Renewed Hope, Renewed Thoughts…

Well, it has been almost a year since my husband passed away, and I’m just beginning to see my new life ahead of me. Although I haven’t been building miniatures, I have been extremely busy and at the same time, considering what my future will hold. Around about September last year, I realized I no longer could, nor wanted, to live in our house in Southport, NC, without my husband. Leaving our happiest memories behind as well as my saddest times now didn’t feel so wrong. There were several reasons for this momentous decision, one being I found out 3 weeks after Dave’s death that I now had breast cancer; two, that I needed a total hip replacement, and three, that I needed to be near my two grown boys and what remaining family I had in northern Ohio. So, I started packing up my whole house bit by bit. Because my hip was in such bad shape by then ( I never realized I had worn away all the cartilage already – I had just thought it was an aging process, which it is, but repairable), it took me 5 months to finish packing besides repairs, downsizing, and general updating. Finally listed my house for sale the end of January, and sold it in 2 days for over asking price and all cash. I then secured a wonderful ground floor apartment to move to in NW Ohio near my sons upon the completed sale of my home. In the meantime, I had also contracted with movers, as well as scheduled surgery for my hip replacement on January 11th, I believe it was. Well, my hospital was closed the Friday before due to increased Covid cases, and my surgery was cancelled. I didn’t have time to reschedule and still heal by the time I had to move, which was March 4th.

Cut to the chase already….so here I am in lovely Vermilion, Ohio, in my spacious and beautiful apartment right on Lake Erie. My hip surgery was on May 4th, so I’m almost 4 weeks out and ready to resume my life. Endless months of pain, depression, loss, and physical and mental healing have culminated in a positive revealing of my new life. I’m ready to rejoin the human race at nearly 72 years old.

Which brings me to my true passion, building miniature houses. I had thought I wouldn’t rediscover my interest, but as I stare at the unfinished remains of Nantucket Cottage, I think a revamping of my original thoughts will realize my vision and renew my enthusiasm. So, someday soon, I will bring it down off the shelf and start revamping the interior to my new settled vision. Not quite yet, but soon.

This is approximately where it ended, and where I will begin again, as well as finishing the exterior shingling.
The entrance to my new home, my new life.

So, you’ll hear from me when I restart this project. I will be investing in a table saw or jig saw or whatever to make my life easier. I have lost my sounding board, my assistant Creative Developer, but he’ll still be sending me input and encouraging me along my way.

Noteworthy Hiatus

There won’t be much activity from me for awhile. I lost my husband, the love of my life on Sunday, July 5th to a massive stroke he suffered on the 4rh of July. My life is a nightmare, my 71st birthday was yesterday and now I have to make a new life for myself alone.

Traveling back to Ohio to finish planning the funeral for this weekend. Keep my family and I in your prayers, as otherwise, I don’t know how I’ll survive this.

A Whale of an Idea

While I was searching Pinterest for pics of shingled Nantucket cottages, I came across this gem. I thought “Wow! This would be perfect on the large back wall of my cottage”, so I searched for a website that does this artwork.

And I came across Mosaic Shingle -they have a bunch of ideas they can recreate on your shingled house. I was interested in how they built these marvels. If you look closely below, the fish is 2 dimensional because the top is covered by laser cut shingles that fit the design, while the bottom half of the fish actually lays over the top of the shingles.

They have a bunch of cool designs, but obviously I wanted to recreate a whale, since that is the theme of my cottage.

A side view showing how the shark is incorporated into the siding on your house. They actually cut the pieces and send them to you for a contractor to install. So cool.

So, I thought to myself “Self, you can do this. A little beforehand planning, a few cuts here and there and Voila! Perfection!” Well, not so fast. I did a lot of staring and I still had brain block. I finally decided I had to trace an image of a whale, then build it from thin roofing shingles so it wouldn’t create a lot of bulk. Glued the shingles to brown packing paper, then traced the whale outline onto the shingles.

So, I cut the excess paper and bottom shingles away around the lower body, and determined the exact placement on the shingles wall I had already started. I temporarily glued the whale in place so I could adjust it as I worked on it.

