Sunday, 23 April 2017

Exterior stairs and "hillside" for the Landscaping Board

Working on the Landscaping Board today...

I know it seems like a job for the end but I need to at least lay out the plan and mock it up because the hillside will determine where "stone"goes on the outside of the basement.

Additionally the new front stairs are an integral part of the landscaped hill and therefore careful height planning is needed to incorporate the stairs later. I've decided on three flights with two turns.

I've also had to mock up a little landing off the porch so that my first flight can be at a 90 degree angle to the house.

As you can see it's a fairly rough mock-up but you get the idea. 

I've built the second flight of stairs into the "hillside" because I felt this was more realistic for a hillside set of stairs rather than having them cantilever off the retaining wall. A bonus is I won't have to have railings on this flight & it also allows me to butt the third flight up against the wall creating the need for only one short stair railing at this level.

The other bonus is it allows me to extend the hillside at the front of the board to allow more front yard.

Having said that, I'll probably shape the front section of foam to give a gently slope to a smaller retaining wall... to soften the look. It's a bit severe like this. Looking at this picture I might also move the second flight backwards a bit, to line up the lip of the top step with the back of the top flights last step... I think it looks a bit strange at the moment and it will also give me a bit of space between the driveway and the front path for greenery.

Still very much in dry fit as you can see above I've just used random pieces of foam to simulate the lower landing. I may even put another set of three stairs on the other side of this landing facing back towards the apartment door. That way the little occupants have a choice of stairs whether going to the garage or the front gate. :D

The foam will all be covered in water putty or some such product to simulate a painted cement retaining wall. It'll probably have some cracks in it with plants popping out,.. or maybe a garden bed at the top (of the shortened) wall with hanging plants spilling over.. or vines.. I don't know yet but something to soften the effect. 

All in all, I'm pretty happy with the progress here... however I now have a foam snowstorm in my workroom.. lol

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Basement Interior mock-up

I finally cut all the window and door holes for the San Franciscan's basement and decided to do an interior mock up of the space.

Overhead view of the basement floorplan mock-up

So I'm 99% sure that the basement will be a studio apartment. This is partly because I don't feel like adding internal stairs and partly because I feel it's more realistic for a San Franciscan Row House.
Plus, my little mini homeowners will be able to get a bit of extra income. Real Estate is San Francisco is expensive!!😁

What that does mean is that it's going to need a bathroom and an efficiency kitchenette at the very least. Given the space this will be challenging. Maybe the homeowners should give up the garage for the good of the apartment.... Ummmm... NO!

Bathroom Mock-up. The shower will be behind the pencil line.

As you can see above I've been a bit creative with the bathroom walls (Mocked up in cardboard for now. By angling the wall of the shower, I gain back some much needed square inchage 😉 in the living/sleeping area. I've just chucked some random furniture in here to get an idea of what's possible. I'll build the permanent walls out of thinner wood than the rest of the kit to maximize every little bit of space.

Originally I wanted the kitchenette to be down the front near the door so that the sink could be under the window.. However that left no room in the smaller area for a realistic sofa bed or murphy bed arrangement. the space just isn't wide enough for a bed.

Kitchen area

So sadly the kitchenette has moved down to be outside the bathroom... (never ideal.. but necessary) and the living/sleeping area has moved down to the wider front area.

Living/Sleeping area. It's tight!

This mock up has been a good excercise because it has shown me that there is no way I'm getting a murphy bed and a sofa into the space so I'm leaning towards a sofa bed in a sectional, because it will do double duty in the small space. It's still touch and go as to whether it will be able to fully fold out in the space but as I will have to custom make it, I guess I will just work with the space.

For Rent. Only petite people need apply.😆

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Uh-Oh.. The addiction has set in..

Well, I bought another house... Ummm.. I haven't even got the basement finished on my first house and now I have 2 waiting in the wings... lol

I couldn't resist this vintage Woodline Products house called the Victorian. It has big rooms and a tower... I feel like this house could be spectacular with a dutch gambrel roof and the tower beefed up a bit... Not sure if it comes with milled sides but if it doesn't it may even get shingled, New England style. :D

I'm already scheming and still have so far to go on the San Franciscan.

