Why Do I Start These Things?

I got this great idea to make a sectioned staircase because I really liked it – but, it took me 2 full days to execute it, AND, it takes up more room than if I had just put it going up along the wall. I probably made it harder than it really is because I had to figure out the dimensions and construction all by myself. The first dollhouse was easy because I had a step by step guide on what to do next. I have the staircase almost done except for some trimming, then I have to decide what I’m going to do to the wall it’s attached to, and the opposite side which is a kitchen wall.The first picture, from Pinterest, is the look I’m trying to achieve, except mine will be turned 90 degrees (and not as fancy, as this is Shabby Chic). I first determined where on the stair stringer I wanted to make the cut. I just wanted a short turn to the 2nd floor, so I cut it at 6 and 3. Here it is glued together with the stair treads. As construction progressed, I found I had to eliminate the top stair tread on the long section, and put that as the top step in the short section. After a lot of blue tape attempting to get a perspective on how it would fit, I finally had to bite the bullet and start gluing it to the dividing wall. The back wall, which is nonexistent in a doll house so you can work inside, ended up just being a half-high wall to support the first section of stairs. Then I had to cut a landing to make the turn and start the final section. I glued a support stick to the dividing wall to support the landing, then glued the final section. Spent a lot of time waiting for the Gorilla Wood Glue to dry in between steps. One word about the Gorilla glue – this stuff dries crazy hard – I had to pry one piece of moulding off, and it was a tough job. That staircase isn’t going anywhere! Here are pictures of the final product. My main issue was that I didn’t check the the treads weren’t skewed before it dried, and they were. So it’s a little cocksided, but not horrible. I also cut a door to the kitchen rather than just have the entrance to the immediate left of the front door. I wanted to create more kitchen wall space.I trimmed out the sides of the stairs with “skinny sticks” because they just looked too “raw” for me (see 1st picture of the stairs rubber banded and drying. See how the sides are just ugly? I didn’t want the stair to look like a cut up ladder). I wanted to make it look like shiplap, but it looks a little more modern on the angle. I’ll see what I can do with paint, etc., to shabby chic it up more. I also backed the stair treads with pieces of wood so you can’t see thru the stairs. I kind of liked that look, but I have to figure out what to do with the space under the stairs now. I’ll trim out the walls, and I found a pic on (where else) Pinterest last nite (two, actually) that provides some ideas. First, this same pic of the stairs, but see the built in bookcase under the stairs?And secondly, which I think I favor – They (?) created a little private nook with a desk and chair, or I could make it a reading nook with a padded chair and a floor lamp.

So, today, I will do some more painting on the stairs, maybe attempt to make a hand rail, work on the walls, etc.

It Always Takes Longer Than You Think

That’s my new motto. I”ll just keep repeating it over and over – because, here I am 4 days later, and I’ve only made a little more progress over my anticipated. Did get all the windows in the walls, finally. Lots of painting and waiting for glue to dry. Dave had to help me get the walls and floors together yesterday – I needed at least one more hand while I was hot gluing and trying to line everything up since the glue dries almost instantaneously. Ohhh…that was a big work. There were some redo’s and a lot of sweating – and I was even in the air conditioning. Just lots of stress. Here are some pics for my efforts…You can see how I’ve redesigned the front windows to match the purchased front door, enlarging them 100% and repeating the transom windows from over the door. Makes a nice cohesive front. Above is the right side of the house – the hole will be a bay window. The inside pic shows how the gabled roof will look when on – right now it’s just taped in place so I can figure out where to put the room divider on each level so it doesn’t mess with the gable windows.This is a little 5 inch bump out I did on the left side to give more room to the kitchen so I can place a dining table. That’s a green screen door I made from the left over front door from the kit – just cut out the panels and sandwiched screening between identical doors. The 15 pane window is purchased – I thought it matched the panes on the upstairs windows .Here is a look from the back at the little bump out. I had hoped to put an angled roof on, but there is only room for a flat roof because of the window directly above. I will be gluing this porch post in place to help support the 2nd floor since that part of the wall is now the window wall.Above we are looking at the house with more of a realistic perspective as to it’s size. And the last pic above is my work room where the magic happens. It’s actually a 6 foot folding table set up in the sun room. I like working out here in the summer so I can keep an eye on all my neighbors. Har Har.This little beauty is Katherine, a new bear from Shaz Bears created by Sharon Hale, direct from Australia. I ordered her because her name is the same as my Godmother Angel, and I wanted to build her a house. Aren’t her clothes gorgeous? She has the exact Shabby Chic look I wanted, and she’s in pink – Aunt Kay’s favorite color. However, the description of her size was incorrect and I ended up with a bear that is 6 1/4″ instead of 4.7″. She is too big for the 1:12 scale bear houses I build. I contacted Ms. Hale, her creator, and she generously sent me another bear which I just received today. Her name on her tag is Laduree, which is a French Pastry shop specializing in macaroons.But Ms. Hale said I can call her Laura. I love the celedon color of the inside of the shop. Anyway, Laura looks very much like Katherine – so much so that Katherine could be Laura’s mother! Laura is 5″ tall, which is still larger than my other bears which come in at 3″ and 3.5″. I’ll have to make bigger furniture for Laura when I build her house.

