Monday, 21 April 2014

Experiments in Brickwork

In earlier posts, I mentioned that my mother had bought materials for adding a brickwork effect to the exterior of the dolls' house. It's basically a powder that is mixed with water to create a grout-like paste which is then applied over a thin plastic template and allowed to dry, then fixed in place with a spray.

There are two obvious problems with this, looking at our dolls' house:
  • Sections of wall are inset versus the house's framework, making it difficult to fit the template and get an even application of the paste
  • How were we supposed to represent the mortar between the bricks?
There were several solutions to the first, not least my idea of adding Polyfilla to the outside wall to give us a nice, even surface. At this stage, I'm not sure that's likely to happen, but my mother had a go at painting the outside wall panels with a mortar-ish yellow before trying out the brick texture mix for the first time...

The template is a bit of an awkward size and shape, not to mention rather flimsy - it is nothing more than a very thin sheet of plastic with lots of holes in it, after all. We knew it would have to be cut down, one way or another, but for a first attempt, the less cutting, the better - we didn't want to have to order a new one if it went wrong.

As the photos above show, applying the paste to the inset wall panels wasn't easy - around the edges, where the paste had to meet the raised framework, it became incredibly difficult to keep the paste even and accurate and, as the template was pulled away, the excess invariably pulled away with it, leaving the surface very rough and slightly concave.

Thankfully, it all washes off easily enough without the fixer spray applied...
As a first experiment, it was instructive and suggested that, if it was done with a smaller quantity and with the template cut precisely to fit (tricky in this case, because the wall panels are not precisely the same size), the end result should look great.

Apologies... and back to work!

Apologies for the rather long and unannounced hiatus on this project. Just about all of my blogging got went through a slump, for no real reason, between last November and this March, with a couple of them grinding to a complete halt between December and February. It's not that I was too busy, just that I wasn't in the mood for any kind of writing, least of all the kind I have to do for any of my blogs. What can I say? I'm a bit of a blogging diva.

For this blog, specifically, there was an almost-reason for the slump. The idea behind this blog was that, while not permanently employed, I'd be assisting my folks in the refurbishment of the dolls' house. It didn't really turn out that way, and many updates - certainly the few more to come - are largely me putting together some kind of commentary to photos my folks took while I wasn't around.

I am very grateful for these photos, and deeply regret not being more involved in the work that went into it. The dolls' house was more-or-less completed around Christmas/New Year, and has been with my niece since then... so I feel that I didn't do enough with the opportunity to get involved and thereby let my family down. There's really no excuse - I was 'between jobs' and frequently at home, idle, while the bulk of the work was done and only got back into permanent employment about three weeks ago.

Still, the dolls' house is done, bar the inevitable additions, improvements and (dare I say?) repairs which will be spread out over the next few years, while my niece enjoys playing with it. My original plan was to have had the whole refurbishment written up by this point in the process, and do a semi-formal handing over of the blog to my sister, so she can write in whatever thoughts and observations she has, and maybe add in some stories of her own, from all those years ago.

At this stage, I have four more posts at the Draft stage. Aside from those, I need to start a post on the finished lighting and the final touches to/reassembly of the house before it was declared 'finished' and transported to its new home. At that point, unless something else turns up, my part in this blog is theoretically over.

My aim today is to do at least one 'proper' post here (after all, I've added posts to most of my other blogs by this point), and fill in some details on the remaining drafts, so I can get on with completing it more easily soon.