower that you also can see the surrounding "neighborhood" and the mess of my workroom. But never mind.... that is what workrooms are for! And you might be forgiven for thinking this part of the Tower was now done, but alas, I still had to design and build all the trim for those Windows. The only one on this wall that had been completed was the trim around the Guard Room window beside the Main Door. And it was a very simple replication of the trim inside the room. But for the upper Chambers I wanted fancier details on the exterior of the Castle Windows. This Castle is meant to be in the early Norman style, and those Castles were very plain in their design. The only places where ornate stonework was used were on the window and door surrounds and on the main arches of the Great Hall and Hearths.

Here you can see I have begun the decorative frame
 for the window of the Lord's Council Chamber.
 I had already established the basic design for the framing
 on the rear wall window. 
It is simple "braided" columns and a "Sawtooth" arch  on the top.

But the rear wall window does not have an opening section,
while the side wall does.
It makes the resulting window frame
 need to be wider and a bit less graceful....

The window grout lines have not been painted yet.
It took me ages of Dithering to settle on this design.
Because in the old Castles the windows
 increased in ornateness the higher up they were.
The council Chamber is not the highest floor!
Would I be able to make a fancier window on the top floor
 and not exceed the simplicity of the styles at that time?
(I dithered a Lot!)
But one thing I was pretty certain about was
 the need for the Saw toothed arches over the windows.
If there can be said to be a defining "Norman Style", that was it!
But they are not that easy to make!

This is one of those annoying places where I have had to compromise
 my sense of "Realism" for this Dollhouse.... the Walls are not thick!
In the Norman Castles the window trim was recessed into the wall thickness.
Alas, on my Dollhouse Castle, it needs to protrude from the wall.
This is 1/4 inch thick plywood, thinner than the Walls,
 but thick enough to allow for the toothed design.
I sort of have to saw and cut and chip the distinctive diamond notches
 along the inside edge of the curved arch.
The saw doesn't always fit inside the tight curve... (at the right angle!)
 and there is no vise clamp to hold it at the right angle to saw.....
(Yes, it is the Middle Ages in my workroom too!)
But I managed to make a suitable approximation of the design.... 
one notch at a time.

Yes, the notches are not all exactly the same.... 
but that is also true of the originals.... 
(I looked closely at some old door frames.)
And I know some of this is boring,
 but there are no off the shelf windows 
for Dollhouse Castles to be bought anywhere!
 I have to make them myself.
And what of the Top floor Windows, Dear Readers?
Well, I dithered even More on those!

For starters, the back wall windows were highly irregular!
You might recall when I was building the Bedchamber,
 I wanted to add the spiral stairs in the inside corner
 and this required that I re-work the windows
 that had already been cut in the walls.
In order to fit under the stairs, 
the window needed to be much smaller.
 And then I wanted to add another that small size
 on the other back corner where no window had been planned.
I decided to make it look like the castle had been "retrofitted"
 and leave the original arched window frame
 where the first hole had been cut and
 "fill it in" to create the smaller window.
It has the notched Arch, but no decorative columns.

And where the window was cut that now had the spiral stairs climb past it, 
I decided there needed to be an arrow slit rather than a window with glass.
But should it have the same fancier treatment
 as the rest of the windows on this floor would have?
I dithered for ages on this!
But I reasoned that the arrow slit was probably also a "retrofit"
 and the original frame would have been fancier like it's neighbor.
And here I needed to make columns,
 similar but a tiny bit fancier 
than the ones on the lower level.
Since I had used the spiral carving on this room's Hearth details,
 I figured it would be appropriate on the window frames too.
But these more delicate "columns" needed
 a stronger base and "capital" piece.... 
it just looked wrong with out them.
And then I was sure it was too much... too ornate.... too unlikely....
But I had already used a similar Column
 on the windows of the Chapel and the Great Hall....
So I decided to just build them and if I hated them later....
 I could always "retrofit" a new design.

Here is the other Bedchamber window with the fancier trim... 
sorry for the dark picture..... it has been really gloomy!
But you can see the fancier capital here.

And with flash.... and the grout lines painted...

And the Tower Stairs window...
(flash is so brutal!)

The Council Chamber and the Bedchamber...

And the full Tower with flash.
I am sure, Dear Readers,
 I will have to "live" with the window frames
 for a while in order to know for sure
 whether I think they are the right frames.
But for now, I've Dithered enough on these Details!

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Painting The Rocks...


Becoming A Castle....

