Monday, September 27, 2021

Tutorial: Kitchen Cupboard Hardware - French Country Handles and Knobs

French Country Kitchens may not be as popular as they once were but I still love the style.  In fact, I'm REALLY thinking about updating my Brooke Tucker Kitchen in a more modern country style...(doesn't everyone renovate their dollhouse displays???)...but I digress.   Here is a tutorial for making drawer pulls and knobs that would be great for French Country but also, any style.  The upper cabinet knobs are supposed to simulate those “bird cage” style popular with French Country (handles or knobs with a hollow basket look). It's so hard to find nice hardware that doesn't look manufactured - that's why I like to make my own.  Also I think it can be more delicate and scaled when made from scratch.

 Drawer Pulls

Supplies:

  • Fine wire, about 24 gauge
  • Scrap wood about 1/16th or 1/18th inch thick (wire bending jig)
  • Straight pins or sequin pins (for wire bending jig)
  • Seed beads, a couple different sizes
  • Eye-pins from commercial drawer pulls (such as Houseworks #1124 Batwing pulls)
  • Hand drill and Wire drill bits to fit your wire and eye pins
  • Wire cutters
  • Spray paint (and acrylic paint same color for touch ups)
  • Super glue

First, make a bending jig with pins and the wood scrap, drilling holes using the pin vise (hand drill) and tiny drill bits.  You can see the measurements and spacing of the pins from the photo.



Cut the wire into small lengths – about 2” long and wrap around the pins to make the “U” shape (narrower spaced pins face down in these photos and form the bottom of the "U".  Thread on beads in a pattern you like.  I put one larger seed bead in the center with two smaller seed beads on each side (for a more hollow "birdcage" style use a filigree bead in the center and flatten it to more of a tube shape first).

Glue these in place with super glue.  Then glue on the two eye pins as in the photos.  Finally glue on the upper beads that will hold the eye pins in place.  DON’T CUT WIRE YET.

Spray paint this assembly and let dry.  Then cut the wire just beyond the upper beads.  You will touch up the cut off wire after gluing them to your cupboards.

Drill holes in your drawers to match the spacing of the eye pins.  CAREFULLY Glue the eye pins in with super glue (they may fall off easily because they are very thin).  Then use acrylic paint to touch up the cut off wires.

“Bird Cage” cupboard knobs

Supplies:

  • Metal filigree beads, 4mm (I used Darice brand)
  • small crimp beads – about 1.3mm inner diameter
  • brass head pins
  • Spray Paint
  • Super Glue
  • Hand drill and Wire drill bits to match your head pins

These are very simple.  Just thread a filigree bead onto the head pin followed by the crimp bead.  Glue with super glue and let dry.  Spray paint and cut off the wire.  Drill a hole and glue in.

Here is a photo of the kitchen I used these in. 

The kitchen cabinets in the photo above were kits from B. H. Miniatures (I think)?  Upper cabinet doors were backed with nylon netting that I spray painted black (to look like chicken wire).  I faced the drawers with molding (might have been door/window trim).  The stove was a workshop I taught some years ago (2008?).  The counter tops are just printed photos of granite glued to illustration board and glossed with Mod Podge.  I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial!  I will stew over what to post next month.  It may be simple since my daughter is getting married right before the time when I usually make my monthly blog post!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Embellished Chandelier - Part 2 - Tips and Hints

 

Last blog I told how I embellished an old chandelier with jewelry findings and crystals.  This time I am sharing some hints and lessons learned I experienced while doing this project.  Hopefully my readers can benefit from my problems and mistakes!  We learn from each other, right?  I know I appreciate all the blogs I have read which have helped me and saved me a lot of time!

But before I get into the hints I wanted to say that I appreciate my followers and hope you are able to continue following now that Blogger (or Google, should I say?) has taken away the Feedburner email subscription function.  I haven't found a replacement yet.  I hope my readers can continue to find me.  Please let me know if you have suggestions or problems (I don't know yet how to solve this but first I just need to know if it really is a problem...)

