February 28, 2016:

In the past few days I’ve gotten some work done on the house. I cut the window openings for the bedroom, and I started making the stairs out of foam board (I plan to make the permanent stairs out of wood but needed to do a practice run out of foamboard before I start cutting up wood).

I also got some darling minis in the mail. I had ordered a flower arrangement from two different Etsy shops. I also ordered some electrical outlets from a dollhouse building supplier. Most of the lighting will be “can” lights in the ceilings but there will also be some lamps in the bedroom and living room.

Last night I went to Hobby Lobby for the foam board and ended up getting a cutting tool called the Easy Cutter, which was recommended at a lovely website called mockingbirdhillcottage.com . I got it for 40% off! I also picked up a sheet of thin, dense foam “paper” which I may experiment with in terms of trying to make “stones”.

After I got back from the store and dinner was over, I sat at the dining table and made a model of my stair design out of foam board and glue. Once it is done I will set it in place in the house and make any necessary adjustments, then make the whole thing in wood for permanent installation.

I probably won’t have time for any work on the house today because it is Oscar night, and we are having the kids over for dinner and to watch the Oscars together. Family time, yay!

February 24, 2016:

It’s been a few days since I’ve written anything on the mini house construction. I have done some work on the house. I got the foyer window drawn. Then last night, I cut out the foyer window. It was a severe pain in the butt, because again I am cutting after that wall is installed in the house. So I am cutting on the vertical, and it is very hard to clamp a jig at both ends before jigsawing the opening. I can’t figure out why I had such a hard time determining the placement of the jig. I’d set the measurement using the Kreg jig and sometimes it would work and sometimes it would be slightly off. VERY frustrating. I finally got a measurement of the distance between the side of the jigsaw guide and the blade location, which is 1 and 7/16ths inches.

Here’s an updated photo of the house:

IMG_3695

You can see the foyer window at  left, the single lower floor wall, and both upper floor interior walls.

I then installed the only remaining interior wall. Fortunately, I could cut the door opening before installing the wall, and I could just use my homemade cutting jig for the long cuts on the wall itself, done with the circular saw, and could use the Kreg sawing jig for the door cuts using the jigsaw. Worked out fine.

I had to install the wall using pocket holes because I could not fit my drill under the wall/floor joint in order to just screw through the floor into the bottom of the wall. So pocket holes at that joint — and screws where it meets the back wall of the house. It’s DONE!

I also made size and positioning final decisions about, and drew in the bedroom windows. Also I drilled starter holes for my jigsaw. Haven’t cut them yet. That’s next.

I’m not super impressed with the new Kreg sawing jig, but it has been useful. So far I’m more impressed with my Ana White homemade circular sawing jig. I think that I can make my own jigsaw jig using her basic concept with some modifications, but I’ll have to think about the design and make some prototypes.

Yes the process of building this mini house, though quite frustrating at times, has been a very good learning experience. I am sure I will be able to put some of this learning to use in future, on other projects.

After the bedroom windows are done, I am going to have to tackle the stairs and the shower in the bathroom before I can put the roof on the house or electrify it. The reason for this is that the opening on the roof has to align with the stairs, and I’d really prefer to cut it before I install the roof. Also, the ultimate design of the shower will impact the style, size and location of the bathroom window at the rear of the house.

I will have to eventually purchase more plywood for the front of the house. But this is not going to be permanently installed, and probably will be fastened to the front of the house by metal “pins” that are dropped into holes drilled vertically into the tops of the wall, which go through the roof and into the wall. These are lifted up to remove the roof and pushed back into the holes when the front of the house is fitted on.

The fastenings at the bottom of the front of the house will probably be simple small angle brackets with a hole through which a pin can be pushed into a hole in the front wall, holding it in place. We’ll see…

February 18, 2016:

Still no more time to work on the dollhouse itself. I’ve been rooting around on the internet and saving art for paintings in the dollhouse, and viewing some more cool mini sites and some videos. Maybe I’ll get to work on the dollhouse tonight. We’ll see. It was raining yesterday and we had the kids over for dinner, so not only was I busy, but it was raining hard enough to make going out to my garage workshop not much fun. Further, the garage can flood in the rain, depending on how much we get. Not badly, but it does flood near my workbench. Just glad to have ANY rain, though!

