Welcome to my life . . . .

This is a blog about my passion: dollhouses and miniatures. This particular blog was started to follow my miniature dream: to create a Victorian Mansion. But work on my Mansion is slow. Very slow. Sloth slow. Ice Age glacier movement slow. Why? Because I am easily distracted by other personal miniature projects (I have 50+ roomboxes and 15 dollhouses in various stages of incompletion) and because I work for a miniature shop and am often up to my elbows in miniature projects that aren't mine! So, I thought, some artists work in a particular medium (woods, watercolors, clay, oils, etc.), I work in progress . . . .

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Another Newport Done

We (my shop) are hired about once a year to work on a Newport dollhouse. It's a very popular model by Real Good Toys! This year's Newport job only involved assembling it; customer wants to paint, shingle, and finish off the interior herself. She bought the kit from us 3 weeks ago and I promised to have it assembled in 3 weeks (so deadline was today). But then my youngest daughter came down ill delaying my work; and then my middle daughter had her 12th birthday and a slumber party to celebrate, distracting me from my job; and then I came down with an illness for 4 days and missed work! Sitting at home with a fever, cough, and sniffles, I was a nervous wreck about how far behind in my work I was getting. Until my mother texted me this from the shop (where she was holding down the fort in my absence):
Not only was she helping customers and shipping out our online orders, Mom had started the Newport foundation and labeled all the parts in the kit! If I weren't infected with nasty cold or flu germs, I'd give her hugs and kisses! Lol
So, upon returning to work on Thursday I assembled the rest of the house and glued windows and railings together (they aren't glued onto the house though so customer can paint them easier).
So even though life tried to get in my way, thanks to energetic mom getting the ball rolling, one of the six customer houses is done on time and awaiting pick-up!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Up to my elbows in primer

Spent almost 2 hours priming various parts of the House with Damaged Porch Roof from the last blog entry...
Foundation is primed and replacement siding strips are primed (gotta paint both sides to prevent a lot of warping).  I also slapped some primer on the exposed house body above the door to help seal the mildew/moldy areas.

 Living Room got a fresh coat of paint on the ceiling and walls and foundation is now primed.

Did not get a very good 'before' photo of the dining room, but it also now has a fresh coat of paint and looks much improved!

And, in my typical fashion, I managed to get primer all over my hands and up my arms to my elbows.  I scrubbed so vigorously to remove the paint I gave myself nasty rug burns on my arms.  they are burning right now -- Some days I am not the brightest! LOL

I hope to glue the siding on the front of the house before I leave work today and then it won't get any more attention until next week...my arms need the rest! :)

Red Townhouse customer returned to the store and finished picking out her wallpapers and floorings so I will work on that tomorrow instead.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Good Bones; Bad Damage

Have 5 customer houses in right now.  This little baby came in for some minor rehab work:
Needs a little love
A well-loved childhood house that seemed to just need a little sprucing up on the surface.  Customer wanted a general clean-up, missing doors/windows reinstalled, railings replaced, maybe some fresh paint on porch, and interior papers removed/replaced.
Missing door is inside house
Rug needs a vacuuming or replacement!

You can tell exactly where the rug was in this room
So at first it seemed like the work was all cosmetic alterations...until we noticed some "high character" shingles on the porch roof:
Those wavy rows add character to the house, right?
Add the noticeable discoloration on the siding under the window and we knew there was a previous water damage issue happening.  A glance under the porch revealed more damage:
Window is popping off the house
With buckling siding and windows being pushed away from the structure thanks to the swelled wood and brittle siding, this rehab project just went to a whole other level.  The bare bones of the structure was solid though so we spent yesterday starting the clean-up, disinfecting, and removing the rotting areas:
Left window is cleaned, right window still dirty
As you can see in the photo above, a good scrubbing with a toothbrush helped the window mullions: you can tell the difference between the left side and right side!
Porch floor was blue, not gray!  Who knew!
Even the floors benefited from a good scrubbing:
So much better!
Small chips and holes remain, but if the customer can live with the imperfections and wants to save on rehab costs, we might be able to just poly these floors!  They may have another few years of life in them after the scrubbing!
Chip along the front edge of the house

