Some (Late) Weekend Goodies

I meant to post this during the weekend, between this entry and this entry. Think my scatterbrain-ness (is that a word?) is indicative of I need a vacation.

But with the ARC II getting close to completion…figured I should provide a follow-up with what happened to the furniture pieces I mentioned in a previous post (the Sunday Line Up).

For those of you who don’t remember, I had these pieces that needed finishing. These were part of a furniture kit set that I bought alongside the first ARC. I saved the other pieces for future projects, but I wanted to use these guys for the ARC II.

SundayTask-3On Monday (and a bit of this evening), I finished them!

The coffee and nightstand.

The coffee and nightstand.

The coffee table and nightstand I went for a simple route. I stained the legs using Rustoleum’s Touch Up Markers. I found them on clearance at the local Michaels store, and decided to try them out. I used the walnut stain, which showed beautifully showed the grain of the baltic birch plywood. For the table tops, I covered the laser-cut edges with painter’s tape and painted the top with FolkArt Titanium White craft acrylic paint. I had to sand it again, before repainting the top once more.  Once that dried, I peeled the tape (to expose the edge), and glued the pieces together. Then for extra sheen, rubbed some of the beeswax wood polish I bought from Etsy.

The bed for the ARC II.

The bed for the ARC II.

When it came to the bed, I did ask you guys if I should go for a more traditional finish or maybe go quirky. The results (both from the poll I posted and from verbal responses) were actually stalemate. I ended up having my niece break that tie when she spent the weekend at my house, helping me clean up my work room. And she came across a tube of this very neon, bright turquoise-like color acrylic paint in one of my discarded boxes. Not sure why, but thought I should give it a try. And looking at the photo now, am pretty glad I went this route! I painted the pieces with this color, sanded them, and glued them together before doing a final coat and varnish. As for the mattress — I just cut a piece of cellfoam to size. Kinda feel bad for whoever will sleep on this — sleeping on that might be the equivalent on snoozing on a morgue slab or something. 😦

Of course, I saved the best for last.

The bookcase.

The bookcase.

In my excitement of assembling the bookcase, I went ahead and glued it all together before I could even sand the pieces (let alone read the directions. So again, sorry KP and Z for screwing that up!). With that ship sailed, I just decided to use the wood stain marker I used on the table legs and make the bookcase have that same finish. And it appeared to have worked out.

Because the bookcase was very dark, decided to balance it out with some very bright accessories. In this case, I made the “books” by cutting up blocks of wood from various sized wood strips. I sanded them down, and painted the edges white to denote pages. Then, I randomly selected patterns from my stash of origami paper, cut them into strips, and glued them on the blocks to look like covers. Basically the same exact “books” I did in an entry way back then.

As for the accessories, the vase on the lower and top shelf were purchase from Manor House Miniatures. The turquoise Buddha head statue and the shell on a stand (on the top shelf as well) were purchased from Cyd’s Etsy shop Mod Pod Miniatures. The green Buddha statue was another purchase from Manor House Miniatures (definitely worth signing up for email updates for this shop. Every Sunday, they send out a list of what’s on sale for that week. Tend to score some good finds that way).

Was pretty excited at how these turned out, so I decided to test them out on the ARC II. At least on the side of the ARC II where the living room and bedroom will be situated.

 

View of the living room and bedroom on the ARC II.

View of the living room and bedroom on the ARC II.

 

Close up of the living room.

Close up of the living room.

In the above photo, I had the bookcase flanked with a pair of Petite Princess chairs. One of them I mentioned in an earlier entry. The other chair was another eBay winning bid (I couldn’t pass up the starting price). The pillows were part of a set of 4 that were also an eBay purchase. The plants on the table were purchased from SueBees’s Miniatures. Sue (the store owner) typically lists vintage 1:24, and 1:16 scale pieces. But she recently started to sell some adorable plants. Think I might get more later.

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As for the bedroom, I used a 1:12 scale knitted baby blanket as bedding. The green and multicolored pillow was purchased from Miniatures from Avalon, while the blue/white pillows were part of the same set as the pillows used in the sitting room. The tall plant also came from SueBees’s Miniatures.

Am really happy how this is turning out. And once I finish the exterior, I can finally do something that I’m looking forward to share with you all — having the ARC fully furnished. Stayed tuned!

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ARC II: The Front Yard

If you looked at my last post, and took note of the last photo…you might have noticed some green space peeking out from the first floor door and windows. I kinda made a mistake on Saturday and forgot to take a photo of the interior shot. So instead, I reshot the photo on Sunday morning….after I worked on its front yard. >_<

If you remembered on this post, the only thing I had done for the ARC II’s front yard was installation of the stones.

