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Sunday, December 28, 2014

How It was Adorned with Goodly Stones
[the Scullery Floor, of Course!]

I've managed to steal a few moments here and there over the holidays to work on the Steampunk Kitchens. I have a "To Do" list much taller than I am, and I've done a few of those things...  but most are being put off until tomorrow!  Tomorrow, they say, never comes! 

Be that as it may, I make some progress each day on the kitchens.  My effort since the last post has been primarily on the 'rest' of the kitchen floors.  I've also added a bit of detail to the trim around the dumbwaiter, and have built and installed [in dry fit] the wall between the Butler's Pantry [right][and the Scullery [left].

To add the rivets to the dumbwaiter trim, I used small brads from Michael's. I trimmed off the tabs and glued the brad heads on to create the rivets.  I'll expand this treatment, or variations thereof, throughout the kitchens. 

As part of the process of building the wall between the Scullery and Butler's Pantry, I continued to run up against the fact that I just was not quite happy with the floor plan I had worked out.  I basically liked it, but it closed in the kitchen visually quite a lot, and I wanted to change that.  I played with my mocked up furnishings until I found a way to make it all work better, and still be visually open. Many of the changes were minor, but they make a huge difference!  Here is the 'new' floor plan.  

I've moved the bread ovens to the left side (not pictured) and switched the "ovens" (front left) with the "wood fired range" (back left).  This really opened everything up, and I am still able to keep all the items I had hoped for in the kitchen. 

I think I will be happier with the final result.  One of the things that bothered me was that the first floor rooms, when set side by side, did not visually balance, and this arrangement also resolved that nagging little business.  I can now move on in peace.  :0) 

Now on to the featured story!  The adorning of the Scullery Floor with Stones.   

In the Victorian era, which of course is at the root of the Steampunk genre, the scullery was essentially the wash room.  Water was pumped into pots and tubs for washing clothes and washing floors, 'dirty jobs like plucking a chicken or cutting up meat were performed here, and often the scullery was used for storing the less important pots and pans, dishes, and kitchen tools, all in the same space!  In some of the more unfortunate instances, the outhouse was located just outside the scullery as well, which tended to not create a healthy environment for the occupants of that particular home!   This was not an 'elegant' room.

Scullery at Lindisfarne Castle

As a result, the Scullery was constantly wet, and often had standing water. Many household scullery maids stood on boards and pallets in order to keep their feet dry.   Due to the standing water, scullery floors were often at a lower level than the rest of the kitchen to collect the water and keep it from spreading to other portions of the house.  I wanted to honor these historic facts by creating a Scullery floor that would evoke the time period. I decided to create a floor of cut stone in the sunken Scullery area of the kitchens.

The technique to create the stone floor tile textures was yet another variation on the unsanded grout theme. I've shown that twice, so won't go in to it in detail here.  If you are arriving here for the first time, you can see the basic process used to create the flooring in my last post.  

What I will share with you instead is the color process I used and a bit about how I went about cutting the flooring.  I think it worked out very well. 

I started by cutting random lengths and widths of mounting board to fit the shape of the Scullery floors. 

I applied the unsanded grout, as usual, to each piece prior to cutting down farther.  I then laid in the paint colors.

The basic colors I used are as follows, in order of progression:

Sea Foam Green
Gleams Silver - Applied with a Sea Sponge

Dapple Grey - Applied with a Sea Sponge

White - Applied with a Sea Sponge

Raw Sienna - Applied with a Sea Sponge and then wiped out with a paper towel

The color process resulted in a beautifully warm, yet very lightly colored slate floor.   I then cut down the larger pieces of mount board into smaller, also random, pieces that would approximate a likely mixture of cut stone pieces in 1/12 scale.  The effect was magical.  It never fails to amaze me how a painted piece looks unfinished UNTIL you put it into place.  Context is everything!

I would like to mention, for those that might attempt to duplicate this process at some point, that I made a mistake at the beginning.  I would do something different next time.  

This process is a "wet" process.  First, the layer of unsanded grout, then several coats of paint one after the other softens the mount board considerably in this process.  You do need to apply each paint coat one after the other, or you do not get the mixing of color that creates the realism. 

