Sunday, 27 February 2011


Haven't had much time this week to work on the Fairfield but I did get the shutters made for the front of the house.  These are made out of card. I decided not to make the shutters that the Miss LP house has on either side of the bay window as I didn't like them, so I've only made shutters for the two front Gothic windows.

I traced around the outside of my spare window onto thin card, and used a quilting ruler to draw a 1/8" inside border.  I first cut out the inside shapes.

Then I glued the thin card onto some thicker card (mat board), using a solvent-based cement.

Once the glue dried, I completed cutting out the shutters by cutting around the outside line, through both card layers.

I sealed the shutters by painting both sides with Multi-surface Sealer.  Then I started painting coats of Anita's Dusty Green acrylic paint.

I glued the shutters onto the front of the house with more solvent-based cement, lining up the bottom of the shutter with the bottom of the window sill.

They just need a bit of touching up with paint, and then that is the end of the exterior construcion.

I received my replacement Flutterby Chair kit and the Flutterby bed from Judith of In Some Small Way in the post this week, so I will be able to finish the furniture for the little girl's room.

I visited the Studley Grange Dollshouse Workshop outside of Swindon today, as DS had an all-day commitment in Swindon and we had to hang around waiting for him to finish.  However, they stocked almost exclusively 1/12th so I wasn't able to get anything for the Fairfield.  They had a lot of Dollshouse Emporium stuff, and some Reutters, Heidi Ott,  and similar.  The shop is part of a garden centre / craft village complex that aims heavily at the mums-and-children market, with a play area and children's workshops like painting pots.  There is also a very dilapidated Butterfly World next to the dollshouse shop.  It was a bit depressing, lots of dead or dying plants, debris, dirt etc. but the butterflies were amazing.  When the sun came out, they started flying around quite freely, all sorts of amazing colours and sizes.  There was also a meerkat enclosure outside with the most adorable baby meerkats, so we felt like we got our money's worth just from watching them.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Hanging baskets and comfy seats

This week I have been working on the outside of the house, which seems an appropriate thing to be doing now that springtime is arriving here in the UK.

Seat cushions

I made seat cushions for the two little benches for the front porch, and for the bench I had already built in the back porch.  Later on I hope to have lots of attractive throw cushions on these benches as well.

I used craft foam and cut a basic shape for the bench seat, and then wrapped fabric neatly around the foam, gluing it down flat on the back.

I really like this thick decorator's glue for gluing fabric flat.  It grabs immediately and dries quickly.

Hanging baskets

The February 2011 issue of 'Dollshouse & Miniature Scene' magazine had an article by Caroline Himmo-Brunson from the Itzy Bitzy Workshop on making 1/12th scale hanging baskets from polystyrene balls, with quite detailed paper-punched flowers.

I thought that was a great idea for my Fairfield so adapted the idea to 1/24th scale and to the materials I had on hand.

1) Caroline started with polystyrene balls, but I couldn't find those in a one-inch size which is what I felt would be the right scale for the Fairfield.  Instead I bought these rigid cotton balls.  The first step is to cut them in half.  I tried various methods such as razor saws etc. but what seemed to work best was a really sharp scalpel.  I scored along the cut line and then 'sawed' carefully through the ball with the scalpel.

2) The next step is to imbed a hanging hook.  With a polystyrene ball, apparently you could just plunge these in.  With my cotton balls, I found I had to pry up some of the cotton fibres from the centre of the ball, insert my hook with glue on it, and glue back down the cotton fibres to imbed the hook.

I cut the hooks from normal paperclips.

3) After the glue dried, I painted each 'basket' all over with green paint.

4) I put some dark-green medium flock in a bowl, smeared tacky glue thickly over the rounded outside of the 'basket' and pressed it into the flock to get an even coating all over.

5)  Then I started adding 'plants' to the basket, using a variety of scenic materials such as lichen, flock lumps etc.  I brought some of these down over the edge of the basket.

6) The final step was to add different colours of flower sprinkles as the 'blossom'.  I add these by using a toothpick to dab tacky glue over the 'plant' and then touch my moist finger to the sprinkles and hold it up to the glue.

To hang the baskets, I used some of those long pins intended for making earrings, that have a pin head at one end and are in fairly soft metal.  I drilled small holes through the beams, from the outside, poked through the pin and bent it down inside.  Afterwards I touched up the pin head with white paint.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Interior decorating

This week I have been working on the internal decoration for the two children's room.

In the girl's room, I added the internal window frame. Unlike the windows on the replacement wall, which were in slightly thicker MDF, the girl's window is in the original Greenleaf plywood and therefore the Grandtline window frame protruded very slightly into the room. That meant that I couldn't just glue a card frame on top of the opening as I did for the other windows. I solved that by cutting the frame into two halves to put it around the protruding window, and adding a new 'sill' with a scrap bit of cornice. I painted this frame white to fit in with the pastel decor.

I added skirting to the two rooms, again using the plastic strip and leaving it white. I selected pale green velvet paper for the girl's carpeting, and pale blue velvet paper for the boy's carpet, and applied these using double-sided tape.  I don't have any furniture for the boy's room yet - so that is going to have to wait until I see something that inspires me.

