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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Nail Polish Marbling

This week I decided to show you a really cool technique for marbling. A couple of years ago this was all the rage for a really awesome manicure. I watched a bunch of videos back then on doing nails this way but never got around to trying it out. For some reason I never made the connection to using this for minis at the time. Then a few days ago I was watching some of the older videos on one of my favorite crafting YouTube channels (Craft Klatch find her channelhere) and she had used this technique to color some beads and a napkin ring (here is the bead video) and that got me to thinking that this would work just as well for minis.

I decided that for this project that I was not going to buy anything at the store, only use what I have on hand. Now I may be at an advantage in that I may very well have more nail polish than even a lot of salons (LOL) but you really only need a couple of colors. I recommend working with 3 colors on an object. Three of something is almost always my go to number because according to my high school painting teacher that number is magical in art work and makes for a more appealing grouping of anything. I'm not sure if that is accurate or not but thanks to Miss Marsh I almost always put things in threes.

The other things you need for this project are the item to coat in marble, a container for water (I highly recommend a disposable cup for this), some warm or room temperature water and a way to hold on to your item to dip it and a way to let it dry. To solve the how to hold the items I decided to use my normal golf tees to hold them. I was afraid that the tacky stuff I normally use would not hold so I got out my glue gun. I just put a dab of hot glue on the top of the golf tee and placed the item onto the hot glue. I figured worst case scenario I might have to get out my heat gun to soften the glue. In the end the glue just pealed off of everything just fine. This is my new favorite way to hold things, the hot glue works way better and doesn't release at inopportune moments.

You will also need lots of paper towels and toothpicks.

A few things I learned in playing with this. Warm water works the best. Just do one dip at a time and then clean the top of water of all the film left before adding fresh polish. I found that lifting the film off with a toothpick then following with a paper towel worked the best.

Some nail polishes worked better than others. For some reason the fast drying brands didn't work very well for me, I'm not sure if it was the brand or the fast dry formula. The brand that worked the best were the LA Colors that I buy at Dollar Tree. I love those polishes anyway for all the fun colors and the fact that they are only $1 each is just a bonus.

If you care about your manicure wear some latex gloves to do this, I ended up with misc polish all over my nails and hands (I some on my elbow too and I have no idea how that happened.

I base coated my items with white paint before I did then for the video. That way there was no wood showing through.

After the paint is dry drop a few drops of your chosen nail polish colors on top of the water. Swirl with a toothpick and carefully dip your item into the water move it around carefully and remove. Set aside to dry. If you need to do a second dip (I only needed to do a second dip on the very largest piece) let the first coat dry completely before doing the second coat. Be sure to clean the top of the water before doing another coat or another piece.

Allow to dry and then top coat with a clear coat. I used some clear nail polish on all of mine and I love how they turned out. I ended up gluing the little egg shaped one to a black washer shaped bead and I love it so much.

When you are cleaning up and dumping the water please do whoever has to clean the sink a favor and be sure to wipe up any nail polish so it doesn't dry in the sink. This can make a big mess when you are cleaning up if you are not careful.

This technique should work well in any scale the possibilities are endless.

So a huge thank you to both whatever nail artist thought this up in the first place and also to Mona of Craft Klatch for making me think outside the nail polish bottle and into the craft room. 

the group of items I made with the technique

vase made from a wooden candle cup

made from a wooden block

wooden egg shape mounted on a washer type bead

Avon lipstick sample lid

wooden flower pot

cake stand (?) made from a button glued to the plastic part of a push-pin

another vase from a candle cup

small wooden bowl

larger wooden bowl

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Stove Kit part 1

This week we will begin to tackle the assembly of the cook stove kit. I decided to split the assembly into two parts and then do a third video on the finishing of the kit. I didn't want this to be as long as the assembly video on the hutch kit ended up being. I actually ended up filming the entire assembly process and then just deciding where to split it. It ended up to be two videos that are each around 20 minutes so I think that worked out well.

So the first step in any kit assembly in my opinion is to determine 2 things:
1- are all the parts that are supposed to be here actually here.
2- do I understand all the directions

After getting those steps out of the way I proceeded (off camera) to divide up all parts into small plastic bags that I labeled by the step numbers on the instruction sheet. This way when I was ready to do a step I simply picked up the bag labeled for that step and was ready to go. No searching through all the parts and hoping that I was gluing the right pieces in the right places. This way if when I put the parts into the bags I had made mistakes I would determine it when I went to do the bags for later steps not after they were glued together and I didn't have the right piece on a later step.

