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February 26, 2014

I think I just like using the word progress - makes me sound as if I've finished something.  Tiny accomplishments . . .

It'll be a while before I completely finish the oven.  I'm sure I'm going to fuss over the finish for quite some time!  The layers of paint now prevent the burners from fitting down into the indentation.  I still have no idea how to do the controls on the back.  I'll probably just sneak into an appliance showroom and take pictures.

Here's a photo I took earlier and not sure I shared.  You can see my control knobs along the front, one with a pointer experiment.  They are scrapbooking brads and technically supposed to be buttons.  I twisted the backs off, and think I can still use them as the pointers.

Here is my solution for keeping the doors shut.  A magnet!  I took a business card magnet we had gotten in the mail and cut it into thin strips, then glued one side to the door and the other to the oven interior.  It's a VERY weak magnet, but I only need it to keep the door from falling open, and it's not like I'm going to be moving the oven around a lot once it's in place.  I did experiment with one part magnet, one part metal paper clip before I realized the magnet would stick to itself.  It also sort of worked, but not as well as this setup.

It's a bit hard to see my 'hinges,' as I got paint all over them.  I used ribbon! I glued it lengthwise along the very edge of the door, just enough for it to get a firm grip on it, and then along the bottom of the oven interior.  I made sure that it could open and close before allowing it to set.  For the upper door I used two piece of illustration board to separate the two compartments, and just glued the ribbon between the two pieces and clamped tightly.  It's actually quite sturdy, and does not flop around like I feared.  I actually briefly ran into the problem of not being able to open the top door all the way because of the bottom door.  I guess if I had kept it in the traditional design I wouldn't have had that problem!

I like the interior paint.  Black with fine glitter!  That's what I see in my oven, although it's a bit greyer.  And dirty.  OMG, so dirty. *sigh*
February 25, 2014

I haven't installed this wall yet.  It's almost like a piece of furniture!  On the other side of the wall is the bedroom, and specifically the closet.  I was excited to find a simple solution for this area that gave me both my dream of having a dollhouse with a closet, and a space for a washer and dryer, all fitting neatly in the space where the stairs used to be.  Its special features include a fancy work shelf with a pole for hanging items, and a pull out hamper that's connected to the closet in the bedroom.  The hamper will pretty much be hidden behind the bathroom door.  

This was my inspiration photo for the hamper from Pinterest:

The moment I saw it, I realized it could easily work for the setup I had designed.  My original plans were much more complicated, and included the shelves and somehow an ironing board on the back of the door.  I wisely simplified quite a bit. I used black plastic canvas for the bin, and some sort of jewelry finding, folded flat, for the handle.  I have a lot of half finished mini clothes that either never made it on a doll, or that doll got redressed.  I figure I'll stuff one or two in the bin in case people can't figure out what it is.  At this point I'm not even sure if it can be seen in the closet!

The shelf above the washer and dryer is a basic piece of wood, painted the same color as the wall moulding, since it's hard to see in the photo.  I used 16 gauge black craft wire to shape the 'wrought iron' supports.  It doesn't look at all how I pictured it, i.e., not sloppy and amateurish, but it will do.  Hopefully people will be looking at the fun stuff on the shelf and the pole instead. The clothes pole is made out of a plastic Q-tip stem, which has been in my stash for ages.  I painted it black, and then had to repaint some of the craft wire, because even though it claimed the color was permanent, it wasn't!

I painted a second Q-tip stem silver and glued it in the closet.  I haven't finished the interior of it yet, I'm not exactly sure how I want to decorate it.  I need to do something, though, since the stupid CARSON label is on one of the sides and is hard to paint over.  

This section just needs to have the closet finished and then it will be done!

February 24, 2014

I'm becoming more concerned about the colors for the attic, as I realize that I'm getting closer to decorating it.  I wanted a specific theme for the entire house, hopefully revolving around earth tones, but some of the colors just chose themselves.

