Friday, December 7, 2018

Decisions, Decoupage and Disasters

Last week I was having so much trouble deciding where to start with the Cottage's interior that I just kept busy making chairs and baskets filled with tea related goodies. There are so many little things I have planned and want to try that choosing a room to start with was difficult! In the end, I decided that I was most excited about the kitchen. So, that meant making up the kits to fill out the space.

I started with the center work table. Though it's a small kitchen, I knew it would provide an essential work and storage surface (and display area) and would justify taking up the valuable real estate. A long while ago I'd purchased an auxiliary table from MenutmonShop on Etsy. I'm glad I did because they are not selling currently, and it had the perfect dimensions for the space. I kept it very neutral, as the appliances you'll see later in the post were very colorful! Plus, I thought it would be better to see the things displayed there rather than the table itself. So I just stained the butcher block top and shelf, made the structure in worn warm white, then added lace trims to give it a feminine touch. I also added a pot metal towel bar, an essential kitchen element.

I had an Art Of Mini Stepping Stool Kit in my stash. It's so cute and just the perfect size for the small space next to the kitchen sink alcove. I made the bracing aged warm white again, and decoupaged the steps.

Original Kit Photo

For the wall space above the stool, I had a Vintage Wall Shelf Kit to customize for the kitchen. I've used this kit in several builds because I just love them. I painted mine in softened Cameo Blush and replaced the floral poster with a Tea Room image I found online. I also added a hook with plate to hang a future apron from. It looks really large in this photo!

Original Kit Photo

I also had Phoenix Models 1940's Metro "Speedway" Gas Cooker and Retro Fridge kits to paint and assemble. Here's where I'll give a bit of a product review as I talk about my experience with the kits. Know in advance that I am not trying to steer you away from doing them, but I did find them complicated, and wish I'd had a review to read with some tips before I chose them for my cottage.

Original Kit Photos

Just The Facts

  • They are made of what they call White Metal, so they are Very Heavy
  • The Gas Cooker measures 4-9/16" H x 2-1/8" W (with the gas pipe) x 2" D.
  • The Fridge measures 3-5/8" H x 2" W x 2-1/4" D with the handle.
  • They come completely unassembled and need to be washed, primed and painted in several colors depending on the finish you choose. There are A LOT of parts, especially the range.
  • They are historically accurate to the 1930's - 1940's.
  • They are great for small spaces.
  • They have lots of detail.

Things To Know

  • I found it a little complicated to have to figure out which was the inside, outside front and back. The instructions say the parts are marked, but they are not. Do A TON of dry fitting until you intimately know every part.
  • There are no assembly photos. The stove has an exploded diagram of the parts but it is difficult to see the individual pieces to discern positioning. The fridge instructions only show a finished photo. In it the freezer is installed incorrectly.
  • Tabs and slots don't always match up, requiring careful cutting and carving of the metal. Do this in dry fit Prior to painting. Be careful - some parts are soft and weak and prone to breaking.
  • You must prime and paint all the proper sides and then afterwords scrape away to provide a raw metal gluing surface. This may wreck your paint job if you're not careful.
  • After gluing, you may have to touch up joins. This can be difficult to mask and get spray paint only where you want it.
  • If you are not comfortable with several sessions of 5 minute epoxy, these are not the kits for you.
  • The oven racks are just barely wide enough so you have to bend out the last spokes on each side to keep them from falling.
I had a rough go in addition to the above mentioned things because I chose a Bad Paint. I specifically researched and ordered this paint because it was supposed to be The BEST. It also came in a multitude of colors.

Montana Black Spray Paint. Not At All What I Was Hoping For
 I am not sure If I just got a bad can, but after careful prep work and priming, the paint basically ruined my parts. This was the Disaster part of this post. My choices were to scrape and sand each piece and start over or to live with a bumpy surface. I chose to live with bumpy. Let me also just say that I have a ton of experience with spray painting, both in miniature and in real life projects. I know about shaking the can ten times longer than you think you need to, temperatures, spray patterns, pooling and all kinds of techniques. This was just bad paint.

Primed Pieces Look Great!

Bumpy Montana Black Spray Paint.

Close Up Of Surface.
It was really disappointing because I wanted a real enamel finish. But such is life and especially minis, so we move on and learn. Here's what they look like finished up. Notice that I replaced the plain stove back for tiles and omitted the plate rack and shelf. In the upper cabinets I built for the kitchen, I already incorporated a plate rack so it looked weird. Also, I left a lot of the parts bare metal and shined them up with steel wool. The kit instructions called for black paint, but that seemed too heavy in such a small kitchen. I may try to carefully scrape the rest of the paint off the hinge mechanisms on the fridge once I know the epoxy id fully cured.

And here's everything in the kitchen...

Now that I'd had a chance to play with different colors and fabrics for the dining room chairs, I made up a House Of Miniatures Hepplewhite Table & Chairs Kit / Chairs Only for myself. I painted mine in a color called Green Tea because I liked it in the room and the name seemed appropriate. 

I went to Kisspng to find the images to create the decoupaged top. These are what I used.

And here's the finished collage.

And here's the table and chairs finished and then in the room. I added lace edging for extra detail. I like the size for the space, I might make a round rug at some point with the same elements for the tabletop.

So that was it for the week, and now I can start thinking about whether I'll finish making all of the furnishings and such or just get to decorating the kitchen. My gut is telling me to get the major pieces done in each room and then I'll have an easier time knowing where to put what in terms of decor items.

Hope you're all not experiencing the same kinds of challenges as me this week, and that everything just comes together for you!

xo xo,

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Playing Dress Up

You'd think that a person who was soooo excited to begin working on the interior of her cottage would have a plan and know exactly what to start with. Um, no, I'm embarrassed to say... Traveling to AZ to visit my folks was wonderful, but all that sunshine in November kind of threw me off track!

So while I contemplate where to begin, I thought I might audition some chairs for the dining room. That meant making up some chair kits. And while I was at it, why not play a little bit, too? I decided to make six of the same HOM chairs but in several different styles, then accessorize them just for fun.

The two dark pink ones on the end are slated for the cottage's dining room, but need some work. White wax? Inked edges? Not sure yet so to be decided...

Of course each chair needs a pot of flowers to compliment it's style...

And some journals with a tassel bookmark...

And of course a cup of tea with tea bag, saucer, spoon and cookie...

My fingers are just 12 times too large for making these tea bags an easy task!

And a basket...

With a box of tea...

After making 42 of these tea bags, I developed a knack.

Raw Honey...

And tea towels...

And bird houses just for fun...

They need a little more character, just like these...

And here is each little chair, one in each style, almost finished...

I still don't know what I'm going to start with on the cottage interior, but I sure had fun playing dress up!

I hope in the midst of all the holiday hoopla, you're finding time to play, too! It truly is food for the soul!

xo xo,

I was honored to be asked to have the Sweet Christmas Cottage included in the December issue of Dollshouse & Miniatures Scene. The editor, Carl, made me take a photo of myself to include with the article, a thing only slightly worse to me than a root canal. So if you're curious, I'm on pages 28-29. Who's that middle aged woman? Ah jeeze! Is that really me?!? :/ Yep. My 50th birthday happens in December, so maybe "middle aged" is a little too generous. Unless I plan on living past 100. Which I do, because that's how long it will take to complete all the miniature projects I have dreamed. ;o)