I want to draw in the remaining window openings, except for the bathroom which I’ll leave for last since I need to work out the shower construction before cutting window opening(s). If I can draw them and maybe even get them cut, that would be ideal. I have the bedroom windows and the foyer tall windows to cut. I also am going to have to make a mock up of the stairs before I do anything else to the foyer, although I believe cutting the window openings will be fine.

Once the main body of the house is done, I plan to install the electrical, and then the finished wall surfaces required to cover the electrical (call it fake drywall?) and floors. Also the fireplace wall, which I am SO looking forward to creating!

I won’t actually be doing much on the exterior of the house until the inside is partially complete. This is because the front of the house is detachable and doesn’t even exist yet, and some of the outside work can’t be done until a certain amount of the inside work is done. That’s a bit different from full size home construction!

Also I am not a designer, I am an artist. I don’t have experience with interior design or building design. So I’ve approached this somewhat as I would a painting. However, since I am “handy”, I have some practical experience which does affect my design process. So I did the overall design (the “sketch” I would do for a painting) and then once I had actually built the basic box of the dollhouse, I begin to see the changes needed for the good of the overall design as well as the practical issues of structure. So it means that as I construct it, I begin to see that things that looked good in the 3d version of the design program aren’t looking as good in realtime, and should be changed for the good of the project. This happens in the process of creating an oil painting as well. The general process of creation, I guess.

From some limited personal experience, I do understand that building a home or other structure often involves changes in the design either due to structural issues or due to the design not quite working out aesthetically on a realworld basis, and that happens even to people with far more experience building than I have, or ever will have.

Well this afternoon I did get the foyer window drawn on. It’s just a giant opening at this point. Then I sat and just looked at the house and thought about what could be done with the spaces, and what should be done to get the effects I want.

 

February 15, 2016:

Today the first miniature project is a “fairy garden” in the garden bed under my bedroom window. I use the quotation marks because it isn’t really a fairy garden as most people would think of it. It is a miniature garden, using succulents because they deal well with the hot, dry weather here. It has little succulents and medium succulents, rocks gravel and mini houses. The only fairy things about it are the two Cicely Mary Tyson fairy figurines. One sits on a twig bench and the other is on a stick which when stuck into the ground holds it upright. There is tiny rock gravel in a beige or tan color with a “path” made of dark, small stones. There is a rockery section with larger, warm toned rocks which I will finish off later (I didn’t have enough rocks) and perhaps plant some small rock loving plants later. It wasn’t super well planned as I did not really have a lot of time to put into it, but it’s still cute.

Here it is, unfinished but not too bad:

IMG_3685

I’ve been working out the stairs in the two story foyer for my dollhouse in my head. I think I’ve got a workable plan, but I will probably do a “dry run” using foam board and then make the stairs out of wood. I may paint the treads to look like brushed steel. Not sure yet.

Here are some stairs in a house I looked at on modernminihouses.blogspot.com which I plan to copy (modified):

Great Stairs execution

Well it’s now the end of the day, and I didn’t get any dollhouse time in. I had forgotten I had a doctor’s appointment, which took about an hour and 45 minutes out of my day. And I still had to do my bi weekly cleaning, which I hadn’t done on Sunday, as well as my Konmari discard work on my book collection.

The book discard work was tiring but really great! I have a lot of good quality hardbacks which I think I can get credit for from a used bookstore. There was still a fair amount of trash which went into the recycling bin, including some paperbacks that were old, yellowed and falling apart.

In the process, I found 4 books which will help me in my dollhouse project. One of them is a paperback book on Art quilts, which I did not even know I had. This is one of the fabulous perks of the Konmari Tidy Up system – you find out what you actually have, and then you can use it. And I rather think that as I become reacquainted with my possessions, I will find more I don’t really want to keep because it does not “spark joy” as Ms. Kondo puts it.

The Art quilts book will serve two purposes. I don’t ultimately want to keep the book, but there are some quilt pictures that I can cut out and either scan onto textured paper or fabric, or just frame and hang. These are seriously beautiful quilts and I may also scan a couple of them to help with the design of a quilt I have in mind to complete for my bedroom. Once I am done with that, the book will go into the recycling bin.