Some of you may Recall, Dear Readers, that Two years ago I had decided it was necessary to just get the back walls of the Castle painted because the wood was becoming brittle and warped in its unprotected condition. It was a major effort, but Oh My, it gave me a true taste of the future view of the Castle when it would be complete! Those Rocks! That forbidding fortress feeling! It was so exciting to finally see my imaginings coming to reality.... but it was only the Back walls of the Castle that were completed. And they were turned back to wall where they are never seen. And life moved on and it surely took me longer than I expected to complete the Side wall of the Tower so it could finally be painted too! The buttress has been glued and screwed to the side of the Tower and the wires are all buried inside and the electrical box is built and the Stairs are attached... all that remained was gluing the stairs wall in place and painting the rocks! So you can see above, I began by carefully aligning the "rocks" for the buttress addition with the already painted rocks of the back wall of the Tower. It is essential that I continue the "courses" all the way around the Castle at the same spacing so they will eventually all meet at the front wall of the castle in the proper alignment! So I measure and carefully space the same way I had begun, keeping a sense of how the rocks "really" would be aligned and spaced. It is a little complicated, but I had already established a really good pattern on the back side and just need to keep it consistent. 

 It needed to go around the buttress and continue along

the Tower Side wall, with the rocks all aligning

 as they would in a real wall.


Because the door was right beside the buttress, 

I needed to start the pattern for the rocks

 by starting at the top of the buttress

 (where there was just the Tower corner)

 and set the pattern from there.

 Once I had the courses established at the corner, 

I could work down and up from there.

(I can't seem to make blogger give me single spacing here.... grrrr)


I couldn't go much further without gluing the front of the stairs wall in place .


Covering all those screws with spackle!


In the light of morning you can see the spackle has been
 painted over with the light gray base paint.

I needed to continue the "rocks" around the Stable entry...

The setting sun lights up this corner for a minute or two!

And the following day I began to fill in the "rocks" texture.
This does not take very long once the rock shapes are all laid out.

I know, the flash is a bit strong... 
but this room is dark on a too hot day
 with the blinds closed...

Finally, starting to paint the grout lines!
Slow going.... rock by rock....
Step by step....

And once again.... 
the Evening sunlight comes to play...

I still have a long way to go with the grout...

And this is just the Side wall of the Castle, Dear Readers,
But I do believe it is Finally 
Becoming a Castle!

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Plan B....


Build It Better....

I am Happy to Report, Dear Readers, that I was wrong on at least two occasions in my recent posts! I had mentioned that the only light in The Tower no longer working was the Stable's lantern which would need to be entirely re-built. So I was very pleasantly surprised, as I was fidgeting with the lantern trying to decide how best to re-build it, to discover that the only thing wrong with it was a very loose light bulb! Once it was properly screwed in, I plugged in the cord and It worked! No need for a major re-design. My initial wiring did leave me room to access the socket and tighten the bulb. And you can see in the above picture, However dimly lit, that I had also patched over all those screws that were used to attach the exterior stairs. It was a simple matter to re-paint the rocks....

Can you see any screw heads in this picture?
All that remained to fix were the grout lines....

As you can see in this shot....
 pretty difficult to tell the screws are there!
But the second place where I was mistaken, 
Dear Readers, required a little more work to fix.
My lovely Stables "door bar" which seemed to work so easily
 with just the screw to turn the bar.... stopped working.
I was going to have to re-design the method 
for raising and lowering the bar from outside the Castle.
This took some serious thought!
But I came up with a solution!

I reasoned that the bar would need to be attached firmly to the pivot,
 and that would need to be attached to a lever from the outside.
Since the metal screw became loose in the wood after only a little use,
 I decided the whole structure needed to be made of wood.
I needed to use a wooden dowel, of sufficient diameter to be sturdy, 
(in this case 1/4 inch) and I would need to "square it up
 where it attached to the bar so it could not easily slip when turned.

The hole in the bar needed to be squared too,
 so it fit snugly like a tenon in old fashioned post and beam construction.

Like so.

The hole through the wall needed to be enlarged to take the dowel width...
I needed to be very careful that I left enough "wall" beside the hole..... 
(this might be a weak spot, but it doesn't get stressed by the turning)

This is the bar in place.....

And in the "up" position. It works, it fits.... 
but I need to build the "lever" for the outside.

The other end of the dowel would need to 
be "squared" to fit into the lever bar....

And I needed to start the "rocks" which surround the door on the outside
 so that the lever could be positioned at the right depth
 to be able to turn and not catch on the rocks.

The new "lever" basically sits on top of the rock surrounding the door.

When the "lever" is down, it means the bar is in
 the "up" position and the doors can open.

When the "lever" is pointed up, the bar is down.... 
here you can see it because the doors are still open.
If they were closed, the bar would grab into the holds!

The lever and the bar are both securely tenoned on the dowel!
It works!
And you might have noticed, Dear Readers, 
that while I have been wrestling with this complicated little lever,
 I have also begun painting the rocks on the Tower walls!

Well, first the primer coat....

Then the base coat of light gray....

Then the darker detailing of the "stonework" surrounding the door...

 Still in the just "roughing" it in stage....

Gradually trying to define the "rocks"......

And with the magic "grout lines" added....

Wow.... what a difference they make!

So you can see what a difference
 Plan B makes, Dear Readers,
Building it Better is always worth the effort!