Friday, July 31, 2009

Thrift shop find

Look what I found at Value Village recently. A Mini Mundus wardrobe kit! Complete and unopened - for only $2.99. I love building furniture kits. I find it so relaxing and I am usually delighted with the end results. I feel like such a craftsman. I am not so hot at staining them, and they don't always turn out they way I imagined. But I love them anyway, and hope I am getting better as I go.

I have built several Xacto House of Miniatures kits. That's basically what I did all winter. I had several from a previous doll house passion - about 25 - 30 years ago. I had been moving the box of kits around with me for decades and decided it was finally time to build them. Once I started was hooked.

After that I got on eBay and bought all the kits I could get. I am busy building the Realife Victorian bedroom right now. I am very pleased with the way the Eastlake set is turning out.
But I had never heard of Mini Mundus kits. A quick google search tells me that they are from Germany. The kits offered look very much like the Xacto House of Miniatures kits. Identical, it seems to me.

I was excited to get home and start the kit. And pleased to see that even the little findings were there. I was afraid they might have been lost before the kit got to the thrift store.

Building the wardrobe went well. The kit was well designed and everything fit into place and looked good...

... Until I got to the drawers. They don't fit. The drawer bottoms are too big for the space. Did I screw up? Should I have foregone that second glass of wine? Did I glue the real drawer bottoms into the wrong place? No, the wardrobe looks perfect so far. Nothing seems to fit wrong.

By this point it was eleven o'clock and past my bedtime. I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and put the drawer pieces back into the box. I will re-visit the drawer bottoms on a wineless day when I have my wits about me and my reading glasses on. Soon, I will have pictures of the finished wardrobe for you. (I hope.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

My dollhouse has a twin

I was excited to see Dale's post last week, because she has a dollhouse that looks just like one of mine.

I think they were made from the same set of plans. If any of you have these plans please share. I did a google image search, hoping to find the plans, but no luck. I think the houses are at least 30 years old, judging from the fixtures in mine. Maybe even older.

These two were separated at birth, don't you think?

They look alike on the inside too.

The materials and the execution of the plans are slightly different, but the similarity is too big to be a coincidence.

Mine is wired for electricity in each room, but is missing the lovely hardwood floors of Dale's. My stairs face the front door, while Dale's face the back of the house. The back part of my roof opens for storage - a piano hinge is used. I don't know if Dale's opens. Whoever built mine made the walls fit into little trenches so they can slide in and out for easy decorating. I haven't started to redecorate mine, or figure out how the electricity works, but I love it anyway.

I found mine on Craigslist in Toronto, Ontario and Dale is in New Jersey. There must be more houses like this around. I am sure that both Dale and I will keep you posted on how the renovations go. In the meantime keep an eye out for more houses like this, or the plans they were built from and let us know if you find anything.


Mindolton now has a church

I went to the antique market yesterday morning and found a number of things for my dollhouse including a tiny magnetic chessboard with most of the chess pieces, a box of ancient hand crafted wooden furniture from Mexico, and several dollhouse sized works of art. I will show these treasures to you in a later blog because I am too excited about my big find - a church for my dollhouse village.

It is perfect 1/12th scale, with lovely wooden doors and a ringing bell in the tower (which appears to be missing its steeple). That bell rings merrily every time you move the church, including when it rides home in the back seat of the car.

The vendor at the market could tell me nothing about where it came from or who built it, but he let me have it for only $20.00. I couldn't believe it when he told me the price, and I bought it on the spot.

Each window has "stained glass" which consists of flimsy colored paper that is basically disintegrating from age and neglect. I will need to replace all of it, but with the miracle of the internet and color printers I don't think I will have a problem. I am planning to look up some real stained glass church windows and print them out on acetate.

A couple of the windows are missing their Y-shaped trim, but I think I can replace that easily. There is no floor in the church although it looks like there might have been one originally. The interior is decorated with more wrapping paper and lovely cut-out flowers.

At the moment, I am thinking I will put paper brick on the outside and shingle the roof. I picked up three bags of dollhouse shingles at Value Village for $2.99 on Friday, I didn't realize how fortuitous this find was at the time.

I would like to re-do the charming interior to look more realistic and build some pews, and a pulpit - maybe even a choir loft. I have so many projects on the go right now that Jake and Ruby and the other inhabitants of Mindolton with just have to go to church as it stands now.

There is so much to do in Mindolton. Now we have to recruit a minister, find a rectory, have a village fund raiser to refurbish the church, and of course there is the issue of the missing steeple ...



Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Meet the Mindoltons

Jake and Ruby Mindolton would like to welcome you to their home. They live in Mindolton Manor in the doll house town of Mindolton, which is now established in my former dining room.

Please come in. Jake and Ruby are still busy moving in to their big house, but the hand is helping when it can and they hope to have everything in order soon.

Jake is proud to show Ruby that the library is finished. He and the hand worked hard at it and it contains some of Jake's favourite things.