A little disaster - my 'Stones' separated!

I used a mount board that was composed of two layers.   The process of wetting everything so much during the painting process caused the two layers to separate as they dried.  I would remedy that by ensuring that the board I started with was one ply board, or by sealing the pieces before beginning the process of painting. As it was, I had to glue several pieces down again.  An alternative, if you had a book with a water proof surface, would be to weight the floor down, thus ensuring that the 'stones' dry in one piece. 

I think the real lesson learned is to weight anything that is drying flat down with something heavy!  I knew that, but did I do it?  Of course not! 

However, in spite of my little reminder, the floor came out wonderfully, and I think it ended up being what I was looking for.  I'm leaving you with a bit of a hint of things to come.  Can anyone guess what my newest little mock up will become?  :0)   I'll devote a later post to that once I have completed the real thing!  Meanwhile, you get to imagine!

  Hope you all are enjoying a bit of a vacation over the holidays!

Until next time!

Doug S

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Steampunk Kitchen Construction Update

Hi folks!
Christmas Day is only four days away!  

Fractal Image by Larry Chang
This work is licensed under a 

I wish you all a magical and delightful Christmas Season this year!

In the meantime, I am focusing further on filling out the Steampunk kitchen build.  I am having a good time with this, but like most everything else, it is a truly time consuming project!  The progress is slow, but fairly steady, even in the face of the busy Christmas Season.

I thought you might enjoy seeing the underlying inspiration for this kitchen project.  I read an article a few months ago, just when I was beginning my thinking on the miniature house project.  The article so intrigued me, both for the historic value and for the associations it brought up for me.  All "Downton Abbey", and Jane Austen connotations.

I have a true love of old things, especially old things that retain their original character.  The article was about just such a kitchen which was discovered in a basement in the UK.  The basement kitchen, servants bells and all, had been walled up for over 60 years.  You simply must take a look if you love old things.  You can find the article at the Daily News website.

The beginnings of my Edwardian inspired Steampunk Kitchen

I left you with having just bricked up two walls of the kitchen, and having painted the kitchen brick in Tuscan colors.  After my last post, I added an additional coat of 'Burnt Umber' diluted with about 50 % Floating Medium again.  It was enough to darken and unify the brick colors without obliterating the overall colors, which I genuinely liked.  Floating mediums are ideal for laying in softer color and picking out detail, without obscuring other details. 

You'll be able to see that I also have blocked in the major color groupings for walls, ceilings and window wells.   I want the overall effect of the whole to create a sense of the kitchen in an Old English Manor, with a twist of elegance that is entirely Steampunk.  So the backgrounds are simple, everyday surfaces that will set off the more elegant and unconventional furnishings in the final outcome.  I think I have a good start there. 

Mount board trim being cut and painted

I've just used mount board to create simple trims that will be enhanced further as I continue working on the kitchen details.  Since the shapes are simple, the mount board works beautifully for the outcome I am looking for.  It also creates a sense of a metallic texture once painted up, while wood would need to be fully sanded and re-textured in order to create the same effect.  The mount board pieces were painted with Deco Arts "Rich Espresso", and Deco Arts "Worn Penny" Metallic paint.  

'Metal' trim installed on dumbwaiter

I've installed the trim on the dumbwaiter, and will expand this treatment throughout the kitchen build.  

Future Trim additions

I have also added an arch over the window wells, extending the 'Turner's Yellow" Acrylic into the arch, and cutting trim to help create the shape definition.

Beginnings of the 'Metal' Floor

Much of the trim in the Steampunk Kitchen rooms will be metallic finishes. I like the elegance and uniqueness it creates, and it, by itself, will go a long way toward creating the sort of effect I am looking for.  You will be proud of me.  I actually DREW up what I wanted in this kitchen, since it is rather complex!  I HAD to put it down on paper.  I am reasonably certain I will be working on this room for quite some time. 

I began the flooring for the raised portion of the room by cutting irregularly shaped rectangles out of mount board.  I wanted to create the look of metal sheets and scrap used as flooring materials. 

