Today’s entry is a long one, since my progress on the cottage for the Undersized Urbanite contest has outpaced my blog’s posts. I chose the title as both can refer to things pretending to be something else, and because they are literally what I have been working on for the past couple of months. In a way, dollhouses are great examples of pretending, both in trying to make tiny things that look real, and for serving as toys to spur the imaginations of children. But I digress…
The back kitchen wall got its façade of stonework, as I tried my hand at Rik Pierce’s famous method of making paperclay stones, which was fun but I still have a lot to learn. You can see another of the little LED wires that will be hidden in the final assembly.
It also came time to give the “old lady” her makeup, and make the cream stucco look more weathered and realistic. I bought a few soft dry pastel sticks and used a blade to make piles of fine powder. The walls were all done at once, starting with the lightest colors and dry brushing in layers. I jovially imagined myself as one of those neat people who paint theme park buildings to make them look old. Here is a before and after photo:
I also finished my stint as a bricklayer, and the final count was *drumroll* 328 bricks. I have about that many left, and since I used the more uniform ones on this house, that leaves the ragtag lot for a future project idea, which will work just fine *cackle.* I finally figured out a pattern with dimensions that worked on the front of the mill tower and fit with the existing double basketweave on the sides, called a half basketweave. I was glad it came together, but in the future I will think more about brick spacing before I build the walls.
As for the veneers, the floors and walls of the windmill are made of wood marquetry sheets, which I got for a great price from a merchant in the UK. Honestly, in the past few of months I have seen the number of ebay listings for pretty veneers skyrocket, so there is now a lot of nice wood to choose from. Some are sold as plain wood sheets and some come with heat-activated adhesive backings, which I actually found curled the edges of my wood strips, so I stuck to plain wood glue.
I had fun picking pieces out of the mixed lot (and enlisting family for help), and then it was mostly a matter of patience cutting, sanding, and gluing tiny strips ad infinitum. I highly recommend this stuff for anyone wanting to lay a dollhouse floor, because of how thin and workable it is, while capable of being sanded and stained.
The bakery floor is an amazing warm muninga and the upper floor is a deep chocolate wenge (pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…I mean, the absurd number of LED wires gushing from the back end). I had wanted something different upstairs and dark woods were rather common in the Tudor period. Plus, I think the brown will go well with the robin’s egg blue walls I have in mind. The tops of the rail posts were cut off of some 1:12 scale kitchen table legs, glued to new posts and drilled for the rope. The ladder and drive shaft for the windmill will pass through the opening (hopefully).
The mill’s tower is covered in red gum and alder wood (since I didn’t have enough of any one type to do the job), and the floors of the tower are larch. I was going for something more agrarian and simple for the windmill, like old, rough planks. You can also see the inside of the root cellar I have had a love-hate relationship with these past few months.
I used tung oil on all of the veneer, which is great at bringing out the natural color of the wood without making it too glossy. Tung oil is a natural finish made from tung nuts that has been used for centuries to seal and protect woods. One unfortunate source of confusion for those who wish to use it is that many companies create a mix of tung oil and other liquids (mineral spirits, linseed oil, etc.) and sell it as “tung oil” or make a product with no tung oil in it at all and advertise it as a “tung oil finish.” I hunted around online and bought a small bottle of 100% tung oil for a few dollars, and I was impressed with how well it worked, even in only one coat. In reading up on it, I learned some people add citrus oil to speed the drying time, because it can take days. I don’t know that it did much, other than add a strong orange smell to the nutty tung oil, but it was preferable to the chemical odor of most finishes.
There is still a long way to go on the cottage, but I am promising myself the walls will be vertical by the end of this weekend! Tally-ho!