Sunday, 26 October 2014

Further basement development

I have now let the two kitchens in the basement change place. The working kitchen is now on the right, with a door leading into the larder. I took the old wallpaper from the Victorian kitchen just to see whether it would fit. I think it does. It is of course worn out, but it is easy to make new, with splash technique. So this is it.

I have decided that the lower hall will be mostly delivery, so it doesn't have to be splendid, like the main entrance. I haven't decided on floors and wallpaper yet. I think the floor will be dark tiles. What I have tested is to put in a fake staircase in the rear corridor. There is no staircase from the basement into the main house, because the basement is sold separately, and not everyone may want to invest in a basement. There is no way I can cut a stairwell, but I can make a fake staircase pretending to lead to the ground floor rear corridor. These corridors swallow a lot a space, but they also create a sense of other, non-existent, hidden space.

The vegetable crates are borrowed from my market stand. Victorians weren't keen on vegetables, but maybe my dollhouse family is an exception. This is very preliminary; at this stage it is easy to change my mind.

But my real challenge today was the larder. I like the idea, but the space is weird. At first, I put in the rest of the flagstone floor from the kitchen. It looked good, but the trouble with flagstone floors is that they are thick and uneven. It doesn't matter in a larger room, but in a small room where every millimetre counts it became impossible. As I was looking for something to make fake paper flagstones I found a printout of green tiles. By cerendipity, the sheet fit the room precisely. With such a colourful floor I decided that the walls should be plain white (walls were likely to be whitewashed in a larder anyway). I took out the three walls and painted them, then put them back.I admit that it looks very strange. Mind, I didn't build it this way! 


But when I made some shelves it started to look better. In fact I think it will be a very interesting room to display the numerous food items I have. The old kitchen was crammed, and the individual objects could not be properly viewed. I will make more shelves higher up on the walls.


At the moment the shelf unit is drying and not to be disturbed. I made it from balsa, supported by a couple of harder craft sticks.


I will age the shelves either with tea or with diluted watercolour.  I will eventually glue them to the walls.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Plank floor

While I was waiting for basement parts to dry I finished the plank floor for the master bedroom. I started it some time ago and ran out of craft sticks, switching my attention to something else. I had been planning to go to my favourite - dangerous - hobby shop, but never had time so instead I bought a load of coffee stirrers online. It may sound ridiculous, but I always read customers' reviews, even if it is just plain wooded coffee stirrers. To my amazement, all reviews were from people who use coffee stirrers for miniature making. I can now compare, and coffee stirrers are better than craft sticks. They are made from softer wood, easier to cut. And they are so much cheaper!

Plank floor is easy to make, but rather boring. Both craft sticks and coffee stirrers have round ends that have to be cut. Then it's just measure and cut and glue. Dollhouse books point out that 1:1 planks would go from the back wall and out, but that in a dollhouse it looks better when they go along the edge. I have discovered this on my own, but was glad to find a confirmation.

What I didn't know when I made my first wooden floor was that you need to sand it over and over again, until it becomes completely smooth. You can see the difference clearly in this picture:


And when it is all smooth you give it a coat of varnish:

And still better when the furniture is in, even through the room is not finished:

Basement development

I worked like mad on the basement today. It was a sunny day, and I could paint all the large parts outside. There is not much to show because it was just paint, paint, paint. I used the same technique as with the main house, using sand paint to create a stone effect. The greatest challenge was to mix the same nuance of grey I have on the main front. I am sure I will have to paint it again when everything is finished. I re-assembled the shell, stating, as usual, that after painting the walls swell and don't fit. I will let them dry properly before going on. But I still wanted to see what it might look like. Of course, the staircase doesn't lead anywhere yet, but eventually it will lead to an ornate Georgian front door. The lower door is for servants and deliveries.


It will take months before I get even remotely near this stage. At the moment it looks like this:

Which gives you a very good idea of how much prelimiary work has to be done before you even can start.

But I always want to test things. I took out the flagstone floor from the old Victorian house and put it tentatively into the planned kitchen:

Perfect fit!

What I had completely forgotten was that under the flagstone floor there was a mock marble floor - I have no idea why I didn't remove it. It is self-adhesive shelf lining.

