Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hallowe'en Decorations

No better ideas came to me in the night, so today I hooked up the ghost lights with cloth-wrapped wires. Two tiny holes between shingles worked fine. A dab of paint camouflaged the tiny bit of wire that showed.

Click on the photos to see details, like the spider to the right of the attic window. The little pumpkins on the garland and stacked by the suit of armor are putka pods. I bought a whole bag of them for $1 some years ago. They are seed pods from an Australian tree -- Glochidion ferdinandi --  commonly known as the cheese tree. The squiggly lines on the porch posts don't stand out as much as they did at first. I had fun filling the window boxes. Found some pale black-eyed susans, each with a black leaf, in the box of landscaping material that have just the right dead air about them. 

The ghost lights reached all around the porch and across the front of the second level, with one little guy nipping around the corner. The big witch is hot glued onto the roof.

The chimney side took the longest to do. The vines are made of lycopodium. The twisted stems added to the atmosphere, and the greenery help to camouflage the wires as the ghosts climbed from the porch to the upper story. I think the plastic figures -- the skeleton in the window box, bug on the chimney just below the roof -- are meant to glow in the dark. They haven't been in bright light long enough to test the theory. Their translucency adds to the spookiness.

On the back (open side), the edges of the walls & ceiling/floor need to be capped with a U-channel, and the opening at ground level needs to be closed up some way. There's that to do and a bit more decorating outside. I've made that the next priority, although truth be told, I'd rather be working on the inside.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lights! Camera! Action!

Well, lights and camera, anyway. Today I happened into Big Lots in search of a new shower curtain. They didn't have one I liked, but in wandering through the seasonal aisle I spotted a string of 20 LED lights in the shape of cheerful little ghosts. They were too cute to pass up, and since I hadn't figured out any kind of lighting system for the Haunted House, I bought a string.

The little perishers are rather awkward to work with, as they are bound by plastic coated triple wires that don't take kindly to holding a bend. I'd hoped to have the ghosts floating around inside, but without doing some major cutting to move the string from room to room, it just wasn't possible.

So, the ghosts have formed a greeting committee outside. Is it a warning-off committee or welcoming committee? I think the latter; they do babble on a lot in a friendly way. The photos show the string taped in place. The porch roof will mask the wires on the ground floor, and the Washington 2.0 has a nice overhang on the upper floor where the wires can be tucked away. Tomorrow I have to figure out how the string will be fastened. I'm thinking a series of two small holes drilled in the porch roof and the attic floor where it overhangs, then a thin wire around the light wires and twist to fasten. The twisted bit won't be seen in the attic, and the twisted wire on the porch roof can probably be hidden under a shingle or masked with moss or a spider or something.

I may have a better idea by tomorrow. (Suggestions welcome!)

I pulled out all of the autumn/Hallowe'en decorations I could find. Once the lights are fixed in place, I can start filling window boxes and adding shrubbery and vines to the house, along with a whole herd of spiders and bats and ...

If you ignore the camera glare, the lights shine a nice spooky blue. It looks really good in real life.

I have a couple of battery operated tea lights in the accessories box. Somehow they'll find a place inside. Don't want too much light on the subject. Might frighten the skeletons!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Aging and Staging

During the profound silence here the past few days, the shingling got finished. Today I had fun installing the roof sections, aging many surfaces, and even did a little bit of staging.

The paint flew as I aged the more parts of the outside wood and chimney and the inside floors. Tedious. The roof is painted raw umber. It may get some mossy green color and texture, but I got tired of playing with the roof and moved on to the chimney. The siding got some black wash in a few places, as did the porch floor, columns and railings. I scribbled a pattern on the porch posts. They're a little shaky and need to be worked on. If you poke the photos, you can see more details -- like the "pet" on the front porch.

The skeleton/witch is too big to go inside the house. Even in death she is bigger than life. I put her on the roof. With some tweaking, I think that's where she'll stay, although she may move to the chimney side.

The black wash worked well on the white trim. You can see some of the scribbled designs on the porch posts in this picture. Gotta work on that. Messy. I have a few containers of dollhouse stuff that found its way to me but is definitely not high end and/or had no place in any of the current builds. Perfect for a haunted house! I found a couple suits of armor and a couple skeleton dinosaurs that begged to become house pets. How could I say no?

A couple of gargoyles hopped up on the roof, and a giant skull bounced into the attic and claimed the window.

