Saturday, 27 May 2017

Away with the fairies....

I have just had a great afternoon playing with an ELF.  No, seriously!

I have finally got round to making the bookshelves for the library which I ordered from ELF (http://www.elfminiatures.co.uk/) a very long while ago.

I have had something ELF in every single project.  In this one so far Elizabeth has cut kits for me to make an eighteenth century linen press, an Ikea computer trolley, an Ikea corner work table, another Ikea trolley for a dolls house to stand on, a small 'kitchen' for the mud room, a TV and book unit, a computer unit, again with shelves, and now the bookshelves to go in my library.

Making up these kits always begins with the most terrifying moment of panic when you just know you should never have ordered this.  These bookshelves were no different.  I was facing a stack of little bags containing 113 pieces of wood which somehow were supposed to transform into a recognisable object using, what now looked like, the briefest of explanations.



113 bits of wood

notes from Elizabeth

As always a deep breath and a reminder to 'eat the elephant one bite at a time' and I was off.


Some Radio 4 drama and a bottle of wood glue for company in my sunny hive and a brief stroll to the house to get a cup of tea and biccy and one short afternoon later this is where I was up to when I locked up for the night.

ready for painting

had to have a little play inside the house!

I did discover on my playing with the shelves that the door is not perfectly centered
 on the back wall but I think I can see a judicious way of fiddling the fitting of the shelves so it looks as though it is.  I must have done some tight measuring for these bespoke shelves as the door trims will only just squeeze it in there.

I need to get the walls papered and the floor down and the shelves painted.  I may run all these tasks alongside each other as there will be a lot of watching paint dry and I may as well be getting on with another part of the final fit while that is happening.

I also have two corner chair kits to make up for this room; they can be thrown into the confusion too.  I have already bought a very nice table/desk and matching chair, so if I can ever find a light for over the desk, the bones of the library will be settled.

Is everyone else in this game like me? - two evil twins in your brain doing endless battle - one wants it finished to admire the end result and the other wants it in process because she enjoys the doing of it more than the collecting and admiring.

Huge thank you once again to Elizabeth at ELF for her talent, patience, suggestions and help to get another part of my project on the road.  Please go visit her site, even if what you want isn't there, like all good fairies, she can make it happen for you.

A couple of days later  ............After building the shelves ready to paint I decided I wanted an extra shelf in each bookcase and I also wanted a shelf across the top of the door as a sort of bridging unit between the shelves so this would also need extra trim.  All was duly ordered and, with a couple of email exchanges over a weekend (!!!!), they arrived the following day.  Elizabeth must have cut these just for me as they clearly weren't a standard kit waiting to come out. Her service would take some beating.

 At the same time I decided to order a modern (1980's?) glass topped coffee table.  I have been completely stumped trying to find a coffee table for the the dainty French chairs I have in the sitting room.  The low level coffee table as we know it was a late Victorian invention so clearly a Georgian one was out of the question!!  This I already knew but I thought I just might find some neo-Georgian or at least dainty-legged object that would do.  When I got fed up of searching I decided I would do what I would do in real life and find something that looked OK in the room in hopes something better might turn up.  This, after all, is a house being lived in by my alter ego in 2016.



I am convinced that when the rug arrives and the room is dressed with gold framed pictures and the odd gilded object dotted about the place, the table will probably look just fine.  That's my story and I am sticking to it.


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Phew!  a couple of days after writing this I was happily plodding along with the library when I suddenly realised I have to do the music room first!!!  All that thinking and planning and fussing about how to get the music room wall lights in and then I totally forgot that one of them has its wiring behind the bookshelves of the library; so, obviously, the light has to be in place before the bookshelves go in.  This means the walls of the library need decorating, the chimney breast and fireplace in the music room need to go in, the library floor needs to go down......see where we are going...... next week, the music rooms begins.





(1/5/17)





Saturday, 20 May 2017

Wiring for a wall light

One of the things that stopped my work on the house in the first place all those months ago was faffing about how to put in wiring for the wall lights in the music room.  Normally all ceiling light wiring just runs along grooves in the floor and exits directly through the back wall, fires are often easier as they are generally on the back wall and they just go straight out and any wall lights I have had also went on the back wall; so this was the first time I was tackling interior and exterior side wall exits.

