Monday, February 23, 2015

A Cloud Palace Vacation

Filling The Gaps.....

Do you even Remember the Cloud Palace, Dear Readers? Well, last week I mentioned that I had worked on so many projects over my Vacation, that one Post was too short to show all of them to you. Well, one of those projects was the Cloud Palace upstairs doorway. You may recall that in order to add the Tower which houses the Kitchen, Library and Bedroom, to the main building of the Palace, I needed to cut a hole in the roof of the original "Buttercup" kit. It was easy enough to cut the hole where I wanted to have a connecting door to the Library in the Tower and the outer stairs which spiral up the outside of the Tower. It was another thing altogether to construct the doorway in that corner hole in the roof! Of course I couldn't quickly find any pictures with just the hole in the ceiling... so we have to make do with shots that show the beginnings of the door frame construction already under way.

I apologize for the dark picture... 
it was night and I was trying to figure out where to start 
the construction of this complicated corner addition!
I have made a wall that rises above the roof on the outside, 
and descends below the roof on the inside.
And started to make a frame for the inner doorway, 
all of which you can sort of see above.

And then I constructed the outer door-frame, 
which was going to need to have the actual door attached to it, 
so it needed to be sturdily connected, 
because I like my doors to actually open and close with hinges!
And every step required cutting and fitting 
and taping together and then testing for fit
and all the pieces falling down over and over again, 
because you don't want to glue any of it until you are sure it fits!
So it was slow progress.
In case you have forgotten, 
here below is a shot of how the Tower is situated 
in relation to the main part of the Palace.

The Tower is "notched" against the corner of the Palace,
and the stairs circle around to an entrance onto the upstairs at the corner.

Which you can see here with the beginnings 
of the wall and door frame under construction.
I had to make sure the door frame matched the edge of the Tower wall...

Here is a closer view of the "notched" placement of 
the Tower against the corner of the Main Palace.
And you can see the tight spacing of the roof-line 
under the Tower Bedroom floor.

And of course, Blue the Blue Fairy Beary 
had to come inspect the progress!
Each piece that was fitted needed to be painted too... 
because the interior was already painted.... 
and we needed to be sure the parts would all match...
And it would have been much harder to paint them 
once all the pieces were glued in place.
So I had to be very slow and patient, 
and while the paint was drying I worked on other projects!
(Which I will have to post about another time!)

Here you can see I am constructing the door....
attached to the front frame before it was glued in place.

And here you can see a view of the front of the Palace 
with the new door attached 
and me testing the roof-line fit against the Tower.

And here you can see I am fitting the pieces 
for the gabled side of the dormer addition....
It was necessary to make the roof peaked over the door 
or the entrance to the Library would be too low!
You have no idea, Dear Readers, 
how often the roof pieces slid off onto the floor!
There was no standard pattern to guide me here....
I was just making it up as I went!
And I spent days and Days working at it!!

Here you can see I added a ridgepole to support the dormer roof peak.

Here is a closer view of the side door to the Library,
This one is just open with no door.

Here you can see how it abuts the Library section of the Tower.

Here is the view from the inside looking into the Library.
The door to the outside stairs is closed.

And here you see the door from the outside 
as you approach at the top of the stairs...

And with the door open!
Come on in!
(These are the only stairs to the upper floor in the Palace main rooms.)

Another view of this completed little entryway at the Corner
without the Tower in place...
You can see I have also added the decorative trim to the roof ridges.

And I even added the Top Floor to the Tower....
The Lookout or the Star Gazer's Terrace!
Wow! It is Way up there!

But Blue doesn't mind.....
She rather likes the view from up at the top!
From here she can quickly spot any Visitors 
that might be arriving!
So you can see, Dear Readers, 
how I spent at least a Part of my Vacation...
Filling in the Gaps in the Cloud Palace!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Slow Tiles and Snow Tales....

Details and More .....

