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Projects and Experiments :)

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First of all, let me introduce Santa. I found him in a gift shop, back in the 75%-off Christmas sale stuff, in a little German-heritage town not far from here. I don't believe he'll live in the mushroom, but he comes by frequently to check on the elves and their progress. Do you think he's carrying a lantern because he doesn't think I'll solve the lighting dilemma? ;)


While I was thinking about the lighting, I did some aging on the oven wall. I love these artist colors. I got them on the clearance shelf at Hobby Lobby for about a 10th of the original price. I love 'em!


After I finished the fireplace, I tidied up the work area a bit. Decided to put the fiber optic lights away, as they didn't always come on and I just couldn't figure out what to do with them. When I opened the electrical storage, I found some clear plastic stars -- meant to be mirror hangers -- that gave me an idea. The plastic tubing + the stars + a light . . . well, here is the prototype. I taped a silk flower to the wall behind the star. This is mounted on the first floor wall that I'm not using, just for the sake of experimentation. I can run the wires beneath the house, up through the floor and the tubing, and voila! A sort of sconce. The prototype has already been replaced in my head with something a bit more Christmasy, but this will give you the idea. There will be five sconces around the ground floor -- one of either side of the bay window, one on either side of the front door, and one on the oven wall.


I'm still not sure how to handle the other five lights for the upstairs living area, but there is a place in the oven wall where I can run them through the floor. After solving at least half of the lighting challenge, I gave myself some time to do something easy, so I took some bits of balsa and a stain pen and made this little shelf. It's going to go on the oven wall.


While waiting for the stain to dry so I could glue the shelf, I pulled out some fabric to audition for the ground floor. I thought if the elves are busy making toys, that white floor is going to get pretty grungy in a hurry. Sorry for the blurry picture. I think the camera was still set on macro for the shelf photo. Anyway, I think I'll make a thin cardstock template and use this fabric as a floor covering.


The elves remain nameless, but they don't seem terribly upset my their mini anonymity. (I like the way that sounds when you say it out loud: mini anonymity.) ;)

The Oven Wall

Well, life intervened with my mini plans, as it often does, but I'm finally back to working on the oven wall. The little baker is very interested in what's happening. Today we got the alcove cut out. The little stove fits in there just right. The little baker likes the little stove. She says she can turn out all kinds of good Bohemian breads and pastries on it. We used a big emery board to sand down the rough edges.


This view shows the left side of the oven wall shortened and curved and the piece of bendable drinking straw that will do for a stovepipe. It will be painted shiny black to match the stove.


I rummaged around in the construction materials bin and found a handful of bricks, enough to brick the back of the stove alcove with some left over for the steps. The little baker and I had a discussion about how to finish off the steps. We debated between bricks or no bricks, but I think the bricks won. I told her they weren't glued in place so she'd better be careful how she stepped on them. She was careful, thank goodness.


We put the bricks away and painted the whole thing with gesso. There are some rough patches that need to be smoothed over with wallboard mud, and the whole thing will get another coat of gesso and the stairstep bricks will be glued on. When the glue dries, we can grout the bricks, do a little aging on them, and slide the whole unit in place. The little baker called in two of her male counterparts to see what progress we've made. The one in the middle found something to get excited about, but I ignored him. The one on the right just wanted to know if the stove will be hooked up in time for supper.


We have some paint samples in the construction materials box. I think one of them will make a nice pad under the stove. We haven't decided if the kitchen area will have flooring or not.

The little baker just called me over. She says she needs to have a name. "Little baker" just isn't doing it for her. She's thinking about what she wants to be called. I guess each of the elves deserved a name. ;)


The White Orchid, a special run of the Greenleaf Orchid dollhouse kit, is made from Sintra, a beautifully satiny white plastic. I was lucky enough to get one during the short run of this kit. It has been waiting patiently for more than two years to become what I knew it was going to be almost from the get-go: a mushroom home for five elves and their fairy godmother wrangler. ;)

This is what inspired me. We have always had a cheerful red-topped mushroom on our Christmas tree, a Bohemian good luck symbol.


This is what it looks like in real life:


Here are the elves and the fairy godmother. The elves came from the gift shop at the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City. I can't recall if the fairy godmother came from a shop in Crown Center in KC or the French Quarter in New Orleans. No matter. Fairy godmothers come and go wherever they please.


Getting Started

Andrew (aka doogster) posted some knowledgable information about the type of glue to use for this material. He said Tenax 7R would be the best. It welds the plastic and sets in 10 seconds. Of course I didn't have any on hand when I started the project, so I used Aileen's Tacky Glue to assemble the two floors and the three sides. The next morning, when I took off the masking tape, one side fell off. And the other two walls were failing fast. So, off I went to the hobby shop for some Tenax 7R. I did some test pieces with scraps and discovered that it is marvelous stuff if the two pieces to be joined are absolutely in contact with one another. Even a teensy gap and there is no attachment formed. I added some superglue gel to the arsenal and am now chugging along cheerfully.

