Shabby Chic Soap Shop

And so it begins...

March 28, 2016

So today I decided to crack open the Sugarplum Cottage kit and at least do some planning. I have never been known to leave well enough alone, so I'll be making lots of modifications. I did a dry fit to get an idea of the size, and to mark out where I need to make new and bigger openings for the doors and window upgrades.

Here I have traced the new door opening I'll need to cut
Here's the door I'll be using

These will be the new window frames

I am adding a different round window to the upper level. This meant I had to leave in the cut out for the original window. Inside the original cut out was a roof brace. I had to trace a new one using scrap plywood to fill the hole back in with. Now I will trace and cut away the material for the round window.

It was a pretty thick window, so luckily I was able to pry two of the layers off so that it will better fit the thin plywood opening. I have another window, but not sure where to put it at this point since the space on the opposite end of the upstairs wall is slated for the chimney.

The upgraded windows and doors are made by Allesso and sold on eBay through Manchester Woodworks. I've been collecting them for a while now, just waiting for the perfect project to use them in.

I am going to cut away the majority of the second floor, leaving only about a one inch display shelf all of the way around. The second floor really blocks off the view into the ground floor, and since this is going to be a frilly fru-fru type soapy shop, it's better to be able to see in.

Everything is in shambles right now, and that is really out of my comfort zone. I like an organized sort of chaos, and the way my house and work area stands, it's really driving me crazy. Is this yet another lesson in tolerance lovingly given to me by the universe? Well, that's how I am choosing to interpret it... for now...

BTW... Anybody have any idea what this is?


I was so excited when I went to bed last night, knowing I'd have time to work on the soap shop today, that I lay there for hours going through the steps in my mind. I finally did fall asleep, and woke up ready to jump right in this morning.

After the first dry fit I was able to determine the modifications I'd need to make to accommodate the new doors and windows. Before marking where I'd need to trim away some of the window openings, I had to modify the windows...

These are cast resin frames by Jim Coates that I purchased on eBay several months back when I began to plan this project. They are very detailed and very nicely finished. I needed to turn them into a single double window, so I needed to trim them down so that they'd be flush where they met in the middle. Using my Xacto knife worked perfectly. I then sanded down the gold paint so I'd get better glue adhesion.  

Here they are before the trimming...

And here they are trimmed and glued.

There will be matching frames on the inside, so I modified and glued a total of eight window frames.

The double windows are just a bit larger than the openings in the kit, so I trimmed away the plywood using my scroll saw. I had to make access cuts in a few cases, but these are easily repaired later with interior and exterior wall finishes.

Before making the cuts in the bay window wall...

After cutting away the plywood.

Here is the left wall with the bay window and attic window in dry fit...

Here is the front wall with the new door and window frames in dry fit. I had to fill in a little space on the top and take a little off the sides...

Some of you may remember that I had dormers for the barn project. Because of the slope of the roof, Russ helped me to recreate the angle in the dormers by cutting them with his compound miter saw. There was essentially half a dormer left over for each of the three we cut. This gave me an idea... The front roof seemed awefully big and boring on this kit. It was crying out for a dormer, and I just happened t have an extra round attic window...

I'll have to come up with some adorable cornice or something to dress it up, but it will sure add some character to that roof!

Here it is in dry fit again after the modifications...

I cut away the settle bench wall from the porch too. I want a more substantial porch for displaying stuff to lure you into the shop.

I should be able to camouflage the bad filling job around the attic window.

I cut most of the second floor away and just left a shelf for displaying stuff. Because the new door was so much taller than the kit door, I cut out that floor section completely. We'll see what ideas strike me in that area as we go along.

Next comes sanding and priming. I'll probably paper and trim out the interior walls for the most part before I glue the structure together. That's going to be the hard part, because I have so many ideas swirling in my brain, but no idea yet if any of them are good ones...

More fun to come soon!


Now that I have sufficiently gotten enough of my To Do List Ta Done, I can go do what I want, which is minis, and do them relatively guilt free. The work room is ready, so now all I need is to make some decisions.

I've had plenty of unfocused ideas swimming around in my head, but still don't have the certainty to go forward with confidence in my choices. So, the best thing to do is just to start doing something and see where it leads me.

Here is what I started working with - a mess of random ideas! Lets just see if a plan begins to form...

I began by choosing the wall coverings. They are wedding themed scrapbook paper that I picked up at Joanne's on my way back from Moab. The book was half price and there were lots of mini scaled patterns, so I'll have lots more choices for future builds too.

I chose a striped pattern as a wainscoting , then a more modern type pattern for the main walls and then a swirly floral type for the upper wall sections. They are all white with silver grey accents, which I wanted so that the patterns don't take over the focus of the shop.

I have a pretty fancy ceiling paper for the main interior roof section, but needed to paint what will be the outside soffits before I can apply the paper. Once I apply, I'll paint a coordinating white so that it is more of a textural element than an eye catcher.

While the paper and paint were drying, I began to think about the type of flooring the shop should have. Since I am going for a little shabby, I thought a whitewashed wide plank wood flooring might be nice. I had about 10 brand new pieces of 1/2"x1/16" boards, but that wasn't going to be enough. I had more of different material, but everything I had was 1/8" thick and that seemed too chunky.

I found a solution: I had more 1/2"x1/16" planking left over from Alki Point, but it had already been stained with the vinegar mixture. No problem. A little sanding and a good coat of white wash and the floor will look just like any old building where different wood floor species was added through the years.

I started by bundling up and taping together 6 pieces at a time. This makes for quick cutting work on large jobs. I calculated that I could get three 4-1/2" pieces from each board with just a little spacing material left over for good measure.

