Friday, December 21, 2018

Michelle’s Miniatures: “The Mulberry” Dollhouse. An Excursion Into Art Deco and Craftsman Style, 1:48 Scale. Part 5

I’ve always loved the Art Deco Asian style, so decided the 3rd and last floor of my Mulberry would be a “secret” Speakeasy with an Asian flair. I bet some folks had a Speakeasy in their home, way back then, you know, that Prohibition time!

The Speakeasy, Floor 3



I found a lovey card at the Hallmark store that helped give me inspiration for my Asian theme and purchased the last two that they had. Turns out I needed every tiny square inch of them!

For the floor I took a fabric scrap I got from a discontinued fabric sample book, glued it to some card stock, tucked in all the raw edges, and glued it to the floor.


Wainscoting & Walls

Every fancy pantsy space has to have wainscoting right? I used copper paint and a bronze Sharpie on some Greek key trim I had purchased way back when to act as wainscoting for the room and installed it along with some basic square trim I painted glossy black. I lucked out that the two trims together just cleared the bottom of the windows!

The walls were a bit more temperamental, as usual, since the windows are built in. I had to create another template to cut the scrapbooking cardstock around the windows, but it was worth it.


Safety first for Dolly!

Since I had modified the stairs and their “access”, I built a wall divider that hides the tiny landing and keeps the dollies from falling in ...

... and with some some of the paper mesh left from the card I trimmed out the ceiling, leaving a small hole for the wiring of the light.


Finally, the rooms are all done!!

With the upper walls papered with a shiny, mercury glass type scrapbook paper I could finally put the whole 3rd floor together. I must say I 'm very happy with the the result!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Michelle’s Miniatures: “The Mulberry” Dollhouse. An Excursion Into Art Deco and Craftsman Style, 1:48 Scale. Part 4

Well, sorry I haven't posted in way too long. My daughter's cancer returned which has made for a challenging few months, especially, emotionally. Sometimes bad news just takes it right out of you!

But now I have the mental push to be back in my dollhouse hobby. And yes, the little Mulberry Art Deco has actually been finished for a while, so I hope to pick up where I left off.

-  The Build Up: Time for assembly!  -

Wall and Floor Pieces Ready For Glue Up

The last ting to do before the assembly was to drill whole for the lighting. Once I made up my mind on those locations and got up my nerve, that didn’t take very long. I decided to wait to decorate the 3rd floor, as I wanted to make sure everything glued up the way I thought it would. And the 3rd floor has a removable front wall so it was just better to wait.

Here's the 1st and 2nd floors, the back and the sides, ready to glue up:


Improvising A Jig

There are glue up jigs out there but I didn’t have the time or inclination to find one that would work for my wee home. So I got my right angle and located the most square drawer I had, a Mainline mid century modern credenza drawer. I rigged up some wood trim to put pressure on the pieces I was trying to glue together. I started with the 1st floor and back wall.

Left: the squarest of the square! Right: the back wall glued to the 1st floor and right side.


Gluing the Stair Wall

I was so happy my calculations were correct after gluing the stairs to the right side wall! The little stair landing I created on the bottom floor took up just the right amount of height. All the math and preparation I had meticulously done was paying off!


The First Floor Is Done!!

After adding the left wall piece, I glued in the 2nd floor and all of a sudden the 1st Floor was done!


Second Floor Pieces

I had to install the staircase screen and the partition wall between the Bedroom and Bath before I could put the next ceiling in. I had to do a bit of shaving on the partition, I had made it a bit too high, but after that it all fit ok. 


Finished Rooms

The ceiling papers made running the wires for the LED lighting pretty invisible. Once again I used beads for the light fixtures.



Next time, the 3rd floor and possibly finishing up!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Michelle’s Miniatures: “The Mulberry” Dollhouse. An Excursion Into Art Deco and Craftsman Style, 1:48 Scale. Part 3

Modify Modify Modify!

Yes, Stare At the Stairs!

Since I’m creating a shallow “hall” at the back of the 2nd floor, the stairs provide an opportunity to do something a bit creative using the beautiful existing embossed stair stringers that are provided in the kit. I decided to use them to make kind of a screen, between the stairs and the Bedroom. 

I put some parchment over my Hall plan and glued up some trim....

I used some other trim to back the stairs so they would be plumb with the Hall wall. Why bother making a set of stairs no one was going to see?