The bottom half of the whale overlaps the existing shingles, while the upper part of the whale shingles will be covered to the traced line by cedar shingles trimmed to fit the design.
The completed whale. I won’t regale you with the anguish I experienced with the cedar shingles chipping and splitting. Also, notice the tail is reconfigured. I needed to be able to keep the division on the whale to form the shingles around the tail, so I cut off the old one and redrew one that would work.
A close up view so you can see how patched the whale is. But don’t tell anyone, and they hopefully won’t notice. But it is done. Now to finish cedar shingling the wall. I know, Moby needs an eye and the tip of his tail. I’ll do that.

Hope you enjoyed this. I know I didn’t. Sooo glad it’s done, because I don’t like to give up!

Tough Decisions….

Wish I was further along on this Nantucket Cottage, but I’m having a heck of a time imagining what I want it to be. I guess it’s turning into a former whaling sea captain’s cottage from the 1930’s or so, but updated while still honoring the original character. That’s my way of using white shiplap and wallpaper, but retaining some of the old charm. Hope I can get away with it.

What do I do now?

There have also been construction issues. I made a peak for the front, incorporating an 8 pane window as well as an oval window at the peak to mimic the oval on the front screen door. Two problems with that – the 6” wall turned out to be about 3/8” short, so I had to add a strip of wood to the side, throwing off the mid point of the roof peak. So I thought I’d be clever and put vertical clapboard siding on the peak to camouflage the unevenness. Looks like crap. Knowing there was nothing left to do but rip off that 6 3/8 section, I managed to cut thru the hot glue.

Now I had to saw off the peak and redraw the corrected peak angle and glue the new one on. So I did. Ta-Da.

Since I had originally neglected to cut the hole for the oval window, I did that now. But, the 8 pane window had been installed on center based on the original peak, so it is slightly askew. I didn’t think I could get the window detached because I had used hot glue under the shutters, too. So, I’m hoping that once I finish the exterior with a million shingles and scads of roses growing everywhere, the unaligned windows will just be a memory.

So, I’ve got all the windows installed and painted, as well as the wood floor. I used Minwax Classic Grey stain for that since I had it leftover from doing some remodeling on my actual home. It seems too dark, tho, and I have been considering painting or stenciling a “rug” on the floor after I lighten the wood a little with a white wash.

I have shiplap on some downstairs walls, and as wainscoting beneath the navy blue anchor wall paper. It’s not all painted yet. I made the wood-look and brick fireplace, too. Although I originally planned on making the open side the living room, my husband has since convinced me to move the living room to the wallpapered section and have the kitchen/dining area in front. Sometimes I need another opinion because I get “stuck” in my thinking. He’s my design sounding board.

So, baby steps here. The shiplap ceiling in the living area will be white now instead of brown because the wallpaper and floor darkens the area too much. I need to lighten it up in there. Can’t get my head around furnishings, tho. Probably somewhere in the line of “nautical farmhouse”, like my home. I need some whales, a ship steering wheel, and pictures of old whaling ships on the walls. We’ll see. Til next time.

Nantucket Cottage

Well, here I go again. I know, I vowed I wouldn’t but I can’t help myself. I’m addicted. I did sew alot more blocks for my coastal quilt, but I can’t keep focused. It will happen, tho not anytime in the near future. This isolation with the pandemic has me stir crazy, and I’m a self-professed Home Body! While mulling around for something to build, I “dog-eared” several houses from I just love Caroline’s builds, and decided I would use her floor plan for “The Sweet Life” from March, 2017, with a few changes of my own. Simply put, I like the “L” shaped design, with a bump out for a fireplace, and the way the ceiling opens up to the rafters. Most of all, I love the idea of viewing the house from the side, rather than the back! So clever! This way I can place it on my large end table by where I sit everyday, with the front facing out and I can see inside from my perch on my loveseat! TaDa! Mine is also 14” x 15”, and will be about 20 1/2” tall, as I like more room in the loft. As much as I love Shabby Chic, I am fascinated by the shingled cottages on Nantucket. And whales. And the time frame around 1920-1930 or so, but somewhat updated while still appreciating another era. I want the inside to look beachy, but not modern beachy. Gee, I think I’ve complicated things.

So, I could have built this from scratch, but I happen to have 2 house kits from Greenleaf that I’ve decided I don’t want to build, one of which is The Laurel (it’s just too big. The other is The Aster cottage). I had contemplated selling them on FB Martketplace, but I paid a lot of $$ for these and know I couldn’t get much for them. So, I realized I could just modify the house to suit my needs. Eliminating the wraparound porch brought the house down to a more compact size, with the interior width at 11”, and added a 5”x6” bump out. I cut down the length to 14” and created a back wall, with the opening on the side. Then I cut my own window and door openings and made a new wall for the fireplace.