Hole at the bottom of the stair

This large chip isn't as noticeable thanks to stain underneath
Next I tackled the porch, ripping away all the rotted wood -- most of it just fell apart or splintered apart as I grasped it.  As I got closer to the "good wood" I used my handy I-drill to make a clean cut. (I love my oscillating I-drill!)
Pile of rotted porch roof wood

Some remaining mildew/rot on the house
There is still some remaining dry rot/mildew on the house that we will sand off and cover with KillZ to stop the mold from growing and seal it up tight!  And, yes, taking off the siding revealed the round wires that had been hidden underneath.  But on the interior it appears as though they were cut out/off many years ago.
In progress
So rotted, dilapidated porch roof has been removed and we will create a new one later next week.  (Got to fix up the siding and paint first.)
On it's way to repair
New siding has been cut to fit.  Needs paint and to be glued back on before porch can be reconstructed.  Amazing what 3 hours worth of work can do: this baby is well on it's way to being brought back to life!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Spray Painting Table

I had the perfect table for the Butterfly scene, but I wanted it black, not the fruitwood it was.
Table in the background needs to be black...and blue vase needs to be red.
And, yes, the blue vase looks good right now cuz it's picking up the blue in the painter's tape but eventually that blue vase will be switched out with a red one.

So I decided to spray paint the table.  Lots of people spray paint miniature furniture.  So I can too, right? Yikes. Something went terribly wrong....
Streaky bubbles appeared!
I'm not sure if I held the can to close to the project (directions said 6" - 8" away and I thought I had but...), or if the temperature in my garage was too cold for spraying that day, or if I did a second coat to soon after the first, or what happened.  But those streaky bubbles looked hideous!
Sanded all the bubbles off and tried again

I love the design on the table edges; thankfully the paint didn't bubble up there!

Gave it another first coat (lightly)
My patience was tried, but I made sure to measure and sprayed only 7" from the project and I waited an entire day between each of my four spray coats.  So my one-day project took four, but I am happy with it...

A table top I can live with!

Finally!  So pretty!
I also spent an evening this week priming the box pieces, assembling the pieces, and wallpapering the interior space.  And I got an extra vase and painted it red so the flowers are now ready to go!
Coming along nicely!
Yeah. So those parts are done. Now to experiment with the "dirt" (coffee grinds) and to get over to the laser cutter to print out my Shoji doors I designed!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

RGT Contemporary Ranch

I am not a huge fan of Real Good Toy's Contemporary Ranch dollhouse: The style of the house is okay -- but every photo I see of it didn't excite me.  It's usually shown with a white ceiling/wall/flooring interior and the exterior is usually displayed with pale blue or beige walls and white trim.  I was not overly enthused by this house.  But a customer wanted the kit assembled, painted, and finished off so I built one.

I don't know if it was the customer's excellent choices in colors/d├ęcor or if it's just the difference of seeing this house in the flesh versus in photos, but I loved this house and was so sad when the customer came to pick it up:

Living room, bathroom in the loft, and kitchen

One of my favorite aspects of the house was that glass half wall (not included in the kit)!

Looking from living room into sun room - one of my favorite papers from Brodnax but a tricky one to match the seams as one sheet was not tall enough for this large room!

The stone on the front porch coordinated beautifully with the house body paint!

Love the big picture windows!  (Most photos show the windows chopped up with mullions)

The shingles were such a perfect color!

Bedroom in golden yellows/burgundy
View from sun room into bedroom

Sun room, so open and airy (double meaning there thanks to the side opening!)
Wallpapering the tall rooms was a challenge as one sheet was not tall enough.  The sun room had the border making it easier to hide the seams but the living room took a lot of brain power (aka coffee) to match up the patterns to hide the seams.  I'm still loving that bathroom glass wall and the sky lights all around the roof!  I did not realize the potential for this house and am glad to have worked on one!

Now on to the next customers' projects!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Off on a Tangent

I know I have so many other projects to be working on (Mansion, Shark Tank, my New York box, 1895 and 1795 kitchens, Modern Townhouse, Confectionary Shop, Suishi shop, and Log cabin -- just to name a few), but I went off on a tangent and created a new project to do during this upcoming month...

