Sunday, 14 January 2018

"You Can Leave Your Hat On!" - ballad of a Stove Hood

Inspiration can come from many different sources. 

As I was writing this blog, the theme song from the movie 
The Full Monty 
was looping through my head- hence the blog's title: 
"You Can Leave Your Hat On" 
In a way, it was an appropriate choice 
in that throughout the making of 
I kept putting things ON
only to 
                                   strip em off....

But once again, I am getting way ahead of my story.
Let me begin it this way

When working on the left side of Villa Leone's kitchen my original muse was a 

MINWORKS blogpost 
from several years ago.
My friends Janine and her hubby Bruce,
had made a Fantastic Hall Lantern 
for their
Award winning
French House, 
by gluing together

 2 night lights from the dollar store 
to form a single hanging fixture.  

Remembering what they had done, had me cruising the aisles of different dollar stores, 
looking more closely at what night lights had to offer.

Last year I stumbled across this one which I thought might one day make a pretty good stove hood. 

           It's shape reminded me of a hat.  
Funny thing is that what I both Liked and Disliked about the shade, was it's unique hat-like shape, however I didn't  want it to continue looking like a hat once it was installed in the kitchen.

But another reason that I thought the shade might work as a hood, was that the plastic was easy to drill through, and since it was already hollow, adding lights and hiding the wires inside it would be pretty easy. 
I was eager to try it out with my FANTASTIC- NEW-TOTALLY GORGEOUS  8 burner, double oven, MOLLY SUE MINIATURES 

 I could see the potential of a beautiful relationship between the two, so I decided to proceed with the hood
 as planned.

  I would need a tiled wall behind the stove, 
I dug through my 
"used- to- be-organized- but- is- now- really- messy" 
stash of building supplies, 
and located some leftover plastic embossed "tin tile" which I would paint and install beneath the hood.
I used an earlier tutorial of mine for painting these particular plastic tiles
"Big Tiles- try- try again"

To widened the base of the hood I cut a rectangle of foam core board to equal the width of the stove, and glued 2 wooden corbels to the underside for supports. 
These I'd also found in my messy stash. 
 I cut some wood trim to bulk up the base, then tried it out with the doll "cooking" at the stove. 
 What I had was a plastic hat with a wooden brim.  Clearly additional work was required. 
To make it look more interesting, I cut up a plastic picture frame to add some carving.  
It was very heavy- looking carving and Naturally, I thought I could "lighten it up" with Even MORE 
Heavy Carving

I kept on adding things: a lion head, a plastic circle,  rhinestones, and metal bits and more wood trim.
"maybe it will look better, once it's painted"  
Base coat on

then 2 finish coats of black acrylic paint.  

And although wouldn't admit it out loud,

 I thought it looked like 
a halloween witch hat. 
Even so;
 I persisted in the belief that I could fix it up
by adding still more to it.

I randomly brushed a gold nail polish over the black paint which gave the hood metallic highlights.
The general idea was to make it appear in harmony with  the brass trims on the Italian stove. 
However, no matter what I did
it still wasn't doing it for me.

This was THE Moment
 my career as 
A Stripper 

Off came the top!
to bad for me-
 the crowd WASN'T going wild :(

Perhaps once it is actually installed in the kitchen?...

and so
 I was back to putting things on again

(lyrics from the song)

so I drilled two holes into the plastic bottom 
of the night light hood,
I added two gold glass buttons I'd found in my stash.

I threaded the bulbs through the buttons,
 then gathered the wires into the hood, 
which were then fed through the kitchen wall 
and hooked up to the transformer.
At the back of the hood, I covered over the hole with filigree 

right where the shade would have attached to the night light bulb,  

this became the hood's Exhaust Fan. 

I tested the lights before gluing the hood to the wall 
The buttons make the lights HUGE! 

I remembered I had some brass strips and some brass doweling.
I cut the brass trims to fit the hood 

then glued them both in place. 
                      Then the tiles were glued to the wall. 
                    The hood was positioned above them.
I couldn't get a crisp a bend at the corners with the brass, but it still looked better than I'd expected. 
I was stoked about both the brass and the tiles. 
The Lara Copper fry pan was a Christmas gift from Linda Park!
and since I'd made hooks for utensil bar,
 I was able to hang the pan right away and 
 LOved it!
Linda emailed me, asking about how things in the kitchen were progressing?

