Sunday, 22 February 2015

Basement lights

Today is the great break-through in my lighting attempts. I have given up on conventional lights, even though the effect was good; I just don't have the patience (and my sight is getting poor). So battery lights is a solution. After trial and error and trial and error I have finally plucked my courage and drilled holes in the roof.

As a side comment: I now understand why it is advised to use a mask when you sand or drill in MDF. After the first two holes I realised that I didn't want to inhale the dust. I don't have a mask, but when I was in Madagascar last year we were taken to a marquetry workshop where they used airplane eyepatches instead of mask. Think how clever people can be! And it works just great.

Anyway, I drilled all these holes. When I earlier had tested drilling in MDF with a large drill, the surface was damaged. So I first drilled very small holes with a small drill and then enlarged them with a power tool. Before drilling, I tested the position of the lights on a piece of cardboard. Then I traced the holes from the cardboard onto the roof.


I need larger holes than for converntional wires because I will push bulbs through them, like this:

I will later protect wires with heavy-duty tape and possibly make grooves because the main house will be on top of this.  The battery holder will be on the back. But there are still some things I need to finish before I glue on the roof.

It is almost impossible to take pictures from the sides, through the windows, but at least ir provides some idea. One set of lights is under the staircase in the rear corridor where I have a chest of drawers. It is visible through the working kitchen window.

From the other side, you can see the staircase and the wall with some pictures.

Again, it is taken through a window. Finally, from the front entrance, you can see the staircase through a door.

I haven't bothered to make lampshades because the lights are quite dull as they are. When I have proper lights in the front rooms the corridor lights will be almost invisible, but they will still contribute to the effect. My filmmaker son tells me that in light technicians' jargon they are called "practical". 

I am working on the proper lighting now and will hopefully be able to share the results soon.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Victorian tiles

Among the several things I still had to do before assembling the house was the back wall of the upper entrance hall. Five months ago I painted it yellow (scroll to the end of the post) and throught I would simply put up some paintings. Since then I tried to make Victorian panels for which I used vintage postcards. The panels in the picture below are not the actual cards, just a photocopy, because I wanted to test it first, and for the same reason one side has a white frame and the other gold.


I asked friends in two Facebook groups whether they liked the white or the gold, and the opinions were divided between the groups.

Then I started working on the basement, and the wall had to wait. Meanwhile, I found this in a museum shop:

These are magnets, but I thought they would make a nice border. Like this:

However, today when I finally started to work on the wall properly it because obvious that the two decorations didn't go well together. I was reluctant to give up on my postcard panels, but the magnets clearly looked better. Sorry, postcards, I may use you elsewhere.

This is the result. I think it will be great.


Of course, this picture has a disadvantage as compared to the previous ones because it is a flat wall, but use your imagination to see how it will be in the room. Side walls also have borders.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Getting there

I was fully deternimed to start assembling and glueing the house today. True, I haven't finished the basement lighting, but I have figured out how to do it, finally, to my satisfaction. I am frustrated seeing my beautiful house all in pieces, not being able to see how all the pretty walls and ceilings I have recently made look when assembled. So I thought, I will just finish the side walls, a couple of hours perhaps, and then...

But I have once again miscalculated time and effort. Two months ago I made this pretty wall, and in my memory the room was finished. I am glad I checked before I glued the walls, because, as it turned out, the tax-free bottle net would only be enough for two walls. I tried this and that and I finally gave up. I am not desperate about it, since the net wasn't easily manageable and would have probably not look neat (that's what I am telling myself in consolation). At least I have tried. I may use this net elsewhere.

However, this meant that I had to use something else. Now, I don't have to use anything at all; I could have simply painted the whole room. And every room. But that's not how I work. I invent obstacles to overcome them. Yesterday when I was making the blue ceiling I was also going to make another ceiling and decorate it with cake paper (also something I have saved for the past seven years). Now I am glad I didn't do it yesterday, because the cake paper is perfect against the dark red wallpaper.


This picture also shows one of the details that pop up and delay all work. I was fixing the dado rail (which I first now in the picture see is not quite horisontal - too bad, too late) when I realised that there would be a hinge right there, and I cannot put the hinge over the rail. I wonder how many mistakes like this I have made and will discover in due time.

The window in this wall is the last side window. I will not be putting in more windows in the observable future. But there are twelve in the front.

I put paper, border and panel on all three walls, but so far I have only finished paneling on one. It is a lot of work, as the grill sticks I am using need to be mitred. But it's worth while. Again, I could have... I don't have to... Yes, actually, I have to. And again and again: I am not in a hurry.

