Sunday, 28 August 2016

Step by step: music room

Apparently, my step-by-step blog post was appreciated, so I now continue with the next room, the music room, which is opposite from the reception room on the same floor.

When I was planning the house I knew that I would have a grand reception room and a ladies' drawing room, but I wasn't quite sure what I would do in this room. The reception room was new, the drawing room had some features from the old Victorian drawing room, but I also had a Chippendale sofa and armchair, and I wanted to build a room around them. Simply another reception room, to begin with.

I had absolutely no idea for decoration or flooring. But I happened to buy a fireplace front - just couldn't resist it, and to a certain degree it determined the rest of the room. I made dark wall panels (the blog post describes how I made them) and a proper chimney breast.


This picture is from mid-September 2014. The shell is not glued yet, and won't be for quite a while. At this stage I didn't use real wallpaper, but a low-resolution copy, just to test the effect. I wasn't at all sure that it was the right wallpaper, but I had it in my Georgian house where the sofa and the armchair were. I wasn't committed to it. The paper is white-tacked. The floor on the right is also a low-resolution printout.

I didn't make any progress on this room for a long time, mostly because I was working on the basement, but also because I could not decide on decoration. I browsed dozens of Victorian wallpapers, and nothing matched the fireplace and the dark panels. It wasn't until mid-January that I made a ceiling for this room, still not knowing what the walls will be like.

I worked as long as possible on flat surfaces, so when I finally chose the wallpaper I first decorated the side wall:

As you see, the windows are not properly inserted yet.

Then I decorated the opposite wall, and again, the door is not inserted. It wouldn't be inserted until all floors were done.


In mid-March 2015, I glued the shell, and here you can see the back wall of the room, with the chimney breast:

In April I got an incredible bargain at a flea market, including a piano and a doll that immediately went into the music room.


The window is still not inserted. The herringbone parquet had moved from the reception room to this room. I kept moving it around and frequently moved it into the room I happened to be working on, just to see the effect. The violin with case came with an ebay lot.

I added some furniture to this room, but it wasn't until next October I returned to it, to discover that I had left it totally unfinished. Apparently it looked okay, but in fact the wallpaper and the panels were not properly attached.

After some hard work the room looked like this:

There were some finishing touches left, for instance, curtains:

But on the whole, the room hasn't changed much. I have added a harp and some Chippendale furniture. There is a flickering fire in the fireplace, a tea light in the chandelier and display lights hidden behind mouldings. The coving on the right doesn't look neat (yet) because there is a wire switch in the corner.

I like this room. I may add more paintings and ornaments, but otherwise there isn't much I can do. It is as crammed as a Victorian room should be.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Step by step: reception room

As I have been making and sharing Chippendale furniture recently I have realised that I have no good pictures of Womble Hall room by room. When I post something saying that this particular piece will go into this or that room I have no pictures to link to.

I have also been planning to write blog posts following the progress of one and the same room over two years. Yes, it has been two years, and I am not finished (depends of course on how you define "finished").

It will take me some time to write these posts, but I think it will be interesting for myself, and for you, dear reader. Occasionally, when I look at some old picture I can't believe what it once looked like.

I will start with the reception room, and I will both insert pictures and links to earlier relevant posts.

So: the main kit arrived just about two years ago, and I started priming and painting, but I made a dry assembly at an early stage, to see what the various rooms might be. In this post, for instance you can already see that I put in a fireplace, a mirror and Chippendale chairs, and they have remained in the same place.

I had not remembered, when I started writing this post, that I actually began with the reception room, testing the walls and the paneling. So here is the very first picture of the reception room:


The wallpaper is not the same as in the final decoration, the upper rail is cut from a 1:1 wallpaper, the floor is from the old Victorian house and now in a different room. But the white panel with golden squares is still there.

The next thing I made in this room was a chimney breast. I didn't have chimney breasts in the old house, but here I wanted to do everything properly. This is what it looked like when I was finished:

Note that I had some objects in the room all the time, even though the walls were bare. I thought it was important to have the details for overall effect.

In the next step, I removed the back and painted and wallpapered it while it was flat, which I still, after many mistakes and failures, recommend rather than decorating a fully assembled house. In this picture you can see the back wall of the reception room, now with the final wallpaper and beginning of paneling.

It took almost three months before I moved on with this room because I was working on the basement. But when I went back to reception room it was time to decorate the side walls. And I made a daring attempt.

Here is what I ended up with. It was grand, but eventually I had to tear it down. The seams didn't look neat, and I couldn't think of a good way to fix them. Pity, because it does look fabulous. But I know I would have gone crazy after a while.

By Christmas 2014 I had made significant progress, but had still not glued the shell together. At my Christmas party, people admired the house, but they didn't see that it wasn't glued together, that the wallpaper was white-tacked, that the stairs were not attached at all, or that the windows and doors weren't properly inserted.

By the end of January, I made the ceiling decoration:

I haven't got a detailed description of how I made this one, but a similar.

