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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dollhouse Miniature Stone Fireplace

This week has been interesting for sure. I am still getting used to a new schedule (youngest son needs a ride into town and back twice a week) and I seem to be running late on everything.

Then to top it off the weather guessers predicted a huge windstorm for the weekend. We got a storm but not nearly as bad as they predicted. Since this is early for big storms here I had to do a lot of prep work to make sure we were ready for the storm. So that took some of my time too.

We did get a lot of wind and a lot of rain but thankfully no damage to anything and the lights stayed on. They did flicker a lot on Saturday so I didn't get much done that day. When the wind did kick up I turned off my computer, shut off my lights in my craft room and curled up under an afghan with a warm drink, a stack of magazines and a cat. That was the perfect way to spend a really stormy afternoon.

The high moisture and the low temperatures did a toll on my project in that I couldn't finish as quickly as I would normally have. If you have crafted for very long you know how fast the thin coats of acrylic craft paint we use in minis dries on a normal day. My paint took about 3 hours to actually dry the last several days. And that coat of Mod Podge you saw me apply to the fireplace in the video, it was 6 hours before it totally dried. My glue was just as bad so it is no wonder that the project took a lot of extra time.

So lets talk about the project.

I used some foam insulation, commonly referred to by miniaturists as “builder's foam” here is a link to the Home Depot site so you will know what to look for/ ask for if you aren't familiar with the product.
I purchased a 4' by 8' sheet of this stuff years ago and I am just now getting to end of it. I was happy to see that Home Depot has smaller “project panels” available now. I plan to get a fresh sheet soon.

So measuring was not my strong suit this week, I had really planned to make my fireplace 3” tall by 4” wide. I somehow cut it 5” wide. I think in the end it was a better size for this fireplace style but feel free to make yours any size that fits in your dollhouse. For the opening for the firebox, cut out an area leaving about 1” on the three sides, or the size that works best for your project.

The next step was to map out and carve your “stones” this gets really messy but is fun and didn't take as long as I thought it would. In the end I did find it was easier to draw out my stones with a sharpie marker before cutting but it is optional.

I like to paint the entire piece with one of the gray paints I will be using at this point. I find it easier to see what needs to be adjusted and cut away once the pink is gone.

For the paint colors just use an assortment of colors that make you think “stone or rock” grays, browns, a few greens, what ever the stones where you live look like. If you need inspiration look online for pictures of real fireplaces.

After you are happy with the look of the stones you have carved add a piece of paperboard to the back. It is important to paint this before you add the “bricks” to it because you don't want the color of the cardboard to sneak through your paint. After this paint is dry I glued on some “bricks” made of paper egg carton. I cut strips that ¼ “ wide then cut them into ¾” lengths for my bricks. Glue them into the back of your fireplaces and allow the glue to dry.

Paint the area black again to cover the bricks.

Take some amounts of your chosen paints and start painting your individual stones. I like to use cotton swabs for this for several reasons. First and possibly my favorite- no clean up- just toss them when you are done. I also like the texture they give the paint, it looks more like stone.

While all this is drying get your hearth and mantle ready (if you haven't already)

For the hearth I used foam core cut the same width as my fireplaces (5”) by 1 ½” deep. This makes it ½” deeper than the fireplaces. I covered this with more egg carton on the top and the edges then painted with some of the same gray paints.

For the mantle I like to use balsa wood. Since this is a rustic fireplace style it is easy to rough up the surface of the balsa. I like ¼” balsa for this and it is cut 5” by 1 ¼” When you have it the way you want it wipe on a coat of dark brown paint.

Now you get to glue everything together, just line up the back side and the ends and all should be good.

Let the glue dry, hopefully you will have better luck with that whole drying thing than I did. LOL

Once the glue is dry give your fireplace a coat of matte mod podge to seal it and allow to dry.

Now we need to make the inside of our fireplace look like it has been used. Take some more of the black craft paint and paint the area that would be inside the firebox to give it a nice “sooty” look.

Once that is dry you are done, unless you want to add a flickering bulb set. I don't have one so I can't walk you through that part on this one. Maybe in a future fireplace.

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