Monday, December 26, 2011

Nice Girls Don't Wear Cha-Cha Heels!

Christmas has mercifully come and gone and since Ray Whitledge is dying to know, I am pleased to report that Santa brought Merriman Park a fab, new chandelier!  Ain't she pur-dy?  Unfortunately, the sconces didn't make it in time but should be here in a day or two...not that I could hook them up if I had them!  Oh, I am a regular expert now at splicing hair-sized wires together with shrinky-tubes and my hot-pink, Revlon blow-dryer.  And installing Tic-Tac-sized plugs is a cinch, darlings!  Today, I can practically do that in my sleep  But what do you do when all twelve sockets are in use?  I tried adding another socket strip to my transformer, but only one will work.  It's supposed to be able to handle sixty-two lights, so what gives?  Can I splice some of  my fixtures together and put them on a single plug to free up space?  Or maybe I'm just not hooking up the second socket strip correctly?  Ugh! 

Anyhoo, on this side of the room, you can see the glam, new console table, (another prezzie from that jolly, old elf), under the painting, Dante et Virgil.  Oh, and in the corner niche that is allegedly, supposed to be Hercules (whom I have been affectionately referring to as Lady-Legs)!  He reminds me of those certain queens you see at the gym who only work out their chest and shoulders and never bother to touch the leg machines, so from the waist up they look like The Incredible Hulk but from the waist down they sort of look like an ostrich!  But I dunno, his face is kind of hot, with his beard, he is totally serving up a heapin' helpin' of  Lumberjack Realness!

In the other niche we have a generic, female, Grecian goddess.  Both of these statues were marketed as a pair, but other than the hideous, albeit matching bases they came attached to (which I promptly sawed off)! I don't think they relate to one another very well.  Hercules bares some semblance to an ancient Greek work, while the female figure, in her 'saucy country wench' pose, strikes me as being more of an eighteenth-century French piece. But what do I know from Art?  Her proportions are not much better than Lady-Legs:  her head is gi-normous and her feet can only be described as flippers.  But thus far, they are the ONLY statues I could find that fit the they will just have to do, for now!  Lady-Legs is also nearly a quarter inch shorter than Country Wench, so I had to fashion a new pedestal for him to stand on.  Kind of like how Tom Cruise has to stand on a little box when he's filming a movie so he can look his co-star in the eye.  (And that is not just idle gossip, darlings, I read it in the Enquirer)!

You may recognize the chairs in the photo to be the same ones from the Entrance Hall, and you would be correct.  (Good detective work)!  I really wanted to have four matching chairs for the Hall, but was unable to find another set so I'm moving these upstairs and am getting four new (matching) chairs for the hall.
The room will really come together with the crown molding in place!  But I first have to wait for the sconces to arrive so I can then glue the walls in place, etc.'s all about the correct order!

Hope all y'all had a great Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Seasons Greetings!

                    From all the boys at Merriman Park! 
"Thank you kindly for stopping by!  Y'all come back, now,  y'hear?"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Putzing Around

Dante et Virgil by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
The Drawing Room is reaching that critical point when I can start fastening walls, floors and ceilings down for good.  Unfortunately, I need three pairs of sconces installed first, and I only have one set.  I'm also planning on changing out the chandelier for something a little grander, but these installations will have to wait til X-mas!  That is, if Santy Claus brings me what I asked for!  (Dawn Davenport:  "I asked, for cha-cha heels and I better get!")

So I have been keeping busy by making is a painting I found in an ad I received in the mail for the GLBT Review.  Though I did not subscribe to their publication, I did purloin this image for my burgeoning gallery!

In order for the frame to accommodate the size of the painting, I had to join two matching frames together.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I often purchase things in pairs, so fortunately I had a set on hand.  I cut the frames in two using a miniature miter box, and making the cuts at a 45  degree angle.  Then I just glued the frames back together, making a longer frame!  (The two smaller, left-over pieces I also glued together to create another smaller frame for future use.  Then I filled the small cracks with gesso and sanded, and painted.  I like to use a reddish primer coat for gilt frames.  (As a framer in a previous existence, this is how its done).  Back in the day, they called this base-coat Venetian Red, or Pompeii Red.  When that has dried, I dab on the acrylic metallic gold paint, leaving the background color to come through here and there.  A sprinkle of gold pigment powder for added sparkle completes the frame.

