Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Small Pleasures Kits

I was lucky enough to find a stash of Small Pleasures kits for sale online. These kits are an Australian brand that is unfortunately no longer in production.

These kits first came to my attention when reading the wonderful blog Une Petite Folie

They are lovely kits and have some really nice detail... It's a shame they aren't made anymore.

I might have gone a bit over the top with the number of kits I bought but hey, you have to buy things that aren't readily available when you see them, right?😄

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Modernising Miniature Humanity - One Red Velvet piece at a time.

Ok, what is with all the Red Velvet/Dark Mahogany furniture miniature furniture makers!

Was there a sale on red velvet at the dollhouse furniture factory's local haberdashery and the Manager came in and said "stop the line! We are moving to red velvet upholstery... for EVERYTHING!"

Did the Manager's daughter have a particular affection for mahogany? I mean, really?.. It's 2017 people... it's time to stop the insanity!

It's old fashioned, it's depressing and it looks like it belongs in the upstairs boudoirs of the Stagecoach Saloon.

Well, I love a challenge when I see one so I decided to drag this Victorian Settee out of the brothel and into the 21st century. :D

Off came the red Velvet. It got a light sand and a coat of spray on white primer. Then a follow up coat of Americana Chalk Paint. I then recovered the fabric sections with a light taupe linen.

 And goodbye Victorian Settee... Hello French Sofa.

I made a couple of modern cushions to dress it up. They are just made of linen fabric that I printed images onto using freezer paper & my cheapo injet printer.

Before and After... better, no?

Sunday, 7 May 2017

A Modern industrial Pendant from a cheap plastic Chinese light.

I'm sure you've seen these lights on EBay... They are pretty cheap, around $10, but don't let looks deceive you.. they have a decent shape. So, I decided to try to make an modern industrial pendant out of this cheap little light.

First step, deconstruction and paint. I first tried to hand paint these with metallic acrylic... bad idea...

So I decided to try metallic spray paint.. I first tried Rustoleum Nickel but it wasn't quite right.

My makeshift drying area... hanging from a tree branch in the back yard
So I moved on to Fiddly Bits Aluminium for the last coat but first, I needed to add some details.

I used copper tape around the edge of the light to create a rim (I would likely use a thicker aluminium tape next time as I think this is a bit to thin, I'd like a little more depth.) and then added 3d Nail Art rectangles at intervals around the edge to simulate the industrial detailing you see on real life pendants. Then it all got another coat of Fiddly Bits Aluminium paint.

To finish it off I added jewelry wires that I fashioned into a simple U shape to the underside of the shade. This created a basic bulb cage. 

I added the bulb cage because the original pendant lacked the vertical height I would like, so it's a bit of a hybrid of styles but I'm pretty happy with how these turned out.

Big improvement from the original right?😃

Sydney Miniature Show 2017 - My Mini Haul

So off I tripped to the Sydney Miniature Show yesterday... To be honest I was a little disappointed that so many artists & stalls holders decided not to attend this year... However, I still managed to pick up these wonderful baskets by IGMA Artisan Lidi Stroud. 

The Creel and Large Lobster Pot open & they are all so beautifully crafted. The Creel in particular is quite nostalgic for me as I remember my Grandfather having a very similar one which my Dad later inherited.. I don't know what happened to it but I suspect my Mum gave it away along with all his other fishing stuff after he passed away.. You can get these too, in her etsy shop!
This fishing gear is earmarked for my Heritage build which was always intended to be a retired Ship Captains house. They couldn't be more perfect for my imaginary Captain as in my imagination he likes to row around the cape to fish and catch crabs & lobsters... With that in mind, I picked up a small one man row boat for him at the same stall, made by Lidi's husband.

Here it is loaded up and ready to go!

But wait! Why am I shopping for a future build?.. Probably because I'm obsessed with rattan & wicker in all scales.. lol
Next I decided to buy a few items for the San Franciscan.

