Final Details: The Supply Table

The final corner of the studio: the supply table. Looking at pictures of artists studios through time I came to the conclusion that artists are either pretty organized and neat or a total mess when it comes to their space. I seem to fall into the total mess category. I initially. wanted to go the direction of this artist being a total mess, but decided that she prefers things simple and somewhat clean.

The ladder is something that I’ve had in my stash for a few years, I’m not exactly sure where I got it. Two of the picture frames (one rectangle and the oval) are from Earth and Tree Miniatures. The other rectangular frame was made by me. I had to guild them with paint.

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The table was ordered from Miniatures.com . I didn’t like the original top, so I softened the glue in the microwave and pulled it off. Unfortunately, once the glue was soft the whole thing fell apart. It was pretty easy to glue back together. I ended up replacing the top with a piece of walnut. ¬†I painted the rest of the unfinished wood to match the walnut coloring. I never have luck getting the stain to look right, so I usually faux finish with acrylic paint. I added some black paint to give it a bit of a patina and then a light sanding to give it some wear.

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The journals and drawing are just quick little sketches. The plate full of paint tubes was picked up at Earth and Tree and then dirtied up with paint. The little white cup is from Miniatures.com . It had a shiny plastic finish that I was not happy with, so I sanded it and it ended up looking a little bit more like pottery.

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The cubby storage piece was made by me. It’s made from bass wood and painted with acrylic paint. The various bottles and jars were picked up all over the place. The flowers are more paper. kits from The Miniature Garden on Etsy. The earthen ware crock was made with a miniature plastic canister, some masking tape, super glue, and baking powder. The. little tiki is a bead I had purchased on Etsy many years ago. I have one left for this year’s project. Then I’ll have to find more. The paper is typewriter paper cut to size. The paintbrushes and paint tubes are all made by me.

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The glass jar was purchased from Miniatures.com. When adding paint to this canister, and other storage containers, I found that using water color paint worked best. I wanted the paint to look transparent and the water color paint did exactly that.

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Under the table is where she hides her mess. Crates full of old journals, unused frames, jars of chemicals, and paint are stacked up so that they are out of the way. Some of the crates were bought and others were made by me. All of them were aged and painted to look well used. The books were bought and then altered to look worn and loved.

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More miniature news papers waiting for their turn to be used. My favorite Easter egg in this build is one of the newspapers. The headline is  Godzilla Attacks. You can just see it poking out there in the back. The rags were colored using water colors and then molded into shape with spray starch.

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The picture rails on both sides of the room are made with brass tubing and pieces of card stock.

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And that’s the inside of the studio. I had so much fun building it. It’s opened up a whole new world on how to approach miniatures. I love the idea of just capturing a tiny piece of a much bigger whole. I have plans to explore that idea further this year. So, we’ll see what happens.

 

 

The Details: The Desk

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The desk on this side of the room was found at a thrift store many years ago. I repainted it and aged it a while ago. I thought the color would be a nice change from all the wood in the studio. The trash can is the top to one of my paint bottles. I gave it a quick coat of paint to make it look a little bit more like a trashcan. The basket is from Miniatures.com

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The teapot was a plastic Item I found at Michaels. I painted it with silver nail polish and then added a little black paint to make it look a little tarnished. All of the drawings and paintings were done by me. It was really fun working such a tiny scale. The pencils are tiny dowels that were sanded thin and painted to look like pencils. The flowers are made from more kits from The Miniature Garden on Etsy and the leaves are from plastic aquarium plants.

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The chair was picked up at Earth and Tree Miniatures, but it is a Chrysnbon kit. When I got it it was already put together. I didn’t like the flatness of the faux wood, so I dry brushed layers of brown paint to bring out the grain of the wood imprints. The crock on the floor was made from a plastic canister I had gotten from Miniatures.com . I used superglue and baking soda to give it a rustic texture. A little sanding and a little paint and it was ready to go.

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The bowl and cup were also picked up at Earth and Tree. The tin can was made with a small cup, painted silver with nail polish, and then added a label I found on google and printed out. The paint brushes are made with dowel, aluminum tape, and paintbrush bristles. The water in the bowl and cup is a triple thick varnish that people use for table and bar tops. I might have to finally break down and pick up some resin. I’m kind of liking adding water to things. The paint tubes are pieces of toothpick covered in aluminum tape. The newspaper image was found using google. I resized it using my word program and then printed it out on old typewriter paper.

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The texture on the wall was created with tissue paper and watered down glue. It was the best way to cover the seam between the kit wall, the extra wood I added, and the windows I blocked off. You can see the walls before here. There was a lot of sanding, painting, more sanding, aging, repainting because I didn’t like the color, sanding, and then the final aging. I was hoping for a plaster like feel. The base board was picked up at Earth and Tree Miniatures.

