Monday, July 19, 2010

Congratulations! And Moving Upward

First I want to say Congratulations to the winner of my 50 Followers Giveaway! The winner is The Old Maid! She was one of my first followers and I am very happy to be sending the tiny seashell mirror and the little catalog her way! They will be setting out on their journey overseas shortly and I hope they get there quickly.

Meanwhile, back at the Castle, time has not been standing still. Now, I want to warn you right at the beginning that I do not consider myself to be a fast worker when it comes to my creative projects. (I can hear my family members chuckleing as they think of all the projects I have been working on for twenty years or more!) In fact, I rather LIKE to take my time and savor the process. Or at least that is the excuse I give for being indecisive and needing to stop and think through each new step. And even more than that, I am one of those annoying types who will get a gift and NOT open it right away because I want to keep it and open it at just the right moment, when I'm ready, with my tea by my elbow and the time free to enjoy the opening. I like my dessert AFTER dinner. I like to save the best for LAST. So, in a strange way, this business of working from the bottom up on the building of my Castle Dollhouse fits right in with my natural tendencies to want to save the best for last. At least if you think that with each rise in floor level, you are moving further up in the level of richness that would have been present in the decor of a real castle. The basement level being the roughest and dingiest, the Lord's and Lady's chambers being the richest. And beyond that, I certainly will have had enough practice runs by the time I reach the top levels, to be able to make them the best! So it is easy to feel that as I am just moving up to the next level and starting to work on the Guard Room at the entrance to the Castle Dollhouse, that it will be just another of those rooms I need to get "done" in order to move on to the "fun" ones. I mean, it's A GUARD ROOM, for heavens sake!

But before I get going on that topic, I first want to quickly show you more of the kitchen level that was not included in the last post. At the entrance to the kitchen I have built a well with a fountain-head which channels water from the roof-top to the well. Now this is a feature that was normally found outside the castle in the courtyard area where the entire community would have access. But seing that this Castle has no courtyard, and that water was one of the MOST essential features of a successful stronghold, I have taken the liberty of including it under the roof of the main building, next to the kitchen where it would be most needed! I tell myself that the story goes like this..... Originally the oldest tower of the castle was the chapel of an Abbey which itself was built on an ancient sacred site. This well was the sacred spring and has long been thought to confer special powers on those who drink from it! When the Abbey fell into disuse and was taken over and added on to, becoming a fortified Castle, the sacred spring became the castle well, and continued to confer special powers......or so the legend says! You can believe it or not!

In the picture below you can see the lion's head fountain I built onto the wall, and the "stone" arch to hold the pulley for raising the bucket easily. The bucket will arrive later along with a few other details.

So getting back to the topic of the Guard Room, located at the entrance to the Castle, above the stables, it was going to be a quick matter of painting the walls in faux stone, vaulting the ceiling, and putting paving stones or tiles on the floor. Oh, and building the entrance doors, of course, and the stairs up to the Lord's chamber. Nothing very interesting or decorative in all that! Or so I thought. But then I started to think about the tiles that I needed to make for the floor, and I remembered that it was seeing the gorgeous medieval encaustic tiles that Nina had made for her Castle guard room that had gotten me started building my Castle Dollhouse in the first place! And I didn't want to just copy Nina's guard room. Actually, I wanted the encaustic tiles to go on the floor of my Great Hall, not the tower Guard Room. So I needed to make different tiles for the Guard Room. I decided to try plain old black and white faux marble tiles made from sculpey. And quickly decided to add gray marbled sculpey tiles to the mix. The photo below shows the beginnings of the floor and painted walls as well as some of the beginnings of the ornate doorway at the entrance to the Great Hall on the left. But once I'd gotten this far, I realized it was making the Guard Room into a more refined and elegant room than one would expect from an eleventh century castle guard room! So I had to add to the story a little bit......It turns out that the Guard Room is part of the Tower that was built by the ancestral Lord who went on a crusade (not sure which one!) and came back with all kinds of civilized ideas, and spent fortunes upgrading his old Castle! So he put in marble tiles in his entrance Guard Room.........

And had the vaulted ceiling painted with frescoes of the signs of the Zodiac, a wisdom he brought back from the East......

Here you can see the ceiling partly done and testing out the gilding around the edges......

And carved stone lions to guard the entrance to the hall........

Another view looking up at the partly completed ceiling.....

And some of the details of the trim around the door to the Great Hall.....

The lions look kind of friendly to me !

And here's the view of the completed ceiling.

