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, April 11, 2020

When all else fails: Chocolate!

The shop is officially online only now.  I have just about finished packing up the brick and mortar shop.  Between inventorying and packing, it's been hard to find time for my own personal minis.  But I decided to sign up for an online class with Ruth Stewart of Stewart Dollhouses (stewart dollhouse creations website).  My children and I had done one of her mold kits before (Bunnies and Chicks) and I had excitedly ordered a cake kit and some supplies a year ago but was too intimidated to actually do anything with them.  So when BFF sent me an email that Ruth was having an online Zoom class making miniature chocolates, I jumped on it to help motivate me back into miniatures!

The package of supplies I would need arrived via mail.  It was very well organized!
So neat and prettily packaged

Okay, this company really has their stuff together! Labeled, instructions, and just about everything I would need for the class (except my Exacto knife, tissues, and a toaster oven or regular oven).
Class started at 10 am (EST) and we jumped right into making chocolate boxes and tiny chocolates from molds.
Very similar to her other molds we had done, but I was still glad she was on my cell phone Zoom showing us how to get the clay into all the nooks and crannies!

Got all 4 boxes on the first try! And made a few chocolates for them too.
Some students had issues with their boxes breaking or burning (toaster oven malfunction) but mine turned out great on the first try so while others made replacement boxes, I made another set so I'd have multiples for my confectionery shop (or maybe I'll have enough chocolates for an entire chocolate shop instead of just a section in my confectionery shop, but then I remind myself that I need another project like I need another hole in my head.  Let's just focus on some boxes of chocolates for the confectionery shop).

After lunch we added decorations and details to our boxes:
Squiggly lines decorate my heart boxes.

Yes, my boxes are being decorated while taped to extract bottles.  Thanks to my youngest's baking habit I'm loaded with these bottles! LOL
They still need some minor finishing up, but overall they are "done" enough for me.
Rose on heart box. All made from clay, even the rose and leaves.

Hexagon ribbon and bow box and a hexagon ribbon and rose box. All made from clay.

My seashell chocolate boxes need Belgium sea shell chocolates in them, but I don't have that mold yet.  I could put the regular chocolates we made in class in these boxes, but I think some nice white chocolate and Belgium sea shell shaped chocolates would be more appropriate.

We even decorated the sides of these itty bitty boxes!

Shells are real, but everything else (even the Coral) is made from either clay or "frosting" (a special compound made by Stewart Dollhouse Creations).

Sides of my rectangle boxes.  These are supposed to have more decoration on top, but I was so pleased at how nice my lines were, I didn't want to cover them (all those hours helping my youngest decorate those sugar cookies she makes really helped out!)

My goodies
I tried to make white chocolate boxes but I think a chocolate design would look better than the pink I picked so I'll remake these....
Needs a dark chocolate design to really pop on the white chocolate
At 6:30 pm my kids started bugging me about dinner and dying Easter eggs so I had to leave the Zoom class (although I think they were just about done - Ruth had covered everything we were supposed to learn; we were all just concentrating and working on our boxes together, from different parts of the country).  So in my haste to clean up I manged to do what I had carefully avoided doing all class long: I sliced my fingers on the razor blade we were using to cut, create, and move our clay creations around.  Not only did I do it once, but TWICE, within minutes.  Oh well, at least I did it after class was over so the band aids didn't hinder my progress. LOL

Ruth is teaching more online classes and I've signed up for another one in May to keep my motivation going.  I still have to inventory and pack up the floorings, wood trims, and electrical tools from the shop so I know my motivation will disappear again as I tackle those boring (to me) categories to get them up on the website this week.  But after that, I hope to jump into my own personal projects....problem is, I will probably take out my Cottontail Confectionery shop instead of the mansion or the Irish Cottage (the two personal projects I should be playing with)!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Wrapping up customers house

How embarrassing.  I have been so busy with packing up the shop and other life issues that I never finished or posted this blog update.  This house was finished almost 2 months ago for a customer. The "before pics" were lost on old phone that died. So I only have these:

In Progress: adding siding
I never liked how you can see each siding seam
Multiple coats of paint help hide the worst seams, but I still see them

House in Progress
This little one (well, I guess she wasn't that little -- she has 10 rooms) was damaged in a basement flood and needed to have everything stripped/removed.  Then we sprayed everywhere with KillZ to inhibit mold growth.  Then we installed the siding, shingled, rewired, rewallpapered, and installed flooring throughout the house (except the brick in the "kitchen" which customer wanted to keep so it was not ripped out).  Here were the final pics:
House all finished
Front porch and lights

Interior is all wired and finished too
Fireplace is lit too
Dining room is a cozy room
Kitchen (foreground) and Parlor Entry room
Middle Floor bedroom
Hallway and bathroom behind the door...
Pretty wall sconces in the bathroom.
The bathroom once wall is opened (wall is on a hinge)
Middle Floor's other bedroom
Attic Hallway
Attic Nursery
Attic Room (I don't recall if it was a sewing room, girl's bedroom, or nanny's bedroom)
House was picked up around mid-December and a lucky young lady got a fabulous gift on Christmas!

The frantic packing at the shop is finally over; we still have many items left to sell (they are on sale! Stop by the shop to get great deals on what's left!  LOL) or I have to photograph and pack them up.  But the pace has slowed down now so maybe I'll get to work on my own projects.  Well, after I dismantle all the displays and shelves at the shop.  So far my parents, youngest daughter and I have demolished about 5.  Only about 65 more to go....

