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, June 17, 2017

Lots of wood (Shoji doors are done)!

Customer really wants the wood flooring in her Glenwood to be parallel with the open end of the dollhouse.  But the flooring sheets are 17" wide and the living room is 19-3/8" wide.  So the flooring in that room had to be pieced because I didn't want a seam right down the room.  But it had to be pieced quickly because customer also didn't want to spend a lot of money on labor or another sheet of flooring for the floor to be fully merged at the center.  So I used the remaining scrap pieces to puzzle fill the remaining 2" to 3" of flooring space left:
Edges cut back
 All the strips had to be trimmed back to where the last seam had been.
Cut the scrap pieces to match/fit in
Filled it in like a puzzle....
Scraps all fitted in and then trimmed it down to fit in the room...

Now front section piece needed to be filled in along side....

All edges were trimmed back except in 2 spots
For this larger section I could leave two sections with the seam as the staircase will be covering that area...
Stair goes right over that part so why piece it?

Floor is now quickly pieced together to be the correct size.
At quick glance there is no straight seam and with the staircase in the room, there will be no noticeable piecing at all.  And customer didn't have to pay for another sheet of flooring and there wasn't a lot of labor time involved!  Score!
Floorings are all done

Now I have to install the window trims, paint/stain staircase and install it, and the shingling of the house roof and the gazebo porch (which has been started):
Wood shingles getting cut for the gazebo peak!
Also, took a strip of Mahogany wood to the laser cutter and (finally) cut out my Shoji doors!

Polyurethaned them and added a piece of wood at the bottom to fill in some of the panes (so it wouldn't look like just a French door) and added a piece of plexi to create a door.

So the Butterfly Garden is (at long last!) finished:

I used some inlay wood trims to lay across the top (cannot glue them down because I need access to the interior in case the doors ever stick or break when/if someone opens them)...
Looking down on the scene
But with the plexiglass case on it, the plexi holds the inlay wood down in place so it all worked out:
View of the doors and interior space:
Fountain, Bamboo, and doors
All together

Looking into the interior space
I still love the doll I purchased from Tish (Tish's Website) that started it all:
Back of the doll
So, back fully focused onto the New Yorker box and Mansion now...but I gotta order some Majestic Mansion doors for the mansion first....

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Return of the Mansion

In reviewing my posts to show a customer how the remote control works with dollhouse lighting (youtube video using the remote control), I realized it had been almost a year since I worked on my Victorian Mansion.  I pulled a rookie mistake and because of it I had hit a stumbling block with the mansion: I forgot to square out all the window and door openings before I started decorating.  And now that several rooms were already decorated, no doors fit!  I had discovered the doors didn't fit just before my health got really bad last year.  And so I've avoided the mansion because the one thing I really hate doing is sanding.  And given that all doorways were about 1/16" to 1/8" too narrow and short, I knew it would take a lot of sanding and filing to fix it.  A lot.  And I'd have to be very careful because wallpapers and floorings were already in place in half the rooms.  Wonderful.  So, my way of dealing with it was to avoid it.
Out from behind the dining room table so I can get all around it
But now my mojo is going strong (Asian garden is just waiting on Shoji doors; New Yorker Roombox is waiting on some minor electrical soldering, broadway poster frames, and a battery platform and then it's done)!  So I pulled the mansion out from behind the dining room table to give it some long-needed attention!

Took almost 3 hours but all 6 doorways are now sanded/filed to the proper opening size.  Some doors are still a tight fit but I can't sand anymore!  I quit! LOL
Filing doorway between Parlor and Library without hitting fireplace or marking up the painted Parlor walls

Parlor door now fits

Filing Guest Room doorway tight fit...

After a lot of sanding both doors in Lady's Room fit...
I also touched up the library door from where some white spray paint had hit the molding edge.  So that involved a bit more sanding and a reapplication of stain.
Small amount of spray paint on molding edging that bugged me

Sanded and restained molding
And I cleaned the floors from all the dust I had created from my sanding and filing.  The dust was getting into every hairline crack and creating white streaks in my flooring so I broke out the Tack Cloth.  If you know about Tack Cloth, skip this next part:

This sticky rag gets up so much and even gives a tiny polish appearance to wood floors!  I prefer to wear gloves or a plastic bag when I hold the cloth; otherwise your fingers have a tacky feeling for hours afterwards.  But it gets all the dust and stuff off your wood floors!  I also cleaned the floors in a display house at the store:
Dusty Floor
Wiped with damp cloth but dust clings in the hairline cracks creating white streaks or dots
Scrub with a tack cloth
All clean!
So, I'm back into Mansion mode!  Hopefully a ton of work will be done on this in the next few months -- stay tuned!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Stuck in the Mud

Made a lot of progress on both my breadbox bakery and the Asian Butterfly Garden scene this past week (thanks to Mother's Day!).  So I apologize for the lengthy post!