Here's some insight into how I make my decisions.  The colors I have so far:

Bedroom - a greyish blue (paper from Hobby Lobby):

Bathroom:  cream and dark brown (paper from Hobby Lobby):

Hallway:  Orange and white (old photo, but pretty accurate for color):

Living/Dining Room - pale rusty red - almost a cream again, really:

For the kitchen, I plan to do cream distressed cabinets and wood stained counters.  There's hardy any wall space, so color will not play a big role in this room.  I'm thinking a sage green for the spaces that will show.  This is my favorite inspiration piece so far.  I even like the stained glass!

The attic?  I don't have any idea.  I want a color different from the other rooms, but still matching.  My selections seem to be unrelated now, especially considering what I attempted to start with, namely this selection of colors:

Pretty, yes?  I've used most of the colors and managed to add an orange.  But no colors left for the attic.  What to do?  Try to see if I can find all my colors combined with other colors, and then decide.  To Pinterest!

Searching for color palettes proved frustrating, but I did find a few:

Then I switched to the only useful decorating trick I learned, NOT in my interior decorating course, but on HGTV:  pull colors from artwork.  Much more fun.  These images can all be found in my Inspiration for my Dollhouses board, with respective links and information if you want them.  They're just here so you can squint at them and go, oh yeah, such different painting techniques, but look at the color combos . . . 

(this one is here for the stripes and the thought that I 
should just include ALL the other colors in the attic.)

It seems to me that the resounding answer is blue.  That heavy blue, particularly in the woman's stockings in the shore picture and the round frame on the sofa picture.  I don't know what to call that kind of blue.  Navy?  I must resist the turquoise in the second to last picture, as I love that color too much.  It will definitely make its appearance in the house, though!

This concerns me a bit.  I'm afraid sticking such a dark color at the top of the house will suck all the attention away from the softer colored room underneath.  I'm not even sure if I can successfully paint the walls without them looking like painted wood, so perhaps I'll start with wallpaper.  Or maybe just stain the wood floor blue and run some cream and blue stripes up the wall?  I don't believe it will interfere with the bedroom, because that seems to be much more grey in person.

The shore picture really appeals to me.  It's called "Daydreaming" by Eugene de Blaas.  I may have to change my plans for hiding the TV behind a folding four panel painting and hang this up instead.  Really tie the house together into the living room . . .

February 21, 2014

I decided it was time to update my blog logo.  Actually, I decided that back in the summer when I felt that logo me wearing a winter hat made it look rather dated.  It's fun to do logos customized to what's going on in my life at the time, but it's hard and time consuming.  So here's a generic one.  If an idea strikes me I'll change it in the future, but it will eventually revert back to this one.  Have a look at some of the previous logos!

First off, there's these, which I use as my Google profile and also appeared for a while in the top right corner.  Just me and my laptop, which you usually can't see.

For this one, I was trying to do an adventure themed guest room at the time, and felt an elephant would be a perfect touch, but was having trouble finding one I liked.  It got a little obsessive.
This I did right after moving to Colorado.  My aunt had given me the hat.  Had I gotten around to doing one over the summer, it would have been me, pressed up against a window, staring at either a bunny or a prairie dog.

This one?  Well, that's kind of how I go through life.  Looking closely at things and sometimes dismantling them to see if it could be arranged better. 

I enjoy computer graphics.  It seems I don't ever direct people to my web site anymore, but when I was changing that design frequently, I had a series of 'sidebar girls' that I did.  I can't decide if my art has gotten better or worse.  It's definitely gotten simpler!
February 19, 2014

I'm slowly starting to see a little progress in a smoother finish on the oven.  Mostly it's sand, paint, dry dry dry, sand, paint . . . time consuming.  I'm very impatient when waiting for things to dry, so I started working on other things, like the bathroom.  I got the template cut out for the back wall, and also cut out a wall for behind the washer and dryer, rather than using the back of the bedroom wall.  I cut out and painted trim and glued it in place.  Then, of course, I had to test fit everything.

