One More….

Because it’s taking longer than I expected, (I’ve been thinking and rethinking, and glueing and ripping out, more of this and more of that) – anyway, here’s another sneak peak to keep y’all from forgetting about me.Inside the unfinished French Country Windmill Cottage. To give it a sense of mystery, I didn’t light all the lights. Still needs details, details.

Sneak Peak

Just to keep you interested while I work on completing the French Country Windmill Cottage – it’s coming along nicely. Finishing inside details before I attach the roof. Here’s a glimpse of the outside…..Yes, I rebuilt the blades of the windmill for a French look, color washed the outside stucco and added some vegetation. Hope this piques your interest until the final reveal…..

Decisions, Decisions

I think (hope) I’ve conquered my indecisiveness. Sherrill from So Many Minis suggested I use foam core to make the roof for the cottage. I only had 1/8 inch foam core, and luckily, my husband and I were traveling to Wilmington (NC) from our little coastal town 45 minutes away and we always visit Hobby Lobby. Picked up two large sheets of 3/16″ foam core. Sherrill referred me to 1 inch minis by Kris to view her method of scoring foam core to get it to bend. Yep! It worked…thanks Sherrill!I first made a cardboard pattern of the roof line and then traced it onto the foam core. I then measured every 3/16″ and scored it with a small craft knife. It was perfect because it cut all the way thru with one pass except for the paper backing. You can see what a great curve I’ve got. In the following shots, you can see that since I finally had the roof figured out, I could go ahead and stucco the outside. I used a whole quart of stucco on just the outside walls and the fireplace! Just enough.I know the stucco looks rough, but I even went over it with a wet putty knife. It doesn’t look so bad in person. That piece of wood hanging off the side of the roof will be replaced by foam core. I need to extend that part to connect with the angle in the front wall so the shed roof can come off of it. I’m working on replacing the 2nd floor corner posts with square ones to attach the arches that support the shape of the roof. And the inside of the roof will be papered with scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby in a cream crackle – I think it looks like old, cracked mortar, similar to the picture I posted last time.This is what I’m trying to mimic. But I will be putting up rafters, too. And last but not least, this is the coconut basket liner I mentioned that http://www.cinderellamoments.com uses for roof thatching. I got it at Lowe’s for $4.98 – just cut to shape and glue it on.Next time I post, the roof will be on and all the inside construction details completed. Then I’m going to remake the actual windmill like they really look. The one I made looks like a pinwheel, for Pete’s sake!All I had to do was look on Google to realize this is way, way off base. I will fix it.Hmm…I like the Dutch one, too, but I should go French.Okay, tata ’til next time!

Once I started….

So I think I might have the conundrum of the different roof angles figured out. Now I just need to determine what products to use. This next picture is where I cut a piece of cardboard 8′ x 8 ” to fit the front part of the shed roof up to the support. What I think I’ll do is cut that support down to just a beam to open up the space, or maybe off entirely and place my own thicker beam there. Then the domed roofline will be cut down until I can place a similar angled shed roof over the kitchen. That will give the loft more light, too.The roof sure did darken up the space – I’ll have to paint the insides of the roofs white to lighten everything up. What do you think of the corrugation on the outside? I was thinking it would modernize the structure a little bit by having a metal roof instead of a thatched one. Let’s see what the corrugation look like on the inside instead……I know it’s hard to see, but I cut a piece of cardboard for the back shed roof as well as turning the cardboard inside out, extending the roof from higher up on the dome because of the higher side wall. I placed a piece of cardboard behind it to close up that roofline, and shortened the dome so that the loft will now be open to the kitchen below. I think that will work except I have to cut the shed roofs from wood and place a vertical support post at the roofline change where the railing post is now.The above shot shows the converging roof lines from above. Not too bad. I think it can work. The dome right in front of us here will be shortened a bit, too, to make a nicer transition. Wha’da think? I think I’ve got a start on it. Caroline Dupuis from cinderellamoments.com started using the basket liners for wire plant hanging baskets for her thatch instead of gluing everything on in batches and trimming like mad. You just lay it on top of your roof and glue it on. I’ll have to look into that. Maybe the shed rooftops could be shingled since they will be made of wood unless that would look too patchy.

