Preparing for the overhaul...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fun With Modular Finishing

When you're working on a complex project, one of the biggest issues is time management.  You never have any time to work on your project, and when you do, your project isn't ready for you.  Sometimes it can seem like, from beginning to end, your entire dollhouse is one...long...wait.  Years of frustration have led me to develop (adequate, if not excellent) time management skills.  I try to work on different aspects of my project at the same time, so I can, by rotating through them, take advantage of down time.  Right now, I'm working on...
  1. The downstairs floor,
  2. The "stone" sections, and
  3. The remaining woodwork.

Here's my woodwork, laid out and ready to go.  I'm using the same finishing techniques I used for the floor.  It's time consuming and, in the midst of our heatwave, even more time consuming than usual.  Drying time is...well, nothing's drying too soon.

In the meantime, I'm also working on laying out the floor.  Here, I'm using yet another fabulous Richard Stacey product, yellow sandstone blocks.  And, as always, you can find all the information you need on all the products I use under the "shopping list" section.  Or, you can leave a question for me in the comments, and I'll do my best to answer it.

This is the main "oven".

Personally, I think nothing looks as good as real stone.

In the interests of uniformity, I'm using 1/32" strips (from my abundant scrap wood pile) as spacers.

Let every row dry COMPLETELY before moving on to the next row!  Otherwise, it's way, way too easy to accidentally mush everything together.  So, on to other activities...

This project will necessitate cutting some pieces in half.  I soaked them first (make sure you soak your pieces for at least an hour), then scored them with a (sharp) x-acto knife and split them by hand.  I tidied up any rough edges with 60 grit sandpaper.  While I waited for the pieces to soak, I worked on the woodwork.  An hour is just about enough time to give everything a thorough sanding.

Invest in a good t-square, and plenty of extra blades!

I prefer to sand the rough edges while the stone is still wet.

Wrap some sandpaper around a piece of scrap wood for a straightedge.

Then, it was time to work on the wall.  Now, there are a couple of ways you can make a wall.  I wanted a brick wall with pieces of sandstone placed along the top.  Now, you can do this the hard way, or you can do this the easy way...

I built the actual wall, that'll be faced with brick, out of balsa wood.  I like balsa for models I'm going to clad, because it's extremely light, easy to work with, and much less prone to warp.  Then, I cut the pieces (also out of balsa, but out of a thinner strip of balsa) that'll form the sandstone topper, and glued them on whole.

I notched the edges, where they'll fit against the side of the building.

Then, using a pencil, I drew on grout "lines".  See, I'm using a couple continuous pieces for my topper, but I want it to look like a bunch of smaller, individual pieces.  That's more realistic, and more true to scale, too.

I used my trusty PREAC saw to cut 1/32" wide channels, thus simulating separate pieces.  Isn't this easier than measuring and individually placing a bunch of actual separate pieces?  This way, everything's perfectly lined up--without all the effort!

Here are the separate wall sections, resting on the mantelpiece (away from the cats).

For added realism, gently sand around the edges of each "block".

After that, I put another coat of varnish on the woodwork, and while I was waiting for it to dry, I used this silicone mold (purchased on Etsy) to form the fleur de lis for the upstairs fireplace.

While those were baking, I went back and installed another row on my floor.  I've been slowly adding to the floor in my spare minute(s).

Make sure to leave room for the hearth!  Here, I've been counting out how many tiles I'll need.  I like to dry-fit everything together before I glue, so I know what I have, need, and want.

Uniform grout lines make all the difference.

I'm almost there!

I'm prepping everything that'll get the gault treatment so I can do it all at the same time.  This will produce the most uniform effect, as well as save on materials.  I'm almost there!

When you're making up your pieces, be mindful of the shapes and proportions common to your period.  Flat peaks and half moons say "tudor".  Plus, too, the same old corners get boring after awhile.

Here, I've dry-fitted the pieces of the upstairs fireplace together.  I won't put everything together until much later (and there'll be a separate post on that).  Total cost of making this fireplace: free.  Everything I used was a leftover from another project.  Save, catalogue, and neatly store your remnants--you'll save a LOT of money!  Also, some of my best ideas come from playing around with odds and ends.

I have high hopes for the finished piece.

When I'm cladding the inside of a chimney column, I like to peer at it from different angles to make sure I've covered everything that'll reasonably be seen.  Sometimes, you can't quite reach into every nook and corner, and one solution I've discovered for that is black paint mixed with a little silver powder.  I buy the little tubs of metallic powder sold for mixing into polymer clay.  They're cheap, and I can buy them at Michael's.

Now, while I'm waiting for the epoxy to dry, I can get back to work on the floor, and the woodwork...


TINK - SONIA said...

Hi,Amazing work!!! Love the floor,miniregards,Sonia.

Claire DeVore said...

There's so much key information in here where could I begin? Partial cutting of wood, shapes that say "tudor" and on and on. I can't wait for the book I hope you're writing!!

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