Thursday, November 21, 2019

3rd time's a charm: Another Duracraft Farmhouse #500

I have been swamped with work, trying to inventory and pack up the brick and mortar shop as I transition to online only.  I was so busy I forgot to post this blog update when I finished it a month or so ago.  Oops!  The third and final Duracraft Farmhouse #500 for this year is done.  We were hired to assemble the kit to a shell stage (no windows or doors installed), cut an extra stair hole opening to the attic, and install wiring.

So many little pieces
Every wall had to be constructed one piece of 2-1/2" strip of wood at a time.  Very time consuming and incredibly flimsy wall structure.
Gluing the pieces together
One wall fully assembled
Luckily the walls fit into corner pieces which gave them some stability. But still feels flimsy to me.  It really made me realize how amazing it is that so many of these survived from the 1970s and 1980s!

There were also many warped pieces.  Most we could straighten or replace with similar pieces.  However, the porch support was a specialized piece, cut with a bevel and angle cuts on the ends.  Under our time constraints we had no choice but to use the warped piece.
This piece was warped side-to-side as well as up-and-down
With enough clamps, glue, and wood fill, it turned out pretty!
Ready for the customer to paint and shingle!
Interior has wiring put across ceilings and in some rooms at outlet level
Three more customer houses to complete before we go online only.  Realistically only two will get finished by our closing date in December.  The third one will most likely be finished at my house after we have gone online only.  There's just not enough hours in the day to do everything.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Past Projects: Roomboxes/Vignettes, Part 1

Summer brought a lot of changes to my life.  1. Two close family members ended up in the hospital with life threatening conditions; 2. my brick and mortar shop has announced it's closure; and 3. I am finally getting our basement finished!  Lots to share with you!

Long story short:
1. The two family members survived and are perfectly fine now. They only survived due to being in great shape.  I am not in shape.  So I need to make some life changes to be healthier.
2. Yes, my beloved miniature/dollhouse shop (Happily Ever After in Virginia) will be closing it's brick and mortar shop at the end of the year; Starting in 2020 we will be an online only shop.  No one shops retail like they used to, especially when it comes to miniatures.  I was sad about it at first, but am slowly realizing that I will be able to get back to what I love: creating miniatures! And I will be able to focus on making the website STELLAR (i.e. I will only have 1 full time job instead of the 3 I try to do now: brick and mortar shop owner, renovations/repairs, and website; it was all quite exhausting).

Now for the long story:
3. My basement (dark dank spider hotel) is finally getting finished!  In anticipation of this event I have begun to clean up and organize my miniatures.  Over the next 2 months they are slowly being brought up out of the basement.  And I want to document them before I either pass them along to others or box them up for the 3 or 4 month long basement renovation.

First up is my Tissue Box Vignette.  This "tissue box" kit by MiniGraphics was an ideal project 22 years ago when my newly married self lived in an apartment, and then in a townhouse with no yard, and I had to walk my baby dog multiple times a day.  It was made from foamboard or poster board to create a small space for a scene in the front and a lightweight cover for a tissue box kept in the rear. However, I never used it for tissues.  I kept plastic bags in it so that when I walked my dog I could grab a baggy for picking up after her.

Plastic bags sticking up, ready for use.
The outdoor scene was very appropriate!
And the dog lifting his leg gave everyone an idea of what the box is used for. LOL
Dog always cracked me up.

I haven't needed/used this "tissue"/doggy bag box in over 16 years now so it's time for it to move on...however, I am keeping that dog for a future project where he will fit perfectly.  So that's one project documented....only about 85 more to go. LOL

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Another Duracraft Farmhouse #500

Broken by movers, this Duracraft Farmhouse #500 was brought to us to be glued back together.
Doesn't look bad - just a few porch posts missing

So it didn't seem that bad at first glance.  Just a few porch posts and railing that needed to be reattached.  But at other angles and from the interior, more issues became evident...
Oops - yeah, the roof is missing above the jut-out double windows.
Oh dear, the entire wall to the right of the side door is missing.
There appears to be some interior walls and stairs missing
Luckily the customer had most of the missing parts and pieces.  We just needed to piece them back together like a puzzle.  Some pieces, like baseboard trims, were split down the center so we had to find the shards of wood to glue them back together.
Living room wall, shows not only the entire house being loose at joints, but also how baseboard near corner is split
Hit a bit of a snag when we did discover that the customer was missing one critical piece: a porch post.  Thankfully it was a simple block post and we were able to cut and paint it to match.  As long as we had to paint match, we also touched up some oddball mis-matched pieces (such as that one white porch corbel that didn't match all the other corbels).
New post on left, door in the middle, existing porch post with white corbel on right

All painted to match door
We glued the chimney and the corner porch shingles and trim on.  We fixed the front door (which was completely off it's hinges).  And now the house is glued back together, on it's base, with all missing parts and pieces properly put in place:

Roof, porch posts, and railing back where they had been! (I won't say back where they belong because whoever assembled this kit put some railings in different spots than where the directions say to put them.)
Interior walls, stairs, and exterior wall by side door are glued in
Stair back in and baseboard fixed; entire house glued back to base
And as odd as it was to work on THIS Duracraft Farmhouse #500 right after having finished up the white Duracraft Farmhouse #500 last month, nothing is as odd as having another customer bring her project in (a kit to be assembled to the shell stage) and it's (YOU GUESSED IT!) another Duracraft Farmhouse #500!!!!  What are the odds of that happening?  Apparently pretty good since it did happen.  So stayed tuned for yet another Duracraft Farmhouse project!