As the basement apartment will have a retaining wall in front of it's entrance and front window I've been entertaining the idea of a vertical wall garden. I saw these Staghorns and knew they'd be the perfect starting point. Again these are quite nostalgic for me as in addition to fishing, gardening was another hobby my Grandfather and father shared. They both grew many Staghorn ferns over their lives and they were a constant presence in all the gardens of my youth. :)
Of course I also picked up another two of Lidi's baskets, a selection of "concrete"pots (various vendors) for the upper garden & a hanging basket (Small Pleasures) that I may use on the front porch. I picked up the crackle finished blue cabinet in a clearance box, it was $4 so I figured I couldn't really go wrong. I had plans to refinish it and still may, but I kind of like it in this shot.

The interior detail of the Staghorns is wonderful too. They are mounded on trunk cross sections as they traditionally would be. :)

I moved on to look for interior accessories that would fit my San Franciscan's decor. I've wanted some of these glass Ginger Jars for a while so I took the opportunity to acquire some. :D

I also picked up the glass platter/bowl & the green apples and a couple of vases (not pictured).

I'm not quite sure where I'm going to use these pink bottles & the pink rimmed candle holder, as they don't particularly fit my theme, but I just really liked them. And well, the chocolate tin was too adorable to leave behind.

To go with the glass items I picked up some silver items. I really like the look of silver & glass interspersed with books & greenery on shelving. Since I intend to do some sort of book shelving in the living room of the San Franciscan I thought these pieces would suit. The fish platter may reside on the coffee table or standing in the shelving. I just realised it's upside down in this picture. Ha!

I went past the stall of a Dutch Lady and couldn't resist buying some bread for the kitchen (the chocolate tin also came from her). 

Another thing I like to shop for at miniature fairs is clearance furniture.I paid an average of ten dollars a piece for the items below. 

The tall chest is Town Square, the bedside tables to the left are JBM, the other bedsides and the chairs are Bespaq. I mean where else are you going to pick up Bespaq pieces for around $10 other than at a miniature fair! They are all going to get makeovers of some sort or another.. but they have good bones. 

Of course I looked for kits... it was slim pickings at this fair but I did pick up a Chrysnbon bathroom accessories kit & Phoenix parlour hob grate.. I've been eyeing off one of these from Phoenix online for a while. This is not the model I wanted but to buy the one I want would be $15AUD plus shipping, for $10 & no shipping this was a bargain I can use. It may be too large for the dining room fireplace but I'm sure I can use it in the living room. Then I picked up a Timberbrook Kitchen pantry kit. I don't really have a use for it yet but it was unusual as I'd never seen it before so I just decided to buy it and I'm sure it will find a home.. I'm kind of kicking myself now for not picking up the other Timberbrook kits this stall had. A linen closet and a sliding built in closet... should have got those. I also missed out on a Phoenix cooker for $7.50. I picked it up and handed to the vendor saying "I'll take this but let me just see if I want anything else before you ring me up"... Then I got distracted and forgot I had handed it over. By the time I remembered that I hadn't actually bought it, she had already sold it to someone else... Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened to me a a show... I have the attention span of a goldfish.. I have now instigated a new rule. Do not let an item go until you are ready to pay and pay immediately! lol

I've been looking for tartan fabrics for a while, so I picked up a couple and also an aged ticking that will be good for mattresses or pillows. I feel like the Captain is going to like a bit of Tartan in his life. :)

I also picked up a bunch of door knobs & other paraphernalia. Some wired bulbs, a Classics working step ladder, a few Houseworks components, ten Timberbrook Newel Posts (you never know when you'll need a good newel post! :D ), some tiny turnings, railing & decorative trim & assorted miscellaneous kitchen accessories.

Finally, I bought this little Gucci knock off handbag... I think my little female San Franciscan homeowner might be becoming a bit of a fashionista. :)

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.