Hints for working with a vintage or used chandelier:

  • Test your fixture immediately before you do any work on it.  This prevents a lot of wasted time.  If you don’t have a tester, you can just hold both wires to the snap connectors on a 9V battery (separate the two wires and strip off a section of insulation first).
  • Old wires can be brittle - Even though this chandelier had never been used, the two copper wires were sealed together inside a hard, clear coating. I finally got a small section of wires to separate and used my pliers to pull the two apart but they seemed as if they would break off at any moment.  
  • Brittle wires are hard to connect just by twisting!  When I tried to twist them with the wire of a micro plug (to plug it in to my dollhouse system) it didn’t make a connection.  Took some time troubleshooting but eventually I had to strip off the heat shrink tube and solder them all together in order for it to work.
  • Too-short wires – beware that some vintage chandeliers are sold “as-is” and many times sellers don’t check that they work.  If you find one that is not in the original package, ask whether it works.  Also – make sure wires haven’t been cut so short that there is not enough wire to work with.

So how do you hang it??
I have hung a few chandeliers now (6 to be exact; 7 if you count the one I had to replace).  I learn something every time.  But here are my tips for mounting through the floor above where the chandelier will go:

  • Drill a hole in the ceiling for pulling the wires through to the floor above.  This means your flooring in the room above must be removable (I could probably write a blog just on this).  This also means you must have previously run tape wire across the floor to the center of the room to attach to the chandelier.

  • If using a ceiling medallion, you can either glue it to the ceiling now over the hole (line up its hole with the one in the ceiling).   OR glue the chandelier canopy to it, let that dry then glue the medallion to the ceiling after connecting the wires.  Here is a photo of how I held my ceiling medallion in place while the glue dried (using bamboo skewers and a wood circle held against the medallion). I carved two small grooves in the wood circle with an X-Acto knife so the skewer end would sort of rest there and "catch". Strips of scrap basswood would also work.
    Bamboo skewers and wood circle to hold medallion while gluing

    Toothpicks to help align the medallion with the hole (before bracing)

  • Use a canopy (dome shaped piece with a ring that holds the chandelier to the ceiling) and a chain to permanently hold the chandelier.  Don't just let it hang by the wires alone.  It's not  so much the weight but this: if your wires are tight with no slack then they take the force when the chandelier is bumped, instead of the chain and canopy.  If they break, you will throw the chandelier away because they will be too short to connect again.  I have had first hand experience with this (link to my first ever blog post).
  • Make your connection.  Pull the wires through the medallion and ceiling hole and tape them down to the floor to make the connections.  Follow the instructions in your lighting kit and attach the chandelier wires to the tape or round wire of your house using grommets or solder.  I solder my connections because I have had several connections that have come apart.  But soldering is optional.

  • Now glue the canopy to the medallion (or the ceiling if not using a medallion).  Hopefully it is light weight enough you can just hold it a little while until it sets.  Or use removable painter’s tape to hold it in place overnight.  I like Crafter’s Pick Ultimate glue because it is thick and dries fast.  But some like to use solvent glues for metal – such as E6000.

I didn't go into the details on running tape wire or making the grommet connections or soldering because there are so many kits and books that describe this.  Recently I have also started putting micro plugs on the chandelier then soldering the female end of the plug to the tape run (but this is for another blog… ).  I don't consider myself an expert in hanging chandeliers but here are some links to two people who have much more experience.   Both Carl and Tina are very familiar with the Cir-Kit products and have several videos on using their chandelier adapters which can be used on the ceiling (as opposed to through the floor above, as I have done). I use Carl's products for my lighting - power supplies, etc.  He has an AWESOME book that is so helpful and includes information about LEDs and converting your dollhouse from the old 12 volt transformer to DC power (which I have now done - maybe a future blog post??).  I love Tina's videos because, even though she has been building dollhouses for 25 years, she gives a very honest review of products from the perspective of a "newbie" (or "noob" as my grandson would say) including the problems she has encountered with those products.  You learn more from these people than from the Cir-Kit website because they actually show you the components in the bag and what each little piece is used for.

