Sunday, October 23, 2016

Inspiration Comes from the Oddest Places

 Can you believe that I am back so soon? I really am trying to spend more time on this blog, which I can do as long as I more working on a dollhouse project.

Finally a completed project, the House Works, Ltd. refrigerator. You will certainly want to know if I would build another one. I'll get to that. Here is the finished refrigerator. I had a choice between buying a sleek, stainless-looking modern one with French doors with built-in an ice maker and water dispenser, and assembled Who wouldn't want such an upgrade? Or I could build a plain Jane, retro refrigerator in a kit, giving me satisfaction of building it myself.

It assembled easily, painted nicely, but not without problems. I sanded each piece with a very fine grained sanding block. Next,  I applied  two coats of acrylic craft paint with a wide artist's brush to get a smooth, stroke-free surface. Once the paint dried, I sanded each coat with a brown paper lunch bag crumpled up which gave a very nice shinny surface.

Those were the easy steps. Installing the doors was the most challenging. Above, you can see that the hinge pin split the wood when I dried to push it into the pre-drilled hole. When I  tried to install the hinges, I had more trouble. I like to glue hinges in place before putting the nails. The glue didn't want to stick. But there was a more serious problem.

I struggled the one big flaw in this kit: on the right you will see the nails that come with the kit and they are too large. I dug in my stash where I had these small hinge nails that worked so much better. 

Here it is in the kitchen. While not perfect, I will keep it. I will have to look for printable food items that I can make small enough to fit in the door racks. They aren't very deep. My favorite parts are the acrylic glass-looking shelves. Room enough to store the Thanksgiving turkey.

I also worked on the counter top for the sink and cooktop. Coming up with a good, easy, doable countertop had me frustrated. I came up a few not so good ideas: nothing, painted countertop, samples of formica from Home Depot kitchen center, a butcher block look top stained with the stain that I will use on the floor. Then I had a brain storm.  I found my inspiration for the kitchen cabinets this morning watching country singer Trisha Yearwood's cooking show. She has a new kitchen with black counter tops on white cabinets. It was stunning.  I save all sorts of plastic containers like this black one that came from the super market deli loaded with vegetables. These trays come in handy for a plethora of uses, but I like them best for my mini projects. It is, however, very hard to cut both with scissors and utility knives. It scratches easily, too. 

I began the countertop by placing a piece of scrap computer paper on top of the two cabinets. I ran my finger over the tops to create an impression on the paper. Then I cut out a pattern.

I tested the pattern for a fit. I left an edge on the back of the cabinet for the back splash and I want the counter top to extend over the front and side edges. Next I cut out the pattern on a piece of thin bass wood.

Then I cut out the openings on the black plastic for the sink and cooktop. I will glue the plastic to the bass wood counter top to give it some body and thickness. 

Now note the gap between the two cabinets as they sit on the work mat next to each other--a rather unsightly wide gap that indicates one of cabinets might not straight.

But when I put a shim underneath one cabinet, a level shows that a hidden shim helps to close the gap. I may need a bit more thickness to close the gap completely. Now I need to paint the cabinets, glue on the counter,  add the sink and cook top, paint the cooktop and knobs, and assemble it all. I am going to love the kitchen. 

Over the years, I have remodeled 2 kitchens and watched my husband's uncle install the cabinets that he build for one kitchen and followed him around as he install the cabinetry for our downstairs that he built for his house. He is a true craftsman, but even the best carpenters make mistakes; what makes them truly great craftsmen is how well they cover up their mistakes or vix someone else's. Uncle Don used a lot of shims to level out cabinets against uneven walls and floors out of kilter. Even in the best built houses there will uneven surfaces. There is more to do with the cabinets, but I want to install the flooring next before I do anymore with them.

I moved on to the bathroom, which is going to have a nautical theme--mermaids, sea horses, shells--as the photo below hints at.

