It All Starts Here

Sometimes our ideas flow from an existing kit to bash, a house style to scratch (aka custom) build, or from an interesting doll who needs a place to live. Our settings are always modern-day (ca. 2001 when we started this hobby). We try to create things that will make people smile and feel good.

We think that if we had to build the same house twice, we literally could not do it! Fortunately, we have very unique little people who have definite opinions and so far, no one has wanted a house “like so-and-so” has.

We work as a family unit: my wonderful husband, my beautiful sister, and I. We don't always agree as to the direction of the build, but I think that we end up with a better dollhouse because of all our grumblings -- and we do have a lot of fun!

The Purpose of this Blog

We needed a place for all we wanted to say about the background of the build and the nuts and bolts of the design and build process. Thus this blog.

All our dolls' homes have families living in them and a story is built around their personalities and lifestyles. This story is an integral part of our building process. We would like to share these stories -- actually, the little people insist upon it!

Many of our houses are located in Fredericksburg, Virginia because that is my sister's favorite place.

Also, we have started a Rouges' Gallery with photos of our little people and information about the dolls.

If you would like to start with the dollhouse that "started it all", it is the Original Rowbottom Manse; if you would like to see the scratch-built Georgian that our first build gave us the confidence (or fool-hardiness) to do, it is Sunnybrook Farm.

Let the stories begin!

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Led Lighting - first try

I did buy some individual LED light fixtures. There are some very attractive styles available. The lights are expensive, but they don't have to be wired in and can be placed at a moment's whim. They use an individual battery. We are paying for convience. The LED strip (as sold by RGT and HBS) is also very expensive.

I have a few concerns about the fixtures: they are heavy, some of the styles are a little bigger than I would have liked, and the bulbs put out a harsh white light. Solutions: The light may require gluing in place if the sticky pad gives out, and the bulbs can be painted with Gallery Glass of some color (amber was recommended). Gallery Glass peels off if one doesn't like the color and one can try again. Perhaps shortly, the manufaturers will use a softer light bulb. With regard to the size of the light--have to live with it.

I think that this type of lighting fixture should take off like hotcakes! While the light is pricey, and once every couple of years may need a new battery, there is no cost for tape or round wire, grommets, transformers, junction splices, all the other unnamed tools and "paraphernalia", and the blood, sweat, and tears!
Well, I tried painting the LED fixtures with Gallery Glass and I guess it is an improvement but ... still not crazy about the light color. I did buy a lovely outdoor LED light for Casa Lobo that comes with an amber colored light. I like this light. I saw some other LED lights that have a softer light.
I finally tested the LED strip lighting made by RGT. I bought the "bright white" color and it is very nice. I will also buy the "warm white" color. In some situations, one color light will be preferred over the other. I like the idea that you can use one or as many LED sections as you need for any given lighting fixture--just "cut on the dotted line", so to speak. I want to make individual "fixtures", and then attach them to the electrical system. That is, I am not using grommets or brads to attach. Therefore, I have attached wire to the strip at the initial two copper connecters and will attached that wire to a plug.

to be continued ...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Build Update#1 2004 Oddjob Lane exterior upgrade

While I always thought that 2004 Oddjob Lane was charming straight from the box, I also always thought that I could maybe "add something to it". (This dollhouse was purchased at Odd Job Stores -- now out of business). It was a completed house just needing putting together.

Original enamel painted house.
I considered, and rejected a number of changes: add 2 inches to the back of the house (the rooms are only 11 1/2 inches deep); add an addition with a covered porch on the ground floor and an extension to the living room on the first floor; change the roof line to a true hip roof and add a room in the attic; and some others. Only the roof change is still in the running.

