Thursday, June 24, 2010

Caught In The Web

I was just getting going on the electrification of the Lovely Old Dollhouse when I realized that I wanted a certain style of light that was not to be found at the nearby miniatures shop. And this sent me searching on the internet. Being slightly "old fashioned" (a gentle way of saying "no longer young") I was not in the habit of spending time on my computer looking for things on the "Web". I am almost embarrassed to admit that it really had not occurred to me just how much there might be "out there". So I was truly amazed at what I found when I finally started looking! I have already confessed that I was at work when I first started looking up "dollhouse miniatures" (very briefly during my lunch break!:)) and therefore did not stay long in the vast internet. Just long enough to find the light I wanted for the bathroom of the Lovely Old Dollhouse.

Here you can see it installed - along with the glossy black tiles I mentioned before.Of course, as you may imagine, the black light was not the only thing I found on the internet. The bathroom was developing a decidedly black theme, and when I spotted some black ceramic fixtures I just HAD to have them too! Here you can see the set (not yet installed).

It was easy to tell myself that I would only buy the things that I couldn't make by part because I love to make things.......but also as a way of protecting my pocket book! So I was being GOOD and NOT buying all kinds of yummy things I saw on the internet. Because I couldn't STOP visiting the "WEB"! It crept up on me....I would think of something and ask myself if there might be one on the "Web"...and then go looking! And of course, the number of things I saw that I would LOVE to have or even better make one of, was vast and ever expanding! This project was no longer simple at all!

But NOTHING prepared me for discovering "blogland"!

I stumbled upon it on one of my forays online. I was really just aimlessly looking up every picture reference that google gave me in search of inspiring ideas for dollhouse decor. I am embarrassed to admit that it took me a while to realize that the photos of the perfect miniature artist's studio that had me mesmerized were indeed a post on a miniature lover's blog! And I won't admit how long it was before I discovered the REST of her blog! Or how one could click on the other listed items and be propelled through the ether to an entirely different world! Or that everything was a link to something about falling down the rabbit hole....!" I would bore my family silly with tales about what I had found in the magical miniature dollhouse wonderland of the "Web"!

But I get ahead of myself. Because, being old fashioned, I was not doing this all in one internet blitz! I was tip-toeing in, stumbling on new discoveries and slowly realizing how big the picture was. Besides, it was the Christmas season. And everyone in my family knows that I am always busy with making ornaments and selling my small craft creations and drawing the annual Christmas card. So there was almost no time to be working on the Lovely Old Dollhouse.

The beautiful and mysterious ladies stayed for Christmas, and even found time to decorate a Christmas tree before they left. After that, I suspect they went South for the Winter in New England can be rather harsh.

It was really only after the busyness of the Holiday Season was over and the Long Cold Dark Winter (okay, long and dark, but not very cold last year) set in that the internet truly captivated me. The first blog I found led me (via her incredibly beautiful exotic dolls) to another blog which simply enchanted me! I returned to it time after time to read and explore every link (still not all explored I am sure)! The creativity and energy and ideas and projects just made me want to try everything for myself! (I am sure you ALL know what I mean! You are all such a creative bunch and just keep giving each other wonderful new ideas!:)) And that led me to more blogs....

So it was that I realized that my ideas of what I could do with the Lovely Old Dollhouse had changed. I had never been so completely sure of what it was I wanted to do with it, decor-wise. I was feeling my way along bit by bit. And I still am. It's just that now I have seen about two hundred or so (and counting!) different dollhouses out there with all their beautiful details for inspiration! I have to work much harder at being selective in refining my own dollhouse decor!

Thus it is that when I see something on the "Web" that speaks to that elusive image I am trying to build, all my GOOD intentions of not buying pieces I thought I could make for myself, go out the proverbial Window! It's just so darn EASY to order things on-line! And once you get started, it is awfully easy to get "click happy" and just keep on adding to that invisible shopping cart! But, I have NO regrets!

Just LOOK at the beautiful chest of drawers I bought! It is ALMOST exactly like one we have in our family... so I just had to have it for the Master Bedroom!