I remember the days when I would have to take my little miter box and hand saw to cut each piece. It is amazing that anything I cut with it ever ended up cut correctly, and if I needed multiples of the same measurement - forget consistency. I am so grateful to have my little chop saw from Harbor freight, It has completely changed my cutting skill to the point where I am not intimidated any longer to take on a project with any kind of cutting involved. And talk about perfect miters! If you don't have one already, do yourself a huge favor and go pick one up. For a tool under $30 with the coupon, you can't go wrong.

I painted both sides of the kit floor to minimize any warping. Just in case any of the cracks would show through the wood floor.

After all of the bundles were cut, I just began laying them in a staggered and random pattern. I applied them to the kit floor with ES6000. I found that I could apply the adhesive using an old paint brush a single row at a time. Then I would "butter" each piece of the wood floor before sticking it down. None of the pieces warped in any way, and I could press them into position very easily. If any excess glue oozed out, it dried quickly and pulling it off was like picking a booger. No glue residue left behind.

The next step was to sand the floor so that it ended up with an even surface. It was a pretty nice day outside, so I just sat on the back patio and sanded away - no mess to clean up inside the house.

In between cutting, gluing and sanding, I kept applying little coats of white spray paint to the windows and doors in the garage. Between the spray paint and ES6000 fumes I must be down a few brain cells!

I needed to add a little depth to the plain basswood flooring before adding the whitewash, I just watered down a little barnwood and painted a bit on.

Now for the whitewash. I'll just thin down some warm white and apply until I get the look I'm after.

It's getting there...
I think that's about all for the day - I am still recovering from the bronchitis and all of the work I've done around the house for the last week. I think I need to eat pizza and fall asleep in front of the TV.

What a productive day! I woke up early, the sun was shining, and the ideas were just flowing!

I sort of followed the instructions on the Sugarplum, but had to skip and deviate a little because of the modifications I'm making. For example, step # 4 says to add the second floor, and since I am omitting the second floor I just skipped that step. Step # 5 was to add the little partial wall strips to the sides of the back opening. I decided to wait on these so that getting inside to work on the fireplace and trim would be easier.

I did follow steps 1 - 3, attaching the front and side walls to the floor. With patient fitting and trimming, it all went together like a hand in a glove. While the glue dried on the three walls and floor, I covered the bay window in wallpaper (scrapbook paper) and attached the interior window frame. It wasn't too long before I was able to attach that to the structure.

While all of that was setting up I started to play around with the fireplace. Since it's a soap shop converted from and old historic home, it will not really be a working fireplace. I just want it to look like it has been freshly cleaned so that it can be used for display purposes.

The kit makes it so that the chimney butts up right against the house. This doesn't really give it much depth or appeal either inside or outside the house.

I decided to give it a more realistic and dimensional look by building a box around the chimney. This way, I could create a fire box for the fireplace and take advantage of what was meant to be the upstairs hearth, turning it into a display niche.

I created boxed in areas for the fire box and the niche. I'll add brick or stone to the firebox and some embossed paper to the niche. This will make them much more interesting to look at!

I'm working on a hearth made out of marble stationary and some mat board. There will be some tricky cuts to make - I'll need to make slits for the wall and get it to sit nice and flush to the floor. Then I'll decoupage the paper and hope it looks like smooth marble. Hopefully, I'll like the way it looks in the end.

Meanwhile, I am taking advantage of the nice warm weather (new record high today of 88 degrees) to spray paint much of the trim I'll need. What you see here is only part of it! There will be much more to come, but this will get me started on the main shop floor.

I am having so much fun with this project so far! I am never happier than when I am in the midst of some tedious little detail. Listening to scary bigfoot encounters or singing along to some happy little tune. I hope you all are also finding your joy today!

Just for fun in the firebox I decided to go with stone as opposed to brick. I have a partial roll of the Magic Ston sticker stuff, so this was a great opportunity to use it up.

For those of you who have not worked with the Magic Systems products before, here's how they work...

1. Paint the area you are going to cover with what you want to be your grout color. Let dry.

2. Cut out enough length of the sticker to fit the area. I like to remove the stone or brick stickers before I apply them to the surface - it is much easier. Affix your sticker to the area, making sure to firmly press down all of the lines.

3. Mix your mortar with enough water to achieve an oatmeal type consistency. If it's too dry add more water in tiny increments. If it's too wet you're screwed........  nope, just kidding. Just add a little more mortar mix a bit at a time until it thickens.

***Side note - the Magic Systems kits come with an assortment of colored powdered mortar mix. It is also sold separately. Don't get tricked into spending a bunch of money on this stuff. Regular powdered sanded or un-sanded grout mix from the hardware store is exactly what this stuff is. It is a fraction of the cost of the stuff sold for miniatures. One box should last you a lifetime of mini projects. Buy a light color - you can always add acrylic paint to the mix to achieve the color you want. Want a rougher surface - add some sand.***

4. Using a rough paintbrush, dab out a fairly thin layer to cover all of the stickered area.

5. Gently peel back the sticker paper and see the pattern left behind. You can gently smooth rough edges or pat down for a smoother look,

6. Let dry. Once dry, you can paint with color washes or sponge on more texture to achieve the look you want. In my case, I wanted my firebox to look as though it had been cleaned and painted for use as decor only. That is why the stones and grout are the same color. If I had been using it for a "real" functioning fireplace the grout and stones would have more contrast.

I like the stuff, it's easy to use and kind of fun. It goes a lot quicker than egg carton stones, but I like doing those as well. In other words, what is six to one is half a dozen to another...

