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, May 26, 2016

Getting Stoned!

So Lost Cause house is finished (blog post with before/after photos coming in a few weeks after customer picks up the house)!  And before I get overwhelmed finishing up another customer's dollhouse (been repainting it on/off last few weeks in my spare time while waiting for paints on Lost Cause to dry or for glue to set), I decided to tackle the next major step on my Victorian Mansion: The stone blocks that will be the exterior finish on the house!

Months ago I had done a trial paint job on 6 pieces (enough to do one section of the house):
First six I had painted back in January

But, in my brilliance, I realized a few days after my trial painting that now any other pieces I make have to match with these first six pieces.  Perfect.  Nothing like a little worry and stress to make me avoid doing any of it for months.  So I knew when I did get around to doing the other sheets of block stone, I needed to paint them all at once so the color/technique is all the same on the remaining sheets.  Especially since I was custom mixing the paint colors (from ivory, cream, and tan paints: you can see my collection in the photo above).  If the remaining 18 sheets don't match the first six, I'll bury these six on the back of the house somewhere/somehow so it's not as obvious that they don't match.  But at least the other 18 will match each other!
Leaf still in table from Mother's Day Brunch makes laying all 18 pieces out easier
Painting has begun!
 Base coat took longer than I expected (over 3 hours).  Since I insist we eat as a family at the table during the week, I needed to move the sheets to the dining room table for the next step(s):
Sponge painting my blocks.

This went faster than the base coat did!
Center row is actually the first six trial sheets -- I think the color is matching fairly well!  Taking just under 3 hours, sponge painting the 18 sheets took less time than painting the base coat!  But since it was done leaning over the table, instead of sitting in a chair like I did for the base coat, it was harder on my back, shoulders, and neck.  But I am pleased with the end results!  I think it is subtle enough (as I want the viewers' eyes to notice the windows and doors on the house, not the stone) and the variations of color matches well with the first six trial sheets in the center of the table and with the windows too!
All the sheets are painted!

Love my Majestic Mansion windows!
Now I still have to put a glaze on the stone blocks (to replicate a polished stone facade) and I would like to paint the backs of the sheets to help combat some minor warping, but otherwise the sheets are ready to be measured, cut, fitted, and glued onto the exterior of the house!

For those who remember my fiasco attempting to dress a doll for my Dallas Trip (My attempt at doll dressing); I am so excited to say that Tish dressed my doll and returned her to me:
In the display box (I now keep most of the mansion furniture in stacked clear boxes so I can see what I have)
She is so perfect for my mansion!
I am so happy that my doll is now dressed properly (she would not have looked this good had I done it) and she is hanging out in the Ballroom furniture display box, waiting for the day I get over to assemble, decorate, and play with that side of the mansion...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Small Hinges for Doors (Lost Cause Being Finished Up!)

I am intimidated by installing large hinges that hold dollhouse panel walls (I'm always convinced the hinges will never support the weight of the wood wall!).  So I usually avoid anything to do with hinges.  But small hinges I can manage!  Well, with glue assistance anyway.

This is just a quick blog entry regarding small hinges.  Attaching a door to hinges is easy if you glue them in place first:
Got all my necessary supplies.

Glue is on the edges of the hinge (keep it away from the working parts of the hinge though!).

All hinges are glued in place.

Using a push pin/thumb tack, I make starter holes for the tiny "nails".

Insert the nails/screws.

Push in as far as you can.

Done, repeat for other hinges. If any don't push flush with hinge, use a flat edge of a screwdriver to push them in more.

Apply glue to the edges of the other end of the hinge to put in place in the door frame.

Just as was done on the door side of the hinge, once glue has set on the door frame side use a pin/tack to make starter holes, and push the nails in.

Door opens/closes!
So doors are being put on the Lost Cause dollhouse today (French door is in, obviously, as photos above show, but front door is still waiting for a second coat of paint, doorknobs, and hinges).  I still have to attach the balcony, paint the flat rooftop, and glue trims on the exterior so it will be done Tuesday morning (I was hoping to finish it up today but personal reasons are keeping me from obtaining that goal). Next blog post will be about the whole process with before/after photos!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Dallas Mini Show: Adventures in Doll Dressing

This is a long blog post, but the end is mostly photos of beautiful things I saw at the mini show so stick with it (or just skip to the end if you don't want to hear about my doll making experience)...

