Tools of the Trade: Working in Miniature

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I have been working exclusively on a 1:12 scale dollhouse that my dad built many years ago. After completing it, the dollhouse was initially given to my older sister (and oldest child) because she was local to my parents at the time (my theory). It sat in her basement for a number of years and literally did nothing to the house – although, to her credit, she purchased a few furniture pieces and supplies necessary to complete the house. I think it was her that laid out some bucks when it came to electric lights, something that I am not doing or using.

Anyway, I am guesstimating it sat in her basement for at least ten years. When she decided to sell her house and relocate, the dollhouse went back to my parents. At this point they were living in their retirement home, which was much smaller than the home they previously lived and raised their family.

So, eventually the dollhouse ended up with me. And once I had it, I wanted to work on it, but for such a small scale house, it was huge project. I got as far as painting the exterior, as well as replacing all the interior (homemade) doors with six panel/prehung/trimmed doors. This was the first that I realized that I would need some very specific tools (that I did not own) to make accomplish projects. The first tool I bought specifically for this was a Dremel. I have since purchased two more, one cordless and one that came with a shit-ton of accessories.

So, the purpose of this post today is to show you some of the tools that will come in handy in working in miniature. Let me preface that with statement with the fact that I didn’t see the use or need when I worked on the 1:3/1:4 scale dollhouse that I built last year, but working in such a small scale of 1:12, did I find the need for specialized tools.

First, I want to show you my work space. I have a specific room in the house for sewing and quilting and other fabric related projects. When it comes to working on the dollhouse, it went front and center in the living room. At one point, I needed to have it higher for comfort, it has since found its new home on the kitchen island!

IMG_4081Needless to say, the consensus in the house is that needs to go and as soon as possible. 🙂

So the workspace I have is on the right corner of the couch:

IMG_4095I have my computer and access to everything around me. To my left and all the way around to the right hand side of the couch…IMG_4089There isn’t a lot of planning on what goes where, it generally depends on what I am working on at the time. But you see my miniature tool box and glue and some of the bits and pieces in this photo.IMG_4090This is more required stuff. The basket is more miniature required tools (on top is my mini hack saw) and yet another organizer of ‘bits and bobs’.IMG_4091Normally this table is where the house sits. I used a couple of drawers from the basement storage unit for organization. It looks a complete disarray, but there is a method to my madness!IMG_4092This is yet another storage area. I had used it when I was just collecting pieces and it was a nice solution to keep this safe and dry. By the way, the trunk was one of about 20 or 30 trunks that I ‘upcycled’ in my early days of crafting (like thirty years ago). Most were given as gifts to friends and family, but I managed to hang onto two.IMG_4093The right side of the couch. With this much “stuff” it can be a nightmare putting my hands on the specific thing I am looking for. I organize and reorganize all of this a couple of times a week, to refresh my memory as to what I have left to install and remove what I know I know I won’t use in this particular dollhouse.IMG_4099Here are some specific tool sets that I have bought. When you’re working on this scale, it is important to ease of work to have small tools.

In the photo below is a hand drill which enable you to make very tiny holes in very tiny things. Absolutely is without a doubt one of the most useful tools that I have. It also came with another half dozen tiny drill bits.. So worth the $15 I spent on eBay (and I saw many cheaper).IMG_4098And this leads me to three of my most recent and favorite tools. You absolutely need short, well marked rules. My son found the metal ones (I had him get me three) and I love the transparent one for getting measurements within the walls of the dollhouse. And of course, it goes without saying that small scissors are a basic requirement. I have a bunch of these, but then they are the high grade scissors I use in sewing all the time.

IMG_4097This particular area on the floor in front of my couch is lovingly referred to as “my black hole”. Working with the 1:12 scale of objects for the dollhouse means little parts. And I mean little, tiny, small, almost microscopic pieces.  And it can be difficult to hang onto them while working with them. And of course, it never fails to fall and immediately sneaks under the couch.

As you may be aware, I had both knees replaced last year, and with it went the ability to kneel. I have to try and fish the object with a long rule or wood dowel that I might be working with. Usually, it requires The Kid to come down with a flashlight to retrieve it. And no sooner does he do that and head back upstairs, than another pieces drops and disappears! Gah!

Come back soon for an update on the dollhouse work! I hope that this is beneficial and as always, I love comments!

julie

Save

A Week’s Hiatus

Just a quick note to let you know that work continues on the doll house. My son and I just returned from a week’s vacation, we went out to Utah’s Arches National Park. We hiked and explored and roamed and goofed off. It was heaven!