 So I can use it as well, either in the other kitchen or in the entrance hall:

Or maybe not. 

I am now fully determined to have two kitchens: the best kitchen and the working kitchen. The best kitchen will display all the pretty utensils never used for cooking. Most of these things are made from copper coins. I have more than these, and it will be a nice way to show them.

 The working kitchen is full of people working hard, and of food and deliveries and stuff. I will have to make another cooking range.

And there is a walk-in larder that stores all kinds of food and supplies. I will make shelves along the walls.

Simply because I have done this test I see that logically the best kitchen and the working kitchen should change place, since the larder should of course be connected with the working kitchen.

I haven't put on the roof because it is easier to move things, but I have painted the ceilings dark brown. I might add beams or other decorations. The ceilings are low so all lights will have to be wall lights. I haven't decided on the walls yet. Probably the best kitchen will be light and the working kitchen dark.

I haven't decided at all what I will have in the entrance hall.

Friday, 24 October 2014


My basement has arrived! Just six months after the initial estimated date. But never mind, it's here. However, the enclosed assembly instructions helpfully say:

As with the main house, I have figured out most of the construction, but not quite, because indeed not even the parts list is accurate. My first attempt was definitely wrong as I ended up with a narrow corridor without access.

It baffled me, and I tried to move walls around, which proved fruitful:

This basement is different from the one in the original kit - whether it is an improvement or not I cannot say. Even if the corridor has a door from the kitchen it is still a very strange space. Can it be a walk-in larder? In the original design, there was one central hall and no rear partition. I like the partition because it adds this mysterious space that won't be visible - I will put some lights in there. But I may take away the middle wall altogether.

I have planned the basement to fit the original design. I wanted to have the kitchen on the right and a scullery on the left, with storage, laundry and so on. I planned to have a lower entrance hall where deliveries would come for the kitchen. It doesn't look the proper design for this plan so I will have to play and test. I am reading a book set in the seventeenth century, and the rich house has a "best kitchen" and a "working kitchen". I have seen this in manor houses: the best kitchen is for display. Perhaps this is what I will do. One kitchen will be just for the collection of copper objects, and I may add china and other things to show off wealth.

Meanwhile, I have another large priming job in front of me.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Making a back wall

I have already shown some attempts with back walls. Today I made something more permanent with the partition wall in the entrance hall.


As I said before, I like the colour, and I have now painted the side walls so it will definitely be it. To have a better sense of the environment I put in a door:

The door opens into the rear corridor, and I haven't decided yet what will be there. But I need the door to make the panel and the rail:


The panel is made from embossed 1:1 wallpaper. I had an idea first of making panels from card, but it didn't quite work. But this does. 

The pediment comes from the old Victorian house, and it broke when I peeled it off. It doesn't matter because I have just figured out how to make more, of which later on. So far it is just there to ahow what it will look like sometime in the future. 

If I understand the construction of this house correctly (I still haven't received instructions) the back of this partition will not be visible, but I will of course paint it properly. 

I have inserted it to test. The floor is provisionary - there will be a fancy floor here. And obviously the side walls are unfinished.

I took this picture before putting in the stairs because they obscure the view. But this is what it will be when the stairs are in, and of course there will be railing.

I like this door, leading into a mysterious room that will never be seen. I will put a light in there, and it will be possible to open the door and peep in.

Slow progress

The term has started, and I am no longer free to snatch an hour here and there to play. But this weekend I have made some progress. Mostly, I have been doing totally unspectacular things, such as priming and painting window surrounds. It just never ends. Today I decided to test what it would be like to actually put in a window and a surround. Just for fun. It will be a long time before I put in windows because interior walls must be decorated first. And yet:

It is beginning to look like something, isn't it? Like something grand. What I saw when I made this test was that I need to re-paint either all windows or all surrounds. I have painted the windows cream. It doesn't go at all with pure white.

Since I have white quoins (and will have more white exterior details) I decided to re-paint the windows. I have so far only done six (out of twenty seven), to test again. Fortunately, it is easier to paint white on top of cream than, say, blue or green. I know because I have tried.

Here is the small front, almost as it will look sometime in the distant future - there are some details missing. Although nothing is fixed yet you can see how beautiful the house is going to be.

