Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Making Chimney pots

I have always been fascinated with chimney pots, especially those magnificent, elaborate Tudor and Victorian pots with swirling brick patterns and ornate design reaching up past the rooftops, and chimney stack and into the sky. When you look at some of them, you have to wonder at the fact that the artisans put so much incredible beauty into an item whose details can scarcely be seen from the ground!
 Just look at some of these amazing chimney pots
  Why were these purveyors of SMOKE  created in such an elaborate and artistically whimsical manner, by craftsmen of real talent. To understand that, you must understand the history of the fireplace and chimney.

  I'll make it brief:
   Initially, homes heated with wood had no chimney, the smoke just traveled around the room making life rather miserable and causing everyone's eyes to water, hence the invention of the chimney to carry out the smoke.
 If you were well off, and had the means to make a chimney,  you wanted everyone to know about it, and you topped off the chimney with the decorative pot, which was something of a status symbol.  The more ornate and intricate the design, the more prestigious.  Of course, the pots also helped increase the draft up a chimney and carry away stray sparks from your roofing materials.
Aren't these just gorgeous?!
Throughout the Tudor, Gothic and Victorian ages, Chimney pots were the final statement and flourish at the top of your roof.
  A Writer in 1842 wrote of Chimney pots "..being the highest point of the chimney, they should meet the eye agreeingly"
 ( all my chimney pot images are courtesy of Pinterest)
Though often thought of as purely English, Chimney pots were used throughout the world.
I want a chimney pot or two on Trimble Manor
Mine will be rather more of a humble affair, and I have to figure out how on earth to make one.
First I made my chimney using the same stone facing that I used around my front door.

 I found no useful tutorials on this project so I had to use my imagination.... starting with these items:  Empty toilet paper roll, paper clay, my little bricks, wooden egg holders and buttons
   I decreased the size of the tube to suit
And experimented with different brick patterns. I can't tell you how many times I removed these little bricks and started over again.
I glued together the wooden discs, egg cup holders and buttons for the tops and bottoms of the pot and painted, trying to come close to the color of clay.

I've got more work to do on these, but at this point, I think these chimney pots will definitely "meet the eye agreeingly"

   Here is a peek of the thatched roofing I've been working on... We really needed those tall chimney pots!


My old kitty, Shasha, loves sitting in the attic of this house

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dabbing on the daub

Plaster work!  In other words....
 a messy job. I enjoy it.  Here, I am putting on the first coat.

This plaster is a mixture of Acrylic paint and coarse pumice gel. I mixed my paint to get exactly the shade I wanted. I did not want to go with white. Many original Tudor homes were actually plastered in quite bright colors, shades of pink and yellows. I want a more muted beige, tint of yellow, OLD look.  I had to mix in 6 different colors until I found the right shade. 

I used all these brushes while working on the plaster.

The plaster requires 2 coats, first coat must dry completely before continuing.  On the second coat, you can daub it in to create a texture.

The acorn cap roofing on this bay window doesn't look as tidy as the pinecone roofing, but I still like it for the house of a mouse. (She put those nuts in a barrel in the root cellar.)
The second coat really does the job.
The little bricks that show through the plaster are something of a trademark in my books. Everyone has this "problem" in the homes of Hopalong Hollow

I rather like it. Maybe that's because we had to re-plaster so many walls in our own home.  Our home is only 120 years old, so there was no beautiful old brick beneath, just lathe.

 The fabulous  British series, Restoration home, recreated the plaster on a 1613 timber frame house, and the plaster is quite smooth. But I like the bumpy look on Trimble Manor
 I made the chunky "axed" corbels to replace the skinny, cruddy ones in the kit.
  Tomorrow, I will be thatching the top roof.... hope you'll stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Making leaded windows.... so cool.

