Monday, 30 November 2015

New phase in lighting, cont

Here is the next installment of the LED lighting project.

This picture shows how all LED strips are being connected.

To remind you: I had a 5 meter-long LED strip (from ebay) that had to be cut to measure and then reconnected with wire that could go in notches between rooms. I had bought snap connectors, but my son-in-law thought they weren't neat enough so he soldered every connection! And he wasn't at all impressed that I had a soldering iron, as if it's something any household would own.

After we finished the basement, we led out the wire through the right top corner on the outside. Then P prepared the three connected strips: two with three strips for three rooms and one with four strips for four rooms on top floor.


Meanwhile I drilled holes, made notches and did other menial work. All the time we checked that the whole assembly worked.

Once we were sure that everything worked, we started attaching the strips to L-shaped plastic mouldings which we then glued on the edges of each ceiling and supported with masking tape. In this picture, two floors are finished and top floor still waiting. As you can see, the rooms are in complete chaos.

There were lots of small unexpected problems, but we dealt with all of them. The connecting wires between floors go on the outside, and after some thinking we decided to hide them within drain pipes:

These are of course drinking straws, and they will run all the way, and nobody will ever guess that they weren't part of the original design.

Yesterday evening we switched on the lights in the three floors and basement.

We saw that the light was good. We opened the fronts.

Then we went to bed, not sure that we would have time to do the attic. I hadn't even planned to do the attic because I didn't think the LED strip would be enough. But because of the wires between the cut strips, the 5 meters turned out to be just enough for the attic.

With the roof open:

As you see, the tape is still there, and there is A LOT of trimming to do, filling and painting seams and notches. But on the whole, we saw that the light was good.

Just two rooms where I've had the time to tidy up a bit. Servant room in the attic:


 And finally, warmest season's greetings from the reception room:

Sunday, 29 November 2015

New phase in lighting

My clever son-in-law is visiting, and we have started working on our project of fixing display lights in the house. Display lights are lights that you can switch on to illuminate every little detail in your house, even at the back of the rooms. This is how dollhouses are displayed in museums: there may be "real" lights inside rooms to create atmosphere, but there are also lights that provide soft, even illumination for the best viewing effect. Display lights can be dimmed to the desired brightness.

Quite a long time ago I decided that I didn't want conventional lights in Womble Hall, because they are so much trouble, and you can typically not have more than twenty bulbs on one transformer. I had conventional lights in my first dollhouse, and after that I never want anything to do with them. These days there are many better solutions. One is battery lights which I thought were great when they came: no wiring, can be placed anywhere. But the first generation battery lights were very dim and very expensive. They are better now but still expensive. They can be used as complement to main lighting, but not on their own. 

My solution, after lengthy conversation with my film-making son, is LED strips. I am not good with electricity, but together we came up with a possible layout. The LED strip is 5 meters long and should be enough for the main floors and basement. It will be hidden behind moulding, for smooth and even light. However, between rooms it will need to be cut and connected with wire. (This is what I would never dare try on my own).

I had bought snap connectors recommended for under-cabinet kitchen lighting. But P tried and said it wasn't neat enough. Instead he insisted that he would solder the wires. I didn't object because I know he is enjoying this kind of play. So P is doing the cutting and soldering. I am very proud that I own a soldering iron, although I have only used it once.

Meanwhile, I made a groove in the wall for the wires (where the arrow is). It doesn't look very neat right now, but I will fill and paint it when everything is done.

Then we had to make some major decisions about whether the cord should go: on the inside or outside. For some reason I hadn't considered having it outside and had been pondering how to conceal it along the kitchen ceiling. I had even drilled a hole in the back wall. But suddenly it became clear that it was much less disturbing on the outside where I could simply cover it with plaster or make a draining pipe. I will still have to fill that hole, but I drilled another one to pull through the cord, and then we started fixing the strips. They have a self-adhesive surface, and I fixed them on the inside of the L-shaped moulding, facing the back wall. You see also how the connecting wire goes into the groove.

We managed to finish the basement yesterday. The glue was left to dry overnight, supported by masking tape. But you can already see the effect.

In the morning, I filled the grooves and the seems. They are still drying, but I will paint them later.

Then, while P went on soldering for the other floors, I worked on the main cord. It goes out in the upper left corner of the basement, and it doesn't look neat that way.

Therefore I fixed it all the way to the back of the house. It almost looks like part of the drainage system so maybe I will just leave it like that, or probably paint black. 

We hope to finish the whole project by tomorrow afternoon. Come back!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Grand Adam ceiling, cont.

