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, January 30, 2016

Snow Days Library Stairs!

For a town that freaks out when we get 5" or more of snow, to be hit with 36" means we shut down for almost a week.  Stuck at home with nothing to do: NEVER!  I have a mansion to work on (and 3 young kids who need hot chocolate, snow pants put on and off, and a driveway/sidewalk that need shoveling, and a dog who, it turns out, is afraid of windy snow gusts and needs a path shoveled so she can do her business)!

But in between the various snow related activities, I put together the library spiral stair case!  It is a special order spiral staircase kit by Alessio.  He makes a (nicer, IMO) spiral staircase kit but it takes up 5" diameter of space in the house.  I only had 4" diameter of space I could spare for the stairs so I contacted him and requested this kit be made to only take up the smaller diameter.  The treads aren't as finely detailed as his 5" diameter steps which have a pretty design on them (as opposed to mine that have two rows of square holes), but this kit met my important criteria of 4" diameter -- plus I have a pretty scroll work railing for it so that will dress it up.  I had carefully dry fit it together, sanding and whittling down the spindle posts that were too fat to fit thru the appropriate holes, and positioned it in the house and it was perfect!  So I disassembled the dry fit and broke out the glue!
Moving right along!
With a cozy fire crackling and kids playing their newest favorite card game (Exploding Kittens), I glued the staircase together in less than an hour!  And put it in the house to make sure the top step reached the floor of the second level library:
No, no, no, no, NO!
To discover that I had assembled the darn thing reversed!  It needs to spiral the opposite way so the top step rests where the black arrow is in the photo, not where it currently is!  When I disassembled the dry fit I must have put the pieces upside down and when I picked them back up to add glue, it changed the direction of the spiral!  Craptastic.

Luckily, our cozy fire in the other room had the house at a lovely 76-degrees (F) so the glue was not set yet.  I could wiggle the parts all back off!  After some sanding of dried glue bits and gluing 2 broken steps back together, I was ready to begin again . . .
Round 2: Murphy's Law - 1; Me - 0.
Spiraling the correct way now...
YAY!  I did it correctly this time!
Now to add my pretty scroll work railing!  However, I didn't like the fork-y looking sticks that came with Alessio's stair kit.  At first I was thinking they would offer support for my pretty scroll work curved railing.  But when I held the curved railing up to the sticks, the sticks disrupted the scroll design.  So I had to cut all the sticks off the stairs...
Sticks all trimmed off
Dry fit of scroll work railing
The railing would be glued to the very edge of the steps and to small balusters at the top and bottom of the steps.  Luckily the laser cut scroll work railing had been wrapped around a mailing tube for months now so the warped curve is pretty much set in place!
Set in to the room - it's a good fit!
Now it was ready for paint!
Painted and with all railing in

More Railing
I have to still do the lower ceiling and add crown moulding, baseboards, and trims so I did not glue the railings or stairs in place (they are just held temporarily with FunTak).  And that is why the fireplace and other bookshelf are missing from the back wall on the first floor: can't work on the ceiling with those in there.  But the Mansion's 2-story Library is just about complete!  Another snow storm that keeps me home for almost a week would do it (Can you hear me, Mother Nature?).



Friday, January 15, 2016

Porch Repair

This project has been hanging around at work -- a quick and easy porch and shingle repair for a customer.  The dollhouse belongs to her 107 year old mother but it was damaged in moving.  We just did a little repair and it's good to go!

House had several broken or missing shingles, the front porch was completely broken off, most railings were broken to bits, the front door was broken off it's hinge, and some trim pieces were snapped off:
House BEFORE
House AFTER
The front porch was so cute!  I am really glad we were able to salvage it....
Porch BEFORE was in sorry shape
Porch AFTER

Several shingles on the first row were broken or missing; we replaced them

Eaves BEFORE: so many shingles were missing chunks like this one
Eaves AFTER: All fixed
Side BEFORE: A few broken shingles on the first row
Side AFTER: Shingles are all trimmed up
Waiting for customer to pick up this project and then we're on to the next!



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Library Floor

After much deliberation I settled on a library floor!  Brodnax Parquet Leman's Flooring in walnut and cherry.  The only problem was that I didn't like the walnut wood against the mahogany:

More wood stains?!?!?
Although I don't want all the wood stains in the room to be exactly the same, I also don't like having a random wood thrown in there: the cherry picks up the gold in the frame and wallpaper and I liked the pattern of the cherry and walnut (as opposed to the walnut/walnut pattern on the right).  But the walnut doesn't seem to "pop" out like I wanted it to.  Even polyurethaning them didn't seem to help much:
Left are out of the bag; Right are polyurethaned
Still not impressing me.  They seem so dull.  And it doesn't tie in to anything else in the room.  I really wanted a mahogany floor, but with so much mahogany wood already in the room I didn't want to have such a dark, "match-matchy" bookcase/floor statement.  It would all blend together and be a mahogany blah.

Then my mother suggested staining the walnut pieces.  Interesting -- why did I assume I had to keep the walnut pieces exactly as they were out of the bag?!?!?  I hate when I forget to think outside the bag.  Don't tell my mother I said this, but she's a genius!
I like the walnut pieces so much better now.  They have a richness that they lacked before.  They do not match the bookcases (for which I am thankful because I didn't want everything to match), but seem to coordinate well enough that they won't look out of place.

So I spent two days staining little octagon pieces....
Day 1 and I have 1/3 of the pieces stained
Now they are all drying so I can start assembling my floors (now I just need a snow day or two so I get the time to do it)!