Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Italian Job or- How I spent my Summer Vacation

Buongiorno Blogland!
I hope that everyone has enjoyed their summer as much as I have.  
And what did I do all summer, you ask? 
nothing... I didn't go anywhere; 

I stayed close to home.
The rest of the Miniteer's however, have been traveling non-stop; even as I speak, they are currently scattered across the globe.
Linda Park was here visiting Canada following a quick jog over to France; she's now back home in Australia.  Janine is in Europe cruising the Dutch canals, and Fatima is... well I'm not exactly sure where Fatima is right now, but wherever she is
 she is Busy! 

(psssst! - she always travels with a mini project tucked in her bag!) 
So here I am at home, holding the fort,
so to speak,
with all the time in the world to work on Villa Leone, 

so what have I accomplished this past summer?
Very little.
Although, come to think of it, I did do a little bit of work on the dollhouse in JUNE.  I repainted the lower  antique white section of the exterior and removed some of the algid "damp" because I didn't want the house to feel too cold and/or smell too musty, thus, I  added another layer of concrete trim around the base as extra protection from any high tides.  Adding that extra trim, visually bulked up the foundation.  The other benefit is that I won't have to construct such a deep canal around this house, 

so less work, less materials, less weight! 
That particular project is still MILES AWAY, but when it does arrive, I'll be ready for it.
Other than that little flurry in June, 

 the house sat neglected for most of the summer, filled with construction debris, as well as all of my good intentions. 
the wider concrete trim around the base

Then around the last week of August, I finally bit the bullet and removed all of the JUNK on all 3 floors, swept the insides and painted all of the interior surfaces with Gesso.  
The doors and windows are still unfinished, but by painting everything white, I could look at the space with Fresh Eyes and hopefully be inspired as to how to divide the space into rooms.
However, nothing came to me so the house sat neglected for another 7 days.  

Then came the first week of September and I thought back on my wasted summer, and all of the things which I had hoped to have had done by now.  

I was so tired of not doing ANYTHING that I felt compelled to do SOMETHING, 
and it had to begin in the hall.
I had assembled the main floor staircase some time ago, but took most of it apart again because I wanted to make it both wider and taller.  And because I had changed the hall window to a longer one, the stairs had to ascend beneath it just so.  There had to be enough space around the window to install the trim as well as space for the wood trim running parallel with the staircase.  But before I could determine all of that, I needed to tackle hanging the wallpaper on the main floor, stairwell and second floor, first, and to do that I first made templates using white poster board 

( dollar store) and cut out all of the shapes which I was going to need to hang the paper in the most efficient way, since I only had 3 sheets and I couldn't afford to make ANY mistakes. 
I made the paper template and then I cut out a wall section from foamcore board.  After I saw it with the window installed, I changed my mind and switched to using a Heavy Matt Board for the interior lining and glued my wallpaper to that instead. I did this because the Matt Board would give me a few additional mm of floor space in entry.  

The scrapbook/wallpaper called LOVE NEST BLOCK #L2020 and I bought it from the Hobby Lobby while I was visiting in the U.S. last Spring.  It is a watery blue/ green which looks to me to be the same color as in pictures of Venetian canals.  The darker areas are part of the pattern of the paper.  The color is gradient and so portions of it are more intensely blue drifting gradually into a soft brownish-green with a murky brown tone concentrated in the corners and the outside edges.  This meant that I had to cut and paste the papers together so that the colors would stay consistent on each of the hall walls.  I used my templates for all of the piecework and managed to get the wallpaper cut with the least amount of waste.

And THAT my friends, was a FIRST for me! :D

After I had cut the major pieces of wallpaper,for the hall and glued them to the Heavy Card, my MOJO finally came home. Yahoo! :D 
At last had a starting point from which to coordinate the rest of the walls as well as what to use as the floor treatments for the first floor. 

Initially I was going to have a colorful eye-catching cement tile floor  then I found this wrinkled piece of gift wrap which I had filed away 16 years ago.  It looks good in the hall.  I chose a solid burnt red paper to represent a concrete floor in the kitchen, but more about the kitchen in another post.

back to the staircase-
I used a paper template to figure out that bit of wood work which runs up the stairs and protects the wall, and once the interior wallpaper panels are glued in, they'll be outline with finishing trim then painted  to match the staircase.  As you can see, everything is still "loosey goosey" and will remain unattached until I've figured out my lighting and floor plan.

