Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Earl's Bedroom is finished!

Hello everyone,
I hope you are all doing well. Once again I was overwhelmed by your wonderful and kind comments on my last post. Thank you all so much, I really appreciate your feedback. Thank you for long time friends for commenting, and thank you to new friend who just joined the adventure. The last few weeks have been spent finishing the Earl's Bedroom. 

The room with only the Bluette sconces on

This was not a renovation job, but more of a finishing job. This is the way the room looked before:

And here it is after:

The last time I posted about the room I had built the columns and griffins that frame the bed alcove. The furniture is the Wexburgh collection from Bespaq. As I mentioned last post I love Tudor style and wanted the earl's bedroom to reflect that. I was very happy with the room itself and only planned on dressing the bed.

Dressing the bed:
The first step in dressing the bed was deciding on a design. I have several books on English country houses and I fell in love with the Queen Elizabeth bed in Burghley house. The second step was choosing a fabric. I looked around for months and found nothing I was excited about. One day I was at the fabric store looking for fabric to make drapes in my real life dinning room and I looked up, saw a fabric and I had to have it. I did not care what it was or how much it was PERFECT!

In the above picture you see the Queen Elizabeth bed on the right, and on the left you can see the gold fabric I fell in love with, the brown silk I had and decided to use as a lining fabric, the gold trim rope and a sample of the wallpaper in the room.

The first step was making the bedcover. It was very similar to making the quilt in the Countess's bedroom, except I did not quilt the top and did not put any delicate details like flowers on it. I wanted the bed to feel more masculine.

Above you can see the back of the bedcover on the right and on the left is the pattern I made to cover the mattress. Here below is the top of the bedcover just after I finished stitching the sides shut.

Just a note on fabric choices.  I usually make sure the fabric is silk or cotton and light enough to work easily in miniature, and also I usually look for a small pattern that is to scale. This one was thick, heavy, kept coming unravelled along the cut edges and I wasted a lot of fabric because the pattern was so big. It was a pain to work with, but as I said it was exactly what I had hoped for so I was mentally ready for the challenge. The rope I used to decorate the bedcover was really thick and it was hard to push a needle through it, so I glued it on using Ayleen's Tacky Glue and pinned it into place while it dried.

The next step was the bed skirt. I cut thin cardboard to the exact measurements I wanted with scalloped edges. I did not want a ruffled skirt because I thought it looked less masculine and in the books I have many Tudor beds had flat skirts. I glued on the bed fabric making sure the pattern lined up the way I wanted it to, then I glued on the rope on the good side, pinned it down and let it dry

In the picture above the you can tell I creased the cardboard before I covered it. I don't like gluing onto the visible edged of my mini furniture in case I decide to redo them (as you all know I have a reputation for renovating older projects), so I glued wood strips under the frame of the bed to which I could glue the skirt.

I put the Ultimate Glue and dots of gel superglue on the wood strip and on the top of cross beams that hold the mattress. If I ever take of the skirt, the finished side of the bed will not be damaged.

After the glue dried, I glued the mattress that came with the bed over the folded edges of the skirt and glued the bedcover to the mattress and the skirt to keep it in place.

I then took single thickness illustration board and cut out 2 pieces for the top of the bed, and I took simple cardboard and cut out a piece for the back of the headboard. In the next picture you can see I covered both pieces of the top of the bed on one side with the fabric, then glued them together so you would not see the folded over fabric thickness on either side. I also glued fabric to one side of the cardboard piece for the headboard.

And here you can see them glued into place.

The next step was the curtains for the bed. Originally I tried Judée Williamson's technique of machine sewing a gathering stitch at the top of the fabric, but the fabric was so thick it did not want to cooperate at all so I went to plan B.

I machine sewed the brown silk backing to the gold fabric and used my Pretty Pleater to shape them. I steamed them into place and then pinned them onto a piece of foam core board to tighten pleats. When I was happy with hem I covered them in a few layers of cheap hairspray.

When dry, I glued the tops of the curtains to the inside of the bed canopy and to the bedcover and skirt. I used pins to shape them. Words of advice: be careful if you use a backing fabric. the brown silk got glued tot he bedcover but the gold fabric did not. I have permanently left pins in the curtains to keep them in place. Luckily they do not show too much.

