Thursday, December 20, 2007

The MASSIVE Dollhouse Venture Part 4

Well, I have this little confession to make ~ I have started on the little tiny dollhouse things ~ but I HAVEN'T finished trimming out the exterior of the dollhouse yet ~ I think I may take this opportunity to blame it on Kat.... It's HER dollhouse, right? She REALLY needs to get on it, and trim out that exterior. Sheesh! The lackadaisical attitude some people's kids have developed of late!!
OK, that over, wanna see some really awesome little tiny things? :-D
Well, Kat & I think they are really awesome, anyway!
If you want to really see them up close, click on them, and you can get a MUCH bigger pic.

This is a little collection of decanters, flasks, perfume bottles, and candle sticks that I made out of different beads I had. I also used some odd shaped nuts, a wall screw thingy, and some buttons for the bases of the chinese jars, and I used porcupine quills for the candles. The natural brown on the ends of the quills were perfect for a burnt wick look, and on the pair that didn't have the brown, I just markered it on. Also, I just used regular dollar store super glue. I recommend the gel kind for the bead work, rather than the thinner liquid kind, as the liquid kind tends to drip, run, and get your fingers stuck to everything!
I put a quarter in some of the pics, so you can sort of gauge the size.

Here are some little boxes and food containers. We were able to get the printies off of . I used plastic from a WalMart bag to make the cereal liner, and wood shavings compliments of Wood Genius for the grape nuts & corn flakes. I also weighted the boxes with either a piece of wood glued to the bottom of the inside of the boxes or put cornstarch into them. For the gelatin & starch boxes, I just glued the printie around a piece of wood cut to fit.

Perhaps you can see the tiny size by noticing the wooden spool of thread or the needle packet in the background.
Here are a collection of miniature dolls I have made for the dollhouse. The largest doll is all porcelain, 6" tall, and she was actually a dollar store find. I just stripped off her cheesy fake Hawaiian outfit & made her some new clothes out of vintage fabrics & laces.

The other three dolls I made are out of porcelain body parts that I got off of eBay, with hand stitched leather bodies. They have wire armatures, and are stuffed with sawdust. Again, thanks to Wood Genius.

This tiny baby doll is so little, she is only 1 1/2" tall. Yes, that's one and a half. :-D

I hand stitched their outfits out of vintage laces & silk ribbons. Perhaps you can see the smocking on the little blue baby dress. I had to use a single strand of sewing thread to make it the right size.

Ahhh... see the little girl? She is holding her baby sister ~ the little girl is only 3" tall.

Here you can see her leather body, and the porcelain parts. You can also see the hand stitching, which looks large in this close-up pic, but is really hardly visible to the naked eye. (well, to MY naked eye, anyway... your naked eye may be better eyesighted than mine....naked eyes, you know...) I was extremely lucky to find these tiny porcelain parts on eBay, I have never seen anything so tiny to make dolls from since. I have seen larger pieces, but nothing scaled to this perfect 1/12 size, unless you go with pre-made pipe-cleaner dolls from China or Germany. None with my leather bodies, however. :-D

Hopefully, they last a good long time, which is why I made them out of leather. Remember, Kat says she is going to hand this down to a granddaughter, so I have to make things that will hold up. :-D ( It's my duty...heheheh) Plus it's fun!

And last, but definitely not least, here is Wood Genius, to whom we must once again, say thanks!! He keeps providing us with lots & lots of fun things from the shop to use, as well as ideas and technical support. (Kat & I are sorta clueless, we admit this freely, and without shame. After all, as I have mentioned before ~ you don't see the words "Wood Genius" tacked on in front of either of OUR names! ;-D)
For Part 5 of this Venture, I will show some of the furniture that Wood Genius has made into kits for us. ( that is a 2-fold reasoning ~ 1) Kat & I feel like we are actually *good* at making cute miniatures, and 2) Wood Genius doesn't spend all his time making miniatures. :-D)
Isn't he beautiful? ( and he would say ~ "Yup, that's what I strive for, beautiful......" ) :-d

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The MASSIVE Dollhouse Venture Part 3


All right, I'll bet by now you are wondering just what this dollhouse looks like all put together, since up till now I have merely shown bits and pieces of it.

