Saturday, 29 April 2017

Neurotic, moi?

I am writing this on 19 February having been away from this blog and Dalton House since October.  A lot of real life stuff has got in the way and I find if I break for too long it is difficult to get back.

Today, I decided, was the day to pick up the reins.  Facing me right now are a lot of 'problems' with putting in two of my own interior walls - having changed the basic kit.  This has had a knock on effect with lighting and decorating and the order in which to do things.

I began the day there but decided I really needed to get back in slowly..... so it began with a tiny job I had also put off for a long while.

Some time ago I bought a pair of console lamps (pretty pricey) and one of them didn't have the little ball feet that the other one did and there were a couple of other (poorly made) issues.  The vendor gave me the name of the maker and said she would send feet and I could glue this and fix that etc.  No response from the maker so I needed to get things fixed.

had feet but the base wasn't glued

no feet on this one, so added those

I could only get silver (wanted gold) no hole beads at the last show I was at, so I used four of those for the feet.  They will be painted 'brass' soon.  I then then glued the bases in place on both of them.  Straightening the shades was a challenge as they were on a fine soldered frame which I didn't want to bend or break.  I then twisted the wire so that it looked more realistic.  It will show because it will travel through a plug and socket to exit the back wall to make it more realistic. 

my lovely little wall plugs that allow wires through

All this and then they will live at the back of the sitting room and be barely visible.

Don't fret, the table and the rug are not staying

Might keep the mirror - paint gold? or paint creamy white?

Luckily I know a couple of other mini folk who are as fussy as me about detail so I don't feel too bad.

This footnote is being added in April!  You might not get a post for a while.  I banked a lot of posts months ago and this is the last of those.  I haven't actually been near the project since before Christmas.  I am doing my utmost this week to get back on track.  It isn't for lack of wanting to, I am just at 'sixes and sevens' with life stuff.  


Saturday, 15 April 2017

A couple more tips when painting doors

I am painting a couple of opening doors (and one non-opener) ready for fitting the walls in place on the second floor.  These are usually done at a later stage after the walls have been decorated but this time, to make sure they open in the direction I want them to, they both need to go in behind the walls before they go in place.

I always take the door out of the frame to make it easier to paint it neatly along the door jamb.  This can be a real difficulty sometimes if they are well-made; the door sill will have been glued in place really well and it takes a lot of wiggling and cutting with a knife to free it.

Suddenly, after five years in the game, I found a brilliantly easy way.

removing the bottom sill to free the door

Find a very small screwdriver and use it like a chisel.  I put it exactly over and a little bit in the join and tapped gently with a hammer - hey presto, all done.

Now for a couple of painting tips.  When you remove the door it will reveal the little pin holes visible in the door frame where you will want to return the door to eventually.  They fill up with paint very easily so, each time you give the frame a coat of paint, just make sure you clear the holes afterwards.  I like to use a very fine drill but anything of the right thickness will do - large sewing needle, piece of wire etc.

I am easily frustrated by waiting for paint to dry between coats so I make sure I paint all the pieces I will need for the job I am about to do.  That way the first piece is often dry enough to flip over and allow me to paint the other side by the time I get to the end of all the bits and bobs.  So paint the two sided pieces first, then all the one-siders; remember the order you did them in.

Even then as a belt and braces check I prop the doors on the door frame with as little contact as possible between them ready to paint the other side.  I was concerned that even when touch dry, if they lay face down on a surface, they can tack enough to spoil the finish.

All the trims are given two or three thin coats of paint.  I even add a tiny bit of water to the paint to thin it a little.  A real life coat of paint needs to be reduced to one twelfth of its thickness; not literally, but you get the idea.

They are buffed between coats with the finest finishing pads I can find.  These door have had their second coat of paint and now I am looking at the tiny gaps where the panels slide behind the frames.  On their third and final coat these need to be found and filled in.  It can be annoying when you have a door sideways on and every time you look at it you see a tiny black line where there is a gap in the wood.

Beware, if you keep following this blog, you may become as pernickity as me!


Saturday, 8 April 2017

Making my life difficult

If you start to add other dimensions to your house never, never think it is a simple thing to do ...... always do a ton of dry builds and dress rehearsals.  You should detail it down to where the furniture will go and certainly what you are going to do about the lighting.

As you saw in the previous post I have got the space behind the library wall sorted - trompe l-oeil in place, the light is in the ceiling and the floor is down.  

background finished?

Once the doorway is painted and set into the back of the wall the whole thing can go in place. 

back wall looks OK?

 Then I can do the same with the side wall and I will be ready to get on with creating the library. 

side wall looks OK?

Then I decided I want to have a light on the side wall which divides the library and the music room.

square piano and the wall light changes everything

Here's how this came about.....

