Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Catching Up

I get so caught up in working on the dollhouses that I forget to update the blog. Right now both houses are on a brief hold. I have so much to share with you, so get yourself a hot cup of tea or cold drink, put your feet up and come along to see how the houses are progressing. First we will take a look at the Ballet Studio.

Look how cute it is turning out. I ordered the hanging baskets that grow strawberries (much like the hanging baskets that I had growing on my pergola last summer). I am sorry, but I do not remember where I ordered them. They were expensive, $11. a piece, but I have decided that I am all in. I figure that I save when I make some of my own items, so when I want something special, I get it. The little bicycle comes from Hobby Lobby. It was red and I repainted it using model airplane enable paint. I made the little window boxes, filling them with flowers cut from stem flowers purchased at Hobby Lobby. It can be challenging to find very small plants. Hobby Lobby also sells miniature bird houses that come in a package. I took out the other perch, painted the little house white, sanded it to shabby it then glued on a doorknob.

Applying the Shingles

Shingling the roof has been a chore. Instructions say to use Liquid Nails to apply the very thin shingles to keep them from curling. I did plenty of research to decide which would be the best way to adhere the shingles. They are very thin and will curl if water based adhesives are used. While I may have read on some sites to use hot glue, the company instructions said not to. I followed the instructions, using liquid nails that I purchased at Ace Hardware. The shingling process has been harrowing, even frustrating. I began with the porch roof by applying three short beads of Liquid Nails (LN). While the adhesive did hold the shingles in place firmly so that I didn't have hold each one until the glue set (as with wood glue), the shingles did curl. So I taped them tightly in place using the blue painter's tape. Most days I am able to apply only one row of shingles. When they do set, they are firm and flat; however, if I don't get enough adhesive laid down, the shingles pull up when I remove the tape. No big deal, I just re glue them. The process has been painstakingly long. I had a major mishap with a bottle wood glue, spilling a big glob in my box of shingles, running them. I called Real Good Toys for replacement shingles. They have arrived and now I have to dye them, another lengthy delay as it takes several days for them to dry.

Inside, the studio now offers playtime with all of the structural work now finished. I switched out the cabinet for a smaller one. 

I added a new doll, the seamstress. Another ARC rescue.

The dancers are planning for the next show. In this photo you see the balance bar on the floor waiting to be installed, a wooden skewer taken from the kitchen drawer.

The little white doll is new, too. I am sure she will dance her little heart out, thankful to have been rescued from ARC.

With the balance bar installed, the dancers can get down to tough workouts. I made the hangers for the bar out of jewelry findings.

I have added some artwork. These little ballerinas are my granddaughters: Elinore in the smaller frame and Lucy in the larger white frame. I scanned their ballet studio photos and cut them to size. I have discovered that printing on photo glossy paper lends wonderful results, so I may redo those photos. Small frames are Spare Parts jewelry bezels and work perfect as picture frames. The larger white frame also comes from Hobby Lobby's scrapbook section.

 You'd never guess who the two little girls are. Certainly not ballerinas. Well, me on the left with my life long best friend Patti. We are dressed in our matching Easter outfits that our moms sewed for us so many long years ago. We dressed alike a lot, often passing for twins.  

With the Ballet Studio on hold for the moment, I have continued to work on the blue farmhouse.

As a reminder here is the front view of the rather large house. I am learning that renovating a dollhouse is not much different than doing a real home. We have done plenty of house work over the years in the three homes that we have owned all the way from painting a room to wallpapering, to a full kitchen remodel. We found that each house has its own secrets that once we began to strip away the layers, the secrets were revealed. No, we never found stashes of cash or jewels hidden in the walls. 

Working on the cleaning up the dollhouse getting it ready for decorating has been a long and tedious chore. This is how it looked when I settled it in the basement. You can see that the kitchen was sorta finished with the wall covered in black and white fabric. I ripped that out right away. The second and third levels had been covered with heavy card stock type paper as a primer, I suppose, for the wall paper. Someone had tried to remove the paper, a tedious, tough job. I finally bought a heat gun used to strip paint to help melt the glue that held the paper in place. I also use alcohol to help dissolve the glue.

I really wondered what the last person had in mind. Luckily the black decor stripped off easily.

The putty knife was the least helpful until I purchased a new on with a very sharp edge, but the the heat gun worked the best. 

