Sunday, 22 April 2012

Gothic folly

Today we drove around London to visit Knole Park, a National Trust stately home known amongst other things for being the home of the famous Knole sofa.  Before we went inside, we went for a walk around the extensive deer park (lots of deer running around tame) and came across this Gothic Folly called 'The Birdhouse', built in 1761 originally to house an aviary.  But later it became a private home for an estate worker.  How cool is this?  I love all the turrets and the sticky-out bits and the central roofline - I bet there are one or two really great bedrooms up there with slanted ceilings.  And their shed seems to be behind a facade making it look like a grotto. I would love to see inside both buildings!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Knight's Castle

I bought the kit for this Knight's Castle at the Arnhem Dollshouse Fair from VA-Holzkunst, who had many amazingly tiny laser cut kits on their stand.  I gave them my email address and they emailed me directions in English.  The kits are laser cut from extremely thin wood. The young man on the stand assured me this kit would be very easy to put together even though it looked difficult.  Having now put it together, I'm not sure I would classify it as 'very easy'.  It took dexterity, and ultimately the use of DH's magnifying visor, and lots of breath holding as I desperately hoped that whisker thin scraps representing knights did not go 'ping' out of the tweezers.

I wanted my castle to be grey, so I coloured it in with felt tip pens.  I cut a base from some scrap wood as this is not provided in the kit, and coloured it green with felt tips.  When it came time to position the tiny knights and horses, they were also coloured first with felt tips before cutting them from the background wood.

The towers are perforated at each corner, so you can carefully bend the wood into a box shape using tweezers.  Each tower has a roof piece that slots in, and the entire tower slots into an individual base. After you have bent the tower into a box shape, you insert the roof piece by putting its tabs into the slots in the tower walls, then glue the final corner of the box, then glue the tower structure into its base. 

I found that the corner towers went together well.  However, the wall units gave me trouble as each roof piece was ever so slightly protruding once you inserted its tabs in the slots, preventing the wall unit from closing tightly into a rectangle, which in turn prevent the tacky glue from gripping well.  You make up four corner towers and four walls, and then position them in a castle shape.  Because of the bases, they don't close up tightly together, but it still looks like a castle.

The final step is to punch out the incredibly tiny knights and horses, each with its own base, and position them on the castle.  This is when I needed the magnifying visor as these things are incredibly tiny. The instructions claim there are 14 figures but I only found 4 people and 4 horses.  There were a couple more indeterminate punchouts in the corner of each sheet, DS thought perhaps they were meant to be a mother and child.  I couldn't work out what they were nor how to use them, so didn't.

Here is the finished castle in my boy's room. It was very fiddly to do, but I am pleased with the final effect and it is very appropriate for my castle-themed bedroom.