Saturday, 23 July 2011

Music Room Floor

Hello everyone,
I just finished planning and cutting out the music room floor.

The chevron pieces are not yet glued into place. The octogone in the center will be a marble medallion. This is the second floor I make for the music room...

 I had originally cut pieces for this floor which included a round marble medallion and less intricate design.
When the time came to glue everything down I applied the contact cement to the surfaces of my subfloor (illustration board) and the individual pieces of wood flooring. I had never worked with that glue before and I usually work in my basement. I had no idea the fumes would be so strong. I tried to bring the pieces outside into my shed quickly, but it was windy and some pieces flew over and landed on my subfloor, glue side to glue side, and they were permanently bonded in the wrong place, so I had to start the floor over. In the end it was a good thing because I'm much happier witht he new floor.

I also tested the shellac on 2 seperate pieces of flooring. The wood strips on thin cardboard warped, but the wood strip on thin cardboard glued onto illustration board with contact cement didn't. The picture below shows both test pieces with 3 coats of shellac.

I will be gluing the music room floor down permanently this week, and hopfully applying the the shed this time.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Flooring Update

Hello all,
We've been moving furniture around our real house so I haven't finished my first wood floor yet. The floor is for the music room. It will be a chevron pattern floor, 20 inches by 36 inches deep.

 In the middle of the room, in front of the fireplace, I'm trying to create a faux-marble medallion with a pattern of roses. I tested the shellac finish on a test piece of flooring, and the results are very promising. I will try to have a new post by Sunday evening.

I just want to thank those who left such nice and encouraging comments about my work and everyone who is following me. For some reason I can't leave comments to anybody, either on my blog or anyone else's...the eternal Nemesis!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Scratch Wood Floors Part 1

There are many types of wood flooring for miniatures on the market. I looked at many and decided, while it is the hard way, to make all my floors from scratch for several reasons.

1- I have specific patterns in mind
2- Larger flooring sheets are 11 inches x 17 inches. The smallest rooms in my house are 14" x 17" and the largest is 36 inches by 20 inches. this would mean having to match up the patterns and there would be a lot of waste.
3- Each 11" x 17" sheet covers 187 square inches. My house has a total of about 8500 square inches of flooring on 3 levels, most of it wood...It's a big investment.

My technique, and I hope it works, is as follows:

I purchased iron-on real wood strip rolls. I chose Maple and Pine because they had a grain that works best in 1/12 scale and I like the way they look together

The first step was to cut the strips to about 1 and a half inches in length. Next, I took each of those and cut them lengthwise into 3 strips, 2 identical and one slightly larger. I did this with an mdf spacer I had that was the right size. I calculate I'll need about 1600 strips for the music room.

Next, I took a piece of thin black cardboard and attached the individual wood strips all at a 30 degree angle with the top left corner touching the edge of the cardboard ( it makes more sens in the next picture). The best way was to put the hot iron on the cardboard for 8 second, then quickly put 2 or 3 pieces in place. If you put the strips down first and then iron over they had a tendency to move and the glue went everywhere. When I completed the first row, I put a metal ruler over the center and cut off the sides

This gave me one flooring strip for the room. The next one will have the different wood and the 30 degree angle will be reversed, creating the chevron pattern. I only have one finished flooring strip at this time because it took me all of Sunday to cut the individual wood strips. I should finish the rest this coming weekend...I hope!

The last preparation I saw to was the finish. I want to finish all the floors with Shellac as is used for french polishing. This meant I had to dissolve shellac flakes in 99% isopropyl rubbing alcohol (isopropanol). It's been 4 days and the flakes are almost finished dissolving. I'll talk about this more next post...if it works the way I want it to.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

I had a realization this morning while on the treadmill at the gym.
Next time, instead of cutting the wood strip roll into 1 and a half inch pieces, just long enough to make one flooring strip, I will cut them long enough to make 5 or 6 rows. that way, I will iron on the strips faster, then just place my ruler and cut nice straight flooring strips. I'll show a picture in a futur post for the flooring in another room...Naturally I could not have thought about this before I cut the 1500 individual and learn!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Dollhouse update and furniture dry run

We just got back from holiday and I thought I'd give an update. Here is what the dollhouse looks like at this time.
The structures for the 1st and 2nd floors are assembled.
The grand staircase is complete.
The ceilings and crown moldings are complete.
The walls are papered ,tiled, or faux-finished for panneling.

 I worked on the plans for this house for 2 years and have been purchasing the furniture for it over the past 6 years. I know it so well I can close my eyes and walk throught the entire house.
Before the crown molding and faux-finish were done, I had a furniture dry run: I took out all my furniture to make sure all the rooms worked. If a set does not work with a wallpaper, it is easier to change the paper before the crown molding and baseboards are in place. Also, I will have to choose flooring soon and I want to make sure the floors I pick don't overpower the rooms since I have bold wallpaper patterns and ornate furniture! Here are a few of the pictures:

Great Room
Master Bedroom

Dining Room

Music Room


Saturday, 2 July 2011

Fireplaces and kitchen hood

I love fireplaces! When I designed this dollhouse I made sure I had a fireplace in every room. I try to make my miniatures look as realistic as possible and one important detail many people overlook are the dimensions of fireplaces. I made sure that every fireplace was at least 1 and 1/2 inchs deep to realistically accomodate logs. As I posted earlier, I made all the fireboxes, earths and surrounds in double thick poster board.

