Posted in Accessories, Decor, Dollhouses, Miniature tutorials

Custom Modern Lighting

Custom made “Modern Wire Ball”  light fixture (please excuse the dog hairs in the picture. Can’t be avoided at my house!)

So I got inspired by my friends over at the Greenleaf forum, to try my hand at making a modern light fixture. This was the result.

To be honest I’m so happy with this fixture that I might have to rethink the entire lighting plan for the San Franciscan.

In fact I’m stretching the truth to say I custom made it, because it’s essentially constructed out of premade components, super glue & spray paint.

It’s incredibly simple but incredibly effective.

So forum member SewMini asked about modern fixtures and pointed to this one as an example of what she was looking for.


Later that day I was in my local Choice store (Australian version of a dollar store, though hardly anything costs only a dollar. 😉 ) and found these balls in the craft section


I thought the smaller balls would be great for pendants and the larger ones for a statement light in the middle of a room.

Smaller pendant size

I wanted to use the smaller size to start but I didn’t have any G.O.R bulbs so I had to raid my lights stash for a fixture and that meant, I had to use the larger wire ball if I had any hope of fitting it within the structure.

I tried to replicate the fitting in the inspiration piece by attempting to shove a simple 3 arm chandelier into the wire ball… umm.. no.. that didn’t fit… so I rummaged some more and came up with one of these ball pendants. I actually think if I make another light, I would try to find a half scale 3 arm chandelier and change out the chain for a 1:12 scale one to get the look above.

I ditched the bottom spindle taped off the ceramic bulb and spray painted it silver using Rustoleum “Satin Nickel”.

I also sprayed the wire ball, so that there would be continuity of colour. I actually prefer the silver of the original ball but getting that finish in paint would be near on impossible and they just don’t seem to make many dollhouse fixtures in silver. If I used G.O.R bulbs or GOW bulbs I would have been able to keep the colour as long as I could find a tiny chain to match. Much easier!

I think this light could also look great in a antique copper colour or black for a more industral feel.

Once everything was dry I tested the light to make sure it worked. then worked the wire apart in one section and pushed the ball pendant through. I then repositioned the wires over the hole and strategically centred one wire at the top to attach the chain ring to. A dab of superglue does the job of holding the pendant chain to the ball. but you could use a bit of jewellry wire also or you could fashion the wire of the ball so that the top of the fixture holds it on.

You will need to fiddle with the chain ring a bit to make sure the pendant sits straight and centre in the ball. It helps to hang the fixture from something for this step as the weight of it hanging helps and you will get a true indication of how it will hang in your dollhouse.

For light bulb changing, just snap off the glue (this is the reason for just a dab and pull the bulb out.



Posted in Accessories, Decor, Dollhouses, Furniture

Making a 1:12 Fire Chimney Breast & Hearth


I bought this Mantel in an Ebay auction, can’t remember what I paid for it but it wasn’t very much.. the shipping was more because it came from the UK. :/

It’s made of plaster I think and it’s a bit banged up with chips out of it and edges broken off.


But I don’t really care, I liked the fairly simple traditional style and given my house is going to be a bit shabby, I just think it adds rustic charm. 🙂

In my imagination my house has been around for a long time and had many owners and the fireplaces have had a few bangs as the little people moved their furniture in and out.

I could just prop this fireplace up against the wall and be done with it, but that doesn’t make my realism loving heart sing. So now I needed to build it a chimney breast and hearth.

I started by making a chimney breast out of foam core. I used the dimensions of the mantel plus half an inch on each side for the the face of the breast. Then I decided how deep I wanted the firebox to be and cut sides to match (about an inch because I have a particular phoenix miniatures insert in mind).


I measured the inner dimensions of the mantel and cut out the hearth space by marking the middle point of the chimney breast an marking half the width of the inner dimensions of the mantel outwards off this mark. This way the hole is centred on the chimney breast.

It’s pretty rough, but it doesn’t have to be pretty because it will be covered with card-stock and the mantel will cover the rest.


