Saturday, July 28, 2012

New Stuff!

Finally the heatwave broke, as a line of thunderstorms rolled through the parched prairies of Minnesota along with the corresponding cold-front.  The windows were thrown open, the perpetual whir of electric fans ceased and once again the neighbors congregated on their front porches, no longer confined to their air-conditioned prisons.  No miniature projects for me today!  Who knows how long the reprieve will last?

But still I couldn't resist opening the few packages that arrived this week and play with my new acquisitions!  Two more Monticello Collection chairs arrived --I'm picking them up as I can afford to-- only a few more to go!  I did decide to shorten the legs on the oval-backed chairs so they match up better with the square-back chairs and I'm glad I did because they make much better sense together as a 'suite' being the same height.

My art collection is growing exponentially as new frames arrived from DeJoux Miniatures over in North Carolina-way.  I have ordered from DeJoux several times and have always been pleased with their service. Unfortunately, this time around one of the items they sent was not the one I had ordered.  But almost as soon as I pushed the 'send' button on my email to them, the problem had quickly been resolved by Charlie, their crack customer service honcho. Sadly, this is a rarer and rarer occurrence nowadays so thanks a mill, Charlie!

I realized that what I really should be doing instead of playing with artwork and furniture is figuring out what lighting I need.  For one thing, I'm getting tired of having to keep wrestling with all the bits and pieces that haven't been glued down!  So I'm constantly having to reach in and push walls and moldings back into their proper place.  Can't really glue anything down until the wiring is set, and I had a little epiphany a while back because I think perhaps I'm putting too many lights in my rooms!  All of the other rooms have twenty or more bulbs burning...  In each room.  But I sort of like the music room with only a chandelier it really true that sometimes 'less is more?'  How can this be?  But I suppose it would look unbalanced if all the other rooms are conspicuously set ablaze while this one is not.  Oh, well! Another thing to ponder...

I'm so excited because I went spinet-shopping this week with Andy from Dolls' Houses and Miniatures!  Andy is the absolute arbiter of period style and I'm desperately trying to cajole him into putting all his design-history blog posts into a book!  So far, he's not having it --but he did take the time out from his busy career stalking Ben Cohen to steer me toward this little beauty (above, left). It's from Masters Miniatures, the same husband-and-wife duo that did my dining room furniture.  It will be centered on the wall opposite of the fireplace, an arrangement Andy also approved.  We both agree that the spinet simply must be flanked by candelabras, a la Liberace.  (But should they be working candelabra)?  Details, details...  Thank you, Andy, hope you & David enjoy the Olympics!  ;)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Window Casings

My 'beefed-up' window trim.
All of the seventeen, operating, sash windows of Merriman Park are standard Houseworks stock components.  I chose 'ready-made' windows as opposed to custom-built because (A).  I don't own the necessary tools to fabricate custom mill work and (B). Did I mention there are seventeen windows?  I'm pretty happy with my 'stock windows' --except for the included interior casings.  Here's why:

First of all, I should preface this post by admitting that I come from a very long-line of skilled, finish-carpenters, so I grew up watching how interior 'RL' (real-life) windows and doors are properly trimmed.  (Thanks, dad & grandpa)! A few years ago, we added a master bedroom to the back of our tiny, 1908 bungalow and I had the opportunity to test my own meager, finish-carpentry skills, by completing all of the interior mill work in the new addition (which I meticulously matched to the original house, naturally)!

So anyway, I guess what disappointed me about my Houseworks interior window casings is that they do not install like a RL window. Especially a RL 'period' window. Color me OCD, but does this bother anyone else?

Here is the interior side of a standard,  Houseworks window, untrimmed:

And here is the same window with the stock, included interior casings installed:.

What is incorrect is that the trim butts up against the window frame.  But in a 'RL' window, the casing should slightly overlap the window frame and not merely butt up against it. Yeah, guess I am OCD!

In a 'period' room setting, it gets even more complicated:  the window casing would most likely not be cut in a 45 degree miter at the four corners, (which is what is included in the Houseworks window package, above).  Rather, a sill would be built out and the casing would rise from it, as I did here in the Music Room, (left).  At the top of the window, I added a wide header on top of a head strip, all capped with a crown molding.  Beneath the sill, an apron would be used to finish off and help support the sill, (but in my Music Room  the sill matches up with the chair rail and so an apron is not needed).

...But downstairs, in the Dining Room, (right) the window sill & apron are seen discreetly behind the blue-green, striped silk curtains. (Here, shown for some reason, in earthy sepia tones, thanks to my crap camera skills)!