Of course I over-painted my artwork with clear gel-medium and then lacquered it, a la Ray Witledge.  This technique will make your works of art appear very realistic!  Try it!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Painting the Drawing Room

I've always been fond of this grey-green hue.  Muddy colors in general appeal to me because they are so complicated and change color with the varying light.  We have the Pantone catalog of colors at the department store where I work in Display, so I spent my lunch hour perusing the thousands of thumbnail swatches and gradually whittled my selection down.

Then it was off to Home Depot, where they wisely started offering 8oz. sample jars of paint for just a few bucks.  Eight ounces doesn't sound like much, but it was still way more than I needed --thank god I didn't buy a whole quart!

Unfortunately, after painting a partial wall, I found the color too bright.  Back to square one, darlings!  Of course I couldn't get too upset --did you hear the Entrance Hall of Merriman Park is now ensconced in Sue Cook's Gallery?  Oh, you already knew?  My, how news travels!

Well anyway,  I decided that since the color was all wrong, instead of just shelving it until it dried up to dust, I'd try doctoring it up, myself.  A few squirts of Alizarin Crimson should do the trick.  Sho' nuff, it worked!  If you ever want to tone down a color, always use its exact opposite on the color wheel (never black)! --works like a charm and you won't get a murky mess.

I chose a velvety brown for the niches.  Mrs. Thorn used a similar scheme in one of her rooms to great effect.  I am not planning on using the bust of George Washington in the niche, but it gives you a hint of what a statue will look like (if ever I find a pair)!

Since I was kind of on a roll, I thought I'd tackle the fireplace.  I was going for a brown marble effect and even though its been ages since I faux-marbled anything, it's a little frightening how it all comes back.  You have to understand, darlings, that I had the misfortune of living through that brief, tragic moment in history when every and I mean everything was faux-painted!  I think I've already written about how my ex-best friend, Todd faux-marbled his entire dining room set: table, chairs, all of it in painstakingly wrought in shiny, black marble.  I was like, "really?  Marble Windsor-style chairs, huh?  They must be really heavy."

Anyway, here's my version, though it turned out a bit lighter than I had imagined.  But I'll live with it for a few days and we'll see if it makes the final cut.

I also managed to drill all the holes for the wiring, my Christmas present is rumored to be a chandelier and wall sconces!  So all in all, a pretty productive weekend! 

Have a great week!

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm In Sue Cook's Gallery!

I recently learned that Sue Cook chose this photo of my Entrance Hall for her website gallery.  What an incredible honor!  I have been on Cloud Nine all the live-long day.  Even the freezing temperatures today --highs in the low teens (Fahrenheit) couldn't get me down.  "I'm in Sue Cook!" was my Mantra for the Day!  I am bubbling over in awesomeness.

Incidentally,  our very own Simon Williams has new pics posted in Sue's Gallery as well!  Congratulations, Si! 

Original sketch of Merriman Park.
I first learned of Sue Cook a couple Christmas' ago.  Merriman Park was just an idea, a twinkle in my eye if you will, simply a sketch scrawled on a napkin back then.  And for that particular Christmas, Glen presented me with a veritable stack of dollhouse books for inspiration.  Many of those books featured Sue's gorgeous fireplace mantels and other components.  How I coveted them and how thrilled I was when I googled her and found  her catalog --now I could purchase for myself all her breath-taking creations!

It is so thrilling that my very first miniature room is on Sue Cook's Gallery!  I think I just might celebrate by running down to Happy Hour --it's three-for-ones, children!  And it's Friday!  Happy Friday, all!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wall panels, mirrors, ceiling ornamentation and a flooring surprise...

Finally, at long last, some of my long-awaited supplies started arriving this week.  My wall panels from Lawbre were well-worth the wait, (as was their ceiling medallion).  The ceiling medallion  is made up of stylized tobacco leaves, arranged in a classical pattern.  Very appropriate to a Virginia residence!  It's going to look great centered in the ceiling frame I built from stock moldings.  Speaking of moldings & supplies, I've made several jaunts to the local dollhouse shop, Little Enchantments, (Hi, Karen!) where I have become a familiar fixture. 

