Thursday, 7 April 2022

THE DOWER HOUSE / my GLENCROFT DOLLHOUSE RENOVATION -Part 1

Once Upon A Time, way back in 1998
 my Glencroft Dollhouse looked like this.

During its heyday in the late 80's and 90's, my GLENCROFT dollhouse won a FIRST PLACE Blue RibbonπŸ… along with The BEST OF SHOW Award πŸ† at The Miniature Club of B.C. Show and Sale. 
Shortly thereafter, 
my friend Janine minworks.blog convinced me to take this dollhouse across the border to the annual Seattle Washington Miniature Show and Sale where it won another BEST OF SHOW Award! πŸ†

WHOO HOOO!😁 HOORAY FOR ME!  πŸ˜

                I'd named this project: "AT HOME BY THE SEA" and had decorated the interior in a nautical theme, using a repeating colour pallet of burgundy, rose, pinks, and a range of greens from dark to light; intermixed with plenty of white woodwork. I'd even installed a music box which plays "Somewhere beyond the Sea"" a tune made famous by the late, great Bobby Darin . ❤️

The interior soft furnishing, were composed of layers of over-scaled florals coupled with bold geometrics inspired by Real Life interior designer Betsy Speerts coastal California residence, along with the influence of Mario Buatta, the self-styled "Prince of Chintz"! 

the original sofa in 
"AT HOME BY THE SEA"

I also made my very first wrap around miniature garden composed primarily of collected plastic foliage, silk and/or dried, plant materials to fill the garden with.  

I thoroughly enjoyed building this dollhouse back in late 80's and I was really pleased that it'd won the awards. 

THEN, as it happened in the early 2000's, I sold my home and everything was packed up including this dollhouse, which was stored in the garage.  As I put down new roots in a new neighborhood, all of my miniatures were put on hold, and for the next 12 years, I focused most of my time and attentions on my Real Life house and its very large garden.

And as for my Glencroft, I completely lost interest in it.  I hardly paid it any mind as it sat year after year after year, gathering dust inside my garage. 

It wasn't until 2012, that I finally felt like getting back into my miniatures again, but rather than tackle something BIG, I decided that my first miniature project would be to finish a small garden roombox I'd half-heartedly begun back in the late 90's entitled "GOTHICA" πŸ†πŸ…which was immediately followed by #43 Green Dolphin Street πŸ†πŸ†(my Greenleaf Arthur dollhouse); then  Land's End(an HBS Creatin Contest house kit which btw, is still a work in progress); then  Villa LeoneπŸ…(the Greenleaf Willowcrest kit) completed in 2019 ;  then back again to Land's End ; and then another small Christmas roombox entitled Victorian Bliss dedicated to the memory of my mother, also completed in 2019.  

Over time, my Studio E became chockablock full of craft supplies and dollhouse projects both big and small/ past and pending, whilst my old Glencroft dollhouse continued moldering away inside my garage. 

It wasn't until the summer of 2021, 21 years later- that the time had come, to bring her into the Big House.  

Initially, my plan was just to clean it up and remake the  original garden with the multitude of plants I'd made throughout the last 2 years of covid, but then it occurred to me that this was a golden opportunity to redo the entire dollhouse, both inside and out! 


        I'd built this kit when I was relatively"young";
                now I'm a whole lot older and
      I've learned a few tricks along the way-  
       and although my measuring and cutting skills
                 Still SUCK!😫
                  I'm much better at fudging 😜
                           not to mention~  
                        the art of disguise. πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘€




EVEN SO,
once I'd hauled it into the house and onto
my dining room table all I did was look at it
for the next 3 weeks.
I didn't know what to do with it other than to gut it,
 so I started with that. 




The first job I tackled 
 was to remove the crumbling garden.

The original flower beds had been constructed from flower foam covered with white glue
and coffee grounds.   
The dried flowers I'd planted 30 years ago,

had faded to the colour of mud and the silk ones were filthy dirty. 
I scrapped everything and 
 wasn't sorry to see any of it go. 



As mentioned:
My new garden would be dressed with the masses of garden plants I'd made
the year before,
but first things first- 


 

I needed to get serious with the interior. 

Back in the 80's,
I'd covered all the interior walls with printed cotton backed with iron-on interfacing,
 glued directly to the walls.  

Even after all those years of residing in my frigid garage,
it stayed stuck to the walls like limpets to a rock



It required a pair of heavy duty pliers, a paint scraper,
and a dogged determination to get it off 
shred by shred!  
Stripping the walls and stripping the garden were both very messy jobs and
the debris went everywhere! 


