Moving into the final phase..

Finally, after 6 months, I’m practically done with Storybook Farm. Last pic I posted was when I was “stoning” the chimneys. Those came out well, and altho I didn’t allow for how much larger they would be with concrete and stones, they still fit within the aesthetic dimensions of the home. As I said, all the chandelier wire was fed up into the chimneys to the on-off switches and batteries, with the wires hidden under the shingles. Here is a pic of the whole interior lit up, altho still empty. Lots of beautiful light!The shingles were a job, as I learned on the last house. I think it took me about a week to color wash each shingle and hot glue it to the roof. I intend to count each one, but my estimated guess is around 800 individually painted and glued shingles. I will report back on the actual count. But, as you can see, the extra effort is worth it.The above pic shows some vines and flowers I glued to the corners and wrapped around the sides and roof. I needed some inspiration to keep going on the chicken yard. I also glued down “moss” on a base board to mount the house on. There will be more landscaping once the chickens have a yard to roam around in, and the bears will be selling fresh eggs! You can probably spot that the gable on the left doesn’t have the grey trim around the roofline like the other ones do. I will get to that – I’m always getting pulled away by another thought I had before I finish what I’m working on! Oh, and I finished the front porch except for flowers, etc.

Now, the side yard is not very large – I only allowed 6 inches out from the side of the house. I don’t want it to overwhelm the attractiveness of the main structure. I have to build steps down from the screen door, and lay some paving stones in the yard with flowers and trees (?) around the perimeter among the fencing which will be there.As you can see, I’ve already glued a small outdoor fountain/faucet to the side of the house by where the entrance gate will be. I made the garden fence pillars from 3/4″ pieces of balsa wood glued together, then covered in cement and flat paving stones. I’m thinking of having a tall post come out of each pillar so I can string battery powered fairy lights from them for lighting. And I’ll probably make some kind of arched trellis over the entry gate. I did buy the little chicken coop and there’s also a water pump as well. I’d like to place a bench in there somewhere, as this will be where visitors come to buy eggs. Then, except for landscaping, I’ll be done!

I’ve also been cutting into house time with a new hobby I’m trying out. Needle felting. My original thought was (and still may be), to make my own little animals for my houses. But, I have to start on the basics first, and here are my first 2 bunnies from needle felted wool….Oh, mousey was my very first attempt (she’s supposed to be sleeping), then came Snowflake, the polar cub. Actually, she was supposed to be a second mouse, but the head shape was all wrong, and she became a polar cub instead. My ultimate goal for my mice will not be realistic, but whimsical, like these examples I found on Pinterest…I have to graduate to metal armatures as a skeleton to wrap the wool onto. There are so many cute tiny animals out there just waiting for me to try. I have to get the basics down first…..I really don’t know why I do this to myself. I just refuse to stop trying, I guess!

Back at ya soon, with a finished Storybook Farm!!!!!

I’ve got a name!

I came up with “Storybook Farm”! After all, it’s home to the 3 bears, (Mama and 2 sisters), and Alice, the petite blond doll in the plaid dress – she looks like Alice from Alice in Wonderland, and, a chicken yard – thus, Storybook Farm. I love it. I knew it would speak to me.

The Exterior

I’ve already shared some updates on my main blog, but will do so here as well.

