Wednesday, May 9, 2018

How'd She Do That?: Creating Your own framed wall art for your miniature house

The Dura Craft farmhouse project began two years ago, and it has been a long road to get it put together. Now I am working on a couple of things: the chimney--a night mare of a project that I will share in another post--and the home decor. I have searched Etsy and the all of the online catalogues for unique and cool stuff to decorate the houses that I have worked on, but I found that it was so much more fun and satisfying to make my own wall art. I'd like to share my projects with you.

These were my first attempts at miniaturizing my photographs for the my first real build, the Ballet Studio. My granddaughters were taking ballet lessons and were so adorable in their tutus that I had to use them. Lucy in the yellow and Elinore in the white. Lucy's frame came from Hobby Lobby and the Ellie's phots (pink) was in the bargain bin at Michale's. Cute as they were as little ballerinas, they are not 9 and 11 and riding horses.

I also honored my life long friendship with a dear friend. Our mothers often dressed us the same, making matching outfits and in this photo were are dressed for Easter. The frame another craft store charm perfect for a frame. Me on the left.


I honored my grandparents, too. On the left is my great grandmother Stella on my mother's side and on the right my father's parents, Harry and Abby on a wedding trip. No they did not honeymoon in Paris. I am not sure exactly where they are, a bridge somewhere in Kansas.

And my mother.

I have even transferred pictures to fabric for accent pillows. This is favorite.

Since the Bellingham is a restored Texas farmhouse, I needed cows--Texas cows. Luckily, I know some cows in Texas who gladly let me photos graph them. The black and white is Butter Cup, a Corientes (originally known as a Mexican wild cow), easily mistaken for a long horn.

This is the original photo. There's Butter Cup to the far left, the brown and white cow.

And this is the farmed photo that measure 2.5x3" in a beautiful gold frame from Hobby Lobby

More Hobby Lobby frames that I used model car paint to paint them gold. They go in the bedroom. These photos have been scaled to 1.5" to fit the 1" opening in the frame.

So. How did I do that, you might be asking.

I used an app on my iPad called Waterlogue to turn original photograph of the cows t into a watercolor print. This is a really fun, free app. Or at least it was free when I downloaded it.

All of the photos have to be edited and reduced to the scale that you are wanting. My projects are are all 1":12".  While there are fancy photo editors that do all kinds of things, I discovered that Microsoft Word has pretty cool photo editing tools. 

 Step by Step

First, I use Word 2011 for Mac to create my miniature art work. I would imagine that any PC with Windows, Word has the same tools that you can use. Check it out.

Next, I import the images into the a new Word document. When they arrive on the page, they will be their original size. You may want to use a photo editor (I use Apple Photos), to edit and crop your photo. Still it may be 8x10 or fill the page.

Double click on the image to edit it in Word. In the upper right hand corner you will see the box where you can enter the size in inches that you want your image. So, if the inside of the frame measure 2" then try to make your height 2.4 or 2.5. I only enter the height and let the program size the width. There are other options in word to edit your photo, so play around. 

Note: the photo editing tools do not appear in the tool bar until you click on the photo. So sized then decided what else you want to do to the photo.  

With your photo ready to print, print on regular print paper until you have it sized for your frame, leaving enough of an edge to adhere the photo to the back side of the frame. When you are ready to print your final copy, you can use computer paper, but I use photographic paper, either glossy or mat. Yes, it is more expensive, but your supply will last a long time and you will get better quality prints. Wait until you have serval images to print and print them on one sheet. 

The owl was printed on cheap muslin fabric. There are really good instructions on Pinterest on how to print on fabric by ironing your fabric to the wax side of butcher paper. Works really well. Cut the butcher paper 8x10 and the same with the fabric and then experiment with your printer. Some suggest using the commercial photo print fabric that isn't so hard on the printer. But I like the aged look of the muslin. It is tricky and again you will want to print several images on one page to be more economical. 

I suppose you have to have some computer skills, but you can teach yourself by just playing around. I will say that I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to do things, so it is really time consuming to create your own art, but so worth it. I hope you try.

Thanks so much for taking time read this long post. I hope you learned something. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

April Shower

Though I should be outside working in the garden, the weather has not been cooperating. You know the saying, "April showers bring May flowers; well, while it wasn't raining today, the weather was miserable, so I spent the day working on a new shower for the Bellingham Farmhouse. I had already built a shower, but after discovering Emily's blog, The Den of Slack I decided to remake the shower. Compared to her shower, mine looked pretty amateurish. So I set out to improve my shower. She used plastic for really cool, modern looking shower door, so while I was having my car serviced, I visited the glass shop across the street and asked if they would cut plexiglass for a dollhouse shower. The young lady was so nice and said that they would be happy to, she and recommended other materials, including glass. I have decided to use glass, but today I built prototype shower doors using a piece of thin acrylic from my stash that I had once tried to cut out an octagon window with scissors.  It didn't go well.

