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!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Christmas Kingston Castle - ArtMinds' Wooden Craft Castle Dollhouse

My grandson turned 3 this last year. He had always been enamored with the wee wooden castle that was on the burn pile, marked for extinction (too many mice had made it their home and it had been outside for a year)! "No Ben no!" I would call out, "Too much mice poop!". And the poor little mug would look at it wistfully, and toddle off. He's such a good kid.

But then it occurred to me, I could clean that thing and bring it to life for Ben's Christmas present. It already had a great patina from enduring the out of doors and was still in great shape. I don't know what ArtMinds makes these castles out of, but the wood and glue held together through sun and snow...

So I got to it and laid claim to it, to heck with those little mousies!!


Kingly Remodel

I stained the stairs, "gilded" some internal walls and polyied the whole thing. Of course, I just had to use fabric for some of the room walls. I made card stock backings to glue the fabric to, and then wood glued and clamped the panels into place.

I'm glad I started in October as the expanse of time made it a joy to work on. I never felt pressured and just let my mind, and the fabric, do the talking. Just what an old, working grandma needed!


Tra La La La!!

It was done by the middle of December and I had already begun my quest for furniture and knightly items!

I discovered that Playmobil Medieval people and accessories were the perfect size and afforded so many dueling options! I also purchased and painted a couple of wood treasure chests and a wood jewelry box (used for the dastardly dungeon) at Michaels to hold all the accessories. A couple of my old dollhouse finds and we were in the castle business!

Kingston Castle, outfitted for travel.
Open sesame!

Kingston Castle, set up for play.

Merry Christmas Little Dude!

Yes, it was and is a big hit and when it's put away it makes for a nice display. 
Kingston Castle, who knew?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Handgemalt Cottage: Part 5, Finished and Very Happy, Mr. Groundhog - Real Good Toys, Children's Choice, 1 Country Lane CC1 Front Opening Kit




Oh my!

I've finished my third of four dollhouses from the RGT Children's Choice collection, the 1 Country Lane. Take a look, its definitely the "sister" of the RGT CC Tudor, just a change of the exterior trim package and the "bash" I did on it...

In any case, I'm very pleased with Handgemalt Cottage's results as I kept within a very sparse budget and only bought special "beams" from my favorite miniature trim provider,

Yes, fabric sides. I can't help myself!

The back, of course!

The stairs and the banister are removable.

 First floor. If you look very close you can see the wee nails for pictures and such.

Second floor. 

All the "wallpaper" throughout the home is fabric.



So the whole thing was designed for the vintage, German, Handgemalt furniture....

Well, before I can begin the fourth and last of the RGT, CC dollhouses, 333 Franklin St. dollhouse, the last of the four, I must do my taxes.

Boo hoo!



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Handgemalt Cottage: Part 4, Hang Out Your Shingle and Get To the Top - Real Good Toys, Children's Choice, 1 Country Lane CC1 Front Opening Kit

Everything seems to be leading to the roof now...


Even the wee banister I've made with craft sticks:

I think I'm not going to glue the banister down. Just like the stairs, you can leave them out. Just hope you have a dolly piece of furniture that won't fall through!!!



I Hate Shingles!! 

Not really, but yes!!!

All the dyeing and drying before one can do a thing!! I feel like Lili Von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles, "I'm so tired!!". 

I usually end up with about two dye baths per roof to get the color I want. I use Rit Fabric Dye and salt. Three colors this time. Scarlet, Dark Brown, and a tiny bit of Black. And I never rinse the shingles. The final color? Its a crap shoot really.

The first dye with Rit Dye, Scarlet. The final dye with Dark Brown added and a little Black.




The Stuff Before the Roof Goes On

While all that dyeing and drying was going on I had to figure the angle and cut my beams for the attic ceiling. I am a glutton for punishment!! 

I made a template of the attic peak area by putting the dollhouse on its back and drawing its profile.  Then I cut my beams on the perpendicular to the angle for the top and where the beam meets the attic wall. I messed up a couple of times!!

Look! Half a roof on already!!


And finally.....


