Sunday, 27 September 2015

Minor corrections

"Minor corrections" is a grade you can get when you are doing a PhD. It means that the thesis is generally acceptable, but there are some small things that need attention before the degree can be awarded. If I were doing a PhD in miniature-making (what a great idea!), my examiners would point out - as I did in my previous post - that the mantelpiece in the guest bedroom didn't look quite right and needed to be improved. Making a whole new chimney breast would be a "major correction", so instead I tore off the skirting board, cut it to measure and put on both sides of the mantelpiece. As I was doing it I realised that the fireplace needed a hearth. And a fireguard. So I made these. For the fireguard I used a piece of fine metal mesh the origin of which I have forgotten. I'd had it for ages hoping that one day it would come handy. And it did. It was blue so I painted it with copper paint.


In the master bedroom, I had a similar problem because I needed to cut the skirting around the fireplace. I hadn't done it wrong in the first place, so I didn't have to make minor corrections, but I learned from the other room. It was slightly more complicated because I had to cut the skirting board to fit the hearth. But it looks nice and neat.


Still better when I have put back the dressing table and the chair. Yes, it is a genuine Carin Backlund chair. Don't ask me how much I gave for it.  But the dressing table is a makeover from Poundland.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Attic finished (almost)

I promised not to show every step in my finishing touches, but now I have added mouldings to all the three rooms in the attic and put most of the objects back. The three attic rooms are nursery, servant room and guest bedroom. I know that a guest room would most likely not be on the same floor as a nursery or still less a servant room, but it just couldn't be done otherwise.

Last time I showed the nursery was six months ago here. (Scroll down the post to see pictures). Here is the fninshed room:


You may think there isn't much difference, but there is. Firstly, the door is now properly fixed, which took hours (as doors do; they never fit the opening). The skirting and coving have been added. The former is proper wooden skirting boards, but the coving is made from my ubiquitous 1:1 wallpaper. It still took a lot of work. There is not much left to be done in this room. Fix the curtain, which at the moment is white-tacked. Possibly add some pictures, then just make and collect more toys. I also have twin boys who will live in this room when I have made clothes for them. Perhaps I will have a nanny.

The last time I showed the servant room was four months ago when I built the upper stairs. It involved inserting a door (grrrr!), but now all mouldings are in place.


This room is more or less finished, but I can of course add pictures, rugs, objects, maybe another servant asleep in bed (I removed the doll to take the picture because she obscured the details in the background).

The last time I showed the guest bedroom was six months ago, when I was still wallpapering the attic rooms. This is what it looks like now.


I made a new floor for this room. Well, not exactly new: I finished the floor that I tried and discarded for the grand entrance hall. Since the floors in the two other attic rooms are made from adhesive shelf-lining, a hardwood floor in the guest room looked too conspicuous, while the two other shelf-lining floors I had were too bright. This floor looks good in this room, and it is sufficiently far away from the entrance hall hardwood floor inspired by it. Only a very keen eye will spot the similarity.

There is some work remaining to be done in this room. For instance, the mantelpiece doesn't look right with the skirting, so I will need either to build a chimey breast or remove skirting and make it in two pieces on both sides of the mantelpiece. I also need to think about curtains.

The work remaining for the whole attic is paint skirting edges, likely grey to match the sloping edges. I am also considering adding dark roof beams - fake, again, made of full-size wallpaper - but they may be too distracting.

I have not decided whether I will have display lights in the attic or just add tea lights here and there when I come to that.

At the moment I am really pleased that the attic is as complete as a dollhouse project can be.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Lamps and candles

I will not be showing every picture of every room where I have now added mouldings made with full-size wallpaper (I am glad I invested in a whole roll rather than pinching samples). As I show further details of various rooms please pay attention to the mouldings, and I will draw your attention to any particular aspect. I've done all rooms on the upper floor: master bedroom, bathroom, corridor and smoking room. I think it looks nice and neat. I cannot say it was child's play because it was a lot of quite difficult precision work; but it was certainly easier than using proper wooden moulding. If I some time in the future decide to add wooden cornices I can place them on top of paper.

Meanwhile, I have also been doing some other things. I had a miniature shopping binge in Stockholm last month.

