Friday, January 17, 2020

Little Things

With the goal in mind to finish the Texas Farmhouse, I've ordered shingles from Greenleaf, a rug from Melvin's Minis on Etsy, and two unrelated pieces from Robin Betterley to finish my circus train. I've cut some trim pieces for the attic bedroom and searched for other pieces of trim that were painted and cut to size long ago--I may have to recut them.

While I wait for the shingles to arrive, I've done other things. I built the three Robin Betterley circus cars that I received for Christmas, a fun, tedious project, but very much worth it.

Who did doesn't love the circus? Admittedly, I have either never grown up or reverted to by childhood in my old age, so to indulge myself, I embarked on building my own circus train designed for the Storybook Toy Store. With Barnum and Bailey Circus now shut down and the animals retired to their spacious farm in Florida, the little train brings back those fond memories.

Early one morning as I prepared to go work, I heard the train rumble through town. Glancing east to just look as one often does when the freight trains roar through town, the cars that sped by were marked "Barnum and Bailey. It was indeed a real circus train headed to Denver. The animals though were safely bedded down in the early morning in enclosed rail cars, nor were there clowns handing out of coach cars waving wildly. It was a long train complete with flatbed cars that carried all of the heavy equipment necessary to set up the show--you know fork lifts, tractors, golf carts and even a school bus, I suppose to take the humans to their hotels. It was a self contained, self sufficient show. A real circus train. I am sure that it passed each year through our little town; I had just never been able to see it. Perhaps it was that particular year that the circus train stopped in Greeley, CO just 12 miles or so down the road from where I live. Because I worked, I couldn't go welcome the train and circus performers. The train made a rare, brief stop to recognize an  anniversary of a tragic event when the circus did stop to perform in Greeley. In August 1884 the circus train caught caught fire, killing ten roustabouts and injuring others. You can read more about the dreadful accident here:

The Barnum and Bailey circus train stopped in Greeley in 2002 to thank the Greeley residents decades later for burying the ten workers because the show must go on by giving a very brief performance.

These kits are tedious to assemble. The hardest part is cutting out the tiny animals. The directions suggest using either scissors or a sharp blade--I used both. I used a pair of small, very sharp, and pointed scissors that I acquired in a small scrap booking kit that I purchased at Tuesday Morning. It came with the cutting mat, magnetic ruler, and those very sharp little scissors. I also know an expert blade sharpener who keeps my scissors honed to a fine edge.

It is not always easy to get all of the tiny flecks of white paper cut away, so what I really need to do is to use a fine point Sharpie pen to color the white; however, the whiteonly shows up under the scrutiny of a well lit and focused photo.

Next, the giraffe, a favorite. Working with the Easter kit from Robin Betterley, I learned to paint the pieces before removing them from them their form. Here they can be painted and sanded while flat on the work surface. The edges do need to be sanded to for two reasons: to remove the tiny tab that holds them in place and to remove the burned surface on the edges from the laser cutting. This is tricky because the pieces are so tiny and delicate. I sand them either on a sponge sanding block 320 grit or a small emery board. The burnt surface really does need cleaned off for a clean paint job or left on for a more rustic, worn look--perhaps.

 I think I did a better job of cutting out the giraffe. Takes practice. I use a tooth pick to apply Aleene's tacky glue dispensed in a piece of jewelry finding container held in place with double sticky Scotch tape. The unused glue eventually dries clear and can be easily removed for the next application.

The little cars go together easily and quickly.

Global Village Museum

After a nice lunch with a friend, she took me to a little known museum in Ft. Collins, CO, where her husband volunteers. It is a unique museum that holds collections of local world travelers who collect mementos and souvenirs during their travels. On display currently is the Festival of Light and Nativities, so one room is dedicated to the role that Light plays during the holiday season. The display includes an interesting collection of menorahs, but she really took me there to see the dollhouses, mostly donated by local miniaturists. The iPhone photographs are not the best and there was so much to look at. Here are my favorites.

The very first display is a Mongolian yurt. Surprisingly, my friend revealed that she and her husband had traveled to Mongolia last summer and had stay in a yurt.

There was a wide variety of structures furnished with the most wonderful pieces.

This one was my favorite, a Mexican Hacienda. You will enjoy the authenticity and attention to detail. Perhaps the rugs and pottery were the best features.

I wondered if the luminaries on the roof's edge would light--probably not. See the Indian Kachina dolls in the upper corner.

Another favorite. 

 This little girl's room was part of a display that was built in a multi shelf cabinet, with several contributors. You will see her tiny collection of toys on the bottom of her shelf.

Hoping to build my own cabin one day, I enjoyed looking at this one. My grandmother's cabin had that same rag rug made out of rags from the rag bag, braided and stitched together.

This corner had different themed, small houses, but I chuckled at the bottom on, the two story outhouse, apparently the real thing since the sign explained how a two story latrine actually worked. I never knew.

 This one was named 'A French Apartment House', but my friend called it a brothel.  The living quarters on top, the boudoir, and the ground floor, the Bake Shop.

At first I didn't see the loft room at the top of the house with its side view,

but as we returned to the room, the very top level was reveled with a side exposure: The Artist's Studio.

Another room had miniatures from around the world. So many tiny, colorful things.