I had been on a roll- 
 I had already done a lot-
and I liked it a lot - well mostly 


To me
My dollar store night light still resembled 
a hat-

a tall Top Hat wearing a lot of brass!
All interest in the kitchen, suddenly "bump and grind-ed"  to to a halt. 
I felt like slinking off stage.  
In my frustration, I was going give up on the kitchen and go to work on the second floor of the villa instead, since nothing I did; helped, and I could no longer pretend to like- THE HAT!  
However, working on the second floor of the villa meant working on the second floor staircase- Arrgggh!!!
nooooo- I'm not ready for that yet either! 

So, I put on my thinking cap  to try and come up with an viable solution; because having glued the hood to the wall, I had no other choice but to leave the hat on.   
 Then a light switched on!... I had an idea
What if- I lowered the ceiling height to hide the hat? 
much like a burlesque FAN DANCER; it's all still there,                          but you just can't see it
I tried out a section of wood across the top of the hood to see if it would work and what it would look like. 
"YES-I think that I could live with this"
           but first I had to pry off that lion medallion

  Sudden Exposure-
(you can see it's undies!)

I made second hat 
to cover the first hat
I cut a length of foam insulation to span
the width of the wall, which I then covered with 
wallpapered cardstock on the narrow front face 
as well as on the underside. 
Then the new hat was glued in place 
right over the old black hoodie. 
I added the ceiling beams for a little Venetian character
and permanently affixed the lantern to the ceiling.

To finish off the top of the hood, I cut 2 strips of self-stick gold ribbon, doubled up, and glued them to the top of the hood to form a thick band to cover the gap at the cut out.

I chose to use ribbon because it was flexible and would easily conform to the contours of the hood AND because I had lots of it, therefore, IF I made a mistake, 
which I usually do; 
I could try again. 

This gold lame ribbon has a fuzzy texture like velcro
I applied the first of 2 layers

I used my finger to smear a layer of drywall putty over the surface of the gold ribbon which I had painted black. 

I smoothed drywall putty over the ribbon and let it dry. 

I cleaned off the overage and waited until the putty had set.
When it was dry to the touch, I painted it again with black acrylic paints. 

 then highlighted it with more gold nail polish.
                   Everything was Looking good! 
The crowd was going wild!!!
Ta Dah!
With the new dropped ceiling over the stove,
 the rest of the kitchen
became fun to play with again.

In the photos above and below,  you can see that
I've placed the sewing box which I won last year as part of a multi- Giveaway from Pepper's
MitchyMoo Miniatures blogspot

I'm treating it in the kitchen as a Spice Box. 

Here's a view of both sides of Leone's kitchen

mmmmm.. good!
Sauteed mushrooms in butter
Irina Miniatures

I LOVE cooking on my new Italian stove

Oh, by the way-
would you like to stay for dinner?


 Well then,
"take off your coat" 


 I think You know the rest

and thus ends my brief career as a Stripper.
rated "G" for all audiences 

take it away Tom Jones!



Thursday, 14 December 2017


Villa Leone's kitchen has a Old Stone Sink.
not only that 
but as of today,
I can proudly proclaim that  
One Half 
of the Villa's kitchen
 is completely done!

I have to say that out loud because I can't believe it myself!

This has been an interesting journey to say the least. 

It has entailed building a second small hall enclosure   on the main floor of this 
Greenleaf Willowcrest kit, 
prior to 
constructing a proper kitchen;
which meant building from the back
which is the front face of the house
 as I built forwards
 towards the open end.

such a lot of thinking and pre-planning

Yet even though it has been extra challenging, 
I quite enjoy that sense of realism 
which comes with viewing 
rooms behind rooms 
and down passageways. 

 Since my 'willy-wonka' construction techniques 
are not always square;
I am gaining LOTS of experience on how to 
discreetly "fudge" on my  
"mis-measured measurements"
 *another sigh*
so that all will still look 

  and I'm not done yet. 

In any case
 I thought I would fill you in on the 
completed Right Side 
 of Villa Leone's kitchen 
which I have to admit 
I'm Very HAPPY with  


First let me say that
after a very heated discussion
between me and myself and I,

I decided to change the kitchen wallpaper so that it was completely different 

from that in the 
Service Hall.

