Monday, January 22, 2018

Hardwick Hall Attic....

Fidgety Bits......

It has been so long since I last worked on Hardwick Hall, Dear Readers, that I couldn't even find the posts that last showed the attic in it's partly completed state. So I have no idea what you recall about my plans for this part of the property! The above photo shows the attic in it's most recent incomplete state, with the temporary styrofoam fireplace and the unfinished stairs and windows. This is a "Witchy" house, so I have allowed my decor ideas to develop way past what a real House would find acceptable. But at the same time, I have tried to stay true to some of the architectural norms for houses of this era. One of my favorite features of many "Victorian" houses is window alcoves with window seats built in.... and this attic has three alcoves just begging for built-in window seats! Also, while this kit did not come with any "Cupola" for the top of the roof, there are many houses in my town where there are lovely cupolas, so I decided to add one to the top of this house. Since I was adding a cupola, I had to add the stairs to the cupola.... hence the spiral staircase.....

I apologize for the dark night-time photos.... 
it is an eternal problem to get good pictures at this time of year!
Here you can see the attic without the fireplace and chimney... 
while I am trying to calculate the best position for the stairs 
to access the tiny cupola floor platform......

Which you can sort of see here with my cardboard 
floor mock-up sitting across the rafters...
It is a complicated geometrical problem... 
where to start the bottom stair so that the bottom step is accessible 
in all the clutter of this room 
and the top step lands at an angle where 
you can step off into the tiny cupola floor! 
(And don't forget there also needs to be "head clearance" on the way up!)
The answer is it's very very tricky... but doable!
The spiral has to start just off center below the cupola floor.....
which happens to be right at the side of
 the stairwell from the floor below... 
and right behind the only place 
the fireplace and chimney would naturally sit 
(based on where the other fireplaces in the house are located... 
because I get hung up on that sort of realism)!
And some of you might recall that
 the poor placement of the original kit chimney in this attic 
was one of the first things I had to change about this design!
The top photo shows you the mock-up
 of the fireplace in styrofoam that I have been using
 to determine placement and size options
in relation to the stairs and cupola.
I think the fireplace can only go in this spot beside the stairs... 
but that ugly styrofoam mock-up has been bugging me for ages!  
The shape is all wrong for this room!
So I started to build a better hearth....

With more elegant lines... 
similar to the two other hearths in this house,
 but fitting for this room... which is to be 
the "Book Room" or "Reading Room"... 
the gathering place for the Witches... 
the place for researching spells 
and even brewing the odd potion or two!
There was an awful lot of fidgety cutting and fitting 
of that arched surround.... 
because my original cut-out is a little bit uneven too!
But I am getting ahead of things, Dear Readers.... 
First, I had to start on the alcove bench for the back of the room....
because I have realized that this area will have to be all finished
 before any of the "foreground" pieces are completed!
So I built a simple fitted platform....
 Then stained the wood
dark walnut to match the rest of the trim.

But I must test the look of the new hearth....
I am Loving how it echoes the window shapes!

Once the alcove bench is in place, I can start on all the fidgety trim.....
 trim that will cover all those ugly joins in the alcove...

And it is a weekend during the day 
when I can actually get some photos that you can see!

It was quite challenging to get the trim
 notched correctly to fit behind that arched "beam"....
(Don't look too closely please!)

And the facing pieces on the angled part.... 
which covers the worst of my gaps.
The vertical section will end up being covered 
by the built in bookshelves...
I am just waiting for the lumber to be delivered!
And then we simply must get an idea of how the curtains will look....

A Beautiful velvet that is a shimmery blue and green...

And I will also use it for a cushion on the bench...!
I know this is a dark room....
 but I love how this velvet adds 
to that dark mysterious feeling!

Meanwhile I am also continuing to work on the fireplace.....
It will eventually be painted to resemble carved stone...