Today I used a utility knife successfully to score the doors and then cut the straight lines by running the blade over the cut several times.

I used my iPhone to take the photos, but I have been having trouble with the quality of the photos on the blog and have decided that I need to upload them with a higher quality, which may make them load more slowly 😩. Sorry about that.

Before we get to the shower, here's more on using caulking to seal the gaps that sometimes occur when the crown molding doesn't fit snuggly against the ceiling. Purchased at Ace Hardware, this product works so well to seal that unsightly gap. I kept a wet sponge handy to dampen my finger as I smoothed the caulk along the seam and to clean my fingers when I had too much caulking.  The before and after photos show how a clean seam between ceiling and crown molding can be achieved.

This piece of crown molding was particularly troublesome as I struggled to get it cut right to fit in place; I will have to do some touchup painting to make the corners look a little neater. My fingernails are too long, so I had a hard a time working the caulking into the corners.

I needed to use the damp sponge to clean up where my finger got too try to smooth the caulking, and again I was working in a very tight space.

 I installed the stairs today, too. Wow. That was a big commitment. The stairs gave me so much trouble. I even rebuilt them because the stairs that I built from the original kit were really bad. So I bought pre-built stairs at Hobby Lobby and had to cut one step off because they were too long. I also struggled with where to put the bedroom and living room walls. According to the house plans these walls are supposed to blush with the front edge of the house so that the openings to the rooms are at the back of the wall or at the front of the house. I installed them so that there were flush with the front exterior wall.

For the bathroom I even had my husband cut a new wall that extended the full width of the house so that I install a door and make it look more like an old farmhouse.

The floors are all installed now. In the rooms that have tape wiring on the floors, I used wide double sided carpet tape to adhere the floors so that if there is electrical problems I have access to the wiring. The kitchen floor and the downstairs hallway floors are glued in place.

So the crown molding is finished and the floors are installed. 

Now for the redesigned shower.

I really do like this shower, but as I said, it looks just too amateurish. I started rethinking it because I wanted to add glass doors. I never did quite figure out how to make a shower curtain--what sort of material to use--, so I dug out that sheet acrylic plastic and  cut the shower doors. Then I made an new shower stall:

The shower base for the first shower has three pieces, including two angled sides. As I was trying to figure out how to cut the new base, I discovered that the angles were not equal, so I decided to make the base square. I also want the door to open. Emily had used porch railing to set her doors inside, but I have decided to install the doors on top of the shower base, much like a really shower might be built.

I think the new shower will look pretty nice. I have to order another sheet of the black and white tile so it will be a few days before i have it finished. My car needs more work, so next week while the little SUV is getting a wheel alignment, I'll be across the street at the glass shop having them help me build my shower. I am hoping that they can help me figure out some sort of hinging so that that the door will open. Right now I have the two sides of the acrylic held together with silver wasabi type tape.

And that is my April Shower

Thanks for stopping by. Let me know what you think. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mind the Gap

I have not worked on the Bellingham Farmhouse since before Christmas. I original stopped working because of the holidays then I began sewing little dresses for the my 18 inch Madame Alexander dolls. There was another reason, a more serious reason, why I couldn't make myself get back to work on the house. The electrical system had failed and I couldn't figure out why.  When I wore out that obsession, I decided to get back to work on the house with the intent of finishing it. 

The lights are on again, but what a chore. The photo below shows how I had to add more tape wire to bypass where the failure was--I think the connection that is covered up under the green wallpaper had failed, so I rerouted the wiring. Not a pleasant chore.

I thought--and I still do think--that the humidity in the basement has altered the manufactured wood that the house is made of. We have two 110 gallon aquariums in the basement that emit a lot of humidity so we bought a dehumidifier again affecting the porous wood. I don't know. I am just really frustrated with the tape wire electrical system. I may not use it again.

So you can see where the original line came up through the stairway from the second floor and over to a line to light the first floor ceiling. It was that line that failed. I don't know why it took me so long to figure out the easy fix--to run a new line from the bedroom. 

So the lights are on now. 

Next I began working on the bathroom. I assembled the bathroom wall before I installed it. Don't know if I will do that again either. I have tightly cropped the photo as the wall lays flat on the work table. The wall paper is craft paper. Now I see that Its Bitsy wallpaper has this print now. I wanted a beach or mermaid theme and found the picture on the the web. The frame is actually part of the original windows pieces from the kit that I didn't use but it made a perfect picture frame. 