 Meanwhile-
all my tools and supplies were being shuttled  into the dining room where
 they began to pile up on the table; then under the table;
  on the chairs; on the floor; and up against the walls.
 Arrrrgggg!

The mess in the dining room was stressing me out! 😱 

I had to get the Glencroft into my Studio 
where my tools were and where I can
close the door! 

Reconfiguring my tiny jam-packed workroom to accommodate my dollhouse
on it's wide platform base,
 was definitely a challenge, but eventually
 I managed to squeeze it in. 


Whew!  What a relief! 



The old colour scheme of pink, green and white was totally dated and I was ready for a radical change. 
I tried out many different patterned wallpapers
in a variety of different colours 
but in the end,
 I went right back to PINK! 
I guess PINK was meant to be πŸ˜…

The sisal wall to wall carpeting in living room had been ideal for my seaside cottage theme,
however,
I ended up replacing it with hardwood flooring since  
I have loads of leftover unused ext. siding
 from the Villa Leone/ Willowcrest project
which will made great wide floorboards
AND
WAS SUPER EASY TO CUT!
 Waste Not, Want Not 😊



The kits long mantle shelf which runs the width of the fireplace wall- I shaved off along with the gothic fireplace surround,
although I did leave the sealed storage doors
and the painted panelling intact.  
 


I also removed the handrail, the balusters, AND the upstairs  bedroom wall so that I could rip off the fabric in the stairwell for repapering,
 but 
OH MY!
it's STILL difficult to get my big hand inside
this narrow space!
 

Scraping off the little signal flags was easier than I thought except for the ones at the top of the staircase, 
 but stripping the rest of the house was awful, since most of the interfacing continued to put up a fight! 

  
meanwhile-
Here's what the living room looked like
in November- December 2021
At this stage, I had enlarged the front door opening for a new door and had made a new set of leaded windows, which to be honest, 
I wasn't at all happy with. 
 I've already remade them and will give a BRIEF outline of the entire process in PART 2 of this post.




The above photo was from when I first laid the electrical tape in the 80's

Once the room was down to the bare bones 
I had to tackle 

THE ELECTRICS
 Half of the old tape wiring in the living room 
still worked but 

 to get it to stay working
ahhh
"therein lies the rub!"
 πŸ§
It was FINE one minute then shorting out the next-
what a headache!
 πŸ˜–

yet... long before I actually gutted the room,
I organized a floor plan with all the furniture 
I hoped to use
as seen in the photo above,
 then I took pictures to remind myself later as to where
 the various task lamps would go.
  

However, 
I first needed to see what kind of light I could expect from each of their proposed positions. 

 I had a pair of iron look sconces which I'd originally purchased for Villa Leone from
SP MINIATURES 
for over the stone fireplace.  
I stuck them to the wall with blue tack 
and hooked them up to a transformer
to see how much light they'd cast

 in the room. 


They produced LOTS of light! 
which meant that 
 the Pole lamp
 which I'd been seriously considering for beside the sofa,
was unnecessary. 



Above and below are the proposed positions of the table lamps along with the illumination coming from the sconces over the fireplace


I still needed to illuminate the left side of the living room so that the secretary wasn't left in the shadows. 
You'll get to see those results in Part 2.



The next phase was to remove everything and begin  hooking up the sconces, drilling through the wood panelled wall and eventually leading the wires down and  out of both sides of the fireplace to be connected to the electrical tape on the floor. 

Above is the finished product

The "fire" in the fireplace is a string of orange LED's from Dollarama,
(look for them right before halloween)
I had to drill a hole from the outside of the Glencroft to feed the wire into the fireplace. 
Later on,
I'll disguise the double AA battery pack under a tidy stack of chopped wood at the side of the house. 



The orange lights are positioned behind a veil
of super fine
red mesh

which diffuses the light and causes it to look like flames.
 ❤️πŸ”₯❤️πŸ”₯❤️
I Absolutely LOVE the look of this fire! 
I turn it on EVERY TIME I look into this house- 
it's so romantic
but that's all I'm going to write about it
 and the living room for now
as this post is already SUPER LONG

Stay tuned for Part 2 later this month. 

bye for now

                 p.s.  it feels good to be back on the blog!
                                           πŸ˜ƒ❤️
p.s.s.  If you can't wait - you can see the finished living room of THE DOWER HOUSE on my instagram page- the link is in the Header.



elizabeth























































Wednesday, 1 July 2020

The GARDEN of VILLA LEONE





As I promised for JUNE, 
(yet here it is JULY)
I'm posting the photos of the side patio garden of 
VILLA LEONE
Most of these photos were taken in the summer 2019
but some of them I snapped in the spring of the same year, while the garden was still in transition.  
As usual with me,
I ended up changing things
 too many times to count,
and taking tons of photos of every new alteration, which made 

 sorting through all of them
labour intensive job.

