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, September 19, 2015

Mansion's Library Ceiling

I love ceilings (and chandeliers).  Sounds weird, but I am a weird person so it makes sense.  I wanted my 2 story library to have a drop dead gorgeous ceiling -- not as impressive as I want the dining room and ballroom's ceilings to be, but still eye catching!

I found the resin coffer ceilings by Lawbre and ordered a small army of them.  Disappointed when they arrived to discover that they are not perfect squares.  So much for my plan to just lay them down side by side across the ceiling...
The square on the left is slightly smaller and lower than the one on the right.
They were also not the same depth as some had corners that were raised higher than others.  And I would have to cut them right down the middle to fit in my ceiling flush left to right.  What tool would I use to cut resin?  Plus, that many little squares across my ceiling would look very busy.  Ugh.  I needed more coffee for this project!

After a few moments (and a few sips of coffee) I thought of a solution that would obliterate the headache of imperfect sizes and busy square pattern!  Spread the squares out and insert filler strips of wood!  Without being right up next to each other, the difference of sizes wouldn't be as noticeable and it would help reduce the busy pattern to just be an intricate design!
Added wood strips to space squares apart.
Still had a little bit of uneven edges and dips to work out so a layer of wall plaster went on to even everything out....
Spreading the plaster over the wood and between the squares.

Waiting for plaster to dry so that I may sand.

Plaster all dry and it fits in the house! Crown molding will cover the gaps at the edges.
 But I hate sanding and it seemed like every time I sanded one spot, fine cracks or marks would appear in another spot.  I did not like the imperfections I kept seeing up close:
The imperfections in the plaster seemed to be everywhere.
Fine hairline cracks, dents and dips, and small holes were driving me crazy -- not that I had far to drive to get there! LOL  So, time to wallpaper!  Using wallpaper liner (I love that stuff!) I papered over the ceiling and used an Exacto knife to cut out the spaces where my ceiling square medallions were located.
All smooth and no more hairline cracks everywhere!
Much better!
So now I was pleased with that aspect of the ceiling.  But it is supposed to be elegant.  It needs gold and color.  But not too much because the wallpaper in the library is gold with red/burgundy and teal accents.  So the ceiling only needs a touch of gold:
Lower right square is getting gold trim strip wood cut.
I added a little bit of gold paint to the detailing in the Lawbre squares.  And then outlined them in gold painted double bead strip wood.
All white and gold!
I love bright, bold, dark, and/or intense colors.  And although white and gold has it's place, I wanted more on the ceiling.  So I found a wallpaper that had colors which coordinated with the gold wallpaper going on the walls and put it behind the ceiling so there would be a pop of color:
Ready to be glued into the house!
So ceiling is done, ready to be glued into the house, complete with holes for the micro-jacks for the chandelier!  Wait, what?  You don't know what micro-jacks are?!?!?  They are my newly found answer to my prayers for ceiling light installation!

Created by Creative Reproductions 2 Scale micro-jacks are small eyelet type pieces you install into the ceiling that, along with an adapter, allows you to plug any chandelier in to the ceiling.  They are similar to the spring loaded eyelets, but are easier to install and have little teeth around the edges to allow them to better grip and hold where you are installing them.  They make the chandelier easily removable allowing for quicker bulb replacement, smoother transport of the dollhouse as delicate chandeliers can be removed, and/or the ability to swap chandeliers around in the house (so when I decide this chandelier would look better in a bedroom and want to trade it with a ballroom chandelier instead - I just move it!).

There are 2 versions of the micro-jacks: one with tails and one without.  The micro-jack without tails just inserts into tapewire (I will be using those in the music room).  For the library I am doing round wire so I am soldering the wires to the micro-jack with tails.

The wire wraps around the tail and a spot of solder holds it in place.  Then I feed the wire through the hole and lightly hammer the micro-jack into the ceiling.

I am not an expert solder wizard yet so in a low self confidence moment I emailed photos of my micro-jacks to the maker and begged him to review my photos to make sure I did it right.  I'm not installing these into my precious ceiling to then discover I did it wrong and have to remove them without marring my ceiling!  Luckily Creative Reproductions 2 Scale emailed me back within 12 hours to tell me it looked fine, but that to remember it only takes a touch of solder to make the connection so keep the solder and wire wrapped around the tail to the same diameter as the head of the micro-jack or it won't fit thru my 1/16" hole in my ceiling.  So I had to go back and remove some of the solder around the tail of my red wire:
Solder at bottom of tail seems to be slightly larger than head of micro-jack.

