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Like any miniaturist, I have several projects happening at once. My Beach House (House That Jack Built, started in 1998 or 99?), see photos below, would be finished, except a kitchen bench I started to make has put the entire production on hold thanks to a measurement issue. But, as of May 2012, the bench is finished - now to just add the finishing trims (window/door moulding) and to shingle it!
The Hunting Cabin (Real Good Toys "Junior Cottage" or "Light Keeper's Cottage", started in 2009) is at a stand-still due to a bathroom configuration issue. My two main projects I am tackling in 2013 are my Victorian Mansion (started in 1993 with a purchase of a Tudor-style bed and a wedding veil) and my Modern Townhouse (Real Good Toys, "1 Country Lane" kit, started as an Irish Cottage in 2006).
My Dream: The Victorian Mansion
As a teenager I envisioned a grand Victorian Mansion (probably my parents fault for taking me to see Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle in Chicago when I was about 7 or 8), with the mansion dwellers excitedly preparing for a wedding (thanks to a gorgeous veil I bought at my local miniature shop with my first paycheck when I was 16). The wedding party would (of course) mimic my own visions of my wedding. I collected accessories and furniture (in that order), dreaming of the most important aspects of my Victorian Mansion: it must have a two-story library (thanks to Mom and Dad for dragging me to see the Biltmore Mansion in NC when I was a child!), it must have a ballroom (thanks to "Sound of Music"), and it must have a Grand Staircase (thanks again to my mother for taking me to the Marble House and various other historical homes in Newport, Rhode Island). Surprisingly, no dollhouse manufacturer had a dollhouse with these rooms being standard in the kit. Go figure. So I drew up the plans. By now I have been married for almost 7 years, was quite pregnant, and was in discussion with my parents about opening my own store. Great timing!
Years passed, I had more children, and one day while discussing with a customer about how wonderful the rooms were in the Majestic Mansion "Darlington" dollhouse, I realized: Here is my Victorian Mansion! It's just missing the Ballroom! But an addition onto this house would not be out of place. I would just replicate the bay from the right side of the house onto the left side of the house. Hmmm . . . could I kit-bash two Darlington kits into one Grand Mansion? I jumped on the computer, copying and pasting pictures to replicate my vision (see photo at right).
So finally, wood pieces are cut, construction has begun! The main house was assembled and sitting in a raw wood stage, waiting for the addition pieces to be planned, measured, cut and assembled.
Sept. 2011: Addition pieces were cut and dry fit together and alterations were made. Pieces were returned to the wood-cutter with new measurements and adjustments (I am one of those people who measure 8 times and still manage to make mistakes and have to cut again). Now new addition walls have been cut and it is time to assemble the addition, adjust the main house as necessary to accommodate the addition and then it's time to decorate! Here's hoping I get enough time to work on it in 2011 to post some interesting photos this winter! P.S. Dad says he'll build me the bases for it to sit upon (one base for the main house and another base for the addition -- was going to attach the addition to the house with hinges until I realized that then the finished house would never fit through a doorway!). Dad wanted to put a drawer in the base -- immediately I changed that idea and am trying to convince him to let me fit a wine cellar and wash room down in a "basement" for this mansion! (Yes, indeed, it keeps growing!)
March 2012: Still waiting for Dad to make a few minor adjustment cuts to my wood. Two pieces needed to have routes at the bottom to fit around the first floor. Due to the weather and his schedule, Dad has not gotten a chance to route those two pieces of wood - which has prevented me from assembling the addition. But, I have been busy these past 6 months: I have picked out most of the wallpapers for the main house and am almost done planning/drawing out my electrical plan for the main house. I put the wallpapers, flooring for some rooms, and some chandeliers on layaway and figure that I will have them paid off by this summer - just about the same time I expect Dad will get around to cutting my two pieces of wood!
May 2012: Dad cut my two pieces of wood as well as my base pieces of wood! Once he delivers the wood to me I can start construction (well, once I finish some customers' projects). Then comes the scary part of figuring out what exterior finish I am putting on the structure. Need to buy various paints and start experimenting with creating faux large blocks.
