Thursday, 11 April 2019

Goodbye miniatures...hello diapers!

Hello everyone,

It is with an insanely happy heart that I must tell you that I will not be working on miniatures for a while, because I will be busy changing diapers. Jo and I have a son.

We got a call one day at 1:30 in the afternoon saying there was a healthy baby boy waiting to come home with us. At 3:30 pm, we were holding him in our arms. We named him Vigo.

We got him when he was 16 and a half hours old. He is perfect and I am still in amazement at just how much I love him.

I thank you all for your incredible support and best wished through the years. It was a long and heartbreaking 7 year wait, In fact we were absolutely convinced the day would never come, but it did. I will keep on following your wonderful blogs to keep on being inspired, but I hope you understand if I will not be commenting least for a while.

I send you all a great big hug,
Giac (the happiest man in the world)

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

I'm back and guess what...I renovated the dining room...again!

Hello everyone,

Happy Valentines day. I hope you are all well. It has been such a long time since I posted and I am sorry to have been away so long, but it took me quite a while to get over my neck and back pain. I am much better now, but I am still being more ballrooms!

I have started working on miniatures again, finally, and what better way to come back to blogging then doing what I do best...starting a room over. This time I present to you the final version of the manor's dining hall.

Before you have me declared insane, let me explain. 

Here it is last version of the dining room:

I did like the Dining room before, but many people commented that the veins in my marble were too big. With time it really bother me. Also, I thought the doorcases I made were nice, but they were a bit too big for the space. Another reason was I was not happy with the height at which the border in the wallpaper separated the top and bottom pattern.  For these reasons, the room had to go. 

And here it is today:

Demolition and reframing

I started by ripping out all the molding in the room except for the coffered ceiling.

The room is 14 inches high and the wallpaper was 11 inches high. This meant that the border separating the 2 patterns was at 6 inches from the ground. It split the room in a very odd way that looked wrong, but I loved the top of the paper so I just lived with it. Then one day, Les Chinoiserie reissued the Avignon wallpaper without the bottom lattice pattern. It was a sign!

My inspiration for the new room came from Holkham Hall and the rooms of Robert Adam. I decided to install a niche to the right of the door that leads to the Tudor hall. I used my Dremel to cut out a rough opening in the 5/8 MDF wall.

The ceiling stayed, but I did not like that the coffered part stuck out from the ceiling...

…so I used single and double ply illustration board to make the sides of the ceiling flush with the coffered section. 

The last step was covering the walls in illustration board because I was afraid any imperfections where I removed molding and ripped the old wallpaper would show when the new one was installed.

The new paper was only the one pattern, but it was still too short for the room so I decided to add paneling 3 1/2 inch high.

The new Avignon paper is just a bit less yellow then the original one which I liked very much.

The Ceiling

I added some would strips which I painted to accommodate the moldings I planned on adding

To cover the gap between the coffered section and the sides I used a paneled Frieze, under that I installed a cornice, then I re-installed the original frieze that was in the dining room, and finished that with a molding from that matched the new doorcases

The doorcases

The next step was creating the doorcases. I wanted to use Sue Cooks Adam doorcases so I drew up some plans and she was kind enough to make custom size doorcases for me. 2 of the door openings are 4" x 8", and a third one is 2 1/2" x 8".

For the broken pediment, I used basewood strips and illustration board to create the triangle bases...

...then I covered them in smaller cornice moldings.

In the next picture you can see the painted elements for the doorcase. As I mentioned Sue made the custom doorcases using the 3 piece doorcase and an additional 3 piece architrave, and I made the 3 piece broken pediment.

And here it is installed:

After the doorcase were in place, I installed the paneling I made out of double ply illustration board and quarter round molding, and I installed the painted niche. I liked it, but the broken pediment was too square... I added some half brackets that match the doorcase. I originally planned on putting a bust atop each door...

...but they did not look right so I ordered some pineapple finials and painted them to match. I figured since the pineapple is the symbol of hospitality it was the perfect touch

The door that leads to the breakfast room is much smaller, so I used a simpler version of the doorcase design.

Later on you will see a smaller pineapple finial atop that door.

If you look through the doorcase of the back wall at just the right angle you can see into the kitchen. The noise from the kitchen would have been disturbing, so I decided to add a second door.

I used illustration board backed with basewood strips and covered in a white molding and matching wallpaper on one side...

...and walnut painted molding and matching tiles for the kitchen side.

You can barely see it, but it is there..

Fireplace, statues and a table.

