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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Faux Coral Reverie

Hi folks,

I've continued work on my Grand Parlor miniature fireplace since my last post.  This has been fun!

My first step in bringing this fireplace surround to life was to create the texture that will become the basis for everything else.  And to do that, of course, I am continuing my underwater theme.   I wanted to create a texture that "lived well" in the space, and what better than creating the impression of coral?

To establish the texture I wanted, I used a test piece of Foam Core, Unsanded Adhesive and Tile Grout, a putty knife and an old toothbrush.

I applied the unsanded grout to the Foam Core Board in about a 1/8 inch layer, maybe less.  Just enough to give the grout depth that allowed me to manipulate it for texture.

I actually went over the entire fireplace once to establish the basic texture, and then re-stippled the entire surface again after a couple of minutes to improve the texture impressions and make them a bit finer to match the scale of the house.   I then took a piece of fine sandpaper to knock off the points of the stippling.

When completed, I ended up with a nicely textured fireplace.  I've placed a small frame (you've seen this in other places in the house already!) to help me get a sense of the size and effect of the "completed" fireplace.

The final Overmantel will be quite different than above, but again, this is that "visual cue" thing I have to do to really plant the vision in my head.  I think this visual process I have to go through is all about proportion.  I seem to be able to "morph" my ideas in my head, but I also seem to need the visual cues to help establish proper scale.   Unfortunately, I am not the guy with the calipers and fully realized drawings in place before I ever touch anything.  I've tried. . . and it ALWAYS fails.  So I live with my little handicap.  :0) 

As you can see, I also put a few pieces of Foam Core Board around the edges of the Overmantel to assist my visioning process. 

Having established the basic texture I wanted, I now turned to determining the right "shade" of color for the fireplace.  

The technique I used to obtain the color was to use Floating Medium. . . That wonderful invention that helps to keep paint from totally covering the piece.  I used very, very small amounts of the paint that I used for texturing the walls of the parlor.  

If I had to guess at ratios, I would say that I put about 2% paint into 98% Floating Medium.  I played with the amount of paint until I got the coverage I wanted.  It is hard to see in the photo, but there were about 5 tries...the final one on the right is what I decided upon. 

Above you can see the textured and colored fireplace.  I wanted this very pastel effect, because this is going into a room that is highly colorful, and I don't want the room to look like a circus tent!  This understated, pastel green does not look all that great on a white background, but it comes alive when put into the room.

I then added all of the base trim to the front of the fireplace, using mounting board.  The "carved medallion" is painted white, and the background of the medallion is also stippled just like the fireplace to create a textured (coral!) background.  I used a very, very light touch on the medallion texturing, because I wanted to ensure that the texture was an impression, and not otherwise noticeable.

Here is a shot with some of the decorative detail laid onto the colored fireplace. The little metal swirl is a copper paperclip.  This was taken before the medallion and other base trim was glued on.

I've progressed to the point that all of the base trim has been added, and the mantel has been painted and glued on.  I did decide to just use the mount board for the mantel, as I feel it is quite realistic looking as is.   I have more trim to put onto the fireplace surround to complete the portion of the trim that evokes that art noveau effect, and of course, will be adding the fish and seaweed detail to the front, once it has been prepared and colored.

I am excited about where this is going!  It is a bit fanciful, but I think that still works with the Steampunk Theme, so I am staying with it.

Next steps?  That scary "feature" that I mentioned, and the Overmantel!

Wish me luck!  I have ONE piece of wood for my "feature", and I am very unsure of how to accomplish what I want to again, I stretch beyond my comfort zone!  But isn't that what all this is about? Learning and creating. . . pushing the envelope.  I have a love/hate relationship with that process!

Until next time!

Doug S


  1. Hello Doug,
    It is coming along beautifully. I just love the textured finish and the paint looks fantastic! It has so much character and will work beautifully when in place. I have to repeat myself, the fish and other aquatic details are inspired and will be terrific. I love seeing the visual process at work. I spend days making highly detailed drawings and sketches but even after a design has been approved I always remain flexible. It is fun to see where our miniature genius will take us, don't you agree ;)
    Keep up the great work Doug. I am very excited every time I see a new post on your blog.
    Big hug,

    1. Wow! You are FAST! LOL. I literally JUST posted this 10 minutes ago! I love that you are enjoying following. It makes my day every time I get a post from all of you.

      Thank You for your encouragement. I really do take a while to see any "genius" in my work! I just do it, thinking I like it. . . and that I may need to update or change it later. DAYS later, I can finally see things how others might see them. It is encouraging to hear before that folks like what is happening.

      I do agree! I have so much fun, and actually surprise myself rather regularly at what sort of just happens in front of me. There is nothing better for me than seeing ideas come to life. I am so hooked on this miniature thing, in spite of just beginning in January this year. It lets me express myself in ways I really have never had opportunity to before. I have a feeling I will be doing this at 90, just because of the way it scratches my creative itch! :0)

      Thanks Giac! I love hearing from you!


  2. Hi Doug
    I just love where you are going with the fireplace. Giving it a textured finished is brilliant... the colour is superb as well. Love, love, love, the copper swirl. I agree, that no matter how many rough..and I mean rough...sketches I do of a room or item, it never really ends up like that; but I actually enjoy the little detours that happen along the way - happy accidents I call them :) well most of them!
    Keep the posts coming, Doug, I really look forward to seeing them on my blogger!
    All the best and take care,

    1. Hey Vivian!

      It looks like you posted while I was answering Giac! Both of you get awards for timely responses!

      I KNOW, isn't that little paper clip cool? I have had those for several years, and I hoard them like gold. Silly to have a paperclip you don't want to use because it is too cool. . . but I am a bit silly that way. I just accept it.

      Glad you like where the fireplace is going! Like I said above. . . I am NEVER sure of myself. So it is good to have you folks as collaborators around to help validate. I mean that with all my heart! I literally second guess every decision.

      Obviously, in spite of my whining, I really do love the detours and creative "path" that I am never sure of. Happy accidents, or creative genius, or flawed vision, whatever we call it, it is the fuel that runs the creative engine!

      Glad you are enjoying the posts! Thanks for being such a loyal follower!


  3. Hi Doug! I never make a drawing of my miniature works, I just follow my creative flow and intuition. I love the process of the fire place so far, what a great finding is the rough texture. It looks really like coral, so it fits perfectly to your underwater theme.
    It's not silly at all for hoarding all kind of things which you like, just like the wonderful gold paper clip ;)! But I do think it is wise not to show you my hoarded stuff :D LOL. I can't wait to see with what more miniature ideas you'll surprise us ;0! (again I hope you'll understand what I am trying to say in English)
    Kind regards, Ilona

    1. Hey Ilona! Thank You for your wonderful comments! I am glad you see the coral effect in what I did, that is what I had hoped for. I am glad to hear there is another artist out there that kind of just goes with the flow! I don't feel quite so unprofessional, especially after I just saw what you turned out in your last post!

      I beg to differ with you! I am quite sure I would LOVE to see all of your hoarded stuff. I might just "go shopping" in your craft room! :0)

      Good to hear from you again!

      Thanks! Doug


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