I got some Krylon spray paint for the roof bits. I want it a lovely, smooth satiny red. I pinned them to a piece of styrofoam insulation and sprayed away. It worked beautifully.

Another flash of inspiration

As I was prepping the large octagonal window for the center gable, a couple of things were churning around in my head. I thought I'd rather have a blank wall in that area on the inside. One of the challenges of this housing arrangement is that there are four little men elves and one little lady, plus the fairy godmother. Sleeping arrangements are going to be difficult to sort out. A blank wall might give me a bit of flexiblity.

Then it occured to me that the window might be a doorway. A cuckoo might live in that little space. So I went looking for a cuckoo that would be found in a Bohemian forest and who should introduce himself but a Great Spotted Cuckoo. I did a search on the internet and found a tutorial by Kerri Pajutee on the CDHM website for making a parrot. Her directions are so straightforward and clear that I think I can use them to make a cuckoo. Here's what he ought to look like:


All I need to do is get out the Fimo and round up some feathers. I'll save that for when I'm in an accessory building frame of mind.

Back to the build

There were some little details to work out, like how would the cuckoo's door open. I cut the center punch-out in half, superglued some hardware on it, and made a little perch out of part of the roof trim (which isn't going to be used on the roof). I glued some spacers made from other punch-out scraps for the back wall, which I cut from foamcore board. From even a small distance, the foamcore looks much like the Sintra. I would have used the wall pieces, which aren't going to be used, but they weren't big enough.

There are some other challenges to be met, like stairs. The stairs that come with the kit take up too much room. I was very much taken with Grazhina's gnome house and its lovely brick & plaster oven. I'm thinking that something similar built against the side wall might have steps built in for the elves to scamper upstairs. It would have to be a bit more elaborate and might even include a space for a tiny lady elf's bed. How cozy and warm would that be? ;) That would make the upstairs bedroom challenge a bit less complicated.

So here's where the build is now, with the ornament by the porch for reference. The plan is to finish the outside completely while the plans for the interior have time to ferment in my brain.


Plans Change

Of course they do! While fiddling with the outside bits, adding windows, etc., the inside has been nagging at me. I finally chopped up a piece of contractor's foam board to make a combo stairway/oven wall. This is the first attempt. About 2 inches near the window will be removed and the corner rounded a bit to make a little closet/nook. An alcove will be cut out for a half-inch scale woodstove. The baker is only 3" tall. I thought a full size stove would have her running up and down a ladder -- dangerous near a hot stove! The foam will be smoothed, Spackled, and gessoed so it will look more like the Sintra walls.

The unfinished chair is the fairy godmother's. She's pushing to have it gilded, but I don't think so. I'm hoping if I ignore it (her) long enough, she'll turn her attention to something else.


Project Name: Creole Cottage: home of Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen of New Orleans

Construction photos can be found in my Blogspot blog.

2nd runner up in the Hobby Builders Supply 2008 Creatin' Contest!

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Marie Laveau (1802-1881) is legendary for an unusual combination of spiritual power, beauty, charisma, showmanship, intimidation, and shrewd business sense.] She also was known for her kindness and charity, nursing yellow fever victims, ministering to condemned prisoners, and her devotion to the Roman Catholic Church. She has always held my interest. When I saw the Adams, it occurred to me that two of the kits bashed together would make the perfect Creole cottage.

This cottage at 179 St. Ann Street in New Orleans's French Quarter, was built by Marie's grandmother. It is where Marie was born, reared 15 children, was widowed, and died. The parlor and Marie's bedroom make up the cottage; kitchen, additional bedrooms, etc., are in separate buildings at the back of the lot. The construction represented is wooden beams and bousillage, a mixture of mud and Spanish moss. Part of the plaster topcoat has chipped away, showing the construction.


The interior walls represent whitewashed plaster. The ceiling in the parlor is wood with beams painted in Paris green, typical of the period. The bedroom ceiling is plastered between the beams, also typical. The date is about 1860; the Civil War has not yet begun.

Marie (also known as the Widow Paris) and her daughter Marie Philoméne Glapion are at home awaiting a visit from the beautiful Sophia, a free woman of color, who is coming to consult Marie on a matter of the heart. [All three dolls were made and dressed by Gina Gagnon of Lone Wolf Miniature Creations, but I changed out Marie's original shawl and tignon (head wrap) with fabric that suited the scene better.]

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Separating the two rooms is a pocket door that slides into the wall, between the two walls of the Adams kit; it conserves space in the small rooms. Marie has made a gris-gris bag with special herbs and charms that Sophia will be pleased to carry away with her, a part of Marie's voodoo heritage. Two of the bags can be seen hanging on the chair, and Marie is holding one in the photo above. There are voodoo dolls in the basket by the trunk. One can only guess at what the trunk must hold! The shelves hold bottles of herbs and other medicinals. Skulls, candles, and the voodoo dolls In a basket are other symbols of her special spiritual powers. I made the shelves and the table at the foot of her bed from scratch, filled and labeled the bottles, made the gris-gris bags and voodoo dolls and the cotton lace curtains, typical of the period.