It will have a ceramic vintage bathtub from my stash and a shower. I made my shower head today. Took me a while to figure it out. From jewelry findings, I used a gold head pin, findings, a crystal bead, and an earring back--you can buy a bag of pierced ear backs. I started with a paper clip as the shower pipe, but it wouldn't fit through the hole in the back. 

The crystal bead for the water faucet doesn't photograph very well, but it makes a very elegant faucet. 

Why gold, you ask? Mostly because the earring back is gold. However, our old house which was a custom build home in the '70s (we didn't build it) had gold fixtures in the hall bathroom. While the house had horrible '70s huge floral wallpaper, the gold fixtures looked pretty In that bathroom, I liked them even without the dated wallpaper.  Now I need to figure out a shower curtain and a curtain rod that will surround the vintage bathtub.

And now the find of the week. I am going with a modern farmhouse, shabby country look for this house. I want it modern, clean, simple. (We'll see if I can keep the clutter down. I love miniature accessories.)

When I was little kid living on a farm, dad butchered a couple of calves. One was named Junior. My dad didn't let anything go to waste. He was a child of the Great Depression when families had to use everything necessary to survive. He had the hides tanned and made into rugs, but we used them on our beds. The old farm house didn't have central heating; instead, it had one oil burning heater that was turned low at night. The hide had a felt backing, clover green with a layer of gold felt, both cut with scalloped edges. I slept under that cow hide for years. It was heavy, warm, and comforting. I don't know whatever happened to Junior. I wish I still had the old hide.

Dad didn't butcher anymore cattle after Junior. As he always told the story, his two little children cried and fussed over losing their cow, so he couldn't raise his own beef anymore. I have from time to time mentioned to my husband that we should feed a beef here--we have the room--but he says that he'd get too attached and could't kill it. Me neither. He says, "things don't come here to die."

This little cow hide is, of course faux, but is similarly marked like Junior only he had more white.  I found it on Etsy in a delightful store in Canada, Looking Glass Miniature . I'll be returning to this store to buy some of ancient botanical books, minis, of course. 

Hubby is working corn harvest for friends out in eastern Colorado. He'll be gone for two weeks, depending on weather. The farm has 23-2500 acres of dry land land corn to thrash, so I have lots of time to do what I want. Play with my dollhouse.

Thanks so much for visiting. I enjoy your company.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Walls are Up

Work on the Bellingham Farmhouse has kicked into full gear. Here is a quick review of what I have accomplished so far:

Work on the farmhouse actually began early in the summer in the garage, but I decided to set it aside in order to focus on finishing the Blue Farmhouse. I became overwhelmed by the number of pieces, so I needed to take my time to figure out the pieces and make a plan for assembling the house.


I began by sorting all of the pieces, marking them, and checking them off on the parts list. Next I read and reread the directions. It is so easy to miss a step and believe me once a piece is glued in place, it is very hard to remove it. Do-overs are not wise. Let me also add that I found on line a PDF of the instruction manual which I downloaded and printed so that I didn't mess up the original.


After priming all of the interior walls, I painted them with a semigloss interior latex. Actually I used sample pints from Ace Hardware that sells for around $5. Then I began the gluing process. Clamps are absolutely necessary for these large house. I had shorter clamps that worked fine for short joints, but I finally had to make a special trip back to Ace to purchase the longer one that would reach the length of the house. These clamps don't come cheap, ranging around $30-35, depending on length. Before you buy any, ask your husband. He may have some already or any other woodworker who might be willing to lend you some clamps. Clamping is the best way to get tightly glued joints.

I wanted a nice, soft green. As you can see, I was not at all happy with the first paint color. The folks at my local Ace are wonderful and re-tinted my original green to a sage soft green. The clerk reminded me that this color will not be able to be duplicated because it was the re-tinting of previous color.

Now the house has been moved to the basement for the winter. I had planned to do most of the work in the garage with better lighting--when the garage door is open. Not only will the garage get cold, but all of my tools are downstairs, so I moved work inside for winter.

