Sunday, 14 June 2015

Real life bathroom renovations are over, back to miniatures!

Hello my friends,

I hope you are all doing well. I am so happy to be posting again and I have a lot of catching up to do. I have not worked on miniatures since December. Since then we spent every free minute working on our bathroom renovation. We did most of the work and it was a difficult experience. We only have the one bath/ shower in the house, so we had to go shower at my mom's every night for 12 weeks in the middle of winter. At one point the toilet in the basement powder room broke and we went 24 hours without a toilet. I could go on and on, but yesterday, except for touch ups and little things, the bathroom renovation came to an end.
 
Before (I swear it was like this when we bought the house)
 


 
We got rid of the 3 piece acrylic shower because it felt like a cave, we knocked down the closet for the washer and drier which we moved downstairs...in fact the only thing that did not change was the placement of the toilet...
 
After
 





 
It is hard to tell but the cabinets are a dark shade of purple. I designed the cabinets so it was great to see it come to life...however I don't ever want to tile or use epoxy grout again!!! At one point I think I had a bit of a mental breakdown. I was feeling quite flat which is when I stopped commenting on your blogs for a while. Sorry, It was a really bad patch but now I am feeling great and ready to catch up!
 
Back to Miniatures
 
The last miniature related work I did was getting the manor ready for an article in Doll's House magazine. I was so proud of the beautiful article which was in the June issue. Thank you again everyone who participated in putting it together.
 

Now that real life renovations are over, I can finally get back to the important things: my new wing for the manor. I have been working on the plans since it was all I could do, but I will talk more about that in my next post. I have been saving up to purchase the elements I wanted from Sue Cook, for the Ballroom and Library, and last week my order finally arrived safe and sound!


The 2 rooms will have over 180 plaster items: 17 in the library and the rest in the ballroom. I asked poor Sue Cook so many questions and she sent me many answers, suggestions and pictures to make sure I was happy with my purchase. It was a real pleasure to do business with her. If you read this, thank you Sue! I prefer waiting until a room is done to show you pictures, but since it will take a while to build the structure and get the floors done...so much flooring to do, sigh...  I figured I'd give you a sneak peak:

These are the library items:


And here are a few set up pictures of the ballroom walls and ceiling:




For now, that's all you'll get to see. They are big rooms and there I say it, a little complicated in design, so it might be a while before my next post...but not as long as last time I promise. Wish me luck...and patience!

Birthday Presents
 
The first week of May was my birthday. I ate an obscene amount of cheesecake and I was spoiled more then ever. One of my favorite miniature artists is Randall Zadar.  Jo and our families bought me the second one in the picture below, Indian Lovers. I pre-ordered the third one, Center Stage, for myself. When the time came to pay for Center Stage I decided at the last minute to add the fourth figurine in the picture, Mother and Firstborn. I was told they did not think they had any left. when I walked through the front door that evening Jo said "you had to be greedy, didn't you?" He had contacted Shoalts Collectibles and asked them to put the figurine in the box with my order as a surprise. He won big husband points! Being a gentleman, I let him pay for it and replaced it with the first one in the picture, Music Lesson!
 

 I have several of his pieces throughout the manor, but I think I might assemble them for display in the new library.
 
Montreal Miniature Show

The end of March was the Montreal miniature show. Martha, Julie and Brian came over on the Friday before the show and we had a lovely visit. It really is my favorite part of the show. I was watching my budget for my Sue Cook order, but I still wanted to enjoy myself at the show and found some great pieces.

This is my first purchase from Karl Blindheim. I did not plan on purchasing any pets for a while, but this one just kept staring at me every time I passed the table and I had to have him. I named him one of my favorite names, Mathias.
 

These I found at Martha Mclean's table. I love her flowers (Daffodils are one of my favorites)  and she always has amazing pieces for sale.

These I found at Julie's table, Westwinds Miniatures. I can never get great pictures of Julie's work! The painting on the glass pieces is phenomenal!

These I found at an estate sale table and thought they would be perfect in an English manor.

and these were presents.

