Friday, 25 November 2011

Bricks Galore! Mr Mulpepper's Apothecary......

I decided that this Diagon Alley shop would be half and half. The top half exterior is cladded in Art Mache and waiting to be aged.
The bottom/ground floor is to be all brick. I had used Richard Stacey's brickslips on the exterior of The Leaky Cauldron so decided to stick with these to provide the link between the shops.
I like this product as they are reasonably light, which means the finished shop will not way a ton, plus they are very easy to cut, sand and glue.  
 I started with the side of the shop as I wanted to get into a rhythm before attempting the front which needed a bit of a think. I always apply the brickslips from the bottom up as I use the edge as my guide. A good layering of glue and you can slide the 'slips into place very easily. I pair of tweezers or a long darning needle are useful for this. 
I don't paint the carcass as I always grout after washing with a 50/50 mix of PVA and water. This washing is very important if you intend to grout.  
 I have learnt that a it is also best to use a very thin PVA glue, I use Elmer's Glue All, as the tiles/'slips will slide into place much more easily.
This not a quick job but I think the results are worth it. I even got a bit artistic and added a little pattern! Quite daring for a Boring Betty like me!
 I had to have a think about the front because of the window and door. I decided to add all the 'slips beneath the bottom window ledge first because I thought grouting these might be a bit too fiddly once the whole bay window was glued in place.
I have also decided to add all the wooden mouldings after gluing and grouting as I did not fancy trying to cut really small pieces of brick around the door way columns.
So now lots of grouting to do but nearly half finished, whoo hoo!!
By the by, anyone know of a UK stockist of Elmer's Glue All who do not want to charge 4 times its US price tag? 
Have a great weekend wherever you may be. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Cauldron Shop Roof.......The PaperClay Experiment Part 2

The roof has now dried out completely. The shrinkage has come to an end and I have covered the caps with slipped tiles. 
 The chimney stacks have had additional layers glued on and need to be undercoated/sealed before I start applying the Art Mache. I think I have probably over worked the roof tiles. Looking back at Rik Pierce's  roof work it is much less fussy. I should have left it alone a bot more and not tried to do something with every tile.
 I have also sanded down the Art Mache on the main stack. Very, very dusty work but is has smoothed down perfectly.
 These are all the extra tiles I added to cover the shrinkage.
 I have now begun to paint the roof with the main terracotta  acrylic mix/wash. I was pleasantly surprised by how hardy the clay tiles were. I started off very tentatively as I was dreading the clay cracking but they seem to withstand more than I expected.
 I have given it a thorough wash bit tried not to get too neurotic about painting every nook and cranny as I will be giving the whole thing a number of different paint washes. This is just the main base.
This seemed to take forever though! The chimney stacks are definitely going to be a pain! Another note to self: next time mark where you want the chimneys sit and then make them up, Art Mache them, paint them and then glue them to the roof!
If I can I am going to prise off the quirky stacks and add them after I have worked on them. 
For the first time ever I have managed to mitre the corner of a cornice! Well actually my ever patient husband did all the angles and sawing for me. I have to tell you this broken wrist of mine has had all sorts of unexpected benefits!
This fabulous cornice fitted perfectly and I have brushed it with my favourite gold Rub 'n' Buff.
Oh, and if you want to see how a chimney stack really should be made have a look at Brae's Blog, wow! Absolutely stunning. I must start saving egg boxes!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Mr Mulpepper's Apothecary All Stacks Up!!

