Sunday, 8 May 2016

The Earl's study, staircase, Montreal Miniature Show and birthday presents

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all doing well. Thank you all once again for your great feedback last post. I had not expected to go so long without an update, but I underestimated the level of detail in these rooms and real life has, yet again, been hectic and exhausting. Work on the new wing is going well and I present to you the Earl's study and the Banquet hall staircase.

The fireplace in the earl's study

The study

The staircase

Marble floors

Last post I had just painted illustration board to look like red, yellow, green and black marble.

You saw this one last time

The next step was to cut them and glue them onto a single ply illustration board subfloor. I chose the cube pattern, one of my favorites.


Cutting them was time consuming but not difficult. The problem started when I glued them down. I had 2 sub-floor templates, one for the study and one for the staircase hall. I used the Ultimate glue for the study floor and it worked really well. However some of the glue kept coming up between the cracks when I placed the tiles, so for the staircase floor I used an Extra Strength Glue Stick.


I put the tiles down and weighed them overnight with weights and heavy books. When I went to trim the tiles that were hanging off the edge many of them came undone. If you look at the strip of flooring on the left  in the last picture, you can see where the tiles came off the white subfloor. Not the end of the world, but do not use glue sticks! I must have been tired because I messed up the last row of the study floor. I inverted the yellow and green titles. I just cut off the row ande made a black marble border around the room to make up the difference.

The earl's study

With the floor done I started putting together the rooms. I did one last test run to see if any mistakes jumped out at me.


It looked good, so all that was left was gluing everything in. I started by the wall panels and weighed them down 24 hours to make sure the glue set and the pieces did not buckle. Then I glued the paintings in place and added trim



I had shown you the fireplace before, but the red marble I had made did not match the one on the floor. It was too pink.


I pulled it out, praying the fireplace would not be damaged, and replaced it with the same "marble" I used for the floor. I think it looks better.


The final step was the ceiling. It is a piece of faux-walnut finished illustration board with rectangles cut out of it which I glued over the mdf structure which I painted dark green.


I added a cornice, frieze and cove molding around the room, and I trimmed the cutouts with the cove molding as well. And voila!



I think I will purchase short bookcases for the walls each side of the fireplace. The 2 vitrines I intended to use looked too massive.

Staircase and bathroom

The elements for the staircase were all ready, so, as with the study, I had one last test run.


You can see the beige walls for the bathroom at the back of the room. I made sure everything aligned properly and glued the wall panels in first, then the floor, the staircase and finished with trim and the painted panels.


I glued the elements in the above picture before I installed the wall that separates the 2 rooms.


In the picture above you can see I used a 10 pound hand weight while waiting for the glue to set. Before the wall panels were installed I measured and glued the molding onto the murals. They had odd angles and trimming the picture frame molding for each piece after the paintings were glued into place would have been a nightmare. This way a line of The Ultimate glue all around and a few drops of gel super glue were all that was needed to glue the paintings in. I mentioned that I made the space under the landing 2 inches deeper to create the illusion of a bathroom. The platform was now too short so I made a built in bench to cover the gap. There will be a window on this landing.


I have not glued in place the second part of the staircase because the would mean I could not put the structure upside down to work on the other rooms. I will post pictures when it is done, but for now here is what the staircase looks like with a piece of cardboard to cover the opening above the staircase.


I really like this room, but after the wall separating it from the earl's study was up you can only see little parts of it at once.

The camera was in the study, so your actual view is a little more limited...

...but I know it is all there and when the light is on it actually adds a lot of realism to the flow of the house

This is a view through the door of the unfinished library next door
The room under the stairs was wasted space so I decided to make it look like a small bathroom. I built a window unit with a stained glass window which has a ledge on which I can put a few towels.


The stained glass is a plastic piece I purchased at a Tiffany Glass exposition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts a few years ago. The window piece is not glued into place...


...so I have access to the room in case of repairs or if I decide to add a sink or some other element. The piece cannot come out of the room as it is taller then the opening, but It works well enough and the stained glass looks quite nice when backlight

The floors were leftover marble tiles from past rooms in the manor
As I mentioned before, you can only see this room through the doorways in the study and the library. Sadly, you cannot see it from the back as the house is against the wall, so here are a few pictures to remember what is actually behind the study.




