Saturday, 2 September 2017

Pride and Prejudice room box, part 3

Read part 1 and part 2 of this story.

It has taken me some time to finish this room box. First I was away on holiday, then I had to do all the urgent tasks that had accumulated while I was away, and also this is gardening season rather than miniature season. But if I am to display it at our workshop, I'd rather hurry.

The next step was to make the floor, and I wanted to make something interesting that I had never made before. I spent considerable time on the web, and let me tell you, Regency floors were really boring! In the choice between period-correct but boring and not-quite-period-correct but interesting I chose the latter.


Since the room box is shallow, I only needed a relatively small surface. Still, it is a lot of work. I haven't kept track, but it took me several evenings, maybe ten-twelve hours of work. Mitre shears is my best friend. I stained the coffee stirrers with three different stains, also trying to emphasise the natural grain.

If you have seen my other floors, for instance, this or this or this or this, you know that I make them because I enjoy doing it. I remember a comments some time ago: "If you do this or that, it will be much quicker". But I don't want it quicker. Slow pace is the main attraction of miniature-making.

Anyway, it took the time it took.

If you look closely, I haven't done it properly since it is crooked, but most people won't notice because they will be in awe, and you won't tell, will you? The tiny corners was the most challenging part. Sanding the floor smooth took a long time. I used real teak oil rather than hobby varnish, and I like the result.

I considered wooden skirting, but decided against it: too much complicated mitring. So I used the ubiquitous wallpaper, and whatever faults there are, they will be hidden behind the furniture.

The final task was to hang the chandelier, and I am by now quite good at it. I used a scrapbooking frame once again for ceiling rose.

So, here it is. Do you think the workshop participants will be impressed?

Monday, 3 July 2017

Pride andPrejudice room box, Part 2

Read the first part of this story.

Once upon a time, Facebook allowed you to choose which picture to show when you shared your blog post. Not any more. So I put the final picture first, to be shown with the link. Close your eyes if you prefer to be surprised.

It took  some time to get there.

First, I tried various wallpaper. Jennifer's printables is a superb site where you can find period wallpaper to suit any taste. I printed a sheet of several patterns and put them in, one at a time and together. I wanted something distinct, and also something I haven't already used in Womble Hall. I have used a Regency paper on the inside fronts of Womble Hall, and I almost decided to used it again when I saw another one, similar, but not quite. I think it is delicate and just right.

For the first time, I used real wallpaper paste, just because I happened to have some. Let me tell you: it made a huge difference. I wish I had done all wallpapering in Womble Hall with paste. Too late now. I didn't bother matching sheets exactly for the pattern (as I did with some wallpaper in Womble Hall) because I don't think it matters with this design.

With the wallpaper, the room looked much more natural. (Compare with the picture in the previous post). But I also wanted panels and rails, so I used more embossed 1:1 wallpaper, for the lower and upper panels and my favourite stripy one for dado rail, picture rail and coving. There were some tricky parts in the corners, but after trial and error, it looked passable. I was glad I had decided against real wooden coving - I would have never managed the mitring. Mitring is not my strong side.

I will add skirting when I have made the floor. I have just ordered a new pack of coffee stirrers, and I will need to find some interesting and period-correct floor pattern that I haven't done before.

More than this, I haven't moved yet, but as always, I put back all the objects, including the fabulous Chippendale mirror that I had made specifically for this room.


From the picture - and only from the picture - I see that I need to glue the coving better, to avoid gaps between the walls and the ceiling: it doesn't look neat. 

So the floor next. I most likely won't be able to finish it before I go away on holiday mid-July, but I may add some details, such as a fireguard and perhaps some more pictures and decorations. All the objects are borrowed from Womble Hall so I will have to make new eventually. 

Come back soon.

PS I have re-read Pride and Prejudice looking for descriptions of interiors. There aren't any! Mr Bennet's library is mentioned on many occasions, but it is never described. When Elizabeth visits Pemberley, there are descriptions of views from windows, but not of rooms. Mr Collins' furniture is referred to, but what kind of furniture? So my guesses are as good as anyone else's.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Small things

Before I continue with my Pride and Prejudice room box, I will show some small recent projects, in no particular order.

