Saturday, 12 November 2016

"STAIR-ing" at the FLOOR

This posting is about 2 things; 
a) how I made the tile floors for VILLA LEONE 
and b) how my staircase turned out. 
I hope to encourage others by telling you not only what I did wrong but how "mistakes" can often lead you in an entirely new direction which is BETTER than what you'd originally planned.

I'll begin this with the

NONE of what you see is permanently installed. Everything is loose, walls, floors, stairs, lights etc.  I am working this out like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle still trying to figure it out, so I don't dare to glue ANYTHING in permanently- - - -YET.
As I'd mentioned a couple of posts ago, I had been hanging onto this wrapping paper for over a decade.  It was showing its age but I thought that a good hot ironing would restore it enough to make it usable. 
After repeated tries, it was still looking nasty and so I had to resort to plan B, which was sheets of tile paper which I had purchased at the craft store. 
I cut the heavy card to fit the entry hall, and the floor for the dining room and spray- glued the paper to it, smoothed it flat, then sealed it with Mod Podge, which promptly caused it to wrinkle.
I had to roll a brayer over the tacky floor paper to remove the bubbles and ensure that the tiles dried flat.  

note to self
MOD PODGE sticks better! 

lesson learned
this is what the floor looked like when it was completely dry.  I was going to leave it like this, but the more I looked at it the less satisfied I was with it, because it lacked texture and dimension. 
To give the tiles dimension I scored along the lines with a ball stylus and a straight-edged ruler. 

I aged the floor with a thin wash of brown gel stain and sealed the color with hairspray. 
 To give the tiles texture, I brushed over the entire surface with a slurry mix of drywall compound and water, then wiped it off with a soft cloth.

When the floor was dry, I sprayed it with hair spray let that dry and then used a light application of liquid floor polish to give it a soft shine.

This close up of the tiles shows you the surface texture.
I was pretty happy with how the floors turned out.  And although they were not what I had originally intended, I liked Plan B
BETTER than Plan A
It is no secret that I HATE making stairs because
it involves MATH and I have never been good at MATH.
I made this staircase because I had to, not because I wanted to.
I stressed out about it for several months. I did a little bit, got stuck, left them and tried again later.  This process repeated itself several times over the course of many weeks and
this is what they finally ended up as...
I had to bulk up the staircase more than what they are in the Willowcrest kit. The space for them over the front door is tight.  Later, the door trim is going to have to be cut to allow for that stair return.

But I'm getting ahead of myself again, so let me back up.

Fatima gave me some plaster embellishments that she had in her stash which she thought I might be able to use.

There were 2 sheets of these. 
After I had built the staircase, I cut these embellishments apart and glued them to the surface of the stairs.
You can see in the photo below the carvings next to the treads and under the stair return, but originally I had GONE CRAZY and glued the paster bits all over the entire flat surface of the support, which I'd painted, sealed and painted again. 

By the time I'd finished it looked cheap and tacky.


I pulled off most of the embellishments to try and tone it down and of course it lifted off some of the layers of drywall plaster and made the surface irregular and- INTERESTING!


I had accidentally made


This was BETTER than what I had originally hoped for!  I sealed the surface with acrylic sealer and painted the unit with antique white acrylic paint and while it was still damp I added oil based varnish and blended the two mediums together, which of course naturally pooled and separated, then sealed it again with spray sealer. I kept on repeating this process until I was happy with the final look. 

Afterwards I slipped the staircase back into its location to gage the effect and...
but when I hooked up the chandelier I'd made
I changed my mind
The incandescent light made the brown stone look PINK!

(back to the drawing board )

I took them out and gave the unit a thin wash of water mixed with drywall patch, and a tiny drop of white acrylic paint.  I brushed the mix onto the surfaces and wiped it right off again spray sealed it, tried it in situ and
repeated this process again and again until the staircase looked right whether the lights were on or off.

Then I built the dividing wall. 

I had already run out of the wall paper I had used for the hallways, so after much trying to match it and failing, I took a lesson from the pages of my friend Janine's real life house.  
Janine has a HUGE WALL PAINTING of the Girl with the Pearl Earring on her bathroom wall, it is Stunning and the visual impact is Immediate!  I used the same principal by using a trompe l'oeil print for the end panel of the staircase.
THIS TIME I used MOD PODGE to adhere the print to the wall board.  When it was dry, I sealed it with MOD PODGE and when that was dry I gave it a wash with the same slurry of drywall compound mixed with water to hopefully give the print the look of fresco, which

I sealed with more hair spray.  

It doesn't match the green walls but it does compliment the staircase.  Above is with the light from the hall chandelier warming up the print and below is with the light off.
                    Lighting makes such a difference 
                           Especially in miniatures. 
So this is where I'll have to leave you. 

I've yet to decide what to do about a handrail.  Janine says I don't need one, my daughter Sam agrees, but I'm not convinced.  Because of the irregular steps, a normal handrail with balustrades won't work, which is why I am considering running one attached to the wall running in front of the window.  This problem will have to be resolved one way or the other before I glue the staircase into place. 

ahhh me 
more math on the horizon... :(

I think I need a coffee 

ciao ciao!:D

Next post- LIGHTING and DINING ROOM update

Monday, 31 October 2016

a VERY SCARY post!

I am NOT a political activist.  Neither can I honestly say that I am "well informed" when it comes to electing our Canadian politicians, so imagine my surprise at finding myself so immersed in what is happening across the border with the Presidential election campaign!      
This is another first for me who usually finds ANY Country's politics, infinitely boring.  
Not so this year.
 A vast majority of my readers are American Citizens who will be casting their votes very soon (if not already), and many will be using Electronic Voting machines when they do, which is why I am forwarding this link regarding Electronic Voter Tampering and How it is done.

Please be aware that I AM NOT endorsing ANYONE, in this post.

this is simply an FYI
 In Canada we vote with paper ballots, so after seeing this  "HOW TO" video of how one is able to hack into the computer system and modify the outcome of an election was of particular interest to me.
Very Scary!
During the credit roll, there is a guide as how you can verify  your individual ballots when you go to the machines to vote.
Hope this helps
 and May GOD Bless America and guide your upcoming election.


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