IMG_4041We had absolutely the most perfect weather, ranging from a comfortable high 60’s and low 70’s during the day and dropped down into the 40’s at night. Just beautiful! Since we arrived on Saturday, we dealt with lots of other folks, but once Monday arrived, we darned near had the park to ourselves. I did a lot of walking and hiking, pushing myself on some trails that might have been just a tad too much. But lots of breaks and icing the knees during the evenings helped. I swear I lost 15 lbs during the trip!

I collected a lot of stones during the trip, the plan is to use them to build a fireplace in the doll house. I’ve am making real progress on the kitchen cabinets and The Kid is constructing me a aluminum range hood too!

I will let you in on a secret: working on 1:12 scale is ever so much more difficult than 1:3 or 1:4 scale (the scale for the American Girl sized dollhouse I did previously). The details are the devils, I swear!

I should have an update for the kitchen soon!

julie

 

 

 

 

Dollhouse Miniature Wood Blinds: A Tutorial

If you haven’t followed along, you should know that I have stopped all other projects to finish the dollhouse my Father built me many, many years ago.

I have worked on it periodically over the years including paint the exterior white and finishing the ceilings in all the rooms. I also did a touch of remodeling; my Dad built the house to be in the period of something like “Gone With The Wind” including ‘slave quarters’ above the kitchen and a large, unused attic. I did away with the segregated room on the second floor by adding a hallway and then a staircase to the attic, now turned into four separate rooms.

So recently, I had the dollhouse moved into the living room, front and center of the sofa and between it and the television. Well, the television is elevated, but you’d be hard pressed not to see the dollhouse with any glance.

So, for the last couple of weeks, I have been busy painting rooms, laying floors and ordering furniture. I had quite a bit of pieces that I had collected or been given over the years but it was collected without much thought as how I really wanted to finish the rooms. I had two living room suites – sofa, loveseat and char – in two different colors and finishes, both of which I have opted to not use and instead have settled on some very neat black leather pieces. They’ve not arrived yet, and I am waiting on having them in hand before I find the supporting accessories.

I’ve created a design plan for all of the rooms, all beginning with their floors. I had original written a post that I wanted to complete the house room by room, but found out early on that it was necessary to have the floors defined and installed before you can really move on to the room’s wall color and the type of furniture.

dollhouse-numbered-roomsAnd once you’ve done the floor in one room, it just makes more sense to complete all the floors and walls before moving onto any one room. I have most of the pieces in the sewing room (#1) and it was the fact that I kept having to move pieces out once they were in place that brought me to this plan.

Just tonight I have completed the last floor, save for the rooms with carpeting. Two rooms have tile, four rooms have laminate floors, two rooms have ‘to scale’ wood floors, two rooms will have “carpeting” and one is left with the original floor (the attic storage space) and the hallway has a Popsicle stick floor. I will talk more about these as I progress.

I’ve been steadily working on window treatments too. The first is the home office (room #2). I wanted to have mini-blinds but try as I may, I could not find any ready made. So, I ventured into making some.

I had these coffee stir sticks for some time and have been playing with making other things. This seemed the perfect start. I picked out some beads at Michael’s… some smaller and others a little taller. I also picked up some thick natural thread at at the same time. Here is what I started with:

IMG_3947I clipped the ends of the sticks and measured for the window size. Here is the window ion which it  will hang:IMG_3954The sticks weren’t long enough to place a single blind across them, so I had to make separate blinds. I used the hole punch – a single, tiny hold in each end.IMG_3951I threaded the jute through it, added a bead and repeated. Then completed the other side. Once done. I used a dowel and drilled holes to match the blinds, threaded it through and tied it off. I added a dot of super glue to each knot to ensure it would hold tight.

IMG_3953At this point, I realized that I made it too long! There is going to be a desk top that runs just below the windows. So I made another one, a bit shorter.IMG_3956I glued a 1/4″ square rod at the bottom, not only to hide the bottom knots but also to add some weight to hold the blind taut.IMG_3957Next, I cut two pieces of 1/8″ balsa and two 1″x 1″ pieces for a valance and glued the edges. Once dry, I laid the dowel into the valance and glued it in place.IMG_3955I also cut four short pieces of thread and glued a small bead to the ends to simulate the controls for the blinds. I simply added them into the glue.IMG_3970.JPGNow completed, I simply hung it in the window! I used simple white glue to hold it in place and once dry, it is done.IMG_3972Next up is to install the countertop for the computers! This room is nearing completion!

julie

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: