Moving forward… slowly but surely.

A little progress has been made on the doll house, but no matter how much I accomplish, I always feel like I should have gotten more done. There always seems to be a lot of waiting: waiting for paint to dry, for stain to dry, to find that needed ‘thing’ or get something assembled or installed.

Much work has been accomplished on the third level, which is actually a separate piece. I thought ahead and actually painted the interiors before we assembled it. No funky corners or angles to have to paint carefully and not worries about the flooring stain and the walls latex would interact.

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I opted to not make a peak in the ceiling line and rather have a flat space on top. I think I am going to put a railing around the edges and use like an outdoor patio. I picked up the most awesome little wicker set that will just be wonderful there. I think I want to install outdoor carpetĀ  (or what looks like it) and then scatter a bunch of small planters with flowers behind it.

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Isn’t that little wicker set just darling? I have no idea what the original purpose of that set was, but it is perfect size for the 18″ dolls. It was just happenstance that I ran across it on one of me and the Kid’s ‘thrifting’ afternoons.

Speaking of waiting, here are the floors for the bedroom and kitchen, finished with two coats of oak colored stain and then two coats of polyurethane. I just love the way they look.

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The plan for the bathroom floor is black and white checker board tile… I just hope that it doesn’t add too much weight to the overall piece. To help prevent grout cracking, I am going to use flexible grout. Won’t a pink bathroom with black and white tile just be the cutest? I have a little claw foot tub ready to go in and have already made the sink and vanity. And of course, a toilet!

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I’ve started fitting in the lower cabinets and have set the range and refrigerator in to check for spacing. In the corner next to the refrigerator is a small narrow cupboard. There is a part of me that wants to rebuild it a bit taller, but again, I don’t think it is absolutely necessary. You cannot begin to believe how many accessories I’ve purchased, created, made or found to make this house complete. I am feeling like I am turning a corner to having this done. The hope is that it will be done soon, making it a perfect Christmas gift for some special little girl.

As to the other project – the large black wardrobe – has had progress. I’ve finished all the touch up on the black, white and shades of gray. I settled on the accent color of turquoise, and used it sparingly. Also, in the end, if I decide I would like a different color, it will be easy to change. Next step, wait for a warm day or two (or figure out how to warm the garage) so that I can apply two or three coats of polyurethane. I can’t wait to see it completed. Although the interior still needs to have a good cleaning with Murphy’s Oil soap and one or two pieces of trim to replace. This is turning out quite beautiful, if you ask me! What happens to it when I am done still has not been decided.

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Its a bit hard to see, but the center dot as well as four dots are the only spots of turquoise. Everything else? Shades of black and white. Oh and you’re looking at the rebuilt bottom, no sense in painting that, when it will never be seen.

One last think I wanted to throw in at the last minute. Autumn has definitely fallen here in the Midwest. We bought this house 9 years ago and the grand total of trees on our over sized lot was one lone oak in the backyard. Over the years we’ve planted many more, but the two in the front yard have just surprised us with their growth… these trees were about 4 foot tall and no bigger around than a pencil. And the fall colors in their leaves made me stop and take a photo on my way into the garage the other day. Too bad the color doesn’t stick around very long. Or that someone has to rake them up eventually!

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I sometimes forget just how lucky and blessed I am. I hope everyone takes a moment and counts their blessings too.

julie

Doll House Sink/Cabinet and the First Food Items

I may have neglected to mention in my last post, that the dollhouse that I am building for my grand niece is for her American Girl dolls. For those not aware of the great doll wars – these are 18″ tall dolls supposed to be about 12 – 13 years of age. There are many less expensive dolls of the same size, such as My Generation and Madame Alexander as well as generic type dolls. You have to be careful when sewing clothing as there can be some differences in their body sizes, such as waist, hips, and leg length.

I have come to the conclusion that this size, versus smaller dolls (1:6 scale) or the standard dollhouses (1:12 scale). Things are so much easier to build and sew for. You actually have a greater chance of finding things in a smaller size of everyday objects that will work, like espresso cups and small bowls (like the ones used to hold dipping sauce).

In my last post, I showed you the refrigerator and stove that I build and now is the last piece of the cabinet that I will be doing for my niece’s dollhouse. It is a sink in a cabinet combination. This is a moveable piece (as opposed to the other dollhouse I am building that will have actual cabinetry built in (and that includes upper cabinets).

Without further ado:DSCN1487The basic construction of this piece is a drawer that I rescued from a seriously broken desk. It was in really sad shape, the top and sides were in deplorable condition, so I rescued the drawers (and their hardware). Who knew what can come from a lowly drawer?

I simply cut doors and the top panel from 1/4″ plywood, the doors are attached with small hinges and the top panel is nailed. Using the sink to draw the template that had to be cut in both the drawer box and the counter top. By the way, that “sink” is actually a very small steam table pan called a “ninth size” (6 3/4″ x 4 1/4″) that I bought off eBay for less than $4… and works perfectly as a stainless steel sink.

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I added a couple of round feet, salvaged from legs of a small table that I also rescued from Craigslist. The counter top has rounded corners and is covered in a very cool faux tile that I found at Home Depot called ‘Smart Tiles’ (you can read more about it on their website here). They’re very think and self adhesive and I think scale-wise works perfectly. I shaped the faucet and base from polymer clay and then used two small wooded knobs painted silver for the handles.DSCN1486I had accidentally cut the doors just a little narrow, so I inserted a vertical board to fill in the void and also add some stability. I also installed a small shelf to help provide some storage below. A couple of white narrow knobs following three coats of white spray paint over a coat of primer.

DSCN1489So very easy and I think it will be very durable. Here is one final picture in its place in the dollhouse.

