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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Building Series- video 1- Planning and Preparation

I will be the first to admit that this is the most boring of the steps in the process of building a dollhouse. However, these important steps will help you to have a successful building experience so hang out with me.

This week we are starting the construction of the building. The first step for me is always to get a 3 ring binder for my project. I know a lot of the information could be saved on the computer but I prefer to have a physical copy. This way I have a set place to put odds and ends pertaining to the project. The first thing to go into the binder is always any instructions that the manufacturer sent along with the kit. I also put in a large envelope to hold things like the window sheets if they came with the kit and any other small pieces that are easy to loose but will be needed later.

This binder will also be a place for me to put samples of what ever products I use- from paint swatches to samples of any papers or fabrics I use in the the project. This way if at any time later I either need to know what I used or I want to match colors I have easy access to them.

The next step is to actually do an inventory of the pieces in the kit. You need to know if you have everything before you start. If you do this when you first get the kit you can usually get whatever is missing from the manufacturer, since my kit has been sitting here for so long that probably wouldn't be an option but I still need to know if everything is here. If not I can figure out what to do in place of anything that is missing. I was lucky that everything is here and accounted for though.

Next we need to prime the wood. I am not going to be leaving any areas to look like wood (as in using a wood stain) so I am priming all surfaces with the same primer. If you want to stain some parts (maybe porches, floors or wood trim about walls, doors and windows) put those items to the side and prime them with some plain shellac. This time I was able to get my favorite primer. I usually just buy disposable brushes to use with it this time I found a small disposable paint roller (the packaging is even designed to be a small paint tray) that worked really nice. You don't need to be neat on this coat just coat all the flat surfaces on both sides. We need to coat both sides at once because the wood on these kits is so thin that it will tend to warp if only one side is gotten wet. Once the surfaces are sealed this is less of a problem and we will be able to work on the surfaces separately.

I find it to be a really good idea to cover my work surface with some freezer paper (shiny side up) before I start this process. It will protect the table top and help to keep your work area clean. I leave the paper there as long into the project as I can and put down clean paper if needed. At the end of the project you can just roll up the dirty paper and have minimal cleaning to do.

I like to wear disposable gloves and an old apron while I am putting on the primer. This is one of the messiest steps and this just helps me to stay on top of the mess.

After the primer is completely dry we need to label all of our parts. Use a pencil for this! Ink from a pen can (and will) bleed through your final finish. Pencil marks can be erased if later if you think they might show.

If you have room to leave your pieces in the plywood sheets by all means do that. Mine was completely falling apart so I took all the pieces out of their sheets and moved them to two plastic containers- one for the main structure and one for the add-on room. This way I can keep everything together. I also put the really small parts into small plastic bags so I can find them. I put all the excess wood parts (the stuff that wasn't part of the kit but surrounded it) into a box off to the side. I won't throw that away until I have my kit completely put together just in case I missed some little part.

So that is about it for this week. Next week we will start putting the building together. If you have questions or suggestions for what I should put into the building be sure to post them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Building Kit and a New Building Tutorial Series

It has been a couple of years since I filmed my building series and I am still getting lots of questions about building. I was looking around my work room the other day and happened upon a kit that has been sitting here for long time. It had been here so long I actually had to open the package to see what it was, I had forgotten what was in there.

I found a building that I have been wanting to build ever since I got it. It has been sitting her for 5 years. Yes, you read that correctly it has sat in my way for 5 years! The main reason I never started was I could never come up with a plan of how I wanted to finish it. I actually have 3 solid ideas of what I want do. I think that is the main problem. LOL I just could never narrow it down to one idea. I kept going in too many directions.

I decided I need to finish this kit. It has sat here way too long and I want something new to do. I looked online and unfortunately the kit is no longer being made. I asked on the Facebook page what people thought about my doing a new building series with a kit that is no longer available. The response was quick and concise- everyone wanted the series and did not care what kit I used. After all the methods I will show you will work no matter what kit you have to use them on. So we will be starting a new series.