I have painted some more parts while I was at it, inluding the roof pediment. It also gives a glimpse of what is coming:

If you wonder why the windows are on baking paper it means you have never painted dollhouse windows. This way they don't stick!

Monday, 6 October 2014

More floors

In case you wonder what I have done with the initial floor sheet, I have now tested it in the gentlemen's smoking room.

The wallpaper is still temporary, and obviously the door needs to be painted, although I haven't decided whether it should be white or dark. 

You may wonder why I keep testing and moving things. If you look at some of my recent posts where I add a feature and then put in the furniture and other stuff, you see that you cannot judge a floor or a wallpaper or a fireplace on its own; it has to be tested with the whole environment. If I were building a house and then filling it with objects it would be different; I would be choosing furniture to fit the rooms. But this is more like it happens in real life. The family is building a house to move into, and they arrange the rooms to suit their possessions. Will the bed fit? Where will this desk go? Where will this painting hang?

So every time I test a feature, I take out all furniture and dolls, put in floors or whatever, then put all the stuff back. In the picture above, you see that the floor will go well with the green wallpaper; it is not too dark, because the other objects are quite bright; and it is appropriate for the type of room. I could not judge it by just putting in the floor sheet.

(But if I am really honest, I simply enjoy playing).

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Parquet floor, alternative method

I want all rooms in Womble Hall to have different floors. And I also want to make all the floors myself. I have used paper floors, but once you have a real floor in one room paper floors do not look good. I have shown my herringbone floor for the reception room, and I am working on plank floor for the master bedroom (had to make a pause because ran out of lolly sticks). I have bought a roll of self-adhesive shelf lining which I had used for floors before so I thought maybe I could use it in one room. For a pound, it is still cheaper than dollhouse stores.

I rolled out the paper to test, and it didn't look natural. The pattern is far too large.


Well, then maybe if I cut it in smaller bits and glue together again:

That's much better, isn't it?

But what I noticed was that the floor is too bright for this room that has delicate features; it attracts too much attention. So I tested it in another room:

Looks fine, doesn't it? But would they have plank floor in ladies' drawing room? Isn't it too simple? There is another way of placing fake planks:


It takes longer of course. It took me four evenings (listening to classic music). I think it was definitely worth while. I am really pleased with the result.

And with some furniture: 

The wallpaper in this room will be light, so darker floor will be fine, and it is the right kind of floor for the rich ladies of the house.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Bathroom tiling

Today, a rainy Saturday, I have been working on the bathroom. As I mentioned earlier today, I have bought lining paper, perfect for constructing wall decoration. This is the third time I am tiling a bathroom: first in my original house, then in the cabinet house that is now being transformed into Womble Hall. I still believe that it is worth the trouble glueing tiles one by one, to create a unique pattern. These tiles are very common, but no other dollhouse bathroom looks like mine.

It takes a long time and is messy, but I like the result. I re-used the tiles; they were relatively easy to peel off, and since the new bathroom is smaller than the old one, there were more than enough.

Everything is still white-tacked, but you get the idea.

I see, for instance, that the off-white door doesn't work, it should be clear white. The floor came in a bundle from ebay, I could have easily made it myself, as I did for the retro kitchen.

There will be more details of course, and I am sure I will move things around for best display. The door opens into a rear corridor, and I need to decide what will be hidden there. Perhaps more linen cupboards?

Budget miniature-making

As I have stated repeatedly, I am a recycler and do not buy expensive craft paper when I can use old document folders. But some materials still have to be bought: paint, glue, varnish; and I prefer to buy them cheap. I am also always looking for inexpensive materials intended for something else than miniature-making.

This is what I bought the other day from £1 store.

The lining paper, 4 square meters (!) will be used to paste wallpaper on. Much easier than hanging wallpaper direct on the walls, especially if you also make panels and rails. The self-adhesive shelf paper will be used for flooring, and I am already making what I believe will be stunning floors. Watch this space. The jar of varnish is simply a cheap jar of varnish, fully sufficient for my purposes. Likewise, paint: much, much cheaper than in hobby shops and just as good. The three pens are scratch markers, used for concealing scratches in furniture, I have already tested: they will be perfect for staining wooden floors in three different shades. Paper doilies will make excellent ceiling decorations. And you can never have enough of sandpaper.