The RGT Barn Bash

Once a year Hobby Builders Supply offers a 40% off one item sale. This is usually the time I purchase a big item - like a dollhouse kit. This year was no exception!

Russ and I had a home built in a gated community back in 2007. At the time, it was everything we wanted in a home. Lots of room for friends and family to gather, everything new and in excellent condition (unlike all the fixer uppers of the past), and a view of Mt. Rainier that takes the breath right out of you.

But things have changed... Don't get me wrong! Our home is beautiful, serves most of our needs, and we are very grateful to have it. But we find, when talking about the future, that a big piece of land, far away from city life, with lots of trees and a place we can pass down through the family is what we dream of. It's gonna take several years and some serious equity in this house to make that happen, so for now, we dream in miniature!

Russ and I want to build a large barn type shop. We both love our hobbies, and need plenty of space to do them. Initially, we'd live in a small space above the shop, until we can get out treehouse built. After that, our guests always have a place to stay.

This is the dollhouse (or shall I say barn) kit I bought with the HBS sale. I plan to do quite a bit of kit bashing to make it perfect, and I imagine it will be a project measured in years to completion. But, I'm excited to get started nonetheless.

I'll update as progress is made...

Well my Dremel Moto Saw arrived shortly after my last post and I haven't looked back since!

I took a good long time to read the entire instruction manual, mostly describing horrible ways you could injure yourself, before I set it up and gave it a try. I watched a lady on YouTube install the blade - Thanks HeyMimi DIY! I took my little countertop piece and traced the pattern onto a piece of scrap wood. Then I fired it up and began to cut... It went terribly wrong!

If you begin to think you are off the line, you probably are. I stopped to ponder this a moment, but forgot to stop cutting. You can see the little "pondering bump". Cutting the corners was also a little tricky. The blade only has teeth in one direction, but you have to cut at a 90 degree angle. How you sposed to turn the thing and keep from getting a gigantic curve! I believe this will be the most troubling to master. But hey, it's me! And I shall not let this saw be the boss of me! 

After cutting, sanding, staining and then gluing the butcher block countertop onto the original counter pattern, I had to try my luck again. This time, the saw god (my husband) had tried the thing out and given me some very good advice. Turn up the RPM's and chip little pieces out of the corners, he said. Go slow and if you don't like where it's going, stop and regroup, he said. He's so damn good at being handy, and his advice was perfect! My cut wasn't quite perfect, but it was close enough to sand pretty good.

Spackle, sand, paint and drill I can do, so the rest of the countertop went pretty fast.

Now I have to make a decision about under the sink. Cupboard doors, or curtain. Hmmm... I wish there was more of you reading this so you all could vote!

The sink drain is just a plastic wall anchor painted black. The faucet, door handles (Tim Holtz scrapbooking brads) and hinges (came with the kit as door handles, but not as dramatic as the brads, I think) got a coat of black spray paint and then Rustoleum metallic bronze over the top.

I thinl I'll attach the drawers and outer doors and then decide on the sink cabinet. The answer usually comes exactly on time...

I spent a good deal of last evening and today trying to make the furniture kits I have become what I need for the space in the barn house - It's what we like to call kit bashing.

I thought I was being so smart by scanning the pattern sheets into the computer, then printing them off so that I could cut them and affix them to my gluing jig. It was all going so well, except when I scanned and cut the upper cabinet pattern and held them up to the frames i'd already made, and was baffled when the cut pattern was smaller than my frames! Argh! I retraced my steps, and figured out that my scanner and printer settings were set to Fit To Page, Then it dawned on me why the lower cabinet was such a struggle. Okay, a cup of coffee and a little regrouping later, I decided I'd just have to punt.

By eliminating the space between the first upper cabinet and sink, and using what was supposed to be the over the oven cabinet for above the sink instead, the overhead cabinets fit perfectly above the base unit.

I added some additional trim pieces to give it some symmetry, and it turnes out I can live with the result.

I bought a few old House Of Miniatures kits so that I could turn the pieces into vanities for the bath and powder rooms. Because the MBS sink I had was a little wider than the sink base, I again had to punt, I made patterns of the top and drawer front pieces and then went to work with pencil, scroll saw and sandpaper until I could dry fit everything together. It was a lot of work, but I managed to come up with something I can live with.

Not bad for a days work, and I can take some of these "learning moments" with me to the next vanity, hutch cabinet, and sink and stove kit. Wish me luck!

Since I had 2 bathrooms to get ready for the barn I thought I'd go ahead and get the second vanity started today.

Again, I started with an old House of Miniatures kit and modify for my needs.

Cut hole for sink.

First flat black them metallic glaze for the countertops and fixtures.

Black base and drawer pulls installed.

Accessories waiting to dry.

Everything needs to dry overnight and I definitely need some sleep, so final assembly will happen tomorrow! Good night everyone!

I spent the better part of the day going through loads of scrapbooking supplies that I haven't touched in years. I decided I needed the space, and somebody out in the world might just need what I don't want at a bargain price. In case you're in need here's My eBay Page.

After all that business, I completed the final details on the second vanity kit bash. I just can't to see it in the barn someday!

I admit that I was a little intimidated about starting the stove/oven part of the Realife Miniatures kit. I really took my time and tried to think like a chess player. I sure hope I thought in terms of the proper order of things so that I don't literally paint myself into a corner!

The frame is in place, the inside painted dark grey, doors are prepped for paint and the burners (snap parts and washers) are in process. Hopefully, tomorrow I'll be able to put the finishing touches together. 

After the stove is finished, the even more intimidating fridge kit will be next! I can totally love and hate a challenge all at the same time!

I put the finishing touches on the little stove last night! This was after several coats of black spray paint for the accessories and several white coats for the stove itself.

I really struggled to find little parts and pieces around here to make more realistic burners, knobs and digital panel. The ones that came with the kit were VERY '70's. Like clock dial and everything. I wanted something a little more 3D as opposed to some shiny stickers. I think I'll hold onto them for a future "retro" project...

I often take apart old cordless phones and any other neglected or broken electronic gadgets to harvest realistic looking mini "parts". I kind of struck out with that, but when I looked through my grandma's old sewing machine table drawers (all her wonderful sewing tools and gadgets are still in them) I found lock washers for snaps and snap heads. Those (plus washers from the hubbs) became the burners.

I have several picture hanging kits with all kinds of great parts when you look with your "mini eyes". The burner knobs are nails with fancy heads cut down to just allow them to pierce the wood on the stove panel.

The backsplash part of the stove was really whimpy since it was only about 1/16 thick. I beefed that up with a piece of beveled scrap wood and added a printie control panel I found Googling.

The instructions called for both the oven door and drawer to hinge open. That is silly! Everybody knows that the bottom door is a drawer! So I made a drawer and painted it black.

One thing I have to say about this kit is that you have to constantly measure, pre-fit parts and do a lot of punting. I don't know - maybe it's just me, but the instructions are lacking. For example, in the shelf and lower cabinet instructions when they tell you to punch out a part number, if there is more than one with the same number they tell you in parentheses. By the time you get to the stove you are baffled why there are 2 of each of 45 and 46. You never use them, and there's just no explanation. So, I have extra parts and that scares me!

When I went to fit the oven door after inserting the drawer, it didn't still fit! What the heck! It was all fine when I dry fit it all! Okay, punt again. Cut a bit off the bottom of the door, make hinge holes, insert pins. And now the oven door only opens half way. When I put so much extra effort into something and it does not work perfectly I get very disappointed. So, all I can do at this point is figure out what went wrong and learn from it. Sa la vie...

After experiencing all of the "opportunities" with this Realife Miniatures kitchen kit, I was pretty intimidated to start on the fridge. Well, so far, so good...

One of the things I learned is that you need to read all of the instructions all the way through before you begin the assembly. Punch out, sand and dry fit all of the pieces ahead of time so that you know what pitfalls to avoid ahead of time.

I am going to keep my eyes on eBay for another one of these kits, as now that I have done one almost all of the way through, I have some neat kit bash ideas for a future project!

The fridge was actually pretty easy to assemble, with the exception of the door "seals". You were supposed to bend a very flexible piece of aluminum rod around the 3/32" door frame. Yeah, right! Mine ended up looking like a piece of scrap metal, and there would have been no way I could have glued it onto the door frame without it looking like something you'd see in the yard at Sanford & Sons. If you're under 40 you probable have no idea what Sanford & Son is. Google it...

So again I punt - my fridge will not have a visible seal. Also, if I understand the instructions correctly, you are supposed to glue the tiny aluminum tube to the doors, bend another thin piece of metal at a sharp 45 degree angle, push one end into the wood and the other into the tube. And this is supposed to hold the door straight and make it functional to open and close? Again, yeah right! I am going with good old fashioned mini hinges.

After copious amounts of spackle and sanding, I was finally ready to spray paint the pieces.

Meanwhile, the little fabric I ordered for the undersink arrived. I worked on that while the paint dried.

Just a couple tiny cup hooks, a scrap piece of wood, and a small wooden dowel. 

My grandma was an amazing seamstress, but I don't think she'd mind that I just used Stitch Witchery and an iron on the little curtain.

Some mistakes turn out good. My Notes From The Universe says there are no mistakes. That really makes me feel better when I accidentally make the cabinet frames too small for the cupboard doors and end up having to make a curtain instead. Especially when it turns out so darn adorably!

I'll have to let the fridge sit overnight for the paint to dry before I attach the hinges. Once I do that, this kit will be officially finished, and I have to say I've actually enjoyed it quite a bit!

Oh, and did I mention... My son feels so bad about not giving me grandkids yet that he got me a grandpuppy! Welcome to the family tiny Rusty! I get to doggysit quite regularly, so I see lots of belly laughs and joy in my future!

You know all of those free ink pens that you collect then leave in various places around your house? Well, when you work with miniatures, they are a veritable goldmine! The cone shaped ends can become recessed or spot lighting. The shafts and mechanisms work great for pipes and fittings. And, the piece that holds the pen on your paper or in your pocket become excellent appliance handles! 

I scavenged around my house today and found 6 or 7 useful (and free) pens with many, many useful parts! I even found the perfect retro looking fridge handle! 

The hinges required a lot of patience and a little silver paint, but worked out perfectly. If I'd had just one more for the freezer I'd have been happier, but it all worked out okay in the end. I need to order more hinges, so maybe my kids will give good gift certificates to me for Mother's Day...

The interior has had a couple coats of spray paint (really hard to get it sprayed in there) but needed a hand painting. It's already taken several coats and still needs more. I got board and moved on lol!

So the Realife Miniatures kit is officially completed. I'm working on a little hutch kit next, then Russ and I really need to get the barn kit laid out. I'm anxious to get started on that!

I don't have much to report about the last couple days. Sometimes you have to clean the house and do laundry, and mini projects just get put on hold...

I am working on the last of the kits I had lying around, and also started working on updating a really old piece of furniture.

I sanded off most of the old finish (my nice vacuumed carpeting didn't last long). I sure hope there was no lead or asbestos in the old stain! If i keel over tonight, at least you'll know why.

Anyway - can you guess what this will transform into for the barn?

Stay tuned!

When last I posted I was working on repurposing an older dollhouse dresser that I picked up in a big cheap lot of furniture on eBay. I sanded the old varnish down, then used a watered down country blue paint to age and restain the piece.

I then added a butcher block top to match the farmhouse sink counter unit. The piece will now become the center island, the drawers being the home for such things as silverware, foil & wrap, towels etc... All so cute, farmhousy, and wonderful... Except, where will little Russ & Jodi sit???

