Friday, July 24, 2015

Dollhouse Custom Construction Tutorial Part 1- Featuring Lilac Cottage

For the next few posts I want to take you through my building process of a custom dollhouse called Lilac Cottage(commissioned by Jen).  I want to show you that there is no need to be afraid of failure. It's all quite easy and you must stay relaxed about each step. No need for perfection which I think is what scares most people from even trying this hobby out.
 First, come up with a plan. I draw out a sketch of what I think I want the house to look like. Stay open to changes during the building process. Sometimes things don't work out and you have to think of solutions which could change your original plans. As my kitten Gigie is teaching me- "no worries."  She's quite a relaxed little girl!
My wood is a craft plywood 1/8 x 12 x 24".  I found it at Hobby Lobby item#117853 for $4.79. They also have it at Michael's craft store for a little less I think. I just can't find the link online.  I also use left over pieces from kits. You can see this on the right wall with the little window.  Whatever you have works because in the end it will be covered with all sorts of materials including concrete.
All my dollhouses basically start off looking like the above photo. Just a box with cut outs.  As I said in the previous post I use the Dremel Trio and box cutters to cut my wood. The consensus on my last post about cutting tools seems to be scroll saws are the way to go. So I will order one and let you know how I feel about it, which method is better, which is easier and which is less scary. :) LOL!
I usually use hot glue to hold all the parts together. Then go back over all the seams with wood glue. It's sturdy as a rock and no clamping and waiting!  If you use heavier, thicker wood then you'll want to also use some small nails.  I do this for Blythe 1/6 scale houses and MDF houses. 
I'm using  pre-made french doors as my entry door for this house. My windows will all be custom.  If you intend to use store bought windows and doors get those first and then trace out your placement on the house to cut out.
My stair opening is towards the back of the house. It's 4 1/4 x 2 3/4 and about an inch from the back of the dollhouse.
I added a little bump out section and plastered with Dap's Spackle/Patching Plaster.  As you see in the photo my cuts are not perfect. But everything gets covered up and you will never see the imperfections in the end.  The beginning looks rough. Don't let that scare you. I promise the end product will be gorgeous.
My walls are 9 1/4" tall. The house's floor sits 1" above the ground. I added a 1" piece of wood under the front of the house and around the sides of that front piece and the back of the house. The walls are cut out the right size so no need to add an inch here.  It's a matter of preference. But I don't want the floor of the house to be level with the surface the house will be displayed on. That means that the interior walls are 8 1/4" tall.
 This house is 15 1/2" x 18 1/4" deep.  I'm restricted by size because of shipping restrictions/prices. But you can make your house as big as you need. This cottage is big enough for a livingroom, kitchen, reading nook or craft space, stairs, and 2 rooms upstairs.
I sanded the plaster to a nice smooth finish. I'm going to coat this with a primer so the wallpaper will adhere nicely to the wall.
I also start making and acquiring pieces for the interior. I set everything on the top of my Robin egg blue Ikea cart.  That way I can see how everything looks together and keep my theme in mind. Here you see some wallpaper which is regular paper printed from the internet. In front of that is a bookshelf and chair that's actually for sale in my Etsy shop. But I set it in front of this paper and I'm actually loving it.  I've also made my mantel with whales on top, 2 lace upholstered chairs, crystal chandeliers(go to my tutorial page to see how to make these), and a few accessories too.  I'll just keep adding stuff in here until the dollhouse construction is done. It's a great way to stay organized and on track.
You're done with part 1! Time for a snack. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dollhouse Cutting Tools I Use

I'm often asked what I use to cut out my dollhouses.To tell you the truth I have not found that perfect saw. If you are a saw manufacturer out there and you think you have the perfect compact tool to work on dollhouses contact me. I'd love to share your product with my readers. Until that happens let me tell you what I use.

They are very simple tools actually. My favorite thing to use is box cutters.  Along with a metal ruler they do an excellent job with precise, clean cuts. If the wood is a little thick I cut both front and back sides. It usually works.
But when the wood is way too thick and too hard it requires a power tool. A few years back I bought a Dremel Trio. Come to find out it's been discontinued!  The good thing about the Dremel is that it's pretty compact(compared to most saws and routers). The bad thing is that the cuts are pretty ugly!  After I cut out windows and doors I have to sand each side straight. And don't forget earplugs or your ears will be ringing for hours. 
Before the Trio I had tried several rotary tools like the Back and Decker and Dremel with saw attachments. But the saw blades burn out. And I must admit it's a little scary to have that little spinning wheel of sharpness ready to take off digits with any false move. 
Maybe a scroll saw? I'm not sure. If any of you have experience with a scroll saw leave a message after this post. I'd love to hear your opinions. At this point I've decided to stop wasting money on useless tools that don't work for dollhouse purposes and keep piling up in my workspace. But I'll keep looking. If that perfect cutting tool should ever fall into my hands I will most definitely share it with all of you. 
Good luck and be careful out there!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Easy Peasy Dollhouse Stained Glass Windows Tutorial

Stained glass is a fabulous way to give your dollhouse a vintage look. And it's super easy to do too.

