Saturday, 29 June 2019

Step by tiny step

I am supposed to be elsewhere eating but I am so excited by my house being lit I just had to share it with somebody.  How I wish you guys were just downstairs and I could yell you to come up and take a look.




There are some different colour lights as a couple of rooms have LEDs.  The library (upstairs right) has a lighting and humidity control system to protect some rare books and so that lighting is not the usual warm colour.  In the basement mud room there is strip lighting under the cupboards which are also 'white' LEDs.


 This is how I did it


Here is a list of the steps I take to connect my electrical fittings to the power supply.  It assumes a couple of things.  Firstly, you are wiring an English-style dollshouse which opens at the front, so you are able to take all your wires to the back of the house.  Secondly you don't care how it all looks when its connected up because (a) the back will never be seen or (b) like me, you are going to cover it all up with a piece of thick card or thin ply cut to the size of the back of the house, using magnets or Velcro tabs, mounted on some spacers.


1.  Check that all the wires are at the back of the project ready to go






2. Screw your power strip to the back of your project remembering to use the four little plastic spacers





3.  Select the wire you want to connect and remove about an inch of plastic sheathing to reveal the copper wires.  You will need to separate the two sides of the wire.  If you are lucky you can make a small snip with a sharp knife or scissors and then pull the two strips apart.  More often than not this doesn't work too well and bits of wire are exposed: in that case there is nothing for it but to cut down the centre channel between the sides very carefully.  If your wire is going to need extending you will need to have about two inches of the plastic separated.  You need this to put the heat-shrink tubing on to cover the join.  Almost all of my 32 lights did need longer wires to reach the power strip.





4. Does it need extending to reach the power strip?  If so, measure how much more wire you will need, cut from the roll and bare the ends on this piece as you did for the one that is attached to the light/fireplace/whatever.  This time you won't need an extra couple of inches of plastic sheathing pulled back; about half an inch to an inch will do.





5. Thread heat-shrink tubing on each wire where you have the two inch length separated





6.  Join the wires from your project piece to the add-on wire.  Strictly speaking I think this should be soldered, but I have never done that.   I am just extremely careful to note that they are successfully joined to each other and then I depend on the tubing (after it has shrunk) to keep them that way.





7. Use a hair dryer to shrink the tubingDon't be nervous about this, it needs to be held very close to do the job.  I had two kinds of tubing - some clear, soft sort, in a long coil which I bought somewhere by the metre and a packet of black pre-cut tubes.  The clear soft tubing melted more quickly and more efficiently than the black.





8.  Tape down the wire firmly at its exit point.  I do this to help prevent any movement on the position of the lamp or ceiling light or fire.  They can easily be bumped when you are dressing a room and they are best fixed in place as much as possible on both sides.





9. Label the wire.  Heaven forbid that anything needs attention in the future but if it did you really need to be able to find the pesky item easily.





10.  They are now all ready to be taken to the power strip.  Before I do this I laboriously check that each one is still working, using a 9v battery. **    I check the light is working at every step of the process because I want to know what stage a 'fault' is at, if one presents itself.  For example if I skipped this last set of checks and a light didn't come on when the the power was attached I wouldn't know if the problem was a bad joining of an extension wire or a poor connection to the power strip.  This is where you do need another pair of eyes - not possible to be at the back and front of the house at the same time.







11.  Calculate how many in each terminal.  I have 32 wires on this project and the power strip has ten terminals.  There is actually twenty little holes because they have a positive and negative marking for each number.  More about this later.  I, therefore, need to put three wires into each pair of holes eight times (24 wires).  The other eight wires will then be joined into two sets of four (8) for the other two terminals. This totals 32 wires reasonably divided across the ten terminals.



12.  Group lights together in threes and fours as explained and twist the wires together securely.  This bit is easy to do but quite hard to explain.  You have pulled your item's wire apart into effectively two wires - let's call one wire a right-hand wire and the other the left hand wire. In reality each of those is actually made up of three little copper wires not much thicker than a hair.  For our purposes they are being treated as if they were a single wire.  So what you have to do is take all the right hand wires from the  wires you have decided to connect up and twist them together very carefully.  Click on this picture to enlarge it for a clearer view.  You then do the same for the three left-hand wires.  