And that is all I have to say for the moment. It was a hard 6 months but now when I look at the bathroom, I think it was worth it. I need another 2 weeks to clean my house...so much dust... and then let the manor renovations begin!

I wish you all the best my friends and look forward to seeing your next posts. Keep the amazing work coming

Giac




 


Sunday, 8 March 2015

Christmas presents and South wing renovation plans

Hello everyone.

I hope you are all doing well and are happy. Thank you for your great feedback on my last post. It is always so wonderful to get hear from other miniaturists. I am afraid I have no new miniature work to share. Our real life  bathroom renovation has taken over our lives and I have not worked on miniatures since my last post, but I have been working hard on the plans for the renovated South wing. Before we talk about that I promised to post about my Christmas presents. Once again I was spoilt rotten.

Christmas Presents

I got this black and gold  Grand Estate Cabinet from Bespaq. I think it looks perfect in the Tudor hall.

 
 I always ask for Getzan chandeliers from my family, and this year I got the Antoinette on the left for the breakfast room, and the Sonata on the right for the grand staircase. I also have a Sonata for the entrance. It is one of my favourites.


Lastly I got a Bespaq Elizabeth chaise for the ballroom.


I am very lucky that Jo always asks for a list of the miniatures I want and he and our families get together and choose from that list.
 That is all the miniatures you will see in this post, the rest are my plans and sketches for the new wing. I apologize if this is boring for some, but it's all I have done.

Ballroom


The new ballroom will be much more Georgian in style. the room will measure 32 x 38 inches and be surrounded by a 5 inch deep colonnade. My biggest challenge, since the door from the Entrance of the Manor is not centered, was figuring out how to make the room symmetrical.
 
 

The left wall will have 2 doorways. 1 will be the way in from the entrance, the other one will be a fake door to balance the room. In between the doorways will be a dolphin fountain from Sue Cook. The back wall will have a fireplace and the right wall will be mostly windows and French doors. The piano will go in between the central columns on the right wall. All the architectural elements in this room will be by Sue Cook. Here is a look at the left wall:


The walls will be blue and all the molding and detail will be white. In the next drawing you can see the back wall and the side view of the colonnade.


The yellow on my drawing was supposed to be gold detail. I had one leftover piece of the cornice I will be using and put it on the drawing,  but I think I might just leave all the detail white, no gold. The blue rectangle on the top left corner is the paint colour I chose. I thought of putting 4 Versaille chandeliers in the room, but decided instead to keep the 2 I have and get matching sconces instead so as to light the colonnade well.

Library



The new library will be the same size as the ballroom. I was afraid it would be too big and planned on splitting the floor into a library and  a loggia, but since the house sits in the corner of the room that was just an invitation for spiders to settle in so I decided to lose the loggia. Here is the New library:


It was inspired by the Thorne Rooms French library and the room boxes made by Ray whitledge and Scott Burgess. I decided to split the room in 2.


The back area will be a step up. It is a huge room and I am not sure how I will furnish it...I am thinking of a large central custom made table about 5 x 8 inches with a marble top and thin drawers for maps all around. The entire room will be faux walnut and I would like the furniture and drapes to be dark green. The marbled fireplaces and white cornices are also from Sue Cook.
 
Chinese dining room
 

I am taking full advantage of the larger section to make all the rooms bigger. The Chinese tea room will now be bigger then the Great dining room on the ground floor, so I have decided to make it a dining room used for important dinner parties...though I feel bad for the staff that will have to carry the food up 2 flights of stairs to the other side of the house. The room will have a 12 inch table which will seat 12. 
 

The room will measure 17 x 24 inches and will be 10 inches high. My original inspiration came from the lacquer room at Monplaisir Palace but were very square. Instead of my square chinoiserie panels I will try to make more ornate lacquer panels within the rectangular panels on the red wall (I hope you understand with the drawings).

 
The left wall will be covered in lacquered panels, the back wall will have a much bigger doorway so as to see more of the winter parlour (which will be almost an exact copy of the one currently in the house), and the right wall will have a fireplace in the middle with doors on each side which lead to an attic floor balcony overlooking the ocean. The ceiling will have a step design with more Sue Cook cornices. The room will either be the same red I used in the tea room or a slightly more orange shade of red with black, gold and yellow details...plus the chinoiserie panels.
 
