Monday, January 5, 2015

Quarter Scale Witch House 1 - It started with a garden gate

This is the first “installment” of sharing my work on a little witch house I’m making in quarter scale.

I’m not sure where or when I saw the first picture of this garden door, but as soon as I saw it I wanted to make one in miniature.  I also wanted to find out where the door was located, and discovered photos of the Spadena House in California, also known as the “Witch’s House”.  Now I KNEW I need to make a miniature version.

I believe this is the photo that sparked my interest
in creating the "Witch's House" in miniature

I researched and gathered as many photos as I could, then sketched out my basic floor plan and ideas for the house. The real house is quite large, and the house has a moat around it! Even in a smaller scale this project could get to be quite large if I tried to make it closely resemble the real thing. I decided to make my version in quarter scale.  Of course, I started with making the gate!

Using my reference photos, I created a pattern in CorelDraw.  I use this program for most of my design work, as well as for trying to create patterns for scale miniatures from photos of real life objects.  It is a long process, but, once I've made a pattern I can use it for any scale.
I didn't find any pictures of the back side of the gate, so I made up my own version for the portal. Yes, it opens, although the odds of me actually playing with it are slim, I just “had” to do it!
The door is made from Creative Paperclay®

Here is my quarter scale version of the gate

The reverse side - I decided a spider hinge would be the most appropriate type.

I haven’t put hinges on the door yet. I’ll do that when I’m ready to install it, and also add another paint wash or two and a final glaze to tie it all together.
I wanted to elevate the house and also have my model fit within the parameter of a standard picture frame.  I had a 13″ X 17″ shadow box frame which had been on sale cheap! (probably because it was damaged and the corners weren’t mitered particularly well, but it will work just fine for my purposes).  I cut a piece of hardboard to fit in place of the glass, and used craft sticks stuck in the channel where the glass used to fit, in order to support the hardboard.

The next step was to cut an approx. 3″ section from one of the long sides of the frame, make a simple box drawer, and glue that to the section.  This will hold the wires and batteries, and maybe some seasonal decorating items should I decide to use them.   I also wanted to elevate the frame, so I cut and mitered some 1/2″ basswood strips, then used a carving tool and file to make the edges match the frame.  I’ll paint it all later, when I’m ready for finishing the piece, since if I do it before then I’m likely to get it banged up during construction.

When I finished with the frame, I used foamcore scraps and roughly built up the area where I planned to put the house, then covered it with Creative Paperclay®. Since I want to use that gate, my layout includes the house, a small garden area, and a section in the front where I intend to put the bridge.

I'll be stopping here for now -
Next time, I'll explain a new technique I developed for building the house!

(originally posted February 13, 2014)

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