Sunday, February 26, 2012

William and Mary House roofs under construction

After a busy few days, here's what the WAMH looks like this morning:

It looks so much more like a house now :) 

First of all, I built the front of the kitchen roof, with a backing plate all around the opening which will support the removable panel that will include the dormer.

And here is the massive hipped roof that David and I built out of 1/8" plywood combined with trigonometric calculations and profuse bad language:

After all that, it's still not perfect, but it's not glued down yet, and anything still wrong with it I can disguise in the finishing :)

And here's one of the chimneys that fit into the hip of the roof:  made from a nominal 2 x 4 and cut at the angle of the hip, the long piece becomes the chimney and the short piece becomes the chimney breast inside. 

I'm looking over at this beast on my worktable, and the thought strikes me:  this is one freakin' huge dolls' house! I mean, I knew the dimensions going into this, but I didn't really picture it as a concrete reality.  And it's been growing so very slowly over the years, that I'm a little shocked, now that the roof is on, to see the final proportions :)

I also think it's going to be really beautiful, if I don't screw up the outside!

David and I are off to Halifax for a double theatrical bill of two plays by Christopher Marlowe -- so I'll talk to you later!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Making a simple 1:12 scale rope bed

I wanted a little rope bed for the servant's room, so I made one last night and this morning from pine offcuts.  You could use dimensional basswood or even popsicle sticks for this one :)

My cutting list from 3/16" thick pine:

2 @ 1.5" x 3" (for headboard and footboard -- could also glue strips together for this
2 @  .5" x 5.5" (for sides of bed)
4 @ .5" x 2.5" (for legs)

I drilled the holes for the rope first -- I drilled four in each head/foot board and 8 along the side pieces.  Doesn't really matter -- it all works out in the end!  By holding the matching pieces of wood together I was able to drill both pieces at once.

I butted and glued the rails to the head/foot boards and let them set up. 

Then I turned the bed upside down and glued the legs on. 

Here's the bed, right side up!
Once everything was dry, I stained it with MinWax "English Oak".

I used jute twine for ropes, and followed the directions here for roping the bed:  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!  I used some electrical tape to make the threading end more threadable.  I underestimated the amount of jute I needed, but it was easy enough to extend it with a discreet knot :)

And do you know?  This little bed pleases me as much as anything in the house.  It just looks so very RIGHT in the kitchen attic room.

I'll make a straw mattress for it, and then think about the kind of bedding a servant would have had circa 1705 :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Firescreen for miniature crewel work

I decided to make a little firescreen to show off the mini crewel work I finished.  I started with some odds and ends of wood -- a length of laser cut gingerbread, some Tiny Turnings #1000, a thin panel cut to the size of my needlework and some dimensional basswood. 

I used a slice of the gingerbread for the top, an equal length of basswood for the bottom, long enough to frame a central panel (which will display the needlework) and a turning on each side (you could easily use a spindle post here).  I glued everything together on a flat surface and let it set up.

Do make prettier feet, these are just notched bits of basswood :)  I stained the piece at this point.

Then I trimmed the crewel work and used Clear Tacky Glue to glue it to the central panel.  I  framed it in with some smaller basswood strips to cover the edges of the needlepoint.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Finished crewel work and start on roof slates

 I finished the little crewel project last night -- it was so much fun, I just couldn't stop!  (I stitched it while watching Truffaut's 1966 film of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 :))  Doing this kit has really given me a great deal of confidence -- thanks again, Cookie!  I'm going to make it into a fire screen for the bedroom, I think.  More later ....

And I started slating the back part of the kitchen roof, using Richard Stacey's Versi-slates.  As noted in the instructions, the PVA glue I'm using makes them warp a bit at first, but they settle down.  Below, the bottom three rows were ones I glued on last night before bed.  The top three I glued on just before taking the photo -- you can see that the bottom three are flatter than the top.

They're very regular, so I made the bottom edges a little uneven to make it look more realistic. 