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Her bed has a yoyo quilt. The handmade yoyos were made by a dear friend who volunteered them when she learned I was looking for this kind of authentic bed cover. In a basket near the door is Marie's boa constrictor called Zombi, a familiar used in voodoo ritual. The chickens in the yard are used in rituals as well as the stew pot.

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Marie is a devout Catholic as well as a voodoo practitioner. The altar in the parlor is typical of Creole. I made the altar and the printed holy cards and pictures and assembled the tiny box on the bottom shelf from a 1:24 scale laser cut kit. Her bedside table (made from scratch) contains a Bible and her rosary. I embellished the Bible bought at HBS by painting the inside of the covers black, rounding the corners, and gilding the edges of the "pages" to make it look more like a well used book. The rosary comprises seed beads and a jewelry finding on fine wire; the wee cross is basswood painted gold.

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By the door in the parlor are more wraps hanging on a pegged rack (made from a kit) and Marie's carpet bag (made from a pattern). The bag contains the medicines she will carry to the convicts at the city jail (near her home) and an umbrella. A picture of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, credited with saving lives during major hurricanes, was found in every Creole house of the period and many today. [The picture is a computer printie in an HBS frame. The chair and table are Chrysenbom kits that I made.]

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The fireplace screen is typical of New Orleans Creole architecture. Working from an actual screen photographed in an architectural recycle shop by a dear Creole friend who very gently nagged me to stick to authentic details, this one was made using polyclay, a jewelry finding, and the metal mesh from a real life pot scrubber. The square surround is bolted to the bricks, the arched part hinged to swing open to attend to the fire.


Bringing Marie Laveau's house to life has given me great pleasure. As I researched the details, I came to appreciate her complicated life and the times in which she lived. Although her history in print and on the internet is filled with inaccuracies and myth, an incredibly well researched and recently published book provided solid guidance. A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau by Carolyn Morrow Long (University Press of Florida, 2006). My thanks to the good folks at HBS for providing this opportunity!

One of my favorite trees is the crape myrtle. I love its bright flowers and clean, gray trunk and limbs. This photo was my inspiration for this project. In doing research, I discovered that the tree name can be spelled crape or crepe.


I looked through my stash of artificial flowers and found some ivy with stems that came close to the shape I was looking for and some red salvia that could be chopped up for blooms.




I glued three stems together, since crape myrtles grow in clumps, and painted them a silvery beige. Next time, I'll paint them first and then glue them to a base. :)


I had some green vines left over from another project. I chopped the vine into segments with 4-6 leaves per segment. I wanted small clumps of green leaves, as the tree blooms as the leaves are coming out in the spring and this is for an early spring scene. If it were later in the summer, I'd add more leaves.

It was a bit tedious gluing on the leaves and blooms, but I think my patience paid off.


There will be a different base on the trees when they are planted into the landscape. Since they're going into the Adams for the Creatin' Contest, I can't show you how they look in situ ... but I can tell you I'm pleased with the effect. ;)


Haven't worked much in the past few days, but there is a little progress to share. The siding is finished and painted. The irregularities below the upper floor windows will be hidden by the porch roof. The shutters are glued in place, and some of the interior window and door frames also glued.

Not sure how or why, but some of the interior window frames are a bit wide and show through the window when you look from the outside. Not sure how this will be addressed. They're made of balsa wood, so it's possible I could use a delicate touch with a very sharp X-exacto knife to pare them down, but ...

I didn't make interior frames for the bay window. Have decided not to install the acrylic panels. The window is hidden a bit by the porch. I don't think anyone will notice that there is no glass in the windows. I glued the kitchen door in place before I put the window in and am thinking to leave it open, too.

I used fabric to hinge the two doors. This is the first time I've done it this way. Easy and effective. I recommend it. I did the front door first and was so caught up with the ease that I went ahead and did the kitchen door immediately, not thinking that it really wasn't finished. :ohyeah:

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It has been nearly a month since Mollie and I got the basic construction done. The holidays and life in general intervened, but I've been working at siding for the past week or so. Siding is not my favorite sport, I've decided, but I certainly do like the way it looks so far. The Greenleaf siding that comes with the 2.0 kit doesn't look like much in sheets, but with a lick of sandpaper (emery board, actually), it finished up beautifully.

You'll notice from the photos that tape is an essential part of the siding process. The dampness from the glue makes the strip warp, so a firm hand and lots of tape are needed to keep it all flat. Once the glue dries, the siding is beautifully smooth and even.

