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Thursday, February 29, 2024

An Unexpected Detour

Hi Guys! I hope you won't be disappointed that there's no update (other than the two photos below) on the Fairytale Treehouse's great room fireplace. I had fully expected it to be my sole focus this week. Until...

Cricut cut parts assembled, herringbone "brick" affixed to firebox.

Test fit in the great room. Goldie can't wait to roast marshmallows!

As I'm sure you've all experienced, life has a way of landing us into unexpected adventures. That's exactly what happened to Russ and me last weekend. What follows is not a post about miniatures, but is quite an exciting development for us in any case. So if you're up for something other than minis, read on...

Russ and I have both had trouble sleeping for a few years now. Sometimes the aches and pains of our aging bodies is the culprit. Sometimes it feels like we can't find the right pillow. Still other times it feels like our mattress is seeking revenge for all our tossing and turning. Whatever the plethora of causes, it's annoying! We finally came to the point where enough was enough!

Our solution and plan was to install our new, firmer mattress. After all, it's been in its box for a little over a year now!!! Then we would assemble a new frame (also a year old now) for the old mattress (which I love but Russ does not) and put it in the second guest bedroom (we seem to be finding more and more occasions for needing a second guest bedroom lately). So our plan to get a new mattress for our bedroom had additional motivating factors. 

To give more context, in 2018 we replaced the carpet with wood flooring in two of our four bedrooms. We set one up as a guest bedroom at the time. The other has been sitting empty since we finished. The last bedroom (other than ours) I'm ashamed to say is a catchall for all the stuff we don't know what to do with but can't yet decide to part with. It will stay as is until we find inspiring motivation.

As we began to tackle the mattress swap last weekend, our plans drastically expanded. At first we decided it wouldn't be that hard to empty the room so that we could install new flooring. It is long overdue. And, we thought, while we were already in DIY mode, it might be smart to go ahead and repaint, as well. One thing lead to another and soon, thanks in part to our income tax refund, we had a pretty great makeover in the works. 

Here are a few of the elements that will go into making up our new environment. It seems serene and lovely on paper, but if we still can't sleep in here after all this then there is no hope for either of us, lol! But we do hope. We hope by the end of March we'll be sleeping in our newly redecorated room. And we hope to have two guest bedrooms ready in time for Easter company. And we hope our aging bodies are up to the task!

The background color, Cream Puff, is the same color we painted in the other bedrooms.
The more I've lived with it, the more I really love it!

Under the guise of saving money, I'll be making new wall art for the room. That means I'll get to carve out some creative time. It's the next best thing to mini time! I hope you're up for expanded adventures and will enjoy the transformation with us, too!

xo xo,


Thursday, February 22, 2024

First Things First

Sometimes I get working happily away and then suddenly realize, with shocking clarity, that I'm about to make a big problem for myself. I am so grateful for that little voice that screams inside my head! Here I was, totally engrossed, making furnishings and fillings for Wayne's apartment. Thanks to that little voice, I began pondering when I should glue his partition wall and where I would run the wiring for his lights. Then it hit me: you're going to have to attach the roof. That realization sent me into an existential crisis about what I had left to do, how those tasks would affect future tasks and exactly what order of operations was going to be the most beneficial/least problematic!

That's when I totally changed gears from Wayne's place to the great room. As a reminder, it became "great" when I cut big swaths out of the second and attic floors leaving behind only the balconies. A three story room is pretty great, right? God I LOVE dollhouses!!!

You see, I always wanted something really great and worthy of a great room. And that meant a fantastic fireplace. Last February (Valentines Day to be exact), while gathering ideas about what the treehouse wanted to look like, I came across this photo. OMG instant crush!!! Cupid's arrow hit me hard. I knew I had to try and achieve the vibe of this amazing fireplace, but how? I've spent the last year working out possibilities.

First, because a lot of the wiring had to run behind the fireplace down the center of the treehouse, I'd need a hollow wall. But not a thick wall because the floorspace in the great room, thanks to the balcony, was already pretty limited. So a wall thin enough to be passable to the eye and also allow for the wiring. Thank goodness I did not attach Wayne's wall because that provided my pattern for the gabled roof. And thank goodness I did not attach the roof because I might have had a dickens of a time getting this hulking fireplace installed afterwards. I created a gabled roof pattern on cardboard from Wayne's partition wall and with this, and a few more measurements, I created the great room fireplace wall.

As you can see I used art board for the wall and lined three sides with 1/4" x 1/4" basswood to create the hollow, also providing a nice gluing surface.

And then I had to come up with a substrate for the fireplace. The gnarled tree bark will get created from paperclay or paper mache but I needed something with the basic tree trunk shape to attach everything to and to lend stability. Hello Design Space. Hello chipboard.

I started off with a bottle shape then sliced and welded until I achieved roughly the shape and size I wanted. Because my Cricut Maker only cuts chipboard that is 10.5 x 10.5 inches, I had to make the substrate in two sections to achieve the 22 inch height. The front would have a cutout for the firebox and a niche high up the chimney. The back would be solid. I was able to replicate the shape of the openings in the balcony and staircase windows to tie the firebox opening/niche in with the fairytale theme of the treehouse.

I attached the bottom and top sections of the front and back fireplace pieces, gluing art board across the inside seams to lend strength. For the sides of the fireplace I used more art board scrap. It can easily be scored to make the gentle bends I needed but also makes for a sturdy substrate. 

Once I had the sides securely glued it was time to make the firebox and the framing for the niche.