I had a William Kent fireplace and found a picture of the real version which was being auctioned at Chatsworth house. I used the picture to finish the fireplace to look like veins this time.

The insert has Terry Curran's Fable Set tiles. I love it!

I decided to put less furniture in the room to make it look grandeur. Sine I removed the piano, I glued a bracket to support a bust and a sculpture in the niche.

I decided to use the china cabinets elsewhere in the manor and purchased a second sideboard for the back wall. I was trying to choose some paintings by Canaletto to go over them, but I liked the bracket so much I had a dry run to see what I liked best.

The brackets and sculptures were the winner. I think they look very elegant and they don't take the attention away from my silverware and china.

Since the larger furniture would not be going back in, I started looking for a smaller sideboard to go next to the fireplace. I found nothing! I had 2 bar stools that were falling apart, so I decided to make a small table until I could find something I like.

The marble top is 2 layers of illustration board with a chair rail molding. I painted the marble with a brush, not a sponge. First I stippled on 3 different shades of base color, then I added veins, and I finished with a wash of 1 part paint to 5 parts water. There are about 9 coats of glaze on it which was rubbed with 0000 steel wool and waxed. The base is basewood, legs from the stools and a quarter round molding.

I think it is my best marble. I like it enough that finding a mahogany replacement is not such a priority anymore.

And that, my friends, is all. Here are some pictures of the finished room with and without  furniture.

For those who are wondering where to get any of the items in this room, all the plasterwork (fireplace, doorcases, cornices, brackets, sculptures...) are from Sue Cook Miniatures , the resin Rococo frieze is from Lawbre ,and the lighting is from The Getzans.

I think some people who like Victorian style will prefer the previous version of the room, but as I have mentioned before my tastes have changed over time and I am more interested in Georgian, neo-classical and Palladian interiors.  One thing is for sure, this room is final. The lighting fixtures have been soldered into place so there is no going back.

My next project will be the banquet hall and new statue gallery addition. I will try not to wait so long before posting, but preperation for those rooms will take a while.
Thank you once again for following my adventures, and a special thank you to those who contacted me because I was gone so long. I really appreciate it. I think some of your posts do not show up in my reading list for some odd reason, so if I haven't been commenting please let me know.

Big hugs to all,

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

The new ballroom, birthday presents and the Montreal Miniature show

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all doing well. Thank you for your lovely comments on my last post. I appreciate them very much.
Tomorrow, May 2nd, is my 40th birthday and what better way to celebrate then by throwing myself a ball.

You might remember the old ballroom/ music room...

I really did like this room, but it felt too small to me and while I loved the wallpaper I think the columns and fireplace got lost in the busy pattern. Now, after many, many months of hard work, I present to you...
The Blue Ballroom

The finished room measure 35 inches wide (89cm), 38 inches deep (96.5 cm), and 14 inches high (35.5 cm). The baseboard, chair rail, fluted window frame and the panel trim are basewood, everything else is plaster by Sue Cook Miniatures

Last time I posted about the ballroom it looked like this:

The reason I took such a long break and worked on other rooms is because I new the next step would be a long one and I was dreading it...

The Floor:

For 2 and a half months, this was me:

I am going to do everything I can to avoid any more parquet floors in the manor. The medallion was done before Christmas and went much better then I ever dreamed, but the filling around it was never ending. I cut and glued down 879 diamonds to make the cube pattern, and then I had the borders and the colonnade around the room to fill with the basket weave pattern. It was worth the work in the end, but still it was incredibly boring to make.
When the floor was done I was ready to glue it down. Even though the structure is 5/8 inch MDF it wobbled when I tried to move the structure. That meant the columns could come undone or get crushed if I ever had to move it. I decided to reinforce it with 5 strips of 2" by 2" lumber  glued and screwed underneath the structure. I had the whole thing at an angle balancing on one piece of 2 by 4 to install them, so I did not take pictures, but below you can see the guidelines for the reinforcement strips underneath. I used wood glue and 7 screws per strip...the floor is now as strong as it can be.

I then glued down the floor with the Ultimate Glue and weighed it down with books. You may have noticed in the picture of me working that I cut out squares in the subfloor all around the room. I kept the squares and when the floor was installed I glued them back in...

These squares are where the column bases went. I did this to make sure there was no shellac or wax under the bases so the columns glued down properly. I did not take a picture of the finished floor, but this picture of the finished room gives you a general idea of it:

I then glued in the half columns against the wall and got to work on the wall details before installing the colonnade.