I did cut mitred corners because I wasn’t sure what kind of finish I was going to give it at the time and I filled in any imperfections with spackle and gave it a sand. The mitred corners were relatively easy to make because I have a Foam Werks bevel cutter which does the job with ease. Any mistakes were operator error.. lol

Next I made the fire box to fit inside the hearth using the cut out piece from the mantel face as the back and then measuring the side walls of the chimney breast for the sides.


I then started bricking it with egg carton bricks. You’ll note my fire box has a “lid”.. this is not because I want the chimney to be bricked up, but because I don’t want anyone to be able to see up the fireplace chimney breast as this will be where I hide most of my wiring for the house. It’s really just to give the illusion of the bricking continuing up the chimney.

It’s good to have a little selection of bricks to choose from as you go. And there is my pile of deconstructed egg cartons. 😉


With chimney breast and Mantel in place… for a look at progress and to make sure everything is straight.


Firebox back done. 🙂

The shims between the roof & the sides are just to give the roof a bit of height and an angle so that it’s not massively obvious when put together. Remember it’s supposed to be an illusion 😉


And with sides complete and breast and mantel in place. I think it’s turning out well. 🙂

Next up is painting the bricks. I gave them a base coat of burnt sienna stippled on and then used a black wash to soot them up. This fire place has been used… alot!


I’m not worried about the little spots that don’t have paint, it kind of looks like left over mortar on the bricks. I like that, it adds an old brick feel.

I still need to seal this and then grout. Not sure what I’m going to use for that. Either paperclay or spackle are most likely. Once I have that done, I’ll used some dark washes to dirty it up too.

Here’s what it looks like all together. I love it! 😀img_2638

And in the house.


Ignore the “marble” hearth.. it’s just a place marker. I still need to make a proper one. That should be interesting! 🙂

Posted in Accessories, Decor, Dollhouses

Coastal Decor

The other day when I wasn’t feeling well, I decided to take a break from building and make a few decor items…. I was looking at my coffee table shell bowl and realised there were a few teeny tiny little shells and even pieces of coral in there…. Well, inspiration struck and I decided to make some modern coastal decor for my far off in the distance Hampton’s dollhouse… one day….

Not satisfied with just the shells I rummaged around in my charms and findings for nautical/coastal type items and found the fish skeleton and a seahorse… in they went to the mix.

I used jewelry pins to secure the shells, coral & fish to bases made of cut up coffee stirrers topped with cut up skinny sticks which were then stained with furniture touch up pens. I drilled tiny holes in the bases to attach the pins to the base and glued them to the back of the shells. With the coral I drilled a hole in the bottom of it as well to secure it to the base with a pin.

The base of the star shell is made from two clear plastic beads.


Not content to stop there.. I rummaged around in my fabric stash and made some blue motif cushions.



Then I got distracted by my bead box and made quite a few perfume/cosmetic bottles & jars…. I got a bit carried away…  😉img_2474

Posted in Accessories, Decor, Dollhouses, Furniture

Love Seat Rehab


So I have this lounge suite set in my stash that I don’t mind the shape of but ugh.. the fabric makes my eyes hurt… lol

I decided something had to be done!.. I chose the 2 seater/love seat as my guinea pig (I’ve shown the 3 seater above because I forgot to take a picture of the 2 seater before I pulled it apart.)

The fabric was glued down within an inch of it’s life so I put the piece in the microwave for 10 seconds to loosen it up. It worked but there was soooo much glue!

Here is a picture of the pieces after the sofa had been deconstructed and after I had painted the main wood pieces with primer. I did this because I would be using a lighter fabric and didn’t want the wood to show through and/or leech into the fabric over time.


During deconstruction some of the cushion foam got destroyed so I had to piece in some new foam so as not to have a lumpy sofa! This foam was part of the packaging in another piece of furniture’s box. NEVER through these kinds of packaging materials away!… You never know when you might need them. 🙂img_2431

New foam pieced in.img_2432

I cut out all my fabric for each piece before starting the process. Making sure to cut a little larger than each piece to allow for folding over to cover seams. Planning is key in this stage as you need to know how you are going to reconstruct the sofa and plan you fabric placement and size required appropriately. You also need to know which cushions you will be using in which location and facing in which direction so you can make sure that the fabric all faces the same way and that you have enough overhang to do the job you want it too.

