Sunday, January 4, 2015

How to make a doll castle (1 of 2)

We have a plethora of diaper boxes at this house with two babies who are not potty trained for at least a couple of years to come. And they are just too beautiful to throw away. My scissors and these boxes have been begging me to set them up on a date for a while. I put two boxes for rooms on the right and left with an arch in between the two to be a circular tower. You can see my arch template background. I used that template to make sure all the floors and ceilings within the center tower of the castle would follow the same curve. In the shot below, the spiral stairs are sitting pretty sitting on top of the first story waiting to be put into place (tutorial for stairs to follow). All walls and floors at this point I have reinforced so that they are three layers thick. I feel one layer is too flimsy, two layers is not quite toddler-proof, and three is just about the right strength to last through a few years of child's play. I tried to make it so the corrugations of the cardboard were going perpendicular to the layer it was glued next to so as to add strength to the structure. Unless otherwise specified all the glue I've used for this castle is with a hot glue gun. 

In the picture below you can see the arch of the tower, and an outline I've traced of where the bottom of the spiral staircase will be.
I also cut a bit out of the wall on the right wing room. I did this because I wanted the stairs to take up as little floor space as possible and they were just upsetting my feng shui groove if I tried to put them entirely in the center room due to their bulk. I think it adds a bit of character to the right wing room to have the stairs overlap, but I'm still undecided if it was worth the extra work.

I sketched out the opening of the stairs onto the second story, cut it out, then glued the stairs into place.

For the center tower wall, I found a box that was tall enough to fit both stories and wide enough wrap around  the tower. I used a vacuum box. I bent the cardboard along the corrugations so that it would fit the curve of the tower more easily. The flat part to the right was glued to the flat front wall (see picture with the orange arrow below).

Then I started gluing the vacuum box along the curve of the second story, after that I glued the bottom floor. I did the floors one at a time because it takes a bit of hand pressure as the glue is cooling and patience to get the cardboard to fit snugly around the curve. I didn't have enough hands to do both floors at the same time. In this picture I'll point out that the arch on the second story is four layers rather than the three everywhere else so that there is a step the curve of the tower room and the top of the right and left wings. This is so the vertical wall can follow the curve of the arch.

In the picture below you can see that I cut the vacuum box so that the bottom half followed the flat wall of the bottom story (green arrow) and the top part followed the curve of the tower (purple arrow). I did this on both right and left sides.

Then I sketched a line along where I wanted the ceiling to be on the second story and began to glue the last arch into place.

Here the tower is completely formed and has the beginnings of a door on the bottom floor.

I taped some templates where I wanted windows to be. Isn't she looking pretty?

The next step I don't have a picture of, but I glued another layer of cardboard to the top middle room so that it would be two layers thick rather than just the one layer of the vacuum box. I also added castle turrets before the paper mache by making a lot of cardboard squares that were the same size. I glued them to be two deep and then glued them on where I wanted them to be. I also added strips of cardboard before the paper mache to surround the doorway to give a bit of detail. These additions can be seen in the following pictures.

Now I have put paper mache on the whole castle and began to paint. I used a 1/2 and 1/2 water and flour mix for the liquid mixture. I don't think that it was exactly a 1:1 ratio, but I tried to make it the consistency of pancake batter. I decided on a flour instead of glue-based paper mache because it ends up being a little more rough than a glue mixture and I thought it would look more like stone when it was painted. I wish I would have put the paper mache on stairs before they were glued into place because they sure caused a lot of gruff words to come out of my mouth to get the wet, sticky paper into those tight spots.

Also you can see that I've started to add stone work. The stones are made from egg crates (that tutorial will follow in the next post). 
When I started painting was where the first cent was spent on the castle. I bought three tubs of gray craft paint for 89c. Total cost so far: $2.67. I hope to stay under a $10 budget.
This castle was made for the 12 inch doll (Barbie size). The doll shown is only 9.5 inches, but due to the little hands in this house she was the only doll I could find that was feeling up to a modeling shoot. She was also the only one I could find that wasn't nude...

Well, peace out, everyone! Stay tuned for the decorating and all the doll house fixings to go inside. All will be made from trash!
For the second half see:

1 comment:

  1. I am still in awe. The peaked windows are perfection!