Caribbean Cottage

I found a pair of cute dolls at a craft center in the Bahamas a few years ago and thought about making them a little house. I finally got around to it and just finished and here they are celebrating in their completed home. - Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

I opted to make it a room box that I could display on a shelf. The roof is a representation of a palm thatch roof, and is made from straw whisk brooms. There's an acrylic panel that slides into the front to keep out the dust. The front panel of the roof flips up so I can slide the panel in and out.
In January my husband and I were in Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and our taxi driver remarked that she'd just returned from a trip to Canada. She said many tourists who rode in her taxi wondered why in the heck she went to Canada in the middle of winter. It was cold there with snow! So different from living in the Caribbean she'd say. This is why the little cottage has travel posters to places like New York City and Scandinavia, places the little Bahamian couple would like to visit some day.


The first thing I made for the house was a blue table. Later I decided the table I made was all wrong for the room, so I made another one, same size, slightly different design, different shade of blue.
I also changed my mind at least 3 times about the chairs. In the end I went back to my original choice, only I painted the chairs blue with spray paint.
The red side table is a first for me. It's the first time I decided to make a drawer. Usually my drawers are false fronts, but this time I didn't have a piece of wood the right thickness, so I had to make a working drawer. 


In order to make the bedspread lay more naturally I inserted some heavy duty foil into it. The foil can be molded to shape.
I started to draw out a plan for the bedside cabinet, then I began wondering if I had anything I could use in my stash of broken furniture. I had a damaged wooden Victorian bathroom set with a sink that was almost the exact size of the cabinet I had drawn out, so I heated the sink in my microwave to loosen the glue and I pulled off the backsplash and I pulled out the faucets. Then I spray painted the cabinet and made a new top to cover the sink and I cut about 1/8" off the base to make the cabinet a little shorter. Eventually I decided it had too much blue mass and needed some alterations. I painted the panels the same red as the side table. I had a piece of fabric a similar color red, with a sprigged design and thought something similar would look nice on the panels - but then I decided I hated the effect, so I painted the side panels over in black and thought the contrasting colors didn't look half bad, so I stopped fooling with it.


In the beginning I was thinking of making this a front opening house, but I changed my mind. There's no real front architectural interest in such a simple cottage, a room box would be better. I did like the idea of an open window with louvered shutters, though.
The louvered shutters on the window are made from 1/8" flat strip wood and heavy watercolor paper.



Colonial Kitchen Room Box

The colonial kitchen started with this:
The colonial fireplace by Aztec Imports. It's a nice piece, but the bricks were just too brown, so I decided to be brave and change the color. I dabbed on some raw sienna and another brown shade with a stipple brush. I forget what the other color was, I think it may have been iron oxide. Then I used a blend of off white and a creamy light brown color and applied that lightly with a smaller stipple brush, rubbing it in with my finger till I got the look I wanted.

Here's the room. The setting is North America around the time of the Revolution.


The walls are sheathed in wooden panels and whitewashed, as is the ceiling. Wooden paneling helped block out the drafts, and whitewashing made the room much brighter. Candlelight was pretty dim, and the housewife needed all the light she could get. By the way, oil lamps were often more commonly used than candles, but generally that meant a cup of oil with a wick in it, which doesn't show up all that well in a miniature setting, so I chose to use candles.
The black baseboards are another authentic touch.

The floor in front of the fireplace is brick. The bricks were made of stripwood, with beveled edges. 
There are piles of ashes in the fireplace. They look better in real life than they do in the picture. I really struggled with those ashes, too. I wound up making the piles out of Paperclay. 
Of the 2 openings on the right, the upper one is the oven. Oven doors were originally made of wood, later they were replaced by removable metal doors or by hinged metal doors.
The lower opening was used as a warming oven.


A blue bucket bench is in the foreground. People were forever dragging about buckets of water. Every time you needed water for cooking or washing you had to go out to a spring, well, creek or river to get some.
After making this bench I was chagrined to find I had 2 more that I made a couple of years ago sitting in boxes on a shelf behind some other items. Oh well.... it's ok. I wanted the furniture in this room to look fairly new, and  I'd aged the other benches. Maybe I'll list them on Ebay.


I spray painted the cupboard hutch green. The original finish was oak or pine.
I took apart an unpainted table that was a bit too long, cut it back and glued it together to make one just the right size. The towel rack is one I made. 
The slat back chairs were originally white. They used to make them in dark walnut, but now they don't, so I had to apply many layers of paint to get them the shade of brown I wanted.


I have one more picture of the fireplace that reveals the basket of firewood.