Well, I think I need to build my roof supports and angles, and then I should get to stuccoing the outside of the cottage before I finalize on the roof. At least now I know the wall heights I have won’t be an issue, so I can move ahead. Whew! Still open to suggestions for the inside ceilings of all the roofs.

Better pic to form ideas

Quickly, here I’ve place the arch at the area where the roof changes angles. This makes it a little easier to imagine…..I can see now where the extended curved roof will essentially create a wall on the right side of the loft. Maybe I should take off that railing and just enclose the loft on that one side…..more later.

Help and Opinions Needed!

Thought I’d try to do incremental updates, especially considering my next step to construct the curved (and shed) roof line will challenge me unendingly.

So, I finally made the loft floor with wide popsicle sticks to look more like an old wooden floor that has been heavily used. I pounded and poked it to look worn, then used several layers of different paints that I kept wiping off with dry and wet paper towels to achieve the look I wanted. Then I applied regular popsicle sticks on the underside and did a white wash for the dining room ceiling.I purchased the railing since it was so much more professional than making it myself, and just cut it to size, glued on stair posts, then painted it in Plaid chalk paint in Bavarian. Which prompts me to make an error correction from my last post. I wrongly stated this light yellow color as “buff”, but in reality it is “Bavarian” – like a Bavarian creme. I made support posts from 3/16″ x 3/16″ x 24″ basswood I order from Dick Blick art materials, at http://www.dickblick.com – check out all their many sizes of modeling wood, available in small or large quantities. Easy ordering and fast shipping. Love them.The dining room light is battery operated. I usually use lighting supplies from Evans Designs ordered thru http://www.modeltrainsoftware.com. I learned this lighting technique from http://www.cinderellamoments.com – wired tiny bulbs that hook up to a 3v coin battery. I will be making the kitchen chandelier with that method, but sometimes I prefer more stylized lighting.

Once I had the loft glued in place, I added the staircase. I had considered making the underside of the stairs enclosed with a small door for a closet, but since the space is so small, I opted to place an elegant writing desk under there instead – to be seen at a later date. Oh, I recently noticed that the wallpaper I used is actually printed with tulips – it’s called Tulip Tapestry from http://www.dollhousesandmore.com. There were several different color ways, but I opted for the faintly yellow tulips – with the beige background, it was perfect for my color scheme. Kinda fitting for a windmill, huh?So here I am at the next hurdle I have to trip over. As you can see in the pic below of the original model structure I purchased, the roof curves so I need to build rafter supports the whole length of the cottage (16″), which should still provide a 7″ ceiling in the loft. This is one an artist constructed from the basic kit from Greenleaf.The inside should look something like this pic I found on Pinterest….., except the dome is made from stone, and there aren’t any supports. I want a wooden ceiling but I’m afraid all that glue would warp the roof, since I plan on using corrugated cardboard.Maybe I should rethink this. I could thatch the roof, and maybe use the cardboard for the inside, which would then be the domed ceiling. That way I wouldn’t have to spend a week gluing popsicle sticks on only to find it won’t bend properly (also a necessary consideration). The kit came with this one support for the roof – I would need to make one more so I have one in the middle – where the roof line is going to change (another obstacle) and I’d need one on the very back. It will help keep the shape of the roof.Considering I don’t have a scroll saw, I could purchase another kit (it’s cheap), and I’d have my extra support that way. It’s cheaper than investing in a scroll saw, although there are times I could use one. Like a model sized one from Micro-Mark. I had ordered one of their tiny machines one time, but returned it because at 4″, plus a transformer and the outrageous price, I just couldn’t see where it would be useful for very long.

