Friday, 23 February 2007

Don't stop me now.........

.........I'm having such a good time.... I'm having a ball. (with apologies to Queen!)

I have successfully slain the time-wasting displacement activity goblins and have been forging ahead on all fronts.

Multitasking? Ha!

Problem solving? Tish!

Lateral thinking? Pshaw!

I am positively riding the crest of a creative wave and boy does it feel good!

And the reason for this surfeit of joyous declarations???

Well, everything shop-wise is going swimmingly. Yes I'm having the odd wobbly moment when things look like they might start going a bit pear-shaped, but so far, all problems have been successfully, and more importantly, quickly solved.

Since the weekend I have finished constructing the dormer windows, which will sit in the hinged front section of the roof. They are painted and the roofs are tiled. I've even made proper wood-framed windows to put on the front of each dormer. Each mitre cleanly cut and NO MISTAKES.

Yes I know.

I can almost hear the gasps of disbelief.

But I promise's all true.

Moving on......... the tiling of the main part of the roof is continuing smoothly. I am not having a perfectly tiled roof, having decided that as the building is so old, the roof would probably be in need of some work, so I have been 'distressing' lots of tiles but cutting corners off, or slicing ragged, zig-zag slashes into them, to simulate cracked and crazed tiles. I've even put some slipped tiles on a few sections of the roof. Goes against the grain a bit but once I'd done one, the others followed more easily. I'm using little pre-cut cardboard tiles, which are very easy to distress. When the tiling is finished I will paint them in various slate colours, with some green, mouldy bits where the water runs down. I'll be adding little bits of moss, growing out of the holes where the tiles have slipped, as well as clumps of greenery blocking the guttering.

Moving even further on....... I have started the brickwork on the shop door fronts.
I'm using stencils and brick powder supplied by Bromley Craft Products and have decided on a herringbone brick pattern, which I will divide using oak beams to give a Tudor-style effect.
I have used a similar system before, on my Gothic Baronial mansion. It was sold as Magic Stone, and involved sticking a self-adhesive grid all over the area to be covered, then the powder was mixed with water and spread over the grid. When almost dry, the grid was pulled off, leaving the stonework intact, but the grid itself was then thrown away as it was not re-usable.
The system I am using for the toy shop utilises a re-usable stencil, which must be temporarily fixed in place on the wall using a stencil mount spray. After the brickwork compound is spread onto the wall, the stencil is removed, leaving neat bricks with mortar lines in between.
The stencil must then be washed and carefully dried before using again.

I spent ages yesterday trying to decide which was the best place to start and how to achieve the pattern I wanted, but the herringbone is so confusing that in the end I just trusted to luck and started at the bottom and worked my way up, carefully leaving gaps so that I would be able to glue the bay windows in place later.

Here are the results so far......

Pretty good eh?

After I have finished bricking both fronts, and have all the wooden beams in place, I will then distress the brickwork. I want some cracked bricks, and will be painting individual bricks to give some colour variation, rather than just a flat, brand-new brick look. After they're painted they will have to be sealed to protect the finish.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007



I have hit a snag.

Not unforseen but more of a snag than I had anticipated.

Having finished my lovely, big bay windows, which are to grace the front of the shop, I now have to work out how to run electricity from the body of the shop, to the two fronts.

I had a 'Eureka' moment over the weekend which involved running the copper tape right under the door hinges, which I had already checked were conductive. The electric current from both tapes would then flow through the hinges to pick up the tapes on the inside of the door fronts.
However, as the electrically literate among you will already have spotted, there was a rather drastic flaw in an otherwise damn fine plan.
In my enthusiasm to solve the problem, I completely failed to realise that if I carried out my 'hinge experiment' I would effectively short-circuit the entire house. Happily I hadn't actually fitted the hinges so disaster was narrowly averted.

Back to the drawing board then...................

Tuesday, 20 February 2007


Fired up by my success over the weekend, I have managed to squeeze in a few odd hours out of my working week to crack on with the toy shop.

The rest of the wooden flooring arrived this morning so I have managed to finish the first and second floors. I've also completed the construction of the bay windows, and finished the glazing.

The next major step is marking out the fronts, ready for the brick stencilling. I keep changing my mind about the layout which isn't helpful, but I need to have it all carefully planned before moving forward otherwise I will get in a terrible muddle and have to start again.

I almost wish I hadn't decided to have a herringbone brick finish......all those angles :-(

Sunday, 18 February 2007

The tedium of the long distance painter......

Am I glad THAT'S over?!

I knew that painting all of the display units would take a while, but ALL DAY?!

Ready to return to the fray this morning, I surveyed the large pile of display units, and my small sample pot of paint, and decided to go straight to the DIY store to purchase another.

Of course, as I had hinted at yesterday, the lovely deep crimson red is no longer available, so I had to resort to plan B and choose the nearest match.

Back home and I settled down to paint the units, a task which I estimated would take around 2-3 hours.


6 hours later I wearily laid down my brushes and practically crawled downstairs on my hands and knees in search of liquid refreshment. Happily however, I did manage to paint every unit using the contents of my original sample paint pot, although it was touch and go towards the end.

I did get into a sort of mindless rhythm, painting the insides first, then sides, top and fronts, but it was tedious, tedious work. My only compensation was that they would only need one coat of paint. I intend to pick out the dentil mouldings and fancy fronts with some gold Rub'N'Buff so that they look gilded. Might get onto that tomorrow.