These things are small!
So, once I removed the extra solder from my wire, I threaded the wire thru my holes in the ceiling and lightly hammered the micro-jacks into the ceiling!

Putting the micro-jacks into the pre-made hole I drilled.
Hammering them in....
Ready to go!
So I stuck the library wallpaper into the room (just put it in there loosely) to get an idea of how it is all coming together:
Can't wait to really wallpaper!
Now it's all ready for crown molding and a chandelier (once the walls are really papered, of course)!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Real Good Toy's Holly Hobby House

I'm so disappointed that when I went to look for the "before" photos of the Holly Hobby House I realized that they were on my old camera which was lost.  So, the only photos of this house I have are from my previous post when I worked on it's electrical back in March (Holly Hobby Electrical).

But, regardless of whether or not I have the "before" photos, the customer's Holly Hobby dollhouse is finished! Customer had previously made adjustments to the kit, making the front door flush with the house, and she had already painted the exterior.  For the front of the house we just needed to add the roof, alter the chimney (which she wanted turned a different direction from how it came in the kit), and install the coach lights.

I will miss this house not only because it was a nice structure to be working on, but also because the customer was a delight to work with and she came in frequently this past month to work on her house with me.  The customer wanted to do as much of the work as she could (isn't that the best part, when you can say, "I did that!"?).  So she visited to discuss flooring, stained them all, and took the kitchen floor home with her to paint; she painted and stained the stair parts; she picked up the cut window and door trims to take home and paint; she dropped by to brainstorm bathroom decors and then she created beautiful subway tile trims for her bathroom out of scrap woods; and towards the end she hung out with us having coffee while she shingled the house.  It was nice to have company while working on her house . . . .
One of the few "In Progress" pictures I have: The Living Room

AFTER: The Living Room
The Living Room will get table or floor lamps someday.

In the foyer we added a little wall under the stairs for her (stairs she painted and stained, but had us assemble as the layers of paint and swelling of the wood made the spindles not fit into the treads properly so she had us do that part).  I thought the little wall was a cute idea and allows for her to create either a closet or a display nook under the stairs if she desires.  If the stairs weren't so steep she could have gotten a powder room under there:
With the wallpaper on it, the little wall blends in.
Little space under the stairs as seen thru front door.
AFTER: Finished Foyer.
I love her fixtures and flooring in the bright and cheery kitchen!  The flooring is random plank that the customer painted in a checkerboard pattern.  It had a country, cutesy feel.  This kitchen pops:
AFTER: Kitchen
Now, the two biggest accomplishments (in my opinion) that the customer should be proudest of is the bathroom and the shingling.  This customer is new to the hobby.  But obviously is very creative and had a vision of how she wanted her dollhouse to look.  She wanted the third floor enclosed.  She originally asked us to just glue roof panels on the front and back and shingle them.  But we pointed out to her that she could use the space up in the attic, even if she doesn't "finish" the rooms to be usable display space, they could still be storage space.  So instead of enclosing it and wasting the space let's put a hinge on the roof and then her options were left open.  She loved the idea.  So we cut the wood and installed the hinge and gave her basic instructions on how to shingle.  And she rocked it:
I think the roof looks seamless: Can you figure out where it opens?
Back Roof opens to reveal more space she can use as storage or decorate in the future.
The second accomplishment (as I mentioned above) was the bathroom.  It seems minor to be so impressed by trim, but it is the trim that makes this bathroom.  And aren't we all in this hobby to appreciate the small details that make a room look more realistic?  Her vision for the bathroom was spot on and made the bathroom my favorite room in this house.  The bathroom chair rail trim was slightly curved chair rail woods and the baseboards are scrap strip woods the customer painted to resemble subway tiles:
AFTER: Hallway and Bathroom
AFTER: Hallway and Bathroom again.
These are the other rooms we wired, wallpapered, and finished (installed flooring and trims) in the house:
AFTER: Master Bedroom

AFTER: Nursery
I will miss the house and the excitement of helping and discussing decor ideas with the customer.

But I think the customer was bit by the hobby bug and will most likely be back soon, perhaps even for another little house or roombox . . . .