EBay Alert: A Vintage “A-Frame” House

Considering that I still have my vintage A-Frame House (carefully stowed away on the shelving unit) waiting to be built, hopefully the following can be a type of appeasement to folks asking me when I’ll be building it.

Apparently someone on eBay is selling a vintage A-Frame house as well. It’s not the same as mine, but it’s pretty awesome looking nonetheless.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-A-Frame-Wood-Dollhouse-/320894269813?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4ab6c9f975#ht_500wt_1361

Will keep an eye out — though am hoping someone out there is going to put the winning bid. And make something super awesome out of it. ūüôā

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Who Will It Be?

After another rambling entry regarding the wedding book I made, I ended with it a question: so whom amongst my (fast) growing group of mini dolls will be owning the book?

Well, that’s a pretty simple answer actually. Ladies and gentlemen — meet BK’s and my 1:12 scale counterparts.

Meet BK and me - at least, our mini counterparts.

There’s a bit of a story behind them. At least in terms of how I got them.

Meet Bryan - my husband's counterpart

I got BK’s counterpart (Bryan) via an auction listing on eBay by an artisan from the UK. She was selling dolls she created and dressed in 1940s fashion. I almost wanted to laugh when I saw this doll because it had similar features to BK. For starters, the hair style looks exactly like my husband’s preferred haircut. And second, the sweater vest and checkered pants…if BK could, he’d wear that everyday. Assuming he’d find a place that carried those pants in his size!

Needless to say, I put a bid on him and luckily, won the doll. This was in late 2010…at this point, BK and I were engaged, and this doll was one of the very few mini-related purchases I made. Mostly to keep my sanity from the preparations. When I received him a few weeks later, I was thrilled at how detailed he was. Then I realized that I needed my counterpart to have the same dimensions as this doll. But at this time, the artisan was no longer selling items of eBay. So I was left thinking my poor male doll would be without a companion for awhile.

Fast forward to March 2012, and imagine my surprise when I saw a listing on a doll similar to mine on eBay. When I went to check the seller’s other listings, I was thrilled to realize that a) it was the same artisan and b) she was accepting custom orders. So I quickly sent an email, and before you know it, we were messaging back and forth on my custom doll. Theresa (the artisan) was super awesome — she kept me in the loop of my doll’s status, and even provided me photos to review before I submitted my payment. This time, I made sure to keep her contact info in case I needed additional orders.

Needless to say, by early April, I received my counterpart. Am really happy how she turned out — Theresa faithfully reproduced a 1960s wrap dress I saw in an old advertisement that I have adored. She even matched the color of the dress to use on the doll’s heels. Until I find that same exact dress in real life, at least my counterpart is wearing my fantasy outfit.

I shall now call her...mini me. Except she's wearing a pretty cute red dress and some sexy heels.

The only detail I need to add to them are glasses. BK wears a pair of rimless glasses that he adores, and I have my pair of black nerdy frames. I picked up some eyewear but they don’t look right on the dolls. So unless someone has suggestions, that’s another item on my to-do list. Assuming I finish the Primrose kit bash in time (more on that later).

So now that I have the mini counterparts completed, it’s time for them to look at their wedding book…and make plans to celebrate their 6 month anniversary somehow.

Enjoying a quiet moment together -- and looking at their wedding photo book.

Man, I might have to reconsider about redoing this...that book looks like it's an anthology rather than a photo book!!!

Doing some reminiscing...

Close up of one of the pages Daphne & Bryan are viewing...

They Got Nothin’ On You Baby

Yes, I’m aware that the above title is based on a B.o.B/Bruno Mars song. A song that I adore thank you very much. I mean, it’s got a good beat, and the lyrics are pretty sweet. What’s not to love right? Well, yeah, it also helps that they’re both cute (especially Bruno Mars – that smile of his is so darn charming)!

But figured this is an appropriate title for this entry, given that it has a little over 6 months since I married BK. ¬†So yes, I’m pretty happy to acknowledge that.

Since BK and I were unable to do much to celebrate this landmark (we both have to work long hours for most of the month), I wanted to at least do something to¬†commemorate this event. ¬†Then it occurred to me — why not make a miniature photo book of the wedding? I mean, I made one for our families and key relatives. So why not make one for my (growing) brood of mini occupants?

When it comes to actually making one, I came across this particular online¬†tutorial on making miniature books¬†. It appears to be pretty simple in concept — you create pages using strips of paper folded accordian-style, then gluing it in turn on a precut “bookcover”. ¬†Sounds simple enough.

What I was doing with Illustrator. Oh you magical program you -- how much I love thee!

