Thursday, 29 March 2012

New Kid on the Alley.......

A little while ago I discovered the wonderful characters of Jo Medvenics of Pocket Pygmies.
After seeing one of her commission pieces I asked her to make me a Hogwarts 6th former with attitude for my Diagon Alley.
I loved he way she had sat her commissioned piece and definitely wanted the same crossed leg pose.
As you can see I have exactly what I wanted and more!
A wonderfully crafted piece with all the fashion sense you could hope for in a teenage witch.
Isn't the hair just fabulous!
She also came with her own chair and all the necessary bits and pieces a serious student of magic would need, even her own frog to practice on. 
My Diagon Alley is set many years after 'He Who Must Not Be Named' so I feel sure that this girlie must belong to the family of Cho Chang.
Look at these shoes and stockings.
I just adore their drama.
Not sure where I am going to sit her yet, maybe practising outside 'The Leaky Cauldron'.
Now pop over to Jo's Etsy shop and enjoy looking at all her quirky and beautifully made characters.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Now Don't Breathe on My Staircase!!

As my Dad would say another day, another adventure or another day and back to the staircase.
The railings have stayed in place, no overnight pinging off so with the sun shining I carried it into the garden for spraying.
The husband was warned in no uncertain terms - Keep Away! Do not touch! Do not look! Don't even breathe next to it.......
 I put it back on the stand I had drilled yesterday and stood away ready to catch if it should fall. I then sprayed it all over with a coat of black paint. I had to leave this to dry for a couple of hours but as it was only an undercoat I could lay it down and go off and play tennis......
I lost, badly, my mind kept imagining the horror of coming home and finding it on the patio, on the grass, in the flowerbeds!
Black paint all dry I then sprayed on the gold crackle undercoat.
 Followed by the black top coat. Standing back I waited to see how it would crackle.
Can I come in the garden now? The husband is anxious to cut the grass. 
No you cannot. Can you imagine the tremors of the lawn mower!!??
 The crackle is quite fine which I good and I can't see any touching up that might need doing.
Ok, stand back and leave it alone.
 This is the spiral in place. I will need a circular step I think to bring it up level with the balcony above.
That's ok as I need to drill some holes to make it stand up properly and securely.
I will crackle this circular 'step' to make it blend in with the staircase.
 It is not a dominant as I thought it would be, there is plenty of room around it for all the bookcases that I hope to have lining the walls.
Now I need to pack it away, very carefully, and move on with the rest of the kit. 
I had to get the staircase finished in order for me to cut the balcony floor now I can start the wooden flooring and order the bookcases.
I had a chat with Rob of World of My Own at Miniatura at the weekend and he has agreed to make up my bookcases. This is great as it means they will have the fitted look I really want.
So a good day today.
Made even better as we found out today that my eldest son has been accepted on the graduate programme he applied for with a well known grocers.
He will be one of the lucky graduates this year with a job at the end of four years study.
Phew! Now that really is good news.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Spiral Staircase for Flourish & Blotts.......Decision Made at Last!!

