Saturday, March 28, 2015

Entry Light

I could have just bought all my lights and made this a lot easier but I want to make as much of the house and furniture as I can because part of building this from scratch is learning how to make just about everything for it. So, I decided to make the entry light from scratch... this is where my jewelry and charm making skills come in. But, even though it took me most of the day to get it done, I like the way it turned out.

The frame was cut out of thick card, scored and painted gold. I glued the edge together, made a square top and bottom and a little card tube for the top to hold the light socket. I poked holes in the top and bottom pieces with a pin for the wire. 

I cut little plexiglas pieces for the sides of the fixture and glued them in. I painted everything with liquid leaf classic gold, which actually looks antique when painted on cardboard. Then I ran the wire up through the top, added glass beads and curled it with the pliers. All my light bulbs in this house screw into sockets. To change the light bulb on this fixture, I just need to undo the top wires and pull the fixture off to get to the bulb. 

I made the top fitting that goes against the ceiling out of polymer clay circles and poked holes through them for the wire before baking them. Then I attached the chain and adjusted the length. I will just glue it to the ceiling to hold it in place when I run my wires. That's ONE light fixture down - - - five more to go!

I made a pattern for this little light fixture. You can find the pattern here or click on the pattern button at the top of the page.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Outside Doors

The front doors and transom are all hand made. The front doors open inward so I made cloth hinges. I don't want the windows to open though. Just all the doors. I will need to make some adjustments to the door frame for the door to open inward.

I made the little locks out of balsa and painted them gold. The doorknobs are pre-made. I could make my hinges out of heavy aluminum tape and wires or use pre-made hinges but I didn't want to do that for the front doors so I used cloth hinges because I think they look nicer and they are easier to handle. I use white or black duct tape (depends on the door color) to make my hinge run the full length of the door and they are glued between the layers of the door itself and just under the woodwork.

The frosted window glass on the front door and transome is clear plastic covered with glue. You just dab your finger across the glue to make it look textured when it dries. Something else new I've learned. It looks just like frosted, textured glass.

I like my doors to fit tight so I sometimes add a layer of paint to the edges just so they will stick when closed. I took the glazing strips off the back door cause I don't want any of my doors to be exactly alike. I haven't installed the back door yet. I want to make sure it opens nicely over the flooring first.

This is how the backdoor will look finished from the outside.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Making Windows

The windows and doors really finalize the outside look of the house. You want them to look a little rough so it's o.k. if they are shabby sanded after painting. The window frames are made of thin pieces of strip wood so a sharp knife is a must. It's about time to change the blade anyway. My wood pieces measured out at .6 x .3 mm for the frames and less than .2 x .3 mm for the glazing separators.

You can substitute match sticks for the separators if you have some and don't want to buy strip wood. Alternately, you can also cut your own strip wood to size if you need a piece but don't have the right dimensions. I buy large sheets of very thin (1/16th inch) balsa and cut tiny strips out for the window and door glazing. You can save a lot of money on those if you have a steady hand. They are about a dollar for a three foot section pre-cut. For one large piece of balsa ($2.99), you can get all you will need for several projects. You will need a lot of glazing strips.

My windows are cut from very thin plexiglass. My grandson gave me a huge poster size sheet from a recycled poster frame. It is 1/32" thick and cuts very easy with a box cutter knife. You may be able to find a poster frame cheaper than buying hobby window plexi. Measure and score twice and then turn it over, put a ruler on the cut line and snap it back clean to the size you need. You can also use heavy clear plastic cut from packaging. Both work just as well.

The first windows I tackled were the dormer windows. The measurements from the instructions in the book did not fit the way I wanted them to, so I used my own window measurements.

It's looking pretty good on the outside so far. But it's far from being finished. So many details, so little time!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dormers, Chimney and Steps

I know I'm getting closer to starting on the inside when I start working on the outside finishing touches. The dormers were a challenge all by themselves. They look so complicated but they are really not. They are cut out of thick balsa wood and just covered with faux brick like the other windows. They are detail intensive though. But they add so much of the character to the house that they are worth the time.

I loved making the steps. Balsa cuts like butta anyway but even if you don't get the steps exact, you can fill them in later with spackling because they need to look like stone anyway. My balsa split when I was cutting the side pieces but I just glued the piece back together, reinforced the inside of it and kept going. You might have to make little adjustments here and there as you go but that's with every doll house build.

The chimney is just balsa too. The clay "flues" were made with an empty toilet paper roll. I cut it lengthwise and just rolled it tigher, taped it with masking tape and covered it with vinyl spackling. I gave mine a rough texture but you could go smooth and even build up paper "ridges" around them before spackling with vinyl or paper clay.

