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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Chyrsnbon Hutch Kit- The Assembly

Last week I asked on the Facebook page if anyone would be interested in seeing a video on how to assemble the Chyrsnbon Hutch kit that I had purchased at the mini show. The response was fast and positive.

First let me take you on a quick journey with me. I have wanted to make this particular kit ever since I first saw one in a craft store many years ago. This is actually the 4th of these kits I have purchased and I am finally going to be building the hutch. The first 3 kits I got all had pieces missing so completing them as intended would have been impossible. I did learn that you can kit-bash this kit to make a nice desk (that's the desk in my Harrison) But what I really wanted was a mini hutch.

I don't remember the exact order of the trials of getting my hands on this kit but here have been my prior experiences.

Twice I purchased this same kit from craft stores that were closing out their mini departments. Both of those kits had been opened and were missing a lot of parts. You would have thought I would have gotten smart after the first time but no, I tried a second time. Those kits I ended up being able to put together one top part of the hutch from for a friend.

Another time I was on vacation and happened to find a mini store in a small town we were driving through. I didn't have the luxury of a lot of time to shop and look but did manage to do a very quick shopping stop. I was thrilled to have found the hutch kit in stock but when I opened it up after I got home I found that again I was missing major parts of the kit! This was the one I was able to kit-bash into a desk.

I think I have good reason to want the mini hutch, you see I have a real one in my own home and I really wanted to put a mini one into a scene at some point. The real one I have has been passed down to me through my mom's side of the family and is very dear to me. It was actually build by my great-grandfather for my great-grandmother as a wedding gift. After he passed away she moved herself and her two remaining children from Minneapolis Minnesota to Tacoma Washington. The hutch was one of the few large things she brought with her. We had never really thought about how she had went about getting the hutch that distance. That is until I decided about 25 years ago to refinish the hutch. During the years since great-grandpa had built it many (empathize the many) coats of paint had been applied to all visible surfaces. Lucky for me no one had bothered to paint where it was hard to see. As I was cleaning the piece in preparation to refinish it I noticed a small piece of paper glued to the inside of the top. I had to do some pretty interesting contortions to actually be able to see what it was. What I found was the mailing label that great-grandma had used to mail the hutch to herself from Minneapolis to Tacoma! For me that just made the piece that much more special. I was very careful to preserve that label for future generations too.

Anyway on to the kit construction:

First step is to make sure that all the needed pieces are in the kit and that you know and understand what each piece is and where it goes.

I later went back (off camera) and put all the pieces for each step into a separate plastic bag. This made the remainder of the kit much easier to do. I would recommend doing this as soon as you open your kit.

I started out following all of the steps in the instructions except for putting on the door handles and drawer pulls. In the middle of the night I realized I really shouldn't have put the “glass” into the doors since this would make the finishing step harder. On the bright side they popped out when I was putting the doors in place. We will glue them in better after the finish is done.

Have some masking tape or painter's tape on hand to help you hold pieces in place. Once I ran and got mine the task of assembly was much easier.

I think the real secret to these kits (like most things in mini) is to take your time and really understand what each step is and what comes next. Keeping that simple bit in mind really does make this easier.

I was really surprised that the instructions did not include putting the top of the base unit on. I did glue it on by running a bit of glue around the top edge of the base and lining up the top with the sides and back. Be sure to dry fit it before you get the glue out. (I could have sworn I had hit record on the camera before I did this step)

Next week I will show you how I am finishing this particular kit and talk to you about some other options.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Floor Lamp

This week's T2T project is a really fun floor lamp for a modern 60's style room. I like to refer to this style as Retro-Modern. You know the style think the Jetsons and Seattle's famous Space Needle. Back in the 60's everything seemed to be about space travel and that had a lot to do with the styles of the day. Someday I really want to do a room box in this style.

This lamp would look great in a room from that era or any since then since there are still a lot of those lamps out there in people's homes.

The pole of our lamp today is the handle part of a cheap paint brush. My dog decided to chew on one of my cheap brushes so she did the work of getting the brush portion of the paint brush removed. You will need about 5” of brush handle so cut yours off to the correct length I like how most paint brush handles are this slim sleek shape that was so typical of the 60's.