        Little Helper

Have you seen the stools available out there for 1:12th scale dollhouses? Well, there are a bunch that look like milking stools for about $8. There are very retro looking metal soda shop ones for about $10. There are ones like grandma used to have, the seat folded up and it became a stepstool (my Grandma's was yellow) for $22. Then there are very detailed and expensive ones starting at about $30 and going up from there. This is EACH, and I need 2!

This is where necessity is the mother of getting real creative, and at the same time a little more environmentally conscience.

I have a nice stockpile of "someday this will come in handy" type items around my house. When I need to get creative, I must look like a mad genius! I run around the house opening drawers to grab and go through the contents. I take what might work and carry my plunder to the next honey hole. Eventually, usually, something will spark an idea and I'm off like a rocket!

I found this stool on the interwebs after doing a search on "farmhouse stools". Looks pretty straight forward, I think I can make this work!

So, I rounded up some chop sticks from the misc. take-out drawer, along with some cocktail toothpicks (liberated from the whirly things on the tops) and a couple sticks of the leftover wood from the kitchen kit.

I measured my real life stools, looked up the measurements of other miniature stools, then settled on what size would look right for the counter island. I then taped together, measured and cut the materials: 2 long legs each for the back, 2 short legs for the front, seat bottoms, spindles and back supports.

I predrilled holes in the legs for the spindles, then assembled/glued both of each of the side structures

Once the sides were finished it was just a matter of fitting and gluing the seats, the front and back spindles and the seat support pieces.

I had a little trouble because I kind of cut on the fly. As I'd glue the spindles in, some would seat further in the holes, causing the seat spacing to be too large or too small. It took some patience and persistence, but in the end I won! Next time I'll pre cut all of the pieces to the proper length ahead of time, wait longer for glue to dry, and not be babysitting the puppy!

After a little wood filler and some sanding, we'll see how the stools look all painted up. If they're not up to par, I'll just have to make them over again. Good thing I still have plenty of chop sticks!

It's been a busy and productive couple of days! I'm moving swiftly forward on getting all the little details finished on the Barn's kitchen!

I found some farmhouse colors on Pinterest that I liked, so I made and printed some color chips. I have limited acrylic colors, so I knew I'd have to mix what I have to match the color chips as closely as possible. I do have gesso and about 36 artist chalk colors at my disposal, so I knew I could make milk paint if I needed to. It turns out I was able to use the paints I had, mixed with a little white to bring them to more of a pastel. I already had cherry red and ivory, so the paint party was on!

These pieces are bisque miniatures made to order by an artisan named Tim in Colorado. They are definitely the way to go - you can personalize them in a million ways, and you'll never find pre-finished miniatures so inexpensively!

After several coats (especially red) they were ready for a little spray glaze. It's stinky, but really gives the bisque a nice luster!

The little chopstick/cocktail toothpick bar stools came out really cute with some of the kitchen colors added.

Meanwhile, while I waited for paint and glaze to dry, I decided to give a plate rack a try. I found this tutorial on Googling. It was enough "how to" to be able to adapt the idea to my above sink cabinet.

Take scrap wood for trim, balsa for a frame, some wire, glue, and paint. Add to that a little imagination and a willingness to maybe fail, and voila! That is all it took!

I'll post a finished picture once I have the above sink unit loaded.

I have some little plastic Chrysnbon items to add to the kitchen. Tonight I'll finish spray-painting the primary coats, then finish off the details tomorrow. I'm thinking I might paint a couple little things into le creuset lookalikes with two tone colors.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to look at progress on Russ & Jodi's Retirement Barn!

One of the pieces in the Realife Miniatures kitchen kit was a spice shelf. In fact, it was the first piece in the kit that I made. I figured; start small and work up to the more complicated things. It was pretty simple and it is pretty cute. So, what to put on the shelves. Hmmm...

Why not some spice cans? I cut several 3/8" x 1/2" pieces, scored "lids" into them, then painted them.

I found some really cute and free chalk type labels online here. You download them, and then you can customize them to get exactly what you need.

After some trial and error (image resolution very poor) I ended up using my own font in Publisher, saving them as a high resolution photo, then shrinking them down to size. Round 2 went much better, and I even learned a little about vector images (they use math instead of pixels to preserve the image quality even when you increase or decrease the size). Good to know!

I made some printies for the things I know I'll need soon. The spray sealer will have to dry for 24 hours before I can cut them out and affix them to everything.

Meanwhile, the silverware fits perfectly into the center island drawer.

The plastic pieces I painted and aged to look like old enamelware turned out good.

The bisque items turned out great!

The "le creuset" cookware is awesome!

And these pieces will also soon be adorned with printies! Can't wait for the next step!

Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow moms! Remember, even if you haven't given birth, the minute you put your own needs aside to be there for anyone else, you're officially a mom in my book!

The past several weeks have been full of activity and life has been in full swing! The crazy period of my job won't start again until the fall. The Graduation for my nephew, the memorial for my husband's beloved uncle, and wonderful reconnecting with family time was just what my soul needed! After 3 states and 10 days of travel, it's good to be home and to be starting to enjoy the Lazy Days of Summer!

Before taking the hiatus from my mini world, I'd been thinking I'd like to learn to solder. I have some little rooster plates for the barn kitchen, and I thought it would be great to make a plate rack to display them on. I ordered the supplies from Amazon and there they sat on my work table just waiting to be utilized.

I have a couple real life plate racks in my dining room, so I took measurements from them and attempted to recreate them in miniature.

I have some 1" and 3/4" plates to practice with. For the 1" plates I'll attempt a 2 plate rack, and for the 3/4" plates I'll attempt one with 3.

I've watched plenty of YouTube videos and read a bunch of articles so I think I understand the science of soldering. Now, I just have to come up with my own technique. The copper wire I'm using is soft and pliable, so I am able to twist and bend it. Once I get the soldering technique figured out, I'll be able to get really creative!

You really need 3 or 4 hands: one to hold the soldering iron, one to feed the rosin flux into the metal seams, 1 to hold piece A, and 1 to hold piece B. I have a handy "third hand" sort of thing, but I needed something to hold piece B while I soldered them together. My wonderful husband came up with another alligator clip and that's where I am now.

I'll update the post if/when I get somewhere with it. Wish me luck!


Got the copper racks all soldered. Went pretty easy except for holding the pieces in place while soldering. The alligator clip was a little rough on the copper due to it's teeth, and because of the length it was hard to clip the pieces together and still have room to work. I've found some solutions on Amazon, such as cross locking tweezers and locking forceps. They were only around $4.00 with prime shipping, so I'll probably get them.

I sprayed the racks in flat black and they came out pretty good. Definitely not perfect, but I'll just call them "whimsical". I fell asleep last night redesigning them in my head. They say dreaming is the best way to come up with solutions to your problems, so we'll see how the next batch turns out.

I had some miniature laser cut paper doilies so I decided to add a little texture to the plates rather than just painting them. I painted the doilies a shade or two lighter so the detail would show better. I coated them afterwords with Mod Podge spray gloss.

The finished racks are pretty cute, and I think I'll make several more until I feel confident in making the special one for the barn kitchen's rooster plates. Maybe I can sell the practice ones on eBay. I can always use more "mini money"!

At last check-in, I was making an attempt at miniature copper wire soldering. Well, I kind of threw myself in full tilt and made 9 different pieces! It was so much fun, I think I may just keep making them!

I've listed all 9 on ebay, and we'll just have to wait and see if anyone else out there in the mini world is as excited. I changed my ebay identity to tiny-little-smithy. If this works out, maybe I can earn a little "mini money" for future projects!

Here are photos of the 9 pieces, then below is a link to my items on ebay. Feel free to buy anything you like! ;0)

Wish me luck!

I wanted to start in small steps on the RGT barn (aka our retirement home) so I spent the past few months working on some of the interior elements. The kitchen kit was from an old Realife Miniatures kit I found on ebay.

The bathroom vanities were from old House of Miniatures kits from ebay, as well. I had an idea in my head about the size of the loft and just happily put stuff together. Well, the dry fit opened my eyes to the fact that I may have over estimated the amount of space, both floor space and ceiling height. No big deal. It's still the First Quarter. I just have to punt... Get the barn shell ready to go and modify or remake what I have to to make it work.

I decided the best way to move forward was to cut the openings for the dormers, garage doors, and front door. A couple months back I had ordered a specially made front piece from RGT without the barn door opening. I realized yesterday they had sent me a solid front wall (and a very warped one at that), but one for the smaller barn kit. So yes, it's about 2 or so inches short.

You know that feeling you have when you're looking for an important email, one that will prove that the mistake was theirs so they'll make it right and send out the correct piece post haste? But then you realize you've made an ass of yourself and deleted all correspondence? Yeah... Throw the flag, Punt again...

Okay, so not all is lost. There's still hope for a win! t least the short piece is the same thickness and has the exact same milled siding. So I just have to use it to fill in the original front wall with the barn door opening. Thank God my husband is willing and eager to help! He's much better with the real life sized tools than I am! 

So, the plan is to fill in the piece, glue it, spackle it, let it dry. Then I can trace the garage door and front door patterns onto to it and use my trusty  (miniature friendly) scroll saw to cut them out. Once that is done, I am free to begin the assembly, gluing, nailing, priming and running the wiring. Score! 

Finally! I have a direction and am ready to run with the ball! Even if the game plan is changing a bit. That's okay tho... us miniaturists have a lot of tricks in our play book!

Apologies for all the football references. Just getting excited for the season to start! Go Hawks!

Thanks to my awesome man, I now have all the openings (except for the dormers - story later) cut out for the barn!

It took me all afternoon, several "do-overs" and a good bit of my pencil eraser, but I finally got the openings laid out. I'm blaming the full moon for why I traced everything on the wrong side and had to do it over. It was beautiful, tho, and the night was one of those magic warm summer nights I look forward to all winter!

The dormers were a bit of a challenge. They are made for a regular pitched roof. The barn roof, well, it's a barn roof and not nearly as pitched as a normal house. This meant some adjustments. The hubs said we needed to figure out the angle. I asked him how to do that, and he pulls out this funny looking dial tool and says with this. He's a genius, and apparently our barn roof is a 22 degree angle.

The next challenge was how to cut a 22' angle using a giant miter saw on a triangular shaped dormer. The first attempt did not go as we'd planned, and did not achieve the results we were looking for. Luckily, the dormer ended up mostly in tact, Russ still has all his fingers, and I can camouflage the cosmetic and structural damage.

Next, we put our brains together and came up with a jig using styrofoam pieces I had tucked away. The next 2 dormers turned out great! I retraced their outlined onto the roof piece and we will cut them out tomorrow.

I am super excited to finally be beginning the barn structure, and so grateful that my husband is smart, supportive and owns lots of tools!

More exciting stories to tell tomorrow! Night everyone!

Now that all of the openings have been cut I can finally start gluing the structure together! The bottom and the top are designed so that you can take the top off to play with the horses, if that's what you have the barn for. In our case, I need to join the top and bottom so that I can run the electrical tapewire. In this photo, you can see the bottom floor glued, taped and weighted together.

The roof pieces have an interesting barn shape. I took the end pieces and traced them onto some 1/4" plywood (minus the groove) before I glued them to the roof floor. This way, I have a pattern for the interior walls that I need to cut. In this photo I have the two interior walls cut and then used them to make a cardboard pattern for the future wall coverings.