The First Rows Of Shingles!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Handgemalt Cottage: Part 3, Sticks and More Sticks!! - Real Good Toys, Children's Choice, 1 Country Lane CC1 Front Opening Kit

Sticks! Long, Laborious, Sticks!!!

So the batons that run vertically on the front of the wee Handgemalt Cottage, what a pain!!

I realized, after marking the 1" spacings per the instuctions, that RGT's 1" spacing, well, was dumb! But of course that realization did not come to me before I had glued up the window trims and shutters! Duh!!!!! None of the baton sticks lined up with the middle of the windows or the peak of the front porch!!! Argh! So I ended up erasing the original spacing guidelines while all that trim and shutters were on, and made new spacing lines to satisfy my need for symmetry! Geesh!!!

Cutting and gluing up every stick!

Another frustration, the sticks for the batons were not long enough to span the longest areas! Another reason I decided to use shutters, a desperate attempt at making the fewest scarf joints as possible! I only had one scarf to make, to be exact, using my "new" spacing and shutters. Originally there would have been at least four.

Even then, I was anxious all the time, hoping all the batons would line up proper when it was all done. Lot's of measuring, cutting sanding and gluing alright and since the front is stained,  I couldn't use filler to hide mistakes!

In the meantime I was planning for the sides of the house. To stain, to paint? My brain was a-tizzy!


Fabric To the Rescue, Again!

Well, after all that thought, I decided to use the last piece of fabric I bought to match the house that I found at a thrift store. I'm not sure it was such a good idea, but its different!

I used ModPodge to apply the fabric, directly over the wood. I didn't prime it or anything. Once dry, I applied a coat of H2O poly to it and that made it stick solidly. The machine finished edge, I wrapped and glued under the house's bottom floor.

I also decided, instead of cutting the fabric off at the top sides, I would wrap it over, into the interior attic sides. It doesn't have a noticeable pattern and less trim to cover the raw edges!! Yay!

Exterior side fabric wrapped up and over, edges sealed with a bit of trim.

I think it came out rather smart!


Finally, the Front Peak!!

At last I could put on the front peak! This just really makes the dollhouse come alive in my book.

And of course, I had to test the front wall to see how the whole thing is gonna look when its done!

And yes! I did finish all those sticks and they look pretty OK to me!
Apply the gingerbread trim, another brush of stain on the whole thing and some poly and it will be good to go.

Now I have to prep the shingles and finish the inside attic roof treatment. AAAAAAA! I'm insane!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Handgemalt Cottage: Part 2, Slow Progress- Real Good Toys, Children's Choice, 1 Country Lane CC1 Front Opening Kit

Well, with grandson every weekend and a full time job, the wee cottage is just plodding along. But 15 minutes or an hour, here and there, and its really showing it character.


Front Door Wall


I always like this view. The dolly's view, inside, looking through the windows and door of the front wall panel. One will never see it again once the back is on. Anyways...
Preparing for the placement of the fabric wallpaper.

I decided to make the front inside wall panel the just with the 1st floor and 2nd floor the fabric wall paper. In my one of my previous RGT CC Tudor dollhouse, I tricked out the wall inside wall panel with the wainscoting, (RGT Tudor), but with my RGT Town Hill I did not ( RGT Town Hill). I figured quicker assembly and vintagely consistent with antique front opening dollhouses like Bliss' was just fine for the Handgemalt Cottage.


Front To Back, Jack


Here are the back and front interior wall panels. The front panel has yet to have its windows and doors cut out at this point, I used a sharp razor blade and cutting board for that. I did attempt to have the fabric wallpaper line up all the way around. That was a challenge!

Here I'm applying the provided interior window trim from the kit, no special buy on replacements for this dollhouse, yet. RGT has you build out the window sills so the plexiglass window inserts can slide in and out for cleaning. I didn't think I was gonna like that but now I think its a cool idea.

Finally, the back is on!!!


Planning For the Exterior Front Opening Wall Look 


So, like many a doll home builder, I try to get an idea the few looks or ideas I have for the different parts of the home. It takes some extra time, but with the advent of the digital camera, these mock ups can really help clarify one's visions to reality. 

