Sunday, March 17, 2013

Inspiration, Ceilings & Doors

Thanks a bunch for all the encouraging comments!  They are like a tonic for my soul.  You see, I tend to go rather into a tailspin this time of year, what with the weather in these parts being so incessantly and relentlessly drab, dismal and drear --not to mention harrowing-ly cold, cold, cold!  Your intrepid Reporter almost forgot that he started his beloved Merriman Park in the first place to keep himself from committing hari-kari with an enormous Minnesota icicle. (Talk about Seasonal Affect Disorder)!  I could snap one of the frozen daggers off my ice-dammed eaves and end it all right now, darlings, but then my mini bedroom would never get finished...Quelle tragédie!

So instead, I'll spare you the histrionics and get on with the decorating...

I am often asked where I get my inspiration and ideas from and the answer is:  I have no clue!  I think my mind is sort of like an gi-normous sponge that sucks up anything and everything that has to do with architecture and design and so I have a catalog, of sorts, stored in my head that I can readily reference.

The most tangible inspiration for Merriman Park is undoubtedly my now dog-eared copy of The Thorne Rooms, which has somewhat become my 'miniatures Holy Bible!'  Before starting any room, I inevitably revisit this sacred tome.  To me, Mrs. Thorne was, and still is, the Gold Standard of Miniatures.
Seeing the Thorne Rooms at the Chicago Institute of Arts for the first time is what originally made me decide to build Merriman Park; and so revisiting the source inspiration helps keep me grounded and  'on point."  (I am a Gemini, and we Air Signs need these sorts of crutches to stay focused)!

If you're like me, books, magazines, movies, plays, blogs... all provide fodder for future projects. 

Once I get a few ideas in my head, I'm ready to plan the room.  Sometimes, I'll draw up detailed plans...

...But most of the time, I have such a clear picture in my head that I don't bother with a drawing.  In the case of my Master Bedroom, I'm forgoing any renderings for that reason.  All the rooms of Merriman Park are similar in their basic lay-out in that they're all rectangular with a door on the 'back' wall and with a fireplace flanked by two windows on each side.  To liven things up a bit, I varied the mill work in each room, adding arches here and wainscot there, and in the Master Bedroom, I decided to include built-in window seats

My plan (such as it is)! in place, it's time to begin...  I don't know why, but I always seem to begin with the  ceiling --I guess you have to start somewhere!  As you probably already know, I use illustration board panels, cut to fit the walls, floors and ceilings of my rooms.  I apply the trims and moldings, wallpaper, etc to these panels, and then install them into the room.  The advantage to doing it this way is that you can work on a flat surface instead of trying to reach into your little dollhouse room.  And the panels hide all the wiring, too!

After cutting a panel to fit my ceiling I penciled in where the fireplace chase hits. My plan for the ceiling is pretty straight-forward: a beautiful ceiling rose from Sue Cook Miniatures centered, and a simple molding to frame the room.  I penciled in where the moldings were to go by measuring 1 1/2 inches from the wall all the way around.  The moldings are cut with a mini miter box using forty-five degree cuts at the corners.
 Once everything is glued down, I use 'spray gesso' as a primer.  You can get it at an art supply store.  I use spray paints whenever I can because it doesn't leave brush strokes --and it's really fast! Now is the time to sand down any rough spots and fill any small gaps with gesso, applied with a small brush.

Then it's a few light coats of what I have begun calling 'Merriman Park White,' which is simply an off-white spray paint that I used in practically every room.
All ready to install  --just pop it in!  Much easier than trying to fit all those little pieces onto the actual dollhouse ceiling!

That finished, I thought I'd try something a little more fun, so I turned my attention to the door surround. I do not own many fancy tools or gadgets, but by using stock moldings, strip wood and a mini miter box, you can come up some fancy designs of your own.

My design is based on classical motifs, you can find examples everywhere and once you see something you like it's all just a matter of breaking it down into parts.

I started with plain strip wood going around the door frame and then outlined it with stock panel molding.  I found a teeny, half-round molding about the thickness of a toothpick and use it to outline the inside of the door frame.

Sitting on top of this is a block of wood, about 1/4" thick.  I wrapped a dentil cornice around this block and used 'Victorian skirting' as a shelf on the very top. It's all smoke and mirrors: simple forty-five degree cuts but once everything is glued up I think it looks as good as my expensive, 'bought' surrounds.
 Well, that's about it for this week. We're supposed to get even more snow tonight for St. Patrick's Day --last year it was an unseasonable 80 and I was in flip-flops and shorts...Ugh!  California is looking better and better....

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bedroom --the beginning

Hello there, remember me?  So sorry to have neglected you, darlings, but we have been dealing with some 'real life' issues around here...thus, the long absence.  I'm trying ever so hard to get caught up on all your blogs so please bear with me!  And I'd like to welcome my new followers and send a big thank you to Tina from Just A Small Thing, who wrote the absolutely sweetest things about me recently on her weekly blog focus.  Really, I'm still blushing --and pink is definitely not my color! Check out her blog for yourself.

I fear I have done hardly a thing on my latest --and last--  room. Yes, you read that right: I am on the very last room of Merriman Park!  This will be the Master Bedroom. 

It's been a long haul.  And coming to my last (but not least) room stirs up some mixed feelings.  Of course I am completely thrilled to finally draw this project to a conclusion...after all, it's been three years in the making.  Oh, how I must cover my lips with my hand and suppress a wry titter, as I recall believing way back then (when Merriman Park was but only a rough sketch on the back of a paper napkin) that I would have the entire house finished by the end of that first winter!

The sketch that started it all...
Well, we all know how that naive notion turned out!  ...But while I am happy to finally be galloping toward the finish line, I have to admit the idea of completing Merriman Park makes me just a little --sad.   

Ugh, lets not go down that road, shall we? 

I have ordered many of the new components for the bedroom and they are now finally starting to trickle in.  Today the fireplace mantle showed up from Braxton Payne Miniatures.  It's pictured leaning against the wall in the first photo (above). I chose a simple design that seemed appropriate to a bedroom and I like it much more than I had anticipated.  The detail is very fine.

The wallpaper came a few days ago after being on back-order for a whole month!  I was afraid I might have to chose another pattern but I'm glad it finally showed up.  I lovz me some toile de jouy!  

I thought that, since this is my last room and since people seem to enjoy seeing how I put things together as much as seeing the 'finished product,' I would show my working process from start to finish.  So her is the blank room, just waiting for a few more bits and pieces to arrive and then we can get started...

Thanks for sticking with me, and I hope you all have a great week!