Category Archives: tutorials

The Secrets Within the Walls

This could be a title for a mystery story but actually it is the reveal of construction methods of the first floor of the Orchid Hill House. Perhaps they will aide you in a dollhouse/roombox project!

If you studied the parlor and entry way pictures of the last posting you might be wondering how to do that — so here you go!

As I had mentioned the stairs had railing on both sides – this really took away the realism I was trying for in making a miniature version of a staircase. I also stated my carpentry skills are slim so this is an modification I could do with what I had.

Lastly, I am happy to note — these stairs are available on Ebay,  Mine came with the dollhouse.  Search for dollhouse staircase and you will find them in the selection. I was glad to see them there otherwise this  staircase information would be of limited use.

beginning-staircase
The original staircase with both railings

Here is mine after it is stained, inner handrail removed and spindle holes filled and attached wall.

stairs-modified
Now it is has a more elegant look

I do not have a step by step guide but pictures do tell a good share of it.

Here is the back side.  It tells you several things.  I tacked the fitted wallpapered wall to the staircase with tiny nails.  I wanted a strong connection and did not want to deal with glue and it sliding around until it set up and have glue in places I didn’t want.  The other thing is this is fabric instead of paper wallpaper.  More on that in a minute! I can not remember for sure but I think I have may started the wall curving by ironing it around an oatmeal container after the fabric was attached to gently curve it and then attached it to the staircase so it was not as big of a fight getting it to curve.  Time makes some things fuzzy.

the-back-side-of-stairs
Attaching the curving wall

Make a paper mockup of the wall to get the size.  Check it several times – the old saying measure twice and cut once really applies here!  Now use the paper pattern to cut the wall out of crescent board – illustration board – not matt board.  It is sturdier and less apt to warp ( it does a little but not as much as matt board). Below is the two I use regularly.  The thicker one is for flooring and the medium weight is for walls.

crescent-board
Available at art supplies stores or online

 Now for the reasoning behind using crescent board walls instead of just wallpapering the existing walls.  First – it is SO MUCH EASIER to wallpaper on a flat surface than to fit your body in odd angles to get the wallpaper attached in such tight quarters as a dollhouse.  Second – you can have wider options on wallpaper choices!  It doesn’t always have to be paper!  Fabric is an option – sounds odd but it is a good one but it is not glued – now I have you attention – use the iron without steam and fusible craft interfacing to attach it.

interfacing.jpg
the interfacing I used.  I did not wash the fabric.

With this project I needed the wallpaper to flow from the upstairs hallway, down the stairs into the entry way.  My fabric wallpaper allowed a change to the bolder William Morris print in the rest of the entry way.  The entry hall paper coordinates with the parlor paper (another William Morris print).  In a miniature project you are seeing all the areas at the same time so it needs to be a smoother transition versus real life when you walk from one room to another area.

the-blend.jpg
The colors and patterns that worked together

Third – it hides the wiring.  Walls are smooth without areas being lumpy due to wires or tape underneath.  That is all on the back side of the papered crescent board.

NOTE:   these are construction methods picked up in classes taken a long time ago with Brooke Tucker and Ray Whitledge.  Neither are teaching anymore and these are good design techniques that need to be passed along and not lost!

The use of crescent board for walls expands your options on adding interesting features in your rooms so I heartily recommend try it out sometime! Examples in this project is the curved wall of the staircase and the built in bookcases and window seat.

Now back to the construction……….the floor has to in place before the stairs goes in NOT afterwards.  Make note of that!

wall-1
Wall in place
wall-2
No supports yet, so it is floppy

The wall is in place but needs supports so wood “beams” are glued on the back and make a firm fit at the ceiling and the floor to anchor it down. Stairs are glued to floor.

wall-3
Needs a firm ending beam here
wall-4
added three or so beams around the curve

I added a another wall that butted up against this wall to create a little nook that tucks into the corner of the dollhouse. I curved it slightly but the baseboard joining is masked by the floor urn since it wasn’t a perfect match to the curve. I covered the wall joining with some wood trim.

nook-by-stairs
A nook for a small floral accent.

The key is to have supports to keep the walls braced and stay in place.

Now for another trick… this is my ceiling for the entry hall.  It is merely a embossed foil wrapping paper painted.  It was available at TJ Maxx and seems to appear in varied colors around the holidays. It may or not be there but keep an eye out for wrapping papers as an option for inexpensive textured ceiling paper. I used tube paint and liquin to color it but probably could use regular acrylic paints also.

ceiling
transforming the gift wrap into a textured ceiling

My front door visible in the very back is a little bit of a cheat but may be of use to you.  In this dollhouse, the back in not visible – just ugly with wires and window openings that are crudely cut.  So I reversed the door so the pretty exterior trim is now my interior trim.  Now it you are a purest or want to see both sides this won’t work for you but I thought you like to know that trick.  I also changed the arch trim to match my big windows in the parlor windows.

the-entry-door
The exterior view on the left vs the the usual interior on the right.

