Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Venturing Into the World of Scratch-Built Houses & Other New Adventures

Lately I've noticed that I don't get as excited about finding dollhouse kits on Craigslist or eBay...at least not in the same way that I used to when I first started in this hobby.  I mean sure, if it's a great deal (like the $10 Pierce that I found not too long ago), I'll jump on it.  However, it has to be a rare house (like the Hofco Queen Anne) or an extremely good buy for me to get it.  I've pretty much seen all of the kits that are out there and have quite of few of them already in my collection...even if they're not done yet.  So I got the idea to build a house from scratch.

Of course, me being me...I couldn't just build ANY house from scratch...it had to be a BIG one, the bigger the better!  So I've decided to build the Glencliff dollhouse from Earth and Tree.  If you're not familiar with it, here is a link to the monster.  Glencliff Dollhouse  See what I mean?  The house is humongous...it will easily be the largest one that I have built by the time I'm done with it.

Now I said I was building it from scratch, but that may not be accurate.  I've bought the plans/blueprints for the house.  But I've been talking to a carpenter that I'm going to hire to cut the wood out for me once I get it.  Hubby tried talking me into taking a woodworking class at one of the community colleges nearby, but honestly...I don't know if I trust myself not to cut off a finger or hand.  Also, I know how important it is that the pieces be cut accurately and I don't want to risk screwing it up...I know my limits.  So I thought it would be better to have someone else cut the pieces for me and I'll take it from there.  So technically it's not from scratch, but that's the story I'm going with for now.

I'm expecting the plans to arrive any day now and will update when they come.  I was so incredibly busy with real-life stuff today that I didn't have a single moment to work on any of my other projects.  Hopefully I'll get a little time tomorrow.

Oh, I almost forgot...the other things that I'll be working on in the near future.  I'm always amazed at the window treatments that I see in other people's houses and even more amazed to learn that they made them themselves.  So I thought hey...why can't I do the same?  I can sew pretty well, and I can read and follow instructions.  So I've started gathering books and other info on making dollhouse curtains and drapes and will be attempting my own very soon...so stay tuned!

Also, I have an obsession with dollhouse beds.  My absolute favorite are those by Kelly Curtis & Lorraine Scuderi.  I commissioned Kelly to make a bed for me awhile back and it's just lovely!  It's a shabby chic bed that now resides in my Seaside Villa.  I also bought a bed from Lorraine. Both of these ladies do such wonderful work and I'd love to have them make beds for all of the my houses.  Unfortunately, with all of the houses that I have, I'd go broke doing that.  So I thought, why can't I try and make my own dollhouse beds.  Again, I'm a pretty decent seamstress, so with practice I should be able to do a decent job.  So that's the next project that I'll be working on in the near future.

So much to do, so little time!  But to me that's what makes this such an enjoyable hobby.  The fact that there is always something new to learn, some new skill to try and perfect!  I'm always up for a challenge though! 


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back to work...

Even though I really was not feeling well today, I decided to try and get some mini-work done anyway.  Today I worked on the Darlington.  Let me give a brief background on this house before I go on.  The Darlington was my 4th wedding anniversary gift from Chris.  It seems as if almost every year since I started in this hobby, he has gifted me with a dollhouse or something dollhouse "related" either for our anniversary, my birthday or for Christmas.  He gave me the Queen Anne for our 3rd anniversary. 

Anyway...I saw the Darlington and immediately fell in love with it and had to have it.  If you're not familiar with it, here is a link to a picture of it from the company's website. Majestic Mansions "The Darlington"

My original plan was to make it into a hotel, similar to how it is pictured on the website.  However, after further consideration, I decided to make it a very modern brownstone with afrocentric decor.  So that's what we're working towards.  The house is VERY large with decent sized rooms, so it should be fun to decorate.  The only problem I have had with it was the fact that the instructions were not at all well written and it was difficult putting the shell together.  Here are a few pictures of the shell after I was finally able to get it put together. 

Front Side
Left Side

Right Side

As you can see, it's a pretty big house, and the pictures really don't do justice to how huge it really is. 

After the shell was put together, I primed the inside and outside.  A brief word on priming.  Some miniaturists don't believe in priming and some do.  I've been told that priming your dollhouse before you decorate serves a few purposes: 1) over time the wood secretes oils that can ruin your wallpaper/paint.  Sealing the wood helps to prevent that from occurring.  & 2) Priming the walls helps the wallpaper adhere to the walls better than if you apply it to the bare wood.  Whether those things are true or not, I really don't know.  I DO know that I have a lot invested in my houses and the last thing I'd want is for them to be ruined over the years because I didn't do something as simple as priming.  So that's my thought on the issue of priming.

