Problem Solved

The plan was to have a balcony outside the studio. I planned the stonework around it. I made plants for it. I made it’s upstairs neighbor and glued it in place. Everything was going according to plan. That is until I realized that it will be in the way of the removable wall.

Doh!

Trying to come up with a solution has been bouncing around my brain for weeks. Originally I thought I could either glue it in place or connect it to the removable wall. If I glued it in place I’d have a really hard time getting the wall out. However, if I attached it to the removable wall there would be a bald spot where the balcony was in the brickwork.

Then inspiration hit. Magnets!

I carved out small holes in the balcony and used super glue to imbed strong magnets.

Then I carved holes into the wall so I could imbed magnets there.

You’ll notice the brown paint. I used it as a way to mark where the holes were so the magnets would line up properly.

The magnets are strong enough to hold the balcony, and all the plants on it, in place. All of the plants will probably be glued in place to make moving the balcony easier.

Problem solved. The balcony can be removed when the wall needs to come out and put back in place after.

Here’s a slow motion video of the magnets doing their job. It made me laugh when it snapped in place like this for the first time. I wasn’t expecting it to do this, so I had to take a video.

The next problem to solve will be how to imbed magnets to hold the wall in place. The magnets I have might be too big. I’ll focus on it more when the removable wall is done. I glued the doors in place today and plan on working on more stone work tomorrow. Then time to paint some more. I’m dying to install the plexiglass into the windows and doors. Since I don’t want to scrape paint off all of those panes I’m making myself wait until the facade painting is done.

A Quick Update

The removable wall has been started. The windows have been added. Some how the door is too small for the hole I cut, but I’ll be able to fix it with the frame.

All of the areas painted black have their stonework done. Once the windows and doors are in place I’ll finish adding the rest of the stonework.

While I was waiting for glue to dry I decided to start painting the stones. I’m kind of loving it so far.

Lots of touch ups and some weathering in my future. I’ll add grout after the painting is done.

Well, that’s all for now. I just wanted to give you a quick update on how the cork stonework was working out. I’ll be back soon to hopefully share a solution to a problem that had been stumping me for weeks. I just have to make sure it will work first. Until then have a great week!

The Facade

It’s starting to look like something more than a big box!

Thanks to the Cricut the windows came together really quickly. They were cut out, glued together, and painted with a first coat of primer.

While those were in their various stages of drying I made the frames. The frames were so easy to make when all of the windows are exactly the same size. I had them set up like an assembly line and had them done in a night.

They all fit so beautifully.

This next part was mentally holding me hostage. I knew what needed to be done, but man those mean little thoughts that like to creep in and cause doubt are no joke. Thankfully, after that first window was installed I was able to quiet those little voices a bit.

Here’s a glimpse of the chaos I seem to prefer to work in. I had to cut 4 of the windows in half. That was nerve wracking.

Once some of the windows were in I had to test the fabrics I picked for curtains. Originally I had planned on lots of different curtain styles to create the look of multiple apartments. However after seeing the the fabrics in place I think it looks too busy. I think instead each floor will have its own curtain style.

There will be 2 balconies. The one on the top floor will is now glued into place and has a coat of joint compound smeared all over it to help create a stone look. The balcony for the studio will probably be glued to the front wall that will be removable.

I’m avoiding building removable front wall. Those pesky little voices are creeping back in. I know what needs to be done. I know how I want to do it. I just need to do it. So, I decided to paint myself into a corner. I started bricking the facade. I’m using cork. I’ve used it before and hope I can get it to do what I want. The bricking is going quickly, but I keep running into areas that need to be taken care of (windows and doors on the top floor, the removable wall on the middle floor, and the doors for the bottom floor), which then makes me focus on finishing up those areas so I can keep bricking.

This is where I stopped tonight.

Facade to do:

  • Glue the top floor doors into place
  • Insert windows into the top floor wall
  • Build removable wall (including doors, windows, and balcony)
  • Brick everything
  • Paint everything
  • Insert glass into windows
  • Balcony and window railings
  • Curtains in faux windows

Then I can get back to the inside where the list is possibly longer. Ugh! I just have to remember to just keep moving forward. How do you eat a 2 ton elephant? One bite at a time.