Remember this?

Remember this?

I really didn’t know what to put in this area at first. All I knew was that I had to do something to make it less “blah” and more “oh!”. Huh, did that make any sense at all.

Sorry, digressing here.

After the stones were initially installed,  I did a random trip to my local Michaels and found these in their outside clearance bin.

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I know these are meant for dioramas and whatever model settings your little Billy or Susie would need to make for a school project (at least that’s my guess as to why these are sold at Michaels). But figured since the ARC II isn’t 1:12 scale….maybe these might work. So I bought on clearance two packs of the “grass” (which looks like green grounded seaweed powder or tea if you ask me), some bags of the gravel…

…and this. The package calls it “scenic spray”. To me, I’m guessing this is glue mixed with water in a spray bottle. Sorry, I was initially skeptical about this. But then again, I won’t complain since I ended up getting this for $2 on clearance (vs the $5 retail price tag).

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The instructions for these items appear to be straight foward enough. You use the scenic spray to sprtiz the area where you want to apply coverage. It sounds like the key is to make sure the area you spritz is wet with the the solution, because you then sprinkle your coverage (either the grass or gravel) over the wet spots and let it set. Once it dries, you then spritz the area to seal/tamp  down the coverage.

So with those sealed in my brain (aka, BK reading the instructions to me as I went along), I got started to work.

I didn’t take pics of the process — mostly because I realized that unless you have steady hands, this can get messy. And because I definitely DON’T have steady hands…it did indeed get messy.

I started off by taping the walls, door, and window entries. I didn’t want the glue spray to get onto the ARC’s exterior walls. Then I sprized the areas in between the stones, one small section at a time. Once I could see a thin puddle of glue forming, I took a cotton swab and wiped off the glue off the stones. Then with a small plastic teaspoon, I sprinkled the gravel. I had to use another cotton swab to push the gravel off the stones and into the crevices in between.

I’m not going to lie — you really need to be patient with this. I had tiny gravel going everywhere, and I had to eventually move this outside on the patio to work on. Just so I can take a broom and sweep whatever fell on the floor when I was done. Eventually, I managed to fill the gaps in the way I wanted.

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Luckily, when it came to install the “grass” that was much easier. Again, you spritz the area you want with the glue spray, then sprinkle the packet of “grass” and light tamp it down with your hand. Once you’re done, you sprtiz the top of the grass with more of the glue spray to seal it (or more accurately, prevent the stuff from falling off). It was messy, but at least you have better control of where the stuff will fall from the packet. The minute the green stuff made contact with the glue – it stayed put.

After an hour, the yard was finished. I took photos of how the yard looks from the front door and the triple windows (where the kitchen would be). Looks pretty nice! Though next time, I think I might try making my own spray solution. The stuff I bought worked well enough….but I think I’ll try diluted tacky glue next.

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View of the yard from the front door/living room area.

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View from the kitchen area.

View from the kitchen area.

With the path and grass now completed, I wanted to put some extras on the yard. And found these in my storage.

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I bought these from miniatures.com (in their landscaping category) sometime last year. I very rarely get a chance to do any kind of landscaping for my dollhouses, and these looked pretty adorable in the site’s photos. Figured why not — I’ll eventually find some use for them. And finding use for them I did!

Testing spots.

Testing spots.

Since I have 4 bushes to work with it, I wanted to first figure out where to put them. I won’t glue them down yet — I still have to work on the ARC II’s exterior finish before these can be glued permanently. But again, so far, not bad at all!

Saturday Masonry on the ARC II

No, I haven’t forgotten about the CC (and you know who you are who’ve asked). In fact, I started installing the bricks and stones (yay!), only to realize that I need to cut out more (boo!). So rather than boring you with entries of the (monotonous) joys of cutting shapes out of egg cartons, I’m only relaying posts on things that I’m actually covering ground. And in this case, it’s the ARC II.

Structure wise, I’m just left with working on two pieces — the roof and the far right wall. For this entry, we’re going to focus on the latter.

If you recalled, I made the unwise decision of doing some kind of masonry for the kitchen and bathroom wall. For the kitchen, I used some of my egg carton bricks for the CC. Whereas the bathroom, I was going for the piddly attempt of a slate-like wall for my “hopefully” modern bathroom.

Tada!

Tada!