Here we have from the front, with no molding, no window trimming, no nothing on the ouside yet except a bit of trim around the roof line. This is because it's so VERY much funner to do all that itty bitty stuff on the inside. However, I was reading this book on miniatures by a Marion Mave O'Brien (sp?) and she SPECIFICALLY cautioned about getting too caught up in the insides before you finish the outsides. Boy is she right.

This picture shows the full extension drawer guide that Tony the Wood Genius used to support the front half of the dollhouse when opened. This makes it possible to have 2 kids playing and arranging without knocking elbows.

This is my cheesy mitered trim, Wood Genius was annoyed that I did not fit it better, over that brass piano hinge. I carved it to fit, but, of course, you don't see the words "Wood Genius" in front of MY name. ;-P
Trim still needs to be spackled, painted, etc.

This is my free-handed cheesy answer to Wood Genius being too busy to make a chimney box. Some Day I will add a real box on there, even if it only sticks out 1/4", and paint the stones on again. As it is, I mixed fine sand with the paint to make it a ~stone~ texture. It does feel correct, even if th e chimney sorta swaaaayyyys.

And here it is, open. You can see Kat papered the kitchen in contact paper trim. A little large in design, but oh well. Kat did it herself, and she did a darn good job of it. We found some FANTASTIC websites for wallpaper ~ ~
She has tons of other fun miniature printies there as well.
We will show more pics of the dollhouse after we get some of those prints put up. I think that papering does sucha fine job of scaling a room. Just paint really doesn't seem to translate scale very well.
We also don't have any base or ceiling trim moldings up yet, which will help too.

Here is a shot before we hinged the front to the back and finished the flooring ~ you can see how those little miniatures just seem to gravitate towards the house, regardless of progress on the whole.

Here we have 2 different bathroom versions. I kind of think the teeny tiny terracotta room is just right for a bathroom. (All right, all right, I have to admit it, I was the one that set this & the other bathroom pic up ~ they were just so CUTE, it was hard to resist. But I really HAVE to get that outer trim and inside moldings & papering done.....)

This is the Luxurious Large bathroom ~ too much room, I think ~ I might have to talk Kat into putting the laundry room in here, instead. Laundry rooms can have swirly tile, right? ;-D

Uh oh ~ here you can REALLY see that snasty pattern faux pas in the flooring ~ but I DON'T CARE ~ I am so NOT digging that floor up ... it adds character, ..... it adds character... it adds character.....
Next Dollhouse Venture post will show papered walls and (I hope!!) trim moldings.


The MASSIVE Dollhouse Venture Part 2


All right, I was unable to load any more pics into part one, so this will show some of the finished floors.

This is one convenient way to keep down a deviant floorboard till the glue takes. And the glue takes within 5 or 6 minutes, so it's no big deal. Also, this pic shows the wider 1" strips of alder that the Wood Genius made. (AFTER I had done most of the house in popsicle sticks... argh!) Have to admit it, they look good.

This pic shows some of the flooring made with 1/2" or less popsicle sticks, which was my idea. I used these because Wood Genius was busy working, and I HAD to get started, and popsicle sticks are already cut & pretty much smooth. We did have to troll for bent out of whack sticks, however, so if you are going to make a floor out of popsicle sticks, I reccomend getting the box with 1000 in it, that way you can be picky and get straighter pieces.

Here you can see my pattern faux pas ~ made it almost the whole way through the kitchen before Wood Genius came and commented ~ what would I do without him?!

Here is the floor I made for the laundry room ( or bathroom, Kat changes her mind daily). It is made to resemble a terracotta tile floor. I used air-dry clay ( by Crayola, not sure if there are other brands) and foodcoloring to get the right color. Then I mushed it in till it was REALLY workable, and colored evenly. Next, I laid down some wax paper, and put the clay between layers of wax paper, and rolled it uniformly flat, trimming it to fit the paper room template. Then I used a plastic ruler with a fine edge to mark and score the clay.
I had to dip the ruler EVERY time I scored it, otherwise it would grip the clay and bring it up. Also, something I didn't realize, and then had to fix ~ air-dry clay shrinks a little, so you have to actually make your floor a little bigger than the room template, I would say by at least 1/4". Also, if you want to make little designs in your floor, find a rubber stamp with a basic small design, dip it in water, and stamp away. Just remember to dip every time.
This next thing is really pretty important ~ DON'T let the clay dry all the way ~ otherwise it gets VERY brittle and shrinks more! SO, you have to lay the floor when the clay is still slightly pushable, but not moldable. (Half-dried?) I used the yellow wood glue again, to glue it down, and then covered it with several coats of Kelthane II. Now, you might think that it would be a problem to put Kethane over the top of half-dry clay, but it wasn't, it worked beautifully.

