October 28, 2014

Dr Dreadful's Apothecary (aka The Wonky Halloween House)

This year’s “big Halloween project”, Dr. Dreadful’s Apothecary, aka the Wonky Halloween House is finally complete.  This project uses one of my favorite Graphic 45 papers - Steampunk Spells.  The idea for the design had been percolating in my mind for a while and I thought there’s no better time to make it happen than Halloween!

Let's start at the front door (although actually it was the last thing to be built because it had to fit in between all the other rooms).

The door itself is almost perpendicular - it might be the only thing that is!  It's made out of chipboard covered with decorative paper and a window cut in it (more on the windows later).

There's a chipboard cutout from the paper collection above the door and a little "poison" symbol hanging from the doorknob.

The columns are made from bubble tea straws covered with cardstock and wrapped with decorative paper at the top and bottom.  The base of each column is a little chipboard cube.

Hanging by the door is a Tim Holtz Mini Lantern - I hope you can see that the light is on!

To the left of the door you can see the front parlor with its shingled roof.  It's a little hard to see but there is a light in that window.

Moving around the house to the left we come to the left turret. There are two stories to this turret, and each room has windows with lights shining.

There is a decorative band in the center of the turret with some Tim Holtz Ring Fasteners.

The top of the turret has a railing made with the Martha Stewart Iron Gate punch,

Here you can also see at the base where I used EK Success Abstract Flower punch to create a finishing border - we'll see that all around the base of the house.

Throughout the project I used all three sizes of the paper collection - 12x12, 8x8 and 6x6 - to take advantage of the different scales of the patterns.

... and there's a secret here, but more about that later.

Now we're starting to come around the back of the house.

But before we do, we can see a good shot of the third floor and roof of the main house,  It's vaguely shaped like a mansard roof and then there's a little deck on the very top with more railing around it.  The moon shingles were created with EK Success Postage Stamp punch and have black cardstock behind them.

So moving along, first we come to a six-sided turret that is leaning out rather precariously.

The shingled roof on the turret was created with double layers of decorative paper and black cardstock punched using Tonic Studios Scalloped Arc geared punch.  I just love their geared punches - so easy to use even with heavier cardstock.

Now we're looking straight on at the back of the house

More of that "mansard" roof and the left side of the precarious leaning turret can be seen.  A couple of the chipboard elements from the paper collection are decorating these sections.

Next we come to a rather simple gabled section of the house. Most noticeable here is the chimney.

We can also see the "widow's walk" between the roofs.

Starting to turn the corner, we have another view of the gabled section and its chimney and then it's on to the right side of the building.

On the first floor there is a seven sided room with several windows.

Above that is another turret, this one leaning out at another precarious angle (although the roof is sitting very squarely, strangely enough).

There's a decorative band on this turret as well with some elements cut out of the paper to enhance it,

You can see the lights in the windows pretty well here as well.

And now returning to the front of the house you can see how these rooms connect to the main structure.

There is also a little room with a slanted glass window that for some reason I keep calling the "conservatory".

Video Tour


I usually start with a sketch on paper, but for this project I used a 3-D “sketch”.  I knew I wanted to have a lot of odd angles and the only way to work them out was in three dimensions.  After looking at lots of images of Victorian houses, I built a mock-up in light weight chipboard to get everything worked out.

I started with a box and built around it, similar to how the Countdown to Christmas was built.  Like that project, I wanted to hide the box so that it wasn't obvious that there was something else inside the house, and of course the access point would also be camouflaged.

The piece is built in sections- each room was constructed separately and then attached to the base box.  Here you can see the construction without any of the decorative paper.  There was a lot of math and some trial and error to get the angles worked out – especially on the right side where an irregular sided turret on the first floor is set on an angle and then a round turret is above set at a different angle.  Making that connection was probably the most challenging part.

After I built the mock-up, I deconstructed it and used the pieces as templates for the actual construction which is mainly Grafix medium weight chipboard (the round turrets are lightweight chipboard).  The mock-up pieces also were used as templates for the patterned paper.  I used cardstock strips to join all the sections on the inside and then finished all the corners with black cardstock strips on the outside. 

Windows and Lighting
Each of the lighted windows was created by first cutting an opening in the chipboard wall.  I wanted to have a more substantial window frame than just paper, so I traced the opening on lightweight chipboard and cut it out to make a frame about an eighth of an inch wide.  That chipboard piece was covered with black cardstock and then placed on top of the opening with the excess paper in the center wrapped to the inside.  The windows themselves are a piece of acrylic that was stained with alcohol inks and then the mullion pattern was created with tiny slivers of black cardstock.  I drew the pattern for the mullions on scrap paper and then could use it under the plastic each time to keep the pattern consistent.   I used thin packaging plastic to create the windows on the curved turrets so they would bend more easily.

In order to have the light reflect better, some of the inside walls were covered with metallic tape purchased from a big box hardware store.  I toned down the silver colored tape with some brown alcohol inks.

There are LED tea lights behind most of the windows.  These lights are accessed in several ways.
- In the room above the front door the roof panel is hinged at the top
- The cone roofs on two of the turrets are held in place by magnets and come off to access the lights
- The roof for the small room on the left front also is held in place with magnets and comes off
- The large half round turret on the left has three access panels on the flat side that flip open
- The gabled roof in the back has a hinged section
- In the room on the right, the last window is actually an access panel, hinged at the bottom and held in place with another magnet.  In addition to the tea light, the battery pack for the Tim Holtz Mini Lantern by the front door is also hidden in there.

What’s Inside
Well, the short answer is nothing yet.  I have the project planned out, but time has gotten away from me this year.  Maybe I will work on it over the winter – otherwise there’s always next year!!


Theresa said...

very cool house. getting all those constructions to work together is amazing. thanks as always for sharing.

JustMyThoughts said...

OMG! Stunning pieces! The colors are exceptional not to mention the detailed work. So so much fun!

Sis Patterson said...

April - this is amazing!!!!! Love the construction insights and the great tour of the place - awesome!!!!

Beachsidelynn said...

Amazing. I'm making the Maple Street houses also and may have had a small idea or two, but not even close to your fabulous ideas. Great job.

Unknown said...

I so enjoy just reading the blog itself. The writing and flow and descriptions are so easy to read and follow. Of course, the wonky house is fabulous.I think my favorite bit has to be the wonky blue roof with the added black gear edging since I first zoomed in on it. I also love the deck and widow walk. And of course the math-lover in me loves all the wonky angles and how you got them to work together. Incredibly wonky.

Luv 2 Create said...

Wow, April, this is fabulous. Very creative!!!! I just love the wonkiness of this - perfect for halloween, but adorable all year round. Great job. Thanks so much for sharing your project with us.

SueB said...