I didn't care for the brownish tone once I'd held it up against the fireplace, so I just coated over it with a lighter grey. I also added some of the ceiling paper scraps to the niche and gave that a couple coats of white. I'm thinking I'd better not attach it to the house just yet. I'll have to fiddle with the roof, and that is not nearly next on the To Do list.

I've also been working on the inside trim - did I mention that there is a lot of fussy work on this project? I certainly need to work on my "fitting molding together nicely" skills. Oh well, in the end it is supposed to be a little shabby. More on the interior transformation later...

One last thing... Do something that makes you really happy today! Sometimes the "have to's" make us forget that life is to be lived and enjoyed!

The hubs and son have been away from the house working a lot lately, and my "day job" is in a pretty relaxed period again until the end of May. This means that there are long stretches of mini time, and that is great news for me! I have been able to work on the shabby chic soap shop and it feels like I've gotten a lot accomplished this week! I am really going to have to come up with a better name for it, though!

I got a lot of the inside trim installed, and it's nearing completion. I'm at that stage where I can only go so far on it until some other pieces fall into place. I need to make decisions on raw wall edges etc before I can finish the trim there, and also have to install the roof before I can install quarter round etc... Once all of it is done I'll need to attempt some tiny caulking and touch up the paint job - or mess it up depending on the look it needs to have.

So the progress of the day has been to work on extending the front porch and getting the chimney attached in preparation for the egg carton stone that I have settled on.

Using the left over plywood from the second floor that is now only a shelf, I enlarged the porch floor to 3-1/2" x 6". I think it will make the front of the shop a little more inviting.

I also took some of the same material and used it to extend the porch eaves to cover the larger floor space.

Once that was done I gave everything another dry fit, and figured out what modifications I needed to make for the thicker chimney. I needed to cut some of the roof material away. I made two attempts, both not having taken away enough, and then taking too much on the third attempt. Oh well, "you know what" happens. Us miniaturists are used to camouflage, smoke and mirrors so it will all work out in the end...

At present I am, of course, waiting for glue to dry. Then it's on to the egg carton stone making process. I took a couple photos from Mt. St. Helens on vacation last summer, and just love the rocks they used to line the walking paths. I might just try to replicate it, if I can...

I hope you all are having a lovely and stress free moment where imaginings are conceived and dreams are born!

Last week I was delighted at all of the mini time that had suddenly been dropped in my lap. It seemed like things were progressing quickly, and I could see the project taking shape. You know - the exciting part when your vision becomes tangible!

Then, the next step arrived - the dreaded egg carton stones. I was enthusiastic about doing them! That was until I had worked on them for many, many hours over two days. Then I realized my pace had slowed to a crawl. So much for progress...

The cutting and applying part, though excruciatingly long, went fairly well. I used the pattern from the vacation photo of the Mt. St Helens path wall as a guide. I loved how they looked and thought maybe they just needed a bit of dimension.

Okay - I'll just sponge on a little paint in contrasting but muted colors. That ought to do the trick. Well, it might have, if I could just leave well enough alone. But I can't. 47 years on this planet and still I can't just Leave Well Enough Alone! I swear, they looked fine on Saturday evening.

They didn't become completely disagreeable until I had the Grout Idea on Sunday! You see, I had several different grout options, but each also had a drawback:

1. The powdered grout from the hardware store where you just add water. Drawback - It was already colored, and being a bit of a medium brown just didn't fit with the vision for the project.

2. Spackling compound. Drawback - Too easy!

3. The tub of mosaic tile grout that I purchased from Northwest Art & Frame in 2002 which by now of course was a completely hard and solid rock inside the container. Drawback - Why, none of course! Let's prove a point and bring to life and make new again something completely dead and useless! Frankenstein was not crazy! He was a visionary!

So once option #3 was chosen and committed to I began to attempt to resuscitate the dried up grout. I took a rather large Xaxto implement (to scare) and cut the substance into chunks and out of the container.  Once I had dispatched about half of said grout into a paper towel I added about 1/4 cup of hot water to the container with the remaining (now scolded, freaked out and ready to submit) grout. I let it sit a few moments after which time I further forced it into submission by smashing and stirring it vigorously with a large paint brush handle. After several minutes of such treatment the grout relented, and was just as liquidy smooth as the day it was purchased. Ha! Try to waste my $3.99 will you! To this now yielding batch I added more and more of the paper towel contents until I, once again and satisfied, had a full jar of perfectly good grout. :O)

I mixed in a little complementary color, put it in an applicator bottle and began the grouting process.......... It Was A Mess........... Apparently, little bitty chunks of the resistance party remained, clogging up my applicator bottle, exploding under the pressure and causing a great disaster of a mess. I stopped trying to apply the grout into the cracks, I began to, in frustration, pour great globs into my hand and apply the grout smearing and pushing and hoping some would make it into the places it was supposed to be! It Was Awful! Then it got worse...

Now, with warm wash cloth and sponge in hand, I began to attempt to try to remove the grout off of the rocks only to find that in the motion of scrubbing off the grout that the surface of the Egg Cartons were coming off too! Never Have I Ever Had This Kind Of Holy Terror With Egg Carton Masonry!!!

At this point I went to bed. To distract myself from the grouting horror with which I have never seen the like, and being at home alone (due to hubs and son doing an out of town job), I thought listening to the Dark Waters YouTube Channel would be just the thing to fall asleep to........... I have come to the understanding, after lying awake and afraid to move until 4:00 in the morning, that I am an appalling decision maker, and that apparently, my bad decisions come in groups. Unless you want to truly terrify yourself while home alone with "real" encounter stories, Never, Never Listen To Dark Waters!

