Tuesday, 13 December 2016


I hope I'm not repeating myself too much with the following photos, but brace yourself to see MORE STAIRS!
It just can't be helped.
With this WILLOWCREST kit, the corner staircase HAS to be completed first because otherwise there is no way for me to get my giant hand inside to do the necessary work.
As you already know, every doll's house comes with its own special needs and surprise surprise; 
Villa Leone has quite a few! :/

This is where I left off in my last post. The stairs were built but before I could install them I had to finish the window wall, which meant everything had to come out, walls, floors, stairs, windows, etc.
My project was to build that running panel that follows the stairs along the wall.  I'm sure it has a proper name but I don't know it.
I measured the area I was going to be working on and cut some poster board to the size I wanted then cut it into shape to follow the stairs and glued it firmly into place.
I sealed the surface with MOD PODGE and let it dry.
I remembered that I had purchased these embossed border stickers from Michael's Craft Store, and chose the pattern I wanted for the wall.

The stickers are an embossed plastic so the pattern would stand up to the wet wall patch I was going to apply over it.
This is the panel with the dry wall patch applied, the border trim, then some wood trim.  I sprayed it with several layers of hair spray, and then hauled out the paints. 

I gave the panel a coat of Vintage White acrylic paint.   Whilst the paint was still wet I mixed dabs of Black Gel Stain and an oil based wood stain.  

A close up of the wall texture.

So this is how the stone was beginning to look 

between applications of the mix, I would give it a blast from the heat gun which sped up the drying process considerably! 
After I was satisfied with the color, I took my wall outside and sprayed it with  a Clear Mat Acrylic Sealer , which gave the surface some shine and made it appear more like a polished stone.  When it was dry I brought it in for additional layers of touch-ups then mattified it down with more hair spray.
Periodically, I would check it against the stairs to see if the color mix was working with the color of the stone I had already done.
At this stage, I needed to pause and figure out how I was going to finish the interior window
Finding a solution was going to look awkward no matter what I did.
The window fame in photo above, is actually the exterior frame, but it gave me an idea of how much of an intrusion into the very narrow stairwell, I could afford.

WELL, after much fiddling and fussing around I finally found a way to make the window fit, and NOT protrude too far out from the wall.  
Making the needed adjustments for the inside of the Villa, means some additional work on the exterior of the hall wall, but I'll have to tackle that problem LATER! 

I made sure that everything blended with the mural.

then decide to add some trim at the base of the stairs too.
When reviewing this photo I didn't like the way the vertical piece of trim butted into the wood, so I"ll need to make some additional corrections there too. 
More painted trim in the corner, however I 'll have to wait until I permanently install the hall wall before I can finish the trim right up to the ceiling-
a tricky job which I already expect will make me sweat! 

So there it is!  
I think I'm kinda done for the time being.
Now it is time to play!

or is it?????

It was as I was taking photos that I realized that the stairsteps were very pale. 


a very strange looking flight of stairs 
"but hey, that's how I roll"
Anyway... above is the BEFORE-
and this is AFTER.
Once I had aged the steps I felt I needed to age the wall as well.
I added more plaster to places on the wall, as well as chalks, and tea stains, and lead pencil to look like fine cracks. 

Hey, maybe I need a light?
So I installed that as well.  It had to be high enough to clear the head and yet low enough for the homeowner to change the bulb. 

Then I needed more aging on the lower corner of the wall. 

I also carved back some of the steps so the treads weren't as deep and therefore, less treacherous.
Okay, that's better!
and just when I thought I was DONE, I decided to revisit the window once again and make that look older too.

After I redid the window, I applied a thinlight layer of drywall patch over the entire surface of the wall using my fingers to work it gently over the paper which I sealed with very light applications of hairspray.  This process muted the sea-green color without changing it overmuch  which means that I am going to have to repeat this technique on all of the other wall paper panels in the halls to make them look cohesive. 
A close up of the aged wood window frame. 
This photo shows what the entry hall should look like once it is permanently installed.  The wall-light fixture will be in the stair well and only the lower portion of the hall will ever be seen. 

Now this was originally going to be THE END of this post-
however, after visiting some of the other blogs on my reading list and seeing how they are excitedly getting their doll's houses decorated for Christmas, I figured that perhaps I should as well.

to date it hasn't felt very Christmasy around here, but

last week we had a HUGE snowfall here in western Canada and even though a lot of it has already melted away, when I look out of my Studio window this is some of what I see. 
And if this isn't enough to put me into the Spirit of  Christmas,  
I don't know what else will!? 

below is my own mini contribution. 
Later tonight I will FINALLY
 put up my Real life Christmas tree

that is-
if I'm not too tired)

My personal tribute to 
"The Ghost of Christmas Present"

The box of Laduree macaroons was made by Fats, the bag was a gift from Magda at "17-17"blogspot., and the vintage celluloid Santa came from parts unknown.

the peppermints were a gift from my friend Bettie Smith, the wrapped gifts came from wine glass markers that I found at the thrift store.  
The canning I made from beads and bits.
In real life I don't Can, but my friends do, so I thought that they would appreciate some home-made preserves for Christmas. 

Under the table is a gift to my daughter; 
Grandma's favorite stew pot, filled with some hand-carved kitchen utensils, honey from the hive at "Green Dolphin Street", a bottle of Italian extra virgin olive oil and a candy cane 
(although I know she doesn't really care for them;
but I Do!♥ )

I thought it might be a good idea to offer any visitors some holiday baking, which it appears they've been helping themselves to, so I think it must taste pretty good! :D

More preserves, some specialty oil and a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps 

we have at last arrived at the SECOND ENDING of this post. 
I will be leaving you here but know that I shall be back in the New Year with HOPEFULLY something more than MORE stairs, to share with you.
until then-     

A SHOUT OUT to all of my wonderful followers, both Old and New- I Thank You!  ♥
I wish you all 
A HAPPY, as well as a HEALTY 


"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given and the government shall be upon HIS shoulder and HIS NAME shall be called;  WONDERFUL, COUNSELOR, THE MIGHTY GOD, THE EVERLASTING FATHER, THE PRINCE OF PEACE" 


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