Sunday, September 26, 2010

Michaels Hutch Bash

Some of the different styles available
Michaels Crafts sells these miniature hutches made from unfinished wood for only $1.oo!!!.  They are pretty close to 1:12 scale.   There's quite a few different designs and most have working doors and drawers.   They are very nice as is...but modifying these inexpensive little hutches into something else has become quite popular.   The hutches are easy to take apart and "kitbash" the pieces into something new!  The price is so low, you can buy a you won't feel guilty destroying a perfectly fine hutch!  LOL

I've seen quite a few tutorials for converting these hutches into different pieces of furniture.  I've collected a few links and will post them all as I find them on a special page for Michaels Hutch Bash (see menu above).     Here's a few to start:

Fireplace Hearth
Step by step instructions
Hutch used for fireplace is shown upside-down!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Decorating With Shrubs and Trees

For this low-cost, kid-friendly dollhouse, I decided to paint shrubs, trees and other plantings onto side of house instead of using any easily damaged and potentially unsafe materials.   To make painting easier on myself (and also give it a little dimension), I created an "onlay" for the shrubs out of some scrap Masonite.
Landscaping started out looking like this:

Using some basic tole painting techniques....we have created a nice row of trees and shrubs to apply to each side of the house.  Basecoat with medium foliage green.  Imagine some shrub shapes and, using a stippling motion,  highlight one side of with a light foliage green and the other side with a deep green.   I made no attempt at realistic shapes......just ellipses...puffy ball shapes!

This decorative onlay is not quite done.   I plan on adding some flowers and birdhouses for added color.  I promise I will show you the finished photos soon.  I also plan on adding some shutters to the windows to dress things up a bit more!   The black and white checks are there just because I like checks and it also adds a little whimsey.  ;-) 

Tip:   Notice that the red color of the house is painted between the branches of the tree.   That makes cutting out the onlay shape a whole bunch easier!  No tiny branches to cut!   Once it's applied to house, you'll never notice!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Faux-painted Dollhouse Shingles

Gosh!   I can't believe a week has gone by already and I haven't updated the tale of the roof re-do on the dollhouse!  I've been so busy working on the house, I just haven't had time to talk about it!   Sorry! ;-)

If you've been following along from the start, you know that my first attempt at applying a printable pattern of asphalt shingles ran into a number of problems (mostly with printing).    After a few frustrating attempts I tore the glued on paper "roofing" off and started over by painting the roof a basecoat of medium brown.   This has to be a kid-friendly roof, no shingles (until child gets older).  The plan is to paint some faux asphalt shingles for the dollhouse!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Plan for Roof

Because I had so much trouble with the printables for this roof (see previous post), I soaked all the paper and removed it.   After a bit of glue removal, it's ready to start over.   btw...Removing the printable paper and glue wasn't too bad a job at all...went fairly easy.    But now I've painted the roof a medium brown as a basecoat for the new painted faux-shingles!    I'll share some step-by-step photos of the faux painting next!

There's a lot of inexpensive, recycled things that can be used to shingle a dollhouse, but this dollhouse is being designed for a child, so I don't want to use anything that can break (sharp edges) or fall off.   I've seen shingles made of sandpaper, egg carton cardboard, real shingles (cut to size), pine cone "tiles" ....many other things.   Leave a comment if you have a shingle idea to add to list!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Roofing is Not Going Well

Printable shingle pattern, partially finished.
One thing after another went wrong when printing out the pattern for the printable roof shingles.   It had nothing to do with pattern.   First thing that happened is I ran out of ink in printer!!    Not completely out, but ink was low enough that when I printed 3 more sheets of the shingle pattern, it came out a noticeably different color than the sheets that are already glued to roof..  Well, that just won't do!

I live in a small town and can't buy any ink it's a trip into the city or wait for mail order.   So I went into city and got more ink.   I also bought some more matte spray to coat the printed pages.

That went wrong too.    I got more sheets of the shingle pattern printed out OK.    Sprayed them with a sealer  so ink wouldn't run....let that dry.   Well, I must have been using wrong stuff, because, when the finish dried, it wasn't completely clear.    It left a whitish, powdery-looking residue.  Very noticeable.  

At that point I lost my patience!     I had already used up a lot of ink printing out a lot of pages and didn't want to experiment any more!    My word of advice!   Do some test prints.   Make sure you have plenty of ink in printer....and spray a sample with your clear coat/sealer spray before using it on your final product.  

