Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dollhouse Demystified --- Part 2

In Part 1, I mentioned "thinking outside the box." Here are some other examples:

1. The couch was the tipping point. I had thought about doing this dollhouse, but wasn't committed. My father-in-law works in the grape industry, and he brought us a big crate of grapes one weekend. As we were talking one Saturday night, I got out a serrated kitchen knife and started sawing the box into pieces. Before I knew it, I had made a bit of an impromptu pattern, and had the glue gun plugged in. I got out some of my favorite vintage yard-sale fabric, a bit of quilt batting, and some ribbon trim, and started constructing, padding, gluing, reinforcing, and upholstering my cardboard grape-box couch. I didn't know what to do with for the legs until I remembered my dear friend Emily had given me a bunch of vintage wooden thread spools for my birthday. I whipped out some acrylic paints and painted them the green of the fabric, and glued them on. Now, if I were a perfectionist, I would have done a better job on the upholstery....maybe done some piping or fixed my mistakes instead of covering them with vintage ribbon. But, I'm not a my couch is a little funny and flawed. But I think it adds to the character.

2. For the dining table, I went to a craft store and bought 2 wooden plaques like these. (You can find them at Michael's and JoAnn's.) They come in many sizes and shapes, and I chose a large, almost reverse-scallop one for the top and a small circle for the bottom. I bought a pretty sturdy dowel and we used little wood nails to attach them all together. A good coat of acrylic craft paint and some sealant did the final trick. I found the chairs online at a random unfinished craft seller. Can't find the exact info right now, but they are Darice brand.

3. The bathtub (with cheesy decals) came from the dollar store in the gardening section. I loved how it was galvanized metal, and was the PERFECT size for a Barbie bathtub. I actually displayed it first with the decals not showing, but my girls loved the flowers, so it now stands with the flower-side out. It got the same treatment for faucet and handles as the pedestal sink--- a blank clip-on earring pad and some pierced earring backs. Voila! Also, take a look at the shower curtain/separation between the bedroom and bathroom--- a piece of fabric with lace sewn on the top. The holes in the lace are large enough for the hooks to easily go through. The girls love removing the curtain and putting it back on. More on the bathroom cabinet in the next post.

4. I thought I was going to buy Barbie-sized beds, but then found that the only pre-made wooden ones available were going to be at least $20.00 each. I found some handcrafted beds for ~$95.00 on ebay. NO thanks. And this is kind of a stupid description because you don't even see them under the quilts....but, I'll give you my cheap and quicky way of making 3 Barbie beds for ~$15.00 combined. Go to your local craft store and find the section with wood supplies. There should be a big display with a bunch of pre-cut items. I found a long strip of baltic birch plywood (~4" wide by 36" long) and had my husband cut them into three lengths. That was the base of the bed. I then found some cute scallop-cut baltic trim in the same section. I bought a length of this because I used it as the headboard and baseboard of each bed. To build up the sides of the bed so the mattress and doll would stay put, I bought another plain strip that was essentially a long squared-off shape. I used wood glue to assemble them and it worked like a genie! I added more of my vintage spools to the base of the beds and then spray painted it after it was all dry and assembled. I remember going out into the freezing cold and setting the beds down on top of snow. The next morning, my girls asked why the snow had turned purple. Oops. I didn't cover my tracks. ;)

A note on the quilts and pillows: literally, these took me no longer than an hour to complete. Cut 6 pieces of fabric, pair two together, inside-out, and sew up 3 1/2 sides, leaving a section in the middle of one of the sides open. Add batting which has been cut to the same size, and sew up the rest of the way. Then I just machine quilted over the fabric. I tried to follow the pattern of the fabric, mimicking what the fabric did. I also made quicky chenille mattresses basically the same way as the quilts, only they were made smaller to fit the inside dimensions of the bed. I also didn't quilt them.

5. Last word on "thinking outside of the box": SCOUR your local thrift stores. You'll find fabulous little trinkets that will make your dollhouse unique and amazing. I found a miniature plastic vintage Japanese clock that has flowers painted on it for $1.00 (kind of looks like a grandfather clock, but way awesome-er). When my grandmother died this summer and we were going through her things, we saw that she had the same exact one. Also, don't be so literal. I found cute crocheted doilies, and they became rugs. A crystal candle-holder is our toilet.

6. Have fun with this aspect. It was actually my favorite part of the whole process. I wish I could make another house just so I could start all over again.....