Saturday, 30 January 2010

Tiling extravaganza...............and a wee mistake...

The last week has been a tiling extravaganza !

I've been busy working on my dolls during the day but evenings have been spent laying the roof tiles and paving stones needed to finish the outside of Belle's Toy Emporium.

The roof tiles were very easy to lay.

They are made a from soft easy to cut material and I found I was able to shape tiles carefully with scissors, or score them easily with a craft knife when I needed to half a tile.

I havent yet decided what to do with the back of the house. My wiring will be visible here and I am toying with the idea of either bricking over the wires or making a flase back to cover them and bricking that.
I tiled the back of the roof first as it was an easy flat roof with no details.

The front has the attic window roof and the chimney stack so I knew this would take some time and much tile cutting.

You can see the mistake from the finished roof photos....................... I ran out of tiles ! The tile manufacturer advise that you buy all tiles needed together so they will match but I just assumed 1000 was plenty for a roof. A third of the way up the front roof panel and I ran out and had to send for more tiles.

As you can see they most definitely dont match !!!!! I will be working a little paint magic on the tiles later to match them up........................

The roof looks so lovely though with the victorian ridge tiles finishing it off perfectly.

I really enjoyed working on the roof !

The paving slabs are made from real slate and look lovely.
They were quite difficult to cut though so a very tiny bit of pavement took some time.
I used random flagstones from Richard Stacey
which are all different sizes and you lay them in a pattern to suit , a bit like doing a jigsaw !
Once they are all glued on you then grout them like bricks and they lookjust like a real pavement.
I used a tool for ceramic tiles which has a scorer and an edge to snap the tiles. Fiddly but worth it in the end as the "street " looks perfect.
I will add some moss to it for more realism.

The outside of the Emporium is now almost complete. I need to do the sign writing and add the shop sign . I would like to add drainpipes and will be adding moss to the pavement outside the house entrance too.
I need some more door furniture but theres no hurry for that, I havent seen what I want just yet so will wait until I find the perfect letterboxes .
Next for the bit I have been looking forward to..............................the inside !!!
julie xxx

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Banisters, bricks and modge podge to the rescue !

Progress has been a little slow in the last week .I'm busy in my studio working on dolls for upcoming fairs and also have some other miniature projects to work on so my Emporium has been a treat to work on in the evenings.

As you can see my bricks arrived and I was able to finish the brickwork on the left hand side of the house.

I think I will definitely be adding some drainpipes to the building but this will be done after I get the pavement finished.

I have ordered some lovely slate paving slabs which should be here at the weekend and cant wait to get them on.

Once the bricks and pebble dashing were completed it was a really simple job to attach the turntable. The black plastic disc with rollers simply sat on top of the base board and then both were attached to the bottom of the house with a long screw through the centre of them both.

I love this part of the kit, the house looks lovely raised slightly from the table and its really nice being able to turn it to see into the side doors.

As you can see Pepsi has decided to supervise work on the house from now on.......................

While working on the house I have noticed my "pebbles" dropping off at an alarming rate ! Rather than end up with any bald spots I have now sealed it with matte mod podge.

This wonderful stuff comes in useful for such a lot of things .

I used my pastry brush to apply it as its large and very soft so wouldnt dislodge any more pebbles.

Although it looks a bit worrying when first applied it dries to a clear matte protective surface which can be wiped clean.

While my modge podge dried I finished the banisters and stair rails for the house.
After the struggle with the stairs I was relieved that this was a very easy job, the stairposts fitted easily into the pre made holes in the base strips and the banisters fitted easily over the top.

I couldnt resist trying them out in the house.
Although they arent fixed into place yet you can see how lovely they look :0)

The next job on my list is the roof. I will be tiling it with real slate tiles and then the outside of my shop will be almost complete !
julie xxx

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

An idea !............opinions please ?