Last weekend I attended the Dallas Miniature Show.  I also visited with my best friend who happens to be as obsessed with minis as I am, and she lives near Dallas (win win!).  This friend and I both purchased doll kits from Dolls By Dana (Dana's Website) in the past year.  A lovely doll named Vesta:
But she is a kit and needs to be assembled, dressed, and wigged.  Yikes!  Friend and I decided we would put this doll together while I visited her: moral support and all that.  But then I suffered from a double "Yikes!" when I opened the box and realized our directions were literally one page of a dress pattern.  I know nothing about sewing and had liked this kit because she says you can sew or glue (I'm totally gluing!).  But I did not feel confident enough to attempt a first try on the actual doll.  So I had a spare naked doll (already assembled thankfully) and, the night before the plane left for Dallas, I decided to use the doll dress pattern to make a dress for her as a practice run to see if I could do it...
Pattern is cut and already two mistakes....
As soon as I tried to glue the pattern together I realized two mistakes I had made.  First, the pattern called for two sides to be cut.  I cut two going the same direction.  One should have been cut for the left and one for the right.  Oh well, it would all work out with some snipping and gluing, right?  Second mistake was I picked a silky fabric that kept coming apart; glue was having a tough time holding it together.
Making progress but missing sleeves!
Next issue was the sleeves: there was no pattern for the sleeves!  Luckily Dana was very responsive when we emailed her and by the next morning she had forwarded on the link that described how to do the sleeves.  But that night I didn't have the email and I forged ahead creating simple straight sleeves for her instead...
She's about to take flight with those arms!
I added trim to the bottom and noted my next mistake: seam should be in the center on the back, not off to the side (hems don't match up because that side piece was the miscut one).  And I hated how the back between her shoulders looked so that was getting covered with a bow left over from another project:

 Now to sit her down and arrange her skirt:
Finished, sort of.
And although she is mediocre, I think she is still okay.  But her gown looks nothing like the beautifully fitted and finished Vesta's dress.  Maybe another couple of practice dolls would enable me to feel comfortable dressing my gorgeous Vesta.  But I did not feel capable enough to do it that weekend in Dallas with my friend.  In despair I shared my photos with my friend (along with my tales of woes and mistakes).  Our confidence was in shambles.

Then a mutual friend of ours, Brandaen, who makes lovely miniature baskets and was meeting us for lunch just before the Dallas show, mentioned that another of his friends was going to be at the show: Tish.  And my friend became very excited because Tish is owner of Versailles Dolls!  We could ask her to put Vesta together for us!  And, thankfully, Tish agreed to!  So that opened up our weekend to fully enjoy the Dallas Show!

People from the local area had put out exhibits:
Charlotte Serold's adorable cafe shop!
Marc Mead had a few boxes on display.
I had to take a photo of Marc Mead's box for my daughter: she loves sparkly things!  And she did love it; she instructed me to buy it (which I didn't because I have not won the lottery yet).  Marc Mead had a wonderful theater that I did not photograph but it had a working movie screen in it!  I love when miniatures are so realistic!
My friend assembled Robin Betterley's kit
My friend had displayed her Frosty's Kit (by Robin Betterley) but since it has since been discontinued, I decided to share my friend's Christmas Hutch with you instead (by Robin Betterley as well).

Having met the maker of Versailles Dolls (Versailles Dolls) I stopped by her booth and drooled over everything!  And was so captivated by the Butterfly doll (in red skirt with black wrap) I bought her...

Was surprised this one hadn't sold by the end of the show.
Ron Hubble was there, promoting his class that he was teaching for the "Passages of Paris" roombox (Class being taught in GA next!):
Exterior is fabulous!
Inside was decorated with Rainbow Hand items...
Smoke and mirrors create this hallway passage: well, a mirror creates it; no smoke.
Stunning attention to detail with the moldings and lighting!
I loved these artisans' tables:
Marie Evan's animals were fluffy and adorable! (mariewevans@gmail.com)
I fell in love with the dog in the back corner who looked exactly like my miniature American Eskimo I had when I was first married so I bought her.  Mildly regretting that I didn't buy the Border Collie she had too.  I had no place for her/him in my mini scenes so I didn't buy the Border Collie, but I have never seen such reasonably priced fur animals before so I'm thinking I should have bought her/him!
I can't afford his dolls, but James Carrington's dolls always make me smile or chuckle.

I got to meet and hear fun stories from James about his dolls (Carrington Dolls Website).  I have a new appreciation for miniaturists who make and dress dolls now! LOL

My friend, Brandaen Jones of My Little Dream Miniatures (Brandaen's Little Dream Miniatures Website), had a table.  I love his baskets and although I only own one (a breath taking Moses baby basket), I love to see his stuff (and I carry them for sale in my shop).  It's nice to find artisans who work for pennies (like Brandaen, Versailles Dolls, and Marie Evans) to keep their art work reasonably priced for the average collector to be able to afford them:
Baskets and other goodies at Brandaen's table
These hand stitched clothes by Rose Sanders at Brandaen's table
I don't know where all of them will go, but I fell in love with these eggs and accessories at Sandra Manring's table (abritishbrat@yahoo.com):

Her flowers were pretty too, but I stocked up on eggs.

Mini Expressions (lajuanna@aol.com) had a great assortment of items, including these screen doors:
Mini Expressions country screen doors were cute
Since my friend and I were not assembling and dressing a doll like we thought we were going to be doing, we had time to play with her Rik Pierce piece.  We (mostly her) did the beginnings of the landscaping and then we mixed and poured her "water" for the lazy river flowing under her building.  I enjoyed it so much there will be future blogs about my experiments with various "water" products some time this summer (I hope)!

That's it for now; my thoughts of the Dallas Show, for what it's worth!  I tried to put the websites or email for the artisans I mentioned/pictured here, but if you want one and I forgot to put their contact info send me a message and let me know.