You only need a very short length, enough to go into the hole in the terminal.  You don't want any exposed wire showing above the terminal block.





13.  Push the wires firmly into the power strip all the way in until only the plastic is showing above the hole.  The strip comes with the screws undone and the holes open.  occasionally they made need unscrewing a little more if you are having difficulty getting the wires in.  Push one collection of wires into the plus and the other collection into the minus sides of a number and screw the screw in firmly to hold the wires in place and make the necessary electrical contact.  You can give them a very gentle tug to be sure they are in tightly.  





14.  Polarity.  The vast majority of electrical items for 1/12th miniatures have no polarity and so either of the two wires can go in the plus or the minus side without any problem.  Occasionally you may buy something which comes with some marking on the wire suggesting that isn't the case.  The positive wire could be marked red and the negative in black or blue.  I used some LED lights that were marked in this way.  You must be sure to join the negative wires only to other negative wires and the positive wires only to other positive wires.  They must then go into the terminals accordingly.  The negative goes into the hole with a minus sign and the positive into a hole with a plus sign.  My other half said it probably wouldn't matter in this case but I wasn't for risking it.  It takes no longer, just a little bit of extra paying attention.






15. Connect to the transformer.  Most transformers and power strips now come with a simple 'plug-and-play' connection like this one.  if they don't they will have very clear instructions as to how to connect one piece of kit to the other.






16.  Plug into your wall socket, switch on and stand back in amazement


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Conclusion

Having struggled my way through this over the last few days I can't in all honesty say it is an easy job or one that I don't mind doing.  It is fiddly and frustrating and annoying almost every step of the way but by the time you have committed a good deal of money and have some nice items requiring power, the choice to do it or not is no longer an option.

If you have about twelve or less items to light it is probably easiest to just stay with the plastic power strips and extend any wires using plug-in extensions.   Maybe even up to 24 items and using two power strips to keep your life very simple.




You could, of course, use this method for any size project by just adding in more strips but I think there would be a point where you will need more than one transformer and very soon it becomes very cumbersome.

I do think that once you are messing around with something like twenty or more things needing power and you are on the round-wiring rather than tape path, the only way to go is the Small World power strip I use.

There are no shortcuts or easy ways to do any of this be it copper tape system or round-wiring, white plastic power strips or the strip I am using - you will just have to flog away at it until it is done. I swear, very close to the end of the chore I began to think about whether it would have been a good idea to hire an electrician and let them fiddle about with it!!  Wonder if you could..............

I can honestly say, touch wood, my lighting has always worked for me without any 'it hasn't lit' issues to sort out and not even so much as a bulb going on the blink in the following months.  I do read frequently that some folk are having problems with things not working or going on the blink and can only imagine how extremely annoying that must be.  I would hate to have to sort out a lighting issue.  On that cheerful note, I wish you happy lighting.  Like childbirth, you quickly forget the pain once it is over and you are gazing at your beautiful creation.   


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I love peeking through the windows of dolls houses and its even more interesting at night.

I will be recording each room's lighting tomorrow (for me really) so that's probably a post you can skip.  












** I have just been told that some Chinese-made 3v lights don't like being tested on a battery and will 'blow'   I have never been unlucky this way but I thought I should pass this on.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Let there be Light - episode two


This is a second  piece I wrote for Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine when I used the Small world power strip for the first time.  With luck I will be here tomorrow with Dalton House's wiring completed and fully lit.







Let there be light

This month Marilyn Ormson gets to try out a new (to her) lighting system.

The brevity of this piece is a paean to the simplicity of the lighting system I used.

The ‘old’ way
A while ago Martin Butler from Small World Products contacted me because he’d read something I’d written about my suffering when putting in round wire lighting.  Don’t get me wrong I much prefer it to the copper tape system but I positively hate those wretched little plugs that have to come off and go back on the wires.  They do nothing for my sweet nature – I become an enraged bull and discover language I didn’t know I knew.





