Monday, February 28, 2011

Moving right along....

As I mentioned in the previous post, I wanted some aged looking finishes on this Conservatory but I didn’t especially want to paint it. So I tried my own concoction of stain.

 I took 4 parts of Minwax Pickled Oak and ½ part of Ebony and brushed the grayish mixture on the inside and outside of the pre-fab walls of the building, after removing the doors and windows. I didn’t apply it to the MDF panels. I will use some sort of stucco effect on the outside and I am not yet sure what I’ll try for the inside.

I think the Pickling stain is meant to be wiped off but I left it to soak in. The mixture made more of a bluer gray than I wanted so I think I’ll have to go over it all with a greenish wash of some sort. Also, the pre-fab walls had some glue smoosh that I was not aware of so didn’t go on evenly in some spots. You might be able to see that in the photos…

Since it is meant to be a rather neglected looking building, I will probably cover many of those areas with moss and/or vines but I won’t be able to get away with that indoors. I may have to paint inside after all….

I did not stain any of the roof assemblage because I am planning to somehow "copperize" that all.  Covering ot with copper foiling, such as is used for satined glass work is an option but I think I will probably go with a faux finish for those.

For those of you interested in what a finished product might look like, Jo Bevilacque of Spencer’s Nook has a three part article in Dollhouse Miniatures staring in Nov/Dec 09 issue. She shows both a painted one and a stained one in her very unique style. I will use some of her suggestions but I don’t care for a lot of the embellishments. She has some good information on process when building from a kit, though, so it is worth taking a look if you have access to the magazines.

For example, I like the large base for the Conservatory.  She used it to hide the electrical. I will need to raise mine up some to meld it properly with the house so I will also be building a base, though I will not use 2”x4” lumber. I think that will be too heavy for my purposes. I will used some sort of foam covered with … well, I’ve yet to decided what it will be covered with but the sides of the Conservatory base will match the sides of the base of the house. I never did finish that part. We’ll see.

While I was staining, Hester, the housekeeper, materialized. I swear that woman is like smoke…

“You know,” she said. “The conservatory was a special present to Titania…”
“Isn’t that a character from Midsummer Night’s Dream?” I asked, trying not to sound too inquisitive.
“Tis… they loved the theatre”.
“They?...” This was like getting information from a teen-ager.
“Aloysius and Livy. They often held performances in the ballroom..”

Ballroom??!! Where the heck was the ballroom…?? I’d have to look into that…later.

“ and Titania?” I asked.
“Why, their only daughter. I thought you knew….”

When I didn’t hear anything more for a few minutes, I looked up from my work. There was nothing left but a bit of misty haze where she had been standing…



Sunday, February 27, 2011

And so it begins...

or at least that’s that plan…

Remember that rather larger dollhouse I posted a bit ago? The one that I’ve virtually ignored for years? Where the outside is sort of complete but the inside isn’t? The one I’ve decided to “make over” or “move out”?

Yea…that one…

After careful thought and consideration, I have created a story, and therefore, a new theme for the house. Someone had suggested a more Old European look. I was intrigued by that but no clue how or where to begin except that the outside had to change completely for the inside to work.

First, the back-story...

The owner of if the house is a gentleman…Sir Kendrick Aloysius DeBellows. I don’t yet know a lot about him. His age is uncertain, as is his occupation.

Though there are children in the house, they are not his. He is not married now nor has he ever been. It is unclear how he came to be the owner of the house but it is believed to be inherited.

The children (2) and house are cared by a somewhat batty housekeeper who seems to be “part” of the house. She has much knowledge of its history when she chooses to reveal it.

The house itself is a picture of shabby bygone elegance. There is no staff besides the housekeeper and DeBellows is too preoccupied to see the need for any.

..That’s all I know at the moment.

Back to the house. Before jumping right into a major …hugely major…redo, I thought I might try my ideas out on a bit smaller scale. Years ago, I purchased the Conservatory kit from Houseworks with the plan to add it to the side of the dollhouse. I even cut out the exiting window of the house for French doors to accommodate the addition.

