Preparing for the overhaul...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Haunted Beacon Hill--Greenhouse/Dining Room Addition Part I

It's been a frustrating few weeks--miniatures-wise and life-wise.  First, and please feel free to skip over this part if it's boring--we're not moving, after all.  I'd been led to believe some things that, well, in the end turned out not to be true.  After the initial devastation I realized that, oddly, I wasn't nearly as upset as I'd thought.  Fortunately, neither was anyone else in our family.  You see, in the end, I'd built up the idea of moving home into something it wasn't.  Home used to be Maine; for years, I'd dreamed of moving back to Maine full time.  And it was fun spending part of the year up there, with my family, playing outdoors, showing them where I grew up, etc etc etc.  But I realized, in realizing some other things, that Maine wasn't home anymore and that wasn't such a bad thing.  Home had somehow, over time, become Massachusetts.  Which is where we are now.

We almost got very badly cheated on what would've been a very large land deal and, to be honest, I've no desire to live next door to people who approach life that way.  It seems that cheating me was OK, though, because--somewhere in those same gray mists of time--I'd become a "summer person."  Well, I guess this means I'm moving up in the world!

Anyway, moving on...

My "Haunted Beacon Hill" is also moving up in the world.  Its design keeps evolving; the more I work on it, the more complicated it becomes!  From the get-go, I had some modifications in mind (adding a basement scullery being chief among them), but when I actually started putting the kit together, really saw it in the flesh, I realized a few things.  I haven't even started on the basement yet, but it'll house a kitchen, pantry, and servant's room.  My inspiration, here, was the fact that the house, as-is, really has too small of a footprint to do itself justice.  Such a grand house really wouldn't have a combination front hall/dining room.  A medieval-type cottage, sure...but a Gothic Victorian?  

But then, when I actually started putting it together, I realized that my new dining room (what's meant to be the kitchen, in the kit) was just way too small--for a dining room or a kitchen.  Which gave me the idea of extending it.  Which gave me the idea of attaching a greenhouse.  My grandparents' old house had a greenhouse off the dining room, which I always loved.

Just three additional inches take this room from so small as to be completely useless to really fairly nicely sized.
 I started out with a couple of Greenleaf greenhouse kits.  After playing around with them for awhile, I decided they needed some kit-bashing--both for Gothic features, and for sturdiness.  I decided that Gothic-style arches would look good.

The first set of arches I cut turned out to be the wrong thickness of wood.
The second set of arches I cut turned out to be the wrong shape.  I will find a use for this plentitude of wasted arches...somehow.  Luckily, my third set worked out.
I built out the dining room foundation, creating a platform for the greenhouse.  Here, I'm attaching the stairs.  Which, in of themselves, were a serious effort.  These pictures, sadly, represent an entire weekend's work.  I wasn't entirely sure of where I was going--this is how most of my designs start out, to be honest--and so made quite a few mistakes.

Somehow, the platform ended up being too short.  Oh, well.  The platform, steps and retaining wall are all just forms; I intend to cover them with brick (platform and steps) and stone (retaining wall) cladding.  Or, more precisely, egg cartons but that's way, way far away.

The not quite a tile decoration is something I picked up at a show years ago.  I can't decide whether I want to make that up to go here, or whether I'm putting in a wall fountain.  One is on its way from Sue Cook Miniatures; I'll decide when I have them to compare side by side.
This is just a dry-fit.  I'm going to paint and lead the greenhouse separately.  Scale-wise, this looks to me like wood frame supports rather than individual panels.  Instead of using lead tape to make the panes, however, I'll be using copper.  Which, admittedly, is something of an experiment--although I have high hopes.  Copper tape is very thin and bendy (being used on tiny stained glass parts) and, most importantly, doesn't contain lead.  Not that it's a good idea to eat copper, either, but some craft supplies are not meant to share the house with young children.  According to the CDC, home crafting accidents are actually one of the top causes of lead poisoning in children under five.

I built out the front part of the platform, so everything would be proportional.

