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Polymer clay: When you take your baked clay items out of the oven you might just panic and think they aren't cooked, yes they do harden as they cool and it is normal, don't worry. One way to help the process along is to plunge the baked clay into a bowl of cold water. This speeds up the cooling process and some polyclay artists believe it makes the clay stronger. Please remember that the clay is really hot when it first comes out of the oven (don't laugh, it happens) and it's very hard to work with singed fingertips.
P.S. The baking tray will be hot too.

Jacquie Hall

Greenleaf splinters:   After I paint the wrong side of all the sheets with flat white paint, I cut out the pieces as needed with a jig saw. It goes wonderfully fast, as the cutting is half done, and it does eliminate a lot of splinters as well as damage to delicate parts. I do a quick swipe with a medium grade sandpaper, and if that doesn't solve the problem, I VERY carefully trim the pieces with a craft knife. My DH taught me to start at the "wrong" end of a splinter. Starting at the end that is sticking out will cause you to end up with an edge that is scalloped, rather than straight. Shave off a bit at a time, cutting toward the splinter, until you have smoothed the edge. Since I usually cover my houses with siding or stucco, I don't bother with a lot of sanding and such on the surface.


Wallpaper Paste: I started using Borden's border paste (for papering over paper) and find that it works better than anything I've ever used. Nancy's "ripple" problem sounds enough like my "sagging paper" problem to make me suspect that her paste is her downfall -- I have also used the scrapbook papers, and while you have to treat them a bit more gently during application, 'cause they're not quite as sturdy as actual wallpapers, they go up easily and finish beautifully. Build On!

Dayle in MD

"Copper roof stuff", something that I experimented with successfully on the dollhouse I am building. I used very thin sheet copper to make flashing for roof valleys where dormer roofs join the main roof, at the bottom of the dormer front walls and for the ridges of the dormer and main roofs. My roof is finished with cedar shakes and it is very difficult to make a proper valley or edges that look good without using flashing. Sheet copper is readily available here in Chile in stationery shops and supermarkets in the school supply section, along with various printed paper products and wood strips and sheets. These materials are sold for kids doing school diorama or model projects, but have many other uses as well. Since my work is in the copper mining industry, I had to find some uses for the finished product!

I cut the copper into strips of the desired width, in my case about 20mm (hobby knife or scissors work fine) and folded them lengthwise on a metal straightedge to about 90 degrees - be very careful of the edges as they can inflict a nasty cut. Sanding the edges lightly will make them a bit safer to be around. I attached the copper to the roof with Walther's Goo. Goo is normally found in model railroad shops and is a brown, very sticky, elastic contact cement. It works well for joining dissimilar materials, such as plastic windows to wood framing, etc.

David Harron

Copper: There is a peel and stick copper that is excellent for dh use. I put it on bay window roofs with ease. Mine came from my friendly miniature shop (Mini-Tiques) so don't know who makes it.

Roberta in Wisconsin

Dura-Craft Tips: I have made two Dura-Craft kits. I used Elmer's wood glue and LOTS of masking tape to put them together. Here are some other things I figured out to do from one kit to the next: I sealed both sides of each plywood sheet with sanding sealer, it made sanding easier.

I made masking tape labels for the larger pieces. I grouped smaller pieces (stairway components, for example) into Ziplock bags and labeled what they were and where they went (especially for windows and doors!). I thought long and hard about which rooms I wanted for each function and then took the instruction booklet, and on the photo of the interior I wrote which room was what, identified the pieces and painted/wallpapered before assembly. I assembled the base and then "dry-fit" the exterior walls to determine placement for the second and third floors. I used a carpenter's square to keep everything square. Even then I did lots of sanding and trimming to get a fit. I didn't electrify, either. Maybe next time...

Havana (FL) Holly

Drywall joint compound:! (The entire exterior of my house is "sided" in drywall). It adheres beautifully to the wood, and can be sanded or drilled. What I did was fashion a homemade "comb" and dragged it across the wet surface (after the drywall had been applied to the wood. Depending on the "comb" you can achieve many different effects. I also used it to plaster my ceilings. I used a small piece (perhaps an inch wide) from a real comb to get the swirling effect I wanted there.

I used to buy the mini stucco, too but you can get 10 gallons of drywall for 10 dollars (DIY). It took almost ten lbs for my dollhouse.