I was Home all last week on Vacation, Dear Readers, so I was able to (almost) ignore the weather and concentrate on some of my bigger more challenging projects! I say almost ignore the weather because it was impossible to ignore that it continued to snow and snow some more.... I was thankful that I did not need to go anywhere! We are not as buried in the stuff as they are in the Eastern part of the State.... but with several feet of snow piled everywhere... it is difficult to get around! So I stayed inside and tackled some of those big projects, and many small ones as well! It was Wonderful to just be able to dig in and jump from project to project! I have so much to show you, it is way too much for one post! The largest project was the tiles for the Conservatory floor.... I still needed to make more tiles, and paint them, and varnish them....

I needed to be more specific in the colors and patterns of the tiles than I was with the Castle Hall floor, because here I wanted to make an overall design that resembled a carpet. I repeated many of the patterns I had in the first carpet, but I also made a few new ones. And then I needed to make them into a design....

Here above you can see the basic design of the first "carpet" 
composed of all the left-over tiles from the Castle Hall floor.

And here is a view of the layout for the new "carpet".

I did end up swapping around a few of the new tiles with the old carpet.
I replaced a few of the central tiles to make the circular pattern complete.
And once I was happy with the pattern of the tiles, I needed to start gluing them in place!

To do this without losing track of the pattern, 
I lifted a section of three rows, in order, onto a piece of cardboard.
Then I glued them in place one row at a time.
After the first two rows were glued, I removed two more rows,
Being careful to keep them all in order.

This is a tedious and Slow process!
It took an entire day of gluing and shifting....
while the Snow piled up outside!
But eventually they were all glued in place
with space between for grout....

I let the glue dry completely overnight.
Then began the grouting the next day....

Of course, I was so busy adding the grout, 
I forgot to take any pictures until it was almost done...

Here you can see the grout only partly washed off the tiles.
As the grout dries you need to keep going back over them with a damp sponge.
You want to only leave the grout in the cracks, 
but if you rub too hard it removes too much of the grout.

Here the grout is all done and all dry.
But there is only one problem....
It looks too clean and new!!!
So I had to "dirty" the floor with several washes of 
watered down brown and black paint.

This also had to be left to dry in order to see if the color was dark enough.
And then I needed to decide whether or not to "seal" the floor with polyurethane.
I was afraid it would make it too shiny.... which it did!

But I figured I could always "scuff" it up again with an abrasive sponge.
Above you can see it before I did any scuffing.... it's a bit too glossy!
And while I was "muddying" the floor, 
I also dirtied up the base of the walls a bit too.
This is supposed to be an old and well used building!
This whole process used almost half my vacation time!
But I got it done!!!
And rather than leave you there, 
I will show a glimpse of a few of the other projects I worked on.
Beginning with the painting of the Willowcrest....

Yes, there will be more trees on the bedroom walls....
Eventually they will look more like Spring than Winter!

These wall murals need to be finished before the walls are glued in place!

I also added a light over the door on the front porch....

Which I realized I had to do before I closed off 
access to the upstairs Hallway....
because the wires needed to be run across the floor 
and down the kitchen wall, same as for the inside hall light.

And while I was tackling Big Old Unfinished Projects...
I decided to make the Ceiling of the Castle Great Hall a priority!

Yes, those Saints are patient....!
I have removed the ceiling and set it up on my "easel"
really just a chair with arms which can hold the heavy roof panel!
This is really difficult to photograph... 
it is a curved surface, so the light reflects off it 
no matter where you position the light.

I worked a lot on Saint Hedwig.... 
here is a "before" picture.....

And here is an "after" picture!
I don't know why I am so concerned with 
making these Saints so detailed....
It is nearly impossible to see them on the ceiling....
But I guess it is a case of "I will know it is there"
so I must make them as detailed as I can!
The Saints on this side of the ceiling are now pretty much done...
it is the other side where the Saints are still very incomplete!
Believe it or not, Dear Readers, These were Not 
the only projects I worked on this week!
I really astonished myself with how much got done!
But I think the rest is better left for another post....
but before I go, I just wanted to show you more of the Tiles....
And the Snow....

Because surely, one of the Great Pleasures of being Home all week
was being able to play in all that snow when the sun came out!

Piled high around the doors....

Burying everything  in white...

But perhaps we can just have a glimpse inside....
at the sun on those amazing tiles....