The next morning I made the decision (remember? Me + Decisions?) to just coat all of it in a wash. I mixed a little of the grout color into some water and brushed a coat over everything. It does look a little better, but still so one dimensional. Now I have decided not to do Anything! I need to wait a few days and  see if I can figure out what to do next. More sponged on color? Some Mod Podge? Leave it alone? I am just afraid to do anything.

So, in the meantime, I am doing some trim and some detailing. Thank goodness, that is going much better than the Egg Carton Stones!

And, in other Bad Decision News I have resolved to quit being such a big sissy and just enter the darn HBS Creatin' Contest. I finally had a fun idea (my ideas are still okay) for the structure, and it's so fun to share with everyone! Don't think I'll start until this project is done, but I bet that decision will come back to Bite Me too!

The Sugarplum is such a little kit, but that's a good thing if you already have a house full of finished miniature projects and don't plan to ever stop making more. The kit was intended to be a Tudor style, but when I looked at the kit, I saw fru fru moldings and lots of textural detail in my mind's eye. Because it's small, I can do a lot in terms of detail, but not get burnt out by having a ton of it to do. I admire those of you that work on monster kits! I would really lose patience (I have been known to do this. Just ask my poor Starbucks and the other two deserted Street Of Shops kits in my buffet). My attention span needs work...

Since the whole Dreadful Egg Carton Stones debacle (more on that later) I have been on a roll! I won't bore you with a lot of details on the details - a picture is worth a lot of words...

Starting the entry shingles...

Finished entry shingling...

Whitewashed entry shingles... Oh and installed door!

Installing the porch roof - notice the enlarged and finished porch floor...

Installing the porch braces...

Bay - check, window + plexi - check, round window - check, whitewashed shingles - check!
Just need to go around with caulk and touch up paint! We're making progress (by we I mean the little six year old inside my head who's jumping up and down right now!).

Now, for the update on the Dreadful Egg Carton Stones...


Sealed... Mod Podge won... And...

Next... Waiting on more half scale shingles. The regular sized diamond speed shingles I ordered in December from Greenleaf are GIANT! Since this kit is so small, I'm thinking smaller shingles is a good idea. Meanwhile, more trim and touch up!

I hope all the little details in your life are falling into place, too!


When I was dreaming and planning the Shabby Chic Soap Shop I looked for ideas everywhere. When I saw something I liked and wanted to replicate, I saved the photos and links in folders both on my computer and in my Google Favorites. I looked at all sorts of things, and while browsing on Pintrest, saw many chandeliers made with old teacups. I knew I had to make something like them for the shop.

My ideas always seem to start out very grandiose. That is until I hit a road block and have to alter my plans. I wanted to use copper tubing as the chandelier arms, conceal the wiring, and hold the teacups and saucers. Then, I'd paint it black, then white, then sand in spots and apply aging washes until it looked perfectly shabby. Great idea, right?!?

Let's digress into copper tubing for a moment. Specifically, cutting it without crimping and mucking it up. I made several attempts with the affordable "tubing bender" that the manufacturer of the tubing also manufactures. It was a miserable and costly disaster. It did not bend the copper tubing into a perfect J. It just barely bent it before it BROKE COMPLETELY AND GOT STUCK IN THE BENDER APPARATUS.  Is it me? Really?

The instructions say that you can heat it up first. What? Then melt the skin right off of your hands while trying to bend the HOT METAL in the now conducted HOT METAL of the bendy thing? AND! Don't you think that they should let you in on this before you purchase? 

Pretty copper tubing will not be in my immediate future. Until I can afford the MicroMark tubing bender for real hobbyists, I'm not going to try this again. Humph...


Beads, precious!

Gathered all of the possible Plan B materials...

Drilled wiring holes into the tiny plastic teacups and saucers...

Starting parts...

Strung wire through the parts... Did not realize that these cups and saucers were so tiny. Otherwise I could have used smaller candle bulbs... Oh well, still cute...

Made 10, 5 for each chandelier...

Played and played with bead arrangement. Liked it, then didn't...

Too small?

Not sure... I'll keep working at it and post again once I figure it out...

Meanwhile... Started working on more trim. This time for the roof soffit/facia in anticipation of the diamond speed shingles that I hope to receive this week.

Trimming out that curve on the back roof was going to be a bitch real challenge. I could not come up with any creative remedy, so, I just got out a big box cutter and made it square.

I am out of molding in that size, so that means I am also waiting on package #2 this week.

I finished up all of the roof edge moldings (that I had material for).

On the bay roof: Should I wait to roof it in the diamond, or make a faux metal roof?

I have more sanding, filling, painting, repeat to come, so I can keep working while I wait for packages......

Have a great Real Life week my Mini Life friends!


When I last posted, I was waiting for some things to arrive in order to move forward on the soap shop: White paint, a variety of trims, and the half scale speed shingles for the main roof. I am happy to report that I had the trims by Monday (thank you Manchester Wood Works on ebay!), the paint on Tuesday (thank you Amazon for the 8oz white paint for $4.33 and free 2 Day Prime shipping), and the speed shingles on Wednesday (thank you Greenleaf for the Priority Mail). I was able to tackle each little project as the shipments arrived!

