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Topic: Gothic Revival Brownstone Matchbox  (Read 25354 times)
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« on: March 17, 2011 03:48:39 PM »

After spending many hours perusing past matchbox swaps here on Craftster, I started playing with different methods of decorating matchboxes (and having a grand time of it). Just on my own, for nothing more than my own amusement and maybe a post for my blog. 

But I was quadruple excited new a new matchbox swap has started: https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=375686.0

I'm crossing my fingers that my current/first swap completes before all the slots are gone!

And all of this matchbox talk got me all nostalgic for a matchbox of my past.

Six years ago, I participated in a "decorate a matchbox" challenge.  When the deadline for the challenge came, I submitted an unfinished piece (bad time management skills, I haz 'em).  That bright gray base? That's a base coat, not a finish coat.  And there was going to be a stair rail on on steps. And there were the dollhouse size (1/12) table legs I was going to attach to the base to give it its own fancy little stand.

I still haven't finished it.   I hear you thinking, "it's been six years, surely you have had time!?"

Yeppers, I've had the time. But there's one big problem.  Six years ago, right after the challenge ended, I was busy with another project. So I put the Brownstone away, planning to return to it.

I made sure to put it in a safe spot. A very safe spot.

I haven't seen it since.

I'm somewhat certain it's still in the house. Somewhat.

Six years later, I've given up on ever finishing it. But I admit that a part of me hopes that in giving up, I'll find it tomorrow (isn't that how these things work?). 

So maybe I haven't really given up.

But until I find it, here are the only* surviving remnants: pictures and what I wrote about it way back when..

*Actually, I still have the table legs for the base.  Waiting patiently in my supply cabinet and never ever used for another project. *sigh*

While the term "brownstone" has come to mean any of the row houses (or, more politely "townhouses") of the north eastern United States, brownstone is actually a type of sandstone that was used in the construction of some row houses.

I used Charles Lockwood's book, "Bricks & Brownstone" for inspiration and was delighted to find a 1940 photograph of one of the few Gothic Revival Brownstones remaining in NY -- No. 131 Hicks Street of Brooklyn Heights. It was the perfect subject. Large slabs of brownstone scale down much more easily than tiny bricks and I have a fondness for Gothic Revival pieces.

The brownstone exterior of the building is embossed brass. Once the brass was embossed, it was painted (four coats,  baked at 325°F between each coat) and openings for the windows and doors were cut out. [Note: I don't mention it in my notes, but I believe the window "glass" was acetate with the panes printed on it.] The brass was eventually glued to the exterior of the matchbox.

The brass does extend beyond the size of the matchbox (at the bottom) to give the illusion of a basement or underground level.

The stairs, window trim, cornice, and door are stained and/or painted basswood. [Note: cutting those window frames was the inspiration for the Paper Mitre Box.] In faithfulness to the design of the original house, the floors are not one uniform height.

The interior of the brownstone is built in the "slide box" of the matchbox and exposes only the above ground floors (the underground level was beyond the length of a standard matchbox). The slide box is placed in the brownstone exterior with furnished side facing the windows, providing a view of the interior before opening the box.

After spending hours trying to design a scale staircase that would allow room for actual living space, I finally decided that the new owners were quite wealthy, had an invalid aunt, and upgraded to an elevator. 

All of the furniture pieces are my own designs and are scratch built from basswood. Accessories were built from a cache of watch parts, micro beads, floral foam, silk, bits of styrene, and a hacked apart N-scale figurine (the bust in the second floor office).

As a bit of a lark, I decided to keep the original function of the matchbox. The open elevator doors on the third floor reveal a cache of matches that are accessible when the box is opened. The odd looking panel on the exterior of the base of the brownstone is actually the strike plate -- so matches may be lit.

[Note: And until I find it, that is all there is of my brownstone.]

(edited to correct stoopid grammatical typo)
« Last Edit: March 17, 2011 04:47:42 PM by microjivvy » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2011 04:08:04 PM »

Wow, There is no way I knew that was a matchbox until I read the description! This ROCKS!  Nice detail.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2011 12:04:15 AM by photocinegrl » THIS ROCKS   Logged
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2011 04:28:34 PM »

Love it! So awesome.

« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2011 04:34:50 PM »

So awesome! (like you don't know that already Smiley)
My eyes are hurting just THINKING about making something so small and time consuming! I tip my cat to you! (I have no hat on, but did have a cat on my lap, so I tipped her-  cat hat same thing!)
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2011 04:37:59 PM »

You just made my jaw drop when I scrolled down far enough to see the interior. The interior!!! Shocked And I love the elevator -- a brilliant twist!

Now I think we're all hoping you are able to get into the upcoming matchbox swap!


« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2011 04:45:07 PM »

 ROCKS!   this is jaw dropping.  Wowzers!  I would have gone zonkers trying to work with stuff that small.

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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2011 07:03:10 PM »

WOW.  This is so intricate,  I hope you find it.  Also, how is that UNFINISHED?
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2011 08:42:16 PM »

Omg the adorable tiny-ness is killing me. I am actually impatiently awaiting an ebay delivery of miniatures (mostly 1/12 but a few 1/144) right now. Itty bitty things ftw!
Also, you must have teeny tools create such teeny furniture with. I wish I could see what the furniture looks like in progress! Cute overload!

« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2011 11:15:20 PM »

Thanks, guys. 

Wulf, I really really want the mail-carrier-fairies to get Knickertwist's package to her in a timely manner, but they are a whimsical lot so I'm still crossing my fingers.

Coma, when in-progress, the furniture looks like tiny scraps of wood that got missed when cleaning up. 

Of course, without the benefit of photo enlargement, that's pretty much what they look like finished. Grin


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« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2011 11:56:53 AM »

Wow -- I can't even imagine working with something so tiny! This is really brilliant!

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