Another book is container gardens, which I can’t really use for my own home anymore because I really can’t plant anything but succulents or CA natives due to drought issues. But I can sure use it for ideas for my mini house roof deck garden and indoor plant containers. The best thing about dollhouse plantings? Don’t have to care about sun, water or nutrients and the plants never die! Brown thumb? Nooooo Problem!

Another book is a medium sized paperback of old paintings. True, my dollhouse is a modern home, but I may also include a bit of eclectic mix ins including old masters, where appropriate. But the photos of these paintings are sized appropriately for dollhouse use.

And the other book is outdoor spaces, perfect for ideas for the space planning/landscaping of my roof deck. How lovely – a roof deck with no worries about drainage, LOL!

(OK Commercial is on TV right now and it showed a frozen drink – now I really want a frozen virgin strawberry daiquiri. Slushie on steroids – yummm!) Without alcohol cuz alcohol just makes me really sick. Yep, cheap date and always the designated driver, LOL!

Oh, except I love expensive food. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.

I did get my mini supplies sorted/organized and in plastic containers in the garage near my workshop. So at least I’ll be able to find things. I also made a “Dollhouse” file folder to keep odds and ends in that aren’t in eformat. Most of what I have is in eformat.

I also got one of my full sized oil paintings that I did in Art class fastened into its frame and hung on the wall. YAY! It looks good, but needs some lighting. Found something on Amazon to help w that.

Here’s a photo of the painting (unframed):

First decent color still life painting 4-11-15

So now you can see the Fine Art I do as well as the mini house art! It’s all fun!

February 13, 2016:

Day before Valentine’s Day! Saturday – so I had some hours to devote to building my dollhouse. It does take a long time for me to do things because I am learning. I had to spend time to figure out how to get my jig for my jigsaw set up in a tight situation where I could not easily clamp it (I ended up clamping one end and temporarily screwing down the other end through the jig and into the side of the house). Boy was I glad I had just ordered and received a nice clamp set. My two Kreg jig clamps alone wouldn’t have cut the mustard.

All of this took time. And so what I got done was limited to:

Cutting the door opening in the ground floor wall (nice and straight this time due to the jig);

Cutting back the half floor in the two story foyer to the right position;

Screwing the ground floor wall into place;

Cutting the door opening in the foyer/bathroom common wall on the second floor;

Drilling pocket holes in the second floor common wall with my kreg jig;

Installing the second floor wall;

And then, the most trying part:

Straightening up the wonky window openings I had previously cut with my jigsaw before I figured out how to make a jig for it. This last took quite a while and was hard on my old hands and arms. It was quite a challenge as I was working on the vertical; setting the jig at the correct distance was not always smooth and required a lot of clamping and unclamping and adjusting. Further, I could not clamp the jig on both ends for a number of the cuts due to the walls, ceiling or floor being in the way (and the clamp types I have are limited). I had to screw my jig into the wood adjacent to the window openings in a couple of places. Also, I hadn’t quite understood how to adjust my Kreg clamps and ended up using too much muscle to close them, so my hands and arms got pretty tired before I figured it out.

But I got all four openings corrected, and now they don’t look like fun house mirrors (okay, a little bit of an exaggeration). They are nice and straight. I’m excited to be able to use the Plexiglas and trim pieces to install the windows, but that will have to wait a bit yet.

Here are the improved window openings. Perfection not required as I can use some wood putty where needed as the walls adjacent to the windos will be covered:

IMG_3686

I have a long list of the next steps I’ll be taking, and they don’t involve window fabrication and installation!

I’m really enjoying this! As I explained to my husband, the point for me isn’t even so much having the dollhouse (though that will be really fun); the point is more the process of creating it.

I suspect I will eventually have to sell it because I’ll want to make more houses. And I only have room for one at a time. Having considered the time I’ve spent making the house so far, however, I am under no illusion that making and selling dollhouses could ever be a profitable business, LOL! But fortunately, that doesn’t matter. I have a job right now, for which I am very grateful, so this is my hobby, or, if you prefer, another form of art (since I do oil painting also). But if I decide to do this continually over time, it would be nice to rehome the dollhouses so that I can create more of them. Selling them would mean recovering some of the $ it cost to build and using that to work on the next house, and so on and so forth. Somewhat self perpetuating.

