Foamcore Roomboxes: The May 2000 issue of DM has an excellent how-to by Frank Lerner. He makes it very easy. Or you could do like I do and just wing it. Make it any size you want it to be. How big is the largest item going in, going to be? Go on from there. Whatever looks right is what I use. Also check out Joann Swanson's Wizard room in the October 2000 issue of DM. She uses foamcore for the walls, floors-everything.
Pam in St. Louie
my first kit is a country store. I know nothing except I was trying to save money for stuff for my store so I scribed the floor to make it look like a real wood floor. Then I stained it and varnished it. It came out great. Then I scribed the ceiling to look like tong and grove with ceiling beams. The bottom floor looks like 2X6 wood decked plank floor. I put tiny hole for nails. Wish I would have used some of your ideas and made it look like real nails but I just put tiny hole where the nails went and stained it. It has thousands of holes so the "real nails" would have taken me forever. I really love the way it says "this kit takes 3 to 4 hours to put together." My next step is wiring. I am so afraid to start that project.
Textured walls: I am no expert on any of this but I have an idea for your outside walls maybe this would work if you take tissue paper crumble it up and then dip in watered down glue and paste to your walls, or decoupage it to the wall and then paint over it. Also if you get the tissue with the color you want all ready on it would be even better. I did a box like this and it came out pretty good
Textured Walls and Ceilings: I wanted a textured wall in my mini living room. I cut a template of the wall which included cutouts for the wall plugs. I took all my textured paint kit out to the garage and opened the door for ventilation. Once everything was set, I glued the entire piece to my wall. It didn't require doing any mammoth movements of my huge dollhouse. I was good to go and it has stood up to the task.
Staining Wood for your Dollhouse: When staining any porous, open grained timber (Basswood, Pine, Luan, etc) try using a Non-Grain-Raising or NGR wood dye. These are alcohol-based and contain much finer dye particles than a typical wood stain. Because alcohol is used as the "carrier" for the dye particles and evaporates quickly, the wood fibers do not have a chance to swell and produce a "nap". The color itself is generally much clearer and brighter than a water-based stain, not being susceptible to lap marks or blotching. NGR stains are easily tinted using a wide variety of glazes Japan dyes. These are widely used throughout the furniture industry, as they produce consistent results. NGR stains can be readily obtained through any number of cabinetry supply sources. Two that come readily to mind are Garret-Wade and Constantines. They both have decent websites. The URLs can be easily found through a Google search for either company. Finishing wood is a science (or art) all it's own. Experiment and have fun!
Primer: Anything that seals a porous surface is technically a sealer. That is why additional coats of paint and sanding between coats are as satisfactory as a commercial primer followed by paint. The only time I use a true primer is when I need to create a tooth on the surface for the paint to adhere to, then Gesso is my choice. It is inexpensive and foolproof
Dulling Aluminum: I just finished a pierced tin cabinet for my log cabin. I went to the Archives and got five suggestions on how to turn aluminum (shiny) into tin (dull). For future reference, if you use disposable aluminum cookie sheets as your base, as I did, none of the suggestions worked except the product called Dullcoat. It comes in spray form, or paint on in either oil or water based. Cost under five fingers at my local train/hobby shop.
Sharon in Watsonville
Floor Boards http://adamovminiatures.comhas the best selection I've seen.
Paper to Wood: you can apply wallpaper flooring to any primed floor with wallpaper paste. I'd first spray the front with fixatif like Patricia Nimrock's sealer. You make have bubble or two due to the wet paper stretching. Don't try to get them out after an initial wipe over with a slightly damp cloth. The next day the bubbles will probably disappear as the paper shrinks when it dries. Otherwise, just slit the bubble in the pattern and put in tacky glue with a syringe and carefully wipe over it with the dampened paper to make sure you don't have glue sticking out.
When everything has dried overnight, add Hermes Super Sealer (at your miniature shop or I have it). This adds a shine to the floor and makes it look like linoleum
Simulated brick: I had purchased a sheet of Rossco brick for my wine cellar in a deep red color. Then I bought more for the kitchen. I wanted to match (more or less) the terra cotta color of the tile floor to a brick wall. This brick product was just great for painting. I used the tip of a small brush to change the grout color and the flat or side of the brush to apply several shades of terra cotta, just grazing the top surface and allowing some of the base color to show through. The resulting texture and variation of color is just perfect! I think this product would be especially nice for used brick. Many dealers sell this, but if you want to see a picture, go to http://store6.yimg.com/I/suzisdollhouses_1643_20413388 It is flexible and has a vinyl like texture, but accepts both stains and paint
Kathy from Tustin
Spray Gesso for Furniture: Yes, the spray gesso is wonderful for furniture. Remember to spray in short spurts. Turn your can upside down for the final spray to clear the nuzzle. Light applications are the key. Continue until the flaws are hidden and the surface well prepped.
