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 . . . .

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Stuck in the Arch

Between helping customers in the store, taking inventories, placing orders for restock, straightening up the shelves, checking and packing up online orders, updating the website, and replying to emails, I try to fit in an hour or two of work each day on customer's houses in the store.  Since I only get to work for an hour or two, work is slow.  But I felt I made huge steps yesterday in cutting out the arch on the Harborside!  My I-drill (I love my I-drill!) worked great and I had the arch cut out within an hour - I was ahead of schedule!  Maybe I would also mix up the ceiling paint and start painting ceilings!  But first I should test fit the archway trim . . . .

Customer has a Lawbre arch for the doorway from the kitchen to the addition conservatory room.  I love this arch (not that my opinion matters for much, but there it is)!  I have it as well for my Victorian Fantasy dollhouse but have not yet installed it because my Victorian Fantasy dollhouse has a double wide opening so side walls must be cut out and the top opening of the doorway must be filled in before the arch will fit (i.e. lots of other work must be completed first so it hasn't gotten done yet).

On the Harborside Mansion though, it fit beautifully once I cut out a little bit off of each side:
Arch cut into main housebody.

Arch cut into addition wall.

Arch trim looks fantastic in the space!  Oh, wait, I have to put the addition onto the side of the house too and then put on the archway trim!  Oops.

The disappointment came after I had cut the arches and discovered that the Lawbre arch fits over a 3/8" thick wall.  But in this dollhouse it has to fit over the exterior wall of the main house body (3/8" thick) PLUS the addition liner wall of the conservatory (1/8" thick).

When adding an addition to a Real Good Toys dollhouse they provide a liner for the side that butts up against the main house.  If the dollhouse has milled siding, such as the Harborside Mansion, it covers the milling so that your interior addition walls are smooth for decor.  But it creates a thicker wall.  Now the arch does not fit.
Channel inside the arch trim will not fit over the two walls together.

Even when I press them together, the two walls are just 1/8" too thick for the arch trim.
Solutions?
Well, there's the first possibility: a labor intensive and risky solution of routing out the wall(s) or cutting out the liner in the exact shape of the trim so that the arch trim fits into a snug groove.

Lots of detailing to route out around precisely.

But there is so much detailed trim on the arch trim that cutting out for it will take time, a steady hand, more time, and lots of potential for mistakes that will have to be filled in with Spackle or wood fill.  It will also look poorly when the trim is not snugly in place (as cutting out will be done by hand so some parts will be jagged and uneven).  But it's possible.

Second possibility is to remove the addition liner wall (or cut most of it away so that only thin strips support the ceiling piece) and fill in the siding with Spackle so the milled nature of it is covered and painted smooth.  The wall is only 3/8" thick so the trim fits again:
With paper and a spare piece of crown molding I created the look I am trying to describe.  You have to imagine the rest of the conservatory is there (ceiling, floor, front wall, and other side wall).

Without the addition on it, the house will always look like this.
So the decor for the one wall of the conservatory will always be attached to the main house body.  Looks odd without the conservatory up against it, but how often will the conservatory not be up against the house?  During transportation and/or moving?  That would be okay.

However, what is not okay is that by removing the addition's liner wall, the corner of the ceiling has no support where it meets the back open end of the dollhouse.  What would the ceiling rest upon to keep it from sagging over time?  (Now, some other miniaturists have assured me that the ceiling would not sag - it is structurally sound due to cantilevering or something like that, but I am a worrier and cannot help feel that it would sag over the decades and my customer has too much invested in this to have a saggy dollhouse!).  My only solution to that potential future issue is to either 1. permanently attach the addition to the main house, nailing thru the walls into the conservatory ceiling/roof or 2. attach crown molding to the main house body so that the roof of the conservatory has a solid piece to rest upon (since we removed the liner it previously rested upon):

Ceiling/Roof piece would receive extra support from the crown molding if it needed it.

So today's hour or two will be spent debating pro's/con's of these two solutions while still drinking lots of coffee in hopes that a third option materializes in my mind!

Any suggestions, Mini Friends?  I would appreciate any thoughts!


