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, March 25, 2016

Little Lost Cause Flooring

Customer wants a tile floor that resembles the floor in her real life house.  Unfortunately the pic she emailed to us didn't fully capture the "orange" color of her floor...
Customer's real life kitchen floor
Customer picked out an orange tile here in the shop that was similar in color, but didn't have the variation of color that her real life floor has.  So customer was willing to "settle" for the plain, monotone, perfectly-square orange tile we had in stock.  But this lady is super sweet and so pleasant to work with and I wanted to give her what she had envisioned.  And I always wanted to experiment with a popsicle stick floor -- of course, I thought I would be using the popsicle sticks to create a wood floor and not a tile floor, but how different could it be?
Taped together
I grouped a few sticks together (and taped them together so they'd all be cut the same) and marked them.  (In the future it would probably be best to give them all a coat of paint FIRST, and then cut them into individual "tiles" instead of the other way around -- hindsight is 20/20).  Used the jeweler's saw to cut them all...
Piles of tiles
This was when I realized that it would have been better to have painted them BEFORE I cut them up.  DUH!  Let's blame lack of coffee for not thinking of that sooner!

I painted them each in various shades of orange.
And glued them to a template that fit the room.  I like to use a roller to squeeze out any excess glue and to firmly adhere the wood down to the template...
Then I had to polyurethane it to seal the wood because it would need some grout (to better replicate the real life tile floor)...but I use wall spackle as grout and in order to wipe away the excess with a wet rag I would need the "tiles" sealed.  So, after polyurethaning the flooring twice to make sure the tiles were sealed, I then put the grout in it:
I like Dap Fast 'N Final Wall spackle, but any spackle will do (including the one I used for this project which was a purple-but-dries-white spackle).  Then it got another coat of sealant and it was put in place:
I had fun - and learned a little bit too from my experiment.  It has the variation of color and the slightly haphazard nature of her real life kitchen tiles! Can't wait to do something similar for another project I'm considering -- a future Birthmas (half Birthday/half Christmas) gift for a friend....this isn't half bad for a little pro bono kitchen floor!  I hope she likes it!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Another Farmhouse

We've worked on this style house a few times before (Other Farmhouses) so we knew exactly what needed to be done this week with this poor beaten up little house...
Needed TLC
A sassy cat had decided a long time ago that the porch was it's bed.  So all the railings were destroyed.  And at some point in time the roof and third floor had fallen off.
Customer still had roof pieces
Second level porch was cracked and almost broken off.  First level porch was warped (from kitty's fluffy rear end, no doubt) and would need extra support.
Top porch floor is cracked and almost broken off

Lower porch floor is warped and needs support
After new railings were cut for it, supports were put under the porches, an interior wall was added to help support the upper floors, and third floor and roofs were glued back on, the house is ready for the customer's daughter to play with it!

And another farmhouse gets another chance at life/play!

I still haven't forgotten my promise of showing the popsicle stick flooring for the Little Lost Cause house...it's getting grout this weekend so next week will be the blog update on that house.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Windows for the Lost Cause

I not only talk to the dollhouses I work on, but I give them nicknames.  Sometimes the name is boring and obvious, like the "Pink Farmhouse" or "Brick House", but sometimes the name has layers of meaning, like a cake (or an onion -- Shut up, Shrek and Donkey: have that argument on your own time!).  And sometimes the nickname is like a super hero's origins story...

One of the customers' houses we have in right now I refer to as many things, but in the beginning it was the Lost Cause. Originally the customer had brought it to someone else to be refurbished.  After stripping out the old wallpapers (one of the dirtiest and hardest jobs, in my opinion) the person informed her that the dollhouse was beyond saving and recommended she just trash it.  But this house has tremendous sentimental value to the customer: her father built it for her from scratch in the 1960s, I think.  After several moves around the world, it is what she has left to remind her of her childhood and father.

So the customer contacted us about this Lost Cause of a dollhouse.  Upon seeing the house we determined it was not a Lost Cause; poor thing was just showing her age.