He suggested I might like to try his ‘Easy-wire system’ instead and he very kindly sent me the bits and bobs (and more) to do it.  I joyously exchanged the gang plank and plugs, seen here on my Wentworth, for this… 


The ‘new’ way
I totally understand that for some of you this looks scary, complicated and very electrical.  At least I hope that is the case because it did to me.  I suspect it is because we are used to the idea of plugs and sockets and anyone who has had nothing to do with fiddling about with electrical bits and bobs can be ‘put off’ by the sight of a bit of kit which is alien to them.  DON’T BE!




The capacity of the power centre I used here is a bit of overkill on the small property I was wiring.  I was only connecting eight bulbs and this strip could handle eighty-five!  It is important when choosing the size of any power centre that you know how many bulbs, not lights, you will want to connect.  From Small World Product’s tiny (SW06) power centre which can handle forty-five bulbs, up to the one I am showing you here (SW04) there is an SWP system capable of controlling a simple room box to a huge mansion, including flickering fireplaces and added wall sockets.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.

If you have been following my build you will recall I had a time hitch on the lights as I couldn’t collect them for a couple of months.  Sadly, it still didn’t pan out as I wanted so in the last week of the ‘lighting month’ I ordered some replacements from my regular ‘life-saver’ Jennifer’s of Walsall; a couple of days later they arrived and within an hour they were in the house.  So much for this being an episode about a month devoted to lighting; it turns out to be more like a description of a lighting coffee break.


Positioning the lights
If anything in your project depends on the light being in exactly the right place you need to find a way to mark its position. Don’t do this ‘by eye’; you’ll be astounded how far out you will be. In Chocolat’s case I wanted lights centred over the two counter tops and in the shop windows. I put the counters in their place and marked the centre of their tops.  For the shop windows I hung a heavy bead on a thread (bit like a plumb line) to find the correct position for the lights. 


At this point you can carefully measure from the back wall to the spot and from the side wall to the spot and carefully transfer these measurements to the floor above.  The point where they intersect is where you will be drilling a hole for the wiring.  I have my own method which consists of folding a piece of paper a couple of times until it fits nice and squarely in the corner and, in this case, its other edge is on the centre of the counter.  I can then put a mark on the paper where I want the hole to be in the ceiling.












I then transfer this information upstairs.  This photo isn’t the best example because, in this case, I had to make an allowance for the built in cupboards in the room below.  I hope you still get the idea.  Basically you are making a template in the area below the ceiling to position the light and then transferring it to the floor above, ready to drill your hole through the ceiling.  Phew!  Maybe measuring is easier after all.





  
Groovy
This work actually took place a couple of months ago when I wrote part two – ‘If I had a hammer’.  I mentioned having cut the grooves for the lights as part of the wood-working month. 



I did it by cutting along the pencil line with a steel rule and box knife; then I used a ten dollar not-a- Dremel with a router bit to cut the groove followed by a tidy up with a triangular file.  This last part is totally unnecessary unless you have OCD.  You then need to drill a hole in the back wall to allow the wires to exit.  Ignore the wrong looking hole in this picture it was leftover from its previous existence as O’Rourke’s Post Office.  So, joy of joys, when I came to put the lights in, all the grooves were waiting for me.
  
Check everything
If you have little people who need to walk under your lights ask them nicely to do just that.  Most of my lights were on chains and they all had to be adjusted quite a lot.  The ones over the counters and in the windows needed to be the ‘right’ amount of dangle and the ones in the rooms needed to allow free passage underneath.  I stick them in place with a bit of masking tape so I can keep fiddling with them until I am happy and then hack off the appropriate length of chain and rejoin it to the ceiling rose fitting.
  


  
  
Did I say check everything?
Old faithful (the gang plank) is great for checking each light is working before you mess about putting it in place.  This is vitally important if you are using lights that have been used somewhere else before.  These lights were new but I still plugged them into a lighting bar and checked that they had survived Royal Mail.  They were good to go.

Afterwards I got a real sense of pleasure chopping off the plugs and knowing this time they would not be going back on.





Contrary, moi?
I don’t like the appearance of those oh-so-useful sticky tabs that come with most lights so I peel them off and stick my lights to the ceiling with glue.  What glue, you might ask.  I have tried just about everything from thin double-sided sticky tape, the usual PVA, a hot glue gun and super-glue and they have all given some sort of problem.  I now use my all-time favourite glue which I promote at every opportunity; so here we go….