For instance, I have finally ventured making baskets from string. Messy, but I am quite pleased with the result.

I attended two courses in (full-scale) book binding, and as a side effect, I have now made a couple dozen miniature books according to all rules, with proper sewing, endpapers and quarter binding. After I have made these, I cannot tolerate the old fake books in my bookcases so I have estimated that I will need to make about a hundred books. The pages are cut from a French phrase book (because the paper is thin) so you can actually read them.

I made a coffee pot from bottle caps and wire.

For at least a week, I got obsessed with wooden crates. For bottoms and ends I used cheese boxes, sometimes with markings preserved, and for sides, coffee stirrers. I aged the crates with two layers of paint, the second quickly wiped off. In the left picture you can also see a milk canister, of which I made several, using eye-drop bottles, buttons and wire.

A miniature friend gave me a handful of metal thingies used to make fabric buttons. This kept me busy for a while and will go on.

A set of kitchen knives, blades cut from steady tin foil (of the kind you find on wine bottles).

One rainy day I made up my mind firmly to make a fish tank. It took many hours, but I am pleased. The tank is a plastic jewellery box with side ends open. I printed out the background, adding all kinds of tiny plants, and the fish are also printouts. They are suspended by tiny strips of transparent plastic. The see urchin is real, just cut down to size.

A lamp made from a golf peg and a bottle cap. Almost too simple to boast of.

A cake stand made of pizza holders. I never eat pizza so these were a gift from someone who knows I collect rubbish.

 I am sure I have missed some, so I will add another post soon. Come back!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Pride and Prejudice room box

It has been ages since I blogged. Almost half a year. I still have two rooms and the whole basement to show in my tour of Womble Hall, I haven't finished The Borrowers, and I haven't shared the many small things I have been making every now and then. I will do it all in due time.

But right now I have just started on a new project, and as it always happens to me, I become obsessed. I am not even sure where exactly it came from, but I am doing a strictly academic event on Pride and Prejudice in September, and I am doing it together with a friend with whom I also did the Alice in Wonderland event, so as we were planning our workshop, she suddenly asked whether I would be making a room box. I hadn't considered it at all, but the event is for teachers, focused on what they can do with Pride and Prejudice, and of course you can encourage the students to draw, or write a diary, or trace the characters' travels on a map. But why not a room box?

Womble Hall is the right period, but I cannot take Womble Hall to work, and, to be fair, it took me two years to make (and there is still a lot to do), while a schoolteacher may need inspiration for something more manageable. Anyway, here I am, making a Pride and Prejudice room box.

I found a wine box slightly larger than the standard ones. It is not deep enough in relation to breadth and height, but there is not much I can do about it. I have considered and dismissed cardboard boxes. The height is more important because I want it to be a grand-ish room, with a high mantelpiece and a chandelier.

As anyone who has made a room box knows, it needs much more planning than one would imagine. It's not just about putting objects in a box. Environment is crucial. For instance, I need to decide what ceilings and floors I want, how I will decorate walls and so on. And before I can even start, I need to make a chimney breast. I have made several for Womble Hall, but this time I didn't use foam but cardboard. This picture is tremendously boring, but if this is a story of how I made the scene, you need to see it.


What you also see is grooves, and they would prove a nuisance.

Here is the next step:


I used white lining paper, just pasting it all the way left to right, folding over the cardboard chimney breast. The grooves resulted in creases, and there isn't much I can do about them now except hide them behind rails or wall hangings. I used 1:1 scale embossed wallpaper for ceiling. I also used stripy embossed wallpaper - that I have used for a variety of purposes - to make front mouldings that very neatly hid the uneven edges. I am very happy with this solution.

I made the period fireplace the day before yesterday. It is a House of Miniatures kit, but it so happened that I had a firebox that came with some ebay lot a long time ago and didn't fit any fireplaces. I am glad I remembered it because it is just right here, isn't it?

