Monday, June 13, 2016

Hardwick Hall Trims....

All Those Little Pieces.....

I may have mentioned, Dear Readers, that I am trying to complete all the Exterior Trims on Hardwick Hall (also known as The Willowcrest) before I continue with the attic and interior spaces. This is at least partly because I just want to see what the exterior will look like... (!) but more importantly because I am afraid all the tiny pieces will go astray if I don't get them attached! It has already been nearly two years since I began working on this kit.... and at the speed I go... it might be two or more years yet before I have "finished"! So I have been diligently working away at following those endless-seeming Instructions... "removing and preparing" dozens of little pieces, carefully labeling them on the back of each tiny piece (yes, you really do want to do this step!) and then sanding and painting each piece with the four coats of paint on all the necessary sides and edges and then fitting them into their designated places, making adjustments where necessary. I last mentioned the disappointment of discovering that the "foundation trim" pieces did not fit properly... one long piece being notably short... and decided to move on with the next step while I tried to decide how to fix the foundation trim. The next step was to make all those Ornamental Brackets that support the roof eaves on the porch and the mansard roof! Thirty-four little pieces!

Here you can see them all punched out 
and being painted with the undercoat of grey paint 
that I use with the silver on all the trims.
It is probably not clear from this picture 
that the quality of the wood that many of these trims are made from 
was very poor!
The bottom end of almost all the brackets where it tapers 
to a narrow point did not punch out well, 
leaving a "snaggle-toothed" effect on many of the brackets.

You can see on this close-up of the porch trims,
 that I decided not to replace all those trims!
Perhaps.... but I can tell you 
that I have lived in many old Victorian houses... 
and the wood trims Always suffer from the elements!
So I am "writing it in to the story"....
 this old house has seen wear and tear 
and has Not always been well tended!

I completed all the porch brackets 
before moving up to the Mansard roof brackets...

Which you can see in this picture, 
still have not been added....
And while I was working on all those Brackets, 
I was also taking another serious look at the exterior as a whole..... 
and having some serious misgivings!
In particular, I am not happy with the number of "tabs" 
(those pieces that stick through the slots in the walls 
to hold the floors and walls in place)
that remain visible even when all the decorative trim has been finished!
The picture on the outside of the box shows the house
"finished" with clapboard siding, 
which is not included in the kit 
(and is clearly stated as not included)
but which leaves you unaware 
of these"raw points" in the finished kit... 
until you have it nearly all assembled.
I am going to want to make an exterior "siding" 
that will cover all those "raw points"....!
* Sigh*
That was Not part of the original plan.
So I am re-considering the siding...
And meanwhile I decided to go ahead and attach the Foundation Trims....

Because most of the pieces did fit just right!
But it left me even more aware that the foundation itself 
was going to have all those raw edges at the untrimmed corners.....

I suppose I am going to be making a lovely 
egg-carton-bricks foundation to cover all these lapses!
Meanwhile I did attach all those imperfect brackets to the Mansard Roof eaves.....

And Oh!, Dear Readers.....
They really are the Crowning Glory of this decorative trim!

I find that I really can forgive them their imperfections!

Aren't they just fantastic?
Like Antique Lace... a Tiny bit shabby... but so Elegant!

And as I was contemplating the siding... 
I am also trying to decide on the base....

And just how much "land" will be necessary....
Because I have always thought this house needed to have a small yard, 
enclosed by an old wrought iron fence....
And the house sits up on a small rise...
(a little more intimidating and spooky that way...)
which means more steps.... 
and more "land".....
(Hmmmm.... haven't we discovered this exact same problem
 with the Conservatory? And The Folly?)

But still.... I really think it improves the appearance
 if it is elevated that little bit!

So I've cut a piece of builders foam insulation 
that I will carve into a sloping yard.....
But meanwhile I still need to complete the last pieces 
of the Trims that come with the kit...

The base of the porch posts and the 
porch foundation trim will be the last pieces of the kit!
But I know Dear Readers, that even when those pieces are done... 
there will still be all the clapboards and all the roof shingles 
and all the foundation bricks... 
not to mention all the rest of the Window muntins....
and that is just the Exterior Trims!
And I thought I was almost Done with 
All those little pieces!


  1. I feel your pain on those exposed tabs. You might want to consider some wood putty. Sand down the tabs as much as you can, fill in the cracks and over the tab with wood putty. Wait for it to dry and sand again then paint over it. It's a fairly inexpensive way to fill in gaps and cracks in wood and less labor intensive than cardboard bricks or adding siding after you've done all the trim.

