Saturday, February 28, 2015

Starting With Good Bones

The first cut is always the hardest. I thought I'd get the hardest piece out of the way first so the rest would seem easy. The attachment for vacuuming sawdust on my Trio didn't fit my hose so I have to just suck it up. I did get the patterns all marked out on the wood and I have most of one fourth piece left over.

I got the 1/4" plywood from the hardware store and drew out my pieces from the instructions onto the wood. The wood I'm using is actually about 4 mm so it's lightweight. You can use two different thicknesses like the book recommends if you want to (quarter inch and half inch) but I'm going to just use sub-floor and then build up the walls with foam core and do a double thickness on the base - otherwise I would have to buy another whole sheet of wood. The actual thickness of the sub-floor is .17 of an inch, It's your house, do it the way you want. By the time you add the texture to the outside and the paper and wood support pieces to the interior rooms, it will be plenty strong enough for display and light grownup "play".

While I was at the hardware store, I got some vinyl spackling to use as a filler and wall texturizer. I don't like the crumbly plaster feel of regular or lightweight spackling and I don't like the heaviness and yellowing of wood patch. I prefer vinyl spackling because it spreads like butta... and it's white. You can sand it too. But you use whatever you like to work with when you make your house. My favorite go-to glue for just about everything is Aleene's Tacky Glue. It dries clear and it's good strong stuff even though I'm using wood glue for this house frame.

I'll get all my pieces cut out. Then I can do some light sanding and dry fit them together to see how they look. I can't glue the bathroom wall between the stairwell and bath in before I finish the second floor landing so that will be a little tricky I think.

I did figure out how to use a piece of wood as a guide for making straight cuts. I just had to read the instructions. Who knew?

WHEW! This is going to be a long term project with LOTS of details. I would be feeling overwhelmed if this were my first dollhouse build. Right now I'm still excited about it all but I'm kind of wondering how many years this is going to take me...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why Make Houses?

I didn't just wake up one morning and decide, "Hey, I think I'll make a dollhouse from scratch - how hard can it be?" So a little background is probably in order to explain one of my heart's desires that's actually taken me a while to realize.

The first dollhouse I ever had was made out of paper and cardboard, given to me for Christmas one year as a gift by my grandmother. I think I was about 9 or 10 years old but I don't remember the year, only that my grandma made a house for me and one for my cousin. I wish my grandmother had taken pictures of them. They weren't very durable but I loved my house and the little people she made out of cloth and wire with embroidered faces that lived there. I played with it until it finally wore out several years later. If I'd only known I would be able to restore it one day, I would have saved it when it collapsed.

The first doll house I made back in the 80's was the "Arthur" doll house from a kit for my daughter when she was young, also as a Christmas gift. She played with it until she outgrew it and then I don't remember what happened to it. It probably got lost in a move. She also made a doll house for her daughter too several years ago (it's still in the attic), so I didn't know it but my grandma started a family tradition.

The second dollhouse I ever made was out of cardboard and paper mache to look like a stump... then there was a cardboard cottage made from boxes... then a greenhouse made from wooden sticks and acrylic sheets with polymer flowers and pots with clay tiles and gravel on the floor... THEN, I discovered kit bashing just a few years ago with an inexpensive ad-on kit that could be easily and quickly remodeled into a two room shabby chic grown-up dollhouse. I learned to make furniture and do the electrical wiring from the online miniature sites and from other artists. My ideal house was never to look like a "perfect" dwelling. I love a lived-in looking house, just like real life - therefore, shabby and comfy. I love the unique and not so perfect look of garden sheds actually, because they look like something I might actually want to live in someday. And they are not too pretentious or fancy.

I've made two little shabby dollhouses, one with a greenhouse attached. I've made a porch doll house front from a shoe box that can hang on a wall. And now, I've gotten an interest in making my own dollhouse from scratch and all that it means. It's a long term project that starts with cutting out the pieces of wood. I love the french country look and I love the character of old houses. I've found a book that is exactly what I have in mind. It's called The Big Book of a Miniature House by Christine Lea-Frisoni. I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! It walks you through all the techniques of re-creating the house for yourself, complete with patterns - which naturally won't be exactly like the one in the book. You'll want to change it up to your own taste. So, I'm going to chronicle the making of this house on this blog, using the book as my guide.

Sub-flooring is plywood that's pre-sanded on one side and primed on the other side. One 4' x 8' sheet is plenty enough to make your house with some pieces left over. It's $12 to $15 a sheet. You can get it at most hardware stores and have them cut it down into four 2' x 4' pieces for easy handling. You will need a fine saw or plunge cutter to cut out the pieces for the house. A fine tooth blade on a jigsaw, a Dremel Trio or a band saw will work. If you have the strength of Popeye in your hands and arms, you could even cut it out with an exacto knife. But whatever way you decide to do it, don't forget the fine sand paper and wood glue.

That's where I'm at... getting ready to go get the wood and get started on this. This is my next big adventure and I'll be working on this project for a while.The wonderful thing about it is that I get to use all my skills and all my supplies all rolled up into one BIG project!