So it turns out that there is a whole lot more decorating than I thought in a Castle Guard Room! I still have to figure out the or none? Shutters for sure! And the details of door hinges and torches for lights, and a cache of weapons in the storage area beside the door! And the floor tiles need to be finished. But the project Supervisor is on the job making sure it is all done in the proper order and to the Lord's specifications!

So while I spent a couple of weeks working on this room last winter and early spring, I was actually moving VERY quickly for me! And while it may seem as though I am waiting for the "best" details to happen as part of the last rooms I get to work on.......I think I am finding that there are "best" parts of every room I work on! In fact, it seems as though each room feels like the "best" while I am working on it! So, I'm moving up AND I'm looking up!

Congratulations! And Looking Up!


  1. I am so thrilled!!! Thank you, thank you thank you, once again!!!! Can't wait for them!!
    I love your castle. Great ides with the ceiling!Can't wait to see more!:D

  2. Very cool castle Betsy!!!!! WOW!
    Congratulations Ewa!! Such a nice prize!

  3. Betsy, did you paint the ceiling? Michaelangelo, you! :) If I may say so, very glamorous room :). But 1st, I LOVE THE NEW BLOG DESIGN!!!! :) Red becomes you :).

    Anyhoo, can you explain the window on the wall, I mean,is it showing the back of the stairs?

    I know you are blogging about something that you did what, 6 months ago? I am curious how far gone you are now :) but I am patient . I may not always save the best for last but I can wait for the good things in life :).

  4. Just brilliant -- I love seeing photos of your castle. The ceiling is a stroke of genius and I really like hearing the stories you've woven to explain certain features :)

  5. Thank you Ewa, I am really glad you like it! I hope the traveling will not take too long!

  6. Thank you too Paky! And Welcome to my blog!

  7. Yes, Sans! I did paint the ceiling and I used some of my illuminated miniatures for authentic inspiration! As I am sure you are realizing, I can't seem to leave the ceilings alone!
    As for the window, I have to smile as I admit that what you are seeing is the very boring blinds on my real windows behind the castle! :):):)The front windows of my house look out on a fairly public street so the blinds are mostly closed and in my shortage of space I have placed the castle directly in front of them! Next time I take the photos I will open the blinds and you will see the view instead! :)

    As for the complicated question about how much I have already finished on the castle....ever since I started the blog, I have been trying to get "caught up" to current work....but the work keeps happening too! It is really a WHOLE blog topic and might have to be the next one! I hate to keep you hanging....but there is no simple answer other than that with tiny things, a little bit takes a long time! I am NOWHERE near done! And there are the other dollhouses too!
    So you see, there is room for many more posts! But I will say I have recently been working on the Chapel! And just to tease you I will also admit that I added another layer BELOW the kitchen level!:):):)I can't wait to blog about that!

  8. Thank you Nina! I will give you at least PART of the credit for the stories! I am not at all sure I would have ever thought of making them up but after reading your comment about making blind apprentice tile makers a part of the "backstory" for your castle floor.....I just started thinking that way myself! So some of your theatricality has blossomed in MY Castle world! Now that I have started.....I can't seem to stop!

  9. Love your castle :-) and your blog page.

  10. I just discovered your blog and have enjoyed a quick tour from start to end. (I have commented on an earlier post as well) I love your castle project, the vaulted ceiling is really great, but this painted ceiling is spectacular! You have so many talents and I look forward to follow the progress on all your houses (and castle)!

  11. Thanks Kat! And welcome! I love your hats and shoes!

  12. Thanks Pubdoll! I will have to come see your blog! I read Sans! comment that you both love the color you can see from my ceilings I also have a love of color and blue is one of my all time favorites! Thank you for your words of praise for my painting.....I really can only take part credit for the ceiling in the guard room...I have copied the figures from a medieval illuminated manuscript book - but mine really don't look much like the originals....but I DO love to paint things and do seem to get carried away at times! I am glad you are enjoying my blog!

  13. Yes, I love colours as well, and blue in particular. My real life dining room has dark blue walls. In the doll's house I have used many colours, but Karl Edo Spook who owns a design shop (in my miniature world) has recently got a blue bedroom where I used the peacock fabric.
    Thanks by the way for your very nice comment on Sans! blog. It was because of it that I found you!

  14. Helene, I have just spent hours reading your blog from beginning to end! I am enchanted! I love your stories! And your dolls and the houses! And you build with LEGOS! My sons played with lEGOS and those were the ONLY toys they would not let me sell! I will have to put some comments on your blog! I am SO happy to have "met" you!