So I started by looking at the real-scale version of the wedding photo book I made for family. To make it easy on myself, I rounded to the nearest inch – so my real wedding photo book was about 12 inches wide x 9 inches tall, and about an inch thick. ¬†Since I’m working on 1:12 scale (1 inch = 1 foot), that meant that my miniature book needed to be about 1 inch ¬†wide x 3/4 inch tall. In terms of thickness, figured I’ll have to wait once I finish assembling the pages.

To create the pages, I used my Adobe Illustrator CS5 program to help me organize. I created an 8.5 inch x 11 inch document, then created 4 strips that were 3/4 inch tall each. ¬†Once the strips were created, I divided each strip to 1-inch increments to represent the individual pages. I used the Pen tool to make the guidelines visible — these are the areas where I’ll need to fold the strips to make the¬†accordion¬†shape.

Once the guides were installed, then began the painful task to inserting photos. ¬†When the wedding photographer BK and I hired (the ever talented Sarah of Sarah Culver Photography) provided the photos, there were over 700 shots. ¬†And as beautiful as they are (they still make me cry whenever I look at them), I had to limit which photos to use. The last thing I wanted was to make the photo book be so thick, it might as well be an encyclopedia. ūüėõ

Signed, sealed, delivered. I'm yours! Oh wait....

To make sure the photos would still be clear enough to be seen in 1:12 scale, I used the original raw files the photographer provided (they were 241 dpi) and simply resized them to fit within the individual “pages”. I had to play around with various layouts and sizes for the selected photos to at least show a (condensed) story of the wedding. I even had pages where I wrote a little message of sorts — that pretty much required me to use some ridiculously small font sizes (like 2-3) and converting the text into outlines so they’ll print clear. For some weird reason, this was alot more of a challenge versus making the actual wedding photo book our families got over the holidays!

Once the photos and layout where finished (*insert fist pump moment here*), it was off to printing out the sheet. I couldn’t use cardstock because it’d be too thick once the strips were folded, and I was worried regular computer paper would be too thin. Decided to try a middle route and just use some leftover linen text paper from my wedding craft stash. It actually turned out really nice once I printed the file from Illustrator – it gave a crisp, parchment like look.

After printing it out, I used a ruler and bone folder and used the guides I created earlier to create creases. This to make sure that when I began folding the strips, they’ll fold neatly and as close to the same size as possible. After that, I cut the strips out, and started the folding process. This part is again pretty straightforward — you simply fold along the creases to create an accordion-like pattern.

My poor-ass attempt to explain how I made my strips of "pages" into a single (albeit long ass) chain.

Since I have four strips total, I had to basically string them together to form one long strip.  The following graphic hopefully makes sense (if not, I did include a rough explanation):

The way I did that was at the end of each strip, the last “page” I had left intentionally blank. Each blank was then cut down to a panel of about 1/4″ wide, and used a good glue stick to apply adhesive on both sides. Then I attached that panel to the first panel of the next strip, eventually making that 1/4″ panel be sandwiched between the two panels from that new strip.

I kept repeating this step until all the strips were folded, attached, and glued. And the pages were officially done. To make sure the pile stays tightly knit, I smeared a thin layer of Elmer’s glue to create the book’s spine before clamping the book between two small blocks of wood. I wanted the glue to dry to a gummy layer.

Tadah! A (thick) pile of pages!

I then cut a rectangular panel from a piece of index card long enough to form a stiff inner cover for the pages.  I glued the gummy end of the spine to this card, then trimmed it to match the dimensions of the pages.

As for the book’s cover, I wanted to mimic the wedding photo cover I made. So I remeasured the¬†dimensions¬†of my new pages: it was still 1″ wide and 3/4″ tall. But because the strips made the book thicker than anticipated….I found out that the spine was actually 1/2″ thick — the equivalent of about 6 inches in real life. (&$#%^@# — I did make a bloody encyclopedia!!!)

Screenshot from my Illustrator program. Note the dimensions used.

So back to my trusty Illustrator program, I used the new measurements to figure out how big my photo cover needed to be. ¬†I basically created a rectangle that was 1/2″ wide and about 7/8″ tall (I added an additional 1/8″ to provide some wiggle room) to act as the cover’s spine.

Then flanking the spine, I drew a rectangle that was about 1 1/16 ” wide and 7/8″ tall to house the cover design, then a thinner rectangle (about 1/4″ wide) as the cover flaps. Hopefully this screen capture makes sense.