But if I can’t sell it, then I will recycle it. By which I mean I will literally redesign it. Hey, it’s screwed together—I can even unscrew parts of it and replace them with different parts. No glue — so it is just demo the siding, remove the wall(s) and replace the wall(s), and start anew.

It’s late, bedtime for me. Lots of stuff to do tomorrow but Monday is a holiday (yay!) and I will probably work on the house again.

February 12, 2016:

Well no mini stuff last night – the kids were over for dinner. I love my kids and I sure enjoyed myself. I had been having a bad day and I felt better after they visited. And dinner was easy – my husband grilled the steak and sausage and I steamed the green beans and made Cajun mushrooms.

But there is a long weekend ahead of me now, and I want to divide my time between working on my home with Marie Kondo’s Tidy Up process, and working on my dollhouse.

It takes longer than I would like to do each part of the build. I’m not terribly surprised about this, because just before I started the dollhouse, I had built a cat house – a shelter for my “feral” cat (who changed his mind about the feral part and now wants to sit on laps). I learned during that process that this construction stuff is time consuming!

But understanding that doesn’t mean I like it.

So we’ll see how much I can get done. I need to get the walls installed and the interior door openings cut. That may take a bit of time. Then the main remaining window openings need to be cut – only the kitchen area window will have to wait until I have fully worked out the kitchen design. Working with a clamped down jig for the jigsaw cuts is going to be slow work.

I do think I’ll be happier once I can start in on the window frames and “glass” and either making and installing or just installing the doors. That will be the point where it will start looking like a house rather than a big box with holes cut in it.

Well, I’m going to do a little mini blog reading and then go to bed. Tiiiiiiiiiired!

February 11, 2016:

A couple of busy days what with work and other life things that happen. Last night I cut out three of the window openings in the dollhouse. I discovered that my skills at jigsawing straight lines on a vertical surface are less than impressive. Did I screw it up totally? Nope. Actually quite fixable with a couple of wood putty patches and some shims. BUT, I think I will have to figure out how to use a straightedge of some kind as a jig for the rest of the windows. Clamping might be a bit of a problem, even with the nifty new set of clamps that came in the mail a couple of days ago (Yay Amazon Prime!)

Today at lunch hour I went to Hobby Lobby. They were having a big sale so I got a bunch of supplies for about half the retail price, including a Cir-kit electrical tape wiring combo kit. Since those are not cheap, this was pretty cool! I probably need another kit but they only had one left.

I also got some paints, and bits of wood and metal items.

I also found a website that carries modern style glass doors which might work for my interior doors. It would save me making them. I think I’m still going to have to make the entry doors myself, however. Double doors most likely.

I also picked up a couple of fun pieces of felt which I may or may not use in the house. We’ll see. Cute modern patterns, which are less common.

So the next step will be to install the interior walls and cut the interior doorways in those walls.

Here are the wavy window openings:

IMG_3654

February 9, 2016:

Well yesterday I just dreamed about dollhouse making. Work took up most of my day and part of my evening. At least hubby grilled dinner, bless him! That and leftover salad made dinner easy and quick.

Of course, daydreaming about dollhouse construction can be productive of good ideas. And adding to that, a bit of reading about other people’s miniatures construction can possibly help reduce the number of false starts, failures and messes – or I can hope! So my heartfelt thanks to all you mini bloggers whose generous communications about your adventures in mini-making are making my adventures more successful and less stressful!

Not that everything is completely smooth. But the learning process has been educational rather than painful, so for that I am grateful to the MANY others whose postings have helped me avoid that potential pain.

I did spend some time googling making modern miniature doors. I came to the conclusion that I am probably going to have to make some if not all of my doors.

I did find one that I could purchase but the details on the shop’s site were thin enough that I didn’t want to make the purchase. Will try another building materials site.

Basically, I want the interior doors to be wood frames with frosted glass. I believe I can make such things if necessary, but I admit that making the doors is not really something that I am all that interested in. I am more interested in actually making the windows, as they will be fully custom and cannot be ordered or even hacked from existing windows.

The windows in my dollhouse are either going to be floor to ceiling, or 1” elevation, with the windows rising to the ceiling height of 10”. The window widths will vary in descending order on the side of the house (in the living room area) from 4” wide, to 3” wide to 2” wide. At the abutting back wall, there will be one 4” wide window right at the corner of the room where the walls meet. There will be a fireplace to the other side of that window.