Now to cover the cushions making sure to have the “grain”of the fabric facing the same way and making sure that it is sitting straight on the pieces where it will show. Regular Tacky Glue will do the job.img_2433

Cut the corners and fold like a present. img_2448

The base cushions were completely covered and glued on all four sides the back cushions were left open on two sides because they would wrap over the top and side of the couch during reassembly. You can see a completed seat cushion below bottom left and the two back cushions top right. The fabric you see beside the back cushions is the armrest fabric.img_2437

Then on to the arms.

I had to sand a lot of glue of of the front of the arms before starting as it would have made them lumpy if I left it on. I also noticed when I held them together that who ever manufactured these chairs used two different sized dowels for the armrests! lolimg_2440

For the arms I first covered the front… I was careful not to pull the fabric too tight so that the “grain”stayed as straight as possible. I cut the fabric a bit larger than the arms and wrapped it around the sides. I cut little pizza wedges out of the excess to get a good fit around the round portion.img_2439

I made a hem on the front face of the arm rest fabric for a clean finish. Then I folded the armrest fabric around the arm with enough of an overhang to cover the side of the base and be folded and glued underneath and out of sight.


On to the base.

I cut enough fabric to go all the way around the base piece from top front to bottom to back. I know a lot of this area will be covered by cushions or other fabric pieces but just in case there are any gaps, this will make them less obvious.

I started by gluing the front of the back with enough over hang to fold over for a neat finish.img_2444

Then I continued down the seat, taking extra care with the base front as this will be very visible on the finished product.img_2436

And then across the bottom. It’s important to cover the bottom because you don’t want a beautiful upshot photo or view to be ruined by the sight of an unfinished sofa bottom.

I folded the base sides like a present. Cutting away excess fabric at the corners.img_2446

I left the back unglued as this will be the last piece to be attached during reassembly.img_2447

The next step was to attach the back cushions. img_2451

Remember I left the top and side open? This is why. They are attached over the back and side of the sofa. This will give a clean finish from the top and side view once the back cover is on.img_2449

Side view.img_2450

Front view so far. 🙂img_2451

Second back cushion attachment. Top done first. Side still to be glued.img_2454

Both back cushions on.img_2455

Now to attach the arms. As I said earlier. The side panel is attached all the way down the side to the bottom.img_2456img_2457

Now the seat cushions get glued in.img_2458

And finally with the last arm glued in and the back piece glued on (with hems on all three sides for a clean finish.)

I added a bit of twine as piping at the point where the seat cushions & the base meet just to tidy it up a bit. A major improvement, no?img_2459

With the legs put back on we have a final product!img_2466

Posted in Dollhouses, The San Franciscan

Banishing the Dreaded Mahogany


So I found this dresser in my stash that I was never in love with due to the Mahogany colour. (Why are so many miniature furniture pieces in this old fashioned stain!)

Not withstanding it’s colour though, I though it might go well in the San Franciscan if it got a somewhat shabby make over. It has relatively good lines and is feminine enough for the look I am going for so I decided give it a paint job. 🙂

First I took the drawer knobs off with needle nose pliers.


Then I gave it a light sand and treated it with Easy Surface prep. It’s supposed to allow you to paint over stained wood. You apply it liberally and the wipe off the excess with a rag and let is cure for about 2 hours. To be honest I wasn’t that impressed with it’s effectiveness, but that could have been because my technique was terrible.. lol

Then I got a first coat of paint on it…. Yikes not so great.


Second coat below. Better but the drawers need more work.


Third coat… getting there but still need to do something with the drawers…. Not sure why the paint isn’t covering on them as well as elsewhere. My painting technique maybe? 🙂


While I was waiting for paint to dry between coats I made some perfume bottles for the dresser out of jewelry beads from spotlight. I won’t be using all of these but they are cute, no? 🙂

I will clean up the paint on the mirror after I have given the dresser a final coat. I actually quite like it now that it’s not mahogany. It still needs handles that I have on order. I’m not putting those gold pin heads back on!