Anyway, today I spent all day working on the staircase for the new house. The instructions call for placing the staircase on the far right of the house (looking inside from the back) against the wall – there’s even a hole cut in the ceiling for access to the top floor. However, that area of the house is where the kitchen is going – and I don’t want a staircase taking up the space. I also didn’t want it smack in your face when you open the front door, which was another possible location. I ran across this layout of a stairway on Pinterest which I love for the design, and the small space it occupies.or this:Mine will be similar, and I like the idea of the built in bookcase under the stairs. Or a little closet….

Day Two

Well, I didn’t get to saw last night as it was just too hot and muggy, and by the time it was decent, I was out of daylight. Slept in this morning, so didn’t get going until late morning. Set up my makeshift worktable in the garage, and started cutting up the front and side of the bear house to make my adjustments. I’m very happy with what I did. Enlarged the front door opening to accommodate the overhead transom and doubled the size of both front windows. Also recut the front gable for an arched window instead of an octagon. On the left side, I cut off about 1/2 the downstairs wall to bump it out 5 inches and cut a large opening for a large panel window. Made a new side wall for the sunroom and cut a doorway in it for a screen door to the garden. I’ll be using the front door that came with the kit and cut out all the panels on the set of doors to sandwich screening in between. Made sure to make the door hole large enough so I can hinge the door without a problem. I hope. I may cheat and use big hinges on one side instead of trying to sandwich them between the door and the casing. Also cut a floor for the sunroom. Dry fitted the doors and window and adjusted the openings as needed.

I also painted all the window casings, frames, sills, etc. with two coats of white acrylic after sanding all the edges. Tomorrow I can layer the acrylic film between the window frames to make the windows ready for installation. Also may white latex paint the outside window framing so it will match the exterior of the home later. Need to prep the manufactured front door and large window with double coats of white as well as the staircase rails. After I install the windows and doors, I can start assembling the walls and first floor rooms. That’s all for today. Good nite.

A New, Bigger Bear House

Here it is August 1st, and yesterday I started on my next Bear House, this one also a kit offered by Greenleaf Dollhouses called The Orchid. I Love, Love, LOVE my Rosebud Cottage, but I want to have more of a kitchen, a bathroom, you know, just more room! I have more creative juices that need an outlet. So many ideas in my head, and besides, I LOVE building and decorating to my heart’s content. This cottage is for my second set of bears, Sky and Squeaky, from Shaz Bears in Australia (I could only afford the belly of the plane to get them here, don’t judge me!) created by artist Sharon Hale. Rosebud and Charleen wanted some friends so they could have tea, and mess around (they are rather young bears, but maturing quickly). They will need a larger home in which to gather and play games and practice their cooking and homemaker skills. The Orchid offers room on two floors for 4 rooms, and a bump out on one side for a sunshine filled area for their large kitchen table. A great gathering place.I’m not crazy about the Victorian outside with all the trim, etc. But the “bones” are good. I drew new plans to enlarge the front windows, install a manufactured front door with a transom, changed the front gable window to an arched one like in Rosebud Cottage, and a 5 inch bump out on the side for the kitchen/dining area with a large window and a screen door out to a tiny fenced in garden with a fountain. I’ve done my calculations and hope to fire up the jigsaw tonite and start sawing away! Next time, painting window trim and doors…..the excitement builds!

Done and on to Another

I can’t believe this is August 1st – almost 3 months since I’ve written. One of the reasons for that is because no one was coming to this site to watch my bear house build, so I started posting to my regular blog instead. So basically, this has turned out to be just for me. Whatever – guess people just don’t want to be bothered and just don’t care what other people (family, even) are doing. Fine. I don’t care anymore either.

So I’ll post pics so I at least have a record of how the build went (terrific!) and how it looks (fantastic). Can’t believe I pulled it off. Finished around July 1st because of company, etc.

