Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Ballet Studio Opens

Hello. Thank you for stopping by. I am so excited as I put the finishing touches on the Alpine Farmhouse which hence forth will be known as the Ballet Studio. I still have to do the window boxes and the roof, but I just couldn't wait any longer to see the little house on the blog.



We will begin our tour with the exterior front, not yet finished. I made window boxes for the porch, but I need to find dainty little flowers or make some them. The pots also need flowers. I love the little bicycle that I painted lavender. Originally it was red. I used Testers enamel paint. Rather tedious. I blog about it later.



The purpose for building this little house was to practice and learn skills for the large Bellingham Farmhouse that I will build. You can see I had a boo-boo. I had the light installed perfectly and it worked Then when I had a black out, I started at the wrong end of the electrical line to trouble shoot, thinking that the fault was in the installation of the light, which it was not, I reinstalled it, changing the way I had it wired. I thought the connection was bad where I hard wired the light, so I rewired it to plug in. Dumb but a common error for a beginner.


 Twice I did trouble shooting at the wrong end of the wiring system. As it turned out the the cheap 12 volt transformer that came with the kit I used failed. Lesson: before disassembling lighting and fixture, check the transformer.



Aside from the wiring, the upstairs looks nice. I did have a heck of time cutting mitered corners for window trim.





I spent a lot of time making a bed and bedding for the second floor, but then I asked myself why would a dance studio have a bedroom upstairs. I decided that it would, of course, have a workroom, a sewing room where all of the costumes are made. I need to find a seamstress.



I found a pattern for the tutus on line. It was in a foreign language, so I just followed the good photos to make rough little tutus.



I wanted another mannequin for the sewing room, so I decided to make my own. I did find patterns on Pinterest to cut out the body, then just made up the rest.



I am not the best at sewing these tiny pieces, but I will get better. I do know that I need take more time.



Love this little chair that I made. I will make the next one better.



It is hard to see, but there is throw rug in front of the chair in the corner. I printed it directly on a piece of muslin. The color is a bit faded, but on a white carpet it looks pretty.







Downstairs, I need to decide how to attach the mirrors and I need to make the dance bar.



I am still learning how to make the chandeliers, but I like this one, one of my first. I have found smaller lights that will be more delicate and I hope not so bright and overwhelming.




A house needs inspiration for good results. In the beginning, I no idea as to how I wanted to decorate the house. I knew that outside it would be be pink and gray. Since I am pretty much obsessive about pink, I couldn't resist a pink and white interior. Nor did I want to buy more paint.

Now meet the dancers:



Owner and teacher in her work clothes Shey. A hard working taskmaster, she demands perfection from her dances. She pays attention to every little detail, which pays off when it is show time. Carol,  dressed in her fairy costume works hard, dances hard, but loves to read and play with the cats. Krissie will always be late practice. (Don't tell the girls, they don't have long memories, but the were once Happy Meal toys who ended up in plastic bag with an assortment of other little dolls at the Goodwill. They would be heart broken if they knew the truth. Thankfully a kindly grandma rescued them. Alan is the only guy in the little troupe. No one really knows what he looks like because he always comes to class in costume. Silly guy.




Always at the bar Lucy, practices so hard to get her steps perfect, while Ellie dreams of riding her pony after dance class. These girls don't remember their humble beginnings when they were discovered at Hobby Lobby in the Christmas tree ornaments aisle. Here in the dance cottage they dance every day, never knowing the agony of spending 50 weeks of their year in a box in a closet.


The youngest member of the troupe, Sissy works very hard to get her positions perfect so that she can have a place in the recital.



The dance troupe has gathered this afternoon to plan the winter recital,  Alan hopes to do the Nutcracker--again--so he comes dressed the part, hoping to convince Shey that they should do it in pink this year. Little sister Sissy has come for the afternoon. Maybe she will get a part this year. 

Shey rescued the kitty family. They, too, were found in a suffocating plastic bag at the local thrift store ARC. Everyone loves them and hopefully they will keep the mice away. (Do you see the mouse?) 







The Ballet Studio is now open.

The dollhouse tools and material are put away until next year as I get the craft area ready to work on Christmas gifts and decorations, but I have plenty to share on how I did things and where I went for instruction, inspiration, and help, stay tuned. 

Thanks so much for visiting. 









































Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Alpine Farmhouse Begins



With the Lafayette finished (with only minor things left to do, actually), I began work on the Alpine Farm house. 