And then there is this lovely cupboard.......which doesn't even remotely resemble anything my family has ever owned.....but.....there was just SOMETHING about it that spoke to I clicked that magic button and sure enough, in good time, it arrived at my house!

I think it will look beautiful in the second best bedroom, especially once I get the room all painted.......which you can see I have begun in the picture below, along with some lovely sconces with tulip shades (just like the ones we had in the house I lived in when
the Lovely Old Dollhouse first came into my life)

Here is a better shot to show you the beautiful peachy color I have painted that room. So you see, I have not ONLY been playing on my computer! There is still a great deal of detail to be done with the trim and the doors and windows... but I will get to that in another post!

And the kitchen is now the yellow I promised you would see. I know some people will think it is too strong a color for a tiny space like this........But you will see that it is toned down quite a bit when the wainscoting and window are completed and the cabinets added. Besides, I LOVE strong colors and love to inspire others to reach for the more vibrant hues!

And here is a standing back shot of the whole house, with most of the lights installed and shining brightly. I will have to begin working on the attic soon......I have a few ideas I want to try, and I'm SURE I can find even MORE on the internet.......

And as for the OUTSIDE of the Lovely Old Dollhouse, that is another whole world of options to explore! I can tell you that I have only just begun. I can't decide if I want to leave it white, in the style of so many houses in this area that are white clapboard Colonial and Federal period houses, or go with a brick finish that would make it more stately (as well as being more colorful) but would require much more of me in the execution......

I think I will have to do some more exploring on the "Web"!

Because, once you have gone through that door into the Wonderful Wild "Web" there is no turning back!

So, I have been truly caught in the Web.

Friday, June 18, 2010

So The Hunt Is On

You may remember that I left you with that very philosophical question of WHAT is it we are hunting for in the pursuit of our tiny imaginary worlds. Well, thankfully, it is not a question that requires an immediate answer! I will suppose that for everyone it is a little different something. And I will admit that I am still hunting for the answer to my own question. And I will also admit that the MUCH more important HUNT is for the next tiny piece of the puzzle that happens to be whatever we are building at the moment! I almost think that the pleasure of the hunt is a huge part of the building of our tiny dreams. As I become more and more involved in the re-building of my Lovely Old Dollhouse, I am increasingly aware that I don't even know exactly how I want the house to look when I am "done"! The fantasies that I entertained as a child are long gone and no longer what I want. Even the ideas I began with as a teen (making it a very "Colonial" historical period piece) no longer appeal to me. The steps I have already taken on the project dictate that it is going to be more "modern" than that - even though I have not decided just how modern it will be. It is as though I am "finding out" what I want it to be like as I go.....each step that requires a decision reveals a new aspect of the whole, even though the "whole" remains a misty unclear idea to me. So I guess I am hunting the dream as I go, letting each new challenge bring forth its own piece of clarity, often at great surprise to me! So it is that while visiting that dangerous miniatures shop, I would come across little items that I never would have thought of looking for... but then there they were, just the perfect thing for one room or another.
Thus I acquired quite a few little items and began to place them in the Lovely Old Dollhouse to see if they "fit" the picture that was emerging. I also rummaged through all my boxes and drawers looking for fabric that would be useful and came across a stash of little upholstery fabric sample swatches that make lovely scatter rugs!

You can see one in the hall below

(along with the packages of doorknobs that will go on the doors).
While I was hunting for fabric and other little treasures, the visiting ladies were still in the parlor - I guess they were trying to decide if they had come to the right house in their search for their missing gentlemen friends.......they did seem to be quite at home here!

Certainly the room is well equipped to aid them in their old Atlas sits on the table along with a newer globe and a very new magnifying glass......but they don't seem to be using them. They seem to be preoccupied with other thoughts.

But whatever it is they are searching for,

they seem very committed to helping each other find it!

Especially now that their sophisticated Cousin is here....she will help them figure it all out!

