First, this experience has made me realize something: I need a better camera! The main drawback of this one is its tendency to "fisheye" everything. My house isn't actually curved into circles, I promise.
But, moving on, I've finally--and I do mean finally--finished the interior. The Wizard's Eyrie is a project that actually began almost four years ago. Due to a variety of intervening circumstances, I had to stop working on it...and slowly the weeks became months, and the months became years...and years.
I decided to rehab it right after Christmas. We were coping with a death in the family, and I needed a distraction. I cut and carved all the individual pieces for the interior during one days' hard work. Basically, I turned off the phone, made myself some tea, and disappeared into the basement for fourteen hours. I emerged with a bunch of little sticks, ready to sand, stain, and varnish. Now, about a month and a half later, I look back on that day as one of the most therapeutic of my life so far. I think, truly, that because of how it came into the world, the Wizard's Eyrie will always hold a special place in my heart.
This is a fantasy project. It's not meant to represent any one place or time period, but rather to provide an escape into a different world entirely. Design-wise, creating a fantasy structure is challenging: unless you're careful, it'll end up looking like a badly conceived, historically inaccurate medieval or tudor effort. To create the Wizard's Eyrie, I took a cue from the creators of the creators of the Lord of the Rings "bigatures".
This is Bilbo's, and later Frodo's home, Bag End. Click on the picture to see the larger version. Here, while Bag End's living room evokes the late middle ages, it's clearly from a different world altogether. That's because, instead of slavishly following British architectural history, the designers borrowed from many different periods of history, and schools of design--and, in the end, made it their own. If you look closely, Bag End reflects (among others) American Colonial, Indigenous Celtic, and even Norwegian design elements.
I took, for my design inspiration, this very picture, as well as American Colonial, Amish, and American Shaker design elements. I'm fortunate in that I live in an area with a lot of history; architectural inspiration is all around me. Many of the most interesting examples of American architecture date from the 1600's, a time when colonization was truly a scary proposition. Many were refugees from the British Civil War, and had nowhere else to go: starvation, illness, and death surely beat the predations of conquering armies. It's hard to remember that what appear as modest homes to us were, for their time, extraordinarily luxurious. The fact of having a roof over one's head at all represented a nearly herculean achievement. I picture our wizard as toughing things out a bit, while still enjoying a few luxuries...
The outside still needs some work, but the inside, at least, is picture-ready...
I took it into the dining room, which affords the best natural light.
A view from the front (back?)
I think the ceiling came out pretty well. I like the look of exposed beams. There's a nice "loft" effect with leaving the roof open, and disposing of a ceiling altogether. I wish more dollhouse kits had higher ceilings.
The main house.
The windows are a combination of glass and open air. Although this is a fantasy piece, its inspired by tudor architecture; for most of our civilized history, glass--if available at all--has been a precious commodity. Its main advantage was that it allowed for some natural light. Most windows, though, were at least partially open; householders would cover them, in cold weather, with shutters, blankets, even tanned hides. Because the Wizard's Eyrie is a mix of spartan poverty and luxury--essentially, our wizard lives in a very well-appointed hut--I added a little bit of glass, but opted for realism with the upper window.
We still need hardware! I'm on the lookout for the perfect set--and for a door knocker. Any suggestions?
A quiet corner.
A shelf for the wizard's scrolls, and most precious potions.
I envisioned this hut as having been built in stages: the main body first, followed by a lean-to addition. This is why I varied the color scheme. It wasn't uncommon, in the middle ages, for discarded outbuildings--often relics of the Roman occupation--to be converted into dwellings. Although my architecture obviously shares more in common with Bilbo Baggins' world than our own, the idea's a compelling one in any universe.
The fireplace nook takes its cues from American Colonial architecture. One inspiration was the Witch House (home of Salem Witch Trials judge Jonathan Corwin), a nearby landmark. I picture our wizard reading by the fire.
The ceiling of the lean-to, and the chimney column.
It took quite a bit of positioning (the hut) to get some good natural light for this picture.
The pegs are for utility: to hang furniture, baskets, etc. Similar pegs are common in Amish homes, where superfluous decoration is forbidden. I've also seen furniture pegs in the buildings at our nearby Shaker community.
Here it is, perched atop its rock. My next step is to do some landscaping. Once the materials arrive, I'll finish the exterior--and roof! I've a king's ransom of brick slips on order from Richard Stacey.
Eventually, there'll be a little trickle of water dripping from this crevasse.
The full monty.
While the main body of the hut will be brick, the lean-to will be wattle and daub.
The view from the front.
A close-up of (what will become) the chimney.
I love carved timbers; they remind me of Snow White.
Another view of the front.
To be honest, I'm a little uncertain of exactly how I plan on landscaping the actual eyrie, but I'm confident I'll think of something.
Henry likes to keep me company from his bed. He absolutely adores that chair--and so do I; it's left over from my university days--so I bought him a dandy little bed for it. Now his hairs (and drool, and various other leavings) are contained.
So that's the Wizard's Eyrie so far...what do you think?