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All of my dollhouses have 3 things: a butterfly, a bumble bee, and a tiki head. If you look carefully in the picture above you can see the butterfly and bumble bee in one of the drawing on the wall. The tiki will be seen in pictures from the table area. Hopefully I will be able to post those details tomorrow.

The Details: The Easel Area

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Inside the studio is where the fun happens. The floors are made from strips of walnut laid in a herringbone pattern. I show part of the process here. The rug is from Miniatures.com and aged using this process.

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The easel was made by me from pieces of walnut. It’s adjustable and can hold large and small canvases. I’d like to make another one in the future, since there are a few things I would do differently. The tiny casters on the bottom and the small side table are from Miniatures.com. The hardest part of making the easel was adding the paint drops. I was so worried about messing it up.

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The small side table was aged and paint was added to make it look well loved. The paint rags on the table and easel are just pieces of cloth that were painted with watercolor paint. I used vast amounts of spray starch and a lot of patience to get the fabric to hang the way I wanted.

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The pallet is bass wood cut to shape. The bowl was at one point a miniature sauce pan. I removed the handle, painted it with a few coats of white gel nail polish, and then added some paint to make it looked used. The tubes of paint are pieces of toothpick wrapped with aluminum tape and then shaped using tweezers. The labels are pieces of paper cut to size and glued on. The paint brushes were all made from pieces of dowel, aluminum tape, and. the bristles of old full scale paintbrushes.

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The canvases are wooden frames, that I cut with my Cricut, with white cotton fabric stretched over them. They were made in 2 different sizes. The smaller canvases that are hanging on the walls are pieces of wood.

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I got the plant stand at Earth and Tree Miniatures. It was unfinished and I painted it to match the walnut color of the easel. The lace table cloth is a corner of an antique hankie.

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The poppies and cosmos were made using kits from Georgie Steeds, The Miniature Garden on Etsy. The leaves are from plastic aquarium plants, and the purple flowers were from silk flowers I found at a thrift store. The vase is a plastic container from the miniatures section at Michaels. I used white gel nail polish to make it look a little bit more like pottery.

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I originally thought I would be able to share all of the inside details in one post. Then I realized the post was getting really long. So, next time I’ll share the other side of the room.

 

The Details: The Front

Welcome to my little studio. I wanted it to be set in Paris in the early 1900s, but then after looking at photos of studios it hit me. Studios are timeless.

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The architecture of the facade was designed to mimic the facade of the Serendipity Shed. I kept the design of the windows and doors, just elongated them to create a taller ceiling. The front step became the balcony.

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My idea was to capture a small part of a much bigger whole. The front wall of the studio is removable. The balcony is also removable to make it easier to open the front. The balcony is held in place with magnets. The wall is snug, so it doesn’t need anything to hold it in place.

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The plants on the balcony were made mostly from kits I had picked up at Earth and Tree Miniatures. The. railing was made using my Cricut, black card stock, and a tiny touch of orange paint.

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I shared how I made the geraniums here.

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The upstairs neighbor’s cat is ever watchful. He looks a lot like my cat Skippy.

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Except my Skippy has a milk mustache.

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I’ll be back soon with more details from the inside.

Other sources: The bricks are made from 2 different thicknesses of cork I found at Michaels. Crafts. The doors and windows are made from mat board and plexiglass. The frames of the windows and doors are made from bass wood. The frame on the outside was made from wood molding I picked up at Home Depot and then painted gold. The door leavers are from Miniatures.com

 

Elle Peint

Now that my build has been submitted and holidays have died down I’d like to present Elle Peint.

Creativity coursed through her veins. She wasn’t happy unless her hands were covered in paint. The way the colors swirled together on the canvas made her heart happy. The listing was for a small one bedroom a historic building Montparnasse near La Rive Gauche in Paris. When she first saw the warm summer sun stream through the windows and dance across the hardwood floor, her soul lit aflame. It was in this moment that she had found her home.

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Good luck to all those who entered!

Running Out of Time

Eeek! Twelve days until this build needs to be done! I’ve been oscillating between sheer panic and feeling confident I’ll get it all done.

I thought I’d drop in with a little update on what I’ve been working on during the past few weeks.

I’ve been trying to get some of the details in order. I worked on sketches, paintings, making more paint brushes, and also built the little shelves to store my paper and extra brushes.

Started adding paint to some of the furniture.

I made some flower arrangements for my tiny artist to paint. These were really fun to make. I was a florist for many years and love playing with flowers. I don’t know why it took me so long to have my 2 hobbies merge.

Then I tried slicing my fingertip off while cutting plexiglass for the windows. The plexiglass had been giving me such a hard time the past few weeks and I was excited because I finally found a tool that would easily cut through it. I was using my craft knife to cut the plastic film that protects the plexiglass and sliced right into my finger. It was a stupid mistake. Luckily I didn’t need stitches, but it did slow me down a little.