The wax paper smooshing over the clay when it was rolled makes a good tile look. The Kelthane is a perfect floor protectant too. It makes it so that the clay is no longer brittle, and gives it a real clay tile look. I also used Kelthane II on all of the wood flooring, it gives great shine & protection.

And here we have the sideways pic! ( sorry about that ~ lazy blogging, I know!) This is the bathroom floor. Wood Genius simply took a 12" x 12" sheet of regular vinyl tile flooring, and cut it into 1" squares on the table saw. Then I simply arranged it on the floor, peeled off the backing, and VOILA! ~ bathroom floor in moments. (Well, compared to that wood flooring, anyway ~ ;-D) One thing about the vinyl, just start your tiles out in one corner and staircase them, so that you always have a V to fit the next one into, that way, your tiles stay very true.
I also put a wood strip in front of the tiling, so that it would protect it better, ( yes, I later painted it gray, looked better! :-D) as well as a coat of kelthane.

Here are the stairs on the 2nd floor, see the mousy I painted in? And the cobweb? And the mousy hole Kat painted in? And just in case you think I have taken over the project... well... you are only half-right ~ Kat did a WHOLE lot of this as well, and she painted a TON. She also put both of the stairs together, and laid the blue room carpet. See, I didn't do it ALL! ;-D

Do you notice in the pics how the little things keep managing to move in before the work is actually done? Kat told her Alaska Grandma what she was up to, and she immediately sent Kat a bunch of really cute doll furniture and accessories from when Wood Genius was a kid, and well, it's been hard to keep the stuff out of of there ever since :-D (Gee, almost like it was MEANT to be in there ~ these doll houses do tend to take on a life of their own, it's strange, really.)

Here is one of the rooms to be carpeted. I used a low nap upholstry fabric, and double-sided sticky tape ( the good stuff from the Wood Genius' shop, of course :-D) I haven't put the protective strip of wood on the carpeted rooms yet, but they will get one long strip, painted the color of the carpet. That way, it will look finished, plus protect the edges of the carpeting, and maybe even help stuff stay in the room? (Kat's paint job for the nursery ~ see? If I had REALLY taken over, I would have repainted that ~ ;-D)
Part 3

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The MASSIVE Dollhouse Venture Part 1

~ The Humble Beginnings ~

Ok, So what do you do when your darling little 7th grade homeschooler tells you that she wants to start a dollhouse as a project?? Wellll....... we jumped, both feet, no noseplugs or ANYthing!
Tony, the Wood Genius, said ~ "If you make up a sketch, I'll see what I can do."
So of course she proceeded to come up with the most elaborate sketch she could......
SOO ~ here is what we have been up to for the last month or so ~ and yes, this is EXACTLY why I haven't blogged in a while ~ ( oh yeah, I have excuses up the YINYANG ~ do you ever notice that I ALWAYS have an excuse for my blogging bluh's? ;-D It''s all true, I doooo ~ however, I think you may agree, this has to be one of the funnest excuses yet~)

Following are some of the progression pics of the dollhouse ~ it has gained a life of it's own ~ very strange, and now the other kids all want their own dollhouses, too... ( oh, except Izzy, he wants a Grover CABIN, which, he will inform you, is SO NOT a dollhouse, sorta like action figures as opposed to dolls.... ;-D)

The Sketches become reality
(and don't look at the background and comment on my dirty tv room~ I was sick with pneumonia at the time, and don't need any scathing remarks :-P)

The Wood Genius decided to make it out of Masonite, and join it with tabs & yellow wood glue because it's so huge, and he was trying to cut down on the overall weight. To do it again, however, we might just have dealt with the weight. Masonite takes a TON of paint, and makes it difficult to screw lights in the ceiling as well as nail anything. (Read into that, Jess's dollhouse won't be as big, OR out of Masonite ;-D)