Let me tell you about this little house. The box aptly describes the two story two room house made out of mdf (manufactured wood), unlike the Lafayette made of very thin plywood. This house then is sturdier, heavier, but I think a bit easier to work with. I found it online, wanting a small house to assemble to learn how to work with the mdf wood and it has been a learning experience. Check the link to check out Real Good Toys  web site's description of the house. I especially like this company for the workmanship, quality, was of assembly, and especially that it is a made in America product.

The house measures 19Wx16Dx20H, making it nice size as a starter home. It has all of the features that teach us how to assemble larger homes. Be prepared for the weight of the house as the thick manufactured wood product is heavier.








Step 1: Carefully read the instructions. Sort out all of the pieces to familiarize yourself with them. Read the instructions again. Read them one more time. Read again. Unpack the kit, take an inventory of all of the pieces, making sure that they are all there to familiarize yourself with the kit pieces.



Step 2: Learn the pieces:  Dry fit the pieces together to get a feel for how the house will go together. I used blue painter's tape, but then realized that masking tape holds better.



Step 3: Painting:  Read instructions again. 

I wondered if I paint before or after assembling the house and opted for painting pieces before based on the trouble I had as I refurbished Heather's house. It is much easier to paint before all of the gingerbread and trims go on. So, while I didn't photograph the painting process, I painted the exterior with two coats of a satin enamel as the the can says. I was told at ACE Hardware that the paint was a semi-gloss latex. I trusted what they said. It worked, but instructions call for a good quality latex flat paint. In the research that I did as I questioned paint, one house builder said that a good paint job requires good sanding. The MDF does not need to be primed or sanded as the plywood does, but sanding in between coats does improve the second coat. I even gave the second coat a light sanding to make a nice smooth surface.  One caution to remind yourself is to be sure not to paint the surfaces where the glue will be applied because the paint will weaken the glue bond. This kit has nice notched edges that don't require taping off to paint the exterior surfaces. I used a light sandpaper 220 weight.

For the interior, if you already know how you will decorate the interior, you can paint prior to assembly for it will be much easier, or at least prime it. Do keep in mind that if you electrify your house using the copper tape, as I did, you will paint and paper after the tape has been installed which is done after the house is assembled. I painted the ceilings before assembling the house.

Step 4: Gluing. I was really quite nervous about gluing the house together. MDF absorbs moisture so you DO NOT want to get it wet, so choose carefully the products that you. House builders, how-to sites, and other instructions say to use white glue, i.e. Elmer's. I did not use Elmer's; instead, I used Sargent Art white glue that comes in a tube, acid free, non toxic, and had a nice pointed application top.   While it is water based, white glue must be used instead of the yellow wood glue that will turn yellow when it dries. 

As you apply glue, you want to do so carefully so that you do not have glue that seeps out of the cracks, even the white glue. I simply ran my finger along the joints where the glue seeped out to wipe it off. Keep in mind, too, that paint will not adhere to globs of glue.


Step 5: Clamping. You have to find some way to hold the pieces in place once glue has been applied because it will not hold together. On the very small wood pieces, I used rubber bands, but for the house I purchased regular wood clamps. They aren't cheap, running about $30 at ACE, but they do hold and I will use them again for the next house and I am sure that after the house building, they will be used for other projects. If you do not want to use clamps, follow the company directions using masking tape to secure the glued pieces together until the glue dries.

While the white glue does dry quickly, I gave the glue 24 hours to set.




And here is a preview. I have the house assembled, wired, papered, and all of the little trim pieces painted. At this point I have not yet glued the railing in place. You can see that I have made some modifications. 


You can see the changes that I have made: carved posts for the porch and adding two more, shutters for the windows, and I built window boxes that I will add instead of the kit's fake ones. 


When I began the Alpine house, I had no idea as to how to decorate it. I needed inspiration.

Regretfully, I a thrift shopper. My daughters and I love going to ARC and Goodwill looking for stuff. I have set some rules for myself, but I always look for dollhouse furniture which we rarely find, dolls, but only certain, special dolls. At Goodwill one day I found a bag of little dolls that had this cute little girl, a Madame Alexander doll that was a MacDonald's Happy Meal toy-- a ballerina. Boy did she get lucky because she will soon open her own ballet studio.  I sorted through the dolls and gave the grand daughters little dolls and keeping the ballerina for myself.  Both of the grand daughters have taken ballet, and little Lucy continues her lessons. I am so excited and I cannot wait to show you the finished house, but before then we have a lot more to do: painting little pieces, electrical wiring, wallpapering, flooring, gluing the front on, shingling the roof. 

Next time the trials and tribulations of an electrician. Stay tuned.

Thanks so much for visiting. I love your comments.