Monday, May 29, 2017

I Need A Shower: A Tutorial

Surprise. Sarah at Villa Emilia thought that I should do a mosaic from the Ann's Dollhouse Dreams , my dollhouse blog, for Mosaic Monday. Frankly, things are fairly quiet here at the Garden Spot this week, so I thought I would take her up on her suggestion.

We took time off from weed control yesterday to visit two of our favorite garden centers only to find plants over priced and picked over. I did come home with some perennials that I'll show off once we plant this week. Here in Colorado we are slow to get our gardens in because it has been so cold and wet. Hey. Not complaining. When it rains, the Garden Spot greens up and looks like a country estate. This week night time temperatures will reach 50 degrees, so the HG says we will plant tomatoes when the soil has warmed.

Gradually the HG has been getting some nagging little chores done such as stretching this rope from the crooked Locust tree to the pine tree to try to straighten the Locust's trunk We shall see how successful that attempt is.

I miss having a closes line here at the Garden Spot, which would be so handy when you have large items to dry. I washed this quilt and the washer didn't spin out the water, so I had the HG fling it up on the new line. (I still am without my washer.) The line is a bit high for me to reach. Nor is it in the best location--a bird fly-way to the feeders.

Now for the progress on the Bellingham Farmhouse.

Image from catalogue, pg. 59
I have a hard time working on the dollhouse when the sun shines, so I do most of my work downstairs at night. I haven't worked on it much the past several weeks, so the last few nights I have been working on building a shower for the Bellingham Farmhouse. I decided that instead of a tub, I'd do a shower. The nice modern shower carried by the online miniature catalogues costs around $30, more than what I really want to spend, so I decided to build one. Join me while I work. The shower in the catalogue measures 4 1/2 W x 6 1/4 x H 3 1/8 deep. Instead of measuring fractions, I made mine 4x6.

I began by making mock-up out of heavy card stock to get the dimensions and the pattern correct then cutting out the base using balsa wood and craft sticks.

I had two options, back the tile sheet with wood or glue it directly to the dollhouse wall; I chose to make a free standing shower. I actually dug through my stash and didn't have to buy anything.

Materials that you will need: 

For the shower:
  • Balsa wood (Hobby Lobby in the wood crafts supply area. You will buy a package that has a variety of sizes. Balsa is easy to work with with and can be cut with scissors.
  • Tile. I buy the vinyl floor tile by the sheet from Hobby Lobby located in the dollhouse supplies  section. (Not to plug Hobby Lobby, but it is the only craft store in our area besides Michaels that does not care much in the way of dollhouse building supplies.
  • Craft sticks cut to size: To build the rim for the shower base to keep the water from spilling put on the floor.
For the plumbing: Use your own creative ingenuity to come up something fabulous, these are the items that I used.

  • Garment snap for the drain
  • Jewelry findings for the shower-head and faucet
    • Head pins
    • glass bead
    • finding for base of handle and the shower curtain bar (still in the "thinking it over" stage)
    • earring back for shower head (Either dig through your jewelry box for a lone back or buy a package of them. They come in quite handy for building miniatures.

I  chose an antique gold finish. Our last home where we lived had gold finished faucets and handles. Not real gold, of course) but I loved them just because they looked elegant and no one else had gold in their home.

Here is the finished shower base:

I used craft sticks to create the edge for the shower base. You will have to decide how you want the edge to look then cut out your pattern from card stock first to get a good fit. I used Elmer's Wood putty--what you would use to fill nail holes-- to fill the gap between the pieces. Once it dried, I sanded it smooth. Next I will paint it white.

I was liking my results, but I wanted a second opinion so I dropped by the Blue Farmhouse to see if the girls over there would like to help out. I love my model's pink hair.  Were I younger--. Anyway.

 The Plumbing

The faucet is simple jewelry findings layered on a head pin and glued together.

I used a small punch to punch through the tile and the balsa wood to attach the shower plumbing.


I left the rounded top on the head pin for the shower (first image) to hold the shower head more securely in place. Next,  you can see the head pin for the the faucet extending out the back, so I clipped it off and placed a dab of glue on each head pin. Now the shower head and faucet are securely held in place on both sides with jewelry glue.

The shower fits. I need to paint the base rim and finish the edges. I am not sure exactly how I will trim them out right now and I need to add a shelf for shampoo, of course.