I guess I could leave the floor as it is, but it doesn't look quite natural, and I want to try yet another floor pattern. (If you haven't seen my magnificent floors, use the tag "floor" on the right). I have a remnant of an old parquet floor that I could recycle, or maybe I will make something entirely new. It isn't a very large area, like in a house, so it can be something really challenging.

I am considering all kinds of panelling, railing and moulding, and I have already spent some time on the web searching for ideas. Meanwhile, I have made a "sketch", borrowing objects from Womble Hall, just to see what it might look like.

Come back soon.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Step by step: servant room

In my guided tour of Womble Hall I have now ascended to the attic. You come to the attic by the stairs from the front corridor. The stairs lead to the servant quarters.


This room goes all the way back to the first Victorian house in a book shelf. It was so simple that I didn't even write a separate post about it, but here is a picture from January 2008:

Not much left of it, except for the doll.

When I reconstructed the dollhouse in the cabinet, there was no space for a servant room. The servant had to stay in the hall, and all the temporary furniture was stored away.

But in Womble Hall I wanted to have servant quarters, and the most logical place would be in the attic. However, I also wanted a nursery, and eventually I decided I wanted a guest bedroom that also had to be in the attic.  It doesn't really make sense to have doors from a servant room into the nursery and particularly not to the guest bedroom, but that's the way it is. (This is the only feature of the house I am still dissatisfied with).

There weren't any important decisions to make for this room: no partitions, corridors, chimney breasts, not even a window, just two doors. I put in paper floors and added a couple of objects, as I did in all other rooms, just to make it look nice. I hang wallpaper on flat surfaces, which was very straightforward.  I didn't plan to have any ceiling decorations. In the picture of the first proper assembly, you can see the back wall:

I didn't do anything in this room for a very long time, definitely not until I had to insert the upper staircase and realised that before that I actually needed to finish the floor in the servant room, as well as the two doors that lead from it. It was a long story. But I was quite pleased with the result, particularly when I put more objects in.

Sometime around this point it struck me that it would be fun to have a tired servant sleeping in this bed. Have you tried putting a regular dollhouse doll into a bed? Let me tell you: it doesn't look natural. So I searched ebay for "sleeping doll". Most of returns were sleeping baby dolls, but there was a remarkable doll couple sleeping in each others arms, at an outrageous price. I consulted my Facebook groups and, can you imagine, someone replied that it was their handmade dolls, re-sold, yes, at an outrageous price. But I could order one at a reasonable price. It would be OOAK - which I think is a wonderful acronym (on case you don't know, One Of A Kind).

Here is my sleeping doll, custom-made by smallsorts. .

I think she is absolutely amazing. Of course normally she is covered by a blanket, but I wanted to show her as she is.


Eventually I added an Adam ceiling to this room as well. Among the objects, I made a night stand and a chest.

I like this room, but there is probably more I can do with it. 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Borrowers room box, part 3

In my previous post about The Borrowers room box I described how I made the fireplace. It so happened that very soon after that I received a box of rubbish from a friend who was moving house. Being a borrower I had asked her to collect everything she didn't want, even the most outlandish things. The first thing I saw on top of all rubbish was what I really needed for a proper borrowers fireplace. Let's read it again:

"It was a charming fireplace, made by Arrietty's grandfather, with a cogwheel from the stables, part of an old cider-press. The spokes of the cogwheel stood out in starry rays, and the fire itself nested in the centre".

As I explained in the previous post, I didn't have a cogwheel and I had very poor prospects of finding one, but whatever piece of plumbing my friend had put into her gift box, it was just right.


This is still not a cogwheel, but a huge improvement. And I wasn't displeased in the first place. Now I just need to bring the funnel lower down. 

Meanwhile, the description also mentions "that useful stand-by - a chest of drawers made of match boxes". 