In this photo I have placed the interior walls into their approximate location. I think the adjusted floor plan from left to right will be living room, bathroom then bedroom. My original plan was to also have the kitchen up here, but now I think it will have to go downstairs.

In this photo I have cut out the door openings. I'm seriously considering gluing down the woof floors before the interior walls are installed. It might be sooo much simpler. 

Later, I was able to get a couple coats of primer on the first floor and the main structure of the second floor. I drew all the lines for the shingles on the exterior of the roof pieces, and will hopefully get them primed tomorrow.

Our experiment using the miter saw to cut the unique roof angle on the dormers didn't go as smoothly as we'd have liked. Remember in my previous post the styrofoam jig we made for piece # 2&3? Well piece #1 slipped while Russ was cutting, leaving it a little "different" than 2&3. That left us an opportunity to make lemonade. The whole front roof piece looks a little Frankenstein-ish, but with a little love and a lot of trim I think we can make it look passable.

I think the next step after I primer the roof pieces will be to begin the tapewire process. Russ suggested I leave both floors as separate until absolutely necessary so that it is easier to work on both floors. He also suggested I make it so that the second floor just plugs into the main floor. I think he's on to something! Unless I decide to run power to the 2 interior walls for the upper floor, I can basically attach the small roof sections, run the tapewire, install all the plugs for the ceiling fixtures, install the wood floor, and leave the partition walls and front roof piece for last. That way, I can paint or paper them before installation and that is so much easier!

This is where things start to get both exciting and frustrating! You see your vision coming to life, and you have all sorts of little issues to work out. It makes the achievement so much sweeter, tho, because you have to get creative!

Here are a couple of inspiration photos for those of you who have a hard time visualizing what I have in mind for the end result. Hopefully, it I'll be able to incorporate some of these ideas, even tho the space I thought I was working with has been dramatically reduced.

Wish me luck!

 Since my last post I glued down the flooring. Wallpaper Mucilage does not work at all like Grandmother Stover's glue. There were spots that didn't adhere, and you can kind of feel some bumpiness when you run your hand across it. I put weights on the problem areas overnight. It feels like it's adhered pretty well, so I'll leave it and we'll call it "Barn Wood". I'll be staining it along with the doors and windows pretty soon here.

The wallpaper I have for the bathroom is the kind that is self pasted. The glue is  supposed to activate after sitting for 5 minutes. Mine didn't. I ended up using watered down Grandmother Stover's and that worked really well. At first it wanted to bead up, but I let it sit for several minutes, then sponge brushed it out again and it spread just fine. I'm so glad I made the pattern for the wallpaper when I cut the walls - It worked great!

I have a little tub & shower kit from MBS. They are the ones that make all the clear plastic tile, sinks, toilets etc. The idea is, you paint the underside and the top side ends up looking like porcelain.

These are actually the shower fixtures. Right now, stuck into styrofoam for painting, it kind of looks like a lava rock! Once they are dry I have to drill holes for them and attach them to the tile shower surround.

The bathroom is only going to be as wide as the shower, so I needed to paint the kit and do a dry fit. Working around the dormer window in the bathroom was a real puzzle. I think it's going to look better in there if I just cover the dormer window with wallpaper and tile and pretend it is not there. From the front side of the barn, when I install the window I will just affix a curtain to it.

I'll have to make a shower curtain and rod, and attach the molding for the front of the tub. I also have to make the sconces, paint the towel bar and TP holder etc. I can't wait to get to the decorating part!

I've run most of the tapewire for the loft. I have 4 plugs hidden under the roof pieces that can't easily be seen. These are what I'll use to plug in the lighting fixtures - I still have to make all of them!

The bedroom is going to have a plug on either side of the bed so that lamps can plug into them. I have put marks on the front wall where I need more plugs installed. I still have to figure out the wall covering in the bedroom and kitchen before the front wall can be attached. Then I'll have to tie in the bedroom plugs to the main taperun. There's also going to be a light outside the french doors, so I need to drill a hole for the wires and install another plug in for that.

This is the kitchen space. I haven't cut the stairwell hole out of the wood floor yet. I am worried that the floor will become unadhered. Yikes!

I'll need to paper the three walls and the ceiling in here, too.

I have lots to do and feel very scattered! I guess I need a dry erase board like Russ has in the garage! I used to be so organized! Oh well, old age, I guess!

In between dealing with all of the technical issues this week, I managed to finish up a fun little project!

This is the tub/shower that will go into the retirement barn. I like rustic living, but there's no harm in having a few modern conveniences, too!

This unit measures just 5-3/8" wide x 6-1/2" tall.

The MBS kit was fun, although since I needed to make it a freestanding unit I had to get a little creative. The kit comes with adhesive sheets. You're supposed to stick them to each of the three tile wall panels, then affix them to the dollhouse walls. Since I have no walls ready yet, I had to use clear packaging tape to make all the walls into one unit.

Gluing the tub to the walls was challenging. I made a couple of stacked wood braces for the underside ends of the tub so I'd have a better gluing surface. I did one end at a time and made sure the epoxy was fully set before I moved on.

The shower faucet, tub spigot and mixing valve were included in the kit but were an ugly grey color. I coated them with flat black enamel and then gave them an aged bronze finish coat. It did not come with the drain unit or the soap dish. I made the drain from a jewelry finding.

The shower curtain is made from an old placemat. I've had it for years, and it had a couple of mustard stains on it! The pattern and weave were right, though, so it took one for the team. It was two pieces with batting in the middle, so I used a seam ripper to separate the pieces, then in true OCD mode, pulled all the batting from the fabric.

I was able to find an area without stains for the shower curtain. I cut the piece I needed, then ironed the seams flat. I used fabric glue to affix the seams. I ironed pleats evenly in the fabric, made a small hole with the seam ripper, then inserted a jump ring into the center of each flat area between the pleats. This is so the shower curtain can slide across the shower curtain rod.

The shower curtain rod is a piece of 1/8" dowel cut to size. The parts that hold the curtain rod ends to the tile are just bead caps. I sanded them down then painted them the same as the shower hardware.

It was nice to have a little reprieve from the electronic issues, and now I can move on to the wall treatments in the bedroom and kitchen!

Today was all about wall coverings...

I started with the bedroom walls by applying a couple coats of honeycomb paint. The wood strips I'm using as the wall treatment are very thin and they tend to curl when I apply the glue. Some glues are worse than others, so I used Grandmother Stover's. I'd apply a few strips and then clamp them for a while before doing the next section.

I could only do half of the french door wall, because I can't cover the tapewire until I attach the front wall/roof and tie into the taperun. I did cut the pieces, tho, so it will be a lot easier when it's time to paste and clamp them in.

I like the contrast in the wood strips. It gives it a nice reclaimed wood look. I'm not sure yet if I'll do any staining, or just a varnish. One of my wall plugs is crooked. Good thing there will be a nightstand in front of it!

You can never have enough clamps!

This is the bedroom side of the wall. The bathroom is on the other side.

The kitchen wallpaper has also been installed on all three walls.

The next step will be to stain all of the windows, doors and trim. It will be a lot easier to trim out the dormers before I attach it to the front. This means I have a major clean up and reorganization project before I can start the stain. My dining room is a mess, and I'll need my entire table to turn into a stain factory.

I love when I get to this part of a mini project because you can actually see it taking shape. This week I got to add a lot of little details, so I can actually start to see where the design is going to lead me.

In this photo the doors have been stained, varnished and had the little door hardware added. It was after this step that I glazed the tiny brass nail heads with a aged bronze to match the handles.

In this photo I've added coat hooks to the doors and window pulls to the dormer windows.

It's time to get the windows installed, so that means cutting interior trim and making the little curtains. I thought a little gingham would be apropos. 

For the bathroom window, since it will be blocked by the shower stall on the inside, I've made a non opening curtain. Just a bit of pleating will help the illusion from the outside.

 This is the outside of the window prior to adding the curtain. Since I'm installing it now, I'll have to be careful later on when I paint.

The interior window trim has been glued into place. Now I have to camouflage the terrible dormer openings as best I can with trim.

Here is the entire front wall/ roof piece complete with curtains. It is now ready to be installed onto the barn loft.

Here is a close-up of the bedroom dormer on the left. I still have to decide if I am going to stain or just varnish the wood strips. The right side is going to be the kitchen window dormer. The kitchen is going to have to be a complete custom job because the space is so small and awkward.

Here are the room divider walls complete with wall coverings, doors and trim installed. As soon as I install the front wall/roof piece, these can go in. It's so exciting!

Now that the front wall/roof piece has been installed, it's time to tale care of a little housekeeping. The mini kind, of course...

The barn kit came with 6 pre-cut window openings, you know, so the horses had places to look outside. I enlarged 2 of them; one for the french door in the bedroom that will eventually lead to the deck, and one for the slider door leading to outside Russ' shop. That leaves one in his shop and two where the staircase will go. I'll decide when I get to that point what to do with them. The final one is upstairs, where the staircase and kitchen meet.

I decided to just trim it out on the inside and outside and make a plastic window for it. I like the way it turned out. The inside having one style and the outside with opposite trim.

The next step was to connect the loft and the main floor electrical to make sure I had good connections from start to end of the tapewire runs. On the main floor, I installed a plug just above the floor, and on the loft under the staircase landing, I installed wires with a plug end. I also installed eyelets toward the top of the wall which the loft plug could also connect to. This way I have options when it comes to finishing and hiding the wiring.

After plugging the leadwire into the transformer, turning the power on, and poking the probe into several spots I had only one issue with a tapewire connection. Luckily, all I had to do was to replace the tiny brass brads with eyelets. This made a stronger connection, and then I had power all the way to the end of the run. Phew!

Next, I had to decide on a treatment for the ceiling. I settled on more thin wood veneer strips so that it would end up looking like an authentic barn roof. After the walls are installed I'll add some old looking beams to complete the look. In this photo the loft is upside down with boards and weights added to prevent the veneer from curling.

After the ceiling strips had dried, it was time to stain the wood floor. I just used a Minwax light oak color. It really only needed one coat and came out very evenly. After I had let it dry for several hours, I came back and applied varnish to the ceiling, bedroom wood walls, and floor.

It's finally time to install the interior divider walls. I needed to to give everything a dry fit so I can address any issues at this point.

Before the bathroom walls go in, it's a great time to add the towel racks, mirror, TP holder etc. It's much easier now with the help of gravity to glue on a flat surface and not try to reach into a 5 inch space.

The towel bars were a little too narrow to hold the fluffy towels I have, so I've added a couple beads to extend it. I also wanted to glaze the mirror frame to match the other bathroom fixtures. The glaze takes a while to really dry and lose it's tackiness, so I'll probably start making the bedside lamps in the meantime.

Things should start to get pretty interesting now that finishing touches can be added. Check back soon for more updates!

It seems like this barn project has been full of difficult challenges to overcome ever since I opened the box. I'm not usually put off by them, and usually I look at them as an opportunity to learn something. I do have a whiny threshold, though, and today I think I crossed over it.

I may have mentioned before that the barn is not the usual 1:12th scale. I knew that would mean doing a lot of modifications, but I welcomed the challenge, and a chance to learn to use new tools. I've managed to conquer many of them, but it seems with every new stage of progress comes a new problem to solve.

Point of fact; most dollhouse ceiling heights are between 9 and 10 inches. Therefore, dollhouse stairs are made for that height and angle. The height from my first floor to the loft is 14 inches. Okay, so you just add more stairs, right? Well that only works if you have enough floor space to accommodate that many stairs, and I do not.