My decision to plaster the whole outside of the cottage became apparent when I considered what mood the inside projected. My original intent to do clapboard siding painted a mellow green just didn’t suit the shabby chic interior. This is why I wait to do the exterior last. If I had completed the outside before the interior, I would have felt the need to be more classic, which I’m not. I’m more whimsical, especially when you consider my choice of inhabitants. Moving on, since the all white plaster was stark and without personality, I decided on a stone foundation and corners.I finished mortaring the stone yesterday – what a job. I used powdered mortar I ordered, and it was a bear to get it inside all the little cracks and then try to wipe it off the stone. You can see I decided to make stone chimneys as well. There is only one fireplace in the cottage, but I will be hiding the wires and on/off switch to the five chandeliers inside the chimneys. You can see some wires coming out of the corner of the house by the roof, and more at the top (in the previous picture). The fireplace switch is up inside the fireplace itself, and the outside porch light switch is under the bed covers in the loft.The interior lights are a soft white, while the porch light is a bright white, which is really bright. Thus the soft white on the inside. I still have to build the porch, but that will wait until after I paint the plaster with a base white to seal it, then a Valspar sample color called Cream in my Coffee.Originally, I was going to shingle the gables, but decided it would be overkill with the shingled roof. So, I’ve opted for a very subtle pink in Desert Bone instead. Then I will “age” the house with greens, tans, etc. and moss on some of the mortar and stone.

Back to the chimneys – I drew them and then built them out of cardstock, and taped them together with masking tape. However, when I went to “stone” them, the mortar wouldn’t stick to the tape. So, I ripped the stones off and recut the chimney structure from balsa wood and this time I’m using my concrete patch in a thick layer and then squishing the stones into each individual piece. When done, I will glue the four sides together and attach to the roof after I insert the lighting wires. The wires will be hidden under the shingles.So that’s where I’m at now. Working on stoning the eight sides of the chimneys.

Still having fun! And still don’t have a name for this cottage. Since there will be a side yard with chickens, I think the name should end in “Farm”. But what goes before that? Still waiting for the “farm” to speak to me, and it will. Until next time….

Farmhouse Bedroom – last room in the house!

Yes, I know. Long time no hear from. Well, I’m going to fix that now. I took about a month off from the farmhouse to devote to other projects – a puzzle, reading, a lot of goofing off, etc. You know, R&R. But, I’m back and forging ahead with blinders on, I guess, because I neglected to take any pics of my progress!! So I’ll just have to take you thru it bit by bit. Aren’t you the lucky one. So, let’s start.

I laid the popsicle floor much neater that I’ve done any of the others by making same size cuts and placement. You can see how much neater the floor looks – although I think a haphazard placement of sticks has its own merits as well. And I ended up with this grey wash of color (it’s just white in the pic below). I finally got my grey and pink color scheme that failed in the bathroom! Then I moved on to the wainscoting – wanted something different here, not just the usual corrugated cardboard. I used two different thicknesses of wood to create more of a (kinda) board and batten effect. Tried skinny sticks as well, but liked this look better. Originally, I had painted every other board white or medium grey -which was pretty, but looked like a circus tent or carnival. So I repainted it all white. Much better. Let’s throw in a picture here….The above picture shows so much more that I’ve done. I added the railings , leaving a walkway to get to the bathroom. The large alcove became the bed loft – I made the white comforter with the lace and ribbon trim, and the pillows as well. Sky and Squeaky like their little hideaway. I’ve placed some miniature toys around – the darling ship in front of the bed has wheels and soldiers, and there is a train set on the shelves to the left of the sleeping loft. I painted the picture on the wall, too.See the red and blue wires coming out the left side of the bed? Those are for a porch light I hung outside . Need to run those to connect with other wires for the chandeliers that will hide in a chimney on the roof. More on that later….I added all the trim around loft, the floors, and the ceiling, made lace curtains for the windows (with roses, too). The craft table I purchased bare wood and painted it shabby chic to blend with the floor. Alice is sitting at the sewing machine with her scissors at the ready – she still needs fabric and thread. There are two working drawers in the table, which I lined with the same wallpaper from the walls. I made the little bench Alice is sitting on. She also likes to make miniature dollhouses, and will start construction on one soon (the one on the shelf just above her head is made from metal, and the front opens. Bought it!) To the left is an iron and ironing board which I bought, as well as the soft pink rug on the floor.Above is a picture of the whole inside of the house in it’s current state. As you can see, the fireplace in the living room is lit to take the edge off the chill. I rigged it up with a red and an orange bulb which I wired onto a battery and switch that is tucked away up the inside of the fireplace. I only have to press the button right inside to light the fire. Let’s try for a closeup….It was easier just to take it out of the house – I didn’t glue it in. I gathered some sticks and bits and pieces from the flower beds to build around the two nano lights. So cool.So, I’m making the two chandeliers for the upstairs now, so I can hang them and then put the backside of the roof on the house. I also have to make shades for the bay window in the living room, as well as a sofa and chair. I’ll also enclose more of the staircase.