I had a lovely day at Miniatura on Saturday looking at all the wonderful items on show. It did not seem as busy as previous fairs and there appeared to be fewer stands. Certainly there were far fewer European sellers and many of the UK artisans that I spoke to felt that the credit crunch was continuing to affect their sales.
I am certainly a different shopper than I was a few years ago but in a good way I hope! Not so many impulse buys that I regret as soon as I get home and a lot more thought and research.
There were lots of people with note books, also making sure they were buying exactly what they needed.
For all the artisans sake I hope all this thought leads to lots of post show sales.
One of the things I was determined to look at were spiral staircases. I had seen a few on line but as these were not cheap I had decided that I wanted to talk to whoever was prepared to make me one.
I knew I wanted a metal staircase and had looked at various kits on line for around £50 but most reviews seemed to imply that they were a nightmare to put together.
I talked to a few of the sellers about my staircase and got a couple of estimates but in the end I could not bring myself to invest the sort of money a handmade one would have cost.
 .........I came home and ordered a kit recommended by the ever helpful Michelle from Minimum World and it arrived this morning. When I opened the box I was quite heartened by how few pieces there seemed to be. It looked quite a simple procedure. The instructions were clear and the stages were few. 
 I drilled the holes for the central pole and first step to give the staircase a stable base. The first step slipped on easily and each step has pre-drilled holes for the next one.
 The first couple went on without a problem and I used a little bit of super glue to hold each one in place. 
 Now doesn't that all sound simple, and in reality it should have been but as I added more steps it became apparent that not all the pre-drilled holes matched the tabs on the bottom of each step. Plus if I wiggled them too much the tab would break off completely. This meant removing the step completely and rubbing down the sheared off metal. Hmmmm, a nuisance but still moving on nicely.
 The stairs are simply slid onto a metal tube one at a time and even without the railing look pretty good.
 The kit comes with 24 railings that slot into the two pre-drilled holes on each step. Having had a few problems with the other holes I took the time to rub down the tabs on each railing to make sure they would fit into the holes easily.
 The additional weight of the railings meant that my wooden stand could no longer hold the staircase straight and I became a little concerned that the whole piece would topple of my table and explode into a hundred pieces!
Once I started to try and glue the railing to the bannister it became obvious that falling off the table was the least of its problems. I was more likely to be thrown through the window and into next door's garden!!!!
This is a really fiddly stage and took simply ages. I could not work out the best way to do it. The bannister is in four pieces and I could not get them to line up properly and at the same time you have to make sure the railings stay in their groove.
Twice I walked away from it because of a very frayed temper and fingers covered in super glue.
Oh my goodness it has been a very long day.
 This is the finished, unfinished, staircase. Apart from the curly bit that goes at the bottom of the bannister but I didn't want to mess with it at this moment because I was waiting for the last of the glues to dry. 
It is far from perfect. The bannister joins are pretty awful and the sweep of the rail is not very clean. Some of the railing tabs snapped off as I was trying to fit the bannister rail so they are hanging rather than fixed but I have a spiral staircase.
Hopefully once it is painted, crackled and dressed with characters and books, all its many flaws will not be so visible.
I just hope it stays in one piece long enough for me to fix it in place!!!
The kit has cost a third of what I would have had to pay for a hand made piece with the extra step and postage. It has taken me almost eight hours and a tube of super glue. It still has to be painted and it's not perfect by any means.
Do I feel a sense of achievement? Am I pleased to have saved the cash?
Ask me tomorrow, or next week.
 Or better still ask my husband when the credit card bill arrives this month!!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

If At First You Don't Succeed..........Start Sanding!!

I decided it was time to stop sulking and get out the sander and sandpaper in order to remove the ArtMache from The Magical Menagerie.
After making a mess up on the colour there seemed to be no other option I just hoped the whole kit would not collapse under the strain!
I took the kit into the garden as I had been told by many of you sanding ArtMache is a very dusty business and gosh how right you all were.
 This is the sanded exterior and the kit seems to have stayed in one piece, I don't appear to have done too much damage and even more remarkably I haven't thrown it over the garden fence.....
I now need to wash all the dust away, check on the tiling and make another batch of ArtMache. Sooooo boring but now I have made the decision it is time to grin and bear it.
I have managed to finish two sides today and have an aching thumb for my trouble. The new layer doesn't look too awful so I am feeling hopeful that I can recover the project.
 On a much more cheerful note I thought you would love to see my new purchase for 'Flourish and Blott's'. My friend has just brought him over from Australia where he was made made by the immensely talented Kim Murdoch.
 Kim's dolls are simply amazing but are very difficult to get hold of so I have had to settle for a very small example of her work.
He is just perfect for the bookshop!
On a different note I have tried to remove the word verification option from my comment section to allow readers to leave comments more easily. The double word test drives me mad when I want to leave a comment so I hope I have managed to make it easier for anyone who would like to say hello.
Josje of A Beautiful World let me know exactly how to do it.
Thank You Josje.
Please let me know if it works!!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Dark Squirrel's Fabulous New Range of Candles and Cauldrons.