The overwhelming consensus on the bay roof, both on the blog and by real life viewers, was to go with the "metal" option. I liked the idea! I thought it would add just another little textural detail to make it look extra yummy! I had some nasty gaps in the little roof where I had to make adjustments to the slots, so I needed to get those filled in. I used a piece of scrap wood (a poked out tab from the kit) to fill in the gap, then slathered everything in a couple layers of spackle. Once it was dried and sanded, the surface was smooth enough to pass for "metal". I added some trims, painted it with a few coats of trim color and then applied several coats of satin varnish so it would have a little metal sheen.

I received the trim that I needed to finish off the back roof edges. I had a heck of a time getting the mitered corners to match up. It was one of those days that I had to struggle through and wonder why everything was so hard. In the end, it worked out - it just literally took more than 2 hours for a 15 minute job. Meh... That's the miniatures business - it just makes the successes that much sweeter.

I got the paint and then went after all of the gaps and scrapes and things that needed touching up on the interior. You know, it's kind of difficult for me to keep some of the shabby! I just tend toward trying to fix everything, even when I remind myself that I 'don't want it perfect'. It's supposed to be a bit shabby and have some character. Do you find yourself doing that, too?

I had some of the hexagon speed shingles left over from the gable ends, so I went to work on the dormer area of the roof. I knew that once it was shingled, you weren't going to see it, but I painted the background color on just in case. Then I shingled the area and gave it a whitewash just like all the other hex shingled areas.

I did a final dry fit on the dormer and installed the window, I traced around it so that I had my line of where to roof up to. I need some input as to weather I should add a flower box under the dormer or just leave it alone? I'll take suggestions now and then later, after I post a mock up, so we can all get a visual on size/scale/placement etc...

Look at the photo below. Do you know what these are? They are little packages of speed shingles. 3 diamond, and 1 hex just in case I needed more. This photo represents $43.30 of roofing material (including $7.50 for shipping). That is the most expensive roof ever for a dollhouse! Well, I am sure not ever. There are monster roofs out there. But it is the most for me, so they had better look darn cute for years to come! :O) They do go on super fast, so if you have a short attention span like me and want the roof DONE, I recommend them highly!

I started a few rows of roofing Wednesday night. The hubs came back from his California trip (with son to bring home VW Bug which wonderful auntie Dayo gave to son) early Thursday morning, so there it sat until this morning. Just an FYI and note to self... Don't try to shingle a roof while talking to your mother about emotional family drama. I got a little wonky and had to pull stuff off to fix it  - after I got off the phone... I did 7 rows of diamonds, then 3 rows of hex, then back to diamond etc... I have a ways to go, but got a brainstorm type headache this afternoon, so I am on hold again until tomorrow.

Now here's another dilemma; shall I make the dormer and porch roofs metal as well, or just continue with the diamonds on them, too? I am not the best roofer in the world, so that teeny scared part of me is a little intimidated about the dormers. I want to do what's best for the shop, though, so I'll get over the fear if that's what I need to do. What do you think?

One last note before I go try to find my last Imitrex (for migraine)...

I have started a page for the 2016 Creatin' Contest build. Nothing too interesting yet, but I do have a theme picked out and plan to get started soon. Once the roofing is completed on the soap shop, but before I begin on the interior. If I start on the layout of the contest kit, I can get a better idea of a timeline and if I need to start freaking out yet or not. You can check it out here...


While work continues on the roofing and the exterior trim of the Shabby Chic Soap Shop I received my new Du Bro tubing bender. I had to try it out, so this lead me down another rabbit hole...

If you'll recall from my Easy Teacup Chandelier post, I had an epic failure at my attempt to bend 1/8" copper tubing with the K&S Tubing Bender kit. It has been pointed out to me by kindred souls over at the Greenleaf forums that it was probably just user error, because they have no problem using them. I was using copper tubing, and they were using brass, so that was probably what accounted for the diverse results.

The Du-bro bender included four 3" pieces of 1/8" brass tubing. It bent like a dream! No crimping, no breaking. Here you can see all four pieces perfectly bent into beautiful J's!

Okay, so it works perfectly on brass but how about copper?

Not so much. It actually crimps and breaks the metal. Now I am sure that if I insert a piece of solid wire into the tubing and heat it up a bit before bending (as was suggested to me on the forum) I may have better results. Another challenge for another time perhaps... For now, we'll stick to the very accommodating brass rod.

But on to my progress on the chandelier...

I needed a central brace - something a little decorative. Hoarders everywhere will rejoice when I show you some really old stock I had saved for "just in case"... Veranda Posts!

I got out the trusty old bead container and started to create something of a shabby chandelier using these and other "parts".

These two bead caps glued together will serve as the base of the center wooden dowel.

I am using a combination of E6000 and The Ultimate Glue to see what sticks, pun intended (snicker)...

These will be the parts that support the saucer and attach them to the brass J's. The toothpicks are simply an attempt to keep things lined up and uncrooked:

Here is the dowel being glued into the bottom bead caps. I was very generous with the Ultimate glue here. It will dry clear, and the whole assembly will be painted white, so a little messy was okay.

The J's will have to be attached to the top of the chandelier somehow. A large bead cap seemed like just the thing - only, I needed to make the holes larger so that the 1/8" rod would fit into them. I just used the Dremel with the drill attachment to open them up a bit. You can see how one of the four has been enlarged.

Next, I needed to assemble the candle bulb, cup, saucer and support bead caps to the J's. This meant fishing the candle wires through each component. I found that a little persistence, going slowly, being willing to back the wire out a bit then push forward with gentle pressure helped to coax the wires to manage the curve and pop out blissfully from the end.

Closer up...

Now to add the top to the dowel with the base. I decided maybe screwing it in might be better than just glue. Drilled the pilot hole, widened the hole in the bead cap, then screwed it down... The screw sticking out the top will serve as a spacer - you'll see what I mean in a later step...