From here, I chose some more photos provided by my wedding photographer, then resized them to properly fit within the rectangles I created. Then I applied the titles and it was basically ready to be printed. In this case, I used some leftover photo paper from a long-ago project. I wanted the cover to have a sheen to it — plus just in case I spilled something on it, the stuff should slide off (and protect the inner pages).

After the design was printed, I cut out my cover, and used my bone folder to create the creases needed to fold it into its proper shape. Then I used a thin layer of Tacky glue to glue the cover to the card cover of my inner pages. Then it was back to getting clamped and weighed down until the glue was dry.

And there you have it — my wedding photo book.

Finally! Talk about a challenge to make!

I actually showed this to BK once everything was dried (I had to use a needle to “open the pages to make sure none of the pages got stuck together). He was pretty impressed — especially with the fact he was able to read the text I wrote in the last pages. Of course, he had to freak me out when he asked if I could make another wedding book to send to this parents. I sure hope he’s kidding about that! Plus, I hope my photographer doesn’t mind that I did this with her photos! >_<

Some sample pages (again, thank you Sarah Culver Photography for the beautiful photos!)

The front cover. Sorry for the fuzzy quality -- my desk lamp gives off pretty crappy lighting.

Photos courtesy of Sarah Culver Photography. All Rights Reserved.

 

With the book now done, I was left with the kicker question: who will be the new owner of this said book?

Primrose Part 2: The Interior

Primrose - Interior Overview

Finished interior? Check! Well...sorta.

With the shell now assembled — at least the first floor was glued — ¬†it was now time for the fun part – decorating the walls/ceilings.

I knew the house was going to be furnished to be something more on the modern/contemporary side but frankly, wasn’t sure what furnishings I was going to use. I did a recent purge of my minis (I gave away a couple of items some fellow GL forum members¬†– thanks for helping me clear space off my bins of crap!), so will need to dig around and start picking them soon. But until that’s done, the wall and floor colors need to be flexible and neutral.

For the floors, I just resorted to using my favorite walnut wood planks. Never realized how many of these I bought before I got engaged. Guess in a way it’s good because it means it’ll be awhile before I officially run out of these planks (since the vendor on EBay doesn’t currently have them in stock). ¬†While I love how they look when installed, sanded, and varnished, finding the right adhesive is a bit of a challenge. I tried using regular carpenters/wood glue, but the planks just curled up because they’re so thin. I used QuickGrip in another project, which worked great — problem was that the stuff can get so darn expensive*. ¬† So that option was out.

(Update: Found out later that Stuff4Crafts.com and Hancock Fabrics actually sells QuickGrip pretty cheap. Ended up ordering a dozen of them to keep on hand. Yay!)

Primrose - View of the Floor

Not bad!

Then I read on the Greenleaf Forum that some folks used contact cementwhen installing flooring. Was initially hesitant because the stuff not only smells but it’s pretty flammable (yeah, last thing BK and I need is to make our apartment burst into flames). But then again, the small bottles are relatively inexpensive at my local Lowes. Why the hell not, I guess.

The verdict? It’s actually not bad.In fact, I actually think I found my adhesive of choice for the plank flooring. ¬†Granted, it does smell awful (definitely have your windows open when using this stuff. And wear a mask if you can handle it), and it’s a bit messy at first try. But so long as you work quickly in spreading the cement both on the floor AND the plank you’re installing, the stuff bonds them instantly. ¬†Though just to be sure, once I finished a whole floor, I covered it up with wax paper and stacked some heavy books on top. After 24 hours, I’ll peel off the wax paper and sand the flooring down before putting a couple coats of beeswax varnish.

Primrose - Wall Decor Choices

Colors/patterns chosen for the Primrose. Paint colors are courtesy of Behr Paint. French Toile Blue is the property of the Dollhouse Emporium/DHEMinis.

Once the floor was done, I started taking measurements of the walls and ceiling for my wallpaper. To make this easy on me, I did not glue on the roof until the second floor was wallpapered. ¬†Especially since that area has a dormer that I’ll need to cover.

I really wanted the walls on the first floor to be a solid color. But because of the size of the Primrose, figured there’s no point buying paint to cover walls that small. And since there are very few solid colored wallpapers on the mini market (*cough* freakin’ BIG-ASS HINT *cough*), decided to just make my own using cardstock.

After checking out the Behr website and picking out the colors I wanted, I did a screen capture of my selections and basically used Photoshop to print them out on plain white cardstock. ¬†The purple color (“Gypsy Magic” – who comes up with these paint names anyway??) turned out great. But the coffee/cream color always looks grey whenever I took photos. Imagine that.

For the second floor, I wanted to use a blue floral wallpaper I bought from DHEMinis awhile back. But when I realized I didn’t have enough….I just turned on my scanner and scanned the pattern before printing it out on cardstock. Granted, it’s not quite the same as the original (it looks a little blurry if you ask me). But until the wallpaper is in stock…it’ll have to do. So note to Dollhouse Emporium/DHEMinis — please restock this pattern and its variants soon. You got a crazy Asian chick in Washington DC that’s resorting to rationing this particular wallpaper for her projects. And oh yeah, she’ll love you forever if you make this available again.

After printing out the wallpapers and cutting them down to size, it was time to glue them to the walls. ¬†And man, did I realize how much I hated this step. ¬†I wasn’t able to take pictures of this process — but in a way that was good because I screwed up the first floor big time. I used a PVA bookbinding paste as an adhesive, but both the cardstock and the walls (despite being primed and prepped) soaked it up. So I peel it off, wiped down the walls free of adhesive, and do it all over again once the walls were dry. Oh yeah, and that meant reprinting my wallpapers all over again in my printer.

Primrose - Dormer Decor

Putting wallpaper on the dormer wasn't too bad -- just time consuming. ūüė¶

For the second round — it was a success. I used a different adhesive (YES! Glue), and the wallpaper installed like a dream. ¬†I had to use an old/defunct credit card to help smooth and crease the wallpaper in place. ¬†Once the first floor was done (I had to let the paper dry before cutting out the excess paper in the door/window openings), I started working on the second floor.

Because of the gable shape on the sides, the easiest way to work around this was to simply glue a panel of the wallpaper, and just cut out the excess when it was dry.

Same thing with the dormer – I had to cut out a rough shape to fit the interior of the dormer and glue it in place. Then once the glue was completely dry, use a sharp blade to carefully trim away the excess. Once the paper was cut, I was able to finally glue it to the roof, and the roof in turn be glued on the wallpapered first floor.

While the glue was drying, I started prepping and painting the wood trim for the Primrose. To keep the costs down, I had to make do with whatever I had on hand. ¬†Good thing the kit was relatively small, because I was able to stretch my existing stock to accommodate it. Plus, I need the wood trim to cover any gaps in the wallpaper. Luckily they were few, but at least this helps reduce the amount of eye sore I was seeing. ūüôā

At the moment, only the second floor has the molding installed. I couldn’t install the ones for the first floor until I get the kitchen cabinets installed and finalized.

So again, so far so good! Hopefully it’s smooth sailing from hereon.

See Gallery

Yet Another Tasty Surprise from Monsieur M…

Photo courtesy of Mike's Miniatures - copyright 2012

Remember Monsieur M? He’s the guy that gave me the Prototype kit to test out for him. Well, looks like he’s at it again…building yet another DIY dollhouse kit that makes me scream “I want!”

The main concept (Monsieur, feel free to comment/correct/yell at me if I got this wrong) of the kit is to basically build it using a stick framework. It’s the same concept builders use to construct our real-life homes — you create the framework, set it up, then start adding the plastic sheeting, insulation, drywall, etc. ¬†This is a pretty refreshing approach to building dollhouses if you ask me — most dollhouses you see in the market today are mostly made up of ¬†solid panels you connect to build the walls.

What’s even more awesome about this kit? From what I’ve read in Monsieur’s blog (definitely check it out folks), because each wall is basically a frame made of rods/plans (which is then covered with matboard as the “drywall”), you can literally create your own door/window openings anywhere. So long as you carefully mark where on the matboard/drywall where you want the openings to be, you simply configure the framework to accommodate your window(s) and/or door(s). ¬†Monsieur’s most recent entry gives a much better explanation on how to go about doing this — with photos to boot (and salivate over).

At the moment, Monsieur has shown how the kit should be assembled and how to do the openings. Curious what he has in store in terms of decorating it. The fact he used matboard for the interior/exterior walls, would love to find out what it can handle besides wallpaper and siding.

So if you’re reading this Monsieur — if you have a waiting list of customers wanting to buy this kit…you can put my name in the ranks. Until BK and I find a new place (I really need a place to work and store my minis)…I have to resort to working with the smaller kits. And you’re seriously killing me with this masterpiece of yours.

My First Kit Bash – Think it’s a Success So Far….

Easter weekend came and went. Granted, the Easter bunny didn’t come by and left me gifts of¬†confectionery¬†awesomeness. But at least BK and I got to spend Sunday with my family for some serious Pinoy-style celebrations: a kickass brunch of tasty proportions (cuz my parents roll like that), coupled with a health dose of¬†chismis and kuwento¬†(the Tagalog term for “gossip” and “stories” respectively). ¬†Even though my family’s literally 45 minutes away, it is nice to hear BK say how much he enjoys seeing my family. ¬†Then again, my mother did serve ham, and there’s no way my husband was going to turn down that porky goodness.