About a month ago, I knew what the house needed--a more elegant exterior!
  1. Stucco exterior. I used a "sand grout with glue" in Alabaster from Home Depot. This stuff goes on easily and stuck without any problem on a glossy enamel paint without sanding. Beware, though, this stuff dries hard; then corrections are almost impossible to make. The problems I had were that I could not remove the quoins, windows, nor other trim to make stucco-ing easy. Thus the finish is not exactly as smooth as I would have liked; but I am still pleased.
  2. Quoins and balusters. I painted these with Duncan stone texture paint in Sand color. This color was too dominate for the stucco color so I gave them a wash of white paint (actually a couple of washes) to tone the color down.
  3. Brickwork. The foundation of the house, full-height chimneys, the step risers, and the walkway were painted with DecoArt stone texture paint in Light Brown (really a red-brown). After it dried, I scored those areas (the house is MDF) into bricks. I could not score the chimneys. I used 1/2 inch x 3 inch pine and I had to score against the grain and it didn't work. So, brick chimneys are still up for grabs. If worse comes to worst, I will leave them as "brick-colored stucco".
  4. Porch and step treads. I painted these with DecoArt stone texture paint in Grey
  5. All the white enamel trim was repainted with a soft-white flat (real house) paint I had on-hand.
  6. Landscaping. I am using (because I had it at home) green craft styrofoam as the "form". The grass areas will be covered with either Heiki or Noch grass mat. I haven't work out the landscape design yet.
  7. The roof will be redone as a Georgian hip roof with one or two rooms in the attic.
The new look!
Closeup of porch and brickwork.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ok, some more Christmas at Sunnybrook Farm

I have reviewed some more of the photos for Sunnybrook and uploaded them to Webshots also.

Since about 100 guests accepted invitations, they are everywhere in the house! I guess they will be staying awhile!

Foyer with guests arriving
Another view of foyer
Living room

Another view of living room

Dining room

Another view of dining room

Well, at least I got something done!

I keep trying to do something on my houses every day. Unfortunately, sometimes that means I just sit in front of them and daydream! I am not a procrastinator -- just a dreamer.

I am still waiting to finish the lights and landscaping at Casa Lobo but I have decided that that will have to wait for the New Year. I know where I want more lights, but the landscaping is not "talking"to me. The house takes up most of the 2 x 4 foot plywood it is on.This means that the house only has about 6 inches on each side and in the front. I think that is enough to do the landscaping. The front entry has a nice patio. --Just need somethiing for desert plants... I didn't think it would be this hard.

I decided that this year I would just decorate the inside of Sunnybrook Farm (aka The Big G). I usually do a couple of the houses, inside and out, but not this year. As a result, about 100 of my little people have gathered and are partying happily. Some haven't seen each other for years! 

I took a lot of pictures of the party but haven't finished reviewing them (I am not the world's greatest photographer). I did do a "panorama" composite of two shots using Photoshop Elements 9 and I was impressed with the result. The party is going on also in some rooms in the wings. Those and other photos shortly.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Well, a little sideways, for the mo'

I decided to stop working on finishing Oddjob Lane or Casa Lobo, probably until the new year.

I am with the little people for a while, though, since I want to decorate Sunnybrook for the holiday parties and get all the guest in place!

Then I must get myself and my real house ready for the holidays!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Casa Lobo, somewhat neglected

I did take some pictures, but didn't like the way they turned out. I would like to blame the camera, but, alas, I think the problem is the photographer! I shall try again. I am also thinking of adding more lights but haven't followed though on that yet.

I love the brass, battery, LED chandelier that I have used, but one, it doesn't put out much light; two, it put out a garish blue toned light that I didn't like. I dabbed a spot of translucent orange Gallery Glass on the bulbs. This definitely helped. There is nothing to be done about the amount of light. Perhaps, my chandelier is a bit deffective. As I said, I love the style so I shall keep it -- great "mood" lighting!

Anyway, two of the better pictures:

Casa Lobo -interior (this is a front-opening dollhouse). The transformer and power strips are on a shelf under the landscaping board under the house and accessed from the front.
Chandelier, love it but very little light output!