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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dollhouse Miniature Shelf Kit

This week I thought it would be fun to make up the shelf kit that I purchased at the recent Seattle Miniature Show. This kit is from Modern Miniature Magic (who you can contact with this link)

I looked at the paper that came with the kit and it just gives the email address and not any kind of website. I don't remember exactly what other items were on the table I got this kit from but I do remember she had a rather full table of items. I am sure if you email her you can get a complete list of items currently available. I do ask that you mention you heard about the kits from my video and blog though.

Okay, so let's take the kit a step at a time. There really aren't many pieces to the kit: two sides, a back and 3 shelves. All the pieces are laser cut from Maple according to the paper that comes with the kit. The wood on my kit was of excellent quality. The instruction sheet is brief- it contains a color photo of the completed project, a short description of how to assemble the kit and contact information.

The kit is really easy to assemble and all the parts are cut to fit perfectly.

I will admit I do tend to push the limits of the kits when I assemble them. I don't do anything other than read the directions and hold the parts together so I am sure what goes where. I don't really even do a true dry fit. On this kit I also pushed the limits with the finish, I chose a rather wet water based finish and did not do any sealing first. I did want to see how much the rather thin wood would warp. It did warp a bit but not nearly as much as I was afraid it might.

I chose the finish I did for a couple of reasons. First off I had asked on the Facebook page what finish people wanted to see me use. The comments were split right down the middle between a stain and a paint finish. Everyone did want to see it aged however. I decided to go with the stain because I have another project with an aged painted finish on my channel. I did decide to use a craft paint as a stain mostly because I felt most of us probably have a basic brown paint on hand and we might not have a true wood stain in our supplies. You could do this same technique with any color of paint or you could use a regular wood stain. If you are going to stain your project I do recommend doing so before you glue to avoid spotting. If I had sealed the wood with a clear shellac I might have avoided some of the warping but I am not sure. It does work most of the time but this is really thin wood.

Next we glue our pieces together, this is really easy and since everything is so well cut it fit together really nicely. Because of the slight warping my back piece did not fit as well as it could have but it still turned out fine. Also because of the angle I was looking at the project I didn't notice that I had the middle shelf a bit crooked. I know it showed up in the camera view but I was looking from behind it. For where I am planning to use the shelf it won't matter at all so I am still happy.

Now we went on to the aging portion of the project. It is really easy to get totally carried away with this step and I did my best to use a light hand. Go as far as you want on your kit. A final seal with a matte spray sealer is all that was needed to finish up the project. I used a matte because I want it to look old and worn. Any shine would have taken away from this.

So what are my thoughts on this kit? I think it is a fun kit and I would definitely go buy another one. It would fit into many scenes and styles.

I hope you enjoyed this project, come back for many more projects in the future.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Building a Mini Building- the Doors

This week I decided to assemble the doors for the kit. You might be asking why do this now instead of a different time? Well, mainly because I am still in the process of deciding if I really want to try to wire this project for lights. I just am thinking it is not worth the effort or expense but I still haven't decided for sure. If you have an opinion be sure to comment and let me know what you think.

So the doors are one of those steps that can be done at any point before they are installed. They are also a relatively quick step so since I have been kind of busy this week they fit into my schedule.

I get a lot of questions about how I do my ribbon or fabric hinges for my dollhouses so this was a perfect time to show you how to set that up. The only requirement is that your doors have a place to sandwich the ribbon into. I have in the past though just cut a thin sheet of bass wood to cover the back of the door to allow for the ribbon hinge.

The only trick is to have enough of the ribbon glued between the layers of your door that it will hold. Leave a nice tail of ribbon hanging off the side of the door, we will trim that later when we install the doors into the structure.

That really is all there is to this week's step.

Let me know what your thoughts are on the lighting question in the comments either here or over on Facebook.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Birdcage Pastry Tower

First let me apologize for the sniffling noises in the video. I didn't realize I was even doing it at the time. My allergies have been so bad this week I have been miserable from them. I will try to be more careful to not do that in future videos.

Now on to our project. I love this kit, it is a bit challenging but so worth it for the end result. I can tell you my biggest mistake was not getting the layers glued all the way to the edges on the first step. I missed some areas with the glue stick on the small tabs and that cause me problems when I went to assemble my shelf unit. So learn from my mistake and get those little edges glued really securely.