The finished upstairs chandelier ready to hang. Will collect all the wires and run them onto the roof and into the chimney where the battery and switch is hidden.Had to glue shiplap onto the gabled portion of the roof before I could run the wires. Next pic is testing the system to make sure I don’t cover wires with plaster that don’t work….We have lift off!! Oh! Surprising how one LED bulb can give off so much light!! I really love the chandelier now. Time to finish the inside of the other side of the roof with wallpaper and wooden beams… Looks nice with the wainscoting. Now to start on the front porch, and hang the front door and the screen door. These doors were no easy feat. They seemed to be sized right, but I had to do a heck of alot of shaving and cutting to them to get them to fit and to open! The hinges took up alot of room despite my trying to inset them. What a pain. Have to think of a solution the next time I make and hang doors!Now starts the lengthy process of finishing the outside wall of the cottage. I hung heavy corrugated cardboard on the front and the right side (facing us) with concrete as a base to strengthen the structure. I did the same procedure around the back opening, as well as stucco finish concrete on the left side with all the windows. What a lot of fussing around, but worth the effort. Then I think I painted 4 layers of white house paint on all sides. I was surprised it took so much paint, but I finally achieved a good solid finish. Then, it was time to finish the porch with columns, brackets, and the custom made roof. I didn’t want just a flat roof, so I designed and made a slanted one and covered it with metal (fake – painted cardboard).Finally, it’s time for the roof. Just sucked it up (fear, that is) and plugged in the glue gun and went for it. Turned out better than I thought, but I spent hours beforehand trying everything I could think of for it to sit as flat and seated correctly as possible. Next was the meticulous task of handpainting every individual roof slate (balsa wood). I mixed several paint colors together gradually to get variegated tiles. Then drew lines on the roof and hot glued each tile by hand. Oh, also made a concrete chimney and used a torn up cardboard egg carton the make the stones. I’m very happy with the way it turned out. All the light wires are run under the roofing into the chimney where the battery and on/off switch are located.

Now all that’s left is to hot glue the vines and flowers, and make the flower boxes…Rosebud Cottage is complete!! After I’m done making quilled monograms, turtles, and baskets for my Market last days, I’ll start a new cottage – the two bears on the front porch are my new arrivals, Sky and Squeaky, from Australia by Shaz Bears, crafted by Sharon Hale. They are homeless, but not for long!

Construction Issues

It’s been a couple weeks of going nowhere fast. I spent a couple days off from working on the Bear Cottage to finish up some paper houses for Market because I intended to go on the 16th. However, a low pressure system over Florida has been sending humidity and showers and brief downpours our way for a week now. Of course, after I decided I wouldn’t chance storms on Wednesday morning, it was the nicest morning of the whole week. Another major reason I didn’t go is because I just can’t trust my body to cooperate with me. I simply can’t get up and run out of the house at 6:30 and not get home until 1:30 without incurring abdominal problems. This is my new normal, but it isn’t always user friendly. My sister, Claudia, has kindly offered her assistance setting up and taking down my Market tent and displays, so that will be very helpful. Anyway, on to the bearhouse.

I did manage to get the whole inside painted and the chandelier hung in the downstairs. I laid another popsicle stick floor upstairs, and also did some wainscoting with more corrugated cardboard from Hobby Lobby’s scrapbooking section. It’s dense corrugation (word?) and looks great on the interior. I have some really hefty stuff to use on the outside of the house. Painted everything white and plastered the two window sections on the second floor. The one on the side wall will have a gabled roof, so it is standing alone. However, it wasn’t happy and kept falling off, and the plastering on that one was really horrible. The final straw came yesterday when I was trying to dry fit the roof pieces along with the window and the gabled roof. Disaster.

What happened in the meantime however, was Charleen was getting bored and started clowning around by climbing upstairs (don’t ask me how!) and then hanging over the opening where the ladder will go. Of course, Rosebud had to join in the fun by laying down and teasing Charleen about how was she going to get down now without getting hurt? Needless to say, something had to be done, and fast! I quickly pieced together the ladder they will use for access to the bedroom so Charleen didn’t fall and break her neck!Here are those two characters sitting nicely in their chairs staring at a non-functioning fireplace. The thrill of climbing up and down the ladder has stopped for now. The only thing upstairs now is the chandelier I’m working on for their bedroom.

The disaster pictures are below.

I was attempting to piece together a roof that was “cobbled” together from some of the other wood left over from the kit – a gable is not in the original plans. I swear I followed the instructions in the book very carefully, but the pieces just wouldn’t fit together properly – the angles were all wrong, the cutouts were all wrong. So I sat and stared at it most of the day while trying to figure out how to do it right. In the end, I tossed that roof and window gabled wall and started over by cutting new pieces of wood and making cardboard templates to play with the roof angles and shapes. I finally figured it out and cut all new wood last night.I finally got up the courage to fire up the hot glue gun and go for it. The top picture shows the house as it will look with the side roof on and the gabled roof. Bottom pic is that unit glued together and removed for finishing. The roof sections will be glued on after finishing work on the outside of the cottage.