Note the slight space in the siding below the upstairs window boxes. That's where the porch roof will slide into place. The outside corners will be covered with a piece of 90-degree quarter inch molding painted the same color as the siding -- light blue.

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Mollie is my 10-year-old goddaughter. We're building the Washington 2.0. Mollie has visions of it being an old time farmhouse but with modern conveniences, which include a horse or two in the yard.

Here's Mollie, hard at work sanding and hamming it up for the camera while showing off the dry fit.

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Mollie hung in there during the sanding and priming with gesso, and finally we were able to glue the main structure together. It was glued before I read the instruction about the lock pieces that become the base for the window boxes. I can cheerfully report that if you cut off the small end of the piece, the part that goes into the floor, you can glue all the pieces in and no one will be the wiser.

The building components are well engineered. Although some of the boards were well warped after we finished priming them, all of them pulled back into shape when the house was assembled. The fit is so close, that we could get away without baseboards or crown moldings -- no gaps! :ohyeah:

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We decided to decorate while we could still flip the house around easily. The living room (bottom left) is painted a lovely Jamaican blue. The other three rooms --kitchen (bottom right), nursery (upper left), and master bedroom (upper right) all have scrapbook paper on the walls. The kitchen also sports scrapbook paper for a lovely faux linoleum floor. The living room floor and kitchen wainscoting is paper coated with matte finish Modge Podge. The nursery floor is scrapbook paper. The master bedroom floor is paint sponged over paint and coated with matte finish Modge Podge.

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Mollie's attention began to fade when we got to the trimmings, but she managed to sand and paint her share. The chimney is painted with acrylics with a multi-colored sponged finish. The siding will be light blue, the window and porch trim white. Porch floor gray. Shutters will be the same green as the lattice under the porch, with light blue diamonds. The roof will be black. (The roof section is built and painted but not shingled. I neglected to get a photo of it.)

Here's something that surprised me: there is no trim provided for the insides of the windows and the front and kitchen doors, and none for the two internal doors. I'm making some out of 1/16-inch balsa I happened to have on hand. Without it, the acrylic window "glass" would be glued onto the inside wall. (Unless I missed something in the directions, but I've been through them a few times and don't see how else it could be done. I'm going to glue the acetate to the window frames I made, then glue them on the inside, so the acetate will be sandwiched between the outside and inside mullions.

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The Lily Pad won an Honorable Mention in Hobby Builders Supply's 14th Annual Creatin' Contest.

Welcome to the Lily Pad, the home of Captain Walter Bulrush, retired from a life on the high seas as a member of the Merchant Marines, and his family: wife Lydia, and sons Algernon and baby Moses.

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When I saw the houseboat kit, it told me immediately that it wanted to be part of a fantasy, the home of a frog family, and that it wanted to have a ballroom with a two-story ceiling and a skylight. When the Bulrush family arrived from Scotland, where they'd been vacationing, they had more ideas about their new home. And thus was the Lily Pad born.

All of these demands, plus the relative size of the 1:12 scale houseboat and the family, made it clear from the beginning that this project had to be done in 1:24 scale, something totally new to me. It was my first bash of a dollhouse kit, and reducing the scale was challenging. Working on it on and off for the past 10 months or so has been a joy and a real learning experience.

Come, take a tour!

The Stern

The front door boasts a pineapple, long a symbol of hospitality. New England sea captains often brought back pineapples from their voyages to the South Pacific. When they returned home after months at sea, they would put a pineapple on the fencepost to let their neighbors know that they were welcome to stop by to see what treasures resulted from their latest trip.

Mom Lydia is checking the mail delivery. The little red and white fender, to keep the boat from bumping when tied up at a dock, is a discarded eye-drop container. All of the railings on both decks are hand made, as are the gangplanks.

The red, white, and blue deck chairs are hand made, as is the life ring (from a Fimo mold).

To suggest water, the pontoons, split in half lengthwise, were glued to the base, and a piece of red craft foam was glued over the opening, The foam helps to cushion the sheet of Plexiglas that forms the surface of the water. The upper half of the pontoons rest on the Plexiglas, and the boat appears to be floating. The red craft foam looks like a paint line on the pontoon.

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The entry, with its Chinese red rug, scrimshaw floor vase, imposing Ionic columns, and glittering artifacts makes visitors aware that they are not entering just any old houseboat. The parlor can be seen beyond the foyer, and to the left, the dining room.


Dining Room

The dining room cabinet holds some of Mom Lydia's collection of silver, and more is on display on the table. The door under the stairs leads to the kitchen. The ballroom is adjacent on the left. This makes entertaining very convenient. Thirsty guests can slip into the dining room for a bit of refreshment kept well stocked by the catering crew. The stairway leads up to the music room.



Two-story ballroom boasts a crystal and gold chandelier, faux marble walls, parquet floor, and a brass harem screen that separates it from the master bedroom. The half-inch scale Colonial chandelier from HBS is embellished with crystals and jewelry findings. The harem screen was meant to provide leaves for making mini plants but instead it serves as a way for someone in the master bedroom to peek in on the festivities below and adds airiness to both rooms. The skylight with its stained glass panels lends romance to the setting. The musician's balcony leads into the music room.

