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Friday, March 30, 2012

Chapter 37 - Floor and Back Wall of Right Hand Room First Floor, Ceiling of Left Hand Room, Bench

March 24 - 30th 2012

About a month ago, I joined the Half-Scale Yahoo Group for people who are interested in half-scale miniature as opposed to the 1/12 scale which is more common.  I had mentioned that I am working on a Japanese inspired house and one member was nice enough to send me a file from a scan of fabric which were little kimonos.  All I had to do was reduce it to scale and transfer it to some fabric to make little kimonos for my house (and in particular, the Spa Changing room).  It worked out great.  You can find ink jet transfer sheets so all you have to do is print onto the transfer and then iron onto some cotton fabric.  Deal done and the final effect is very satisfying.  With the bench and the little details, the spa changing room is done (altho I’m still planning to add some things under the sink as well as a little bar or soap and maybe a mirror above the sink).
Iron on transfer.
Kimonos ready for cutting and folding


View from the side of the chaning room
Little bench for the changing room


Towels, kimonos for men and women, and geta shoes.

The ceiling of the first floor room was easy yet fitting it into slightly warped walls was a challenge.  At least it showed me that I had installed a wooden beam piece in the kitchen ceiling wrong so I had to take that apart and reglue it.  Much better looking now.  I drilled the necessary holes in the ceiling and the back wall to allow for the lighting once it gets installed. 

Will be gone for a few days on a trip to Hamburg to see the biggest miniature train set in the world (or so they claim...) Pics will follow obviously.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chapter 36 - Upper Part of Stairway Landing, Ground Level Stairs

March 20 - 22nd 2012

The first thing in this chapter was to sand down pieces which had to fit into the round bannister posts.  They provided you with an auxiliary tool and sanding tool for the trick but still, it was a lot of work and I ended up getting a blister on one finger.  Pain in the ass!  Worse yet, when it came time to actually fit the pieces in, it really wasn’t a perfect fit.
The sanding template for making rounded pieces.
Stair case to 1st floor landing (foreground) and vestibule stairs

Also because one piece did not have the designated hole where a bannister pole was supposed to go.  So I ended up having to put the staircase in, leave it overnite to dry proppoed up, then glue the bannister by reverse fitting.  Passable but not they way I would have preferred to do it.

The secondary stairway goes from the landing to the first floor.  It doesn’t really fit right now but I checked and I’ll just have to sand the back area to fit it.  Since the next chapters have me building the left room of the first floor, then attaching the three sections together, I have more than enough time to wait and try and fit that part of the staircase in.

Technically tho, I have actually finished the ground floor! With the addition of the staircase and the tatami area in the vestibule (including the tiny little wainscotting pieces under the window) the ground floor is complete.  I am not going to put anything in the house till the building is actually constructed for fear of breaking something.  But also today I ordered the lighting (yeah!) so that’ll be installed before I glue the first floor over the ground floor anyway.  So far so good....

Spa changing room, Spa (in the dark), vestibule and kitchen with extension complete.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Queen Mary's Dolls' House

Ok, just a little break to send you to see the most amazing dolls' house ever built.

My sister and I had the chance to actually view the house at Windsor Castle (she will be kind enough to give us the year).  It was a last minute thing and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to have seen the house.  The link above takes you to an interactive tour of the house.

An excerpt taken from the site :

"Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is the largest, most beautiful, and most famous dolls’ house in the world. Built for Queen Mary, consort of King George V, by the leading British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens between 1921 and 1924, it includes contributions from over 1,500 of the finest artists, craftsmen and manufacturers of the early 20th century. From life below stairs to the high-society setting of the saloon and dining room, a library bursting with original works by the top literary names of the day, a fully stocked wine cellar and a garden created by Gertrude Jekyll, no detail was forgotten – the Queen’s Dolls’ House even includes electricity, running hot and cold water and working lifts. Each room, is fully furnished in every way, and waiting to be explored."
This is the entrance foyer.  The paintings are actually made by the artists.
It has been restored in the 1970's I believe since the plumbing didn't work so well.  The fact that it has a functioning lift and running water is amazing as is the house linens which were all monogramed by hand for the queen and king.  The house was built to show a typical modern household which had the fortune to afford all the most up to date appliances of the "modern" age.  Even the garage and the cars were the best a person could afford.  It even had a strong room which contained the royal jewels!  I suspect the queen's dollshouse was more furnished than most people's houses at the time.  It is said that the value of the house and its contents is £275,000 - but I'd bet it's more than that today.
The library.  Each book is readable and in most cases actually penned by the true author.
I actually purchased an out of print book about the house so I could study it and have been searching for one of the keepsakes which were made at the time to commemorate the completion of the house.  Perhaps this house reminded me of how much I love the miniature world.  And this certainly is the prime example of miniature reproduction.


If you should ever get the opportunity to visit the UK, a stop to see the house is a must!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chapter 35 - Stairs From Ground Level, Shōji to the Spa Changing room

March 19 - 20th 2012

I decided to switch the shōji from the kitchen over to the Spa changing room just because it made more sense to have that one covered with the rice paper and the one in the kitchen left with a transparent window.  So that’s what I did.  Only even this shōji required more sanding to fit. 
At least now you can see my plant in the window.

The stairs went together without any hitches really but will see once we actually have to fit them into the house.  That’s the next chapter and I am looking forward to seeing the stairs finally in the house.
Close to a third of the way thru.....

I finished the first of three full boxes of materials for the house.  It doesn’t mean I’m a third of the way thru but the fact that I’ve managed to empty one box in the short time I’ve been working on the house is pretty nice.  I have read that some people have taken up to 3 years to make the build.  I suppose you never actually “finish” a dollshouse but I hope that it’s not going to take me three years just to get the damn thing built. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chapter 34 - Back Wall to First Floor Landing, The TV

March 16 - 18th 2012

I was looking forward to doing this chapter because there was the TV in it.  The inclusion of a television pretty much helped me date the house.  I figure by the looks of the TV, it must have been end of the 50’s beginning 60’s.  So of course I went looking for tv shows which would look good on the mini screen. 

I found a few cartoons but of all my fav was of course Godzilla.  I doubt he was probably on TV back then in Japan (they probably shot films more than TV shows) but I couldn’t resist including him in the house. 
GODZILLA!

The construction of the TV was a pain.  The pieces were much too large and needed heavy sanding which just distorts the final look.  But given that the TV is sort of inside a cabinet, it’s passable.

The back wall was straight forward and again shows off the warping in the landing floor.  But hopefully glue will rectify any nasty and obvious bowing.


I also managed to find a site which sells LED lights! I am excited because up till now I had only done some lighting for Gianluca’s train set and that required us running thru the DC transformer.  Instead, this american site actually sells LEDs which can be hooked up to a small 9 volt battery! Very cool!  I am going to order some as it seems that even with the postage to Italy, they still cost less than what Italian miniature companies are going to hit you with. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chapter 33 - First Floor Landing, Spa Window, Kutsunugi-ishi (Shoe removing Stone)

March 13 - 15th 2012

The Shoe Stone is quite strange.  It’s a little stone platform set into a small area that is then covered with sand.  I have never actually seen one so I have no idea what the true usage is.  It seems to be more used at the actual entrance of a house (not at an inside door entrance) and traditionally is surrounded by larger stones, not sand.  Technically, this is where you’d remove your shoes.  But I figured anyone entering the house would have already taken off their shoes downstairs in the vestibule. 

The Spa window was quick work except that it came out a bit darker than the surrounding woodwork.  I’ll have to sand it down a bit when I get around to making the shōji.  The inside sills were difficult to glue in because of the doors - even if my hands are quite small. 

Again here I had to make the “hardwood” flooring for the landing.  I do not enjoy this very much as I have to measure out each “board” 5mm from the last.  Still, the final effect is very convincing.  This flooring came out a little darker but I figure it’s ok considering that it would technically be less traveled.
You can see the small Kusunugi-ishi stone outside the door.

