I had a dream the other night that someone sent me an email in all caps (shorthand for AWESOME) that said "UPDATE YOUR BLOG OR TAKE IT DOWN!!!!!!!!!!".
(There may have been an "eleventy!!" in there somewhere, but I don't keep a dream journal, so I can't tell you for sure.)
So, I thought I'd update. There's been lots of interesting stuff going on in the world recently, and I recommend you idly play around with my links bar to get some great insight on it, because I'm going to talk about my dollhouse.
Yes, this weekend I took the components and bits of my little thrift store doll house to the farm and spent a lovely rainy weekend painting and putting it together. I managed to hurt myself quite spectacularly with spray painting (squeezing/pressing the sprayer is exactly the kind of action guaranteed to get every nerve in my arm screaming), but I took yesterday off to rest it, and even though the pictures I took are dark and blurry (I took them at night, and didn't have spotlights), I think you'll agree that it was worth it.
Even if you don't, I think it was worth it. The thing with chronic pain is that you just can't wait for a bit and do things when they don't hurt, sometimes you just take the consequences. And I love doll's houses.
Anyway - I got this house at a thrift store, as I said, for about $12. It has only four rooms (I added an extension of a box room that Bob made for me a few years back), it was painted a hideous purple and fuschia pink, was missing several roof shingles, and the staircase to the upper floor. The staircase was in an awkward spot anyway (in front), so I planned to simply fill in the hole and pretend the stairs were in a part of the house you can't see. Alas, I didn't take a picture of the old paint job, but trust me, it was pretty bad.
I had tried to paint it a while ago with acrylics, but the outside really needed to be sprayed. I did, however, do up the insides somewhat, using some wallpapers that Bob got me. But I never finished two of the room floors (after prying up the horrible ceramic tile the previous owner had put in), and the house sat idle for a year or two, with vague plans for something in the future.
Well, I ended up getting some furniture, so I thought now was as good a time as any. This was spurred on by the fact that Catherine Grace, Ansel, Isaac, and Emily visit sporadically and end up doing house stuff for us which is amazingly nice of them, and Emmy really likes the Playmobil "tavern" and pirates I have, but was disappointed that the building doesn't actually open, so you can't get to all the rooms. I thought it would be fun for her to have an actual dollhouse to play with next time they visited, and I like playing too, so I hauled various shoeboxes of miniature furniture and accessories, paint, flowers, and bits of craft stuff down to the farm this weekend and went to town.
I put in floors, painted the outside, and temporarily furnished the house. I have plans (thanks to Bob's excellent suggestions) to attach the room box to the side with a slightly larger wooden base underneath which will also give me a little room to make flowerbeds, and to turn the flat top of the room box into a rooftop patio/garden. The outside of the room box needs to be painted, but enough of my plans - you want pictures, amirite?
The front of the painted house and the top of the room box:
The house is actually white, not cream, but it was photographed in low light. Keep in mind, all the trim used to be lilac purple, and the walls bright fuschia/magenta pink. I based the trim paint on a real house of roughly that vintage that I saw in Ellicott City. I made the pots of flowers from bridal picks I bought from Michael's Arts and Crafts (they also have the mini terracotta pots).
The bits and pieces on top of the room box (you can see it's completely unfinished on the outside) are going to be made into a potted plant garden - the plant stand came from a bag of random dollhouse bits I picked up in an antique store for $14. I added the wooden pots (also from Michael's), which I will "age" later, when I bring down my paints next time.
The interior rooms:
This is the house - I made the larger downstairs room the dining room, and the room box is the sitting room. I have all female dolls right now, though I plan to get some men eventually. I have a housekeeper (she's in the kitchen), and a maid (in the sitting room, not in this photo). Now, the rooms in more detail:
Again, apologies for the dim lighting - I was on the floor, and it was evening. Once it's finally put together, I'll take better pics, I promise. But in these pictures you can see the housekeeper, a bit of the stove (which is really too big for this house, and I'll be getting a smaller one, and the bigger one will go into the bigger house I plan to get), and my favourite, the dresser (sometimes known as a Welsh Dresser), which has some Victorian canned goods and stuff on it. The small cans are permanently glued in, because otherwise, they'd go flying every time I jogged the house, but I have other cans that can be used for other dioramas. I love little tiny bits.