Unfortunately, the parquet flooring I ordered on-line turned out not to be real wood.  For fake wood, I have to admit, it is a fabulous faux;  in fact, when I unpacked it I played around with it for about ten minutes before I had the "wait a minute!" realization!  I suppose I should have just packed it right back up and sent it back whence it came, but I was so utterly desperate for a project to work on, I laid it out anyway.  It's just glued down to a backer-board so I can always toss it as my whim dictates...

I dunno, I keep going back and forth on it...I mean on one hand it's a great reproduction.  Plus my 'marble' floor in the room below is not exactly 'real' marble either so why the double-standard? 

But I had my heart set on real wood!

I'm sure there is no compare between a real wood floor and a fake one (however well-done).  I just am not experienced enough to have savored the difference...Merriman Park is, after all, my first dollhouse.  I'm just afraid that if I stick to the fake flooring someday I'll be like, "oh, hell,  no!  What was I thinking?" 

Pardon me while I rant:  when I bought this flooring there was no mention in the description that it wasn't real wood.  It was sandwiched between real wood floors, so I'm sorry --it was rather misleading.  Guess that's the risk you run from buying on-line.

Wall panels from Lawbre.  I think I figured out how to make my own...stay tuned!

My Braxton Payne mantel and mirror I made to go with my niches.

It's really not so bad...or is it?

Don't worry!  It's all just held up with wax for now:  I'll make sure everything is centered. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Holiday Favorites

Not much to report on the goings-on of Merriman Park.  Still anxiously awaiting a special delivery or two.

Oh, my long-awaited flooring finally arrived...but as much as I thought it would be real wood --it wasn't.   I guess the price should have tipped me off.  But what about truth in advertising?  Whatever, --Merry Christmas. Chalk it it up to caveat emptor --let the buyer beware!

Speaking of Christmas...there was a time, in the long ago, ye-olde, distant past, when holiday music served as a tonic to my soul.  But after toiling in the glamorous, glitter-filled world of retail display for most of my adult life, I can honestly say that most Christmas music now sounds like fingernails scratched across chalkboard.  There are, however, a few notable exceptions.  And as my Holiday Gift to you, Dear Reader, I offer the following, my personal holiday favorites:

Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me, by Rosemary Cloony.  George's aunt was a fabulous chanteuse who only improved with age.  Here, a decidedly young-ish Rosemary belts her  (broken) heart out.  Though this is not exactly a "Christmas Carol" in the traditional sense it is from the movie White Christmas, and it does contain the lyrics: "To send me a Joe, who had Winter and snow in his heart, wasn't smart..."  so it makes the list.  The gown, the gloves, the back-up dancers, the stylized choreography, all conspire to create a moment of pure Hollywood, holiday magic. 

There's Always Tomorrow, from the 1960's Christmas classic, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  This animated gem from my childhood always aired on television right around the first of December and was nearly as eagerly anticipated as Christmas Eve, itself.  This song, again not strictly a Christmas carol per se, but one of my holiday favorites, nevertheless.

 I absolutely cringe whenever I hear the ubiquitous, over-played and decidedly played-out carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, but this video version, The Twelve Gays of Christmas, given a well-needed injection of punk rock vigor and a revamp from some highly-talented male dancers,  never fails to slap a holiday smile on my somewhat jaded, (but still relatively youthful-looking, even in absence of major-cosmetic-surgery) face. 
Christmas would not be complete without a view of this John Waters classic from the cult hit, Female Trouble.  Silent Night was once a holiday fave carol of mine, (until the millionth hearing) whenever I hear it I long for the abridged version sung this clip, Dawn Davenport, desperately wanting a new pair of  'cha-cha heels' for Christmas,  has a little holiday melt-down.  Ah, the true meaning of Christmas, distilled down to a two-minute clip, wrapped up with a big, red bow and presented, dear Reader, as my special gift to you.  Enjoy!

