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  1. The final decision about the landscaping was not to change a thing. LOL I mentioned to Bruce that I was thinking about changing it and he said he liked it just the way it is. Since this is primarily his house, I left things as they were and just got a better picture. Close up pictures of the landscaping are in my gallery. Deb
  2. I was going thru my picture files this week and realized that the pictures I'd taken of my Coventry Cottage were done with an old camera and a slightly less civilized photography setup. Besides, I hadn't played with this house for awhile so I took it down to the studio and had a good time taking new pictures. ;) I took the house off the landscaped base for these pics so you can see the house more clearly. It's still in the studio while I debate about changing the landscaping (maybe or maybe not) but I wanted to update with the better pictures. Additional updated pics are in my Samurai's Summer House Gallery. Here's a few pics of the interior. More in the gallery. Deb
  3. Here's the finished product! There are more detailed pictures in my gallery. The front of the house: Entry way: The back of the house and garden: Right side of house and garden: Left side of the house: And the interior: I've had so much fun with the Coventry Cottage. It's a delightful design and goes together so easily that it's a pure joy to build. It also has more potential for individual interpretation than any other house I've encountered. I have to add that being a part of the building team and building this house with such an incredible group of talented artists has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Watching this little house take on so many different personalities and seeing the creativity involved in each individual house has just been a wonder to me. I can't express my thanks enough for the honor and opportunity to be a part of the team. Deb
  4. Using scenic water was a new venture and one that I've really been looking forward to. A japanese garden wouldn't be complete without a koi pond. The search for the right container for the pond took a few weeks. I just couldn't find anything quite right. Then I found a mother of pearl saucer in the candle section at walmart. That'll work! I glued in the stones and some moss to the bottom of the pond, and added a couple of koi to the bottom and one on a rock. The instructions for the scenic water are to put it in hot water till it turns fluid and then pour it into the container. I was a little dubious about the fact that the scenic water was yellowish in the jar and, as it turned out, it stayed that way in the pond. So I melted the whole thing down, ripped it out, cleaned off my fish and rocks and started over again. This time, I left out the moss just in case that had contributed to the nasty yellow color of the scenic water. I glued the rocks and fish back into the saucer like so: Instead of the scenic water, I used an acrylic kit I found in the craft section at walmart. It's simple to do......pour two bottles together, stir well and then pour into the saucer over the rocks and fish. The only drawback I could find was that it takes 24-48 hours to harden, so I didn't layer in the fish as I had originally planned. Instead, I used tweezers to set them down into the "water" on top of rocks and along the bottom. Once it had set, I was pleased with the overall look. The water is crystal clear and has no bubbles. I glued the saucer into the garden and then added a border of grasses and tiny green rocks for a border. Covering the foundation with the dirt and tuft was actually done after I had made the individual components which is why I've blogged them in this order. (the pictures show them in place after the turf was done just because they photographed better that way). The foundation is a sheet of mdf from the local hardware store. It's what I usually use for display bases for my house. The first step was covering the mdf with a sheet of cork to give it a light brown textured base to work with. While it sounds like a needless expense and step, the light brown texture shows up faintly as an undertone beneath the coffee grounds and gives it a nice texture as well. It also helped the coffee grounds to ahdere better than they would have with a smooth surface. I sprayed the cork with aresol adhesive to be sure I got a nice even coating. I worked in 12"x12" sections so the glue wouldn't dry before I got the coffee grounds on. After spraying each section, I sprinkled the coffee grounds over it, then used a rolling pin to smooth and tamp them into the glue. After it had time to set just a bit, I stood the board on it's side and tapped the underside lightly to shake off loose grounds. After the whole surface was covered, I gave it a light coating of clear spray acrylic to hold the top in place, then let it all dry. The next layer was the coarse moss. I wanted to give the garden the look of rich loam in the spring...deep brown with green ground cover beginning to make it's appearance. The process was the same as I used for the coffee grounds. I sprayed it with the adhesive, then sprinkled the coarse turf over the top and rolled the rolling pin over it to tamp it into place, and gave it another coat of clear acrylic. All in all, I was pretty pleased with the way the landscaping came out. The stepping stones are circles of felt used to stick onto the bottom of furniture. They're a kind of granite gray color to begin with, and I sponge painted green paint on them to get a marbled look. I made the arched bridge from the plans in the Dollhouse Miniatures magazine, and tucked a little sand garden into one corner. You can see the finished effects in the next blog entry. Deb