I do apologize for the really bad camera angle during the last part (heck most) of this video. I didn't realize that my camera had been moved on the day I didn't film I should have more carefully checked the view in the preview screen. I really need to get my second camera set back up, I still need to update some software to get the system to work on my new computer.

A couple of hints for working with these kits.

Always let the glue dry between steps.

When you are gluing long edges of pieces together try to just add glue dots to the pieces then put them together. If the fit is correct add more glue, if not you have a better chance of moving the parts to where they need to be. After you are sure everything is in place feel free to add a heavier bead of glue in an area that won't show. Just be sure you can visualize which places will be hidden when the project is complete.

Always dry fit pieces together before you glue. Since model cement slightly melts the plastic to form the bond it can be next to impossible to take parts apart after they are glued, even before the glue cures.

So come back next week to see how we go about the rest of the major assembly. 


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Cat Condo

This week on Trash to Treasure Thursday I show you how to turn a simple toilet paper tube into a cute cat condo for the cats in your dollhouse. I have been meaning to post this project since the beginning of the channel and just never got around to it.

This was one of those projects that came up because I was in a panic several years ago about what to make for a swap on one of my Yahoo groups. I had signed up for a cat/ pet themed swap and a bunch of people signed up. This was not one of the groups that put a limit on the number of people in a swap and I remember there were at least 20 people in this one and most seemed to sign up at the last minute. This meant I needed to come up with a project that could be made up quickly in large numbers, it had to be cheap but be something that would have enough value for the swap, I wanted it to be light weight (for shipping reasons) and I wanted it to be different enough that chances are there wouldn't be several others made by other people in the return box. I always have the little wooden circles on hand (they are just so handy) and at that time all 4 kids were living at home so there was no shortage of toilet paper tubes, and I even had the carpet on hand because I had just finished carpeting my Brookfield and so the idea was born. I did have to do a bit of experimenting to get the project the way I wanted but it really did come together quickly and got rave reviews when the swaps were received.

Now one of you readers/ viewers can tell me if this project would work for the “Littlest Pet Shop” characters, I don't have any of those so I was not able to test any of them.

I have found that t.p. tubes do tend to be slightly different in size sometimes. I'm not sure if it is a brand thing or if they have changed over the years but it used to be that the 1 ½” round piece fit perfectly in the tube after the carpet was added. Not any more, I find I have to add a small strip of the carpet fabric to the edge of the circle to get a tight fit.

The disk I added at the bottom is because of the same change in tube size, I didn't used to do this but the last few times I have made these the base has become needed to keep the bottom in place.

You could probably make a 2 level condo too, just make it tall enough to punch out 2 circles and add another circle piece to the middle. I by putting this on a larger base and adding some dowels (covered in either “carpet” or twine) you could build a pretty impressive cat condo for the most spoiled cat in the dollhouse.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Extreme Aging

I kind of came up with this technique over a period of a few years by just playing with paints and such. I really got it to where I loved it on a bench several years ago. I needed a bench to set in a scene and I found a kit at the local mini store (really miss that place, <sigh>) that was exactly what I wanted. The kit actually made 2 benches so I made them both up and then wanted to figure out what to do with the second one. I decided to use it in the yard of a house I was working on at the time. I wanted it to look like it had really been around for a long time and had been abused, maybe left outside or in another unprotected place. I knew the look I wanted so I started to play around with paints and such. The process kind of evolved as I worked and I was really pleased with the end result. When I showed the photos to some online groups I got several requests to teach them how I had accomplished the end result.

So the look we are going to go for is a piece of furniture that has been around for a long, long time. You really want it to have very simple lines to work the best and it should be made of wood. Other than those things it can be anything although chairs, tables and benches work the best I have used this on cabinets of all types too. I am using the bench I made in last week's video for the demo.

If you are using a piece of furniture that has a shinny surface you will need to sand off the shine then just follow the steps in the video.

I like to start with a white base coat. This gets everything ready for the technique, acts something like a primmer and also when you sand down to the bare wood gives another layer of color.

