Sunday, December 8, 2019

Time to Get Real

I love Christmas. Today I will decorate the tree. Most people I know already have their trees up, but for me this is the weekend. When I was working, this was the last weekend of the semester when I was furiously grading final college essays and assigning final grades, which was done electrically and so stressful. I couldn't even think of Christmas--shopping, baking, or decorating--until I had my school work done.

With all that there is to do in the real world to prepare for the holidays, I find myself easily distracted by the minis. I really had intended to just put a few decorations on the Pink House. It has a pink tree and a pink poinsettia and that is the extent of its holiday cheer. I was going to make a Christmas tree for the upstairs den, but got frustrated. Then I decided on a tree for the Bellingham. The Pink House didn't need a second tree.

I didn't do a very elegant job with the tree; it has blinking lights ordered from minmum.com in England. A bit too flashy for me, but they will do.

Next I wanted to make some packages for the little pink tree and found a tutorial on how to make tiny bows, which I thought I'd share my version with you.


 Securing a sewing needle in one of my spongy sanding blocks, I was ready to begin. It's about 5/8 " tall, which determines the size of the loops of the bow.


Using 1/8" ribbon, I began threading it on the needle, one loop at a time, working back and forth.






I measured the length of each loop against the needle to get consistent sizes.




In between each layer, I added a dab of white glue to hold in-between  the loops to hold them in place. The original tutorial suggested that fabric glue might saturate the fabric ribbon too much, so I used just enough tacky glue to hold the ribbon in place, pushing down with each loop to apply enough pressure to make the glue take hold. 



Once I had enough loops, I finished with a final dab of glue and let the bow rest to allow the glue to set. Once the glue had dried, I removed the bow from the sanding block and from the needle. I cut the ribbon just long enough to fold it over using tweezers to make the top button loop.


I posted the tutorial on Face Book group Dollhouse Miniatures Tutorials and DYI, and some followers made the bows; many finding the center button too difficult. One lady who thought that making the tiny center loop was so difficult--and it is--cleverly substituted a tiny jewel, making the bow elegant and pretty.


 I experimented with the packages; first using foam board that I can never cut even, so I cut balsa wood blocks for smoother edges.


While I made the packages for my mini tree, I gave them to Lily, who has already decorated her house.


With a bow making technique under control, I decided to decorate the fireplaces in the Bellingham, doin the bedroom fireplace.


I finally found wire based pine boughs that I could bend and shape. From my stash I was able to decorate the garland. I especially like the blue beads because they came from my mother's sewing stash so many years ago. My mom would have loved the dollhouses. The deer is one that I embossed. Using a toothpick and wood in my stash, I made a modern looking statue. The angel is a tree decoration. 








I made more bows for the stair banister, which was hard to photograph. In fact the photos of the Bellingham are all rough because there is so little space between the back of the house and the wall--just enough to work in-- so the lighting is poor.


I am wanting to learn how to use polymer clay to make foods, but for now I've collected some commercially made food stuffs. While my houses may not have people in them, they alway have a cat and the cats always do what cats do: think about jumping on the table. This guy is not different.


I began ordering candies from Etsy then realized that I have a well stocked general store in the bedroom, so I purchased some candies, saving me the expense of buying jars. I had already purchased the polymer rods to cut candies, which I'll save for another day. I did buy the ribbon candy, a childhood favorite just because it is so colorful.



Packages are beginning to arrive. No porch pirates here. I printed and folded the box. It was my practice box made from computer paper, but it works.


The Bellingham is the Texas Farmhouse, so the succulent collection is on the second floor balcony will winter there because of the mild climate they--hopefully--won't freeze. 


As you can see the Bellingham isn't finished. I really am procrastinating the roofing job. 


There's more that I could do to decorate the Bellingham, but I have to get back to reality. I go downstairs to get something and don't come back for hours because I'm so easily distracted. with the minis.



I have decided that making really good and authentic Christmas decorations for the houses must be a summer project. I've go plenty in my stash to work on them over the summer. Now it is time to get real.