  I had previously determined to use a bolder print of a French Aubusson carpet 
as a backsplash behind the stove, 
yet after I'd changed the basic wallpaper
 that particular rug print 
no longer worked. 

After much searching through all of my paper files,
I managed to find an substitute picture of a rug pattern with muted colors in greens, sepia, and golden tones,
  which I made multiple color copies of, 
then cut and glued the paper to fit
around the lower 2/3's of all 3 kitchen walls. 
The rug print was then sealed and aged
 and then sealed again.
The end result is that the kitchen walls 

appear very faded and   

I knew I wanted even more of that same
Ancient" look 
for the proposed stone sink 
which would be made to measure 
to fit under the arched kitchen window. 

I followed and slightly modified
Lea Frisoni's 

kitchen sink instructions from her
I built the basic form from scraps of used balsa wood, 

and skinny sticks.  
Mine is a BIG sink 
so it needed some rather hefty supports.
I found 2 wooden corbel gathering dust in my stash 

and glued them to the base of the sink box.

 I sealed the wood with an
All Purpose water-based sealer.
When that was dry, I coated the wood with a thin layer of wall-patch 

as suggested in Lea's book.  

This is what the sink looked like when the wall-patch had dried.
I gave it a light sanding, 
followed by
and overall spray of Matte Acrylic sealer.

Although, I could have left the sink as is
I decided that it was
too Bright against the muted walls of the kitchen. 

 After digging through my paints supplies,
I found a jar of a gritty textured paint which I watered down and brushed over the entire sink unit- 
top, sides and bottom.

After the paint had dried,  
I gave it a light sanding and 
 another light spray of the Matte Sealer, 
then painted it again-
this time with a mix of

It took a few tries before I was satisfied with the color of the stone.
I gave it another light spray to seal the chalks.
Then to accentuate the texture with some additional highlights,
I lightly dry-brushed sections of it 
with white acrylic chalkboard paint.

The photo below gives you the opportunity to clearly see the  kitchen wallpapers,
as well as 

at this stage
except the paper
 was being held onto the walls with generous blobs of
call it-
commitment phobia!

By now,
I was beginning to get a better feel for the personality of the room 

even though 
all I could see was a

which I needed to get finished.

Because the underside was fully exposed, 
I felt it needed a drain-pipe.
 I made one from a
bendy straw, metal washers, eyelets and a snap fastener.
Once the pipe was painted black, it was glued under the sink and aged. 

For the sink faucet, 
I needed something which would extend forward 
out from the kitchen wall 
and over the sink.
 Initially I was planning to make a set

 but then I FOUND the plumbing unit I'd purchased last year 
at the Seattle Show.
 They were originally meant to stand upright on top of the counter, 
I snipped off the original faucet from between the taps, 

turned the plumbing on its side and used a metal file to flattened and smooth the base for a new spout connection between the taps. 

 I fashioned the new water spout from lead free soldering wire, then I glued on a tiny metal bead spacer to its base, 
 added a tiny slice of plastic Q-tip which was slipped over the end and glued it to the head of the spout.

I painted the entire unit with 
an "old brass"colored nail polish 
to match the rest of the plumbing fixture, 
followed by a clear gloss glaze with a touch of 
turquoise blue applied sparingly 
for corrosion.
 The taps were painted with white nail polish and more clear gloss glaze

 which I lightly aged with brown shoe polish.

With the sink made, it was time to make it look usable.
I was concerned that the wide drain 

would swallow whole 
whatever got too close to it - even a tomato!
So to be on the safe side
I made a plug.
It is a section of a wood turning with a small jump-ring and a tiny gold chain glued to the top of the plug and then to the underside of the faucet.
I was satisfied with the plug and felt all was moving along smoothly 

I tried the sink on on the wall

  between an old chest of drawers and the 
Weston Butcher block-

since you could no longer see the supports underneath,



to visually anchor the sink to the floor, 

I made a skirt for it. 
I Mod Podged a leftover scrap of the photocopied print used for the walls, 
onto some very fine cotton fabric.