Open side

So, I’ve laid the popsicle stick floor, now wondering what color to paint/stain it. Toying with stenciling part of it, and maybe board and baten back wall (on the left). I’ve ordered 1000 shingles for the outside, and the windows.

Floor laid and screen door mounted

Well, that’s where I am right now. Going to go slowly with my design decisions, as I would like to go the navy and white route, but don’t want a “new” look. Aging everything might be in order. So, that’s what I’m up to. Be back soon.

The Hunting Cabin Reveal

Greg’s Hunting Log Cabin

I know you thought this day would never come, and I was starting to doubt myself as well. But anyone who knows me also knows that I hate to give up – especially since I promised this to my son. Their family trip has been postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic and tightening freedoms everywhere. In the meantime I get to keep this true effort of love for months to come!

I’ll try to start where I left off months ago. Back in December, I had thought I would be erecting a corrugated iron roof over the porch, but I decided it looked too out of place, so I scrapped it. The front porch is made from miscellaneous strips of basswood that I stained, aged, and over painted to create aged, mossy wood that has been sitting in the woods and shade for years. I aged the grouting between the logs with grey, brown and black paint and glued pieces of landscape moss in some of the crevices and dark, dank areas where I thought it would grow naturally. Also darkened the foundation rocks and glued debris to there as well. The kitchen is on the other side of the door, which is intended to be an add on lean-to shanty on the side of the main cabin. (This is all my imagination speaking. The cabin has to have a story!). It contains a large wood burning cook stove (see the pipe venting on the right side?) and a primitive table turned washstand next to it. There currently is just one shelf to hold food stuff. I’m having a real issue finding canned goods to fill the shelf, so that’s something I will still work on. There’s also a moose head mounted on the tall wall near the doorway to the main cabin.

Front Porch
Original barn building

This front part of the building is the original abandoned barn that was purchased to serve as the main part of the cabin. The barn doors are made from stained, painted and aged planks again. The exterior structure was made mainly from logs harvested in the surrounding woods, but was at times supplemented with fir planks – whatever materials were at hand. There is also a spotlight (battery operated) in the top right corner of the picture to be used to illuminate the outside.

Woodpile and water pump

The box on the side of the cabin houses the wires, battery and switch for the Led lights that illuminate the 55 gallon wood burning drum and the stove pipe (made from an oversized silicone straw) vents the fumes to the outside.

Kitchen lean-to with battery and switch box and stovepipe.

The roof was made from 1/8 plywood and wood strips to look like a green metal roof. It was painted true green, then over painted and moss and debris glued to it to simulate a relatively new roof. After all, the original one was rotted and falling into the main room, and with the kitchen addition, a new roof was a necessity! Oh, and a weathervane was a requested item from my son. I added the small window on the peak of the barn to give a little more light to the inside as there is a loft there.

Bird house, weathervane and lean-to roof.

Now let’s take a peek at the inside! Lean-to kitchen first.

From the outside…..
And the inside….
View looking toward main room

As you can see, there is a sizable metal wood stove with doors that open to the firebox. That red glow is an Led light paired with an orange flashing light to mimic a fire. This is operational from the switch in the box on the outside. I fed the electrical wire thru a tiny gap inside the stove, then drilled a hole near the floor to feed the wires through to outside. There is a pan of bacon and eggs frying and dishes at the ready. Every hunter needs a dog, and this one is a big Lab, taking a snooze in front of the fire on a fishy rug. The hanging light is like the two in the main cabin, and are battery operated at the base. And, a moose head on the wall! The washstand is over by the window and a barrel of firewood stands at the ready. That red glow in the above pic is the 55 gallon barrel in the main room.

Back of the cabin

So, the back of the main cabin opens to the right on a hinge I installed inside. Two reasons for this rather than leaving the back open as is typical in a miniature. 1). It just exposed the inside too much for me. A lot of the character would have been lost if not for the back wall – you wouldn’t get the “sense” of the inside of cabin because it would have been flooded with light. 2). I needed more wall space for the furniture and a 3-D bear skin. This was actually made to be a rug, but there wasn’t a good vantage point for it, so I hung it on the wall.

