Search My Blog!

Use the Search box below to find keywords that you're looking for quickly and easily!

Search Feature

Thursday, March 16, 2023

One Wall At A Time...

This week's mini time was focused on the second wall, referred to by that title because it is the second wall that the instructions have you attach to the foundation. It was a little challenging due to the time and care it took to finish and assemble the front door, a window and a set of French doors.

Second wall with front door and second story French doors.

So it's not confusing, let's talk about the kit's walls and where they'll go. The first wall in the instructions is the wall that I transformed into the stairwell tower. The third wall houses Alice's pop out bed cubby. These plus the second wall seemed like the "easy" walls. The final or fourth wall consists of Goldie's bed cubby (yet to be built) and the bay windows. It gets built using the pre-assembled bay windows, slip-in wall sections and single molding pieces that need to be glued together with the slots in opposite directions. That is so they can attach to the second and third walls using slots in the molding. The instructions give cut length measurements that are no longer relevant because I reduced the height of the foundation to 7/8". I'll be doing lots of math and triple checking my calculations. I may end the week with less hair than I started with! 

Now back to the "easy" second wall. At Goldie and Alice's request, I added many Dresden embellishments to give the doors a frilly, carved appearance. Thank goodness I had Wayne's dexterous raccoon fingers at my disposal - they really helped when my big hands proved too big for the job!

I used the glaze pens again to enhance the kit's acetate windows with stained glass effects. I am getting a little better with practice, and I really love the raised effect you get by applying many tiny polka dots.

They look very pretty from the inside, too.

With that part done, it was time to work on the interior of the wall. I thought it would be best to continue with the Tudor timber look and leave the colorful details for the furnishings and accessories. I clad the walls in timbers, adding door and window trims as I went. The doors and window framing were spruced up with "carvings" thanks again to Wayne. He likes to keep late hours, so when I woke and saw the work he'd done, I felt a bit like the Shoemaker must have felt when he saw that his work had been done by Elves!

Once the timbers got painted with a coat of khaki, I applied Paperclay in between the timbers as I did with the other walls. I got a bit more cracking this time as it dried. It must be more susceptible with deeper, wetter applications. It was actually fun and easy to repair. The deep cracks got a surface application of more Paperclay and the shallow cracks were smoothed over easily by rubbing them with a wet finger.

I cleaned up timbers that had a bit too much Paperclay build up on them by sanding and scraping it off. Then I applied a coat of diluted khaki paint over the timbers again. I liked the aged and worn look so I fought the instinct to make them look new. I painted the "stucco" in light washes of khaki mixed with white, then treated the corners and edges to some aging with a stronger khaki wash.

I'd like to age the doors and give them some definition with washes, but I am still working on a technique that yields the results I see in my mind's eye. What I've done so far isn't it yet, but I'll keep working at it...

Now for a little Alice and Goldie news... The girls are no longer in their skivvies! I found them each a dress and a set of long underwear that should suffice until their pretty dresses arrive from Spain - hopefully soon! They each got a pair of shoes, too, though I can't swear they'll keep them on long - they seem to have gone a bit feral lately!

It doesn't feel like I accomplished a lot this week, but I know it'll feel that way once all the walls go up. First, I have to timber and stucco the inside of the first wall. Then, I'll tackle that fourth wall - no more procrastinating! I have my work cut out for me, but I'll take it one nibble at a time.

xo xo,


Thursday, March 9, 2023

Call Me Impulsive...

As I was starting the Fairytale Treehouse's kitchen, I kept thinking about Goldie and her dream to create a porridge cookbook. I knew she would need ample space to experiment as well as 'top of the line' appliances. That is, top of the line for the era that she is living in! Suddenly, I had the whole room envisioned in my mind, and the impulse to start on her oven. Sometimes, the order I do things isn't logical. But inspiration can be fickle, so I've learned to follow it whenever it comes.