Finally, the San Franciscan has been delivered to its new home. I was never so glad to get it on its way. There is still a lot of work to be done, but daughter Jennifer will have all the fun. I had to make so many modifications that hopefully will be covered when Jen gets to work on it. 


She is a very busy mother of three girls. The two older ones are in 4-H and she is the leader. They keep very busy with their projects. They all do leather work, including mom who is very talented. The two older girls have their horses that they show and Elinore and little Lily show their rabbits. I really am wondering if Jen will have time to work on her house. I hope so. 


I hope to  have one more post before Christmas, so today I will wish you a joyous season of holiday preparation an hope to see your mini holiday displays and your real ones, too. 

Joy and Peace

Thanks so much for visiting. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Golden Deer

We had this same discussion a few weeks ago about decorating our mini houses for Halloween. Now how about Christmas? I haven't in the past done much to decorate the houses, but this year I seem to be in the mood to decorate. I have suspended any major building projects, actually procrastinating the roofing project on the Bellingham Farmhouse and flooring in the Westville, and trying to figure out the Betsy Ross project. I also have Christmas presents to crochet, but here is a fun project to embellish your houses for the holidays: Golden deer.

Just wonder through your favorite craft store or down the aisle of gift shops or even the supermarket and you will see how popular those gold, glittered deer are, so of course you might be tempted to add a glittered deer to a fireplace mantle or a tiny Christmas tree for you mini house. Here's fun little project.

Some years ago when I was excited about scrap booking, I was introduced to embossing using glittery powder and a heat gun, but I never wanted to invest in more stuff and decided that I didn't need the extra tools and product.

But as I tired to design the holiday cards for the veterans a few weeks ago, I wanted original, unique, and pretty cards, so I invested in the embossing tools: a heat gun, gold embossing powder, an embossing pen, and the ink pad that has the clear ink that is applied to the card stock with a regular rubber stamp or acrylic stamp.

I have a hard time resisting trinkets and doo-dads, especially for Christmas, so I picked up a package of little deer just because they were cute.


Step 1: Apply ink to the deer. The first deer I used the pen to apply the ink, but didn't get into all of crevices, so the second deer I pushed down into the ink foam pad for good coverage.



Step 2: Cover the deer with embossing powder. Looking more like very fine glitter, the powder will stick to the inked figurine. It looked like a lot of powder and wasteful; however, I'll use tweezers to remove the deer from the pile of glitter and then pour the glitter back in the jar. I used computer paper because it will form a bit of a funnel to return the excess powder to the jar.


The little deer is nice covered with the powder and is ready for the heat to be applied that will melt the powder.


CAUTION: THE HEAT GUN GETS VERY HOT. NOT FOR CHILDREN!

It only takes seconds for the gold granules to begin to melt. Move the heat gun back and forth over the deer and heat it until the powder is all melted.


And now I have a golden deer that I will add a string to hang on a miniature tree.



 But what if you don't have a heat gun and don't want to invest in product for a one time use? On one these deer I used gold acrylic paint. Can you tell which one?



The first golden deer was painted with gold acrylic paint. It doesn't quite as rich as the other deer, but the acrylic paint has flecks of gold in it, so there is sparkle. I had to apply three coats to get good coverage. Because the deer has a very slick surface, the first coat of paint does not adhere, so I let it dry and added another coat and then a third coat of paint.

I can image gilding other items: an angel perhaps or a star or those pretty white doves. Now that I have an embossing system, I can emboss other things. A chair maybe? A picture frame? The embossing adds a bit of texture and a richer finish than paint does not. The powders come in a rainbow of colors, too. Right now I have green and red.

What might you emboss?


Find of the Day

In my own home I have for years purchased two large poinsettias. I do a pink tree, so I like the pink poinsettias, so of course, the mini houses will have poinsettias, too. I have been searching online for poinsettia flower kits, but really didn't want to spent the time to make them or the money. Today I found these at Tuesday Morning. They are just a little larger than 1:12. Each package of two was $4. Not bad. While they didn't come in pink, they did come in red, white, gold, and silver.