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Music Room

The piano in the music room can be rolled over to the doorway to the musician's balcony when needed for a party in the ballroom. Mom Lydia plays very well. Captain Walter is the violinist. His beloved instrument has traveled the seven seas with him. He would like Algernon to learn how to play it, but Algernon is more interesting in fishing.

The circular stairway provides access to the upper deck. It is hand made. The beautiful cinnabar floor vase is a bead. The hallway leads down to the bathroom and nursery. The near door is to the boy's room.

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Boy's Room

Algernon's room is typical of any boy's room, whether on land or afloat. Toy cars, airplanes, books, a shell collection, and an aquarium reflect his varied interests. The bed, dresser and bedside chest were made from kits and hand painted. Where is Algernon? Right now he's fishing from the bow of the Lily Pad.


Algernon is Fishing

Algernon got tired of fishing with a fly and caught a fish with a worm on his bamboo pole and bobber. He's netted the fish and is going to put it into the bucket with the other fish he caught. He doesn't realize that the lure on his fly rod has attracted some big fish from the shadows beneath the houseboat.

The ripples are glue on the Plexiglas surface. The fish are OOAK, made from Fimo and painted. They're mounted on pins stuck into the Styrofoam base, so they look as if they're suspended in the water. The hatch is the opening to the engine room. Algernon doesn't know it, but his proud father is watching him from the upper deck.

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Upper Deck – Pilot House

Captain Walter is most at home in the pilot house. Here he stands with his binoculars near the signal cannon. Inside, all is ship shape, maps and charts stored flat in the chest, and signal flags stowed away in their cubby holes. The red foghorn doesn't get blown often, now that they're nearly permanently birthed, but the Captain delights in giving it a toot for special visitors.

The children have a play area on the upper deck. The little trees keep them away from the ballroom's skylight.

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Upper Deck - Lanai

Mom Lydia insisted on a comfortable place to entertain guests informally. She loves the lanai with its comfortable table and chairs, but she also enjoys her own little quiet place tucked away behind the little shelter for the circular stairway. The shelter, including the screen door, is scratch built. A pair of gray pantyhose gave up some fabric for the screen.

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Canoe and Shoreline

The canoe is ready for an afternoon paddle. The base is constructed of contractor's foam board sprayed with stone-textured paint.

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Master Bedroom

Continue the tour on the middle deck, starboard side. The master bedroom has a view of the ballroom. It's difficult to see in the photo, but the green wallpaper repeats the leafy tracery of the brass screen. It holds more of the Captain's souvenirs from Europe and Africa. The bed and round table are made from kits. I dressed the bed. The green light on the right is the starboard running light. The far door is a closet. The near door leads into the bathroom.



The bathroom wallpaper is an image scanned from a painting by Lucien Barbarin, an artist friend of the family. I made the OOAK wire towel rack from paper-wrapped floral wire. I made the sail maker's bench from a kit. The tiny drawer opens. Captain Walter's family has a long history of seamanship, boat building, and sail making. It is a prized family heirloom. The door on the left leads into the hallway, and across the hall is the nursery.

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Nursery & Parlor

Baby Moses is waiting for Mom to come feed him breakfast. The picture of the cow jumping over the moon decorated her nursery room when she was a tadpole. The parlor is used for formal visits. The bay window holds a ship's model that Captain Walter made on one of his long voyages. The door to the right leads into the kitchen.

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Mom Lydia keeps a ship shape kitchen. She got up early this morning to bake a chocolate cake, the Captain's favorite. Friends will be coming over for tea in a little while. She set the table for them, but thinks perhaps she'll move the party up to the lanai as it's such a nice day. The door on the back wall leads to the dining room. Beyond the wall on the right is the Captain's library.

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The library is papered with a wonderful design of sailing ships. The shelves display some of the Captain's extensive collection of books and souvenirs brought back from his world travels. The door leads into the ballroom. The shelves were purchased unfinished. The rocker and library table were kits.

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Thanks for visiting. Come back, y'hear? :ohyeah:

Houseboat: Fish

Today I added fish to the water, four of them made from Fimo polyclay. The first three fish started out looking like the others, but they came out really strange,looking like lumps of toxic waste on a pin.

They started out looking like this:


But came out looking like this:

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The next four fired up just fine and were painted with acrylic paint, including some silver touches for shine. They're mounted on pins stuck into the contractors' foamboard base. The pins don't show as much in real life as they do in these photos.

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This lure will be attached to the fishing line. It's glued to the surface of the Plexiglass.


October 10, 2007

Today I finished the landscaping and put the boat in its setting. The protective plastic has been removed from the Plexiglas. It's so clear that it nearly doesn't look like water! I found the little fence at Big Lots, part of their Christmas decorations which the clerks were busy arranging on the shelves.