June 2013: Layaway is almost paid off! Lighting will soon be mine! (I added a few more lights to the layaway throughout the year so it took longer to pay off than I thought). Alessio Miniatures was kind enough to work with me and created the large blocks I wanted as a siding so I can start on the exterior finishing on the main house! Thanks to some brainstorming for a customer's project, I came up with some neat exterior touches to do on my own mansion and I can't wait to do them! And Dad still has not routed out the one piece for the addition I need to start working on that, but I forgive him completely since he spent the time creating and building my mansion's basement! It is as tall as my dog and as large as my coffee table at home! Pic coming soon!
The Modern Townhouse
Several years ago (2006) I started this Real Good Toys kit to be an Irish Cottage. It was advertised as a 5-room house. What a crock! I immediately realized that the divider walls would be taken out so that my rooms were wider than 6" and I was going to add a staircase to the third floor and a back door and a window. I cut holes, I primed the exterior with a green-tinted primer (yes, it looks gross) and then I finally admitted to myself that it just wasn't going to work as an Irish Cottage. So the house sat for a few years, missing an identity.
Not sure when exactly the inspiration hit me, but it occurred to me one day (in early summer, 2010) that I would like to do a more modern dollhouse. But I didn't want to have to furnish a whole bunch of rooms in the modern motif as I am more in love with the classic, traditional style. And I thought of this poor little forgotten 3-room house with holes and hideous green paint job. Wouldn't it make a perfect urban, young couple's first "pad"? With brick backsplash on the kitchen counters? And black furniture? And a curved stone shower with glass walls? I was excited now! But to get the most out of my floor plan, it would be best to put fake doors on the back walls and pretend there was another room or a stairwell back behind those doors. So, first came the hard work of filling in all those holes (window, back door, extra stairway, etc.). And the fun step of choosing the paint color scheme.
Now that the holes are filled, the exterior is painted creme color and windows/door are painted, in dark colors and the roof is shingled (early Winter 2010), now comes the decor! However, the cobblestone in the shower is giving me cause for concern - it does not look as realistic as I'd like. So I hope that does not put the project on hold until I come to grips with that issue.
June, 2011: The first floor is (sort of) finished! Walls were painted. Then came the hard part of installing the indirect lighting. Four LED can lights were installed in the ceiling which involved four 3/8" holes and routing out the floor in the room above for the wires to run out the back wall (only because I like to make my life difficult - I could have just drilled the holes and that would have been enough, but since my second floor will have a sliding floor I wanted the electrical wires to be "buried"). "Bricking" (wallpaper) was put on the kitchen backsplash and four LED lights were installed in/under the cabinets.
Next I drilled holes in my plywood divider walls. Which caused huge problems as the plywood holes had jagged edges and I needed smooth clean holes for painting. So I returned to the drawing board and switched to MDF (which did not splinter as much when I drilled the various-size holes into the divider walls. I painted the holes black and then spray-painted the flat wall surface with a stone texture. Next I installed the hooks and chain (both needed to be spray-painted black first as I did not want bright brass hooks and chains). Once the corresponding ceiling hooks had been glued into the ceiling I could then hang my "stone" divider walls to separate the dining room from the kitchen space. Before I hung my walls though, I needed to install my marble floor. Now the first floor (kitchen and dining room) is finished - with some minor decor exceptions!
Now, the first floor still needs some baseboard (painted black? stained a light natural wood color?) and crown molding (ditto for the decor color question there too). Obviously accessories are needed in the kitchen, and maybe some art on the Dining Room wall? And, although you can't see it in the pictures, the false door on the back wall (behind the back Dining Room divider wall) needs to be stained a light wood color, like the cabinet color, and glued on the wall instead of propped, leaning against the wall back there. I am thinking of gluing the false door closer to the frig so that maybe I could put a black work desk against that wall behind the divider wall with a lap top on it? Still brain-storming ideas on that . . . Then on to the second level (Living Room and Bathroom) with the glass wall and curved pebble/stone shower! Check back in Summer, 2013!