Preparing for the overhaul...

Monday, January 27, 2014

POLL: What Do You...

What do you do with your dollhouses once you're finished with them?

FYI, this is where I stopped on the Glencroft before I switched.  I need to dirty up the mortar, but on the whole I'm pleased with how the "stone" is coming out.  I'll write more about how I did it, when I go back to the Glencroft (which I'm excited to do) if anyone's interested.  In the meantime, I've discovered that cutting out thousands of bricks is actually quite meditative and enjoyable.  And an added bonus is that applying them is much more straightforward than shaping each individual "stone" to fit in an artistic and yet believable fashion.  I have a friend who's a stonemason and I watched him build our retaining wall and it looked really hard...and I thought of that when I was doing this, gosh, how much harder would this be in three dimensions plus load bearing?

And now, back to bricks...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Facade So Far...

I've been working on the facade, which will be mostly brick.  The chimneys still need quite a bit more work before I can start cladding; and while the materials for the porch have arrived I'm not ready for them yet!  I did a tiny bit of cladding to show my family what I meant by "egg carton bricks"; the chimney designs are based on local architecture.  The window frames are dry fitted to help me place things; I'm about to take them out again and finish them properly as I simultaneously cut out another few (thousand) bricks.  Hooray!

The arches are going to be clad with brick as well.

The upper part of each chimney is going to have cool recessed channels.

So there it is, a beginning...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Brief Hiatus, New Project, Auction!


As is so often the case, the good news and the bad news are the same news.  The bad news is that I'm taking a (brief!) hiatus from working on the Glencroft.  The good news is that I'm doing so, in order to benefit a good cause.  I've mentioned before, I come from a family of farmers.  You might fit into my family if you have strong opinions about horses, fertilizers, and at least one horror story about rabies.  In any event, this fall, my sister was injured while caring for her animals.  Even though she'll hopefully be back to work soon--soon being a relative term, here--there are still bills to pay right now.  Moreover, even after she's back to work, we'll still have a lot of ground to make up.  Probably for quite some time.  Running a rescue organization, or as my sister calls it Kris' Big Gay Petting Zoo, is not for the faint of heart and it's certainly not a money making proposition.

To that end, she asked me if I'd consider making a dollhouse to auction off.  I said yes!  Actually, I said yes to two (possibly three) projects.  One of these is a barn, and one of these is a house.  Since I had the materials for the house on hand, I started with that first.  Both, since my sister lives in Ohio, out in Amish country, are going to reflect the architecture of that region.  The third project, if I make it, is going to be something completely different (possibly a small fairy cottage or something of that nature).

I wanted to share a little of what I've done so far.  I started with this kit, available for about 60 USD online, which is the Laurel by Greenleaf:

I wanted to transform it into something that looked a little more like this:

Or possibly this, this and this:

But, you know, cute.  The, for lack of a better term, theme Kris mentioned was "Charlotte's Web."  In other words, a cheerful house.  I discussed the options with her, and we decided on a cheerfully used turn of the century farmhouse and barn (which are going on the block separately).  I don't have all the supplies I need yet, so the shell is still about 75% designed--the next step is adding a few architectural details, not to mention cladding and doing the windows--use your imagination!  I wasn't really all that satisfied with the Laurel's porch, so I'm keeping the general theme (I hope) but scratch building something else.  Or will be, once the rest of my supplies arrive.  In the meantime, I suppose I'd better start cutting out bricks...

I apologize in advance for the poor lighting.  I made a few major changes to this kit, most notably with regards to the addition.  It was a good size (I used parts of that kit, called the Primrose on Greenleaf's website, to build this), but disappointingly the walls really weren't high enough for my purposes.  I wanted a two story addition, if for the second story to be a little shorter and sort of funky looking.  I haven't permanently attached the roof yet, or the porch roof; they're taped into place so I can get a sense of what I'm doing and also measure things.  The other major change I made was to switch the walls so the "blank" side, which is supposed to have the addition attached to it, is actually on the outside.  This was because I wanted to add a chimney.  And, of course, I added the bay window.  I'm going to be using Chrysnbon fixtures for this house--as well as doors and windows--because they're cool--and the window frames are taped in here for measuring purposes.  There's also a "window here" circle drawn in Sharpie, because I plan on custom building a smaller window later on and cutting a hole for it when I actually know what size it's going to be.

The new and improved Laurel.

The ground floor of the addition is going to be the kitchen.

The bay window.

A view into the kitchen; a "thoroughly modern" stove is going to be installed inside fireplace, actually replicating the stove situation in one of the houses I lived in as a child (not to mention countless pictures I've saved over the years, just because I think the idea is cool).

It'll be cuter with mullions!  Not to mention, porch posts!

The other fireplace (and a glass globe used to weigh down a corner of the extended porch while it dries).  There will be more detail on this chimney--on both of the chimneys--eventually, not just plain brick.  I just haven't gotten there yet.

I had to widen the porch to allow for passage around the window, as well as furniture.

The inside.  There's a staircase from the ground floor to the first floor, but a trap door from the first floor to the second/attic.

This will be the parlor.  Imagine a fireplace to the right.

This sort of "in between" room is essentially part of the bedroom, but I envision it being used as an office or perhaps a small nursery.

I feel like houses are more cheerful with bathrooms.

Another view of the kitchen.

The other chimney.
So there you have it.  I'm excited to get back to the Glencroft (this is not going to be another Beacon Hill situation, where my project just vanishes into space) but I'm excited about this too and also about the barn.  I've actually never made a farmhouse before, or a house actually suited to the Chrysnbon kits I so love (am obsessed with).  Which makes this kind of an adventure!


Friday, January 10, 2014

Weathering--Part I

So here I was, with husband looked at it and tried to be polite.  It was pretty, er, green and not that, er, thrilling.  Although he was interested to see what I'd done so far with the egg cartons; he, evidently had a hard time picturing it.  At this point, since I was done with cladding one side of the house, I figured I'd try my hand at giving it some character.  To do the whole project, I used four things: a bunch of latex wedge sponges (basically makeup sponges), the two weathering kits I'd talked about earlier, and a can of low odor spray fix.  I spray fixed between layers, i.e. when I alternated between layers of dirt and aging.  For the stone, and to bring out the wood grain, I used the PanPastel "rust and earth" kit and for the weathering and extra grimy and sooty areas I used the "grays and soot kit.  Make sure you have good ventilation!

I started with dirt, first, grading in different shades and wiping off the excess...

Slowly getting dirtier and dirtier...

Old, but not quite old enough...

Finally getting there...

A little character here and there...

This side is done!

I'm excited to see the stone with actual grout...

It's an interesting contrast, the two halves...

The pot's just there as a placeholder, to make sure it fits...eventually I'm going to fill it with something.

Now I get to do the rest of the half timbering, then move on to the rest of the stone and, finally, the brick!  I'm probably going to do the plaster last, when I do the grout between the stones.  The plaster I ordered hasn't come yet, and I want to experiment with it first for awhile anyway.  Also, there's still a lot to do with the other sides--both the exterior oven/fireplace wall and the greenhouse wall--not to mention the decorative facing around the actual open back.