Didn't I make all kind of furniture of match boxes: chests, writing desks, nightstands. Both when I was a child and when my daughter was small. But it was all once upon a time when match boxes were made of wood and when you actually used them. Where do you get real, authentic Victorian match boxes these days? I tried ebay, but while they had zillions of match-box labels from all eras and countries, apparently you couldn't just get a set of old-fashioned match boxes. I knew I had to do with modern paper ones, but at least I could be a borrower and a recycler so I posted an appeal in a local Facebook group asking for used matchboxes. Somebody thoughtful, who wished to remain anonymous, put a set in my pigeonhole.

I have seen these in craft shops, and I have no idea what crafty people make with them. What I needed to make was - yes, you get it: match boxes. With labels and abrasive sides. And preferably looking old and worn out.

The old and worn out look is usually achieved with tea, but I had to use diluted paint that I also had to wipe off quickly so that the paper didn't get soaked. I honestly don't know what match-box sides are made of, but I used sandpaper that I painted brown.

I don't think you can strike a match on it, and I am not going to try.

I found printable match-box labels on Pinterest.

Only the label on the top drawer will be visible, but for my own sake I made them properly. And just as borrowers would do, I used beads for knobs.

Isn't this a chest of drawers that Pod Clock would be proud of? (Pod Clock is the name of the father. Their last name was Clock because they lived under a big grandfather clock). Now I need to find many tiny objects that the family would have in the drawers.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Step by step: rear corridor

In the posts about bathroom and front corridor you could see glimpses of the rear corridor, which is one of the most interesting features of this house. As I have said many times, rear corridors and fake doors create a wonderful sense of extra space where anything can be hidden. This is what it looks like today:

But the way there was long.

Obviously, I couldn't start doing anything properly before I glued the shell, and I wasn't even sure what I wanted to do. As you see, there are two doors leading into the corridor, one from the bathroom and one from the front corridor. At each end of the corridor there is a door as well: on the left, into the master bedroom and on the right, to the hidden corridor behind the study. There is actually no door there because nobody will ever see it, but if there is light in the hidden corridor it can be seen through the opening.

In the picture of the glued assembly, you can see the back wall of the corridor:

This blog post describes the rationale and the process well, so I won't repeat it. Just note that the post is from April 2015, more than half a year since I started. Things take time. I believe this step was among the most difficult. The next post describes all the decisions I had to make because once the rear partition was inserted I couldn't do much behind it. This is one of the few places in the house where objects are permanently attached.

And in the next post, I explain how I made lights in the corridor - which was the beginning of my lighting revolution and resulted in this:


Which is more or less what it has been since then. You can see a bit of the corridor through the side window of the master bedroom:


Therefore I made a point of having some objects there that cannot be seen from the front. I didn't bother to do the same on the right because it cannot be seen at all. But as I said, the light from the corridor behind the study comes through the opening.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The most magnificent chandelier ever

Do you want to hear once again that a project is never finished? You probably don't, but I will say it anyway. And I will say again that every time I replace something in the house I feel bad about it. Especially if it is something I made myself very long ago, when I wasn't that good at making things.

This time I am replacing my crystal chandelier. It was among the very first objects I made ten years ago, and with all its faults I have been proud of it. I improved it when I decorated the dining room, and it can and will be further improved, but at the moment I have replaced it with a chandelier I bought last summer in the dangerous shop in Stockholm where I spend more money than I will ever admit. I got it relatively cheap because it was broken, but I was sure that my clever son-in-law would be able to mend it. I did try to solder it myself, but I am not very good at soldering, and it was such a delicate thing that I didn't dare. When my daughter and son-in-law visited us for holidays, he had a closer look at it and concluded that gluing it with superglue would work better than soldering, and since I have the deepest respect for his knowledge I agreed. He glued it, holding it together cleverly, at the same time pointing out that what I really needed for my miniature-making was a tool called third hand, which I immediately bought online, but by the time it arrived my wonderful son-in-law had left.