So after I put myself on time out, I awoke from my tantrum nap thinking of two possible solutions. 1. Cut the first floor walls down to 10 inches. The problem with that is I have already installed the tapewire and outlets - all along the top of the walls. I would have to run new tapewire and install another dozen or so outlets. That idea very quickly lost steam.

Okay, option number 2. Turn the barn entry into a split level sort of deal. You come in to the door on a landing, then you can either go up or down. This splits up the stairs and I still have a little room for a sofa. This means I create the landing, cut the stairs for the lower level, move the front door opening up, move the front window opening up, fill in and patch the old openings, and create a deck with stairs outside to get up to the front door. Why this option you ask? Because I am a glutton for victorious moments, and this one should be monumental!

Here is the mock up of the split level entry. The silver lining is that I got to use my rip saw and discovered it is fun and cuts exactly how I want it to!

Okay, now on to the fun part of the day! I knew I wanted to make lamps for the bedside tables, and when I came across little unfinished sasquatch figures an Amazon, the idea was solidified!

They came with a little base for the squatch to sit on, so now all I needed was a way to hide the lamp wires. I just happen to have some cakepop sticks that are perfect. The base had enough room for me to drill a hole into for the stick.

I cut the stick into 2 pieces, each about 2-1/4. I then crumpled up a piece of lunch bag and decoupaged it onto the stick. A couple coats of various brown and they look just like a Douglas Fir trunk.

I always seem to have extra electrical plugs with wire, and various lights I pick up when I see cheap auctions on ebay.

I painted the sasquatches in several different tones of brown, going lighter where you'd expect less hair cover such as the face, palms and bottoms of their feet. I gave them amber colored brown eyes.

I painted the lamp shades a forest green color, so that the effect would look like sasquatch was passing under a tree. After a couple coats of paint, I sealed everything with matte sealer.

Assembling the lamps was pretty easy. I am impatient so when I have to take things in steps and wait for glue to dry, I get myself into trouble imagining the next project and doing research on the web to source supplies.

The wire provided on the little bulb looked sufficiently long enough, so I just had to put plugs in the ends.

Here is one of the lamps getting its test fire. We have liftoff!

Here are the lamps plugged in where they'll eventually live in the bedroom. I think I'll make some sort of burl and twig night tables to match the log bed.

I'm so happy that there are little victories sprinkled throughout the projects. That's what makes my heart sing and what keeps me imagining more!

When I thought back to all of the mini projects I've ever done, even the ones prior to my nine year hiatus, I was surprised to realize that I had never done stairs! No wonder this has been such a challenge, especially when you consider the complicated configuration necessary for the barn!

There are a lot of steps to making stairs, so if you decide to take them on, patience is a requirement.

First, if you need to make alterations, you have to get that all figured out (see previous post) prior to starting. Then you have to sand every stair, every tread, every spindle, every post and every handrail. Then you have to stain the parts getting stain and paint the parts getting painted. Remember, you are working with very thin wood, so you have to do both sides at once to avoid warping.

Thanks to many mini blogs out there, I knew to stick the spindles into styrofoam upside down to spray paint them. Then when I installed them, I just had to touch up the ends going into the railing.

If I was doing a fancy house (yes, please! Someday), I would have sanded everything again after the first coat, painted/stained again, sanded again with 1500 grit, then applied three coats of varnish, also sanding between those coats. But this is a barn house. See the attraction now? A light sanding and a coat of satin varnish was all I needed to do!

Next came gluing the treads to the stair assembly. I toiled. If I used contact cement, I'd have to align them perfectly because you only get one shot. Once it touches the surface of anything, it's stuck. I was not too confident in my placement precision, so I went with the old stand by. I used very little and thinly spread out tacky glue and hoped they would not warp. That worked out really well. 

If anyone out there has a great thin wood non warping glue solution, I'll trade you a plate rack for the info!

Each of the treads have a pre-drilled hole for the spindle to sit in. Once you get a couple coats of spray paint on them, you have to really wedge them in. I was concerned I'd break them, but these little guys are tough! After I'd got all the treads and spindles attached to the lower stairs, it was time to add wood flooring and wallpaper to the landing. Once that was dry (I cleaned my dining/living rooms while I waited for everything to dry) I could attach the lower stairs to the landing. I kept the wide stair landing tread as the top piece because I liked the way it looked, and also because it gave me more surface area to glue to the landing. I used a heavy lead weight on top of the tread while this dried.

Once the landing/stair assembly was ready, I needed to dry fit it into place so I could measure the upper stair case. In the meantime I had installed, stained and varnished the wood floor in the living room. The fit was perfect; snug bet not too tight!

Where the wallpaper ends on the walls, I'll be adding (hopefully today) wood strip wainscoting. I have a bunch of those craft tongue depressors, so I'll cut off the curved ends and then cut them in half. Then stain and varnish, of course, and hope they don't warp... 

You probably noticed that I had cut the hole where the front door needed to be raised, and added another square window opening. I tried the plunge router attachment on the dremel with an all purpose bit, but that was a disaster. I could not stay on my line to save my life, and the wood was getting so hot it was smoking! Apparently, that was not the right tool for the job. I didn't want to pull the hubs away from his project (repairing chain in transaxel and installing a new drive line in the Jeep) so I got out my little miter box saw, then my coping saw. That was also futile. Good thing I was practicing on scrap wood, right!

Again, Russ saves the day with his trusty jig saw. That thing scares me, and every time I have tried to use it on small projects I end up not being able to turn a tight angle and messing up my work. I am going to look at Micro-Mark at some point for a smaller reciprocating saw option.
Again, I'll trade minis for knowledge if you can enlighten me!
The new door hole is cut, the new window hole is cut, and I used my trusty rip saw to cut the piece to fill in the old lower door hole. I even matched the clapboard perfectly!

Here's the new look to the front of the barn. Imagine a deck with stairs to get up to the door.

The upper stairs needed a little modification now that the landing was all complete. I ended up having to cut only one stair from the bottom. It was not a straight cut, though. It had to continue the angle of the stairs to tie in to the landing. For this, I used my scroll saw. I had to hold the stairs at the correct angle and slide it through the saw blade. Oh man! The blade wanted to bind up on me a couple of times, and I had to come at the cut from both sides of the stairs in preservation of my fingers, but I got the job done! Just a little sanding afterwards, and the stairs fit really well.

I attached the spindles on the upper stairs and made sure they fit through the hole in the ceiling. I added the railing pieces to the landing between the staircases, and I think it passes the miniature building code requirements for safety. I finished the weekend off by gluing the upper stairs to the landing and to the side wall. I am going to wait to install the handrail until I finish all of the trim in the room. This way, I have more hand room to work.

For my first set of stairs, this has been a gigantic learning curve for me. But, that's how we get better, and by the time I do my next project with stairs, I'll go in with more knowledge and confidence! I think the room is going to turn out great!

The next little segment to complete on the barn was to finish off the entrance/stairway/living room area. My goal is to complete all of the "hardscape" tasks so that I can get to the most exciting part - the decorating!

I took several of my tongue depressor type craft sticks and taped them together at the ends and in the middle. Then I used my saw to cut off the curved ends, and then cut them in half.

I stained them all and let them dry for several hours. Then I cut pieces of cardstock to the length and height of the walls they were going on. I then glued the strips to the cardstock and sandwiched them between two boards. I clamped and weighted them until the glue was dry. This was a much more efficient method than gluing them piece by piece and trying to keep them from warping.

I glued in the baseboard molding, then glued the cardstock strips just above them. I then added the trim board above that. I clamped again and let them dry several hours.

While the glue was drying, I set to work trimming out the rest of the room with baseboard, window trim, door trim, and even decided to make a doggie door for Georgia, my beloved beagle who likes to constantly go in and out between naps.

After everything was installed and dry I placed a bit of wood filler into gaps in the trim. When I do my final touch up in the room before the furnishings go in I'll touch up the stain and add more detailed finishing. I'll also address the access deck to the front door and add the adorable factor to that area, as well.

I'm glad to have this part of the work finished up, but am really needing a creative project in the meantime to keep my excitement going. I think the next project will be turning an old ebay bed into a log bed for little Russ and I to dream in. Check back soon for details!

Like I mentioned in my earlier post, I really needed a creative project to keep me excited about finishing the barn. Sometimes, I lose interest in stuff pretty easily, and then it sits there collecting dust until I find some new inspiration. All these functionality issues I've dealt with on the barn lately had me yearning to get to the fun stuff...

Several months back I had purchased a lot of 7 old dollhouse furniture pieces on ebay that I knew could turn into treasures with a little creativity and some love. They were so cheap (under $2.00) I really could not pass them up!

I knew this sad little bed could be the inspiration for several pieces. I'm going to use the frame to make a log bed for the barn, and later I will use the head and foot boards to upholster for a fancy bed.

These "wood" pencils are available on Amazon in several different lengths in a pack of 10 or 12 for about $4.00. I've had the grapevine wreath stashed away for some time, and the sticks are huckleberry branches brought home from a hiking trip a couple of years ago. With my mini eye, I see awesome country type furniture!

First I had to carefully deconstruct the old bed so as to keep the reusable pieces in tact. Then I sanded with 80 grit sandpaper to remove the nuclear varnish that Chinese manufactured minis are famous for. WARNING: As you sand the varnish off, your nose gets full of crud and your throat feels a little sore. Use a mask if you have one. I got a little rough and needed to re-glue a support to the rail.

I decided it would be better to attach the main logs onto the frame with screws in order to have a more stable bed to start off with. I pre-drilled holes into both the braces and the logs to make getting the screws in easy. Since the logs were actually pencils, I had to trim several of them down to length.

Four main logs, and four screws later we had the base. Now comes was the fun part - getting creative with the style. I had a dollar store Fairy Chair that I could borrow bent wood pieces from. You'd never know it from looking at them, but they are actually held in place with staples. This means removing them, re-positioning the pieces you want to keep, then reinserting the staples where necessary.

Of course with all things mini, you have to patiently do things in steps as glue dries. I am not good at sitting idle, so I decided now would be a great time to make the little end tables for the bedside sasquatch lamps. I collected a giant walking stick on last summer's Redwoods vacation, so I was able to cut several 1/4" tops on my rip saw until I found ones I liked the wood pattern on. The bases are from another wood stick treasure I got on our Gifford Pinchot vacation in 2012. A little gue, stain and varnish and ta-da!

I also sanded, assembled, stained, varnished and installed the hardware on the House Of Miniatures dresser kit during "drying time". Other than pictures and a rug, I think the little bedroom is about complete.

Here was the reward for a good creative day's work! I won't show the bed with the bedding on yet until I get the entire bedroom decorated and ready for unveiling. 

Have a great weekend everyone! Get creative with something! The worst thing that can happen is that you make something horrid and then get to laugh at yourself! It's all good, either way!

More coming soon!

To move forward with the barn, I started making the little trunk kit from Cat's Paw that was supposed to live at the end of the log bed. Nothing was working out right - the directions were confusing, the "handcut" pieces weren't fitting together at all and then I got frustrated. The kit made great tinder for a mini bonfire in the backyard, though. Just kidding. But I did feel better just thinking about doing it though...

Since then I've been busy doing lots of little details, but nothing much that is making an impact worth writing about - yet. I've installed trim and baseboards, touched up trim paint, added ceiling paper to the bottom of the loft (which will be the ceiling to the living room and shop area) and painted it with the ivory trim color.