I use it for everything and I mean everything – it glues any material to any material and will glue painted and stained surfaces.  It dries clear and you can paint or stain over any residue.  It hasn’t failed me yet so I’ve no reason to believe it won’t work on lights.
It is called R/C Modellers Craft Glue by Deluxe Materials but I call it my rocket glue as it claims to withstand the shock of rockets taking off and landing.  Don’t ask for rocket glue though because they have one by that name!
The lights that have a sticky tab also have a slit in the ceiling rose to let the wire through, always check you have put that at the back out of sight.





Be tidy
Not just because I am pernickety but because your floors and skirting boards will go in place better.

Straighten the wire before sticking your light firmly in place.  Thread through the hole in the ceiling and run the wire flat and neatly along the groove.  You should exit, where you can, straight through the back of the building.  If you have to meander, like this one, snug it down between the floor and the wall as it travels along the back – fingernails are good for this if you have them.  Don’t push too far or they will appear in the room below.

I considered running my wires through a thin plastic straw (coffee stirrer) so they could be pulled in and out without disturbing a floor but decided this might be a step too far as I am very unlikely to want to pull them in or out.  It is a good thought though if you think you might want to change the light some time or you are concerned that they might go kaput.

I always hold them neatly in the groove with a piece of masking tape.  This will lie flat under any floor surface you might want to put down.




The kit
This is the power strip, its instructions and three little ‘feet’.  It screws into place through three holes you can see on the board and these spacers are used to keep the soldered bits on the back of the board free from the surface you are fastening it to.

This largest size only measures 4.75 inches by 1 inch so it is lovely and compact.

Again I confess to being fazed by the instructions – entirely my fault not theirs.  Why do I have this mental resistance to what I perceive as ‘boy’s toys’?

They are perfectly clear and I understand them but I feel I need language like – strip the ends of the wires, screwdle them up a bit and bung in the holes in pairs, which is what this actually says and is what I did.






There is a second piece of kit which I now deem essential if you are going to do more than one house or are tackling a lot of lights.  It is a wire stripper and cutter.  Until the kind Mr Butler sent me this I have always used scissors, teeth and nails – not always my own!  This is not only unhygienic, it is also not a good look if caught doing it nor is it even very effective.  This little gizmo made it a doddle and – boy, did I look like a pro.









  
The good bit
Using the super stripper/cutter simply chop the wire to the right length, strip some of the plastic cover off, fold over and twist the wires a couple of times until you have a decent size ‘blob’, shove it in the holes and tighten the screw.  Each light will have its own number and two holes labelled plus and minus.  For our purposes this labelling doesn’t matter, either wire can go in either hole.  So here you see one of my lights going into the terminal numbered 1.

I had the power centre already screwed in place when I was putting the wires in.  This was probably not the best idea.  It would have been marginally easier to be able to jiggle the strip around but it wasn’t hard to do any way, so it didn’t really matter.  You may want to consider it if your power centre is going in a more awkward position than mine did.  I also had the power supply attached so I could check each light as I went along.  This is especially easy to do with this strip as it has a switch for every light.  You can buy any size strip with or without individual switches.  They have a minimum fifteen year life and are repairable – neither of those claims can be made for the cheaply made white lighting bars.






This is the power supply (transformer) – also provided by SWP.

As you can see it is more powerful than I needed on this project.  I am so enamoured with the system that I fully intend to cannibalise Chocolat when I do a larger project and replace these items with their smaller versions – that shows how easy it is to do if I am prepared to undo and redo it.





Lights make a huge difference
Even when I was brand new to the game I knew I wanted to light my builds.  It creates a whole other atmosphere.  Here, on build three, I have even added the suggestion of rooms further back.  In dollhousing we are almost always looking at just the front slice of a building and that frustrates me in terms of reality.  This is the door through to the stairs which lead down to the, what was once a bakery’s, kitchen.  I have also added a light in the stair well on the other side of the room.  This ‘extension’ to the building would have been pretty pointless without lights.







