Dollhouse Blogs

Saturday 31 May 2014

Breakfast Room

Hello my friends,

I hope you are all doing well and that life is treating you kindly. Yesterday I finally finished the Breakfast Room. It is one of the smaller rooms of the Manor, but the finishes were a lot of work. So without further ado, here it is





You may remember this room was originally going to be a loggia, but I had a really hard time visualising the space. I went from a very Tudor brick and wood beam design, to an Alhambra inspired design, then a mosaic Loggia as per the Breakers. I decided to stop thinking about it as an open space and thought of the breakfast room in the Elms, my favourite mansion in Newport, and I fell in love with the idea and it all came together.

Here is what the structure looked like when I started,

The first step was to design the space. The space measures about 13 x 13 inches and I knew I wanted a fireplace and large arched windows between the columns,
 I cut all the wall sections I needed out of double thick illustration board and used basswood strips to frame them properly.
Building the elements of the room was simple enough, but there were many so I'll go over them one at a time (sorry, it might be a long post) ;)

Fireplace and Overmantel

The focal point of many rooms for me is the fireplace. I love fireplaces! Like most of what I do it started with a simple structure made from illustration board, basswood framing, and basswood molding,

This is the wall section which is removable. The cutouts on the left are for the chinoiserie panels, and the ones on the right are for the firebox and the overmantel.
The fireplace is pretty straight forward. The front is illustration board, the sided and frame are basswood, and the curved top part is made from cardboard shipping tubes. It took a bit of fiddling to cut the 3 pieces to fit, but I love the look of it.

To fill the void between the arched top of the front piece and the curved tube section I used regular spackle. The resin corbels are from Unique miniatures. I found some circle jewelry bits and used them to add a little detail to the front piece. I just sanded them lightly and glues them on. When it was assembled I put on several coats of gesso, sanding between each to make the mantel look like one big carved piece.

Originally, as per my drawings, I wanted a chinoiserie panel over the mantel. Since the chimney was really deep I decided to use the space and make shelves. Again, the back of the unit is illustration board, the sides are cardboard tubes, and the shelves and back frame are basswood.

At this point it was time for a dry run to make sure I was happy with the design.

To cover the gaps between the cardboard tube and illustration board of the shelf unit I used a piece of thin cardboard cut to the height of each shelf section. Actually I used the back of a workbook. the cardboard was thin enough that it could be curved without bending.

To finish the fireplace I made a simple firebox with illustration board and some leftover plastic brick sheet I had. I love yellow and black as a colour combination so I painted the mantel to look like giallo sienna marble and used jewelry bits and leftover materials to make the black insert. I glued it together, painted it with black paint, and sprayed on several coats of clear glaze to make it shiny.

The next step was to faux finish all the structural elements and let them dry. I decided to put marble columns between the window section so the fireplace would not stand out too much...but I must say I am very proud of this mantel.

Chinoiserie Panels

The next element was the chinoiserie panels. you may remember the Chinese tea room which already had this look. I love chinoiserie and have no problem using the same trick twice. However I decided the panels in the breakfast Room would be only black and gold.
I make a lot of detailed drawings, but when the time comes to paint them I never try to copy exactly but just go with the flow. These panels are much bigger then the ones in the other room so I tried to paint more detailed buildings.
And here are the finished panels. I asked an artist at the art supply store what to use to get the smoothest black base and he suggested a sponge roller. It looks okay, but I think I got a smoother finish using a fine brush and watering down the paint a little.

Here is a close up of one of one panel. I could have added more detail and people, but as I have said many times I am not incredibly gifted at painting and I do not enjoy it. I am one of those people who's hands shake a lot when I am doing fine detail work so I decided to stop before I messed up ...but I do like the effect.
The Floor
As mentioned in my last post I originally planed on making a simple square pattern on the floor, mainly because the room was already taking so long and I was at a standstill until the floor was installed. My husband told me, very diplomatically, that I could do better and 2 of my dearest friends told me my signature in miniatures are my floors, so I went back to the drawing board.
First I made a template of the room and cut it out of illustration board
I drew on guidelines for the wood pieces
Next I drew up the pattern of the floor design and numbered each piece. I started by gluing down the centre of the medallions...

Then all the dark wood frame...

next I filled in all the sections

And finally I put 2 coats of shellac and waxed the floor, then glued it down.

For friends who are new, I use shellac flakes dissolved in 99% Isopropanol. The flakes come in different colours and I think it makes a really beautiful finish. I used regular dark floor wax to finish it because it fills any holes or cracks nicely and adds to the "old floor" look. The marble is a piece of illustration board I painted leftover from the Entrance hall floor.

The Ceiling

The ceiling was a cast piece I used in the Chinese Tea Room and the Prayer room. Because it is about 1/2 inch thick I put down a basswood strip spacer all around the room to hold the crown molding. I then painted it off white.

Next I made a template of the ceiling and cut it out on the cast pieces. It chipped a lot when I was cutting it but I was able to camouflage a lot when it was painted. Since there is a lot of light in the room I decided to paint the ceiling blue to mimic the sky. I painted it off white, then filled in the blue section, did touch ups, then painted the gold detail. I glued it down and then installed the pre-painted crown molding.

Here is a look at it right side up against the wall sections.


The first step was to take the wall sections and glue in a structural frame for the windows the same thickness as the acrylic pane I used.