I used a variation on a technique that I have shared before to create the feel of metal sheeting that would have been hand forged, and would not be entirely smooth.  I wanted that textured look rather than the smooth, modern look of today's sheet metal. 

To use this technique, all you need is the unsanded grout, a putty knife and an old toothbrush.  

Unsanded Grout with texturing from a toothbrush

I layered each piece of mount board with a thin layer of unsanded grout, and smoothed it out evenly.  The photo above was my first test piece, and I adapted to a much thinner layer on all the other pieces, as I thought the thickness above was out of scale.   

After coating each piece with unsanded grout, I drew the putty knife along each edge to smooth out the edges, creating a sense of individual sheets of metal.  I used the toothbrush to create a texture that was evenly distributed  and somewhat rough.  I then laid the putty knife very, very lightly over the top of the layer of grout and drew it gently across the surface to level and "join" portions of the texture to give a completely random pattern of smooth and rough areas as you can see in the photo below. 

Orange Orange Basecoat!

The next step toward creating the metal pieces was to overlay each piece with 'Orange Orange" Acrylic paint. 

I used a second layer of the 'Rich Espresso' metallic paint over the top of this orange coat, applied with a brush again.  I just wanted the impression of depth created by the orange color, but did not want much of the orange color to actually show through.  I now had pieces that were a brassy gold with just a hint of orange showing through.  I followed this with a layer of deep purple, again thinned heavily with Floating Medium, and sponged in. A final sponged in coat (not thinned this time) of Rich Espresso and I ended up with the metal effect I had hoped for, sort of dark and moody, while rich with color.

The finished 'Metal" floor panels

Below is a shot of the floor installed in the Butler's pantry.  I really am happy with the rich sheen and understated effect of the flooring, and the sense of old well used metal that was created.   I am absolutely jazzed about the irregular shapes and sizes.  The darker flooring offsets the warm brick colors and the very bright yellows used for the walls and windows.  

I may actually put a layer of satin varnish or something like that over the floor, as it is presently a little rougher than I think would be "navigable" by it's tiny occupants, and in any case, the rougher surface would be difficult to maintain, and would not look good for long if left as is.  But I don't expect to change the overall effect, since I think it serves for what I had hoped for. 

'Metal' Floor Panels Installed

I am adding just a couple more photos of the spaces so you can get a sense of the full room.  I am very pleased with the color combinations at the moment, though the blue looks a bit bright without the treatments I plan to give it.  That will be a simple matter of paint magic.  The grayed shade of blue is what I wanted, so I am happy with the overall effect.  

Butler's Pantry

A gratuitous shot of the dumbwaiter with the flooring installed.  Mostly including that because I love the angle!  :0) 


And a last shot of the entire room with some of the "to be" elements mocked up.  So far, while this portion of the project has been one of the hardest so far in regard to the use of space, I am very happy with the overall progress and the rich coloring of the kitchen so far. 

The Steampunk Kitchen So Far

I am not likely to post again before Christmas, so I want to once again wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Until Next Time!

Doug S

Monday, December 8, 2014

Brick Walls in Steampunk Kitchens

Hi folks!  I hope you are all enjoying the countdown to Christmas!  I know I am.  We've been able to see family and friends, and are enjoying finding those special gifts for our loved ones right now. But I am most excited about the time I will be able to spend with my family during the holidays. And of course the time I hope to spend on working on my Steampunk Chateau!

My latest project has been to put together the brick walls for the Kitchen module.  I have a very specific goal in mind that will unfold in future posts, but in the meantime I wanted to create the warm colors of the Tuscan landscape in the brick treatment.  I also wanted a great deal of variation in the color for the brick walls.  

I thought I would share the process with you that I used.   I am looking at the photos, and of course I am now picking them apart, so you'll probably get a later update with some last minute adjustments, but the basic process was still fairly successful, and I thought folks might enjoy seeing how I went about it.  It's that camera thing again.  It "tells the truth", and cannot be ignored.  The obviousness of the different color patterns entirely fades away in real life.  Oh well.  Always have to be camera ready, right?  I think that can be taken care of with a bit of paint magic. 