DSCN1490The feet might have made it just slightly taller than the stove, but I don’t think that is a big deal. Little ones don’t seem to mind that the things they play with aren’t perfect. I also have collected some plastic food and pans and although they are a bit larger than either 1:3 or 1:4 scale, I don’t think she’ll mind.

Speaking of food, I was playing around with the polymer clay and created some faux food.

First up was a couple of plates of fried eggs and strips of bacon. It took a while to get the colors right on the bacon and I am still thinking it could use some tweaking. These are the plates I got about 10 years ago at IKEA and have been packed away ever since. They are perfect!DSCN1484

Then I worked on a pie, I guess it would be apple pie based on the lattice crust on too. Using a small baking dish – yes, that’s a real ceramic pie dish – I just cut a bunch of shapes that would sort of look like fruit. Then placed them on top of the bottom crust and then wove the top lattice crust. Other than not using real food, the steps were very similar to that of making an actual pie! I used watercolor paints that I thinned way down and then poured into the pie to get coloring throughout and then painted the lattice crust.

DSCN1485Oh, I also sat and rolled peas from the polymer while the Kid and I watched a movie. I had sort of expected for them to fuse together when I fired them, but they didn’t. I spread them out on a painting cloth and using an awesome green, spray painted them. I had to keep rolling them around, trying to get all of the sides and I think I finally made most of them the same color, but since variations are natural in nature, I think that the ones that aren’t solid green make the whole bunch perfect!

DSCN1491Turned out pretty cool, if I have to say so myself. I think that going forward with work on my dollhouse, I will continue to create food, both for me and my grand niece. Its fun and relaxing as well as challenging to keep coming up with more food items. Think I will work on some boxes and maybe canned food, reducing the size of labels should be pretty fun.

Tomorrow I will posting the final shots of the dollhouse. And a week later, we’ll load it into the truck and head to Des Moines and deliver it. I am planning on including some pics of the by grand niece with the final product set up in her room. I think it will be a blast.

To be perfectly honest, though, I really am ready for this piece to be done. Lots of little details and issues and I am ready to move onto something else. My own dollhouse may take a back seat to my next project, but since it occupies a very visible place in my entry way, I will be reminded of it constantly. :-)

Thanks for dropping by and remember to keep making beautiful things!

julie

Giant Scrabble Letters Spell Out A New Family’s Name

I’m not usually in the habit of doing custom pieces, if only because of the limitation of my creativity. Something changes in the way the project is perceived by me and the recipient. Usually, when I am doing a piece, its because of a spark of imagination, an idea or something I’ve seen makes me want to try a project. If it doesn’t work, or I get the urge to change it mid-way, I don’t have to ask permission, explain the change or worse, ignore the desire to make the change. I do it because I want to and when I am done, if someone loves it too, all the better.

Every great now and then, though, someone will approach me with an idea. Maybe it is something they’ve seen on Pinterest, someone else’s blog or something I have already done and wants to know if I can do it for them. I like to be accommodating, but like I said, my own creativity seems to go out the window. My first experience with having someone judge my creativity (and it was rather harsh) came a few years into my quilting obsession. Of course, I loved everything that I was doing and naturally assumed everyone else would too! And when I had my feelings crushed with some unintentional comments and “helpful instructions”, I swore off doing things specific for a person.

But every once in a while I break my own rule. Tonight’s completed project is one such endeavor. I met Kurt and Courtney when they came to look at some dressers that I had completed. In fact, Courtney fell in love with my version of the suitcase dresser so much she bought two! One even wasn’t complete, but I did have the basic design done and she let me run with it. That dresser was the one used in the tutorial that I wrote about have to re-create that look. You can see the tutorial here.

Here are the two pieces she bought…

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Suitcase3 Before&After

But Courtney and I got to talking, getting way off the mark and I ended up showing her all the stuff that I had in progress. She especially liked the large sized tiles I completed (see the post here) and the large table sized Scrabble game that is in process that had me making yet another set of custom Scrabble pieces, these about 2 1/2 inches square. The board is about 4 foot square and painted official Scrabble rules, just custom colors.

This is when the special request was made. She loved the idea of the large Scrabble letters spelling out the new family unit that Kurt and Courtney would become soon, along with their four children (two his, two hers). Seemed a reasonable request. I think I am going to take the time to create the process in an upcoming blog, but for now I will just show you the results. I finished just a few hours ago and took photos just before the sun set. I am very happy with how they turned out.

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The consist of several pieces, but are not all individual tiles. I routed a shallow square groove between most of the tiles to replicate the space that the tiles would naturally have when placed side by side. The horizontal pieces are made so they fit together but can be separated for easy transport or storage.

About half way through working on these tiles, Courtney wrote and requested a few more sets. Since her two children weren’t getting the new last name, she wanted something special for her and her boys. So, to make them special, they got color. Red and white. The boys names – first, middle and last – were done with white lettering on a bold red, and Mom’s name was done opposite, with red lettering on white. Striking, don’tcha think?

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Again, they come apart into manageable pieces but can be easily assembled.

This was no quick project, let me assure you. These took weeks and many laborious hours of hand painting and lettering. I probably will not do this too often. But I am happy with the final result and yes, look for a detailed instructional post very soon. Oh and in case you were wondering, I used the font “News Gothic MT” in 400 point for a 5 1/2 inch square tile. The numbers were the same font in 100 point.

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 2.00.18 PMOkay, it has been a long week (end of week three – or is it four?) and still trying to get projects done and be the mom of a teenager getting ready to graduate from high school. Whew! I need a nap!

Thank you all for stopping by, it is after all, why any of us crazy bloggers take the time to write posts, so please come back soon!

And keep crafting and making beautiful things!

julie

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