Artist’s Loft

Last year at the Chicago show, I made this one-inch scale artist’s loft in a class. The basic box had been built for us, and then we learned faux bricks, aging techniques, lighting, and how to make the mullions for the window (much harder than it appears, because you have to cut subtle angles to compensate for the slant of the window).

I filled the box with odds and ends minis I’ve collected over the years.

The painting (which I did not paint, but it’s an oil painting), is of a bouquet of roses and a cup of tea. I just happened to have a bouquet of roses in a vase and a cup of tea. Instant still life.

You can see the faux brickwork here (made of cork). I aged and stained the table (from Hobby Builders Supply) and added art accessories I’ve been collecting (from Etsy and shows). The drafting triangles and cutting mat (on bottom shelf) are by an artist from Mexico who does fabulous work.

Corner filled with odds and ends. The chair is a commercial one I’d aged for another project. The trunk is a kit.

I chose the wallpaper from scraps provided in the class–I’m saying it’s a woman artist in the loft, and she painted the wallpaper herself.

Behind the scenes: The window is lit up with an LED strip of white or “outdoor” light. The wires from the closet light (an incandescent bulb) join the LED wires into the tape wire. The blocks under the window are pieces of scrap wood glued down for extra support for the window wall.

A good class, not too hard (though time-consuming, one and a half days), but i had a nice piece, mostly finished by the end. I fixed it up with my stuff, and recently repaired the wiring (which had come apart during transport).

It looks nice sitting on the fireplace mantel in my living room.

 

Westville: Landscaping

Yay, I finished landscaping the Westville! I’ll share a couple of techniques I experimented with.

I added a grass sheet around three sides–but I think a grass sheet on flat board looks unnatural. Most lawns aren’t flat. They’re hummocky and humpy, as we discover when we mow (I no longer have a lawn at my real house, which is fine by me.)

This weird-looking thing is packing material from something or other I ordered–I think an electric tea kettle. It’s cardboard. When I looked at it, I thought “pavers” so I saved it.

This is nice material, because it was easy to tear apart and then cut into shapes for a front walk. I sealed it with satin varnish, which did not change the color or deteriorate. I didn’t try to paint it, but it’s essentially paper so probably that would work.

I decided to glue the packing material on the base randomly to make small humps in the lawn.

The grass sheet glued on over the humps. It makes the lawn look more realistic, I think. This packing material could be mounded to make hills and so forth. The texture is bark-like–it could be used to make a tree or a fairy room inside a tree trunk. Many possibilities.

I used paper patterns for the grass sheet–it does not look good if it’s not all one piece, because the seams show.

I added flowering plants, window boxes, a hedge, little trees, etc.

This little wagon is a cute kit I picked up at the NAME show in Tucson a few years ago.

Tip: I used double-stick tape to hold these window boxes on. Because of the texture of the house and the smooth painted wood of the box, glue did nothing but sit there. My husband finally said, “you know, I have some great double-stick tape,” and I commandeered it! At least a few small pieces.

This old-time wringer / washer is by a miniaturist in the Netherlands. I found it at an online show a few years back. I thought it would be appropriate on the porch of an antique shop. The handle spins the washer around–it’s precisely made.

Inside are the dirty clothes and the soap. I love it.

The sign for “Westville Antiques.”

I used the same packing material to make pavers across the back.

I was not at all sure about this house while building it, but now that it’s done and landscaped, I like it.

I’ve started putting in the jumble of furniture. I’m going let it sit and then seriously fix up the interior.

For now, I’m having the “I finished this project, what now?” blues. I have many other projects I can start, but I kind of stare at them, unable to fix on one. It’s not because of the pandemic–I’m always like this! Once inspiration strikes, I’ll go full steam again. I probably just need a break. I’ll look at other people’s minis for a few days. 🙂 Oh, and write books. I should be doing that.

 

Beacon Hill: New Chandelier. Westville: Finished interior

I added a new chandelier to the living room of the Beacon Hill. I purchased this from Luminations by Mr. K (Tim Kraft) at the Good Sam show last October.

Easier to see what it looks like with the light off.

I took the chandelier that had been here, one I made, and moved it to the Westville:

That lets me segue to the Westville: I have now finished all the interior moldings (baseboards, cornices, and other trim) and trimmed the raw edges of the house.

The closet under the stairs is ready for junk.

I’m going to do the outside landscaping and then move in! This house will be an antique shop, a nice jumble of finds.

You might notice that I changed the appearance of this blog. I wanted something a little cleaner and easier to read. I think I like this theme, but I’ll see! Don’t be surprised if it changes again. 🙂

Thoughts on the Westville

I’m still adding baseboards and things to the Westville, but the house is essentially done, so I wanted to do my “thoughts on” post.

1) I think this is a good first Greenleaf house. The main pieces are simple, though they take a bit of wrestling to fit together precisely. As always, I had warpage, and the delicate filgree on some of my pieces crumbled to dust when I punched them out of the sheets.

2) The staircase was the least complicated of the Greenleaf houses I’ve done. There’s not much more to it than the steps and stringer. No complicated landings, and the railing is a single continuous piece.

Post featuring the Westville staircase.

3) The Westville is roomy for such a small house. Four main rooms plus an extensive attic:

The two largest rooms are deep (14 inches). I thought of putting a wall crosswise in either of them to make a small room at the front (e.g., a bathroom in the upper room) maybe viewed through open double doors. I won’t for this house (it’s an antique shop), but it’s an idea.

4) The bay windows are simple too–two walls that butt together to form a triangular bay.

5) Also you can see in the photo above, I reinforced the base with extra wood strips. As with all Greenleaf houses, I don’t find the foundation pieces sturdy enough for my liking.