Christmas without Dolly Parton would indeed be a rather dismal prospect!  This song, Hard Candy Christmas from the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas always brings a little tear to my eye.  (Perhaps it's the 1980's hair-dos)?  Or maybe it's just a great, sentimental song from one of my favorite Country-Western divas!

Speaking of tears to the eye and continuing the Country-Western  theme, I give you this heart-warming piece from Jim Reeves, A Memory of an Old Christmas Card.  I simply adore this song, not only because you don't hear it every day at the Mall, but especially for the faux-sincere spoken passage at the middle: (1:35)  "why, I know you must have looked through THOUSANDS of cards to find that wonderful  'po-em,' that still brings a tear to my eye."

Another, 'real' Christmas Carol!  Fortunately, this festive little number, performed by The King's Singers and Dame Kiri Te Kanewa, will never make it to the Mall's playlist.  Therefore, it makes mine.  Plus, it features a harpsichord, which is forever A-OK by me!

My personal fave.  When I first saw the movie Chitty, Chitty, Bang! Bang! in the theater as a very small, tow-headed youth, I instantly glommed on to this delightful scene, featuring Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes) as a clockwork doll.  Oh, the countless hours later spent in front of the looking-glass, in a sad attempt to recreate the magic!  Again, not specifically a holiday song, yet the toy theme allows me to put it on my Christmas list.

To me, Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without copious amounts of --well, booze Cocktails!  If you're looking to expand your collection of fab holiday music, run I mean run out and pick up any of the several versions of Christmas Cocktails, must-haves for your personal collection.  Here's the inimitable Nancy Wilson singing another one of my lesser-known, holiday faves.  Ching-Ching, everyone!
Speaking of over-indulging, this is what Christmas is all about  --a well-choreographed, boozy shin-dig!  Poor Judy Garland, mixing up reindeer with rainbows, and what was that Santa had in his sleigh?  And Mel Torme  all trying to keep the well-lubricated holiday ship from altogether sinking... Christmas never looked so messy --or so much fun!

Last but certainly not least, OK, admittedly not a Christmas song in the traditional sense, The Morning After by Maureen McGovern from the sensational, monster-hit-movie, The Poseidon Adventure (the original, 1970's version, not the deplorable, more recent remake) does take place on New Year's Eve, and does feature an up-side- down Christmas tree (which I have gotten plenty of mileage from), putting it squarely within my holiday-song criteria.  'Disaster movies' were  la hauteur de la mode  as I was growing up and this campy, schlock-fest was, arguably, the genre's crowning jewel!  I will sit through this movie every time it shows up on cable if only to see Shelly Winters' belly-flop and subsequent death-scene. The aforementioned belly-flop is featured in this clip, but alas, not the must-see, heart-wrenching, death-scene dialog: ("You see, Manny,  in the water, I'm really ...a skinny lady!......Ach!...Ach! ...''  [Dies.  Scene].

I hope you enjoyed this sad, little tour through my personal, holiday favorites --what, pray, tell,  are yours? Undoubtedly, I will have something more Merriman Park -related things to post in the near future.  Til then, I wish you, dear Readers, and yours, a happy Holiday Season!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's Official: Dollhouse Weather

This is the scene I woke to this morning,dear Readers.  The first snow!  The first snow is rather devious:  it always fools you into thinking, "oh, how pretty.  Maybe winter isn't so bad, after all..."  That's before it piles up in glacier-like proportions.  They are predicting a 'colder and snowier winter than usual,' here in Siberia I mean Minnesota.  All I have to say in response is "BRING IT!"  I have five count 'em five rooms to work on!  And Old Man Winter (and Seasonal Affect Disorder) ain't about to stop the likes of me, I'm here to tell you!

Winter-Schminter!  I laugh in the face of sub-zero temperatures!  Wind-Chill Factor?  Ha!  --Oh, I suppose you probably don't even know what the Wind-Chill Factor is, poor, deprived Reader!  The Wind-Chill Factor is, I believe, strictly a Minnesota thing (or at least a Mid-Western thing), when the thermometer actually reads thirty degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) but because of the Wind-Chill Factor it feels like fifty below!  I know!  What fun, right?