His binoculars on the desk and the saddle bag hanging on the back of the chair are from the old days, before he made all his money and before he met Ruby, but he likes to keep them near, so he doesn't forget where he came from.

"How lovely dear." Ruby tells him. "You will be very comfortable here, but don't neglect me and the family. We like to have you around, you know."
"I would never neglect you or the children, my darling." Jake assures her. "You are the lights of my life."

Ruby is glad that Jake has finished the library because she needs the hand to help her in the east wing. Not a thing has been done there and the children are staying with their Grandma until their rooms are ready.

Jake settles down to relax after a job well done. He likes to lean back in his chair and think about the old days when it was just him and his horse.

One day we will have to hear the story of Jake and his horse and how he became the richest man in Mindolton.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mindolton vingettes

Here is the side veranda of Mindolton Manor. The veranda doors go into the living room. I haven't had time to get this side of the house organized yet, but I am looking forward to it.

As I explore the house I find interesting little details, like a plug for a fireplace light in each room. Now I have to find enough fireplaces and small bulbs to fit them all. But first I have to decide how I will decorate each room. This house makes me so happy.

I have added some wonderful wicker furniture to the veranda. The wicker pieces came with a dollhouse I bought on Craiglist which contained some lovely items. I have re-allocated most of them to other houses now. The house they came with is very nice, but it is a small tab and slot, so I have given less sophisticated furnishings.

The space at the front of the third story hall is designated as the bathroom. As you can see from the picture it has no wallpaper or flooring yet. I put in a tub, toilet and skin with a small bath mat just for fun, but I will probably change this around as I decide want do do with it.

Does anyone have an idea of how to put up a wall (or pretend wall) for the bathroom without blocking access to the hall?

Just past the bathroom you can see a grandfather clock. It is a Chrysnbon kit that came in black. I have a white one in a picture in a previous post. They are so inexpensive and so easy to build that I have three of them now.

I am quite pleased with the red one in the dining room. It started out as a brown kit, but I hated the stain I put on it. It just didn't look realistic. So I got out some red craft paint and went to work. It took three coats to cover the brown stain, but I love the result. I think I will get a couple more of the clock kits and see what colours I can make next.

I hope to get organized enough to take more pictures this weekend and show you more of Mindolton Manor. I haven't had enough time to explore it fully yet, but I can see that it is going to keep me busy (and happy) for a long time.



Monday, July 13, 2009

Cottage Fun II

One of the dolls that came with the house is this little boy in a sailor suit. He is out riding his bicycle because he doesn't want to play with the girls and his mother is ill in bed and he is not allowed into the bedroom except for short quiet visits.

He hasn't noticed the cake on the patio table or it would probably have a big piece missing.

Mother is in bed with her new baby and father is being very attentive. He has brought her roses and a basket of oranges. He was reading her a book, but it seems to be forgotten in his lap. Maybe he is thinking about refreshing the pot of tea he has put by her bedside.

We decided to put mother to bed because she is in poor shape. Her clothes have been rather rudely removed and she has a big tear in her cheek.

There was no bed in the house so we built one out of a macaroni box and some craft foam pieces. Despite the fact that we'd had a couple of glasses of Shiraz by then it came out looking quite good - almost like a hospital bed.

Mary has some wallpaper and flooring that came with the house as well as some other things she picked up at the dollar store. Renovating the dollhouse and making clothes for the mother (so she can get out of bed) will be a rainy day cottage project. So, we have lots more dollhouse fun ahead with a new bottle of wine.



Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cottage fun

I was up at my sister's cottage in Muskoka where the lake is blue, the trees are green, and the thrift shops often have better junk than those in the city. Mary was lucky enough to find an old dollhouse filled with furniture and contents at the local Goodwill. We opened a bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz, as is our usual cottage custom, and settled down to take inventory of her find.

The dollhouse has "good bones", as they say. Four good sized rooms with
a front door and four windows. There is lots of potential here. A previous owner had painted the entire outside of the house (including the shingles) a hideous brown. It actually looks like a child did it. The inside walls have that sort of look too, but we decided to arrange the furniture in it anyway since I am too impatient to wait for the renovations.

The house came with some lovely pieces, as you can see by the living room. I recognize the upholstered furniture as kits from House of Miniatures or Realife. I love the buffet with the Marlon on top, and the fireplace is gorgeous.

The kitchen has an interesting assortment of furniture including hoosier cabinet and an ice box in wood. The iron stove is a little small, but thrift shops aren't known for their variety of choices, so you just take what you get. There are lots of other goodies, too, including a Chrysnbon table and chair set and an Irish Granny and a Guatemalan helper. One or both of them has been baking and decorating lots of lovely cakes. Maybe it's for a bake sale, or maybe it's a cottage industry.

On the second floor, the little girls have stolen one of the cakes and are plotting how to divide it up. The dog watches with interest, while the smallest child asks to be included in the group. "You're too small." they tell her to her dismay.