I bought a nice pair of girondelles to go on either side of the fireplace on the back wall; very easy to fit with wires straight through the back of the house.  At Miniatura I succumbed to a huge mirror over the (also newly bought) fireplace rather than the planned painting above the originally purchased and planned fireplace!  Clearly I can't now add another two mirrors on that wall.  They will have to go on the side walls.  

This make for a problem or two. 

The left hand wall is the outside wall of the house; if the wires go straight through how do I get them to the back in a tidy way?  Right now I think I will make the groove on the inside of the wall down to the floor and then exit the usual way in grooves across the floor under the floorboards.  This means I really could do with wallpaper over that groove and filler (?) to ensure a decent finish.  I have no idea how you put in a light and wallpaper - chicken and egg conundrum.  Can't paper first as then there is no way of putting the wire behind it.  Can't  paper second as I don't know how to get behind or around the light.  

When I solve the chicken/wall v. egg/light wiring problem the right hand wall will be marginally less problematic as the wire can go straight through the wall and be hidden behind the bookshelves in the library and then exit the back in the usual grooved way.  Then I realised  ..... oh heck, the wires have to cross the newly floored corridor.... so flooring has to come up.  I did consider just lobbing them across the gap on top of the floor but I never feel comfortable about things not being seen through doorways and I have two of them going into that space.

The next knock on effect is symmetry, as you can see in the above photo, the light can not be centered on the length of the wall as it would look odd in relationship to the doorway so it needs to be centered on the remaining wall space.  That's fine until you go to the other side of the room and now the opposing light will be no where near the centre of that wall!!  

I think I have this solved by adding more to the symmetry of the room.  The door into the room is at the back of the room so I will have a mock door on the opposite wall - the Georgians did a lot of this to maintain balance.  You often find them either side of a chimney breast (but I wanted that space for seats).   It could also be a door to a shallow cupboard between the houses that too is a credible possibility.  My childhood house did that on a party wall - one house had a cupboard beside the chimney on one side and the house next door had the mirror image on the other side.  Great for storage, not so great for privacy.

So, here endeth the lesson.  Practice, practice, practice until you are sure before you start putting walls in place.  

Hopefully, my next post will be about getting the problems solved and having these two walls in place at last.


Saturday, 1 April 2017

Tips, Tricks and cheats

Some of the following may be repeats from earlier posts, but not everyone faithfully follows every syllable I utter so I just keep recording what I am doing  as I do it and, now and then, I repeat myself.  Hopefully there is something new here, or a timely reminder for my constant companions.

If, like me, you hate fringes on rugs and want to get rid of them I have figured out a nice quick solution.  Until this rug I have used PVA glue or Fray Stop or Mod Podge and spent many a jolly moment waiting for it to tack up sufficiently to hold down the edge when I folded it over or cut it off.  Here's a faster way.....
chop off the fringe pretty near the white selvedge

run a strip of narrow double sided sticky tape across the edge on the reverse of course

carefully fold over and stick down the edge and add a bit of black felt tip pen along the edge to make sure the white band doesn't show when you flip the rug

et voila, a fringe-less rug.

I don't recommend this on real-life valuable Persian rugs if you have any!!

I then turned my attention to the neat little mirror I bought from Elite Petite.  

I like how thin the frame is

I used my favourite gold leaf pen to 'paint' it as I didn't want the grooves to gum up with paint.

just checking the height of the mirror

I have a superb 'how-to' which I have had for many years about how to hang pictures and mirrors - no idea where I got it from - it has no references on it regarding its origin.  I will scan it and blog it for you if I can find it.  The basic premise is, that art work should be hung with its centre at 60" (five feet/1.5m) to enable the viewer to look into the picture and not have to look up or down too much.  This also applies to mirrors.  Clearly there will be all kinds of exceptions to this, such as its placement in the room in relation to various piece of furniture.  As you can see my mirror is a little high (she is 5' 6", if scaled up) but it would look odd touching the mantle piece.

My next job for the day was to get on with lighting, papering and flooring the corridor behind the library.  I intend to have a door open to a corridor to add to the illusion of seeing the rest of the house behind this front slice.

Look carefully and you can pencil marks showing where the two walls will go and the four inch corridor space that will reside behind the library wall.   The tape is covering the wires from the light in the room below.

Let's light the corridor space.

Full size template of the area

I always use templates rather than measuring - saves a huge amount of time and mistakes.  The areas are never perfectly rectangular with nice, tidy ninety degree corners - a template doesn't care. So make a template the exact shape of the floor area you are working with.  This time I made it out of fairly stiff card which was nice to work with as it always kept its shape perfectly (of course).

