Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Including the Kitchen Sink

I spent most of the day going between some obligatory housekeeping chores and working on minis. First I'll brag a bit and offer a self analytical review of my kitchen cabinet for the Blue Farmhouse Now Pink. I'll share other things too. The Fairfield needs a fireplace--in fact it needs four and it needs a new kitchen . So here we go.

I wrote about this sink project a while back. I began by making pieces from one of Julie Warren's books. I love her technique, but I made three different cabinets each with a major builder error, so I decided to design and build my own sink. And now it is finished and installed.

I ordered stove and dishwasher kits from Elf Miniatures in the UK. At first they were a bit intimidating and I didn't quite know exactly what to do with pieces, especially for the stove. Thank goodness for bloggers and Pinterest where I was able to find photos to help guide me. I had visioned both appliance with working doors, but decided against that. It just got too complicated and beyond my skill set.

While the drawers down the center open up, the one beneath the stove and the two underneath the sink do not. The sink is just a little crooked. Darn it. 

In place, I love it. I still have the refrigerator to finish and this is not it. I made one then had to make it over again. The original plan for the kitchen included the hens and roosters, so using those moisture gathering canisters that come in my baby aspirin containers, I fashioned them into kitchen canisters when I first began my Miniature Making journey. They still work.

Doesn't take long to mess up the kitchen--in this make believe life and in my real life. I made the kitchen towels, as well, designing them in Word then printing them on printable fabric.

On to the fireplace project. The Fairfield has 4 flat faced fireplaces that really need some dressing up. Again I've been searching Pinterest for ideas, which are limited. While the half scale Fairfield seems to be a fairly popular house there just are not many examples to study, so I began to play. I found an eBay store that has beautiful picture frames and framed art that I'll share later. I've ordered my wallpaper from Itsy Bitsy, including this William Morris in half scale wallpaper. I love it.

Next I began to play in the Maker Design Space to come up a design. It was a long project, but by using the weld tool, I was able to create a nice design for the 1:24 scale fire place. 

Before I cut it out in wood on the Maker, I cut my pieces from scrapbook paper and roughly glued the pieces together to make sure that I had measurements correct.

Here is the back of the fireplace that I cut first. I have found that when there are several pieces to cut, it works best to cut a few at a time, mostly because it's easier to trouble shoot the process and design one or two pieces at a time instead of cutting out all of the pieces only to find that there's a major design flaw. Wood is expensive and takes a while to cut. 

Here's a visual of my journey in designing the little fireplace. I began with craft tongue depressors. They were just the right width. Now, if you don't have a Cricut Maker or Silhouette machine, the craft sticks are great. I hurriedly put them together, ending up crookedly, but in the excitement of the moment I wanted to see how my design would work. 

Next I cut the major piece out of card, which provided a good model to test my sizes. Then I came up with the idea to add a high top to the fireplace instead of just a flat mantle. More playing around in Design space and I was able to come up with all of the pieces, welding together the pieces that would fit to reduce the number of pieces, cuts, and simplifying assembly.

I used 1/16 bass wood with the Maker knife. And while the program is pre-set for 14 passes, 11 passes is adequate. 

I was quite excited to begin gluing pieces together.

Late last night, I hurried upstairs and out to the garage where I am working on the Fairfield to test my first fireplace. 

So. Yes, it does take up more room, but I am okay with that. The fireplace will be the focal point of the living room and will dress it up nicely. 

Now it is ready for embellishment.

I realized that it needed to be framed out. When I built the Bellingham, I bought all new windows and left out tiny little pieces that I cut here for the trim.

I dug more in my stash and found this 1:12 crown molding scrap for the top of the back and as shelf brackets. But I've decided not to add a shelf. I ordered extra laser cut trim from an eBay store and newel posts, thinking that I might re-do the stairs railing in the little house.

I found a candle stick that I had made for the Bellingham and made a matching one that will sit on the full scale crown molding shelves. 

The fireplace is not quite finished. It's in the garage now getting painted. It's pretty cute, if I do say so myself. 

I have 3 more to go. At least I have the bugs worked out. 

This is my first half scale project, so I don't have any sort of stash pieces to work with. I am having to order everything. I am finding, however, that there really isn't much half scale inventory available. There are some necessary supplies, but when looking for speciality pieces, they are sparse. Elf has very limited kits for half scale, for example. Given the history of the Fairfield and keeping with the furniture that came with the house, I've dated it in 1920s to give me a foundation for selecting wallpaper, flooring, and the kitchen.

