Saturday, April 19, 2014

Making a dollhouse fireplace

After unsuccessfully searching online for a fireplace for the living room, I decided to make my own. I came across this blog by Elizabeth Slinn, which had some helpful ideas.

During the next few weeks I gathered different materials around the house to decorate the fireplace and then started to build it. Here is a mini tutorial.

Making the form:
After measuring your room, use foam core and cut the front and back to 4.5” wide x 4 ¾” tall.
Cut a 2” wide x 3.5” hole out from the bottom center of the front. Round the top of the hole if you like.
The sides were also foam core, cut to 1.5” wide x 4 ¾” tall. (It may look a bit taller in my photos, because I cut it to these measurements as I was constructing it after these photos were taken.)

Interior bricks:
Next, use mat board for the interior of the fireplace. Cut this as a 1” wide x 4.5” long strip. Lightly score the board with a utility knife 4” from both sides and fold.

Next, score the foam core back using a score tool to make the bricks go 4” up the back. Then put the mat board inside piece next to the foam board back piece to make sure the bricks line up once assembled. Once all of your horizontal lines are in place, stagger your vertical lines to resemble bricks.
I used the metal ball score tool after the smaller score tool to round out the scores.

Using red and tan paint, paint the bricks and add the soot. I used the tan paint and a very thin brush for the mortar and then mixed a darker brick color for every other brick.

Put it together:
I used blue tape to adhere the inside to the front and back. I LOVE blue tape!
Then I used wood glue to glue the sides on.

Decorating your fireplace:
I cut molding for the top and added wood and embellishments. The silver trim along the top and around the hole was a slinky metal ribbon material. I think I got it in the scrapbook section years ago or the ribbon section at the craft store.
I used gold ribbon to run down the sides.
Then I glued the mat board on the top with wood glue, flipped upside down and put a weight on it until dry.

I will tell you it took a week to come up with the right pieces to use. Every evening I would just take a look at it and start putting pieces on and taking them off. Then I would remember materials that I had and try those until I was happy.

Finishing and painting:
Then I painted it with two coats of a Zinc gray and black mix. Once dry, I went back and hit all of the embellishments with a lighter gray paint. Then used a coarse brush and black charcoal to enhance all of the edging.

Front fireguard:
For the front grill guard, cut two pieces of mat board at 2.5” x 3/16. Shape them with your fingers so they bend in a curve and brace them in the hole with white glue. Once dry, paint black.
I bent these two metal pieces of jewelry embellishments, painted them black and then glued them on with white glue.

For the base, I glued black textured paper on mat board and sanded the edges smooth and painted them black.

If you want to add electric for your logs just cut a small hole in the back to run your electric.
That’s it! Place it in your room and enjoy! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ophelia's Dollhouse Door

Luckily my dog woke me up early on this Saturday, so I have some extra time before I have to get some chores done and go out to meet a friend. I brought all of my “little” projects that have been lining up outside to finish.
 When I was getting ready to glue my doorknob onto the door I knew I had to add some fun to it, so I rubbed it with some charcoal, put a mat finish on it (using a soft gel made by Golden, which I use that to finish off all of my mixed media art pieces.)...
...and to top it off I wanted to add something to the corners. After looking through my inventory, I found this cool metal embellishment! I cut off the corners and glued it on. Love it! I think it might need an old brass door kick as well as a little bird nest up in the top cove. Plus, some tea stained lace curtains on the inside. :)

How to patina miniature items to give them an aged look.

I wanted my doorknobs around Ophelia's house to look like old brass. I used these two metallic paints. While holding the knob in place with a toothpick I coated the knob/plate with the darker metallic paint first, being sure to get into all the crevasses.

Once dry, I painted over them with the lighter metallic paint. I dabbed the brush on the wax paper first to get off some paint then I painted them sporadically and quickly. Immediately, I taped my finger over the knob plate to lift any extra paint. I still want some of the original gold to show through.

