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 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 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. 



  1. Hi!

    I just discovered your blog and really like it! You have a lovely way of writing and your house (houses) looks great. Did you make the bricks yourselve of can you buy them? I haven't seen them in the Netherlands yet.

    groetjes Evelien

  2. OMG hand bricking that giant house? You are CRAZY. I have to admit, however, it looks *totally* fly once it's mortared in.

    I also agree with the use of stucco patching compound for a wide range of modeling work. It's highly resilient, slightly soft after drying, so it won't crack or peel over years, even in a garage environment.