Lloyd donated the canoe to the project. I'd bought it for him at Hobby Lobby some time ago and forgotten it.




Mrs. Lydia Bulrush will be very happy to have her furnishing back on board so normal life can resume. Right now they're living in a 3-room storage facility. :D


Here's what's left to do: mooring lines and underwater critters. Time to get out the Fimo and make trout or some other kind of tasty fishes. :unsure:

Houseboat: Base

October 8, 2007

Worked on the shoreline today. The shore was sprayed with stone-textured spray paint and looks very much like half-inch scale rough sand. Plants, rocks, and shells added, along with some green model train turf in nooks and crannies. Not quite sure what the sides and back edges will look like, but definitely not as detailed as the "front". I put the boat in place so I could see how the plantings looked in context. The "water" is still covered with plastic and over spray from the textured paint. It will be clear, eventually. Notice the addition of fenders ... they're empty eye drop capsules that I filled with white gesso and added a red paint stripe.



October 7, 2007

Have decided to amend this entry until the base is finished. There's not that much more to do. :unsure:

The following 3 photos show the beginning of the decoration, adding rocks and lycopodium to the bottom of the slip, then layering with the Plexiglas. In this shot, the Plexi still has pale blue protective plastic on both sides. When construction is finished, the blue plastic will come off to make the water clear. The red on the pontoons is craft foam. It will help cushion the Plexiglas and will appear to be a red water-line painted on the pontoon when the boat is in place.




October 5, 2007

The base is made from half-inch contractor's foam board. A solid piece for the bottom, then two outer layers to build it up. Could probably have done this with wood as well, but this is lighter. A piece of Plexiglas will lie on top of the 3rd layer, and a 4th layer will sit on top of the Plexiglas to finish it off. The bit in the middle will be hidden under the boat. It's there to keep the Plexiglas from bowing.


How can the boat "float" in Plexiglas? Easy ... I've taken off the lower half of the pontoons, which will be attached to the base. The Plexi will rest on top of them, and the boat itself will rest on top of the Plexiglas. I did a little test, and I think the effect will be awesome. :D Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo, but have patience, one will come.


I covered the base with wallboard mud. The sides slope a bit to enhance the idea of looking into a pond. The mud cracked a bit while it dried, but I spread a generous layer of gesso over all, which filled in the little cracks and made a good surface for painting.


The base is painted a basic sandy color with darker shadings in the water. This will be enhanced with some underwater items yet to be made.


October 1, 2007: I vowed to get the boat finished by the end of September, and here we are. The past few days I've been tweaking ... making accessories, getting pillows on the bed, and so forth. Here are photos I took today, with the Bulrush Family on board. Capt. Walter, wife Lydia, son Algernon, and baby Moses. There are still some little tweakings to do ... accessories for the parlor, fenders for the boat, etc., for for all intents and purposes, I'm declaring the boat itself finished!

The next project is the base ... a lazy riverbank or a pond, not sure which yet.

Meanwhile, here are some of today's pictures in no particular order ...




























Today I added pictures to the nursery and bathroom, made a rug for the parlor, added a foghorn to the pilot house and installed a yardarm with flags, made and installed (non-lighting) running lights, put a flag on the stern, and put a shawl and candle on the piano. (The music room has no light of its own and is darker than I'd like it to be.) Also installed the aquarium.

My list of things to do is getting shorter. :D



The ivory rug brightens this room considerably, thank goodness!


No, I'm not going to tell you what the flags spell. :unsure: Lloyd says the flags are too small; I say, "where was he when I was making them?" If I can see 'em, they're just fine! :)


Another snippet of Anna's fabric and the innards of a small ballpoint pen made a nice stern flag. :)


The running lights are not functional. Made from bits of round dowel, balsa, and a couple of beads. I figure this ol' boat isn't going to leave the dock soon!


Algernon is waiting patiently for me to make him some fishing equipment.


In real life, the cloth is silver with silver spots. It really sparkles!


The aquarium is installed in the boy's room. This room needs more clutter. It's way too clean for a young boy!


After a few weeks' hiatus, I got busy again yesterday. I built a baker's rack out of white-covered floral wire for the bathroom and loaded it with towels. Can't have too many towels on a house boat, eh? :D Also added a toy to the hallway and a mirrored shelf, and put a towel on the sail maker's bench in the bathroom. I'm going for a lived-in look.



I added a stained balsa window sill to the bay window in the parlor, then I turned to the parlor curtains. I made them from paper I got at Big!Lots and a bit of lace glued to a piece of strip wood. (I see some tacky wax peeking out. The camera doesn't lie ... :unsure:




I hung a couple of paintings on the parlor wall. I really don't like the red, red of the mahogany furniture in here. The room is way too dark, even with the lights on. Do I want to rework the furniture? Maybe. How? I dunno. Ideas welcome!