Okay - time to add the arms - in this model there will only be four. The photo below gives you a rough idea, though a messy one, of what I'm trying to accomplish...

Getting there is a fiddly and messy business. Hopefully, once completed and painted shabby white, it will add to the flavor of the look for the shop that I am trying to achieve. If not, I have plenty more brass, plenty of beads, plenty of veranda posts and plenty of will to try, try again... The teacup chandelier experiments will continue...

Meanwhile, check out what materials and details I've revealed to use in the HBS Creatin' Contest 2016 page. Kit bash and layout are coming in early June if all goes well!

*** UPDATE ***

Here is the chandelier after I glued it:

Sloppy, huh?

Here it is after I painted it:

Sloppy, huh?

Um... Yeah... It still needs work so I decided to just start all over again... See my little brass rods all cut to the perfect length and everything? Then I tried to bend them...

Then I learned something new - after the new brass tube (that the hubs so nicely picked up for me from the hobby store) bent and broke just like the copper tube! Apparently, you need to do something called ANNEALED to the metal.

Yep - I read all about it. Apparently, if you are trying to harden the brass, say if you are making bullets, you heat the brass with a torch until it is cherry red and immediately knock it into water to cool it quickly. If you want it soft, you heat it to cherry red with a torch and then let it cool slowly, like let it air cool. Then it is supposed to submit to being bent into a nice looking "J" with no crimps and no breaking. So, to sum up this post, this is an ongoing experiment, and I will post again about my annealing experience and let you know if I actually made a purdy chandelier...


Before I share the exciting news, I feel that I owe respect to honesty and therefore, need to first make a confession. You see, I seem to be suffering from (que dramatic music)... Project completion impotency! To prove my point, I will list off for you the projects that are started, some pretty far along, and yet not fully satisfied. Ahem...

1. Real Good Toys Barn Bash - trimming out the back opening, attaching it to a foundation, roofing and landscaping are all that she needs to be completed. Why have I stalled? Because I am a fickle be-otch and began fantasizing about Alki Point. There she sits, dusty and disheveled. If you listen closely, you can hear her say "cheater"!

2. Alki Point - She is done! Finito! Terminus! Only, she needs to have her power strip tidied up and concealed. Then she needs to have her glamour shots taken at the real Alki Beach. Why is this not done, since February you ask? Because. I got busy with (and excited over) the Shabby Chic Soap Shop. Plus, driving to Alki from Spanaway means traffic. Lots of it. I. Hate. Traffic! Oh, and see that building next to her on the right - that's next on my list.

3. Starbucks - this is the first in the set of three Street Of Shops. I stopped work on her because I wanted the brick facade to be continuous, and therefore would need to complete the other two in the set first. Yeah... That was like three years ago... I just need to finish it by itself and be done. She's all finished inside. I even built on a replica bathroom which is also finished inside. If/when I ever get to the next two shops, I'll improvise on brick continuity.

4. The Shabby Chic Soap Shop - I got stuck and frustrated trying to make the chandelier, which turned out to be way too chunky and completely horrible looking. Then I stalled out on whether or not to drop $60 on a real battery operated chandelier (even though I have wired wall sconces) and just forget trying to make one. Then I decided maybe it didn't need to be electrified at all. Then I felt lazy about not doing the wiring. Then I walked by it one day (it currently sits on the shelf so I'd have room to work on the Creatin' Contest build) and HATED the outside color scheme including the shingles!!! Now I've decided it all has to be repainted. As soon as I figure out what and how to do it.

And of course on top of all those, I am currently working on the Creatin' Contest build. See that list there? There's sooooo much left to do on this project! You'd think all of this wanton mini lust and the associated guilt would be enough to make me just stop and FINISH WHAT I STARTED!

Nope. I can't...

I have a serious addiction! It is a disease, you know. I can't be blamed for that. Can I? I'm not trying to hide anything. The blog name says it all...

Ugh... Now that I've admitted all of my shame, I'm a little hesitant to share my good news. Maybe you'll all be really mad at me. Maybe you will all want to come to my house and take these poor unloved projects away from me. Maybe you'll all think I'm a really bad person. :O(

But wait! YOU guys are my peeps! We are all completely and madly codependent! We support and enable each other all the time! You! You glorious comrades totally get it! You probably have a dozen or so mini skeletons on your shelves or hidden in closets, as well. In fact, you have probably purchased something in the last couple weeks that you totally did not need but wanted really, really bad!

Phew! Thanks for being in this with me! I love you guys!

Okay - so finally out with the good news!

A few posts ago I mentioned that Hobby Lobby had the RGT Beachside Bungalow kit for $119, then had the 40% coupon. I got it for half the regular price, so there was no way I was letting that opportunity pass me by.

I told myself that I was not even going to open the kit until I at least had the contest build completed. Then one day I was sitting at the computer, minding my own business when the kit's finishing page just pops up on the screen! I didn't think there would be any harm in reading it, right? But it got me so excited! It has already finished wood floors! I wondered what they looked like. I opened the box. I looked at the pictures online. I wondered if I could swap the stairs to the other side of the house. I drew out the dimensions and made a first floor layout in my design program. That got me to thinking about the kitchen. That got me looking for cabinet kits. That got me looking over at Elf Miniatures to see what they had available and what the pricing was like. That got me talking to Elizabeth (I love her!) and totally coming up with an affordable and awesome kitchen plan!