We have spent the last couple of months doing the boring part to get down to the bare bones before rebuilding.  Sanding exterior paint off, removing all old trims and a few scraggy bits of old papers, counter sinking screw and nail heads, putting wood fill into dents and holes, priming everything with KillZ primer, installing wallpaper liners to achieve smooth interior walls for painting, etc.  Now comes the transformation!

First up are the windows...
Before, the window's various pieces of strip wood had been chipped or broken over time.  Plus, the double layer of trims (around the window on the exterior as well as around the inset of the window opening hole itself) made the windows seem smaller than they really are.
AFTER Exterior Side
Kept it simple with just one trim around the exterior of the window.  The wood strips I used to create the window still needs to be painted (it is just raw wood right now) so none of these pieces of wood are glued in; they are just wedged in place for the effect, so later I can remove them to paint them.  But it is coming together slowly but surely!
AFTER window on the Interior Side
None of the windows are perfectly straight but they look much cleaner and streamlined now.
AFTER Large Bedroom Window Exterior

AFTER Large Bedroom Window Interior Side

Also, all interior walls and ceilings have been painted per customer's request in colors she provided (to match her real life house).  And we are working on the floors.  Most will be Red Oak strip wood flooring, but the kitchen she wanted a tile that was similar to her real life kitchen floor.  And nothing has the variation of colors that her real kitchen floor has so we are making her kitchen floor out of popsicle sticks....blog update on that coming soon!

This little childhood dollhouse arrived in such sorry shape and is undergoing some intense face-lifts so that it will emerge a stronger, eye-catching, power house!  You go, little Lost Cause!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Majestic Mansion's Bespaq Door Make-over!

It's no secret: I love Majestic Mansion's Bespaq designed doors.  I want them all around my dollhouse, but they only come in white or New Walnut stain.  But many of my rooms have gold or cream trims, or the rooms are decorated with mahogany stain furniture or cream, black, or gold painted furniture.  And it bothers me when the furniture and trims are vastly different than the door.  But I love these Majestic Mansion doors (Penniman Doors)!
So the library is basically complete now:
During the Day

At Night
Still have a few empty shelves that need books, baseboard needs to be painted and glued in, drapes are needed, and windows with trim and a door with trim needs to be installed.
Lower Library

Upper Library
But when I inserted the windows and door into the appropriate places, I am saddened to say that the hole openings are about 1/16" to 1/8" too small.  So I will have to go back and cut away a bit around the windows and door openings.  And I was not in the mood to do that (I need patience when sanding or cutting away at rooms that have already been "finished" so that is another day's project).  Can't believe I was so impatient to start the project that I forgot to check on that before I began!!!

To keep myself busy in the meantime, I decided to tackle the door issue.  I want a Majestic Mansion door connecting the Library to the Music Room.  But I kept circling like a buzzard over the stain issue: Library is gold and mahogany; Music Room is black, cream, and gold.  No where in either room is there New Walnut stain like the door.

So I bugged and begged my friend, Wilson, at Dollhouse Linens and More (Dollhouse Linens And More) for any hints and tips he could give me about changing an already stained/finished piece to a different stain or paint.  He does it often and his results are incredible: but most of his things are amazing because he is an artist.  I'm just a hobbyist who can't draw a straight line even with a ruler.  Luckily for me, Wilson is sweet and provided me with a few tips, but most importantly, he provided me with the inspiration and a belief that I could do it!

I sanded the door as best I could to remove the old glaze and some of the stain.
Library Side of door needs to be Mahogany
Music Room Side needs to be Cream
It took 3 or 4 coats of new stain on the library side, but the door finally resembles something close to the mahogany stain that is in the library:
Still needed another coat or two before it was finally done
Finally matched close enough that I'm going with it!
For the Music Room side of the door, I primed and then painted the door in a cream color paint that matches the walls in the Music Room:
Painted cream
I still have to paint the trim work around the door gold and I want to decoupage some of the wallpaper onto the door so it coordinates with the art work wallpaper in the music room.  But one Decor Consultant (Mom) insists I should paint the door in a slightly greenish color to match the music room better (it will have a green marble floor and the furniture is black with hand-painted green accents).  But I don't have any slightly green tinted cream paint so this is another project that is temporarily on hold . . . guess this is a sign that I really ought to focus and finish up some customer projects in the meantime!