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July 24, 2013

Determined to make my dollhouse as fancy as possible without installing plumbing (DON'T TEMPT ME), I purchased quite a few of the Cir-Kit CK1011 slide light switches.  I thought I understood how it worked, but the instructions that came on the tiny piece of paper folded up with the switch really threw me for a loop. The pictures were hard to see, and the multiple options confused me.  Eventually I figured it out, but not before melting one switch and possibly shorting out another. Yikes!  I am sharing these hints so you'll have an easier time of it!  You might find it useful to be looking at the original instructions while reading this, as it's possible I may have missed a step, and I don't feel like telling you just how wide the gaps should be, etc. ;-)

Electricity runs in loops. It needs to return to the source in order to keep the power 'flowing.'  (The bulbs act as a bridge between the two lines.)  This is why there are two lines of copper foil in the tapewire, to send power to the lights and bring it back again.  They are color coded so you can don't accidentally switch your flow around or miss connecting one of the lines, but the color actually means nothing.  It is exactly the same copper foil on both sides.  I am referring to the foils as wires in my instructions because 'foil' confuses me a bit.

The switch works by interrupting the power flow in one of the tape wires. The instructions that come with the switch provide two ways to do this.

Option 1 is useful for mostly horizontal wiring.  Use it if you don't plan on having ceiling lights, or most of your lights will be attached in the lower half of the room.  You CAN, however, attach your ceiling lights or sconces in this option.  Everything will come on at the same time.

I think what threw me off with this is the color coding.  What they actually want you to do is 'stretch' your upper wire up to the switch and then back down again.  They want you to cut a 4" piece of tapewire and attach it over a narrow gap you have cut in the top wire, and ONLY the top wire.  This is one of the few instances where you can attach a pink wire to a blue.  Again, color does not mean the two wires are different.  Just pretend both wires are pink on that 4" strip.  Or, actually cut two pink wires and trim off the blue if it will help you.

Option 2 is for vertical tape runs, and lighting that is mostly in the upper part of the room.  This is also useful if you have a room that is mostly doors and windows and the easiest way to get power to other side of the room is to go up and over.  You can also use this to provide on/off power above but not below.

In this option, you cut a narrow gap in one wire of your tape run right behind where the switch is.  Both nails of the switch go in the same wire, one in the top half of the gap, one in the bottom half.  (Think of the switch as a bridge connecting a road on two sides of a gorge.)

The instructions have you place the tape wire and then drill the holes for the eyelets, but I found this to be messy and it also can tear up the foil a bit.  What I found easier was to cut off a small square of the tape wire for reference, decide where I wanted my switch to go, hold the tape wire sample over that spot, and then push the switch nails into the wood and the sample hard enough to leave an indentation.  (check and be sure the nail hits the wires soundly on both sides.)  THEN I drilled the holes.  After that it was easy to run the wiring over them, using the pilot hole punch (or a heavy needle) to pop a neat hole in the tape wire that covered the holes.  In go the eyelets, neat as can be.  You can pop the switch into the eyelets to test, and then easily pull the switch out again before putting up wallpaper or paneling.

They also provide instructions for how to narrow the gap between the two wires, but in the end I realized I didn't actually need this.  Good to know, though!

I hope this makes more sense to you now, if you were somewhat overwhelmed after staring at all those little diagrams on the provided instructions.  It seems like there were so many steps, but they opted to explain EVERYTHING, including how to attach tape wires to each other.
July 22, 2013

phone camera  is easier to fit inside the house!
Here's a rough draft of my final goal for the hallway.  (This took forever.  I'm hoping the rest of the rooms will go faster since I can SEE what I'm doing!)  

I managed to make the door a little taller, and probably COULD have made it wider if I had tried hard enough. 

I had to repeatedly paint the stairs and new railing in an attempt to match the stained wood.  I think it was because I tried TOO hard, with too small a brush.   I just have to keep reminding myself that this room will be impossible to see once the rest of the walls are back in place.  Luckily the banister does not appear to be that crooked from the angle I normally see it.  There's no way I can straighten it unless I cut it apart from the staircase below, which IS an option.

The orange in the first picture is more accurate.  It will not look so vivid once I add the tans and super-dark browns to the bathroom. 

I took the banister that came with the house and cut it in half to make room for the new stairs.  I also had to cut and paint a new railing since the old one had disappeared.  I traced the banister pattern onto illustration board and cut and painted it.  It pretty much imitates the original staircase below, so I'm happy with how it looks.  What frustrated me the most is that I have no idea what wood stain I used when I originally built the house.  It MAY be Minwax walnut. 

Handmade doorknob, and that's not wood,
it's painted illustration board!
 The doorknob was ultra simple and very effective.  I made it from an earring post, a tiny silver bead cap, and a crystally faceted rondelle bead, and is probably my favorite part of the whole mess.  I have lots more doors to do, luckily these are all parts I already own!

I still need to redo the floor, trim out the door, and run the wiring.  (I ran out of tape wire!)  My pictures don't really capture how it really looks, but it's starting to feel finished.

