Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Medieval Castle Tutorial

Hello everyone! I have a fun Sizzix tutorial to share with you today. When I made my Tall Grungy Houses a few weeks ago, they got me thinking about making a fairy tale castle using my Sizzix dies. I kept thinking about it, until I just had to try it out. 
Here's the final result, I am happy with how it turned out, and it is much easier to make than what it looks like. This medieval castle was made using basically only mat board, dies, paste and paint. It is pretty cool to be able to create something large like this from just those products. I made it for my son to have as an ornament in his room. If you use different colours, such as pink, and don't distress it, you'll end up with a very different looking castle, so there are lots of possibilities. It measures 6 1/4 in wide, 9 in long and 10 in high. This is a long tutorial, let's start.
First, I thought about which dies might help me build a castle, and die cut some blocks using Eileen Hull's Square Box and 3-D Blocks/Cubes dies, from mat board. You can also use chipboard. You need one large block, and three smaller (the mid-sized block on the 3-D Blocks/Cubes).

I wanted round towers and used Susan's Garden Rounded Birdhouse for the piece to the right, and Brenda Walton's Faceted Cone for the roof piece. These dies don't work so well with mat board, which is too thick, instead I used thin chipboard. You need four of each.

On top of the large block I wanted a smaller building and decided to use Eileen Hull's birdhouse, also die cut from mat board.
In one of the large block pieces, I cut a door opening using the smallest Tim Holtz Sized Arches die. The windows were die cut with the Windows set. Use masking tape to temporary hold the dies in place to make sure that they don't shift when you die cut.

At first, I was planning for the square tower to be connected to the entrance building, but later I changed my mind, which is why my tall square tower doesn't have a door. If you want to, die cut a door. Since this is an old castle, there is no glass in the windows, but if you do another type of castle, you can use acetate or mica.

 For the towers I used a Keyhole Movers & Shapers die. 

Adhere the tower together with strong tape. You need to cut off two wedges from the roof in order for it not to be too wide. Check to make sure it is just wide enough before you assemble the roof.

I thought I was pretty clever when I figured out how to do the part on top of the towers (I am not sure what those notches are called), and the wall. I was not keen on having to cut all those notches with a craft knife and suddenly came to think of Tim Holtz Torn Notebook On the Edge Die. I was happy to see how well it worked. Cut a piece of mat board and die cut it until you have cut the whole piece, lining it up on the die.

You can see into this castle through all the windows, so I painted the inside with Pumice Stone.

To give it some texture, I stamped with a crackle stamp and Watering Can ink.
When I made my Tall Grungy Houses, I wished that I had added some people inside them. I didn't have time to make clay people for the castle, instead these wood veneer Potty People had to do. I used nine of them, in two sizes, and painted them with Distress Paint.

I put a blob of hot glue where I wanted the figurines.

Use strong adhesive to assemble the blocks. These are the insides of the blocks in the tall tower. I even added some ornaments for the walls.

A cameo painting inside one of the rooms.

Measure and score the 'roof piece' so that you can easily attach it around the top floor.

Adhere with strong tape. Repeat on the large block.

Assemble all the different buildings, but don't put the roofs on the round towers or on the bird house yet.

Smear a thin layer of Wendy Vecchi's White Embossing Paste on the houses, also covering the joints. Continue until you have covered all the houses, the round towers, and the bird house roof. If you used brown chipboard, as I did on the towers, you might want to give them a coating of gesso first. Leave to dry.
On the conical roofs, I made some impressions while the paste was still wet, creating a cool roof texture.

I wanted more texture on the buildings and was thinking about how to do that. I love this Cobblestones die by Tim Holtz and though it would work great as a stencil. It was die cut from Eclipse tape and used as a stencil, to smear paste here and there through the stone shapes. You can also try using printer paper, but the Eclipse Tape works well. I was happy with the texture and repeated on all the buildings, but not on the roofs. 