This is the main carcass of Mr Mulpepper's Apothecary all stacked up. It is the Regency shop kit by Sid Cooke and comes in two pieces which is very handy as it makes the kit much easier to move and lift.
I have painted all round the window edges in brown an gold so the wooden and window fixtures will blend in properly (fingers crossed!)
 The front door panel has now had the brick paviors laid and grouted. I remembered to make sure I glued the steps the right way round this time which made the job much easier. 
 The key to grouting I have found, is the sealing coat of a PVA/water wash. A thorough coat, allowed to dry overnight means that washing off the excess grout is so much easier.
 Just peeking out of the roof you can see the pewter sheets I have used to cover the roofing panels.
I have bashed the sheets a little but they still need to be roughed up a little more. I also want to add some batons and a couple of repair panels.
 I had bought these floor tiles for the Magical Menagerie but I have played with one adding a bit of brown and gold, I quite liked the effect so I have laid them on the top floor.
This will be the potion and ingredients room so tiles seemed appropriate because of all the spillages!
 They are much more golden than this photograph shows but they do lay and clean up beautifully. My next task will be to add the paint colours and dirty them up.
 The front panel has a ledge for the steps and to allow for the bay windows. This means you have to edge the bottom of the kit too which gives you two rows of brick work. You can also just see the edge of the interior floor boards but I can accept that in the whole scheme of things.
 This is the interior ledge with the floor board continuation. I have grouted the gap and it looks ok. I will darken it up a little to blend in.
Tomorrow I hope to move on to the exterior walls. Lots and lots of tiny bricks for the lower shop and art mache for the top floor.
I am definitely making the most of my sabbatical from housework and all the chores!!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

A Busy Week, but Moving On Nicely......

The Leaky Cauldron and Potage's Cauldron Shop have both had rustic and distressed woodwork which mostly boils down to stained and distressed balsa. For the Apothecary I have decided to go for painted doors and cornices to create a slightly different look and atmosphere.
 This wood will make up the shelves, architraves and cornices for the interior of the shop. I decided to use a crackle spray paint that I had in the drawer from when I was planning a never to be seen shabby chic shop.
 I started with the base coat of brown, then the top coat of cream which crackles. Usually it would be left  with the crackled cream top coat but for my purposes I have given the wood an extra light spray of the brown base. I will now shabby them all up a bit more and finish with gold burnishing.
 I have not had much success with crackle glazes but with a bit of practice this stuff does work. I have used the black and gold previously and these work very effectively.
The main reason I decided to spray the wood rather than paint all the individual coats is quite simple...using a spray is soooooo much quicker!
 I have also papered the inside of both front panels, which was a bit of a challenge as I was running really short of the wallpaper. This is quite a big shop and I always forget the insides of the front panels.
My wallpaper was large in size but I used 6 pieces. Note to myself.........check you have enough for the bookshop!!
 I have also laid the gorgeous reclaimed oak boards from Wood Supplies one of my favourite suppliers at the moment. I love these boards. They look fabulous. They are well cut and they go down like a dream.
 They look quite light in these photographs but I have stained the oak a deep, rich brown. I have added holes and sanded them down to make them look less glossy and sleek.
 The real benefit of using such old wood, I think these were cut from a mid-Victorian floorboard-around 1840, is that they are already ripe with age. I love them.
I have carried the floorboards through onto the front of the kit as with the cauldron shop so that when the door swings open there is continuity. Again I just about had enough boards, I used 26 thirty cm lengths and had one 10cm length left, phew! Make 2nd note to myself re bookshop!
I had to make use of my not so better half for this job as I could not hold the pieces firmly enough to saw the different lengths. He was very kind and seemed not to mind being disturbed every 10 minutes as I handed him two or three pieces to shorten at a time. Ah, he's a good lad!
The small gap will be filled and stained as well as I can. It is very narrow and I simply can't saw that finely. I can live with this......I think!!
 The two ceilings are also coming along. The paper is quite sturdy so I have been able to mess about with it quite a lot without it disintegrating on me. I am such a coward with paint washes. I have taken on board the dirty water technique used by so many talented people but I seem to wipe off two thirds of what I paint on! 
I have also sprayed the ceilings with different colours as if various potions have exploded in their time.
Still another couple of dirty washes to go!
Have a sunny Saturday wherever you are, in one way or another. 

Lucky Me! Thank You NickyCC, Dragon Queen!!!

I was recently the very surprised and extremely delighted winner of Nicky's Facebook prize draw.
My fabulous dragon has flown in and will find  a place in the dragon room of my yet to be built Magical Menagerie.
 He is beautifully crafted and shimmers in the light as all dragons should!
Thank you Nicky he is adorable.
 I was also able to snap up this little duo from Nicky's latest collection of mini dragons and gemlins. Usually I see them too late as they sell out very quickly.
A tiny, sleepy baby and a mischievous, teeny gremlin both ideal for my projects. 
Nicky's shop is closed for a couple of days but do go and have a look at the variety of pieces she creates on her gallery pages. Lots of interesting items for all us fantasy and castle collectors. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A Girl Needs Candles........

