February 27, 2014

She Must Drink!

You guys must think I'm insane or that I drink heavily.

I haven't posted, or done anything, related to the Artply house in more than a year.

Excuses, Excuses

I do have a good reason for my inaction, though. My real-life house suffered multiple incidents of water damage last spring. I lived in a hotel for the entire summer with my husband, kids, and that thing they insist is a dog!  It was grueling waiting for our insurance company to NOT fix our house. There's more to that story, but I won't bore you. 

We're back home now, and none of my minis were destroyed…

But life kept getting in the way. My teen kid  applying to college, teen kid also hosting French and Argentinian exchange student. Tween kid deciding to do football, baseball, and basketball all at the same time! AAarrghh!?#&^!

Good news, though…I'm ready, seriously ready to rock and roll that house now! No lie!

So stay tuned. Seriously! The mini remodeling crew comes tomorrow (oh, that would be me, right.)

Meanwhile, here are photos of some gifts I just finished. I created two small room boxes for my son's cub scout troop leaders, and now I can actually focus on the Artply house. I keep saying I'm not going to create another mini gift until I finish my own personal projects. 

A Call to Action:

Guys, I need help figuring out how to approach the Artply Highlander's exterior. It's unfinished, and I don't know if I need siding or what? I can't find anything here in Atlanta that looks remotely like the Highlander, so I have no where to start, really. Help me out, please. 



February 6, 2013

Happy to Have the Artply Highland

Hey, friends!

I'm happy to report that last Saturday night, I drove to Jacksonville, FL to pick up the Artply Highland house. I learned about the house from Call of the Small's fabulous blog. She graciously connected me with Lori, the original owner of the house.

Since I had to drive my daughter to a nearby college fair last weekend, Lori let me swing by her place and pick up her childhood dollhouse. I am so grateful.

Lori, you're the best. Thanks for holding this house for me for more than a month while I got my travel plans together. I will be certain to post lost of pictures as I update the house...but not on Sundays (as you know, we both will be watching Downton Abbey then).

This house is far cooler than my photos suggest. It has big roomy rooms and a nice garage. It reminds me of a Hollywood screenwriter friend's house who lived in the hills not far from the famous Hollywood sign.

I'll have to do some research to figure out how to spruce up the outside, but I am eager to begin remodeling inside. It'll be loads of fun.

Here's the rare and super-cool Artply Highland relocated from Florida. 

January 29, 2013

Fun with Flooring

I was hoping to craft my own hardwood floor from popsicle sticks, but that didn't work out well for me. Despite the many tutorials online about making your own floor this way, I wasn't happy with my results.

So I purchased floor from Hobby Builder's Supply. I used the Red Oak Random Flooring by Houseworks. Then I stained it with Minwax Express Color in Walnut. I love this stain because it's water based and has virtually no scary chemical odor. But I wasn't happy with the tone I'd chosen. It was more brown than black. And I wanted a rich espresso tint.

I was about to run back to Lowe's for the Onyx version of the Minwax product, but then I realized I was out of cash for the day.

So I just made a gray wash to deepen the floor color. I took black acrylic paint and added water. Then I lightly went over the freshly stained Walnut floors. And to my surprise, it worked! I was so happy...finally!

Here's the Red Oak floor pictured here on the second story.
The room in the background will be the bathroom, which I will do in a funky tile. 

Here's the floor with the Walnut stain. Too brown for me.

Here is the floor after I applied a gray wash with black paint and water. It looks like molasses. I can see where part of the floor swelled because of the water. I think I can repair that by laying heavy books on the floor until it lays flat again.

I also glued the floors to matte board rather than gluing it directly to the base of my house. If I ever want to change the floors for some reason, it will be easier to just slide out the matte board topped with the wood flooring. I learned about this trick through the Small Stuff Digest.

My Artply House
On Friday, I'll be driving down to neighboring Florida to pick up a hard-to-find Artply Highland dollhouse that I learned about via Call of the Small. I'm so happy to be acquiring this contemporary house. I've never owned anything as unique as this, so I'm really looking forward to it. Thanks, Call-Small, for announcing that this house was for sale!

January 9, 2013

It's Been Such a Very Long Time

Hey, y'all! I'm back at it down here in Atlanta. Only weeks after I started this dollhouse blog, I got slammed with real-size life stuff...and that included remodeling three...count 'em...three bathrooms at once last summer. I don't advise anyone to do that in real-size or otherwise.

Northpark House Remodeling Phase One

So last time, I mentioned that the next mini project would be for me. Not for charity. Not for a friend or family member (although I did tweak my husband's mini comic book store a little).

So here are photos of the Northpark house that I'm presently working on. I imagine this house to be a typical American suburban house. It doesn't have lots of bedrooms, etc., but it is meant to give a "suggestion" of what a suburban house might be.