But like I said, who even has time to dwell on the weather when the empty, bare-plywood rooms of Merriman Park are staring me in the face?

So I'm plodding along with the Drawing Room...  My new fireplace mantle from Braxton Payne Miniatures arrived this week.  May I wax poetic for a moment on Braxton Payne?  If you're not familiar with him, gentle Reader, you should be!  His mantles are the most divoon creations on Earth!  Not only are they exquisitely designed, but also expertly wrought with the most superb detail.  He even signs and dates his work, which I think is such a nice touch!  But don't take my word for it:  check out his on-line catalog.  You affectionados of eighteenth-century design will undoubtedly find something to delight the eye. 

The arched frame over the mantle will hold a mirror, and mimic the corner niches.
Because there are so many moldings and panels in this room, I decided to use illustration board, cut to the rooms dimensions, as a 'backer' for everything.  This way, I can work on each wall separately and flat on my work table.  It will also conveniently hide all the wiring.  Sweet!  I stole this idea from Mulvany & Rogers.

 ...Just waiting for my cornice, flooring and ceiling ornamentation to arrive.  Hopefully, it will all come before I run out of stuff to work on!  If it doesn't arrive before then, I may end up like poor little Edie, the Sheltie:

Poor girl!  She looks positively bored to sobs!  I know exactly how she feels --I tell you, it's this weather!  Think she needs a walk, or something?

Monday, November 14, 2011


I almost accidentally deleted a bunch of posts when I tried switching to a new blogger format.  I think I saved them but they were all 're-posted,' so it appears like you will be receiving a lot of  my old posts as' new.'  I am so sorry!  I can't seem to do anything right, lately...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pilasters Arrived!

Another package greeted me on the front porch as I arrived home last Friday --my new pilasters!  I was so excited they came so I could get to work on the Drawing Room.  I was a little nervous about their dimensions being "off," but my fears were quickly assuaged when I tore open their packaging and set them into the room.

I also worked on my corner niches.  They're coming along rather nicely, but I'm still perfecting my arched molding technique! 

A trip to the Art Supply Store brought me rubber casting compound so I was able to make a better-quality mold.  I also needed some more spray-primer and so whilst at the Art Supply store I asked if they carried any.  They didn't.  But they did carry spray-gesso!  I did not know there was such a thing, silly, ol' me!  I love the stuff!

BTW, the DAS clay sands really well so I was able to fix the imperfections of my first niche.  No need to cast a third! 

I have quite a few Lawbre wainscot panels already on hand.  I was going to just pop a panel in under the niche but in consulting with dear, Mrs. Thorne, I opted instead for this slightly more fanciful version. 

It's a lot of extra work with the mini-miter box, but I think it was worth the trouble.

Hope everyone had a great weekend.  We just switched back to Standard Time, so it's getting dark at five-o'clock!   Ugh!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Entrance Hall, Photographed

The facade of Merriman Park

The other rooms look so bare!

What a fuss I made about lighting!

"And where have you been all evening, little mister?" Check out the new floor medallion, and note conspicuous absence of center table.  Most of the furnishings in this room are from New England Miniatures (hi, Grazhina)! and our local dollhouse shop, Little Enchantments (hi, Karen)!
I swear I did not kill any of the animals hanging on the wall! (They all committed suicide just so they could become gorgeous accessories in this glamorous room.  The cameo was in a box of trinkets my friend Carolyn gave me ages ago.
I made faux marble plinths with seed-pearl feet for the pair of gilded sphinx on the demi-lune tables.
That's my 'real life' kitty, Whiskers, photo-shopped  into the room.  I adore trick photography!

I should have had my friend take my Halloween photo!
Never did get around to building a new cabinet for Merriman Park to sit sure needs one!

And that, dear Reader, concludes our little tour through one of the Stately Homes of America!  Special thanks to BFF Eric Lindahl for the awesome pics!