The masonite DOES however make for very clean joinery, and after spackling the tabbed joints, and painting, they simply dissappear.
Some of the painting process ~ Kat chose all of the paint colors (despite my careful guidance ~ but, it's her dollhouse ~ though I suspect when she grows up, she will one day decide to just gut it and revamp ;-D..... I hope... :-D)
Laying the Flooring
This is what you do when you are sick with pneumonia and get cyanotic just walking around. To pass the time, I hand-layed every single board in that darn dollhouse ~ except for one room, which Kat did,.... oddly enough, she decided to concentrate on other aspects of decorating after that.... hmmmmm...
This pic is of cutting the board to fit. Tony made us a little miter box, which we used to excess, absolutely a necessity.

Another handy tool ~ the awl. I used this to make little holes in all the ends of the floorboards to simulate nailholes. Then I dipped the ends into stain to darken the holes. Naturally, I had already stained each of the boards., but dipping the ends in just seemed to make the edges and the holes stand out a little more. Also, what can I say, there I was, stuck for 4 weeks in the house, dying of pneumonia, so, what else did I have to do?

Another necessity ~ one of those little monoject syringes, filled with yellow wood glue. You can get a very thin bead of glue down with it, very cleanly. Too much glue will cause the floorboards to bow up, since they are thin pieces and the glue is water based. However, with a thin bead of glue, it works very nicely, plus you have a small window of positioning time, which can come in very handy.
This pic also shows me starting to lay a room at the back, however, I should say this : I first layed out the boards to figure out how many it would take, measured the amount left over of the final board, and then started with those in the back, so that the actual final boards in the front are full-sized and don't show the fitting. I did that for all but the first floor. In fact, for the first floor, I didn't even realize you aren't supposed to make a "pattern" with the wood, but rather lay it out randomly, with the joints at random lengths. However, I was NOT going to dig up that entire floor, and besides which, (after Tony the Wood Genius mentioned the whole random thingy in the first place ~ dang it, he's always right!!), as Tony said, it will give the house ~Character~ :-D.
Part 2

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

All the MOM things you ever said plus a few more!

All right, my sister sent me this HILARIOUS little ditty, and I thought I should share it with all of my blogger buddies ~ please be patient, it takes a minute to load, but it's SO WORTH IT ~

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What's in a Name?

That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.....

or would it? ;-D

Well, we've finally done it! We've named our homeschool! Hmm... you might say, gee, whizzikers, what is this ~ the 3rd week of school & you still didn't have an official NAME?
Well, ................ it's true, we didn't have a name.
So, I put it to the kids ~ asked them what sort of a name they had in mind ~ we had submissions that ran from "Pretty Ponies", to "Stallions", "the Bleeding Eagle Academy" (part of our family coat of arms), "Kool Kangaroo's", "humble Hobbey horses, tenacious termites, voracious victors" (can you tell Daddy might have been involved?!), "the unsocialized ones", (getting very tongue in cheek, here) no-name-bag-over-the-head-school (gee might this have come from the 12 yr old?, of course, so did the pretty ponies entrance ;-D), panic rats (it's getting a little silly now!), Education Academy, Funky Fonic Fonies, (aarrrggggghh, can you say DEEEE-TTOOOXXX), the three amigos, (are we trying to name a band here or a school?), three blind mice ( they all wear glasses), simply school, science geeks, inc., ~ ( who taught these kids how to think, anyway? ;-D )

In the end, we finally lit upon this:
Eaglecrest Academy

The reason is: Our Family Coat of Arms has a bleeding eagle on it, & crest sounded better than cote, although Eaglecote had certain charm as well. Family is our main purpose here. We have a family motto, & a family oath, which we recite at the beginning of each day, along with the Pledge of Allegiance. Upholding family honor, supporting one another, and respecting our past, & those who walked before us is important to us. All these factors helped us to make the decision. Also, we decided our school name ought to have some dignity, and look right when stitched onto a shirt for our outings. (YES!, we have gone on one field trip with the embroidered name shirts! :-D It was beautiful! :-D There is a lot of value in this ~ when they were wearing a shirt with their school name & coat of arms, the kids wanted to represent well in public. Also, they got a lot less "aren't you supposed to be in school?" questions, which cut down on my daughter's stress. The switch from public to home is valuable & worthwhile, but not without stress. She still gets nervous, thinking she is somehow ~in the wrong~ for being seen about town during public school hours. ;-D)
We thought about tacking on " of Learning", "of higher Education", or "for the Gifted", but in the end, it sounded a little more pompous than we felt. (obviously, judging from previous silly entries!)
For their highschool transcripts, however, I may be tempted to add it back on ~ ;-D

So tell me ~ What is YOUR school name, and how did you come up with it?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Carnival of Homeschooling

Today I would like to promote the Carnival of Homeschooling ~ The Cate's have put together a fantastic montage of information for anyone interested in homeschool.