The next layer I refer to as “Patchwork Painting” because when you are done although it looks scary it should resemble a patchwork quilt. Try to cover most or all of the white paint. Overlapping colors is recommended too, this layer is standing in for the many layers of paint that would have been applied to the piece over the many years since it was new. Try to pick dark, rich and/or bright colors. You want contrast here both with the white layer and with each other. The colors I used in the video were:

Ceramcoat: Blue Velvet
Seminole Green
Terra Cotta
Brown Velvet
Tomato Spice
Apple Barrel: Neon Blue
Folk Art: Neon Orange

Just use what you have on hand.

I usually use cotton swabs for this layer but you can use brushes if you prefer. I use the cotton swabs simply to save me having to clean brushes that many times. Try not to mix the colors together but that is really the only rule, oh and don't be too neat on this layer. Messy is better, small drips are fine (maybe encouraged even) and bumpy is fine too. You want this to look like there is a lot of layers of paint without the bulk of the layers.

Let this coat dry completely before you go on to the next step.

Now we need to add a very small amount of crackle medium. Be sure to read the directions on the label we need the kind that is painted on the piece allowed to almost dry and then a light top coat is added. I know there is another variety that works in a very different way and that will not work here. With crackle mediums the heavier the coat the larger the crackle so we want jut a whisper of it, and only in a few places. This is not the project to layer all over. We just want a few cracks, and be sure to apply it in the same direction as the grain of the wood. Now even though the directions will probably tell you that you want to leave this for maybe 30 minutes DON'T. Go wash the brush you used out and come right back and check it. We are using such a thin layer that it will probably be ready. Check it with your finger tip, it should be just a bit sticky I guess the word would be tacky.

So onto a thin layer of our topcoat I like to use a cream color craft paint for this since it will contrast nicely with all the colors under it. I used Ceramcoat in Buttercream but any similar color will work.

Let this layer of paint dry completely before you go onto the next step!

Now we are adding some abuse to our little piece of furniture. Gather up a collection of tools that you can use to really add some age and go to it. I like to sand some areas with an emery board, use pliers, dental pick, Exacto knife, etc to add some age. Just think about what the effect of the tool is giving you and place it in a logical spot on the piece of furniture.

Next we will add a dirty water wash literally a drop of a warm brown paint in a few drops of water. You are just trying to make the piece look a bit older and dirty it up a bit. I used a “safety swab” for this step but of course you can use a fluffy paint brush. Just be sure to just add a hint of a wash of the color. If you are making it brown, get more water in the paint.

Then comes the fun little “extra” touches, the ring left by some mystery can that was set down, the speckles of paint, just use your imagination and see what you can come up with.

If you are unsure about the process this is one I highly recommend doing some samples up on extra wood. I like to use craft sticks (or better yet the jumbo craft sticks) for things like this, they are small but still large enough to see the effects and really cheap to have on hand.

So get out you paints and have some fun adding some age to a piece of furniture. 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Table

This week on Trash to Treasure Thursday I am transforming the lid to a gift card tin into a cute and useful table.

A while back I was standing in line at my local JoAnn's fabric store. It was one of those days when they were running a good ad but had neglected to schedule enough staff so the line was pretty long. At one point I was standing near a display of little metal tins that were being marketed to hold gift cards. They had a bunch of different designs suitable for almost any gift giving occasion. Being a miniaturist instead of a tin what I saw were Table Tops!! These particular tins measured about 2 ½” by 5” perfect for a kitchen or work table. As the line finally moved on forward I grabbed a Christmas themed one and added it to my purchase. The lid for this tin has been sitting on my worktable in my pile of “things to do soon” for a while now. I was on the lookout for the right thing to use as legs. Several things came to mind but none seemed to fit the modern look of the table until I happened to need to pick up some nails to do a home repair. Just down the shelf from the ones I needed were some nails that were 2 ½” long, perfect for table legs. I grabbed the package of those since I can always use nails around here (20 acres with the buildings and repairs that go with it mean I try to have these kind of things around- or I should have them)

When I got home I tried the nails as table legs and they gave the perfect “modern” look to my table. Since I wanted to protect the floor of where ever I decide to use the table I added some bead feet to the legs.

If you don't have nails look around at what you do have, I bet you can find something to use if you look around.

