Monday, 7 July 2008

The Monastery Stone Floor

As for the floor of my library, I wanted something special and old. The oldest libraries of Europe were all monasteries where monks copied the ancient books by hand in the echoing halls. To preserve that notion of history into my own library I chose those stone tiles worn by centuries as my inspiration.

I painted the floor with same shades I will be using on the tiles to lessen the contrast between the tiles and the floor between them. The paint has three layers: black, dark grey and brick brown beaten together with a dry brush.

Forgot to take pictures of the phases in between again, sorry. What I did before this was cut the tiles out of cardboard and carve some cracks and ancient tombstone markings on them. I used the same materials, tools and methods as in the water nymph fresco earlier, so you can check the process from that post. I could not fit all of the text from my inspiration picture to the main stones, but for me the visual effect is much more important than the meaning of the tomb markings on the stone - actually I though it better to leave out the name of the buried anyhow, not really politicly correct to have a historical person buried under your library is it?

The secret of painting stone like surfaces is to paint layers after layers of different shades - three or four layers ought to do it. So, over the dark grey I added brick brown with a very dry and hard brush to give it texture and highlight the cracks in the stone.

This is the third of fourth layer, if I remember correctly. Could even be the fifth, I´m not sure. I have been toning the same shade of brick brown lighter with white after every phase still using a very dry brush to beat the colour to the "stone". You can see how the uneven texture of my early carving becomes more visible and how the cracks and markings on the stone pop out.

To finish a texture and feeling of stone worn over centuries I add gloss varnish for the smooth surfaces careful not to let any lacquer slip to the crumbled parts that need to keep their rough feeling. Two layers of lacquer give the "stone" depth and more natural appearance.

Here it is, my library, the spiral staircase, red brick wall and monastery tile floor all finished! However, the library itself is not finished as one might guess, for what is a library without books?
Now that everything else is done I can finally start making the bookshelves that will cover the wrest of the walls. The wall on the left side, where the doorways are located will be covered by a face bookshelves; the back wall, on the other hand, will hold real ones reaching up from floor to high sealing. There will be a sliding ladder of course - how else the dolls could reach their books? And the hard part is, I want the books to be real books with pages and leather covers with golden capitals. The mere though makes me sigh dreamily, but then again, its going to be a hell of a lot of work. Happily, Juhana has agreed to help me on this, but knowing him the books he´ll be making are all going to be some Lovecraft related occult nonsense, but no matter, I don´t think my dolls can read anyhow. ;)

The Spiral Staircase

Now then, the library. One of those perfect, classic, dusty, dark, ancient libraries with green table lights and iron spiral staircases. How could it not have a staircase, that´s so essential it´s simply given to have one!

I might be fairly good with my hands, but building a spiral staircase from scraps felt like too much of a brain wrecking idea. I had seen a barbie play set with 1:6 scale stairs in W-club forum and hunted down the same set on ebay. My though was not to keep the whole barbie house with two floors, but only use the stairs and the railings and let the seller keep the wrest. Luckily, I had also asked her to send me the foot- and head boards of the bed, that I cut into pieces and used for supporting the new balcony I made from foam core.

The stairs are put together from several pieces so I used putty to fill all the seems.

After the putty had dried over night I sanded the surfaces and painted everything black with acrylics paint. This must have been the easiest part of the whole house, which is funny because I thought it would be the most difficult one. Making such a staircase myself would´ve been a real bother. ;)

The Water Nymphs - a Bath Room Fresco

I had originally planned the bath room to have a fresco on its wall but it was suppose to be the Botticelli´s Venus. However, I started to feel that particular piece of art was too much of a cliché. So, browsing the flickr for inspiration I found this Art Nouveau fresco, that I considered quite perfect - especially since the house was going to a be from that era.

This time I remembered to take photos all thru the process. Hopefully this can even serve as a sort of an tutorial (doubt its usefulness, though.) The first phase was to do a rough sketch to a piece of cardboard and then carve the form with a Stanley knife.

The second phase was to paint the water in the background of the picture. For this I mixed white acrylics paint toned with preussian blue watercolour.

Next I painted the uplifted lines white. This will create a nice feeling of water with the light reflected broken from the waves.

The fourth phase was to paint the skin tones of the water nymphs.

Here I am painting the background tones for the nymphs´ hair flowing free in the water. Every one of the three had a bit different shade of hair varying from maroon to okra.

These were the shades of colours I used for the painting. Acrylics white mixed in with preussian blue, brown, red and okra watercolours.

In this final phase I have added all the details: The water plants, outlines of the bodies, curls of their hair. I am not yet sure will I have to tone the water darker in some parts to make it fit better with the bath room tiles of darkest preussian blue, but that will be left for later.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

The Tim Burton Nursery

I´ve always admired the visual style of Tim Burton´s. It has a unique quality that is visible throughout all his work. That style was the main inspiration for this neglected nursery abandoned years ago. The idea was that a lonely woman in her fifties lives in the house accompanied only by the ghost of her daughter who died in early age. She has guests and visitors, but no one knows of the history lurking in the attic converted into a nursery. The lady keeps up her appearances, plays well her role as a hostess and tries to forget. Nevertheless, she sometimes wanders in the library only to witness the ghost of her child running the spiral stairs or sitting in the balcony that leads to the secret room. The woman is not scared, but finds this oddly comforting.

The ripped wall papers and the distorted floor create a gloomy atmosphere of years of abandonment. The room is far from being finished, of course, it is too clean to begin with. It will still need a thick layers of dust, a crip with a worn raggedy-Ann, some posters by Edward Gorey such as the Gasthlycrump Tinies and of course a distorted little window on the wall.

This is the only room that could be make with no particular care on detailing. I wanted a rough hand sketched look so I painted both the floor and the wall papers using a brush and acrylics paint. Once more, I forgot to take pictures of the steps on the way, but luckily there is one of the distorted floor tiling in progress. All the lines in both wall papers and the floor distort the perspective of the room creating what I hope to be a hindering sensation of anxiety.

For example all the stripes on the wall papers grow smaller towards the back wall making the room seem deeper. I also plan to airbrush the slope of the roof in the lower end very dark and menacing and may even add a cute pair of gleaming eyes belonging to a monster under the crib. The whole point of the room is really not to be serious at all but more of a bed time story book approach is to be adopted.