When dry, paint with watered-down Pumice Stone. Adding a little bit of water to the paint (make a pool on a paint palette) speeds up painting.

Use a paint brush, and paint the stones with Weathered Wood. It doesn't need to be perfect. At this stage, my son commented that he thought the caste was 'too white, castles aren't supposed to be white'.
I listened to the advice of the four-year old castle expert and added more Pumice Stone and distressed the buildings by dry brushing Black Soot on them. The black paint makes the texture of the paste more visible.

The roof pieces were painted with slightly watered-down Black Soot Paint, and when dry, dry brushed with more black paint. 

At this stage, I had no idea what I was going to place the castle on and happened to think of the packaging for Brenda Walton's dies, very sturdy boxes. I have kept the packaging, knowing it would come in handy, and used one of the boxes from an L-sized die. I coated it with a few coats of gesso to cover up the pink. The wall was cut from mat board and die cut with the Torn Notebook die. I didn't make it very high because I wanted the castle to be clearly visible.

Smear paste all over the base and place the buildings into the wet paste, which then acts as an adhesive. As you can see, the roofs are still not attached.
When the paste is dry, paint the ground and the wall in the same way as the buildings. I used Black Soot to make a little path into the castle.
I made flags by folding Tim Holtz tissue tape around a pearl needle and adhered them to the roofs with hot glue. After this, the roofs were attached to the buildings, also using hot glue. Always be very careful when you use hot glue since it is very hot.
Add some people to the outside areas of the castle too. This one has the watch.

With some modifications, you can make a lot of different kinds of castles, use different colours, add more embellishments, cover the shapes with patterned paper instead of paste, there are lots of options. This could also easily be turned into other types of buildings.

It is a welcoming castle and the couple owning it are standing here to welcome guests.

You could leave the bird house out, but I thought it worked as a little building for the guard to take shelter in if the weather is bad.
The stone texture is really nice. I love using my dies in ways they were not originally intended for.
This is what the castle looks like from the other side. There are people on all the three floors in the tall tower and if you look closely you can see the ornaments on the walls too.
Here you can see the people better. This was a tricky project to photograph with all the dimension.
From the top it looks like this. There is paste on the flat roofs too. When you touch the castle, it is hard to guess that it is made of mat board and chipboard. 
You don't have to use exactly the same dies as I did, have a look at the shapes your dies can cut and see what you can build. It is lots of fun!

From the side it looks like this. There are some open areas for people to walk around in.

Here's a woman walking, maybe on her way to the market. 

From the top the finished castle looks like this.

The happy recipient of the castle. This also gives you an idea of how large it is. For now, this is mainly going to be an ornament. If you make it to a small child, be careful with the needle flags, maybe use something else or leave them out all together.
Thank you so much for looking at this long post!! I hope it inspired you to look at your dies differently and see how many different uses they can have.
Happy crafting!
Surfaces: Sizzix: Little Sizzles Mat Board 6 x 13; chipboard
Stamps: Tim Holtz Stampers Anonymous: Ultimate Grunge
Ink: Archival Ink: Watering Can
Paint: Distress Paint: Pumice Stone, Black Soot, Victorian Velvet, Chipped Sapphire, Weathered Wood
Medium: Wendy Vecchi White Embossing Paste
Embellishments: Tim Holtz Idea-ology: Merriment Tissue Tape; Studio Calico Wood Veneer: Potty People, Birds
Adhesive: Ranger Wonder Tape; Judikins Eclipse Tape


  1. Wow! That's an amazing castle - it reminds me of a cake one that my mum made many years ago , she used my brothers LEGO flags and toy soldiers - reminds me of happy times :-D


  2. Anna-Karin, I am just picking my jaw up off the floor!! This is THE most incredible piece of art - now I want to make one too. No wonder your Son looks so happy! He must think you are the best Mum ever... Anne x

  3. ANNA-KARIN! This is the coolest castle ever! I want to make one for Trinity in pink. You have really outdone yourself this time. No wonder Spider Man is one happy boy- who wouldn't be???