This is definitely another work in process post, but I know I enjoy seeing how people do things, so I am hoping there are a few of you out there that also appreciate that.  

The obvious first steps were to complete the rest of the brick walls intended for the kitchen spaces.  The process of cutting eggshell cartons into small pieces and gluing them up took just few days.  Or maybe more like many, many days.  Not sure anymore.  It became a sort of a sick routine.  :0)

The final result of the added brick was worth it though, as it already begins to define the spaces I had in mind.

I also painted in the first coat of the color I was going to use in the window wells.  This color was 'Harvest Gold'.  I may adjust that as I think more contrast may be needed in the final result. 

My next step was to minimize some of the variation of the "bricks" by using unsanded grout to fill in some of the gaps that were left once the eggshell brick was applied.  I wanted to bring the gaps more in to scale.  It also adds some additional texture, which was an added bonus. 

To bring out the details of the brick courses, I applied a single coat of Indian Ink to the brick walls.  This picked out the details in the brick very nicely.  In a few places where the gaps were filled too deeply with grout, I did cheat a little and draw lines in.  You can see some of those to the left in the photos.  I was very unconcerned about getting everything perfect, because I planned to overlay the entire thing with the brighter colors. This layer of Indian Ink was to help add an undercoat to aid in creating detail and dimension to the brick wall color in the end. 

At this point I began layering in the color.  Above you can see the first coat of color I applied.  I used quite a list of colors to obtain the color variation I hoped for.  I've listed the colors in order of application below for those who may be interested in the process. 

Each coat was applied using a sea sponge, with successively less complete coverage, again, I was looking for varied color coming through to the surface. 

I decided not to take pictures of each step.  There would be a somewhat boring litany of photos with slightly different coloration, and I didn't think that would be too terribly interesting to wade through! 

However, here are the colors applied in order of application:
  1. Valspar Latex Paint - 'Cliveden Sandstone" applied as a full coat.  This was the same color used on the original dumbwaiter. 
  2. Indian Ink coat diluted in rubbing alcohol (as seen above)
  3. Folk Art Plaid 'Tangerine' (orange)
  4. Ceramcoat 'Straw Paille Paja'
  5. Folk Art's 'Turners Yellow'
  6. Americana's 'Burnt Sienna'
  7. an additional coat of Folk Art's 'Turners Yellow" with about 50/50 ratio with Floating Medium
  8. Craftmart 'Khaki' with 50/50 ratio of Floating medium
Yes, it took me all day.  :0)  But I really like the color variation and glow that is in the "brick".  As I mentioned earlier, I will probably put one more coat of paint on the surface to smooth out the edges and blend the colors better.  Once the colors are more uniform in appearance, I think I will be very happy with the result. 

Here is a shot with the "mocked up" furnishings in place.  I am tweaking the original layout a bit.   I have moved the "range" out of the center of the room box in order to open up the view more.  I didn't like the fact that you couldn't see in very well, and it did not balance well with the opposite room box (the Grand parlor) when viewed from the front of the house.    You'll get a bit better feeling for how those changes look as the room progresses.

You'll have to let me know if you want to see these "interim steps".  Things look more than a little rough in these photos, as I haven't trimmed out anything or even attempted to tidy up the edges.  I have a hard time knowing what folks might find of interest, so for now, I am posting these bits of progress.

I'd also like to welcome a couple of additional new followers!  I am so glad to know of you, and look forward to perusing your blogs in the near future and getting to know you!

So it is time to go off and enjoy preparing for Christmas!  Remember to enjoy the season and don't let it descend into a stressful experience!  It is too special a time to leave to chance.  Plan now to stop and smell the roses as you prepare for celebration and you will have a very Merry Christmas season!

Until next time,

Doug S

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Kitchen Progress: Miniature Dumbwaiter

Welcome folks!

Today's Progress Report is focusing on the dumbwaiter in the new kitchen module.  The complexity of the design for this kitchen is dictating a different approach than I have taken with the other rooms.

As a result, my focus in the near term is on those items that affect the ceiling.  My preferred approach is to complete the ceilings first, then work down, but with this project, there are several elements which directly affect the ceiling treatment, and these I need to finish before completing the ceilings. 