Limitations

Turns out I’m really bad at making things square. I had thought I had done a good job of centering the studio in the larger build, but as it turns out I didn’t.

I’m about an 1/8 of an inch off. I know it won’t be too noticeable. When I started creating the facade I noticed I was also pretty bad at getting the floors an even distance from the front. To remedy this I measured 2″ in from the edge and glued a piece of wood along the line.

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This way all the facade pieces will be more even than before. Clearly, as you can see in this picture, I need to work on my measuring and cutting skills too. Well, if I’ve learned one thing during this build is that it’s all fixable. It will get covered later.

 

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I hung door and window templates hung in place so that I could get a sense of what still needs to be done. If you look closely you can see my dog, Bolt, in the background. He’s usually right under my chair. I’m always worried I’m going to roll over his tail. Thankfully he’s pretty quick when I start to move.

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The windows and doors need to be tackled. I’ve tried to put it off as long as I could. There will be 4 full size windows, 8 partial windows, one full size set of French doors, and 2 partial sets. That’s all.

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So, after reading and watching lots of dollhouse window tutorials and a few full scale window tutorials I finally decided to jump in. How hard can it be? With my aforementioned inability to measure and cut accurately its a bit harder than I thought it might be. My first try turned out uneven and crooked. So on to Plan B.

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I broke out my Cricut. If anything can cut a straight line it will be the machine designed to cut straight lines. I designed a couple different window designs to try and spent yesterday cutting them out. I used mat board instead of wood. It seems a bit more forgiving.

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The design on the left was my original thought. It looks good in pictures, but in person it looks a bit flat. So I went back to the drawing board. The design on the right looks better in person and is what I’m leaning towards. With a successful window test done I went ahead and designed the door files to cut out with the Cricut.

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Tomorrow will be a cutting marathon. Hopefully I can get all the windows assembled and maybe one of the doors. I’m also starting to fill in the facade with more wood. Inching forward, cut by cut.

Balcony Botanicals

I’m making small steps in the creation of the facade. I’ll share pictures when I get a little bit further. For right now most of my facade progress is mental. In the mean time I’ve been working on some adornments.

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The balcony seems sufficiently full. I’m not sure if that’s the railing I’ll be using. It feels too busy. I like the middle part, so I might try creating something along those lines.

 

I thought I’d share how I made the geraniums. The window box was made from wood glued together to create a box, then painted to look vaguely cement like.

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These plastic flowers were found at Michael’s. I thought they looked like a good form for the flower base. Since they were on sale I took a chance.

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The flowers were pulled off and I trimmed the base to be more even. I glued a piece of wire into the bottom of the flower.

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Once the glue dried they were painted with varying shades of red.

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On my last trip to Earth and Tree Miniatures I found a tiny bag of bright pink paper flower shapes. I bought them since they were inexpensive and I figured they would come in handy eventually. I used a ball stylus and some craft foam to shape the flowers.

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The flowers were glued in-between the petals of the plastic flower. I didn’t worry about the paper flowers being pink and the plastic flowers being red. I applied red paint onto the pink flowers once the glue was dry.

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The dirt is styrofoam painted brown. The flowers were glued in first, then I filled in with leaves.

The leaves are from Jeannetta Kendall Miniatures. I used water colors to paint them green. The purple was added with an eggplant colored tombow marker. I added a tiny bit of water to have the marker spread a little so it would look softer and more natural. They looked rough before I shaped them. I used the ball stylus again and a dental tool to create the shape. The leaves were glued onto little pieces of wire and then pushed into the “dirt”.

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I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. The flowers are probably a little bit bigger than they should be, but it doesn’t bother me. I’m thinking this technique would be great in making hydrangea too. However, I have too much other stuff to do before I can try it. I’m feel like I’m so behind on the Creatin’ Contest build right now. I know it always looks worse before it starts to look better. Eek!

This weekend I’m hoping to get a good start on the 12 full and partial windows I need. We’ll see how it goes.

Next Steps

Way back in the beginning I had decided that I wanted my studio to be part of an apartment building. Since I’m not a completely crazy person I need to figure out a way to capture just part of the building.

I decided to pull inspiration from artists like Ichiyo Haga. However, mine needs to open up to reveal the studio. I’ve let the technical aspect of this intimidate me.