Obviously a hole through the wall and the wires going through to the other side wasn't the answer as one would now be in another room and the other one would be on the outside of the building.  They still needed to be concealed and somehow get to the back of the house.


The obvious and probably the best answer is to just add a false wall - thick card or foam board or material of choice.  Decorate and add your light put it in your house with the wires sandwiched between this false wall and the one already there. Taking them to the back wall as usual.  Me?  I have to be different!  I wasn't happy with the double front edge at the front of the house.  I am sure paint and/or trims would solve this but then I fretted that those rooms would still somehow look different.  Twerpy I know.


So my two final solutions were very similar.  First drill a hole for the wire where the light is going..... eventually.  Make a groove down the wall on the other side, drill a hole below that groove and back through to first side. Then cut a groove across the floor and drill hole to exit the back of the house to join the other wiring.


The fiirst picture shows the music room side where the light will be.  You can see a 'test wire going through the hole, it then runs down a groove on the library wall side and comes back through a hole at the bottom of the wall back into the music room.  It then follows a groove in the floor ans exits through the back wall.  The wire running down the wall in the library doesn't matter as there will be shelves hiding it.



testing with spare wire
The outside wall was more of a concern.  I followed the same convoluted hole and groove plan but what to do about tidying up a visible wire on the outside of the project?  First thought was -  it is the side of the building and no-one goes there, just apply tape and paint.  Then the obvious solution struck.... I will just cover the side walls with brick paper.  I just need to be able to get a decent red brick match to the Stacey bricks on the front and it should look fine.



outside wall, two lines scored with box knife


gouging out MDF to make the groove


testing the wire fits in snugly

The next picture shows where the wires on these wall lights will end up....


the cluster of wires shows how I am working my way upwards floor by floor


I label each wire and do a test of each one before the final fit
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Just a note about detail.

Not only am I a fusspot about detail but I actually enjoy trying to get all the small stuff right.  Lights and rugs are pains to find and ...... door knobs!

In the main they are the simple brass round knobs and that's that but, in real life, how many times do we encounter those sort of door handles/knobs?  Hardly ever.  Sadly on this level of the house I have had to resort to them as that's all I had; otherwise they would have held up the rest of the progress whilst waiting for a dolls house fair two months away to find something better.  Luckily they are the screwed bar type so if I do find better I can always struggle and change them in situ.


This floor - not happy with these, always think they look too big and too shiny

Basement - nice modern handles from ELF

Ground floor - the right scale and not too shiny and a 'proper' door knob shape 
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Bit of a footnote on the lines of ......do as I say, not as I do.  I had a clean up today in the hive and was horrified to see how lazy I had been when working.

This is the cutting mat I use for cutting!  No surprise there then.  The old paint marks are from way back when I knew no better.





I also have a silicone oven mat for gluing and painting on - perfect as it takes a couple of minutes in soapy water and it is spotlessly clean again.  It resides on top of my cutting mat because I do more gluing and painting than I do cutting.

Just look at the state of it..............

covered in knife slashes

........ too lazy to move a mat aside when I want to cut something!!







(29/04/17)





Saturday, 13 May 2017

Back with a vengence



OK, I am back in the game.  For you, dear reader, I have never been away, but, truth be told, I haven't been working on Dalton House since about November!

Time to crack on....


I am on the upstairs of the house and this is made up of two rooms - the library (small) and the (larger) music room.  To do this, the original construction of two equal sized rooms and a hallway space with stairs had to disappear.  Way back at the beginning of the build my husband cut me a piece of MDF for the floor so the hole for the stairs wouldn't be an encumbrance.  He also cut me a 'down' wall dividing the two rooms and an 'across' wall to make the library better proportioned and to give a sense of the rooms behind.


I began with the 'down' wall.  Firstly I drilled the hole where the music room wall light would be.  The wires will then pass through to the library side of the wall where they are hidden by the bookshelves.  I have no idea why I was daft enough to make a groove for the wires.... as I said that wall won't be seen.  Hey ho, how ever much you think you have planned and planned, you often miss the glaringly obvious!




long wall ready to add to the house

This wall will only be glued in on its bottom and back edges.  The ceiling is not the tightest fit to make it easy (ish!) to get in and out.  I was most concerned about it all being perfectly vertical so I measured and drew clear lines on the floor and the back wall and then ensured the edges of the new wall ran along them perfectly.


I only applied a small amount of glue and also added some bits of superglue gel.  The superglue helps hold things in place while the wood glue dries.