I imagined the floor template to also be the ceiling above that corridor and I figured out where I wanted the light to go; I measured, marked and drilled a hole through the cardboard.  The sponge went underneath to drill into.
Template moved to the floor above, the wooden floor shows the corridor below
The template then moved to the floor above and was pushed snugly into the corner and against the back wall;  I marked through the hole with a pencil, removed the template and drilled a hole through the floor.  You then need to cut a groove for the wires to exit the back of the house and a corresponding hole through the back of the house.

simple bulb

I first fitted a light I don't want to use any where but it had a thick lampshade which soaked up a lot of the light.  I always have two or three spare wired bulbs in my leccy box so I wheeled one of those out instead as this light will never be seen.

couple of findings

I wanted something to stop the bulb just being pulled through the hole so I had a rummage through my findings box.  Either of these would work fine.  The hole is small enough to let the wires through but the rest then acts as a stopper against the drilled hole preventing the bulb going through.  You can use anything when its not being seen, even something like a shirt button would do

I went with the eyelet

Actually looks like a ceiling fitting, how cute.

Thread the wires through the hole at the back of the house; add enough tension to make the wires lie flat in the groove and tape down with masking tape.

Now I was off to sort the corridor wall and the floor.

The four inch space is the equivalent of a full corridor width and my original intention was to just paper the visible wall, add skirting, cornice and some flooring.  I tried various wall papers but the space was just 'boring' and I realised that if we followed the staircase as suggested by the trompe-l'oeil on the ground floor then it would also be visible in this space.  This small isolated corridor would make no sense as it is doesn't access the rest of the house in any way. 

A massive web search for an appropriate photo then ate up a lot of the day - this is how my play days often bowl along.  Meanwhile I could use the time usefully.  I cut the real wood sheeting that I use for the floors and applied a thin coat of silk (water based) varnish.  It was left to dry whilst I trawled the web and then it was rubbed down with painter's sponge and a second coat of varnish was applied.

unvarnished wood, varnished wood, painter's sponge

When it was dry I used double-sided tape to stick it in place.  This method makes the floor easy to remove should I need to.

occasional strips of double sided tape.

I used the photo I had clipped from somewhere and copied it to a word document which makes resizing it very easy as it is a simple drag from one corner until (in this case) it filled the A4 sheet.  The handy tip here is to use a good quality paper, or photo paper (matt not glossy of course) or even card.  I forgot this and printed the first one on the usual fairly cheap paper we generally use.  I spread wallpaper glue on the back and pasted it up.  The inks leached and bled and did all sorts of nasty things.  So - use a decent paper and/or use a spray mount glue if you have it - or, if like me you don't - use Pritt glue for the back so the paper doesn't get wet.

Trompe l'oeil - So far so good

My last task of the day was to take an internal door apart ready for painting.  It needs to go on the back of the wall before I put the wall in place.  Even this is a handy tip.  I have done several walls and then remembered the doors and you can bet they need to go in behind the wall so that the door opens the way you want it to.  It is a fun game fiddling a door and frame through a gap, smothered in glue, setting it upright and pulling it into place and trying to press all its edges down from the inside out.
Not this time, I have remembered to fix it in before the wall goes up.

First thing is to dismantle it.  Not especially easy to do without damaging it.  having said that I have always managed it.

Use a craft knife to cut and prise and push one of the bottom joints apart

The other side will now snap off easily

Gently pull the door out from the top

I am sure most people will just crack on and paint the doors without all this fuss but I hate the way you can't get into the door jamb properly with it fixed in place and I would much rather attack it this way.

Bit of a footnote - no pun intended - this is a handy little step stool for reaching the top of your house:

Roughly a foot square when closed, snaps open and cost about seven pounds in a sale, I think from Lakeland but I have seen them cheaper elsewhere.

So.... I hope there is something useful in all of this somewhere for you and you liked following a day in the life of........


Saturday, 25 March 2017

Take a breather

I am not alone in mini world in believing that 'thinking' is a huge part of 'doing'.  I suspect I spend as more time 'off' the project thinking about it, researching for it, problem solving, shopping, seeking inspiration than I am actually hands on doing.

Now and then I gather all my thoughts and clobber together and see just how much of the house I am able to complete.  I dress each room as much as I can, using the furniture I will keep for that room and other stuff as stand-ins just to give me an idea of what's to come.

From this I can figure out what I might need to complete the room and the order of work.

So this is where I am up to:

The basement which has the Rec Room, the Hive and the Mud Room, is finished other than collecting a gazillion little bits and pieces to dress the three rooms.

The ground floor which has the Dining Room and the Vestibule and the small Sitting Room, is fully decorated and lit except for a couple of lamps and one ceiling rose.  I also have most of the furniture.

Dining Room using some stand in furniture

Sitting Room using stand in table and mirror

The upstairs which has the Music Room and the Library is where I am working now and has some furniture waiting for it, which is helping me find where to put the fire and lights etc.

