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 . . . .

Friday, November 6, 2015

Willoway is Away!

The 1978 Craft Publications Willoway dollhouse went home to it's owner!
When the customer dropped this dollhouse off in early summer it was a little sorry looking:
We were to do a full overhaul on it: remove all old fish scale shingles, fix up broken railings, reattach the back roof which had fallen off, paint everything, shingle the roof in new rectangular shingles, install wiring, coach lights, wallpapers, and flooring!
All Pretty!
The biggest repair work done on the front was the porch:
And although the porch was the biggest repair job on the exterior, the shingling efforts really improved the look of the house.  It is funny how a simple shape can change the look of a house: This house needed rectangular shingles!  The fish scale shaped shingles were too whimsical or soft and did not give this house the presence it deserved.
Removing old shingles
Although cute, those old shingles needed repair and the customer (or whoever had started the shingling) had shingled differently than I would have: I prefer the main roof to be shingled first and then the peak/dormers should be done.  The customer picked rectangle shaped shingles to replace the old ones and I am so glad because I think it made the house look more impressive instead of "cutesy".
The interior needed attention too:
Interior needed some TLC
Although it was looking a little rough, the bare bones were better than I anticipated given that the outer walls were merely constructed out of siding material (if you look closely at the photo above you can see the siding lines on the interior of the right wall)!  But the wood was dry and kept sucking up our primer -- several coats of KillZ was needed to fully seal the wood!
Room sizes were very nice but the haphazard priming job previously done was detracting from some finer details such as the crown molding all throughout the house which we did not fully notice until it was time to wire the house!
First Floor Before
First Floor After

Second Floor Before
Second Floor After

Third Floor Before

Third Floor After
The only issues on the interior were the electrical (see our Electrical Issues here) and how difficult it was to wallpaper some of the long, narrow rooms (such as the hallway and center attic room).
Hallway is 21" deep and only 8-1/2" wide
Hallway After
Tiny little space
The center attic room has a tiny space all the way at the end of the room.  This tiny space was roughly 4" at the highest point and 6" deep (and, like the hallway below it, 8-1/2" wide).  Very hard to get my hands in there to wallpaper....
All wallpapered!
Luckily the customer picked a solid blue paper so I didn't have to fuss with a pattern when fitting it in to the small space!  Flooring was no picnic to get in there either.
Overall the interior came out fantastic:
After, with back roof open
After, with back roof closed
I was so excited to work on this dollhouse because I have always heard of the 1976 Craft Publications Pepperwood Dollhouse (have customers who still come into the store today that are building one from the plans they bought), but did not realize the company had produced many different dollhouse plans!  I could not find any information about the Craft Publications Inc company (other than it used to be in Georgia) but I did find that the designer of their dollhouse plans was Jacqueline Kerr Deiber (who also designed those beautiful 1920's Roper Stove, Monitor Top Refrigerator, and Maytag style Washing Machine!).

So this wonderful dollhouse has received some proper TLC and will continue on for another generation or two of fun!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Bits and Pieces... (Part 4 of 4: Shingles)

So, at the request of a friend I took photos as we shingled the back of the Willoway because my friend believes hinges and shingles are a very intimidating combo.  (I don't blame her - hinges frighten me too).

The most important part of shingling with a hinge is planning.  We measure and mark our lines as least a few times before settling on the proper pattern.  A proper pattern?  Yes, a proper pattern (come on now, that's just fun to say over and over. Or maybe that's just the glue fumes talking).

You want the lines to end at the hinge with a large portion of the shingle showing (i.e. you don't want to be cutting your shingle in half right where the hinge break would be so space your lines accordingly.  Trimming a little off a shingle is okay, but cutting more than 1/4 of the shingle off will make the row look odd).  With this house, the entire shingle will be showing at the hinge row:
Proper Pattern in Pencil

Next you shingle as usual up to your hinge:
Next up: Hinge Row!
 Shingle up to your hinge (periodically remember to open your hinged panel to make sure it is still operational and the shingles aren't preventing it from opening; shouldn't be a problem but it's best to check and deal with any issues now as opposed to when it's all glued tight):
Then you dump on the glue (being careful to keep it out of the hinge mechanism because you don't want to prevent your hinge from doing its job):
 And keep shingling right along.  These shingles may take more time to hold down in place just to ensure that they are sticking well:
And keep shingling:
Next Up: Top Hinge Row!
Now the next row will need a bump at the bottom to give it the correct slant because this row will NOT be overlapping the row beneath it.  So, just like you do at the bottom of the roof, add a piece of strip wood to the roof:
Strip wood glued to edge where hinge break is in roof

Shingle up to hinge again (periodically remember to open your hinged panel to make sure it is still operational and the shingles aren't preventing it from opening; shouldn't be a problem but it's best to check and deal with any issues now as opposed to when it's all glued tight).  The shingle overlapping the hinge may need a cut out to fit around hinge (I use either an Exacto knife or the EZ Cutter):

Finish shingling the row:
Then finish shingling the house and top it off with a roof cap (or a Boston Lap pattern at the ridge).  Either glue fumes were getting to me or I just wanted an excuse to nap for a bit, but I needed some weight to hold down the roof cap while the glue dried: I only use the best tools here at work so I used myself!
Roof is all done and house is ready to be picked up!  The final recap of this Willoway Dollhouse will be published tomorrow or Friday . . . . in the meantime, can you quickly spot the hinge?
Hopefully the hinge blends in with the roof now.