My Breadbox Bakery originally was supposed to be a bakery, but became an indoor/outdoor scene a few decades ago due to a sale on Magic Brick at my local mini shop.  But someone asked why can't it be a bread shop with an outdoor area?  So I started making breads to fill it (Making the Bread) and now it needed racks for the bread... 
Racks fit nicely!  Bought the black one recently but mismatched white one is older and no longer available
Older, smaller one bugs me that it's white when all other metals in the scene are black
Racks were looking great, just needed to spray paint the white one black so that it matches and then the breads would "pop" on it.
And I didn't want to just pile breads on the shelves, so to add some color and interest I had to make cloth-lined baskets to hold some smaller rolls.
Large Basket getting cloth glued in place

Lots of pins to hold fabric in place while glue dries
Then I started to glue down all my breads I had made previously and my kids chalked on Easter!
Still need to chalk the breads that go on the top shelf

We're just about ready for business! LOL
I did decide it would look better with a center work table -- I would prefer a butcher's block table so I have to get one of those, but stuck this little table I had handy just to see if it would look nice.  But overall, it's done!
Table does block French breads against back wall though...

So as long as I had the clay, glue, and spray paint out, I also made some mushrooms and spray painted some wooden bowls to put them in.  At first I made them just for fun and to maybe be put on some witch hutches to sell in my store, but I really liked some of the smaller ones so that means I have to make more to eventually end up in either my mansion, Irish Cottage, or Opie's house.
Undersides and tops are painted - trying to make it look as realistic as possible

Ready for a witch's hutch/shelf

Not sure why I spent so much time making the underside look realistic when no one will ever see it once it's glued on the shelf
When uploading photos of my mushrooms I also found the cookies I had made out of clay and poppy seeds too.  Couldn't remember if I'd shared it with you or not...
Even if you'd already seen these, no one complains about more pictures of cookies, do they?
And, last but not least, I also worked on my Asian Butterfly Garden this week!!!!  Weeks ago I had realized that my temple statue for the garden was too short.  The bush in front of it hid it too much so it needed to be up on something.  I tried various pots but the space was very limited:
When centered the pot hangs over the edges
The best solution was to make a mold of the base of the temple and stack it.  Bought this 2 part mold putty stuff.
Tested to make sure the metal of the temple wouldn't react with the mold material.
And once I knew it was safe, I wrapped the base in the putty, and waited the 20 minutes.  I then pulled the putty off the base.  After stuffing the putty cavity with clay, I let it set and cut the putty mold off, leaving behind a clay/plaster crude replica of the base of the temple.  It was bright white and I had to paint it, but I think I matched the paint color fairly well.  Now I do realize two things: 1. it would have been smart to have taken photos of all this to show you but apparently I'm not all that smart and 2. the base copy is not great and a lot of the details were lost in the mold, but from a distance I think it'll be ok and most of it will be hidden by other plants once the scene is done so I'm okay with it.
Copy on the left painted to match metal original on right
I poured in the mud and arranged the large bush and temple on it's extra base.  This side of the garden went off without a hitch!
Went over the left side of the Garden, which is where the headaches started.
Getting ready to put bamboo into mud

And the fickle bamboo would not stand up!
The bamboo stood up great in the Styrofoam it was packaged in, but in my 1/16" - 1/8" thick mud they would fall over.  I tried using paper cups to lean them against.  Once my glue mud set to "concrete" that would keep them in place.  But until that happened I needed them to stay standing up straight!
Quickly got everything stuck in place but bamboo kept falling over

Rigged to stay in place!
After a lot of fussing with the bamboo I got them to stay upright.  They are not all perfectly straight but I didn't want to fuss with it too much as fixing one seemed to make 4 others fall over!  I took that picture and walked away from it for the night. By morning the mud was finally hardening!  I was so excited! At work I showed Mom the photo and realized a huge mistake I had made.  I'd glued the fountain bowls wrong and would have to take it apart and redo it.  The bowls were supposed to go from smallest at top down to the largest on the ground.  And I had glued the bowls to the wrong stands: the tallest stand was supposed to have the smallest bowl on it!  And I couldn't just remove the bowls from the stand and swap them because the spacing would be wrong for the "water" to fall into the lower bowls.  So not only did bowls need to be removed from the stands, but the stands needed to be moved around.  And they were all glued down firmly to their stands and into the now-hardening-into-concrete dirt.