Meanwhile, in my pursuit of just the right lights for every room in the house, I have made many trips to the VERY dangerous miniatures store. Every trip has me bringing home delightful items I will eventually use as well as the lights I have chosen for the Lovely Old Dollhouse. On one such trip I stumbled across the prefabricated sheets of tiles for bathroom floors and walls that were in a corner of the shop. There was one in glossy black which reminded me of the bathroom in the house my ex-husband owned when I first met him....the walls and floor were tiled in black glass tiles - very Art Deco in style. There was only one sheet of tiles and I thought they would be very sophisticated looking in the Lovely Old Dollhouse! So I brought that home too, and then spent quite a while trying to figure out how to cut it up to make the right size pieces cover the right amount of walls and floor! Luckily the room is very small and I used every bit except one tiny strip! Of course, with black setting the tone of the bathroom, I wanted to find a black light fixture to go with it. Brass just didn't seem right. So another trip to the dangerous shop was in order!

You can imagine my surprise (and disappointment) when I discovered that the shop did NOT have a light fixture in black that would work! You must realize, dear readers, that this blogger was still in the DARK AGES and had not yet visited the internet in search of dollhouse items! Having the shop so nearby, along with the very helpful proprietor who could explain HOW to do so many things - like wiring and tile installation - had fulfilled all my dreams so far. It had not occurred to me to go shopping on-line! But NOW it did! I wanted a black sconce-style light for my black tiled bathroom!
So I went on-line, and OH MY were my eyes ever opened! Fortunately, when I first went on-line in search of dollhouse items, I was at work and could not spend very many minutes shopping. The shock to my system was enough in those few minutes! I now knew that the dollhouse "World" was out there..........and it wasn't too long before I found and ordered my black sconce-style light for the bathroom.

Here is a view of the bathroom with the light installed and the floor tiles in place.

So while I was disappointed that my dangerous miniatures store had no black sconces, which led me to the vast and fertile "hunting grounds" of the internet, I still had not stopped visiting the shop in search of treasures. Almost any excuse would find me making an expedition to the store! The little old gentleman who owns it has been there for more than thirty years and while the shop is small, it is stuffed with furnishings and houses, supplies and kits and he is always "getting something new in" to look at and drool over. Every time I go I see something I didn't see the time before. So it was that one beautiful fall day I came across some wall paper (had I even wanted wall-paper at all?) that made my heart leap! It was a beautiful, to scale mural scene of hunting - red jacketed riders and hounds racing through a beautiful countryside! I WANTED it! It was PERFECT for the master bedroom. I had not been able to decide what I wanted the master bedroom to look like at all, but when I saw that paper I just knew it was perfect! Silly me, I only bought two sheets at first, which wasn't enough to complete the room with the pattern repeats fitting right. I suffered anxiously for a whole week before I could return to buy the third sheet and so complete my room.

Here is the room with the paper and some scraps for carpeting.........

And a slightly better lit view of the side wall - I just love the moodiness of the stormy gray skies!

And again with the sconce lights installed!

Isn't it just PERFECT?

May your hunting bring you what you are searching for -

whether you know what you seek or not!

The Hunt Is On

Friday, June 11, 2010


Once I had started down the path of electrifying the Lovely Old Dollhouse, it was not long before I was a regular visitor at that miniature store in the nearby town. I had to have lights for every room! It was easy to decide that the lighting needed to be relatively old fashioned because the old house would have had lights added to it as soon as they were invented! Besides, most of the old houses I have lived in had old lights and not very many electrical outlets in each room. So that was what felt "right" to me. I chose a pair of sconces in candle style for the parlor. And, of course, I had to start putting some of my old furniture and paintings in the room just to see how they would look! If you look carefully at the window in the above picture you will see the glass window frame that I constructed when I was in my teens and kept safely for all these years. The wood is still unfinished but the glass panes are still in place!
This is a view looking in that (very dirty!) old window!
The next picture shows the new ceiling light in the kitchen, just like the one we had in our kitchen when I was growing up! Perhaps this house is going to end up being decorated from the time period of my childhood? We shall see....
And here is another picture of the kitchen.... this time with the porcelain sink that I just HAD to buy on one of my excursions to that (very dangerous to the pocket book) miniatures store! It looks exactly like the sink in my very first apartment......