There was more to share, but I end with a nostalgic American classic, the vintage gas station that I remember a child, completely with a 1940s Chevy pick-up. I began my diving lessons in grandpa's 1950 red Chevy pick-up. Such memories. 

The shingles and rug should arrive today or early next week and then the fun will begin.

Have a great week. Enjoy the Little Things in life.

Thanks so much dropping by. I always love your comments.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Something Current, Something Old, Something New

Happy New Year, Friends. Thankful that the holiday season is behind us, I am ready retreat into my mini world where I am most content these days. I can't start just yet since I'm hosting ladies from my DAR chapter to make Valentines for Veterans. Tomorrow there will be five other ladies come for lunch and then we make 60 Valentine cards that will be distributed at the Cheyenne, Wyoming VA nursing home and  sent to a military nurse serving in Qatar. I spent half a day cleaning the room, putting away all of my mini projects, setting up tables, and putting out card making supplies.

I am, however, anxious to get on with mini making, having come up with a list of projects that I want to finish by spring. Here are my projects for the next few week--months.

I love this house, the Dura Craft Bellingham Farmhouse. I think I started it 2017. My daughter bought the unopened kit for me for $25. on Craig's list and my dear husband drove to Boulder to pick it up. It was a hefty build for a beginner. I made some bad mistakes in assembling it that I have had to  hide, yet is a great house. It is at the top of my list to complete it. You can see that it needs shingles. I've procrastinated on the roofing project simple because I couldn't face dealing with hundreds of individual shingles that needed to dyed and glued on one at a time.

Project 1: Something Current

Rather messing with those individual shingles, I am going to order speed shingles, shingles in strips that will be much easier to glue in place. I just need to get them ordered. More on them when that project begins.

It is a very large roof that will require a lot of shingles, so you can see why I've put of the project for so long. 

This photo amply shows how hard it was to piece the roof together. I didn't get things lined up, so now I'll have do some creative shingling. We'll tackle that later, too.

The chimney has been attached to the side of the house with little issue, but the part of the chimney that sits on the roof will present a challenge. 

I used "real" bricks that I purchased from HBS. They are made of plaster of Paris and are fairly easy to work with, but they are very heavy. For grout, I use patching motor for brick wall, a product that added more weight. I wrote about the problems I had with chimney back in 2018 in a post called 'Keeping Warm'

I was very unhappy with this project. The bricks weren't straight, the mortar was gloppy. I just felt like I totally screwed it up, but now the chimney looks aged and warn just like I wanted. I used chalk pastels, charcoal color, to make the top smoky. I thought it worked nicely.

Now I have to glue it in place before I begin to shingle. It is a heavy piece so I have to figure out how stabilize it while the glue cures. 

Inside in the attic, I have to figure out how to finish the floor. One thing that I've learned about building an entire dollhouse is to have a plan in place--I mean the entire plan: color scheme, finishes, wallpaper, lighting, and flooring.  I built the house then decorated it room by room with a general idea of what I thought it would look like. That was fine for other rooms, but in this room, really an after thought, the flooring should have been installed before the roof went on since there is no access to the very back of the room where the front peak is. 

So how am I going to install a floor?

I decided to make floor template by piecing computer paper together to a pattern of the floor. 

I had planned on using the tongue depressor size craft sticks glued to cardboard then I realized that it would not fit. Once made, I wouldn't be able to install the floor.

This room was supposed to be young girl's refuge--her hideaway as she scavenged bits and pieces of furniture to make herself a bedroom in the attic furnished with discarded family heirlooms for furniture, and I am going to leave the floor bare and create a large area rug, that probably came from her granny's house, aged and warn, but full of sweet memories of granny's house. 

There are other projects left to be finished, like the trim on the outside of the house. I will feel a great sense of accomplishment when the Farmhouse is finished.

Project 2: Something Old

My first big project was this house. I called it the Blue Farmhouse, then I painted it pink. You can see it here: No More Blue Farmhouse. It was a renovation and I had such fun and being brand new at the hobby, I made mistakes in the make-over, especially in the kitchen. It isn't horrible, but I know so much more now about making cabinetry. I am either going to build cabinets from kits made by House works or try Julie Warren's hand made cabinets. I love her work and enjoy her videos, too. Still thinking on that. I bought a corner upper cabinet that I tried to adhere is museum stickum and it stained my pretty wallpaper, so I think I'll install upper cabinets to cover the stains.

So I have Something Current, Something Old, and now--

Project 3: Something New

While I love buying gifts for family or making them sometimes, I don't necessarily need gifts--not for my birthday and not for Christmas. I hate to have the girls spend their money on me when they have children that have wants and needs, too. At my age (old), I really don't need stuff, so when they ask me what I wanted for Christmas, I gave them ideas for miniature projects. 

My husband bought me the metal jig with magnets to help create pieces are straight. I've read where builder have made their jigs out of Legos. Cool. But I like the magnets that will hold pieces in place.

For my birthday 5 days before Christmas, Heather bought me three tiny  1:12 circus wagons  from Robin Betterley. These are going to be fun to build and will go in the toy store--which I'm thinking of relocating. More on that in the future.

So in between the various real life projects, duties, and obligations I'll hide away in my basement emerged in a little world.

What projects do you have planned for the new year?

Thanks so much for visiting.

Little Things

With the goal in mind to finish the Texas Farmhouse, I've ordered shingles from Greenleaf, a rug from Melvin's Minis on Etsy, and t...