I'm still not quite happy with the flooring I selected, so I didn't include it in the photos.  I'm going to play with it a bit and see if I can paint it into a lighter, marbley look.  And wouldn't it figure, the best lighted shot is one where the left bulb went our right as I took the photo!  I'm having issues with the wiring in this room.  I'm not sure if it's the switch itself or if I did something wrong/weird.  Usually it should be a straight push up to turn the lights on, but I have to fiddle with it to get it in JUST the right position to turn on.  I'll switch it out later on and see what happens.

What's left to do in here?  I want a small shelf under the mirror, but first I need to add the hardware to the sink to see if there's room.  Then I have a ton of stuff to do to the tub, hardware and etc, and lots of work on the ceiling.  I also have a pull out hamper to make beside the washing machine.  Remember my plans for a fancy ceiling?  I'm kind of liking the simplicity of the wallpaper and the attention on the mirror, so I may pass on that idea.  Besides, I used the repositionable glue on the leaves, and a few of them have already fallen off!  The worst part is I can't tell where they had been!  It amuses me, since that's what leaves do, but probably not a good idea.

I promise when all or most of this is finished I will take better, well lit photos.  This is just me being too excited about seeing actual progress to set up proper lighting and playing with the big camera.  
February 18, 2014

Getting the surface of the stove right has been frustrating me, so I went back into the dollhouse to work on the hallway.  The glue I'd used didn't hold at all, but since it was 'repositionable,' I should have seen this coming.  There isn't really any noticeable change, except that I also went ahead and added the anthropological portraits.

Again, this color isn't exactly right.  It's more a sunny orange.  I feel like I hung the top row in the stairwell one row too high, but by the time I realized this, it was too late to do anything without ripping the paper.  I still have a few photos left, I may try maneuvering myself into the hall and sticking them in along the rest of the stairwell. I feel like I made them too big, but any smaller and you wouldn't be able to see them.  

What's the theme?  These are vintage/antique photos of famous anthropologists, travel authors, and basically early tourists visiting famous places.  Plus a few photos that I thought were really nice, or could be suitable to the theme.  I think I put my favorites on the staircase side, which include Isabella Bird and Mark Twain in Turkish gear.  I also have Alice Winterbottom, Mary Kingsley, and Alice Fletcher.  I need to re-identify the rest!  

It's nice to check off some more items on the to do list!

February 15, 2014

Once more, my terror of driving long distances to unfamiliar places was overcome by my desire to look at tiny things!

I went to Golden to attend the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys 23rd annual little show (as opposed to the 'big' show they hold in the Fall.)  It was at the fairgrounds, but I didn't see ANY signs for the show, and there were numerous buildings.  I figured it wouldn't be at the building with all the horses surrounding it, so I parked in a central spot, waited until I saw some little old ladies walking with purpose, and followed them.  Success!

If you're not aware, dollhouse miniatures are very much an adult hobby.  I am NOT too old for dollhouses, I'm actually rather young for the hobby!  As I've been demonstrating on this blog, I spend a lot of time playing with electricity, glue, and knives.  When you're this into it, it's not for the young!

It was definitely a smaller show, and 'handcrafted only,' which was a little challenging, considering some of the things I wanted to buy, like a refrigerator and wallpaper.  Still, I managed to find a few things.

Sylvia Hansen was there, and had lots of quilt kits and trims.  I stocked up on lace!  It's so hard to find mini lace, and when I do I tend to hoard it.  "Oh, I'll save it for a 'better' project . . . "  Maybe now I'll stop saying that!  

I was very excited to meet Sylvia.  A very long time ago, I had sent away for her mail order catalog (this tells you just how long ago it was!) and bought a modern sewing machine.  Turns out she doesn't sell them anymore!

I saw Bobbie Johnson's table at the Fall Show last September, and regretted not buying anything from her.  Such beautiful work!  This time I didn't pass her by.  I snatched up this sweet mini lady's top hat, and got her and her daughter all excited about my plans for a Steampunk Dress Shop.  Hopefully they'll be inspired . . .

I mixed up my business cards when I took the picture.
The hat and gown are by Bobbie Johnson.