To make a home made comb, I'd suggest soft brass (that's what I used, and it cleans up really easy.) Cut your design with metal snips and then sandwich the form between two pieces of wood. (I put the pic of mine on the SSD album at the bottom of my picturetrail, if my description is confusing.) It's pretty simple and you can get some neat effects. Stuff holds up like a dream! Here's the URL if you want to see the drywall comb. Very easy to make. (SSD album...bottom)


Painted Ladies Colors: Question: Does anyone know of a website where I can get ideas for the exterior paint colors. I would love to do a multi-color exterior but cannot afford to buy all the "Painted Ladies" books.
Try test color combinations.

Cathy from Philadelphia

Catching problems: Don't you just hate how sometimes we miss crooked or lopsided bits in our mini scenes until we get the pictures back and there it is glaring at you? It can be hard to "proof read" scenes when you've been caught up in all the details. One simple way of catching those things is to look at your scene/piece indirectly, using a mirror to view it from a different angles. It really does work!

Debi in Quesnel

Question: "I bought "hard wood flooring" for the attic and tile sheet (plastic) for the bathroom & brick for the kitchen floor. Do I glue it down or just lay it in there? "
Answer: My opinion is that they should be glued down, but you may prefer to cut a pattern out of poster board and mount them on that before gluing in place. When I do a hardwood floor I glue to poster board pattern if I can't get into the area. Give it a good finish with a palm sander. Mount to the poster board and when dry (I use quick Grab) sand with a palm sander. They are inexpensive but you can get a beautiful smooth floor that way. Then go over it with a tack cloth to remove dust and spray with semi gloss Deft or similar product. When dry polish with fine steel wool and repeat the process, wipe spray and polish. When your floor is done and has a to-die-for finish glue the whole thing in the room (unless you want a rough cabin type floor). Enjoy!

Anita McNary, IGMA Artisan

Scrapbook paper for kitchen and bathroom floors: I too looked at the scrapbook paper at Michaels. I bought some in the checked variety and used it on the bathroom floor. Unfortunately I glued it down and had problems with my wiring on the kitchen lamp. Now I have to take it up and reconnect the wires to the kitchen light, which is on the floor below. But, I had "laid" the floor and then put glossy Modge Podge on it and it turned out beautiful! looks like a marble or high gloss tiled floor. I hope I can have as much success when my demolition and redoing of the floor! The Modge Podge Glossy is great for this. Makes the floor look much richer and the paper took it well. In redoing I think I will take a cardboard pattern of the floor and place that in so I can readjust the wires if necessary.

Virginia from Maryland

Marble tiles: I bought 1" square tiles from Designing Ways at the Philadelphia Miniaturia, then exchanged them for different colors, bought more and have almost finished installing them. I LOVE them! They look great, went down very well (I just used Yes glue to stick them to the floor.

On the bathroom floor, I stuck them to bristol board because wiring runs along that floor and I just laid the tile/bristol board on top of the wiring - no glue.

For the Kitchen and entry hall, I stuck the tiles directly on the existing flooring - I had put wallpaper down initially, then went with the tiles. Everything is solidly in place and looks great.

I butted the tiles against each other, didn't leave "grout lines" because in scale, they appear to have grout lines anyway. I think it looks great and was very easy. I used my scroll saw to cut the tiles that needed to be fitted. These tiles are made out of formica, very thin and in scale.

For anyone interested in the tiles, the lady's name is Carol Moore, Designing Ways, 8304 Melody Court Bethesda MD 20817-3153. Unfortunately, I don't have her phone number with me. She is an interior decorator in her "real life". She has no website or e-mail...I have no financial interest in her company, just was very pleased with the product and the service. She carries octagon shaped tiles with the tiny squares to go in between, in addition to the 1" square ones. Nice assortment of colors and textures.

Jo from the Poconos

Stairs: I installed them in my Duracraft "Heritage" and then later took them out! In that particular house, the stairs took up way too much space, and were ugly to boot. The stairs debate has occurred on SS in the past, with some (like me) saying, "if you are only viewing a cross section of the house, couldn't the stairs be in the part you can't see?" Stairs are important to some. So, really, it is a matter of personal choice. Photos here:

Anne Gerdes

Realistic carpet. There is a product sold at most fabric stores that is rubber backed and looks like the stuff they put in cars, but with a very fine nap, almost velvety. I got a large piece for only a couple of bucks and it looks so real! Because of the rubber backing, it is easy to install and stays where you put it without gluing, which is a big help if you like to redecorate or wire your houses.