I can't wait to see how everyone decorates their little houses for Christmas.

And lastly, I am still having problems posting comments blogs hosted by Blogger. I think I have solved the problem of not being able to post on my blog, but I still cannot leave comments on other Blogger blogs. Nor have I figured out why, so I will email my comments to you, if that's okay with you. 

Thanks so much for visiting. Have a wonderful week. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Keeping in Touch

I don't have much to share this morning since I have been busy doing other things. I have finished up gluing the furniture back together for the San Franciscan that I hope to deliver to Jennifer this week. The dining table has a broken leg, so I set about making a replacement.

 Simple enough. I outlined a pattern on a piece of thin basswood, probably 3/32" and cut out two for thickness that I'll glue together. Sanded the rough edges and tried to shape it like the original.


 And this is what I have. It might work, but I am thinking that a Circut would cut a more perfect leg. No. I am going to rush out and buy one--yet. My daughter's cousin-in-law has one, so we will ask her to cut a leg. I need more convincing.



Betsy Ross Project

From 1/4 inch foam board I cut the mock-up walls with the front wall 16 inches wide since the museum house is 16 feet across the front.  Now the larger window that I returned would fit, but it would not represent the original 1776 window. I am actually more concerned with a more historically accurate representation on the inside. My thinking is that the window would have been smaller because windows in the 18th century were a luxury since they were taxed, along with closets.


I like the way things are fitting together here, except I will not use this fireplace. The side walls should be 25' long, but I'm not going to extend the walls that far.


But there is a problem. As I read more about when Betsy Ross lived there from 1777-86 and took two virtual tours of the rooms, I am torn between how to approach this project. So the 360 panoramic video shows the shop sparsely furnished, but I imagine it cluttered with furniture in various stages of repair along with bolts and scraps of fabric and tools. 

The second video, has a narrator who describes each room and makes the point the Betsy may well have made the flag in the upstairs bedroom because if British soldiers happened to stop by the shop to see what she was up to or even to commission their own flag of some sort or have a chair reupholstered and discovered the colonial flag, she would have been arrested for treason, as was her second husband for transporting goods to the colonies across the ocean. He died in a British prison, so she knew the risks.

I am really trying to figure out how she would have handled making such a massive flag in her bedroom? It was a 10 foot flag, bigger than a bed cover or bed quilt.  The windows on the second floor are different, too. There are two windows on the second floor. Easy fix. It makes sense that she would have worked only during the daylight hours and probably sat by the window to do her hand stitching where the light was better which she certainly could not do downstairs in the shop.

Or is the narrator's assessment of where she might have worked on the flag just speculation? All of the art work--which is the only record that history provides along with her grandson's anecdotal accounts of his grandmother's life--depicts her sitting by a window or by a fireplace stitching the stars in place.

Maybe I am over thinking it, but I like the idea of her working in the bedroom. Quite possibly she did the cutting of fabric on the work table in the  shop and pieced it together upstairs in the bedroom, so I have to decide which room I will make.

 Make both you say? Then I may as well build the entire house, but that's complicated, too. I'm going to share my source so that you can learn first hand about the Betsy House as it may have been in colonial times and as it is today. Perhaps you will have some suggestions on how you might approach this project.

The Betsy Ross House Fact, Myths, and Pictures

Thanks for visiting.  Have a great day and remember our veterans.

Thank you to our veterans for their service to our country and their sacrifices.
God Bless American




Monday, November 4, 2019

Salvage

Sometimes perhaps it just isn't worth trying to salvage old dollhouse pieces. These pieces came from the Junk Man, and they are destined for the San Franciscan. We've seen this bedroom set and the fireplace in houses on Pinterest where they look nicely finished and authentic.

These kit pieces, though, were so poorly assembled and badly finished that I am wondering if it really  is worth the effort trying salvage them; however, that they are going in an abandoned row house seems to justify the efforts put them back together. The photos don't actually do justice showing the terrible stain and what must have been an attempt to give a fine, shiny finish. Instead the transparent coating is too thick and badly applied and cannot be sanded away.