Planning any themed project over a number of years means lots of duplicate items. My wizarding Diagon Alley will obviously require many candles. In fact any spooky inspired project needs lots of candles.
So I was really excited when one of my favourite artisans began selling her own range of miniature candles. Of course I could not simply order the candles I had to buy a couple of Victoria's wonderful potion bottles.
 I then asked Victoria if she would make me a selection of wax candles ready to use anywhere in the Alley. As ever helpful and obliging Victoria agreed and I received this lovely parcel of goodies.
 Beautifully wrapped.....
 ......and the perfect mix of sizes and widths.
 And Victoria, ever kind also popped in a few extras from her varied range of colours and types.
Do visit Victoria's blog and definitely have a browse in her wonderful Dark Squirrel's Etsy shop full of a whole variety of fabulous items not just for us spooky collectors.
The on an Etsy browse I found these cute miniature 'chocolate' candles that I thought could also find a home in the Alley. They are from Betty's Minis and she makes the most gorgeous cakes and sweeties.
In the middle of Julie's fabulous owls is a gorgeous Halloween centre piece with delicately tapered witchy black candles by Lory.
I have been working hard on both shops today but the light was too dingy by the time I had finished today but a little bit of sunshine is expected tomorrow. Lots of flooring done and gaps galore in my PaperClay roof but the randomly placed additional tiles have worked a treat, thank goodness!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The PaperClay Experiment.....

The last few days I have been working on the roof of The Cauldron Shop. This time instead of opting for the usual shop bought tiles I have always used in the past I decided to play with PaperClay.
I looked carefully at various sites showing the work of the Paperclay King Rik Pierce and set to work.
Firstly I rolled out the clay to the thickness I wanted on a glass tile. 
 Then using a nail brush I stippled the clay, cut off the ragged edges with a fimo cutter and then marked out the rows of tiles. I then separated a row at a time and cut off each individual tile. 
 You can see on the bottom row where I started laying individual tile, unlike Art Mache you have to glue Paperclay to make it stick. I then had another look at Rik's models and worked out that he seems to attach the tiles in rows.
I started to mark out the tiles with the edge of my plastic protractor without cutting right through. This was much easier and quicker.
After I had laid a couple of rows I shaped the edges to make the tiles stand up a little. This was quite fiddly as my clay tools are a bit basic and clay is definitely not my forte!
I kept going a row at a time and eventually......... 
........I finished off one whole side. I was quite pleased at the end. It wasn't perfect by any means but it actually looked pretty promising.
 The next morning, however, I was a little less happy. One of the problems with Paperclay is that as it dries it shrinks, this can lead to cracking or, as in the case of my roof tiles, gaps.
 I think these have also occurred because I did not blend the separate rows together. I am also a little concerned by how fragile the clay appears and I am a little worried that it will chip very easily.
So the question is do I seal with a PVA solution to toughen it up? Before or after painting?
Hmmmm, a bit more research is required I feel.
In order to deal with all the gaps I have decided to add extra wonky tiles which I hope will make the roof look patched and not simply bodged!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

What's In the Box?

While hunting for witchy recipe books I came across an artisan new to me on Etsy, Pat Carlson of Skywind.
I found a book of witch recipes and a Grimm's Fairy Tales that looked perfect for The Cauldron Shop and my Hogwarts girlie staying at The Leaky Cauldron. 
My parcel arrived and I opened it eagerly.
Oh no! I thought I have done it again. The books were too big, a mistake I have made at least twice before.
 On picking them up imagine my delight on realising these were the most wonderful hand-painted boxes, not the books themselves.
 Inside each box was the most scrumptious, perfectly to scale book.
 Gorgeously hand made and with the most delightful illustrations.
These tales were a childhood favourite and this teeny book is just a perfect addition to my collection.

Little Red Riding Hood simply jumps out of the book, demanding to be read!
Do take a look at Pat's work it is truly gorgeous.
Now I need to think of a project for boxes!!