The base of the lamp is simply a 1” wooden circle that is easy to find in almost any craft store. I buy them in the large bag and always have a bunch on hand for quick projects. You would be amazed at how useful they are in mini making.

For the lamp shades I am using the part of some ball point pens that screws on and off so you can change the ink part. I got mine from some cheap pens that really weren't worth re-filling. I do try to remember to save those also because they too can be used in many projects.

Those are all the parts the only other things you need are a drill, drill bit (the size of your brush handle -mine was 7/32” but you will need to measure yours), some super glue, hot glue gun and glue stick, and some metallic spray paint (I used Aluminum)

It really is that easy and waiting for the paint to dry was the longest part of the project.

Have fun and be sure to post some pictures of your projects on the Facebook page!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Basket Kit

This week for the video I am showing how to put the basket kit together that I purchased at the local mini show. I am not saying that I am by any means an expert at this process. In fact as I stated in the video I have never put one of these together before. I am in fact learning as I make the video. I haven't gotten any insider hints from the maker of the kit or any other special help. I wanted to go into the video as green as anyone else would.

This kit is made by Milestone Miniatures (

The cost of this kit was $9, and my only regret is that I only got one. I think I will be ordering at least another one soon. There are 11 basket kits on the website, 3 of which are ½” scale. I saw all of the different baskets made up at the show and they are all so cute and would fit into so many scenes.

If you aren't into making baskets the website also has many already made minis for you to shop for also. I can say all the items I have seen in person are delightful and would be wonderful to add to any dollhouse.

The kit itself is consists of: a wooden shape for the bottom of the basket, a small sheet of paper that is laser cut for the basket parts, some wire, a wood turning (part of the handle), a toothpick, and the sheet of instructions. The sheet does have a nice photo of what the basket should look like when I am finished.

The instructions list the following tools that will be needed to complete the kit: Exacto knife, small straight scissors, glue, cutting mat, ball stylus, and stain or craft paint.

The instruction sheet also introduces the important terms that we need to know to follow the instructions.

Completion of the basket requires 8 step and all are fairly easy to understand. I do wish there had been some illustrations for a few of the steps but I was able to figure them all out without them so I guess that they aren't really needed.

I did find that the pieces were easy to cut apart on the perforations left by laser cutting. My piece had one small area that didn't want to cut on the line but other than that it cut very easily.

I made the mistake of not reading ahead in the instructions but caught myself almost immediately.

The weaving is really easy, especially with the help of the toothpick. At the end I did change to a thinner toothpick that I had on hand but could have easily finshed just as well with the one included.

I did use another toothpick to apply the glue, that is my preferred method of glue application and it worked very nicely on this kit.

I didn't have either of the colors of stain on hand that were recommended so I used one I did have. I think these baskets would be really nice done with many different finishes. There are some ideas in the list of instructions.

After my stain dried I felt the paper still looked like paper so I painted the entire basket with some light brown/tan (Americana craft paint in Cocoa) let that dry and then re-dipped into the wood stain. I like this color much better.

The next step is to assemble the handle. For this we need to fold the length of wire in half and twist it. Then this wire is to be cut into 2 pieces and glued to the handle. The instructions state that the wire should be glued into the hole in the wood turning. Problem, my wood turning had no hole, I got out a small drill bit (3/64”) and added a small hole to each end. I am not sure how far into the wood turning the hole should go. I didn't want to go too far and split the wood so mine is a just a little divot. Hopefully this will work out okay. I actually used 3 types of glue in combination to attach this wire to the wood, my G-S Hypo cement (which states it is a jewelry glue) some Tacky glue and a bit of CA (super glue) just for extra assurance.

Okay, forget that last part, that was what I did on camera but it failed totally. I tried a couple of different methods and found that the super glue by itself held the best.

Would I buy another kit like this? Definitely! I love the kit and except for the handle it was really easy to do. I am sure I will be ordering more kits in the near future and really hope to see the kit maker at the next mini show I attend. 