To make each firebox I cut 3 pieces out of the posterboard: 1 for the top, 1 for the bottom, and 1 long piece for the back and sides. To fold the back piece, I first drew the lines where the piece would be folded, then I scored it about 3/4 of the depth of the posterboard with a sharp utility knife. I glued the pieces together with carpenter's glue and a few dots of gel super glue and held the pieces in place with some masking tape.

When dry, I painted it the color of the mortar, then used the magic brick system to create the bricks. I then stippled on black paint using an old fat round brush to look like soot. When all was dry I varnished the firebox with matt varnish.

The earths and most of the surrounds are painted posterboard to look like marble. The one exception is the dining room fireplace. I had a book with pictures of palace furniture. One picture was of a "Pietra Dura" (cut stone) panel from a dresser. I cut up the sections of the picture, glued them onto the posterboard surround with spray adhesive, and then put on 3 coates of glaze. I think it looks great with the painted mantel.

In the kitchen, I wanted a copper hood for the stove. I could only find one size of copper sheet. It was very thick and I had a difficult time cutting and bending it. I had to use metal cutters and made a jig to get accurate folds. I had a piece of molding that had a good shape for the hood, so I glued the copper over it with The Ultimate Glue and finished folding in the sides.
When the piece was dry, I glued on brass strips with The Ultimate glue and gel super glue. I added the brass for 2 reasons: it looked good and it covered up any imperfect cuts or folds. I then cut wood brackets out of full size trim I had left over. It looks like they are supporting the hood and I used them to hold 2 copper cooking utensil bars. When the time came to glue the pieces into place. I first glued in the brackets because the hood was rather heavy and these would help hold it in place. As usual the Ultimate glue and gel super glue worked great. I liked the brackets very much, so I made more to hold a shelf that goes around most of the kitchen.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Crown molding, Ogees and Frieze

All the rooms got crown molding or ogees. This enabled me to hide the gap between the ceiling paper and the wallpaper. I painted all the molding strips I needed with the same paint as the ceilings, except for the Library moldings which were finished to look like mahogany. 2 coats was sufficient.

I attached the molding with the Crafter's Pick Ultimate glue and drops of gel super glue every 4 or 5 inches. I applied glue to the top part of the molding (glued to ceiling) and the back of molding (glued to wall). I pressed each piece in place for about 30 seconds. Again, the super glue held them in place while the Ultimate glue dried.

In the Dining Room, because the paper was not quite high enough, I purchased Rococo Frieze molding made by The Lawbre Company. Before the crown molding went up I added a strip of wood 1/8 in thick and 1" high all around the top of the room to act as a spacer for the frieze.
 I painted the frieze with 2 coats of my ceiling paint, regular latex paint from the hardware store, and then I painted all the detail with Ceramcoat Metallic Gold paint and the finest brush I could get at the art supply store. I used a different bruch on each piece as the bristles got used. This step took about 4 hours per 18 inch molding strip, but it was worth it!

When the pieces were dry I cut them with a razar saw blade and miter box and attached them with the Ultimate glue and super glue.  I then added a smaller ogee molding under it. When the glue was dry I used acrylic gesso to fill in the gaps at the joints and touched up the paint.

The other room that got a special molding finish is the Music Room. I purchased plaster moldings from Sue Cook in England. I finished it the same way as the Dining Room frieze, 2 coats of ceiling paint and detailing in Gold paint. I turned the section of the house upside down and glued them on with gap filling adhesive applied with a caulking gun. After touch ups I was very happy!

Ceilings, Wallpaper and Kitchen Tiles.

I don't like painting! When the time came to finish the walls and ceilings I decided everything would get wallpaper for the following reasons
-Wallpaper covers imperfections
-I hate painting, I can never get it as smooth as I want.

I looked at many websites and purchased all my ceiling papers on Ebay. All my wallpaper came from Les Chinoiseries in spain. Of all he dollhouse wallpaper I've seen, Les Chinoiseries is the best! The colors are strong and vibrant, the patterns bold and period appropriate, and the quality of the print is very high and they use good, thick paper. It was a pleasure to work with.

Every miniaturist has their favorite way of applying paper to walls. I went with regular good quality wallpaper paste from my hardware store. The paste is slippery which helps position the paper and adjust it. I applied the paste to the back of the paper with an inexpensive sponge brush, apply it to the wall and smooth it down using a sponge roller brush and my clean hands.
I started with the ceilings. I put the house upside down and the textured paper went onto the primed surface easily.

The next day I painted all the ceilings using a small sponge paint roller except for the library which had a gold colored paper. 2 coates was sufficient.I put the house back right side up and tackled the wallpaper. I applied it exactly the same way as the ceiling, being just a bit more careful not to get any paste on the good side of the paper (since the ceiling was getting paint I wasen't as fussy). I cut the paper to the right height, applied it, waited about 10 minutes, then cut out the window and door openings. Many of the rooms are getting wood paneling, so I left the bottom half uncovered.

The only room I had a problem with was the Girl's Bedroom. It is the only paper that ran when a bit too much paste got on the good side. In the end I can camouflage the imperfections or hide them with furniture and molding, I onle had to re-do one wall.

The kitchen is 14" high so I only tiled the bottom half. I purchased 3d laminated cardboard tile sheets. I applied them just like wallpaper. I was a bit more careful when pressin them down because the sheet is textured and if you push to hard you would damage the tile effect.