I was able to glue those pieces and paint them. Now it’s time to install grout with this standby. So I pulled this out of my storage bin…only to find that it dried up when I opened the lid.

My tool of choice for the day. Along with my fingers.

My tool of choice for the day. Along with my fingers.

Rather than cursing the higher beings above, I poured some warm water over the dried mixture and started stirring the cr^p out of it. Luckily, after 5 minutes, the stuff started to become pliable again.  Which is good, because I was in no mood to drive 1.25 hrs to the nearest local miniature shop to get another canister. I mean, yeah, I probably have an unopened container somewhere in my bathroom mini storage. But again, laziness prevails.

So once the stuff got pliable again, I added a healthy squirt of Titanium White craft acrylic paint (Americana — my local Michaels ran out of Ceramcoat and FolkArt paints. Boo!). The mortar was a really dark grey, so I wanted to lighten it even further just so it’d stand out a little more upon application.

Making the mortar light.

Making the mortar light.

Once the mortar was mixed, I actually sprayed my wall with a thin sheen of Lysol and waited until it was dry.  Mostly because what I had to do next…might run of the risk of forming something not pleasant. Like mold. And if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, hopefully the next steps will explain why.

Once the Lysol layer dried, it was time to get down and dirty. At least my fingers did.

Applying the mortar between the bricks.

Applying the mortar between the bricks.

Again, I relied on Brae’s blog entry how how she applied the grout in between the egg carton bricks. She stressed to work in the grout one small section at a time, in order to make sure the stuff gets between the bricks.  Again, along with laziness, impatience got the best of me so I actually did 1/3 of the wall at a time. Also, I made it made more difficult for myself by applying the stuff using my left index and middle finger. I had cut my left fingers while doing yard work, so I had to rest those digits in order for them to knit the skin together. (That was probably TMI – sorry folks).

What NOT to do. If you're following someone's tutorial, be a respectful reader and follow their instructions.

What NOT to do. If you’re following someone’s tutorial, be a respectful reader and follow their instructions.

Once you apply the layer, you then take a wet paper towel and start wiping out the excess. I ended up having a small bowl of water next to me to dip/squeeze said towel. It seemed like the key was making the paper towel wet enough so you can wipe off the excess grout…but not too wet that you’re causing the egg carton to start separating its papery layers. That would not be a good sign. Also found that warm water worked better in the wiping process. And that you have a DRY paper towel nearby so that when you finished wiping, you take that dry sheet and dab the brick to suck up the excess moisture.

In about 20 minutes…I finished the kitchen wall. Some of the grout/mortar got into the natural crevices in the brick. I ended up leaving it alone since I LOVED the effect it gave.

Kitchen wall complete.

Kitchen wall complete.

Then the process was repeated for the bathroom wall. More of the stuff was applied by hand, then alternated between wiping the stuff off the stones with a wet paper towel, then dabbing the moisture with more paper towels. Guess in a way this is good practice for me — because I have to do this exact same thing on the CC. (Think I heard part of my brain whimper at that).

Sorry for the blurry photos — was a little hard to take a pic with my smartphone while doing this at the same time….

Applying the grout/mortar to the bathroom "slate stones"

Applying the grout/mortar to the bathroom “slate stones”

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The layer of grout before it gets wiped off.

In the end, the walls actually didn’t turn out bad at all. I took my time wiping off the stuff off the bathroom wall just to make sure nothing’s on the “stones”.  Luckily it was sunny and hot outside so I put this wall out on the patio to bake in the sun. Plus, I wanted to make sure the wood was completely dry and moisture free. Last thing we want is the ARC II forming mold or something like that. Hence my spaying Lysol on this in the first place.

I put the wall outside to dry around 10:00 am. By the time I brought it inside, it was almost 7 pm (and still bright outside). Suffice to say, the wall was hot to the touch. But at least it meant this should be dried out (in theory I hope). But to be sure, I sprayed the wall with Lysol once more, let it sit outside for a couple of more minutes, then brought it in to rest for another hour. Then I did two layers of Modge Podge (matte) to seal them.

After another hour, I went ahead and installed the wall to the ARC II.

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Installed the right wall (finally!)

Am really happy who these turned out — and even more happy to know that short of installing the roof, the ARC II’s interior is pretty much complete!

The finished kitchen wall.

The finished kitchen wall.

 

The finished bathroom wall.

The finished bathroom wall.

So that means, I have two (maybe three) things left to complete: the roof, the exterior, and the front yard. Getting close to the finish line folks! 😀

Oh yeah!

Oh yeah!