The furniture is probably not where it will end up. I haven't figured out the use of the rooms yet. One of the skeletons moved in and gave approval to the rather rustic--yet upholstered in velvet--chair and sofa. The fireplaces are primed and need to be painted and aged. Not sure about the stove; don't like the stove pipe venting into the living room, but there isn't another place for it in that room. It may go. Skeletons don't need to cook, do they? There's no bed in there. Do skeletons need to sleep?

The skeleton had an operation on his knees so he can sit down. I'm going to have fun posing the rest of the gang when they figure out what they're going to be doing.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Washington 2.0 has become a Haunted House!

Five years ago -- yes, five years ago, before this blog was born -- I started building a Greenleaf Washington 2.0 with my goddaughter, Mollie. She was eleven years old and I was ... never mind! Anyway, apparently our combined attention span was that of a two year old. The house, which was meant to be a farmhouse populated by a family Mollie was babysitting for, was put to one side and ignored. I don't know why, but it began to attract Hallowe'en items. Witches, skeletons, pumpkins, a pirate's chest by Nuttiwebgal and other scary things.

A few days ago the Washington gave out a raucous cry that could not be ignored. There it sat, stuffed with skeletons and covered in dust. How could I pass it by? If you poke the photo and look closely, you can see a weary witch collapsed on the roof. Not a good state of affairs.

I emptied it out and gave it a good cleaning. It cleaned up so well that it didn't look at all abandoned except for a little buckling in some of the scrapbook paper we used on the walls.

I discovered that the roof was not glued, which will make working on the attic a lot easier. I found some crackle medium, which got me to thinking about aging the house. I slapped on a coat of raw umber acrylic, which aged it in a hurry! A friend came by and said she thought it looked great that way, and I tended to agree with her.

Note the position of the porch posts in this photo. The instructions indicate there should be two full posts spaced across the front with the half post on the left corner. Having not read the instructions -- this is an easy house, eh? -- I managed to put the two full posts in the wrong place.

The more I looked at the house, the louder the crackle medium hollered at me. So this afternoon I used it in some spots and then put a layer of Ceramcoat Buttercream paint over the raw umber. It didn't crackle as much as I thought it might. (What? Some of you actually test a new technique before applying it? What a concept!) I thinned the paint a bit so it would not cover completely. Between the modest amount of crackle and the undercoat showing through, this technique did produce a nicely aged finish. Check out the porch posts. I made a duplicate and glued it in place. Nobody will know there are one too many unless you tell them.

While waiting for various layers of paint to dry, I hot glued shingles on the porch roof sections. Here is one painted raw umber. I'll wash them with some dark green and black before installing.

When I took this house out of mothballs I figured a day or two would do to make it spooky enough to display. Ha. You'd think I'd know better by now!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Cottage Bed

Goodness! Almost five months since the last post. Real life ... well, you know that story. *sigh* I'm glad to be back in the land of the minis!

A few days ago I built a little rustic chaise longue for a friend who has recreated his grandfather's brick cabin in Australia. Grandfather was a ship's carpenter, and although the chaise is rustic, it has the nice lines of Victorian style. This is the inspiration -- a photo of Grandpa's bed.

I did a rough sketch but didn't make a detailed blueprint. I had the approximate measurements in my head and winged it. I used scrap wood with wood glue, white craft acrylic paint and a final coat of clear satin finish polyacrylic. I was so busy building that I forgot to snap any other construction photos.

Here are the three components: the frame, the bit that keeps the mattress from sagging between the slats (Is there a name for that? Somebody help me out here, please!), and the mattress. The mattress is thin and lightly padded. It consists of two halves glued together. Each half has a piece of paper, a piece of heavy flannel, and the cover, which is light cotton. By having the paper as a core, the mattress can be bent to the angle of the backrest and will hold its shape.

The photo was unclear as to whether this part was wood or cloth, but since Grandpa was a ship's carpenter, I opted for aged canvas. It is glued in place.

When it was finished, I invited the old farmer over to check it out. He found it quite comfortable. The mattress ties were added to give the mattress a more realistic appearance. I trimmed them a bit after this photo was taken.

I hate to tell you how long it has been since I made the commitment to make the bed. Once I got started, it took just over a day to complete, even allowing time for glue and paint to dry. Anyway, it's on its way to Australia. (Wish I were delivering it in person!)

Now I'm looking forward to getting back to the Pierce/Bohemian Inn. The innkeeper is getting testy over the construction delays!