Just like the last series I will introduce the kit in the first video, look for that on Sunday. I thought I would write this blog just to let you all know the 3 ideas I have and maybe some of you would like to chime in with ideas what direction I should go, or maybe you will have a totally different idea.

I am not going to decide on the direction I am going to go for a couple of weeks. I want to attend the Seattle Mini show first to see if I find anything that sways my opinion. After all I might find something there that just speaks to me and insists that I put use it.

So here is a photo of the sketch from the kit instructions. 


As you can see it is a garage building. I also got the add on room but I have no idea how it fits on at this point. I haven't even looked at the directions yet and I can't remember. By the time I film the video I will have read through the instructions and hopefully have a better idea of what we have.

In the meantime here are the 3 ideas I have had in mind for the last 5 years.

  1. A Vintage Gas Station & Garage- I was thinking something set in the late 1950's to the early 1960's. Maybe with a car being working one and some gas pumps out front. This would be different for me in that it would involve making sure everything was from the correct era. I think it could be a fun project though.

  1. A Run Down Abandoned Garage- this one would be a very beat up run down building that has been left empty for many years. I do love to do that type distressing and it could be fun to show what could have happened to the building over time.
  1. Some kind of shop that has been put in an old building. I was thinking maybe a gift shop/ coffee shop. You know the type of place where the new owners take the old garage and make it so cute and charming. The old details are still there but with a playful color scheme and lots of neat stuff to see.

So you can see the kind of directions I am being pulled by this project, anyone care to add their suggestions? You never know one of you might have the perfect idea that I never thought of.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dollhouse Miniature Apple Tart

This week are making a really simple baked apple tart. This is a really simple project and only requires a few materials and tools. It is also easy enough for a beginner to make.

One of my favorite things about this project is that it doesn't require me to hunt down a special mini pan to form my tart in. It can be difficult to find mini bakeware sometimes, and as much as people want them to be bottle caps just are not in scale for pie pans.

Your first clay in this project is a light dough color- I use Premo in Ecru but any clay of similar color will work (Fimo Sahara or Sculpey III Tan)

If you have ¾” diameter circle cutter like I used in the video that is the easiest way to cut the bottom crust but if you don't just draw the shape and cut it out with a knife. Circles are pretty easy if you can draw them out first.

After cutting the base add the rim and then get onto the apple slices. For these you will need some translucent clay and just a touch of a Yellow Ocher, it doesn't take much you just want to stain the translucent clay a bit to look like cooked apples slices when you are done.

Next brush the entire piece with our normal three colors of chalk we use to make things look baked- yellow orcher (golden yellow), reddish medium brown and a dark brown. Work slowly and build up the color carefully. As you get to the darker colors use a light touch so it doesn't look like your doll baker burnt her tart. (unless that is the look you are going for)

After baking the tart use some Amber color Gallery Glass to coat the apples in the tart- try to stay away from the the crust portion. This will give the apples a nice shiny cooked look to them.

After this dries you are ready to display your creation in you next mini scene.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dollhouse Miniature Dinner Rolls

Today we are making some dinner rolls to go in those baking pans we made last week. (Here's that video in case you missed it.) I decided to use an air dry clay (Model Magic) for this because it works so well for this type of thing. This clay is usually sold in the “kid's craft” area near the crayons and such. I love that it stays somewhat soft forever so it is perfect for things like these rolls and it makes great marshmallows.

Before you cut open the bag of clay make sure you have a way to keep it airtight. I like to put my opened package into a ziplock type freezer bag. I prefer the quart size since it is close to the size of the clay package. Just be sure to not leave the opened clay unprotected for very long. I starts to dry out pretty quickly and we want to get to use every little bit of this clay we bought.

Really making dinner rolls is an easy project even for a beginner. Simply roll the clay into a ball the size you want your roll to be. Being an air dry clay this product does shrink but not by very much.

If you want to make un-baked rolls you are done except for waiting a day or two for the clay to dry. The rolls in this case should be about 3/16” in size.

If you want to make your rolls look like they have been baked you only have a couple more steps. For baked rolls you will make the clay balls about 1/4”.

