Monday, January 28, 2013

The Reveal

I just spent a lovely, snowy, three-day weekend working on the finishing touches of the Library.

I had hoped for a sunny day to take the photographs, but if I waited for that I'm afraid it might be May or even June before you see any!  I'll eventually have my photographer friend over to snap a few decent shots but until then you will have to put up with mine.

One of my favorite new additions is the red-shaded lamp on the desk which I picked up at the local dollhouse shop, Little Enchantments. It throws just enough light to catch the desk's painted detail.  The built-in bookshelves are all filled with books and objet d'art.  I'm afraid I did not make the books --they are all bought-- but I did add a little gilding to their spines with a gold pen.  Eventually, I would like to have books that have printed pages, but for now, these will do...

I also 'color blocked' the books and think they look neater than when I had them just thrown in willy-nilly.  Not sure if they would have hung a little painting on the shelves like this, but I happen to like that effect --so there!  I received the little steps from New England Miniatures right before I got sick a couple months ago and sort of forgot about them.  But here they are!  Hey --check out the gold piping on the back of the chair!  I made the piping from embroidery floss on my Krazy Cords toy!  (Thanks for the tip, Catherine)!

Here's a shot of the fireplace side.  I have a lamp shining through the windows because it's so terribly gloomy outside in real life...but it's always sunny at Merriman Park!

Still having 'issues' with these chandeliers (grrr)! & I may replace them!
I added a fire in the grate of my Braxton Payne fireplace.  A fire in the Library is always so cozy, don't you think?  I was going to place an ormolu clock on the mantel but I figured with the grandfather clock standing just a few feet away it might be a little redundant, so I placed some tulips there instead. A touch of spring in the dead of winter.  Wish you could better make out the figurines on the mantel shelf.  They're 'vintage Japanese' totchkes I found on Ebay.

Now, I have to show you a closer view of the portrait hanging over the fireplace:

Mrs. Nathaniel Allen (1763) by John Singleton Copley

No doubt Mrs. Nathaniel Allen would have been labeled 'a handsome woman' in her day.  Her curious, life-sized portrait hangs in the Minneapolis Institute of Art and remains one of my favorites, perhaps because she is the very image of my friend, John Brewer. 
Mrs. Nathaniel Allen 1763, or Mr. John Brewer 2013? 
To the best of my knowledge, my friend John does not have a secret penchant for eighteenth-century drag.  His family came to this country in the nineteenth-century by way of Germany and Norway, so there is scant chance that he had an ancestor who frequented molly bars in ye-olde Colonial Boston.

And yet...there hangs this portrait...his portrait? Hmmmm...

I shrunk down an image of Mrs. Nathaniel Allen --(or my friend, John)-- whoever it is!  Anyway, I shrunk it down and over-painted it with Mod Podge, using a tiny brush and trying to mimic the same strokes as the artist.  Once dry and framed, it is difficult to tell that it is not a 'real' miniature oil painting that cost hundreds!  (Thanks, Ray, for the tip)!

I like how the painting's cool tones bring the similar colors of the hallway beyond the doorway into the room.

Well, I do hope you like the Library.  Of course, there are a few more odds and ends I would like to add here and there but you know how it a dollhouse room ever completely finished?

Have a great week, everybody!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Curtains & Crown Molding

The thing I most love about this hobby is that one minute you're shooting sawdust everywhere and generally making a huge mess and the next minute your working with sumptuous, silk fabrics!  First of all, here are my 'finished' curtains:

I ran back to the bead store and picked up some brass jump rings, which are the perfect thing for hanging miniature drapes!  They're simply stitched on to the pleats.  There were a few tense moments trying to finagle the rods through the tiny eyelets and around the fireplace chase, but thankfully, it all worked out in the end. (I have to run some more starch through the curtain fringe --it's sticking out a little, LOL!

In front of the window is the sweetest little globe I received for Christmas --thanks, Greg! I LOVE it!  It came from Masters Miniatures in England.

As you can see in the above photo, I STILL have not installed the crown molding.  Someone asked me this week how you cut the pieces of molding to fit the corners and so I thought I'd show you, before they are all glued in.

First of all, I always mark my crown molding with little 'X's across the top side, which will butt against the ceiling.  It's very easy to get mixed-up because sometimes the molding looks pretty much the same up-side-down as right-side-up! And it is quite upsetting if you cut your molding up-side-down when you only have enough to go around the room once, with no mistakes. (Not that that EVER happens to me)!

I always start with the 'back' wall of the room.  This happens to be the easiest  --just measure the length of the wall and cut your molding to match.  Use straight (ninety degree) cuts. (above) You can make the cuts with a miniature miter box if your molding is wood and less than a half inch thick.  My molding is a little thicker than that (and it also is made from cast resin), so I used a normal-sized, power miter box just to speed things up a tad.