Okay, I need some opinions, some help on this! Anyone have ideas that I haven’t thought of, or something? Help!!! You should know that the height of the shed part of the roof changes. I wanted more height in the kitchen area, so I extended the large window wall about 1 3/4″, as I did on the loft wall. I think I can manage the dome part all the way back, even with a height change, but somehow I have to transition the shed part of the roof. Here’s a better pic of the height change….Geez, when I look at it in a pic, it looks impossible. Let me work on some mock ups in the meantime and I’ll publish them here. It’s easier for me to study it visually than just in my mind. The sink is just set in there for size comparisons. I have an Aga stove, and and island as well. That’s later. Need to do all the trim on the walls, a hearth, the door hardware, etc. Here’s one more pic looking straight on…..By the way, the loft turned out absolutely level (see the micro level on the loft floor?), the house wasn’t sitting on a flat part of my craft table for this shot. Okay, I’m done here. Hoping to hear thoughts from some of you…thanks in advance! (The curtains on my sunroom windows perfectly match the cottage color scheme!). Just realized that maybe I should finish the outside before I put on a roof! But, in the event the shed roof size changes prove difficult, I’m leaving open the option of making the whole shed roof the same height, which would necessitate adding more height to the front elevation as well as some of the right side. Ok, now I’m really done..

Let’s Skip Ahead…

Sorry for the delay….we had company the beginning of April, so I had to clean out the guest room closet of all my boxes of miniatures and stash them somewhere else. Then, I got the flu for 3 weeks, and with my weaker constitution from cancer two years ago, and my forthcoming 70th birthday – well, let’s just say I don’t bounce back as quickly as I used to. But I’m back and I’ve been working on my French Country Windmill Cottage. With just a few details left to finish the inside walls, I had to erect the 3 walls so I could gauge how the staircase will fit and the upper floor for the tiny bedroom.So, the stairs will go as shown (approximately). The small bedroom floor will fit right above the french door casing. You can see it in the 1st pic under the french doors to give you an idea of how it will look – only one flight up. I had originally planned on having the 2nd floor extend all along that one side to the top of the left Palladian window, just cutting out an opening for the stairwell. I was going to make a tiny bathroom there in the front part over the stairs, but changed my mind. It would make the bottom floor too dark and hide the strikingly charming front wall. So, the bedroom loft will be supported by two rustic square columns at the outside corners, and some kind of railing around it. Here are pics from different angles.As you can see in the first pic in this series, the right wall will be the kitchen, with the sink and stove under the large window. I think I might have room for a small island, and then the dining table will be under the 2nd floor by the french doors. The sitting room is by the fireplace – I will be making a small French sofa and then see what else I have room for. I’ve kept the color scheme the same thruout the small space to keep it cohesive. The light yellow color is actually “Buff” in chalk paint from Plaid, as is the “Sage” on the windows. The kitchen components are in a pale yellow as well. My next decision will be how to manage a roof. I want to keep the half-circle concept of the front wall going all the way to the back, and the rest of the ceiling to the right will be angled with rafters. I also want the whole ceiling to be made of wood planks inside and wide corrugated cardboard outside. The whole of the outside walls will be covered in stucco, (which is what I tried out on the fireplace), with some exposed stone work like the inside. The dimensions are 15″ wide and tall, except the front is 12 1/2″ from the recessed front door to the stairway wall, and 16″ deep. It would be a square if the roof wasn’t round!

So that’s it for my update. Next post should show what kind of mess I’ve made of the roof. I’ve learned so much about how to execute my ideas, so I’m hoping I haven’t run out of problem solving brain cells. Hope you like it so far…

