Walnut firewood box

by brae  

Building a firewood box for the Studio served two purposes.  It will hold the wood stove switch so I don't have to reach into the structure to operate the flickering LED fire, and it gave me the opportunity to work with walnut using my scroll saw.

I followed a pattern in the book How to Make Shaker Furnishings for Doll Houses or Miniature Rooms by Pat Midkiff.  What a long title!  :D

Here's the living area photo from the book.  Unfortunately, there is no pattern for the stove included.  There are three pegs on the side of the firebox in the photo.  I didn't add them to the one I built since I didn't have a walnut dowel.

The pattern was very simple to follow, and my two cut curves came out very close!  :D  I did change the dimensions slightly, because the sheets of walnut I had on hand were narrower than the largest pattern piece.  I finished the box with one coat of Delta Ceramcoat Satin Varnish to bring out the beautiful color and grain.  I added a light wash of black and brown to make it less shiny and new.

I will finish the side deck before drilling the hole in the bottom for the battery and switch.

Jasper's story

by brae  

While we break for planning time, I thought I'd share a little off topic fun.  Jasper's story is very interesting.  You might have read about my first kitty Basil from this Baslow Ranch post.

Basil wasn't the first cat in my life, but the first that lived in my home.  After he passed, the house was so quiet.  I read on one of those pet bereavement sites that the best way to honor your departed loved one was to open your house to another animal in need of a lifetime home.  I started browsing petfinder and ran across "George."

from petfinder

I instantly loved that interesting face!  Looks like he has a secret...or is just confused...or both.  Now that I know him better, it's definitely both.  Haaaaaa!

The other photo showed him belly up, eyes closed and rolling on the floor.  I took that to mean a trusting personality who likes belly rubs.  :D

from petfinder 

I called the shelter number listed, but they said he was at county animal control, which uses the shelter number to field calls.  I called animal control, but George was already gone.  They said it takes some time for the website to update.  I was sad but also happy that he had found a home.

His profile was still on the website a week later, so I called again to make sure we were talking about the same cat.  She assured me he had been adopted but took my number and said she would check, just in case.

I lost interest in finding a new pet then, because it just felt right with George.  :\

About two weeks later, I started looking at black cats on petfinder since I know they are not adopted as readily, not only due to the superstition but they don't often photograph well.  I took my carrier and went to a place in the city after work one night.  I figured I would meet the four cats there that interested me and see if anything happened.

I was just getting ready to walk in the door at the shelter when my phone rang.  It was raining, so I stepped onto the porch with my carrier to answer the phone.  It was animal control.  The woman on the line asked if I was still interested in George because he had been returned for fighting with the existing cat at his new home.  I told her I was just about to go into another shelter to pick out another cat so she caught me just in time.  She agreed to hold him until Saturday afternoon; it was Thursday evening and their limited hours made it impossible for me to get out there sooner.

By this time, the shelter staff had noticed me with my empty carrier and invited me in to fill it.  I told them the story, but they really wanted me to take a cat with me right then.  I met the four cats as intended but nothing seemed to spark.  I gave the shelter a donation and headed home.

The animal control facility was overrun on Saturday.  They were having a special that if you brought in food and/or litter, it would decrease the adoption fee.  When I arrived, they put George in my carrier (I spent zero time with him) and we were shooed out the door.  :O

He cried the entire hour and a half ride home, and I thought, "What the hell did I just get myself into?!!!" 

Once at home, I sat with him in the back bedroom, and he was calm and curious.

Then he did a bear pose, and I was in love!  :D  I had never seen a cat do a bear pose before.  Apparently, this is fairly common.

Not too long after we arrived home, he was drowsily resting.  It was indeed meant to be.

I discovered his weirdness with water right away.  He likes to try to knock over anything with water in it.  I eventually got him a heavy bowl he can't tip.  Considering his friendly nature toward other people and his interest in a friend's cat when we tried to introduce them (his cat was a cranky ol' thing that refused to let Jasper near her), I think he was brought back either due to buyer's remorse or the water problem.  He's also susceptible to fear aggression, but he's 12 pounds.  I can take him.  He gets a timeout in the bathroom when he gets his crazy on, and all is well again about twenty minutes later.

George wasn't a bad name for him, but I chose to change it to Jasper.  It seems to fit him well.  Overall, he's a wonderful companion.  He's a snuggler, too.

Kitty kitty kitty

The Deck - part 1

by brae  

Before I can finish the front wall of windows, I need to work on The Deck.  This is going to take some serious engineering.  The deck will fit into the slope of the landscape and be only partially supported by firm ground around the building itself.  You might recall my previous mockup.

Image from Trex

I'm going to do a bit of reverse engineering here since while the deck needs to be solid, it doesn't have to support actual weight other than a mini chaise or easel.  I figured the simplest approach would be to build the surface of the main and side portions first and then create the framing that would support this surface.  From there, I would create each leaf separately and attach those to the main deck.