You can see that the first layer of wallpaper, a pretty sort of blue toile. I left it in place because I just did not want to have to redo all of the wiring, so I applied the primer over the mess. Only you and I know. The house still has secrets.

Not perfectly smooth. I will sand a little more to get the rough spot out. You can see the tape wiring and the little switch that was installed crooked. I have repaired the tape wiring so that all circuits work, all rooms are wired, and I didn't want to mess up the two lines by scrapping and sanding. For a perfect wall, removing the tape wiring would have been the smart way, but I did not trust myself to get it work once I replaced the tape.

The kitchen is now clean and smooth, ready for the ceiling covering, the wallpaper in the lights, and flooring.

While this electrical line in the ceiling does work, I decided to install new wiring on the floor above the kitchen to make installing the lights easier. I will drill two holes for each light and attach them to the power on the upper floor. Much easier than standing on my head to install them in the exiting line.


Ooops. Not unlike the really thing, dollhouse wallpaper requires careful handling. I am using Yes glue that I ordered from It is a thick hard to apply adhesive, but I like it because as I put the paper on the wall, it slips and slides easily for perfect placement, that is unless you tear it first.

Unable to get the tear to match up, I decided to patch the wallpaper. I purchased the wallpaper from a store in Denver on Saturday. I bought 3 sheets, thinking that they would be plenty. This house is a bit deeper than kit houses, so I did not have any paper to spare. I barely had enough to cut my patch.

Using my iPhone to take a picture of the seam so that I could how the paper was matching up, I was able to scoot the patch around until I got a pretty decent matching of lines.

Not a perfect match,  but by the time furniture and wall decor are added, only a close inspection will reveal my booboo.

Here I want  to show how I marked the back side of the wall paper so that I did  not apply glue to the spot that covered the window. I cut the wallpaper to size than held it against the window and traced around the widow from the outside of the house. Once I had the wallpaper placed on the wall I used my trusty old credit card to make sure that the paper was tight in the corner. I also used it to smooth out the air bubbles. Wallpaper always tends to bubble up or ripple. Real wallpaper requires the same smoothing out, using the proper tools. 

I will tell you about Norm's Dollhouse store later, but that is where I purchased the wallpaper. It is carries the name Itsy Bitsy. I used it in the Lafayette with success. It is glossy and thick, making it easily to work with and a bit forgiving. I have also used Hobby Lobby's wallpaper. I am deciding that of the two, I like the Itsy Bitsy best because it is heavier. I always work with a wet rag at hand to wash off the excess glue that I get on my fingers. Once the paper is hung, I like to take that wet cloth and wipe down the wallpaper to remove traces of glue and to help ease out the bubbles. While the Hobby Lobby paper is easier to cut and work with, it does not like to get wet and will tear easily,  making cleanup harder. 

You may have noticed, too that on the back wall I cut the wall paper 1/2 an inch longer on each side to wrap around the corner. I like to paper the back wall first, wrapping the excess around the corner, then apply the paper to the side walls with the edge tight in the corner to make a clean seam.  I didn't do that with this room because I didn't trim off the white border on the ends.


Another draw back to Itsy Bitsy wallpaper is that it has to be trimmed. Cutting a perfect edge is very difficult, especially the top border.  I will also avoid plaid, checks, and stripes--any pattern the requires matching. 

Even with my straight edge taped down, I still had problems getting a good cut. I am just hoping that no one notices.

With the wallpaper now installed, I still have work to do. I will add a wainscot to the wall with the door and window trim and probably baseboard around the floor. I have not yet decided about the floor. This is the original floor that was not glued in. Nice as it appears, at the moment is not level. If I use it, I am hoping that once glue in and weighted down as the glue dries, the unevenness will work its way out.

I have taken up plenty of your time, so I will tell you about Norm's Dollhouse store in Denver at another time. I hope you have enjoyed watching me work. 

See you soon and thanks so much for stopping by. As soon I do spell check, I am headed outside in the glorious pre spring sun to dig in the dirt. Hubby is already running the rototiller and I must take photos for the Garden Spot blog. The dollhouse is on hold for the moment until I get more supplies tomorrow. I will be back soon. In the mean time, you can catch up with me over at Welcome to the Garden Spot where I blog about the garden and everything else that goes on here. I am bit more chatty there. 

And if you have any great hints, tips, or questions, be sure to comment.