As with any kit be sure to read the directions all the way through before you start. That will help a lot. Also a quick dry fit to make sure you know which piece is which is also a good idea. 
Here is a link to Ruth's site: Stewart Dollhouse Creations and one to this kit: Birdcage Pastry Tower so you can go take a look.

Ruth calls for Tacky glue and I started to reach for that but decided instead to use my Tombo Multi glue. For small areas of paper it has become my go to glue. If you use Tacky I would recommend using a toothpick to apply it, that will give you much more control. I think I would stay away from any of the thinner glues for this, a thicker glue will hold faster and cause less in the way of buckling of the paper.

And yes, you do discover just what a geek I am when my cell phone decides ring while I was putting the shelf together. I usually mute my phone but forgot this time and of course it had to go off at a point I couldn't really re-do. I cut it as best as I could. So I will admit here that yes, I have all Star Trek ring tones on my phone. There now it is out in the open you realize the level of my geekiness. LOL

I did silence my phone for the read of filming.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial, I know I really enjoyed putting it together. I love how the shelf turned out. It is going to be so cute in the spot I have planned for it.

If you do buy from Ruth at Stewart Dollhouse Creations let her know you saw my videos. We had a wonderful chat about how many of you that watched my cupcake tutorial last year are still coming and purchasing that mold.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

2015 Seattle Dollhouse Haul

Last weekend was the Seattle Dollhouse Show in Seattle Washington, I thought it would be fun to show you what I was able to find while at the show and on the way home.

Normally when I visit a mini show I look at all the tables and then go back and purchase the things that I really want. This year I broke that rule because my first purchase was so precious I was afraid someone else would get it before I got back. That item was this beautiful butterfly dome. I got this from Lauren at Scaling Down the Past (you can find her Etsy shop here) she has some of the most wonderful minis that I have seen in a long time.

One of my favorite sellers at the show is Ruth Stewart of Stewart Dollhouse Creations. You might remember the wonderful cupcake mold and frosting kit I showed you all last year. This year Ruth has more really fun stuff. It was really hard but I did manage to not buy everything on her table. I limited myself to just a few items. What I did get were: the Birdcage Pastry Tower, the French macaron mold and the cupcake cake mold (this one can be used in both dollhouse scale and for the 18” dolls) Be sure to check out Ruth's site here for more fun stuff. 

At Jeannie Lindquist's table I picked up 3 different kits to make some flowering plants. I haven't done very many plant kits so I am looking forward to giving these a try. You can find Jeannie's website here, although currently I am only seeing her book in her store.

My last purchase at the show was two little wooden kits from Modern Miniature Magic (email her  here) one for a planter and one for a cute little stair step shelf unit. I think these will look really nice with my plans for the building I am working on in the building series.

On my way home I also stopped at the Hobby Lobby since we don't have one here. I was able to find some paper for a project that I am in the process of getting started on. For some reason I couldn't find anything to use that would look like a very subtle stone for a background. I am hoping the paper I picked up will work well. For the same project I picked up a 1/24th scale WW II Army Jeep, another item I have been trying to find and it seemed everywhere I looked around here either didn't carry it or were out of stock. That is a project that I will show you all when I get it finished.

Also at Hobby Lobby I got some Kato liquid polymer clay, I have been wanting to try this for some time. No one around here carries it so I had put it on my list to look for. While I was looking around for different things I found the Lumiere metallic paints. I have never used them but they looked so interesting I decided I had to try them

So that is pretty much all I got I hope you enjoyed the video and the pictures here.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Building Series 2- week 3 Exterior Finish

This is the third installment in my new building series. Be sure to check out the rest of the series too.

This week I had a hard decision to make. I really didn't want to anchor this building down to the base board yet but I felt I had to. Normally this would have happened much later in the building process because I like to be able to twist and turn my buildings around (and upside down sometimes) to really be able to see what I am doing. This building posed a problem though and that problem is the in the form of the add on room. You see I wanted to have it look like it was actually par to the main building and not just a bit of a building sitting there next to the building. That meant being able to use both the exterior and interior wall finishes to mask that seam. Since this kit is made of really thin plywood I knew I couldn't just glue the pieces together and have them stick to each other while I moved the unit around.