Along with stuffing our faces silly, I am pretty proud to report that I actually got back to building dollhouses again.  Okay, so I spent the last three weeks sanding and prepping the pieces. But when it came to actual construction (officially around April 1st), I was rather amazed at how quickly things came together.

So a bit of background is in order. ¬†Remember how I got the Glencroft in December? Well, as excited as I was receiving it, there was also anxiety. Up until then, most of the dollhouses I’ve handled were either made of 3/8″ (or 10mm) thick wood or MDF. ¬†The Glencroft is manufactured by Greenleaf/Corona Concepts dollhouses — and this company makes dollhouses using 1/8″ thick plywood instead. ¬†Basically, this meant that the kit I attained was made of thinner stuff. And my friends will tell you, I’m not exactly a pro when it comes to handling delicate stuff. ¬† ūüė¶

So rather than peeing in my pants and agonizing at the possibility of my destroying the Glencroft during construction, BK suggested that I do a test run on another Greenleaf kit. Something smaller, and something that won’t break the bank in case I screw it up.

The Primrose. Photo courtesy of Greenleaf Dollhouses.

Enter the Primrose.

Not only is it very affordable ($15/kit – bought two just for the heck of it), but the shape is pretty basic — a simple two story cottage with a roomy first floor and a workable second floor. ¬†I thought it was cute and all, but then when I checked out Greenleaf’s forum gallery – I was utterly amazed at the creative ways the members modified their Primrose kits. ¬†My favorite rendition was done by fellow Greenleaf forum member Minis on the Edge – just seeing the adjustments she made to make her kit look like a rustic two story cottage made me want to try my hand at it.

But as you all know, just because you see something you want to try — actually doing it is an altogether matter. ¬†So before I could try my hand at it, decided to draft my gameplan.

Primrose - Construction001Since I bought two Primrose kits, I knew the challenge was to basically make the kit taller than the original design. The only way to do that was to basically add height to the front and side panels. The first floor was already designed to have 8″ ceiling height, but the second floor was roughly about….maybe 6-7 inches tall if you measure the gables. ¬†But that’s not pretty realistic — in a real house, you want the pitched roof and gable to be way above your head. In this case, I had to figure out how to make the second floor be the same height as the first.

The good news was that the solution was simple — it basically consisted of taking the side panels on both kits, cutting them up and splicing them together to create taller panels. ¬†I didn’t take photos of the actual process (since I was spending evenings cutting each panel apart with a craft knife), but hopefully this Illustrator diagram will help.

In short, I took the side panels from Kit A and cut off the gable parts (which left me with a rectangle each), while from Kit B, I cut off the top 35% of the panel. ¬†But because the wood panels were 1/8″ thin, gluing the panels together didn’t guarantee that they pieces would be flush. So to make sure everything was square/level/flush, I glued the pieces on a 3mm thick sheet of cellfoam. After covering it with wax paper and stacking a ton of BK’s boring ¬†dense hardcover books (thanks hun!) to flatten the merge panels, I cut out the new shape. ¬†And voila, two new taller side panels.

Primrose - Construction009

The restructured Primrose with its new dormer, windows, and test door.

Once the sides were created, the rest of the construction was straightforward. Because the Primrose was a tab-and-slot assembly, it was a matter of making sure the pieces were sanded enough to fit at the necessary slots/tabs.

I also ended up cutting the original door and window openings to bigger sizes in order to use plastic windows I bought online. Unfortunately, these new components required a thicker insert — which was easily solved (yay!) by gluing a layer of cellfoam wherever it was needed. Probably a good thing in the long run — it basically made the overall structure more stable (and less likely to keel over).

Once I got the doors and windows done, decided to just go for broke and even cut an opening on the roof for a dormer.  At this point, the second floor was tall enough to be a room. So why not throw a dormer window for gusto you know?

By 9 pm April 1st, I was officially done with constructing the main shell of the house.  Again, I did spend the weeks prior to Easter weekend sanding each piece from both kits. But after doing the run, can definitely understand why my fellow Greenleaf forum compatriots enjoy building these kits. They are indeed flexible when it comes to customizing, and with the wood being thin, it was easy to widen or create new openings for doors and windows.

Overall, I’m liking it. But again, have to see how this turns out before I even begin to attempt the Glencroft.

See Primrose Gallery – Part I