I haven't added the attic yet because I thought that it would be easier work on the lower levels with out the added weight of the top floor.

I am able to flip the house on end to reach the tough spots, making interior work much easier, such as installing the tape wiring for electricity.

I am already thinking of art work for the house. I want as much original work as possible. Take Buttercup, for example. She is a Mexican Corrientes cow living on a beautiful ranch in Texas. I took this photo of her as she rested in the shade of one of those giant live oaks that grace the Texas hill country. I used my DSLR Canon Rebel to take the original. On my iPad I used a free app called Waterlogue to make it into a water color print. Then in iPhoto I applied the Noir black and white effect to the photo. 

I loved the effect. Printed on computer paper for practice, it frames nicely. I copied the photo in to Word where I sized it, keeping in mind that 1 inch = 12, so a 2 inch wide print would be equal to 24 inches wide. You can experiment to get the results that you want for your own artwork or photography.

My inspiration for the kitchen came from this table and chairs that I found at Hobby Lobby. I love it for is modern farm look that I am going for in the kitchen.

From my stash, I used this bathroom set. Not sure that I want that vintage look. Because I want a modern farmhouse look, I am thinking of building a shower. The bathroom with the round window is an odd shape, so I am thinking it over.

I borrowed bedroom furniture from the Franklin house to get a feeling for the bedroom. I love 4 poster beds. I am thinking of building a more modern looking bed with a custom look. I am also studying the beds on,, Etsy, and Norm's Dollhouse store website. A metal bed is also under consideration.

Right now I am focused on building the kitchen, using kits from House Works, ltd. These kits can be purchased from the online catalogs or directly from House Works. I ordered mine from Norm's Dollhouse store in Denver. 

These kits are easy to assemble, but it goes without saying that you must not just go by the illustrations; you must also read the instructions.

As the directions indicate, dry fitting parts before gluing them is a must, both for the house and these kits. As you can see, I am holding the refrigerator together with rubber bands. I have the doors  pieced together and the selves installed in the fridge. Right now the clear acrylic shelves are covered with white paper to protect them. It is ready to be glued.

Here is the back side of the refrigerator.

I visited Norm's Saturday to buy upper cabinets.

Here the upper cabinets are pieced together ready to glue. You will notice that the 3 inch cabinet top is wonky. I want 2 1 1/2 inch cabinets, but Norm had only one and will reorder in the next few days.


While these kits are well manufactured, easy to assemble, with clear instructions, and good wood,  they are not always perfect, as you can see this cut in the top piece. I will use a sharp blade and sandpaper to fix the problem. One of the cabinets was short a piece. I was able to purchase the correct size open stock wood from Hobby Lobby, but only after emailing the company for a replacement part.

I emailed the company at 7:30 AM to explain that I had a missing piece and that the stove cabinet doors were not the same once I had them glued together. At 8 AM I received a call from Nancy, the owner of the company. Yes, the lady pictured on the website. What a sweet lady. She explained how I had assembled the door incorrectly. Fortunately I was able to unglue it (Elmer's doesn't hold a tight bond, thankfully in this case). However, she didn't think she could find a spare piece since the kits are not made in house. All worked out. I re-glued the cabinet door and found a piece of wood at Hobby Lobby. But what a nice lady. I have her book, too on basic dollhouse building.

These are the pieces that I have assembled so far. The left piece is the oven cabinet with working doors. Next is the cook top with the back of cabinet facing out so that you can the back side. Next is the sink cabinet. These two cabinets come with top cut out  for the sink and stove placement. In the actual house the the refrigerator will be on another wall. I am thinking about this tile for the back splash, but haven't decided. House Works also sells the hardware: the sink, the oven, the cook top, and even a range hood. 

Lighting makes the dollhouse, don't you think? I really splurged this time ordering these lights from Cir-kit Concepts, another upstanding company to order from. You will find many of their products on the catalog sites, too, but I do like ordering directly from them for the great service that they offer. One gadget that they offer is a different way to mount these pricey little chandeliers. I'll write about that when I get brave enough to install them. The two black lights will go in the kitchen.