Montreal Miniature show  purchases and birthday gifts

The first weekend in April was the Montreal Miniatures show. Martha and Julie came over the Friday before the show and we had a wonderful visit. Jo came with me to the show and we had a lot of fun...and I shopped.

2 of the arrangements and the apples I purchased from Martha Mclean Miniatures, the lilacs ,also made by Martha, were bought from Grandpa's Dollhouse, and the white lilys were a present from Martha

I purchased the dish set and cake stand from Julie at Westwinds Miniatures, and she surprised me with the shaving set

The swan dishes and clown are by Janice Crawley and the vases were purchased at an estate sale table.

I love shopping at the miniature show, but even more fun was getting my birthday present last week. Jo got both families together again and they bought me a limited edition bird handle copper pot set from Janson and Jacqueline Getzan, as well as a few other kitchen items he knew I was hoping for.




And that is all for this post. I have cut the subfloor for the library so the next step is cutting the wood parquet. I have also been working on futur plans which I have mentioned before...Banquet hall, kitchen renovation... I did make one big decision though: when the present rooms and plans are complete, I am adding a basement floor to the manor for servants quarters, laundry room, linen cupboards, scullery, larder, cellar....This project will never end.

Thank you again for being there to follow my adventures. I promise I will try not to take so long before my next post and again, if you follow me and I do not follow you please let me know!

I wish you all the best and send you all a big hug

Giac






Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Bookcase doors, balusters, marble floors, and test runs

Hello my friends,

I hope you are all doing well and surviving the winter months. Overall we've been quite lucky in Montreal, except for the past week. As many of you have noticed, blogger is acting up again and people seem to be losing followers. If I am no longer following you, please let me know.

The past few weeks have been spent on preparatory work, but I am starting to get a good sense of what the rooms will look like.


Bookcase doors

As you can see I decided to make doors for the bookcases in the library. Doors are simple: you build a frame thick enough to accommodate the "glass" and cover it with molding. However, I try not to use hinges whenever possible. People just love playing with opening doors which often leads to breakage. I decided to make the doors non opening, but removable.


When the doors were done I glued them to a piece of lumber that would sit on the top of the bookcase. In the picture above you see me adding lumber to cover up the different levels of construction for the doors. It just looks more realistic when painted. Next, I drilled a hole through the door piece and bookcase. I took a dowel, cut it just long enough to hold the door piece in place, and glued it to the top of the door structure.


This permits the dowel and the hole to line up perfectly and slide into each other.


And this is what the finished bookcases look like.


The doors for the library were just pieces of 2 inch basewood with simple lumber strips to create the paneling. When painted I will add quarter round trim.

Faux wood graining

The next step was one I have been dreading...painting! I really do not enjoy painting. It took 1 weekend to paint an antique gold acrylic paint base to the 33 assembled part and about 200 strips of molding and architectural details...


...then it took me another 3 weekend to apply the walnut finish. This is made by mixing liquin (a quick drying medium for oil paint) and burnt sienna oil paint. I usually mix the 2 about 50/50 then adjust the mix until it coats the way I want it to.



You apply it using an old angle brush. I dip the brush in the mix, dab a little off, then paint lines in the direction I want the wood grain to go. You can make your hand shake, wiggle, drag the brush, swirl it a little...you just practice until you get the look of wood you want. This is a technique from
Ray Whitledge and I just love it. Normally you also use a bit of liquin mixed with burnt umber to give it the richness of walnut, but I wanted the graining to be very subtle so I opted to use just one shade of paint.

I want the earl's study to be impressive and I had an amazing doorframe for the bathroom that would be so far back it would be hard to see, so I decided to highlight some details with gold oil paint.


The walnut is dry to the touch after 48 hours at most because of the liquin. The gold was just oil paint and took 10 days to dry. How I wish I had more patience! All the elements were now painted and I could move onto the next step...literally.

Staircase balusters

Last post, I explained my method for building stairs and gluing on newel posts and banisters. When the glue has cured completely and the banister is solid, you can install the balusters which have been pre painted. Each step of my staircase has 2 balusters so I had to cut off about 1/4 inch from the front balusters. The angle of the banister means they have to be shorter to fit. The next step is cutting the tops of each baluster at an angle that fits under the banister.