The bed is worst; so bad that I am wondering why I spent the better part of last evening trying to put it back together.



 

The foot board is just leaning against the bed for show. I struggled to get it glued back on, but I couldn't clamp it, so I tried rubber bands, still the glue wouldn't hold--or I grew too impatient.



This photo show the excessive amount of glue used which in some joints I tried to scrape off. I decided to leave this clump on as a for my own glue, Alene's Tacky glue, but I couldn't get a tight enough bond. I'm now considering my options.

Next the dining set is in relative good shape, except it is missing a leg. I have this kit in my stash, so I'm going to carve a new leg, now realizing that with a new Circut I could cut a new leg.


The vanity is is fine shape, even with its smoky blurred mirror. 




Next, the fireplace. At first I was going to try to remove the Christmas wreath that is so solidly attached, but I'm leaving it.


The mantle precariously sits in place, but you can see the rest of the pieces below it.


Laying it flat, I pieced it together.


Then began to glue it together. I'm missing pieces, but that's okay.



One tiny post had broken off in place, so I dug in my stash to see if I had a bit of lumber that would replace the broken part.


Almost a perfect fit. I glued it in place and sanded it down. You can see where it is supposed to go at the end of the post, but I put it in place and glued the post to it.



Not perfect, but I'll add some brown paint and it will be okay.

 

And here it is. The fireplace has been reassembled, minus 3 pieces. The very top of the mantle should have 3 posts across the top, but two look okay.


One post is crooked on the right, but that's okay too.

Betsy Ross Project

 And I did a bit of work on the Betsy Ross room-box. I'll do a test-run out of foam board since I've never made anything from scratch.

I had put the project on hold because I didn't know the dimensions of the original house until I found a wonderful website yesterday that told the story of the house. A lot of mythology surrounds Betsy Ross and questions about the authenticity of the story that she made the colonial flag, but it seems, based on what her children wrote about her, she did make that flag for General Washington.

The house is another story, too. She did live there, maybe, and she did carry on her husband's upholstery business after he died. The question has always been where was the original house was actually located and is the museum house that claims to be her house really that house? Today, it seems to at least represent the house that she probably lived in.

In the beginning it was a simple three story colonial or Georgian band house. Each floor was one room, with the kitchen located in the basement. With such a simple design, I will could build build a four story house, eventually. The Real Good Toys house that I build for Lily might have been perfect.

The website that I found had all the details that I needed to help me decide how to build my room that will demonstrate the making of that flag, include a 360 panoramic video of the room. At one point an addition was built on the back of the house, enlarging it with as many as 8 families living there.

My first question was how big was the room? The exterior of the house was 16 feet wide and the the side walls were 25 feet long, so I measured 16 inches across; now my door, shelf, and window fit.

The house was renovated along the way, with one photo in 1907 showing the door on the opposite side with a very large shop window that spanned the entire front of the store,  while an 18th century sketch show the door on the other side with colonial pediments across the top of the door and a small multi-paned window. I returned the larger window that I had and bought this this smaller one that opens. I imaged that the window might have been able to be open to get fresh air, especially during the summer heat. Windows were also taxed then, so working houses had fewer, smaller windows.

The 360 view gave me a better sense of how the house is laid out. With so many unanswered questions about the house, I feel that I have more freedom to offer my interpretation of Betsy's work room, following what we hope is historically accurate.


Thanks for visiting. I always enjoy and appreciate your comments. Speaking of which, I am finding it increasingly harder to leave comments on Blogger blogs, including my own as I try to reply to the comments left here. In doing my research, I have realized that it is a Blogger issue. I found an article that I'll share with you, but honestly, I don't think it fixes the problem. Perhaps you have better answers. So, those of you who post on Instagram and Facebook, you will find my comments there.

I have also changed my comments to a pop-up window, hoping that will solve my problem on my site. Let me know what you think.




Time to Get Real

I love Christmas. Today I will decorate the tree. Most people I know already have their trees up, but for me this is the weekend. When I wa...