from Fingertip Fantasies Dollhouse Miniatures
How do I pick out a
dollhouse? This is a question we are often asked in my shop.
Next question, Are they hard to build? Answer- yes
If on the other hand, they tell me that they have
been building things since they were young,
Next, of course, is price. In Miniatures, as in
almost everything else, you get what you pay for.
Now, if you are crafty and willing to take the
time and dream a little, you can turn a small,
SUGGESTED TOOLS & SUPPLIES FOR BUILDING
1. STORAGE BOX ( FISHING TACKLE BOXES WORK WELL).
2. SCISSORS, SMALL AND LARGE
3. TWEEZERS -POINTED AND ANGLED
5. RULER AND SQUARE
6. X-ACTO KNIFE AND #11 BLADES ( SPARES)
7. WIRE STRIPPER
8. NEEDLE NOSE PLIERS
9. SMALL HAMMER WITH SHORT HANDLE
10. MASKING TAPE
11. FINE SAND PAPER
12. MITER BOX AND SAW (SIZED FOR MINIATURES)
13. SMALL "C" CLAMPS, OR SPRING TYPE CLOTHES PINS.
14. MINI DRILL & DRILL BITS
15. WAX PAPER (TO GLUE ON)
16. GLUE - YOUR CHOICE - WE RECOMMEND WELD BOND.
TOOLS :(These are not absolutely necessary, but will make the job easier!)
Scroll Saw, Moto Tool, Small palm sander, Miter Cutter ,The Chopper, Light with a magnifying glass
Good lighting and a small table lamp.
Paper towel, Handy Wipes _(these are very helpful, for when the phone rings and you have glue, paint, etc., on your hands!)
If you are electrifying your house, get your kit when you purchase your dollhouse/kit. This way, you can plan your
wiring schematic as you build and it will be more organized. The basic kit for wiring has a booklet that will help you with
the floor plan. Push pins are helpful to decide where to start drilling for brads, and a brad placement tool is very handy.
There are other tools you will acquire as you go along, if you do find one that is particularly helpful,
please let us know and we will add it to our list for other miniaturists.
I have found it a good practice to purchase a notebook and sheet protectors (a notebook with pockets is great) when I first purchase a dollhouse kit. This is a good way to start and to stay organized as you build, collect and enjoy your miniatures and dollhouses.
I try to start this "Memoir" as soon as I purchase the kit. I either get a card from the shop where I purchased it, or at least put the source
of the kit, i.e. Miniature/Dollhouse shop, hobby store, garage sale, ebay, etc. I also show what I paid for the kit and include the receipt
or attach a copy of it. I then list any and all parts and supplies I may have purchased the same day or as I purchase them in my travels.
I take pictures as I go along, including the box the kit came in! Just nostalgic, but really gives you a sense of accomplishment to look
back to the beginning and where you are now. I make a simple time sheet, and list all the time that I spend building, planning,
painting, decorating, etc., the house. When you are finished, add up the hours, and you will value your "treasure" even more.
All of this information can be very valuable should you ever suffer a loss to your dollhouse, damage from a storm, moving, fire,
flooded basement, etc. Once you have determined what you have invested in the dollhouse, you may want to talk to your insurance
provider and get some insurance on it! They can become quite valuable, and replacement is easier when you know the investment
you have made.
This also goes for when you may decide to sell the house, or if you need to know the value, you won't have to have it appraised, as you
will already know the value. Unfortunately, your time has a value, but too few times, no one understands how much time you have
spent on this project, so having the record is great.
Shingling your house can be frustrating!! Sometimes it is harder to decide what profile to use; color; whether to use one or two different profiles; or asphalt or wood.
Look at your house. Decide what style and period you have and then if you are still un-decided, go to the Library or use your Dollhouse references to see what others have done and what you like. Remember, it is your house and you can make it look however you please.
I, personally, like the wood shingles. When I use them, I decide ahead what color they will be and then I take the shingle dye, paint or stain and put it in a 1 pound coffee can and add the shingles a handful at a time and (wearing rubber gloves) stir them around with my hand until they are all coated. Next I remove them to an old window screen that I keep for drying shingles and other wood items that need to be coated both sides and dried evenly. I save whatever colorant is left and put the lid on the can so that if I need more or need it for touch up, I have it. This is especially important if you mix your own colorant – it is hard to duplicate it unless you know exactly what measurements you used for your mix. Another way of coloring the wooden shingles is to “wash” them after they are on the roof. This is done with a sponge and paint. You dilute the paint (latex) and then dip your sponge in, wring or squeeze it out so that it is pretty dry and then dab it on the shingles. This gives you a weathered or aged look that is very nice.
After allowing the shingles to dry thoroughly, I am ready to start. I “grey” in the roof with a light coat of primer. This is a good way to seal the wood and if you don’t get the shingles placed closely enough and there is a gap, it won’t be as noticeable. Then I decide what my spacing will be and mark the roof side to side with a lead pencil making lines so that I can be sure the shingles are straight.