After soaking and removing the paper backing, 

I sprayed the fabric transfer with more of that
and when that was dry,
 I sewed a rod pocket along the top, 
gathered the stiffened fabric to create folds, 
inserted a metal rod and then glued the rod to the stone supports under the sink.
Too bad that it hides the plumbing and the corbels

you win some and you lose sight of some!

Below you can see how the sink looks 
wearing it's new skirt.

Now I shall tell you about the kitchen lighting.

I found a old light fixture which I had made 
some years ago
using an old gum ball container, buttons, beads, paper, and assorted jewelry findings.
I painted over its black paint with a patina green chalk board paint, and brushed a thick layer of 
white school glue over the 
"glass" insert to bulk it up

I was glad to have re-discovered this lamp laying about in my stash because it has exactly the right personality for the kitchen and frankly,
this is the ONLY room in the entire Villa, where there is  good ceiling height with plenty of air space around it
 to support this fixture's visual weight.  

Currently, the lamp is still stuck to the kitchen ceiling with 
Blu Tac.
I won't glue it permanently to the ceiling until I've decided 
on how to finish the LEFT SIDE of the kitchen, 
which ultimately will determine
the final position of the ceiling fixture.

In the meantime, 
I tried to make some tomatoes for the sink
using my old nemesis-
I combined 2 youtube tutorials to make them
for mixing the colors and getting the shapes
for the method of making the green tops and finishing them.
My fimo tomatoes turned out okay
  I'm still making them since I'm not entirely happy; 
striving for more realistic results.

when they're grouped in a bowl 
they look pretty good;

 they look Even BETTER from AFAR! :D

Janine's market basket is full of fresh vegetables
 which are also awaiting their turn in the sink
The green beans were rolled out from the left over green clay which I'd used for the tomato tops; 

they were much more fun and easier to make than the tomatoes!

And last

 but not least
for around the sink window,
I made 5 rustic shelves from assorted craft sticks.
I inserted brass pins along the undersides of the shelves from which to hang a variety of foods 

and kitchen equipment.

I deliberately hung the shelves high so that the items on them wouldn't look cramped and/or congested. 
Once the shelves where firmly glued to the wall, then I began sorting through 
my stockpile of STUFF 
to dress them up. 

I had been thinking about doing this for 
so I already had a loose plan in my mind of how I thought the shelves should be filled. 

 I'll definitely need a folding step ladder 
to reach the pots on the top
but I might already have one
hiding in my stash
The garlic and onion braids were made by 

my friend Fatima 
the copper saucepan 
hanging between the onions and the garlic 
was a gift from 
Linda Park
The individual garlic bulbs displayed in the pottery bowl,
were made by me.

The set of blue and white kitchen canisters 
with Italian labels are from
Carrie Lavender of

I'd found a length of cotton fabric at the thrift store with a tiny stripes of red and green stitched along the edge. 

How PERFECT is that?

Sorry for the fuzzy photo, but I wanted to show you the view from the kitchen into 
the completed 
and heated
Service Hall.

The HUGE radiator had been buried in my stash

probably purchased from the Seattle Show,
 and although I was previously unhappy with its bulk,
I've gotten used to its super-sized proportions and now I like it.

Portia the cat likes it too!  She finds it warmer 

and more comfortable to be
sprawled across the window ledge 
than when she was on the hall table, 
so she has claimed this 
room with a view 
as her own. 

*The doll standing at the sink in the photos below
 is for scale purposes only*
the poor dear is in desperate need of some new clothes rather than these "borrowed" ones
 which were forcibly taken from another dolly! 
tisk tisk.

It appears that she is totally preoccupied at the sink.
I wonder what she is up to?

I think she going to rinse those Fimo tomatoes!


 she'd best be careful that they don't go tumbling down the drain!


Bread and cheeses were both made by me
 The carving knife was made by 
Pat is a regular vendor 
at the annual March Seattle Show

The bread is from my special mix of Air Dry Clays

Well friends-
It looks like we have once again 
reached the end of another delightful visit.
I really enjoyed showing you 
the sink-ing of Villa Leone's kitchen  
and I hope you'll return again
for when I get the left side of this kitchen done. 

until we meet again....

And have a Very Merry Christmas

Wait just a minute!
there's a
Villa Leone's new Italian Stove!

and a Merry Christmas to ME!