Thereafter, the wall beyond the fireplace will remain windowless until I decide what to do about the kitchen. I need to finish the design of the kitchen and then I will construct the kitchen – when it is being installed I will decide where the windows go at that time. All will have simple straight strip of wood frames that don’t detract from the (fake) view I am planning to install, and the beautiful wood “posts” between the windows (which will probably be some kind of fun veneer). I did find a veneer site I can order sheets (large and small) of veneers, some fairly exotic (and expensive – yikes!)

I am going to do a mockup of the kitchen using 2 x 4’s and a sharpie showing the overall design, and then move them around inside the space to see what is going to work/look best. Once I’ve decided on the final design and placement I will make the cabinetry. I haven’t decided if I will follow what Marion Roussek did by using foam board (at least for the bases of the cabinets), or if I will use 2 x 4’s with veneer and other surface coverings. I do know they won’t be boxes that open or drawers that really work. I’m not interested in that.

If I can’t find any tutorials for making modern style doors, I’ll just review whatever I can find and use that to form my own door making process.

Below is a really pretty door I might imitate. The basic style is right, and I do like the etching.

01 int mosaics 3D

February 7, 2016:

 

Okay, yesterday I got some construction work done. I did follow my idea of cutting two walls and then using them to hold the floor in the correct position so that I could screw it in. Worked great! Used up all my 1” screws though, have to go buy some more.

Once I had my walls in and clamped in place, and the floor (which is a slightly tight fit) tapped into place and holding still, I measured up from the floor all around the outside of the walls 10.25 inches (to go right into the middle of the floor) and screwed in the screws. Checked top and bottom, not a single screw showing through anywhere – yay! The only issue I had was that I had to shave off a slight bit of the edge of the floor before I installed it.

I did cut out some of the floor for the partially two storied foyer/stairwell. I think I’m going to have to adjust it. But hey, at least I got to use my jigsaw. And oh yeah, the cut is damn near perfectly straight freehand (no jig, just a penciled line). BAM!

Couldn’t screw on the roof on because I ran out of 1 inch screws. Oh well, this is physically tiring, and my back was starting to ache anyway. I might not feel old as a person but me body sure can at times. Sigh…

I tried to make a jig for my jigsaw (hah) but realized the blade does not stick out of the guard far enough for any of the wood I have. Read online tonight that you run it against a clamped down straight edge. This might be a real trick in some of the situations I’m going to have to use it in. I might need to research what kind of clamps I’ll need. We’ll see if the clampies that I just got from Amazon will meet my needs.

Oh I luuuuuv my tools! (Yeah yeah, that sounds bad – just get over it, LOL!)

Really, I’m the only girl I know who gets a reciprocating saw for her birthday (delivered to the office) and proudly shows it around to her co-workers. Who mostly grinned at me, with some laughing out loud. Yep, that Fran, she’s a little bit of a geek…whaddaya gonna do, hey?

I’ve already texted my husband pictures of the Ryobi compact drill and random orbit sander that I want for my upcoming birthday. Upon which birthday I will be even older. Sigh…so far, not a big fan of aging. Big fan of still being alive, however. Hard to reconcile those two some days.

So – back to dollhouse making, being that it is one of the things I am doing to enjoy myself. And I really am enjoying myself.

Just to make life a little more entertaining, I am also doing Konmari’s Tidying Up process on my home. So far, loving it a major amount. So sometimes I am discarding (that’s the part of the process I am on) or folding and putting away, and sometimes I am working on the dollhouse plans or hunting online for ideas and tutorials.

So today, Superbowl Sunday, I was also in charge of making Carnitas tacos and salad. Of course, since I am a masochist very nice person, I made the tortillas from scratch (masa and water). DEElish! Love the carnitas recipe too, it is Melissa D’Arabians. It rocks!

So didn’t get to actually work on the dollhouse today. BUT, I did go do some shopping for it. First I went to Home Depot, ostensibly to get some more 1” screws. But of course, had to check out some other stuff. I wanted to see if I could get some 12 x 12 inch sheets of tiny stone tiles to use for making my floor to ceiling fireplace wall (and which I might end up using on the exterior of the home as well. I did find something I really liked. Bought one sheet because that’s more than enough for the fireplace.