It took some time before I got down to putting up the chandelier, because to do so, I had to remove the floor of the room above, and I have once described the process. I had to remove all objects from the study, which is so high up that I need library steps to work comfortably. I know it's my own fault that the room is so crammed, but until you have to move them you don't even realise how many objects there are. Then I had to remove the floor, and because last time I put in the floor I was confident it was the very, very last time, it was if not permanently, but very firmly attached. I managed to pull it out without damaging too much of skirting, and while I was at it, sanded and varnished the floor a bit better. This is also typical: you become more and more demanding about the quality of your work. When I made this floor two years ago I was perfectly happy with it. Not any more. So this was an unexpected positive side effect.

I removed the old chandelier, burning with guilt. Then I started hanging the new chandelier and ran into some technical problems. The way I do it is hang the chandelier by a thin wire, the kind you find on wine bottles, then use a large darning needle to run the wire through the hole in the ceiling into the room above and fix it with masking tape. The trick is that the wire has to be strong enough to hold the weight of the lamp, but thin enough to go through the hole, and as I was working with it, the lamp broke again, as might be expected.

However, now I 1) knew that I could glue it 2) had a third hand. It still took a lot of manipulation, but I managed to glue and fix it, left it to dry for some days and today finally put it up. Isn't it fabulous?

Here is a view of the whole room where you can see how it is attached to the ceiling. The ceiling rose is a scrapbooking embellishment. The chandelier goes well together with the ancient mirror, from the same shop.

And this is the third hand. When you have got something like this you wonder how you could ever manage without it.


I think he has a very strong personality. Yes, I am confident it's a he. A bit like WALL-E. He has certainly already become a dear friend.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Step by step: upper corridor

The closest predecessor to the upper corridor in Womble Hall is the staircase in the old Victorian house, rebuilt in the cabinet. To have or not to have stairs in a dollhouse is a matter of taste. Stairs unquestionably take a lot of space, but they do add a more natural look, and they are fun to make (to a certain degree - there is a lot of pain as well).

This is what the corridor looks like today: 


The general design of the house suggested stairs in the right-hand side of the middle room on the upper floor. My initial thought was to ignore the partition that created two very small rooms and just have one large hall with stairs on one side. There were several reasons to abandon this plan. The whole design would have been much too symmetrical: three similar rooms on three floors. The central partition created variation. I also needed the left-side small room for the bathroom. I could have done the opposite: keep the partition and get rid of stairs, but what would I then have in the right-side small room? It has two doors, and doors also take a lot of space. A corridor anyway? Then I could just as well have stairs.

It took ages before I did anything at all in this room. In the early shell, I didn't have any furniture. I couldn't decide on the wallpaper or floor, and in any case I needed to make the rear corridor first.

It was not until December 2014 that I took the first step and made the floor.


It was really, as I say in the linked blog post, a side effect of looking for floor patterns for the other rooms, but at least there was some progress. In this picture, the wallpaper is just leaned onto the wall, the stairs are attached with tack, and the door is not inserted properly. At this stage, the shell wasn't glued yet, and as I mentioned, I had to finish the rear corridor first.

I didn't plan to have any particular ceiling in the corridor so when I was painting and decorating ceilings on flat surfaces, I just left this bit plain white.

When I assembled the house, the back and central partitions were not inserted so what you could see was the back wall of the rear corridor. Nobody would even guess that there would be two more rooms there.

It took a couple of months before I started getting closer, and in pictures from rear corridor trials you can see that I had decided on the wallpaper, which is thick craft paper, with probably too large pattern, but I thought - and still think - it fits well. In this picture, obviously, the stairs aren't there, and you can see a hole in the ceiling where it would eventually be inserted. Paradoxically, without stairs, the room looks very small.


Then finally it was time to deal with the stairs. Read the linked blog post carefully, because it is yet another example of how you gradually become more demanding, not satisfied with easy solutions. After a lot of effort I was pleased, and I still am.


As with the grand stairs, I could have used individual spindles - but it will have to wait. I added moulding and a rail on the wall which weren't included. And this was it, apart from Adam ceiling, which I think gave the corridor a really grand look.


Since then, I have - temporarily - put the magnificent breakfront in the corridor, and as there is no other place for it in the house, I guess it's staying there.The only problem is that it is so big that nothing can be put further along the wall, and I am running short of space.