Just testing it in place.... 
with the back wall section where the chimney will go
 up through the roof at an angle 
so it doesn't interfere with the cupola in the center.....

And testing the placement of the spiral stairs for "clearance issues"....
It clears with millimeters to spare!!!

I know.... you could barely see the bottom of the stairs...
 here I have shined a spotlight on them...
 because it is night-time again!
Well, it feels like a huge amount of progress, Dear Readers, 
but all I really did was cut a lot of fiddly little pieces of wood 
at odd angles and glue them in place!
But I love how the Hardwick Hall attic is developing!

And before I forget... 
I promised you a view of the finished Christmas Card....

So here it is Dear Readers, my attempt at rendering in two dimensions 
that which I spent much of the year rendering in Three dimensions!
 The Secret Christmas house is drawn at actual size... 
I traced around the building onto the paper!
The card is 8.5 inches by 11 inches, 
watercolor and pen and ink on watercolor board.
Yes, those big claws are my attempt to draw my own hands full size!
(And you might notice that the Secret Christmas House is Still Not Done!)


  1. The spiral staircase is awesome. It reminds me of the stairs in the 1963 movie The Haunting :-). The curtains will look beautiful, it's a perfect colour! I look forward to the progress on the fireplace.
    The Christmas card is beautiful!

    1. Thank you Millicent & Friends! I am happy to be building this again! I am glad you like it!

  2. Betsy, the spiral staircase is just what witches do need, when they're not feeling good enough for flying on their brooms. I guess you know what I mean: those unpleasant accidents with flying against furniture and ceilings and so on ;)! The spiral staircase is awesome, and I absolutely love the iron look of it! The new bench in the alcove is a good place for resting and relaxing withces (and beware when they're resting ;O) and therefore the dark velvet curtains are perfect for witches in a reading room, you've done a great job.
    But your Christmas card is so very beautiful, it was absolutely worth the waiting ;)! Your drawing and painting works are beautifully made, I can clearly see every detail of the Secret Christmas House, which you've shown to us at your blog: a masterwork, chapeau!!
    Hugs, Ilona

    1. Hi Ilona! Ha ha! I think the witches mostly use the brooms outside and need stairs like other people to get upstairs in the house! :)
      Thank you for your lovely comments about my card... I am always glad to get it done! :)

  3. Hello Betsy,
    I just love the Willowcrest. It is a beautiful house to begin with, and you always elevate it to dazzling new heights. I love that you added a cupola and the spiral staircase is not only a great ide, but it looks wonderful! The alcove bench is lovely and will be such a wonderful spot to look out and dream of new adventures. It is perfect! And speaking of perfection, I LOVE that fireplace. It is so beautiful and the detail is fantastic. Well done. I am always in awe of your painting skills, but the card just blew me away. It is wonderful.
    Big hug

    1. Dear Giac, thank you for your wonderful comments! :) I am glad you appreciate the Willowcrest Kit... I have always loved it too and am really enjoying following my fantasies in building it!
      I am happy that you like the card too... I always have moments of thinking it is not good enough when I am done... I know it's silly to be that way! :)

  4. I love that fireplace! Beautiful. And your windows and trim are coming along so pretty! Love how it looks.

    unghh! Staircase placement... another bane of my existence!

    1. Hi Sheila! I have a need to have my staircases "make sense" architecturally! And they need to be there... even in my "Tree House" project I built stairs between every level! So the spiral stairs are going to have to look like they are for real! I am really glad that so far my ideas are "fitting"! And I am very happy with how the fireplace is shaping up... I hated the mock-up! :)

  5. beautiful light and nie colors

    1. Thank you Claude! I love rich colors! I am glad you like them too! :)

  6. First let me say Betsy, that your Christmas card is INCREDIBLE! I love the way in which you include as much minute detail into your custom cards, as you do to your miniatures.
    I don't know how many years you have been making your Christmas cards Betsy, but they should be,( if they are not already) collected into a special book as future family heirloom. ♥

    And I am SO GLAD to see you back at work on Hardwick Hall! Your plans for the cupola sound Fantastic and what a view they would get from way up there! :D
    The spiral staircase is The Perfect solution to access it and the fireplace which you've settled on looks Scrumptious!
    I agree that a window seat in that broad expanse at the front of the attic is an ideal location for a cosy read, and the moody blue velvet drapes will add another layer of mystery to the Gathering Room.