I like “Gloop” for my adhesive. It is from Canada and works very well. Soap and Water clean up if you don’t let it sit too long before you try to remove it. I use a tongue depressor or plastic knife, spatula whatever to spread a thin coating on the roof. I usually do about two of the rows at a time so that the “Gloop” doesn’t dry out too much before I get the shingles placed.
You will need an Xacto or craft knife to cut shingles when they don’t fit right. I let the shingles hang over the edge of the roof until the “Gloop” is set up and then I either cut or snap them off at the edge, carefully. If necessary, you can use a small brush with some of the colorant to touch the edges so they are not white and odd looking.
The peak can be finished with the shingles or a roof cap available in most dollhouse shops. Each house is different, so I don’t have a favorite way to finish. Use those reference books for doing the dormers, they can be trying.
Have fun, and remember, be patient, it is time consuming, but the finished house will be worth the effort.
Electrifying – To do or Not to do!! Personally, I want the electric in my houses. This gives me the option to use it or not. I have talked to many and some are just adamant that they do not want to electrify. I think it scares some off, but it doesn’t have to. With the good books available and the one that comes in the CirKit electrical kits, it is easier than you think.
Should you have problems even with these helps, there are avenues to pursue to find help, i.e., your local miniature/dollhouse shop, the Internet, clubs, other miniaturists.
You don’t have to scrub the whole plan, just look for and ask for help.
I would warn you, I became an addict to electrifying!! It is so cool the first time you wire a room box, house, or whatever and it lights. WOW!! What fun, and the possibilities are endless, experiment, have fun and enjoy your hobby. You will also be well rewarded when the “ooohs and awws” come your way when you light it up for your family and friends. Neat stuff.
The following is a neat poem from Lynne Roberts that I thought I would pass along to all of you miniaturists out there, who might enjoy reading this.
A MINIATURE VIEWPOINT
have tree stumps in the bedroom
dollshouse in the bedroom
not like Other Mothers
making little flowers
interrupt the bidding
By Lynne Roberts
you enjoyed this, I have for many years,
Wallpaper or paint?? Your choice, or use some of each. Just remember that you may only be looking at one room at a time, but when someone new comes to look at your creation, they will first look at the whole picture. Therefore, I always try to use co-coordinating colors, patterns etc. This way, it doesn’t look jumbled.
I particularly like wallpaper. I assemble the house and then do the wallpapering. I like to go around corners, not just to the corner, that way, if there is the tiniest gap, you can cover it with the paper. I do not install doors or windows or the trims until after I have wallpapered. That way, you can get the paper closer to the openings and when you put the windows, doors and trims in place, you will have a nicer, cleaner finish.
Some people like to make templates of each room and then cut the paper to fit. This is a good way especially with tricky spots, like slanted roofs or dormers. When the walls are just straight with no “tricks” I just measure, cut and install. I always keep some wallpaper Gel on hand for hard to apply spots. It is also good if you happen to tear the paper, a lot of times you can mend the tear without having to replace the whole sheet.
Have fun, it is rewarding when you look at the finished room or rooms –what a sense of accomplishment and pleasure you will have.
Sanding – A really boring, menial, time consuming, Absolutely Necessary task!!
My advice to you is to be patient when sanding. Don’t rush it or “cut corners”. The end results will be worth it, trust me.
Always sand in the direction of the grain (the lines in the wood – if there are any). Don’t push too hard, let the sandpaper do the work. Some people even like to use a brown paper bag that has no staples or anything stuck in it. This works well in a lot of cases,
Remember to sand between coats of paint or varnish and you will be rewarded with a satiny smooth finish. Very professional and pleasing in appearance.
After you sand, a piece of flannel, netting or cheesecloth is great to wipe away the excess dust. Don’t just blow it off – you will probably end up with the dust somewhere else in or on your work that you don’t want it. Also, protect your eyes from the dust as it can be irritating to the eyes.
Do remember, I told you it was boring, but rewarding – PATIENCE!!
When you purchase your first dollhouse kit (and subsequent ones!) it is a good idea to read all the instructions thoroughly before beginning.
The second important step is to sort the parts (as per the instructions) and identify each part and label them to make the whole process easier. Masking tape is a wonderful label and you can remove it easily once you no longer need it.
After this step, make sure that you have the supplies, tools, space and lighting available to be able to start the build and not have to move everything each time you need to stop.
Keep your receipts. I find it very helpful to keep a small notebook for each house I work on and keep notes on how the build goes as well as all the receipts so that I have an idea how much money the final house is worth. I also keep a log of my time spent on the project, just for my own knowledge. Years later, I look back and find all this information interesting and sometimes, invaluable.
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