  
No time at all
I am so cross that I didn’t time the job but really I don’t think it took much more than an hour.  I know the grooves were in place and that is a very time consuming part of doing the lighting but actually fixing in the lights and their electricals was so easy.

I have all kinds of other bits and pieces that I can’t wait to build into my next project such as the sweetest little wall sockets to plug in lamps and Xmas trees. All my future rooms will come with sockets.  There also wasn’t a ‘design’ opportunity for flickering fires in this piece – there will be next time.  Maybe I’ll get a chance to show you how I get on with all that.







  

I used the word ‘brevity’ in the opening sentence – clearly not a skill I am familiar with.  I assumed that even I could cover something this simple in a few sentences.  All I can say is the job took a great deal less time than telling you about it.

I have eight lights in place in a wink, thanks to Mr Martin Butler and Small World Products. 






To see more pictures and more details of the work take a look at Chocolaterie Maya’s blog:













Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Let there be Light


I promise you I am working on the lighting but it is quite a slow job and family and life keeps stealing my playtime.  I don't want to do the reveal article until the job is finished.  I wondered if you might want to read a couple of pieces I wrote for Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine about lighting.

This first one is my first attempt on my very first project and uses the white plastic power strips that many people use.





Let there be light .....


And God said, 'Let there be light' and there was light, but the Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected.
Spike Milligan






These articles are in no way being offered as instructions on how to do things.  They are the ramblings of someone who came to dollhousing without a clue about any craft-type hobby or anything very practical beyond cooking, gardening and sewing.  Happily all the new skills I acquired when I was making my Wentworth Court project seemed to fit like a glove and things turned out fine.

Then there are the electrics!  Ironically it seems to be my bĂȘte noire.  I confess it still has me beaten in all sorts of ways.

If you are considering lighting your house the first big decision is whether to go the copper wiring route or in the plug and play direction.  I am sure this is just a totally personal choice and I can’t see how one is better or worse than the other.  They each have drawbacks and pluses.  I chose the socket and plug route as these looked something like the normal lights and wires and plugs we use every day.

It is easy to understand how it goes together.  Each light or fire has a wire with a plug attached; this will plug into a power strip 





which, in turn, is attached to a transformer. 






Like much in life, understanding it and doing it are two very different things. 

As I said this isn’t a how-to-do-it article and there are tons of great ‘how-to’s’ if you need them just by googling ‘dolls house electrics’.  I just want to share my findings with you and maybe warn you about the problems you might encounter and some things you may want to find out more about before you tackle the job.

When you set off to buy your electrical bits and bobs you will need to know in advance how many plugs (i.e. lights, fires etc) your house will end up with as this determines the size of the power strip needed.  You also need to know how many actual bulbs you will have – no, this won’t be the same number as plugs; for example a chandelier is one plug but several bulbs.  The bulb count is to work out what size transformer you will need.  I reckon this is nigh on impossible to assess in advance when tackling your first project.  Most of us don’t design the interiors to within an inch of our lives before we start.  At best we have a vague idea and chop and change and fiddle around with it as we go.  All I can say is, if you are in any doubt, buy more than you think you’ll need.

Considering that my Wentworth Court began as Jane Austen’s house and ended up as a modern family home you can immediately see the difference in the electricity needed to service it.  I bought a power strip which soon ran out of socket holes.  This worked out fine because my house is very tall being over four floors and it meant I could have two power strips.  This allowed most of the various wires to reach one or other of them without having to be extended.  So this is an ‘accident’ you might want to consider having.



Again the god’s were smiling on me. I greatly underestimated the bulb count and would have ended up with too small a transformer.  This wouldn’t be good as they aren’t particularly cheap to get wrong and have to discard.  As it turned out I couldn’t get the size I wanted from the show I went to and, because I am dreadful at waiting for stuff, I just bought a large one which turned out to be just the ticket. 

Deciding on the order in which you do things when dollhousing often has difficult choices attached.   When do the fireplaces go in?  The fireplaces in my dolls house were going to be sitting on the finished floors rather than being installed before they went in.  I decided I didn’t want to have to cut the sheets of wooden flooring to fit around them.  All sorts of things come into play here, including what era are the fireplaces?  Each period will need different things.  What sort of hearth do they have, for example?  Different rooms would have had very different fireplaces and hearths.  For me, very new to this work, I wanted the simplest route so once the painting and wallpapering were done and the floors were put in I decided to add the fireplaces. In the Wentworth the fires go on the side walls because this is where the chimneys are located. 






