Preparing for the overhaul...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dollhouse Ceiling Paper--Thoughts

My first thought: there isn't any.

At least, not that's any good.  Depending on the kind of dollhouse you're doing, you have a few different options:
  • For a comparatively modest or rustic dollhouse, or a medieval, fantasy, Tudor or Stuart dollhouse, or, indeed, for the back rooms of a grander dollhouse, you have plaster.  This stuff is great--if you have the right application for it.  It's vinyl, and so very easy to apply.  Also, too, the texture is very realistically scaled; once applied, it looks like real plaster.  Generally, in my own work, I prefer the off-white; I just think the end result is a little more visually pleasing.  Plus, too, in real life, plaster of this sort would've aged comparatively quickly.
  • For a very grand dollhouse, you can use big people-sized paintable vinyl wallpaper.  This is available from many different websites, in many different patterns.  There are, however, a couple of real problems with it.  First, it's very expensive.  Most websites (and real life stores, at least around here) sell it in double rolls, so you're talking at least a 40.00 investment!  You'd better really like that paper, because you'll be using it a lot.  Second, the smallest pattern repeat I've found in one of these papers is 2"--that means each square, medallion, etc is 2" across.  Great for a manor house, or even a large American Victorian house--not so good, however, for the average dollhouse.  It comes down to an issue of scale: glorious baronial ceilings look a bit odd in houses with 8' ceilings.  Just as in real life, not all 1:12 scale furniture, architectural details, etc are the same "scale."  Use a paper like this in an average-sized home, and it'll out-scale everything else you're trying to use.  
  • Dollhouse-specific embossed ceiling paper is my personal favorite choice, at least for most applications, because it's a much more realistic scale for most houses--at least for the houses I'm apt to be working on.  Although I've never done a truly grand manse, I'd like to some day.  When I have the room.  I'm using the embossed dado version of this paper in my not-Lincoln house, at least in the front formal rooms.  The problem, here, is that this paper needs a lot of prep work, is subject to crushing, and only comes in two patterns.  Both of which, at least, are available in 1:12 and 1:24 scale; I see options, here, especially for potentially using the 1:24 scale paper in a 1:12 setting as lincrusta.
The problem becomes: what if you want a plain, untextured ceiling?  You can certainly create one, but I wish there were an easier way.  What I've been doing is gessoing bristol board (basically heavy paper with a smooth surface) and installing at.  It ends up making a very convincing plaster ceiling (as gesso is basically plaster anyway), but it's labor-intensive and, if you're not careful, you can end up sanding out streaks for what seems like eternity.

The scale issue has been huge for me, as I've been collecting my supplies for the not-Lincoln (and for my saltbox at the same time).  With previous dollhouses, I've started work as I was still collecting supplies, and didn't that turn out to be a horrible mistake.  I ended up with wallpapers I didn't like, or that weren't as nice as wallpapers I found later, architectural details that turned out not to go with the rest of the house, etc.  So, this time, I'm taking my time--and it helps, in sticking to this resolve, that we're on holiday and away from my studio!

What do you use for ceilings?

PS: Pictures are coming, I promise!


Giac said...

Hi C.J.
Since my house is on the larger side and is gothic Victorian I was able to use embossed paper. I use a large sponge to press it down when glue it in plavce with wallpaper paste. Only the attic ceiling didn't get any paper. i used a sponge roller to apply the pain. It's the only way I can get a painted surface without streaks. I can't wait to see pictures.
All the best,

Michelle said...

This is an issue for me too. Many of my projects just need a plain ceiling and I HATE just painted wood, so unrealistic looking. For plain walls and ceilings (but painted), I plan on using good quality paper used for water colour paints. It has a very slight texture, but it's thick and will withstand painting without bubbling, moving etc.

I plan to put my idea into practice soon, I will let you know how it goes.

For other slightly patterned ceilings, I have used pages for scrapbooking, very effective!

Michelle :o))

Irene said...

It's just been white paint for me so far as the ceiling heights are low but I do have scope now to consider ceiling papers so I'm really interested in your replies.

Anonymous said...

Giac, your house is beautiful! I thought of you, actually, while I was writing this post. I'm especially in love with your entryway and kitchen. You've achieved such good results with your flooring, also, it gives me hope. CJ.