“Screening” the Stairs

I was originally going to use purple Gallery Glass between the trim pieces I glued up, but I really wanted something more etherial. I did a little research on the net and discovered Alcohol Inks. Tom Holtz has them in a little set of 3. Of course I bought too much, but following the directions I got the effect I was looking for on a small, clear plastic triangle I had cut out of a lettuce container to fit the stairs, and it was super quick! 

Let it dry and seal it with two coats of spray H2O polyurethane and you’re ready to go! Glue it to back of the wood and trim. That’s when I ordered some lighting from True 2 Scale.  I couldn’t resist! This little puppy is gonna have light!


Tricky Windows

This kit has a serious challenge, papering the wall around the windows. Don’t get me wrong, the little sets of “glass block” that make them up are charming, but papering a wall with all those little blocks proved to be time consuming. I made stencils from clear plastic using the same lettuce container I used for the stained glass stair screen.

Clear plastic wall stencils made to cut the mural stock where the windows are.

I then gingerly cut out the window frames with a single edged razor blade on my mural paper and fine tuned them to each, individual window wall side. It was tedious and I messed up some of my mural stock and had to restart a wall, but I did get it done. 

I think I would suggest to Michelle she make the windows a pop out, so it would be easier to cut around them, glass blocks and all. A nice rectangle of window blocks.


Rooms' Separation Wall

There were two partitions that had the flower wainscoting, and I needed to use them for the Bedroom wall separation. I had to cut one down so it would be the correct width and the other, I had to glue the cut off leftover bottom from the cut Michelle had made, and glued it back on. I then glued them perpendicular to each other in a “T” and “papered” the Bathroom side with paper I had made from fabric glued to card stock and polyied. 


Finally, the “Sconces" Arrive!

It's amazing how something starts to come together with one postal delivery!! And you drop everything else you are doing of course!

After getting my bead caps from a vendor on Etsy, I was able to mock up the first floor almost to completion. And yes! The the little bead cap sconces will have light!! 

I finished the ceiling medallion, glued it up and made the cutout for the 1st floor stairs.

It's coming along!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Michelle’s Miniatures: “The Mulberry” Dollhouse. An Excursion Into Art Deco and Craftsman Style, 1:48 Scale. Part 2

Oh! Click here for the link to Michelle's Miniatures' "the Mulberry"! 

Moving on.......

Exterior Workings

As much fun as working on an interior is, the exterior is just as important to get done before the house assembly. I’ve already learned it is much easier to have them both done before glue up, and besides, that’s what Michelle’s directions say!

Right and center - adding texture and age.

I made a few tests and came up with a method to add a little texture to the exterior. I used craft chalk paint in a baby blue, and applied it with a stiff brush in a swirl pattern, not unlike what you might see on a real stuccoed house. I then diluted some brown craft paint and with a cloth, dipped it in the brown mixture and washed over the dry chalk paint texture. Its very subtle, but it did enhance the texture. After the brown dried I went washed over it with diluted white pearl metallic paint. That gave it a lovely glow.


Gluing the Tops and Bottoms Together

The 1st floor walls and the 2nd/3rd floor walls are separate pieces in this kit. For my purposes I needed them to be one piece; the left wall as one piece, the right wall as one piece and the 1st and 2nd floor fronts as one piece. So I glued them together and used wood putty to fill in the cracks on the exterior, sanding them down after drying. I then painted all the exteriors using the three step exterior painting method I had come up with.

Glue those walls together!!


Creating “Glass Block” With Gallery Glass™

In my online research of the Mulberry (I always try to find other examples of finished kits), I came across a completed one where the little square window holes had been filled in with some sort of clear plastic. It’s such a cool effect! I was able to track down the artist and she shared how she did it, a product called “Gallery Glass”. It’s usually used to create stained glass effects on glass and windows but she had successfully used it on her Mulberry. So I bought some clear Gallery Glass, set up the wax paper and began filling all those little holes!

Weighting down the wall pieces to discourage the liquid Gallery Glass from overflowing.

It took about 24 hours to dry completely clear, and I should have removed the wax paper about 10 hours in while Gallery Glass was still tacky. Oh well. Once it completely dried I was able to get the wee fragments of stuck waxed paper off with a cloth dipped in H2O and a gentle scrub. Next time I’ll use parchment paper.


Front Wall Workup

Since the front of the dollhouse is to be front opening, I had to do something with the entrance that pushed into the home. It is a cool effect for the open back Mulberry, but mine is a front opening. I decided to make the front entrance flat with the rest of the front wall. A bit of modification, some extra trim and I’m happy with the look.

Modified front for a "front opening" Mulberry.


Family Value!