I tried a couple of different glues and settled on using Household Goop to attach the legs. I did use my faithful 527 Glue to add the beads though.

And before you say anything, yes, I know one of the legs is not straight. Remember how I said to be sure that the legs on your table are straight and if they aren't you are going to be stuck with a crooked leg? Well, I should have taken my own advice. LOL I guess I will be using something to disguise the leg when I eventually use the table.

As far as chairs, I haven't got anything special planned but I think the ones I made years ago on a video (Chair video is here) would work just fine and stay in the theme of
Trash to Treasure project. 


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Bench

This week's project is actually part one of another two part series I guess. You see as I was deciding on the finish for the hutch kit I did the last 2 weeks I realized that I had never made a video showing my “Extreme Aging” technique so I decided then that I needed to do one. I didn't really have any furniture on hand to demo the technique on so I decided to just make up a really simple bench to use. Then as I was gathering my materials for the bench I realized I should probably be filming it so you can make one of your own.

This bench will work in so many places and of course you are not limited to do the aging on it that I will be showing in next week's video. You could leave it plain (although I think I would still put a clear finish on), you could use some wood stain (be sure to do this before assembly), or you could just paint it. The choice is yours and you may even think of another finish to use. Feel free to post other ideas in the comments. Even better if you make one come on over to the Facebook page and post a picture for all of us to see.

You are also not limited by the size I made my bench, you can make it as big or as small as you like. Only have room for a 2” long bench, no problem just adjust the length of the top boards. Need a bench for Barbie, again just adjust the measurements. This bench could be any scale from tiny to real size, just adjust the size of everything and go for it!

Need a table instead of a bench, again not a problem just adjust the length of the legs and the top to fit where you need it. By just adding longer legs this would be a really cute sofa table, make the top wider and you could have a kitchen table or a work table.

Since originally I was just going to throw this together for the aging video I used what I had on hand so hopefully you can just go to the craft room and make your own. I always have at least one package of “skinny sticks” on hand, they are so useful in so many projects so that is the basis of the table. Other than the skinny sticks you will need something for the legs, I used some ¼” x ¼” strip wood for those, use something close to this size (if you do use something else you may need to adjust your stretcher bars a bit to fit. For the pieces to hold the table top together I used some 1/8” x 1/8” strip wood, you need something pretty small here although if all else fails use some skinny stick.

Cutting list:

Table top 4 Skinny Sticks cut 5” long
Table support 3 pieces 1/8” x 1/8” cut just under 1” long
Legs 4 pieces ¼” x ¼” cut 1 ½”
Long stretcher piece (skinny stick) 4 ¼” long
Short stretcher pieces (skinny stick) 2 @ ½”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Log Plant Stand

This week for Trash to Treasure Thursday I decided to take advantage of some of the limbs that blew down in the last windstorm to make a little plant stand.

The inspiration for this project came last summer. I was trying to find a house address so I was looking at front porches as I drove slowly down a street. As I was going along I saw the cutest plant stand on one of the front porches. I made a mental note of it as I drove. It had been bouncing around in my brain ever since just waiting to be made. Since we have had several large storms come through here lately I have a lot of branches down everywhere. As I was cleaning up a few of them the other day I grabbed a likely candidate for the project.

Since the branch was a bit wet from the rain and also I was a bit concerned about any bugs that may have made a home in it I wanted to both dry it out and kill off any tiny critters. The easiest way to do this is to bake the wood piece. I do recommend baking before cutting since sometimes the ends will split from the heat. We do need to use a fairly low heat (250 degrees Fahrenheit) and be sure to lay the wood piece on a piece of aluminum foil. I like to bake things like this for about an hour, that seems to dry them out and I have never had any bug problems after baking for this length of time.

After the wood has had a chance to completely cool to room temperature it is time to cut it into 3 pieces. I choose to make mine 2 ½”, 1 ½”, and 1” approximately, don't stress aboout the exact measurement on this. I would say for 1/12th scale anywhere between 1” and 3” would be fine. Just make sure they are definitely all different heights, don't make them too close or it will not look as good.

I used hot glue for this one, I think that is what will probably work the best but feel free to use what you have.

You can either glue the plant pots on the top or just use a temporary sticky product. If you use a temp. product you could change them out seasonally. This might be really cut with plants in a Christmas theme too.