The Wall Of Cabinets Layout

The Island Layout

I was shocked at how quickly Elizabeth got back to me. She asked me so many important questions and clarified every detail to be sure I would get exactly what I wanted. She offered options to me that weren't even listed on the web site, and ended up saving me even more money so that I could afford the fridge cabinet enclosure. Then, to put the cherry on top, she said they would go out airmail from the UK on Wednesday!!! What?!?

I just don't deserve so much happiness, but I am so grateful for it! My "Notes From The Universe" this morning said:

"The secret behind miracles is that the person performing them begins without any knowledge of exactly how they will succeed... yet still they begin.

When you move, I move -
The Universe"

Thanks for sticking through all my rambling to the end! I'll post photos of the new loot as soon as it arrives!

As for when the project will actually start - that remains to be seen...


This darling little gal has been sitting on the shelf behind my worktable, patiently awaiting for it to be her turn again. She was so gracious when I told her that she would be on hold while I participated in this year's Creatin' Contest. But now, she's back on the table!

Just look at her smile!
I had not forgotten her at all! In fact, over the last few weeks I've had my visions renewed of what she is to become and it is lovely! A frilly, girly, smelling fabulous and chic-ly shabby favorite soap shop!

Her bodice and roof are getting a makeover! The garden I am preparing for will be spectacular!

The interior will be a wonder for the eyes and heaven for the nose! Soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, body scrub, drawer sachets, candles, potpourri, and wonderful cards and gifts!

I'll be learning new skills and techniques in mold making & casting, polymer clay, sewing, fabric printing and making plain and shabby items chic!


Boy, I wasn't joking around when I said I wanted to get going on the soap shop! The ink from my last post hadn't even dried and I was auditioning kits and planning for fixtures inside the store!

The Left and middle kits are REAL Old (probably about my age - not yet 50 but creeping up on it!) and they smelled like it, too! A test of the vegetable stand told me that I was going to need to make some alterations. As many of you know, the Sugarplum kit is on the small side of 1/12th! No worries! I cut down the legs, added slats (skinny sticks) on the bottom supports for shelving, and now it works perfectly under the front windows!

The fabric stand kit was really just too large for the space. I contemplated ways to modify and shrink it down, but it was just too nice a kit! I decided to hoard hold onto it a while longer and use it in another project...

I had a couple of crate kits that I'd been holding onto for this project, too. I employed the use of the largest one (from another really old kit) to beef up the display counter - it was really short! Adding the crate underneath gave me more display space, too! Win - win!

I used the largest of the three crates to raise up the counter.

Newly configured cash register/POS display.

Still needing a LOT more display space and/or shelving, I decided to make more crates! What could be more Shabby than crates? The stuff to make them Chic will go inside! I made nine more of them, and for a few hours had a crate factory going!

Six of the nine crates flanking the vegetable stand display.

Now I was getting somewhere! 

WAIT! That's only ONE wall!!!

No time to pat myself on the back - I needed to make MORE!

Because of the space constraints I knew that I was going to need to make some custom displays. I had in mind to make a card/ribbon/gift wrap display, but I ended up deciding to make two of them - one on either side of the bay window opening. I took some measurements then drew up a rough sketch using parchment paper over my mat.

This way, I could draw using the measurement marks for scale and figure out just how much space each "section" would take up. This is a great solution if you don't happen to have graph paper on hand, or if like me, you are too lazy to go looking for it! I took those measurements over to my pc, and using shapes in the corresponding measurements, I created a scaled pattern (sorry Mrs. Martin! You were right! I really do use geometry in my life! Oh, and I really did know who TP'd your house that Halloween! Sorry again!)!

Printed pattern and added side diagram with primitive cut list.

I doubled and taped two basswood sheets together so that I was cutting both sides at one time, and each display would match perfectly.

Pattern taped to basswood sheets for cutting.

All pieces cut for one display. Er, maybe not...

Bottom piece? Duh!

Display in it's home. All is well that ends well...
When I get to adding ribbon, cards and wrapping paper rolls to this display, I'll create a How To .pdf with the pattern and pieces you'll need to make one for yourself!

I was getting someplace, but there was still the middle section of the shop to figure out. I had some more kits (boy do I have kits! I can't resist 'em!) to try. I LOVE The Daisy House kits, so I pulled out a few to see if they might work.

After a few modifications, I ended up using the sofa table kit and the jelly cupboard kits. I'll need to add some interesting legs to the jelly cupboard, but I am waiting for them to arrive in the mail! :O/

In the meantime, I have a pretty good idea what's in and what's not...  And there's plenty to keep me busy in the form of textured STICKERS and CHALK paint! I will be thinking of her amazing talent for bringing shabby up a few thousand notches, and keep asking myself "What would Elizabeth do?"!

Fixtures now sanded and shaped, waiting for stickers/appliques and chalk paint!


Greetings my fellow mini crazed!

There are so many things to love about this time of year! A BIG one is that miniature related blog posts seem to roll out more regularly, so ideas and inspiration are everywhere! It is truly a feast for the eyes and an uplift to the heart! It can also be a very hard time for a lot of us, too. The onset of holiday stress, loss of loved ones, depression, anxiety and even the uncertainty brought on by our ever changing world. To those of you who need a little extra love and support, my heart and prayers are with you. Please reach out to me or anyone you care for - it truly helps so much to share!

I am continuing to work on the soap shop with every minute I can spare. Time for playing is precious few, especially when you're in demand! Rusty is such a little doggie - he gets cold this time of year! He wants to be held and cuddled constantly! And he is so hard to resist! And Woodson always wants to play! That is... when he's not looking for extra treats! In spite of all the wonderful distraction, I managed to get a bit of mini-ing done.