Eileen in St.Louis

Wallpaper: For anyone with wallpaper problems: I'm sure someone else will come up with this, too, but before you wallpaper anything, spray it with a coat of matte sealer (Patricia Nimock's, Krylon, etc.). Just take the wallpaper outside and spray each sheet lightly to cover. It dries fast and then you can put it on with ease. This prevents fading, rubbing off, and all the other hassles. Takes just a minute and is worth it! Spray is found at any craft store, hardware store, etc. I used to work at a hobby shop here in town and we always sealed paper before wallpapering a customer's house. Have fun!

Anne Gerdes

Wallpaper: For anyone with wallpaper problems: I'm sure someone else will come up with this, too, but before you wallpaper anything, spray it with a coat of matte sealer (Patricia Nimock's, Krylon, etc.). Just take the wallpaper outside and spray each sheet lightly to cover. It dries fast and then you can put it on with ease. This prevents fading, rubbing off, and all the other hassles. Takes just a minute and is worth it! Spray is found at any craft store, hardware store, etc. I used to work at a hobby shop here in town and we always sealed paper before wallpapering a customer's house. Have fun!

Sue Veeder, IGMA Fellow

Adding Details: You asked about adding more detail to Real Good Toy's houses. This is commonly done -- and easy to do! If you don't have a dollhouse store near you, many sell trims online.

Tom has a good selection at Earth and Tree Adding trim to your house will make all the difference.

Anne Gerdes

Strawberry Basket Ideas:
- Take the fence idea further and use basket pieces as trellises.
- Use them as Arts & Crafts/Frank Lloyd Wright style porch trim.
- If you're making a display for yourself and not something that must be playable-sturdy, with a mat board floor, the long skinny ones make a balcony or fire escape.
- The small square ones make grille work for those infamous Michaels hutch doors.
- Another idea for the square ones: cut three rectangles the same size (about 1 x 3 inches) and two squares (about 1 inch per side). Cut the crossbars off the grid on two of the rectangles so they look like jail-cell bars. Glue these to the uncut 1 x 3 in a U-shape. Glue the squares on the open ends. Paint and glue over your sink for a spiffy English-style hanging plate rack.


Shingles on curved roof, I was putting shingles on a mansard roof with a complex curvature starting convex at the top, interrupted by a belt cornice, and then concave below that. I was using thin cedar, "geometric" shingles (i.e., fish scales, diamonds, half hexagons, and flat bottom rectangles)

On that project, I milled and shaped my own shingles to about 1/32" thickness, and shorter than usual top to bottom length so the ones above only barely overlapped the tops of those below. (Just enough for the highest point of the bottom edge shape to hide the top of those below by about 1/16"). It was necessary to hide the fact of such a small overlap so the side edges of each shingle were slightly beveled. That way, they could be very closely spaced and not appear like a long, continuous strip.

I pre-colored the roof plates with a NON-SEALING stain and then very precisely planned the position of all top edges, drawing pencil lines to follow. I ended up revising the sequence of shapes, vertical dimensions, and top edge positioning several times before arriving at a workable plan.

Installing the shingles, I laid a bead of white glue along the positioning line and along the top edge of the row below with a glue syringe. Let it set up just a bit then press into place. Where the roof pitch is very steep, you may need to put blocks under the house and tilt it while applying shingles so they do not slide downward out of position. Keep a fitch and a can of water at hand to quickly eliminate any glue runs from coming down onto the visible surface. In the case of my project, the shingles were to be painted rather than stained and weathered so extreme care was not essential. If I were doing a stained roof, I believe that I would have pre-stained and washed the shingles prior to putting them on.

An idea I considered for a while but ended up not using would have been to make long (horizontal) strips of shingles glued to gauze strips and then to a 1/16 X 1/16 (or thereabouts) wood strip which, in turn, would have ridden on the top edge of the course below.


Painting upholstery: I have used PERMANENT, colorfast markers intended FOR FABRIC, that I got at A.C.Moore, and Michaels crafts. I re-colored a nursery chair that had white upholstery, yellow about 15 years ago and it has held up beautifully, and I recently tinted a colored upholstery with a light tan color to take it from bright yellow to a warm gold. If you try this approach, buy the markers that have a "brush tip" on at least one end (some are double ended) as this works best and practice on a scrap piece of fabric until you can apply it without streaks. Also, if it is silk upholstery, there is a silk paint that you just paint on and it "spreads evenly throughout the silk. If you want to make a pattern you could use the silk paint and then draw your pattern with another color fabric marker. They do sell a "resist" for the silk paint that would prevent the paint from spreading into any area that you place the resist but I think you have to wash or iron out the resist afterwards and I don't know how you would do that without taking the upholstery off.

Tracey Alan Meeker

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