Here's a slightly better picture of the downstairs, with less furniture that I took a few weeks ago:
You can see how tiny the kitchen is! I switched dressers around and decorated the new one - the black dresser is now in the sitting room, waiting for books and items to be glued to it so it looks cool.
The furniture is mostly from Hobby Builder's Supply, as is the doll, and the canned goods are from an antique store. Other bits have been gathered over time from craft stores and painted, especially the pink bowls, which I did myself.
The Dining Room:
It's a bit overfilled, thanks to the tiny size of the house, but I like it. The dining table and chairs and the corner cabinet in the back came from Williamsburg Pottery, and the flowers on the table came from a shop in the UK. The carpet and the side table were part of the room Bob made for me, and the clock was part of the bag of stuff from the antique store. The dolls are from The Victorian Trading Company (referenced in an earlier post).
I did not set up the entire dining table, but I did put out the tray of pastries I put together:
I bought the cake years ago, but I got the pastries from Hobby Builder's, and glued them to a plate I painted myself. I love minature food.
Let's go upstairs to the bedroom!
I love this room - the dolls (mother and baby) came from the UK - they're separate dolls. I got the bed and the vanity stool in the aforementioned antique store bag o' bits (I had to glue it back together), and the terrible bedding is from a thrift store bag of doll bits. The rest of the furniture came from Hobby Builder's, and the teddy bear in the cradle is a miniature ceramic. The rug is a hand made antique, and I love it. I filled in the hole where the staircase was (it's an ugly fix, but it's hidden by the floorboards), and that's where the doll is sitting.
The vanity has several miniatures from all over - once upon a time, Michael's had a bunch of miniatures (back when little dioramas were big among the crafty set), and I got things like the teeny tiny box of tissues then. I ordered the tray for the perfumes, and made the perfume "bottles" myself from beads, except for the moulded top "crystal" piece, which was part of a set I bought at a toy store in Ellicott City, which is one of the few stores around here that still sells doll house stuff.
Pretty simple - but I love the tiny loo paper rolls by the loo. I got those years ago. The bath, loo, and sink came as a set, and I indulged myself with the bath caddy you can see a bit better in the second picture - it's by a company that is used by the Smithsonian to sell doll house dioramas. It was a little pricey ($16), but nothing compared to the price of some of their stuff! The floor is just paper, but I figured it was such a tiny room, anything heavier would take up too much room. Of course, as you can see by the empty towel rack, I need towels.
I plan to make a lot of the textile pieces I need - sheets, pillows, curtains, towels. I might even make a tiny quilt. Fun!
And finally (I know, long post!), the sitting room:
This is the room box that Bob made for me - I've added some things to it, but he made it and furnished it as a birthday present several years ago, after he found out that I loved doll houses. One of the funnier things he got was the cat in the front of the coffee table, which I had to repaint slightly, as it had the most obscene tummy, with giant nipples (it was supposed to be feeding kittens, or something). It ended up being in the perfect position to cause mischief, so it's been attacking that bowl of roses for years. :)
It still has a lot to be done, but I'm very pleased with how it's looking so far. It's meant to be played with, so I'll be gluing some of the really tiny pieces in (so they don't get lost or annoying - having things fall every which way every time you reach in to move something is maddening), and finishing off the box, and adding the base so the whole thing can be moved as one piece.
And maybe making a back for it, so I can keep the dust out. Right now, it's sitting on top of the piano, covered in a sheet, as leaving it on the floor guarantees spider squatters moving in. Painful or not, I really loved working on it this weekend, and there's still a bunch to be done. This is my fun experimental house before I make the bigger one someday, so I'm playing with different ideas. But it should be a wonderful toy once it's done, and I will have added another delightful memory from my childhood to my house. This makes me happy.