A couple more exciting events have started though. I've attached the upper kitchen cabinet to the lower counter using some cool Tim Holtz brackets. I have finally figured out the configuration of the kitchen, and the great news is that so far I've been able to use all of the things I've already made! The photo above is a sneak peek at the cabinet unit. I'll get more photos posted once the kitchen is complete.

I made the hanging pendant lights for the bathroom. They are necklace tube findings I found on Amazon a while back, and were so cheap compared to ready made dollhouse lights! Especially with free shipping! They were easy to make, and I love how they look!

I also installed the staircase pendant light and the kitchen lights. You'll just have to wait to see them after I have some real impactful progress to report.

Thanks for checking in on the project! I know very few read my blog, so I appreciate you all the more!

As I'm sure I've mentioned in my past posts, Russ and I are passionate about our hobbies. It's great because I love the Jeep and our exploration trips into forests near and far. In this way, I can be really supportive of his projects and encourage him to get creative with his welding and many other talents.

In return, I think I must have the most supportive husband a miniature enthusiast could ever dream of. He absolutely thinks I am the most talented and creative person ever made, and he doesn't mind the countless hours we sit together while I work on minis and he catches up on Raiders news. Also, every time I have a quandary, he's right there to help me find a solution - often with his skill and tools!

Part of what makes me so excited about the barn project is his excitement about designing and outfitting our shop space together! I can't wait to see how tickled he is with every new mini tool replica we create! He even picked up a 1:10 scale Jeep that he's going to bash and toughen up!

And finally, it is time to start the shop part of the project!

Today, I painted and textured the shop floor to simulate concrete. I love the way it turned out. I applied 3 coats of ivory paint to the walls, just as a background for whatever wall treatment we settle on.

Then it was time to install the garage doors. The rollers in the tracks actually took up about 1/4" more space than the measurements and dry fit implied. Again, the rip saw saved me. I just took off about 1/8" from each center track, and patiently fit and glued everything in.

It's really starting to take on it's personality, and I'm loving the creative turns The Universe keeps gifting us with!

Tomorrow's goal: Making light fixtures for the garage. I'll dream about them tonight and hopefully, some universal muse will hear my call and give me some creative ideas and a little guidance.

Night all!

I'll apologize in advance because today's post is most likely going to come out sounding defeated and whiny...

At the end of my last post I said it was time to make lighting fixtures and therefore, I was hoping to dream up some great ideas. Well I did have some great ideas. Some of them turned out great, and some were total failures...

I gathered things I'd been collecting like leftover dollhouse windows and real life spare lamp parts, beads and mini lamp kits. Here's what I came up with:

The window frames will become florescent garage lights, the lamp parts hanging shop lights and the spare light covers hanging fixtures. The lamp is obvious, lol!

The garage lights turned out great! I just added wood to the frames to make them deeper, cut plastic lenses from some packaging and sprayed opaque white on them, cut out back covers, added the strip LED lights and wired in the plugs.

The lamp part lights and fixture lights went very badly. I spray painted them and had them looking good, but the bulb and socket lights I used just kept shorting out on the metal parts on the lamps. I was able to pull them apart, retest the bulbs and sockets to make sure they worked, and salvage them for a future project. Next time I'll wrap them in electrical tape so there is no wire contact with the metal. I decided I really didn't need them anyway.

The real problems came after the light making trouble. I decided it was time to attach the loft to the base. This whole barn thing has been one problem after the other since the day I cracked open the box. The loft floor was warped, and the front piece I special ordered arrived too short. See previous posts for details.

Anyway, I could never get the warp out of the floor, even gluing, wedging and vice gripping it overnight. This caused the patrician walls to not seat properly, and now that I've attached the top to bottom there were significant gaps where the front loft met the front walls.

Aesthetically, I can add plenty of interior and exterior trim to hide the flaw. Functionally, in order to ensure the structure stability, I ran some nails wherever possible. Unfortunately and par for the course of this project, I managed to short out the wiring upstairs. Insert swear words here...

Tear out wallpaper section (second time), find where the power is interrupted, reattach new tapewire and reconnect. Still, no power upstairs. 

This is the point last night where I gave up in defeat and went to bed. I could not fall asleep thinking about it. I woke up at 3 am thinking about it, then again at 6am.

After repeating all steps and eliminating all other possibilities the decision is made to run a new section of tapewire up from the good connection point along the back of the left roof trim strip and tie directly into tape run in loft ceiling. Deep breath, we can do this. It's  not in the plans and delays everything else I wanted to accomplish but okay. I give in, lets do this.

Then I hold the roof partition piece in place and discover that with its angle, the top of the upstairs stairway looks ridiculously tight.

Then these words ring in my head: Proper Planning and Practice Prevents Piss Poor Performance. 

It is at this point that I decide I am taking a break from the barn project. I need to step back, because up until now I have met every problem as an opportunity and stayed positive but this one is just too much. I need to refocus and recenter my mini chi.

One week from today Russ, myself and the two doggies are getting in the Jeep and getting lost in the forest for 17 blissful days! When I get back I'm sure I'll be completely centered and ready to address the barn project opportunities again.

And as always apropos, my Note from The Universe today said:

From here, of course, all earthly problems appear small - really small. That's because we know they're fleeting, they prepare you for the "best of your life," and you chose them, not wanting to obtain their rewards in any other way. 

But from where you are, of course, they can look gigantic. That's because they're often seen as permanent, limiting, and imposed upon you by chance, fate, or circumstance. 

Jodi, get real. See them from our perspective. 

To the best of your life starting right now, 
    The Universe

Since I'm just jumping back in to my mini world after a three week hiatus, I reasoned that I'd better sit for a bit, and reason everything through before starting. I walked through all of the steps in my head, then did what is always necessary for me in order to remember everything; I made a list!

First, I got the roof trim piece primed and painted. I explained in my Piss Poor Planning post that I'd need to hide the repair wiring behind it in order to tie the working lower level tape run into the non working strip which powers all of the loft lights.

While the roof pieces were drying (I figured why not do the right side too while I had the paint out), I made a pattern for the replacement wallpaper section in the living room. I used printer paper and blue tape to make the pattern. I will eventually need to install it, after the wiring is repaired. I kind of got a little OCD with peeling the old wallpaper off, and made a giant mess of the old paper fiber. Other than a sore finger from rubbing the paper fiber off of the wall, it went very well.

My tape run connections are completely hilarious! I literally fell out of my chair laughing when I looked at this photo! It is obvious that I attempted to connect everything using several different methods, and each one several times. 

The wires that are coming out from the wall were going to be a final Hail Mary before I came up with the roof piece idea. Now I'm just afraid to touch them! Not sure what will become of them, yet!

The funniest part is that when I get it all camouflaged up with paint and wallpaper, you'll never be able to tell. Hopefully. :0) 

The loft repair looks just as hideous! The good news is that the new connections work and that I have power through the entire tape run in the loft.

I was about to celebrate, and then two of the lights flickered off...

Deep breath... Calmly and logically figure out the problems and possible solutions. I refuse to get mad or give up, as this is just another opportunity to learn and become better. Right?

Here is where I digress for a moment. I believe we'll call this a teaching moment...

Dollhouse kits made with MDF are wonderful. They are sturdy, they go together nicely, and the surface for painting and wallpapering is ideal. However, if you are planning to use a tape wire system for lighting, it can be a bear!

MDF is extremely hard. I have broken two piercing bits trying to install brads and eyelets (the brass pieces that are used to attach tape runs together and insert lighting fixtures to). I have used the #55 bit to pre-drill the holes in the tape wire/mdf for plugs and eyelets. I have also used the brad tapping tool, all with little success.

The issue is that by the time you drill deep enough to seat the plugs, the drill bit has stripped away most of the copper, and what's left behind is not enough to get a good connection. Also, getting the plugs to seat flush to the mdf is very difficult. The little brad hammer is not aggressive enough to pound into the wood, and a bigger hammer destroys the fragile plastic and brass plugs. Trust me, I've tried everything.

What I'm finding that does work is to directly connect the fixture wires into the tape run using brads. First, I peel away a little of the plastic that covers the tape wire, wrap the fixture wires around the brads, pound them into the tape wire, then cover with electrical tape to secure.

I had originally installed several plugs and counted on just plugging in the fixtures. Now I am direct wiring in any of the fixtures that the plugs didn't work seamlessly for.

As with all mini projects, and this one in particular, you often have to adjust your plans. Usually, you learn something new, and it forces you to take a moment to reevaluate.

In my case, I get so excited about the next step and getting to the decorating part, that I tend to go too quickly. I may not take enough time to make whatever it is that I'm working on perfect. Later, I regret it and wish I had just slowed down.

I am grateful that I had this "problem" with the wiring because it forced be to replace a piece of wallpaper that was damaged in the installation, and to paint some of the wires coming from lighting fixtures to black. In the long run, I think it will look much better!

Here is a photo of my work area. Notice that the barn is upside down. I'm glad it will sit on the table like this! It makes redoing the wiring so much easier!

Soon after getting back from our two week camping adventure, I learned that the belated surprise 70th birthday party for my aunt Jackie (organized and funded by my aunt Terry) would be held at my house. On September 19th. That's two weeks from today. I have a lot of work ahead of me... A LOT!

Russ was also feeling very ambitious, so he agreed to help my brother Mike (Bulldog Construction), along with my son, Ande, do a roof replacement on the house of an old high school friend. This means it's just me & the puppies for the long Labor Day weekend.

I decided it would be a great idea to put the gardening and housework off until Tuesday. Three days of minis it is!

In celebration of the working loft lights, I decided to get the Sasquatch lamps out of their safely stored zip top bag and plug them in. After all of the issues I've had on this barn project, you'd think I would have expected something to go wrong. I kind of did, but ever the eternal optimist, I hoped... No. Such. Luck.

The plug on the left side of the room is having the same seating issue as so many of the other 11 plugs - by the time you drill deeply enough into the MDF, too much of the copper strip has been eaten by the drill to make good contact with the plug.

Unfortunately, it just so happens that the plug showed no sign of an issue before I installed the wood strips over the tape runs. Now the strip is covered, with the exception of the actual plug space. My only option is to try to carefully remove some of the plastic covering from the tape run under the plug. Then attempt to re-seat the plug and hope the new contact is sufficient and stable.

If this does not fix the issue, I may have to tear out some of the wood strips and try in a new area that hasn't already been excavated.

Oh Boy! Wish me luck. I'll update this post with photos and hopefully, good news later...


After peeling some of the plastic away and testing, there was still not enough contact with the copper/plug prongs. I was having compounded issues because:

  • My dedicated mini glasses lost a nose piece pad and they hurt me too badly to wear them.
  • My regular everyday glasses have wide earpieces. They do not fit well into my head strap, which I need to wear so that when I attach my 4x magnifier clip on lenses, the glasses are not pulled off of my face from the weight.
  • I could not see well enough with just my glasses on. I tried the clip on, but the wall is set too far back in the loft so the clip on just made it worse.
  • I turned on the flashlight feature in my iPhone, but having it and my hands in the tiny space only caused the work area to be in shadow.
  • The room is really not wide enough to comfortably and effectively work on something so delicate and small.
  • The barn is sitting on a table. The loft is naturally the second floor. That makes the room about 5'3" and I am only 5'5". I could not sit to perform the task. Between twisting my body to fit my hands into the space and attempting to reach the back, I experienced back spasms. I could only work for a minute or so at a time before I had to stop long enough for the spasm to subside. No progress can be made in that amount of time.
  • I think I may have mooned my neighbor, as too late, I realized that in my acrobatic attempt, butt to the window, the nightie I am still wearing had ridden up exposing places that no neighbor should see. Not if you still expect to exchange pleasantries with them at the mail boxes.
At this point I just had to laugh. Once again, the barn had me by the short hairs.