The easiest way to wire them is to drill a hole immediately behind the fireplace and take the wire straight out to the power socket.  I didn’t want wires all over the sides of the house so I drilled holes in the back corners and ran the wires along the join between the floor and wall and out through the hole.  The wires were eventually concealed by the skirting board.

I can see all sorts of potential problems doing this and maybe cutting a groove to meet the usual pre-cut groove in the centre of the floor would be the best way to go.  I am sure if a light or fire had to be removed (heaven forbid!) it would be easier to remove the floor to get it out than remove a skirting board to liberate it.  I also couldn’t solve the problem of the wire making the fire stand away from the wall slightly.  I tried scratching grooves in wood and resin to bed it in but without success.

Having mentioned cutting grooves it reminds me how much of a problem for me that turned out to be.  Most people when talking about wiring a dolls house just casually say something like – ‘’cut a groove’’.  Yes, well, like how?  Lots more web trawling followed.  So far I have come up with advice such as buying a fantastic piece of kit like the Dremel (and other mini routers) which many of us (a) can’t afford or (b) don’t want to buy for a handful of jobs. Then there are suggestions like using a small, fine, sharp, v-shaped chisel, please refer back to (a) and (b) and add (c) as they are as rare as hen’s teeth to find.  I have just bought a tile grout remover for £1.53, which is something else someone recommended.  I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t comment.  All I can say about cutting grooves is that if, like me, you try to do it with a craft knife and steel ruler (another piece of web advice) and/or a v-shaped file you may as well give up now.  To be fair it must be doable, so have a bash, but I never succeeded in making any half way decent straight groove, with the right depth, to neatly carry wires across a floor or roof.  Hack away at it as best you can is my only advice.
  
OK, so now I have the fires in.  Luckily with the Wentworth it came with grooves for the lights and I didn’t have to make any additional ones.

There is one thing though before putting the lights in place; you will need to consider if any of the wires or chains that some of the central lights are hanging on need lengthening or shortening.  I didn’t do this with my chandeliers and blithely installed the first one and then discovered that you would have to be considerably vertically challenged to walk under it.  It was about four inches above the floor.  It couldn’t really be used successfully in the room I had.  To get it above head height the candles would be virtually touching the ceiling.  I know in this house the chandeliers are supposed to be modern and electric but they would still look pretty silly.  I found a compromise with a coffee table and put it in the room so no-one would need to walk underneath the light. 







The dining room presented less of a problem as the light was bought to go over the dining table.  I pretty much had to adjust all the ceiling lights which went in this house. 





Occasionally, and especially if you buy second-hand lights, the wires are too short to reach the power strip.  Doing the Wentworth I just bought half a dozen extension cords, so the short wire plugged into that and they then plugged into the power strip.  I have since learned to join wires but unless the junction is going to be a problem, under flooring for example, the simple method of using extension cords works perfectly well.





With those decisions made and lengths adjusted you can now go on to thread the wires through the teeny (nigh on invisible) holes in the ceilings.  To do this you begin by removing the plug.  None of the unscrewing backs of plugs and pins inside like in 1/1 world, you just pull out the pins and then pull out the wire.   I find I am grinning as I am typing this. Pull out the pins begins with fingers and thumbs, progresses to teeth and ultimately – the tool for the job – needle nose pliers.  If you buy nothing else – buy these – your fingers, thumbs and teeth will thank you!  You then tug the wires up out of the holes and back through the plug.  Meanwhile you have put the teeny pins down somewhere and they have rolled or you have become pin blind because you can’t find them anywhere.  The next handy tip is:  before you start, find something small but heavy to put your pins in.

Having removed the sticky pad waxy paper cover all we have to do is thread the wire through the ceiling hole, pull the light up gently, centre it over the hole and press firmly in place.  I bet if you haven’t done this yet you haven’t a clue how frustrating this little task can be.

