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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fireplace Mantel Mockup

Howdy folks!

Before I do anything else, I'd like to welcome two new followers! Thanks so much Elizabeth and Ilona, I look forward to getting to know you!

I wanted to share with you the next project I am working on for my Steampunk Chateau.  Its been a very, very busy couple of weeks, we've had a visitor and lots of "extra" activities recently, so I haven't been terribly focused on the miniature scene.   As a result, I've not gotten too far along on the project, but since this fireplace surround is a complex project, I thought I would go ahead and get started on posting about it. 

First, I'd like to share my inspiration fireplace surround.  You can see it above printed out with my printer that is on its last legs, and is also about out of the black ink.  :0) 

I absolutely love this Art Noveau fireplace surround, and was originally going to place this in the Entry.  But as you know, I decided to use another fireplace surround that I purchased at the Portland Miniature Show in the Entry, so this idea was still out there, and I decided that an adaptation of this was truly perfect for the Grand Parlor I am working on right now. 

As you see in the inspiration photo, there was no firebox with the surround, so I get to make up the rest!  I started by building the firebox so that I could set the depth of the fireplace surround appropriately.   

I added the front and sides to the "assembly" (its all propped together right now!).  The small dots you see in the back of the firebox are straight pins holding the wings of the firebox to the back while it dries.  I really love working with Foam Core!  It substitutes for wood in so many places, and in the finished product, you would never know! 

I also added a back to the fireplace surround that fit just behind the firebox.  It is hard to see in this picture, but that back goes about twice as high as the base.   

The inspiration fireplace has a carved medallion in the center.  I wanted to emulate that.  I created the design for one half of the medallion on one piece of mounting board.  I cut out that piece to create a template to use to ensure that both sides of the medallion matched.  I then used that (half) template to draw out the above piece, using the center line to make the two halves of the medallion the same size. 


I also wanted to preserve the carving around the center medallion in my version of the fireplace surround, so I also cut those from the mounting board using the same basic procedure. 

Here is where the fun begins!  My daughter donated a pair of beautiful, but broken, earrings to the cause, and I cut the bangles off of one of them with a wire cutter designed for working with jewelry.   

Here I begin to depart from the inspiration fireplace, since when I was playing with placement, I decided I preferred the jewelry bit placed as you see it in the above picture far better than the original placement of the carving in the inspiration fireplace.  It just "looks Steampunk", by which I mean it feels more like Art Noveau than the original.  :0)  My particular version of Steampunk is going to be highly influenced by the Art Noveau aesthetic... I think it lends itself well to the "unique" and "elegant" Steampunk vibe. 


Once I had the basic shapes of the front of the surround in place, I created three differing sizes of "mantel" out of mounting board.   Two are slightly smaller, and one larger. 

In the final version, I haven't yet decided whether the mounting board is sufficient for the application, or whether I want to cut these out of wood. It depends upon how things go with the later stages of this project. 


Here you see the way the three mantel pieces fit together to create a "molding".    You can also see that I departed from the inspiration fireplace by squaring off the overmantel, because I like the overall effect in my parlor room better.   

The tracing along the top represents some detail I am hoping to create along the top in the later stages of the fireplace surround build.  I'll post about that later. . .  for now, it is represented in mock up to help me visualize the final effects.  I process EVERYTHING visually, these little "crutches" are necessary for me to operate! 

Above is a shot of the fireplace surround in mock up form in it's entirety up to this point.  I will be adding a molding to the opening of the fireplace, as well as base molding.  

Now that the basic shape of the fireplace has been finalized, and representations of those shapes have been cut, I have turned to the decorative elements of the fireplace.   I found the above picture frame in a Goodwill store.  Not my idea of a beautiful frame, but it presented opportunities to me in regard to decor for my little fireplace. 

These little details will honor the look and feel of the original fireplace, while supporting beautifully the underwater vibe of the Grand Parlor.  I liked the seaweed pictured above as one element that I wanted to recreate on the fireplace. 