Next, we'll make the first corner cut.  For this cut, you need a coping saw. (below) You can pick one up at any hardware store and they're not too expensive.  Make sure you get some extra blades!

 It might help before we continue if I first show you the next cut.  This is how the corner joint will fit: (below)

 See how the angled edge will fit on top of the other piece, like a little puzzle? (above) Here's how to do it...

With a pencil, trace the outline of your molding onto the corner. (above) This is your cutting line.  You can use your miter box to remove the section up to the pencil line.  Then use the coping saw to remove the small bits up to the line.

Here's how the corner fits together.  (above) You can fine-tune the joint with a small file or sandpaper.  Any small gaps can be filled with Spackle, gesso or wood putty.

Make the other corner of your room the same as above.  If you have any 'bump-outs,' such as a fireplace chase, the corners are made by making two, forty-five degree cuts on the miter box: (below)


When cutting resin molding by hand, take your time:  the heat generated by the moving blade will start to 'melt' the resin and gum up your saw.

Do not try to make the 'coped cuts' in one pass.  Remove small pieces at a time until you meet up to the penciled line.

Buy extra molding in case you make a mistake!

Some of the fancier moldings (such as Sue Cook's) can be purchased with pre-formed corners.

And that, my dears, concludes our little lesson du jour!  (I hope it helped, Gwendolyn)...  Next time, I promise to have the crown molding glued into place!  But before I sign off, I wanted to thank everyone again for your kind words regarding my recent ghastly run-in with the shingles virus!  I am happy to report that all is well and I can't even begin to tell you how thankful I am for all your thoughtful, well-wishes! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Library Progress

Work on the Library came pretty much to a complete stand-still while I was ill, but here I am again, faithful Readers, back from the dead,  fifteen pounds lighter and raring to go!  I even felt inspired enough this weekend to reupholster some chairs I received from Santa, as well as re-doing my aforementioned recamier.

The set of chairs are part of the Thomas Jefferson Monticello Collection and were originally covered in red "silk" (polyester).  Fortunately, when I purchased my wallpaper from Chinoiseries Miniatures a while back I also snapped up the matching fabric in 'real' silk.  Of course, I want to pipe the edges a la 'Krazy Kords' Catherine, but I haven't gotten around to that, yet!

The recamier I decided to re-do in a gold/red stripe from Renaissance Fabrics. (I think the fabric cost more than the sofa but it was well-worth it).

The curtains are made of the same stripe-y fabric.  So once again out came the fabulous Pretty Pleater!  I know that some of you have in the past  poo-pooed the Pretty Pleater, but I personally LOVE it!  Not only does the name itself make me titter like a little school-girl, but I find it so easy to work with.  And if you remove your curtains from the handy-dandy, Pretty Pleater apparatus while they are still a little damp and block your fabric on foam board, the results are a lot less 'tortured'-looking. 

Once complete, the curtains will hang from brass rings on a matching rod...but I seem to have misplaced the tiny hoops...oops! Back to the bead store!   I will then be able to finally glue all my wall panels in permanently. It seems that I cut my poor, neglected crown moldings ages ago and at long last I will be able to dust them off and officially install them!

I copied the design of the curtain pelmets from a photo I found on the internet...don't you love the fringe?  I made it from a gold ribbon --thanks to the advice of fellow blogger Jeffry-- just sliced a ribbon lengthwise in two and pulled out enough threads to form the fringe.  How easy is that?  (Thanks, Jeffry)!  I am trying to train the fringe to hang downward by combing them with a little starch on my fingertips.

Santa brought me the delightful desk and chair, as well as the grandfather clock and the library steps. I also am receiving a beautiful globe from Master's Miniatures (thanks, Greg)! which is still en route from England.  I have a pretty mirror on order that will eventually hang over the desk.  Really, all I need to fill out the room are some desk accoutrements and a few other odds and ends...

My favorite Christmas gift of all was a new harp for the Music Room!  Ain't she purdy? I can't believe all the little strings it has! I think I might pick out some of the harp's carving in gold, what do you think? 

I take that absolute favorite Christmas gift of all was not going blind in one eye!  That little episode was kind of --scary-- I guess you'd call it...but I want to thank all of you who wrote or phoned with your best wishes.  It was very kind of you to go out of your way, (especially this busy time of year), to check up on li'l ol' me.  Now that I'm getting my mojo back, I look forward to catching up with all of you and all of your blogs...

Best Wishes for a healthy, prosperous and fierce 2013!