Additional thanks to: Giac, Simon, Irene, WB Design, Andy, Fiona, Pedrete & Madelva, Karin Corbin, Anneke, Jeffry, Josje, Iris, Cassandra, Barb in MN, Kate Merchant, my partner, Glen (who puts up with this madness) and so many others!  Without your advice, support, enthusiasm (and sometimes hand-holding) Merriman Park would have no doubt been cast off to the basement, gathering cobwebs. 

Curvy Molding

I came up with this one on my own!  The Problem:  How to fabricate matching trim to go around the arched tops of my niches?  (Especially without a workshop full of fancy gadgets),  The Answer:  Make a mold of the straight, wooden molding and cast it in leftover DAS clay and then bend the pliable, cast molding to fit the curve!

 I know it looks a little rough, but I'll work out the kinks.  BTW, the second attempt with the DAS and wine bottle went a lot better, with a little vegetable oil spray to loosen things up a bit.  Guess I'll chalk the first attempt as a 'practice piece.'

Happy Halloween!

From the boys of Merriman Park!  There will be lots of Tricks & Treats, bobbing for apples, and maybe even ghost stories in front of the fire.

I'm living vicariously through my dollhouse for Halloween, since it falls on a Monday this year.  There was of course the usual shenanigans planned for last night at all the bars, but yours truly could not decide on a costume for the evening.  And last year was such a dreadful bore!  Everyone was dressed the same:  either you were a sexy pirate, a sexy cowboy, or a sexy policeman.  Blah, blah, blah!

So I stayed home and worked on my niches.  Anneke was kind enough to pass on the information about DAS.  It is an air-drying, modeling clay that doesn't shrink.  I have to say, it was the perfect solution!  Thanks, Anneke!
This was my first attempt.  I left the clay on the wine bottle overnight and it stuck to the bottle as I tried to remove it.  But the clay that was pressed against the glass was still fairly soft, so I was able to repair the minor damage.  Maybe I should grease the bottle a little next time?
This photo shows you how large the niche is.  They will support two 'life-size' statues, hopefully of Roman gods or goddesses.  That is, if I can find some!

I also received my photographs of the Entrance Hall!  They are burned to a CD so as soon as Glen gets up this morning (usually at the crack of noon, on a Sunday) I will post them later today!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I think I solved my niche dilemma!  Whilst pouring the evening cocktails I just happened to glance at the vodka bottle and then it hit me:  The vodka bottle is the same shape as my niches!  So I placed my handy niche template over the bottle and guess what?  The vodka bottle was too big.  Rats! But you can't  foil the likes of me that easily, I'm here to tell you...  

A dash to the recycling bin produced two new contenders: wine bottle versus super-sized, cheap-o wine bottle.   And the winner is: super-sized, cheap-o wine bottle!

Now that we have the mold, what to use to fabricate the actual niches?  We've already poo-pooed  papier-mache as being too difficult to obtain a smooth finish.  I want my niches smooth as a baby's bottom!  Laugh not, gentle Reader, but I have just recently stumbled across a blog posting extolling the virtues of using laundry dryer-lint as a papier-mache substitute!  As unlikely (not to mention unsavory) a prospect this may seem, your intrepid amateur miniaturist has taken a solemn vow to leave no stone unturned in his never-ending Quest for Fabulosity!

But seriously: what am I going to use?  Fimo?  Plaster of Paris?  I've heard that Fimo shrinks when you bake it which might be problematic.  I remember as a boy in art class mixing saw-dust with glue and making a paste that you could model and I assume, sand smooth.  Decisions, decisions! 


Anyway, enough about my tiresome niches...I grow WEARY of them!  In honor of Halloween which is, after all, right around the corner, and since this is a dollhouse blog, (right)? I bring you this macabre little gem.  (Warning, Fiona!  This might give you the hebe-jeebies)!  Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Drawing Room ReDux

Hope I'm not mixing too many Orders!
Still working on refining the plans for the Drawing Room.  I found a similar cornice that Thomas Jefferson used in his own house, Monticello, and I think it is appropriate here in Merriman Park.  It features a favorite motif of Jefferson's: the ox skull(!) interchanged with a rosette medallion.  I think the ox skulls are just  too butch for words.