You will need either some soft chalk pastels, the ones I am using in the video are from Michael's and I believe they are the store brand. They are not very expensive and I was able to get mine on sale. Remember to watch for their coupons too. I like to use an eyeshadow brush (dollar store purchase) to apply the chalk to my clay but you can use any brush (or a cotton swab or even you fingertip if you don't have anything else handy)

The three colors I used (and are the most used colors in my chalks) were: a golden yellow, a medium warm brown, and a dark brown.

If you don't have chalks you can use similar colors of eyeshadow as long as it is a matte finish (no sparkles here)

One of the cool things about this clay is if you press your rolls together when the clay is fresh and allow them to dry you can carefully pull them apart and you get a texture very similar to the real thing where they were touching.

I hope you enjoyed the project and make lots of dinner rolls for your dolls to enjoy.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Dollhouse Miniature Baking Pan

Today I am showing one way to make an easy baking pan for your dolls. This pan is supposed to represent a 13” by 9” pan in real life. I took a few liberties with the measurements so it is pretty close but if you do the math you will find would not measure exact. This is because I wanted to keep the cutting and folding measurements easy to do. Also I have noticed even in real life these measurements can vary depending on what company made your particular baking pan.

I chose this size for a couple of reasons. Number 1 is that we are going to do a food video next week and we will need this pan for that. And secondly I know that over the years in my real kitchen this is the size pan I pull out the most in my real cooking so I figured it would be something our dolls could use too.

The pan we are making can either be made to look like ceramic/stoneware or metal. That depends on which paints you choose to use.

We are going to make our pans out of cardstock from the craft store. The kind that is used by scrapbookers and cardmakers. It is usually fairly inexpensive and really easy to work with. By the time we are done with all the steps it will be strong enough to give the illusion of either a metal or ceramic/stoneware baking pan.

To start out we need to cut a rectangle of cardstock that measures 2” by 1 ¼”. On each of the short ends we need to score at 1/8” and 3/8' and on the long sides we score at ¼”. I do recommend using a color of cardstock rather than white, more on that later.

Pre-fold all these scored lines making sure to really crease the folds flat. This will make your pan turn out much nicer in the end.

Now we need to cut on scored lines that I show in the video.

Notice the areas that I cut away also.

Now we are going to glue our pans at the ends. I make sure that my short tabs are glued on the outside of these to make they look more realistic. Be sure to clamp the glued areas, we want to make sure these stay where we want them. The little steps like this that we take now will pay of in the end with a much nicer finished item. Now walk away and let that glue dry completely. It is really important for the glue to get all the way dry before we move on.

While the glue is drying you can decide what color you want to paint you baking pan. If you want to make it look metal I recommend using the Delta Ceramcoat brand metallic silver. I have much better luck with that brand for the silver paint. If you have another favorite use it but if you are shopping try to find that one. For the metal version you will also need some black craft paint.

If you are going to go the ceramic/stoneware route you will need white craft paint and whatever color(s) you want. Sometimes I paint the pans the same color on both the outside as the inside and sometimes I make the inside white and use a color on the outside. It is up to you. You may even want to paint designs on the sides, if you are undecided take a few minutes to check online for photos of real baking pans for ideas.

Once the glue is completely dry we are going to base coat our baking pans. Use either the white or black craft paint and be sure to coat both the inside and the outside of the pan at the same time. I know this is messy but until it has at least 2 good coats of paint to seal the paperboard you need to make sure that you have both sides of it wet at the same time. This step prevents the cardstock from warping as much. You can tell when you have enough on that you can paint the sides separately; at that point you will no longer be able to see the color on the cardstock through the paint this is why I recommended a colored cardstock over a white. I usually find 2 coats is about right as long as I am using a good quality of paint. The cheaper, thinner paints might need more coats.

Now paint the final color onto your pan. For this step you can paint just one side of the paperboard and be sure to let it dry completely between coats.

If you are going for a metal pan you are done at this point unless you want to coat it with a satin finish sealer. For a ceramic/stoneware finish follow up with a couple of coats of a high gloss sealer. Allow the sealer to completely dry between coats.