1:24 finished half timbered cottage

Deep within the forest lies a little cottage. An elderly woman dwells within. Some think she's a witch, some a healer. Some think she's just a pleasant old woman who likes the peace and beauty of the forest.
Maybe she does have magical powers? Where did the forest go?
Here's a better look at her porch.
The living room and a work room in the cellar.
I had cut up pieces of laser cut filagree medallions I found at Michael's to add carved elements to the furniture, but couldn't find a piece that had bits to adapt as carvings for the easy chair. I tried to cut some, but they'd keep splintering and breaking about halfway through. They were just too tiny and I found it so frustrating. I thought about the chair's decoration a lot and finally decided to try some leaves from an artificial plant. Yay! Once I added a few painted leaves it began to look much better. The seat cushion is made of Paperclay.

The bedding is big and bulky, just like in the olden days. They're plumped up with dryer lint.
You can't see it well in this picture, but the old lady's cloak is hanging by the door.
In this picture the items on the shelves attached to the bed can be seen.
I needed 1/2" scale candles and candleholders. I had a couple of silver Clare Bell candlesticks, so I painted one black, because I felt 2 silver candlesticks or even 2 polished pewter candlesticks wouldn't be quite correct for this house. I managed to get a little wooden sliver into one candlestick to be a candle, but the second time I tried, I couldn't get it the right size to stay in place. I decided to try a piece of stiff string for the black candle. I added some glue to the snippet of string to firm it up, then added a few more layers of glue to thicken it. Then I got the idea to make wax drips. I used Aleene's Tacky Glue, it's stiff enough to form drips that will stay. I applied each drip with the tip of a darning needle, adding bits of glue as I needed them to get the look I wanted. I'll have to try it in 1" scale and see how it works out. The glue dried white, but the 2nd day I found out that when it's completely dry it turns clear, so I had to paint over the added "wax" layers and the drips.
Here's a peek down the cellar stairs. There's a barrel of potatoes, a hank of rope, I don't know what's in the bag in the crate. Onions maybe?
We've reached the cellar workroom. This is where the old woman does things that are no one else's business, just her own. There's a good sized cauldron in the fireplace. Maybe she makes soup for gnomes and elves? Or maybe not.

Accessories for 1:24 scale can be difficult. In the hutch on the right you can see a jar full of some golden liquid. That's actually a 1" scale jam jar with the label removed. In 1:24 it looks huge. Other items on the shelves are assorted beads,  1" scale sugars and creamers, the tiniest 1" scale bowls I could find, and bits of wood and dowels I turned into boxes and big pottery jars. The trunk in the left foreground is made from a little block of wood and a piece of molding I found years ago.
This view shows the things tucked into the area by the bottom of the stairs better. I filled the wooden basket with bead "apples". I wanted a tall candleholder, but couldn't get my ideas to work out quite right. They kept turning out funky looking, so I decided to paint a funky looking candlestick black and added one of my drippy candles.
Finally here's the work table. The potion book turned out to be easier to make than I thought it would be. I painted a flat piece of cardboard with a splotchy layer of Payne's Grey acrylic paint. The pages are made of facial tissue. I cut some pieces to size, stitched them together down the center and snipped off the edges of the sheets to size. Next I gave the pages a light spray of Krylon Matte Finish. It stiffened the pages a little and puckered them slightly giving them that old parchment look. next I just glued the pages to the backing, glued the book to the table, and dabbed on some writing using Payne's Grey paint with a very fine brush. I decided to add a couple of rolled parchments. To make them I just wound the tissue paper around a thin dowel before spraying with the matte finish. I used red thread to tie them closed. The other parchment is tucked into the hutch by the fireplace.
The little red box is one of several I made from a piece of wooden molding I found at Michael's. Here's a picture showing the molding and how I cut part of it off to form an interesting box shape.

I thought the tarnished brass "jar" was an interesting looking finial that had been laying in a box in my basement for years, so I used it.  The large gold candleholder with the drippy stump of wax in the corner of the table was the bottom of a 1" scale candle I had been experimenting on. I told myself I had wasted a perfectly good candlestick and then got an idea of how to use it.

Need to make more 1/2" scale accessories

I've been trying to get the furniture finished so I could clear away all the little bits and pieces of wood and accompanying woodworking tools and stains, etc.

The chair in front of the bed isn't finished, it needs embellishment, which I'll be getting to as I work on accessories.
I'll still need to make a stool for the cellar, and might want to make another little table, shelf or cabinet, but they can wait till I get an idea of the future full effect later on.

Here are 2 views of the living room as it looks so far..


Here's the cellar.


I had almost finished gluing the work table together, needed to attach the last piece, when I noticed that end was a little crooked. I sat there for a moment, ready to attach the last tiny piece of wood to the glued areas on the legs and supports, and said to myself, the heck with it, and glued it on. I've seen several 18th and 19th cottage paintings that included a slightly off kilter kitchen work table, so I decided to feel ok about the flaw.

On to accessories!
Cottagers need baskets, bug baskets, small baskets, medium sized baskets.
I've got the big basket problem solved.