Bear skin with bunk bed
Main room

This gives you a good look at just about everything. The gathering table complete with 2 chairs, a “hooch” jug, cups, a working lantern and Field and Stream magazines….The ladder up to the loft, the bunk beds and sleeping bags I made, the barn doors complete with supports to slide a wooden plank into place for security, a coat rack with warm coats, and the corrugated iron facing on the walls by the stove. You also get a good look at the logs supporting the vaulted ceiling (as in the lean-to, as well).

The loft where supplies are stored and the ceiling logs.
View of the bunk bed and hinge for back wall. Also note the canteen hanging from the bed post.
Wood burning drum with corrugated iron sheets wrapped around corner (actually corrugated cardboard from Hobby Lobby, painted to look rusty)
View from front barn doors with back wall closed
Additional items for display

Above are a few more items to hang on the walls, which I’m leaving up to the discretion of my son. I plan on making a braided rug with the floss for in front of the drum in the main cabin. The doggie can’t lay on a bare floor!

So, that concludes the tour of the Hunting Cabin. Took me almost 6 months to make it because I was getting so sick of brown. Really, my senses were starving for color! But, I’m pleased to say that I’m very happy with the finished build – it was quite a change from my usual creations. Thanks for stopping by!

Response to Sherrill’s suggestion

I’m making this a blog reply because I want to include a picture. As you can see, the back wall is quite large and will be cut from 1/8″ MDF.See the hinge? I bought 2 that I ordered from Vertex Hinges. It’s made of brass, and I believe it is 4″ long. I could mount it to the inside of the interior wall. It would be sturdy and I think it’s feasible as long as I can mount it securely. It might take some beefing up with strips of wood to give me a base to work from.

I like your idea of magnets, too. I’m torn – but I would need more like industrial magnets or strip magnets to handle the weight of the MDF, I suppose. It would certainly work on smaller, lightweight panels and be easier than hinges.

This will take some mulling over and experimenting. Guess my first step would be to cut the thing out and go from there. I’ll keep you updated. Thanks, Sherrill!

Structural change….

Meant to mention in my post yesterday that I’ve rethunk (that’s my word) my decision to make the roof come off over the main room. It would just make viewing the cabin awkward because of the kitchen being a back viewing. So, I will attempt to hinge the back wall to the short side instead of hinging the roof. It may take some creative thunking (must be consistent. I’m losing my mind here.) but I’ll get it done. Just sayin’.

Log Cabin updates….

I’ve been at work sporadically on the cabin, finding that design decisions and execution are harder with this build because I’m not that familiar with what it should look like. I’ve gone back and aged some areas, and I’ve made the tin roof for over the front porch. I just have to cut a piece of wood to mount it on, make posts, and stairs.I took the unshiny side of aluminum foil and formed it over a piece of corrugated cardboard. To keep it from looking new, I mashed it here and there and attempted to add some rust.

The inside walls are almost done. The white areas between the boards is not caulk – I had primed all the walls white, and it really looks like I filled the cracks, but I didn’t.The large wall in the kitchen was finished in logs, as this is an outside wall of the original cabin (in my imaginary world).I cleaned up the errant caulk, and I’m now ready to attach the roof over this section. Work has continued on the main room, with the walls almost done. Next will be a loft on the large wall. And I’m making bricks from wood to line the boarded over door on the right side. The pot belly stove will be in that corner, so I intend to line the floor and walls with fake brick.Lots of wood in log cabins! The ceilings should be wood lined, too. I feel like I’m in a colorless world. Where are all the pure colors I love? I’ve started piecing a queen quilt to sink myself in color and cotton. I need a change every once in a while.This soothes my soul.

That’s it! Really doesn’t look like I’ve done much, but it will all come together by April 1st. Needs to – it will be leaving for it’s permanent home.

Forgot to mention…..

Since I am going to enclose the back of the log cabin to get more wall space, I will need another way to get access to the room. I’ve decided I will hinge the roof so it will swing back over the shed addition. Knowing I would need some sturdy hinges not of the miniature variety, I found cabinet hinges used for jewelry boxes and homemade chests. I ordered two in brass, I think 4 inches long each. Very sturdy and will surely hold the weight of the wooden roof (which I will finish to look like metal). I’ve seen many antique houses made with a removable roof, but I wanted one that would just fold back.

AH HA! And you were wondering if I’d lost my mind enclosing the whole cabin and not realizing I would effectively shut myself out! Not a chance. I love the idea, because this structure just seemed too open to be effective as a cozy hideaway. Okay, now that’s resolved. Onward!