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!!


  1. Oh, no! What a day! You had me in stitches - not laughing at your expense, but with you - because I have sooooo been there before with a project. My usual saying is, "I'm gonna launch this thing into high-speed traffic!" :D

    I think you gave it a great run, and it looks great so far. I think you're right that once you get all the rest of the things in place those imperfections will blend into the scene. Bravo, my friend, for sticking with it!

    1. Hi Brae, sometimes even life in miniature is stressful! The staircase and I are definitely not friends yet. I keep looking at it and all I can see are flaws at the moment. I swear the railings are waiting for me to go to bed before they all start pinging out of place!

      Out with the spray paint tomorrow!

  2. OMG what an awesome staircase!!! I can't wait to see how it looks completed. Just keep tell yourself how great it will look when it's done.

    1. Hi Jenny, I just can't understand how something that goes together so simply is so awful to construct!
      Should have played with Meccano when I was little!

  3. Oh, Janice! I think it looks really grand, actually, but my lord, it sounds deuced fiddly ... I think it will look gorgeous when it's all painted and dressed :)

    1. It certainly was fiddly. I just could not work out how to make it less so no matter how many times it fell apart in my hands!!

  4. Janice! Thank you for making me laugh! I love spiral staircases in dollhouses but never have been brave enough to try one and now I know why! BUT I really like your result! Surely it will look great once it is finished and in place with all your other faboulos decorations!
    Hugs, Sandra

    1. Hi Sandra, I love the look of the staircase and I really wanted one in this shop because of the balcony.
      Gosh though it was so frustrating! Not sure I could go through it all again, but I remember saying that after my first child was born!!
      How quickly we forget!

  5. You encountered the same problems as me and no doubt everyone else who has dared make a metal spiral staircase! However, you persevered and you had a go and its together!!!! :o))

    I was hoping this kit would be easier than the on I bought from Maple Street, it seems not.

    I have to confess I glued mine together in sections over several days. I hasten to add that I don't think it makes a jot of difference whether you glue it all together whilst the glue is still wet, semi-dry or dry..if those spindles are gonna ping off they will regardless!!

    A few of the little nodes on the bottom of my spindles broke off due to sanding and regluing! So that made it hard to keep them straight as I glued them back on. :o(

    I left mine for 2 whole weeks before deciding whether or not to finish it, so you fared better than I! It drove me mad, as soon as I aligned one or 2 spindles with the handrail (I laid the handrail on the spindles as I was gluing them...in hope that it was at the right angle for when I did glue it in situ), the spindle would work free again!!!

    My plan almost worked...the handrail is aligned, the very last spindle however lost its node and I had to purposely glue it in wonky so to meet the handrail!! Grr. So to cover that I hung a scarf over it! lol So, you could hang a cloak etc over you worse areas. :o))

    I've recently bought a glue that glues everything (Gorilla Glue)...and it acts as a filler because it foams up to 3 times its amount when applied. I might use this on my next staircase. I only received it over the weekend so I couldn't recommend it to you and unsure what glue you ended up using. E6000 is another one I will try..that has bounce in it!

    If you have some needle files these will help abate some of the worst unaligned areas.

    Michelle xxx

    1. Hi Michelle, the most annoying thing about the kit is its simplicity, so you end up feeling like an idiot because it is not simple at all!!
      I used super glue and E600. Neither worked better than the other and once you lose tabs......well, you know how it goes.
      I used needle files as I went along because I kept losing tabs but there is no way I am messing with it now. It will have to do warts and all.
      I am hoping the paint will cover a lot of the problems.

      I have seen that gorilla glue, be interested to see what you think.

  6. Your post made me smile too - why do we put ourselves through these things? Despite the angst the staircase looks very good and once dressed you'll no longer see it's little flaws - which may not even be as bad as you think!

    1. Oh they are bad Irene, but it will have to do now, and I am sure I will be able to hide most of them.
      After all there must have been the odd magical mishap in the shop.

  7. This is great Janice. You have a lot more patience than I would! It looks great.. Although I don't think I'll be getting one any time soon lol... Id have thrown it out of the window by now haha!

    If a few spindles are a little off just say its in the crooked style of diagon alley lol.. I know that isn't the point.. When you've paid so much, you'd expect to be able to get them straight.

    Blame it on the death eaters!

    You can barely tell there's any mistakes and like you said, stacks of books will easily cover anything :)

    Congratulations, you got to the end of it one piece.. And more importantly, so did the staircase :)

    1. Not sure if it's patience or sheer bloody-mindedness Michael. I just couldn't let it beat me.
      One way or another I had to finish the kit. Luckily that didn't involve a big hammer and a bin!!


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