The walls above the lovely wainscoting offered a wonderful space for scenic murals so I started scouring the internet for Impressionist art and came upon Monet’s “Water Lilies”, and decided to use it for the 2nd floor bedroom. 

The 1st floor mural was more challenging but then I remembered my dad’s photography, and all the wonderful natural scenes he posts to his Flicker account. Sure enough, there was a desert scene he took near his home that he had tweaked with some photo software that was perfect! I asked him for it and a couple of other files and the 1st floor had it’s focus!

"Mural" artwork and mantle artwork by Carl F. Berger, Sr. A lovely Utah landscape!

I cut up a laminate floor tile sample from Home Depot for the fireplace stone and used the parts from SDK Miniatures' quarter scale Arts and Crafts Fireplace for the fireplace itself. 

I then used software on my computer, sized and "mirrored" Dad's photo to create this lovely desert"mural". I also resized a photo he took of my mom in their sweet home, for the mantle artwork.  Very Craftsman indeed!

So far so good, I'm pretty pleased with the look! Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Michelle’s Miniatures: “The Mulberry” Dollhouse. An Excursion Into Art Deco and Craftsman Style, 1:48 Scale. Part 1

This is a lovely quarter scale dollhouse kit with three floors. It stands just over 8 inches and 6 1/2 inches wide. It is made of laser cut wood and comes complete with two floors of embossed, Craftsman style flower wainscoting and Nouveau trim for it's outside. My intent is to make it a front opener!


Bashing the Mulberry Even Before it Arrives!

Of course I had my own vision for the kit, even before it arrived, and thank goodness Michelle of Michelle’s Miniatures was kind enough to make me a custom, full sized back, so I could make it a front opening dollhouse. I emailed her a pdf I made of the specifics of what I thought I needed:

The PDF I sent Michelle to outline the "back" I needed.

I asked that she leave the floors uncut, so I could place the staircases where I wanted them, I would cut the openings myself. And smart woman she is, Michelle left the flower embossing on the 1st floor walls, despite my direction that I didn’t need it. Boy was I wrong on that one as you will see later in my posts!


The Kit Arrives! Be Prepared For Small! 

These little home kits sometimes come in large envelopes or small book boxes! Usually they fit right in the mailbox. Always a shocker for me but convenient for the maker I bet!

You can see the custom back Michelle created in the upper right.


Planning the Bash

I'm an old fashioned girl and need graph paper!

I planned to move the staircases to the sides of the home, to take up less interior space. Once I took a thorough look at the kit I realized I didn’t want the 1st floor to have two rooms, it would have one long expanse, and a fireplace. For the 2nd floor, if I moved the stairs to the back wall, I could create what looked like a hallway that would have openings to two rooms. This required graft paper. I laid out the 2nd floor and planned for the change.


Poke Out the Windows!

The kit has these wonderful block windows. It was tedious, but fun, to poke them all out. I figured the little leftover cubes would make great baby blocks in the 1/4 scale world!


Staining the Wainscoting

it took a couple of coats of stain to get the depth of color I wanted. Whilst I was doing that I had to figure out how I was going to accent those lovely Craftsman flowers!

Left-prestain. Upper and right-first coats


Detail Oriented

I wanted crisp flower reliefs on the wainscoting so I experimented with media I had on hand, a gold and bronze Sharpie. Believe it or not, with gentle pressure, they worked really well in getting that lovely patina I was looking for. I had to go over the wainscoting with them a couple of times, but it was enjoyable for me, as it became somewhat mindless as I listened to some Ravel, Satie and Debussy (if it was a mid century dollhouse I would have listed to Dave Brubeck!). 

Left-without Sharpie treatment. Right-with Sharpie treatment.

I then applied a couple of coats of water based poly and those walls really started to glow!


Making Sure It All Shows 

The disappointing thing about the Mulberry kit is the bottom of the 1st floor wainscoting is cut off when you glue the wall sides to the the sides of the floor. Such lovely relief detail is lost!

To remedy this I took some trim and glued it to the sides of the floor, so the walls could sit on top of this trim and show their full glory when the house was glued up! I left the front of the floor untrimmed as the front opening wall piece will have the trim for that.


Stairs, Stairs, Stairs!

I felt the width of the 1st floor stairs were too wide for my purposes, so I cut all the treads down. It was a pretty simple glue up once I found the right width of trim (I should have cut down the treads to fit the trim instead! I was lucky to find some trim that was just the right width!).