The real question is.. do I do the Heritage next as planned, or skip it for later and start on this beauty.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

More San Franciscan Basement progress.

Option 3

Now that I've added a basement to the San Franciscan, I have to consider what kind of stairs I build to get down to ground level from the entrance. 

In my mind's eye the San Franciscan is a row house that sits on one of San Francisco's famous hill streets. With that in mind, the landscaping board will have to be built up on the left (non garage) side. There will be a front garden on that side of the board and the driveway to the garage and basement apartment on the other side. 

This left me with a dilemma. I need stairs that will access the front garden to the left and the driveway to the right. I have a few options:

1. come straight down towards the front with a landing at the garden level with gate access to it and the bottom flight of stairs continuing forward.
2. Come straight forward from the porch with a switchback landing that would access the garden and the bottom flight of stairs facing back towards the house.
3. Build a small landing off the porch and have a 1/3 rise of stairs heading left at a right angle to the house leading to the garden. The second flight of stairs would leave the garden level to the right also at a right angle to the house and landing at the driveway.
4. Same as three but with an additional landing about 3/4 of the way down leading to the bottom flight of stairs turning towards the front again.

I still need to try out options 2 & 4 but I'm leaning towards 3. I would like to do 4 but I'm to lazy to mock it up right now... and if that's the case, what would I be like building it... lol

Monday, 20 March 2017

Making a Rustic Candelabra

With a first coat of Chalk Paint in "Americana Rustic"

I was inspired by Amberatti's blog post on making a mini candelabra and decided to make my own version.  (Note to self: check out model boat parts. :D )

I hit the local Spotlight and looked for useful items. I found some cone-shaped fasteners in the sewing notions section. No idea what they are called but they have two pointed pieces of metal on them that spread apart behind a backing plate, kind of like those paper fasteners you see in offices. I was just after the cone shape for a base so I cut off the metal tails.

I also bought some earring hooks because I thought they'd be good to use for the arms and already halfway bent. :) Bonus, they had bead and wire detail on them that I decided to use in the design.

Next to the bead aisle. I bought two different sized fluted silver beads and some oblong wooden beads. I couldn't find any earring backs or cap beads but I have a bunch of other beads in my stash so I thought I would be able to come up with something.

First I fashioned the arms out of earring hooks. I figured this would be the hardest part so if it all went to hell, I could quit without spending too much time on it. :D

And it was.... after a few false starts, I figured out that if I bent the wire over my exacto knife handle for the large curve and a pencil for the small curve, I had relatively similar arms.

Earring hooks fashioned into arms

Next I took a small fluted bead (the larger ones I bought were way out of scale!) and super glued that to the aforementioned fastener of unknown name :D with its metal "tails" cut off.

Then I cut off a piece of a tiny turning that I liked about ??? in length and attached that to the fluted bead... after that dried I glued on an oblong wood bead. I think these are 6mm x 9mm.

Now my "stem" was complete.

Time to glue the arms in!

It's coming together

I think it is important to glue the arms in before you build the candle holders on them because:

  1. This allows you to make any last-minute adjustments to the arm length/height to make them as close as even to each other as possible.

  2. Once they were super glued into the base, they were more stable which gave me more ability to mess with the fiddly task of trying to stack and glue beads onto the end of a wire and have them turn out somewhat level.

Once the arms are completely dry, you can construct the candle holders.

I did this by threading the detail wire and bead that came with the earring hook back onto the arms. Wire first, then a dab of superglue on the end of the arm and thread on the bead.

Hold the bead at the very end of the arm so that the top of the bead is flush with the top of the arm. Hold in place until dry.

Now put a dab of glue directly underneath the bead and push the wire coil back up the arm to butt up with the bottom of the bead.

This smaller bead forms the beginning of the base and is important to give you more area to start layering on detail.

Next, I glued a 3mm flower jewellery spacer on top of the bead and when that was dry, the same type of fluted bead used at the bottom of the base. I think it's good to have some continuity in the design.

Make sure to try and get these elements level with each layer.