Countess's bedroom
 
I tried to fix this room so many times but now I finally have a design I love:
 

I want a much more Neoclassical look for the room. Poor Sue Cook will be so fed up with me before I am done. I will use her carved pilasters to frame the windows and doorways. I will make the left wall thicker so as to create recessed windows, I have moved the fireplace to the back wall so the bed will be in the middle of the room, and I will top the room with a Georgian frieze and cornice. I fell in love with the Anastasia bedroom by Bespaq, but it does not have an armoire or large dresser so I am thinking of making closets on each side of the door to the earl's bedroom (right wall).

And that is all my friends. I hate to make a post without miniature work, but the planning has taken all my free time. I hope to start actual work on the new wing by the end of May. Right now I am still refining plans, working on my real life bathroom for another month, and I am saving up for the large order I will be sending Sue. The Montreal miniature show is this month and I might post after that. I have given myself a very strict budget for the show because of the new wing renovations, but I have a habit of losing control at the show...help!

Until next time, which might not be for a while, thank you all for following my adventures and also thank you for sharing your wonderful work and ideas through your blogs...you are all a great source of inspiration.

All the best and great big hugs to everyone,

Giac



Saturday, 24 January 2015

Winter Parlor and big renovation news

Hello my friends,
 
I hope you are all doing well. Thank you very much for your comments on my last post and a big welcome to new followers. I finally was able to start commenting on your blogs again. I was sick over the holidays and then I was running to get the winter parlor done in time to send pictures to a British magazine that is doing a feature on the manor. We are also in the middle of real life renovations, the bathroom this time, so it might be a bit longer until my next post but I will be commenting on yours.. However, today I present to you the latest upgrade...
 
The Winter Parlor
 


This is the room in the attic you can only see through the Chinese tea room. Here is what the room looked like before:


I hated this room. I did not like the fireplace, I did not like the layout and I got tired of the wallpaper. It did not make sense to me that you had to go through this simple, rustic room to get to the Chinese tea room where the earl and countess brought important  guests. I did what anyone would do...ripped out the entire back wall, ceiling and floor and started over.

When demolition was done I made a mock-up of the new back wall and had a test run with the furniture for that room.


You can only see this room through the doorway to the tea room so it was important that it stand out. The first step was re-framing the room. I used double thick illustration board and basewood lumber to do this.

I took off the entire back roof panel and built out the room. This made it much bigger which made more sense as a parlor used for entertaining.


With the old parlor, when you looked through the doorway you could see the structure of the roof. I decided to take make a vaulted ceiling over the passage just long enough to hide all the beams. I did this by taking single ply illustration board and scoring it to help it curve


I then glued it into place

I used leftover wallpaper pieces and basewood strips to decorate the arch. Here is what it looks like right side up


Since you will never see the room from the back, I decided to leave the opening over the arch the way it is. As long as there is no mirror in the room, it won't show.

I kept the floor simple so it only took me one day to make.


Now I got started on the back wall which is the most important part of the room. I built it out of double thick illustration board with basewood to reinforce it. I purchased a great fireplace from Braxton Payne and some half columns I liked from Jim Coates.


I was a bit fed up of gold details in rooms and wanted something to stand out behind the red, black and gold Chinese tea room, so I decided to go with a winter theme. I used a pale wallpaper from Les Chinoiserie, painted all the trim white, and used Delta Ceramcoat's Platinum color paint for detail. The fireplace and niche were painted to look like blue marble I loved from The breakers.

Here you can see the detail of the columns and I used leftover pall panel pieces to make the window frame.


The walls are thick because I wanted the curtains in this room to behind the arched opening. The final touch was finding the right centerpiece for the niche. I saw a statue from sue Cook and I knew she was the perfect focal point.


The next step was the ceiling. I used the same ceiling piece as in the Chinese tea room, but instead of white and gold I painted the background with Americana's Winter blue color and all the detail was painted with the platinum paint and a few white square details.