Never happened. I almost brought it to the last miniature show to try and sell it off but left home without it.

I looked at today and said, “hey, why not?” The plan is to use the Conservatory as a sort of guinea pig, trying out the different ideas I have in mind for the house and see how it might all work out.

I opened the kit, sorted the pieces, read the directions, took some measurements and made some notes. I have seen these kits done up in so many different ways…even saw one example where two kits were attached back to back for a stunning result.

The architectural style of the original house kit is Italianate. I’m thinking stucco, stone and subtle grays, greens and verdigris/ copper.

I’ll keep you posted as things develop…



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Scribe

My newest project based on this painting which appears on the cover of a book called
"Scribes and Illuminators" by Christopher Hamel. 

Despite surfing the web, I haven't been able to determine who the artist was but I was inspired by the image.

Here is my interpretation...

The chair has been aged and distressed and
covered with reclaimed blue leather.

The stack of reference books can be removed from the chair but they are attached to each other.

The fabric bag filled with completed scrolls can also be removed from the chair back and the scrolls can be removed from the bag if desired.

 The table has also been aged and distressed. 

The scribe has extra blank scrolls and inkpots
at hand and a piece he is currently working on.

There are finished manuscripts under the table
and the key to the scriptorium.
All the items are permanently attached to the table.

A close up of the left side of the table shows the illuminated candle and the magnifier used to intensify the candlelight.  This can be plugged or wired directly into dollhouse or roombox wiring.

A close-up of the right side of the table shows the multiple colored inks used in the process,
including a special container for the gilding ink.

I will be offering this for table and chair for sale at the Orlando Miniature show this weekend. 

If I still have it on Monday morning, I will be listing it on Etsy.

I've been thinking about this project for a while and I had a lot of fun putting it all  together. 

I hope you all enjoyed seeing it!



Friday, February 4, 2011

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen....

...or at least, their hats!  :-)

Here's a quick (and unedited) photo of the hats I made for next weeks show.  The two I made last time were snapped up quickly and people came back asking for them so I thought I put together a few more.

They are all made from leather and do have "hardware" in the back as well.  Goggles are not removable.

...and this is one of the many reasons why I haven't finished the dollhouse...


Thursday, February 3, 2011

A new challenge...?

I realized I haven't put anything on my blog in a while.  I've been working on getting ready for the Orlando Miniature show next week and, while I have been trying to keep up with what others are up to, I haven't found time to update.

So today's the day.  

Here's my first (and really, only) dollhouse. and, yes, I do realize it is still decorated for Christmas....
(The pictures should get larger if you click on them.)

 I bought it as a kit when Matt was 8 months old.  Some of you may recognize it as the Real Good Toys "Bostonian".  For some reason, back then, I wanted a REALLY big dollhouse.  I figured, why not?  How hard could it be?  HA!

It has a side entrance and I cut out a window on the opposite for French doors.  The plan was for a garden or conservatory.  I purchased the Conservatory from Houseworks but it is still in the box.  I actually don't think it will fit without a lot of kit-bashing.  Plus the cabinet it is currently on just fits so I'd have to look for a longer table. I am displaying it as a "wall" between my living room and the entrance to our bedroom area.  We have a pretty open floor plan and this allows the house to be seen easily from both sides.

Here is the view from the back.  You'll notice the rather sophisticated dust cover hastily thrown back :-)

You will also probably notice that it is not done.  As a matter of fact, it is so not done that I've been considering getting rid of it.  But who'd want a half-done dollhouse?  Here are some close ups:

This supposed to be the "parlour". I moved the lefthand wall over a bit to make room for a larger staircase (which never quite happened) and decided to make it a dining room/parlour combo...with the French doors out to the garden...or whatever.  I have a lovely cherry artisan made dining set to put in the front near the windows but, alas, it is still in the box.  Never could find any suitable parlour furniture.  Sigh...