Using the new Blogger format has been
a wee bit
 challenging for me,
and 
I actually had to go back to the old format, to install the photos then switch to the new format to write the text. EI YAAAH!!!

even so-
 

THE GARDEN



Beginning with the exterior house wall:
 

I placed Jodi's gift of a little bird house,
high on the wall 
and perched a chickadee on the roof, who's 
 cautiously checking out the family cat
sunning himself on the stone bench below!
https://my-miniaturemadness.blogspot.com/
The birdhouse is next to the side door leading into the cool service entry of this ancient Venetian Villa.
The arched kitchen window is covered by iron grill 
a laser cut gate kit purchased from 
Alpha Stamps. 

Between the window and the door
are a pair of mens clogs (French feves) 
and a garden bench where the well fed cat
lies resting next to a small pot of 
burgundy hydrangeas
another lovely gift from Jodi. 


There are a set of narrow tiled steps which lead up from the canal at the side of the house, 
and into a small walled patio area.


Cat by Sarah Hendry
One of the main features in my garden is
THE CLIMBING ROSE
Initially I made it to drape over the patio wall
but later I moved it
to clamber over the kitchen window.


For the climbing rose 
I combined 2 kits from
THE MINIATURE GARDEN 

These kits were easy to assemble
 however,
 since I wanted a BIGGER than normal climber
and didn't want to take the chance of running out
of the leaves which came in the package,
I decided to save them for later, 
then I punched out some new ones.

Using the wires in the kit for the armature and the plentitude of red rose petals,
I made the flowers according to the kit's instructions. 
 
I chose to use the Fabri Tac glue to secure the leaves to the frame which allowed the entire process
to move along quickly. 




the kits red rose petals 
and below are the loose leaves which I saved for later


 The armature for the climbing rose which I painted over with a mix of glue and water 

I used a PUNCH BUNCH punch to make all the replacement leaves for the climber, shaping them with a ball tool before they were glued to the armature.

Early stages!
I wish I could remember exactly how long it took to fill out this shrub
but I'm guessing 3-4 days at least. 

I shaped the leaves and the stems further with the round nosed pliers
 once the climber was completed,


 then I gave the frame and the leaves,
 a light coat of transparent glass paint to give it some shine. 



The red roses add a nice burst of hot colour
against the crumbling, sunbaked walls.



THE HYDRANGEAS

I have hydrangea plants throughout my Real Life Garden and I wanted some
for my mini Venetian garden retreat as well. 

I already had some BONNIE LAVISH plant kits
in my stash,
which I decided to assemble for this garden,
 and I loved them
SO MUCH 

I had to order MORE!

I have to say that the older Bonnie Lavish kits which I made the blue hydrangeas from,
 provided more plant materials in the packages
than the ones I ordered later; 
even so,
you still get your money's worth.

For the burgundy hydrangea under the small tree in the planter,
 I ended up combining a couple of hydrangea kits to get the fullness I wanted and a different technique to colour the petals but I'll tell you now,
 how I made the blue ones pictured below.

 here's what I did....


The kits come with several sheets of easy to remove flower petals. 
The petals shown above are from
the blue hydrangea kits.  

Rather than paint them,
I gave them an "eye" using a watercolor pencil 
then
I lightly scribbled over the paper
with a chartreuse wax crayon,
and then a cerulean blue wax crayon
onto both sides of the sheet.   


Then I punched out the petals and laid them onto an eraser. 

I used a ball tool to cup them
and the friction of the metal against the wax softened the wax as it cupped the paper and blended the colours together. 


                                                                                                                             
  I was able to vary the intensity of the petals by scribbling more or less colour onto the paper sheets.



I also used wax crayons on the leaves as well.

    And above are the final results!
 
With another Bonnie Lavish Hydrangea kit, I used both crayons and inks which produced deeper petal colours.

I still have a few more BONNIE LAVISH kits
in my stash,
so eventually I 'll be making more of these hydrangeas
for the seaside garden @ LAND'S END. 
Meanwhile,
I've purchased a number of appropriate paper punches
to enable me to produce
some of my own hydrangea shrubs
very similar in style to these kits,
so LOTS OF FUN still to come! 
  
Constructing the hydrangeas for VILLA LEONE
were mini plant projects which I totally enjoyed! 