As soon as I got home from work I wiggled and chipped away at the bases of the fountain stands to get them out of the dirt.
YAY!  Nothing broke!
Neither my pottery or my wooden stands broke! Scraped away space for them so I could line them up properly again in the garden.
To make room for the stands the lower bowl needed to move just a hair over
And that's when disaster struck: trying to move the lowest bowl over just a tiny bit and it's rim shattered.  I now needed a new lower bowl.
This will do.

Had a pot that would work, except it wasn't black.  So back to spray painting I went!  Once it was sprayed to match, I glued it in place and then got down to the business of making it a fountain (i.e. adding "water").
What I needed to make the spilling water
 Making Waves by Deluxe Materials is a great product for making "running water" either from a faucet, fountain, waterfall, etc.  I had never done it before -- last time I made a fountain I used saran wrap dipped in Scenic Water but I needed/wanted something that didn't look as rustic as that previous waterfall had been.  So, according to the directions, I just fill a syringe with this Making Waves material and it creates "running water".
Thick enough to hold up a straw
Was nervous upon opening the jar (which I had opened a long time ago to make my sister a scene but ultimately did not use it for that scene, but it had been opened).  It seemed so thick -- had opening it all those years ago caused it to dry up/out?  It was malleable but not a liquid as I was expecting.  But I stuck my syringe in and got to work.

Thick like a hardening toothpaste, it did drape and hang down as it was supposed to.  Had to go slow so that it wouldn't break apart mid-stream.  Although one did break but it was very easy to go back and just add to it.  I was concerned that it was white.  Bottle didn't say if it would dry clear or not but I kept on going...
Was pleased that thinner areas which were already drying were turning clear.
 I let it dry for hours.  Still needed to add the pools of water to the bowls but wanted the drippy stream parts to dry fully before I did that.  And in the meantime I started to glue down butterflies. And was disappointed that my large collection of butterflies were mostly transparent and unseen unless against a white background:
In their packaging they looked so colorful!

But so transparent in the scene you can't see them.

Even the gray stone doesn't make this one stand out as much as I'd like
The one on top of the temple looks great cuz white wall behind him shows off his details.  But would you have noticed the one on the leaf if I hadn't circled him?
So I ended up using more of the paper butterflies I had. I wanted some "flying" around her but as I put the "invisible" wire in the scene it bugged me that it was so "not invisible"!
Awful, obvious wire.

Could he be any more obvious?!?!?!
So most of my butterflies will have to be "grounded" and not flying around...And, now that "streams" were dried and clear, it was time to mix the 2 part resin (Solid Water by Deluxe Materials) and fill my bowls:
3 paper butterflies around the fountain
And as long as I had the resin mixed up I added some to glass pitchers and stuck greenery in them to create some herbs for tables/shelves to sell in my store:
Still working on making stuff for the tables/shelves, such as this pastry blender which needs more work/perfection but for a first attempt I was okay with it.
Piece of toothpick

Hole drilled into either side

Bits of wire

Attached wires into holes
Having made the one, I can now think of ways to make it easier/faster (a bigger drilled hole is a definite next time!).  Still need more pottery, books, and kitchen utensils, but working on these tables/shelves during the next week or two and then they'll be for sale in my store:
One of many that will finished soon

Have white and black shelves to fill!
And, in the next week or two I will also be getting to the laser cutter to cut my Shoji doors.  I know I've been saying that for weeks (months) now, but things (i.e. real life) keep getting in my way and preventing me from getting to the warehouse where the laser cutter is kept!  And the "roof" of the structure needs to be painted black (once Shoji doors are installed) and I need to put crossbeams of some kind across the bracket supports, but otherwise the Butterfly Asian Garden is completed!

Those "in flight" butterflies might get yanked out -- I really don't like seeing that wire.
So, I am sorry for the lengthy blog post, but as you can see I had a lot to tell you about!  Hope to be even more productive in the next month!