Living room rug

by brae  

During planning, I used paper printouts of various rugs to see what worked with the décor I had chosen for the different rooms.  One I especially liked was Parasols by Thomas Paul which I ended up using in the living room.  This is the regular paper printout of the rug.

Although the paper printout photographs beautifully, I wanted to create something that looked more realistic in real life.  I tried printing on fabric, but the colors were too washed out in comparison to the paper printout.

I tried a specialty paper which had worked well for another rug image.  The colors still weren't as deep at they had been on the regular paper printout.

The texture turned out well, though.

I recently started doing needlepoint (the upholstery on the Mackintosh chairs above was my first project) and thought that would be a good way to more accurately recreate the design.  I would be certain to end up with the right coloration since I could match the yarn to the paper printout.

I found a great site called (now defunct link) where you can convert an image to a needlepoint pattern for free.  You can set the stitch count and the number of colors you want.  This site is somewhat limited for miniature use since it doesn't allow for smaller sized work areas and higher stitch counts, but it worked for me in this case.  I wanted the equivalent of an 8' round rug: 8" work area on 22 count needlepoint canvas.  There is a link on the site for creating patterns in color, but I found it didn't work that well in this instance.  My rug image has variations in shading, and the pattern generator confused certain areas.  I used the black and white pattern generator instead with excellent results.

The site created a pdf of the pattern on multiple pages which I then cut and pasted to create a full version.  After dividing into four quarters, I printed the pattern on paper.  I used colored pencils to fill in the shapes to make it easier to read and to correct the minor errors in the pattern (mainly the splitting of the lighter areas into two colors where I wanted only one).  Once I had the color on the printed pattern, I made color copies to use while stitching; I didn't want the pencil color to rub off on my hands and subsequently onto my needlepoint as I stitched.

I used the same material as I had for the llama rug: 24 ct Congress Cloth.  I had generated my pattern in 22 count before realizing that the material I bought was in actuality 24 count.  I had put so much time into the pattern that I decided to just go ahead and use the 22 ct pattern on the 24 ct fabric.  The size reduction would be negligible since my paper printout was also smaller than the 8" generated pattern.

Next came all the stitching...and stitching...and stitching.  It was a lot of work - approximately 60 hours worth - and I wish I could say I love it.  Needlepoint is choppy because of the directionality of the stitches, and this design had very fluid and organic shapes.  With smaller, busier designs, needlepoint works very well.

I also didn't like that the cloth showed through in a lot of areas.  Using more than two strands of embroidery floss wouldn't have worked; it would have been too thick for the holes of the cloth.

But, I really liked the pic2point process and will likely use it again for a different sort of pattern.

I don't think punchneedle would work any better, though doing a bunka version might be worth the effort.  I could try a small section of the rug to see if I like it better.  I have a couple of other ideas, too, so I'll keep working on it.  :D

Greenleaf 2010 Spring Fling Progress...

by brae  

24 days to go...

Just a teaser photo...I'm not going to post anything more just yet...but I have several lengthy blog posts in the works.

I have about a week's worth of work left on the project, having finished the building itself earlier this week.  I need to do the landscaping and build a few more minor accessories.  I'm so excited about this build; it's so different from the Newport!  :D


by brae  

Ok, so I am not attempting to turn things into gold...more like turning goldtone metal into silvertone metal.  Since my Newport is an historic looking house with a more modern interior, finding appropriate light fixtures has been difficult.  Most lights on the market are brass and Victorian or ultra modern or plastic.  I've lucked out with a few that I really like, but some have the right shape but not the right coloration.

I had some luck painting one light fixture with acrylic paints, but the frame of it was wood.  Brass light fixtures are harder to paint since they are often shiny and acrylic paint just won't stick or shows the brush strokes.  So, I took one of my less expensive lamps and experimented with spray paint.  I've seen many people turn thrift store finds into high-end looking pieces in real life, but miniature is not always as easy.

The starting fixture in brass.

Here it is taped and ready for painting.  I couldn't remove the glass globe since part of the brass is attached to it.

I put on a rubber glove and held the light in my hand as I sprayed.  It was the only way to be able to get all angles.  I then pressed the taped portion onto a loop of masking tape so no painted parts would touch the surface.

First, the primer: Valspar Premium Enamel.  There's no color name - just a matte grey cap.  I wanted a small can, but I could find only the large 12oz size.  One coat of primer covered the brass perfectly.

click image to enlarge

I set it aside for about half an hour before moving on to the final paint: Valspar Odds 'n' Ends Fast Dry Enamel in Chrome.  This I was able to find in a small 2.75 oz can.  Again, one coat covered very well.

I wouldn't call the finish "mirror chrome" but more a beautiful, crisp silver.  It would work well as a mimic for a brushed finish. I didn't expect (or want) a reflective silver finish.

The finish is extremely fragile.  It will scratch easily.  This may change after the paint has had time to really cure, but I would limit handling any item you use this finish on.

Scratch built single bed

by brae  

One of my favorite dollhouse furniture books is Thirties & Forties Miniatures in 1:12 Scale by Jane Harrop.

There are a lot of great projects in this book that are both classic in design and usable in a more modern setting.  I plan to make several of the items, but I decided to start with one of the more straightforward designs listed as "beginner" level: the single bed.

I used balsa wood for the build since I am not sure where I would find the obechi wood the book indicates.  Balsa can damage easily, but I love the way it looks once stained.  It's also very easy to cut.

Here's the bed in construction.

I love the look of the bed with the high headboard.  I used antique pine stain from IKEA.

click image to enlarge

The most difficult part of the whole process was making sure the slats on the headboard and footboard were measured exactly.

click image to enlarge

The bed has two flat boards that I left unattached.  Once I figure out the bedding, I'll decide if I need them or not.

click image to enlarge

Flipping the opening direction of a Houseworks door

by brae  

Houseworks has some of the best dollhouse components on the market, and their doors are fabulous in that they are premade and hung in frames.  All you have to do is slide them into place.  But, sometimes you want the door to open the other direction.  As they are currently made, if the premade door is facing you, the door opens in to the right.

Here's how I flipped one to open in to the left.  First, I used masking tape to indicate the "up" direction and sides 1 and 2.

I removed the hinge pin on the bottom but left the pin at the top in the door.

I then measured where the original holes were and marked that same measurement on the opposite side.  These need to be precise.  I then used a tiny hand drill to make the new holes.  I slid my drill bit into the original hole to make sure I had the right size before drilling on the opposite side.

top of door frame

bottom of door frame

I installed the original door with side 2 facing me.  The door now opens in to the left.  The original holes can be filled or left in case you change your mind again.  :D

Since you are always keeping the up side in the right direction, this will work with other paneled doors where there is an obvious up direction.

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