Shannon commented on my previous post and gave me an idea !
Shannon's suggestion was to put a wall into the back of the shop to deperate the tradesmans entrance.
Now this was my original idea , but when I tried it I realised the stairwell was narrower than the tradesmans door so the wall ended up joining the centre of the door ! ............not good .
I forgot allabout the idea until reading the comment this morning. here you can see I have simply used an extra corner shelf to block out the tradesmans entrance completely. This gives me a really nice shape to the shop, exactly how I had pictured it with the wall there.
BUT there is no wall. I wouldnt need one.
I would simply attach some architrave to the top of the shop shelves so you wouldnt see the small gap and the shop itself would look perfect.
The tradesman's door opens into a small passage way as you can see in the photo.It looks fine, a nice little oddly shaped corridor which I could put a light into and add some bits and pieces to make a little cubby hole.
The only problem is the fact it doesnt actually lead anywhere. You wouldnt really know that, but I would LOL and think it might annoy me.
So I need to decide what to do, does the shop shelving make up for the fact that the tradesmans entrance leads into a cubby hole with no escape ?
I could call it a storage area rather than a cubby hole, I have a door like this on the side of my own house that leads to what was once used as coal storage and where we now store the rabbits hay and straw so it is feasible.
Or I could pretend it leads somewhere and put a little desk in the back with a ledger etc. for taking stock and a little lamp.
I would love some opinions on this !
julie xxx

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Day Twelve , Stairs and Plans

As I am still waiting for my bricks and want to work on the sides of the house before finishing the roof I have been making plans for the interior and working on the stairs .

Hmmmmmm, I have no idea why it is, there must be a reason , but the kit instructions assure me the stair board IS the right size and just a little sanded off each stair will ensure they WILL all fit on.
For the life of me I cant find the reason, but I sat for an hour sanding each little step until eventually they did fit.
They look lovely but life would have been easier if they had just been cut to fit in the first place !!!

Here are the two sets of stairs. I used ronseal wood stain which gives a beautiful effect without
un natural gloss and build up of varnish which might need even more sanding.
While I was at it I stained all the doors and bannisters and left it all to dry .

The next part seemed simple enough, simply glue a banister into each hollow on the staircase and allow to dry.

Apparently a small sanding on each banister would ensure a good fit.
The holes were more like shallow indentations so sanding didnt make a lot of difference but I glued them in/on and after a lot of fiddling to make sure all were straight and pointing in the same direction left them to dry.
So far ,so good !

I was very happy up to this point, the stairs look great dont they :0)
Then I simply had to glue the stair rail on ..........................
You have to sort of push the stair rail firmly over each bannister and make sure its straight.......................
there was an audible " ping" and bannisters shot every where !!!!!!!!!
There then followed a very frustrating battle between stairs, bannisters and rail !
But I was determined.............. I would not be defeated............. I only snapped one bannister in half................. and happily I had 2 spare :0)

Eventually I had them all in place and I have to say it was worth the effort. With stair carpet in place it looks perfect .
I may yet make some stair rods, watch this space , but for now I am happy.

So now for some planning.
As you know this shop will be home to the characters in the stories I am writing.
Old Uncle Mortimer and his neice and companion Belle .
Uncle Mortimer is a bit of a recluse and doesnt stray far from the two rooms at the top of the shop.His workroom and his den, where he sleeps and eats. The hatch above his workroom leads to the loft space .
Belle has her own room above the shop and a small kitchen .
I can already envisage these rooms and am really looking forward to working on them.
The shop floor though is a bit more difficult.

This is the shop with the back wall and door temporarily in place,

The space under the stairs is pretty much dead space. The trade entrance opens into it so it doesnt work putting shelves in there as Ihad first intended.
I have plenty white wood shop shelf units so have been playing round with these but the room is a very awkward shape with the window on the side wall and the door to the house next to that .