I'm so unhappy with the walls that I came up with a plan for distracting people from seeing them.  I'm going to fill them with old cabinet photos!  I've collected a variety of them and printed them out on photo paper, just need to arrange them and get them in there.  The theme is adventure and exploration, Victorian style.  I have pictures of famous wanderers and exotic places and people, including Mark Twain and Lady Isabella Bird. 

I am having a terrible time with my white acrylic paint.  All of my other acrylics seem to be just fine, but the white is thick and gloppy and impossible to work with.  What happened to it?  It's the same age and experienced the same environment as all of my other paints.
July 20, 2013

My husband decided to surprise me, and only told me we were going someplace near Colorado Springs.

We ended up at the Serenity Springs Wildlife Center, an awesome non-profit facility that focuses on rescuing big cats and other exotic animals who can no longer be cared for by their owners and cannot be re-released into the wild.  They're a little hard to find, as they're out in the middle of nowhere, and can't afford the signage, but Google Maps got us there just fine.  (we literally turned onto the dirt road . . . )

It's amazing to see so many huge cats, and to see them acting like . . . cats.  They came up to the tour guide and rubbed against the fence as she talked to us, and just looked so serene and laid back.  Maybe it was the heat that made them lethargic?  We plan to go back in the winter, since the guide said they just love the snow and cold weather.

Enough chatting.  Look at my pictures, look at their web site, and then go visit in person!

Apparently this guy refused to put all four paws in the water.  He always left one paw dry!

And then, an awesome moment - I got to touch one!

She wasn't really interested in being held.  Such a cat!

July 9, 2013

I stalled out a little on the house.  I got distracted by trying to design my own chandeliers.  Eventually, I was successful, although these still aren't the designs I had in my mind.  It's a start, though!

This one was made with a silver colored chain, a Blue Moon beadcap (found at JoAnn's), some multi-color and crystal/clear 6mm bicone beads I picked up at Walmart, some 2mm ball head pins, and some tiny decorative spacers.  The crystally teardrop beads I have had for a VERY long time.  I used thin wire to suspend the lowest teardrop bead from the center, and twisted an eye head pin so I could attach the chain to the bead cap.  Any style dollhouse bulb can be threaded through and up the chain, or it's just as pretty without.  It's a bit smaller than I expected, so I may put it in the bedroom.  

This one was made using pieces from a necklace type chain I found in the bead section of JoAnns, half of a ping pong ball, and some stickers by Starform.  They make these awesome border stickers in silver and gold.  I am going to be stocking up!  
Note that there are hard and soft ping pong balls and to try squishing them before you buy them.  You want the soft!  I had the wrong ones at first, and they were impossible to cut.   The soft ones can easily be cut in half with an Xacto knife or scissors, and I was able to drill the holes for the chain with a needle.  To keep the bulb in place in the center, I cut a long narrow piece of clear plastic from an empty container, drilled a hole in it with my Xacto (by drilling I mean just twirling the point of the knife in place until it goes through), and folded down the edges so they can be glued or otherwise attached to the edge.  I have not yet attempted to light it, so I don't really know if the plastic will be affected by the heat from the bulb in any way.  

This was a fun exercise in looking at material and asking 'what else can this be?'  I was looking at a lot of items and asking "can I use this to make a chandelier?"  I had success in unexpected places - the scrapbooking aisle, the bead aisle, the soda aisle (stop thinking you're funny with the ping pong ball placement, stockers!)  and the candy and cake aisle.  No, really!  While trying to find an alternative to ping pong balls for shades I found some round, clear plastic candy molds that work just as well!  I haven't posted a picture of that chandelier yet because I wanted to color it with stained glass paint, and it failed me terribly.  It wouldn't stick to the plastic and just puddled in the bottom of the bowl!  I don't know if it's the age of the paint or the way I applied it, but I have to try a few more things.  

July 8, 2013

Sometimes, pictures say a thousand words.  And since I got a new camera that turned out to be awesome, I feel like my words will now be much more eloquent.

These photos were from our trip to Western Colorado, which included Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, and Arches National Park in Utah.

I have developed the habit of taking photos through the window of a speeding car. I am amazed that some of these came out as well as they did!

Somewhere along I70.  Love the color variations.

Somewhere along I70.

Glenwood Springs Caverns (and Adventure Park!)

Random lantern, too pretty not to photograph.

Bacon Formation!

Stalactites.  They always explain the difference, but they never use
the T and M explanation anymore.  (Visually, T hangs from the
 ceiling, M (stalagmite) comes up from the floor.)

Rafting on the Colorado River with Blue Sky Adventures

Colorado National Monument, Fruita, CO

What better place to test the panorama feature on my camera?

Flora of Colorado National Monument


The Utah/Colorado border.  There is NOTHING here!

Somewhere along I70 in Utah.
Along Route 128, Utah  

This was not actually a park, but oh how beautiful!

Castle Valley, Utah

Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

Petrified Sand Dunes

The desert is prettier than I thought.