As planned, I finished the Adam ceiling today. I cannot say I am fully content with the result, because, as I keep saying, it is incredibly difficult to work on a ceiling once the house has been assembled. If there are minor faults (yes, there are) there is nothing I can do about them now, and most probably nobody will ever notice, except maybe someone inspecting the house closely when I am gone, and I won't worry about it now. Unless yo look very carefully, it looks good.


The magnificent silver chandelier from the antique shop in Stockholm is so far attached provisionally because first I need to attach the stairs. As I was working on the ceiling I noticed that I hadn't finished mouldings on the back wall, so I will need to do that before I attach the stairs. However, with the ceiling I feel there is a major break-through in the hall. I am glad I haven't yet attached the stairs because then the ceiling would have been impossible to fix. This was simply meant to happen this way.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Grand Adam ceiling

Once again, it took a long time before I could move on, but today's project is the new ceiling in the great entrance hall for which I used the magnificent Robert Adam wrapping paper I bought in Soane's Museum a few weeks ago.

The sheet was too large to use as it was, and the ceiling has a curious shape because of the stairwell. This is what I had - although at that point I had already cut out some bits. It's a ceiling pattern from 1756, never executed.

The central square is unfortunately too large for this ceiling, but I may use it elsewhere. The main problem was that I couldn't just cut out a bit since it had to fit the ceiling and be symmetrical, and my first attempt to paste cutout bits direct on the ceiling were a complete failure. It might have worked if I still had flat surfaces, but at that time I didn't have this wonderful paper. Working upside down in a limited space is not an option. So what I had to do is assemble the whole ceiling on a piece of lining paper. Luckily, I had a template, which is the floor above, still unfinished.


And then came the fun of designing a new ceiling, using Adam's patterns, like a jigsaw puzzle. 

I started with a large bit that was quite straightforward. 


Looks simple, doesn't it? Next, I added an octagon. I had to cut a curve, to follow the pattern below. 

Then I added a side frieze. The arrows show obvious faults that I had to deal with, and the picture on the right shows how.


Then it was just doing the same on the other side, fill some gaps, add trimmings. As you see in the picture, it grew dark meanwhile, and I had to switch on the light. Believe it or not, it took me most of the day.

The side flaps will go down the walls, instead of coving. This is why they are upside down against the main frieze.

I tested it with white tack, but I think I need daylight and a bit more energy to glue it on. Report to follow. 

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Adam paper

For a whole number of reasons I haven't done much on my project recently. I have done some work, but nothing worth sharing.

Earlier this week I went to London with a friend and took her to a museum I like, Soane's House. I am always looking for small things in museum shops, and this time I didn't find any small things but instead a book of Robert Adam wrapping paper.

I don't know why anyone would want to use beautiful paper for wrapping that will be torn up and thrown away within seconds. Miniature-makers save wrapping paper because it can be recycled for many purposes. I have never bought wrapping paper because I like recycling, but this time I couldn't resist. I saw at once what I could do with it. My friend knows I am crazy so she wasn't surprised.

Here are Adam designs, most of which never executed.

The booklet has only been published this year, so I hadn't missed it last time I was there. But I wish I had discovered it before I had finished my ceilings because now I will of course have to tear them down and make new ones with these papers.

If you have followed my blog you know that I made all ceilings on flat surfaces, before I assembled the house (use the tag "ceiling" to see how I made them). Now I will have to work inside rooms and upside down. But I cannot even say it's bad planning because I couldn't know that a new option would appear.

And it isn't as straightforward as you may think. Firstly, I will need to remove all coving that I have so patiently added in the past few months. I will have to tear up floors to remove ceiling lights before I can re-decorate ceilings. The papers are not necessarily scaled to my rooms. I will have to center them to fit with my ceilings. They also need to match the wallpaper - no way I am re-doing all wallpaper (although it would be gorgeous, but too late). I will probably have to sacrifice some ceilings that I am quite proud of. Anyway, this will be a lot of work that I haven't anticipated but will be very happy to perform.

I started with something seemingly easy, although it turned out to be tricky enough.


The bathroom had a plain white ceiling and no ceiling light. Still, I had to remove the coving, cut the paper to measure - fortunately, two squares fit precisely across - with a border to fold over the wall. Glueing it on upside down was a h-ll of a job. Some additional trimming was necessary, but I hope it doesn't show too much. For this ceiling, I could afford making mistakes because I had more than enough paper, but for other ceilings I will have to be very, very careful. Arguably, the ceiling doesn't quite match the tiles, but let's say that the house owner has an eclectic taste - just like Sir John Soane.