  5. I've never done a full landscaping on a mini before, so this was a trial and error process. I wanted a formal japanese garden with a look in keeping with a Shinto Buddhist. I scored big with a tree I found at Big Lots. It's one of those fiber optic things, but I discovered that if I pulled it out of the stand, it was no longer a bonsai tree........it was a perfect 1:12 scale tree for my garden! Getting it to stand up in the garden was another matter. I finally used a round of florist foam and whacked a hole in the middle of it for the tree to stand. Before I glued in the tree, I smeared tacky glue all over the top and then sprinkled coffee grounds over it for dirt. (this was almost as much fun as the furry roof) I painted the sides of the foam with brown paint and then glued on river pebbles. The final step was to add a little coarse turf for moss around the edges of the rocks. The shrine to Buddha was done the same way with a larger round of foam, then I added benches I made from scraps, a statue of Buddha and an offering bowl. The fence behind Buddha is made from dowel pins cut in staggered lengths, stained and glued together. The fence extends around both corners and then I added a few plants into the corner space. Now to make dirt out of coffee grounds and create a koi pond Deb
  6. The more I looked at the bamboo entryway, the more I felt like it wasn't what I had in mind for the house. It just didn't quite work. So I pulled it back off and started over. This time, I built the same type of frame I used for the sliding doors. While the entryway is too small to actually make the walls open and close, it does give the illusion that the walls would be moveable. To make the panels, I found a jpeg of traditional bamboo and crane artwork and sized it to fit the panels, then printed it on the same "rice paper" translucent scrapbook paper that I used for the shoji doors inside. It was constructed in the same way that the doors were and then I attached it to the entryway. One more panel went up on the side and I added a beam across the doorway. If you peek inside the doorway, you can see the main door to the house and the Buddha shrine. With the entryway completed, I added the lantern holders to the fronts of the house and used the same trim to echo above the windows on the sides of the house. And here's the front with the lanterns hung. Now onto the landscaping! Deb
  7. Ever do something on a house and when you're finished, you just sit and giggle and play with it for half an hour? That's kind of the way it went when I finished the sliding rice paper doors for the inside of the house. I used basswood strips and stained them to match the interior woodwork, then laid them out in a grid. I was planning on making the smaller panels on the doors, but in this scale, it looked too fussy and busy in a small space. So I reminded myself that japanese design is focused around "shibui", a simple elegance. I've had to remind myself of that several times while building this house. In the smaller scale, it's even more important to pay attention to not overwhelming the space with too much of a good thing. Once the frame was laid out and glued together, I cut a piece of "rice paper" to size and glued it to the back side of the frame. The "rice paper" is actually a transparent sheet of scrapbook paper that turned out to be just perfect. The next step was to glue the other side of the frame on. It was more efficient to glue it on piece by piece to make sure all pieces matched exactly than to try to build it and glue it on in one piece. Here's the end result. I weighted the door with heavy books and while the glue dried, I made the top bracket for the door to slide in. It's two pieces of basswood, cut to the length of the room and then glued together to make an L shape. The short side of the L faces downward to hold the door in the track when it slides. After all the glue dried, I glued the track onto the wall and it was ready to have the door slide in. This is the part where I played with it for half an hour. The door slides back and covers the front door and then closes back to separate the living area from the tokonoma (formal guest room). Shoji closed: Shoji opened: And here's the part where I sat back and looked it and went, "Yep, I like it". Deb
  8. Time for the roof! I wasn't quite sure exactly how I was going to thatch the roof. Raffia or coconut fiber was the most likely choice, but I wasn't really happy with the look of raffia. To me, it wasn't quite to scale and it just had a rough look that didn't please me. Then Carol came to my rescue! She told me about a Derek Rowbottom technique of using fake fur and varnish for a thatched roof. Obviously, my first reaction was, "Will my japanese house look like it's wearing a russian hat?". But Carol has never steered me wrong and she's an excellent source for historical accuracy, so I dashed off to walmart to pick up some brown fake fur. I cut the fur pieces to fit the roof in sections. The large pieces for the gables are two large pieces (one for each side), cut to fit the top of the roof and drape down the side in one piece. I was really pleased with the way the two pieces met in the valley of the roof. The backs are individual pieces that are snugged up under the top of the roof and meshed with a bit of a comb-over. Here's what it looked like clamped into place as I trimmed the edges. Once the pieces were trimmed and I double checked to make sure it was all aligned, I took off each piece one at a time, applied tacky glue to the roof and replaced the fur. I made sure there was an even application of glue and smeared