Welcome to Trimble Manor
I've finished the stonework on my front entrance.
 The bay windows provided  in this kit were pretty mundane.  The "glass" and window frames were not worthy of  Trimble Manor.
 Here is what came with the kit:

Thin sheets of acetate with diamond markings and thin strips of wood with blunt ends for the frames.
I'm going to upgrade these windows.
I have a roll of lead golfers tape which I've cut into thin strips sufficient to cover the white marks on the acetate.
Once I've stuck the tape to the surface of the acetate, I need to "work" it with my little stylus. I gently push it and shape it to create a more dimensional look.
 You can clearly see the difference after the tape has been worked.
 Next, I wanted to diminish  the silvery shine on these window panes, because aged lead windows would have more of a pewter color than silver. To do it, I used a black permanent marker to go over each strip of lead, one by one, immediately wiping it off with a damp Q-tip. This left a dull patina on my lead.
Next, as I did with my wooden windows, I created wavy old glass using the Triple Thick  gloss glaze carefully painted between each little diamond pane.
I made 12 of these windows.

 Next I made nice window frames using a beveled 1/2 molding found at Home Depot. Using my little mini miter saw, I cut the wood for each window AFTER I had painted and antiqued it.

  See here!

Add a window box..

Another substitution I made on this kit house, was the timber on the front and sides of the manor.

 Because this is a timber, plaster and stone building, I wanted the main timbers to look like they could actually support such a structure; they needed to look hefty and strong and as if they were cut with an ax , a mouse's ax of course.

  I want a slightly crook-edy and uneven look.

 The balcony that came in the kit was not my cuppa tea.
 Here it is before....
 I know the gingerbread is cute, but it isn't appropriate for my house, so I removed it. Maybe I will be able to use it elsewhere, for a fence or something.

Again, I want something more sturdy. I mean, what if a rat comes to visit and leans on that balcony? We don't want the entire railing to come crashing down, do we??!

 I made a better railing...
One that can't fail.

Even 3 mice could lean over this balcony at the same time!
  I ran out of window molding, need to take a trip to the store. In the meantime, I will finish the mortar work. Soon I will be plastering between the timbers.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Aging the Mouse's Manor

 I want a good bit of age on this house,
 starting with the front door...
 I wasn't too thrilled with the door provided in the kit, it's pretty flimsy.
I purchased a different door with a bit more heft and substance.

Using an acrylic paint, in the color I love, ( my real house is this color) I carelessly painted on one layer, deliberately missing some spots.
I added a burgundy red atop the green on much of the door.

I've sanded the entire door, paying special attention to the edges. I want a worn and shabby old door.
I painted a wash of dark walnut stain over the entire door and frame and quickly wiped it off, this left dark creases in the cracks and corners.
I brushed on water based varnish is some areas and wiped if off in others, remember, I do not want a pristine door.
The addition of hardware: The door knocker is an old earring. I think that is appropriate for the house of a  mouse.

I will use stone and plaster around the front door.
 Now I'm moving on to the windows.

  As with the door, I did not like the flimsy, cheap looking windows that came with the kit. I purchased  the windows for the turret from Ebay and doctored them up a bit.
  These are the nice windows

Here are some fine old windows after being aged.

 I replaced the acrylic window "glass" with wavy old glass,here is how:
  now this is really a neat trick it is, the best bit.

Using a brush-on glaze, paint a thin layer between each little pane and WOW! You have wavy, bubbled, old glass!'

Isn't that COOL??!!
I think my windows are looking very medieval.
 Now I can continue to mortar those bricks around the windows.
For the bay windows on the other side of the house I am making leaded windows...  from another great tutorial I found on Pinterest.
 I can't take credit for these clever window tricks, they come from miniaturist  tutorials that I find online.

 The idea here is to make this look like a manor house that is around 500 years old for the purpose of this new book series.
The inside of the house will have beamed ceilings and old fireplaces, cracked plaster and creaky floorboards.
I will, however, furnish the house with  more "modernized" furnishings.. around 1880's, because that is the time period for this set of stories. My mouse lives in a VERY OLD MANOR HOUSE.
  Next I will show you what I've done to the timbers and the area around the front door.
  This is too much fun!