Friday, November 7, 2014

Finishing up Halloween and Preparing for Christmas

So, it is less than three weeks until Thanksgiving . . . and my dining room table (as usual) is covered in miniature projects.  In my defense, not all the miniature projects are for me!  I have a customer's house sitting there, waiting for me to rewire it and wallpaper it.  There are 2 in-progress miniature projects which will be Christmas gifts for my 2 best friends.  And my daughter has some of her sewing project stuff on the table (but, yes, hers are easy to pick up and put away as opposed to the dollhouses which are harder to find space to put them).

The largest thing on the table is mine (Leaky Cauldron/Diagon Alley structure) and I have bits and pieces for another small project (a beach stall) I am working on when Leaky Cauldron frustrates me.  I know my husband will begin to make comments about how we need our dining room table back for Thanksgiving dinner, so within the next week or two I have to remove the larger structures at least.  The smaller things I can tuck away in various nooks and crannies in the living room and kitchen.

I do not want to put Leaky Cauldron away -- I procrastinated for almost 10 years in removing the old stone floor.  Now that it is finally all out, I don't want to delay another 10 years in finishing it.  And I worry that if it goes back to the dimly lit, scary, spider hotel (aka basement) it will be years before I work on it again.  So I want to get at least the floor done to try and maintain my motivation for working on it.  I had to restain the baseboard area as the plaster stone floor had discolored the previously stained wood:
New stain is a bit darker, but in the long run I think it'll be fine.
I planned on making a template at first to work on the flooring outside of the structure.  But the opening is so small the template wouldn't have fit thru the opening!  So I have to glue down the individual pieces of strip wood one at a time inside the structure.  Then I had the stumbling block of trying to fit flooring in places I couldn't see very well:
Gluing down the first few strips.
The narrow wall to the left in the picture above and the doorway wall on the right create a smaller opening for viewing the room.  My head and hands don't fit in the opening very well so I can't really see right behind these areas while I'm working on them.  So I am gluing down the strips and then returning to fill in the bare spots afterwards:
The threshold of the door needed a piece of wood.

Not the best fit (lots of gaps) but who's gonna see?
The only way to see back here is to stick in a camera and click a picture so I don't think anyone will ever really see the gaps, but yes, they do bug me.  I'm hoping that once I sand and rough up the floor (it's Leaky Cauldron pub - it's been around a while so the floors will not be all nice) that the gaps will look more appropriate -- if anyone ever really sees them!

Behind the narrow wall . . .

Needs a small sliver of strip wood . . .

This side finished off better than behind the door!
I still have a way to go, but the floor is slowly coming along (I warned you I work slow, sloth slow!).
Making progress but still have about half the floor to do.
I had wanted Leaky Cauldron to be finished by Halloween and (no surprise to me) that didn't happen.  I work best with deadlines though, otherwise I'd never get anything done, so I am giving myself this week to finish gluing down the wood strips, rough them up, age them, and then seal them.  Then it will return to it's resting place (the dimly lit, scary, spider hotel) until maybe next summer when I will try to get husband to help carry it back up the stairs so I can officially finish it by Halloween - of 2015.

At work I have been distracted by this little fun project in preparation of Christmas:
A red lantern that I thought needed an elf's desk!
This elf office was so much fun to put together!  The desk is the "Lilanna Youth Desk" by Bespaq.  I added some gold accent to the trim and began decorating it with some things an elf would have/need.  Being a youth's desk it is the perfect size for an elf!  It is still a work in progress (as are all my things, hence the name of this blog!) so the elf desk is still a bit bare and the chair is still on my work table (aka dining room table) waiting for its gold accent trim, but I wanted to share it with you partially finished . . .
My elf has an Elf on the Shelf!  And a gingerbread house kit he'll get to make someday (like me and my dollhouses!).

I love my little Santa snow globe!  It's the little things that make me stupid happy.

I have always admired these wreaths that I have for sale in the store; Finally have an excuse to own one!

Take down the Halloween decorations, prepare for Thanksgiving (and family birthdays in my house), and brace yourselves for the holiday season: 2014 is wrapping up quickly!