This is where I was last week. It was emptied out. I noticed the top was sagging a little so I put in 2 supports to brace it better.

I used some mat board to create a blank canvas. I needed to hide the spaces I won’t be furnishing so that I could get a better idea of what the outside of the building will look like. If that makes sense.

One of the things I’ve been mentally struggling with is how to keep the build looking like the kit. I’ve been using all of the pieces from the kit and adding more to it, but I know it’s possible to look at it and not know the kit was even used. So how do I keep the integrity of the kit while making my vision come to life?

I started with measuring and adding.

And then some sketching. There are a few mess ups, but it gives me a good road map of how to attack the front of the building. I’m aiming to keep the architectural elements from the kit intact. I’ll just expand them to repeat around the studio. There will be a couple of balconies, lots of tall windows, and a few French doors. The building facade will have a stone or brick finish. The windows and balconies will have iron railings. The center doors and flanking windows will be the area that opens up to reveal the studio. All of the windows will need to be custom, but they will look a lot like the windows from the kit. I may even cannibalize the kit windows. The front will be held on with magnets. This is where next week’s projects will be heading. Yay! Finally I have less of a general concept and more of a plan! It might just be 12% of a plan, but that’s better than 11%.

Last Day of Summer

It’s been months since I’ve written anything, but I’ve been slowly cranking out projects. And when I say slowly, I mean snails pace. Here’s a quick summary of the last few months:

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I finished the floor and I love the way it turned out. I wanted to wear it on a chain as a necklace for a few days, but decided it was a bit chunky for my normal style.

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The lantern is finished.

I’m thinking of abandoning it somewhere in Boston. I love the idea of a little bit of the wild being left in the hustle and bustle of a big city.

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I made an easel from pieces of walnut. I’m happy with the way it turned out. I know what I would do differently if I was to make another one, but I’m not going to point those things out.

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It still looks a little too new. I plan on giving it a few paint drips to help make it look well loved.  It’s fully adjustable.

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I’ve also made a few million paint brushes. Ok, maybe I’ve only made about 45, but it feels like a million. I think I need to make more. I plan on sharing how I made them in a future post.

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The canvases are made from wood stretcher bars I cut and glued together and fabric. The fabric is lightly glued to the canvas. I want to add nail head trim to some of them, but the nails I have are too big for the scale. The newspapers are scans of French newspapers I found online. I scaled them in Microsoft Word and printed them onto old typewriter paper and onion skin paper. The chair is a Chrysabon kit. I did a little dry brushing to make it look a little bit more like wood. It will be getting paint drops to help it look well loved. The rug has been aged a bit, but needs more work. I have a couple of more rugs that will be going into the studio that are still waiting for their turn to be aged.

Warning: The next few pictures are not for the faint of heart.

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This is what my desk area looked like this morning. This is the result of months of projects and a ferret who loves digging around in the polyfil. He’s also figured out how to get up on the desk, but I can’t figure out how he’s doing it. It’s not a big deal really. He just loves spilling water, knocking things off the desk (usually breaking them), and digging around in my carefully organized piles of junk making them less organized.

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I know it’s time to clean up when my work space is whittled down to roughly 5″x10″. Such a mess, but an organized mess. The funny thing is I know exactly were everything is.

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I’ve been using the build as a random storage area too. This needs to be cleaned out also. In the top left is a sofa I’ve been working on. I don’t like the way the tufting is coming out so it will be getting redone. Below the sofa is a round table from House of Miniatures. I thought I was going to use it in the studio, maybe as a still life setup, but the ferret has knocked it off my desk twice and broken it twice. It no longer sits level and I’m not sure I’m willing to fix it a third time. The rest of it is odds and ends of things I’ll be using and things that were just stuffed there because my desk was a mess.

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See? The mess wasn’t that bad. This is after about 25 minutes. Now it’s a blank slate, ready for new messes.

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So much more space now.

The kids go back to school tomorrow. While the summer was fun and full of trips, laser tag, and beach visits I’m glad it’s over. I’m looking forward to having a normal schedule again. Now I just need to think about what mess I want to make tomorrow.