Such a relief to get that done. After work on the gable, I think the job is shifting to the outside to build a front porch, trim out the windows, make the doors, put the siding on the house, etc., etc., etc.

Regardless of the complication which I would not let beat me, I still love doing this. So much more to do until next time! Thanks for stopping by!

Digging the Foundation

Just kidding. No basement on this one. Some of the huge ones do, however. Have you ever gone on Pinterest and searched for miniature houses? What people make out there is unbelievable. I’m talking years and years in the making and then decorating. Some are even in museums, they are so masterful. When you think of the word “dollhouse”, what kind comes to mind? Children need larger objects to move around, so a good base to start from could be a four shelf bookcase. Just put up staircases and room dividers, and go for it. My first thought is always the precision made Victorians with period furnishings including, but not limited to, furniture, wallpaper, flooring, window coverings, bathrooms, kitchens, accessories – you name it, it’s done period authentic or you shouldn’t even bother starting one. They are stunning and the detail is amazing. However, I don’t want to devote my life or my Social Security to the construction. Knowing that is what interested me in the cinderellamoments.com website. Of course I stumbled across it on Pinterest, and it caught my eye because of many reasons. One of which is that most of the homes are cottages rather than huge, sprawling mansions with conservatories. The size is doable and reasonable.See how darling this is? Two stories, wrap around porch, flowers and vines, and made yourself chandeliers. The style is called Shabby Chic, and according to Wikipedia, this is the definition: “Shabby chic (/ˈʃæb.iˈʃiːk/) is a form of interior design where furniture and furnishings are either chosen for their appearance of age and signs of wear and tear or where new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique. At the same time, a soft, opulent, yet cottage-style decor, often with an affected feel is emphasized to differentiate it from genuine period decor. Variations of shabby chic style include:

▪ Cottage chic

▪ Beach cottage chic

▪ French country

▪ Gustavian (Swedish)

Decorators consider shabby chic a soft, relaxed, romantic style that looks comfortable and inviting, and is usually associated as feminine.”

So there you are. As many of you know, I’ve never been one for frills or romantic cottage-style decor. However, the more I looked at it, the more I fell in love with it. I’m not crazy about the worn look and signs of wear and tear, so my look will be casual but not sporting holes and tears. And it can also be Beach Cottage Chic, which is the style I’ll probably favor. I also like French Country. What the hell? It’s a dollhouse! (Bear house, to be precise) – it’s not like redecorating MY house. I can do anything I want to it. I already have started with changes from the instructions, adding my own touches. I do love the all white aspect, but the quilter in me balks at no color at all.

An aside – I notice that my typeset has changed from the original after my cut and paste from Wikipedia. Don’t know how to change it back. Oh, well. Moving on…..

The first thing I did was order a kit to help with first-time construction, and in Caroline’s book that I’m following, she recommended The Primrose by Corona Concepts. This gets me started with laser cut walls, etc., so I don’t have to start with graph paper! However, Caroline already starts me on “bashing”, which loosely interpreted means changing the design from the original. I have moved windows and the door, and I added 2″ to the height of the second floor, because otherwise you can barely fit a bed up there. So the height is now around 17″ high, 10 1/8″ wide, and 11″ deep. One room down and one room up for starters. At least this way you learn all the basics and it isn’t an overwhelming project that will scare you off. The scale of the build also attracted me. At 1:12 ( 1″ = 1′) it’s a good size without being too tiny or taking up a whole room in your house. With that scale in mind, the ceilings are 8″ tall (converting to 8 feet in real life) which allows plenty of height for hanging chandeliers and tall windows.So, this is the published manual by Cinderella Moments that I’m using for a guide. I had to gather quite a few supplies so that I’d have everything I need. Here’s the list from the book.I now have a dollhouse tool kit (scaled for size), a Black & Decker jigsaw, my Dremel, plywood from Home Depot and other sources, etc. The floors are made from popsicle sticks, plaster will be used on some of the walls, and concrete patch for creating brick, stone and adobe on the outside walls.