The ladies from next door were most glad to help out, but were pretty rough with their reviews. I almost got the impression that they were making fun of me. I can't imagine why because their house doesn't even have a shower and besides they are thrift store rescues, so they should be kinder and more grateful. Of course they are tall, skinny models who probably think that they should have a more custom designed shower. However, even if I had purchased the fancy one from Miniatures. Com, it still would not have been tall enough to accommodate them. They barely fit in the bath tub. Actually these girls are the prefect size for the dollhouse, if you want dolls. They measure 5 inches, so to scale they would be about my height--I am 5.2 and not nearly as thin. They are modern looking, not stiff and dated as the commercial dollhouse dolls offered. I need a Ken, though. Most of these were probably Happy Meal toys and ended up in the thrift store grab bags. 

I not necessarily a great crafter, but I do enjoy making my own things for the dollhouse. The shower still needs a shower rod and curtain. I'll use jewelry wire and findings to hang the curtain, but I am pondering the shower curtain. I'll get back to you on that.

Next I am trying to finish up the kitchen. Just for fun before I go, I thought I'd share my workspace with you. I need to do a good cleaning and sorting before I tackle the kitchen.

I hope you enjoyed today's Mosaic. I'll be linking with Maggie at Normandy Life. The HG will go for coffee this morning and I will pick rhubarb and make a rhubarb pie to take to a barbecue later today. Tomorrow it will be back to the garden to plant the new perennials. Check them out at the Garden Spot in a few days.

I know that I do not have to remind anyone to give thanks for our veterans, past, present, and future for serving their country and protecting freedom, not just here in the States, but those brave men and women who serve their countries bravely and with honor. And not just today as we celebrate in the US our military's service, but every day. 

Have a wonderful week and thanks for joining me today at Ann's Dollhouse Dreams.

Happy Memorial Day

God Bless America 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

So Genius

One of my favorite companies that supplies kits for dollhouse miniatures is one that I have mentioned before, HouseWorks LTD. The company makes a variety of furniture kits, windows, doors, and more. Let me show you what I have been working on, but before I begin I will tell you that I didn't like the kit windows that came with the dollhouse as punch out of the wood pieces that I decided would be too hard to assemble and I liked the look of the House Works windows and door so much better.

First a French door: As the photos demonstrate, the top piece is removable so that the window can can be removed so that you don't have to tape it off to paint, making a very tedious chore so easy, neat, and clean.

Windows with their tiny pieces and glass pose a lot of problems when painting them. I have painted a couple that had to be taped and still you get paint smeared on the glass. (actually Plexiglas's). I ordered eight windows for the Duracraft Bellingham farmhouse. As I unpacked the first one, it fell apart when took the rubber band that was around it off. Then the same thing happened when I unpackaged each door.

As the photo on the left demonstrates, the top part of the window was not glued in so that it can be removed. Essentially the window panes can be removed so that the Plexiglas can be removed and the windows can be painted with the glass panes removed. So easy. So Genius. 

Once the window has been painted, including touch-up, the pieces can be reassembled and the header on the window glued in. 

House Works also had kits to make appliances. Somewhat tedious to assemble, they are cheaper than purchasing miniature appliances and fun to make. During this work session I spray painted the range top, the oven door, and the vent hood with acrylic spray paint. Testing the first on a piece of plywood scrap. I liked the look very much. The pieces are shiny metal, but the spray paint give a more natural stainless look, not shiny, but dull.

I can't call these the finished pieces, but this is a nice hint as to what the kitchen will look like when it is finished. 

Don't be fooled. All of this tedious work represents hours of work, but what else does a retired lady have to do?  Oh, cook, clean, do laundry, work in the yard.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I always enjoy your visits. I have a new member to the neighborhood, Welcome Jodi.

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Little Boy's Fantasy

Progress on the Bellingham farmhouse continues slowly. Sometimes I get overwhelmed at the amount of work that I have to do, but I keep telling myself to take my time and be patient. I also had another project that I had been working on. I finished Nathan's birthday gift that I shared with you last time. Would you like to see the finished room?  I thought you would.