I tried the units in tofit the walls and dont like it at all.
I then tried the units with a corner unit added.
Although I lose space behind the corner unit I gain space in front of the stairwell and tradesmen can still enter LOL

I quite like this option but also have some floor display units and need to fit a counter in.

All ideas welcome !!! I could build up my own shelving but I really like these shelves .

Couldnt resist adding this pic of my lovely old tom cat Pepsi.
Think hes figured out the only way to get any attention in this house is to be on my work table LOL
julie xxx

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Days Ten and Eleven, A tight fit but shaping up nicely !

Well it has been slow progress over the weekend. Firstly I am awating supplies. I have no bricks left and need to finish the left side of the house.

I have also ordered some lovely wallpaper for the passage ways and shop from Sid Cooke and the most glorious parquet floor kit.
I had intended to tile the roof this weekend but my time was taken up by the windows.............................
Simply glue the plastic window frames into the openings said the instruction manual.
Well the small windows fitted like a dream and I just popped them in with a touch of pva. Then I came to the large windows. Quite simply they didnt fit ! The window openings were 2 mm smaller than the plastic windows !!!!

There was only one thing for it.................. sand papering .
If you have never tried sanding a tiny rebate on a window opening of a built dolls house you have never known true frustration !
In the end I rolled my sandpaper round a slim pencil and then rolled the pencil round and round the rebate.
Eventually I managed to widen the gap slightly but there was just no way I could find to satisfactorily increase the gap.
I managed to wedge the windows in tightly,. So tightly that they wouldnt come back out . If forced too much I think the plastic would snap .
So my two windows on the front of the house are ever so very slightly bowed. Nobody who has seen it has noticed but I know it is so, which is a bit frustrating.
Never mind, I will put it down to character !
I decided to attach the front with the hinges provided which was easy and then stand the house upright and attach the chimney.
Despite the window problem I have to say it looks perfect. I think I will add a drainpipe down the right hand side and some guttering .
Hope my bricks arrive soon !
julie xxx

Friday, 8 January 2010

Days eight and nine ..........mostly bricking !

I have spent the last two days bricking away to my hearts content ! 2000 brick slips later I
have completed the front, right hand side and the chimney of the house and its looking lovely.

First of all I attached the two gate posts to the side door walls . The final pillar will go on when I have the floor decorated and am ready to put the railings up.
I bricked the outside of the wall to get back into practice, its some time since I last used brickslips.

They are so simple to attach, its time consuming but also therapeutic LOL and I did a lot of planning as I sat there sticking bricks.

Once I was in the swing of things there was no stopping me. First, as the house was lying on its side post pebble dashing, I tackled the right hand side of the house. This is the largest wall space of the whole building so I knew once this side was done the rest would be plain sailing.
Its very simple to do.
Just paint a section of your wall with pva, dont coat too much or it will dry out.
Then start to lay your bricks with each row staggered to give that familiar brick pattern.

This is where you really need a ruler. A clear one like this is great as you can see the rows of bricks beneath it.
The first time I used brick slips I was sure I didnt need a ruler. I could easily lay my bricks in a straight problem...................................
about 6 rows in I realised my bricks were starting to slant upwards .

By then the lower layers were already dry so it was too late.
Lesson learned, I armed myself with a long ruler !

Carry on working in sections until you reach the end of your wall. The brick slips can be easily snapped in half or trimmed with scissors at the edges for fitting around window and door frames.
You can see just how nice the wall looks all bricked.
As I was enjoying myself I carried on and bricked the shop front.

Its most important when bricking a wall with windows to check that you have the same number of rows either side of the window and that they are level. Your ruler is your most valuable tool here.
I learned from my mistakes on a previous house !

I wasnt happy with the shop door surround so decided to brick that too.
There is no architrave around the door and I think this makes it look very "dolls house".
I wanted my toy shop to look like a real old building , not a dolls house.
So improvation time again ! I had an old piece of dado rail which fit perfectly around the door frame so I painted this and attached it before bricking the rest of the frame.

