Sunday, 11 January 2015

Faux paper tiled fireplace hearth

In which I apply dollshouse techniques to the real world  :)

The cute Victorian cast-iron fireplace in my bedroom had been given a quite ugly makeshift hearth by the previous owners, who had just stuck down some slate tiles and put a wooden border around them.  We had that pulled up and I scraped off the tile adhesive, but that left me with an unattractive concrete slab flush with the floorboards.

For a while I thought I was going to re-tile with some replica Victorian tiles, but once my bedroom was finally re-painted and the furniture arranged, the hearth has ended up right in a traffic route leading to the ensuite.  Tiles would raise it up to toe-stubbing level above the floorboards.

Eventually it occurred to me that the only way to have 'tiles' that were level with the floor would be to use a faux decoupage tile glued to the hearth slab.  This is the technique we often use in the miniature world, to create an effect that looks in scale.  I spent some more time looking for gift wrap or wallpaper featuring tiles and although there are quite a few designs, I couldn't find anything I liked.

I eventually realised (yes, slow thinker here) that I could just make my own tiles. I cut out a portion of a mosaic image I found online, made it square using Photoshop, and printed out lots of copies on my inkjet printer. I let them dry then sprayed them with a coat of clear sealer. Then I  cut out individual tiles with the help of a paper cutter. I left a sliver border of white around them to help with spacing.

Meanwhile I painted the concrete slab white with three coats of smooth masonry paint.

I 'tiled' the hearth just like you would with real tiles, cutting the end tiles in half to get even spacing across the hearth. I painted the back of each tile with PVA adhesive using a foam brush, and the neat trick of using a new clean page in a magazine each time as a glue palette.  The PVA stuck the 'tiles' down really well.  When I got to the curved bits around the cast iron, I creased the paper with my finger nail then cut it to shape with scissors.

The end effect does look like tiles from a short distance, although I did have a bit of trouble keeping the 'grout' lines even.

It helps a lot that my inkjet printer is a bit knackered so the colour on random tiles is a bit mottled.  After taking this picture, I let the tiles dry overnight then gave them three coats of Ronseal Clear Floor Varnish left over from refinishing the floorboards downstairs.

Humorous aside: DH was really confused when I showed him my 'tiled' hearth because he couldn't remember when we had bought those ceramic tiles.


I finished the back on my Cabled Cardigan.  I really like this Eco Debbie Bliss yarn, it's soft and yet has good stitch definition.  I've started the left front now and am halfway to the armhole.

I've made it past the armholes on the Aran Sampler pullover.  I decided to give it a modified drop shoulder as I know the pattern's drop shoulder would be really unflattering.  I'm also leaning towards doing a plain back and plain sleeves, because I think if I do the whole pullover in this bobbly pattern then I am going to look like I'm wearing a fat suit.

I've done a bit more machine knitting, completing the two fronts for the little baby cardigan I am knitting.  They went much better, it's starting to feel slightly more natural.  Although the on-board sensor still seems to be working because the exact moment I started thinking "Hey, this is fun!" then I immediately dropped the stitch I was moving to a new needle to decrease, dropped the stitch I had already decreased and suddenly had armageddon on the armhole.


Although Christmas has come and gone, I've decided to make a table topper from a book called Deck the Halls - Quilts to Celebrate Christmas by Cheryl Almgren Taylor (That Patchwork Place). I'm actually combining two table topper designs, using the appliqued 'presents' from one and the candy cane border from another.  I'm still having trouble sewing an exact seam allowance, I'm wondering if my quarter-inch foot has gone out of calibration. It was fun going into my 'walk in fabric closet' to pick the fabrics for this project, that part of my new sewing room is working really well.

But today I put the christmas project to one side (well, actually I put it on the floor because I am short on table space) to start sewing a curtain to stop the drafts coming up the cellar stairs.  I'm making it out of the final remnants of about eight miles of Sanderson Morris 'Willow' pattern fabric that we inherited with our first house almost 25 years ago. In its time, this fabric has been drapes, sun canopies in the garden to protect the baby, upholstery fabric for an Ottoman, lining for handbags, and there was still just enough left to piece together into a 2.2m x 2m curtain.  It sure is awkward trying to wrestle that much fabric on and off the ironing and sewing tables though.  I've bought some combined lining/interlining to use, to make it thermally efficient, and I'm just going to do a simple bagged lining. The hardest part is doing all the calculations, hopefully I've got it right and it will be the right size.

The house is ours again

We took DS back to Oxford today and moved him back into his room.  Much as we love him, it feels nice to have the house back again. I should have more time now as well, less cooking and picking up after him. After we took him to lunch and forcibly bought him a new pair of trainers to replace the ones his toes were hanging out of (I made him wear the new ones out of the shop so I knew the old ones had gone in the bin), we had a lovely long walk.  All along the Thames on the opposite side to the boathouses, with lovely views across Christchurch Meadows to the colleges. Then back over the Thames on the Doddington Road, and back into Oxford on the Iffley Road arriving eventually at Magdelan College. It felt like several miles and it was a lovely sunny day.  We rewarded ourselves with a nice glass of Bubble Tea at the peaceful sanctuary of Formosa Tea Room, then headed home.


Mad about Craft said...

The tile idea was such a good one!

I hope you will show the table topper when it is finished!

swooze said...

Clever girl on the tile job. It must be good if dh didn't know. Glad your knitting is coming together with the machine. Some lightbulb will go off to help you realize the issue.

How is ds liking uni? Does he seem eager to return? I always looked forward to my breaks but also to returning.

Your knitting looks lovely.

Daisy said...

I have a vicar friend who did something similar with the tiles on the wall behind the altar - it was going to cost so much to get them repaired in a similar style, they took photos of the ones that were still whole, then filled in the gaps with copies! Looks stunning now!

Josie said...

They are fantastic, what an inspired project!

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