Monday, April 29, 2013

Detailing Uncle Roosters

This weekend I decided the headshop, aka "Uncle Roosters" needed to eventually be part of a street & have some landscape around an actual base. We cut an 18" square of wood & I proceeded to sketch out the exterior landscape.
Although all the advice I have seen on paperclay says to roll it out, I opted for the easier method of just squishing random blobs of it onto my base smeared with glue.
Then using various bottle caps I pressed in some random cobble stones, filling the gaps freehand. I used a trimmed & burnt craft stick to impress around the edges again & again, crumpled tin foil for texture.
After I had worked out the sidewalk, I built steps up to the front door & in homage to the original record store, thought a sidewalk mural might be fun. I finished up at midnight & actually let it dry overnight, which is another of my 'hard to do' things...let things dry adequately? Why would I??.
In the morning, I started painting the stones with thin washes of coffee & tea, and eventually dry brushed other colors, though as usual I should have started in a back corner so that by the time I got to the front I'd have my technique down a bit more....but again, that would be logical.......not me.

Another flub was that I decided I had to raise my building up a bit so I could build those steps. I used random pieces of flooring off-cuts to build up a base, crammed some foam board into the cracks, removed the building & proceeded onward. No measuring required!  Consequently today when I sat the building back on it nothing fit- the steps needed to be trimmed on one side & filled on the other. But that's how things are done here!
Much more fun to start mossing things up! I have had these tubs of Woodland Scenics scatter for over 20 years....and for some reason this was the most fun part so far. Maybe because it makes things start to pop & brings the scene to life. Maybe I just like my fingers flocked in green.
Stay tuned....shipments have arrived & the shop is preparing for it's grand opening!


In Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea Trilogy, the Great School of Wizardry is on Roke Island, and is supported by the twisty turny town of Thwil, here described :
 "Few and short as were the streets of Thwil, they turned and twisted curiously among the high-roofed houses, and the way was easy to lose. It was a strange town, and strange also its people, fishermen and workmen and artisans like any others, but so used to the sorcery that is ever at play on the Isle of the Wise that they seemed half sorcerers themselves. They talked … in riddles and not one of them would blink to see a boy turn into a fish or a house fly up in the air, but knowing it for a schoolboy prank would go on cobbling shoes or cutting up mutton unconcerned.''
 I grew up on LeGuin,CS Lewis & Tolkein....and model horses, not dollshouses & HP. But in my late 40s, attending a Renaissance Festival, I was struck suddenly & irrepressibly with an idea- I was going to create my own little Ren Fest town in miniature. I don't know how to do anything simply or with great forethought. I bought a Beacon Hill with ideas to convert it into a castle....did everything wrong right off the bat (glue guns, not labeling parts, deconstructing walls, not treating walls before attaching them,  etc), labored over it pitifully for two years & then shoved it into a corner to die a slow death. Maybe start a little slower next time....try reading directions and using handy tools like rulers?  
So my poor Beacon Hill became a dusty catch all of random bits , abandoned plans & lost ideas.........................

So, in order to rein myself in a bit I began collecting shop front kits & planning my magical twisty turny town with sketches & copious notes. Things can get pretty elaborate on one point I was trying to figure out how I could install a star filled night sky & a cloud that would actually rain.....Insanity knows no bounds in a notebook. But in real life, the kits and different parts just started stacking up in one corner, two corners.....on and on. I have always been a better dreamer than do-er.
Luckily, inspiration comes eventually. I had purchased an old "Carlsons Old Time Store Kit" off Ebay for $12. It cost more to ship it. When it arrived, it turned out to be only half the parts, plus half the parts & instructions for a Gazebo. The seller refused a refund & I was so ticked off I decided I was going to make something out of these random parts if it killed me. Anger is such a great motivator,isn't it? So honestly I just started gluing. First a floor, then a  few upright beams, then I slowly began to construct walls out of whatever I could. For the first year my husband was certain it was going to collapse at any second. He always looked at it with an expression of sympathy and pity. But my little shack did not collapse. And after two years or more of fiddling, it had a 2nd floor, a shingled roof, lots of stained 'glass' & a tile mural on the side.  Yet he kept preaching crazy stuff like "structure, support, measurements!"  ??? What was *I* supposed to do with that? Ignore it!

                                                                                                                             My little shack of horrors!

Now I have to back up just a second. I was also raised in a record store/head shop. A shop quite famous & beloved in our hometown for the 25+ years it lasted under my family. It was my step-father's dream & I started out working there part time in Junior High in exchange for LPs....and ended up as the record buyer & manager for 14 years. The windows of the real shop featured a series of wonderful murals & paintings, some of which made it look like you were looking straight into the shop. Years after the store, and my step-father were gone, some enterprising friends had tiles made of some of the murals.
Once I had one in hand, I knew where it had to go....and what my little shack would have to be.

Thus with my first building I had established one strong fact: my magical town would exist within more than one eras/worlds. Absolutely anachronistic. There was no way I could explain how a record store was going to exist in a medieval town....nor I was going to duplicate the real store. So I settled on the idea of a little head shop with a few oddball ideas & items & freed myself from any constraints as to time period, theme , etc. Maybe there's a time portal in town? Doesn't matter....Thwilville is born with it's first shop!

Another year or two go by &  my little shack did not collapse. I started to read other miniaturist's blogs & learn some techniques & tricks. And after lots more fiddling & winging it,  it has a 2nd floor, a shingled roof, lots of stained 'glass' & a tile mural on the side. And as of this weekend, it finally has a base that will hold a  sidewalk & landscape around it. So much left to do in the detailing, but also time to fill it up & open it for business!
I enjoy reading these other blogs so much I thought I'd start my own. Not to teach anyone anything- I know nothing & can only show you how to muddle through & half-ass things. How to make HUGE plans & then reduced them to hobbled-together miniature catastrophes. But Thwilville is emerging....the Headshop is almost Open for Business & the Pottery is not far behind. Stay tuned?