Monday, April 30, 2012

The foundation of a foundation, and some tiny furniture

I began work on the Whitney/Primrose foundation. I painted the foundation area gray and dark gray. I spread watered Tacky glue on the area, and used paper clay to make little rocks that I smushed onto the area.

And a close up.
I still need to paint the "rocks" with grays and browns, and to paperclay the back side of the house. For which I will need more paperclay.

I had a bit of a lightbulb moment last night. I had been wondering what to do about the interior doors, how to frame them. Suddenly, it struck me - Cardstock. Tomorrow I will work on the door frames.

I got a package today - the 8-piece half-scale parlor set I bought on Ebay. I'm trying to stock up on affordable half-scale furniture before I start building the Fairfield (haunted edition).

The two beige chairs and the brick fireplace were part of my mother's collection. The rest is the Ebay set. It's all sitting in the bedroom of the Whitney/Primrose, just for picture-taking purposes. Plus, I opened the set and thought, "Holy crap, is this half scale?" It just seemed awfully small. It does seem to match what I already had, though, so I guess the size is right.

Here are two of the beds I have scored on Ebay lately, also half scale.
I contacted an Ebay seller from whom I'd bought a comforter set for a 1:12 bed, and asked if she ever made half scale sets. I could probably dress the beds myself, but I would end up spending twice as much on materials, and I'm not exactly Betsey Ross here. My sewing skills are not fantastic. I sent Michelle - the Ebay seller - the beds' measurements tonight. I'm pretty excited about having her make the bed sets. She does a fabulous job.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

More plants, and a couple of peculiar photos.

I made another plant.
This one is meant to be sort of a palm. It's planted in a copper plumbing doodad - I have no idea what it's called, but I believe it's a piece meant to cap a copper pipe. Or something like that.

In any case, the plant is made from masking tape and florists wire, with florists foam glued into the "pot," which I spread glue on and dipped into my stolen coffee grounds for the dirt effect.

The next plant is in the works - floral tape this time. I'm flirting with the idea of doing a smaller plant, but time will tell.

Tomorrow these leaves will become a plant. Which, I think, makes me very much like God, since that is usually his job.

Besides making leaves this morning, I framed two photos.
I could not get a clearer photo of this. Although it's hard to see, the photo is of my father a very dashing young US soldier in Austria in 1946.
This one is a bit clearer. It's children waving to the train carrying the US soldiers through Austria, in 1946.

I picked up the oval frame at one of the craft stores in the scrapbooking section. Makes a lovely dollhouse frame, and I have not been able to figure out how to make an oval frame. I'm all over the square and rectangular frames, but oval is far beyond my skills.

The back of the Whitney/Primrose house. The dining room has an odd glare in the picture. I have not yet put the roof on. I did paint the foundation gray/dark gray, and my next project is to make paperclay stones for that foundation.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Plants, plants, plants

I've noticed that dollhouses look far more finished with things like pillows, wall art, and plants. There's especially a lot of bang for your buck with plants. While in real life, I am the Ted Bundy of plants, in my dollhouse world I am a world-class gardener. Sort of.

This past week I've been making plants. I bought kits from SDK Miniatures - two spider plants, an African violet, and some daffodils. So far I've made a spider plant and an African violet.

These are photographed in the unfinished attic of the unfinished Whitney/Primrose, with a Bespaq gorgeously decorated end table. I still cannot believe I managed to score that on Ebay for $8 - it has a price sticker on it of $40. It really is lovely, and just goes to show that sometimes you really luck out on Ebay.

The SDK kits make beautiful plants, in spite of my questionable plant-making skills.

Yesterday I smuggled home a ziplock bag of coffee grounds from work (a bizarre version of embezzling?), so I'd have dirt for my plant pots. (Here, the coffee drinkers pretty much stick to instant, which is really not helpful for plant design.)

I got a book/pamphlet on Ebay about making dollhouse plants out of florists' tape and wire. Easy instructions, and materials that are cheap and easy to find. The books shows about 20 plants, giving directions on assembly, and giving leaf patterns.