The only solution I could come up with was to actually glue the entire thing to the base board. So that is the first thing we do this week. I went to Home Depot planning to get some plywood preferably about ½” thick but they were out of what they call handy panels in that size. A handy panel (at least at my Home Depot) is just a fancy name for a partial sheet of plywood (or other sheet type lumber) usually 2' by 4'. They also sometimes have some sheets that measure 2' by 2' which would have been perfect for me but that display was empty too. So I chose a 2' by 4' sheet of MDF that is about ¼” thick. You can use an MDF that is thinner than the plywood because it seems to be stronger. I then hunted down the lady at the store that operates the saw to cut my board down to the size I wanted. My store will do the cut for free you just have to find the person that does it for you. I did run into a small issue at the check stand in that the checker tried to charge me full price for each half of my board. This has happened before so I was watching for it. She was happy to correct the price. Last time it happened I didn't catch it until I was all the way home so it was more of a hassle but they did make it right. So the lesson here is watch what is rung up and check your receipt before you leave the store!

The next problem I ran into, or at least I imagined would be a problem was how to get that really narrow piece of plywood to glue securely to the base. Of course I thought of this issue on my way home so I searched through my stash of various wood pieces and found some little wooden blocks that were left over from a project years ago. I glued the blocks to the inside of the building base being sure to line the bottom of the blocks with the bottom of the base piece. When this glue was dry I then had a larger surface to glue to the base. I feel much better about the integrity of the joint now.

I also made sure to run a bead of glue on the wall edges that joined to the main part of the building so that all would become one unit when everything set up.

As added insurance I also ran a bead of caulking along the seam between the add on room and the main building. This combined with the wall treatments will keep everything nice and solid for years to come.

For the exterior I decided to show you a finish I have used on several mini buildings over the years but have never demoed on this channel. Some people call this a Stucco finish, I am not sure I would term it exactly that but it is basically just a textured finish. I like it because it is first off very cheap! It also has the advantage of hiding the less than perfect quality of the wood in many of these cheap kits.

All we need in materials is a can of paint and some facial tissue (cheaper is better here) I like to use the samples from Home Depot (or Lowes or other stores of the same kind) they are really nice paint and can be tinted to almost any color you desire. I decided to go with an off white kind of cream color. I think no matter what the building becomes in the end this will work well. The only other thing you really need is a paint brush. I do usually wear some disposable gloves for this project since it is really messy and taking off the pair of gloves is a lot faster than stopping to wash if I have to answer the phone.

Paint on a thin layer of paint on a small area and then layer on a single layer of crumpled tissue. Follow this with another thin coat of paint. Just work on a small area at a time. You can adjust the texture depending on how smooth or crumpled you leave the tissue.

Probably the two most important things to remember is to separate the tissue into single layers and to be sure to saturate the tissue so it is stuck thoroughly to the walls.

After this dries give another thin coat of paint and allow to dry again.

Now it is time to cut/tear away the excess tissue. Then another coat of paint to seal everything down.

Now we are ready to move on to the next step.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Building Series- video 2- Basic Construction

Last week in the blog post I told you that the planning and preparation work are probably the most boring of the tasks in building your mini building. This week I will be honest and say the construction that we are undertaking today is probably the hardest part, especially if you are using a laser cut thin plywood kit like I am. We are trying to glue together some really small edges and make them hold up the entire structure. The pieces are going to fight the process but you will win if you stick to it. I am not trying to stop you from doing this I am only trying to warn you so you don't become overwhelmed.

Be sure you have thoroughly read the instructions that came with you kit and that you understand what you are supposed to do. Next do a dry fit- meaning put the kit together with just some tape so you are sure where all the pieces go. Only after these steps should you proceed with the gluing of the kit.

For glue I am using Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue. This glue will give you a very durable bond even on the thin edges we are working with. Be sure to tape wherever you need to so that the edges stay in place. Also a few drops of super glue will help you to get the structure to stay together until the glue dries.

Allow the glue to have plenty of drying time before you proceed with the next step (or even moving the building very much) The work we do on this step will determine how strong your mini building is and how it looks later. If you cut corners now you may not be able to fix it later.

After the glue is totally dry I like to run a bead of caulk on all the inside vertical corners and to cover any errors on my outside vertical corners with spackle. By inside and outside I am referring to the angle of the corner not the placement on the inside or outside of the building.


I don't usually do this along the horizontal seams where the wall meets the floor because this is usually covered by trim wood.

I think the only real secret to the steps this week is to take your time and be sure you understand what the kit instructions are telling you.

I was going to show the construction of the little deck that goes on the front of the add-on room but I had so much trouble figuring it out that I wasn't comfortable filming that part. See it can happen to all of us.

Remember if you have questions be sure to ask.