Carl Sahlberg of CR2S - Creative Reproductions 2 Scale

My favorite book on miniature lighting from CR2S

Tina Kaminska Dickenson

In the near future I will have to hang some fixtures on the ceiling of the top floor.  I will let you know how that goes!!

Thanks to my readers for your interest.  Remember to let me know if you are having problems with the loss of Feedburner.   Thinking of what to do next...any suggestions?

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Tutorial: Embellishing a Miniature Chandelier

I feel it is very hard to find miniature light fixtures that aren’t dated-looking or that look like they were from a big-box hobby store (common).  I don’t like most of those battery fixtures – the bases are very thick and the bulbs very squared off, they don’t look like candle flames when on sconces and chandeliers.  They have their place – like maybe in a room box, where there are only a few fixtures but who would want to turn on many of these every time you display your dollhouse?  This is why I have so many blog posts for making sconces, lamps, etc.

I like traditional fixtures but want a modern spin on it.  I found one that I really like at Lighting Bug.  I purchased it but it was kind of expensive (absolutely worth it when you consider the artistry!).  But when I decided I needed another one, I wanted to try to replicate it using a less expensive chandelier to start with. Here is the one I purchased (left) and the one I embellished (right).

Here is how I did it. Supplies and tools are in bold and also listed with cost at the end.

  1. Find moderate cost working chandelier with graceful curved arms, simple lines and narrow sections of post that you could fit a brass flower around (with a center hole).  Mine was a vintage Clare Bell Brass 6 arm Williamsburg-type with large turned balls on the post.
    Vintage Chandelier purchased for $75 with shipping

  2. Find brass petal findings with long, slim petals, about 1-1/2 inches tip to tip, 6 petals. I found these searching "layered flower finding" on Etsy.

  3. If you can only find them riveted together (as mine were), they can be easily separated by drilling through the rivet.  Use a drill bit a little larger than rivet hole.  If possible, use a drill press for straight vertical drilling (or your Dremel with steady hands and pliers to hold finding so it doesn’t move when drilling).  Notice in the photo that these were kind of rusty.  It will buff out with steel wool.
  4. I used two findings, they were the same size but one was flatter and the other one was taller, with the petals pushed together sort of like a crown (photo below, the one being drilled).  The crown shaped one I used near the top of the chandelier – to mimic the one I was trying to replicate.
  5. Cut through the center ring between two petals to open the ring (I just used my wire cutter).  Use pliers to open it up wide enough so it will fit around the chandelier.  I just found some spots where the center post of the chandelier was very narrow and fit the open ring over two of those spots (but don’t put it on yet).
  6. Drilling holes for crystals - I used my Dremel and wire drill bit (#64?)

    • Its easiest to turn the flower upside down and drill through the back of the petal.  This way the drill bit didn’t ‘walk’ as much as when I tried to drill it from the top
    • My findings were kind of thick brass and it took a while for the wire bit to get through.  After about 7 holes I had to re-charge my Dremel.  Let it do the work and don’t press down very much.  It may take a while.
    • Any scratches from the drill bit ‘walking’ can be removed in later steps with sandpaper and steel wool
  7. Once drilled, sand lightly with 400 grit sandpaper over the holes to remove snags.  Then smooth all the scratches with 0000 (‘four ought’) steel wool.  This should make the brass very shiny, smooth and golden.  If the underneath side of the holes will show, then sand and steel wool there too.  I found the steel wool was able to remove some rusty looking spots that must have been there for years (these were vintage findings).   In the photo below, the petal near the knife tip was buffed with steel wool while the petal right below it still has some scratches from the sandpaper.