I have started the tape wiring of the house. I learned a lot from doing the other house, but I also learned a lot from a YouTube video by a woman named Linda Becker. While the video does not seem to be available on YouTube anymore, it is on her website:

If you are new to building a dollhouse and want to electrify it, this women so so helpful. She makes the wiring look so easy. 

Time for my pedicure, so I'll leave you here. There is more to come. 

Thanks so much for visiting. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Easy Little Projects

While I work to get the downstairs family room in order for the carpet cleaning, I am taking a break from working on the farmhouse. I don't think that I will ever have it completely finished, yet there are some final touches that I want to add. Waiting in the garage is the Bellingham farmhouse that I will begin to glue together soon. I hope to have a good plan for the theme, the decor, and accessories when I begin.

I am a big fan of HGTV's Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines. I love their modern farmhouse look that they create, so I thinking of doing a modern home, updated with mostly a white pallet, clean, and simple with Texas on my mind. (I have family and friends who live in Texas, so I think I can create a really cute house).

In the meantime, idle hands are troubled hands, so I have been building furniture. Inspirited by potting benches/hall trees that appear on Pinterest and Caroline's hall tree that she created over at Cinderella Moments, I set to work.  I built two, designing my own pattern, using things that I had on hand. The hall trees are an easy build. Watch:

The first hall tree came from a door that I replaced in the Blue Farmhouse. There were two narrow doors on the 3rd floor that were damaged when a previous owner and the I tried to remove them. They were tightly glued in, making removal very difficult.

The doors had been nicely finished with a glossy urethane. Even after sanding the door, I had to use 5 coats of craft acrylic paint to cover the surface. Love this little table, but as the photo shows I cut the table a bit wide, so it laps over the sides. Actually, the table top fits perfectly, but I forgot to measure in the sides that we pop sickle sticks that added that extra width on each side.  The legs are stair balusters that I had on hand.

The tricky part of this little project is making sure that the legs glue on straight. I use Aileen's tacky glue for a quick, tight bond.

For the second the hall tree, I used a faux door that I had ordered by mistake. This door arrived without the door jamb, making it impossible to hang. A door frame could be created. Instead I decided to use it for another hall tree. I have found that craft (pop sickle sticks) sticks really don't work the best because some are not straight, some are warped, have knots; nor do they cut nicely. So from Hobby Lobby I purchased a 1/16 inch x 1/2 inch x 24 inches. It cuts nicely and is straight. I had the other basswood from which I cut the table top and bottom shelf. 

Once again careful as I was, the top is still just a teensy wide. I'll do better next time. This hall tree remains unpainted so that I can decide what I'll do with it later. It will go in the Texas farmhouse. 

Here are the finished hall trees. On the left is the one made with the reclaimed door. The one on the left is the unpainted new door. I decided not to paint it until I decide where I use it. I've posed them on the upper porches of the Farmhouse, not their permanent home.

I also finished the rose trellis. I hot glued the trellis in the tiny clay pot. I had this one hand, but I did find them at Joann's Fabrics. It is not 1:12 scale, but works nicely for potted rose trellis.

On my recent visit to Norm's Dollhouse shop, I purchased these potted hydrangeas for the front porch  along with he gardening tools.

I also purchased two hanging baskets of pansies for the front porch. At the miniature show, I found this pot of sunflowers. They are hand made from a kit. The vendor makes these tiny flower from kits which she also had sale. I'd rather buy the flowers already made for the pieces are just too tiny for me work with.

A New House: The Dura Craft Bellingham Farmhouse 

I began in earnest the work on the Bellingham. The last time I worked on it, I painted the first two floors interior walls with primer. Saturday I painted over the interior paint with latex water based paint, applying it with a small, smooth sponge roller. The roller givers a smooth, clean surface with very easy, fast application.