Acrylic Paint: Acrylic paint dries to a plastic-like material, you can dry it on purpose on high quality plastic wrap and peel it off in sheets for a newmaterial. To keep it in the liquid state use the wet palette method described by someone earlier or use the real thing, however don't expect too long a life span, mildew happens fast in FL. Work with tiny amounts at a time, you may want to use an extender to make it more fluid in a dry climate (I can't imagine a dry climate). If you do accidentally get some on clothing or whatever, alcohol takes it off in a sec. that means if you ;goofthe thing you are painting you can remove it while wet. Good ole soap and water takes it off if done immediatelyAnother acrylic paint tip, shake the bottle well, but don't strike against the heel of your hand, can lead to carpal tunnel. The little strips of paint pots are good for working small amounts at a time, either wash out when finished or peel out the paint when it dries out. One more ... very important, you have to let the application dry before painting over, or next to, a freshly painted area. Paint in a nice thin coat, several thin layers is MUCH better than one gloppy one! Wow, kinda got carried away, I guess you can tell what I do the most of.
Nancy in Tampa
White metal kits: Anything, be it object or kit made from white metal, needs to be either washed in soapy water -OR- cleaned with white vinegar. Railway modelling chaps who use white metal kits a lot all swear that unless one cleans the white metal first, it will not take either glue or paint as well as it could. Apparently this is due to the releasing agent used to ensure the things come free from their moulds easily. So dutifully I now clean all my white metal before I either glue or paint it - and by George, they're right!
Helen from York, England
Phoenix White Metal Kits: I LOVE these kits and have done a number of them. You will have no problem if you use 5 minute epoxy, the kind where there are two tubes and you must mix well a little of each together. With the 5 minutes before it sets hard you have time to adjust pieces slightly if necessary. If you use any other kind of glue I think you will have problems as they are not strong enough to hold metal. I suggest you never use super glue for this as the bond will break eventually. Sure wish these kits were more available here in Canada,
Cheryl in Brampton, ON
Black birdcage: When I want to make something 'iron', or look like Wedgwood basalt ware, or indeed to just make a mess :O), I take the item outside and spray with matt black car enamel spray, from a car shop. Lovely instant iron. I wouldn't advise anyone to use this enamel spray indoors, as it does not come off. Now how would I know that..
Helen from York, England
Black birdcage: Krylon makes a Black Wrought Iron spray paint that would be perfect to spray either a brass or white birdcage.
Fannye in TX
Bird Cage: Head to your nearest Thrift Shop. Quite often they have birdcages for next to nothing. Take it home, give it a good scrub with a brush, let dry Thoroughly, spray with a metal prime coat, than spray with Krylon black matt. It will be fine and a lot less $$$$'s. Might even find an almost new one like I did. Turned it into an enclosed bird sanctuary. With "no Cats allowed" sign on the outside. Guess what! The cat family are all in attendance, with Mom & kids resting in the sun, which dad checks out Peter the Parrot. (who's cage door is open) naughty cat. My particular birdcage had an aqua tray that when turned upside down looked like castle roof. I sprayed it with 3 coats of Karolyn's Fabulous Finishes - Make it Stone. Looks like stucco and is a wonderful product. Have used it on several roomboxes both for stucco and foundations. I love the stuff. So fast, and durable. There is an acrylic top coat that gives it a good sealer, so is super easy to keep dust free, and clean. Have fun! Birdcages make great containers for our mini's.
Diane in SFBA
Art Gallery: I have several bronzes by Jim Pounder (If you haven't seen his earlier works, you are missing some fabulous Western sculptures!), Robert Olszewski for Goebel, and Philip Konigsberg (sp?). They are all western/Native American themes and were purchased mostly in the 80's.. *(I have duplicates of 2 of the Pounder sculptures that I may be selling in the future, let me know if you are interested in being contacted - but be forewarned that these are not inexpensive items).
I built a very basic box using 3 picture frames and some leftover plywood as the basis. Joint compound was used for texturizing because that is what I had on hand. I figure this project cost me under $10 because I built everything including the window and door. The picture frames allowed for a see through top, and large side picture windows that you might see in a contemporary gallery. Mine is done in southwest style, but is relatively plain because I wanted the artwork within to be the focal point. You can see the finished results in my Epson albums, the pictures are in the "Mini Art/sculpture Gallery album. I welcome your questions and/or comments.
Feel free to visit my other albums too. I even have pictures of some finished Michael's hutches for those of you searching for ideas. (In the minis - individual items album)
Bonnie Gibson - Tucson, Arizona
Polymer clay: You might want to cook your clay a little bit longer so the plasticizers get time to react with each other and this will make the clay stronger. Unless you need to cut something you didn't do before let every thing cool and it will be fully hard. Some people like to cut their clay pieces when warm from the oven and still pliable but I do my cutting before hand. Good luck and I hope this helps a bit.
Crumbling clay: [after baking at 275 for 15 minutes, the pieces were stillsoft. Those tiny fudge squares crumbled when I squeezed one with my tweezers]
Yes, they'll still be somewhat soft and quite flexible when they're hot from the oven. Sculpey III will crumble if it's hot and is fairly brittle even after it's cooled. The weak end-product isn't much of a bother with things that are this tiny and that won't be played with and subject to abuse by children. For particularly thin parts, it's best to use Premo, a much stronger clay that's also very flexible when it's cooled.
The other cause of brittleness or crumbling of cooked and cooled pieces is under baking, which you can get when you don't cook it long enough or at a high enough temperature. If your oven's thermostat is off, for instance, you could be cooking at only 250º and that's not hot enough to complete the fusing process between the molecules.
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