TREES

There are 3 trees planted in this Italian garden:
2 of them are Cypress trees; one planted outside the kitchen window and the other inside the long planter.
I THINK I found them in the home decor aisle at

WINNERS
( aka T.J. MAXX)
I removed their original bases and sprayed the foliage with Elmer's adhesive and then doused them with a variety of superfine railroad scatter material.
The smaller tree which you'll see a little further down,
is a full-sized plastic house plant which I remove
from its pot, bound the stems together at its base and then planted the trunks as a deciduous tree in the opposite corner of the planter garden. 

sidenote: To this very day, 
I am still moving the trees in and out of the planter 
because I'm still not entirely satisfied with it-

ah me.....
The plants growing between the
tiles are MY versions of a creeping campanula. 













Jodi's gift of Stargazer lilies are in this photo but I later moved them up onto the  front balcony of the Villa so their fragrance could permeate the bedroom! 


THE GREEN STUFF
GROWING
ON THE VILLA WALLS


I have a reference book entitled 
Venetian Gardens
 
which feature many private gardens 
 cloaked with green vines clinging to ancient walls. 
I wanted that look for the Villa so I tried out a few different methods to try and achieve it. 

At first,
I used lengths of glue saturated twine for the framework of the vines,
it was okay but very difficult to control.
But what worked the BEST for me, 

was COIR coconut fiber liners
intended for potted plants.

 I found mine in the garden section of a $1.00 store. 
 

I pulled the fibers apart and glued them to the exterior wall using Fabri-Tac adhesive.

The base for the foliage
was a green rayon hat from the thrift store
which I cut into long sections to grow up the wall
towards the 2 bedroom balconies.

I sprayed the rayon material with Elmer's spray adhesive and then coated them with coarse railroad model scatter materials to bulk them out.
 Then I glued the greenery directly onto the walls with Fabri Tac and threaded more Coir "branches" throughout the foliage,
followed by an additional light spray
of STIFFY fabric stiffener
to keep all the loose scatter in place. 



Using a leftover piece of printed fabric,
I made a crude awning for over the side door and allowed the vines to crawl over it too!
I'm pretty happy with the final look
of both the vines and the green stuff! 
 
THE LOW PATIO WALLS

I made a low concrete wall

which encompases my patio garden
on 3 sides using pink insulation foam as its base and layers of carved wood trims from HOME DEPOT for the carved stone.
I coated both the wood trims and the pink foam with a base paint and then several layers
 of drywall plaster. 





The photo below shows the inside of the garden wall and part of the wall return,
 still in the garden's early stages. 

The concrete garden wall behind the table,
 connects to the front of the Villa. 
 I've covered it with green vines to visually soften the surface of it and provide some colour behind the table. 

The greenery for the half walls was purchased from
ALPHA STAMPS 
it's a fibrous material with a variegated green scatter glued to the surface
which you thin by gently pulling the fibers apart.

(There's a photo of the product shown further down which shows the greenery
 as it's sold straight out of the package.)  


 The scatter is not totally secure on the mat,
 so it required a good spray of "STIFFY" as well. 


The Patio Table and chairs was purchased from VICTORIA MINILAND 
however I removed the small marble top and exchanged it for a bigger tabletop fashioned from a large round fridge magnet which I  draped with a crocheted doily I had in my stash.

The pink geraniums you see directly below were from my previous tutorial. 
https://studioeminiatures.blogspot.com/2019/02/ivy-leaf-geraniums-tutorial.html





The terracotta urn that they're in
 is the lower half
of a dollar store air freshener
the cheapo kind with the plastic lamp shade on top

and now a quick word about the tiles:

 I used scrapbook paper for the original patio but when I enlarged the space to what it is now,
I had to cut around the tiles themselves and overlap the new tiles over the old prior to aging them again, 
so they'd blend in. 
To conceal the cut edges of the paper,
I added bits of moss over the grout lines
to help disguise the white seams. 

The chair seats I made
and covered them in a hot pink
 silk tie lining. 
I set the table with Limoncello and 
a dish of fresh figs,
a book printed in Italian
 and a display of fresh lemons.
The figs are plastic buds from a fake flower 
which I re-painted
then glued onto a rustic flat ceramic button 



The limoncello came from Michaels craft store,
and the plate of lemons from Victoria Miniland.
THE GARDEN PLANTER

Because this entire garden was constructed
with the intention of eating outdoors, 
my original idea was to fill the planter
with a herb garden. 
But as the garden continued to develop,
I scrapped it,
 and went all in for colour! 