I used the Ultimate Glue because it dries clear and holds really well.

I then sewed a few pillows the same way I did for the countess's bed, but once again I trimmed them with the rope instead of lace.

Next I cut cardboard to go around the top of the bed canopy. In the next picture you can see the cardboard pieces glued onto the gold fabric. I then covered the second side...

...and then glued on the rope to finish the edges to match the skirt and cover, and I glue on a piece of gold painted wood trim to give me something to glue to the bed.

And here are pictures of the finished bed.

The curtains do not hang as straight as I wanted, but in order to do that I would have had to glue the curtains over the carved edge of the canopy, and made a valance that covered the entire top of the bed. I like the carving too much and did not want to risk ruining the finish, so I tried to shape the curtains to look good. If anyone does not like the fact that the curtains do hang straight down, my story is the earl ordered a new mattress that was a bit wider then the bed which is why the curtains tent a little ;) But I must say I am really happy with the result and proud of this bed. And now the rest of the furniture:

I was afraid of trying to reupholster bought pieces. I am always afraid of ruining them. However, you can see by the ''before'' picture at the beginning of the blog that the white fabric on the chairs did not work in the room, and the chaise fabric was not great with the dressed bed. After seeing the picture of the Queen Elizabeth bed with the matching chairs and stools, I ripped off the fabric on the furniture so I would have no choice but to reupholster them.

Above you can see the chairs, chaise and the curtains for the bedroom after I updated them. Below you can see the top of the window dressing is illustration board covered in fabric, and the curtains were shaped in the pretty pleater and I glued double thick illustration board to the back of them so they would never lose their shape. Some people think the Pretty pleater makes the pleats look to stiff and perfect, but not me. I am the man who, when washing my real life curtains, adds starch to the final rinse  cycle, puts the drapes up still wet, and shapes each individual pleat.

I will not explain how I upholstered because I am really not that great at it and there many other artists out there who can give much better instructions then I can. I also did not really enjoy it and won't try it again unless I absolutely have to. I glued the window dressing into place and thought the room was done.

 It looked nice but something bothered me! The fireplace wall was empty so I took out all the paintings I had to find the one that was perfect for that spot...nothing! I tried the imitation tapestries I have...nothing! After much thought I decided it needed an over mantel!

Over Mantel
I had many pieces of leftover lumber faux finished to look like walnut. I took a piece of faux finished illustration board and played around with the lumber strips to make a design I liked and that worked with the fireplace.

When I was finished I held it in place to see the effect. It worked well with the design around the fireplace, but it still looked wrong...

After a few minutes I decided to cover the sides of the chimney as well on each side of the over mantel...

Perfection! It finally had that imposing look I wanted and had not been able to achieve. Here is a shot I particularly like:
I do not have the chandelier for this room yet, which will be the Bluette from the Getzans, but I used one of the chandeliers for the kitchen as a substitute in order to get better pictures for this post.

And that it is my friends. Another room done, except for the carpet which I want to change. Next I have to dress the bed in the girl's room, the cribs in the nursery, make wall ovens in the kitchen, and I decided to make a few upgrades tot he Countess's bedroom...stay tuned!
I hope you enjoy this post because it will be a while until my next one. Jo and I are leaving on holiday so I won't be commenting on your blogs for a little while. I promise I will catch up when I get back.  Thank you all once again for following my work and for giving me the privilege of following yours. If you follow me and I do not follow you please let me know so I want to add myself to your followers list. I have recently joined Facebook, but I rarely leave comments on there. Working on my minis, my blog, and following your blogs takes up all my free time and I just can't manage Facebook as well, so don't think I am snubbing you...I look at everything but just can't comment.
Have a great couple of weeks and I'll be back to comment after our trip.
A great big hug to all,

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Tudor Hall and Entrance Renovations

Hello my friends,

I hope you are all doing well! Once again it has been much longer between posts then I intended. Since my last post I was offered and accepted a new position at work which I am loving, Jo and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary, and we have started getting ready to renovate our real life bathroom...all this to say I could not spend as much time on my minis...but I finally finished the Manor's renovation this morning. So here it is, the new and (I hope) improved Entrance and Great Hall:

View of the Tudor Hall from the Entrance

The Entrance

The right half of the Tudor Hall

I love Tudor Style architecture. In my mind these 2 rooms were originally a hunting lodge in Elizabethan times. Centuries later it was eventually given to the owners third son, lord Dewell, when he married. The couple added wings and a floor to the house to make it their main residence, but updated the original Hall instead of renovating it.