Anyone planning a spooky/wizardy/witchy scene should visit the Etsy shop of the lovely VictoriaDark Squirrel's Miniature Asylum.
Here you will find a marvellous selection of potions, cabinets and candles.
Just recently Victoria has added a few new items to her range and I was lucky enough to purchase a few.
 This fabulous scroll set is just perfect for my Dragon Study. The paper is simply perfect and has a linen feel to it making it seem really ancient and special. 
 Then from a new selection of bubbling cauldrons I could not resist this handsome chap! I have him sitting outside The Cauldron Shop at the moment and he always makes me smile when I glance over at him. 
Full of green gloop as every cauldron should be!
 Lastly there are these mischievous chappies. A whole selection of character candles just perfect for lighting up my Diagon Alley shops. 
 They are so cute and I have plenty of nooks and crannies planned to give them a home. 
Of course Victoria, who is always so kind and generous, also included two of her lovely scrolls.
Thank you Victoria for all my lovely pieces.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Diagon Alley's New Premises Ready For Opening......Well Nearly.

I decided to have a line up of the four Diagon Alley shops I have 'completed' so far. 
 All the kits seem to sit alongside each other nicely and the brickwork seems to be forming the link between them all I was looking for.
 Unfortunately placing them together has made one this glaringly obvious.......
...... The Magical Menagerie is much too 'red'. The other shops are brown/grey dingy and the different shade just looks awful. I don't know how this has happened or why I haven't seen it earlier.
The grey light of February probably.
Fudge and Fiddlesticks!!!
I have given it all a grey wash today but that hasn't worked so now I am thinking I will have to go right back and give all the ArtMache a white wash to start building up the dirty wash again.
Ho Hum.......
 The roof of this kit is flat and it is supposed to fit snugly on the top. Well mine does not fit at all snugly, after a lot of sanding it nearly fit so I have edged it with balsa and filled the square with painted sandpaper. As you can see I then tore away some of the edging as I want it to have a roughened 'burnt' look as a finish due to all the low flying dragon activity!! 

Too add a little more interest I have used Richard Stacey's twelfth scale bricks. These now have to be grouted then I will finish of the singed flat roof.
So I really am down to the last few jobs now on the exterior of this shop, these involve quite a lot of drying time which means I have also been able to work on the bookshop.
I seem to have had a lot of problems with this kit so I am hoping that "Flourish & Blott's" will be much more co-operative!!
 The Sid Cooke County Kit comes with quite a lot of moulding and as I am having the bow windows on both ground and first floor windows I have gone for the crackle option.
 Black and gold with Mahogany fittings is my overall scheme for "Flourish & Blott's". I see it as the most affluent of all the shops. After all they do seem to have cornered the market in Hogwarts set texts!!
 The interior wallpaper is 'Burlesque' by Les Chinoiseries a fabulous Spanish site that has both wallpaper and gorgeous miniature fabrics. I love the full on luxury of the black and gold. It is so 'in your face'.
This kit has a back door and back window. 
I am going to try and use both these openings to give the illusion of back areas within the shop some how. Lots of ideas, will have to see how I get on!!
I have these three unfinished counters that I bought ages ago from Maple Street Miniatures and I quite like the idea of using them here as a way of show casing some of the beautiful books I have set aside for this project.
The counters will also be a way of avoiding simply lining the walls with book shelves!! Very boring.
I have always wanted to have a circular staircase in this shop which is why I have not yet put in the middle floor. I am going to have a look at them when I go to Miniatura in a week or so, this will be about the third time I have looked at this type of staircase!!
Staircases take up so much room I usually avoid them, but..........I do like the spiral ones!!!!