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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chapter 6 - Back Wall and Kitchen Cupboard, Sliding door to Portico

January 25-28th 2012

Pretty daunting at first look ! So many tiny parts ! But gotta lay them out to be sure we have them all... So, I painted the back wall with white first.  This time I went directly to sponging in the uneven surface with my stencil sponge - it just didn’t seem necessary to have to paint then sponge over.   The white covers well enough.  While that was drying, I laid out all the parts.

I then separated out the cupboard part to do last.  All the wall “supports” needed painting so again, stained all of those and then went back to the wall to paint the external bit beige.  I left everything overnite to dry.  No sense in rushing.
I then set to glueing and then painting the 2/3 of the door pieces.  I was working in Florence this week so I just left that bit to dry again overnite.

You can see how much of the smallest pieces had to be sanded down
Overlaps that needed sanding too...
Next nite, I worked on piecing together the walls.  That was a bit tricky and I had to eventually give up all the hand sanding to the drumel.  Course that made quick work of any pieces which were not jigsawing in.  There were quite a few - even enough that didn’t quite match up on the bottom which, I assume, are going to need to be nice and even.  I eventually fit everything in and double checked the kitchen dias (from Chapter 4) against a few pieces to be sure I wasn’t going to have to sand again on some tight spots.
 The cupboard was pretty easy altho again, small pieces are quick to warp.  Painting them loosens the glue and then I have to re-glue and clamp them.  It was pretty tough getting the sliding doors to match up on top but in the end I power sanded a bit and it looks fine.  I decided to go with a beaten up cupboard look to go with the rustic flooring.  I’ve decided to stain the kitchen walls too with soot - I mean there is a massive coal and wood stove burning in there, right ?

Fun but long chapter...onwards...
Finished Part of Kitchen Wall, Final Sliding door and Lower Half of the Cupboard

Chapter 5 - Right Wall and Sliding door to the Kitchen, Tsuitate

January 24- 25th 2012

Absolutely nothing complicated about this chapter.  Lots of painting and waiting for it to dry (boring...)

The sliding door was easy then, after painting, the damn thing went nuts and warped out to the point that the seams all came apart.  I had to resort to my trusty vices and rubber bands again.  I left them over nite to be sure that they’d take without problems seeing as this is the sliding door to the kitchen and really set back a bit from the front of the house.

The walls were pretty easy to put together.  Needed to sand down quite a few pieces to fit into the wall.  Painting the walls again was just down time waiting for the paint to dry.

The Tsuitate, which I think is a little screen, was full of small parts but they all fit in fine.  I used a kind of grey color to give is an old antique look.  I think it is for the vestibule opening so kind of goes with my idea of a nice but somewhat run down house.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chapter 4 Kitchen Floor, Sliding door to Portico and Small Chair

January 23rd 2012

Finished dias on left and painted floor
This was a pretty fast chapter but a few annoying things like trying to paint the floor in an interesting way.  I couldn’t figure out what I likes as they suggested just splattering the floor but I figured a Japanese house would have an important kitchen floor like with big flagstones or something.  So I painted them in using paints and a marker.  I like it.  It’ll give some creepy depth to the kitchen - like the underworld - with that stove and all.

The door was pretty easy except that some pieces don’t quite match up. I had to cut down two pieces to make them fit and use an elastic band around the top to set it with glue (vices grips wouldn’t work here).   Surprisingly, it did slide in place altho a little loose.  I prefer that than so tight I have to sand down pieces to get them to slide in.

The kitchen floor dias needed to be penciled in then painted.  It was time consuming but when you have the right tools and tiny sewing measuring ruler it makes it easier.  It was a nice added effect cutting into the cross lines so that the paint would seep in better and show up more after varnishing (see above).  I’m pretty pleased so far and can’t wait to at least finish the Portico section.

Chapter 3 Roof and Pavement of the Vestibule

January 21st 2012

I decided to make the pavement before starting on the roof simply because the pavement needed some time to dry to its platform (I used glue instead of double sided tape).
In making the rock pavement for the front, I painted it a blue grey, then wiped it down a bit and sponged in some brown that I’m using for the wooden accents.  It worked pretty well giving a stone effect.  While it dried, I worked on the roof.
The lattice work was easy enough until you get to the small ribbed pieces (n.1) that needed to be cut to size and inserted into the slats.  Since there is no way they were going to line up no matter how much prep you do, I just didn’t paint them, slipped them in as best as I could then painted them.  Once damp, they were eased into place with a small hammer.  Good enough!
Fitting the roof lattice work onto the original portico was a bit tight but also here no glue was necessary.  By taking off the posts on the top you can ease the roof into place.
This chapter was a bit challenging and I’m glad I had the small vices to grip pieces together when needed.
There was a lot of dead time in this chapter waiting for glue and paint to dry but I did the whole thing in an afternoon and then after dinner.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chapter 2 Wall of Vestibule (Oven, Front & Portico Wall)

January 20-21st 2012

This installment came with a little stove.  It had to be decorated to look burnt and dirty a little.  Plus it had three little pots that fit on top.  I decided to use some Model Acqua (model water) which we had bought for Gianluca to use on his model train set but he lost interest in decorating that and the water was never used.  So, I tried it with the little pots by filling some with some rice and model grass.