I bought five sheets of basswood by Revell measuring 1/16" x 3" x 24" for the lighter boards.  I will use walnut for the vein detailing and outer accent.  I bought the sheets to cut my own boards instead of the precut strips because I find that the brand of basswood the stores around here carry is always so fuzzy.  These sheets by Revell are less so and easily sanded smooth.  And, I have a good eye for measurement when cutting by hand.  :]

I cut lengths of 5" and then measured 1/2" intervals.  I put an X on the back so I would know which side to face up.  These Revell stickers came off the wood easily, but I didn't want to risk having future finishes react differently due to any glue residue.

I applied a length of double sided tape to the landscaping board for planning purposes.  Without some sort of adhesive, one small bump would lead to resetting every board.  Uh...no.  Using a T-square, I lined up my individual boards and pressed them to the tape.

There are 35 boards for the main deck.

The main deck can be shifted to the side in either direction depending on the fit needed to join the side deck.

For the side deck, I had to add a small piece of cardboard to support the boards during the mockup phase.  It won't be part of the final framework.

These pieces measure 1/2" x 3 1/2" and begin at the forward edge of the main deck.  There are 37 of these boards.  I continued them far past the door so there is room for the firewood box that will hold the wood stove switch.  Plus, that means I can use scraps of landscaping materials instead of buying new.

You can see the space between the top of the boards and the lower edge of the door.  This will allow plenty of room for the framework, and I may or may not need a front step under the door.  We shall see.  :D

With the leaf mockups in place, it's starting to look like something.

There will be steps in the open area in front of the side deck.


Next up, building the frame for the main and side decks.  In the meantime, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the framework for the leaves.  :O

image from CFC Fences & Decks

Who wants freshly baked cookies?!!

by brae  

I suppose that is a bit of a silly question.  Who doesn't want freshly baked cookies?!!  :D  Grandma knows this and has been hard at work.

I won this lovely cookie baking set from Creating Dollhouse Miniatures.  The pieces are so well made and realistic.

My mom makes the best chocolate chip cookies.  No kidding.  Every family gathering has people hoarding the cookies she brings, even though she brings dozens!  I know chocolate chip cookies, and these minis are just like hers!  :D

Cookies in progress certainly warm up a kitchen, don't they?  :D


Another recent acquisition is the whistling tea kettle by Ulus Miniatures - purchased from Mainly Minis when I replaced the fire in the wood stove.

We had one of these in real life at my childhood farmhouse.  Mom still has it and uses it, too!  Next time I'm over at her house, I will snap a photo of it.

The mini version is just as well made and quite heavy.

Progress on the windows and doors

by brae  

I painted the living area window Warm White by Americana.   Before painting, I added trim to the window since it was built for a depth of 1/2" but the walls are only 3/8" thick.  Before installing the window, I sanded the siding and added satin varnish.  It's a subtle change, but I like it!

I added a corner trim sill to the interior since the precut interior trim never seems to fit right and I wanted a place to display minis...like a good Scotch after a day's worth of painting.  :D  Ahhhh....

The window handle is by Houseworks and was originally brass.  The window sash lock is by Realife Miniatures - vintage stock purchased from another member on the Greenleaf forum.  This was also brass now painted silver.

They are wonderfully detailed.  I had to look one up to see how it worked since I have different mechanisms in my home. The locks come in pairs - just like the real deal - here I'm showing the tops and bottoms of two pairs.

Since this is a working window and there's not enough room on the window to install both pieces, I used only the one with the round lever.  I glued it so that it would not interfere with the window operation while still looking like it might just work.

The exterior door is painted Slate Green by Americana and won't be installed until after the siding is up.  The door knob and keyplate are chrome pieces from Clare Bell Brass.  I wish I could find more of these.  I used satin varnish only on the exterior door (inside and out) and the exterior door trim.  I didn't like the matte finish on the green, and I thought the exterior door frame should match in sheen.  I liked the matte finish on the remaining windows, interior door and trim, so I left them as is after painting.

I had added trim to both doors to block out the light around the inside.  It's a simple and subtle change that makes for a more realistic door jamb.

I had to flip the direction of the bathroom door.  This door has a simple white knob.  The removable wall is papered on the bathroom side with Canson Ivory paper.  I added the door trim to the interior side but still need to finish the top edge of the wall.

Since the left wallpaper seam is larger than I had hoped and will show when viewed through the window or skylight, I'll add a length of trim from floor to ceiling.  This will also help align the removable wall when it is in place.

I installed the octagon window technically backward.  Considering one wouldn't be looking at the back of the Studio most often, I thought the routed detailing would be best served sitting on the interior.  :]

With the addition of the siding, the wall was thicker than the depth needed.  I added a cardboard octagon cut to fit.

I glued this piece to the now exterior trim, then painted it to blend.

Now there's a seamless fit for the trim on the exterior.

I'm still working on the clerestory windows and skylights.  Doors and windows take a lot of time, but I think it's starting to really come together on the inside.

Can you feel the cool breeze coming in through the window?

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