As you can see in the picture of the overall space planned, the dumbwaiter is the tall hollow column at the back of the photo.  Due to its space deep within the kitchen, I must also bring the dumbwaiter close to completion prior to enclosing the space.  So I set about doing that as my first task for the kitchen. 

(It took me quite a LONG time to figure out the approach to this kitchen! Thinking about all the dependencies and tolerances took me a couple of hours!)

After spending an hour or two cutting egg cartons into little bricks 5/16" by 11/32" I applied the "bricks" to the dumbwaiter form.  For this particular item, I chose to just use the mocked up version as the basic form, since it would be entirely covered up with brick.  I am always thinking about weight with this house.  The more wood, the more weight!

As you can see above, I drew guidelines for each line.  Thank You to all of you who posted on this process! You saved me a lot of headache with that little tip!  I would likely have just started adding brick and ended up with "crooked courses".  Having been through this now, I would not recommend trying that!  These lines saved my bacon on this project.  They helped me to ensure my lines of brick remained uniform.

The obvious next step was to paint the brick.  Since I am able to discern the obvious, I began that process. I used a satin latex from Lowes that I found in the clearance (returned) paint samples.  You can get some nice colors that way, for about a dollar each!  I've been watching that area at Lowe's, and have gotten some great colors. 

Here's a shot of the painted wall.  I think it came out rather nicely!  This color is the base coat only.  I plan to work on the coloring of the brick to give it a more interesting appearance.  I will complete that once all the brick used in the room is ready to go, since I want a uniform treatment.

Next, I cut several holes in the column to accommodate the "cupboards" for the dumbwaiter.   I added a second coat of paint.

For the bottom of the dumbwaiter, I used two metal blanks from the craft store.  Of course, the way they package things nowadays, one was silver and the other gold.  (Any musical reference come to mind with that?!). Metal does not take acrylic paints well, so in order to manipulate them to the same rich gold color, I had to gesso them first.  

I added these painted blanks to the dumbwaiter column, and added a finding at the top to mimic another cupboard.  This finding was a "tome" from the Fairy Tale line of findings, found at Hobby Lobby.  It is meant to be used as a locket, but it makes a very nice, in scale cabinet once opened! Unfortunately, all of my "cabinets" are going to be non-functioning.  I am saving such lofty aspirations as working doors until later in my miniature life. 

Next step was to create the wood door for the dumbwaiter itself.  Again, I just used the Foam Core base and added veneers.  This is the same Sapelle veneer I used on the floor in the Grand Parlor. 

To trim off the piece, I cut very thin strips of mahogany veneer into moldings, mitering them at the corners.  I also cut some small strips of wood to fill in between the cabinets, as I thought this added a richness to the piece that would not have been there otherwise. 

The last steps of this little adventure were to add several jewelry findings to the piece.  I added small circular, pierced beads as hinges, some small heart shaped charms (upside down!) and a couple of delicate findings on the metal blanks at the bottom of the dumbwaiter.  As I see this photo, I see a small alteration I need to make (for the first time, I might add!   How long have I been looking at this?  Amazing what we can miss when we are focused.)  One of the beads is at a bit of an angle, and will have to be straightened!  

I think overall, this has created that somewhat aged elegance I had hoped for.  As with everything in this project, it has a bit of a fanciful element to it.  I tend to love fantasy, so I am pretty happy with the piece.  I have some further touch up to do, again, seeing these things for the first time! Photography, you gotta love it and hate it.  Every little flaw shows up in all it's merciless glory in a photo.   I'll attack those flaws with a vengeance, and you will never see them again! 

This little project was one of those that I was sitting on the edge of my chair the whole time, not knowing what to do next.  You will remember I am working on our dining room table.  Fur was flying, and by the time I was finished with this little project, I was knee deep in mess.  I've spared you the photo, but let's suffice it to say, it took me well over an hour and a half to clean it all up!  My wife is happy to see her table top once more.  

 Courtesy of

Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving holiday!  I am back to work for the first time again today.  I cannot tell you how much I have longed to return to work.  NOT. 

Talk to you again soon!

Doug S