Rusty (1-1/2yrs) left, Woodson (1yr) right.
Both are Miniature Pinscher (even my puppies are miniature!).
I can never capture them when they're still!
The next step for the shop fixtures was to paint them with FolkArt chalk paint. But first, they needed some detail! I ordered some things to add detail to the fixtures like adhesive pearls and braided tapes etc... But they hadn't shipped yet and I was not willing to wait. I had to rummage through drawers and "borrow" things from other project stashes to get started.

To the grocery stand fixture, I cut out a section of embossed decorative border from a sheet I had tucked away for the New Orleans (still waiting for it's turn in the queue, but now that RGT has discontinued production on that kit I am sooooo glad I have it!).  {{{Side Story Interjection - There was a lot of waste around the embossed area of the border sheet, so a little lightbulb went off. I grabbed some paper punches to see if they would work on the thick and velvety material. I found that the EK Tools stamps went right through the material and left clean cuts, but the Punch Bunch mini and small sized punches didn't really have the clearance needed for this material. Oh well, I'll file that info away for a later time... Now back to the regular program}}} I also cut and filed the loops from some nice fleur de lis jewelry findings and stuck them on with Elizabeth's favorite: Quick Grip! Worked great! I also added some dimensional stickers to see how they'd look once they were painted over and sanded.

I added on a couple thick coats of gray chalk paint (I had white and black so I mixed 'em!) to all of the shop fixtures, then sanded them smooth. It's the coat for the under color that will show through in places at the end.

I had to do more rummaging for some of the other pieces. I was okay with using some of my stash of JMG because {{{Side Story Interjection - My New Cricut Explore Air arrived, and now I can cut as many beautiful scrolly accent pieces as I want to! I am still waiting on accessories and supplies, but I will post all about it soon. The hubs and son are working out of town for several weeks right after Thanksgiving (which is being hosted at my house this year and we have LOADS of people coming), so I will be here with only the doggies and LOTS of time for learning new things. Now back to the regular program}}} I stuck on more detailing where it seemed appropriate, on top of the first coat of white chalk paint. Then I added another layer of white chalk paint, let it dry, then sanded it smooth again. Following the easy directions, I sanded random spots a little more to reveal some of the gray paint underneath. Some spots went down to the wood, too, which I really liked.

Even the silver metallic stickers look awesome with a tiny bit sanded off!

The final step to finishing off the fixtures was to add the FolkArt wax, let them dry overnight, then buff... But WAIT!!! I am losing my place here... FIRST, I knew that I needed a little extra detail on the shabby fixtures to add a bit of CHIC! I saw Casey's really easy basket tutorial when I was dreaming about this project a year ago, and ordered the Penelope canvas from The Needlepoint Joint then! Great service! It was a simple matter to measure, cut and sand the Woodsies for each cubby. Since I made 23 of them, it was a real basket party!

I made them all in only a couple of hours! Great tutorial, fun and easy to do and so satisfying to see them done!

But then, in keeping with the spirit of and vision for the project, I decided overnight to paint them all white. Ever painted things with lots of holes in them? Oh yeah! I got more paint on my fingers than anyplace else! And let me tell you, that chalk paint isn't easily removed! I didn't run embroidery floss through them - yet. I may or may not. I am not sure at this point if I want anything to compete with the colorful accessories. I like the idea of having them be the only color - the fixtures should just be the canvas. Here you see some of the baskets drying, along side the fixtures that are waxed and drying. I decided to use the clear wax because I wanted smooth and shiny, but not so used and worn. I did try the white wax, but it has more of a yellowing effect, and that made the piece I tried look a little dirty. No one wants to shop at a dirty soap store!!!

Dizzy? Me too!

{{{Side Story Interjection - I have been collecting some really fun glassware over the past year for this project and couldn't wait to set it up! I know it is waaaaay too early in the project, but I just had to see how they looked! Swoon - I just LOVE pretty, girlie glass! Soon I have to decide how I will fill them up! The seller included some soaps and candles as a Thank You for being a patient buyer, but I'll need to make MORE of EVERYTHING! Now back to the regular program}}}

After the waxed fixtures sat, I was able to begin wiping and buffing them. I actually let them sit two extra days because I was distracted - more on that in a minute. By the time I got to them, the wax had dried. Just a really quick buff with a cotton napkin and they were smooth and felt "finished".

For the next part of the project, I need to have a lot of working space. This won't be my first time making silicone molds and casting with resin, but I'm using more "professional" materials and will be working on more complicated models. In other words, I expect to wreck the joint! I think I should get the Creatin' Contest photos finished and get The Three Little Pigs: Revenge packed away for the library.

In the meantime, I'll be getting better acquainted with the Cricut Explore Air machine and the Cricut Design Space software. I'll post a full report on it next time!



  1. Hi, I had so much fun catching up on your posts today. It was a misty rainy day and so nice to hunker down on the couch and catch up on blog world.
    All that intense work and decisions - no wonder you had a migraine.
    The Mount St, Helens stonework inspiration worked out fantastically. It really does help to have inspirational pics on hand.
    All the best.
    Regards Janine

    1. Hi Janine! Thanks so much for your nice comments and for spending the rainy day reading about my mini projects!

      I also visited Bee Calmed - how exciting to be helping bees! My dad and brother recently took a class and have started two hives of their own. I am so fascinated to hear all about them! What an amazing world to be a part of! I sent my brother a link to your blog, and I hope you post more about the experience! It is so interesting. Oh! And the Insect Hotel! It is simply an amazing work of art and a treat fot the eyes!

      I am looking forward to reading Miniworks today to look at all the amazing minis I got to peek at, too!