    It is obvious to me Betsy, that despite the gloomy weather outside; your ideas for the interior of Hardwick Hall have been re-ignited and that you are once again
    On Fire!
    Keep it coming! :D


    1. Dear Elizabeth, thank you for your lovely comments! I have drawn a card every year for 35 years now! The first 17 years were black and white ink drawings (before color copying became so available and reasonably priced) and then I started adding color because the copiers had gotten good enough to render the subtle colors of watercolor painting. They are always pen and ink and watercolor... always 8.5 x 11 inches and usually have an "alphabet letter" that is worked into the design. I am heavily influenced by Medieval Illuminated Initials.... in my modern interpretation! Several members of my family have the entire "collection"... my Mom has them on her walls, and my Dad has them in a "coffee table" book! Every year I debate about whether or not to continue... and so far I have! It takes me all my spare time between Thanksgiving and New Years... depending on how well the design is "flowing"! I am so glad you appreciate it. Over the years it has become a record of the past year in my life and that of my family. One of the reasons I am so enchanted with 1/144th scale minis is that they are about the same scale as my drawings naturally tend to be (being a Medieval Illuminator at heart)!
      As for Hardwick Hall, I am really glad to be back into the thick of it!!! :)

    2. I keep my card from you, on the wall where I can see it ♥

  7. Another great post - The Christmas card is really great! I like what you have going on with the reading room too. I also really like that metal spiral staircase. Was that kit or did you make it? Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks Troy! I am really glad you like it! The spiral staircase is cast metal bought online form a British seller... I cant recall all the details... I have the receipt somewhere I think. It is a kit that you assemble, and I still have to actually glue it together and add the railings! If you google "miniature dollhouse metal spiral staircase" you will probably find some. :)

  8. I love the deep colors Betsy! It makes the space feel as though there is a history and depth and secret knowledge there. The window seats will surely draw you in and make being there feel special!
    Great job on engineering the staircase-landing-cupola-fireplace! Not only is it functional, you have created places for interesting display of pertinent treasures! And the style of the fireplace and surround are delightfully perfect!
    Your incredible Christmas card reminds me of a beautifully illustrated children's book, one you pick up again and again just to dwell in all of the detail! It is so expressive and captures a year full of passionate creativity! I feel so lucky to be able to experience your incredible talents in any "D" they come in!

    1. Hi Jodi! Thank you for your wonderful comments!!! The attic room presents some challenges... but it is going to end up being a really interesting space! I am just getting started! LOL! As for the card, I am really glad you enjoy it! It has taken over a portion of my life every year.... but it ends up being such a great "accounting" of the years! And Detail is what I love to do.... !!! :)

  9. Loving all your ideas for the witch house! And great work on your Christmas card! Does this mean you have the jump start on 2018 Christmas??

    1. Thank you Shannon! I thought I had the jump start on Christmas 2017! LOL! So it just goes to show... I never know! LOL! :)

  10. There's a fireplace in the attic? Don't know why I should be surprised - we had one. Anyway, a GORGEOUS fireplace! What a triumph. What a lovely, witchy room!
    Good job.
    Lots of love,

    1. Hi Mom! There is always a fireplace wherever one can imagine it in Mini-land! LOl! They are such inviting focal points....! And these are Witches.... they need their fireplaces! I am rather pleased with this fireplace so far! :):):)

  11. Una chimenea espectacular , ha merecido la pena tanto corte y su tarjeta de navidad es preciosa:-)

    1. Thank you, Contrastes-Rosa! I am glad you like it! I am happy with the new fireplace so far... I will be adding the "flames" too! The card always takes a long time to draw, but it is important to me! Thank you for your comments!

