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Monday, April 20, 2015

Setting a Firm Foundation

Hello folks!

I find it amazing how even in miniature, certain things must be present in order to create any realism. This addition of a foundation to the front of the manor,  more than anything I've done to date, began to bring to me that sense of realism and architectural harmony that I have been excited about creating. It feels to me like finally beginning to turn the corner from building something to creating "art".

I am not anywhere near finished of course, most elements are not glued down which leaves some visible gaps, and I know I won't be gluing things together for some time.  This will of course lead me to scrambling for a box or two to put things away into, but it still feels great to have taken this step toward the finished product.  It is encouraging to see a "plan" start coming together. 

All of this philosophical discussion is about nothing more than beginning the build of some trim for the foundations of the manor.   Lots of fun in the garage, cutting tiny wood pieces, and a lot of glue, the final product months away, but still, I get a moment to get all choked up, right? 

Remember this picture?  This is what I started with, some real world, man sized (?) trim from Lowe's hardware.  

I've spent the weekend back and forth into the garage, (slamming the door every time in my haste, I'll confess) cutting the trim into small pieces. Each section of the foundation is made of three pieces of wood.  One backing piece of wood with two added pieces of molding. 

You can see that the larger molding was used as a base, to create something akin to a marble or cement foundation (the decision has not yet been made!), and the smaller trim (also purchased at Lowe's believe it or not!) became the upper trim.  Together, these created the sense of a strong, firm foundation. 

The Window Boxes themselves will have a decorative treatment that will extend the linear lines at the bottom to encompass the entire house, but already the sense of a firm foundation is established. Anything from here on in will just be strengthening that.  I am excited about where this is going. 

Together with the newly "completed" (far from it!) window boxes, I think the facade is taking on a strong presence.  I am excited to start doing things like adding the additional doors and windows, and cladding the exterior, but I will need to wait on some of that, since my goal is to complete the inside trims for the three modules so that I can attach them to one another.  

I will be doing some additional window and exterior work where it affects the decisions related to trim, so those are my next steps.  These things have to happen before I can finish the exterior, due to the modular nature of the house. 

I want to welcome some additional followers!  Thanks for joining with me on the journey to my Steampunk manor, with all it's ups and downs!  I look forward to getting to know you all!

Until next time!

Doug S

Saturday, April 18, 2015


There are many times in life when we want a redeux!  (redo!)  Most of the time, we are not able to, but happily, in the world of miniatures we are able to redeux to our little hearts content.  The Box Windows needed a redeux, so just sharing the results.  Therefore, no real progress beyond catching up to where I once was, but I am much happier with the result!

You probably could tell from my last post that I was not too happy with progress.  After that post, I kept looking at the windows, and I just could not reconcile myself to the aluminum sheathing, because it was just too creased, and I knew if I didn't redo it, I would be unhappy with it for the life of the project.  So I decided to make a change. 

Basically, all I did was to rip off the aluminum sheathing (a scary proposition!), and cut new sheathing out of mount board, painted it up the same way as the aluminum, and started gluing.  I am SO much happier with it and now feel like I can move on to bigger and better things!  

I have little more to share, so unlike most of my posts, this one is a short one!  Oh, and you can see just the slightest hint of the next step if you look closely at the first photo above.  This plus the hint in the last post should give you a pretty good idea of what may be coming!

Thanks for letting me share my redeux!  

Doug S

Monday, April 13, 2015

Box Window Progress

Hi folks,

This post will be all about progress and the lack of it.  Sometimes progress is one of those elusive things that does not show itself until the last board is in place.  I've been working on the Manor off and on, in between the chaos of an extremely busy schedule, and while there has been a lot of progress, there is not much that speaks of any real beauty to come.   

Most of what I have been working on is going to be "under the covers" at some point or another.  Still it is progress, and I thought that you all might think I had died and gone to heaven or something if I didn't post, so here it is. 

In the last few weeks, I have spent most of my effort on refining the design for the facade.  And of course, most of that you will not see! Patience will be required while I slowly dredge the things in my mind out into the real world.  In my quest to bring the imagined masterpiece to life, I have worked on adding coloring and assembling the previously built windows, adding some balance to the facade, and cladding the box windows in aluminum.  

Step 1:   You may remember my last post regarding the Quest for the Perfect Windows.  The windows had yet to be painted, and this was my first undertaking.  What I ended up doing with those is to paint the mount board with a copper color, and then used Indian Ink and Raw Sienna paint to age and stress those so that they looked weathered and aged, and like old metal.  

