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 . . . .

Thursday, December 25, 2014

July in Christmas!

Every year I like to make something special for my two best friends (one in Texas and one in Michigan).  We met years ago on Facebook and the 3 of us share a love of miniatures and an interest in each others lives.  I was inspired to make them something that represented my wish that we lived closer together so we could go out for a drink (of either wine or coffee) or hang out together at a mall, window shopping and discussing our kids/dogs and most recent recipe that was delicious (you know, the stuff we usually discuss on Facebook).  I wish that we were independently wealthy so we could travel to visit each other or run away for a girl's weekend at the beach and people watch while we sipped our fancy drinks with umbrellas in them.  And although I wish for those things in our friendship, I am very grateful that we have what we do: a great friendship.
So, this year for their gifts I decided to make a (miniature) spot where we could all meet up and hang out:  A beach stand.
Using the Rocky Mountain Stall Kits I created 3 identical beach stands for us to each decorate how we wish.
Dry Fit Stalls Together

I wanted bright beach colors for the interior walls!
Made posts a more sedate color to help tone down the teal!

 Now for the exterior I didn't know what to do: the teal was too bright to cover the outside.  I asked various people for opinions and someone (Thanks Carole!) suggested staining the exterior walls and then distressing or aging it!  I knew another friend of mine had aged a dollhouse structure using some denatured alcohol and India ink combo so I asked her for the formula and got to work!
Picking the right stain color - I wanted bright!
But, once I stained the walls a beautiful orange stain, the aging solution just turned it brown.  I didn't want a dull brown wall - I wanted bright, bright orange!  So I opted to not age the stalls.  After assembling the pieces I then shingled the roof . . .
Then I had to install flooring for the stalls (can't have the proprietors standing in a sand pit inside their stall)!  I thought of wood strips at first, but thought that was too similar to the walls and wood strips wouldn't add any more color; and I wanted bright colors!
Trees and Tiles are in place!
I found a bright yellow tile that seems beachy.  So I glued them down and drilled holes for the palm trees to be glued in.  I glued trims around the bases to hold the sand in place once it was all together.  Which brings me to the sand!  I learned to glue sand in place during a workshop I took about 15 years ago: a mix of water, sand, and white Elmer's glue.  When the sand dries it is solid and immoveable like concrete:
Mixing the water and glue with sand.
The three stands, representing my two friends and myself!
The Stall Kits come with shelves for the back wall.  I want/need mine glued in place a certain distance apart from each other to accommodate my particular theme for my Beach Stand.  And I did not know what my friends will make theirs into so I did not want to glue any shelves in place yet.  At first I painted the shelves yellow to match the floor:
Sunny bright shelves!
But I didn't like how they were looking, too sunny and glaringly bright, so I painted over them with a Burnt Orange color to keep them colorful yet subdued.  Next came time to make my own sign (did not make one for my friends because I don't know what their stands will be selling).  My Beach Stand sells drinks (coffee, ice tea, iced coffee, etc.) so I used decoupage to create a sign on a miniature surf board:
I painted the stripes to match the stand and used decoupage to glue my "Barefoot Barista" sign in place.
Shipped my friends' gifts to them and am eagerly awaiting their reaction!  I can't wait to see what they make theirs into (I imagine colorful drinks or pineapple filled drinks will be involved; Audra will sell Suntan Lotion in hers :) )
All finished, my stall, front and back:
Barefoot Barista is open for business!

Someone has propped their surf board behind the stand!

It's certainly bright.
I know it's strange to be thinking of the beach in December -- I suppose it's a bit like Christmas in July, or rather, I put a little July into Christmas!  I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday season!  Stay merry and bright -- like my Beach Stands!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dutch House Done (again)!

Back in 2009 this dollhouse was brought to us for an update.  Old wallpapers were removed and some rooms were painted.  Daughter so enjoyed playing with the house that the dollhouse has now been returned to us in 2014 for clean-up, proper electrical installed, and wallpapers.  I say "proper electrical installed" because somewhere in the last 5 years someone (not us) wired the dollhouse for them, but in order to not put tapewire on the painted walls, they ran wires everywhere (EVERYWHERE) so that lights would be in each room:
Various wires under the house all running to a power strip.