My intentions are to use both round wire and the flat tape.  
stairs will have lots of molding, new risers, treads and handrail,
( when I'm able to muster up the courage to do it)

I widened the staircase by adding a layer of foamboard to the inside of the risers.  I know it looks REALLY UGLY right now, however it will all be covered over .... eventually.
Meanwhile I began looking through my stash for a candidate for the hall light.
I'm not crazy about the look of this one because it looks too delicate for the airspace it needs to fill, so it will probably go

 down stairs into the main entry.  

During the last visit I had with Fats, she gave me these two carved pillars as seen in the photo above. 
I love them although I didn't know where I could use them 
and I needed to use them!  
Then when I was testing out the floor paper, I tried them around the front door.  They will most likely stay there, if I can get them to fit properly under the stairs.  
I'm keeping my fingers crossed about that.

Okay, so after I'd decided on the hall floor, I began thinking about the forward adjoining room which is normally designated as the kitchen according to the original kit instructions.
Since I had switched the kitchen to what is usually the living room, I decided to call the smaller room- the dining room.  

But then I got to thinking about possible flood waters and how that would affect the wood furniture.
So, to protect the wood, I raised the level of the dining room by one step, as well as continue the tile up into the room.  Now that I've had a chance to think about it more, my new idea is to run the pattern from side to side to define it from the hall. 
I also opted for a green marble fireplace which had also been lying dormant in my stash.
I found some scrap pink foam insulation pieces to raise the level of the floor and folded the tile paper over it, just to see if it would work.
The walls were propped up so I could get a feel for the room.
to me the space felt tight even with the skinny chairs! 
so.... what if I had less wall, no door and   
 opened up the dining room to the hall?

Earlier, I'd located some plastic cake pillars which I had painted to look like wood.  I'd painted them back in the mid 90's, 
( they were salvaged from a previously dismantled project).  
 I positioned the pillars on boxes to raise them up and placed them on either side of the proposed opening .
Now that's more like it! 
The iron grills, (now transoms above the fireplace) came from a stripped down
 plastic Barbie house which I'd found at the thrift store .  
These grills will encourage boh light and air circulation in the room. 

after all of this, I took a picture to see if it worked. 

 I took this photo from outside the front door using the wallpaper I've chosen as the backdrop in dining room.  The chairs were too white and the profile didn't show up very well in the photo so that's when I brought out 

I only have this one John Hodgson chair (signed 1997) 

It is both a Pleasure and a Treasure!
it looked way better for the photos and so I sat it at the table and then I added a lamp I'd made, and then I remembered I had a tiny statuette of Michelangelo's "David" (pilfered from a souvenir snow globe), and then I added a book, then a few more books and before you know it, I had ...


which includes a kitchen sink! 

I didn't expect this toy plastic sink unit to fit under the window as well as it does, thus my new plan is to give it a complete makeover top to bottom and transform the sink counter into a credenza. 
The chair in the photo above is by another Artisan and signed
Jack Mealy 1987.
This Amazing chair sits lower than the other and the cushion is velour instead of leather but the wood is just as beautiful albeit, the carving is simpler.

I don't have any information about the Artistsan but if you do, then please let me know.

The books on the table are an assortment of those cheap imports consisting of garish, glossy paper covering crude, rectangular wooden blocks.  Mine have been sitting in a bag in a drawer and gathering dust for the past 3 years- which was why I'd decided to finally put them to work; stacking them in several piles across the top of the mahogany table so that the atmosphere would read- "busy".  

The dining table is considered "temporary" that is, unless I'm unable to find or afford the one I want.  Since I got this one for free, I'm not complaing but I did have a trestle table in my mind, something that looks a little bit more Ancient.
Nevertheless, free is a very "good deal", so I may just have to remain content. 

Taking photos sure helps, especially in determining sight lines. 
 Having these pictures as references, will mean that later on I won't have to make the effort to remember what I was thought I was going to do only to forget it all, as soon as I've taken everything apart.  
I was thinking about that when I suddenly remembered that I had been planning to show you the cushions which 
Miniteer, LINDA PARK made for each of us as gift exchanges when she came here to visit.  
Linda needlepointed our initials into custom cushions according to each of our current projects,  and so before this  dining room is  completely dismantle, I'm going to show you 
just SOME
 of the WONDERFUL needlework which I've received from her.

other Linda Park gifts will be saved for later. ;P

Linda stitched our initials into a cushion for each of us.    