  8. Preserve that golden brass glow by spraying the finding front and back with a clear acrylic spray.  I used an old product “Triple Thick Glaze”.
  9. The crystals – I used some tiny clear ‘delica’ beads (cylindrical, very tiny) and larger 2mm (hard to find) and 3 mm Swarovski crystal beads.  I used some thin brass non-tarnishing beading wire and cut two pieces (since it was so thin).  I threaded one delica over both pieces of wire then brought the four ends up together with the bead at the bottom of the fold of wire.  Then I threaded the bigger 2 or 3 mm bead on the four wires.  Then another 1 or 2 delicas – threading all 4 wires through them.  I put all 4 wires through the BACK of one of the drilled holes in the finding, folded it around the petal and twisted the wire about 3 or 4 times.  The steps are shown in order in the first photo below.


  10. Clip off the excess wire with flush cut pliers.  Put all the crystals on the finding before trying to put the finding on the chandelier.  Repeat for the other finding (if you are also doing two).  
  11. When ready to put the findings on the chandelier, use pliers to open it up and slip it onto the stem of the chandelier.  Try not to scratch it (but it may be inevitable).  I did not glue my findings – they are just wobbling around.

  12. I also put crystals hanging from each of the 6 arms using the same process.  I used the bigger (3mm) crystals with the delicas on the arms.
  13. Even though my chandelier was brand new, still in the box and never been connected there were some rusty spots in the brass I noticed AFTER I did the work of embellishing.  So I brushed over them with clear nail polish (actually used some old Fimo glaze but it is the same thing).  I didn’t want these to continue rusting or make the fixture look patchy after a few years though it still might.  Time will tell.

Costs:
Vintage Clare-Bell Chandelier - $74.50 (with shipping, Ebay)
2mm Swarovski crystals - $5 (with shipping, Ebay; from China)
3mm Swarovski crystals - $5 (with shipping, Ebay; from China)
Crystal Delica beads - $8 (with shipping, Etsy store “Seaofbeadstx”)
Tarnish resistant brass beading wire, 34 gauge (Artistic Wire brand) - $6
Vintage flower findings -  $8 (with shipping, Etsy “BossJewelrySupply”)
(total = $106)

Hope this inspires you to embellish a chandelier.  Next time - some hints on working with vintage or used chandelier and hints on hanging a chandelier.

Monday, June 28, 2021

NAME Window Shopping and Decoupaged Palace Chest

A few years back, NAME (National Association of Miniature Enthusists if you haven't heard of it) had a NAME Day project called Window Shopping.  It was a small display with lots of shelves to display a grouping of minis like they were in a shop window.  Ingenious! 

NAME Window Shopping Prototype from Gazette July 2015

I LOVED seeing all the examples of this project sent in by Gazette readers and was so jealous of their lovely displays.  Hats and wood-turned vases, and every kind of subject.  When my club did our orders, I selected a kit in walnut from Tom Walden.  It was beautiful! But then I had a problem – the lovely walnut was so dark that many items were just lost against it.  I didn’t want to paint it.  So I decided to display light colored things – PINK!

So I gathered together my most favorite pink minis and tried to come up with a pleasing arrangement.  They looked great against the dark walnut.  (Scroll down to the end for the artisans of the minis I put in my display.)  I used shaped brackets for the wall shelves instead of the simpler column provided and I didn't use the platform that came with the kit because I needed some height to display the chest and painting on top.

 

The Decoupaged Chest

In case you didn’t recognize it (if you are not a Baby Boomer!) the pink toile chest is just the Petite Princess Palace Chest with wallpaper applied to the drawers.  Petite Princess items are actually a little smaller than 1:12 scale but I still think they can work in 1:12 miniature scenes.  What I like about this chest is 1) the faux marble top and 2) the serpentine drawer fronts.  Those serpentine drawer fronts would be SOOOooo hard to reproduce in miniature!  But disguised plastic can look great!

I accented some of the edges and the pulls with acrylic gold paint.  When I had my drawer front pattern made (with markings for where to punch holes for the knobs) I just cut them from wallpaper so the design continued down the front so the drawers matched up.