David and I worked out a cardboard model of the hipped roof (to make sure our angles were right) and we're going to cut out the roof parts today!  Woo hoo!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Miniature crewel kit from Cookie Ziemba

I received my miniature crewel kit in the mail on Friday from legendary miniaturist and IGMA Artisan Cookie Ziemba. The pattern I chose is called "Buckingham", and  it's about 1.75" high and 2" wide.  The kit comes with everything you need to make the piece, except for the 4" hoop:  schematic pattern, colour photo, order of stitching, stitch instructions, tons of thread, 2 needles and the piece drawn out on the finest cotton twill I've ever seen :)  Best of all, is Cookie herself -- so nice and helpful and kind!  It's so nice to meet (even virtually) another miniaturist who loves the 17th century!

Because I live way the hell out in Nova Scotia, my access to things like workshops is really limited.  Like, completely :)  I thought that working on a kit from the woman with whom I'd most like to study would be a reasonable (if pale) alternative to learning from her in person, and I was right!  It's a great kit and I could only be happier if it came with Cookie herself.

Here's what I've done so far -- yeah, my stem stitch sucks, but then it sucks in 1:1, too :)  I'm just consistent!

Seriously, I'm very glad to have done some crewel stitching in 1:1 -- it makes doing it in miniature much simpler.  But I was surprised to find how easy it is -- it's partly BECAUSE it's so small, that one can make a fair amount of progress in a relatively short time.

Which is a good thing, because I want a LOT of crewel work in my WAMH!

Cookie, thanks again -- I'll order another kit, and keep dreaming my dream to meet you one day in person!

If you want your own crewel kit (or want to buy a piece already stitched by the master herself), drop by Cookie's blog and admire the beauty:  Cookie's world of historic dolls houses and miniatures

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Servant's bedroom and first brickwork

Had a busy day yesterday, in between all my other jobs :)  I got a lot done on the attic space of the kitchen which will be a servant's bedroom.

First, I made a removable floor for the room, painted the foam to look like aged plaster, and cut the back part of the roof,

Then I designed the front part of the roof, which will have a removable panel so that this room can be accessed.  Below is the cardboard pattern I made, from which I will cut the roof panel from 1/8" plywood.

I decided that this little room would have a fireplace, so I made a simple one out of off-cuts and balsa wood:

I painted it and fitted it to the foam wall, as shown below (first I cut a hole out of the foam the same size as the inside of the fireplace and painted it black.  I also painted the bit of chimney that backs onto it back :)

Then I worked on the external chimney.

I shoved together two bits of wood, marked the shoulders of the chimney, and glued them together.

Then it was time for fun!

Or tedium :)

This is what I got done in an evening of glueing on Richard Stacey's brick Versi-slips.  I'm using the Red/Old mixture.  For this chimney I made my own corner brick slips from 400 grit emery paper -- I will touch it up so it blends better with the warmer brick colours.  In fact, I'm going to touch up the bricks in general so they don't look quite so pristine.  I covered the shoulders of the chimney in the slate Versi-slips, and I think it looks quite nice!

It's very satisfying, but very slow, especially on the short courses where I had to cut and wrap a lot of corner bricks.  But it's easy -- I've discovered that it works better for me if I smear some Tacky Glue down on the surface and then lay a row of bricks, rather than trying to put glue on individual bricks.  The latter got a bit mucky :)

And I've just decided to double the number of windows on the front of the house so I don't have to stick down so many damned bricks!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chandeliers, including my first Ray Storey!

Got some trim work done to tidy up the joins between the tops of the walls and the first floor ceiling -- some cove moulding in the Blue and White room makes things much tidier!  I also hung (temporarily, because I don't have the ceiling rose for this room yet) the pretty silver Heidi Ott chandelier I bought in England last year.  I'm going to make silver sconces for this room, too.

I was thrilled that my Ray Storey light arrived yesterday! (That's fast service).  It's so beautiful and well-made, I'm just delighted with it.  I installed it in its home in the Library and I think it looks great.  Thank you so much, Ray!

I moved the WAMH to my lower and more convenient worktable so I can make a start on the roofs.  I played around with a cardboard roof for the Kitchen wing -- my original plan was to have this as a fixed roof, with no access to the attic.  I do hate to give up any amount of usable space, though, and I think I'll do a roof with a removable front panel, so I can put a servant's bedroom up there :)  Once I get that all worked out, I can start playing with both wall and roof finishes!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ceiling of first floor on, next up, the roof!

I finished the final floor on the first floor -- in the Blue and White Room.  Now, it's time to add the piece of plywood that's the ceiling of that floor (the floor of the attic)!

