The Seven Pillars of, well, certainly not Wisdom


Less T E Lawrence and more Chandler

Procrastination may be a fascinating sport but it just doesn’t get the job done.

First I need an incentive

Angela Downton had kindly sent on the panels made for the new ceiling and I was keen to get on with it – as an incentive it was pretty good but still it didn’t, within itself, solve my petty quandary.  I was actually going to have to make a decision.

Balsa as a material for the newby

Great stuff for shaping, lousy for cutting.  Soft as butter and has a rotten surface.  Anyone want to chip in here?

What seems like some time back, when I was really frightened of everything I touched turning into something entirely unusable – as opposed to now when I just start again – I was worried about making sufficient beams for Tudor/Jacobean architecture.  Don’t ask me why – you’d have thought that cutting lengths off a ready prepped ‘stick’ would be one of the easiest things around.  Casting around and costing it out, it seemed that the ready-made beam kits that Maple Street has for several of its Tudor style dolls houses would be cheaper than buying pine to cut; so I bought a set.  It’s in balsa, which I thought would be fine for the roof areas where I was less likely to do it a serious mischief, and I carefully re-wrapped and shelved it.

Some little time later

Now I’m using it for pillars

Identity parade

trying pillar for Great Hall

Original idea – flat to wall – v flat

square try for Great Hall

Square and shapeless

chunky balsa for Great Hall

Chunky balsa that is easily shape


A whole day painting six balsa sticks only to find that I didn’t like the colour.  The danger of fiddling on is that everything gets to look even more muddy so I’ve just left them.  They will, after all, only be the background for the furnishings – it niggles though.

Great Hall pillars

Cutting and shaping the wood

Assorted set of pillars

Assorted set of pillars

Great Hall pillars

Wood filled glued joints – how hairy can it get?

Great Hall pillars

Priming and repetitive painting

Pillars for Great Hall

A touch of the Cleopatra’s, perhaps?

Great Hall pillars

Gently painting the twiddles on the capital

Great Hall in Tudor Dolls House

Ceiling-less Hall


2 responses »

  1. Balsa versus basswood – basswood similar colour, close grain so sands well but needs saw to cut as its not as soft as balsa. Comes in assorted shapes and sizes including square profile but probably more expensive. If you continue to use balsa try using a sanding sealer when cut to size – sand column on with fine paper (emery paper would probably be ok), then brush on coat of sanding sealer, fine sand when dry then paint. May not work but worth a go.
    I have painted wood items using gouache as a priming coat. You can sand gouache when dry then you have a good surface to paint on.

    • Thanks for that, Angela. I used v fine paper and coated with thinned matte sealer which stopped the hairy menace, gave a good work surface and took the paint. Still let the horrid grain of the balsa show through so much as the wood tends to absorb anything layered on to it until it soaks as deeply as it can get. Does that make sense? I used the sealant a few times whilst working on the pillars in the hope that the follwoing layer of paint would cover more of the grain but didn’t get that good a result. They don’t look to0 bad when put in place but the dust when sanding down was truly appalling and was hard to clean up as it flirted around the room at the slightest suggestion of movement. The cat fled in disgust.

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