Goldie's Oven

Last week I shared a couple photos of how I began - with the first floor's dividing wall. I drew out my dimensions and then began to create the structure pieces for the oven in Design Space. I truly wasn't sure it was going to work on the first try, but the best way for me to learn is to see a thing in three dimensions to understand it. I got really lucky and the first pieces I cut worked just the way I hoped they would!

Linfield kit's first floor dividing wall.

Oven components in Design Space. Purple are the upper portion of the structure, blue the lower portion and black are the base pieces and inner structural pieces that needed to be cut on another sheet of chipboard.

After I cut the parts from chipboard with the Maker, I assembled and painted them. I attached the base to the Linfield kit's dividing wall, then added 1/4" channel molding to finish off the wall's edges.

One of the things I have been looking forward to most with this project is the opportunity to use lots of texture - by whatever materials I have available to me or by using any craft supply I can think of trying. For the dividing wall, I'd have bricks showing through Paperclay stucco. I'd clad the oven in a combination of stone and egg carton bricks. The base floor was another fun chance to try Paperclay, this time in the form of river rock.

For the wall's brick and oven's stone cladding, I used Magic Masonry - it's the sticker roll stuff  that you apply to the surface, spread stucco (or in my case joint compound) on top and then remove the tape. You are effectively removing the grout lines when you remove the tape, leaving behind the masonry. To add a little texture, I let the joint compound set up for a few minutes to become more firm, then I lightly pounced it with a paper towel.

Areas of Magic Brick, and the stove top framed in egg
 carton brick left over from another project.

Magic Stone applied to the top of the oven hood, more
 egg carton bricks applied to various areas.

In between the assorted masonry applications, I was also working on the oven door. I needed to figure out a way to make it functional, and because it is made of chipboard and not wood, I decided to make paper hinges with a toothpick as the pin. 

Three layers of the door: Frame overlay, oven front
 with opening and arched double layer door.

Frame overlay with egg carton bricks applied.

Cardstock paper hinges made by wrapping thicker card several times
around a toothpick then securing with Tacky Glue.

Oven door assembly. Two paper hinges are attached to the door and sandwiched under the smaller inner door arch piece. Two are attached to the oven front and then wrapped around to the inside of the oven front where it is secured with lots of strong glue. Then a toothpick is inserted through all four hinges to allow the door to swing open and shut. Beads have been added to the top and bottom of the toothpick for decoration as well as to keep the toothpick from coming out of the hinges. Dresden appliques have been added to the door, and a silver brad is the door handle.

The black acrylic paint looks really close to cast iron after rubbing it down with your finger. Dulled by dead skin cells, maybe? Eeeewwww!

Testing the function - it works! The little door will attach to the
side of the oven in order to feed logs into the fire.

As the finicky glued parts of the oven door were setting, I starting painting the individual bricks and rocks. The look I am after is muted and ethereal, achieved by many whitewashes, but the initial colors are bold. You might notice that I have added 1/4" x 1/4" timbers and brace pieces to the walls to lend to the Tudor illusion.

Colors taken from the color chart for this project.

Wow! Saturday morning cartoon colors!

Muted after a bit of whitewashing.

Time to apply the paperclay stucco! I like my results with the stove wall much more than I do the bedroom and kitchen walls. Practice really does make perfect (or close enough)!

Now it was time to stone the base. I brushed wood glue onto a small area at a time, then rolled up random sized Paperclay balls to squish onto the floor. I found that if the Paperclay cracked while I was forming it around the edge, a little water, rubbed on by my finger, repaired the crack. My stones were a bit thick, so it took overnight for them to dry.

The next morning, I was able to sand the stones to flatten them a bit (more even surface to stand on while cooking) and then paint my individual stones. When they dried, I sealed them with Mod Podge in preparation for the grouting process.

I used my fingers to apply joint compound into the cracks. Because the cracks were so deep, I did a second application once the first had dried. I found it was much easier to remove the joint compound from the stones without damaging them than it is to remove spackle. There must be some added stabilizer in spackle that makes it harder to remove. From now on, I will only use joint compound for grout of all kinds.