My youngest daughter loves butterflies so (naturally) when I found miniature butterflies for sale at the Chicago Show two years ago, of course I bought as many as I could.  Thus resulting in an abundance of butterflies with no home.  And after attending the Dallas Mini Show last year, I have this gorgeous doll (dressed by Tish of Versailles Dolls) who is holding 2 butterflies in her cupped hands (Dallas Mini Show Blog Post).
Butterfly Girl
I needed some thing "outdoors" to properly display all these butterflies and this doll!

Mondays are my day off of work, so a Monday morning with no appointments or plans meant I could go play on the Laser Cutter, producing this little room box to fit inside a plexi box I already owned.
A small indoor space and a platform for an outdoor garden
There is a space between the walls for a Shoji sliding door that I will construct:

Looking down, sideways - sorry I can't figure out how to flip the pic - into the "room"
I took out some plants I had previous acquired that didn't fit into the spaces they were originally bought for.  And I had some left over field stone pieces to create a walkway...the scene started to come together nicely...
Dry fitting a rough draft of how it will all look
I had my heart set on a little fountain though -- in fact, I recalled some pottery I had for my Irish Cottage (another Work-in-Progress that I should have worked on instead of creating a new project!).  This pottery was a collection of small nesting bowls with spouts on them!  I could glue them in a way that water would flow from one bowl to the next!  But after searching for an hour thru my miniatures I concluded that I either gave the bowls away or sold them on a Facebook Used Minis Sale page when I decided the Irish Cottage wasn't getting any landscaping.

I was disappointed: I really had my heart set on this little fountain in the scene....and then I recalled my no-bake clay that was still sitting in my fridge from my bread-making experiment (Previous Blog Post about no-bake clay)!  Using a small chunk of clay, I created my own little bowls with spouts...

Once fully dried, I'll paint them black and glue them into a cascading fountain shape
I have begun to collect my supplies - including the dirt for the gardens on either side of the field stone walkway...
Coffee is my friend for so many reasons...
And I'm hopeful that next Monday will be a quiet day as well so I can run back over to the Laser Cutter and cut out my Shoji sliding doors!  Updates will be posted as I work on this little scene, but first there will be some blog updates on some customer's projects and some mansion work I did accomplish since Dad finally delivered the Addition Base to me!  It's been an exciting Mini week!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

End of the Year, 2017 Preview

2016 is almost over.  I tweaked a bunch of personal projects this year (I won't say "finished" or "completed" them because, let's face it, a miniaturist is never "finished" with any project -- I still add things to my House That Jack Built English tea house and my Artply Rutherford dollhouse which have been on display in my house, pretending to be completed, for over 15 and 20 years now.)

So, I don't want to look back -- 2016 was a rough year for a lot of people -- so I decided to look forward and preview some of what I'll be doing in 2017!

Besides the customer houses (have 2 in right now that I'm working on the electrical), I will be wrapping up my bread box by creating a bread rack...
Chalking up my breads

So happy with my loaves

And with my croissants

And Opie (my BJD Pukipuki doll I got from my friend, Wendy) is getting her house this year!  Well, the outer shell of it anyway -- I have such plans for this house that it will probably take me over a year to get it to be at a point where it can be on display.
Dad cut the base wood for Opie's House!

I will be tackling the Mansion (always working on the Mansion)!  Rumor has it that Dad has the addition base almost ready which means huge steps will be taken this winter on finishing the exterior of the house!

I hope to finish my 1795 Kitchen and to get my 1895 kitchen underway.  My in-laws gave me some cash for Christmas which I used to purchase this slightly moldy and neglected roombox which needs a back wall but will be perfect for a little Early Victorian Kitchen to complete my Kitchen Series roomboxes (1929 kitchen1964 kitchenBrief Touch on 2010 Kitchen, 1795 Kitchen and Start of 1795 Kitchen).
This will make a cute kitchen!

And I really hope to complete the Shark Tank (Birithmas Gifts to Finish Up) in time for the next Green Spring Gardens Holiday Open House in December 2017.

My Hunting Cabin is very close to being "Display-able".  I mostly want to put it on a board and put landscaping around it...
Haven't touched this one since 2014!  It needs a bit of attention for it's debut!

Interior is mostly finished: just needs some final touches and accessories.

So, here's to 2017!  May it be a wonderful, lovable, productive, healthy year!