Unlike most miniaturists, I like to finish the inside before I move on to the outside. It gives me time to get a “feel” for how I want the outside to look, based on what I did inside. Each segment involves a lot of design time. I know when I’m happy with something, and then I get going on it. Sometimes I have to figure out how to execute the look I want. That also takes awhile.

I’ll post again after Christmas, so here’s wishing you and your families a Merry Christmas from all my minis and me!

Farmhouse Bathroom

Since finishing (almost….) with Rosebud Cottage, I have been working on the second floor of this larger bearhouse. Contemplating my next move and several more takes time and consideration – rather like playing chess only much more fun. Anyway, decided to make a diagonal layout on the bathroom floor along with a tile inset under where the tub will be. Two reasons for the tile – the wood floor would get soaked when Sky and Squeeky make a mess in their baths, and because I patched a cutout where the stairs were intended to go per the kit, but I attempted to fill it in with a piece of wood. Which I did, but somehow it didn’t glue in level. Because of the uneven floor, the wood wouldn’t lay down flat; so, since I had some tiles left from the downstairs, I made a pattern to fit under the tub.Initially, I had to lay down the wires from the downstairs chandeliers, as per the first photo in the above series. I snaked them across the floor to the front corner so I can continue to snake them up the outside of the house to a chimney I will be making. The switch(es) will be hidden there. This last picture doesn’t show the tile section glued down yet, but as you can see, the tiles will be much more flexible going over the bump in the floor. I then laid the strips in a diagonal with a border matching the one around the tiles under the tub. Just because I wanted to do something different.

That grey polka dot wallpaper was bothering me, though. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it (too contemporary?), although I had thought that a pink and grey bathroom would be cute. But there isn’t any pink or grey in the patterned tiles – green, blue, and yellow, yes. Grey and pink, no. So, I started searching through my sheets of scrapbooking paper until I found THE ONE!Of course, the grey paper didn’t want to come off the walls. I use this paste called YES!, and as long as you spread it evenly all over the back, it adheres beautifully without any bubbles or wrinkles. I suppose if I wanted to soak it, it would come off, but that’s not even remotely feasible. Anyway, I picked off what I could, and the new paper looks great! That left me with the muddle of what to do with the gable window. I couldn’t see myself wallpapering around an octagon, so I just papered the two sides, and mixed and splotched a bunch of paint until it mimicked the wallpaper. Pretty good job, huh? And I hand painted blue roses on the little bench. A medicine cabinet and a towel and TP holder, and it’s almost done. Except for teeny, tiny accessories which I don’t have now.Oh – I installed wainscoting from finely corrugated cardboard, painted it white and added trim all around. I still might put a small shelf by the tub to hold bath salts, etc. And a beautiful blue-green chandelier, of course!…and a curtain, towels, soap…..

So that’s as far as I’ve gotten – the only thing left is the pink bedroom. And I have some ideas for that – I think I’ll make an extended bed in the large gable bump out, make a railing to go around the staircase opening, some wainscoting – maybe wood slats – and a bleached grey wood floor. The rest of the room will be devoted as a craft room. Little did I know that Momma bear is a miniature dollhouse maker, and loves to quilt! I never would have guessed! Now that I have a plan, I will transform this empty space into a craft room for Momma and maybe a playroom for the girls!That’s it for now – I’ve got lots of work to do – better get busy!