  12. Hi, Betsy - Your spiral staircase is a perfect addition to the attic, and you've solved that tricky "geometrical" problem with your usual patience and persistence. The fireplace is such a handsome piece - all those layers of interesting elements. I can't wait to see it with the stone finish. I understand your "realism" hangup regarding the chimney placement. My hangup isn't so much with chimneys - it's the plumbing that's a murky mystery to me! I LOVE your color scheme for this Reading Room. The velvety curtains and cushion will definitely add to the deep, dark, "witchy" ambiance! I'm so glad that you're back to work on this house - I'm looking forward to seeing more! Your Christmas card is another beautiful one! I'm in awe of your ability to create minuscule scenes through your painting as well as through your work on tiny, tiny houses like the Secret Christmas House. This card is truly a wonderful work of art!

    1. Hi Marjorie! Thank you for your lovely comments! I get so caught up in whichever project has my focus... that I lose track of the other ones, or I think I do until they grab me again and then I realize that many "answers" to problems have been brewing all along and are finally "ready"! LOL! In this case the fireplace and stairs combo has been a real "tester"! I am really happy to be back to building! As for the Christmas cards... they have grown out of my passion for Medieval Miniature paintings... and are really just my pale imitations of the real things. I love to draw and paint as much as I love making minis... and they all are done in about the same "scale"...hence the Tiny house this year is drawn actual size on the card... I traced around the building onto the paper! I am glad you like this year's card! :):)

  13. I really wonder... did I ever tell you that you never (and I mean NEVER) stop to amaze me with your work??? (And "amaze" is in this case just a placeholder that could be replaced by expressions like "enchant" or "brighten my day" or "make my jaw drop very fast unto the desk") The fireplace turned out truly awesome and following your thoughts and your pictures I can understand how much thinking and testing was/is necessary to make all these changes with the stairs and cupola. Of course there had to be reading nooks, I have no doubt your witches will need them to study their books and parchments and the latest delivery from the online-shop. This room has already so much atmosphere... ah, I can hardly wait to see how this is going on (and yes, I know, I know... I'm saying this always and about every single one of your projects... but what can I do... I always look forward to see more of everything you do) And now about the card... as always it was worth the wait! You've outdone yourself once more with the creation of this fantastic piece of art. Everything is there... every single detail... whether it's Pollyanna admiring her dollhouses in her developing working room... or the teenytiny Christmas tree placed on the ladder in the library of the Christmas house... even Copper is peeping around the corner. And speaking about the corner, it always warms my heart to see that everybeary is having fun even on your wonderful Christmas card. Ah, I'm already looking forward to see Hardwick Hall at this year's card! ;O)


    1. Dear Birgit, have I ever told You that I enjoy your comments/participation/humor very very much?! LOL! You always have the most wonderful "extra" ideas thrown in...(like!!!) which make my imagination go zinging off into orbit! LOL!!! It adds so much sparkle to My day every time!!! :):) And besides that, it is wonderful to hear that you love my Christmas cards... and that you actually look closely and Spot all those precise details which I have carefully included!!! (Copper was new this year and wanted to be in the "show"!) And I am always thrilled to be able to include the Fairy Bearey Gang in the Christmas Cards.... because they are "Family" over here too!!! :)
      I am really enjoying being back at work on Hardwick Hall.... Just you wait.... there are some Wonderful developments ahead if I do say so myself! LOL! But really.... we're not supposed to think about Next year's Christmas card until at least July!!! :):):)

  14. Beautiful work. The fireplace is amazing.

    1. Thank you Fabiola! I am happy with the way it is progressing! I am glad you like it! :)

  15. That is a very impressive fireplace and I do like your spiral staircase too. I have to keep reminding myself of the scale!

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