My decision was to START OVER and paint faux roof shingles instead of using printables for roofing.   I haven't given up on using printables, I just won't use them on the roof.    So guess what the next step is, yep!  I have to pull off the shingles I've already glued on.   That may take a while!!!

Removing printed shingles from roof!

Tip:   If you have to do this....wet the paper well.  It will remove easier.  If you have some fabric softener, dilute it in water and try it.   It may soften glue faster.  (I had used diluted Elmer's White Glue as sort of a wallpaper paste.)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Blog is silent today....

To honor and remember all those innocent people who were murdered on 9/11...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Which glue should I use?

The best glue for the job depends on what materials are being glued to what.   Check out this new "glue tool" from Michaels and narrow your search to the most appropriate glues or adhesives specific to your project.

Enter your 2 materials into the widget and the results will show you a photo of the product along with a detailed description and usage tips!  Cool, huh?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Roofing with Printables

Starting to cover roof with printed shingles
The roof of the $5 Dollhouse will be covered with 'asphalt shingles' from Jim's Printables.   You can find the full-size printable on this page.   Below is a sample of pattern.

A few printing tips:   
 Use good quality paper.   It doesn't have to be expensive photo paper but should be better than 'all purpose' paper.    Check your store, there's a few "in-between" quality papers available.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Word About Scale

1:12 Scale Dollhouse
The majority of dollhouse miniatures are created in 1:12 scale, also called 1 inch scale.   With that scale, 1" equals one foot in real life.   Half-inch and quarter-inch scales are also very popular but far too small for our project!   There's also "Playscale" (also known as 1:6 or 2" scale) which results in houses and furnishings twice as large as 1 inch scale.  A 3-story house can be very large...over 4 feet tall!   This is a scale generally suited to small children or to fit  fashion dolls (ie, Barbie or American Girl).   However, for the $5 Dollhouse Fixer-Upper, I'll be making a dollhouse for a child using 1" scale and all my notes will be for 1" scale unless I say otherwise!

Read What Scale's Right for Me? at Jim's Printables for more information.

Even though Playscale is for children, many dolls and furnishings can be found in one-inch scale which would also be suitable for children (over 3).   The Loving Family dolls and the Melissa & Doug dollhouse furnishings are two reasonably priced product lines that come to mind.

You might ask:   "I bought a used dollhouse at a yard sale, how do I know which scale it is?

Don't worry....checking for 1 inch scale is simple math (other scales can be more complicated...LOL).

 My $5 dollhouse, for instance,  has a ceiling height of 9" for all the first floor and the 2nd floor rooms.   This corresponds to a 9 foot ceiling height in a real house.  Good!  Many older homes will have a 9 foot ceiling height, although modern homes usually have 8 foot ceilings.   Also, the rooms are 12" deep, which corresponds to 12 feet in 1" scale.  A 12 foot wide room is a fairly normal (but small) room dimension in a real house.  Based on those dimensions, 1"scale furniture should fit well in my dollhouse.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Exterior: Patch, Repair, Prime & Paint

Painting a coat of primer on your wood dollhouse is important for a number of reasons.      If it is a recycled dollhouse, it can cover a multitude of sins!  It will seal all the wood putty and patching that might be necessary and give you an even-colored basecoat to work from (instead of the multi-color charmer I started with!)   If it is a brand new dollhouse, from a kit or homemade, it seals the bare wood and makes the top coat of paint go on smoother.  

Any walls that will be wallpapered should be painted (primed) first but there are times when painting first won't be necessary, such as a roof that will be shingled.  In our case, we'll be printing out faux shingles to glue to the roof...and that is the same as I've primed the roof along with every other square inch.

On the outside of the $5 dollhoouse there's a lot of splitting of the wood to repair before we can even start painting!!    Some serious wood patch was needed on one corner...but it came out OK.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Step One: Clean-up and Prime

Well, the above photo is how the $5 dollhouse looks AFTER "some" cleanup.  It really did look a LOT worse before I took this photo!    There's still lots of glue clumps to sand off before priming (these are from the old glued down carpeting).   In this 'before' photo I still have one more broken 'wall cabinet' to pry off the wall and some nail heads and nail points to either remove or reset.

Here's how inside looks after cleaning and priming.   Much better, huh?

Will work on outside next.

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