Then I got a bit crafty. Poured some resin into the little aquarium I got at the estate sale a few weeks ago and made a stand for it. It's going into the boy's room. And got out the toaster oven and the Sculpey and made a half dozen life rings. They'll be painted like the model and will hang on the railings.



There are fewer and fewer details to add, thank goodness! The to-do list includes some wooden folding deck chairs, fishing equipment, life preservers and boxes to store them in, silverware for the kitchen table, and the elusive Margarita pitcher and glasses for the upper deck cabana table.

The curtains in the dining room, music room and ballroom slowed me down a bit. I'm not really satisfied with what is there, but I'm moving along with the thought that those things can be revisited. The Master Cabin is not finished. Need pillows for the bed, and I don't like the rug. May want to soften the porthole and/or harem screen with some fabric; not sure about that. Bathroom needs a white wire shelf unit (I think I can make one) and a frame for the mirror (which is resting in the bathtub).


I like the "moonlight" shining through the skylight in the photo below.










I've decided to do the decorating methodically. Started with the top deck. Unless I decided to age the decking a bit, it is finished. I don't think I will age it. Captain Bullrush keeps his boat ship-shape, so even tricycle marks would be painted out nearly as soon as they're made. You may notice the frog pond is missing. The jury is still out on that item; it may turn up on the lower deck.

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On the middle deck, the boy's cabin is pretty much finished. Have decided not to do a curtain or drape in here. Here is it with the light on. I notice a few stray threads on the bedclothes, and he could use a few more toys, or a basket to keep his toys in, but for the most part, this room is finished.


The music room is beside the boy's room. I didn't put any lights in here. The sconce in the hallway shines some light this way and the chandelier in the ballroom casts light in here as well. And I just noticed that the dining room light shines up the stairwell, too! The hall runner is a sort of brocade ribbon I got at Wal-Mart. The rug is silk with the ends fringed. The scrollwork that goes over the door into the ballroom balcony is leaning upside down against the doorway. I need to make the curtains that will hang behind it before it is mounted.

(Side note: I found fabric for all of the rugs in the goodies that Sharon (Beachpeach) shared with us at the Bishop Show in Chicago in 2007. Thanks again, Sharon! For the half-inch scale, the thinner silks worked best, although I will be using some textured fabric in the starboard side cabins.)


The dining room rug is also silk with fringed ends. The scrollwork that goes over the door into the ballroom is on the floor. Must make curtains before it is mounted.


And finally, the ballroom. Haven't done anything in here but mount the balcony rail with Mini-Hold wax. Have some trims to mount and curtains to make. I think the chairs on the balcony may be painted gold, and I may make a few like them for the ballroom floor.


Here are the photos from yesterday's efforts. The canopy has been rebuilt and edged with some neat lace I found in a bridal shop for 29 cents a yard. What a deal! :D Two of the deck chairs have had cushions added, thanks to some nifty froggie fabric that Anna gave me. (The nice shiny wheel and compass in the pilot house also came from Anna. Lloyd is beside himself over it, as the compass really works!) And some astro-turf was installed in the children's play area.

The lower deck railings were a bear to install. I need to go over the mitered corners to fill in gaps. The long rail proved a challenge, as it rests on 5 or 6 beads, with no side supports. I drilled little holes in the bottom of the rails and used toothpicks to peg it to the beads. Now that it's dry, it seems strong enough to withstand the gymnastics of energetic little frog kids. :unsure:

The gaps fore and aft will be closed with bits of chain, although I guess if a frog falls overboard it really wouldn't be that big a deal, eh?

It's hard to believe that the major construction is really finished! I'm taking the day off, and tomorrow will start a room-by-room effort to complete them with curtains & draperies, rugs, little accessories, etc.







Well, I spent most of the day in the basement, catching up on several days worth of recorded Y&R episodes and working on the upper deck. The photos below tell the story. The empty flowerpots will eventually have plants in them. The door on the stairway shelter is made from balsa wood and a piece of gray nylon stocking. I'd really like to grab a glass of lemonade* and sit under the awning for a while. Can just feel those pond breezes on my cheeks. :unsure:







*Edit: I just looked back at 5-1/2 months of work on this project and changed my order to a pitcher of margaritas. :D

The canopy has undergone some modification. It's a lot less likely to attract the Pope now. It's roofed over with some bronze material like the copper used on the bay window roof. The upper deck railings are glued in place, and some of the upper deck items are scattered about. Still thinking about where the plants and playground will go and whether the table and chairs need a sun umbrella. That dark rectangle in the corner is a frog pond. I'm not sure it will stay. A family of frogs keeping frogs in a pond --- kind of creeps me out! :unsure:

LLoyd is after me to do something about the clear "glass" in the stairwell cover. He says he keeps thinking about the crow that flies into the window in the Windex commercial. I'm thinking some stained glass might work.