I'm also still stewing on how to fabricate the niches on the back wall.  They are quite a bit larger than what I can find commercially available and I have resolved to attempt to create more of my own components in the other rooms.  I suppose that I could break down and buy the smaller-sized niches.  Problem solved, right?  But I really like the larger scale of the ones in my sketches! 

(I have a fab surround from Sue Cook for the door).
 I figure, if I fail at the niches, I can always just fill the arches with mirrors!  That might be pretty awesome!  I am for sure going to put a mirror over the fireplace mantle.  Oh, I just noticed I forgot to pencil in the sconces on the pilasters.  Ooops!

This room is starting to remind me of one of the 'period rooms' at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  That room , I recall was a Music Room from a grand house in Paris.  The walls were painted cream and all the moldings were gilded.  And it really has arched mirrors in all the corners, too!  Spooky!

Definitely going to put another corridor beyond the door opening!
 I'm not yet sure what colors I will end up using in this space, but there is plenty of time before I have to worry about that.  What do you think?   I know that a parquet wood floor would look stunning in a room like this, don't you agree? 

Anyway, back to the niches...Mirrors would be lovely, but right now I have my heart set on niches with statuary!  We're talking Roman gods & goddesses!  Thanks to everyone for your great suggestions on how to pull off the curved and rounded tops of the recesses.  Andy mentioned papier-mache and that is something I have worked with in the past.  I've never been very good at getting a smooth finish with papier-mache.  Here's a puppet head I made a few years ago out of the stuff:

Mr. Punch!
See how the surface is rippled from the layers of paper?  I just don't like that!  (Guess that's why I abandoned this project!

I made the head by sculpting it with clay and then papering it over the clay and then slicing the papier-mache, removed the clay and re-joined the halves.

Probably should have made a cast of the clay head and papier-machied the inside of the cast.  Anyway, if I attempt this technique on the niches, that's how I'll do it.

Guess I can always go back to the mirrors if the niches don't turn out!

Funny thing is that Thomas Jefferson has two similar niches in his Drawing Room at Monticello.  But while he was stationed in Paris as the new American Ambassador, he purchased two matching pier mirrors and sent them (along with a whole warehouse full of French furniture) and where do you think he hung his brand-new Paris mirrors?

That's right --he hung them over the niches and covered them up completely!

Isn't that rather ironic?

Addendum:  OK, after I posted this, there was something nagging me and I think it's that the cornice and the pillar capitals don't really go together.  I don't want the neighbors of Merriman Park to titter behind their fans that I mixed Doric and Corinthian Orders in my principal room!  So I am going to use the Thomas Jefferson cornice in the Library and chose a more apropos cornice for the Drawing Room, which, by the way, seems to be morphing into the Music Room.  Opinions?

Confidential to Karin Corbin:  W.W.K.C.D?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Drawing Room--Preliminary Plans

I finished the Entrance Hall!  My very first room!  I feel just like a parent must feel when their child graduates from high school.  I have a photographer friend coming over in a few minutes to snap a few decent photographs.  Its 'unveiling' I fear is going to be somewhat of an anti-climax, as you've seen most of it.  All rather like that old Peggy Lee song, Is That All There Is?  Let's have a listen, shall we?

Is that all there is to the Entrance Hall?  Is that all there is? lol!  I LOVE that song.  Bette Midler does a nice version, too.

So, on to the next!  The Drawing Room!

The Drawing Room is located immediately above the Hall.  I chose to do this room next so that when the center component is open, it will look like the house is finished.  Funny that I chose to start with the two most difficult rooms in the house!  Maybe I should have practiced on a bedroom or something?  Oh well, too late for that now... I have been busy drawing up some rough sketches of the new Drawing is a sneak peek:
That's my Sue Cook door surround in the center which will be flanked by two Corinthian pilasters. I don't think the pilasters are as wide as I drew them --(the catalog describes them as being 2" wide at their widest point so I was guessing at the width of the column part).  Moving outward, two arch-topped niches will fit into the back corners of the room at angles.  I'm not sure yet if there will be fabulous statuary in the niches or shelves for more gorgeous little things.  I'd like to do curved niches with a scallop shell in the arch, but I haven't quite figured out how to make that idea work in reality! 