I found some utterly adorable tiny terra cotta clay pots at Michael's. They are a tad bigger than the wooden ones I've painted. Of course, next to the SDK African violet pot, they seem gigantic. But that's OK - I've killed plants in all sizes of pots.

This plant is made with masking tape leaves. The tape is folded in half, with the wire running up the center. I painted the leaves a darker green, then added swipes of paler green and flecks of yellow. I cut the leaves, and inserted them into a pot I'd prepared by gluing florists foam topped with glued embezzled coffee grounds. I will need to reshape/bend the leaves better, but this is not bad for a first attempt, I thought.
This one was done with florist tape leaves - the tape is folded in half, and glued toether with a wire running up the leaf. This one also needs the leaves reshaped.
You can see the evidence of the embezzled coffee grounds better in this photo. Perhaps I should remove this picture, to protect the guilty innocent.

I have masking tape leaves drying now for another plant, which I'll make later today. I'll also set up some floral tape leaves as well.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Vintage minis, made by Mom

My mother was always interested in new things. Hobbies, crafts, whatever. She had a genuine, boundless curiosity and an eagerness to try new things, and to embrace things she found appealing.

She made quite a few pieces of miniature furniture from kits, and also from scratch. She bought the Fairfield 1/2 scale kit with the intention of building the dollhouse. She never got around to it, though.

Here is some of the furniture she made.

The dining room table, chairs, dry sink, and hutch were made from a Realife Miniatures kit. Part of the reason I chose to build the Whitney/Primrose bash was to create a dining room to put this set in. The drawers and doors all open. These are all 1 inch scale.
The blue chair is one she made from a House of Miniatures kit (I think). Way in the back is a desk she made, also, but it's not very visible in this photo. The large bookcase in the very back is one she made. I'm hoping to have room for that in the Newberg, eventually.

A better shot of the bookcase. I think she made the library table, also. The ladderback chairs I made from a Chrysnbon kit I found in her minis. In the back on the right you can see the pipe to a Chrysnbon parlor stove she made. The small picture in the gold oval frame on the right is one of my grandfather - I found it in a locket, and got the tiny frame for it.

Mom made the pie safe, but I don't know if it was a kit.

A better view of the pie safe.

She had also made quite a bit of food from bread dough, but it did not survive.

Here are a couple of the things I've been making lately:

The yellow afghan is knit from lace weight yarn. I intended it to be a dining room tablecloth, but it's really more of an afghan.
These are paper pitchers. They are meant to look like enamelware. The one on the left is meant to be half scale. The other three are 1:12. I'm not sure why the striped one is leaning back, but I'm going to call it a "design element" rather than "stupid mistake." They are sitting in what will eventually be the attic of the Whitney/Primrose bash.

I really should find a name for that house.

I need a bit more practice/skill at making the pitchers. I can see in my mind what I want them to look like, but apparently my hands are not listening.I thought these weren't bad for first attempts.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Lafayette, interior

This picture hangs in the bathroom. The painting is from Ebay. The frame I made using skinny sticks, a paper doily, and a gold leaf pen.

The towel shelf I made from tongue depressors. The dark green bath mat is one that I knitted with chenille yarn.

The bigger picture of the bathroom. This room is the closest to being done. There's still a few details I need to add, but for the most part, it's done.

The living room. The church on the wall is one I cross-stitched years ago - it needs some sort of frame. The living room rug was in my mother's collection. I made the window seat cushion from fabric, batting, and foam core. The other pillows are all from Ebay.
The kitchen. I made the chandelier from a triple fishing hook and some vintage beads, hung by chain maille from a button. There are magnets made from tiny stickers on the fridge; one is holding a tiny newspaper ad, in homage to my father, who was the King of Newspaper Clippings. There is a case of Diet Pepsi on the fridge, because I like Diet Pepsi.