Of these lovely objects, I have already shown what I did with the kitchen shelves. Some things went immediately to their natural locations: the rocking horse to the nursery, the cutlery to the kitchen, the chair to join its twin that I bought in the same shop last year; the doll to the music room. Some of the ornaments have also found their right spots.


But my favourites are the two magnificent chandeliers.

It took me a long time to consider where they would be best displayed. The grand reception room seemed a natural place, but no, it actually didn't work ar all; the style was wrong. So the reception room will still have a plastic Christmas tree decoration. While I was deciding I added a chain to the chandelier that didn't have one.


I have various chains from junk jewellery so it was easy. The hard thing was the candles. The smaller chandelier has candle holders. The shop owner suggested that I use birthday-cake candles, but they are far too large, even cut in two. It doesn't look natural. So I made candles with my usual technique, from dowel. It suddenly struck me that there is a simple way to calculate how tall a candle should be: a real candle divided by 12.  Which is 2 cm. No wonder all my earlier attempts failed. My candles were too tall.

The other chandelier has spikes, and the shop owner wasn't confident with advice. I have tried to put birthday-cake candles on such spikes - let me tell you, it doesn't work. Possibly if you make your own candles and make holes in the bottom while they are still soft, and they will crumble anyway. So I had to think of another way. I won't burn real candles inside a dollhouse so it doesn't matter exactly in what way they are fake.

This is what I did. Painted a drinking straw and cut 2 cm long bits. Put a bit of tacky wax into each end and added tiny bits of thread for wicks. Then put the candles on the spikes, with wax holding them in place.

I still wasn't sure where I wanted the chandeliers. Pieces like this should be foregrounded, and eventually I decided that I will have them foregrounded, literally, on the two levels of the Great Hall. They will match each other and immediately attract attention.


Yes, immediately attract attention because the candles are all lopsided! They are temporarily attached with small sticky dots. Of course I only noticed after I had taken the picture. It doesn't matter, however, because I will still need to drill a hole and find a suitable ceiling rose.

The other one looks better - this is the one with candles made of straws, they are more stable.

Mind, both rooms are still under construction - the stais aren't glued yet.  So you need to use your imagination to see what it will be like some time in the future.

As I have now invented this new way of making fake candles I made two more to go with an ancient mirror I bought in the same shop last year. It has candleholders with spikes. I have now put it in place, with candles. 

Friday, 11 September 2015

Small makeovers

Today was an exceptionaly lucky charity-shop day.


I don't really need the kitchen set; in fact, I have another one like this, only in darker wood. But could you resist the temptation? Baskets are always good to have, not to mention frames. And the napkin ring - I saw immediately that it was a ceiling lamp! And exactly the kind of lamp I need right now for the gentlemen's smoking room.

I just need to add the ceiling rose, and if I can figure out how to attach a tea light it will be marvelous. By the way, the tiny whisky bottle on the smoking table has real whisky in it - a souvenir from Scotland.

I also made a quick transformation of an ugly pin into a lovely portrait frame.


Monday, 7 September 2015

Hanging improvements

In my previous post I mentioned how I came up wth the idea of hooks made from champagne wire. When I saw how good it looked I realised that I had to redo the whole kitchen wall with utensils hanging on nails.

There is nothing wrong with it, and it took me a lot of time and energy to put up all these nails, but it doesn't look quite natural. Not after you have seen what it can look like with a proper hook.

I have saved champagne wire for many years. Not that we drink a lot of sparkling, but I always collect wire at parties, to friends' amazement, and I have used wire for many purposes, including the handles of the utensils in the picture above. But apart from the famous bar chairs, I haven't until now come up with any good use of the special shape of the wire.

If you haven't spent a lot of time studying the engineering principles of champagne wire, let me tell you that they are rather complicated. Some wires - I am sure they are from cheap Prosecco -  don't have double tips, and from the hook-making point of view they are worthless. Most wires have three double tips and one where two ends of the wire meet.

The whole process needs good tools and a lot of patience. I need nineteen hooks, and they must be white metal rather than yellow (I may use yellow for another room).