I also played around with one of the printables.  I found a bunch of little lanterns and printed and glued one.  Pretty cute actually.  I’m hoping I can put a small LED light inside these around the house.
Little printable lantern.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chapter 32 - Ground Floor Awnings, Overhang to Spa Window, Kitchen Shōji

March 9 - 12th 2012

The overhang to the Spa back windows fit without extra sanding or other real work so I managed to make quick work of that installation.  I’m still not quite sure what I’m going to do with the back of the house.  I don’t really think it’s been projected to be seen at 360° so I’m probably just going to figure out a way to to build up tall garden plants that can be seen thru the windows.  I’m actually thinking about pulling out the white rice paper windows in the vestibule area so you can see thru to the back of the garden.  But that’ll be later when I finally have a place to mount the house on.

The ground floor awnings were time consuming since every little shingle had to be made by hand.  But the final rustic effect is really quite nice! I decided not to trim the front edge since I like that country rustic look.  I think the little white accents make the difference too.  Lots of extra shingles so will save them for other applications.  The Spa changing room roof was a tough fit because it was so bowed but gluing and leaving it overnite seems to have fixed that problem.
Million little shingles....


The shōji for the kitchen - basically a sort of additional white shade - I really didn’t like.  I would have preferred a clear window and I am still undecided.  I tried to print a little design on an acetate sheet but it wasn’t for inkjet - but did end up being transferable to the white rice paper.  So, for now, I’ve added that in. 
Shoji with little plant in the kitchen window.


I found a site which sells actual books in miniature! It’s pretty cool.  Not all are small scale and the one I was interested in, The Titanic, was a larger scale (1:12) but I figure I can use it as a table book and put it in the vestibule on the desk or upstairs in one of the rooms.  I was interested since they had done this tiny edition for the 100th anniversary of the sinking.  I figured for my house, could be like the 50th year anniversary :-)
These books are amazing! They are fully printed inside and the Titanic one even has a fold out of the ship.  My work colleague bought two - one of Van Gogh and the other of Monet’s works.  They are really nice and have me thinking on purchasing more later on.  Or if they perhaps make Japanese history or art books too....will have to check.
100th Anniversary Titanic Book

Friday, March 9, 2012

Chapter 31 - Wooden Overhang to First Floor Room, Table, Vestibule Wainscotting

March 8 - 9th 2012

This was a small chapter.  The table was very straight forward and easy.  Painted it black and glossed it up to simulate a kind of lacquered look. 
Table on the left and the few pieces for this chapter.

The roof piece needed some painting and warped out a bit during that.  Some of the wood pieces are more sanded and exposed on one side than the other which causes warping as the paint dries.  Still, it’ll be somewhat internal so not so visible.

Finishing up the portico finally.  The two panels of wainscotting were easily attached and it is complete.  The actual roof portion will be attached much later when the actual first floor is attached. 


Slightly enlarged bambo pattern.

In the meantime, I did some searching and finally found my printable page.  This site has lots of useful stuff for all different scales.  I was using it for making Gianluca’s train set up and couldn’t locate it again.  I finally stumbled upon it last nite while looking for some kind of solution for the futon quilts I’m going to have to design.  Anyway, this site not only had printable quilt design (one in perfect green for the bamboo bedroom I’m going to do) but lots of really good tips.  One was for printing on transfers then ironing the transfer onto cotton then using that for simulating a quilt.  So, today I purchased some inkjet transfer paper and am going to give it a try! The quilt is half scale so I can make it a little bigger and that should do great for the futon quilt.  Now I won’t have to go on a search for actual kimono material (although I would have liked that too).

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chapter 30 - The Tokonoma of the Left hand First Floor Room

With smelly branch....
March 5 - 8th 2012

I started by whittling a small branch that I had found (recently they pruned all the trees on my street so I was able to find some good sized branches) to be used instead of the regular wooden dowel-like piece they furnished.  Smelt like crap - must be the wood type which had a nasty smell. Anyway, this will be the base for the tokonoma - basically a small dias area separated by a vertical element.