This was called the Dining Room but because I had other plans, I made this the Kitchen.  It is one of only two rooms I consider sort of "done".  I do like the blue furniture... it was made by the same man who made the dining room furniture.  There is a round topped table behind the work table with two pretty rush-seated chairs and the cute little high chair.

For some reason, I am missing the close up of the room to the right of this one.  No isn't done... It was designated as the Kitchen but, of course, I already had one so I'd thought it could be the gentleman's office with a private entrance.  Maybe he was a doctor... or a lawyer? Or something more exciting...?

This room was called the Master Bedroom and I did sort of keep it that but....then I decided to cut out the arch which is just visible on the left.  It has a pretty grille work in it whic you probably can't see too well.  Of course, that created a problem for me regarding a "door".  And certainly one would want a door on a bedroom.  Still haven't solved the problem.  One isn't commercially made to fit the opening so I'd have to make it.  While I am sure that I could do so (the wall isn't permanently in yet), I obviously am procrastinating.

Mmmm...maybe it could be a ballroom? Or something....else.

On the other side of the hallway is another room designated Bedroom.

I could be considered "done" except for window trim and treatment.  I was holding off as I was told that window treatments hang much better if there is no trim.  Jury is still out on that but, in the meantime...not done.  Except for my Gail Steffey leather wing chair, I don't "love" any of this furniture. I bought the bed already dressed.  It was inexpensive and I thought it was pretty at the time.  It still is pretty but.....  The armoire is nice and would look great all dressed out...if I ever got around to it.

To the right of the above is a room I thought would be a nice Nursery.

Because of the layout of the house, this room (and the "Office" below it) is much deeper than the rooms next to it.  To cut down on the tunnel-effect, I built the shelves in at the front. I wanted a light above the window but since it was an after-thought and I didn;t plan for it when I wired the house, I haven't devised a way to hide the wiring...bleh.  And again, no window trim as no ideas for curtains.

On to the third floor.

Way on the right, over the Master bedroom, is a room with an odd shaped ceiling and a window to a balcony.  It said Boy's room to me...I  could just envision his 10 year old self crawling out the window to look at the stars with his telescope.

But the wainscoating was a disappointment and really needs to be removed (somehow) so I never went further with it. Truthfully, it upsets me to even look at it.

Across the hall is the Bath.  Or at least that is what I decided it was.... :-)

It is the only really room I consider "Done", even thought it is missing door trim on the right.  That trim is all cut and ready to install as soon as I decide what to do with the hallway next to it.  I love the Victorian bath fixtures.  Like the Boys room, it has an oddly shaped front wall (due to the mansard) so I built a small knee-wall and "tiled" it like the floor (which is actually wallpaper).  The biggest problem with this room is furniture placement due to the opposing doors, especially the door to the left.

Yea...that door the left leads to yet another BEDROOM!!!.  See, there are way too many bedrooms here and I'm thinking it's a little BORRRINGGG>>>> is the FOURTH bedroom.  I guess it is nearly done also except for the window and door trim.  But I don't think I could stand another bedroom in this house. 

Any suggestions??? A library?  Anyone???

Oh yes....this is the "Attic"...a small, windowless room to the left of the one above... A room for junque!

And the Hallways.....  no stairs...but a single French door leading out to the front balcony.

So there you have it.  A house that has been sadly ignored for almost 17 years while I did "other" miniature stuff.  While I keep on doing other miniature stuff.  I have to ask myself "why?".  I think because I just don't like the style of this house.  It is way too Pretty....starting with the outside.  I thought I liked the idea of a Painted Lady.  I cannot tell you the hours I spent painting the window trim in THREE colors.  But now I really don't.  It's all too clean, too precise, too....stuffy.

I am thinking of a major renovation and transformation, employing all the techniques I've learning over these 17  years.  Starting with the outside.

The style of the house is somewhat Italianate..and I'd like to get rid of the clapboard (which was only milled into the plywood anyway) and the color.  The roof and shingles are good.  They can stay, but the rest is HISTORY!!

Stay tuned....  I'm off to do research!