Okay that's the back story. These were 2 of the first rooms I finished and every time I looked at them I felt something was wrong with them. Before I go into renovation details, here are the before and after shots:

Game Room before

Tudor Hall left side after

Drawing Room before

Tudor hall right side after

Entrance before

Entrance after

Door frames

After the Dining room renovation (last post) I decided to remake all the door frames on the main floor. the original ones were just door frame molding and were going to have stained glass. Since I wanted the Tudor feel in this room I decided to make stone door frames with a Gothic arch detail.

First I ripped out the old door frames making sure I did not damage the wainscot or the wallpaper. Next I make the top of the door frame with the arch detail out of basswood

When cutting out opening in basswood I always make a few random cuts in the piece to be removed so that the thickness of the blade does not make the wood split as much

Next, I made a new frame to fill the opening with 5/8 inch lumber (the thickness of the structure)

I added a thin molding trim piece to accent the Gothic arch

To fill the arch, I decided to use strips of door frame molding and fancy cocktail toothpicks .

As you can see I took a basswood backing strip and glued on the toothpicks and door frame pieces making sure they were straight. The next step was adding wood sections to the front of the frame to make it look thicker. I put a thicker strip on the bottom and 3 thinner ones atop it to make it look like the door frame was made from several stone pieces. I added 2 strips of molding on the inside of the door frames and an ogee molding to the top of the arched piece.

When all was dry I glued all the section together and covered the entire piece with gesso making sure the spaces between stones did not fill up

the wood door frame is on the bottom. Gesso just helps fill in some of the wood grain. I used 2 coats, sanding in between with 600 grit sandpaper

The final step was painting. I used Delta Ceramcoat paints which I applied with 3 different sea sponges. Each coat was added with a coarser piece of sponge. The first coat was Trail tan, the second was sandstone, and the third was oyster. When that was dry I took 10 parts water mixed with 1 part walnut paint, brushed it on, and then used paper towels to sponge it of.

The finish is not as pale or as shiny in real life.  Warning! if you use a dark wash only do it once. If you go over a second time without sealing the first it will actually wash the first coat right off.

 The dark wash is what really makes it look like stone. When dry I sprayed it with a light coat of glaze to keep the dark wash from coming off. I was really happy and put one into place to see the effect...

The door frame was exactly what I wanted...but the fireplace stood out at me. The marble finish I made was the furthest thing from Tudor. So I took out some double thick illustration board and re cut it. I added a small cameo at the top and used the same faux stone painting technique (Sorry, no picture of that step, but one is coming)

I love big fireplace fenders and decided to make one for the side of the room with the pool table.

In the above picture you can see I took a simple strip of basswood to make the base of the fenders and covered it in pre painted moldings. For the top of the fenders I took apart an inexpensive mini sofa I had and used the carved parts which I painted with black enamel spray paint. I added a small wood strip on the top and voila:

And here is what the fireplace looks like now:

I used black paint and dry brushed the top of the fireplace stone to make it look like it has been used for a long time. The last little detail I added was a family shield at the top of the chimney.

thank you for the shield big brother

again I faux stoned it and glued it in place. The fireplace problem was solved, but another problem appeared...


As I have mentioned I am obsessed with English Country Houses. Both rooms has a very simple wainscot, but after looking at old Tudor mansions I decided to make them taller and add a bit of detail.

I started by taking a 5/8 wide strip of basswood and laid it atop the wainscot. I made a pencil mark where the long vertical piece reached. This room is 33 inches deep. the sided of my ribs were covered in bruises from reaching in and sliding myself on the structure. When all the marks were made I cut out Gothic arches and stained all the lumber I would need to update the wainscot

the Gothic arch pieces are at the top.