I decided the stairs being see through was going to be an asset, so I didn’t back the treads. The 2nd floor stairs, I didn’t even make a set of treaded stairs. These "stairs" were going to be on the back wall, and no one would see them, so why make a full set of stairs?


Getting There!

After all that, 10 days have gone by! But I’m pretty pleased with the project so far!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

My Foray Into the World Of Quarter Scale: The Mini Arc Dollhouse, by 3StarStudioArts

I have admired "The Arc", a 3/4 scale, kinda abstract mid century feeling dollhouse from 3StarStudioArts, for a very long time, but found it hard to afford. So when I discovered they were offering pretty much a 1/4 scale version, The Mini Arc, I figured it was time to quench my want for an Arc and experience the thrill of 1:48 dollhouse building!

It arrived in a firm envelope, which fit in my mailbox, a big perk in shipping a dollhouse kit for sure. The Mini Arc itself had eight parts and came with some tiny furniture pieces. I immediately got to work, I mean fun!

The window in the upper left is to show the scale between the Mini Arc and a 1:12 scale dollhouse element.

Gluing the wee puppy together was a bit more challenging than I had anticipated. The parts didn't fit together as well as I would've liked. There were gaps at the seams and tab slots, no matter how hard I tried.  My original "vision" for a sparse, mid century abode, was not possible with the open gaps I found myself with.

I realized I was going to have to trim it out a bit, and sliced the width down of some paper thin wood trim I had. I think the trim turned out OK and in fact gave it a bit more realism.

The "before and after" of a little bit of trim. Slicing the width down for the "base molding" was challenging!

Trimmed out.

The furniture that came with it was a little big, I thought, for my 1/4 scale MC world. I went ahead and assembled the bed, the coffee and dining tables and the little stools, which I used as side tables. I ordered some awesome 1/4 scale mid century furniture kits, but I didn't need much. I thought it was more important to suggest a home rather than outfit as a real house (I'm always that way!).

I ordered 3 set of chairs and used two sets to make a couch.

The dining chairs are from the Octagonal dining table and 4 chairs kit from sdk miniatures LLC, the lovely Brasilia credenza is from FaithIcus, the room divider and the Danish chairs are from Small Scale Living.


Ta Da!!!!

As you can see my Ultimate Frisbee Roman dude is happy to have some company! That place on the shelf always looked a bit needy for some MC action.

I'm glad I found the little brass pedestal, I think it helps with the Mini Arc's presentation.

Now where's that Mini Arc again???

Monday, January 22, 2018

Miner Industries "Rooms-in-miniature", room boxes, 1960s

These lovely 1/2 scale (1:24) room boxes were produced in the mid 1960s by Miner Industries, Inc., New York, NY. The furniture was made in Japan and I’m unclear whether the room box parts themselves were made by Miner Industries or in Japan. In the great dollhouse reference book, “Dollhouse & Furniture Advertising, 1880s-1980s” by Dian Zillner, page 111 shows the Sears Christmas 1964 Catalog advertisement for the three, beautiful, yet fragile, room boxes.


Big old box, finally!

The directions are easy to understand and use, thank goodness!

I had been collecting Miner Industries’ Rooms-in-miniature furniture for quite sometime before I realized what it was. A piece here and a piece there would come up and I’d purchase it, if I could afford it. Then one day I saw and was able to purchase a complete bedroom set, in its box and a partial living room set, in its box. 

The grey, bland little box labeled “Made In Japan for Miner Industries, Inc.” on the side holds the most lovely, fragile furniture, pre-assembled, made with fabric, laminate and solid woods.

One of the joys of this set is the reversible, cardboard, wall panels. One side is painted and the other has a wood paneling effect. Plastic bottom and top frames provide the floor and wall support for the panels.

The shelving system seems to be a miniature version of the Mid-Century Danish modern designer Poul Cadovious’ teak Cado Shelving. It has long wood supports with holes to insert brackets that shelves and cabinets are placed on.

Completed room box, minus the clear plastic front and top -I like the look of both the paneling and painted walls together.

The plastic shelf supports flex so they can be inserted into the floor and ceiling frames.


Living/Dining Room 

I had dining furniture already and decided to meld it with the living room furniture as so little of the living room furniture I have is useable.

The table actually spreads apart in the middle to accommodate a separate leaf. Amazing!



I’ve never been too fond of pink, or green, but these pieces are just lovely together.

The dresser's drawers open and close. Just a lovely piece!

I love the little typewriter!

The back display the opposite choice for the walls. Still quite lovely!

Keep your eyes out for these lovely sets and pieces. No kids allowed, however!