While the furniture that came with the house is decidedly Victorian, the kitchen cabinets were mid-century  and didn't fit, so I began searching for tiny kitchen items. I found exactly what I wanted on Etsy at Red Cottage Miniatures. I ordered the sink and cabinet with a hanging wall unit, the stove, and ice box. I also ordered a rocking chair, crib, and dresser for the baby's room, and a turn of the century seated. The kitchen pieces have been partially assembled and once I decide on the wallpaper I'll finish assembling them and paint them. Research shows that green and yellow were exclusively popular in the 1920s. Not really happy with those choices at the this moment.

The kits are well made, easy to remove from their boards, easy to assemble, and will appear to be authentic once installed. The kitchen is very small. Some have opted to move it next door to what should be the dinning room, but with the fireplace that room is small, too, and to me doesn't offer a much better room design. 

The kitchen also has an outside door that some builders close off to allow for more wall space. There are some really elegant half scale kitchens in this little house. I thought about closing off the door, but decided not to for a couple of reasons. First, it would be easier to fill in the door as the house is being built rather trying to design exterior siding and I'm no up to that task.

More importantly houses have back doors and old farmhouses had kitchen doors. As a kid, I remember them as the "backdoor." It made a lot of sense to have backdoors since they often led to the barn or the garage. In addition, kitchens were really hot with the wood burning cook stoves the threw off a lot of heat.  Open kitchen doors helped keep the kitchen a little cooler. Leaving the kitchen door seems to me make the kitchen more authentic. Wait until you see the adorable little screen door that I found.

I still have a lot to work out in the kitchen with the placement of the furniture. I like where the sink is and the stove, but the refrigerator--icebox--doesn't seem to have a place. I'll figure it out. 

Now I am painting doors and the gingerbread exterior trim that I bought to dress up the porch and outside of the house. Very tedious. I also have to work on the electrical. I've ordered some nice hanging and ceiling lights. I can't wait to add them. They will be a major upgrade to original lighting, but I don't think they have shipped yet.

Speaking OF: Shipping in these days of Covid has been a nightmare. All of my online orders that come through the USPO are very slow, being held up in Denver sometimes for days. My kitchen kits came all the way from Australia, so with Covid, distance, and Customs the order took weeks to arrive and so well worth the wait.

On a final note I have made my little half scale fireplace public on Design Space. I'm not sure exactly how that works, but I got brave and went public. I also clicked the option to post it on Pinterest were you will find it on the Design Space board. Click on it and it is read to either customize or cut. If you try it let me know how it works. 

One note on the pattern. I did not include the top mantle piece that will measure 8.2 x 2.2 mm. Using Julie Warren's trick for beveled wood edges, I sanded the three sides to give that beveled edge. I am really just testing the waters in posting a project on Design Space; it could be a disaster. If you have questions, email me.  You can find it here. Pinterest

Have a great day and thanks for visiting.


Sunday, August 23, 2020

Wish List

We all have that list. Some call it a Bucket List inspired by a movie of the same name or their Wish List, or a To Do list, or just plain My List. Today I crossed off one item that has been at the top of My Wish List for a long time: a visit to the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys. It closed a few years ago about the time I was really getting into miniatures, putting all of the artifacts in storage while they hunted for a new place. Now located just west of the city Denver limits in Lakewood, it has a nice, large building with a lot room to grow that will accommodate their Wish List for future growth.

I purchased tickets online for myself and oldest daughter and waited for the big day. I'll share just a few photos of my favorite house and a few other things that caught my interest.

Wendy greeted the morning's visitors with a lovely smile and lots of enthusiasm for the newly opened museum, and from the first glance, you know that you are about to begin a wonderful adventure back into childhood.

Right now the museum display consist of mostly grand dollhouses that have been exquisitely built and furnished, keeping in mind that they were disassembled, stored, and reassembled.

I have been thinking about adding a greenhouse to the Bellingham garden and after seeing this one, I think I can design and build one.

This farmhouse inspired my wish list for my own Bellingham Farmhouse. I now have a vision for what I would like to do with my house. It will be quite an ambitious undertaking to create such a garden. I won't go such extent, but at least I now have an example, an inspiration for what I'd like to build.

I've been trying to source this chicken wire. Any suggestions? Our own chicken pen is a recycle, rebuilt chainlink dog run, built to keep the fox and raccoons out. I've found authentic chainlink in an Etsy store, Mr. Train that sells supplies for model trains. I've messaged him to see if it will work for my little henhouse.

I love all the farm implements, but I know that they are vintage and will be hard to find and expensive.

Where do people find such old miniatures?

These old farm implements add authenticity and tell a wonderful story.

The front porch invites makes everyone to come sit a spell.

I took an extra photo of the  flower boarder to help me plant mine around the Bellingham. I need more flowers, however.

Not a weed in sight. Now that is enviable. 

