Newbie Looking For Advice

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I was gifted the Garfield kit for Christmas. I have never built a dollhouse. Does anyone have any advise? Is there anything you know now that you wish someone had told you when you started?  Currently I have the kit, and a work station. I have not bought the first tool or any glue. Tips, anyone? All hints on tools / glue / technique would be greatly appreciated ! 

Edited by Croeroe
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Where to begin...

First, and this is possibly the most important, nothing will be perfect. Take your time, but not so much time that you lose interest. If you become bored or frustrated with one part, work on another. Start a notebook-keep the instructions, paint chips, shopping lists, wallpaper scraps, ideas, questions, sketches, etc. all together.

Use a good quality wood glue for shell construction, and tacky or white glue for most everything else. I use an Xacto knife and a clay cleaning tool almost daily, for something. Buy extra blades for the Xacto, and use great caution when working with a dull blade. Fit (at least) twice, glue once. A pair of tweezers with a tiny tip are extremely helpful.

Do not work on the dollhouse when you are tired, cranky, distracted or sleepy. Do not buy a lot of furniture or accessories until you have completed the shell, and know exactly how big your rooms are.    

Use blue painters tape to "dry fit" the shell, as well as hold things together while the glue dries. You do not need to invest in expensive tools and supplies to build. In addition to the knife, tweezers and cleaning tool, I use a lot of sandpaper- buy a decent quality, as you'll use less and it'll last longer, 120-220 grit. A self-healing cutting matt can be used to protect surfaces when cutting small bits, and also makes a nice surface to paint on.  The sets of small craft brushes sold at Walmart for about $6 contain just about everything you'll need for painting.

Label everything (front/back/top/bottom/left/right/part number/etc.) before cutting out.

The Garfield is a big bear of a house, so good luck, have fun, and enjoy the process! 

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I do NOT use an Exacto knife, I use a Stanley box cutter  and as soon as the blade seems dull I change it; NEVER try to cut with a dull blade, you're likely to slice yourself.  The Garfield is the biggest kit Greenleaf makes.  It is gorgeous when finished, so do take your time and if the kit starts talking to you, listen to it.  Emery boards are nice for sanding small places.

Do introduce yourself at the Newcomers forum.

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I second stickyfingers's advice, take your time and use this as an oportunity to relax during your spare time :)

Some tools I would recomend:

- a good hobby knife and replacement blades

- small metal files (also sometimes called 'needle files', they are commonly found on hobby stores); these are usefull for both carving and making small drills. I also like to have a larger straight wood metal file on hand.

small pliers; the same sort that is used to craft jewellery, great to work with smaller stuff.

- a cutting board, and metal rullers/squares to help you cut with precision

+ sandpapper, masking tape, toothpicks, cotton buds, paintbrushes and such.

No need to make a huge investment on tools, most of these are easy to find and cheap. You'll also need a good wood glue (I use the white carpenter glue), water based wood paint colors of your choice, and wood stains/varnish/sealants, depending on how you want to customize. I would also recomend tacky glue for the smaller bits (windows/doors/floorboards/shingles/doorknobs/etc) and wallpapper glue/mucilage if you are using papper. 

Have fun!

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Plan. Plan ahead. Write stuff down. That's important - I usually forget and regret it later. Things like where your wiring is, paint colours, what you are doing where, changes you want to make. Ummm, have fun? Don't worry if something is left unfinished. 

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Christina, welcome to the forum!   What a wonderful Christmas gift you received.   My Garfield was the very first (and only) dollhouse that I too received as a gift some 4 years ago.   I'm nearly finished with it now and it has been quite an art journey for me.   This forum was so helpful to me in the beginning as I had no experience in the world of miniatures.   Do check out all of the blogs mentioned.   It sure helped me.   You may want to check out my own gallery and look at my photos.   Scroll down to the last page and work backwards and read my descriptions as it might give you some ideas and help when you begin your Garfield.   Be sure to take your time and have fun.

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The name of my album for my Garfield build is:  Susan's Garfield Victorian Dollhouse.   Hope this will help!   Looking forward to hearing more from you and especially when you begin your own photo gallery!

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Hi Christina, I am working on my first dollhouse as well and I only have a wee bit of experience. The one tool I would recommend, the one I find invaluable is a metal ruler and/or t-square.  You have found the best place for advice. Welcome and good luck!

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Lise, I really am devoted to my steel rulers with their cork backs that don't slip.

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I've got a silly question...what do you use the rulers for?  I've started the kit - finished the foundation and am in the process of the staircases. I've definitely used tacky and wood glue,  exacto knives, sand paper, tape, and pencils. I'm really enjoying it so far and everyone's tips and blogs have been really helpful

 

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11 minutes ago, Croeroe said:

I've got a silly question...what do you use the rulers for?  I've started the kit - finished the foundation and am in the process of the staircases. I've definitely used tacky and wood glue,  exacto knives, sand paper, tape, and pencils. I'm really enjoying it so far and everyone's tips and blogs have been really helpful

Dear Christina, you will go write 100 times "There is no such thing as a silly question."  A steel ruler with a cork back allows one to make straight cuts without the ruler slipping.  One of the ways I make wood floors in my houses is to scribe them using the back of the point of my utility knife blade and the steel ruler to score them straight:

KathieB's views:  the bar

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I am also building my first dollhouse, also a Garfield. No one has mentioned something I found very important about this particular house. It is huge! Be sure to measure the doorways of the room you will build it in and make sure the finished house will fit through it. You might also want to consider the outside doors to your house or apartment in case you want to move. Some people have devised ways to build it in sections to facilitate moving it. I have only gotten as far as the foundation and stairs so far.

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When you have a spare minute, Cassandra, you might post an introduction in the Newcomers' Forum.

1 hour ago, CassB said:

I am also building my first dollhouse, also a Garfield. No one has mentioned something I found very important about this particular house. It is huge!...

You just haven't gone through the archives to read all the posts dealing with that very issue.

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Hi there,

Your telling me. I don't think I can ever get it out of my house either:dunno:

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Well I will be able to get it out of the house if need be. I already decided it will live in the living room when it is done. If it has to leave the house there is a sliding door to take it out to the screen porch and it is no problem to remove a screen to get it out. 

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LOL  My first house was an Artply Barrington - also huge!  When we downsized we almost couldn't get the house into our new place!  I made it thru the basement sliding glass door and has lived downstairs ever since!  Won't fit thru any other doorway upstairs!  :eek:

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