NorthPark House

NorthPark Home 

I've had this house for nearly 18 years! The house was made by Loren Korff, and I purchased it in Los Angeles at a miniatures store that's no longer in business. You might visit this site: Lori Thing to see if Loren or Lori offer this house anymore.

Kitchen addition

Kitchen Add-On

I kit-bashed the Imagination House that I purchased inexpensively at The Home Depot just before Christmas. I had the idea to slice the building in half and avoid buying an already designed addition, that I thought wouldn't meet my space needs or my budget. This will be the NorthPark kitchen and will sport an open beam ceiling. I had previously built an addition for this house from pieces of my first dollhouse (a Cape Cod style) but I didn't make it wide enough and just tossed it. I'm a trial-by-fire kinda girl; I'm not a meticulous planner. I know I waste a lot of time, money, and effort this way, but I don't know any other way. Arrgh!*^%$. With real-life size things, this is a real problem. Just ask my hubby. I once had 42 pint-sized paint samples just for one room! 

When I first began collecting miniatures, I never would have believed that I could have kit-bashed anything. But I'm braver now, having survived so much in life, so yeah.

Sure, it might have been better to have bought a Greenleaf house (I suspect it would have been easier to cut) but I have a jigsaw, and I'm not afraid to use it on 3/8" MDF.

Here's the family room. Notice, the house was not designed to accommodate stairs. This is where I reached for my jigsaw and my Dremel rotary tool. Read how I am making that work below.

Here's the upstairs. Not very much room here, but I'll deal with it anyway. That purple paint you see represents the color I was toying with when I last worked on this house. That was on September 11, 2001. I always reach for something related to my hobbies (scrapbooking, miniatures, etc.) when I'm troubled by something. Play really can be a source of healing.


Okay, post jigsaw and Dremel tool! I carved out a space on the family room ceiling to serve as the opening for the stairs. I purchased these stairs at Ernie's Attic, which is the scratch and dent store at Hobby Builder's Supply, the good folks that bring you Miniatures.com. The stairs were 10 cents each. I bought a bag full not knowing then how I'd manage to use them.

Grandpa (my father-in-law) helped me cut one of the stairs in half to better fit the space. My jigsaw wasn't able to cut these chunky blocks. So Grandpa pulled out his heavy-duty mitre saw. Hey, I could have used that to cut the Imagination House in half, but I wasn't thinking. I was just on a creative roll at 2 a.m. in my pajamas. Grandpa probably wouldn't have appreciated me waking him up at that hour to use his mitre saw. Oh, well.

I'll cover up the sides of the stairs with "drywall." And although that looks like some weird palm tree on the wall, it's actually where I've marked where a channel should be for the hardwiring. 

The hole for the top of the stairs isn't pretty, but I will patch it up later. You can also see the channels I carved with my Dremel to hold the hardwiring later. I'm sure there was an easier way to do that, too, but I just went for it. Buzzzz.

I will create a landing at the top of the first set of stairs, and later add a handrail.

I'm looking forward to doing more on this house in the next few weeks. I realize that I work best under deadline pressure. Read the story of the Auction House I created last year for my kids' school auction. I had only a few weeks to put this together rather than the preferred two months or so.

My deadline for this remodel will be March-ish...I think...maybe. I hope. Okay, June! Definitely July!

April 24, 2012

Hindsight and Other Thoughts

I got home Sunday night after spending six days at the Tom Bishop Chicago International show. My kids missed me so much that they texted photos of themselves crying real tears for me to come back home. No way. I was having too much fun.

I missed my family, but not as much as the kids claimed to have missed me.
Here's a 1/12 scale wooden sign I'll put in my Northpark home somewhere. 

I coveted these real leather sandals by Patrizia Sauti of Scarpe e Pelletteria.
The "Open" sign in the background is by The Neon Guy, at Spencer's Nook out of Alabama.
It'll go well in Billy's 1/12 scale comic book store. 

I am a sucker for contemporary dollhouse kitchen accessories. 

This piece is by Lola Originals from my previous home state of California.

Here's a favorite piece from The Little Dollhouse Company. This Italian import created
by le mini di Pierluigi is metal, and I plan to use it on the outside of the back porch of my Northpark home. I think I'll add some trailing greenery and some flowers. 

I did make it home safely, and so did my newly acquired miniatures. Sadly, though, somehow I managed to lose some of my finds—a small rake to be used in an outdoor gardening scene, and some really nice glass jars with lids. I thought I was being so careful to bring items purchased back up to my hotel room each hour, and then carefully wrapping the items and packing them away. Don't know what went wrong.

Since this was my first really big miniatures show, I didn't know exactly what to expect. No longer a newbie, I've come up with a few tips that I know will help me next year when I go to Chicago again. These tips might help you, too, for any mini show you're inclined to visit.