While waiting for this to dry I made the topper candle holder. Same process as the arm ones but now on a short straight piece of wire from the earring hooks. It needed to be long enough to accomodate the wire coil and small earring hook bead but not more than half a mm longer. Once the wire coil & bead a glued and dry follow the same process for the arm candle holders. I stuck the whole assembly in some foam to dry.


And here it is fully assembled. As you can see it is about 1.75 inches tall.

About 1.75 inches high, that should work

On a table before paint to show scale. As you can see it is fairly chunky. All the better for rustic decor. :D

On the breakfast table for sizing. It's not going to end up on this table though

Just moving my blog over to blogger as it seems to be what most people use.😊

Friday, 3 March 2017

Custom Modern Lighting

Excuse the dog hair in the corner.. can't be avoided in my house. I have little helpers. :)

So I got inspired by my friends over at the Greenleaf forum, to try my hand at making a modern light fixture. This was the result.

To be honest I'm so happy with this fixture that I might have to rethink the entire lighting plan for the San Franciscan.

In fact I'm stretching the truth to say I custom made it, because it's essentially constructed out of pre-made components, super glue & spray paint.

It's incredibly simple but incredibly effective.

So forum member SewMini asked about modern fixtures and pointed to this one as an example of what she was looking for.

Later that day I was in my local Choice store (Australian version of a dollar store, though hardly anything costs only a dollar. ;) ) and found these balls in the craft section

Wire balls from Choice

I thought the smaller balls would be great for pendants and the larger ones for a statement light in the middle of a room.

Smaller pendant size
I wanted to use the smaller size to start but I didn't have any G.O.R bulbs so I had to raid my lights stash for a fixture and that meant, I had to use the larger wire ball if I had any hope of fitting it within the structure.

I tried to replicate the fitting in the inspiration piece by attempting to shove a simple 3 arm chandelier into the wire ball... umm.. no.. that didn't fit... so I rummaged some more and came up with one of these ball pendants. I actually think if I make another light, I would try to find a half scale 3 arm chandelier and change out the chain for a 1:12 scale one to get the look above.

Got this picture from the web because I forgot to take a before pic.. 😳

I ditched the bottom spindle taped off the ceramic bulb and spray painted it silver using Rustoleum "Satin Nickel".

I also sprayed the wire ball, so that there would be continuity of colour. I actually prefer the silver of the original ball but getting that finish in paint would be near on impossible and they just don't seem to make many dollhouse fixtures in silver. If I used G.O.R bulbs or GOW bulbs I would have been able to keep the colour as long as I could find a tiny chain to match. Much easier!

I think this light could also look great in a antique copper colour or black for a more industrial feel.

Once everything was dry I tested the light to make sure it worked. then worked the wire apart in one section and pushed the ball pendant through. I then re-positioned the wires over the hole and strategically centred one wire at the top to attach the chain ring to. A dab of superglue does the job of holding the pendant chain to the ball. but you could use a bit of jewelry wire also or you could fashion the wire of the ball so that the top of the fixture holds it on.

You will need to fiddle with the chain ring a bit to make sure the pendant sits straight and centre in the ball. It helps to hang the fixture from something for this step as the weight of it hanging helps and you will get a true indication of how it will hang in your dollhouse.

For light bulb changing, just snap off the glue (this is the reason for just a dab) and pull the bulb out. Change the bulb re-assemble and glue or use other connecting options as above.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Dining Room is coming together.


So this is the latest dry-fit of the dining room. I think it's coming along nicely.

The coffee stirrer floors have been cut and attached to their template. They are bare wood right now but will likely be whitewashed or painted white and the substantially distressed.


The stairs fit... just! the hole and chiselled channel are for the wiring for the porch light. I need to run some crack filler around the staircase hole and sand and paint it I also need to trim out my stairs with bracket detail and a stringer board against the wall.


Testing out the fireplace in situ. The chimney breast still needs to be wallpapered.


The firebox needs grouting and some more paint washes. I might coat the mantel in a wash of white chalk paint also.. it's looking a little grubby.


I also need to make the marble hearth (just a paper place marker here :D ) I saw a tutorial on making marble effect out of polymer clay, so I think I'll give that a try. My back up plan is to print out a marble effect from the web. Cover a piece of mat board with it and then spray it with high gloss non yellowing varnish or coat it with modge podge.