You can see, pretty clearly, where the kit leaves off and my design begins.  My add-ons are all 3/32" basswood.  I was ridiculously pleased with myself that, ultimately, everything did go together more or less the way it was supposed to.

I've seen arches like this on real greenhouses.
I was disappointed to discover that the kit's roof wouldn't line up correctly...but then I made my own and was much happier with that, anyway!  There are support beams under the supports; I left those taped on, for ease of fitting in the "glass."  Ultimately, this turned into a pleasantly sturdy little item!

Another view of the roof.
Ultimately, this will have a tile floor.
The retaining wall will be stone.  Well, "stone."
And here's a somewhat ungainly picture from the front.
There are a couple things left to do: build the door, and run some sort of trim along the front where the door-containing panel and angled roof panel meet.  I'm thinking something along the lines of a miniature crenellation?  Something not-overpowering, that would yet look good in a Gothic setting.

And yes, in case you're wondering, the door from the dining room to the greenhouse is a bit off-center.  This is because I wanted the two dining room doors to line up with each other; I thought a little symmetry would improve the appeal of the room.  Not to mention, make it easier to fit furniture in there!  I like the way it's come out looking on the outside, though, because it echoes the general heap-ness of this house.  There are a number of walls, planes and angles that don't quite line up the way you might expect...and yet, as a cohesive house, it all works.  That slight note of...what?  Informality?  Makes it--to me, anyway--more believable as a Gothic Victorian.  The ones I've visited, while strewn with gigantic fireplaces, gargoyles, etc etc etc weren't actually that formal.  Which is, in the end, what I suppose I found most appealing about them.

Please ignore the mess!  This build is occurring in what is, under normal conditions, our library.  And while I like to think I'm usually pretty good at cleaning up after myself...I'm a bit overwhelmed with craft items right now.  It's a process.  Also, too, between our mountains of laundry, my son's seemingly endless need for storage and my need for natural light, we thought a temporary move upstairs would be best.  

The odd accumulation of items taped to the blank wall don't actually represent anything yet, except a vague idea that "I'd like that space to be more interesting."  I'm probably doing some sort of niche, although not quite as massive as what's currently taped there.  Once I find a statue that appears to be the right scale, I'll have a better sense of what I'm doing.  But I've seen features like this before--I went to college and law school in Boston, where there's a lot of over-ambitious brickwork--so I have high hopes.  Ah, how that usually ends...



Giac said...

Hello Michi,
Thoughts you say! I think it's bloody marvellous! You did such an AMAZING job on the greenhouse and intergrated it so beautifully to the structure. Bravo my firned, Bravo! I seriously thought of purchasing this kit before I started my project, but as you sday, the rooms were just too small for what I wnated. it's a shame that most kits on the market have suich teeny tiny rooms. I'm glad the move is not sound like you're happy in your home...not to mention moving was one of the most irritating things ever...EVER! I just can't wait to see more of your project. Your imagination and technique just blows me away each and every post. Go Michi!
Big hug,

C.J. said...

Reading this totally made my (so far not so hot) day. Thank you :-)

otterine said...

It looks wonderful! That greenhouse certainly is a versatile little kit. Your arches and base are perfect for the vision you've described. :D

About Me... said...

looks amazing, i love the greenhouse, the kitchen is really small as im finding out trying to fit items in mine. lol


Anna said...

Wow! I will look forward to seeing the completed greenhouse.

Bell and Crow Miniatures said...

I too am working on a haunted Beacon Hill! It will be really cool to see where you take yours! Yeah, the rooms are small but mine is going to be abandoned so I won't have to fit too much furniture inside. I am focusing more on the outside and landscaping. Kind of backwards for me as I usually focus more on interiors! Can't wait to see more!

Giac said...

Hello C.J.,
I am totally confused. I'm sorry I calle dyou Michi, but your project, not to mention stories on your newer posts, are so similar to another blogger I completely crossed over. Everything I wrote is true, just change Michi to C.J....Old age is catching up on me bigtime!
Big hug, and sorry for the confusion.

C.J. said...

Giac, don't worry about it. I respond to anything :-)

Jerileen Becton said...

I just found your blog and am enjoying your work!