Saturday, 30 July 2016

Queen Anne table

This weekend my group is making tables. There are three very elegant Queen Anne tables in the collection, and I have already made one.

This one was different, although after I had made it, I realised that it is very hard to judge from the cover picture just what the finished piece would be, size-wise. For instance, it is only after I had made it that I realised that the bachelor's chest was smaller than other chests.


You cannot tell from the picture that this table is higher than the tea table. Or maybe you can. Maybe I don't look carefully.

Anyway, after I had conscientiously sanded and stained the kit I suddenly felt that I had enough of mahogany tables, but could perhaps make something different. There isn't much room left in the house for more occasional tables, but what if I made a dressing table for the bathroom? The description says that these tables were sometimes used as dressing tables. A bathroom piece also allowed a shabby look.

I painted the bits on top of stain, and as it turned out, I didn't even have to paint over and wipe, but the stain showed through the paint in a most artistic way. I did wipe away the white a bit.


Assembly was easy, the drawer fitted fine (unlike the latest chest I had so much trouble with), and I found interesting knobs.


I replaced a small table I had had in the bathroom for ever. Nothing wrong with it, but this one is much nicer.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Queen Anne settee

This project was again something I made simultaneously with some members of my Chippendale miniature group, and I have lots of step-by-step pictures. It was one of the most difficult kits I made, and we all agreed that the instructions were the worst ever.


I started with sanding and staining legs and arms, which was straightforward. I have now become really good at it, and bold too - not anxious to break or damage something.


Then I had a proper look at the foam and discovered that one bit was crushed.


I didn't have suitable foam, and although I as usual consulted my group, nobody could suggest anything that might work. (As it turned out, I didn't have to worry at all because the foam was to be trimmed anyway, and I could cut off the faulty bits. But we are not there yet). 

The instructions for making the back were definitely inadequate, and it took me some time to figure out what was what and how it should fit together. 

The next steps were also poorly described, but finally I figured out how to glue on the foam and how to trim it.


The crushed bit of foam went to the seat, and because the seat was more narrow than the back it worked just fine when I trimmed it. 

Now came the stage I had been trying to avoid. The thing is, I had still not decided what fabric to use. The provided standard blue is horrible. I browsed the web for actual Queen Anne furniture and got some idea about suitable fabrics, but I had nothing at hand. I also searched ebay, both for dollhouse fabrics and for full-size remnants. With a delicate miniature like this, the pattern is crucial. I had a vague idea of what I wanted. If I hadn't been making the sofa together with my group I would have probably put it aside and waited for a fabric to happen. Here were some of my options:

My clear preference was the bottom right one, the flowery one, and the fact is that I have used it for an armchair that I have now given away. However, it is too similar to the fabric I used for the Chippendale sofa. My second choice was the dark red silk, the bottom left. It would make a grand sofa, but I considered where I might put it - likely in the ladies' drawing room, and it has pastel colours so that a red sofa won't match. I didn't want a sofa in any other room - I don't have space for a sofa anywhere else.

Finally, I decided on a fabric that is from a completely wrong period, but I just couldn't go on forever. My competitors were already finishing their projects, with lovely fabrics. I felt compelled to go on.


I have only used a tiny bit of it before, for a half-scale four-poster bed, in a house long gone. I really like this fabric, and I decided it didn't really matter it was wrong. I could always refurbish it later.

The secret of neat upholstering is, as I have learned from my group, letting the glue set after each step. And then pulling the fabric really tight over the other edge.

I was quite happy with the result. 


Next, I had to do tufting. One day I will compile a glossary of words I have learned through miniature-making. Wonderful words that describe various processes and skills. I have done tufting before, but I didn't know the name for what I was doing.

The next step in the instructions was to cover paper templates with fabric to glue to the back and bottom. However, I had previously used a different technique, which I think was simply caused by short supply of fabric. I photocopied the fabric onto paper - or rather, I had done it before, because by now it would have been too late, and besides my colour printer is broken. But I had saved a sheet with this pattern which I had probably intended to use for wallpaper. I am glad I remembered it, and I am glad I had tested it before. It is so much neater this way.

I cut templates from the paper and glued to the bottom of the seat and the back of the back.

You cannot tell the difference, can you?

Then I glued the seat and back together and left to dry overnight.

The day after I glued on the legs and the arms. The former for easy, the latter... I don't even want to describe it.

Anyway, I finished it, and I believe this is the first Chippendale miniature that I don't like. I mean, I am not happy with it. I like what my friends did with their kits, but I don't like mine. I will have to re-upholster it some time later, but right now I have just stored it away. It's unfair, because it is quite sweet and neatly made, but I am not proud of it. Sometimes that's the way it is.


Maybe it will fit in some other project.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Further adventures of the window seat

I wasn't completely happy with my Duncan Phyfe seat; it didn't feel quite right. Maybe because the room needs variation. I thought that all chairs and sofas should be matching, but it has now become boring. Fortunately someone has recently given me two lovely Chinese coasters.