I still have a lot of work to do. I need to decide if I am continuing the painted wood wall all the way around the room (with the exception of the chimney breast). I also need to decide if I'm doing pressed tin look on the ceiling (I won't be doing that if all the walls are wood, I don't think. Then with those decisions made, I need to cut all the baseboard and cornice, install the lights trim out the chimney breast, doors & windows... etc, etc, etc... long way to go, but it's nice to see a room look a little bit like a room.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Brisbane Dollhouse Extravaganza haul :)

So I went to the Brisbane Dollhouse Extravaganza on the weekend. If I'm honest I didn't have high hopes for anything too extravagant.  ;)

I mean, how many people in Brisbane could be into Minis & Dollhouses right?.. Wrong! It was actually really surprising how many stalls there were and how many people were there. There was a great selection of stuff. New, Hand made, & second hand. A lot of things were cheaper than you would pay online with the added bonus of no shipping costs.

The hard corers were there early and snapped up all the really good bargains, but there were still some to be had. You had to be quick though! I have some serious regret for dilly dallying over a working Grandfather clock for $10. I walked away to think about it and someone else snapped it up. :/

Also, I guess it pays to check your bags on checkout. I snagged a Franklin Mint Bathroom sink for $5 but when I checked my bags when I got home the item wasn't in the bag... There was another item missing as well. I don't think it was intentional on the part of the vendor (they are working from fold out tables and boxes and don't really have a set up to keep track of the stuff you hand over to hold aside until you are finished shopping at their stall) but super disappointing because it's was a pretty rare find.

So anyway.. on to the good stuff... here's some pictures of some of my haul.

First off, OMG this bunny bear!

He/she is sooooo adorable, I couldn't resist! She was rather expensive (I think she's a girl because she has pink on her feet and ears.) but sooo worth it. I think I'll name her April.  ;)

She has moving arms & legs and a little tag from the maker on the back. She's from VonneBears. Evonne who makes these bears had so many cute miniature teddy's I could have spent an absolute fortune at her stall but I had to contain myself. Luckily she has an Esty shop so I will just have to content myself with collecting over time.

Next I treated myself to some TinyFinery treasures.

This dress, handbag and shoes were calling my name. Again, if I'd bought more cash with me I would have shopped for hours. :D

The imaginary inhabitant of my house is going to be so stylish.


So cute! The shoes came in a shoe box complete with tissue and were then placed in a tiny shopping bag.


The shoe detail is lovely, they even have tiny little buckle detail & labels inside like real shoes. Could the brand name be any more adorable "Mini Choos"... Get it? :D

The bag has lovely trim detail. It also opens, with a magnet clasp. Inside it even has a little side pocket. I assume for a miniature mobile phone? lol


Please excuse my fingers I was super gluing something earlier in the day and well..... we all know how that goes.

Continuing on the clothing theme, I bought some undergarments from a lovely mature lady who makes them all herself. She is retiring from selling and so had all her stock marked down. I didn't get her card... so I can't link you.. but I doubt she had a website anyway.

We had a lovely chat about how crochet is a dying art form and how she must have great eyesight and a steady hand to make her lovely creations.. again.. should have taken more money. She had lovely crochet miniature handkerchiefs and lovely lace tops in boxes and flower arrangements and *swoon* was all so gorgeous, it was hard to be restrained and only buy a few items.


Corset, bra & panty set and a wedding horseshoe. :)

The detail on these pieces is lovely. Tiny little crochet flowers, bows & crystals (not showing up very well in the photos) are sewn in.


I also bought these tiny doilies from her.So pretty.


I then headed over to a vendor that was selling mini food imported from Germany, because I wanted a cake. Well.. I got three. :D

You can't pass up a deal they were $5 each or 3 for $10... Three for ten it was!


Then I went looking for bargains and I found this 1930's style gas refrigerator.. I've been coveting one of these for a while but they were always about $70usd plus shipping on eBay. I got this one for $30aud and no shipping :D

It has a few dings in the paint but nothing that I can't touch up with appliance paint.