I used felt for the stair treads. And, the rat will not live here. He will be moving to the haunted Fairfield, which is my next project.
It occurred to me that the kitchen lacked cupboard space. I picked up the  shelves in the corner on E-bay, and added dishes. More items will be added, and more wall decoration will be added, too. Probably a mat in front of the sink, and I will get or make a dish drainer.

I just realized I didn't post a pic of the bedroom, though you can see a corner of it by the bathroom. I'll post that tonight.

The Lafayette, renovated

The front of the Lafayette. I used sheets of moss as the grass, first making gentle hills by shaping and gluing styrofoam to the plywood. I took little rocks and glued them into a path. I made the adirondack chairs and tea cart from a kit.

The potted flowers were made with wooden pots painted terra cotta, filled with glue, and pieces of plastic and silk flowers.

The back of the Lafayette. The tiny tool box sitting in front of the house is not part of this house; it's just set there til I figure out which house gets the workshop. Or the workshop will be a stand-alone. Either way, it's pretty far down the project list.

Tea cart, with potted plant and extra pots. The wheels of the tea cart are made from vintage buttons - the wooden kit wheels fell apart when I tried to punch them out of the sheet.

I added the window boxes. I used tongue depressers to make the boxes. I glued florists foam to pieces of foam core board, then glued the flowers and leaves into the foam. This way I can easily change the flowers if I want.
The butterfly wind chime was a kit from a lot of minis on Ebay. Pretty easy to assemble, and looks lovely (I think). I bent a jewelry head pin into a hook shape to hang it.

This wind chime I made from jewelry findings, using the butterfly chime as a model.

Door step - rock path. I crocheted the welcomemat from hemp. The mailbox was all silver, and I painted it. It is not yet glued in.

I made the trellis from skinny sticks, and wrapped plastic foliage and paper roses around the sticks.

Floral shrub.

The landscaping was fun.

My favorite alternate reality

Back in the early 1970s, I started collecting dollhouse miniatures. I would buy them at a local store, or I would get gifts of minis. I have always loved dollhouses - I had the basic metal dollhouse in the early '60s; the Petite Princess plastic suitcase dollhouse; a Fisher-Price Little People's house (and schoolhouse, and village, and A-frame....).

About 20 years ago, I finally bought a dollhouse kit on clearance at Amazing Ames, and built it. It was the Dura-Craft Lafayette. We were living in a poorly-converted barn house with lots of space, and I was able to set up a worktable. It was such fun. I furnished it with my collection of dollhouse minis, and every time we went to Rutland, we made a stop in Pittsford at Fred's Miniature Dollhouse Store. I never had a lot of money to spend on minis, but I could usually find something awesome and inexpensive on Fred's clearance table.

My brother Andrew made some miniatures for my dollhouse, too - an absolutely gorgeous watercolor painting in a gold frame, and a tiny ashtray with cigarette smoldering in it. I used old family photos from antique lockets, put them in tiny frames, and decorated the dollhouse.

Fast forward to last year, and when we moved in with my mother-in-law, I brought my dust-covered Lafayette with me, along with my carefully packed lot of dusty dollhouse furniture. (Evidently it was the maid's decade off in the tiny house.) My father had just passed away, and in the course of dividing up his things, I ended up with my mother's collection of miniatures, as well as a Greenleaf Fairfield kit (with upgrade) that she had never built. I have not yet found unpacked the box of minis I brought with me from my own home, so I started poking around on E-bay, and picking up those minis that struck my fancy and my price-range.

I renovated the Lafayette - painted, cleaned, put it on a board which I landscaped - and re-furnished it, using some of Mom's minis and ones I had scored on E-bay. I started my next project, a kit-bash of a Radmark Whitney and a Corona Primrose, with a couple of nice Houseworks windows. I also picked up, at a really good price, a DuroCraft Newberg.

After I finish the Whitney/Primrose bash, I'll be making the Fairfield. Since it's half scale, I'll have to make a fair amount of the furnishings. The Fairfield will be something of a haunted house, with elements of fantasy and horror.