This next house really is special. Some of you have met David Nelson who travels the miniature show circuit with his wife, Wendy. I got to know them while visiting his mother's dollhouse store in Denver, which closed a couple of years ago. In the store that his parents owned an operated for over 3 decades  there were two grand houses that his father, Norm, had built, one was this house. I don't remember that the house had furniture while it was on display in the store, but what a grand masterpiece it is. Originally it was built for Mrs. O'Meara,  wife of a well known Denver auto dealer. It, too, is a grand house. The mustang convertible adds a special touch, especially for me. My Blue Farmhouse Now Pink has a red 1951 Chevy Pickup, parked outside a reminder of my grandpa's old truck that I learned to drive in. The Bellingham will have a "67 Ford Mustang GT, yellow with a black racing stripe, just like my first car that now sits under a blanket of dust in the barn. 

 This has got to be the biggest bear family I've ever seen. 

When I see lovely dolls like this one, I have to think of my mother. She used to take about her dolls and how much she loved them and played with them. She admitted to playin with her dolls until she was 16. I have two her turn-of-the century dolls that I made dresses for a while back. 

Still hampered by the pandemic orders, the museum slowly makes progress in accomplishing items on its Wish List, but the young woman who welcomed guests today was so sweet and positive as she explained the future plans for the museum and how she has developed online programs and activities to keep people interested and entertained during the pandemic and until the activities at the museum such as classes and workshops can resume. She has offered some online classes, which she says have proven popular. People need something to do while they wait for life to return to normal. While not a substitute for their big fall show, now canceled for this year, which usually has 80 vendors, their small gift shop did allow us to bring home some little doo-dads for our dollhouses. 

Check out their website and if you visit the Denver Metro area, be sure to make time to visit this wonderful little museum. 

I'm a bit on edge tonight. The night air is heavy with smoke and the sliver of moon is fire  orange as the smoke filter's its silvery light. Jen called just a while ago to say that a new fire has started only a short distance form their house at the edge of the foothills. The fire would have to burn a lot of ground to get to their place and cross the river, but a bad wind in the right direction could make that more of a possibility. Evacuations have been ordered for residents further west of them, so for the moment they are not concerned. Still I reminded her gather up important papers, which she has done, and to get emergency kits ready for their animals: dogs, horses, rabbits, and hens incase they have to move them. There are now 4 fires burning in Colorado, but if you see the map of all the fires burning in the country, nearly a 1/3 of the western part of the county has fires. 

Morning Update: Fire near Jen didn't grow last night, but still has been contained.

Thanks for visiting. I do appreciate you dropping by. 

Next post I will have my kitchen counter finished along with some other projects. Right now I am waiting on a shipment of wallpaper for the Fairfield and the kitchen kits that are coming from Australia. Tracking shows that they have arrived in Denver, but it could take a week or more for them to make it to Ault!

Monday, August 10, 2020


One of the Facebook groups that I follow gives members an opportunity to share ideas and to ask questions to help solve their problems. New members who are building or renovating their first house often ask how builders come up with ideas for their miniature projects. 

To answer the Facebook group’s question, I always suggest coming up with a persona, someone who will live in the house with a story to tell to help form a theme for the project, There other things to consider, too: a favorite architecture style or an historical period, or a real-time dream house. 

You can look through my blog to see my collection of houses, which mostly reflect me: my love of what I call Easter Egg colors, sweet pastels, rustic, farm life houses filled with old things, heavily influenced by the Victorian period, but the miniature world is moving beyond the playhouse filled with Victorian furniture and accessories. My first build, a little Real Good Toys two story cottage inspired by my granddaughters' ballet lessons.

So far my houses do reflect my personality, my tastes, my life style—the farm girl who grew up in old farmhouses with old furniture, raised by frugal parents. So I’ve done all that. I love my two big farmhouses, especially the Dura-craft Bellingham which is more modern than the Blue Now Pink Farmhouse that is getting a modernized kitchen that well reflect the the 21st century. 

After I tore off that first piece of faux metal roofing on the spire of the half Scale Fairfield,  I began fretting about how to make the Fairfield, filled with the Victorian furniture that it came with  different from my other houses .  I began by researching the Fairfield's architecture.


It is a a classic Victorian with all of its lacy porch trim. As it turns out there is a perfect example down just down I-25 not far from here in Boulder, CO, on Pearl St. just down the street from the Pearl Street shopping district. Building began in 1822 and was finished by a second owner in 1877,  the year after Colorado gained its statehood. Today on Zillow it is priced, though not for sale, at $1.2 million. 

ictorian farmhouse. 