Music Room - a mix of keepers and chuckers

Library with proper table and chair and some stand ins

The attic level which has the Bedroom (bathroom off there) and open plan Kitchen and Sitting Room seems a long way off right now, but I need to be working towards it in case I find things at a show that would be useful for it. 

kitchen and sitting room - paper cupboards

bedroom - paper bed and cupboards and borrowed desk

Doing this dress rehearsal has the benefit of clearing up my work area and, being a bear of tiny brain, I need a clear pathway to enable clear thinking.  I can keep my perpetual shopping list up to date and order anything practical that I am going to need to let me get on with the step after the one I am currently working on.  I hate being held up for a door knob or something silly like that.

Hope you had fun deciding which pieces are staying in which room and which things were stand-ins.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

I thought I might just do a post scrip in case it helps somebody.

While I was having my grand tidy up I dropped a plaster ceiling rose (aaarrggghh).  If you are lucky and it breaks leaving you all the pieces you can fix it and use it.

two pieces broken out

the solution

I peeled off one side of double sided sticky tape (it is very, very thin) and stuck the pieces carefully in place.  I then trimmed off the surplus tape.  The fine cracks will fill in perfectly if you want to put a coat of paint over it.  I am not even bothering to do that - they really are not visible when its on the ceiling.  When I come to stick the rose in place I will remove the other covering from the tape and the exposed double sided tape will help in the process of sticking the rose to the ceiling.

Moral of the story is don't bin something in a temper (as I nearly did) put it aside for a while and see if you can find a solution.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

A cautionary tale

I have heard about mini folks chopping of various bits of appendages whilst working on some project or another and wondered how they did this.  Surely, when concentrating on something small you know exactly where your bits are in relationship to a sharp implement.  It is a curse being smarter than everyone else!

I was cutting 1/16th cardboard and managed to slice off the top right corner of this digit including finger nail.  Received wisdom says if it is still hanging on by a thread stick it down with superglue so it can heal.  Why this is a step too far for me I have no idea, so mine is fastened back on to my finger with two tight Bandaides and my other fingers remain crossed that it joins back up again.

So, please, please..... if you do lots of steel ruler (yes mine was steel) and sharp knife cutting do not be a cheapskate like me - buy a proper one..... with a protective edge (or any other safety feature), like this one .......

Image result for cutting ruler images

Here's what I was doing before slashing flesh stopped play.

I've messed about with a ton of notions for the small library but in the end I decided to keep it simple.  Firstly, put the door at the back of the room so we can see into the corridor behind.  Then have bookshelves on that wall and the two adjoining side walls.  The dolls house hinge impinges on the right hand wall so I don't want to bring the shelves right to the front edge.  this gives me the opportunity to add in a little furniture.  There will be two corner chairs (actually corner shaped) and a small work table and chair and bob's your whiskers.

Being unable to visualise stuff in 3D, I decided to mock up the shelves to see how they looked in terms of volume - hence the cardboard/finger slice disaster.

This is just stand-in furniture and won't be used here.

There will be a four foot wide (RL measurment) bookshelf either side of the door with a shelf and trim running over the door connecting them.  On each side wall will be a six foot bookshelf, probably divided down the centre into two three foot wide sections.  All with cupboards underneath.

I don't want corner shelf units as they eat up the space and they don't accommodate books very well; so mine will just have a simple butt join.  Right now the idea is to top them with small plain coving which will then continue round the room.  The bottom edge will be trimmed with skirting board and also continue round the room.

I am pretty sure I want them painted rather than the usual brown wood.  This would be in keeping with their original incarnation..... here's my two year old description of this room .....

This room was originally a service room for the dining room (now the music room) and had built in shelving around the room for dishes etc.  It seemed an ideal place to store Elizabeth's massive collection of seventeenth and eighteenth century books.  There is no fireplace here and the room now has a sophisticated system to control the temperature (constant 70 F), light (automatic shades at the window and individual 'spot' lighting where needed) and humidity (50%).

This is more a book repository than a working library.  Elizabeth tends to do most of her work in her office which is located on the ground floor in one of the old service rooms. However, there is a small table and some chairs in case books are just being used for a short while and don't need to be taken out of the room.


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Great storage tip.

Where do you keep your wallpaper and flooring?  Mine has been stored, gently rolled, in some very nice under-bed boxes.

they have castors and they stack nicely

the wallpaper box

This worked OK other than the paper is not flat so they faddle about when you are cutting it and every time you want to look through what papers you have, they all have to come out and be mauled around to find the one you want.

Thanks to mini-chum Irene, who is always full of good ideas, here's the brainwave she came up with.

Under a tenner and no postage, from EBay.  This particular Tiger brand does books with 10, 20 and 40 pages.  I considered ten pages, being a cheapskate, but pushed the boat out for a twenty page version.  The theory being it will be useful for years to come as I acquire a bit more wallpaper here and there.

I settled down to happily stuffing  it full of favourite things!  Twenty full pages later I am now wondering whether to open a dolls house wallpaper shop.