That’s it!
Here are some examples of finished knobs on doors.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Making a dollhouse wardrobe special

I wanted to add some charm to this ordinary wardrobe so I glued on this embellishment I found at the scrapbook section of the craft store and then painted the wardrobe. Then I printed the insect pattern onto fabric. I ironed white cotton onto a sheet of freezer paper then ran it through the printer and prayed that it wouldn’t jam my printer as it finished!
Then I cut 2 thin strips of white felt and glued them onto the doors. Next, I cut the fabric to be a tiny bit bigger than the felt and glued all around the edges to give it a raised panel look. I painted the edges of the fabric the same color as the wardrobe and then I braided embroidery thread and glued it around the edges.
Now I just have to fill it with Ophelia dresses and shoes!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Opehlia's Bedroom

Ophelia’s bedroom. Purple was a must, her favorite color! I used scrapbook paper, but then ran out so I scanned it in, color corrected it, and then printed it out on my HP printer in a high-resolution setting (300dpi).
I discovering a set of old window blinds in my basement and began ripping them apart and used the planks for the floor. They were already beat up and discolored which saved me a lot of time!
Before I laid them down I had found a great solution for the rug. 
It’s a freaking mouse pad! Have you heard of this? Apparently I have been out of the loop. They are
called mouse rugs and they are the perfect width, but they are a bit thick, about 1/8. I made up for it by leaving a hole in the flooring for it to fit into.
They also sell them as runners. I goggled them and found the best price and bought two. They were just under $20 each.

My plan is to only buy a few things and try and make the rest myself to save money. I honestly don’t have a mini budget these days, besides the fun is in making most of the items anyway.
Then I was researching how to make a grand fireplace with a mildly creepy feel for the sitting room and ended up finding this great vintage piece on Ebay! $10! It came in the mail, but was smaller then I thought, so I put it in her bedroom. I have never like plastic furniture, but this was such an old piece and well designed so I just had to. I love it!

I did find some great sites to make my own fireplace and I will share those once I complete it and share it. Ta ta for now...

Ophelia's House

Years ago I was a regular contributor to American Miniaturist magazine as well as DHM. I had to put my miniature hobby to the side and close my mini business to pursue my mixed media art as well as my unforeseen venture into writing. I had created a character, Ophelia, on canvas and then it turned into three books, which are full of my own illustrations. For the past few years I have been selling my art and books at local art festivals as well as art galleries.
I also have a graphic design business and back when I was contributing my miniatures I would occasionally ask AM if they had any freelance work. Well, four years later I got a wonderful phone call from AM and was asked to be the new editor.
So here I am, back in the wonderful world of miniatures! I now have seven issues under my belt and absolutely love searching for and seeing all of the wonderful miniature artists that are out there. So, because of all of you, I have now decided to make a dollhouse for my beloved character Ophelia.
I will be posting the progress of my house as I go along. I will be sharing my tips as well as tips I get form other miniaturists.

So here is the exterior so far. I am creating the house based on what I had written in my stories a few years ago. There will be a little wiggle room, because I am looking at this as an art piece not so much an exact replica of a place in time. I still have to cap the tower and add more detailing.

I had to find a way to make a slate roof without using actual slate, because of the weight. Which was sad, because I have a shoebox full of tiny pieces of real slate that I have been hoping to use.
I ended up using the wood shingles that came with the house and I roughly coated each one with wall Spackle on one side so they would have the texture that a flat piece of slate has. Once dry, I quickly sanded each piece with fine sandpaper to take off any protruding clumps. All the while thinking, “Okay, now I remember now what it feels like to be a determined miniaturists!” You can’t think about how many shingles there are. You have to only focus on the end result and how it will be worth it.
It’s about patients!

I glued down all of the shingles (See Roofing a Dollhouse) and then painted them with varying charcoal colors while studying photographs of slate roofs. Then I studies photos of moss and tried my hand at that. I had some green foam in my inventory to I used very tiny pieces of that and used tweezers to dip in Tacky Glue then push into the cracks of the slate shingles. Once dry, I used a soft water color paintbrush and made a green wash to coat over the slate in select areas. To make the wash, cut your paint with a lot of water. I also added it up the side of the house as well, especially in corners where moss will seek moister.