I had lots of flower kits in my stash
 along with a few ready made plants
which needed a home,
so I fussed around with it until I came up with a scheme which was colourful
and easy for the current homeowners to maintain.
 
A small burgundy Hydrangea was planted
in the corner to compliment the one Jodi had sent me, 
and next to the hydrangea
 is the small deciduous tree,
I mentioned earlier. 


In front of the tree and under the iris are pansies,
which I was constructing for the first time
and they turned out
meh.
They too were from a kit
but I'd used too much colour on the paper
and the details got lost. 

 The group of iris were also first time tries
which turned out better but not great;
 more practice is definitely required. 
 

FYI
I've tried making more pansies
after I'd made these using 
 DRORA'S TERRIFIC PANSY TUTORIAL
as a guide
https://drorasminimundo.blogspot.com/2017/03/pansies-tutorial.html
and after making more and more pansies,
 I think I'm improving!

But these first efforts still
 work fine as underplanting infill.  



Included in the planter mix,
 are magenta ornamental Allium
along with chives; 
and another blue mophead hydrangea made from kits
by Lin Morrison a local vendor. 

Lin's kits were easy to assemble and 
her kit petals are precut and pre-coloured as well. 



The bronze statuette in the garden was removed from a second hand candy dish I'd bought at the thrift store.
 
Below is 
 the foliage of the plastic deciduous tree








THE GREENERY AROUND THE GARDEN WALL


Here's the greenery I purchased from 
ALPHA STAMPS
 straight out of the package.
I LOVE its variegated greens but as soon as you begin to pull it apart some of the scatter will come off so I made sure to use a sheet of paper under it,
 to catch all the fallout for reuse later. 

The photo above shows the mat
 before it's been teased out
and to the right is the same product
after it has been stretched out and glued to the wall.
a view from the outside of the garden wall
 looking in.

The PERFECT  'VL' Villa Leone emblem
was another great gift from Jodi 
along with
 the 2 opposing lion reliefs on either side
of the wall plaque.
I can't thank Jodi enough for all the wonderful things she sent me for this villa!  

Another 'lion gift' from Jodi (shown below),
was positioned on the return wall along the waterside steps up from the canal.
It was originally gold but because it fit so well on the end of the wall, 
I painted and plastered it
to make it appear carved into the stone.  



Below is the full frontal view of the stone planter 


The carving on the face of the planter
 is an air dry clay casting.
The hostas were a very early planting tryout 
 one among so many others which followed ...






I made the pot of lavender and the pot of orange nasturtiums with the blue ''lobelia" 

 



EXTERIOR LIGHTING
I installed two coach lamps on either corner
of the lion wall.
Actually,
I had forgotten that I had these fixtures until the entire structure was built and the planter was filled.
The only way I could properly install and hide the wiring,
was to remove all the plants from the planter
 and run the wires for the lamps down from the inside, then drill a hole through to the underside of the patio, then run the length of wire  through a channel carved out of the foam insulation so I could connect them to the power source attached to the house.  

It was more than annoying
having to retrofit them
after the fact,
but in the end,
it was worth all the extra time it took.




THE GARDEN AT NIGHT

Sadly, 
this blurred photo is the only aerial view I have 
of the entire garden with the lights on. 
The garden lights as seen from the canal


AND WITH 
THE LIGHTS ON IN THE KITCHEN




Having posted all these garden photos, I am seriously considering making a few more alterations, especially now that I've had time to analyze and rethink some of the choices I've made and how to improve them. 


I'm also on the lookout for a patio umbrella for over the table in the eating area.

Meanwhile,
I have been busy outside cultivating the plants in my REAL LIFE garden
moving them around just like I do in my mini ones! 
which explains my recent absence from the blogs;
just in case you happen to be missing me!  

So it's Arrivederci to 
The GARDEN OF VILLA LEONE

I hope you enjoyed this delayed garden tour 
and
I Thank You All
for coming to visit!

I will try and get the conclusion
of the top floor of the Villa posted before fall. 
Maybe by then I will have mastered this new Blogger format:
only time will tell.
ciao 
for now

elizabeth 



FYI
Just wanted to add
that I am currently having a lot of trouble responding to your comments, and not sure how to fix the problem. Hoping my techy daughter can help 
but until then,  thank you individually and collectively for all your positive feedback about my garden. 

elizabeth








WWG1 WGA

THE DOWER HOUSE / my GLENCROFT DOLLHOUSE RENOVATION -Part 1

Once Upon A Time, way back in 1998  my Glencroft Dollhouse looked like this. During its heyday in the late 80's and 90's, my GLENCRO...