Yes, the gigantic yellow basket won't do, but the little baskets next to it make fine, big, laundry basket sized ones. I cut the upper parts of the big ones down to size, plus, I found I was able to squeeze the oval ones into round ones if I wanted to. Stain or paint was used to change the color.
Accessory-wise, I found a packet of jewelry bezel blanks that I thought would make an appropriate plate. I just snipped the little eyelet piece off.  A 1" scale bun makes a dandy loaf of round country bread.



Half inch scale hutch and work table

A few days ago I made a little work table to go under the window, and today I finally finished making the little hutch.
Click on pictures to enlarge.

Working on 1:24 furniture drives me kind of crazy. I'll cut the pieces of wood, sure they're the same size, then I find that one's a hair longer or wider than its mate and I have to sand away  and watch that I don't sand the piece that was too big into a piece that's now too small.
 I did that, so I started over cutting a new piece. Fortunately, I only had to cut out a new piece once.
The back of the work table under the window went cattywumpus (off kilter - crooked - etc.) at the final gluing, but I decided it didn't matter as it was going to sit against a wall anyway, and it wasn't worth starting over with a new one.

Inside the base of the hutch is a small wooden block on which I've glued the various wood parts. I don't make drawers and cabinet doors that open, not even in my 1" scale pieces. I don't care if drawers and doors open, I'm after a look. Another reason is that I feel the doors and drawers on dollhouse furniture are just too chunky, even in Bespaq.

Here's a better view of the hutch and work table. The hutch is 2 & 7/8" high, the table is 1 & 1/4" high.


1:24 half timbered cottage continued

I haven't posted progress photos for quite a while. Work has been progressing slowly. The exterior is pretty much finished. The pavers are all formed from Paperclay. I used an assortment of moss sheets, reindeer moss, painted sponges, and bits of dried or plastic plants for the landscaping. I had a little 1" scale daffodil style potted clay plant that I placed next to the porch, just removed the pot and "planted" it. I'll be taking some pictures of the whole exterior later.
As always, just click on the pictures to make them bigger.

On the left you can see the pony wall around the well of the cellar steps.  On the right is the cooking hearth. I won't be gluing that into place until later. I'll be needing to soot it up a little and it'll be easier to do if I can take it out.
I think the table came out nicely. No, I didn't do the carving. I found some laser cut wooden medallions in a craft store and stocked up on them, figuring I would find great uses for them. The carving on the table and the bed and shelf are all trimmed with medallion cuttings.

Have you seen those TV ads for Lazer Bond, the resin glue that hardens with UV light? I've discovered a handy use for it in miniatures. When I glued the little table together, there just wasn't enough area for a strong glue contact, and although the tabletop was glued to the carved supports, it tended to wobble a little. I dropped a tiny, tiny drop of the glue in the 4 spots where the curved top of the support met the tabletop, then cured the glue with the UV light. It worked like a charm. The tiny table is now securely put together, no wobble, and the tiny bit of clear glue is almost invisible.
I ran into a wobble problem with one of my little shelves and dabbed a tiny bit of glue there too. Remember, if you use the Lazer Bond glue on a miniature, you need to use the tiniest drop you can or it'll show up like any other glue. And don't forget, you need to be able to shine the light on it to harden it. 
In case you're not used to half inch scale miniatures, the table is 1 & 3/8" high.

I wanted a box bed with shelves on one end. It took me forever to come up with a bed design that I thought would work satisfactorily in half inch scale. I'd get an idea and would have to discard it because I couldn't find the right sized bit of embellishment I needed. I've found working in 1" scale so much easier than 1/2" scale. All too often I'd fiddle with this and that and wind up saying, "Nah, that's no good, try something else."
I did come up with some good ideas for a 1" scale box bed if I ever decide to make a room that needs one.


Well, that's it for now. I've got the idea for a simple little work table that'll go under the window by the door. I think I can make that next without too much fuss. I also want to make the old lady a chair to relax in after a long day where she can do some sewing or tatting or whatever. That will require quite a bit of fuss, I'm sure.


1/2" scale cottage gets a fireplace and stove

The 3 walls still aren't all glued together, nor are they glued to any kind of floor, but the cellar walls have been stoned, and the cellar workshop has a smoky fireplace, with an ancient style masonry kitchen stove above it for the living space. The stove hood came out nicely, the actual stove needs a little work. I cut out the semicircle underneath where the stockpile of firewood will go, but it needs to be sanded and finished off.

click on photos to enlarge them
Oh yeah, the floor between the cellar and room above hasn't been installed either.
Here's a view of the kitchen stove.



I chose to do the cellar wall stonework in egg carton, then stained the stones in various shades of gray.

The next thing I have to do is cut some posts that will go along the steps in the cellar. They'll help support the low wall that will go around the staircase. Once I'm sure I've got everything figured out correctly I'll glue the final wall to the other 2 and then glue the walls to the cellar floor. I'm leaning towards a dirt floor. Originally I planned on stones, but then I thought a dirt floor would be more correct. I still might change my mind, though. I saw a great beat up old stone floor in an old painting and wanted to try it, but I can always save it for another project.