Good thing I am very stubborn.

Rather than ripping out the wood strip (which I couldn't really reach very well anyway), I had an idea. What about adding some copper wire to make the brass post on the plug thicker, and therefore make better contact with the copper strip? I started stripping wire and winding it around the post. I quickly realized that today is not a good day to buy a lottery ticket, and that this idea was a bust.

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, I hear the long lost voice of my mini muse. "How about encasing the posts in an eyelet?"


And then there was light! A real steady Freddy kind of light! And then I got excited and got all of the bedroom stuff out so that I could take a few moments and play! Oh how I love this part!

Here is the bedroom, lamps in and working! Lots of details to make and add, but man I am so relieved to have conquered the lighting issues!

Bathroom lights are hardwired in and working wonderfully!

Kitchen and stairwell lights are working! The necklace findings I found on Amazon have worked out beautifully for making pendant lights!

Garage shop lights turned out and are working great!

Entry, stairway and living room lights - check!

All lights now working, new wallpaper section is in - just have to cut out the window then reattach the window trim.

Grateful, grateful, grateful!

Now what's next...

I'll tell ya, a few weeks back, when all I was encountering with the barn was one difficult problem to solve after another, I was worried that my enthusiasm for this project would wane, and I'd lose interest completely. I have been known to do this kind of thing in the past. Luckily, as soon as I started to pull out some of the things I'd already made, and also the materials to make the other things I'd envisioned for the barn, my excitement came back!

Here, I have permanently installed the sink unit, stool and rug.

One of the projects I'd planned to make for the barn kitchen was a no sew apron. I found a life sized pattern on a Google search, imported it into Publisher, re sized the pattern to 1/12th scale, then layered a fabric pattern (also found Googling) underneath. I have been holding onto a package of ink jet fabric sheets for a few months, and finally I had a reason to try them!

Here is the finished apron. You can see in the pattern photo that I printed extra material to make the pocket, and a matching color for the ties and neck strap. In Publisher, you can sample a color from any pattern so that it matches perfectly for the ties. I brushed fabric glue onto the material, then folded in half lengthwise, then attached to the main apron body. For the pocket, I just glued a seam all of the way around, then attached to the apron. I brushed a bit of the fabric glue all around the edges of the apron to prevent fraying.

Here is the apron hanging on the hook in the kitchen. I just want to shrink myself  down to five inches so I can wear it and cook in this little kitchen!

The fridge and cabinets are fully stocked with everything a little person could ever need in a kitchen!

I didn't want to waste the fabric paper, so I decided to make art prints for the bedroom at the same time. I found several different species of fir trees on the web, then gave them background color and frames also in Publisher. I just measured the outside and inside frame dimensions, then used this conversion chart to convert from fraction to decimal. I entered the decimal numbers into the frame properties in Publisher.

Printing on the fabric paper really gave the tree prints a nice finish - very similar to canvas. This technique is going to be awesome for other artwork in future projects!

I cut out card stock to mount the fabric paper prints onto. This made it so that it was very easy to then mount them to the frames.

I got the frames from when my generous daughter gave me a gift certificate for Mother's Day. I thought giving them a coat of metallic glaze would work nicely to match the other metal finishes in the barn. I like the way they turned out.

Here they are mounted in the bedroom. That bed is looking awfully comfy about now, and I'd like to get in it and take a nap!

The dresser is ready for little clothing. Maybe I'll make some little socks!

I'm not quite sure what I'll start on next. Probably the living room sofa and chair. I'll be using the method from One Inch Minis along with a couple House of Miniatures kits.

But first, that nap is sounding really good, and I know this guy is ready to snuggle!

I am just shocked at how quickly the month of September has gone by! So many things have taken my attention, but finally, two days of working in the creative process and I am happy again!

I have the entry way, living room, garage, roofing and exterior still left to do on the barn project. I had been feeling a little uninspired lately, and because I didn't have a burning idea where to go next, I kind of stalled out.

So Tuesday, I just had that itch to get creating again! Oh how I love that feeling! I decided the next logical place to continue was the living room, and I should start by making the sofa.

I had purchased a House of Miniatures sofa kit from eBay last spring, and thought I might just bash it a bit. Since this is my first sofa kit, and my first sofa EVER, I decided to just stick to the script and follow the kit instructions. I definitely had to use my own material, though. That blue stuff that comes in the kit is hideous! Even for the 70's when the kit was made, it is hideous!

I have a chair kit, too, but the space in the living room is only going to fit the sofa and a couple small tables.

I purchased the fabric on eBay. It was only a couple of dollars and the pattern was small enough for 1/12th scale. Also, it is very barn-y. I tried to keep the pattern straight, sort of. It worked out better than I planned for, since I know only that I know nothing about a fabric bias etc...

The instructions were easy enough to follow, but when I have a hiatus from crafts for any length of time I get nervous. I checked and double checked all of the pieces. I carefully thought about the reverse pattern and which side was outside. I marked the patterns and in the end, glued the fabric to the wrong side of the arm pieces. Luckily, since the left and right sides were mirror images of each other, I was able to swap them.

Thank goodness for gluing jigs!

With the pieces of the sofa finished, now it was time to make throw pillows! I purchased this little Singer Stitch Sew Quick on Amazon for around $10.00. I thought it would be perfect for little mini projects, and not take up as much space as my grandma's full sized sewing machine that's up in our attic.

I honestly tried to learn how to use it for 2 hours! I watched YouTube videos! I really, really tried. It is worth about what I paid for it, if only for the extra bobbins, thread, and the reminder that you get what you pay for. I'll soon be dusting off grandma's machine. Then, I'll be calling to her somewhere in her eternal paradise to please, please come help me figure it all out again. It's been a long, long time since I made Ande his Super Ande cape. He's 26 now. He was 3 then.

These little sofa pillows are going to have to be hand sewn.

I actually enjoyed the hand sewing part. I had forgotten I used to spend hours cross stitching in my early married days. Before we had TV and it was a 45 minute drive to "town". There were only five, so no big deal.

As the piping was drying on the pillows, I started to assemble then stain the sofa base. I was almost not going to use it, opting instead for legs of some creative sort for a barn. I found, though, that with the red gingham fabric, I actually liked the old fashioned look of them.

I am very happy with the finished result. You can hardly see the blood stain. Another lesson; Don't clean glue off of you new and razor sharp fabric scissors with your thumb. Blessing #1 - it's not white silk. Blessing #2 - If anyone ever needs my DNA...

The rest of the day was spent on finishing the little side table, making books and magazines, and gathering up the other little decor details I'll need to make. I'll post photos of the finished room when it all comes together. Now I just hope I find the window trim pieces I misplaced!

Last night when I was thanking my grandma for her help with the pillows (some very weird synchronicities happened throughout the day), I also asked if she could help lead me to my missing window trim pieces for the living room window. This morning, I suddenly knew exactly where they were. I went right there, and voila! Understand, I looked everywhere for them. Thanks grandma!

With pep in my step, I set about happily making little details for the living room. Did I mention how much I love and am addicted to the feeling that comes over me when creating? Minis or anything else my mad mind comes up with? Madness in the name of my blog is completely apropos.

I save the leaves and flowers and branches from silk and plastic flowers I use in other projects. Lots of times they can be used to make 1/12th scale plants. In my pretend mini world, they are legitimate species. :o) One time, when I was working on CannaBliss, I ordered way too many little bags of the rubberized brown mulch from HBS. This works perfectly to camouflage the stems and glue in the container. I just squeeze some Tacky Glue into the pot, trim leave stems, arrange  the stems to look "natural", then sprinkle the mulch on top. After it dries, I shake the excess off back into the bag. I still have one full and one partial bag left. It goes a long way!

This is the lamp shade from the little bead lamp I made in July. I decided to cover the shade in the same toile fabric I used on the sofa pillows.I didn't have a pattern, so I had to make one by tracing the lamp shade onto card stock. I made a couple of these before, but with full sized lamp shades. The mini lamp was definitely harder to roll while holding onto the pencil, but I made the pattern close enough to work. It's times like these that I really wish I had taken drafting classes and had fancy drafting tools. In my house, we really try to make due with what we have.

I needed a little lamp table for the lamp to sit on. I wasn't sure what I'd make it out of, so I did what I always do when I need inspiration: I went through drawers and boxes until something sparked an idea. I had a couple of these unfinished trays and some legs. I knew I'd use them "someday". Today was the day!

Here is the finished table with the lamp. I added a book, a jar of fresh picked flowers (not), and a plant basket. Looks like I need to tie up that lamp wire a little better! Also, maybe it is time to mop the floor...

Here is the other little table, all dressed up with tchotchkes. I have two shelves full of real sized tchotchkes. None of them are really useful, but I do like to look at them a lot!

Here is the table in its new home. The room is still far from complete. I have pictures in frames to make, the coat rack, a shelf filled with junk curtains, and I think it still might need a rug and an ottoman. 

Those projects will have to wait a few days. It looks like I'll be car shopping with Ande! The Jeep he's been driving since he was 17 is no longer fit for daily driving. This time, he's looking for fuel economy rather than lift height and tire size. He's really all grown up now! :0)

After reading and lurking for months on several different blogs, I finally subscribed to several and summoned up the courage to reach out and introduce myself on The Greenleaf Miniature Community forums. I shared the story of my miniature journey and received many warm and friendly welcomes! Incredibly, one of my favorite and repeat customers, from back in the online miniatures store days (2002-2003), is one of the community admins! It was so wonderful to reconnect with Tracy! It is so wonderful to connect with kindred spirits and see where imagination has taken them! Really incredible work to see there!

Speaking of new friends, I often check in on what's for sale on eBay. Now, usually, this can get me into trouble. It leads to chronically persistent ideas for incredible new miniature projects. That leads to starting a new category in My Collections. That leads to "oh crap this auction is about to end! This item is so unique and I really need to bid!". That leads to starting to collect items from other places for future projects (trust me, I have everything I need for the next two ideas already). That leads to boxes coming in the mail, which leads to my husband shaking his head, which leads to me feeling really guilty about all of the cardboard I recycle (god please let it be true that it really does get recycled into new boxes so people just like me can not feel so bad getting boxes delivered because they really are just recycled from ones we've already gotten stuff in). You see, there's always trouble when I 'check in' on places...

But this time, I swear it was different! I saw this poor woman, and just couldn't leave her in that situation! The humanity! Sometimes you just have to be the one to save somebody! If you can, you must! And I had to.

I'm not going to make formal introductions until my new "rescue" arrives (and until after I've explained the whole thing to my husband), but I am sure you will all agree. It had to be done. There was no choice in the matter. Hopefully, she'll arrive safe and sound sometime in the coming week.

Meanwhile, I perused so that I could catch up on the many wonderful miniature blogs out there, I came across Kris Compas' tutorial from July on How To Make A Mini Ottoman From Faux Vinyl. What luck! It just so happens the little barn living room needs an ottoman! Hers tells you how to make faux vinyl by painting silk with acrylic paint! And it's pulled right out of the pages of an old catalog. It's really cool!

It didn't occur to me to start to chronicle the project from the beginning, and most of you will probably be inspired to go to Kris' site and make your own anyway. Even for those of you who aren't into minis, the idea can be adapted to make an adorable pin cushion or something. Think holiday gift giving...