And yet another item I had to have because it was EXACTLY like the old radiators in my childhood home! I came home with one of these and had to go back for another one because there has to be one in the bathroom too! I just LOVE these old radiators!

Pretty soon I was pulling out more old treasures I had saved for years.... here are some antique books - the large one is actually a thumbnail bible printed in 1811.....perhaps left in the old house by one of its earliest owners?

Oh, and who is this?
A beautiful young lady visiting the Lovely Old Dollhouse?

And her sister too?

She seems a little worried......or maybe she is searching for something.....or someone?

Perhaps they are "time travelers" visiting from another time and place......because didn't I just decide that the Lovely Old Dollhouse was more modern than they seem to be....with electric lights and plumbing and all that modern stuff?
Or perhaps they are modern girls all dressed up for a historical costume ball?
What am I to do with them? They are much too pretty to ignore! Perhaps I will just HAVE to build them a house from the right historical era to match their costumes......1811 does look about right! Do you suppose they knew the original owner of that old bible and they are searching for him and some how they got caught in a time warp and ended up here now?

What do you think?

Oh, and look again!
I think this must be their distant cousin from Italy come to visit! She looks so elegant and sophisticated! She is certainly not American!
She looks like she just might have some answers to their questions!

This week has been all about visitors in my life too!
My Mother is visiting me from her home in New Mexico. We went to visit my niece and her beautiful baby. And my sister was also visiting so we had a whole family gathering!
Fortunately none of us are lost in the warps of time searching for missing persons or things.......or perhaps we are......perhaps that is what this dollhouse obsession is really about.......
So what do you think?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

And The "List" Goes On....And On!

The Confessions of a Chronic List Maker

Some of you may recall (or not!) that I mentioned the list of improvements and repairs that the Lovely Old Dollhouse would be needing. Well, you may have thought that this was a figurative list, or a mental list, or a spontaneous list just for the blog.....and you would be correct as it was, of course, all of the above. But it was also a real pen and paper, hard copy list, started as I was just beginning to finally start working on the Lovely Old Dollhouse. I confess, I make lists at the drop of a hat. It is almost as though the action of writing things down works, for me, as a pacifier does to a fretful baby, soothing because it gives you something simple to do when faced with daunting or overwhelming tasks. It sometimes seems as though my motto should be "when in doubt, make a list"! Yet, I often make lists and never look at them again! I occasionally go back later and happily cross off the accomplished tasks. But more often than not, I just make newer more current lists. It is almost as though having put the thought or idea down on a piece of paper, I have removed it from my mind so I don't have to "keep track" of it any more. I don't have to worry that I might be forgetting a good idea. ( A little like a very muggle form of penseive!) So my life, as you may imagine, is littered with lists. (And my work table, and my books and notebooks and my desks...) I am sometimes amazed to see old lists and realize that every thing on them is now DONE! They become a sort of bizarre reckoning of my life....evidence of the multitude of tiny tasks that makes up my existence! And they remind me that yes, I do get things done, little bit by little bit! Sometimes the lists are very specific in the breaking down of big projects into manageable small "bites". Sometimes they are far fetched wishful thinking dream lists. Those lists are the sooner forgotten and the more surprising when looked at much later and found to have been accomplished after all! I sometimes think there is a mysterious kind of power in writing things down.
So, I make lists. (Where is she going with this? you must be thinking...) Well, since joining Blogland very recently, a new kind of list has entered my life, one which I have NO control over at all, and which is all the more WELCOME for that......the FOLLOWERS list! It makes itself! It grows on its own! It represents treasures unimaginable in the form of new friendships and connections, ideas and gifts! From the far reaches of the earth fellow miniaturists link their lives together, and I am thrilled and awed to be a part of this! So it is that I humbly say WELCOME to all my followers! I will not even try to list you all! I do try (very slowly) to visit your blogs and am slowly adding myself to YOUR "followers" lists! But please, be patient with me as I learn my way around! Thank you all for enriching my life.
As for the other kind of lists.... the ones I DO have some control over.... I have been making some more progress crossing items off the "Electrical Wiring To Do List".
First things first, I hired a good electrical contracting supervisor! Remember the dollhouse scale "Ken" doll I mentioned? The one I was embarrassed to have bought and so I hid him in the closet? Well, he finally came out of the closet! :) Here he is examining the wires that are being buried in the walls of the Lovely Old Dollhouse.
And here you can see the light at the top of the stairs which had to be installed before the upstairs wainscoting could be finished.