Doors, Windows and Fireplace

The french doors are non working. I made them using mostly 1/2 inch basewood strips. 

The 3 horizontal strips hold the doors together. Even though they are fake doors, I still carved out slots for the hinges to make them look more realistic. Here they are installed:

Since the walls are thick I used a coffered strip to decorate the inside of the doorcases. The top of the opening is a piece of lumber covered in a Sue Cook frieze supported on brackets.
On the other side of the room is the door that is open to the entrance of the manor and a second door deeper in the room. This door is just for symmetry:

It is made of double thick illustration board and 1/2 inch lumber strips. When I make doors I glue the frame together, then paint the door and the molding that goes into the panels separately. It is too hard to faux wood grain the door if the molding is glued actually covers corners really well.

The windows each side of the fireplace are made the same way. I decided not to use curtains in this room and wanted shutters built into the walls.

The window is glued down to the base first then installed in the opening. The shutters were made separately, again with slots for hinges that do not work, then installed last to cover the sides of the opening.

I added a quarter round molding painted white to match the frame to conceal any imperfect joints and it also made the shutters look like they regressed into the wall. I am really happy with them.
Finally I installed the fireplace and over mantel.

The fireplace is cracked. I had left it standing on my worktable and accidentally hit it. the fireplace fell and the 2 sides cracked of. After much cursing, I glued it into place, filled the 2 large diagonal cracks with joint compound, sanded it with a nail file and painted it. I think it is okay now. With that done I did paint touch ups all around the room and installed the full columns and bases. 

The Ceiling 

With the columns in place I could finished the colonnade. I had 2 inch strips of MDF that sat on the columns. The plaster pieces for the room were ordered after the MDF was cut. For some reason the columns on their bases were shorter then I had calculated

In the picture above you can see the columns hold up the MDF and the plaster frieze, above the frieze is a white 1 inch by 1/4 inch basewood strip I painted white, and the gap above that is covered with the cornice.

I painted the 1 inch basewood piece white so it would look like part of the cornice and frieze, but it was way too high and broke the flow of the room. I painted it blue and added a quarter round strip at the bottom and I was much happier with the look.

The nest step was to install the medallions which meant the chandeliers had to be installed. The are 2 Versailles chandeliers form Jason and Jacqueline Getzan. I installed the fixtures by soldering the wires using flux and rosin core solder and covered the joint with shrink tubes that I heated with a hairdryer. They shrunk a little too much and some of the copper wire was exposed, so I covered that with technical tape. I pushed the wires into the 1" by 1" hole in the ceiling that is covered by the medallion and the room was finished.

Finished empty room

I love the room, but as it is so deep I spend the last month lying down in the room on my stomach. I could not lift my head properly and my neck cracked every time I turned my head, but it was worth all the pain. If anyone ever works with plaster items, I recommend using joint compound to fill the gaps and make repairs. It is easy to sand and you can carve any lost detail pretty easily, not to mention it takes paint the same way the plasterwork does.  

And now a few pictures I hope you will enjoy:

Birthday presents

Since it is my 40th birthday, my family was even more generous then usual. They all went to Jo and he ordered the 2 chandeliers I fell in love with and want to use in my  banquet hall.

They are called the Olivia and are by the Getzans. I was surprised that they spoiled me that much. These  will always be a wonderful memory of the year I turned 40.

Montreal Miniature Show

The Montreal miniature show was the first weekend of April. I went in with a budget and the determination not to spend one penny more, and I walked out having spend 2 and a half times what my maximum was. In my defence, Greg Matusovsky was there this year. He does not come to the show often and even Jo agreed I could not miss this opportunity.

From Greg I purchased these gorgeous candelabra, pierced bowl, cake server and 4  place settings for the breakfast room (only one is pictured)

From Janice Crawley I purchased these lovely pieces of porcelain and the jack in the box

And from Martha Mclean I purchased a silver frame from Stephen Randall , 4 filled champagne flutes and a spool holder from Mcqueenie miniatures.

I was also thrilled to see Grandpa's dollhouse carried the lumber I have used throughout the manor and stocked up on what I was missing...of course I went through it all to finish the ballroom. They are officially my main miniature lumber supplier.

And that is all for this time. I am taking a little break so my neck and lower back can recover from working in the ballroom. I also want to work on a little surprise I promised a friend that I hope she will like beary much :)

Take care everyone and keep on posting your wonderful projects... I need inspiration while I take a little break. Thank you to all my new followers and as always, please let me know if I am not following you...Blogger sometimes drives me crazy.

Big hugs to all