I hope the giver will forgive me that I won't use them as intended. It's superb fabric, and my first thought was that I would use it for the firescreen. Then I realised that I could use it both for the screen and the seat.


Here is a close-up of the screen:


The fabric has a thin lining so it was easy to cut and just dab a bit of glue on the edges.

I haven't yet decided what to do with the red coaster, but I have many chair kits where it will come handy.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Duncan Phyfe window seat

This is an interesting and unusual item.

I don't think I would have discovered it if it hadn't been a part of the House of Miniatures collection. I didn't know anything about Duncan Phyfe, but haven't I stated repeatedly how educational miniature-making is?

I have a full-scale bench that is very similar, but I don't think it is a Duncan Phyfe. It's very old though, with a lovely Morris fabric.

This project was another weekend challenge with some people from my wonderful Facebook group. I so much enjoy making the same item at the same time (with some shifts because of time zones). Sharing experience and mistakes. 

I won't show the step-by-step pictures because it was just a matter of patience when the legs and the splats wouldn't stay, and I am still not quite happy withe the cushion - I may have to do it all over again. But - here it is:


I used the same fabric I had used for the cabriole leg chairs, the day bed and the corner chair (which I apparently haven't shared here) as they will all be in the same room:

If you have been following my blog you may notice that there is a new doll in the ball room. I have tried several dolls in this room, and they felt wrong. But this pretty lady is perfect, isn't she?

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Chippendale double chest


I didn't expect this kit to be different from other Chippendale chests, but it was, and therefore I will once again show a step-by-step project. It was easier than I had expected, but it was, because of this different technology, very interesting to work on.

Here are the chests I have made:

Chippendale 3-drawer chest, which was my very first, and which I later also made in another version

Chippendale chest on chest

Chippendale bachelor's chest

Chippendale serpentine chest that I apparently haven't shared before:

Chippendale chest of drawers that I haven't shared either (I wonder why).

So I am well-versed in the art of drawer-making, and I can recognise parts of drawers and don't panic when there are too many.

But I must admit that when I took the part out of the box it looked intimidating:

However, as I say, I now recognise a drawer when I see one, and since I didn't want to stain anything that would be on the inside I identified those parts and only stained what needed staining. I used light oak stain.

The reason I stained selectively is the dearly learned lesson from previous chest making. When you stain or paint before assembly the wood swells, and sometimes it gets next to impossible to fit shelves into grooves. So as you see I stained the top, the fronts of drawers, the front trimmings and the legs. I didn't at that point quite understand how the front trimmings worked, but I wasn't too worried about it.

I did what I have now learned to do, with chests and other pieces that have drawers, such as hutch cabinets, dressings tables and the wardrobe. Although the instructions say otherwise, I glue the drawers first of all. Exactly because it is then easier to identify other parts. But also because I have a couple of times used wrong parts.

In this kit, there are nine drawers of three different sizes, and it is crucial to use correct parts. So I played a little jigsaw with them:

This way I was confident that each drawer had the correct sides and back. Believe me, it's no fun to find out that you've done it wrong.

Now the drawers are done and drying, and I can start the main assembly.

As I said I had anticipated a very complicated structure like some other chests I had done. But this wasn't a problem at all. Could it be because I had not stained the shelves?

I didn't even have to hold the assembly together with rubber bands, although I did tape it after the final step: 

Now, the interesting thing about this chest, and the reason why there were so many parts hard to identify is that, unlike other chests, it has front trimmings. These have to be glued one at a time and carefully fitted. It may not be obvious in pictures, but in the left picture I have have glued on trimmings from the left central divider and further to the left, and on right picture I have glued on the rest.

And in this picture I have glued on the tiny columns on the sides. I didn't even notice them on the cover picture.

After this, I glued on the top and base, then glued on the feet.


All in all, it wasn't a lot of work, and there were no unforeseen problems. Until I started inserting the drawers, and they didn't even remotely fit. Maybe some of the trimmings sat a quarter of a millimetre too high or too low. Not much I could do about it now, other than sanding away a quarter of a millimitre of each drawer.   

Let me tell you sanding down nine drawers isn't a winner. It took me a week. (Okay, I didn't sand 24/7, but I sanded every now and then, a couple of hours a day, for a week). 

Drilling 36 holes for handles wasn't particularly exciting either. I started with a pushpin, but gave up after three fronts and used an electric drill. The holes are rather large, but when covered by plates it doesn't matter.

By the way, I don't know how much longer I will be able to do this kind of work. My sight is deteriorating. Better hurry before I get blind. 


In the end, I forced the drawers in. I will never be able to pull them out again. I could just as well glue drawer fronts direct onto the trimmings. Someone who inherits my dollhouse after I am gone will hate me for this. (Or maybe they will just throw it away so it wouldn't matter). 

The chest is going into the lower entrance. I will pretend the drawers are full of objects brought in by servants and delivery boys.