I wanted to see it in the room for size which then made me decide to try out some wallpaper for the Master bedroom. This paper is scrapbook paper from spotlight. I like the pastel hue and modern look. It would only be on one wall as a feature wall. Not sure if I will use it but I do think it’s pretty.

The bed is one I made from cardstock loosely following a tutorial from Kris’1 inch minis. I didn’t have foamcore or mat board on hand so it’s very flimsy and just a place holder. 🙂 The mattress isn’t finished either, it still needs some piping around the top, which I have made but haven’t stuck on yet… Hmmm there is a pattern here of unfinished jobs. Must get to it!


Now I just need to find a little stool for the dresser. 🙂

Posted in Dollhouses, The San Franciscan

More San Franciscan Assembly

Today was spent assembling a few more sections of the San Franciscan.

I added the the Bay & Gable sections to the 2nd floor ceiling/3rd floor.


I will have to address the staircase hole edges at some point. They are incredibly rough, sanding isn’t going to cut it. I think I’ll probably line the opening with some sort of finishing trim or in a pinch popsicle sticks. Not ideal though, as they are not long enough for the longer side and will need a join.

I also put together the small gable.


It’s completely painted even though it will likely be mostly covered with trimmings.


The top will be covered in shingles of course, but the paint is helping to seal the wood. This section fit together so tightly it’s not even glued. I will have to glue it at some point though.

I’m contemplating finishes for the eaves and front of the gable. The larger popsicle stick below don’t quite fit without the need to cut one long ways… umm.. not attempting that with my current skill set!… I also have some smaller craft sticks at hand and they fit perfectly 4 across. I think this will finish off the eave area nicely. It reminds me of the Pigeon guards on my own home’s eaves.

Of course, I will cut off the rounded ends and stagger them for a more realistic look. 🙂


Posted in Dollhouses, The San Franciscan

Stair wall tongue & groove

I’ve decided to panel the wall the stairs will run up beside in horizontal tongue & groove paneling painted white. Similar to the below picture (though my stairs are open). I’ve always liked this look and it will give some visual interest to a room that is otherwise just painted walls. It also will allow me to hide wiring beneath it if need be. 🙂


I started by making a paper template of the modified wall with the new doorway for the kitchen to the rear and started laying down paddle pop sticks in a staggered pattern. (Sorry my picture is upside down, the door way is the L shape to the right.:p )

You can just see faintly that I have two lines drawn on the paper to the left. They were my stagger lines for my wood planks. I did this so the pattern wouldn’t be completely random and messy. I also kept me on track.img_2158

Here it is in situ. It is not fitting very well around the top of the doorway at the moment, so I will need to cut a little away. But you get the idea. 😉img_2167

I will update when it’s painted.

Posted in Dollhouses, The San Franciscan

So when I bought this door it didn’t fit.


I bought this door for the San Franciscan’s upper balcony door. I read the measurements in the listing and thought it would fit… ummm no… *facepalm*

What to do? It almost fit but not quite. I was determined! Either the door opening had to be widened or the door had to be modified.

I decided to modify the door as the San Franciscan is made of MDF… not easy to cut and in particular the door openings are rather fragile and crumbly on my kit.

My solution was to cut down the inside door frame (that which will be inside the wall) whilst leaving the exterior framing intact.


I used a small hand saw a chisel and an awl to remove the excess wood.

I had to cut down all three sides so the door would still be centred when placed in the opening.img_2154

It’s rough but it doesn’t matter as it will all be hidden by the door frames. 🙂img_2156

And it fits!


Posted in Dollhouses, The San Franciscan

Why are all (ok almost all) miniature lights brass?

I don’t like the brass colour of most miniature lights… I guess they have their place but not it’s not in my San Franciscan!

I decided to test out painting some lights that i will use in the San Franciscan and later in the Heritage. I chose the two external coach lights for the “SF”and a three bulb chandelier that will most probably get used in the Heritage. I removed the bulbs and the white simulated candle covers in the case of the three bulb light and then hand painted them with black acrylic. I had moderate success but one of the coach lights turned out a bit lumpy… lol…


Looking at this picture I will have to go back and touch up around the candle bases as you can still see the brass there. I didn’t notice this in RL. Amazing what the camera picks up.3-light-chandelier-painting

I wanted to see what the coach lights will look like in situ so I drilled a hole in the front door wall at the appropriate height. I though I may as well go ahead and chisel out a channel for the wire now also. No time like the present!