After priming the inside and the outside, I gave the exterior a coat of grey paint.  Why?  Because I decided that I would brick & mortar the exterior.  Just in case I missed applying mortar on certain small sections of the house, I wanted it to be the same color as my mortar so it wouldn't be as noticeable.  After that, the long and very arduous process of bricking the house began.  This is how I started out...

And so it began....
Yes, those are individual bricks that I put on one by one...and yes, I am insane!  I thought about using the brick stencils and the mix, however, even though that's convenient, I don't like how uniform the brickwork comes out using them.  On a real house, bricks are not all perfectly uniform, and I didn't want my dollhouse to be that way either.  IMO, the clay bricks add more realism and character to the house than the stencils do...but that's just my .02. 

I won't lie and say that there have been times that I haven't felt like saying "to hell with this" and walking away from it.  It IS extremely tedious work.  However, I'm almost done with it now and am so pleased with the results so far that I'm glad I stuck with it.  Here are a few more shots of how it progressed over the months....we went from the above....to this...

and finally to where I stopped tonight....  At this point the back of the house is nearly done and waiting to be mortared.  The sides are just about done as well and you can see how far I've gotten on the front.  I had someone ask me to give some tips on how I bricked this house.  Honestly, I have no tips/tricks to share.  I didn't draw any lines to get the bricks straight...I really just eyeballed it.  Some I'm sure aren't perfectly straight, but as I said before, real houses don't have perfectly straight brickwork either...so I can live with that.  I did try and stagger the bricks so they looked more realistic.  I will say this though...before attempting to mortar in between the bricks you MUST seal them with a matte sealer (I used a spray version, but they sell brush on kinds as well) first.  Sealing them does a few things: 1) if you use actual mortar which is very messy, it helps you to be able to clean the excess off of the bricks easier than if you don't seal them.  And 2) there is something in some mortar mixes that will actually melt your clay bricks a bit.  I have no idea how it does it, but trust me...seal them FIRST! 

After applying mortar...
I've mortared a small section just to get an idea of how the finished product will look once I've mortared the entire house...

Now with this section, I used the mini mortar mix that comes in the jars.  However, since then I bought a huge tub of spackle compound that I will use to mortar the rest of the house.  I think the spackle may go on smoother and create less of a mess than the mortar (which tends to be very gritty and rough). 

So that is where I stopped for tonight.  The next steps will be to finish applying the bricks and the mortar the rest of the house.  Then I'll decide where to go from there. 


Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of School and Other Distractions

Where on earth did the summer go??  It seems as if just yesterday the kids were getting out of school and I was rejoicing at not having to get up early to get Amaya ready for school, fix her breakfast/lunch, etc....and now it's time for them to go back. 

Oh well..back to the grind!  Woke up this morning and of course, I had to get Missy's hair just 'so' for the first day back.  While I was doing her hair, she informed me that she wanted a swoop bang.  WHA?  I'm thinking, it's 7:00 in the morning, and I just spent 3 hours on washing, detangling, drying, curling/rolling her hair the day before.  NOW she wants a swoop bang....not that it's a big deal, but still....demanding much??  But I wanted her to be confident on her first day back, so I gave her a little swoop bang. 

Then I fixed her breakfast and got her off to school.  When we came back, I only had a few hours to spare before I had to rush back out to Marcus' open house for his school.  Then I had a bunch of laundry, ironing and various household tasks to do after that. 

Long story short, my day was extremely busy, and I barely had time to get in my Insanity workout, much less any dollhouse work.  I kept walking past my poor houses longing to pick up a paint brush or a shingle...ANYTHING!  But it wasn't meant to be.  Hopefully tomorrow I can get some more work done on the Pierce...we'll see.

Speaking of my workout though...today I was grateful that I had "Cardio Recovery", which wasn't as much of a recovery as I thought it should've been, but it wasn't bad.  Tomorrow I'll be in the gym for an upper body workout. 

Sorry I had nothing interesting to share about today, but I guess some days are just like that. 


Welcome To My New Blog!

I decided to create a new blog on this site because it's more user friendly than WordPress.  I tried to import my posts from the old blog into this one, but it didn't work.  So I'll basically be starting over.  Luckily I hadn't posted much.  

Anyway...I'm off to bed for the night.  I've been up all night trying to get this one set up.  

Here's to fresh starts/new beginnings!