Flights of Fantasy
By Deb Roberts
Magical settings have fascinated humans since the beginning of time. We're entranced by fairies, trolls, wizards and magicians, but quite often, people only get the opportunity to see these delightful things in their mind's eye... unless they're a miniaturist and then anything is possible. One of the greatest things about miniatures is that we can bring our fantasies to life in smaller scale. Houses and settings that are only conceived of in our imagination can come to life under our hands in miniature.
What is it that inspires a fantasy house? Sometimes, all it takes is a feature of a specific house to catch the eye of a miniaturist and start that “what if” process. Does a fireplace make you think of a witch stirring a cauldron? Does the angle of a gable suggest a gothic look for a castle? Perhaps it’s a tiny room hidden under the eaves that would just be perfect for a tiny house elf? These little features might be all that it takes to inspire a miniaturist to turn an ordinary house into a magical dwelling. Once that thought takes hold, the rest of the theme seems to fall right into place and the planning begins.
In other cases, a miniaturist might nurture a desire to create a specific type of house and go in search of the perfect kit to create that design. The possibilities are endless when it comes to searching for the kit just right for a fantasy house. Ultimately, the choice is determined by the type of fantasy house one is building……..but almost any house can be built to fit a fantasy.
So how does one turn a victorian house kit into a fantasy dwelling? A little imagination and some alternative building materials is all you need.
Paperclay is an easy and affordable way of transforming wooden walls into stone for a medieval castle or a woodsy setting. Paperclay is rolled out into a thin sheet, then glued to the surface. While the clay is still damp, lines are pressed into the clay to create any design of stonework you desire. Keeping the clay at an even depth (about the thickness of pie crust) will reduce the cracking as it dries. Apply the sheets in segments and smooth the edges together with your finger dipped in a little water. Once the clay has dried completely, it can be painted. Dry brushing different shades of paint over the stones will add texture and depth to your creation. Tracy is the Queen of Paperclay and her Fantasy Villa shows that the title is well deserved. This 1:24 scale kit for a gothic victorian was magically transformed to fantastic fantasy. Tracy tells us that a liberal hand with spackle or wood filler is a must for fantasy building and suggests, ‘Don't be afraid to change the look of the house and don't be afraid of this house because it is 1/2" scale.’ Even smaller scale houses can be easily turned into a fantasy dwelling.
Another alternative for stonework is to use styrafoam egg cartons cut into stone or brick shapes and applied to the surface. ShakyShaky bashed this Buttercup kit into a delightful castle with towers rising majestically on either side.
Stone walls aren’t confined to Paperclay or egg carton blocks. Spackle can be spread on walls and lines etched into it while it’s still wet. Spackle is lightweight and paints nicely but you do have to work quickly before it dries.
There are also products such as the Magic Masonry systems that use stick-on templates and a stucco mix to create a variety of stone designs. Deb’s faerie cottage uses masonry in a whimsical green and a fake fur thatched roof to turn the Tudor style Aster kit into the perfect forest home for the Emerald Faerie.
Inside, the walls are covered with Greenleaf Stucco tinted with green paint. While the stucco was still wet, Deb sprinkled them with stone chips of peridot and citrine and pressed them into the walls. The result is a sparkling interior with just a hint of an underground coziness. The rustic fireplace is part of the Aster kit, but was covered with Paperclay and dry brushed with grey paint for a sooty and realistic look. Completing the fantasy look for this faerie house is a kitchen sink made of shells and leaf furniture made from Paperclay.
Fantasy building isn’t always confined to house kits. Rosalind used Paperclay to transform the Heart Arbor kit into a delightful tree house for a fairy. This fabulous creation may look familiar as it was the winner of the Greenleaf Heart Arbor contest in February, but it certainly deserves a closer look as a whimsical fantasy dwelling. Rosalind offers some sage advice about fantasy building; ‘I guess the way I do it is to access my inner child (she's always with me). If you can think the way you did in childhood, you should be halfway there. The great thing about Fantasy is that no-one can say that it's wrong. It's your Fantasy!’
In a different approach to a tree house, Steve created this unique dwelling for a Wizard. Natural textures such as reindeer moss, twigs and branches give this house such a realistic look that it’s hard to believe it’s not a real tree. Steve also incorporated the Heart Arbor kit into this creation. Steve shares these thoughts about fantasy building; ‘With my other houses, I usually draw up a plan of how I want to do it, but with a fantasy house, I just had a basic idea in my head and 'let it happen'. No worries about things being square, or restrictions on materials, or any traditional ideas. You can just let your imagination run loose and see what you end up with! I think everyone should try a fantasy or made-from-scratch creation, just to see where your ideas will take you.’
Sometimes Fantasy building goes on the road. Nutti turned the Travel Trailer kit into a fantasy retirement home for her fortune teller. Set in a rustic environment, this fantasy house on wheels has a spooky charm. Nutti also used natural components such as moss and branches for her landscaping, giving the impression that one would need a four-wheel drive to visit here. The attention to detail is just one of the fascinations of this fantasy house.
Whether it’s a castle, a tree house or a wizard’s dungeon, fantasy building is one of the most entertaining aspects of the miniature world. Stepping outside the traditional styles to build a fantasy house gives your creative muse a chance to stretch and experiment with new techniques and designs. There’s no fear of failure with fantasy building since there is no right or wrong and no guidelines. A fantasy house is built to the specifications of your mind’s eye so you can be sure that you’ll have a unique creation. Take your imagination out for a flight of fancy and you’ll see your fantasies come to life.
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