I loved her dresses, but she only had a few, and I wasn't fast enough to return to her table to get the lady's Edwardian dress I originally had my eye on.  Instead I went for the beautifully decorated christening gown with bonnet, thinking it would be pretty hanging in my Knupp house when I ever get it going.  

Bill West had a table full of kits, and while most were smaller scales, they had a cute mini garden kit on sale.  I grabbed it mainly for the flower colors, in the hopes that one day I'll get around to landscaping.  

I saved these tiny plant stands for last, because of the story that went with my buying them.  I knew I had minimal space in my Willowcrest living room for a coffee table, and when I saw these sitting side by side on Nancy Stein's table, they jumped up and down yelling 'buy us! We'd be perfect in that spot!'  Which surprised me enough to accidentally knock another table off the table to the floor.  Oops!  No harm done. She also had taller plant stands with a shelf underneath that was absolutely darling, and some lovely wrought iron wall decor.  Unfortunately, she didn't take credit cards, a problem I'd encountered at several other tables.  I don't carry checks anymore, and didn't have a debit card, even if there had been an ATM nearby.  

So I started scrounging to see what was left of my cash, hoping to buy at least one table.  I had enough bills for one table, but not quite enough for both.  I started digging out change.  And more change.  And wow, my purse had become a coin receptacle!  I started counting, got anxious about not having enough and taking up space, lost count, counted again.  I got closer to the total and dug further into random pockets and wallets.  Then I became aware of a lady in a pink fleece jacket watching me.  "Oh, I've been there!"  she said, and then held out her hand, full of change.  I protested, but she insisted, saying the younger generation needed to continue the hobby.  With her help (it was less than a dollar!) I was able to meet the total, and then begin the process of recounting out the coins to Nancy.  I got my tables!  If I'm lucky she'll be at the Fall show with the plant stands.  If not, well, maybe I better give her a call next week.  And next time bring a check with me, just in case!

February 14, 2014

Our dryer decided it had had enough and refused to start.  Since the thing was 15 years old, and we hated the noise it made and the fact that the door opened down instead of to the side, we decided to go ahead and upgrade.  I got a chance to wander around and look at stovetops while we waited for the paperwork, and make a better note of why mine STILL didn't look quite right.  No depth!  Ranges are ever so slightly inset into the top.  Plus I didn't make the burners quite high enough above the gas jets.  So I grabbed some more balsa and made more changes.

Here's the before photo.

Just a flat top.  Looks . . . ok.

Here's the new stovetop.  I probably could have made the bottommost inset a little wider, but it's big enough for the jets, and I definitely should have made the top one a bit wider - it's a very tight fit for the burners!  

Now for some wood filler, gesso, and paint!  Oh yeah, and to make a panel for the knobs on the front.  I found some tiny scrapbooking brads that look like buttons, that I think will work quite well.  Somehow I missed getting them in the picture!
February 10, 2014

Allow me to introduce you to the messiest bit of wiring I've done so far.

The fault mostly lay in that I completely forgot I hadn't yet wired the garret.  I was concentrating so much on getting the upstairs hall wired for plug in use that I ran ahead and did it without considering what still needed to be done.  In fact, that was  what the mystery tape in the previous post was for - running power to the attic.  I had so completely forgotten about it that it wasn't connected at all!

I had to move the holes for the hall light over, as the previous light had the wire coming out of the edge rather than the center of the fixture.  In fact, I'm rather disappointed, as I don't think I can actually wire that light up for plug in use because of this.  Fortunately I have another light I can use - I think it was the one that was there originally. I wired it the same way as in the previous post, I'm just waiting on an order so I can install the spring loaded eyelets. 

The wiring comes up on the back wall, which is where it stalled for a while.  I couldn't figure out where to go from there, as I still needed to hook it up to a light switch before it went very far.  Today it dawned on me that I only needed to run ONE line of copper tape to the ideal light switch spot, not both, and this is the result.  For all the wildness, it's actually very neat.  I'm particularly pleased with how I handed the light switch, otherwise that would have been yet another fold in the wiring.