I’m loving this. I love creating and being able to incorporate my own ideas into the project. Here are some pics showing my progress so far:The kit as it comes in the box.Reconfiguring the door and windows.And the walls are going up, attached to the floor with hot glue, then gone back over with Gorilla wood glue for strength. You can see the 2″ strip at the top of the wall which I used to raise the roof for the second floor.Laying the popsicle stick floor. Had to buy a special tool called the Easy Cutter Ultimate to cut the rounded ends off the popsicle sticks. It took about 75 sticks to cover the floor. I also used corrugated cardboard from Hobby Lobby as wainscoting on 3 of the walls. The wall with 3 windows was plastered, then wavy lines drawn thru the wet plaster for decoration.I hot glued full width popsicle sticks as baseboards around the floor, then painted two coats of satin interior house paint on the floor, baseboards and the plaster window wall.I’m now working on what will be the ceiling of the first floor, which is attached to the underside of the 2nd floor. I divided it into 2 1/2″ squares that I’m stamping with Martha Stewart acrylic paint called “Wet Cement”. These will simulate a tin ceiling when I’m done. The other side of the ceiling (the 2nd floor) will be covered in – WAIT FOR IT – popsicle sticks!My last effort for the day was to paint the window wall a light pink. There will be floor to ceiling white filmy curtains on this wall, so I just wanted a hint of color to show through the fabric. Rosebud convinced me that this would accent her fur and hat, so I thought, okay, fine. I actually like her idea now that I see it. There can be too much white!

So tomorrow I will be finishing the ceiling/2nd floor and then gluing it in place as well as the gable wall upstairs. That may take all day. My hand gets tired cutting the ends of all those sticks! Here is a pic of the tool I use for that:It’s a beast, buy it beats trying to cut with a box cutter or Exacto knife!

So that’s it today. I’ll leave you with a picture of what the cottage should look like inside if I follow the instructions (not likely!). I’m making a full 2nd floor, not a balcony.

And then there was Rosebud…

I adopted Rosebud from warmheartbears.com shortly after I made Charleen part of my family to be a companion and best friend. They were both so excited, and hit it off right away. Rosebud is most impressed that the cottage they will be living in will be called Rosebud Cottage in her honor. Charleen thought that would be the best surprise for her best friend and a gesture that would make her feel most welcome. Of course, Charleen prevailed on me to make Rosebud a matching chair as well. Softie that I am, I gave in and created a pink one with rosebud print with fluffy pillows. Now they can sit side by side in front of the fireplace and exchange gossip. See how pretty they are?Oh, I almost forgot, I made Rosebud a fancy hat because she said she loved Charleen’s. Well, despite the fact that Charleen’s hat came with her, I thought I could make a similar one for Rosebud. It’s hard sewing a hat for a 1″ diameter bear head, I’ll tell ya! BUT, I did it and also put roses on it! It actually matches her chair! She is so happy! Look at those pictures, aren’t they the sweetest little things?

Next, we’ll begin work on their cottage.

Meet Charleen..

I stumbled across warmheartbears.com while reading the cinderellamoments.com website about the beautiful dollhouses Caroline makes. The dollhouse was my inspiration, but Warm Heart Beats provided a bear to live in the house. I don’t see the point in just building a cottage with no one to inhabit it. Anyway, Charleen happened to be up for adoption and I jumped on it. I love that she’s only 3″ tall and fully jointed, but I think her elegant hat sealed the deal for me. The proportion of the cottage I’m going to make for Charleen is 1 inch = 1 foot. So, in real life, Charleen would only be 3 feet tall. Not exactly the right proportion for a cottage with 8″ (8 foot) ceilings, but larger bears seem like they would be too big for the space. The house is only 10″ x 11″, although it does have two floors. Anyway, I made this white chair for Charleen from a miniature kit – really a pain in the butt. However, I’m going to have to get used to it because these chairs are perfect for Shabby Chic. It was so plain, tho, so I painted roses on parts of it to dress it up. She said she loves it, because I made it especially for her. She appreciates that I’m building her this big house to live in, but has mentioned that she would really like her best friend to live there with her. After all, you can’t have tea parties with just one. I felt her sadness, so I ventured back to her birth home and found her friend, Rosebud. See my next posting for her pics and bio.

Time to Introduce Myself and My “Girls”

Let’s begin with me. I’m an “older” woman, retired for 4 years, and a former quilter for 30 years. My retirement ushered in a desire to try my hand at crafts other than quilting, so I’ve been beading, playing with polymer clay, and recently making tiny paper houses by Tim Holtz via Sizzix. I found I really enjoyed working in miniature, redesigning the buildings and making beach homes and farmhouses, as well as barns.
As a result, I started making fishing shacks for my adult boys who are avid fisherman on Lake Erie. I enjoyed fostering my architectural skills and building piers which resulted in complete dioramas! I could be less fussy with this type of subject, too. Continue reading “Time to Introduce Myself and My “Girls””