And yes, I know it looks as if the kids could fall through the railing, but I don't think I'll do much about it.



In the previous entry I mentioned a canopy. Well, here it is. I cut a plastic frosting container in half for the arch, made the underlying frame from skinny sticks, and added 4 porch ports. As you can see, it looks more like something erected for the visit of the Pope than protection from the weather. And there is no protection from the weather.


So, the porch posts were cut down and a 2-litre soft drink bottle was cut up.


A little trimming and scoring, and voila! A very modern shelter. No rain will get into the music room after all. :unsure: Still need to define the edges of the door and doorway, and am considering some kind of embellishment (maybe stained glass design?) to make it look a bit more substantial.blogentry-818-1186253503_thumb.jpg

The next step, one I've been putting off because I knew it was going to be mind-numbing, was building the railings for both decks. I finally decided on a combo of matchsticks and skinny sticks with 1/2" scale top & bottom railings. For some reason, the matchsticks (not really matchsticks -- these are craft sticks found at Michael's) slipped easily into the bottom rail but had to be shaved to fit into the top rail. Come to think of it, the spindles one buys are fatter at the bottom than the top ... doh. At any rate, I now have a little bag of tortilla chips stashed for a 1:12 project. I made 11 feet of railing ... and then figured out I'm probably going to need 12 feet. Will install what I have and see what else is needed.


Working on this and that -- spiral stair installation, skylight installation, and canopy for the spiral stairs. I've been geeing and hawing over how to protect the spiral staircase from the elements and have settled on a canopy. I don't want another blocky item stuck on top (like the pilot house). What to do about weather? Maybe clear walls can be added ... but a door? Naahhhhhhh ... I'd prefer to think this houseboat is anchored in Paradise, where it never rains. :unsure:


The skylight window panes are tinted coral and yellow. The bit of paper toweling is a sling that holds the chandelier. I don't want it banging around when the boat gets tipped and turned as I work on it. BTW, the chandelier was the last light to be added ... they all work just fine, thank you! :D


Components for the canopy. Four purchased port posts and an empty frosting container, plus skinny sticks. You can catch a glimpse of the canopy in the photo just above.


Over the weekend I worked on the stern bulkhead. Couldn't do it before, as lighting wires run down the outside. Now they're there for good!

I didn't feel like painting each shingle individually, so I used painter's tape to layer waxed paper under the bottom row of shingles. I did that to block off the single row of blue shingles, too. It worked perfectly - not a drip or smudge in sight. :unsure:

The "copper" roof on the bay window is an adaptive reuse of a peel-and-stick metalic materials from Lowe's. It's meant to cover electrical outlets & switchplates. Comes in brass, aluminum, copper in plain brushed texture and antique patterns. This is the antique copper.





I really like how this is coming together. The issue of the railings is still looming large. I just can't decide on a design.

Today I worked on the pilot house and its accessories. I thought it was pretty close to finished, but then Lloyd the Sailor came by. He doesn't like the stanchion for the wheel, and pointed out that the gimbels on the compass are reversed. I wondered about that myself, since green is starboard, red is port, but the photo I used as a reference has them the way they're shown here. So, next session I'm going to lose the wheel stanchion and replace it with a pipe, and reverse the gimbels.

The first two shots are of the outside with the asphalt shingles in place. They really look good.



I made the map case (with drawers) and the flag case out of balsa wood. The front of the flag case is a photo I found in the internet; how perfect is that? The little ship's clock is also balsa with a printed face glued on. I'm not terribly pleased with the wheel itself. It is also photos glued on both sides of balsa and touched up with craft paint. I wish I could find a nicely varnished wheel. I'm still looking.


The rail shown below is a prototype that isn't going to make the cut. The thought of getting dozens of little plexiglass panels glued together perfectly is staggering. I think I may go with a simple top and bottom rail with fewer vertical posts and run a couple lines of wire horizontally.


And here's how the pilot house looks in place:


Today I got the top deck cut and painted, made a window frame for the ballroom skylight, and started on the pilot house. The only three lights left to install are in the bathroom, ballroom, and by the front door. The first two will go in when the top deck is ready to be glued in place; the door light will go in when I can attach the siding, which won't happen until the bathroom light is installed. Oy, the logistics make me crazy sometimes!

Lloyd the sailor said I shouldn't put a light in the pilot house. Lights only hamper night time sight, he says. I'm glad to believe him. A lantern will hang by the chart desk, but it won't be electrified.



The solid wall in the pilot house will have a door. Am waiting for said door to arrive from HBS before I cut the opening. I know the size, but still ...


Before I can go much further with the top deck, I need to paint a ton of trim: railings, spindles, and gingerbread. Also need to paint and install the quarter round I'm using instead of cove molding to finish off the wall/ceiling joints. And I still have to figure out what kind of canopy or roof will go over the circular stairs. Don't need any rain running into the music room!