I still don't know what I'm going to do about lighting in this room, so I merely ran tape around edges of the floor.  I can connect pretty much everything to that.  I'm used to having both lines of copper running together, so I'm not actually sure if I can hook anything up to the gap between the two wires.  It's not a spot I anticipate needing any lighting, so I'm not going to worry about it.  

And yes, I did test it.  It works!

I didn't do much else, except clean up and organize the craft room a bit, and finally getting around to adding the Willowcrest's details to my dollhouse notebook.  I'm taking detailed measurements and adding bits of scrap wallpaper and flooring to the book.  I am also considering using tissue paper to have a full size copy of the floor to carry around with me.  There's a miniature show coming up, I'm going to need it!  

February 8, 2014

Pay no attention to the tape wire in the
 corner.  That's a different run.
 I . . . don't remember where it goes.
I finally worked up the nerve to redo the light in the first floor hallway.  Patching your wiring is actually pretty easy.  You mainly just have to be sure that you don't let your wires touch.

I admit I wired it strangely.  I had drilled a hole in the floor, run the wiring up to run flat on the floor above, and then ran the wire through ANOTHER hole to drop it back down to a tape wire run on a wall on the floor below.  It was easier to just let the ceiling in that room be than try to twist myself around to repaint or otherwise cover it.  To fix it so I could have a plug in ceiling light, I cut the wire and removed the light, drilled a second hole in the floor, (measured to fit the adapter plug) then added a short strip of copper tape.  The original wire was attached to the tape (on the right in the picture.)  Then I took some wire that had been removed from another light (this is why miniaturists save everything!) cut about three inches, exposed both ends, and ran one of the exposed ends from each wire through the hole in the floor.  the other end gets attached to the tape.  Then you pull the wires through the holes taut, and carefully insert a spring loaded eyelet into each of the holes in the floor.  Trim the excess wire.  And it works!  It's more connections for me to check whenever I have a problem, but at least now I only have to pull up the flooring in the hallway.

I spent yesterday working on the stovetop for my oven.  I looked at lots of pictures online of burners, then went through my stash to see what I could possibly duplicate.
Don't worry, the wooden part will be painted white.

Apparently I've been thinking and buying for this for a while.  I had 1/16" square wood strips, and even smaller wood strips that were apparently meant for model railroading. They were perfect!  The gas thingies in the center?  The bottom parts are silver sequins. The shiny part on the top are circles I cut out of a shiny toothpaste box with a hole punch, then underneath those are more circles cut out of posterboard, to add height.  Then I wrapped the edges with a narrow strip of silvery stickers.  (It was scrapbooking stickers that were just a long line.  I also used them when I was making the ceiling lights.)  I've put several coats of paint on the burner, and will probably add more, being quite free with glopping it on.  I want it to look heavily coated!  

I'm . . . pleased.  I may have to trim the stems back a little farther away from the center, but I like these far more than anything I've seen ready-made.

Now I need to figure out how to do the knobs.  I'm currently stumped!

February 6, 2014

I did a quick mockup of the cantilevered window for the kitchen.  Oh, and you can see the new washer and dryer arrived!  I found a set that was modern without being clunky, small enough to fit the space, and cheap enough to convince me not to make them.  As you'll soon find out, this turned out to be a good thing.

My first thought was simply to imitate the flat roof of the bay window in the dining room on the other side of the house. Having the windows on the sides helps distract from its bulk and makes it look smaller.  A second option is to give it a sharply angled roof, roughly following the line of the roof directly above it, which I think would be a better idea and make it appear even smaller by gradually sloping out rather than having all those right angles.  It'll be more work, and I'll lose the interior shelf space I was planning for above the window, but I wasn't that set on having it in the first place.  A third option could be to just run the bump out all the way up and merge it with the trimwork above.  

Having gotten this far, I also needed to determine exactly how far I needed this to jut out.  In the photo it's roughly an inch and a half.  I marked off an inch and a quarter and an inch on the mockup, and have been easing it in and out and doing lots of measuring inside.  In order to get all of this right, I have to know the kitchen layout first.  How deep the counters were going to be, where doors and drawers were, how wide the stove and the refrigerator were, etc. Decisions had to be made!

