Sunday, November 23, 2014

Quarter Scale Witch House 3 - The Fireplace

The reference photos I gathered of the real Spadena house show the fireplace almost directly behind the dormer, which is how I planned for it in my model. Since I am making up the inside, I planned on having the fireplace just go through the second floor, however, it took up so much room in the area I planned on for the bedroom, that I decided to cut it back and make a mantel on the second story as well. This not only gave me more space, but further enhanced the “witch hat” look. (I read that part of Harry Oliver’s plan in the design was to make the roof gables and front form of the house look like a witch’s hat)

This was the original fireplace for my version, which I created by cutting dry paperclay to size and cementing together with fresh clay.

This is the modified fireplace – I cut a section out of the original version, added a mantel, then cemented the top portion back on. The fireplace is also cut so that the top portion can go on the second floor (easier to cut the fireplace than to line it up with a hole in the floor, besides, I haven’t decided on the exact placement yet).

 I am considering putting the fireplace at an angle, like it is in this photo
The second floor is not installed at this point, I’m still in the “dry fit” stage. The cardboard supports are holding the floor in place while I test fireplace placement, stairs, layout, etc.
Since I didn’t take photos of my fireplace during it’s creation, and since I need another quarter-scale fireplace for a different project, I’m going to share in the following photos the technique I used for this one. It’s a fun, simple way to get the rock look. I’m sure there is a name for this type of rock work, which is popular in storybook style homes, but I don’t know what the name of it is.

The demonstration fireplace is a different style, and is for a one story building, but the process is just the same as I used for the witch house fireplace.

The first step is to design your fireplace, create a pattern and transfer it onto a sheet of dry paperclay. I’m using 1/8″ sheets for this project. (Thought I’d share a picture of part of my dry clay stash with you too – yep, at all times I’ve got dry sheets, baggies of bits, carving and turning blanks, slip, powdered clay, and of course packages of fresh clay :) ).

*** Still in the process of updating, but if you’d like to know how to make nice flat sheets of dry clay, please visit my website at this link: ***

Cut pieces from clay and “dry fit” to see if they are going to work the way you planned. Sand or adjust as needed. Remember to wear a dust mask when sawing or sanding dry clay! Cover a piece of flat foamcore or board with plastic wrap, or use a ceramic tile or plastic surface as a base for assembling the pieces.  Wet the assembly board, then place the back piece onto it and move it around in a small circle until it starts to stick to the base, then move the piece a little bit at a time until it’s stuck down solidly.  This will keep your project in place but allow you to peel it off later.  Wet clay pieces, then join together with fresh clay.
Dry fit pieces

Put it all together with fresh clay
Allow the clay to dry, then peel off work surface.

Next you’ll need your baggie of bits of dry clay. These are the leftover pieces of clay from sculpting that have dried out, or scraps from cutting or carving clay. If you don’t have any, you can break off bits from the dry sheet that you cut the fireplace pieces from. I’ve dumped my baggie out and sorted into the size of stones I want for the fireplace (small ones on the right, since this is quarter scale), and broken up some of the larger pieces in order to have what I think will be enough to cover the fireplace.
baggie of clay bits
sorted to size
Now take the bits, put them into a container, and add enough water to cover. Stir until the edges of the pieces start to soften and the clay is somewhat dissolved. It’s up to you how much you want to stir and round the edges of the “rocks”. Obviously, you don’t want to completely dissolve them.
bits of clay with water added
stirred to rock slurry mixture
All that’s left is to paint it on and let it dry. If you have extra rock mixture just spread it out on the board and when that dries you can pick the rocks back off of it and throw them back in the baggie.
rock mixture painted onto fireplace

extra mixture drying on assembly board

 This entry was originally posted on April 28th, 2014.

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