    1. Hi Sheila! I have considered putty at some length... but I know that the patching will still be visible because the surface is never quite the same once part is sanded... and with so much trim already done and attached... I can't sand too closely where some of those tabs are right next to a piece of trim. I am afraid it is going to have to be a layer of "covering" and it is most likely going to have to be clapboards because the style of trim on the corners is what is used with clapboards on wooden houses. I am just going to have the extra work to do... but I also think it will make it a better looking house in the end! Just a Loooonger project! LOL!

  2. Should have made beautiful progress Betsy! I remember filling in all those imperfections with wood putty and using my go to stucco instead of clapboard. I agree she needs to be elevated with a small yard, you are so lucky to have the room to have so many wonderful houses. I always wanted to live in a Victorian turn of the century home but sadly never have.

    1. That was you have made beautiful progress :)

    2. Hi Victoria! I think I will have to go with the clapboards... but I also think it will look better in the long run! If I used stucco I would need to remove the corner trims... and I am not very familiar with stucco finishes. These old mansions are usually made of wood with clapboard siding in this part of the world... so I will be cutting a lot of clapboards! I don't really have the room for all these houses...(just ask my Mom!) but I fit them in and they are taking over the RL house! LOL! But I don't "use" my dining room.... so it has always become the workroom in my homes.

  3. Sheila mentioned wood putty, that may be a good solution to the imperfections. But I think this house is looking only better each time you show it! Can't wait to see the "land" in progress!

    1. Hi Ewa! I thought about putty... but I know my "patches" would still show because I wouldn't get the sanding perfect with all the trim already attached. But I also think that clapboards will make it look even better in the long run. The Very Looong run! LOL! This may take a while!

  4. This house is just wonderful as it is, but I believe that nothing is perfect, even not in miniature ;)! So, there's no need to fill in ALL those nasty gaps, just only it's absolutely neccessary, Betsy! I have thought the same as you did: this house needs to be elevated with a small yard. But knowing how much work you still have, it will take a while before we can see something of the yard in progress ;)! Great work as usual, dear friend!
    Hugs, Ilona

    1. Hi Ilona! I am glad you agree with the elevated idea! I know it will make it more complicated.... but it will have so much more "atmosphere" and that is what counts! Yes, I have too many projects going at once... so no telling how soon I will get to the yard! LOL!

  5. Actually, if it's a "haunted," or at least spooky, house, you want it to be a bit "aged." Some wear & tear. As for siding, I agree about the tabs - they look awful. So you need some siding. Could you possibly paint it on? Doubt it. I will await with interest what you decide to do. Meanwhile, the trim completes (almost) a magnificent old mansion.

    1. Hi Mom! I have always felt that it was a slightly worn and shabby house... even though the glossy trim paint is very shiny and clean looking.... I think the clapboard siding will add to the overall spooky effect, and certainly the realistic feel of the house. It is getting more and more fantastic with each step!

  6. This house is beautiful, even with its faults and shortcomings, which I have no doubt you will overcome with your usual creative ingenuity. The many, many, many brackets that you've added look wonderful - and the imperfections allow the house to declare its age with grace and beauty. Just like lovely antique lace!

    1. Thank you Marjorie! I love those brackets! They were worth all the work! They really make such a difference in the whole design and feel of this house! And they really make me want to improve the rest of the exterior, to equal their beauty! I will be making a lot of clapboards! And I think it will surprise me how much they will improve the look! Now I can't wait! LOL!

  7. Cette maison est vraiment belle et si originale, j'adore la dentelle ancienne en bois le long de la toiture. L'idée de surélever la maison est excellente, impatient de voir la suite, comme toujours avec vos réalisations chère Betsy.

    1. Thank you Jean-Claude! I am impatient to see the exterior "finished" too... but I am afraid it will take me a while to do.... so many steps I wasn't planning for! But I think it will improve the look in the long run! And I know if I let myself take the time to do it right... the project will be so much more satisfying!

  8. Hi Betsy, What a lovely house, I am so impressed with your diligence with all those mouldings! The glass in the front doors and upper windows is exquisite.
    One suggestion with the exposed tabs dilemma- do what architects have used for centuries to hide imperfections- ivy! I can't wait to see how you put your special touch on this house.

    1. Thank you Philip! The decorative details on this kit are what drew me to it in the first place... so it is great to see that they do make such a Grand Impression in the end! As for the ivy idea.... I may add quite a bit of foliage around the porch.... but I don't want to obscure too much of that trim! LOL! And I think that the house will look so much better if I take the time to do the clapboards too. We will see! It is not a quick and easy step.... I've never used clapboards on a mini house before....! I have a lot to learn! As for those windows, I painted the plastic sheeting with "glass" paint outliner and filled in with fingernail polish for the colors. Then I cut golfer's lead tape for the exterior side of the "glass" windows. They did turn out wonderfully dramatic!