6) The porch I found a little tricky because the instructions weren’t that clear, but once I had all the pieces laid out, it was fairly easy.

My post on the porch

7) The shutters were simply two sandwiched layers–the trickiest part is that there are so many! One thing this house has an abundance of, is windows! 11 of them.

My post on the shutters.

8) I went a little nuts on the exterior, wanting to try a stucco and stonework look.

I’m not sure I entirely like the result, but it was a good learning experience. I can also picture this house sided and painted in pastel colors, maybe used as a dress shop or flower shop.

9) In conclusion, I’m glad I put together the house. It has a small footprint but a lot of room. It could be a full regular house (with kitchen / living / dining, bedroom / bathroom, attic), and it lends itself well to other interpretations: A shop, a guest house, studio, library, old farmhouse, so many things.

This is the simplest of the Greenleaf houses I’ve done. It would be a great learning house before tackling some of the others (like the Beacon Hill!).

The biggest problem I had was, as with all their houses, the wood that is very thin and easily disintegrates or warps. Part of that is the climate I live in (very dry), and part of that is probably shipping (boxes get too hot or cold). The good thing is that once it’s glued together and finished, the warpage is hidden, plus I was able to compensate for the trim that crumbled away.

As I continue finishing the interior and landscaping, I’ll post more pics. I plan to make this an antique shop, where I can put all the things I’ve made or collected that don’t yet have homes. Stay tuned!

Click the “Westville Dollhouse” tag on the post or search “Westville” to see all posts on this house with the full build.

 

Westville: Front Door, Interior patterns

I’m finally working on the interior of the Westville. I like that the rooms are large. Though it’s a small house, it’s spacious.

I’ve wallpapered and put in flooring, though I haven’t finished the trimming yet. Need to do a lot of trim! (baseboards, cornices, anything to cover up raw edges)

I’ve put in a closet under the stairs–cut the solid piece that goes here and hinged it as a door, and added a light inside. I’ll fill the closet with goodies.

The front room with the door. My front wall crumbled around the door opening, so I had an opening far too tall for the door. My solution–add a transom.

I built a simple frame and sandwiched a colorful piece of tissue paper between two pieces of clear plastic to make a stained glass transom.

When I made the door itself, I decided to put wallpaper on the interior side to show through the panels.

The outer door I painted to match the house colors. By the way, once the door was together, I had to sand, sand, sand, sand to make it fit into the opening. It could be hinged if you want.

Door from the exterior–sorry photo is so dark.

Paper patterns made things so much easier. I used parchment paper–it is easy to fold, tape, and shape. Here I’ve made a pattern for the flooring. I’d started to use the unused siding strips to make flooring, but it looked terrible, so I went with commercial flooring sheets.

For the upstairs walls with windows–only one pattern is needed. The window walls in the two rooms are identical.

I picked a wallpaper printed with books for this room, and then a complimentary paper for the slanted wall. I like how it turned out.

I have the railing from the stairs glued in here now, with baseboards. By the time I put in the railing, I’d lost the last square post top, and had to cut a new one. 3/8 x 3/8 square x 1/8 thick.

The paper patterns are also handy for cutting the cornice pieces. I can mark the angle (which is 60 degrees).

I have more to do–finish all the baseboards and cornices and trim the raw edges around the house openings.

 

After that I’ll do some landscaping. I’ll put a walkway to the front door plus grass, bushes, vines if I can, and so forth. I have flower boxes for the windows (as you can see).

More to come!

Wine Cellar vignette

Continuing with smaller projects, I put together this wine cellar in a wine box kit. I bought the kit at the Chicago show last April–I had said to my husband: “I’m not buying any more kits!” Husband: “Oo, look at that one!” and points to the wine box. Sigh. I purchased. (It’s by Jill Castoral: https://jillcastoral.com/miniatures/. She has a lot of cute kits–check them out.)

 

The kit came with everything pictured: The box (a gift box for a bottle of full-size wine), the wood to make the cabinet and wine rack and crate, wine bottles, the wine barrel, etc.

It was easy as well–simple pieces to put together, but the result looks intricate. Lots of staining and aging in this one! Most of the time for this kit came from waiting for things to dry. But worth it.

Putting together small projects that took a few days to a week was relaxing and a good stress break.

I have now gone back to the interior of the Westville, and also started the Pickett Pond, a Robin Betterley kit I’ve had laying around for a while. Photos of that one as I go.

Small projects: Redone scene and tiny kits

I’ve discovered that when I’m writing a long novel, which is months of work, I prefer doing short mini projects. This gives me a sense of accomplishment on the days when I’m wailing: “I’m never gonna get this book done!” (I do this on every single book; just ask my husband.)

First short project: I was cleaning out my closet, trying to organize the mass of junk that gets thrown in there, and I came across pieces of an old scene I’d done years ago, a turnaround vignette showing inside and outside a front door (1-inch scale). Its first manifestation was a Christmas scene–Christmas tree and gifts on one side, and presents left outside the front door on the other.

I gradually took that apart, moving the Christmas items to other scenes, and I had planned to do a grungy scene–peeling wallpaper, boarded up window.

But when I took out the wall looked at it, inspiration struck.

I covered the old wallpaper with scraps of leftover paper, and repainted the door and window (celery green, if you’re interested). I gathered some pieces that didn’t have a home, and voila, instant scene.

On the “front” side, I refreshed the grass (by brushing it clean, getting all the dust out of it), and covered some gaps in the bricks with “rose” material I had leftover from another project. A few extra plants and I was done.  (I’m proud of the bricks–I made them out of Fimo, cut into individual bricks, baked, and glued on. I must not have had anything else to do that year.)

It’s very simple, but I’m pleased with how it turned out.

I pulled out some other inexpensive little kits from my stash and have been happily putting those together. Next post will be about those.