I began with wallpapering the walls, installing the floor and the baseboards. I used flooring purchased from Hobby Lobby. It comes in a sheet; all it needs is staining. Using a light that I had ruined--shorted it out--, I rebuilt it by adding a  battery operated LED chip light that casts a very yellow, shadowy type light. 

I wanted art work, so I found posters on the web, printed them out 1:12 on photographic paper for a nice glossy look. Nathan loves Star Wars, so I chose a poster of the original cast, one that his mother could relate to. The other poster has the character from How to Train A Dragon since the main character in the room would be the dragon who comes to visit  from the little boy's fantasies. 

I purchased the StarWars space ship and dug through my stash for the other pieces. The glove came from the jewelry making aisle at Hobby Lobby. The TV is handmade by some one that I purchased on one of my thrifting excursions. I never really knew what I would do with it, but I think I found a good home for it.

I wanted the room to reflect Nathan's young life as a seven year old by trying to include things that he likes. 

He always has his iPad. I found an image online that I sized and printed on glossy photograph paper. I had wanted to find an image of his favorite game, but couldn't. His mother bought the doll. Little boy dolls are so hard to find. This is a Mattel doll in the Barbie collection. He was perfect. Sitting next to him is his teddy bear, armed with his base ball bat. You can see that the little boy has been reading King Arthur. 

The Wizard came from a castle that I have for the kids to play with here; he was a duplicate. Batman came from a thrift store; he is wielding a sword that I found in Hobby Lobby in the jewelry department. The detail in this photo is hard to see because I took it with the ceiling light turned on.

He loved it, but I think his mother liked it more.

Like many miniaturists and dollhouse builders, when I hear that there is a dollhouse for sale in some store, I have to go check it out, so when someone told me about this house in a consignment store, I drug my husband to go see it. I promised him that I would not buy it. Sight unseen.

It is a nineteenth century dollhouse, priced at $10, 114.97, according to an appraisal.  It was, of course, out of my budget. Even the store clerk was doubtful that it would sell and that it would probably be donated to the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Bears.

The house comes fully furnished. Indeed this is an unusual piece, museum quality and out of my reach.

I have more to share with you, so give me some time and I'll be back.  Thanks for visiting. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Making The Bed

Hello Again. Christmas is well behind us with Easter just around the corner, so I am back to work on the Bellingham dollhouse. I took a long break to work on sewing 5 little prairie girl dresses for the 18 inch doll. Here is one. I adore this little doll. She is Target's Our  Generation doll. I found her at a local thrift store for $3.00. The 5 dresses are finished, but I have bonnets yet to make. My sewing machine  needed some repair, so while I wait for it to come, I am working on the dollhouse. Soon--not soon enough--it will be time to get out in the garden and get the spring gardening started.

Secret Project

Before I begin showing you the dollhouse, I want to share a secret project with you still in progress. I am a creating a room box for my seven year old grandson's birthday inspired by a jig saw puzzle that we have worked on together. I will show you the entire project when I have it finished. 

I needed a bed. I bought one, a cute little white twin-sized bed with '70s inspired pink floral bedding that was glued and and could not be removed, so I decided to make a bed.

Using bass wood that I had on hand and using a bed that I already had as my guide, I made this one. 

The next problem: How to find a mattress? The kits come with a foam mattress, but since this bed is homemade, I needed fabricate a mattress. I tend to save all sorts of things that I can convert to dollhouse minis, so this mattress is made from packing material. The image in college shows the packing material before and after I trimmed it down to fit the bed. It is stuffed with pulverized paper, making it fairly soft. 

Next I needed bedding, so I made a pair of sheets. I tend to want my miniatures to be just that, miniatures of the real thing, so these are sheets that I made. To make a fitted sheet, I followed these steps:

  • Cut a piece of fabric 6x8 for a 5x7 mattress (use cotton or cotton polyester)
  • Stitch 1/8-1/4 hem around
  • Place the fabric on the mattress to form corner pockets. Pin
  • Sew the pocket on the wrong side. Trim away excess fabric
  • Press the seam open
  • The fitted sheet will not have elastic as the real thing, but it it be on the bottom the mattress anyway.
Note: Don't sew? Use fabric glue

The top sheet is easier:

  • Cut a piece of fabric 10 1/2 to 11x 9 inches--shorter if you don't want the wide hem/cuff at the top 
  • Sew 1/4 inch around for hem
  • Fold the top hem and stitch. Use a decorative stitch if you want
Please note that these sizes are approximate, depending on the size of mattress and how much over hang you want. I arrived at my size by going on line to look up the standard sizes for mattress Sleep Train. A standard full sized bed measures 60x80 or 5 ftx6.6ft. Convert that to the 1:12 scale and you come up with roughly a 5in.x7in. mattress (that's what my foam mattress measures). Decide how much hem and overhang/fullness you want and cut your material.