Windows and Doors

The day after my last post, my Palladian windows and front door arrived for the Windmill House, so I got to work making the left side wall. The window I ordered for the kitchen is huge, a 3 section window. I want to let in a lot of light, and most of the pics I’ve seen of French kitchens have a large window over the sink. This is a quality window built so the plexiglass slides out so you can paint it easier. I began adding strips of wood to the sides so it would meet my measurements for the bottom of the wall, and squared off the top. This is the window glued to the bottom and side walls when I realized I had left the plexiglass in the window and glued it all shut. Not a great start. I had to pry and whittle the two square wood strips off the top of the window to be able to remove the plexiglass. Let me tell you, wood glue is pretty darn permanent! So, with that accomplished and back at square one, I slid out the plexiglass and painted the window with the color Sage from the set of chalk craft paints I ordered from Walmart by Folk Art. I then reglued it to the bottom and side walls while considering what to do with the bottom of the wall. I decided I wanted a backsplash of stone, so I got my cardboard egg carton and started slicing strips and then cross cut into blocks. After gluing them in place, I plastered the remaining walls as well as carefully over the cardboard, making sure I got the plaster in between the blocks.After the plaster dried, I picked off more of the plaster from over the top of the blocks, yet leaving some to make it look like aged whitewash that has chipped over the years. I also touched up the stones with some shades of gray for realism. The plain plaster was painted with two coats of Valspar sample house paint “Cream in my Coffee” left over from my Storybook Farm dollhouse. I want cream colored walls in this house. There will be 3 open wooden shelves in the space to the left of the window for storage. Below is the outside of the front wall.I cutout the openings and painted the windows after ensuring that I would still have room for a fireplace inside, between the windows. So, here is the inside of the wall….There is finishing trim that gets glued over the window to complete the look, but I’m not sure if I want it in the wood color (to match the front door), or in Sage. The fireplace is drawn and ready for cardboard stones to be glued on. There will be a large mirror over the fireplace mantel, and the walls will be painted plaster.

By the way, I did seal the brick floor with Minwax Polycrylic in Clear Matte.See how the top picture is a darker, more enhanced color than the unsealed bricks in the bottom picture? I have two French rugs that will define the dining room space and the sitting room, so not a lot of the floor will be exposed. It will really add interest to what could have been a boring floor.

I have started on the main entrance door – still have to finish the inside.I’m anxious to get some walls up, but realize I need to put the stucco on the outside of the house before I glue walls together. It would make finishing them so much easier, but then there’s the problem of how do you tape it together to dry without ruining anything? Still pondering that.

Ah, prendre des decisions!

Rethinking my Grandiose Ideas

After more thought and realizing I’ve been unrealistic, I’ve tried to back off on my grand ideas of what this Windmill House might become. I think all those pics I’ve saved from Pinterest have inflated my brain. I mean, I’m not redecorating my house here – it’s a Miniature, Paula. Get a grip! There is no possible way I can incorporate everything I love about French Country into a little building 16″ deep, by 12 1/2″ wide, by 16″ high. Even if I am making the back section 14 1/2″ wide and 17 1/2″ high (at it’s highest point). I think that once I get all the walls glued together, I’ll be able to visualize it better. My Palladian windows are supposed to arrive Tuesday, and this is Friday. I did manage to cut the two side walls their new height for the back addition where I’m raising the roof by 1 1/2″ to give me 9″ ceilings for the kitchen/dining area. Here is the final draft of the floor plan.So, I added on the 2″ as shown on the right, above. That extends for 12″ from the front door to the back of the house. This will give me room to incorporate kitchen counters and appliances without taking up the main floor space as well as a larger vaulted ceiling. Hope to be able to do an island, as well. So, with the main floor finally decided, I cut a 12″ x 2″ piece of wood and glued it to the right side. Then I gave the whole floor a good base coat of flat white to prepare it for the brick stencil. After the white dried, I applied a coat of Light Mocha flat acrylic by Apple Barrel to mimic the grout. I sprayed the back of my brick stencil with adhesive, stuck it in the upper left corner of the main floor (I didn’t want my first attempt to be near the back opening in case I messed it up), mixed up some water with the brick material, and spread it over the stencil, scraping it off evenly with a small 6″ metal ruler, then carefully lifted the stencil off. This is what I ended up with.Pretty impressive, eh? I love the Terra-cotta shade, it’s really a nice subtle, warm color. There are others on the Bromley Craft Products website, like red, two grays, buff, etc., plus other stencils so you can do stone or brick. It’s worth checking out at http://www.craft-products.com. They are in England, but sent the package by Airmail. Here’s that picture again of the stencil and brick compound.The thicker you spread the compound, the darker the brick will be. I didn’t want a textured surface, so I smoothed it out as much as I could. If I were doing the outside of a building, however, I might go for a rougher look. Which I might try in places on the outside walls since I have over half the compound left over. Here’s the finished piece except for a coat of matte polyurethane I will do tomorrow outside..You can pretty much tell where I had to overlap the stencil to line it up for the next area. You aren’t supposed to go over any areas already stenciled, but it’s hard to avoid, and I’m not equipped to be a perfectionist. So, the lapped places are evident by the darker colored bricks (because they are thicker). And, I did lightly sand a few places where it was too lumpy. But, bricks in real life aren’t identical and have minor flaws and color changes. If judged by those standards, my floor is pretty darn good! The sealer will also enhance the color as well as seal it to keep from chipping off. I’m excited to see the finished product. You can use acrylic paint to apply other colors if you want an even more “authentic” look. I’m quite happy with it the way it is.