And somewhere in there the seeds are still sprouting...

And we are so busy admiring those tiles,
we have no time for re-potting the seedlings!

And just in case you need to see the real life snow....
My garden gate barely shows above the drifts!
So there you have it Dear Readers,
Slow Tiles and Snow Tales, or Snow Tiles and Slow Tales....
Details, details, details!
I have been busy on my Vacation!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Curtains Again

The Old Fashioned Way.....

I Hope you will not mind, Dear Readers, if I take you back to the Parlor of the Willowcrest, even though I have made almost No progress with the Branches over the Mantlepiece. I had decided that the trees on the walls needed to be a darker shade of gray than the sculpey trees. I have painted at least two different coats of gray and still am a long way from satisfied. I am also trying to decide whether to paint the sculpey portions or to leave them as is. I think they look more realistic as trees when unpainted. But that is not the subject of this Post, so we will leave it for another day. What I really wanted to show you was the Wide and Gracefully arching doorway from the parlor into the entry hall. I was almost at the point of gluing the outer wall in place and thus making access to this hallway impossible, when I realized that those lovely wide doorways needed Curtains. Portieres, to be specific. And even though I am a long way from the "decorating" stage of this house, I have realized that the hallway has to be completed now while access is possible. And I had a scrap of fabric I had been saving for Ages and Ages that I thought would be the Perfect material, so I dug it out.

It is a lovely piece of Dark Plum colored antique velvet.
And I really only could find a small scrap remaining in my stash.
Very wrinkled too.
But isn't it a Divine color?
And doesn't it go just Perfectly with the walls?
But then I found another scrap of velvet that might work too...

It is a newer, slightly more wine colored velvet with a 
pattern of glittery roses strewn across it!
How to decide?
Well, I noticed that the antique velvet was a bit thin 
and light would show through unless it was lined....
So I decided to use the glittery fabric as the lining!

I also found a scrap of antique bead work trim 
to use on the bottom edge of the curtains. 
Here you can see me testing it in place.

And here you can see the glittery side of the curtain 
looking into the hallway from the kitchen side.

And here we have both curtains being tested....
the back wall to the stairs is still removed in this picture.

And another view from the kitchen with the hallway light lit
and both curtains pinned in place for testing.
It was quite a challenge to get the length right!

I also added a narrow gold braid trim 
to the open edge of both curtains.
Here you can see them, still just pinned in place.
The real trick was going to be getting them on a curtain rod...
and attaching that to the wall above the doorway!

I know you are going to think I am silly, Dear Readers,
but I wanted my curtains to be able to slide open and closed!
So I sewed rings to the top of the front of the curtains
(they were going to hang from the hallway side of the wall,
 so this is hidden from view).

And I made a curtain rod from a piece of wire hanger
run through three eyelet screws 
which were screwed into a strip of wood trim 
just shorter than the width of the hallway.
Once this was assembled and glued in place, 
there would be no way to adjust anything!

Here you can see both curtains with their rings attached,
the right one is still not on the rod.

And a close-up of the beautiful old bead trim.
It reminds me of the full moons in the hallway...!

But, Oh the challenge of gluing this in place Dear Readers!

I had to turn the house on its side, 
and hold the hallway lamp out of the way with a bit of wire...

And hold the curtains themselves off to the side 
so they would not pull downward with their weight
and distort the placement while the glue was drying...
Not to mention that I was reaching into a tiny space I could barely reach....
I spread half the glue on one end of the wooden rod framework,
and the other half on the wall above the doorway 
where I could reach from this end...
I used E6000 glue.
I let it dry for quite a while,
Hoping that my "measurements" were right...
So that they would hang right to the floor when the house was righted.

I think they are just about right!

So I have to test them with the still unfinished fireplace....
Here the curtains are open....

And here they are closed!
So while the temperature plummets, Dear Readers,
And the snow continues to pile ever higher outside,
We will pull the curtains across that drafty old doorway...
and try to keep warm inside by the fire.

Please Do come on in!
But be sure to pull those curtains closed!
So now you can see, Dear Readers, 
just why I had to make my Curtains 
the Old Fashioned way!