  4. Wow! Wow! No wonder he is happy! Phenomenal!

  5. I think the smile says all - you are a wonderful Mom!
    Sandra ltb

  6. Absolutely AMAZING, what wonderful creative ideas you have used for the dies. Fantastic . Tracy x

  7. Magical creation, Anna-Karin - and oh the look on his face at the end!
    Alison xx

  8. What a labor of love! It is fabulous. Who wouldn't want their own castle? Ingenious use of dies.

  9. Oh my stars! You made that little boy so so happy! Job well done on your stupendous castle!

  10. OMG, this is absolutely incredible and so very, very creative!! Absolutely fabulous and your totally adorable son's face says it all! It looks though as if you had loads of fun with it too! It really rocks!

  11. This is totalle AWESOME!!!!!

  12. This is by far, the coolest project ever! I love it! Your projects always amaze me...but this one...WOW! Awesome!

    And I think that you just won the best Mom award too. :)

  13. what a lucky little guy!
    this is seriously amazing.
    I'm going back to look again!

  14. oh my - this is amazing - love it to bits and so glad your boy does too xx

  15. Absolutely stunning! Love all of the details you added, even inside the buildings! Wonderful, wonderful!

  16. This is absolutely stunning!

  17. Stunning project, Anna- Karin. TFS

  18. WOW!! This has to be one of the coolest things I have ever seen made! I love every detail. Very cool! :)

  19. That is incredible Anna-Karin!! Love the way you added the cobblestone wall effect and great colouring advice from your son - aren't they the best at pointing out the obvious to us!!! Jenny x

  20. What a brilliant idea. I love building 3D stuff and this is just the best. Your son looks like he is about to burst with pleasure! Awesome job!

  21. How fabulous. Thanks for sharing your tutorial. I'm sure that 'Spider man' will love it forever.

  22. Totally awesome! Fantastic use of dies!

  23. WOW! What a truly amazing project. I'm in total awe. Thanks for sharing. :)

  24. OMG Anna-Karin, this is amazing and a great tutorial! NancyD

  25. absolutely, positively, stupendously AWESOME!!!

  26. I am totally convinced there isn't anything that you cannot create. Your castle is amazing!!! I am so taken by the stones and the way you used the different dies to create each detail.
    And the new castle owner looks so very proud of his lovely new home for his knights and royalty. How strong he must be to carry a whole castle! :)
    Thank you so much for sharing your amazing work! :)

  27. Oh my goodness - what a marvelous castle! L O V E it! Your design is so creative and really does look like I could actually do this!! LOL!! You son must be totally excited to have received this wonderful creation from his mum!! Thanks for your wonderful step by step instructions! Some day - I am going to make a castle!

  28. WOW and ooh my word!!! This is amazing and so many fantastic details to look at!

  29. Ohh my! Anna-Karin, this is amazing! What a great idea and wonderful project! Love to read the tutorial! Hugs, Sandra

  30. WOW WOW WOW, das ist total genial...super!

    LG Carola

  31. Anna-Karin, This castle is wonderful! I'm came here to look at the post after it-above it, but your castle grabbed me. LOL I bought those Tim Holtz Key Holes for the very same reason and I'm so glad to see you used them as windows. I knew they would make great castle windows as I have an AccuCut Craft castle album die. I'm so glad to see I was right. Your son beaming so proudly is priceless. What a great room decoration.

  32. AMAZING design! GREAT work!
    really admire it

  33. This is just CRAZY!!! Love it! And just can't believe you did that with paper! Amazing...

  34. Good site. Amazing project.

  35. I bow to the Queen of the Castle.
    Creative genius!

  36. Absolutely magnificent!!! Tutorial saved and this is on my must make list! TFS!


Thank you so much for leaving a comment! Happy Crafting!