The mess of wires and painters tape made it nearly impossible to tell what went to where.
 So the first step was to remove the tangle of wires and extensions.  Even within the rooms, wires were running all about . . . After wires were all removed, tapewire was installed in the outer rooms (center hallways were to remain untouched as customer wanted to keep those original wallpapers from her childhood).  Then floors were cleaned up:
Cleaning floors: that's when you realize things like the floors in the hallway run left to right instead of front to back like the side rooms!  Interesting effect.
 Wallpaper was installed, which was a trip as none of the crown molding or baseboards were removable!  The baseboard of the room above was the same piece of wood that was the crown molding for the room below.  This one piece of wood trim was baseboard, crown molding, and held the floor in place so removing either one was impossible without taking the entire house apart!
Likewise, the window trims were all glued firmly in place.  So wallpaper had to be cut exactly as there was no window trims, crown, or baseboards to cover up mistakes!  Some of the more difficult rooms I created templates for (using small scraps of paper taped together to get an exact template of the wall).
BEFORE: Whole house view.  Wires were everywhere and some lights were not lighting up.

AFTER: Whole house view.
BEFORE: Blue Bedroom.
AFTER: Blue Bedroom.  Extra crown had to be installed on side walls as paper was not as tall as walls.
BEFORE: Pink Bedroom.
AFTER: Pink bedroom and center hallway.
BEFORE: Parents Bedroom.  A lovely mess of wires.

AFTER: Crisp and clean.
BEFORE: Kitchen.  I assume furniture in the corners covered those wires and plugs there.
AFTER: I loved the green wallpaper they picked for this room!  Wires and plugs/outlets removed.
BEFORE: Living Room.
AFTER: Living Room, a tall room that almost no wallpaper would have worked with the height so we added more crown as customer did not want a paper border.
BEFORE: Hallway.
AFTER: Hallways, sconces are wired to rooms on the right.
AFTER: Front lights are working, waiting for the family to come pick it up!
There was one other room (the bathroom) that we were going to wallpaper, but the paper arrived in a different dye lot than shown in catalog.  So we simply wired that room in such a way that it could remain painted with no wires showing.

I hope the young lady who is getting this house continues to love it as she used to and I hope that the house appears cleaner and easier to play with now that the network of wires are removed/hidden behind wallpapers.

(I'm still working on the Harborside Mansion - that house is not complete quite yet due to an arch ordering delay and a lighting issue; check back soon for an update on that house!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Harborside Wallpaper Liner, Polyurethane Floors, and Arch Resolution!

The biggest complaint of the tape wire electrical system (besides the junction splices and long-term connection issues) is that even painting over the tape wire doesn't hide it on a bare wall.  You're practically forced to wallpaper over it.  But what if you want a solid color wall and not a busy wallpaper pattern in that room?  Not many solid colors are available for dollhouse walls.  Which is why we use wallpaper liners!

Found in your local wallpaper store (if you're lucky enough to still have one of those!  Ours was put out of business by constantly increasing rent and a big box store which then quit carrying wallpapers as soon as our local source was also gone!) and I have also found it the next town over at Lowes, wallpaper liner is a roll of white paintable wallpaper!  It is available in patterns as well, but we use the plain flat liner.  It covers the wires and can be painted any color!

Kitchen when dollhouse was brought to us.

Kitchen with walls in place and covered with white wallpaper liner.
Kitchen room: you can see the tape wire on the floor where it goes to the walls, but cannot see the tape wire under the wallpaper liner!
Kitchen covered with wallpaper liner that was then painted (room will get crown molding so we did not paint right up to the ceiling).  This wall, to the right of the arch, had the imperfections mentioned in the paragraph below:

So customer gets her painted walls and her tape wire is all around where she needs/wants it!  I did have a momentary scare when I first painted the liner and three small bubbles appeared under the paper on the left wall, right up at the open end of the house where EVERYONE would notice it!  There was no disguising it.  I did not notice the bumps before I painted: had painting caused the bubbles?  did I use too much paint and wrinkle the liner?  were the bubbles there but not noticeable until the paint was on to highlight the imperfection?  I fretted for about ten minutes, trying to think of a solution.  Luckily a customer walked into the store right then and I had to walk away from the project.  When I returned a hour later, the bubbles had disappeared/laid back flat!

Also I have wallpapered the Living Room and applied polyurethane to the wood floors that will be some rooms.  Ever wonder what the Housework's Random Plank Flooring looks like once they have been sealed with polyurethane?  All the Housework wood floorings look much prettier than how they look in their packaging once they are sealed!  The grain really comes out and the color deepens.  So pretty!
Floors on left have been polyurethaned.  Yeah, I know polyurethane is not a verb, but I'm a rebel like that!
Floors up close.
Floors will go into this room.
And, for anyone that was laying away at night thinking about my arch issue from the last blog entry (looking at you, Cheryl! Love ya!), the solution was simple:  Lawbre makes an arch that fits over a 1/2" thick wall!  Just need to exchange the 3/8" arch for the 1/2" arch.  Yes, some days I need more coffee than others!