Lots of Little Irons

The last few weeks have been a hodgepodge of projects. Some bigger than others.

I finished my tiny pumpkin project! I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s always a nice little boost to finish a project.

A few weeks ago I made the original walls from the Serendipity Shed kit taller and just a tiny bit deeper. The window holes were patched with some foam core.

This side of the walls will be seen, so they are getting the most attention. I want them to have the look of old plaster. To hide the joints and window openings I first gave the entire wall a thin coat of spackle and then sanded that smooth. I wasn’t a fan of the finished texture of the spackle. Next I decided to try glueing a piece of tissue paper over the spackle, thinking that maybe it would create a more worn plaster look. Sadly it’s created more of an old leather texture. I’m still not happy. I might try another plaster type product and see if I get a better result.

Since the walls had me a little stuck, I decided to keep cutting out wood for the floor. This is what I have so far. Clearly I need a lot more wood for the floor.

I’m kind of in love with the color and pattern. The pieces will be sanded and will be fit together better. I just needed to make a mock up so I could estimate how much more wood I would need. I have plans next week to drive up to my closest dollhouse shop, Earth and Tree Miniatures, to pick up some molding pieces and more wood for the floor.

And now for something completely different. I’ve been wanting to make some tiny little projects and decided to work on them in my Creatin Contest down time. I love this little house.

The roof is shingled and the sides have custom wood siding.

It even sits on a stone foundation. It’s about 2.5″ tall and 1.5″ wide. I’ll be ordering a tiny cloche for it to sit in. I’m certain I’ll knock it off the shelf if it’s not protected.

And finally, I’ll leave you with some pictures of a few more projects I’ve been killing time with.

While I haven’t gotten as much done with the Creatin Contest as I’d like, I have been keeping myself busy. I’ll share more of the finished projects as I get them done.

Two Right Feet

I’ve put my pumpkin project on hold the last few months. Those darn shoes have had me stumped. That is until yesterday. I needed to drop my husband off at the airport, which gave me the perfect excuse to visit the closest dollhouse store to me. After spending too much time taking it all in I found a pair of little white tennis shoes. They are made of a soft metal and painted white.

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After getting them home and taking them out of the package I realized there was something off about them. Turns out they were 2 right shoes.

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I used a metal file and tried to reshape them a bit. My original plan was to use only the front half of the shoe, so I ended up cutting the shoes in half before repainting them. I’m hoping the one on the left looks a little less “right”.

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This is where I last left the pumpkin box:

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And for a refresher, here is the inspiration:

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This is where its at now after repainting the shoes and finally starting to glue things in place:

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I’m pretty happy with it so far. It will possibly have an acrylic cover over it. I want to try to include the words “dive into fall!” on the acrylic to tie more into cover of the magazine.

The art studio build is moving along slowly. The walls have been made taller and squared off by adding some MDF to the original slanted walls. I’ve also filled in the holes for the windows with some foam core, I just haven’t gotten pictures of that yet.

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I’ve also taken apart the front panel of the Serendipity Shed to get a better idea of what the front of the building will look like. It’s rough, but I can sort of see it.

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Now, if you need me I’ll be cutting eleventy billion pieces of wood for the herringbone floor.

Unreliable Brain

After hours of contemplation, plotting, and planning I’ve made some changes to my plans.

I’ve decided to not to do the arch. I didn’t like how tall it was going to make the whole build without really adding substance, if that makes sense. It would be a distraction. I’ve decided instead to do a small section of a larger building. It keeps the focus on the art studio, while offering opportunities to add life behind other windows.

I set out this week to pick up some MDF to start the outer box. I learned that my mind isn’t the sharpest when thinking on the fly. While standing in the hardware store I completely lost all sense of space and dimensions, changed my plans based on this confusion, and bought MDF in the wrong sizes. Once I got home I realized the errors of my ways and vowed never to trust my brain again. Thankfully I could return the wrong sized pieces and then started over, this time with my measurements in hand.

I’ve got the whole outer box together now, just haven’t taken a picture of it. Next will be adding the shelves in to frame out where the kit is going to be.

Also, I’ve learned that stepping outside of your comfort zone is a surefire way to second guess everything you do. I’ll just keep plugging away and it will all come together…I hope.