My space is not Mod, but more traditional/contemporary so I opted to make a rectangle version. It's got to be easier than the round one, because mine won't have any sewing (yes, even a simple running stitch counts as sewing in my book), I'll use the same fabric from making the sofa  and I won't have to make cording.

Here are a couple photos I finally remembered to take during the construction. It's just foam core, card stock, mat board, batting, fabric and glue. The only tools really needed are an Xacto knife and some scissors.

And here is the final product:

What a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon, after such a lovely morning making new friends.

And my list items are being struck through one after another!

It is such a great feeling when you get on a creative roll! Motivation rages as you see the fruition of ideas coming to life, and more and more inspiration begins teaming through your mind! This feeling is why we spend countless hours, and why so many miniaturists become hopelessly addicted.

Today, there was no Seahawks game to watch (they are on Monday Night Football this week), so I delved into the barn's To Do List. Next item: Wall sculpture.

This is the empty living room wall that I needed to fill up. I do like the modern and minimal look in miniatures, but my current home, and what I imagine our retirement barn will be like, is much different. Maybe it is because I need to get rid of some stuff, or maybe I am just very sentimental (hoarder). Either way, I like my home to have elements that make you feel as though you've just received a big, warm hug. As soon as you walk through the doorway.

It is pretty difficult to reach into the back of the space, and my eyesight isn't as good as it used to be. They are no good for measuring at a distance, so I made a template of the wall. It's very, hmmm... Rustic! That's it! But it will do...

These are the items I've been collecting to use as wall decor in the barn. I didn't really have a solid plan as to what would go where. There are some plastic frames from HBS as well as some unfinished metal frames that I purchased from Minis And More on eBay. A couple of the metal frames are from Russ' aunt Lu. She gets free stuff at the casino and likes to give it to us. Love you aunt Lu!

I measured and drew ley lines on the template (my version - remind me to pick up some drafting paper) so that I could lay out and trace around the final design. This way, after I got everything painted and assembled, I'd remember where everything was supposed to go. 

Here is the layout that I finally settled on. 

I have a mixture of all kinds of metals in the barn, because that's what I have in my 1:1 scale home. I'm kind of disorganized eclectic in the way I accumulate things to decorate with.

 I decided to paint the frames in flat black, then spray a light coat of aged bronze over the top. Here they are before spraying them.

I wanted to print photos of Russ and I on our forest adventures together, because wherever we are together, that is home. I resized and cropped them to the frame sizes in Publisher. Then I printed them in black and white on glossy photo paper. Here are the photos with the finished frames.

After I cut them out with my Xacto knife, I glued them into the frames. Then I drilled a pilot hole for the coat hooks and affixed them to a piece of trim board. I made the plate rack and plates in July when I delved into learning how to solder. I'd love someday to get involved in a mini swap and make them for my new kindred friends.

Now it was time to transfer everything to the actual wall. That's the hard part! I concluded after much thought that the chances for success would be greatly improved with the assistance and employment of gravity (although it's not doing my boobs any favors). I carefully removed any items that were not glued down so that I could put it on it's side on the floor. That way, I'd be gluing on a flat surface, and would maybe have a better chance of getting everything even and straight.

That reminds me. I've been really curious... How many of you permanently attach everything in your projects? I usually do, but I am not the proud owner of any expensive art pieces from artisans at this point. Pros? Cons?

I just have a few more details to add on the entry/living room before I can move on. The next project will be the garage, and I'm really looking forward to getting my grease on!

Many of you may already know this because I am usually the last to know or find out. Could it be that I am fiercely independent and don't usually resort to asking for help first? Likely, but I just found an inexpensive and convenient way to order paint online. Free delivery, no traffic, no parking lots and no crowds? Sign me up!

I went to the Home Depot web site to start narrowing down the color choices for the exterior of the barn. I went to the Paint category, then the Interior paint section. I was delighted with what I found!

 It the search results window, there were several drop down menus to narrow the search. I chose the Blue paint color category, then selected Free Shipping To Home under the How To Get It menu, then typed in $0 to $5 in the Price Range menu, and then sorted by Price Low To High in the Sort By menu.

This brought up all of the paints in the blue color family, that offer free to home shipping and that offer the 8oz sample paint for $1.94. Now all there was to do was choose a color!

I went with a flat, matte BEHR sample called Waterscape. I got 4- 8oz samples for $8.37 including tax. The quart prices start at $12.98, so I saved $4.61! If you can wait 8 days (mine says it will arrive 10/13), this might also be a good solution for you.

I hope this information will make someone's day like finding it made mine!

It's the little details that make me want to become 5-1/2 inches tall and live in my little projects. Pillows, plants, books, sculpture, photos all draw me in and make me want to stay awhile...

Today, I managed to carve out a little time from the busy day to add a few final touches to the barn's living room. Namely, rugs and curtains.

I think I posted before about the printable fabric I purchased from Amazon a while back. Avery makes one, too, but this one came with 10 sheets instead of 5, and was a little less pricey. Currently, it is just over $9, and if you have Amazon Prime there is free 2 day shipping. So far, I really like it!

I had read a thread somewhere that it was nice for making mini rugs. I thought I'd give it a try, and I am very pleased with the results! I was able to fit one 8"x5" and four 2"x3" rugs on one sheet. I set the coloration on my Cannon printer to a 10% increase in the saturation, and I really like how well the color and the detail shows through.

Here is the smaller door mat sized rug. I read also that someone makes velour printer paper. The original link to the site showed that the web site was no longer in existence. I did a Google search, and found a web site 'Across The Pond', but nothing closer to home. Amazon did have an Epson paper that says it is velvet artists paper, but I am not too sure that is what I am looking for. $21 is a little more risk than I am willing to take on a project.

I was avoiding the curtains for a while in hopes that I would come up with something brilliant for the awkward living room window. No cleaver ideas whatsoever have come to me, so I am just going with the same style and material that I employed for the loft windows.

I needed a rod (prestained dowel - check), and rod holders. In the loft windows they are set far back so the rod is just glued to the frames. This window is totally visible so I needed something better.

I had these leftover trim pieces from some old dollhouse furniture that I bashed, so after a little Xacto work and some sanding, they'll work perfect!

I made some measurements, cut the fabric out, ironed a hem in, cut away the excess fabric, then used fabric glue to glue them.

I waited a while for the glue to dry, attached them to the rod, added ties and hung them up.

I think (I may add more photos to the wall) this living room is getting close to being Ta-Done!

Last night after supper I asked the hubbs if he'd like to come and help me make a workbench for the garage. He enthusiastically agreed!

We scoured Google photos until we found one we could simulate and make our own. Just a pretty basic workbench, just made of stripwood and held together with tacky glue.

We used the photo to help us determine a cut list (you list all of the pieces you need for the project and have them cut and ready before assembly). If I have enough lumber, I like to tape the pieces together and make one cut on my rip saw. For example, I needed 8 - 3" 4x4's (what I call my 3/8x3/8" wood because it looks like real life sized 4x4" post) for the frame. I taped 8 of them together with painters tape and cut them all at one time. Doing this ensures that all of the pieces are EXACTLY the same length. I cut all of the pieces this way.

I used my gluing jig to make all of the support pieces first, then let them dry. Meanwhile, I scored a trim piece with my xacto knife to look like separate drawers. A little sanding to round of the drawers, and it was ready to affix. Once that layer was dry I glued the bench top and shelf boards, clamped everything, and let dry overnight.

Here is the work bench after drying overnight. I added a "backsplash" then did a light sanding - not to make it smooth (more on that later), just to round off the edges a bit and remove and glue that made it's way out.

I wanted the work bench to have a well used look, just like my husband's real sized one. I have had great results in the past watering down acrylic paint and treating it as a stain for the wood. I chose a color called... wait for it... Barn Wood! Here you see that I used just a couple small squirts of paint, then added little bits of water until I got it to the right consistency.

TIP: If you don't have stain on hand, or if you don't have a good acrylic color for staining, you can use artists chalk. You'll need a little white paint or gesso as a medium, then you just shave the chalk into the medium until you achieve the color you want. Mix well. You can then turn it into 'stain' by adding water, or use full strength for vivid color. Use a sealer when dry to preserve the vibrancy.

I started applying the stain on the bottom so that I could be sure I was getting the results I wanted. The stain will soak in, so if you keep adding layers, you'll increase the depth of the stain. It also dries a lot lighter, so experiment until you feel comfortable staining your actual piece.

This is after the first coat. I like to let my stain dry for a bit. The water in the stain will have really raised the grain in the wood, so I like to sand, stain, dry, sand, stain, dry several times to achieve the look. On subsequent stain layers, you can apply just to certain areas to vary the "wear". Since this is a work bench, I am not looking for smooth in the end. It's more realistic if it looks like there is potential for slivers!

After I get the base coat about where I want it, I go back in and add shadowing. Notice here that I have a squirt of Barn Wood and a squirt of black. I mix the two colors in various shades to use for the shadowing and highlighting. I use a small brush and add darker color where I want, then go back over it with my moist stain brush to soften the edges.

This is about where I'll stop the bench for now. Once I install drawer pulls and begin to dress it with little accessories, I'll add dried spilled paint and oil stains wherever it needs it.

One quick note: Don't ever worry about showing your work. Be proud of it! Don't compare yours to other's work. There are always going to be miniaturists out there with more experience, higher skill level, different ideas, more time and most importantly, better tools. The fun in miniatures is getting to see your ideas come to life, and the journey and the things you learn along the way! Share with everyone, be kind, and remember to help those with less experience. This is how we all pay it forward and welcome new enthusiast to our crazy crew!

I've spent the last couple days working on little projects for the barn's workshop/garage. I'm still not too sure what to call it, because our real life garage functions in so many different ways. My husband would LOVE for it to NOT function as a storage space for the lawn mower and other gardening implements, but building a shed is probably #23 on the "home maintenance" priority list. That's another story, but for this 1:12th scale workshop/garage I made sure not to include any gardening stuff of any kind. Unless you count the chainsaw, but that's really more of a Jeep tool than a "garden" tool.

In true frugal fashion, I ordered a bunch of unfinished metal tools on eBay. This barn project has already cost $6,154.55! Not really, but you all know what I mean...

Unfinished metal can be a great option to help mitigate costs, but be aware of a few things:

1. Make sure to look at and imagine the measurements of the item in your scene. "Small" might not be small enough and vice versa.
2. Unfinished metal is, well, Unfinished! You'll possibly have to trim away excess sprue, file and sand a bit before painting/finishing.
3. Beware items that have small and not very well supported metal pieces. These often break off in shipping, and can't always be easily repaired. I had two iffy repairs to make. Hopefully, no one notices.

I wanted a lot of detail in mine, so I took the time to tape off areas that I did not want painted. My husband has a lot of black, red and blue handled tools, so those are the colors I chose.

I like to use spray paint on these items, because you get a much better finish and way less paint build up. Be sure to let them dry thoroughly, especially if you need to paint both sides of an item.

I had ordered some unfinished metal can and jug blanks, so they needed to be painted in the base color, then have labels added. I took a look around Russ' shelves and cupboards to see what he actually uses, then got images from Amazon.

Here is what I've gotten finished on the workshop/garage so far. I have cans, boxes, sleeping bags, tents, coolers, signs, calendar, and many more little details to add, so I'll just update progress as I go. I also think that many of the items here are too clean. They need grime and greasy fingerprints added.

You know when you reach that point in a project where you become, well, I'll just say it - BOARD!?!

