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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Base Floor of Building Project

This week we are beginning our building project with the base floors. The base floors are the floors for the bottom floor of the building and will differ a bit from the ceiling/floor units we will build later.

I do want to thank the readers/viewers that were familiar with the book that I have the notes from. Several of you were able to provide me with the details and I hope that my copy is on the way. In case you want to find a copy of your own here are the details: Building Miniature Houses and Furniture, by Dori Krusz.

I am changing the way the base floors are built a slight bit, mostly because my posterboard was not as thick as what the author was using. Because of the thinner board when I tried to cut my floors larger than my wall sizes it didn't work. So instead my base floor units are cut 8 1/8” by 16” for the entry/hall that I made on camera. I will be making 2 floors for rooms on the bottom floor and they will measure 12 1/8” by 16 each. (I need to pick up more poster board and basswood first)

The materials for this are fairly easy to get poster board (any art/craft store should carry it and my dollar store also has it) and basswood strips that are ¼” by 1/8”. We will need lots of both but it is easy to just pick up some work through what you have and then get more. Not like having to invest in a huge sheet of plywood and then tools to cut it.

The basswood strips you will need are as follows:
2 that are 8 1/8” (same as width of poster board)
4 that are at least 8 5/8” (these don't need to be exact they just need to be long enough to have at least ¼” overhang on each side of the poster board floor. The rest of the pieces I cut to fit the project as I went.

You will need to think about where those ends of the strip wood extend because we are going to try to have them line up side by side with the matching ones from the wall units. They will also have to not be in the way of the floors of the next room over. When we make the wall units I think it will be easier to picture what I am trying to explain here.

Be sure to weight down your floor units (and all the other units we will be making) while the glue dries. We are working with small dimension wood and and that does like to warp when you glue it.

Stay tuned for future installments of this series. 

finished floor

materials needed


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Project in the Works

I wanted to take a few minutes of your time and let you all in on what we will be working on in the next weeks/months. I'm not really sure how long this will take, since I will be learning right along with you. I will probably be doing other videos in between steps on this project too so don't worry you'll still get your mini food fix.

First let's talk a bit about where I got this idea from. If you have been following me for very long you probably know I recently took over the former bedroom of my daughter and turned it into my office and workroom for minis. In the process of moving into this space I am finding things that I had packed away. Some of these things haven't seen the light of day for a long time.

As I was unpacking a box that had been in the far back corner of my closet since we moved into this house I found a notebook that I had created for a future project many years ago. How many years you ask??? Well, we moved into this house 17 years ago and the box came with us. It may very well have been a box I packed up to make room when my daughter was born, she turns 20 this May. So this has been packed for a long time to say the least.

So way back in time before this box was packed away there was a book at my local library. I was fascinated by the method the author used to build a doll house in it. So I checked this book out as often as I could get my hands on it and kept it as long as they would allow me to. I read it from cover to cover many times and in the process took pages and pages of notes. This was back in the days before we had scanners on our computers so I had taken the book to copy machine at the library and at the cost of a nickel a page I had copied a lot of the diagrams and illustrations in this book. I would dream of making this dollhouse someday, it was way too big of a project to even consider with 3 small children, two cats, and a husband in a house that had seem cramped before the kids. So I just planned for the day when I could build this house. Then the sad day when I went to retrieve this book from the shelves of the library only to find no sign of it. I asked at the desk and was told it was no longer in the system. I don't remember now if it was lost or just discarded but I was sad. I went home and decided to type up all those pages of notes and put them in a safe place along with the pages I had copied from the book. Hence the birth of the notebook I found again a few weeks ago.

The thing that fascinates me most (and did way back then too) is the method of building that the author used. She didn't cut big pieces of plywood to form her house. I say she but I am not totally sure I never wrote down the book title or author's name. Instead the house is constructed with hollow walls that are made up of small strip wood and poster board. And best of all the walls, floors, ceilings, etc are constructed individually and then assembled at the end after most of the decorating is done. All the wiring is hidden in the walls and then connected when the house is assembled. The only piece of real lumber used is the sheet of plywood that is used for the base. For the most part your tools will consist of a craft knife, razor saw and miter box.

I am not going to be following the directions exactly as I took note of them mostly because I want my house to be set in current time and like most minis of the era when this book had to be written the author builds a house from a historical time frame. Also I didn't write down everything in the book so I am going to be flying by the seat of my pants part of the time too. I have read through those notes and I think I understand most of what I have to do but this will be a learning experience for me too.

I haven't decided how big this house will be, I am going to decide that after I get some walls built and see just how complicated and time consuming they are to construct.

After the house is assembled we will have lots of opportunities for videos as I complete and decorate the house. I am looking forward to this journey and I hope you enjoy the trip alongside me. 


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dollhouse Door Mats

This week's project is only one of I am sure many ways to make a door mat for your dollhouse. I love to put a seasonal doormat on the front porch of my dollhouses because it makes them look so much more lived in. They are incredibly easy to make and really your only limitation is your own imagination.