You might have noticed that I also added a mantle/shelf thing using cove molding and 1/16" x 1/2" basswood. I can't resist an opportunity to add a surface for displaying minis later on!

Shelf and joint compound finished.

Left profile.

Time to add years of use to the floor! Hey, I know it's a new treehouse, but patina is charming! I made a slurry of wash with brown, gray and khaki acrylic paint and an abundance of water. I applied about three coats and dabbed up any "overdos" with a paper towel. In between coats, I also aged the stucco and brick around the edges with a khaki wash.

My LED workroom lights are glaring, but the end photos with 
ambiance lighting gives the romantic fairytale look I am seeking!

Finally, it was time to figure out how to make a fire to heat the oven. I have been falling asleep with the intention of coming up with something realistic looking for days. Luckily, my first set of ideas worked like I'd hoped. I love the results!

I made a LED Log Fire With Glowing Embers tutorial and listed it on the Tutorials jump-off page, too.

At last, I could install the oven door and see the completed vision!

I am so amazed that the oven wall came out so close to how I had envisioned it in my mind, and that it evokes exactly the vibe I am trying to create for this project! Goldie is thrilled to be able to start on her cookbook dream, and I am reminded that it is always best to let inspiration lead you when it comes to miniatures.

Follow your impulses, my friends. You may just discover your untapped creativity!

xo xo,


Sunday, March 5, 2023

Attention MailChimp Email Subscribers

This post is for readers that subscribe by email and receive my MailChimp emails. Let me explain what that means and why it is necessary to address this function in a stand alone post...

Back before June of 2021, you could subscribe to Blogger blogs via a service called Feedburner. Essentially, by signing up, each time a new blog post posted to blogs you were signed up for, you would receive an email containing the post. A lot of readers found this convenient and blog authors loved that their readers would automatically be notified of a new post.

Blogger is a free platform hosted by the generous folks at Google. They host our interests and photos for free. A lot of us have been doing this for a long time, so the amount of things they store for us is HUGE! Pretty amazing, right? Well, there has to be a limit to the amount of resources that Google can allocate to Blogger, since it produces no revenue. That is why we see features disappearing slowly over time. In June of 2021, Blogger could no longer support email subscriptions through Feedburner, and so they provided bloggers the ability to export and save their list of email subscribers. This made it possible to employ other email services to notify subscribers, though it would be a manual process for the blog owners. I chose MailChimp because it was free for up to 2000 subscribers. That has now changed.

Sample Email Posts Sent

Beginning on March 10th, MailChimp will now only be free for email lists of up to 500 subscribers per mailing and 1000 emails per month. If your numbers are higher than that, the price goes up. Because my email list hovers around 1400 subscribers, and I generally send about four emails per month, my monthly fee to continue as I have will be $27/mo minimum. That is hard to swallow, since I make virtually no profit from my hobby.

I have spent a lot of time researching alternatives over the past month, and there just really aren't any. Not for free, at any rate. My best option, and the one that will serve my subscribers the best is to reduce the number of emails I send out. You see, 1400 emails per week go out, but only about 100 or so of the emails actually get opened and read. That's right - I have about a 7% read rate. To pay for 1400 subscribers when only 100 are reading is just not practical. So, what to do?

I have kept the actual readers. the ones who open the emails, from the last 90 days. It equates to about 200 or so. Beginning with this post, I will only be sending email posts to those subscribers. And, the emails will come from my personal gmail email. Gmail seems to be able to accommodate the number of subscribers and emails I send out each month and it is free. I am still keeping the option open for you to sign up for email subscriptions, you will just have to request that by sending me an email. And if you wish to stop receiving email posts, you'll have to let me know that, too:

As ever, I am so delighted to connect with all of you through this amazing passion we share! You keep me inspired and motivated to reach my mini dreams, and I truly hope I do the same for you!

xo xo,