Rosebud Cottage – some finishing touches, but not all

So, since our return from evacuating to Ohio because of Hurricane Florence, I decided to back up for a few weeks and work on some of the finishing touches for my first bear house, Rosebud Cottage. I never made any curtains for the windows, and never finished making bedding for the bed. So, that has been my focus, albeit a slow one because details make the house, but they also take the most time. Ok, that being said, the first thing I did was make window coverings for every window (and door). That’s 7 windows and 1 door. These decorating decisions take a lot of thought, as I don’t want to make something I don’t like and end up hanging it anyway. So, the 3 floor to ceiling windows on the right side of the house got lace roman shades with rose accents to still allow of light to come in. Very feminine and shabby chic. For the front door, I made a 2-sided regular (non-working) shade out of scraps of wallpaper that I’ve used in the shabby chic farmhouse I’m working on now (scrapbook paper, actually). I love how that turned out. And then the 2 windows in the corner by the table were made with lace again, but drawn to the side and tied with a pink ribbon and a rose. I pinned the fabric to cardboard, then gathered the lace fold by fold with quilting pins until I got it how I liked it. I then sprayed it with several layers of cheap (extra hold) hairspray. Remember Aqua Net? They still make it! It just stiffened the lace enough to let it hold it’s shape while I sewed it to a bamboo skewer painted white; tied on the ribbon and tacked on the rose. Ta-Da!Upstairs, I made a pink, bamboo blind for the dormer window, and cafe curtains in blue (to match the chandelier) for the front cathedral window. I used these skinny sticks that I found at Walmart to make the roller blind. I wrapped each end of a stick in a heavy beading thread and just kept adding sticks until it was the length I wanted. I had previously painted the sticks with white, then haphazardly hit it with pink paint. Wanted to keep that slightly imperfect shabby chic look.Doesn’t it all look so pretty – inside and from outside. I like the pics showing how the battery operated chandeliers light up the space at night. As you can see in the above picture of the main floor, I still have to put sticks and logs in the fireplace, and I think I’ve decided to make it a “working” fireplace, with lights that will mimic a real fire. They are tiny LED lights (like the ones in the chandeliers) except you buy them in red, orange, or yellow. You hide the lights inside the sticks and moss and whatever you have in the base of the fireplace, and run the wires up the inside of the fireplace out of sight where they hook up to a cell battery that I will glue to inside top of the mantle. It has a switch hidden, too, to turn the fireplace “on” and “off”. I will be doing the same thing for the 2 fireplaces in the larger bear house I’m building now. (Still haven’t thought of a name for it).

Okay, so, today I finished making the shabby chic bedding for the bed upstairs. These bears are so tiny, that both can fit in one bed. I had previously built the bed and made the mattress, but never made sheets and pillows, etc. I used fabric left over from their chairs and some other fabric that I purchased for the new house. Because of my background as a quilter for decades, I knew I had to make a patchwork quilt for their bed. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself I didn’t, so I cut 1 1/4″ squares and hand sewed them together; used flannel as a filler, and hand quilted it. I made some patchwork pillows covered in lace, lace edged white pillows, and a white comforter edged in box pleated trim to glam up the bed. Rosebud and Charleen both love how soft the bed is now, and love just rolling around in it. I finally got them to sit still so I could take some pictures to show everyone.Okay, that’s it for now. Like I said, I still have the fireplace to work on, and I need to make some teeny tiny letters to stick out of the mailbox. Then I’ll really be done…..unless I feel the need to decorate the cottage for Christmas!!

Hope you enjoy watching my houses develop over time as much as I do. I never thought I would find this fun, but it thrills the hell out of me to create something that’s so darn cute. I love being able to use my imagination to make it come to life!

Now I’m ready to go back to the Farmhouse and start work on the upstairs. I’ve been away from it so long, I have to figure out what’s next. Have to make sure you build in the right order, or you could back yourself into a corner and mess it up. Check back in a couple weeks!