They don't look like much set off by the white Foam Core, but they have a wonderful aged feel and they are similar in tone to the Steam Punk doors I last posted about, which pleases me, as it brings the color tones around the entire house (or will when I get finished!).  

Step 2:    I've wanted to create a Steam Punk Vibe with the foundation around the entire house, and I began work on this next.  Again, no progress that looks like much yet, but I've created a wood base for the foundation that will help balance the front of the manor, and will provide a unifying element across the facade.  I've several ideas that I want to pull together to create interest and add additional bulk to the foundation.  

I've added a platform on top of the foundation pieces,with wood.  Above, since I didn't remember to take pictures of that, is the Foam Core version, and only between the windows.  The great reveal will be later in the post. You can take another view of the beautifully aged copper windows this way, right?

Step 3:  This is the "interesting" but not necessarily beautiful portion of the post. Notice, you have just experienced the "big reveal"!  Around the base of the module you will see the new wood base in it's full and unadulterated glory.

Now that we have that done, on with the rest of the story.  I decided to overlay the window boxes with aluminum sheeting.  What you see above is the underpinnings, so it is still Work In Process.  I thought I would break down how I accomplished that, as I think it was an interesting process, and with a little more skill that I currently have, I think it could net extremely beautiful results.  As it is, I am happy with it other than a bit of buckling in the aluminum that I will need to disguise.

This is what I started with.  I purchased a sheet of recycled aluminum at 30 gauge from  The service was fast, and the recycled aluminum arrived in a strong packing tube and in good condition.

I used tin snips for the first cuts.  I drew all the lines with a green felt pen to give me something to cut along.  Cutting the metal turned out to be very simple to do.

Lessons Learned, I would use my utility knife (and did for the final two that are pictured).  While it takes a bit more effort, the result is smoother and cleaner than using the tin snips, which caused the metal to curl, and necessitated flattening the metal again.  You see above that the pieces are a bit lumpy, which was caused by the tin snips.  It is easier not to bend it in the first place than to take out the unwanted undulations.

In order to manage the fold over the top of the window box, I cut the pieces larger than required to fold over the top of the window box.  I cut flaps at the top to the depth of the box, so that I could fold over and glue the metal to the box.  The first attempt, pictured above, ended up being too damaged to use, and was used to cut the patterns for the "new" ones. :0)

Prior to cutting the flaps into the "new" pieces, I painted them using Rust-oleum's Metallic Paint and Primer in One.  The color is 'Flat Chestnut'.  It leaves an incredibly beautiful finish, with a real depth to the color that adds a lot of immediate interest by itself.  I put three coats on the metal, adding the paint in very light layers to build to the final color.

I then bent the aluminum using my metal ruler to attempt to keep the metal smooth.  I laid the metal ruler along the lines I wanted to bend, and slowly bent the sides and top back to create the box.

I then glued the bent aluminum onto the window boxes, using, of all things, Arlenes Tacky Glue.  I love that stuff.  It will glue just about anything!

I left the base of the windows open, because there will be some details added there.  I'll save that for a later post. 

You begin to see the hint of the eventual effect by getting up close and personal with the windows.  I am liking the overall effect.  You can see above though that I had to cut away a bit of the aluminum to allow the window to go back in on this one.  I'll have the exciting task of making that melt away over the next few weeks.  :0(  I figure it will be covered up by the trims, so have left it to deal with at that time.

Here is the other window looking onto the Butler's Pantry.   It's a bit exciting to start seeing the effect that is being created.  

I chose the deep brassy color for the box exteriors in part because I wanted to balance the Oriel windows in the next story.  I like the way it brings the color down to the base of the house, helping to draw in the coloring I used above.   This is a picture of the brief vacation the house got from me poking into it's corners over Easter.  It's a lot of work transporting a bunch of modules up the stairs and rearranging them on the base board!   Unfortunately, I hadn't put the windows back into the openings when this was taken, so you'll have to imagine for while. 

The Future:  Now I will leave you with a bit of a glimpse of the future.  Not sure when I will be adding this detail, but it'll give you an idea where I am thinking I will go. 

Here is the baseboard trim (real life size!) that I bought to use on the wooden foundation that I have added on both ground floor modules on either end.  I'll be cutting it up and using it as part of the decoration for the foundation.  Still working out the details!

Until next time! 

Doug S