Okay, this is the picture from Pinterest I’ve fatally fallen in love with. It’s a little cottage, and I’ve patterned my miniature after this photo. I absolutely adore it!See the loft in the upper left corner? And the kitchen along one wall? French doors? Palladian type windows? Transoms? Just one sofa for the sitting area? I’m dying here. It’s so perfect for a mini, isn’t it? It may not look French, but mine will. Sigh!!!! A la prochaine, mon ami!

Here We Go Again!

As soon as I was done with Storybook Farm, I knew I wanted to build either Baslow Ranch by Greenleaf Dollhouses, or Loganberry Mill Dollhouse.Both very intriguing options. However, I fell in love with the windmill and French Country, so Loganberry it is. My enthusiasm dimmed somewhat when I realized how small the Mill House is. The stated dimensions are 15″ wide by 8″ deep and 16″ tall. Once I dry fitted it together so I could visualize the dimensions, I was even more discouraged.I can’t even fit a staircase in there, let alone any significant furniture. A second story must have a staircase or ladder in my opinion. A lot of people eliminate them because they take up too much room, but why bother building at all if you don’t attempt to make it realistic? And if you eliminate a bathroom, the era must allow for an outhouse. Anyway, moving on. My other concern is that the rooms aren’t very tall. The downstairs is 7 1/2 inches in height to allow the floor to be 1/2″ off the ground (to allow for an entrance step?). I prefer 9″ to allow for furniture height and chandeliers and/or beams, etc. This upstairs is 8″, which I can live with, although it’s a curved roof and half the width of the downstairs because of the accompanying shed-style angle. To top it all off, my measurement of the width is 12 1/2″, not 15″. Where did the other 2 1/2″ go?You can see, above, that I decided to double the depth to 16″ to give me more room to create, but the width remains at 12 1/2″. As compensation, I’ve decided to eliminate the top floor beneath the shed type roof, thus allowing for a slanted ceiling along one side of the house to give it the appearance of openness. I’m also going to attempt to raise the side walls on the extension to 9″ (and extra 1 1/2″) to give me more head room in the back half. This is because the standard door opening is 7″ high, plus you need room for the door trim. With only 7 1/2″ to work with, this makes planning windows and doors extremely difficult. I want a pair of French doors off the dining room to a patio, which I can’t do without giving myself more headroom. I’ve even drawn up plans on graph paper to help me visualize the house from all angles.Have I made you drift off to sleep yet? That’s okay. I want to do this so I have a record of my ramblings. Lol. So, I’ve run out of 1/8th inch basswood sheet plywood until I get my order from Dick Blick (art & hobby supplies). So with my one remaining piece, I cut out the extension on the main floor and the upstairs addition.

I have received my order from England of the terra cotta brick compound and the brick stencils. One is herringbone for the main floor and the other is for arched windows inside or out. I hope to work on the herringbone brick floor tomorrow so I’m ready for the walls when the additional plywood arrives. It has been a slow start waiting for supplies.

I did build the windmill as well. I followed the picture on the Greenleaf site, and it has turned out really well!I had 12 inch barbecue skewers on hand, and the size is perfect. I will attach it after I cut the openings for the windows – which I don’t have yet, either.

So, that’s about the state of things as they stand right now. I’ve had all kinds of expansive design ideas in my head, and I’ve ordered kitchen appliances just to realize I may not have the room for them. This will be an on going surprise. I’ve already decided that if this structure doesn’t fulfill my dreams of French Country, I’ll just have to build another house in that style after this one. Perhaps the French Mansard Roof Dollhouse by cinderellamoments.com. I have Caroline Dupuis’ book that tells me how!Au revoir!