Saturday, 26 June 2010

Conservatory finished

It's finished!

All the trim is on, and I've touched up the paint.  Before I did the final paint job, I strengthened the join where the roof meets the walls by using a trick from my modeller DH and DS, called pinning.

I drilled a hole through the roof beam down into the wall, using a fine micro drill.

Then I cut a straight sewing pin using wirecutters.

Then I applied the sewing pin into the hole, with a dab of superglue, and pushed the pin down flush with the surface.  A bit of paint and it is all hidden.

I'd painted the Houseworks french doors earlier, but it comes with a do-it-yourself grill consisting of pieces of wood that you have to cut to size.  As usual I spent just as long trying to get glue off of the glass as I did trying to get the slats to stick.  Luckily I had a pack of 1/24th scale doorknobs so once I'd glued those on, I went ahead and glued the door in.  It projects on the inside as it is thicker than the wall, but I think it will look ok once I have a door frame around it. Looking at these photos, I can see there is a slight gap at the bottom of the door, so I will glue some trim along there.  Curse these high-res photos, things always look much worse than in real life, every little flaw is magnified on the screen.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Conservatory almost done

This week I've continued to work sporadically on the conservatory and it's looking pretty good.  My friend Swooze says this might be called an 'all season room' in some parts of America.  Blog reader Denise says  that 'conservatory' is also used.  DH says that he wants to move into this house and sit in the conservatory and read a book.

First of all, thank you to Denise for all her comments and encouragement.  Denise, your Blogger profile is set to 'no reply' so I haven't been able to reply back to you, but I love the close-up pics of your Pickett Hill (PH) here.  These are the clearest close-ups I've seen, and I will definitely be referring to these.  Wish I had had these from the beginning, as I have been working from low-res PH pics.

Denise had a great suggestion for interior window frames, which unfortunately would be prohibitively expensive here in the UK as the windows are all imported from the States, so I think I will have to do it the hard way.  Denise said:
"For the interior window trim, using Grandt Line windows, I usually glue another window from the inside! For the inside window, you use the exact same window which you used for the outside but you cut away all of the mullions and sand the inside frame smooth. Then, all you have left is the frame and it fits perfectly on the inside of the window! "

Remember that railway track I bought at the hobby store, before Keli sent me her porch pieces?  I used it to make a bench for the inside of the conservatory.  The front piece is how it comes from the store.  I popped off the metal braces and cut the plastic down to bench width (middle piece).  Then I glued on some simple U-shaped wooden leg pieces (back piece).  This stuff is the perfect scale for slatted wood, it is even printed with wood grain but I had to sand off the brand name printed on the plastic on one side.  There are a few small holes but they will be covered up with the cushions I will make one day.

I also cut up the plastic canvas door knob hanger to make slatted trellis to cover the base.  I hung everything on a coat hanger and gave it a few coats of white spray paint outside, then touched it up with the white emulsion.

And here is the finished bench glued into place.

Then I glued the conservatory onto the house base.  I glued on the trellis around the base but did not apply any finishing trim yet until I get the roof on.

The roof has been developed fairly unscientifically.  I am not good at math and mainly work by eye.  I drew the roof angle out on some paper and used that to judge where to cut the Houseworks trim for the best visual fit, aiming for an end result similar to the PH conservatory.  I taped the roof beam to a quilting square to keep it level, and first glued on the struts on one side, just using tacky glue (for gap filling).

Of course, when I went to glue on the opposite struts, they didn't all fit perfectly and I ended up taking each pair back off, fine tuning, then regluing.  I also glued on subtle bracing at the peaks, made from coffee stirrers.  At the moment, the bases are just glued onto the tops of the walls, but I am going to think about how I could also reinforce these so they don't break off when I inevitably drop some later construction piece from the main house onto the conservatory  :)  Once the glue dried, I started applying trim around the base of the walls, covering up the join with the house, covering up the join where the front wall joins the side walls etc.  In this pic, the trimming is ongoing.

I'm pretty pleased with how it is turning out, and a bit relieved as I've been winging it on this even more than on the main house.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

You say potato

It has belatedly occurred to me that I have been describing the extension on the back of the house as a 'conservatory', which is the common UK term for a glassed-in extension allowing sunlight to enter the house, a place to grow plants etc.  However, I recall from chatting with Americans on #Quiltchat that this isn't a commonly used term over there.  So perhaps I should have been calling it the 'back porch'.  Which somehow doesn't seem as elegant, so perhaps I will stick with 'conservatory'.  Or 'greenhouse'?

Anyway, you just want to know how I have been getting on  :)

So, after last week, I painted the three sides of the conservatory white, and painted the base green.  I applied scrapbooking paper to the top of the base to match the flooring used on the ground floor of the house, and sealed it with multipurpose sealer.  I then cut slots into the base to match the tabs protruding from the bottoms of the side pieces. This is a picture before I applied the scrapbooking paper, while I was trying out the tab/slot fitting.