There is a bastion of knowledge in these collective blogs, I highly reccomend a thorough browsing.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Hands-On Geology ~ or "1 More Reason Why My Kids LOVE Homeschooling"

Our trip to Craters of the Moon

Atop one of the guided trails. It was so hot! In the air it was 97 F, on those black rocks, it was well over 115 F !!

The vast stretches of lava ~ I cannot imagine how anything lives out here, and yet it does!

Case in point, this lovely little fern does remarkably well.

Atop yet another peak. It was REALLY HOT!

The kids earned their ~Jr. Ranger~ badges & certificates, and were sworn in as official Jr. Rangers. I encourage all homeschooling parents to look into the Jr. Ranger programs available at all of the National Parks. They also have a Jr. Rangers Online :

as well as for individual parks:

You can register and earn badges, patches, and certificates, there are activites, tests, and fun, environmentally aware programs & information for the children. Any age child can participate.

This is one of the curriculum books I am using for geology this yr. It is filled with fun activities for people of all ages, and will definitely cement complex concepts in simple ways. The activites can be expounded upon for older kids, and used simply as presented for the younger set. Think plate tectonics using graham crackers & icing, making a mini ice glacier, chip mining with chocolate chip cookies, an edible mini-earth model..... tons of fun!!

Here is another excellent book for earth science. My kids have all enjoyed taking part in these activities as well.

As some of you know, this is my 3 youngest kids' first year of full-on homeschooling, and to be quite honest, my 12 yr old was NOT thrilled with the prospect. However, as the summer & year have progressed, she has become more & more excited about it. She is finally beginning to realize the opportunities available to her that simply would have been out of the question in a public school environment.

Just today she came home utterly THRILLED about her photography class. Photography is something she has always wanted to explore, but has never had the time for. Now, however, she is able to study this at length. (In a couple of days, I will post a few of the pictures she shot of our neighbor's yard. )

In fact, my two oldest are sometimes quite wistful about homeschooling, as they head off to their Jefferson Education charter school classes. Naturally, they are welcome to homeschool as well, however, they are convinced that they must go for social interaction, and I allow them this, as I believe they are mature enough to make many important decisions.

I like to allow my children the opportunities to do for themselves what they are able to do, even if it sometimes means not getting it right the first few times; in this way, they can experience both failure & success in the home, and have the proper support for both. Naturally, both we & they try our best to make INFORMED choices. Along with choices come responsibilities, and my children also know that there are always consequences, whether good or bad. I believe this instills self-reliance & independence, as well as self-confidence, gained with successes; especially if the success follows previous failure. In this way, they also learn endurance & fortitude.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pioneer History ~ hands on style!

This summer, we decided to do a unit study on Pioneer History, to coincide with July 24, Pioneer Day. We did a lot of study up and reading of pioneer history, ate some pioneer food, found out about some interesting characters in the ~Old West~, and capped it all off with a trip to Heritage Park in Salt Lake City, Utah on Pioneer Day. (Complete with costumes!! )

Pony rides were attached to the ring, but still fun.

This was a nicer version of pioneer house. ( Not a soddy or a cabin :-D)

A few of the girls having fun exploring the mini-town.

Up on the veranda of the saloon.

In one of the hallways of the big hotel.

On the stairs ~ waiting for dad & sis, so we could go eat.

What a cheeser!!

Hand cart RACE!.. Going.......



And how do you get a 14 yr old, a 15 yr old, & a grown man to wear costumes? I don't know... love?... dedication to their mother?.... begrudging acknowledgement of their mother's hard work in making the costumes?......they were reluctant at first, but as soon as they stepped into the park, folks began snapping their pictures, so naturally, they enjoyed every minute of it after that!