I sketched out some ideas on narrow pieces of paper and simply laid them out on the floor in the house.  With an inch and a half of extra space, I have quite a bit of leeway for other items.  In order to make it narrower, I had to be very careful.  For instance, I can't make the counter depth any narrower than 2", or it starts to look weird.  There's not enough room for a fridge wider than 3", no matter how much I drool over the fancy Japanese ones with all the accessories.  I also need to make sure that the appliances match the counter depth, or at least don't stick out too far.

The height of the counter also affects the positioning and height of the window.  Since the window is so hard to cut, I figured it'd be better if I determined that first.  Once again, I realized that the counter height depended on two things - Robin's height, and the height of the oven.  

A typical real life stove.
It seems the entire kitchen layout depended on the dimensions of the oven, so I went shopping online.  I want the kitchen to be comfortably modern without going overboard.  Just an updated kitchen in an old house.  What I found was discouraging and unrealistic.  Doors with no windows.  Thick, clunky oven racks. Unrealistic burners in odd configurations.  Painted ones to match the counters.  Fun and safe for kids, but I wanted something more formal.
Then there were wood stoves - not the kind that burn wood, but the kind that look like they are made of wood, which I've never, EVER seen in real life.  I've also never seen a stove with inset doors - they always go completely across the front.  The more I looked at mini ovens, the more I kept going to the kitchen to look at MY oven to see why it looked so off.  I even went to Elf Miniatures, which has a great selection of modern miniatures.  A lot of what they had was in European styles.  Very few people realize just how different they can be!  The ovens were nice, but too big and too metallic for what I wanted.

I narrowed it down to two ovens.  The Miehle oven, complete with sound and lights at Elf Miniatures, and a modern white range that I felt 'would do,' but was still deeper than I wanted.  Then I decided I should try to make my own.  If that failed, I could buy one of these.

I actually made the previous oven. It was part of a Real Life Miniatures kit, from the 70's or 80's, and actually very nice.  I just wanted something ever so slightly smaller and maybe a bit more realistic.   Plus, the more I thought about it, the more I decided I wanted a different layout.  Who uses that bottom drawer, anyway?  My sister had a double oven, with what she referred to as the 'pizza drawer' on the top.  With this idea in mind, and with the old oven in front of me, I began working on the new oven.

I'm somewhat snowed in, so I had to use the scraps I had on hand.  This oven is half balsa, half illustration board.  While taking this picture, I realized that the counter needs to be a little bit lower to accommodate Robin's short height.  It's easy enough to redo, as I've got a kind of pedestal underneath the oven that can easily be shortened.  Or I might just give it round legs, which is apparently what's underneath my oven!  

I carved the handles from balsa as well, but my mini wax keeps disappearing on me so I couldn't tack them up for the photo.  I will give everything a good coat of Gesso to even it all out, and then a few coats of basic white, then a gloss sealant.  I'm just not that interested in having a stainless steel appliance!  Clear plastic packaging will serve as glass in the windows, and I even have some black sparkly paint that will go on the interior.  I'm still working out how to do the hinges.  Maybe some kind of piano hinge along the bottom?  I mostly need to make it stop at 90 degrees.  Maybe I'll even just glue it shut!  

I made some oven racks from good old fashioned plastic canvas.  I ended up making three, as I finished the first one (on the right in the picture), realized it didn't look right, and then went downstairs to look in my oven.  It runs the other way!  (enlarge the image, as in the small view it doesn't look like I've done anything to the rack on the right.  I have!)  Even an image search for oven racks showed that they all pretty much go in the same direction.  I'm assuming for smoothness in pulling items out.  I may have to paint them, and possibly reinforce them to keep from sagging, but they don't look too clunky to me!

I still have no idea how to do the burners on the top.  I'm going to have to play with scraps of whatever and figure it out.  

I feel I can stop here, now that I have oven dimensions, and get back to work on the window.  Most likely I'll finish the oven first.