  1. List wants and needs...okay, none of these pretty little things do I need, but there certainly are items I really want. I spent too much time and money purchasing things for my "fantasy" miniaturist self (i.e. things that I think I might want to put together one day, even though I have no idea what I'm doing...like making doll hats). Next time, I'll create a list of the projects I really want to complete, that are in the scope of my existing talents, and focus in on getting those items.
  2. Make a beeline for your favorites: If you know some of your favorite artisans will be at the show, head for their booths first. That way you can get your most coveted pieces first before you blow your entire wad. That's the strategy friend Brae at Otterine.com seems to employ. Makes sense to me.
  3. Carry a plastic bin with a cover...I might not have lost an item or two had I carried a hardshell plastic bin with a lid and carefully placed each purchased item in that bin. With the soft-sided plastic bag handed out to everyone at the entrance to the show, I was bound to lose something. I just stuffed money and my miniatures in that bag, and then subsequently had to go digging deep inside it to remember what I'd purchased, say several minutes before...I was making an effort to match fabric choices with wallpaper colors, etc. It's cumbersome. Next time, I'll simply place my items layer upon layer (with bubble wrap in between) and carry a veritable lasagna of new mini favorites.
  4. Use iPhone camera regularly. I would have done well to take photos of the items I either wanted to consider purchasing before the show's end or immediately after acquiring them. Then once those items were safely packed, I still had a back up of my new inventory. I did manage to take a few photos during the show of room boxes and other things that I wanted to remember but could never afford to purchase. I always asked the artist first for their permission to photograph.
  5. Schedule time to see the other shows. Before the Tom Bishop preview show, I was able visit the 3 Blind Mice show that open the day before the big draw. Sadly, I hadn't carved out enough time to visit the Independent show schedule for the same weekend. I heard that that show was nice, too, but poor time management on my part made me miss out.
  6. Small bills, and lots of them. I think it helps to have a lot of single-dollar bills and change. Some of the vendors didn't take credit cards, either.
  7. Have a budget and stick to it. Yeah, right.
Overall, I had a great time. I met up with friends from California, whom I hadn't seen in almost a decade. I met a blogger friend in person and other new friends from across the Pond.

And I will never look at the spare change in my jean pockets or what I find in between the sofa cushions again quite the same way. I'll need every little bit of spare coinage to indulge myself again next year at Chicago International. The kids somehow survived without me this time, and they can do it again. That's what my husband and their grandpa is for...taking care of my real-life dolls while I have a chance to play.

April 19, 2012

Wish You Were Here

After nearly 20 years, I've finally made it to Tom Bishop's Chicago International--one of the largest dollhouse and miniature shows in the world. I got here on Tuesday evening, and on Wednesday, I took part in an exquisite doll making class fro LilyElf Miniatures. It was wonderful!

Today, although I'm not signed up for a class, I am peeking in on some of the other workshops. Some of these workshops cost several hundred dollars to join. Most of the expensive classes last for two to four days! It's mind-blowing.

My new friend Nancy is finishing up a doll made in our workshop. She's adding curly hair to this little girl. My doll still needs some work, but I'll post her photo soon.

This little lady is baking in her cottage kitchen, built by artisan Teresa Layman. 

Tomorrow begins the preview sale at the Show, and I'll be one of hundreds of miniature collectors waiting in line to get in. I can hardly wait. Right now, I'm going to make a list of my miniature must-haves.

March 15, 2012

I'll Take the Stairs

Friends, it's been a long time since my last post. I have been deep in life-size house remodeling stuff and was thoroughly depressed (which I am prone to) after seeing the estimate.

So one of the best ways I know to deal with blues is to work on my dollhouse.

I went to Ernie's Attic today and got a few deals. 

My favorite bargain of the day: a bunch of assembled stairs, each .25...that's 25 cents! The house I'm working on (formerly known as The Valencia) needs stairs, but not the traditional kind. I am hoping a few of these will work with some kind of landing that I'll have to try to construct.

These stairs were 25 cents each. I'll try to use these in The NorthPark house.
If I can't use them, I'll give them away.

I also picked up the MiniTown Loft. It was $9.99, but it's missing a part. I don't know which part, but I'll soon find out. I was thinking of using pieces of it anyway to add on to The NorthPark house. If not, I'll just do a funky modern loft myself.

Here's the MiniTown Loft I got from Ernie's Attic for $9.99!

This is what the loft could look like.
Here's how Miniatures.com/Hobby Builders Supply
 finished the loft. I love it!

Oh, yeah. I am changing the name of The Valencia house to Northpark...a neighborhood near where I lived in Valencia, California. This house looks more like the homes in Northpark rather than what one would think the name Valencia implies.

I have an hour before I have to pick up the kids from school...so I'll play for a few minutes.