I also looked at vinyl floor tiles. These can be used (per online sources) for “granite” countertops, and I may use one for the bathroom floor. We’ll see. I didn’t buy any today, because I have enough stuff for right now.

I then went to Joanne’s to see if they had any dollhouse doors because I wanted to look at the framing construction. They don’t have any dollhouse anything, really, but they did have a lot of other fun stuff. I bought some Gesso, which I will need for a number of things, particularly a side table for the living room. I bought a couple of fake plants which will lend themselves very well to doll houseplants. I also bought some wire for possible chair making.

And now it’s time for bed.

 

February 5, 2016:

February 5, 2016: Not much done on the mini house for the last couple of days – until today. At lunchtime I worked on getting the floor in for the second floor of the house. Which is funny, because working on the floor didn’t actually involve touching the piece of wood which is going to be the floor, LOL!

I decided that the easiest way for me to get the floor installed level and without severe frustration (having only two hands and one body) was to cut two wall pieces. The idea is to cut the walls and then clamp them to the inside surface of the walls, and then use them to support the floor while I screw it in.

But there are always challenges. I had trouble with my saw, finally figured out the nut was a bit loose. Also using my circular saw cutting jig was a pain because these walls are smaller pieces and I have not gotten around to making myself some smaller jigs. The one I am using is 48” long. Need I say more. Hmph. Well, whatever. I made it happen, and the pieces are cut. By that time, lunch was over, so nothing more today except watching a few you tube videos of some modern dollhouses.

I worked a pretty long day today too. And made dinner. I think I’m too tired to say much more tonight.

I do want to comment that I can already tell I am going to continually have to rein in my tendency to perfectionism. I am not a full on perfectionist, but it is pretty ingrained in me to try to do as good a job as possible in whatever I do. I rarely attain perfection but I suppose I am always striving for it, sometimes a little too hard. It is hard work for me to try to balance out time and finance issues with the effect I am trying to create. I have to second guess myself about what will be too much to take on. I don’t really have a time limit on this house, but I don’t want to spend ten years completing one house, either. So I’ll have to take a breath and determine which items I really need to purchase instead of making them, what I don’t have the equipment to pull off, etc.

Bathtub. Definitely buying the bathtub, probably off Shapeways. That is going to be a centerpiece for my bathroom. It has to be as close to perfect as I can get.

There are definitely specific things I want to make. For instance, I really want the fireplace and some of the house exterior to be stacked stone – REAL stacked stone. I will have to work out if I can afford the equipment I will need to cut down the 12 x 12 web backed stone tiles to the right scale.

And I want to make the kitchen – ALL the fittings, but not necessarily food or dishes. I am planning on purchasing wood veneer for the cabinetry, and probably will make “marble” or “granite” or maybe “quartz” countertops. I also want to make the appliances. The stove, ovens and dishwasher should not be too difficult, as I can use veneer stainless steel from the hobby store for those.

One of the things I can see from my online research is that the mini kitchens usually suffer from scale issues that mostly are caused by failure on the part of the makers to measure actual cabinets so that their miniatures have realistic proportions within the piece so that the item parts as well as the adjacent pieces are properly related to each other. When I say “scale issues”, I mean that when you look at the photos of the kitchens, they tend to look “wrong” and obviously miniature, rather than almost real. There are certainly exceptions to this and I do want my kitchen to also be the exception in this area.

As I fine artist student, one of the things I learned is how important it is that the parts of an art piece relate to each other, and size is a large part of that relationship. This principle also applies to the Art of Design (of furniture or buildings) because the parts of an item of furniture or the parts of a building need to relate properly with each other for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Practically, we don’t want the item or building to break or fall down, leak or have any other practical downsides. Aesthetically, we want something to look beautiful or striking or impressive, or some other positive adjective, and not “off” or unattractive or boring.

So the scale issues I’ve seen with miniatures most often seem to be caused by errors in (or possibly just not being all that concerned about) scale or relationship within the parts of the item. Frames slightly too thick. Width of a cabinet out of proportion with depth and height.

Now, I’m a beginner in this. But I’m hoping that a good eye for physics, natural handiness and good mechanical ability will help me do a creditable job on my first attempt. And I will mention right here that stubborn persistence and willingness to make corrections or start over probably won’t hurt.