Temporary Pause

Hurricane Florence has forced me and millions of other people from their homes.  We evacuated two weeks ago to Ohio, but will be starting the journey back tomorrow.  Luckily, my house came through the storm almost untouched despite the eye passing directly over our roof!  So, this is just so let you know that I will be back posting soon!  Thanks for stopping by!

Bear House is coming along nicely

I don’t even know where to begin because I’ve just been working away and not blogging, but I have been taking pictures. I put up curtains on the front door and the front living room window. Also, I finally received the German porcelain tiles I ordered for the sink backsplash. Oh, the kitchen sink finally arrived as well.As you can see, I also made a corner fireplace and tiled the front and the hearth, too. I thought it would do a lot for the overall look to carry some common features into the living room. The sink turned out well – after careful measuring and gluing the tiles on, I decided the underside needed a more finished look, so I did the narrow wainscoting underneath, as well as gluing on a strip of wood to help support the sink. That worked out very well. Now I’m ready for the Wall!I repainted the icebox because it was hideous. I picked up a small craft paint bottle of gloss enamel to paint the stove and redo the icebox. Turned out much nicer looking than flat paint. The soft yellow cupboard is glued in place. I did order a few accessories for the kitchen, the egg basket you see on the sink, a bowl with two broken eggs and a whisk, two towels, and some extra eggs for when I build the chicken coop in the garden outside the kitchen.Oh, also got that cute little “rag” rug on the floor, and was finally able to fasten the screen door on. Squeaky and Sky are very excited that Mom Laura will now be able to cook! I have also painted the wall surrounding the screen door yellow, as that was the only plain white wall left in the kitchen and it needed some help. I’ve been working on the 3 (working!) chandeliers for the main floor, and managed to put one up, as well as hanging 2 shelves I made over the stove for pots and pans.Lookin’ darn cute! I love it. One more chandelier over the table, and the kitchen is done. I have some plates and cups that need to be stored in the yellow cupboard over the sink, but that’s it – until I fuss and think of something else….

Onto the living room. I made this desk for under the stairs (needs a drawer pull) and the book case. The window seat needs somewhere to store the books that will be read there.So, below is the overall look of the living room so far. I still have to put logs and moss in the fireplace and insert the battery operated lighting that will simulate a fire! Next is construction of 2 cozy armchairs to pull up to the fireplace on those chilly North Carolina winter nights. Going to rig up something to partially cover the windows in the bay as well. Here is the overall view of the downstairs so far. Once all the chandeliers are hung in place, it’s onto the second floor!An overview of the bottom floor …

Check back in a couple weeks for more updates! Oh! Here’s a shot of Mama Bear Laura all ready to duck out the back door and head to the market and the butcher!

Not a lot….more waiting

So, I’ve just wiped out what I did type already by hitting the back arrow. Who knew? Just everyone but me. Let’s see how far I didn’t get recently…I’ve painted the plaster to seal it, painted a tin ceiling looking paper a color called “cloud” by Martha Stewart and used it on the peaked ceiling of the sun room, too. Trimmed out the ceiling and floor in the living room, and started painting the appliances. I painted the table and chairs – they’re done. I painted roses on the table, painted the legs green, and painted roses on the backs of the four chairs. That item on the left is the ice box.I started painting it white, then a pearl white/grey, now it’s yellow and green. The cupboard on the left is purchased, but I love the creamy yellow (it’s upside down, by the way). So, I used daffodil from the Martha Stewart collection to paint the ice box to kinda match. I’m not the greatest mini painter, but it will be tucked back in the corner in the kitchen and no one will notice.So, base painted the wood stove white – Dave says I should find a gloss white for it so it looks like porcelain. Maybe. It has an oven rack, a silver railing for across the front, and gold ball handles for the small oven doors. Why silver and gold?This is where the cabinet will go over the sink on the dividing wall.You can see that this will be a crowded kitchen – no wonder I had to build on the sunroom to accommodate the table. You need a big house to make a nice kitchen. My decorating period for this is around the 1920’s to 30’s, I guess. Ice boxes, wood stoves, and an old fashioned sink. But, I’m not gonna do modern and I don’t want Victorian, so this is the period I’m left with. And I like that. There’s a great old fashioned electric refrigerator out there, but it’s $60!!! I don’t love it that much yet. I’ll stick with the ice box. My dad remembered an ice box on the farm, and he was born in the 1920’s, so it’s not unreasonable.