I then cut my window molding and assembled the individual frames

I glued them onto the spacer frame. The window frame was just a bit wider then the spacer so I turned it over and glued down the horizontal mullion strips which were the same thickness as the spacers.

The last step was to install vertical mullions strips. I just cut one long length and glued it over the horizontal ones. The illusion works well and then I glued down the acrylic pane. I originally planned on carving sea shells to put over each window and panel section, but I found some jewelry bits in the shape of suns at my mom's house and thought it would be appropriate for the Breakfast Room. I sanded them, painted them and glued them down.

I wanted proper Victorian curtains to finish the room but was worried that it would block the windows since that is the only way to see this room. I tried making just 2 or 3 pleats but it was just too much with the windows and the columns so I decided to make wood shutters. I cut all the lumber I needed, put a few together and when I had a test fit those also took away from the room so I decided not to put anything at all. I actually like the room as is. This room faces north and the rose gardens, so I don't think drapes would be necessary to protect the furniture.

Ray Whitledge showed me how to make the tablecloth and I think it adds just enough yellow to the room to balance it out.
And that is all my loyal friends. Here are a few pictures of the finished project:

shots of the empty room

Jo commented that the black column base looked wrong, so I added white veining to make them look like marble.

This is what it looks like for the exterior. The window section are glued down, but the door section comes off so you can get a better view. I am not sure if the top will remain a balcony, or if I want to build an iron and "glass" conservatory.

I made the fireplace wall removable so I could get into the room to place furniture and accessories and also do any repairs that might be needed. The thickness of the floor and the crown molding act as stopper to keep the section in place.

The chandelier goes in the countess's bedroom. I plan on purchasing the Antoinette chandelier from the Getzans for this room.


And that my dear friends is all. It was a long room to make, but I must admit it is one of my favourites in the Manor. My next project will be renovations to finished rooms. I will try to post in 2 or 3 weeks with updates.
Thank you all once again for all your support and kindness throughout my mini adventures. I feel very privileged to have you all as followers and am always inspired by your work.
I send you all a great big hug,

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Breakfast Room teaser part2, Miniature Collector Magazine and Birthday Presents!!!

Hello Everyone,
I hope you are all doing well and happy. I have mentioned many times I don't post often because I like to finish a room before I do. Well, the breakfast Room is taking longer then expected, but since it has been a while I thought I'd write just a little post and show you a few pictures of the Breakfast room in progress. I'm not writing any information until the room is complete, but for now here are the pictures:


I thought the room would be almost finished by now, but I forgot one thing...the floor! I planned to make a simple rectangle and frame pattern. Jo saw my drawing and said "Is that the floor for the Breakfast room? Ha! Not what I expected". Naturally when your husband says that you know something is wrong...long story short I redid the floor design and of course it is longer to make. I hope to have the room done in 2 weeks, but if I don't get it done, don't blame me, blame the floor

The second reason I posted is to share some very happy news. Sophia from smalltalk wrote an article about Dewell Manor for Miniature collector. I was beyond thrilled to see a picture of the countess's bedroom on the cover of the July issue.

Thank you so much Sophia. I can't wait to see the article. I heard it was great. Other magazines have published short articles about a few of the rooms in the manor, but Miniature Collector was the only magazine I used to buy every month for years. Even today I still go over old issues on the way to work. I cannot tell you what it means to  have my work published in a magazine I've collected since 1997. All I can say is it is a happy day for me.
And last but not least, it was my birthday the first week of May and once again I was spoiled...more so then ever before. My family got together and got me the chandelier for the dining room, the Tiffany from the Getzans and matching sconces:

It is spectacular and I cannot wait to install it in the Dining room. Thank you again Jason and Jacqueline, you know how much I love your artwork, but this one took my breath away.

I also got a wonderful bed and a beautiful table and chair set from a very dear family member I love very much. He said he thought they belonged in the manor.

Trust me, the bed is even more beautiful in real life. It fit in the boys room perfectly! However, it felt more like a bed for 2 little girls and I did not like the way it worked with the wallpaper, so the Dewels just lost a son and gained twin daughters, and I ordered a scenic paper with an Indian design from Les chinoiseries. I will also faux paint the furniture in the room because I don't think it looks realistic next to the incredibly well wood grained bed. Once the Breakfast room is done, this is my next project. I'll put better pictures of it at that time

I also got this wonderful table and chair set. I'm not sure where it will go, but I do like it in the library for now.
And speaking of "next projects" I was really looking forward to starting the exterior of the Manor, but
I have decided there are 2 small renovations that need to be done: I have made all the floors in the Manor except for the Dining room and the central part of the great room floor. Call it ego, call it artistic integrity, call it being a bear for punishment, but I am ripping them up and making my own design from scratch.
I just hate the white lines between the parquet sections. I'm thinking an oval central medallion with a sunburst design, and a grapevine and grape cluster border...I just got a set of scalpels, so naturally I think I can do anything.

This one has the same problem, the white lines. Luckily this one did not stick properly so I should be able to remove the central section...I hope. Here I am thinking a flower parquet border and maybe a cube design in the center...I'm not crazy, I have scalpels!
And that my dear friends is all. thank you again for your patience between posts. I wish I could go faster, but everything is taking longer then I think it will be. Also, thank you so much for all your great feedback on my work. I've said it before, I have the best followers ever. I look forward to seeing your new posts and again, if you are following me and I am not following you, please let me know.
A great big hug to all,