Here are the two variations of the outside of the front panel that I mocked up and what I've decided on.

Without shutters....

...with shutters...

  ...and finally, what I'm going to go with.

I made the custom shutters with some more craft store wood pieces, staining them first and a quick finger wipe of craft paint to get the transparent red color.

Unfortunately, RGT doesn't have the batten placements centered with the windows or the door, so I'm going to have to erase all the batten placement pencil lines I made after following their directions, and adjust them to have them centered for symmetry, especially over the porch. Sigh. Good thing I'm using the shutters so I will probably have enough provided batten material to work with!


Well, the Holiday Season is here, so no working on Handgemalt Cottage  for two weeks as I'm visiting my daughter in Illinois.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Handgemalt Cottage: Part 1, Finally Back At It - Real Good Toys, Children's Choice, 1 Country Lane CC1 Front Opening Kit

Well, it's been almost two years but I'm finally back to working on the third of the four Real Good Toys (RGT), Children's Choice, dollhouse kits. Its probably their first and most basic, the 1 Country Lane, and I can tell the Country Tudor that I started this whole RGT series saga with over three years ago, is a knock off, just a change in the trim package. Good idea if you design dollhouses!!

All of these cute little kits have been discontinued, so I was very fortunate to snag all four over the years. I finished the 22 Town Hill Road as well as the Country Tudor and I still have the 333 Franklin Street to do as well as 1 Country Lane, then I'll have the whole set done!




It always seems each of these little homes gets started because I have some collection of vintage doll house furniture that I just can't keep in a box anymore. This house will be home to my vintage Handgemalt collection, made in Germany, a sweet, oversized folk set. I've only ever seen two pieces of it elsewhere:

My other inspiration was to keep it simple; old stain, craft store shapes, a brown Sharpie and some cheap, 40% off stencils. This one is supposed to go up easy and fast, not too many customizations.



In the Beginning....

One of the nice things about these kits is its easy to to do the interior, you don't have to assemble the whole house to work on its insides and every body part is basically a rectangle. And starting with the insides makes the most sense to me, and to that end I always start with the floors.

This time, instead of "carving" grooves, masking and applying three coats of stain to create my floors I stained and then put three coats of H2O based poly on them, then stenciled them with a trusty, brown Sharpie! A couple of coats of poly over the designs and they were done.

Between drying times I also stained and polyied the trims. I did finally give in and ordered wood trim from Manchester Woodworks for the ceiling beams and some basswood trim sizes my craft store didn't carry. I tried to keep it simple!



 Fabric, Dinner Napkins and Mass Production Later...

My other two CC houses have To Scale wood wainscoting that I purchased for the major reason the back of these kits are masonite, so staining doesn't work if you want to use them for wood grain. I did have my hubby cut a new wood plywood back piece that included the peak and the base back (the base back and the peak are separate parts in this kit) and was able to match the sides' grain pretty well. So I was able to get off more cheaply using the kit parts and wood craft pieces purchased from the craft store for about $4 a bag to make the wainscoting. Old stain, a stencil or two and my brown Sharpie and I was in production mode. 

Move over Santa's elves!


I don't know what it is about fabric but that's my "go to" for wallpaper in these little homes. I've used paper too, but I just really like fabric. I primed the areas for the "wallpaper,  and used "Yes" glue to attach the fabric. I tried to make everything centered, of course!

I was lucky to find dinner napkins in a country life themed red toile, sized perfectly for a dollhouse, at my local PTSO Thrift Shop. Score for $3.50! A nice romantic feel for the second floor.

This time around I applied all the trim before attaching the floor to the sides. With the advent of so many pieces of wainscoting components, I needed to glue them on while the sides were unattached. I was pretty nervous about this as there was no going back if I messed up the measurements for where the floors met the sides! But it worked!

First Floor                                                                                  Second Floor
Some carpenters glue and brad nails and the house box was up!


The First Major Hurdle!


Well, the first of the house's assemblies is done! Always a major milestone, the basic house box.

 I feel like I've accomplished a lot but there is so much more to do. I started November 2nd and now its November 30th. So much for quick!!