I like to make the kit furniture so that I can paint or finish it the way I want it. I hate taking the vintage dollhouse furniture that has such nice finishes, especially if it is in good condition and painting over it, so I make the kits. You can find them on

Finally, I fitted the sheet to the mattress, but since it is paper and the edges were irregular, I had to glue the sheet in place. That's okay because it is going to be sealed up in a room box and not played with.

I surprised myself with this little bed. I have made other beds and I may eventually get good at it. Since it goes into a boy's room, it didn't have to have any fancy stuff.

The bed on left is made from a kit. Easy to make. The bed on the right, mine

I like to make the kit furniture so that I can paint or finish it the way I want it. I hate taking the vintage dollhouse furniture that has such nice finishes, especially if it is in good condition and painting over it, so I make the kits. You can find them on I also made the pillow and pillow cases with some hand embroidery.  The lace is a piece of lace that I have had for ages. Making these little beds and dressing them can be a lot of fun.

The spread for the bed here is an old handkerchief. I have dozens of them, too, but then I don't want to cut them, but they are perfect and cut folded and glued in place. 

So here is the finished bed. I stained it with MinWax Wood Finish Early American 220. I wanted a Star Wars themed bed, but who can find miniature Star Wars bedding? So I used a fat quarter that I purchased at JoAnn in the quilting material department. It looks a little Star Wars, don't you think?

Intrigued yet? It is going to be very cute. Not all grandsons are open to dollhouse boxes are they?  But his little guy will love it. I will glue the bedding in place--which I do not do in the dollhouses. Everything will be glued in place because Mamma doesn't want him to play with it. She will, I know, save if for herself until he grows up and wants it for his college dorm room. Really, Grandma!

Oh and dig that old fashioned TV. I came in a box of stuff that bought from the Junk Man. I wondered what I would ever do with it. It has a very special place now.

The Bellingham

I found these little bottles on a wonderful website DBJ Miniatures, but when I went there the other day to order more, the site has closed down. I am so disappointed because it was a great website.

The kit came with eight bottles, the tops, and the labels. 

I used a glue stick to adhere the label and Locktite glue to glue the lid on. 

I would love to do more. I have found them on Etsy, but they are made and shipped from overseas. I'll keep looking to find some state side.

Sometimes I wonder if I am in over my head with this house. While I do like the MFD wood, it is heavy and hard to hold in place, so I have struggles. The blue painter's tape works fair at holding it in place. Right now I have the front and this part glued in place.

I have not yet glued the back roof in place because it has taken me a long while to figure how the pieces go together. Right now I am waiting on wallpaper and glue to be shipped to me. I have not yet decided exactly how I want to do the attic. I also have to decide if I want to light it.

My directions are an older version because I can't find the ones that came with the kit and there are slight variations. By looking a pictures of other Bellingham houses that I have found on Pinterest, I was able to figure out how the back roof goes together. 

I am also trying to figure out wallpaper. I know that many dollhouse builders use scrapbook paper, so I decided that since I want a more modern looking bathroom, I cut a test piece from my paper stash. This paper stack has a variety of embossed papers, all pearly white. I like the look very much, though this not the pattern that I will use. It is easy to cut and heavy.

So I think you are now caught up. I do need to take time to show you what I purchased from Norm's Dollhouse located in Denver. Today is their last day open, a very sad day for them I am sure. Norm and his wife opened the store 39 years ago. It has run its course and a mighty fine it run it was. Son David now builds the houses and will continue to do so and has a new website:Dave and Wendy Dollhouse where they will continue to sell miniatures on line and they have a Face Book page. 

I will return when I have more to share. Right now I need to get on with my day. 

Thanks so much for stopping by. If you visit, please do leave a comment. I love reading them. The blog is growing too, up to 13 now. Wow. Thanks so much for signing on.