And that is where I'll stop for today, my friends. Today is mine and Russ' 37th wedding anniversary and he's playing hooky from work. 😉 

A shotgun, Vegas wedding, no money for rings and no clue what was ahead. But here we are, 37 years later, still in love, still really liking each other and proving love truly does conquer all. 💘💗💘💗💘

February 22, 1987

One last thing before I go... I made a bunch of newspapers for Wayne's apartment and thought I'd share the printies. They are great for filler or to use as props under mini art projects, on attic walls or shop windows, crumpled in trash bins or stacked in messy rooms. 

xo xo,


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Setbacks and Revamps

Setbacks, difficulties, impediments, obstacles or failures. It doesn't matter which term you attach to any outcome that is other than the one you wanted. What's important is that you never give up. I believe if you learn anything it's still progress. I got many chances to practice that principle working on Wayne's furniture this week. At times I had to battle frustration and disappointment, but by reframing how I thought about each setback, I was able to revamp things and keep enjoying my mini time.

Things started off well with Wayne's kitchen table and chairs. I designed the pieces in Design Space and cut them from 2 mm chipboard. The table is a simple round table with the top in two pieces, one slightly smaller than the other, to create a step down effect. The base started out as a half circle and a bowling pin with some aspects sliced away. Can you see it? This gave it a unique shape. Opposing notches are cut into each piece so that they can slide together. The set went together great the first time and, most importantly, Wayne liked them. They'll need a bit of aging to give them character, but I'll wait and do that with the rest of the chipboard furnishings at the same time.

A perfect fit for Wayne!

For size perspective, Wayne is 2" tall and about an inch wide.

The next pieces I worked on, Wayne's leather club chairs, were a lot more complicated. I made it as easy on myself as possible by using the chair pattern I'd previously created for the Beachside Bungalow's bedroom. All I had to do was resize the pattern down to Wayne size. To give them club chair characteristics, I revamped the shape of the back of the chair. 

You can see below a good demonstration of the difference in scale from 1/12th to Wayne's scale, which I believe is close to 1/36th (G scale in model railroading).

Beachside Bungalow's bedroom
Wayne's chair back looks like a slice of toast, lol!
The brown pieces are cut from chipboard, the white from cardstock.

I finished the chair using the upholstery process from One Inch Minis and used tiny patterned/thin upholstery fabric. 

Some might call this good enough with fabric on, but Wayne requested leather.

Then came the challenging part: faux leather. While I've seen several YouTube Tutorials on how to achieve a faux leather look on upholstery and fabric, I didn't adhere strictly to any one method. Rather, I took aspects I thought made sense from some of them. All included applying a good coat of Mod Podge first to essentially seal and smooth the surface. I let that cure overnight before giving the chairs a light base coat of nutmeg brown. I wanted some of the yellow tones to show through.

Once dried I sponged on a darker brown mixed with satin glazing medium. It looked like we were getting somewhere!

But when I took photos, I noticed that when magnified by the camera close up, the fabric looked as though it had "pilled" up. Yikes!

Apparently, they needed a thicker coat of Mod Podge. That helped, but they still looked pretty flat and one dimensional. I was beginning to worry that all my time invested into these would result in one big failure. Ugh.

Finally, after adding highlighting and aging with a dark wash and dry brushing, I can live with them. The final sheen was achieved with a 50/50 mix of satin varnish and matte varnish. One was too shiny and one was too flat. Mixed in equal parts seems to have been the sweet spot. The yellow label Mod Podge was great as a pre-sealer, but made them look a little more like vinyl and less like leather. Which could work to your advantage on some pieces... say, pool inflatables? Thankfully, after I kept at them, Wayne is thrilled! He said he can't wait until he has a lamp that he can read by. I can't wait to catch him snoozing in one some afternoon!

The next revamp began when I had all of Wayne's furniture sitting together on my work table. The bed I had made for him last fall (when I made Roz and Rosario's beds) looked huge! And it kind of was. Not in its width or length, but definitely in height. And since the bed is going to be in a room with gabled roofs, height surely matters.

The big bed is a good length and width, but Wayne needs a stool to climb in!

Rather than lamenting about all the time it took to create the big bed (and to sew all the bedding), I decided to look at this as an opportunity to make another fun bed style perfectly sized for Wayne. I designed it from scratch in Design Space with layered head and foot boards and an inlay of carved tree branches. It took an entire day to design, cut, assemble, add bark to the branches, let dry and begin painting. I got nearly to the final phase of finishing before I found faults with my design. The footboard was a bit too tall, the legs were a bit too tall and any comfy looking mattress was going to block too much of the headboard inlay. It was hard to admit, but it just didn't work. Finally, I faced facts and realized that I liked the style of his big bed much, much better. 

This design still needs work.

Here are the big bed and the first revamp in the gabled bedroom...

Big bed

First prototype of the revamped bed. It measures 2" tall, 2" wide, and 3" deep.

Since I had resized the chair successfully I thought I could try resizing the big bed pattern into a more petit version. This meant reducing the height of the legs off the floor and the height of the head and foot boards. The width and length would remain the same and, hopefully, it would keep its character. I essentially just sliced off the legs, sliced out a section from all the head and foot board pieces and then welded them back together again. Et voila!

Wayne's big bed pieces in brown and the petit version in purple.

The revised bed seems promising! It looks a lot like the big bed and will be a much better fit for both Wayne and the gabled bedroom. With a little perseverance, by next week, it'll be just right. 

I'll leave you this week with a peek at the new entry step down and built in bookshelves that are a work in progress. Wayne is a bit of a pack rat so this space will fill up fast! I'm not set on the layout just yet, but I'm confident something will make sense, soon!

I hope you're revamping your "setbacks" and turning them into improvements, too!

xo xo,