The wooden branch needed to be whittled down even further for fitting, varnished, glued and left overnite.  Which wasn’t a problem since the other sections of the dias needed glueing in a position which required it to dry in place before adding more pieces.  As usual, the tiny pieces that made up the shelving doors were a pain.  They never quite fit the insert (which was covered in beige paper) and had to be coaxed in.  In any case, the worst part was trying to fit the actual shelving into the wall section.  It was too wide.  So creative clamping again and it worked out the best it could.  Things as usual are a little off but we’ll have to correct them once I fit the ceiling piece in.
Finished Room with shelving and now not so smelly branch.


I was reading ahead a bit (I know, not a good idea) and was unpleasantly surprised to find that there is no explanation for the futon bedding for the bedroom.  Also, I noted that out of the remaining rooms, only one has been labeled as a bedroom while the other 3 are entertainment areas.  I’ve decided to go with two bedroom and two entertainment areas.  But still, now I have to make futons....whatever.  But...that means, I’m going to have to buy some kimono material!! Have to hit Ebay me thinks.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chapter 29 - The Ceiling to the Spa, The Inside Walls of the First Floor Room

March 3 - 5th 2012

The internal decorations for the room were pretty straight forward except that most needed sanding to fit.  Especially piece n.13 which was off by a good 3mm.  So I had to sand it down and then create another indent where the decorative slat would slide in.  But it seems pretty well fitted.  The final placement of the tatami was a challenge.  The pieces fit very tightly and consequently the front section (piece n. 14) had to be glued in again and clamped down for the nite.  The other problem seems to be that the fabric trimming on the tatami won’t stay down.  I tried the bi-adhesive tape, then regular glue and finally super UHU glue.  That seemed to do the trick.
Finished Spa room, with buckets and stools.
Ceiling detail.


The ceiling to the spa was pretty easy except as usual to fit everything perfectly seems to be impossible.  The ceiling detail was very nice actually but I feel it’ll be lost in the installation.  I decided to glue the small wall to the house as I can’t see taking it in and out during normal display so it’s been glued in.  I think the spa is quite successful. 

I purchased some small vases from a shop in Florence.  She doesn’t have much in the right scale but these vases were so pretty and so delicate! I just had to have them in my vestibule entrance area. 
You can see the tiny red glass vase.  So special!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Chapter 28 - Right Wall to First Floor Room, The Fusuma

March 1 -  2nd 2012

Painted the last wall to the left hand room and attached the wooden slats where necessary.  I decided to actually put the door frame together before glueing it to the existing other section of room.  It was a good idea because some of the trim was a tight fit and I had to hammer it in place.  Glued it up to the existing room piece and overnite for drying, as usual.

The next step were the Fusuma or the sliding doors to the bedroom.  They give you the possibility to paint on some plain pieces which were provided but I figured I could probably download and print off some nice Fusuma designs.  So, I’ll save that for one of the other rooms.  Right now I just felt like installing these as per their instructions. 

The door frames didn’t quite fit up with the internal section of the door but after adding the paper and painting it black, it was pretty easy to glue them in or re-glue the lower section to fit the door.  There was lots of sanding to do on the upper portion slide section as it was pretty tight getting in there but it fit eventually and everything glued into place.

Chapter 27 - Left Wall to First Floor Room, Bathroom Sink

February 28 - March 1st 2012

Making the changing room’s sink was pretty quick work.  Altho the pieces were kind of unfitted.  You can only sand so much.  The pipe under the sink was too long (the top protruded through the drain) so I had to break out my metal cutter as it turns out the pipe was actual metal.  Thank goodness for my drummel.
Sink in the changing room

The walls were the usual problem with warped edges but clamps and down time of drying overnite did the trick.  Quick work of the outside wooden embellishments and this chapter is done!