  9. Hello Betsy, this is such a beautiful house! All your patience has certainly paid off :) Any little imperfections just add to its charm, and I agree with Philip that ivy or other greenery will hide a multitude!
    All the best

    1. Hi Vivian! I love the way the trim on this house looks! And I am reluctant to hide any of it! LOL! I have considered vines... but I want to have the walls visible so I think I will need to go the long route of making clapboards. I might make some vines for the porch... but once again, I don't want to hide too much... and I haven't learned how to make vines yet either! LOL! So much to do! Thank you for your comment!

  10. Hey Betsy
    I can't believe how far this house has come along! You have accomplished so much and I love the colours you have gone for.
    You're not alone when faced with a long task ahead - I fully endorse your theory that things age and ware over time. Especially if it reduces the amount of repetitive chors we have to do...
    Keep up the great work

    1. Thank you Simon! I think the house will look even better once I add siding.... so I will probably have to just start making clapboards... and foundation bricks.... and do the roof shingles too! Gosh all those details do take time! LOL! I am glad you like the colors... I LOVE all things purple, gray and silver... and I think they add to the spooky feeling! It is fun to do a project where I don't have to worry too much about "realism"!

  11. It's always stunning how these time-consuming details are worth all the effort in the end - the brackets set a real highlight and add so much to the character of this wonderful house. And I think the wear & tear is just right for them... Haunted Mansions stand longer than normal buildings... ;O) Hardwick Hall looks absolutely gorgeous - although there's still a lot of work waiting like for example hiding those ugly tabs. Well, you will find a clever solution for that, no doubt about it. And it's wonderful news that there will be a magical garden!!!


    1. Dear Birgit, you are so Right that the work is worth it in the end! Those bracket added SO much to the character of this house! And I am sure the clapboards will too. It is just that I am having to accept that this project is going to take even LONGER than I ever dreamed it would! LOL! But the work will be worth it in the long run... and there may even be other "Enchanting" insights and ideas along the way! And that is what happens with my projects.... they take me where I never knew I was going! LOL! And I am SO glad you are along for the ride! LOL!

  12. Hi Betsy! I can't believe how much prep work you have done on Hardwick Hall already but every single bit of effort has paid off In Spades!!! I have to agree with Philips comment regarding your front door and upper windows- they're SUPERB!
    Not only that, but the meticulous prepping of the supports does indeed have a lacy look and even though there were a lot of them to do, what a difference they make to the exterior!
    I think that wood trims are Invaluable when it comes to these kits because the more you add the more impressive the final product, so it was worth every bit of your time and patience in the end.
    I LOVE your idea of a hill house Betsy, and it will PERFECT for your haunted theme. Siding will also add to the haunted look because it will add extra texture to the exterior without subtracting or distracting from the atmosphere, so I think that your decision is a good call. ... ahhhh but "a woman's work is NEVER done" is it Betsy? Yet that is what we've come to LOVE about your projects, there is always something MORE- the Unexpected, that you love to surprise us with! :D


    1. Thank you Elizabeth! Yes, the unexpected detours and additions to the project are the "frosting" on the cake! LOL! But I agree with you that the clapboards will end up adding a huge amount of "atmosphere" to this project... so I am glad that I am being "forced' to move in that direction! And the brackets certainly prove that the extra work on these little details is worth it in the end! I LOVE what those brackets add to this house! I will just have to learn how to do clapboards now! I am really fascinated by how different our projects are... both with the same "base kit"!!! I hear my Muse calling.... gotta go get to work! :)

  13. Hi aBetsy,
    What a difference all your prep has made when you applied the support brackets. The kit does have its shortcomings as you have revealed to us but you are certainly making a wonderful job of it.

    1. Hi Janine! I LOVE those brackets! (I wasn't saying that while I was sanding them....! LOL!) But they do add so much to the house. I will be making clapboards to cover all those other flaws... and I actually think it will make the house look even better. Thank you for commenting!

  14. Wow, the house is gorgeous! There is a lot of work but you made it look very good. Keep on working hard with your HARDwick hall. We can't wait to see it's ready! Hugs, piikko

  15. It's such a lovely looking house. I especially like the front door and the little brackets. You'll find a solution to those little irritants, you always do and the property will be better for it!

  16. Hello Betsy,
    The exterior is just amazing. I think the imperfect details make it look like a real house which has faced the elements for years. It looks so realistic!
    Big hug