I've been reviewing the instructions in Derek Rowbottom's Making Georgian Dolls Houses and have decided to make a few changes to his design.  Instead of adding four hinged openings across this main section of the building, I'm going to reduce it to just two.  This will let me change Rowbottom's arrangement of windows to more closely resemble actual William and Mary era homes.

This is a line drawing of a country house circa 1700 -- hipped roof, symmetrical windows.  I really like it.  Below it is a photo of the actual house.

This one shows a similar house in Kent -- I like the small hipped dormers in the hipped roof, so that's what I'm going to do with my dolls' house:)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I just got my shipment from Richard Stacey!

Look what was in the mail yesterday!  I'm so excited!  It's my first shipment of Versi-Slips and tiles from Richard Stacey!  (It's very easy to order from them -- Richard's son, Andrew, now sells the whole line through their eBay shop, miniaturebrickbargains.

I've decided to go with these products partly because they're reasonable in price and very well made and partly because I don't want the William and Mary House to be too heavy when it's done.  Real brick and slate must make for VERY heavy models!

I will do some extra faux finishing on some of these, especially the slates, to keep them from looking too pristine, but I'm very pleased with them.  I've just ordered some modelling dust (for the stone work) so I'll be able to make a start on the exterior quite soon!

I'm going out right now to buy the plywood for the final floor and for the roof.  So exciting!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New mini lights!

Hi, all!  I've been busy working hard on some miniatures projects, but wanted to stop by and share a photo or two!

I've been making miniature light fixtures for a while now, and while I'm playing with ideas for the sconces for the Blue and White room, I started exploring some other styles.  These aren't right for the period of the WAMH, but I'm having a lot of fun!

More soon!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ruth's Cottage

On Thursday, at Knitwits, 14 year old Ruth worked on her 1/12 scale cottage.  We had cut the base (1/2 inch plywood) to size and she had cut out the three walls from 1" thick foam late last year.  On Thursday she cut windows in the foam, scored the wooden base for floorboards, stained the base and painted the downstairs walls.  Then she glued the walls to the base and to each other.  Here's how it looks:

This foam and plywood construction is excellent -- I'm using it for my William and Mary era house, but it's just perfect for younger miniaturists, because they can do so much of the cutting (under supervision) with Olfa cutters/craft knives. It's also very inexpensive -- one large sheet of foam costs less than $20, and you can get many little cottages out of it!

The cottage will have ground floor and an attic.  Ruth is looking forward to making miniature rag rugs for it!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

More lights

 Ever notice how sometimes you're just in the mood for one part of working on miniatures but not another?  I'm in lighting mood, clearly :)  I added the sconces (above and below) to the Withdrawing Room yesterday evening.  With foam walls it's certainly easy -- I just jabbed a hole with a bamboo skewer and we were just about done!

 I'm going to make silver sconces for the Chinese Blue and White Room (below), to match the most adorable silver 6 armed chandelier I bought in England last year.  But I wanted this room to have some kind of light, so I installed a fire.  Again, I just had to make a hole with a skewer :)

 And as I was reviewing the contents of the rooms, I realize that this desk/bookcase that I had japanned would work perfectly in the new Library!  It really pops, doesn't it?  I'm going to make tons of really, really small books tonight so I can fill up the very narrow shelves, but I think this is where it's going to live.  I'm going to get Ray Storey to make me a little black chandelier for this room, because I long to own something by him!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lighting, front and back :)

 I know I've mentioned before how much I love miniature lights.  For me, they're one of the best parts of building a dolls house.  Here's how the WAMH looks this grey, overcast morning!

Do you notice how rarely we show each other the "bad" side of our projects?  The side with all the working gubbins?  I would LOVE to see the backsides of people's dolls houses -- how do you hide the electrics?  What do you do with all the wires?

Until about 10 minutes ago, this is what my power strip looked like :)  Yes, it's balanced on a paint can!

Because I'm not going to finish the backside of this house (it will never be seen, as it's a front opening one), I don't HAVE to hide wires (except from the windows), so I glued on my power strip and taped the wires more neatly to the house, mostly to keep my cats from playing with them.  (They've learned they can get quite a reaction from me by even making a gesture towards them!)

Seriously, I'd love to see your electrical stuff!

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