Probably needs to be a little deeper, because I would like to spackle and sand this so I don’t have to wallpaper this wall. I prefer painted or paneled walls to paper. img_2140

There is a corresponding hole in the second floor/first floor ceiling for the wire to go through. The wires for this house will mostly run under the second & third floor flooring and out into a chimney that I will build for one side. I would like to make it detachable so all the lighting fittings can be hidden inside it, but I’m not quite sure how I’m going to execute that at the moment.


Here is the light on the outside wall.there are a few issues getting it to sit level due to the milled siding. I may have to pack behind them.


This height looks about right. 🙂img_2139

And here is what it looks like with a door in place. This is not the door I will be using for the entry door it will be the upstairs balcony door. It’s what I had on hand though because the front door is still on order. 🙂 img_2150

I know, I know… it looks like it’s not centred on the wall. But there are windows and trim to go in that bay so that will cut down on the exposed wall space.img_2149

I’m happy with the result. 🙂

Posted in Dollhouses, The San Franciscan

Oh Lordy, what do I do with the stairs?

So back when I was still in dry fit for the side walls & 2nd floor I had to make a decision about which way to orientate the hole for the stairwell. The stairwell hole is 4.5 inches from one side of the floor/ceiling and 5 inches from the other.

The San Franciscan instructions direct you to place the floors with the 5 inch span towards the back. This is because this kit has been made to have the stairs facing towards the back.

Now, while this is great for playing, for realism, not so much. I’m sure in the old Victorians of San Francisco the staircases faced the front door. Like this one.


Of course, I figured I could just reverse this and I’d be able to fit the stairs in the opposite direction…. Wrong! When I assembled the Dura-craft provided stairs they did not leave any room between the front door and the first step.

Dura-Craft Stairs Forward facing.JPG

I mean there was a tiny space but it wasn’t a realistic space. Certainly not enough space to open the door or have a doorway to the kitchen at the front of the house.

So I sighed and decided to just go with the kit version and I glued my second floor in as per the instructions. I was disappointed to say the least. Because even in this version there was not a lot of space at the bottom of the stairs.


I went on my merry way and glued on the bay window floors. Now, I didn’t know it at the time but this was the point of no return for the staircase hole. Before that, I could have turned the walls around to the other side and changed to the 4.5 inches toward the back. Once the bay floors were in I was committed to the 5 inch set up.


A couple of days later I was still annoyed with the stair situation.

I’m not a fan of the Dura-Craft stairs, they are too big in my opinion. More like playscale stairs than 1:12 stairs. Also the ones in my kit are damaged (alot are missing the lip) and frankly a bit wonky. I decided to purchase a standard 1:12 staircase kit and see if that improved the look. Or even let me turn the stairs back around.


Ummm…. No…. These were even worse than the Dura-Craft stairs for the front facing option. I’m sure my decision to have 5 inches to the back didn’t help but I don’t think half an inch was going to help this situation. LOL

So I tried them rear facing.


These stairs look better than the Dura-Craft ones but there is still no space at the bottom of the steps. Even less than with the San Franciscan stairs! There has to be a better option.

Time to hit the trusty interweb 🙂 for some research. Trolling around on EBay I saw some more realistic 15 step stairs which I would have loved but I had a gut feeling they were going to be too long.

Then I remembered that Otterine had used a “Narrow”Houseworks staircase in her Haunted Heritage. I wondered if that would work for me also as the Heritage is also a Dura-Craft dollhouse, so I bought one.


Heaps of room rear facing. 🙂

Now the test of forward facing.


Oohh.. It’s tight, this is where I really could have used that 1/2 inch!


Yikes they just make it!


Narrow stairs it is!

I decided to try them with the kitchen door at the rear because this set up is feeling really cramped & crowded.


This is clearly the better option for the front of the house.