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Wall Hanging

This week for Trash to Treasure Thursday I decided to show you a really easy method to make a wall hanging for the dollhouse. I made mine ¾” wide and around 3” long including the hanger, this would translate to 9” wide and 36 or so inches long. In real life I have seen these from really tiny (a few inches wide and about 12 inches long) to huge (a foot -or more wide, and longer) They can be long and skinny or almost square. It really depends on where you want to put it and what the ribbon you find has for a design. As I was taking the picture of the finished project I had the thought that doing these with holiday ribbons would be a really nice (and easy) way to bring in the change of the seasons to our dollhouse. Since we need just a few inches of ribbon and some wire it is also an inexpensive project too. You could even splurge on a few inches of really nice ribbon for these. It is also a great project to have in mind for those of you in the swap groups, it would fit in many themes for sure.

Since these can be a wide range of sizes it is easy to scale up to Barbie size (or even AG size) just use the basic math skills to figure out your sizing. For the bigger sizes you might need a slightly heavier wire (I wouldn't go over 18 ga though) to support the larger size and weight of the bigger wall hanging. It can also go smaller too, again just scale it down to whatever size you need. Smaller sizes many be able to use a jewelry jump-ring as a part of the hanger. In Barbie size you may be able to use a “D” ring for the hanger if you want to avoid bending and cutting wire.

If you want to decorate the hanger you could try gluing on some jewelry findings to the hanger. I think that would be really cute. 

You could also get a bit fancy with the bottom and instead of a straight bottom hem make it pointed and add a tiny tassel to the point.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Classroom Boards

First off I know this is a terrible name for the video but frankly I just couldn't think of a name for it. So feel free to comment if you have a better name. In some ways coming up with the name of the video is sometimes the hardest part of making the video.

If you watched the video I made last year of the tour of the Farm-stand when I got it done you saw the chalk boards I put in there. This is pretty much the same idea except this time I wanted to eliminate the need to cut miters for the wood frame. Last year I ran out of time and ended up skipping the frame all together. I decided that it would probably work to use wood look paper so I played around with the idea and this project is the result.

In the past when I have seen projects for chalk boards the most common method is to paint a wood piece with the appropriate color of paint and call it good. I have a problem with that. First off it is next to impossible to get rid of the wood grain with just a couple of coats of paint. Secondly with the paint you run the risk that you will warp the thin wood you are working with. I like the finish of the plain scrapbook card-stock much better for making a convincing surface. If you want to add some “chalk” marks to your board just use some colored pencils. They sharpen down to a nice sharp point so you can get a good in scale mark. You might want to do that part before you frame your board in case you make a mistake. It is much easier to glue on another sheet of card-stock that to re-do the entire project including the frame.

For the cork-board I just used the cork patterned paper but I have seen real cork in thin sheets in some craft store scrap-booking departments. Either will work just fine.

The wipe-off board took a bit of thinking, I knew what I wanted the result to be I just had to figure out the process. Gluing the paper to the back of the clear plastic was one of those middle of the night ideas. Thankfully I had picked up some doughnuts at the grocery store bakery the day before so I had the box lid to play with. I must say it worked out really well.

The size on this project is entirely up to you, just think about what size board you would use in the space in real life and scale it down to the mini size. I have some videos on scale and how to work with it on my channel if you aren't familiar with the process. It really is easy to do.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Clamping Tool

This week for Trash to Treasure Thursday I show you how to make a super easy, super useful clamping tool.

I had noticed this in a small little side note in an old dollhouse magazine I was thumbing through a while back. I hadn't really paid too much attention to it at the time. Then one day I was working on a project that needed clamping and I remembered this. I really wasn't sure how useful it would be until after I made the first one and started to use it. Now I have 3 different sizes and they get used a lot.

I hope you will find this as useful as I do.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Swing-set

This week I am working on a rather large outdoor project. I have been planning to landscape around my big dollhouse for at least 2 or 3 years. If you haven't seen it the very first video on my channel is a picture tour of my Harrison. That was done 3 years ago and I really haven't had time to do much with it since. I was really lucky in that my uncle had an old kitchen table he wanted to get rid of. It instantly became the home base for the Harrison. I have this all set up in a large area outside of my bedroom. There is not a lot of extra area for a front yard (that will be a modest size) but I do have room to make a decent side yard. I am not sure yet how the house will sit in relationship to the sides of the landscape. I have way more things that I would like to include than there will be room for.