A Monogramed cushion worked in Black and metallic gold threads with the letters
"V" and "L" entwined in an elegant embrace!


And then there is this little Renaissance Beauty! 

And then another version of the "Villa Leone" initials in red and gold!

and THEN 
Just when you think that you have seen it all
Linda presented me with an additional-



I have been truly blessed

and although
I may not have left the country, I feel as if I have! 

because my head is once again turned towards Venice;
 commanding my own personal gondola (gondolier?) -
 Life's Good! 

and so THAT folks,
is how I
spent my summer vacation!  
ciao for now


Monday, 22 August 2016

How to make a FRENCH PRESS for your doll's house.

One day last week, I was wandering aimlessly through the land of  Pinterest, looking for items for my future Italian Kitchen and happened upon this Japanese tutorial on how to make a miniature
coffee pot.  
Actually I was specifically looking for a tutorial on how to make an Italian Moka coffee pot when I came across this Pinterest site, even so, I decided to have a go at making the FRENCH PRESS instead.  I thought it would be quick and easy; and, as usual, I was WRONG!  

The first pot took me HOURS to do and undo.  In the process, I got glue all over my hands and all over the pot and had paper towel stuck to everything everywhere else. After I had wasted an entire day I gave up and went to bed.  I was back at it again early the next morning.  However, not much noticable progress or improvement so I tried making the FRENCH PRESS again for the 3rd time.... and then again.... and finally by day FOUR, after my 6th attempt, a pot turned out to be acceptable. 
Here is the French Press which originally inspired me:

This Japanese site used a glass pitcher as the base for the coffee pot.  Since I didn't have one, I substituted a pencil cap from a Chanel lip liner, which had been gathering dust inside an old forgotten makeup bag.  I used the clear plastic end caps because they not only appeared to be the right circumference for this project, but also they were very easy to cut with a razor saw, and each pencil cap was long enough to produce coffee pots. 

I cut the pencil cap into 3 sections and saved the center section for a different project.  
side note:  I have since found that irrespective of the price of the pencils, most pencils are of about the same diameter so check your dollars stores if you are looking for pencils with clear caps as well as inside your makeup bag. 
I sanded the raw edges with a metal file and then smoothed with an emery board.

The container on the left slightly tapers towards the base, but the tube on the right is the same width from top to bottom and is the easier one to construct.  So I will be demonstrating this tutorial using the tube on the right. 

I used a slightly different construction for each coffee pot so you may see some variations as you go through the photos but what I have written is how I made my 
Please feel free to modify any of these instructions to suit yourself.  
 I glued a small clear piece of plastic cut from a
"Pringles potato chip" lid, to the base using
I had also tried E6000 and CRAZY GLUE but the
Quick Grip was
the easiest (for me) to use on this project.

After the glue has set,  
trim away the excess plastic from the tube and sand the edges smooth.

Initially, I tried to make a spout for the coffee pot by cutting one out and gluing it onto the surface.  

I made the first 3 pots that way
  I found the tutorial listed below through
Pinterest,  and I scrapped what I had been doing in favor of this new procedure-
Much easier!!!! 

So as per the video; I heated up my glue gun WITHOUT the GLUE STICK, and using the hot nozzle, I lightly applied even pressure to the rim  of the plastic tube, drawing it upwards and down.
I removed the gun, then quickly shaped the spout with my fingers if it was uneven. 
by the way, 
practice this method on a throwaway piece first so that you can gage how much pressure to apply and how fast the plastic will melt.

TA DA!!!...
This is the result
 For my 1st, and 2nd French Press, I used the tea light
metal to construct the outside cage for the coffee pot.   

I smoothed it out using a large ball stylus, and then cut thin strips using the longest, sharpest scissors I own.
For the 3rd and 4th French Press pots, I substituted the metal wrap saved from a wine bottle.  It was heavier than the candle aluminum and I liked the results much better.