The outside is almost done. Notice the little cover awning over the door... all I have left to do is dirty it up a little for realism and make the windows and doors. Can hardly wait to move into the inside where I'll be working on the entry way first and hooking up the electrical.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Trim Finishing and Faux Brick

After the exterior was given a coat of gesso and then a coat of tan paint, (Fawn from Americana acrylic paint), I started on covering the window edges with brick trim made out of heavyweight card stock.

I used cereal boxes to make my red brick strips, then painted them a rusty color and glazed over them with a burnt umber wash. You could also use styrofoam, two thicknesses of card stock or bristol board - whichever you like. 

I cut out the little bricks and glued them to card stock. Then I used a matte varnish on them and when that was dry, I used vinyl spackling over the bricks for mortar and then wiped it off. I glued them to the windows and added a keystone in the middle.

I coated the tan block brick strips for the window sides and trim with gesso and let them dry completely after scoring the lines and pulling a layer of paper off between the blocks. Then I painted them with FolkArt acrylic color called Linen. Then I glued them to the window frame sides before giving them a light coat of spackling and wiping it off to simulate mortar. The window frames fold in to cover the edges completely and really add to the brick look. Love the way all the edges are covered. It really gives a finished look to the house.

Even the little basement windows have trimmed edges. A light coat of spackling wiped on and then off gives the trim a cement look. I love that technique.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Roof

It was a little tricky fitting the roof together and making the top floor divider wall all fit nicely together. The book instructions for measurements are clear enough, so I'll chalk it up to my cutting skills. I made a few adjustments to get them to fit. I had to add a layer of foam core to the square top that makes up the ceiling of the top floor and glue it to the wood top.

Then I decided that I didn't want to cut out a gazillion little tiles for a slate roof so I made a different roof by painting gesso on the non-printed side of a cereal box and then cut strips out about 3mm wide or a little less than 3/16ths of an inch.

Then I glued the strips vertically to the roof front and sides and let them dry overnight. I mixed the color of paint to try to match the zinc paper shown in the book only a little more blue. When I get the whole roof on, I'm going to put a silver glaze over it. To get my color for the roof, I mixed a medium gray, cape cod blue, midnight, black and silver acrylic together until I got two shades I like. I decided to use the lighter shade for the base coat.

I had so much trouble with this roof top that I cut out of foam core. It fit together perfectly. I painted gesso on the outside and the paper coating shrank when it dried making my roof top look like a pagoda! What the??? So I had to turn it over and apply a coat to the other side thinking it would shrink too and level itself back out but... no joy there.

So I put a layer of wood glue on the underside and bent the paper coating to flatten it out the best I could while it dried. Then I glued a wood strip to each area about an inch from the edge of the underside and weighted them down one at a time until each was dry. I was exhausted by the end of the day after making more work for myself than necessary on this one, but...

...finally - it did straighten out and I know not to do that again. You might just want to save yourself some trouble and don't paint on foam core. If I'd been thinking smarter, I could have just paint on card stock and glued it to the board. At least I know how to make a pagoda roof if I ever need one.

I can't put the top on permanently and finish the edges until my wiring is all done and I've got so much work to do to the outside first.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Outside Stucco

Once the outside is textured and dried, the masking tape comes off. Now I can dry fit the upper story together to make sure the pieces will fit before I glue them together and add the top story onto the house.

The outside really looks good but I still need to cut and fit the trims on so that all the spackling I just did will be the recessed part and the brick and stone trims will look like they were built in.

The sides turned out well and the texture looks just like stucco. This is the kitchen side and will have a window and door with steps. I will add vines and a window box with flowers too eventually. The horizontal strips will be covered with wood trim.

This gives a good idea what the front of the building will look like if you can imagine doors, windows, dormers, roofing and a chimney. And a paint job and the front door entry will have steps too.

It might seem like I'm moving along pretty quickly with this project but believe me, it is a lot of work cutting, sanding, gluing and making everything fit together just right. The real work is the interior. That's where the real fun is too. I don't think it will come together so quickly once I get inside the house. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pulling The Frame Together

After sanding all the pieces smooth, I taped the house together with masking tape to make sure it fit with no major problems. Then I just glued it together. Then I turned it over and glued the basement strips to the bottom. The basement will be where the wiring strip will hide. All the lights will plug into the strip.

Because I didn't use thicker wood for the sides and bottom, I had to make up the difference with foam core board on the interior walls so the floors would fit and I cut and glued two pieces of wood together for the base, weighted it and let it dry overnight.

The next step was to mask off the edges and pieces to be kept flat, then spackle or "texturize" the front and sides. I used two different widths of tape and cut my pieces with an exacto knife. I covered everything with tape that was not to be spackled.

Then I used a putty knife to put the texture on and let it dry overnight. I will just peel the tape off when it's dry and paint it. The next step will be to add trim to the outside windows and doors and make steps for the outside. So far I've used half a bottle of wood glue (about 4 oz.) and about a third bucket of vinyl spackling (about 10 oz.).