Just have fun with the project that is the idea of these Trash to Treasure projects they are supposed to be no stress fun things to put together with things you find. 


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Chyrsnbon Hutch Kit- Finishing

This week I am moving on to the finishing of the hutch kit, I know a lot of people do say to do the painting first before construction but I don't do it that way. That is why I am doing the video this way, it is the way I have been doing these kits for many years and the way that works best for me.

I find several problems with painting first. Number one on my list is that I try to always avoid gluing painted surfaces. I do have some projects that I do paint before assembly and even on these I do some of the gluing after painting but for the majority of the hutch I really think gluing first is the way to go. I have had these plastic cements react very badly with some paints.

Another reason I like to paint after assembly is so that if I am trying to show age on the piece (I didn't do this on this one but I do sometimes) it is much easier to do that process with the project glued together. In order to age things appropriately you need to be able to “see” what caused the age. This is very hard with a bunch of loose pieces.

Also I always feel like the paint helps to disguise those seams and cover some of the glue areas on the kits.

As far as finishing these, I almost always use a good quality craft paint. There are dozens of techniques to use and I show you one in this video. If you know what effect you are after try to find a painting method that will re-create it. I wanted an slightly aged wood look so I base coated with a dark, rich brown (I used Ceramcoat's Brown Velvet- my go to brown paint) for this dark base. The next layer was a simple dry brush of a lighter, warmer brown (I used Americana's Cocoa) the secret to dry brushing is to make sure you have as little paint on the brush as possible. I then sealed it all with a coat of clear sealer, I used Americana’s Multi-purpose Sealer. The sealer has several functions. Of course it seals and protects the paint but more importantly it takes away that dull, almost dead matte finish that craft paint has. You never really know how the color will look until you put on the sealer.

If you want to practice your painting techniques use the back of the hutch, perfect place to experiment. You can always paint over it if need be.

I did choose not finish either the back or top of the hutch. My real one is totally bare unfinished wood in these places. I also didn't get any paint into the area the drawer slides into or on the anything but the face of the drawer and the flour bin. This way these will still open and close just fine.

These kits also work really nicely with a crackle paint finish and I will try to cover that another time. Just have fun with whatever you choose to do.

I think the drawer pulls and door handles were probably the hardest step of the entire kit. It literally took me 10 minutes to put on the little pulls on the fake drawers on the top of the hutch. These are the same little pulls that are used on the doors on the bottom of the hutch. Only problem there was I had dropped 2 of them. I was down on my hand and knees looking for them under my table when my youngest son came into to ask for some help with his school work (we homeschool) so before I could go back to being his teacher he had to join me under my table looking for those little tiny knobs. It took the two of us almost 10 minutes to find them. I was not about to walk away from the table before I found them either since his cat was there to “help” also. LOL

Since I have always had problems with the little “glass” inserts in these kits I used some of my scraps to test some of the various glues I have to see just what would work the best in attaching that particular plastic to the hutch. I found that my plain old super glue (Loctite- professional liquid) worked the best. The biggest secret here is to just use the minimum amount of glue you can. Just a few drops on each side. You don't want any glue to seep out onto the visible part of the plastic.

So that is one way to finish one of these kits. Over the next few months I will try to do the other kits and show you some other options.\


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Laundry Basket

This week I am showing you how to make a laundry basket for the dollhouse. This is the project I had planned for this week, kind of. I had planned to show you how to make a laundry basket just not this one. I had planned to use the basket from a package of solid Jet Dry (a rinse agent to place in the dishwasher) so I added the product to my grocery list confident that I would be getting it. Problem was when I got the correct aisle in the grocery store there was no solid Jet Dry to be found. Okay, on to plan B. Just what plan B was I had no clue. So I started wandering the store looking for an idea. I had just about given up when I got to the area where they sell towel (I got to a super store type store so they have just about everything) and hanging on the shelf in front of the towels was this device to keep hair out of the drain. Hum, I looked at it and it was made of a soft rubber like material. Then I looked at the center of it, there in the middle was an almost perfect laundry basket. Problem solved and plan B figured out!

So if you can get the solid Jet Dry you can use that basket (it also needs to be cut down) or just look for one of these little devices.

I also just put a clothes line on the list of things to do for videos so next summer hopefully we can make that so the dolls can hang the laundry out to dry.