it down over the edges just a little bit. When the fur was on, I used my fingers to brush the fur over the edges so that it would fall down over the eaves just a tiny bit. I did the same on the top edges in the back so that the edges there didn't look rough or abrupt. Then came the fun part. I'm still giggling just thinking about it. Believe me, if you wanna have some fun with a mini, give this a try. I used a small can of minwax satin finish varnish and a regular, plastic, fine tooth hair comb. I dipped the comb into the varnish, tapped off the excess and then combed the fur. Be sure to use a straight and even comb thru to the bottom and overlap the combing so the teeth marks are even. It starts to get really messy here, coz fake fur sheds more than a persian cat in the springtime, so keeping a roll of paper towels on hand is a really good idea. You need to wipe off the comb before dipping it back into the varnish. Keep going till you've combed out the whole roof and have a nice, even coat of varnish on it. Even before it dries, you'll be able to see the difference. The fur has suddenly taken on an even, fiberous look that's a genuine 1:12 scale thatch. I was sooooooooooooooo happy with the results. After I got the thatching on, the wood trim on the top portion of the house got a dirty wash with some dark brown watered down paint. That was the look I was going for and I'm finally happy with the way it looks. It needed the thatching in place to show me what color it should be. It's starting to look like my vision now. Deb
  9. Once the roof was on, the next step was making the lattice work enclosure for the front porch. On the porch, there will be a house shrine for Buddha as well as a formal gong. I used bamboo skewers to make the lattice work. I cut them to size first with my EZ Cutter and then used the EZ Cutter to "bite" down gently and give the bamboo a full turn to score the joints into the bamboo. After the joints were scored in, I put the markings on the bamboo by running each piece back and forth thru a candle flame. (If you try this at home, I recommend that you keep a bowl of water close by. Bamboo splinters and some of the splinter edges will smoulder just a bit) The scorching on the bamboo gives it a very nice coloring. That's the same technique I used on the bamboo door. I measured the distance I wanted for the lattice and taped the skewers down to hold them in place while I glued on the horizontal pieces so they wouldn't roll or slip. After the glue dried completely, I mounted them to the porch and glued them in place. I added a cross beam at an angle over the top of the doorway that overlaps on both sides and then put a peak at the top of that. The front door is also installed now. The ornamentation will be added to the entry way when the house is in it's last stages. Right now, the top is open so I can put in the shrine and the gong before putting on the top of the entry way and adding the ornaments. Deb
  10. Before adding the woodwork, I applied the stucco to the exterior walls. That was so much fun! I'd never used stucco before, but I'm a firm believer in it now. It's such a nice treatment and it really helps cover the seams where the walls were bashed. I stained skinny sticks and used them for the planks on the porch. There will be lattice work added around the edges of the porch to create an entry way so I left off the end stick till I decided how I'll want to mount the enclosure. I added a couple of filler pieces to the foundation sections under the bay window. The gaps were where the bay window would have been, so I cut a couple of pieces to fit and glued them in. With a little stucco over them, the seams aren't noticable at all. The planking on the sides of the house are siding strips stained and glued on vertically. I really like the look of them and will probably use them that way again on other houses. The staining brings up the grain in the wood very nicely. Once the planking was in place, I could start with the wood pane treatment on the upper portion of the house. I cut basswood strips to fit and stained them. I'm not especially happy with the staining now that they're on the house and will probably end up painting them a medium brown before the house is done. They need to be a darker color for the proper look and even using a darker stain on them still isn't exactly what I was looking for. As long as I was staining strips, I did the smaller accent wood pieces for the interior at the same time. The bamboo floors are placemats that are cut down to size. The bamboo cuts quite easily, but I discovered that putting a drop of glue on the weaving before cutting will keep the threads from unraveling after it's been cut. Once the bamboo was cut to shape, I glued it down along the edges. Still a long way to go, but it's starting to take on a personality. Deb
  11. I was a little nervous about putting on the roof after I'd bashed it so much and created a couple of new pieces for the roof top. I think I dry fit it at least a dozen times before I got the courage to actually glue it. I put the sides/corners on the back of the house first since back of the roof connects to them. Once they were in place, I was ready to add the roof pieces in stages. I put the large pieces on the front of the roof first: Then the pieces on the sides: And finally, the roof top and the middle sections. I put the top on first and then adjusted the middle pieces to the perfect fit before gluing and taping them in place. It does look a bit rough at this point, but structurally, it’s all together. My next segment of building will be focusing on the exterior…..texturing the walls, adding woodwork and thatching the roof.
