Making all the little bits and pieces is my favourite part of any project and this one was no exception.
One thing I'd seen and wanted for my miniature was a jazzy and jewel encrusted spangly skull, inspired by the incredible relics of the sixteenth century as found in several ossuaries around Europe.
I had an old plastic skeleton knocking around doing nothing productive, so I lopped off his head and gave him a fancy crown and lots of bling, courtesy of some nail art gems and some of the 'nail caviar' I'd saved from the little glass jars. I thought I may have gone a little overboard on the gold, but having looked again at the originals...perhaps not!
I covered the base of the bell jar with red flock, which was then painted with some GW wash to age it and tone down the intensity of the colour, then scraped some of it off with the back of a scalpel blade to emulate wear and tear.
I used some of his arm bones for accompanying reliquaries. I might do another with a spangly foot just for a laugh at some point. I really enjoyed making them so I may make some more and pop them up on etsy.
I wanted some stone carvings of some kind to go on the walls, so you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon an old 'cast your own' plaster chess set in a cupboard. I can't play chess to save myself but when I realised the pieces were reproductions of the famous Lewis Chessmen I just had to have a go! The latex moulds were ancient but still in good condition so I cast a few pieces in plaster. I didn't bother filling the whole mould as I only wanted a couple of the panels and once set and decanted I was dead chuffed to see that they looked great with no air bubbles or defects. I painted one up in a traditional stony colour and used washes to bring out all the intricate details.
The other had a similar treatment but with some gold paint for detail. It ended up on the top of the back shelves as I hoped the gilt would catch the light.
Next to it we have an odd looking bust made from a really crappy push mould of fimo I made of one of my DW figures as a test. He turned out terrible so I just added bits and now it's art. :P The jade cat at the end came off a bookmark, the little cage houses a carnivorous and rather bitey venus fly trap, (sculpey - what else!) the pot at the back is a thimble carved out of what feels like a fruit stone or bone or something similar and the rest are bits and pieces I've accumulated over the years. The little goblet was originally a Breyer Stablemate trophy that I lopped the handles off and repainted. The big urn thing was dug up by my uncle when he was doing some gardening - it's not ancient or valuable sadly, it's just a touristy ornament from someone's holiday, lol.
Here's another Thing in a Jar I forgot to include in my last post. No idea what it is though...
Although I love the whole room, my favourite part is the desk, and that has a lot to do with what's on it. I knew from the get-go that I wanted a microscope and while I could buy a cheap metal cast one...where was the fun in that?
Using reference photos of a genuine 19th century example, I started work on my own version, using styrene for the base. The main tubular part of the microscope was made from, of all things, a headphone jack, with sections of plastic straw and the thin plastic tubes that protect the bristles of new paintbrushes.
The joint in the middle does actually work, though it's not recommended as it's so delicate, but it *is* technically adjustable.
This was after the first coat of paint so it's still really rough.
The camera was made of mostly card and very thin wood veneer.
Behind the 'scope is another of my favourite aspects of the project - a tiny little bunsen burner! Clearly my Magizoologist isn't short of cash as he has a dedicated gas tap in the middle of his desk! I struggled to find any good images of genuine Victorian gas taps so I improvised, and while you can't really see it properly here I assure you that it does in fact look good. There's even a 'rubber' tube connecting it to the bunsen. The little stand over it is simply some bent wire and a little scrap of lace material with a few layers of matte varnish and paint to stiffen it.
Surrounding them are 'dragon teeth' or, as they're more realistically known, fossil shark teeth. I only had a couple that were small enough but I'd like to get some more so I can turn them into a proper display. The glass bottles and mortar and pestle were already in my collection so I didn't need to really look very far for those.
One thing I did spend some time on was this bizarre looking object.
I decided that despite the mounted head on the wall, the collector had a real fondness for dragons and would quite like to hatch some for himself. As we all know, dragons love the heat, and their eggs thrive in warmer temperatures (often insulated by piles of foraged metal as it conducts heat - hence their love of treasure and their rather annoying habit of hoarding it) so an incubator would be required to keep the temperature constant while they develop.
The top part was originally a plastic bottle cap - the kind of which I've not been able to find again which is a pity as it's a very useful shape - decorated with a range of buttons and beads, as well as some laser-cut scraps. The stand was a plastic...thing used in floristry (no idea what its technical name is but there you go) mounted on an old game piece, and the heater part was a plastic thimble with the hole at the top covered by the metal grate from an old pair of headphones and then painted a nice coppery vertigris. The little twisty turny tap thing was the unfolded metal clasp off a really naff diamanté necklace and a metal finding. I used another of the £1 shop flickering LED tealights for the 'heat' source and in person it gives off a really lovely warm glow. It's the most obviously 'Steampunk' thing in the room but I hope to build on that in the future.
The walls were looking a little bare so I laser-cut some picture frames and did a bit of photoshopping to fill them.
I wanted to have some photos of people with dragon trophies and the like, so I scoured the internet in search of anything similar but drew a blank, so I looked instead for old Victorian hunting photos and also screenshots from films and games with dragons...then put the two together.
Some worked better than others - the rubbish ones have the most 'age' to them to disguise how badly the images fit, lol
|I'm so, so, so, so sorry Draco.|
|Again, sorry Toothless. :'(|
I also did a couple of Selkie ones as well, based mostly on seals and Arctic expeditions.
Obviously I don't own the original images but this was just a bit of fun and I'm not profiting from any of them so hopefully nobody minds a bit of innocent photoshopping - especially as you can't see half of them in the actual miniature, lol. (I printed them on glossy photo paper but decided to make them even shinier with some gloss varnish and unfortunately the ink ran :( )
There was also a random photo of Nessie in there too which ironically, after all my efforts trying to make everything else look convincing, is the most realistic one on display - and I didn't have anything to do with it as I got it straight from google!
A couple of the 'paintings' in the background are completely my own work - I drew a Kelpie, a flightless Gryphon (based on a grouse and wildcat to keep it local) and a Selkie, then scanned the images and coloured them in photoshop. The Selkie didn't make it onto the wall as I'd run out of frames by then but the other two look reasonable.
Most of the ornaments here were bought or already in my collection - the Egyptian ones were repainted though, as the factory paintwork was incredibly poor.The little one on the fireplace was originally a stamp from a craft kit I had as a child. It's just plain plastic but very nicely detailed. The rug is a bit naff looking, despite my best efforts to age it and I'll probably end up replacing it eventually.
Well that's it for this update - come back tomorrow for the final reveal!