And a view of the upstairs light and downstairs light with the stairs removed while the wires get buried in the walls. If you look closely at the front door you will see the door latch plate has been added. And if you spot the reflection of the light in the glass over the door you will gather that I have added the glass window panes! REAL Glass! Cut by ME!

More on the hall wiring.... you can see the path I ran the wires along the left hand wall where the stairs will cover them. They are gouged into the wall and plastered over to make a smooth wall.

And the kitchen with a temporary table well as the burning coals in the fireplace - neither of which are properly buried in the walls yet.... but I couldn't resist showing you anyway! The cupboard in back will eventually get stained and attached to the wall above the yet to be purchased the list grows again!

And before I SHOCK you with the next picture.... no, don't scroll down yet! I must bring you up to speed with ANOTHER list! The "To Be Painted List".
You may recall me mentioning that I LOVE color! And you may remember the reference to George Washington's Mount Vernon when considering the finish for the staircases. You might not remember me mentioning that I always loved the smokey blue color the main hallway had always been, so that it was easy to decide to keep it that color. But you definitely won't remember me mentioning the color of the parlor, because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do there! WAAAYYYback in my youth the walls had been a non-descript beige color. (You will sooner or later realize that while I believe beige has it's place (sand on beaches) it is my least favorite color for walls). So you will not be surprised that I had no intention of restoring it to the original color. In my teen years I had painted the parlor walls a lovely soft pale yellow - the color of butter in winter (for those of you who have ever made your own butter from your own cows you will know what I mean) and the wainscoting was painted white. While I was very happy with this combination in my youth, I have grown to be fond of REAL color, and now that combination just seemed too PALE! I have read that the Georgian era was one where they loved strong colors if they could get the paint... a more tricky thing here in the Colonies where everything the least bit fancy was imported from Europe. But I felt that it would be entirely appropriate to have strong color on the parlor walls....whatever era this house ends up being! So, I just need to decide WHAT color I would use! I was tempted by red..... but thought I would get into trouble with the floors already being such a dark red (which I might NOT change). Yellow was out because the kitchen would probably be yellow, and blue was out because the hallway was blue.....but the color would need to "harmonize" with the blue and yellow.....hmmm, what about green?
Then I remembered the on-line visit I had made to Washington's Mount Vernon site where I had seen the beautiful walnut paneled staircase. They had photos of his brilliant peacock green drawing room that made my heart sing! THAT was the color I wanted to paint my parlor! So I pulled out my piles of paint chips and set about trying to match one to what I was envisioning. When I finally decided on one color and was about to go out to buy a can of paint, I had one of those deja vu moments.... this color was very familiar... maybe I should check over my supplies of paint (purchased over the years for projects too numerous to LIST!) .... which I did. And discovered that I already had the exact color I wanted......just waiting for me to realize that this was what I really had bought it for.....many years ahead!

NOW you may look at the newly painted and electrified parlor!

And a close-up of the fireplace with glowing coals and the settee just waiting for someone to come in and set a while.........

So, before you go, I just need to mention one more list.
The "Other" list that I made shortly after starting to work on re-building the Lovely Old Dollhouse. The one that starts out "Dollhouses I Want To Make"
And goes like this:
Finish Little Victorian Kit House (the Folly)
Re-build Lovely Old Dollhouse
Construct Cupboard house - use kit windows(already own)
Build a European Style Townhouse
Make an Eighteenth Century Venetian Palace
Build a CASTLE Dollhouse!
At this point the "list" turns into sketches of the potential castle layouts and lists of "rooms" it will need......a SURE sign that the Castle is nearer than one might think........

And so,"The List" Goes On....And On!