I think you will agree it looks better with the architrave.

Here is the finished front with architrave painted and bricks in place ready for mortar.

I knew I didnt have enough bricks for the left hand side of the house so instead I bricked the chimney stack, taking care tomatch the rows of bricks upon all four corners.
I think it looks lovely !

Now for the bit I like least.
Applying the mortar. The powder was mixed with water and pva to a stiff paste.
This is then rubbed over the bricks pushing it down between each brick with a soft damp cloth.
Its gritty and messy and you have to work carefully one section at a time .

Here is the first section of the wall with mortar applied.
I found this quite scary the first time I did it, all your hard work seems to be covered in muck !
Next you take a damp cloth and a bowl of water and start cleaning.
You want to get the bricks clean but leave the mortar in the gaps .
If you have too damp a cloth you will simply wash the mortar away so the trick is to wring out well, fold your cloth into a fairly flat shape and carefully wipe over the top of your bricks.
Keep wringing out the cloth and wiping , rinsing frequently . It does take some time but as your bricks emerge it really does look very effective, just like a real wall !

This is the wall half way through wiping clean.

This is the finished cleaned up wall and doesnt it look fabulous !
I tipped the house over onto its back as I still had loose pebble dash on the top section which I have caught to re use on the left hand side.

I will leave the house on its back until I have attached the front panel with hinges once my mortar is dry.

Here is the completed front and chimney looking very nice with the mortar drying out.
As the characters who live in this building are not rich the building will look a little aged, not exactly shabby but a little worn .
When rinsing the mortar I left some showing around the edges of the window trims and sills which gives a lovely slightly dirty effect.
I will be distressing the chimney stack a little and dirtying it up around the pots . I want this to look like a real building rather than a toy and so far I'm very happy with the way its turning out.

julie xxx

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Day Seven.... Improvising and pebble dashing !

After work today I dashed through the snow to Hobby Craft where I bought some strips of balsa wood to improvise on the missing parts of my kit . After much faffing on trying to find a solution to the short door/ tall door gap problem I had a Eureka moment !
Why didnt I think of it before ! I simply cut a piece of balsa to the same shape and thickness of the door frame and then glued it into the bottom of the door opening.
Hey Presto ! My door now closed perfectly leaving no gap and a nice flat finish both sides of the wall.
My door step was made with two pieces of balsa wood, one wider than the other, which I cut to the same width. Once glued onto the wall the door step hid the join where I had inserted the extra piece of wood into the door frame giving a neat strong finish.
I was now able to glue on the remaining trim and begin the paint work.

You can see here how neat my improvising looks !

While at Hobby craft I found some lovely fine gravel in the model railway section.
I had decided to use real brick slips for the main part of the house and paint the top section to resemble stone. Suddenly I had another Eureka moment !
Pebble dashing ! I bought 2 bags of the fine gravel one cream and one light tan as I knew the two shades would mix well to give a realistic effect.
I simply coated the top section of the dols house in a thick coat of pva. I did one side at a time leaving each to dry overnight but have shown photos of two sides to show you how simple this was to do.

Once the pva was brushed on I simply poured my mixed fine gravel evenly over the surface with the dolls house lying flat on the table and the side I was working on facing upwards.
I poured on a nice thick layer , making sure it was evenly spread and in every nook and cranny,
then patted it down with my fingers and left it to dry.

When dry I lay a plastic sheet ( a bin liner is ideal for this) on the floor under the table to catch the loose gravel. Then I tipped the house on its side
and gently brushed it with a soft brush to remove the loose gravel.The loose gravel can then be re-used on another part of the house.
You can see here how lovely this looks !
I'm delighted with the effect.
My house is really starting to shape up now and the next step will be to start sticking the brick slips to the walls. A long job but really worth the time spent for the lovely effect it gives.
My next few evenings will be spent gluing on bricks and I will post photos as soon as I have made some progress with this,
julie xxx