I figured it’d dry transparent and look like soup or something boiling in the pots.  I then made some little piles of coal to put into the stove openings.  Just some small gravel and glue to make them into a mass, then painting them black with highlights of red for the look of heated coals.

Putting together the first wall of the house was fairly easy.  Some of the pieces (n.11) tended to warp after applying glue but with my little clamps I was able to straighten them out.  It’s not like I put lots of glue, but the pieces warped.
I found the first error in the directions.  Step 20 neglected to tell you to glue piece n.10.  I found the extra piece and couldn’t see anywhere mentioned how to attach it but clearly it had to go in the upper door opening.  Luckily it slid in rather well and with the clamps and a little coaxing, it glued in fine.
Fake grass bits in the pots
The attachment of the door posts assembled in Chapter 1 was tight to the point that it didn’t need any glue.  But it did fit.
I’m seeing that it’s important to work a few steps ahead in case certain pieces do not slide in easily and then you’re pretty much screwed cause once this wood glue dries, the piece is not coming off.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chapter 1 (Fascicolo N.1) Portico

January 17-18th 2012 (I'll post the start and end date of a chapter altho I don't work on the house every day)
Ok, so the instructions mix the furnishings and the buildings.  I may end up jumping back and forth if I end up getting bored or pissed off with frustrating construction.  But I’ll try and stick to the order they present the pieces in.
Here are how the pieces are presented (in blister packs with a pic numbering the pieces).  I think it’s best to open everything and be sure all the pieces are there.  Sanding down each wooden piece and checking for uneven edges is a must before beginning to assemble.  Also so when it comes to to actually painting the pieces, there are no areas which have uneven color due to changes in the wood.
I also prepared all my colors beforehand.  Most are 1:1 water paint ratio but some are pretty diluted or not at all.  Obviously I’ll end up changing the color schemes to my own liking since most of the furnishings are pretty dull looking - natural wood color and such. 
I also assembled some tools which will make the construction helpful.  The kit actually included lots of tools : hammer, tweezers, glue, screwdriver, sandpaper and sandpaper kits etc.  But I’ve added in some top notch wood glue, small vices, double faced sticky tape used in quilting because it’s only a few mm wide and even a round rotating quilting blade.  Works pretty good too.  I may even end up using a drummel tool for sanding or fixing pieces.
Working on the portico of the house, some of the pieces needed lots of sanding to make them fit.  Hope it will fit together later too.  The steps were a little off since they required holding on to the pieces till the glue set so I just went thru the instructions and glued together individual pieces that can then be propped up on one another making it easier to lay the pieces on the work surface instead of holding them in my hands and waiting...
The chair was an example of uneven fit.  And the table needed extra sanding to make the pieces fit together.  I painted them my own idea of colors - black and red.  I also added a diluted amount of varnish to the surfaces to give them a slight sheen with undiluted to the black chair for more gloss.  If you buy high gloss varnish, just dilute it to tone down the shine.

Casa di Bambola in Stile Giapponese

Back in February of 2008, Italians were subjected to commercials advertising “La Casa di Bambola in Stile Giapponese”. They promised that the entire house would be built from scratch - no precut wooden panels that have to fit together like a puzzle.  Instead it would have lots of precut pieces but each piece would be constructed into the final house - a 3 story mid 20th Century Japanese household in 1:20 scale.  So, traditional yet fairly modern.  There would be a TV set along with an indoor spa, kitchen, bedroom, phone booth....
Given that I have dreamt of having my own doll’s house since I was a child, but I really wanted to build one more than buy one, this seemed like finally the opportunity I had been waiting for.
The cost would be considerable.  120 installments over a two year period were promised.  The first was sold for Euro 5.99 but all the subsequent installments would be Euro 17.98.  That meant that once said and done, the entire house would be pretty costly.  But I figured, what the hell.  Even if I don’t live long enough to actually build the damn thing, I should at least try to fulfill a dream.
And so, here finally in January of 2012 (one and a half years after I actually finished collecting and paying off all the pieces for the house), I have decided to begin it and to post my progress.  Sure, it may take me at least another two years just to finish it, but it’ll be fun in the process.
I hope you enjoy it (and I hope I do too)!