I have another busy week coming so I won't have time to finish the other two walls until next weekend. I only need the side wall to start assembling, but I won't have time even for one wall. Besides, I have realised that I also need to finish panels for the back wall of the grand entrance hall. Another things I erroneously remembered as finished. The bottom line is: it's just as well to accept that I will need at least two more weekends before I can move on.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Another ceiling

This weekend I am working on lights in the rear corrdior of the basement, which is hugely frustrating, particularly when the drill suddenly gives up and has to be charged, but this gives me some time to do other things. There is absolutely nothing I can show from the lighting work since most of it is testing, testing and testing again, with large bits of cardboard before I start drilling in the walls and roof. But I want to show something (to myself if not otherwise), some progress. So in between drilling and swearing, I made another ceiling. It will be in the dining room, so I painted it to match the wallpaper, mixing blue and green acrylic paints with white all-purpose. Then I glued on a lacy plastic placemat, one of those that I have used all these years since I started miniature-making. Luckily, I still had one almost whole piece. It is hard to see what it will look like in the room, but if you use your imagination and turn it upside down... Anyway, I am pleased.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Fixing shelves

Finishing the basement, I have serendipitously found a solution to a long-time problem. As any dollhouse maker knows, it is next to impossible to attach shelves onto walls. If you use tack or even superglue, sooner or later the shelves will fall down. I have tried to glue thumbnails to the back of shelves:

Yes, they work. Sometimes for years. But one day they fall down, and if you have something breakable on the shelf it breaks. Or maybe your shelf is in a hardly accessible corner of your room, and you will stretch all your arm muscles trying to fix it.

As usual, I was searching for something else when I had my eureka.

I have used these hooks for all kinds of purposes, but suddenly I realised that if I just bend the hook into another loop it will be just what I need.

Now I have solid hooks that I can use to attach the shelf to the wall. Of course I could have made these double loops from a piece of wire (which I will do in the future) but I had to see the hook to come up with this very simple solution that I happily offer to all dollhouse friends.


If you wonder about the shelf itself, I made it many years ago for my very first house, using a bit of wooden strip and two pieces of a photo frame. The utensils come from a game, the name of which I don't know in English, but it involves picking up these tiny things from a pile one by one, without any other moving. I have saved this game since I was a child, through all moves and losses. It is made of some precious wood and still smells wonderful after fifty years.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

The impersistence of memory

In preparation for the final assembly of the house, I decided to check that everything in the basement was finished and I could glue on the roof. I knew I had to fix lights in the rear corridor, since I am now definitely giving up on conventional lights. But that should only take a couple of hours.

How unreliable is memory! How great wishful thinking. I was genuinely convinced that the basement was finished before I moved it, but thinking back logically, of course I moved it because we were expecting guests - oh dear, two months ago! - and I had to clear the dining room table no matter what. Then I put the main house on top of the basement and have been working on it ever since, while the basement, as I see now, still needs a lot of work. Just look at it: things fixed with white tack, no mouldings, shelves still to put up on walls. How could I forget?

So today is the back-to-basement day. And since the basement is now on the floor and there is no way I am taking it back to the dining room table, the working position is not the most comfortable. I still prefer working on flat surfaces, so I unhinged the front walls and inserted nails to hang things on. In the unlikely case you don't know how to hammer tiny nails without crushing your fingers, here are two tricks.

Then it turned out that the skirting boards I have are ten centimeters shorter than the front. I haven't found a solution to it yet. Two pieces of skirting will look untidy. I have tried to make my own from card, but I am not happy with them either. I think I will need to buy 1:1 skirting.

In my desperation, I turned to skirting inside the rooms, for which I inescapably need to go down on my knees, and I can only do it for a short while. But what a difference it makes with moulding!
My drill ran out of juice as I was making holes for more nails and hooks. It is charging now. Perhaps I should call it a day.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

It always takes longer...

I have made considerable progress this weekend, but again, nothing worth showing. I have mostly been replicating walls and panels that I tested when the house was assembled. Now I have to finish a whole room, three walls, with doors, windows and other details that need time and attention. But I am still convinced that I am doing it the right way. Working on flat surfaces and at normal table height is a blessing. I am going to persist in this strategy. Yet I am also glad that I have tested colours and wallpaper and various solutions for rear rooms and corridors. Somethimes I still need to check what a particular surface is, even though I have marked them in pencil and pasted a bit of wallpaper. I make mistakes and have to do it all over again. I forget my own great ideas and remember them too late. And most of all, everything takes more time than anticipated. I was almost certain that after this weekend I would be able to start glueing. No way. I will need at least two more weekends just to finish side and back walls, not to mention interior walls.

I do have some pictures to share. I have finished the dark panelling in the music room, and while I cannot show the interior yet, you can get some idea about what it will look like.

You may notice that I have changed the wallpaper in this room. I think this one fits better. It will be a very grand room. I will most probably paint the door surround to match the panel.

I have put in all windows in side walls, except one where the panelling is not finished yet, and as soon as I finish two sides of an interior wall I put in the door. I do not forget to fix the door knobs first, but I did forget that some details had to be painted. I haven't learned from making basement doors! This door knob is made from a paper clip. And for once, this wallpaper is not a printie. You may recognise it: it is a classic called Jennifer.

Most of what I did today will not even be visible or only laterally visible in rear rooms. The interior walls look like this:

If you are not familiar with the design you will think that it is a complete mess.