And here is the "finished room:


For those of you who are wondering why there are no curtains and no baseboards on the back well...well you'll find out in a minute...
 
Kitchen ovens and second exit

Before we tackle that can of worms, I also took a minute to update the kitchen back wall. I had 2 problems with the kitchen. Firstly, when the Dewell's had guests, the staff would have to go through the Dining Room to get out of the kitchen. Secondly, years ago someone commented that I had a lot of sinks in the kitchen but not much cooking areas. I took care of both problems.


The door is a false door I made from illustration board and wood strips. I just glued it on to the tiled wall. The other side of the door is a secret panel in the Tudor hall


I just added a door knob and cut the baseboard to create the illusion of a door...Nobody can see it, but it's there.

The wall oven unit was made with more illustration board.


I cut out an opening in the wall so the ovens would fit properly. The front of the unit is made from leftovers


The doors are singly ply illustration board, the hinges are made from jewelry bits and the tip of decorative cocktail tooth-picks. I painted the whole thing with matt charcoal spray paint. I purchase 2 glowing ember sets from Braxton Payne. Here is the unit installed


The camera flash ruins the effect of the fire so I took a dark non-flash picture. It is one of my favorite features of the manor.



Well, that it is for my progress, now the big renovation news:

New South Wing


I have decided to remove the south wing and make a brand new one. I was unhappy with some of the rooms and was trying to figure out how to improve them. The wing measures 21 inches wide and 37 inches deep, and the new wing will measure 32 inches wide and 38 inches deep. This means the manor will measure almost 9 feet or 274 cm. wide. Here are the reasons for this dramatic change. Firstly I was unhappy with the ballroom.



I like it but my sculpted atlantides on the columns always bothered me. I just don't have the skill to get the detail I want. The marble columns were too pale against the wallpaper and the room was big for a dollhouse room, but small for a ballroom. Also, I love the panels I made, but they felt like and afterthought...the room just wasn't working for me. After I spoke with Jo about what I did not like, the most wonderful husband in the world said something that shocked me, that I had thought of but did not dare suggest, he said "if the room is too small just make it bigger" . He said it, I'm doing it. The ballroom will go from 20 inches by 37 to 31 inches by 38 which will be much more realistic.
 

The library was a great room and very Victorian...the most Victorian in the house. When I first started the manor I wanted a floor to ceiling walnut paneled library that was calm and welcoming. I fell in love with this wallpaper and redesigned the room around it. To this day my only big regret is that I do not have my walnut paneled library...but now I will. I am thinking about a library a bit wider then this one with a covered loggia overlooking the south. If I can get the fa├žade of the house to look good with the loggia that will be the direction I take, if not I will have a library the same size as the ballroom.


Because the structure will be almost a foot bigger the attic section won't fit anymore. At first I hated the idea of redoing the Chinese tea room, but then I realized it was a good one. I will keep the exact same design for both rooms, but they will be 10 inches wider. The tea room was lovely but with the table and chairs there is no way the staff could properly serve tea, and the women next to the fireplace may catch fire. the room will be wider and have a sideboard for serving and a bigger table, and the arched doorway will be much bigger so you will get a better view of the Winter parlor ...yes, I have to redo that room too :(

One last room to be gutted, not renovated the countess's bedroom


I tried so hard to make this work. The room was originally a dressing room/ sitting room.
It was a great idea to make it a bedroom, but I HATE having the bed to the side. I will rework the room so the bed will be where the fireplace is. Much better.

Another reason I am happy to redo the library and bedroom is that through years of research my tastes have evolved. I liked Victorian most at the time, but now I prefer a more classical Georgian room. I know you and many people around me think I'm nuts, but I will not stop until it is exactly what I want it to be. The only part I dread is redoing the floors in these rooms!!!

And that it all for this post my friends. Next post I will show you what I got for Christmas and the plans for the new rooms.

I wish you all the best and once again, if anyone is following me and I am not following you, please let me know.

A big hug to all,

Giac