I also picked up some vintage kits I'd been wanting. A couple of cane seat chairs a dining set & the bathroom accessories kit from Chrysnbon, a gramophone from Phoenix Miniatures and this Fireplace kit from HOM. I've never seen the Fireplace before, it's called the "Tidewater Virginia Fireplace circa mid 1700's" and it was only $5.. can't go wrong.

I also picked up some window and door components including a full length victorian/georgian bay window for $10. Bargain! Many light fittings, all of which i will need to paint or modify. A couple of resin dogs that I plan to flock. A little woven basket, another cheap little mass produced teddy bear and a pencil sharpener in the shape of a toilet! I think it might be just the right scale and it has a lot of detail and is more modern than most dollhouse miniatures out there.

Safe to say... I'm a show convert! Now to start scheming for time off work to go to the Sydney show. :D

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Off to the Dollhouse Extravaganza today

The Brisbane dollhouse miniature show is on today. I got some money out of the bank last night so I hope I come home with a stash of miniature shopping. :)

Will update with my finds... fingers crossed!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Making a 1:12 Fire Chimney Breast & Hearth


I bought this Mantel in an Ebay auction, can't remember what I paid for it but it wasn't very much.. the shipping was more because it came from the UK. :/

It's made of plaster I think and it's a bit banged up with chips out of it and edges broken off.


But I don't really care, I liked the fairly simple traditional style and given my house is going to be a bit shabby, I just think it adds rustic charm. :)

In my imagination my house has been around for a long time and had many owners and the fireplaces have had a few bangs as the little people moved their furniture in and out.

I could just prop this fireplace up against the wall and be done with it, but that doesn't make my realism loving heart sing. So now I needed to build it a chimney breast and hearth.

I started by making a chimney breast out of foam core. I used the dimensions of the mantel plus half an inch on each side for the the face of the breast. Then I decided how deep I wanted the firebox to be and cut sides to match (about an inch because I have a particular phoenix miniatures insert in mind).


I measured the inner dimensions of the mantel and cut out the hearth space by marking the middle point of the chimney breast an marking half the width of the inner dimensions of the mantel outwards off this mark. This way the hole is centred on the chimney breast.

It's pretty rough, but it doesn't have to be pretty because it will be covered with card-stock and the mantel will cover the rest.


I did cut mitred corners because I wasn't sure what kind of finish I was going to give it at the time and I filled in any imperfections with spackle and gave it a sand. The mitred corners were relatively easy to make because I have a Foam Werks bevel cutter which does the job with ease. Any mistakes were operator error.. lol

Next I made the fire box to fit inside the hearth using the cut out piece from the mantel face as the back and then measuring the side walls of the chimney breast for the sides.


I then started bricking it with egg carton bricks. You'll note my fire box has a "lid".. this is not because I want the chimney to be bricked up, but because I don't want anyone to be able to see up the fireplace chimney breast as this will be where I hide most of my wiring for the house. It's really just to give the illusion of the bricking continuing up the chimney.

It's good to have a little selection of bricks to choose from as you go. And there is my pile of deconstructed egg cartons. ;)


With chimney breast and Mantel in place... for a look at progress and to make sure everything is straight.


Firebox back done. :)

The shims between the roof & the sides are just to give the roof a bit of height and an angle so that it's not massively obvious when put together. Remember it's supposed to be an illusion ;)


And with sides complete and breast and mantel in place. I think it's turning out well. :)

Next up is painting the bricks. I gave them a base coat of burnt sienna stippled on and then used a black wash to soot them up. This fire place has been used... alot!


I'm not worried about the little spots that don't have paint, it kind of looks like left over mortar on the bricks. I like that, it adds an old brick feel.

I still need to seal this and then grout. Not sure what I'm going to use for that. Either paperclay or spackle are most likely. Once I have that done, I'll used some dark washes to dirty it up too.

Here's what it looks like all together. I love it! :Dimg_2638

And in the house.


Ignore the "marble" hearth.. it's just a place marker. I still need to make a proper one. That should be interesting! :)


And here it is with wallpaper, dirty grout and my polymer clay "marble" hearth. I'll tell you how I made that in another post. 😉