I had gotten there with the barn. I think because mostly it just wasn't turning out at all how I'd envisioned. AT ALL! It wasn't just that I've encountered so many obstacles, because that's normal in working with miniature building. It's really because the obstacles that I've encountered have forced me to completely change the layout. Which made the pre-fabbed pieces I made not work or look at all like what I had in my mind's eye. I'm just so sad about it, that I had lost some steam...

The optimist in me always wins, so I rolled up my sleeves and just started making little Sharpie pens out of toothpicks. I found an old plastic shim in my junk drawer, probably left over from some Ikea piece I purchased years ago. These, once cut apart, sanded, filed and glued together became an organizer for the garage bench. That kind of got me excited, and that is usually all it takes to get going again!

I needed to measure, cut stain and install the trim for the doors, and then I needed to finally figure out what I was going to do with that window. I like to use Zots to temporarily hold things in place for measuring or painting and such.

The kit came with barn doors, which I didn't use because I installed the working garage doors where they were supposed to live. Why not put them on the end? That would solve both the window and door problems.

The upper part of the barn doors need something... Maybe a frame with our last name initial inside? Hmmm...
Also, I have decided NOT to put an elaborate deck off the bedroom french doors. Just a juliet balcony, I think. I have other, more exciting projects to get to...

I printed out a barn door photo to Mod-Podge onto the inside of the barn door. I printed an insulated wall photo for the interior window frame. I may add 2x4's and some pink batting later on. Just a peek into the walls.

Here are a few more photos of the details. I really need to start using the iPad or the GoPro and not my phone taking for photos. Laziness is the excuse...

The next steps will be:
1. Finish Painting.
2. Install remaining roof and trim pieces to the open back.
3. Install roofing.
4. Make deck for entrance.
5. Finish exterior lighting.
6. Buy base mdf.
7. Landscaping, touch-up.
8. Figure out where it's going to live.

 I've learned a lot with this complicated project. The biggest take away is that I will definitely plan better, and make a scale layout ahead of time.

I started gluing the Andi-Mini flagstone to the front of the barn, around the garage doors - so far, so good. It's like fitting a puzzle together, only there is no box cover telling you what it should look like when you're done. Freedom to get creative! I LOVE the 3D depth they are giving...

Then, I had rocked up to the front door. Oh. Yeah... I am going to have to make the entry deck before I can finish the flagstone. Hmmm... I've made lots of stuff before, but never a deck. Again this barn is stretching my comfort zone.

Thank you Universe for Google! Deck photos disected and plans studied. It all makes so much more sense now! Putting my own together is going to be challenging!

Thank you NancyLand for the excellent tip: using pins to hold wood pieces together. Sometimes things seem so simple, after someone tells you about them!

I am going to try to put this deck together as if I were a little carpenter. We'll see how it all comes out...

Meanwhile, I wait for glue to dry, sipping coffee while I fritter away in TinkerCad. Here are the next series creations:

Enliven Kitchen Sink w Faucet

Exhilarate Bathroom Fixtures

Exhilarate Modern Wall Toilet

Exhilarate Bathroom Sink
Exhilarate Bathroom Shower Fixture

Exhilarate Bathroom Shower Fixture with Tile Wall

Exhilarate Bathroom Shower Tile Back Wall

Exhilarate Bathroom Shower Tile Side Wall
Persuasion Bedside Table
lf they turn out to be good and usable in real life, I'm going to have one cool Alki Point project. If not, I've literally wasted a good deal of time and mini money. Oh please let all of those tutorials pay off! Fingers crossed!

Today On The Barn... I was able to complete the grout around the fieldstone. I updated the Product Review: Andi-Mini Fieldstone page with more specifics. Overall, I am happy with the results.

After completing the grout, I installed some of the trim pieces. I'm so glad that I had stained the trim in advance. It made it so that I didn't have to change gears. My dining room table is a mess at this point, and I have too much crap that I am trying to work around already.

I was able to finish staining both decks last night before bed. The balcony was dry and ready to be installed this morning.

I wasn't ready though. I must have been sleep drunk because when I had slathered it in glue and went to install it in place, I realized that I had glued the "beams" flush with the back. This interfered with the trim on the wall.  I was supposed to leave a 1/4" space. I did not.

 Therefore, I had to pull off the beams, scrape off the glue, re-measure, re-glue the beams, and then install the balcony. Sheesh... I never fail to trip myself up on this project!!!

I like the front deck a lot! It looks great with the fieldstone! Once I get started on the lanscaping, I bet I'll like it even more!

But first, tomorrow, I must clean up my messes! I can't stand looking at or working in it any more!!!

Then, I will take some photos of the AWESOME 3D items I got in the mail today! I am so excited! I can't believe I made them!!!

Even though the weather outside is dull, grey, and sad, there are some exciting things on the horizon! I think if you are prone to seasonal depression, like me, you have to keep yourself busy and looking forward!

Things are really progressing on the barn project, and as it gets closer to completion, it's character is really starting to show! My daughter's fiance is always really surprised and excited when he sees the progress. He's a very linear thinking engineering student, so it's hard for him to visualize my ideas. He has to see it, and when he does it's really fun to see his reaction! I keep trying to get him to build a project with me. I think someday he might just be open to it!

I've finished building the front deck and stairs. Once I studied a little about deck building and realized that it was just a matter of following steps, I decided to go ahead and make a smaller deck balcony for the french doors off the bedroom.

Deck Railing
Constructing The Balcony
I still need to finish it up. I've been patiently letting the glue dry before moving to the next step. I did my best to replicate them in miniature. I pre-drilled holes and then used sewing pins in addition to glue to secure everything. After a little wood filler and sanding, I plan to stain them.

Once I had the entry deck built I traced the profile onto the house. This was so I'd know where not to put rocks. The fieldstone is all installed and varnished, and just needs its grout. I think I will put the grout in an old glue bottle and just squeeze it carefully in between the rocks. I've done real life tile grout and I want to control the mess!

The 3D miniatures I designed for my next project - Alki Point, are on their way from Shapeways. One order should be delivered tomorrow, and then the second sometime in the first week of November (if there are no production issues with my designs). I haven't ever done a really modern type of project, so it's been fun to design the pieces for it!

I am using two of the Asahi Teahouse kits from  Greenleaf's 2012 Spring Fling contest. The kits just arrived in the mail today! This will be the first tab and slot kit I have done since the late 80's, and I am really looking forward to a project without the challenges of bashing and lighting MDF.

All of the hard to overcome challenges I've had to deal with on the barn project have been as a direct result of my poor planning. Boy have I learned my lesson! I am doing all I can to pre-plan for the Alki Piont project. I really hope that I remember everything ahead of time, and that I have an easier time bashing!

I want to thank all of you that have been reading my blog and sending me such nice emails. It is really humbling to be touched by all of the kindness that exists in the hearts of folks who share this passion. Just think how far we've all come with our knowledge and skills now that we share a global consciousness in our community. Truly remarkable!

Today On The Barn... I was able to complete the grout around the fieldstone. I updated the Product Review: Andi-Mini Fieldstone page with more specifics. Overall, I am happy with the results.

After completing the grout, I installed some of the trim pieces. I'm so glad that I had stained the trim in advance. It made it so that I didn't have to change gears. My dining room table is a mess at this point, and I have too much crap that I am trying to work around already.

I was able to finish staining both decks last night before bed. The balcony was dry and ready to be installed this morning.

I wasn't ready though. I must have been sleep drunk because when I had slathered it in glue and went to install it in place, I realized that I had glued the "beams" flush with the back. This interfered with the trim on the wall.  I was supposed to leave a 1/4" space. I did not.

 Therefore, I had to pull off the beams, scrape off the glue, re-measure, re-glue the beams, and then install the balcony. Sheesh... I never fail to trip myself up on this project!!!

I like the front deck a lot! It looks great with the fieldstone! Once I get started on the lanscaping, I bet I'll like it even more!

But first, tomorrow, I must clean up my messes! I can't stand looking at or working in it any more!!!

Then, I will take some photos of the AWESOME 3D items I got in the mail today! I am so excited! I can't believe I made them!!!

The following rant has been approved to be read only by miniature enthusiasts who've ever been; disappointed in their work, failed to properly plan, left a project unfinished due to a complete lack of vision fulfillment, had a better project standing by or who just got board. Others need not go on. You may come to the erroneous conclusion that I am whining.

It has been an uphill battle bashing the Real Good Toys barn kit from the moment I opened the box. To summarize the issues:

  1. The loft floor arrived in the kit warped. I thought I could fix it. Clamped it for 4 days, it did not work. Didn't realize how warped it was until it was way too late.
  2. The front wall I special ordered from RGT arrived too short. Wrong model number. All emails related to the special order deleted once the part arrived - before I measured it (rookie mistake). 
  3. Tape wire installation was extremely difficult. The MDF was so hard, harder than any I have ever worked with, that it broke several #55 bits and pin vices. Including the specialized MDF tool that I paid $10 for. Lights would work, then suddenly not work. Rewired and reconnected several times. At this point, I don't even want to check them.
  4. Because the loft floor was warped, my divider walls did not sit very flush to the floor. I can tell, and every time I look at it, I cringe.
  5. In general, it seems sloppy to me. Cracks that need to be camouflaged because the walls don't sit right (because of the warp), Ill fitting trim work, using the wrong adhesive on the flooring, crooked and blemished wallpaper, lighting fixtures that I ended up not liking.
  6. Poor space planning that lead me to believe that I had way more room than I do. I made lots of  things ahead (like the kitchen unit, 2 bathroom sinks, a baking station, appliances) that ended up not working at all. The compromises I had to make essentially ruined the possibility to achieve my vision. It is nowhere close to what I wanted.
  7. It was supposed to have a dedicated miniature workshop in the project. That is now the living room because the loft was not large enough to accommodate bedroom, bath, kitchen and living room. I have several 144th scale dollhouses that I was looking forward to building for the space. I had to install a landing in order for the stairs to work with the ceiling height. Once that happened, I lost the space for my dollhouse workshop.
Those are just to name a few. Each new step forced me to come up with compromises and find solutions to the previous solutions. I would have just enough successful things happen to encourage me to want me to soldier on. Dollhouses aren't supposed to be like battling in war!

Last night, sitting here telling my husband (whining) why I was so bummed out, he came up with a simple.plan...


Did I mention that he is brilliant? And so much more supportive (enabling) than I ever deserve?

Why do I believe that I have to finish something before I deserve to go on to the next exciting thing? Probably for the same reason that I believe I have to organize the linen closet before company comes. Judgement? Guilt? Ingratitude?

It's all a load of you know what. And I am over it. Come one, come all! My house is messy! And I don't always finish things! And I eat way too much Ben & Jerry's! Who cares!

Ahhhhhh..... Deep. Cleansing. Breath.

I have decided to move the barn to a place outside my work space. I will get to it when I get to it (if I don't decide to dismantle it, strip it down and then smash it - evil grin). It is NOT the BOSS of ME!

I am cleaning and reorganizing. I ordered some nice tools and organizational things I wanted from Amazon. And then...

I am going to do whatever I feel like doing.

Happy Halloween Everyone!


  1. So excited to watch the progress!!

  2. As frustrating as it may have been, it looks amazing!!

    1. Thanks Audra! At some point I will get back to finishing it off! It's so close, but I need a few victories under my belt before I go back and struggle with it!

  3. Despite all your setbacks, this project is adorable! Thank you for sharing it with us. I loved reading about it.

    1. Thank you, Henri! I am so glad that you enjoyed it and it is very nice of you to say!