I found two houses as I searched Pintrest for abandoned farmhouses. Then driving home the other day, forced to take a different route to avoid a bad storm, I saw a newer version of this Victorian out in the country.

I will use the Victorian period furniture because I don't want to reinvest in all new furniture, so the house will be, as many are, caught in the transition between the old and the new, the past and the present with the renovation of the kitchen where by today's standards the resale value of the house relies on  an updated kitchen and bathroom.  Thus, most of the house will have its old Victorian furniture melding with a bit more modern kitchen.

The creative wheels began to turn as Goggle searches revealed more; soon I had my idea. I decided that rather than a personae, I’d focus on a year, 1920, the age of Modernism, a time when art, music, literature, fashion, and architecture were emerging in rebellion of the strict, ornate Victorians. Charles Dickens novels like Hard Times and Bleak House were left on the shelves as readers embraced F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby written in 1925. I thought about my mother during I my 1920s search included images of the Roaring Twenties and the fashionable  flappers. While she was only 6 in 1920, she would have as an adult enjoyed the night life in the speakeasies were it not for her strict Lutheran upbringing. At the same time, my fraternal grandmother would be married and have her first son by January 1917, living on a Kansas farm.

Art Deco, Mission Revival, and the Craftsman styles began to emerge, along with a shift from the wood and coal burning cook stoves, fireplaces and room heathers to gas powered stoves and heaters. 

Houses from my own family history could well serve as inspirations for miniature projects. 

I found my mother's home that she grew up in on Google Earth in Ottumwa, Iowa, not quite a craftsman, but a departure from the Victorian house that her aunt lived in just down the street. I have some childhood memories of the house and photos of the living room decorated probably in the 1940s by a step- grandmother. I think I took this photo as a kid or my mom did.

In 1960 we drove to Washington, Kansas where my father and his family before him were born. This is the house where my grandparents lived on the farm with my grandfather's parents.  No photos of the interior, but it was probably build in the mid to late 1800s.

In 1960 we moved to this little farmhouse in Golden, CO from another old farmhouse; this one sightly better. That's my bedroom on the right and my little sister on Jack, a paint cow pony. 

I am focusing on the kitchen as the center of household, trying to decide on flooring—wood floor or linoleum? I’ve run across a collection of Armstrong flooring ads that give a great look at the 1920s d├ęcor. I’ve ordered pieces for the kitchen from an Etsy shop in Australia, so it will be long wait while the items are being shipped. I’ collecting images of artwork, wallpaper, and accessories and keeping them in a digital portfolio Word. where I can create and plan my rooms first; I’ve never been so organized. I think as a miniaturist, I am beginning to grow up. So far, green seems to be most popular color of the 1920s kitchen. This example goes beyond what I can comprehend. While my kitchen won't look this one, the stove will reflect the more modern gas burins cook stove.


The house has been painted on the exterior periwinkle—certainly an Easter Egg color,  and I am waiting for new gingerbread trim to be shipped from the Tennessee that I ordered from eBay. A few days ago I received an apologetic email saying that shipment would be delayed due the hurricane. I placed another order for supplies July 26th with HBS that still has not arrived. The tracking has indicated for the last week that it is in Denver on it’s way to Ault. Our postmistress says that the Denver distribution center is short handed. Maybe today it will arrive.

I like frilly florals in sweet pinks, so I am really challenging myself to go beyond my limits by experimenting with colors and patterns that I might not ever choose for my own home. Inspired by looking at the vinatageArmstrong ads and other Victorian decor, I decided to use navy in the dining room instead of the dark reds so popular in the period. I like to use good quality scrapbook paper for wallpaper, so I found this navy card at Michaels' and printed the sample from Itsy Bitsy to test my imagination, coming up with a lovely result, I think. Itsy Bitsy also has matching fabric, so I'll be able to coordinate a beautiful dinning room. 


As I digress more, the hobby shop supplies are running low, too. Facebook users are complaining about the shortage of acrylic craft paint, and they are right, as I have noticed at both my local Hobby Lobby and Michael’s, and Joann’s. Shopping these days isn't much fun. We must be patient. 

I have plenty to accomplish this week as I work on my Maker created kitchen cabinet for the Blue Farmhouse Now Pink. My parts to create the dishwasher and the oven have arrived from Elf miniatures in England. At first I had no clue as to how to assemble them. I emailed Elizabeth and she emailed me the instructions for assembling the oven front. They won't be working appliances--that is the doors won't be opening, but they will look great. 

As I close, I'll ask you what inspires your miniature projects? 

So glad that you dropped by. Have a wonderful, productive week.





Including the Kitchen Sink

I spent most of the day going between some obligatory housekeeping chores and working on minis. First I'll brag a bit and offer a self a...