After doing many, many of them I eventually figured out that trying to wiggle two waggling wires through a small hole is just plain daft.  If you have enough length on the wire to be able to cut off the split ends – do so.  You then have a neat, stiffer piece of wire to poke through.  I also sometimes push a biggish needle downwards through the hole so it marks the exact position for me.  Sounds daft but most times you can’t really see the hole properly.  It is quite dark in those small room spaces and you have to be a bit of a contortionist as you attack each floor trying to see where it is.  As always you only have two hands where you need three.

With the wires now threaded through you can pull gently on them until the sticky pads are in place.  This is another thing I would like to change but I don’t know how.  In the Wentworth all my lights went in using the sticky pads which were attached to them.  Not only do I not like the look of them but, sometimes, they made the wires sort of lopsided.  The wires are coming from the centre of the light but then they have to travel across the pad to the side edge and then through the ceiling hole, so you aren’t strictly centring the light over the hole.  Unless you have micrometer eyeballs that in itself doesn’t matter but the wires do make a slight lump so things can look a bit skewed.  I confess that I am probably being excessively fussy here and really they are fine. 

The real issue I have with the sticky pads is that while they might be pads they aren’t all that sticky.  Many of mine don’t seem to stick.  Often when I open my house my first job is to re-stick the kitchen, the girl’s bedroom wall and the sitting room wall lights.  Annoyed by this I have tried adding all sorts of glue to the pads without success.  On my current (second) project I have peeled off these pads before putting the lights in place, but I am struggling with finding a glue that works well, so I am not promoting that as the path to take (yet).

The other thing which often needs a tweak when opening the house is the odd light bulb here and there which, presumably has a bit of a loose connection and doesn’t light up without it being pressed, pushed, twisted or flicked.  This is another issue I haven’t resolved as yet although the numbers were reduced when I went round screwing them all in properly with this handy little gadget.  Again, this is an essential tool for changing any bulbs further down the line and can be bought cheaply if you keep your eyes open for it.





It is double-ended; one end is soft and the other is metal with splits.  It is just a matter of trying which end does the best for the bulb shape/size and the job you want doing.  It is also made to work in tight spaces as it is small.

Just when you thought I’d said all there was to say about plugs.... not so, because now that the wires for the lights and fires are all threaded through to the back and the power strip is stuck in place you will need to re-attach the plugs.  This is where my tears and tantrums really start.  In all seriousness this is the only task I have done in all this dollhousing stuff that I positively hate and would hire someone to do if it were possible.  Part of my frustration is that I can’t understand why I find it so difficult. I can make a box and a lid small enough for a single tablet of soap easily and with pleasure.  Then hand me a dolls house plug, wires and pins and I lose the use of an opposing thumb and become an amoeba.  My husband who usually has the manual dexterity associated with a bunch of bananas can just pick up the various bits and reassemble a plug in a nano-second.  Every time I have them to do I am determined to conquer it and refuse to call for help.  Eventually I don’t need to call for help as he can no longer stand the stamping and cussing and complaining which is emanating from the room I am working in. 

I have trouble with it all.  I can’t even strip the plastic off the wires without shredding most of the wires as well.  A twelve inch length of wire very soon becomes a lot shorter in my hands.  If I do succeed I then have trouble twisting the fiddly little wires together so there are no stray bits when they get shoved back into those teeny tiny holes.  They either remain obdurately scruffy or they break off.  Back to cutting some more off the wire.  If I actually manage all of that to get to step three, it appears that the teeny tiny holes are now all filled up with wires and/or plastic and yet you are required to shove the pins back in.  How?  The last ones I did I resorted to hammering them in with a small hammer – honestly, I did.

I calculate I now do about 2% of my plugs myself and that is still far too much!

Yes, I hate dolls house plugs. 

Again, it bears repeating this isn’t a series of articles designed to put you off.  You may very well find, like my husband, that doing the electrics in your dolls house is your metier. 


Ah, but when it is finished, what a joy.  Almost everyone I know prefers their house when it is ‘plugged in’.  All the colours are warmer and richer, many of the smaller details in your rooms are clearer and some how it just makes the house look lived in. 





To see more pictures and more details of the work take a look at my Wentworth Court blog