Of course, I suppose none of this extra work is even warranted if the window casings are to be completely covered over with fanciful draperies   In which case, only you, gentle Reader,  will know what lies beneath... You --and anyone who dares to peek behind your Pretty-Pleated curtains! ...Pretty Pleater...still cracks me up, I think it would be a formidable drag name, but I'm afraid that the nom de drag, 'Miss Pretty Pleater,' has lately been utterly usurped by my new, fave drag-name:  Miss Wilma Ballsdrop!  LOL!

UPDATE!  I no longer have the saddest life, you guys!  I found my Titian reclining Venus!  She did not, apparently, fall into the oblivion of my duct-work, but merely rolled under the cabinet of my antiquated stereo equipment.  (Aren't CD's  très pittoresque)?  

'Venus, Reclining,' reinstalled above the door.
I mean, really, I might as well have a Victrola with a huge, brass horn, as a friggin' stereo system, n'est-ce pas?


Friday, July 13, 2012

...On to the Music Room

Merriman Park was originally meant to be a Winter Project for me, but due to the unusual weather of late --a wet, positively monsoon-y spring, and an unbearably sultry, steamy summer-- I have been able to clock in a few hours here and there, all in air conditioned, climate-controlled comfort!  I had the day off today and since once again the skies opened up and poured sheets of rain off and on all the live-long day, I took advantage of the sitch and worked on the Music Room.

I made floors for all of my remaining rooms, figuring it would save time.  Live and learn! They are just regular, old plank floors which is what an American house from the Federal period would normally have.  They are all made from iron-on edge-stripping stained a dark walnut color and have several layers of shellac overall and a final coat of wax. .

I chose a Susan Bembridge wallpaper because it resembles the pattern in my 'rl' dining room. I have been thinking about repainting the front rooms, even though I really like the old colors --but sometimes you just need a change of scenery, right? But the over-sized, brocade pattern will live on forever in my dollhouse!

My 'rl' dining room.
Next, I added the wainscot.  This I made with illustration board and pre-made panels from Lawbre.  I had some panels left over from the Entrance Hall, so I only had to order a few more.  All three walls, BTW, are pieces of illustration board I cut to the exact size of the room.  It's so much easier working on the walls flat on my kitchen work table! You can just pop them in and out as you're working and all the wiring gets hidden behind. How cool is that?

Here I added the fireplace mantel from Braxton Payne and the door surround from Miniature Mansions.  All the mill-work is painted my special off-white. Nothing is glued down permanently, yet.

The base boards are black marble with a bullnose trim on top.  I think every room should have a little black in it!

I have been working on the art collection which will pretty much cover the walls completely.  The only one I didn't make is the work in the very center, which is a Jim Coates piece.  They're made utilizing Ray Whitledge's technique of over-painting Mod-Podge on top of  the print.  They look like real oil-paintings!  I had a reclining nude of Venus, the most lovely picture you ever saw, but she fell onto the floor and disappeared into the heat register.  I have the saddest life...

I have a pair of the fold-down card tables from the collection.
But I'm very excited because I get to use my Thomas Jefferson Monticello Collection furniture in the Music Room!  Most of you already know that Jefferson inspired Merriman Park's layout and I am a huge fan of him.  I bought these pieces ages ago and plan on getting a suite of six or eight of these Louis XVI-style chairs and reupholster them in the matching Susan Bembridge pattern in silk.  It might seem a bit much, but as I mentioned earlier, most of the walls will be covered with artwork, so I don't think it will get too pattern-busy in there --I hope!

Of course, you know my motto: 'it's not done, until it's overdone!'  so consider the source!  Well. that's all I have for now, have a great weekend everybody, stay cool and ciao for now!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July --and more pics!

Sorry I didn't photoshop fireworks over Merriman Park --that is way beyond my ability!  But here are a few photos my bff, Ricky,  took recently one night after dinner and drinks. Enjoy, and Happy 4th to the Yanks!

I love this photo because it looks like E.T. is behind the door!  Spooky!

Still have to figure out how to finish the raw wood edges...

The light fixtures show very well in this shot

A moody shot of the Drawing Room

The goddess Diana gazes serenely from her niche.
Three rooms down, three to go!
Merriman Park lit for the evening.

Due to technical difficulties, my last post on the Dining Room seems to have been lost in the shuffle.  (Thanks Simon for calling that to my attention).  Go back and read my earlier post if you would like more info on that room. And a special thank you to Rick for snapping these amazing photos!