I applied the metal strips starting directly under the spout, guiding it across the bottom, then up to the opposite side of the tube.  I used the Quick Grip sparingly,
(or as "sparingly" as I was able considering how this product

 gushes like a garden hose! )
However, the excess glue can be picked off with tweezers after the metal has been positioned.

(needless to say, I spent a lot of time picking off the excess glue from every single pot I made.) 

above and below shows the wine bottle metal as strapping and also the angled tweezers I used to remove the overflow of  rubbery glue. 

I added a long cross-strip of metal to the side, underside and up to the opposite side of the container.
A top band was glued horizontally to overlap the top ends of the side bands, then I trimmed the excess metal using a straight edge razor blade.
I lightly burnished the metal with a ball stylus to ensure that the bands were affixed to the "glass".

When the bottom band was on, then it is time to make the handle.
I used two different methods.  
The first three pots have handles made of sections of those plastic sock "thingamabobs",
 which I cut down to size and glued onto the coffee pots. 

Since I know that "thingamabobs" might not be readily available in your area, I found an alternate solution.  I doubled up some plastic stitch count markers,
(dollar store)
glued 2 plastic circles together and then cut the rings in half and trimmed them down again to fit the contours of the pot. 

I found 2 tiny gold seed beads that were of equal size and glued them to the plastic handle then onto the pot. 
 I glued 4 gold beads onto the bottom of the container for the feet.  
This was a whole lot easier than making the strip metal feet which I'd done with my first 2 attempts.
Later, I touched up the handle with black nail polish, followed by a finish coat of clear matte nail varnish.

Once the body of the FRENCH PRESS had been completed, then it is onto the making of the lid and the mechanical plunge filter.
For the filter, I used 2 small metal snaps which were able to slide inside the interior of the coffee pot without getting stuck!

 I need to mention this too, 
that when making the plunger for the tapered coffee pot 
(the one with the tapered end), you will probably have to use a smaller set of snaps otherwise your filter will only go down part of the way before it gets stuck. So adjust the size of your snaps accordingly, so that the filter will slide all the way to the bottom of your container.
I used both the top and the bottom of the small snaps as the filter.  

I clipped off a long length of a large silver paper clip 
or you could use a (section of florists wire) 
whatever will allow the wire to fit snug and secure inside the center depression of the press fastener.  I glued a small crimp bead to the end of the wire first and then I glued the snap fastener to the end of the wire. 

When it was dry, I picked off the excess glue which had of course, oozed out. 

Then I slid the length of the plunge filter into the coffee pot.

The elements for the lid of the French Press are pictured below.
I am showing an uncut Super-sized paper clip

only to illustrate the order of the beads 
as they are strung onto the plunger. 

The lid is assembled and glued together off of the wire, then it is slipped onto the plunger while it is standing upright inside the pot.  
This way you are able to gage the correct length for the plunger, before you cut off the excess 
Remember to leave enough wire at the top for the bead handle to be glued to.

Below is the combination of jewelery findings I used for the CAP. Keep in mind that the photo is not yet showing the plunger snaps on the bottom end.  

 The large crimp bead is glued inside the larger hole of the bottom half of a large gold SNAP.  
The crimp bead keeps the plunger aligned and will allows the plunger to slide up and down inside the lid.  The snap forms the lip of the lid, a bell cap provides the dome.  A round bead becomes the knob handle.
 glue the lid components together,
DO NOT glue the Stem Wire directly onto the CRIMP BEAD inside the cap!
the plunger stem needs to be able to slide up and down through the crimp bead
the only portion that is glued directly onto the wire is the knob handle

I painted the knob with black nail polish and when it was dry, I used a clear MATT sealer coat on it.
I clear coated the exterior of the pot with clear nail varnish, which clarifies the plastic so it reads more like "glass".  

Then when it was completely dry, I used an eye dropper to squirt  real coffee into the FRENCH PRESS, and then into a tiny cup!

tastes like coffee but looks like tea? 

time to eat! 

a line up of the usual suspects
My first attempt at a French Press, is on the far right and my last French Press is on the far left.
I made 6 pots altogether with a total of 4 survivors.  

I made plenty of mistakes on each coffee pot however, by the time I got to #4
I was finally satisfied enough to be able to call it quits so I could move on, 
I still want to make an
which I'd mentioned to you earlier. 
and So it's
 arrivederci FRENCH PRESS...
and it's 



ciao ciao