Monday, April 29, 2013

WELCOME TO THWILVILLE! 

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 paper....at 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?






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