Now for the arch way……….

I used an arch way available from Lawbre.  It starts out white and you can paint it to suit your tastes.  It fit a 1/2 in thick wall.  The wall can be solid wood OR something else.  I used Gator Board – this is different from foam board.  It is stronger and does not warp.  This is the material Rik Pierce used for his structures.  It is lightweight and you can carve a tunnel in it to tuck wiring in.

carving-a-tunnel-for-wiring.jpg
Gator board with a tunnel carved out for wiring
the-hidden-tunnel
The yellow line shows the path of my hidden wiring.
smooth-wall
A smooth wall with no wiring lumps in the wallpaper.
the-white-begining
The beginning pieces
wall-bits
Painting really transformed the arch pieces!
the-parlor-entry
The painted archway that makes a statement!

Here is the beginning of dreaming of the window seat area………the start but no clue how to implement at the time.

Details later…………out of time today!

the-beginning-dream

Enjoy the secrets the walls reveal and possibly incorporate some techniques to translate that dream in your head to your dollhouse!

My China Overflows…..

Pretty dishes are the start of a great meal.  It announces that it is an occasion with good food and conversation to follow.  My love of beautiful dishes overflow from the dining table to the walls and shelves of my home. I enjoy the artwork of these treasures so it is no surprise that it spills over into my miniature world.

I actually painted and sold sets of Chrysnbon dishes many, many years ago before I discovered the laser.  So following a miniature whim this year, the dishes were calling. My goal this year is to explore and actual DO some of the things I have bookmarked on the web.

One pin of bunny plates had caught my eye many times while I was browsing on Pinterest.  They were actual tags that someone created for embellishing packages.  I reduced them to mini size and printed them.

Unfortunately, they were not that great in mini size.  When reduced the colors became muddy.  So I had to tweak them to bring the colors and graphics out.

comparsion-shot
Comparison of the graphic tweaking of the image

Oooh — that worked! I was excited and combined a bunny postcard graphic with the plate rim pattern for another style.   Another success!

bunny-love

Then the hunt was on for more dish images to shrink down for my mini china obsession.

worktable-of-dishes
A sampling of china ….the garden hose rubber washer, metal washer and button are my dish shaper from found objects at home.
china-sampling-3
I liked the red and blue combinations together.

I decided to make some cardstock dishes forms (these are a little larger than the Chrysbon sets) so they could be punched out with a paper punch for a perfect circle cut.  I used a 1 inch and a 3/4 in circle sizes due to the ease of available punches.

The cardstock blanks need to be shaped to look like a plate otherwise it doesn’t look real. My shaper isn’t fancy or perfect but I was experimenting with what I had laying around. It is in the bottom of the sampling photo.  The basics requirements of the shaper is to have some way to hold the cut out circle over a center hump to shape the paper so there is a rim.

I did come up with some improvements of this and have two shapers for 1 inch and 3/4 in circles available at my website (www.lisaslittlethings.com) but this can be done by other means as you can see.

shapers-both
Dish shapers for 1 inch and 3/4 inch cardstock circles

I shaped two cardstock blanks and glue them together so my dishes have a bit of body to them.  I then glued a dish image to this form.  I used a piece of parchment paper to protect the image as I rubbed the image down.  You don’t have to use parchment paper but if you have on hand it is helpful

Use a strip of double stick tape on a piece of mat board to hold the dishes stationary for the next couple of steps.  Color the rim edge with a color from the dish or get fancy with a gold edge.  Now the dish is ready for a coat of glossy varnish to get that that china look.  Apply the varnish with broad strokes with a very loaded brush so it is a thick coat but avoid the temptation to repeatedly go over the plate to smooth it out. You will work in air bubbles in your strokes doing this and makes it even messier than what you started with. If you have a few air bubbles – touch the bubble with a wet brush tip of water,  The water dissolves the bubble.  Allow the dish to dry and apply a second coat —now it looking like china!

 

gathering
An overflow of china……

Now comes the really fun part!!!!

 

Check out my youtube video for a visual tutorial and more in depth details on creating some wonderful china……….

an easy way to create dollhouse dishes

Here is the pdf file of dishes sized for Chrysnbon dish forms.

chrysnbon bunny plates GIVE away

Here are dishes for 1 inch and some for some 3/4 inch circles.

dishes for 1 inch circles give away 3

dishes for 75 in dishes give away

The original creator of the bunny plates/tags was gracious to allow me to share these with you…..here is her blog if you wish to visit her site also……….

original bunny tags

more pretty plates/tags

Here is another blog posting that will give you more china facts and her tutorial of miniature dish make too….

wonderful china info and mini tutorial too

Hopefully you will find this as fun as I did  and create some cherished china for your mini home.