'De Luxe' modellers craft glue and small blobs of gel superglue

..... and in it goes....

make sure it is spot on the guide lines and check the vertical

This set up rock solid and is perfectly firm as it stands.  When the coving and skirting is added on both sides it will be absolutely fixed in place.


When I deconstructed the door for painting I figured out how it would be going into the space to allow the door to open in the direction I want.  You have to do this with all doors.  This time, doing it in advance, meant I didn't need to paint any parts that wouldn't be seen (just one frame as it happens).

The door was then glued in placed as I wouldn't be able to get to this area again once the other wall went in.

door in place and opening into the music room as I wanted

I did the same with the door which was going into the 'across' wall of the library.  This time the door needed to go in before the wall went in.  I now realised it would have been simpler to have done that with the music room door.


door opening into the library

The across wall could have been glued on both sides and across the bottom.  It was a good tight fit so I  even considered not gluing it at all and just relying on the trims for additional support.  My 'concern' with putting glue on the three edges was that most of it would get dragged off when fiddling the wall in place. On the couple of practice runs it had also proved difficult to get a decent vertical as a slight push could move it back into the space behind.  I imagined having to paper this later and then adding the bookshelves and I could see a zillion problems.


Aha, I came up with a brilliant wheeze.  All I needed to do was add a couple of vertical battens to the side walls and glue to the wall to those.  In my scrap box I found some square shaped trim that was sturdy enough, drew good vertical lines and fastened them, one on each side wall, making very sure they were exactly the same distance from the front edge.

here I am with one of my paper' templates' checking it has gone in dead straight

I applied the same mix of the two glues to the front face of the battens (once they had dried firmly on the walls) and pushed the new (glue-free) wall firmly against them


hey presto two walls in place.

The library door might be left open or at least ajar so you can see the house behind.  it looks good in real life (poor photo) and will be even better when the house is lit.


don't fret about the gaps they will be trimmed

The trompe l'oeil effect in the library will work in conjunction with the one behind the hall door on the floor below.  Feeling very smug!







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Some purchases

I just ordered three more rugs from a vendor on Etsy!  I have lost count now how many rugs I have worked my way through.  This time two were described as gold and grey and yes, I checked with the vendor.  When they arrived they were slightly purply and mucky yellow - to be fair they were acceptable but not for me.  The third made me a bit cross.  I emailed especially to say that photos can't really be trusted so could she reassure me that the background was a soft pale green with pink flowers.  She did so.  It arrived absolutely in various shades of yellow - there isn't a hint of green anywhere on the rug never mind as a background!!

Happily two EBay items turned out well.

The books are really nicely made, slightly shiny covers where appropriate, separate pages (printed) and work out about 50p per book.  I have a set of Britannica, a set of Tudor books and a set of Georgian books. 

EBay vendor - 05freelander
 I also got a couple of oval pictures that are rather sweet and a nice size for the sitting room which is what I wanted them for.  As always with frames they are too thick but, if I was willing to risk a purchase they look as though the backs could come off and be thinned down.  I have decided to leave well alone as they are going on a back wall facing the viewer so you don't get a very good sense of the thickness of them.


EBay vendor - mb-trading


(29/04/17)












Saturday, 6 May 2017

Another dither holding me up

Finally back to work and stuck again!

If I tell you this is my inspiration photo please don't think I have any hope of replicating it - it is just the 'notion' of the room I would like to capture.  Calm, green fairly empty and a lot of paintings.




I have sage green wallpaper for the music room - I want a plain colour as I will have a lot of pictures in here and a ton of OTT furniture.  

Then I decided I might as well play around with the rather nice border that is on the edge of the paper.  ???


paper with its border


I could have some of the border visible below the dental trim I bought especially for this room, but I don't think the angular cuts of the trim go with the curvy pattern in the border (the trim needs painting of course) ????






OR could have some of the border visible but with a mini coving just to tidy the join between the ceiling and wall ????  Now I am not sure if I am comfy with the coving and ceiling being very white and the border being slightly greyish.




Or back to plan A and plain green walls and plain white small dental trim coving.  This is what happens when you buy plain wallpaper and it comes with a surprise trim!

Opinions very welcome



(27/04/17)

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.



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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.  


(19/02/17)



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!



(28/11/16)





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.



(28/11/16)