Time then to break out the trusty Amazing Mold Putty and the Amazing Resin to cast a version of the seaweed.   You see above that after casting, I have cut off the bottom of the new cast at the right point to allow it to fit into the final space allotted for it on the fireplace.  

I also liked the little fish elements spread all through the Goodwill frame, so also made a casting of two of those.   I don't want TOO much detail on the fireplace! 

Here are my little molds.  Rather frumpy, but hey, they work!

This finishes the basic mock up of the fireplace, other than the elements that make up the overmantel.  I'll be posting at least a couple of posts on finalizing that area.  Meanwhile, suffice it to say that there will be a "feature" just above the mantel, (again, if I can carry it off!!) and a mirror or framed picture (haven't decided for sure yet) above on the Overmantel. Take a look at the inspiration photo and see if you can guess what the "feature" will be.  If you do, you can see why I face that with some trepidation!  

I posted at this point, because I find the photo above intriguing. . . . I thought it would be a good "cliffhanger" for the next post.  : 0 )) 

Hope this finds all of you well and happy!  

Doug S


  1. Hi Doug,
    Your fireplace is truly inspired! Your use of mouldings and jewellery bits and pieces is marvellous. I love art deco styling and your fireplace really does take the deco look, but your own twist on the aquatic theme is so you! I'm really looking forward to how you progress with it.
    All the best and take care.

    1. Hi Vivian,

      This particular project has been harder for me to visualize! The "translation" to my Grand parlor theme has been a bit of a challenge, and all the curves have their own difficulties too! I have literally stared at this piece for hours trying to "see" where it should go...I hadn't originally planned on this fireplace having the underwater element to it. I am excited to show you all where it has been going since this post...but not quite ready for that!

      I am afraid that this "conventional" boy has always been a bit "unconventional" in reality, so you are seeing the "real" me with this fireplace. I grew up on Disney and fairy tales, and I have a deep love for much of that, so guess what! When I create, I tend to go that direction in my thinking. It is funny though, I I still have a lot of that "conventional" in everything I do. Good thing I don't really HAVE to figure myself out, because that would be pretty much impossible!

      Thanks for your comments!

  2. Hi Doug, thank you for your warm welcome words!
    This fireplace looks great so far, I love the style of the fireplace on your inspiration picture ;)! The Art Deco style has so many possibilities for your theme, so I can't wait to see with what you will come up with.
    Kind regards, Ilona

    1. Hi Ilona, I am so happy to have you along for the ride!

      I too have always loved the styles of the late 1800's and early 1900's. Art Deco, Art Noveau, and the Arts and Crafts movement all have true possibilities for the Steampunk theme. That is actually one motivation for changing from the "French" theme to a "Steampunk" theme, I love all those styles so much and just thought they would be somewhat "out of place" in a true "French Chateau".

      I always say, and I mean, that I am also excited to "see what I come up with"! I never know for sure what my "plans" will turn into. I go so much with the flow. . . I change things as I move along, because something just strikes me as "right: So I do wonder what is in store!

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comments!

      Best wishes!


  3. Hello Doug,
    Fantastic design! I just love where your imagination takes you. The nautical theme is terrific! I love that you took a great picture for inspiration but personalized it and made it your own. This will be fantastic.
    Big hug,

    1. Hey Giac,

      Well, I am having fun with the fireplace design, if nothing else. There is a lot of opportunity for "imagination" with this build. I anticipate a lot of fun and a lot of headaches!

      I so love the original fireplace, and there is this part of me that kind of loved the idea of faithfully reproducing it, but there is so much opportunity to "bend" the design to meet the room theme that I just had to go there. I hope it turns out to be a good choice! Such a fine line between"believable" and "cheesy".
      This fireplace pushes right to the edge of that line!

      Glad you like the design!

      Have a great day!



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