I am sorry that my iPhone photos are so blurry. In the photo app they are clear. I thought it was my camera's fault, but when I compare my photo is iPhoto it is crisp and clear, the phone photos use quality in Blogger. 

I decided to make towel bars and hit upon the idea to use the paper clip that on the table.  I dug ? through my beading stash and found these little findings and they are perfect. What was I going to use  for the towel ring. I bought three different types of rings. One that was a solid ring but then how would I attach it to the finding? I found a tutorial and that builder used a ring that could be opened so then I bought a very small key ring that had the double ring--shown here. 

The result was okay but not quite the look that I wanted. Then I found these rings at Hobby Lobby that can be separated and closer to the size, about half an inch.


I love the result. I also bought new finding beads that would fit on the ring.

Love it.
 The towel bar was easy. I opened out the paper clip and cut off the rest of it just a little into the curve and then using jewelry pliers bent the ends and cut them the size that I wanted.

And glued everything in place. 

I need to work on the towels now.

 If you have traveled to London and ridden the Underground train (The Tube), you will see signs warning travelers to "Mind the Cap". There is a gap between the floor of the station platform and the floor of the train car, so one must be mindful to step over the gap to avoid an awful accident of getting the foot caught in that gap. I have my own gaps that I mind very much! The next project is installing the crown molding in the bathroom--and other rooms. Because the floors and walls don't exactly fit, there are gaps between the molding and the ceiling. I had seen in someone's blog how to close that gap: caulking.

So I glued in the crown molding then ran a thin bead of caulk alone the gap when the glue had set.  I wet my finger and smoothed out the bead of caulk. You get a very smooth seam.

The bedroom ceiling was really awful. I should have taken a before photo, but you will see in the next bathroom photo the type of gaps that I need to hide.

So, I am back in business. I hope to keep the blog up as I try to add the finishing touches. I will continue install crown molding then I will install the flooring. Keep in touch and watch me work. 

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


It's the day after the eclipse. Were you in the path of the Great Shadow? We had a 96% eclipse. I didn't have glasses for eye protection, so the eclipse passed by without much fanfare. Here, the weather was perfect for viewing with a bright sun. As the shadow grew, the sun light dimmed, but not as it would with cloud cover. It was a bright light, yet softened. The house did grow darker and the parakeets stopped chattering. The temperature dropped and a slight breeze came up. The world was odd for a few minutes. I was otherwise occupied downstairs working on the Bellingham Farmhouse. Would you like to see my progress?

I have spent most of the week working on the front porch, which has been quite a challenge. This photo shows how the finished porch and balcony should look, but it wasn't it an easy task getting everything in place.

First I fit all of the pieces before painting and gluing. Looks good. Ready to glue. Most house builders will glue to bare wood to make a more permanent bond by bonding wood to wood rather than painted surface to painted surface.

The balcony has a roof that comes in two pieces, supported triangles that have to be positioned perfectly in order for the pieces to fit seamlessly. I glued them in place following the directions in the institution booklet. Wrong. I thought that I had them positioned perfectly, not so. In fact I had to remove them more than once. I used a heat gun that I had purchased when I was trying to remove pieces from the Blue Farmhouse restoration to soften the glue. A heat gun is a valuable tool. I know that other dollhouse bloggers have microwaved pieces to loosen glue, but the roof pieces would not fit in the microwave. Finally after a couple of repositionings, I got the triangles in place. The roof fits nicely in place now.

The floor does not fit as tightly up against the outer wall as I would like. I had to trim the smaller section of roof to get it fit, but I am not worried about the pieces not fitting so tightly on the larger piece because the shingles will cover up the small gap.

Gluing the bottom porch floor in place was a major commitment to making progress. 

I am by profession a retired English professor, having studied English (and American literature) for five decades, now my treasured books make very good weights to keep the porch floor in place.

Great reading, by the way.

 I am deviating from the kit's balcony design by creating my own. These old kit pieces are sometimes very hard to work with, such as the design pieces for the balcony railing. When I was building railing for the lower porch, I made a mistake, so I decided to use the mistake piece for the balcony, but it was too short, so added more railing.

I introduced this wood filler in another post. It is a handy product to fill gaps and holes, to patch and piece wood pieces together. It cures quickly, sands nicely, and makes oops, boo-boos, and mistakes more easily repaired. I am learning more as I go along out of necessity because I do make a few mistakes and it is nice to have a product that will cover up my mistakes. 

I 'll have more photos soon as I finish up the trim on the outer surface. I also need to share the final steps in assembling the third floor--and other tedious and challenging adventure.

See you soon. Thanks so much for visiting.