Mid-February, I was prepared to start gluing, but that's when I noticed a lot of small mistakes, including the reception room walls. This is what it looked like when I made the correction. Note that I had given up on the previous upper rail and instead used edges of a paper placemat.

Mid-March I finally glued the shell together, and the reception room, or what would become the reception room, can be seen in the left bottom corner:

 Of course you can see it as a step back, but at some point the shell had to be glued. As soon as I had managed, with huge effort, to force in all floor dividers, I put back as many objects as I could. So at the end of March the reception room looked like this:

And on the whole it still looks like this. The Greek statues are souvenirs from Greece. The chandelier is a Christmas ornament. The white pedestals are wedding cake decorations. The vases are from charity shops. But of course it didn't end here. For instance, I added fire to the fireplace. Not huge progress, but anyway. The old floor has been moved elsewhere so it's just bare primed surface.


In June 2015, I made a new floor for the reception room. It was a long project that took weeks. By that time, I had finally got mitre shears, and cutting crafts sticks became easier. After that, the room looked like this:

I believe by this time I had glued in the windows, but I had to wait with the doors until both this floor and the floor in the adjacent room were finished.

At the end of November 2015, my son-in-law helped me install lights. The reception room looked grand for Christmas.

Here, the door is properly set in, a Chippendale daybed has joined the chairs, and there are pictures on the walls. All small details, but make a huge difference.

In December, I made curtains for most of the rooms, including the reception room. And I also made new ceilings for all rooms, using the Adam gift wrapping paper. And added expensive Georgian cornices. After which the room looked like this (the cornice on the left looks a bit untidy, but that's because there is a wire clip in that corner):

You would think that was it. Well, maybe some more pictures, some more ornaments, but no major alterations. But a dollhouse project is never finished. I found a new chandelier. After that, the room looked like this:

Not a big deal, you say? Come and visit me and let's hear what you say then.

So this is how long I have come, two years after I started. 

As you see, there is now a doll, and I think she fits perfectly in this environment. Of the details, there is a Chippendale corner chair, window seat and fire screen. But don't ask me whether it is finished. It will never be.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Dower chest

I was looking forward to making this kit, and this weekend our group made it together. I wanted it to go into the guest bedroom where the bed, the chest of drawers, the night stand stand and the mirror have red mahogany finish so I used it again. About ten coats before I was satisfied. But I wanted the inside of the chest to be dark green, so it took some time to figure out which would be inside and which outside. I made one mistake and had to paint over the green with a dark brown paint and then stain on top of that. As it turned out, it was unnecessary because this bit was later covered with moulding.

I will not show step-by-step pictures, but just as with the cellarette I didn't trust myself with hinges and used ribbon to hold the lid.


I like the piece, and it fits nicely in the guest bedroom. I will have to fill it with bed linen.

Friday, 19 August 2016

More candle stands

I have two more kits with Chippendale candle stands, and they are useful for various purposes. This is a quick project so I made a set when I just had a bit of time. However, I decided that I wanted two for the bathroom. I made a dressing table for the bathroom some time ago, and I thought that I would replace two pedestals I had since time immemorial, made from small candlesticks turned upside down. This is a big problem: the more elegant Chippendale furniture I add to the house, the more everything else starts looking crude and out of place. So I thought two elegant candle stands for the bathroom would be fine, to hold flowers or other items.

Of course I wanted a worn-out look so I used the same technique I discovered by serendipity when I made the table: stain first, paint on top of stain and then scratch the paint a bit.

They fit nicely in the bathroom. (Some objects have been removed for a better view).

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Chippendale slant front desk

This weekend my group made the Chippendale slant front desk. It is a slightly less common kit, but several people had it, and those who didn't could also make the Chippendale desk or the Chippendale desk on frame. I will not show the step-by-step progress because the steps were straightforward, but since I have now made all the three kits I can share some thoughts.

The most common kit, the Chippendale desk, was among the first I made, and I wasn't very skilled, but it also has what I would say now a fault that could be easily avoided. The front is hinged, and hinges are very hard to fix neatly. When I made the cellarette I decided to skip hinges and used tiny strips of leather. In the slant front desk, the front is held with pins (just as the desk on frame) which is endlessly easier to make and looks neat.

Both the plain desk and the slant front desk have three drawers and a small apron with bracket feet. Actually, with the front closed they look exactly the same (only the slant front desk looks neater because of pins rather than hinges).

Bit when you open the front, it looks different and more like the desk on frame:

It has these pigeonholes and two drawers. Why two? The desk on frame has six drawers with two empty pigeonholes. I believe I could make some more drawers if I want. Or maybe it will be too many drawers. The desk on frame has no large drawers.