  12. Now that all the "construction" work was done in whacking off pieces and creating others, I was ready to start the "R&P" part of the build. I wanted a light and airy look to the house, so instead of wallpaper, I'm using an ivory colored card stock that has a bamboo style texturing. The window woodwork is stained in golden pecan. The exterior color is a very light tan and there will be two shades of brown for the accent colors. I painted the exteriors first and then papered the interior walls. The paint on the exterior is a base coat. I haven't quite decided yet how much woodwork I'm going to use on the outside or if the paint will be done in a stucco type of finish. Installing the windows was the next step after the wallpaper was on. Here's the interior: And the exterior: I made the interior frames from strips of basswood and gave them an oriental flair with a longer segment on the top section of the frame. With the windows installed, it was ready to put up the walls. (this is my favorite part) The side walls, center partition and the wall by the front door went on at the same time. I didn't get pictures of each wall going up individually because they pretty much go in simultaneously. Here are views from both sides of the interior: And the exterior: With the walls installed, the second floor went in next. This wasn't a particular step in the building, but for some reason, I had a "Linda-moment" and just felt an overwhelming compulsion to turn the house on it's side. ;) Actually, I was looking for any gaps in the joins and turned it around in all directions with a light behind it. I’ve been totally impressed with the ease in which this house goes together. Even with the bashing, there hasn’t been a bit of trouble in putting the pieces together. I really like the interlocking pieces too. It’s a very solid and stable little house and really fun to fit together. I think it's also the first house I've built that didn't require any shaving of tabs and slots and there was absolutely no warping.
  13. When I first saw the Coventry Cottage, the first thing that impacted me was the open airy look of the floorplan and I began to see it as a Japanese summer house. Considering that it is a victorian cottage, that's quite a stretch, but the potential was there. I've bashed a little bit on some other kits, but mostly individual features, not an entire house. This little house has so much potential to be anything the builder wants it to be that I had the courage to start a major bash. The roofline was the first part of the bash. My initial thought was to add a third peak to the middle of the gables and I did quite a few paper mockups of how I thought that would work before I actually put the house into a dry fit. My plan was to add a third peak and then use paperclay to make tiles for the roof instead of shingles. However, once I got it into the dry fit, that plan changed. After getting the house put together in it's original form, I turned it every direction and decided that the style of the house lends itself more to a rural Japanese setting……..the summer home of a samurai. That style of house would have traditionally had a more flat roof on top of sloping sides and a thatched covering to stay cooler and allow air to circulate. A second floor would not have been typical, however, a more affluent home owner might have added a half-story as a sleeping loft. So the bash began with sawing off the peaks and taking off the top portion of the roof pieces. I cut flat pieces from basswood to make the roof top. The back portions of the roof were also cut down, removing the horizontal piece at the top. Instead of the original inverted U shape, I now had four single pieces that met up with the roofline and formed the corners of the attic. The attic was now a half story and my roof was the shape I wanted it to be. Here are some pics of the roof pieces that were cut down or otherwise altered. And the bassboard pieces I cut to make the roof top. Here's the house in dry fit with the bashed roofline. The windows were the next step. I'm using Houseworks windows—four-pane windows in the attic which will be at floor level, and 24 pane windows in place of the bays. I marked off the lines for the windows and cut out the extra space needed. Using scraps from the pieces, I fit in "fillers" on the top and bottom of the windows to fill in the spaces. I'll putty the seams and fill in the holes that were there for the original fittings. I'll be putting sliding rice paper doors in between the dining area and the living area, so I opened up the doorway on the center partition between the two rooms. I decided to leave off the porch and create my own lattice work enclosure on it instead, so the pieces on the sides of the foundation under the bay also had to be cut off. I left the tabs under the house since a Japanese house of that period would have been elevated off the ground to allow air to circulate. Here's the first floor after being bashed.