In the next picture on the right of the door opening you can see I added door frame molding strips to create a carved detail, and on the left  of the door opening you can see the Gothic arch strip glued on.

the final step was adding a top strip of lumber to cover the gaps and a piece of molding to finish it. In the entrance I used 2 more family shields and jewelry pieces to create family crests. I painted them in faux walnut and added gold detail, just to impress anyone who comes into the manor

Stone Floor
And now the real reason I wanted to renovate this room. I absolutely hated the floor:

The centre design of the floor was something I purchased. Just like the dining rooms original floor, the white lines you saw through the wood drove me crazy and the panels were coming undone. I tried to come up with a parquet pattern but nothing worked. Long story short, after much research, I decided to rip out the entire floor and replace it with a stone one.

In this picture you can see the painted stone fireplace piece before installation.
Just a note about the above picture. The Manor is built in 8 sections. You can see the gap between section in the picture, That is why I made doors. The will be fixed with Velcro or double sided tape. this way you can't see the gap, the walls look 2 foot thick like real old houses, and when I take the section apart for whatever reason there is no risk of ripping out the doors.

I painted a small piece of illustration board with the pattern I had in mind. I immediately knew ripping out the wood floor was the right decision. It looked so much brighter and the woodwork was popped instead of disappearing into the room. I took a piece of illustration board and faux stoned it the same way as the other elements in the room...

Once again, the dark wash is what really creates the stone effect

then I cut it into 1 1/4 inch squares...

Yes, I am the person who has to make sure stacked things are perfectly straight or I go a bit bananas

and finally I made a few illustration board templates and cut out the 4 corners of each title...every last 666 of them. Before I go on to installation a few words of caution:

It was not really difficult, but when the room you are covering measure 33 inches x 31 inches it becomes very long and tedious

1- I used double thick illustration board...DO NOT! big pieces are fine but when cutting the small black ones the layers of cardboard came apart...use single ply.
2- I covered the illustration board with gesso... DO NOT! When cutting the tiles and squares the edges over the gesso layer chipped so you saw a lot of white between tiles 
3- check your tools! I used a very old straight edge metal square to make sure the squares were perfect. when I was almost done I noticed the square was off by a hair...not much, but just enough that installing the tiles was make difficult because after a few rows the pattern started to go crooked.

Back to installation. I always tell everyone make an illustration board sub floor template of the room, glue on the flooring, then install it in the room. In this case the columns in the middle of the room as well as the nooks and crannies would have made it impossible to hide the gaps between the sub floor pieces, so I glued them directly onto the mdf guessed it, bruises on my sides for another week.

The first tile I glued down was right in the centre of the room, then I spread out equally on each side. This helped control and make sure the pattern did not get lost and go out of true

In the picture above you can see I first glued down all the large stones then filled in the black ones. The black ones vary in size because parts of the floor were of. I made a test piece to see what it would look like grouted, but the grout (Spackle) left a film on the stones. So I did not grout, just went over the finished floor with a good coat of clear floor wax. And here is the finished floor:

I added molding to the base of the columns to cover any gaps.

When I decided to go with stone instead of would I was thrilled because I thought it would be so much faster then one of my wood parquet was just as long and just as tedious! At least the bruises are gone.

And that is all.Not many changes but the floor and wainscot were VERY work intensive. I have not yet hung any artwork because the rooms are really dark and I want to purchase and install sconces before the art goes up.Here are random pictures of the 2 rooms. The Great room has officially been christened the Tudor Hall

Tudor Hall Left Side

Tudor Hall right side

Tudor hall right side


View from the Ballroom door through the Entrance Tudor Hall, great Dinning Room and the Breakfast room

And here are a few picture with Flash to better see the details

I think what I love most about the manor, which is true of many English country houses, is that the house is comprised of several styles, not just one. the guests come into the Tudor entrance, see the somewhat Georgian looking ballroom, go through the Tudor hall and end up in the marble filled Great Dining room and can see the chinoiserie breakfast room.

That was the last of the big renovations. This week I plan on getting the mdf panels for the exterior. I also want to make 2 little changes to the kitchen, and I have the bedroom to dress. If my next project takes too long I might just give you a tour of all the rooms of the manor.

Thank you all once again for your incredible feedback. I feel very lucky to have you all following  my adventures and I appreciate every comment and constructive criticism you send my way.

Have a wonderful week and once again I will TRY not to take so long between posts.
 To all my fellow Canadians, happy thanksgiving!
Big hug to all,