At this point, I took time out to cut out a base for the entire project.  This is made from MDF which is slightly more than 1/4" thick.  I played around with the positioning of the house and conservatory, and decided to keep the open back flush to the base's back edge, with the idea that this edge will be against the wall when the house is displayed.  It then made sense to round off the two 'front' corners for a symetrical and smooth appearance.  I drew the round corners using a small plate as a template, and cut out the shape with a power jigsaw.  The base measures approx. 13.25" x 21.5".  I purposefully left room on the conservatory side to allow steps down from the conservatory.  It has kind of bugged me that in the pictures I have seen of the original Pickett Hill (PH) kit, there are no steps down from the entrance to the conservatory - which makes me think of the inhabitants having to leap down a couple of feet when they want to get into the garden...  Similarly on the front porch side, I have left room for the front porch steps (not built yet) and the bay window protrusion.

The final step on the porch was some more coats of paint, and then finally to glue it all together and onto the base.  Here I could pretend that this operation went perfectly and that I quickly moved on.  But in the interests of transparency, and to show newer builders that everything does not always go as planned, I will reveal that I actually had a mini disaster.  I had the three sides all glued together and heavily clamped, and sitting squarely on the base.  Then I thought "I will just press down firmly to make sure the sides are making good contact with the base."  SNAP, SNAP, SNAP....  Yes, the front arch cracked into two pieces, and the right side arch splintered off both supports.

I had a brief moment thinking of my incredibly stupidity, then realised that I had mere minutes before the glue started drying.  DH was out in the garden and was startled to see me sprinting past on my way to the knitting shed to retrieve two clamps that I had been using to assist my machine knitting.  Back in the kitchen, I generously applied glue into the splintered 'fingers' of the breaks, and pressed them back into shape, and clamped them together.  I clamped the broken front arch back onto its back brace, applying more glue, and checked that the structure was reasonably square.  Then I walked away and let everything dry.

Miraculously (and in testament to the gap-filling powers of Aileen's Tacky Glue), it came out reasonably well. I had to do a little bit of careful sanding and filling, and some more painting, but the breaks are not obvious unless you look hard.  Whew!  (I didn't purposefully take this picture from the non-broken side, honestly....)

Once I had the base structure, I could start thinking about the roof.  I had several lengths of laser-cut trim (Northeastern Scale Lumber GBA-1, obtained through Judith of 'In Some Small Way').  I worked out where I would cut this for roof beams, which also showed me the angle I would need to draw on the house for the roofline.  In order to avoid wasting my expensive laser cut trim, I applied coffee stirrers onto the house to mark the roofline.  Then I started sticking sticks down for the vertical battening, in the same manner as on the rest of the house.

Now it is just a case of coats of paint, both onto the house and onto the roof beams.  I primed the roof beams with a couple of coats of white spray paint, and am carefully dabbing on the white house emulsion with a small brush.

I want to say 'welcome' to the new followers to this blog.  I don't think I have said before about how motivating it is to know that people are interested in what I am doing.

There is some motivation already to press on with this project, because it is on our dining table and the family will only be patient so long about eating at a picnic table.  But I know I am getting more done because I feel   like I need to have something to show you all each week!  So thank you very much for your support and encouragement, it is much appreciated.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Conservatory - Part I

As promised, extremely generous blog reader Keli shipped a big box with all her unused trim and porch pieces all the way from Michigan - thanks!  I will be sending a few things from the UK back your way, hope you like them.  I didn't get to use the bits right away as we have been away camping for a few days, but now I am back and I have made a start on the conservatory.

After much pondering and sitting motionless in front of the dollshouse, holding up bits of wood while I thought about what to do for my conservatory (with DS and DH rolling their eyes at each other in the background), I decided to go for a look that matches the front porch. It will look a bit different from the original Pickett Hill (PH) but I think it will be a better result to have a conservatory and porch that look similar on this house.

I'd used up the porch railing pieces from my own Fairfield kit when I built the front porch, so I had the two porch railing pieces that Keli sent me.

First of all, I took the side porch railing and cut it into two, to be the two sides of my conservatory.  Then I split each half into two more pieces so that I could lengthen the sides to 3 3/4 inches, which I eyeballed to look about the right size in proportion to the porch and the house.

Then I cut up scrap plywood from other unused kit pieces, and glued it all together to lengthen the top and railing portions.
I strengthened this assembly by gluing coffee stirrers on the back of the railings, and a beam across the top of the piece (which will help support the roof structure).

For the front of the conservatory, I used the other porch railing piece which includes a doorway.  This piece was too wide, so I cut out sections to reduce it to about 4.5 inches.

Once I had the proportions right, I glued bracing on the back as I had done on the sides.

A bit of filler helped to tidy up the joins, plus I sanded the new extended railing pieces to round out the corners to look more like the original railing.  Here are the three sides of the conservatory, ready for the first coat of paint.  I will paint a few coats of white acrylic craft paint, sanding in between, to smooth out the surface.  Then I will paint a few final coats of the house emulsion so that the conservatory matches the house.

Meanwhile, I made a base for the conservatory using some scrap plywood and the same battens that I used to build the house foundation.  I made the base so that it projects slightly out from the conservatory sides. Sorry the picture came out fuzzy.