Next up I needed a railing for the balconies. My first design was way too busy. I really liked it, but the curls of the design and the plants fought for attention. I ended up with a very simple railing that I was able to make with my Cricut.

Our family has a game where we hide little plastic animals around the house (a baboon in a shoe, a koala in the shower, a brown bear wrapped up in a phone charger, etc.). This build has been a popular hiding location. For a while there was a plastic squirrel, who wanted to be an artist, living in the studio. Now there’s a rather wild cat that’s taken up residency in the upstairs apartment.

The window coverings for the upstairs neighbor are pleated off white curtains. I finished off the upstairs curtains today. I think I will need to add a more domesticated cat to one of the upstairs windows.

The downstairs neighbor will have aged shutters. I thought I was going to be done with the shutters today, but realized I’m bad at simple math and needed to make 3 more. Thankfully they come together quickly. The pieces are cut on the Cricut. I used mat board from the framing department of the craft store. The rest is just glue and paint. The downstairs French door will have shutters and a curtain.

I planned to use the French doors from the original kit on the inside of the studio. I realized that they were going to look too short with how tall I made the walls. So I came up with a plan to make them taller.

After removing the doors, I cut the bottom brace off of the door frame. My original plan was to modify the doors so that I could still use them in the space.

I added about 1.25″ to the frame. I think Legos are my favorite underrated miniature tool. Great for making corners square and keeping lines straight and flush.

This is about when I started to realize that I was planning on putting clear glass doors into a wall that goes nowhere. So, looking through the front you would just see right out the back and that kind of ruins the illusion of there being another room on the other side of the door. I played with the idea to just put curtains on the door, but I was worried that the quality of light shining through would also ruin the illusion.

So I designed a set of doors, on my Cricut, to fit the space.

This is my inspiration:

This is where I left them at the end of my work time today. A little more paint, some aging, and a door knob and they will be ready to install. I’m attempting to make them so that they open. We’ll see how that turns out.

Here they are leaning in place. That back wall is held in place by magnets. I wanted options for viewing and taking pictures. I’m not happy with the bright aqua walls. I have plans to tone down the color. It will still be a shade of aqua, just not under the sea aqua.

I still need to cut the hole in the back wall for the doors. Since it’s MDF I’ll need to use my jigsaw. I usually do all of my jigsaw work outside. However, Mother Nature wanted to throw an obstacle my way. We got over a foot of snow Monday and Tuesday and the table I use to cut wood on is buried in snow. I guess I’ll just have to dig it out. Oh, the stories our builds could tell.

I’ll leave you with a picture from last night’s sunset. The sun finally came out after 2 days of snow and turned the sky the most delicious shade of pink. We live in a very wooded area and I could just see it through the trees. The pink was almost gone by the time I found an area open enough to get a picture. I’m so happy I was able to capture it.

More Facade

The facade saga continues. So much cork. One of the running themes of this build is “I need more”. This time it was more cork. I ran out with one row left to go.

After a quick trip to Micheal’s I was able to finish off the bricks. There are so many places that aren’t quite right, but I’m hoping they can just be chalked up to character. Once all of the brick was in place, it got painted black.

Various shades of grey paint were added to make it look more like stone.

Then came the grout. I used grout left over from a house project. It was so messy, but it makes such a huge difference.

Getting closer to being fully grouted.

Done!

The grout lightened up the color quite a bit, so I added more layers of paint to make it a bit darker and a little grungier. I’m sure this isn’t the last of the paint.

At this point I started cutting plexiglass for the windows. Well, that was my intention. What actually happened was I destroyed a sheet of plexiglass trying to cut it for windows. It just wouldn’t cut as easily as other plexiglass I’ve used. I was so frustrated, so I decided to move on to another project.

So, I decided it was time to cut the cork around the removable wall. I found replacing the blade on my craft knife helped a lot in having a nice smooth cut. I made a bit of a mess out of some of the cuts because of a dull blade. I should be able to fix those areas.

I knew this area would cause problems. The cut goes right through the grout line. I’ll have to try to figure out a solution. I got so frustrated by it all. I just wanted to throw it in the river. At this point I decided I just needed to walk away. I’d take a break and then start fresh in the morning.

This morning I woke up and decided to go get more plexiglass. While at the hardware store I decided to pick up the trim for the frame that will go around the box. After some careful measuring, cutting, painting, and glueing I had a frame. The new plexiglass cut more smoothly. So now most of the windows have glass all ready to install.

Thankfully, today went so much better than yesterday. I no longer want to throw it in the river. I’m in love again.

Last week, while I was working on the grout my dog needed to go out. As I was standing at the back door waiting for the dog to come back in I glanced over at my work area. The way the light from my work lamp was streaming through the windows was almost magical. I’m really looking forward to taking pictures of this build.

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.

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.