One requirement will be that the yard be to have an area for the 2 kids that live there to play. The twins that live in the house are about 5 or 6 years old so I want to have things for them to play on in the yard.

One of the larger pieces will be the swing set. So I was inspired to work on that this week. I think making the fire pit and s'mores got me in the mood to do some outside projects.

I decided that I wanted to make a metal style swing-set (like my 2 older kids had when they were little) These have been around for decades and are still available so this project although large spans a lot of time. If you have the room you can even go bigger and make a playground style swing with more seats. Just add a third leg unit and expand it as long as you want.

I decided to make mine about 7 ½” tall because seems to be what I remember the one my boys had being. To help me get the two “A” shaped leg units the same I made a diagram on graph paper that I could use to aid in gluing. By taping the unit to the graph paper to glue on the cross piece it helped a lot in keeping them consistent. Here is the diagram I used. Hopefully it makes sense and will help you in gluing your end pieces together.

The cross piece was glued on 3” up from the bottom simply because it seemed to look right at that height. 

While the ends were drying I made the top piece that the swings would hang from. I decided that the chains from the seats would need to be 1” apart. I then decided to place the first chain 2” from the end (seemed like it would look like a safe distance from the ends) and made a mark. Now the second chain 1” away. That took care of the first swing seat. Now over 2” and mark the next hole, over 1” again and then 2” to the other end. This came out to a total of 8”. This part was first done on paper then after cutting the wood for this part I actually measured in from each end to make sure it was all balanced and even.

The holes for the head pins that the chain will attach to (and also for the swing seats were drilled with a 1/16” drill bit.

I did end up adding some extra bracing to the top (you see this step in the video) I do admit that I was actually working out the details of this project as I went since I really didn't want to make up one first and then make one on the video. For most projects that is how I work, if I am showing you how to make something I haven't made before I end up making 2, one before filming to iron out details and one on camera to show you. For this and some of the other larger projects that just isn't practical so I do have to make changes as I film, like the extra bracing on tom.

After I put the head pins in and made some loops for the chains to later hook onto I painted my structure with some Aluminum colored spray paint. This covered up the stripes on the straw parts I had used at the top to make the curve and blended all the parts together. The paint also seems to make the structure a little firmer too.

Next I figured out that I wanted the seats to be a little over 1” each, I used some craft sticks and drew lines to drill holes on 1” apart. I find if I try to cut things like this before drilling I end up splitting the wood when I drill the holes. If I drill then cut to size I usually have no problems. I tried to use some 18 ga wire but found it was just too hard to work with so I went with the spool wire (28 ga) simply for ease of working with it. I am making hard seats like the plastic ones my older son's swing had not the soft rubber ones like are more common now. I am sure you can use some fabric and large jump rings to make those seats if you want to.
I used whatever chain was in my drawer, I know it was cheap but I don't know anything else about it. I probably picked it up on a sale, I do try to pick up various chains to use in mini projects when it comes on sale. Another good source for cheap chain is cheap jewelry either from garage sales, thrift stores or the dollar store. Just keep your eyes open when you are out shopping.

Since my chain was cheap I cut it long enough to cut it down to size later. Just like in real life I figured out on one chain how long to make it and then counted the links to make the second side match. Just open the loops we made on the top rail to insert the the chain.

It was a lot easier to clear coat the seats in place rather than before installing them since I could hold the chain and then didn't have to figure out where to set them to dry.

I did discover that I needed to use that sticky stuff that is meant for hanging posters to help the kids to sit on the seats with out falling off for the pictures.

Cutting list:
Legs: 3/16th” dowel, 7 ½” long (cut two for each end unit)
Straw piece cut 1” from bendy portion on both ends (cut 1 per end unit)
Cross piece 2 ¾” long (cut 1 per cross piece) cut from skinny stick
Top end brace 1” (cut 2 per end unit) cut from skinny stick

Remember you need at least 2 end units to make the swing set as shown.