After gluing the wallpaper on using Crafter’s Pick Ultimate glue, I let it all dry then antiqued it with a faint wash of Burnt Umber acrylic watered down and just brushed over here and there.  Then I finished with a water based acrylic varnish.

Here is another one I did in green (below).  On this one I filed down the top two pulls and instead, put a tassel in the center of the top drawer.

If you have the opportunity to find one of these Window Shopping kits, snap it up!  Sometimes the kit cutters (see recent NAME Gazette) have leftover kits.  I loved this project because it was small, not intimidating to complete, viewable up close, could be protected using a piece of glass and wall hung!  It checks all the boxes for mini displays!  Its a great way to display minis with painted details where they can be viewed up close!  In a dollhouse, these details, like painted dishes, tatting and pins in a pincushion would be almost invisible.

If you are not a NAME member, I highly recommend joining!  NAME is a wonderful organization dedicated to the education and support of the miniatures hobby.  Every year there is a "NAME Day" project and they are all very nice.

See below for the artisans of the minis I displayed in my Window Shopping display:

Clockwise from top of chest: (right click photo to open larger)

Painting - Josephine Meyer
Staffordshire dogs -  Metal Minis (painted by myself)
Rose glass candlesticks - Phil Grenyer
Urn jar - Jean Tag
pink lotus flowers in white bonsai dish - Small Time Operators
Tea cup, with pink flowers - unknown artist
pink lotus bowl - Deborah McKnight
pink, green lotus plate - Amanda Skinner
Cat Doll (on pillow by myself) - Ethel Hicks
Painted coffee set - Amanda Skinner
Framed tatted doily - Julie Felzien
shoes - Doll's Cobbler
Stool with petit point - Bespaq with Petit Point designed by Lucy Iducovich
hydrangea - Laura Crain
Bowl, oval scalloped bowl - unknown artist
Painting - Josephine Meyer
Porcelain pin cushion - Patty Caster (kit)

 That's all for this month.  Thanks for visiting!


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Tutorial - Dollhouse Shipping Box...and packing peanuts!

This is a short but cute tutorial.  Make a Priority mail box and packing peanuts (yes! mini packing peanuts!).  

To make the box:
Download the pdf file with the graphics.  You will need a printer that can print on the front AND back side of the paper.  The box lining (brown with "Priority mail" printed all over it) should line up with the front graphic.

    Here is the pdf link: Box Priority Mail with Brown back.pdf

Print it on heavy paper - like business card type or very lightweight card stock.  There are three boxes on the page.  Next to the box, near the margin is a shipping label you can use.  Or you can try to minimize your own address for a label (if you can get Microsoft Word to print in 4 point font - that's about right size).

Once printed, don't cut out yet.  First use the black lines to score fold lines.  I use the BACK of an X-acto knife blade to GENTLY score all across the box connecting the lines - side to side and top to bottom.

Now cut out on orange line, cutting off the orange.  The "Priority Mail graphic (white side) should form the sides of the box.  The flaps are to be the top and bottom of the box.  Fold on the crease lines and glue the flap under the last side to make the square.  Trim the bottom flaps, if desired, so the box sits flat.
Cut out the shipping label and glue to one of the top flaps.

To make packing peanuts:
You will need white craft foam - the kind used for kids' crafts (about 1/8th inch thick or thinner)
Straight edge (metal is best)
X-acto knife with sharp blade
Toothpicks
small 'alligator' clips
hair dryer

Line the straight edge up against one edge of the foam (see photo below) and cut a strip only about 1/16th inch thick.  Cut long strips.  Wrap the strips around toothpicks and secure with clips.  Heat with hair dryer just long enough that they stay coiled.  Once cool, cut tiny curls off to look like packing peanuts.
 