What I wanted to add was a key. I have a bundle of tiny keys left from an Alice in Wonderland party - they are wine-glass charms. They are in white metal, but it was easy to paint a key gold. The trick was to attach it. As in Alice, either the keyhole was too small or the key too large, but there was no way the key would fit into the keyhole. I had to make the keyhole a bit larger (but the keyhole plate is so tiny I was afraid to damage it) and I filed away as much as I could from the key, and finally -


I used red mahogany stain, but I used many coats, and it doesn't look as red as some of my other pieces. In other words, I am very pleased. With my old Chippendale desk, I have a closed cabinet top, which was my very first Chippendale miniature and was the reason I got hooked. I have another closed cabinet kit, and I may make a cabinet to match this desk. On the other hand, I don't even know where I will put it because my Womble Hall house is absolutely crammed. But I am not giving it away!

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Tall case clock

This weekend my miniature group decided to make a clock. There are four clock kits in the series, of which one is very common and the other three less so and therefore expensive. I paid more for the very last one I bought than I will admit. But we decided to make the most common clock, William and Mary tall case clock.


I had had it for quite a while and heard intimidating stories of how difficult it was, as well as an encouraging story of how easy it was. Anyway, this was the kit we decided to make, and making things with the group has become a source of much joy.

I had never made a tall case clock. I have upcycled many clocks for my clockmaker roombox (this post also shows a clock made from a very crude kit). So I was rather apprehensive, but I have made some sophisticated miniatures recently.

I decided to stain the clock with light oak. Maybe because I only had very little left in the jar it was darker than I wanted, but I still had to use 3-4 coats.

Then I started the assembly in the order prescribed in instructions. Sometimes order is crucial.

The base was easy, but the case kept falling apart, and I had to fix it with masking tape. 

Gluing together the base and the case was easy, as was gluing together the top part, which I now know, after some research, is called the bonnet.

Then I glued on the pediment and thought it looked too large. My group ensured me it was ok. 


At this point, I needed to switch my attention to the door, and as usual I attached the knob while the door was still flat, but I had to varnish it before. Then there was quite a complicated operation involving hinge brackets which I did wrong and had to do again, and it took some time to dry.

Meanwhile, I looked at the pendulum, chain and weights. The instruction said cut the chin into two uneven parts, which I did before thinking, immediately realising that it would have made more sense to use the chain in one piece, running it through the holes and attaching weights after. But now it was too late. I used my strong all-purpose Swedish glue for the weights, not sure it would hold, but it did - so far. But rather than gluing the chains - with weights - into holes I used my favourite wine-bottle wire to hold them together on top of the block. 


I thought I was very clever, and maybe I was, but there was a problem later on, of which in due time. So far I tried the assembly in the case, and it looked good.

The upper block is not glued in yet because it had to be done together with installing the door. It was quite late in the evening, and I was tired so I left the door until the day after and instead finished the face. I considered finding a more interesting face on the web, as I did with some clocks, but decided against it. It wasn't too bad. In cheap clocks and on faces from the web, the hands are fake, but here were two tiny hands, and I knew there was no way I could glue them on perfectly in the centre. The instruction suggested that a small pin could be used (not provided), and I opted for this solution. My drill didn't like the metal plate, but finally I got through. I used an ordinary sewing pin cut off by half. This way the hands even can be moved.


Can you, honestly, remember whether the hour hand goes on top of the minute hand or the other way round? I had to go and check my 1:1 tall case clock.

The day after I finally had to deal with the door, and it went surprisingly easy after the first unfortunate attempt. The trick was to insert the door and the upper block with pendulum and weights at the same time. You'd need an extra hand. 

The last step was to glue on the bonnet, and here I realised that I had been smart with the chains and now had wire on top of the assembly which meant that the bonnet would not fit neatly. Since it was too late to do anything about the chains I had to cut out a groove in the bottom of the bonnet, which nobody will ever see unless they for whatever reason dismantle the clock bit by bit.


In the end, I am quite pleased. I still think the pediment is too large, but that's not my problem. As I was making this clock I believed that I wouldn't like it, but that I could always put it in the clockmaker roombox. As it is, I like it well enough to put it in the dining room. It is taller than the Barton clock that was there before, and therefore it is better visible. 


 The dining room is getting tremendously crammed with furniture, including the recent additions: the side table, the serving table, the dumb waiter and the cellarette

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Queen Anne serving table

While I was in the table mood, I also made another Queen Anne piece, a serving table with a marble top. The same kind of marble top as on the corner table. According to description, the marble top was for placing hot pots and pans without damaging the wooden surface.


This is a very interesting kit because it has a completely different design from other tables. In addition to the round table and the corner table, I have also made the three piece table, a side table, a serving table, and a tea table. But this kit was very special. Here are the parts:


This is my usual brown mahogany stain, but there is very little left, and probably I hadn't shaken the jar properly, because it looks darker. More like dark oak. Which is also pretty.

The instruction was very good and easy to follow:


The trick was to square the assembly very, very carefully and let it dry properly. The rest was easy:


But as you see, the construction is different, because the marble top has to be glued directly to the frame. Prior to that, the frame had to be varnished.


I think it's a beautiful piece. I think I am better at tables than sofas.

I placed it in the front of the dining room, which meant that I moved the lovely side table to the back. I guess I will be moving furniture around again and again.