Now I have the hooks, but I need to attach them to the wall and attach firmly so that I can hang things on them. I have holes from the nails, but not large enough for both ends of the wire. I need to bend the ends and then cut off one of the them.

Now I can glue the remaining end into the hole. Each hook takes ten to fifteen minutes. They will all be slightly different, but in Victorian times things were not mass-produced.

Here are the hooks, waiting for the glue to set.

If you ask me why I bother, there are several reasons. It does look nicer and more natural. I am immensely proud of this invention. Nobody else has such kitchen hooks (until one of you, dear readers, pinches the idea). And I am not in a hurry.

This is of course a side track. I really didn't plan to spend my Sunday evening bending champagne wire. But this is what is called inspiration. 

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Lower entrance door

I have now put back the basement fronts, after all my work inside the basement rooms. An unfinished detail that drew my attention was the basement entrance door, the deliveries door that will eventually be under the grand front stairs. So far there isn't much to see on the outside.

On the inside, it looks weird. The door does have wooden hinges, but they come off easily, and there is no surround so I wonder whether this door is meant to be opened at all.

If you have followed my blog you know that I decorate the inside of the fronts, to create an illusion of additional space. To the right in this picture, you see the extension of the best kitchen. To the left is the fourth wall of the lower entrance hall, but I don't think I will use the wallpaper, it will be too messy. But I needed to do something about the door, to keep it in place and have neat trimmings. I used my favourite full-size wallpaper for the surround and a craft stick for the threshold. The door knob is a paper clip. The horse shoe over the door comes from some junk jewellery. And the hook for the keys is a tip from champagne wire. I really like it. In fact, I like it so much that I may replace all nails in both kitchens with such hooks. I have plenty of champagne wire.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Finishing touches on the basement

I know I have said this before: I cannot understand how it is possible to decorate a dollhouse after you have assembled it. I would have never been able to make the elaborate decoration in my two kitchens unless I had worked on flat surfaces and before the roof was on. The final steps were really painful, and I only had to glue on cornices and some small details.

For any kind of work, you need two hands and you need to be able to see what you are doing. In a space 40 cm broad, 20 cm high and 50 cm deep, there is very little margin for movement and almost no light. I put in a battery spot, but I could not get both my arms inside and look into the room. So for the cornices, I had to get in one arm up to my shoulder and feel around. Mind: it was paper, easily attached: I can't imagine how I would do it with proper wooden moulding. (If you know how it is done, please tell me).

In the best kitchen, I had to take down a shelf on the back wall to glue on the cornice, but when I had to put it back, again I had a choice of either using two hands without sight or one hand, and I want to see you work one-handed with tiny nails inside a half-meter deep room. My arms are simply not long enough.

I felt very much like Alice in Wonderland, crammed in a house far too small.

I am, however, pleased with the result. I also found a ceiling light for the best kitchen; I had it in my old kitchen and had completely forgotten about it. It fits nicely with the rest.

The next room, which is the lower entrance hall - delivery entrance - was a bit easier because is doesn't go all the way back. Still I had to do it by touch only, as I could not see what I was doing. The ceiling lamp is something bought cheap; it was a real light with a wire, but I use it as fake. Eventually, there will be tea lights on remote control placed strategically here and there.

I moved the delivery boy to this room from the kitchen, and it made a huge difference.There is a lot that can be added in this room.

The larder was worst because it is just 12 cm broad, hardly enough for one hand.  The shelves are fixed permanently so I didn't want to remove them. The fake ceiling light is made from an eyedrop-bottle cap.

The working kitchen was hard again, because it is full depth. There are also various shelves which I, after the problems in the best kitchen, didn't want to remove. Either way, it's complicated. But since it was the fourth room, I have developed the skills. For the ceiling light, I found a lamp I had made long ago but never used anywhere. It is made from a glass candlestick decoration and champagne wire. I cut the ceiling rose from a chocolate box.


It is very difficult to take decent pictures of such small rooms, so here is a closeup, to show more detail.

Having done all this, I am immensely grateful for the serendipity of my big mistake. If I had glued on the roof six months ago I wouldn't yet have discovered the magic of full-size wallpaper which makes moulding soooooo much easier to do.