I should be making the 5 or 6 chandeliers I’ll need to light up the house while I’m waiting for the sink, fabric to make the chairs, and hinges for the screen door. I don’t want to move to the second floor before I get the dividing wall for the kitchen solidly in place. I have miniature ceramic tiles I ordered from Germany to be the backsplash behind the sink.Aren’t they cute? Tulips and hearts in green, yellow and navy. I have 30 printed tiles and 100 cream tiles. I won’t be using them all on this house. Can you imagine making such tiny ceramic tiles? Imagine me gluing them in straight lines, and then grouting them! But, they will “make” the kitchen with the yellow cupboard and white antique sink!I love the texture of the plaster on these two walls. The bay window will become a window seat for reading once I get my fabric and make a cushion and pillows. Curtains will be lace? Roman shades? Something.

Okay, I’m done talking about nothing. Tomorrow will hopefully be a more productive day.

Moving Right Along

So, I cut a pattern on paper of the floor in the kitchen and sunroom, painted it brown, then glued the individual vinyl tiles on the paper. The brown can be seen between the tiles, eliminating the need for some kind of fake grout. With that done, I just ran the glue bottle all over the wood and pressed the tile paper on top. Perfect!See the ceiling? I had glued that in permanently. The beams 4 white beams I glued on the ceiling did the trick to keep it from warping before installation. The pretty screen door is not mounted in place yet, still waiting on the hinges. Squeaky and Sky couldn’t wait any longer to see their new house. They even carried over the bench from the porch of Rosebud Cottage so they had somewhere to sit and watch the progress. They can’t wait for their Mum, (Laura), to start baking in the new kitchen….That’s Laura on the left, Grandma Katherine on the right. I don’t have a house big enough for Katherine, she’s 6 1/4 inches tall. The ceilings in the cottages are only 8″ high – she’ll be dropping by often to visit – we’ll keep a larger chair for her to sit comfortably. Sky and Squeaky are a little intimidated by her size, but pretty soon, they won’t even notice.

I did rebuild the bay window, dry fitting to make sure it would cover the window opening. I then glued it to the house, and attached the roof. I decided to give it the look of aging copper, and I carried that look over to the four-sided roof I built on the sunroom.This is a shot looking up into the copper roof of the sunroom. It was pretty tricky to build – first I glued skinny supports all around the tops of the walls, cut out the pieces I fitted first with cardboard, then glued them in place one by one. I supported the individual pieces with skinny beams glued at the intersections. Let it dry overnite, and it’s solid as a rock. Aileen’s Original Tacky Glue is the one to use in this instance, because it sets up real fast, unlike wood glue. I might run beams crossing each other at regular ceiling level to be able to hang things from – plants, sparkly lights….hmm.

Today I was also working on gluing popsicle sticks to the living room floor. Pretty soon, the dividing wall/staircase between the kitchen and living room will be glued into place. Still working on it fitting smoothly into the alloted space. Some adjustments will still be necessary – it seems the more I finish off the bottom floor, the more difficult it is to slide the wall into place.

Two last pictures – the “kids” were getting bored – Sky was running in and out the front door, and Squeaky was doing handstands in the corner of the room! Earlier, they let the chickens into the house, along with their new pet, Dilly the Dachshund. The chickens will be living outside in the chicken yard with their own coop eventually. Lots of work left to do!