Sunday, 23 November 2014

Side effects

This weekend I was hoping to finish the basement, at least finish the secret room and put lights in it. I am working against time. In two weeks I have my annual pre-Christmas party, and no matter what I will have to move the basement from the dinner table. And from the dining room. The only place I can move it to is my study, which doubles as a guest room, and a prolonged guest season is imminent, which means I cannot put the basement in the middle of the room. It has to go under the main house which takes too much space as it is. At least I have glued the basement so I can move it in one piece, but I hoped it would be finished, or almost finished, because I much prefer working at the dinner table than lying on the floor on my stomach. Once I have moved it and put the main house on top, will I want to dismantle it again?

However, I am afraid that I will not meet my deadline. Firstly, after I had for two weeks been absolutely sure that I would have a chest of drawers and a mirror in the secret corridor I am now back to the idea of a staircase. And making a straircase is more complicated than putting in a mirror. Making a staircase is one of the greatest challenges of dollhouse construction, even if you make it from kit, and I am not doing it. Through the rear door, only a small bit of the stairs will be visible, but from the side window it will be in full view so I need to make it properly. I have made several straircases, and I remember some tricks, but it isn't something you can do in a hurry. I have done some preparations, but it will have to be next weekend. Meanshile I have tested lights.

I may have said already, probably repeatedly, that I am not good at lighting. I had quite a sophisticated light system in the Victorian house which I hope to replicate in the new project, but lights is one thing about dollhouses that I don't enjoy doing. I like the results, when it works, and I am proud of myself when I have solved a problem, but it's simply too much trouble. Therefore, when the first battery dollhouse lights came some years ago I was delighted that my problems would now be solved for ever. Alas! I bought a set of lights and was truly disappointed because they were too dim and didn't look natural, even the "amber" variety. I learned how to soften LED lights when I finished my van Hoogstraaten room box, But I have tried this and that with battery lights in various projects, and I cannot make them work. At least not the way I want.

The other day I bought a set of battery Chrismas lights in a thrift shop. For a pound, I thought, I could experiment. It would be such a relief to have the basement lights without all the drilling and wiring and the tiny plugs and bulbs.

I tested the lights, and I didn't like what I saw:

Even though the picture shows the lights more blue than they are, they still don't look natural, and even though I have five lamps in this one room it looks far too dark. When I have invested so much in this project, I don't want to compromise. I am simply not happy with this solution.

I gave it another chance though. I painted each little lamp yellow, which made the light softer and less artificial. Yet it still looked like Christmas lights (which they are). Victorians wouldn't have such lights anyway. They would have chandeliers, sconces, table lamps. In a modern house perhaps...

And then I realied that I have a modern house, and I have a modern house where standard lighting is impossible, but a set of battery lights might work.

I have so far just fixed it with tape, but I have by serendipity found a solution to a problem that has haunted me for years.


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