I used very simple materials:  1/16" thick bass wood, metallic marker color of your choice, black ultra fine point permanent marker, Aleene's Tacky Glue(really any white glue works. Even ModPodge works!), acrylic paint color of your choice, a small paintbrush. And if you need clear plastic for your window you can use transparent copier sheets or you can find clear plastic sheets at the craft stores. If you have a Hobby Lobby nearby check the stained glass making area. 
First, you will need a pattern. Pinterest is a great place for inspiration.  Draw your pattern onto paper and place your piece of transparent sheet over it. Make sure you leave a 1/8" perimeter to affix the frame. Trace pattern on the clear sheet with the black ultra fine point permanent marker.  If you don't have a fine marker your pencil will work too. It will be just a little harder to see the design.
Trace over the black marker lines with your metallic marker.
For the spaces you want clear just apply the glue with a paint brush in between your metallic lines. Apply 2 or 3 coats if you want more of a waterglass effect.
For the colored areas mix a little dab of paint in with the glue before you apply it on the plastic film. A 50/50 ratio.  Brush it on in desired areas.
Now the frames can be done 2 ways. Either as a solid frame by cutting out the interior or by having each of the four sides cut individually.  My solid frames are 1 1/8" x 1" with a 1/8" wide perimeter.  My other frame is also 1/8" wide and all the sides are 1 1/4" long.  I cut these out of 1/16" bass wood with a small box cutter.  You will need a front and a back frame if you plan to hang these in a window.
Paint the frames. I used a single coat of white acrylic paint to look more vintage/old.
Glue the frames on both sides of the plastic film with all purpose white glue.  Let dry.  You may want to add a thin piece of 26 gauge wire to hang the window. String also works.  Just drill 2 little holes with a pin at the top of the frame. Place a dot of glue on each end of the wire and stick in the hole. Let dry.
 That's it! Now you have a gorgeous little piece of art for your dollhouse! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Danielle's Maison de Campagne Custom French Style Dollhouse

My latest commission is for Wilma and her daughter Danielle. They chose the Maison de Campagne but with a more girly interior.
 I also wrote the book to build this house. It should be available soon.
 The wires, batteries and switches are in the chimneys.
 I used concrete on the exterior. This is premixed stuff that comes in a little tub so you don't have to deal with concrete dust. It's by Dap.

 Inside it's very romantic and very shabby chic.

 I made most of the furnishings.

 I think this is the coziest shot!

 My vintage stove which you can build with this tutorial:

 I did another working fireplace. A lot of links to materials is on my Resources page at the top.  If you don't see something I used just ask me. I'll be glad to tell you where I got it! :)

I did write a book on building these doors. The link is on my sidebar to the right. Or you can get the PDF in my Etsy shop.
Thank you so much for coming over!

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Gift from Agnes and Capucine

A few days ago I received a gift from Agnes of
I absolutely love Agnes' bog. It's so cheery it will make you smile. Let's open this baby up....carefully.
 Look at this adorable wooden box! 
The box has 3 compartments. I finally have some of Agnes' famous pencils!!  And I was raving about the paintings on her blog. And she sent me one!! I find her creations so enchanting.  And look at that little card with a drawing by Agnes' doll Capucine. Awwww! It's so precious!
Thank you sooo much Agnes! I love your gifts! ♥
Please go visit Capucine et Ninour. This blog will put a smile on your face and brighten your day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Flamingo Cottage Custom Handmade Dollhouse

My newest custom dollhouse is ready with all the furniture, accessories and garden.  I call her "Flamingo Cottage"!  I saw a photo of a children's party on Pinterest in all tropical colors. It instantly brought this cottage into my imagination. It wasn't long before I stumbled on a flamingo print fabric on the internet. I had my theme! Flamingo!
It's feel is fresh and relaxed yet still in keeping with my signature vintage look.  
This house is a custom built from scratch.
 This is a little chair I learned to make from the internet:
 I love tiny little front yards.  I use moss on everything. The bushes are air dry clay I rolled in a ball and then covered with glue and moss.
 The little flamingo is also air dry clay. I thought it would be difficult to make. But it was very easy!
 I love to use many different textures. It gives the building instant character.
 The chimney is covered with concrete that's carved into stone shapes. The rest of the white wall is also concrete. But it's smoothed out to look like stucco.

 Inside, Ive made most of the furniture.  The only thing I didn't make was the nightstand upstairs. 
 The mantel has a real working "fire".

 This is the coffee table. I kept the design very simple. Saw it on Pinterest! :)
 I paint the rugs with acrylic paint on a thick canvas.
 This is a little shelf/desk.  Very simple design here too. I started making these because I wanted very tall pieces of furniture in my dollhouses. 
 I saw this table on One Kings Lane.  I signed up for their emails and they keep sending brilliant ideas I shrink down to mini size.
 It makes a fantastic entry table.  I also got the design for the planter on One Kings Lane.  I'm telling you they are a treasure trove of ideas!
 This is the area behind the steps. I just removed them to show you the windows and bench. The windows here are massive. The amount of light that pours in is fabulous. I made a simple prim style bench. And also a little basket. I make my baskets with a pretty thick string  and coat it with Modge Podge. It dries very hard and then I paint it brown.
 I got the picture of the flamingo off the internet. The little frames are available at Michael's right now in their dollar bins.
To make these chairs I just got the template and directions from House of Miniatures online. They have all their PDF instructions online. And those include the templates.
 The bedroom has one wall of flamingo and the other walls are polka dots.  I made a green bed with comfy cozy linens. 
 I saw this window treatment on Pinterest. 

 This table has legs that are stair spindles. I just added a couple of pieces of wood to make the top and also a shelf at the bottom.

Here's the nightstand I didn't make. I removed 2 of the drawers and it gives it a more unique look. I wanted a little yellow in here. So I painted lemons on the rug.

Measures 17 3/4" long x 12 1/2" across x 21 1/2" tall.
Gigie(my kitten) and Lizzie(my Yorkie) are doing wonderful. Gigie has not grown very much. I read that Ragdolls don't get full grown until they are 4 years old. So I guess she has plenty of time! I hope you are all doing well! Thank you so much for visiting!