For the design you can do like I did in the video and use rubber stamps or you could stencil yours, or paint it, or decoupage it, or whatever you want to try. It would be very easy to make a bunch so you could change them out every month to keep your dollhouse decorated at all times for whatever time of year it is.

Like normal I made mine in 1/12th scale however this project can be sized up or down to whatever scale you want. The exact technique would work for 1/6th scale (Barbie) just cut the mat bigger.

Any smaller than 1/12th and I think I would use some black card-stock and just coat the top side with some white paint. Go easy with the paint so it doesn't soak through, you'll have to experiment a bit to see what works. For bigger (like 1/3rd scale- American Girl dolls) I think I would use some of the thick sheets of black craft foam and again just paint the top side with some white paint followed by whatever color you want.

I think the bigger scales would be easier to find stamps and stencils for too. I had a hard time finding what I wanted to use. I looked at all the local craft stores for a small stamp that either said Welcome or Welcome Home but there were none. I am going to have to keep my eyes open for that for future use.

You might be asking why I didn't just use black felt to begin with instead of coating a colored felt with the black gesso and then the white gesso. The reason is that I wanted to be able to see that the gesso had soaked all the way through the felt. If you do this you will see (and feel) the difference in the feel of the felt after all that gesso dries. It really does feel a lot more like the rubber mats it is supposed to be copying.

If you can't come up with an idea of what to put on your mat I suggest you search for pictures of door mats on the internet. You will find many more ideas than you can probably every use.

Door mats come in many sizes, I made this project 1 ½ “ by 2 ½” to represent a mat that is about 18” by 30”. That is the size of the one by my front door so that is what I went with. You can make yours any size you desired.

If you want to change this to other scales here is a quick look at the sizes for some of the scales to make this same size mat.

1/48th scale 3/8” by 5/8”
1/24th scale 3/4” by 1 ¼”
1/12th scale 1 ½” by 2 ½”
1/6th scale 3” by 5”
1/3rd scale 6” by 10”

Have fun with the project!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What Scale is My Doll????

I thought it was time for another video on the concept of scale. If you haven't watched the previous videos on scale check out my channel for them. I am trying to explain a concept that for many people is difficult to grasp. Hopefully I am helping you to understand this topic so you can work on your minis more effectively and be more successful with them.

In this installment I discuss how to determine what scale your doll is. I decided to cover this simply because at leas once a week I get an email from someone asking me what scale their doll is. Most of the time I really can't help, there are so many factors to take into consideration that you really need to have the doll in hand to successfully determine scale.

In this video I try to give you some idea of the key measurements and key questions I ask myself to determine scale. Take that information along with the information I gave you in previous videos to determine the scale of any doll you have.

If you have more questions about scale be sure to post them as a comment either here on the blog or over on the video. I will get to as many as I can.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Tortilla Chips

I really have a love/hate relationship with making these tortilla chips. I love how they turn out but hate how long it takes to make such a small project. I first made these probaby 15 or 20 years ago. I was in a swap group that was doing a Superbowl Party swap and I decided to make some tortilla chips and salsa. I looked all over for directions for the chips and found nothing I thought looked very good. Most of the chips I saw were (even for sale at pretty high prices) were way to thick. To my eye they just didn't look like a real chip at all. Also they were so flat both in color and in shape they really looked like little pieces of plastic, not like yummy chips. At that point I knew I was on my own. I got out my clay and a real tortilla chip and started on my experiments. I had done some clay work before and had used sand to texture my clay but never to add a color element. I decided to give it a try. I really liked how the mixture of the clay and the sand looked.

Now onto the problem of scale in the thickness. When you look at a real chip it is already pretty thin, then you try to scale it down to 1/12th scale and you need to be paper thin at the most. First I tried to use my clay roller and although I got the clay thin it wasn't thin enough. Then I decided to try to use my pasta machine. I had just started to use the pasta machine for my clay work and knew it was the best method for getting clay really thin and even. I didn't even think about the fact it could scratch the roller. I rolled the clay/sand mixture as thin as I could with the pasta machine and still felt it was a bit too thick. I then came upon the idea of putting the clay inside of the waxed paper, and when I rolled it I was very pleased with the results. This was at least a decade before anyone even suggested it might not be a good idea to use the sand in the pasta machine. OOPS! I have to say my machine is not showing any signs of scratching and like I said I have been doing this for many years. You have to decide if you are willing to take the chance.

The next challenge of this project was to get the triangles correct. I tried several sizes of circles and cutting different size wedges and came up with the combo of a ½ “ cutter cut into 8 wedges.

Over the years I have tried to streamline the process and always have gone back to the original method. I think in the end the extra steps are worth it for the finished product. I tried to just cut the triangles but without the outer curve they just didn't look right. I tried skipping the step of curling each and every chip, again they just looked wrong. So are there a lot of steps? Yes. Does this take what seems like forever to make a very small pile of chips? Oh, yes for sure. Is it worth it in the end when I look at those chips and see the finished product? I would say without a doubt YES!!