I found some very tiny ziplock bags but I can't remember where.  I put a few peanuts into a bag.  Try these boxes on your dollhouse porch for that 'lived in' look!  Or, more appropriately - scatter a few on the dining table (where I always open my boxes!!).  Hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Shabby Chic /Flea Market "Paris" Candlesticks

Here is a mini-tutorial to make a candlestick decorated in the shabby Chic (now more like flea market style).  You will need:

Metal Eiffel Tower charm, about 1 inch tall
Candle
Paint
Index card
Antiquing glaze (I used Folk Art brand Antiquing Medium)
Small flower or snowflake shaped paper punches (see photo below for the ones I purchased)
Piece of soft craft foam and ball stylus
Wire cutters, glue, paintbrush


Antiquing Glaze Medium

First cut the ring off the charm.  


Cut out one or two flowers from index card using the punch.  Use the craft foam and ball stylus to form the flowers into a “cup” shape.


Three styles are shown in the photo above.  You can use one or two aimed up or down.  When aimed up they can be used as a candle cup to hold the candle.  

Glue the flowers to the top of the charm and let dry well. Paint with pastel paint.  I antiqued mine with antiquing glaze.  You just paint it on then wipe it off.  See the difference in these photos.
 

Well, this was a short one!  Hope you liked this Mini-tutorial!  Here is another look at how these are displayed in my Linen Shop. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Tiny House Kitchenette Part 2 - Microwave and Stove Burners

This is a continuation of last month (Feb. 2021) Kitchenette Part 1 which described how the open cabinets and appliance doors were made.  This post will describe how to make the microwave, stove burners and counter top.  The stove burner 'drip pans' extend below the surface of the counter through a hole cut in the counter (kinda hard to see in the photo above).  This is to make it more realistic and dimensional.

As was done for last month, there is a downloadable instruction sheet:

[click here for Kitchenette Part 2 Downloadable file and pattern sheet].
 

A few tips and notes from the instruction sheet.

Supplies - these are listed in the linked file.  The Perler beads can be found at any craft store (or Target).  The washers were purchased at Home Depot (instruction sheet gives sizes needed).  The long curved tube beads used for appliance handles were purchased from Ebay (came from China).  Sizes of these are also in the instruction sheet.  Here are some photos of some of the parts used:

Perler Beads (burner knobs)

Cup Washer (or "Finish" Washer) - burner drip pan

Star Washer (internal teeth lock washer) for stove burners

Microwave handles were made just like was done for the refrig door but I used a little smaller bead, 2 mm by 20 mm.  Here is how they looked in the package (from China).  The larger beads at bottom of photo had been sanded so the ends were at a point for better fit against the frig door.  But I didn't do that to these smaller beads.

Tube Beads for appliance handles

All the instructions are in the file (see link above) but here are a few main points about making the Microwave:

  • It is basically a wood block with a faux glass door made from clear plastic glued to one side.
  • Wood block can be any kind of scrap wood.  My husband cut mine from a pine 2 by 4
  • Microwave is glued between two shelves then the back of the microwave is glued to the foam core wall.  This made it easier to 'hang' the shelves since the microwave  supported the shelves.  At least this was the intended design for simplicity (remember this was a group project for 85 people).  I changed the design for my own prototype and split my shelves around a window (photo below). 

A few points about the Stove Burners:

  • The burner base is a piece of plastic painted silver with two half inch holes
  • Burner pans (silver cup washers) are glued UNDER the holes
  • Burners (star washers painted black) are glued OVER the holes
  • The entire thing is set into an opening cut in the counter top so the burner pans sit below the surface of the counter


Sink – this was a square shaped tub from Sponge Bob "Krabby Patty" candy sprayed silver- refer to old blog (March 2020) for sink and faucet.

Here is the tiny house kitchenette finished (below).  Because I wanted a window over my sink, I cut my shelves in half and put the microwave on one side of the window.  I also added a third shelf.  Since it is hard to mount heavy things to foam core, I mounted the individual shelves (left of window) by gluing a separate piece of wood (same as shelves were made of) between them.  That piece of wood served to space the shelves equally and was what was glued to the wall. You can also see another spacer above the microwave which attaches the third shelf to the microwave shelf and wall.


Next time...??  What shall we make?