With the paint dried (while it dries quickly, I let give it 24 hours to completely dry), I started to glue the pieces together; thus, my first error. Trying to follow the instructions to the word, I got it wrong. While the glue had set up nicely, I was able to pound window wall on top apart. I quickly discovered that the instructions left out a step, so I am deviating from how the directions say to assemble the house, placing pieces in the order that works for me. Deviating from the directions is allowed! So stay tuned. I'll be updating as I go. It may get ugly--already has. Uglier. 

New Furniture

What sort of bits and bobs (as my English friends call this-and-thats) do you have in your stash? What do you think you could create?

My dollhouse stash includes a variety vintage House of Miniatures furniture kits that my daughter and I have collected. These are still available on and Easy and range in price. These upholstered pieces are tricky and not for the faint of heart. I am torn between making these pieces from the kits which will turn out looking home made and the really pretty made in China pieces or my favorite pieces made in the '60s and '70s by Shackley, which are rare.

I have several kits that are upholstered furniture. I decided to make a sofa for the Farmhouse's upstairs family room. I wanted to practice first, so assembled this wing backed chair.

I did some research first to see if I could tutorials on the best way to assemble these pieces. I found two great blogs: Paper Doll Miniatures  that led me to Magpie Shines. Unfortunately both of these blogs haven't had any activity for a long time; none the less, they offer great instructions.

They both take a unique approach to attaching the fabric to wood pieces by fusing iron-on fusible interfacing to the fabric then applying it to the wood using a Clover craft iron. It works. Gluing is just so messy and takes long to dry, especially on fabric.

I use a seamstress pen with disappearing ink to trace the shape of the pattern piece after I have ironed on the fusible interacting to piece of fabric--muslin here.

I cut out the pieces as the instructions show, apply the fusible interfacing, and iron the piece in place.

Paper Doll Miniatures added an extra step: using fusible fleece that a quilter might use. While I did this on the chair, I skipped it on the sofa. You might want more body or fluff underneath your upholstery, especially if you want the chair to looks over stuffed and comfy.


I needed some examples to look at, so pulled out the kit made wing backs from my vintage house to see how they were made. They aren't perfect, which bolstered my courage.  I made the third chair with the pink ribbon trim myself, pattern pieces copied from the kit. It's quaint, to say the least, looking a rescue from the thrift store. 

Here is the finished chair. I'd give it a B-. I am going to add some crochet string to cover the seams as cording to cover the raw edges and to give it a more finished look. This chair may be bound to the Bellingham.

While the chair assembled nicely, the back was especially hard to get in place; thus the cording.

Next project: the sofa.


I chose this nice faux suede in a olive green The color is hard to see here on the ironing board. I applied the fusible interfacing on a large enough area for all of the pieces.

These upholstered kits come with card stock pieces that are supposed to be upholstered then glued onto the wooden pieces. You can skip this step if you use the craft iron to adhere your fabric.

The craft iron gets really, really hot, keep your fingers out of its way, make sure you place it on the stand not on the ironing board or table because it will leave an ugly burn mark; most importantly test the iron on a scrap to avoid ruining a pieces, as the photo demonstrates. With the iron set on high, this synthetic fabric melted instead of adhering. On the right side, you do get a nice finish, but why mess with the templates when you adhere the fabric directly to the wood piece. The template is supposed to be a way to eliminate raw edges.

Yes. It works.

Now I begin stop struggle to glue the sofa together. The glue doesn't set up quickly, the back doesn't fit right. Instead of walking away, i got out the hot glue gun. I have a mess seam in the on the  back sides now. But from the from the little sofa looks great.


I'll cover up the bad side with a afghan.

With the sofa made, this room is ready to finish by  moving in the furniture. Now that the carpet in the family room has been cleaned, I am setting up the dollhouses, so soon I'll have photos of the finished Farmhouse and progress on the Bellingham. 

See you soon. Thanks for stopping by.