I had hoped to get started on marking up the front sections of the shop today, drawing out the brickwork plan directly onto the fronts. However after my marathon painting session I thought better of it.

Still.........all in all..........a very productive weekend and I really feel I'm getting somewhere.
Time permitting during the following week I will
  • Assemble the two dormer windows for the attic rooms
  • Mark out the brickwork sections on the shop fronts
  • Begin tiling the roof

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Let there be light..........


Progress over the past week or so has been minimal, limited mainly to serious displacement activity
historical research on the internet, on toy-related themes. Today however, I determined to 'get on' and have spent several hours drilling, soldering, taping etc and am now basking in the knowledge of a job well done.
I had already put in the main copper tape runs on all three levels, but today fitted the transformer connector on the back of the shop, and connected all the tape runs to it.

There is always then a moment of fear and trepidation, when it comes time to test the circuit. Apprehensively I stuck the prongs of my little bulb tester thingy into the first run and was rewarded by it lighting up.

Et voila!

Each soldered joint was tested and all were found to be fully conductive, so the nerve-wracking bit of the electrification process is now over. It is extremely dispiriting to spend many hours painstakingly soldering and each joint, only to test and find that nothing works. However today I was spared that disappointment.

Emboldened by my success, I then set about working out how to illuminate each section of every display cabinet with the least amount of stress and pain. Each room will be lined with these cabinets, which I only recently discovered and fell upon with cries of delight. Because they have little removeable perspex shelves. Which means, dear reader, that I can vary the height of individual shelves to suit the displayed wares. Bliss.

In addition to this wonderful innovation, the perspex shelves mean that a light in the top of the cabinet, will shine down through all the shelves giving maximum illumination. Wonderful.

So another few hours were spent painstakingly working out the centre point of each display area, and since I am using single, double and triple units, this was not as easy as you might think. However, everything was eventually marked up and I did a trial run with a mid-size drill bit. Naturally the bulb unit wouldn't fit through the resulting hole so I briefly toyed with the idea of disconnecting 24 individual plugs so I could poke each wire through the hole and reconnect the plug at the back of the unit. I say briefly. If you have ever carried out this process you will realise why it took mere nanoseconds for me to discount this idea, and instead rummage furiously through my mini toolbox looking for a bigger drill bit.

Happily, I did have one which seemed custom made for the job (must be my lucky day!) and shortly thereafter I had one cabinet beautifully lit (see below).

Buoyed by success I then quickly drilled the other 21 holes and double checked to see that the bulb units all fit snugly, which they do.

This smooth progress, although wonderful, is a bit disconcerting though. Even a casual glance through previous postings will reveal a myriad mistakes and setbacks, which beset the DIY miniaturist. I keep wondering if I've missed something out, or done something out of sequence.

No matter. I have had a lovely relaxing day, playing with my project and everything going swimmingly. It surely won't continue.......

Tomorrow, I am planning on starting painting all the display units. There are an awful lot of them and I only have a little sample paint pot so I may be forced to visit the DIY superstore for a few more. Unless they've discontinued that particular colour of course *worried look*

Still, I reckon just one coat of a lovely deep red emulsion paint will do the job nicely, and of course being able to remove the shelves, which don't need painted, will make the whole process much quicker. However, as a veteran of jobs 'quick and easy' jobs like this, I can already foresee a potential problem. I think that perhaps, when I paint the insides of the units, the paint which is in the shelf grooves will prevent the shelves from sliding back into position. *even more worried look*

I do of course have some spare perspex, as I thought I could make additional shelves for very tiny toys, but having cut it before, I'd prefer not to have to recut every shelf * so worried that I'm reaching for the smelling salts*

However, I'm just being a pessimist and very probably tomorrow everything will continue with no hitches or disasters at all, just like today. *closes eyes in certain knowledge that tempting fate can have only one consequence*

Watch this space................

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Proof of progress

Despite my best intentions, I have had no time at all to do anything constructive in the toy shop today, aside from taking a quick peek to check it hadn't all fallen to pieces.
I have set aside a large chunk of tomorrow afternoon to try to get the oak ceiling beams installed, and make a start on the gargantuan project of drilling dozens of tiny holes to take the electric sockets for all the little lights which in my mind's eye will twinkle fetchingly and illuminate the darkest recesses of the shop.

Of course in reality I will probably break the only drill bit which is the perfect size, set the house on fire with the soldering iron and get a splinter in my finger from the ceiling beams which will go septic and require the application of a poultice.

But I digress. For now all is calm and since I have managed to find the camera lead, I now present for your delectation and delight, a record of progress to date.

Exhibit One

Small dog 'helping' with the construction of the bay window sections.

Exhibit Two

Demonstration of the use of nose as 'third hand'

Exhibit ThreeCompleted bay window, firmly clamped while glue dries.

Exhibit Four
Main body of shop completed and three wooden floors in place. Ceilings are also painted.

Since these photographs were taken I've installed the first copper tape wiring runs in all the rooms on the ground and first floors as I will be putting in lights to illuminate the display shelving, rather than ceiling or wall lights. I will also have tiny directional spotlights pointing into the four main display rooms to pick out the tiniest details.

More updates tomorrow hopefully.........incidentally, you can leave comments directly on this blog, just by clicking on 'Post a Comment'. I'd be really interested to hear what you think, or if you have any helpful ideas or suggestions.