Friday, April 23, 2010

Spiral stairs and other delights :)

Thursdays are always busy days here, because that's the day the KnitWits (the four girls I play with) come over. We did accomplish a few things, in between several hands of Happy Families (Evangelista won them all -- well done!) and celebrations of Fred's birthday (she's officially a tween now, a label she cordially detests).  Well, she's twelve, she's entitled :)

Tiddles and I worked on the spiral staircase.  I had cut a 1/4" dowel roughly to length, and I made a temporary base it could be stuck into so that we could construct the staircase out of the castle, and then move it when we'd worked everything else out.

I was using the rather thin suggestions for construction from Geoffrey West's book  Tudor dolls' houses.

This is a close up of it after I put it in the castle this morning, but it gives an idea of the basic construction.  We cut 1 3/4" lengths of dimensional balsa (the balsa was 3/4" x 1"), shallowly sliced off one corner, used a rounded file on it to make it fit better against the curve of the dowel, and glued these lengths on top of each other.  (If I had been clever, I would have sanded every piece perfectly before assembly -- now I have to sand it afterwards ...)

It was very hard to start the build, because the darned thing kept toppling over!  Finally Tiddles and I decided to just glue up the bottom five or six steps and leave it alone for a while, while we had a snack and played cards.

When we came back to it, I got the bright idea of using Quick Grip glue (our unofficial sponsor -- someone from the company, Karen, actually left a comment on my earlier post about the bake oven construction -- it was like a visit from a celebrity :)  which worked a treat.  I still just glued stairs on in groups of six or so, but it was certainly stickier!

This morning I drilled a hole in the base of the kitchen floor where the stairs will go, and tried them out for size:

Looks pretty good!  It's got to be sanded and then painted to look like stone, then I have to figure out the cut out for the upper floor, which may tax all my spatial abilities.

Note:  it would be more in scale if the lengths of the steps were longer, but I was building this to fit in a very small space.  I've been up some pretty small spiral staircases in cathedrals and so forth in England, but I suspect there aren't any quite as small in diameter as this one!

In other news ...

I made one door for the bake oven -- this one didn't have to be removeable, because I intend it to be closed for display, but what the heck?  It is!

And Tiddles sewed on some lengths of trim to her tapestry, made a hanging rod with bead finials, and hung it up, proudly, in the Great Hall for all to admire:


  1. The look great. I have been up stairs that small back home :-)

    And Tiddles tapestry looks wonderful hung up...still can't beleive she did that at her age...amazing.

  2. You've been a busy girl with your little helpers :) The staircase looks really nice, that would be a good option to do them as I need also one in my NY apartement. And the tapestry is SO nice, I still can't believe that Tiddles did it, what a talent! She's going to be one fab miniaturist :)


  3. Very impressive staircase. Also, people were a lot smaller in those days and didn't take up a lot of room!

  4. I such a fantastic project you and the girls are doing. The kitchen is already telling magical stories about past times...

  5. That's true enough, Irene. I know that I wouldn't fit up a staircase that small anymore, but I would have been a circus freak in the 1500s, anyway :)

    Annie: it's interesting to me how stories emerge from the things we create. Maybe it's just part of being human that we're sensitive to stories whereever they may arise :)

  6. I think the stairs are great, they look solid and it's true sometimes in 1:1 scale they really are narrow:) And Tiddles should be really proud of herself as it is such a beautiful work!

  7. These are fabulous stairs, good design and look easy to make?! Tis true some of the old stairs in some of the really old houses in England were made for tiny people! lol The tapestry looks wonderful hung up...superb!!! :o))

    Michelle xx

  8. That Tapestry is Fantastic! She should be proud of her work! Amazing! And I think stairs in dollhouse scale always look very narrow, but "real" ones are often only 30 inches wide. My old house had a narrow staircase up to a loft - it was only 18 inches wide! The house was built in 1822 and people were smaller, but not that small! We turned sideways to go up! :)

  9. Just to comment on how small people then were, I was in Fatepur Sikri in Agra, India. Now this is a World Heritage Site and a palace! The ceiling was so short that me and my sisters )and mind you, we are Asians and therefore not tall at all) had to walk like hunchbacks on the 2nd floor. The stairs are so narrow and tiny, I thought everyone is teh size of my 9 year old niece. Tiddles is likely to be taller than the Maharajahs of those days. The stairs are amazing, I need to bash mine and make them look primitive..sigh. No idea how yet.

  10. Thank you for visiting my Blog, I like your project very much, congratulations,

  11. Fantasticos, todos los pasos que nos vas enseñando, te está quedando una maravilla, me gusta mucho. felicidades.
    Un abrazo Carmen

  12. I have some experience with spiral stairs. I find the best way to stop them toppling over is to clamp the top of the central dowel to the high shelf of the cat's scratching post.

  13. I have to make those stairs!!!!
    They are just what I want on my tudor and I didn't know where to begin!!!
    Thank you for puting up the directions!!!
    I better go write those down right now!!!!

  14. Hello Nina,

    A great attempt at this tricky job, well done.
    If you should make another one, remember the treads should taper towards the central column.



  15. Very cool! i just love the look of this stuff. It can be so inspirational or can take you back through history. We just put in some spiral stairs and get those feelings often now


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