I am going to make an upper curtain, somehow, to fit the gothic point of the girl's room, which will go on the top of the window. I didn't want to hide the rest of the window completely behind a curtain as the shape is so pretty, so I applied a half-curtain of pleated lace. I cut this from a length of pre-pleated nylon lace that I bought from Bluebell Miniatures some time ago.  I bought this lace in four different widths so I can use it in a variety of windows.  I still had to cut it down a bit to use it on the Fairfield window, so I ran a length of sewing cotton through the pleats first, before cutting it.

Front porch

I had these two metal benches which are meant to go with the plastic light-up christmas houses you can buy in gift shops around Christmas-time.  They are a bit smaller than 1/24th scale, but they happen to fit perfectly into the sides of the front porch.

I sprayed them white by hanging them on a long thread, which I draped over a branch of our apple tree, so that I could spray them without having to touch them anywhere.

The next step will be to make some pretty cushions for them.  I'm also going to have a go at making some hanging flower baskets for the front and back porches.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

1/24th kit reviews: nightstand, bookshelf, chest of drawers

This week I was adding more furniture to my little girl's room, using three inexpensive kits that I bought at Miniatura.  But first of all, I finished off the Flutterbye kits by making up the clothes hangers and the basket.

The clothes hangers are absolutely minute.  There were no instructions, but what I did was to curve a hook from the supplied wire, and glue it with a dab of glue onto one side of the hanger.  While that was drying, I cut out the artwork, and then glued the artwork straight over the wire.  This worked great for the first hanger.  For the second hanger, I glued on the wire, cut out the artwork, put glue on the artwork, and reached for the hanger only to find that it had completely disappeared.  I looked for 10 minutes all over myself, the table and the floor, meanwhile with the artwork congealing on my fingertip.  I had to give up in the end.  However, my brilliant DH came home and heard my tale of woe, and conducted his own fingertip search.  He eventually spotted the wayward hanger, clinging to one of the struts of the table.  How it got there I have no idea.  These are gorgeous but now I'm scared of losing them, and have shut them in the wardrobe drawer. You will note in the picture below that while I was searching for the hanger, I did find the missing flower-shaped cupboard handle that I lost last week.  Sigh...

The basket is of printed paper, from the artwork included with the kits.  It consisted of a side piece, round outer base, round inner base (smaller), and a finishing strip for the rim, and a handle.  It was fairly straightforward to put together, and quite cute.

Kit Review:  Model Village Miniatures 1/24th Bed Side Table

This is an extremely reasonably priced kit for a basic nightstand, from Model Village Miniatures, which cost £2.95. As you can see, the pre-cut wooden pieces come in clearly labelled bags, accompanied by non-illustrated but clearly written instructions, and a colour photograph of the finished piece.  I painted the wood in the same colours I used for the Flutterbye furniture.

This is a dry assembly, so the top is off-kilter as otherwise the pieces wouldn't stand up for the photograph.  I found the pieces were accurately cut and fit well together with no sanding necessary.

Kit Review:  Model Village Miniatures 1/24th Bookcase

Again, very reasonably priced at £2.50, and once again well labelled and packaged, and accurately cut pieces.

This is the dry fit, so top and base are off-kilter as they are designed to be centred on top of the sides - but if I tried to do that for the photo, the whole thing would collapse without glue.

Petite Properties 1/24th Chest of Drawers

This is a new line of laser-cut kits from Petite Properties, the brilliant UK builders of detailed and unusual 1/24th scale houses and 1/48th scale kits. I have one of their 1/24th houses, the Fisherman's Rest, which I turned into a tearoom.  At Miniatura they were showing a line of 1/24th scale kits which are laser cut from stiff card, similar to mat board.

The chest of drawers has one working drawer, and two false drawers.  The kit comes with the pieces shown, cut all from card, and six beads to use as drawer knobs (one of which I promptly lost, sigh... but I wasn't going to use them because they are black, so it was ok).

The pieces are very cleanly cut, and the instructions are excellent and very well illustrated.  However, I had some issues with getting a smooth paint finish on the card, particularly on the edges of pieces.  I found I had to watch the rectangular frames for the drawer fronts, as they easily became slightly warped in the middle so they didn't look exactly rectangular any more. The sides/front, and the base trim piece, have scored corners so that you can bend them into a box-shape.  This worked ok on the larger side/front piece, but I found the base trim started to peel its layers apart at the score mark when I bent it to shape. I didn't use it in the end, partly because the corners looked so crude.

I also found that my working drawer front didn't fit into the drawer cut-out in the front, and while it was relatively easy to shave the opening bigger with a scalpel, it was also very easy to bend the card front when putting pressure on it.

All in all, I felt the kit wasn't very robust and it felt more like a display model than an actual piece of furniture.  I think I prefer to work in wood. However, it was very cheap (£4.49 on their online shop) and there are many accompanying kits of furniture so you could furnish a whole house very cheaply - as long as you didn't plan to touch the furniture much once it was in place.


I wanted my three kits to fit into my Flutterbye bedroom, so I decorated them with some leftover artwork and    low-res internet images.  I was surprised when I put them into the bedroom, at how giant they seemed beside the original Flutterbye wardrobe, table and chair.  But they look true to scale when I put them in the Miss Lydia Pickett bedroom.  I think it is because the wardrobe, table and chair are 'child sized', so are somewhere in scale around, maybe, 1/30th?