That's about it for now...I'll post photos of the completed Entrance Hall in a day or so.

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lights ON!

Whew!  What a whirlwind weekend...figuratively, and literally.  The weather changed abruptly and overnight here in Minnesota we went from sunglasses and tee-shirts to knit caps and flannel!  The wind is making quick work of the remaining leaves in the trees, much to the consternation of my Shetland Sheepdog, Miss Edie.  Edie is ever so slightly OCD, she barks at any and I mean anything that's even slightly out of place.  And the new swirling spirals of russet and orange autumn leaves drive the poor, persnickety pooch mad, mad, mad!  

After much tinkering (and a few colorful explicatives) I am pleased to report that I finally got the electrical system working in the Entrance Hall of Merriman Park!   Thank you, gentle Reader, for your polite applause at my success.  Of course it couldn't have happened without a heaping helping of major drama, now could it?

First off, I needed to visit the local dollhouse shop on the other end of town, to pick up a few odds and ends.  It's a pleasant jaunt down meandering  Minnehaha Parkway (gorgeous in its seasonal autumn splendor) which turns into 50th Street and on into the suburban hinterland of Edina, where the aforementioned shop is located.  After jumping into the car and turning the key and hearing no familiar 'vroom-vromm' noise it was determined that the car's battery was dead.  Drats!

After a jump-start from Neighbor McFriendly, and a trip to the automotive shop for a new battery, it was off, at long last, to Edina!  But by the time yours truly finally made it home, the sun was already dipping behind the horizon.  And there is no way on Earth, dear Reader, that I would even attempt to wire Merriman Park in the dim, yet decidedly glamorous evening light of my 'real-life' house!  Oh, well, "tomorrow is another day," as Miss Scarlet used to say. 

Up, today, at the crack of noon (I need my beauty rest --don't judge me)!  And after a cafe au lait, I begin the lighting project in earnest.  The chandelier wire needs extending but --no worries!-- I bought some of those shrink-tube thing-ies so I'm good to go!  But do you think I could find them?  Hell, no!  I turned the entire house apart and they were nowhere to be seen.  Double-Drats!

And the local dollhouse shop is closed on Sundays!  This is getting so complicated...

The huz comes up with a brill idea:  a Hobby Shop!  So after a quick Google search it's off to Scale Models in St Paul!  

OK, if you ever have the misfortune of finding yourself in St Paul --I'm not dogging it, but I once lived there briefly and it can only be described as a cemetery, with lights.  But please, please, please do yourself a favor and head over to Scale Models on Lexington and University Avenue!

If you dream of  starring in a John Waters film --and who doesn't-- just run on down to Scale Models!  From the outside, the shop looks to be about six feet wide, but enter and make your way down the creaky, water-stained stair and in the dank basement you will find a model-makers Paradise!  It's huge!  It goes on and on and on for like, forever!  (Sort of like this post, but I digress).

Sitting on a bench at the base of the stairs is the strangest apparition:  I swore it was an old man, but the huz insists it was an elderly woman!  And he/she just sits there with a preternatural, evil grin on his/her face!  It's just like the creepy chauffeur in Burnt Offerings!
Anyway, long story short:  I got more shrink-tubes.  Then the Real Fun began.  It only took several attempts to get everything working, but I did it!  I really did it!  I am pretty and I am smart! AND I made my own lampshades...OK before you look at this next picture, please keep in mind that I am new to this and don't laugh!  This is sort of embarrassing, but I made the lampshades out of toothpaste caps!  Is that too ghetto?  Painted black with the inside gold I hope they're not too obvious.  Of course right after I finished making them, I got an email from Clair-bell and they do carry black shades for only three bucks a pop, so maybe I should just spring for it and get them!

Toothpaste cap lampshades: ghetto or gorgeous?
All I have left, is to finish a few miters to the cornice and glue everything down.  I'm not going to post any more photos of the Hall until it is once-and-for-all complete.  (Just a few more days, my my estimation).  I don't know about you, dear, patient Reader, but I am getting a little tired of looking at this room.

And so then, it's on to the Drawing Room!