Put each one against the banister, mark the angle, and cut. In the picture above I just cut off the painted layer so you can see how high to cut it. It has to be just high enough to sit in the groove of the banister. When the angle is cut you slide the top under the banister, in the groove, and then position it on the step.


I like to cut all the balusters and see what they look like in place.


I was happy with the result so I removed them, keeping them in the order they fit, and glued them by applying The Ultimate crafters glue to the top sides of the baluster and to the bottom. Just make sure the glue holds onto the banister.

Notes:
- It is tempting to cut all the balusters before fitting them, but you never know when there might be a slight difference in the depth of a step so I like to cut them one at a time.

-Paint the balusters before you install them. It is so much easier then trying to get a brush in the tight spaces. It also permits you to have fun with the colors. In this case I painted the step and banister with the dark umber, so the lighter dark sienna balusters and risers will stand out more.

-When fitting balusters do not force... ever! Some of my balusters (which were all from the same manufacturer) were a bit thicker so I sanded and shaved off the thickness that needed to go. If you force them in too tight you risk disassembling the banister which is a big pain in the butt!

Marble Floors

I decided the earl's study and the staircase area would look very grand with marble floors. There are many methods for making miniature marble. Ive tried several and here is the way I prefer to do it.

The first thing I do is find pictures of the marble I like, then make a sample board of the colors I think I see in the marble.

I love the colors, but I don't have the skill, or patience, to replicate the pattern

I noticed quickly that the coral color (second on the board) was way too pink. It is sometimes hard to know exactly what colors will give the right effect, and this step helps me figure it out.

When the colors are chosen you need to put down a base coat. Some people start with the darkest color, other start with the palest. In my opinion, it depends. In the case of this red marble, when I looked at the picture it seems to me that the darker colors are layered over the paler ones, so I started with the paler orange color as a base. When I make dark green marble, it seems to me in the picture that the paler greens are layered on the darker ones, so I started with a green that was almost black. Just look at the pictures and try to figure out what works best. There is no wrong way to do it.

I use the flat side of the sponge brush


I apply the base coat with a sponge brush as it leaves the least amount of strokes. I've used hair brushes in the past and the texture kind of makes it look like painted wood. Some people sand between coats, I do not. Every time I try to san, I rub off too much paint.

The next step is to sponge on the next colors. I like to use 2 to 4 additional colors for my marble. I've tried using regular inexpensive kitchen sponges and sea sponges. Both can work, but I prefer the sea sponge because I can control the amount of paint I apply better. I encourage you to try both and see what you prefer. Either way, take the sponge, wet it thoroughly, and squeeze out as much water as possible.


As you can see above, I take the sea sponge, dip it in a little bit of paint (the dab of yellow on the right), and dab most of it off on paper towels. If you look on the left of the sponge you can see the yellow paint sponged over the red color. That is how much paint you want the sponge to deposit. Just keep dabbing the sponge over the base coats, but rotate the sponge so the pattern is natural. Wait for each color to dry before applying the next one. When I was happy with the look, I spray on about 4 coats of triple thick crystal clear glaze, then buff it with an 0000 steal wool. The last step is to make the veins. I usually put a little drop of 2 colors on the paper towel, dip my 20/0 brush in both, dab it on the paper to remove excess paint, then very gently create the veins (I hate this part)! When the veins are done, spray on another 2 layers of triple thick glaze and buff with a 0000 steel wool.

these were painted on single ply illustration board

Here are the 4 marbles I created for my floor. I plan on using the black for a boarder around the rooms and cutting the other 3 to create a cube pattern on the floor. Faux marble is tricky, so if I'm not happy with the look, then I will just make a wood floor.

Panel trim

The step I'm currently working on is adding the trim to all the panels of the walls.



I cut the pieces using an x-acto knife and the grid on the cutting board. I have angle cutters, but I've noticed they often crush the small molding strips, so the x-acto gives better results.

And that is all my friends. I'm not sure when my next post will be, but I think it will be the finished library, study, staircase and the bathroom. I leave you with pictures of the many test runs and dry fits I've been having.

Library wall with door to staircase

staircase and bathroom door

Library

The earl's study. The stained glass at the back of the structure is a window in the bathroom

murals in the staircase area

elements from the study staircase and bathroom

Until next time. I wish you all the best and thank you for your friendly support. It means a lot to me.

Big hugs
Giac