I bought a (doll’s)house!

Hi guys and sorry for the late post! It only feels like about a week since I last posted but apparently it’s been much longer, time has just been flying since I left college. I’ve got my results back (a completely unexpected distinction!) so I’m completely free for the rest of the summer. These last few days I’ve been kind of unproductive (unless playing Pokemon Go counts as productive) but I have adopted this new project. After completing the diorama from my last post I looked up doll’s houses (or dollhouses if you’re American, I think?) on Gumtree and found someone selling this blank wooden one for just £10. The lady who sold it to me was lovely and even delivered it to my house! It came flat-packed so I spent a few hours putting it together.

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I took over the whole sitting room and had to get my mum to help with some of the last few screws but we eventually got it looking like this!

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I’m afraid it’s pretty hard to get nice-looking photos of a big dolls house in the middle of a busy sitting room! Here’s some of the rooms inside:

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It is 1/16th scale which is the same as Sylvanian Families or Calico Critters. I’m hopefully going to paint the whole thing inside and out eventually. All I’ve done so far is a bit on the outside. I mixed sand with the paint I used (which is actually emulsion paint, I think) to try to give it the same texture a lot of painted houses around here have. I’m not sure if there’s a name for that kind of finish.

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It’s a start!

It’s also been very hot here (for England) these past few days which has been lovely so I’ve been outdoors lots more than usual. I hope you’re all having nice weather where you are, too! -Julia

 

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Diorama in an afternoon!

Very excitingly, my hand in date (like the end of my exams but my course doesn’t have exams) was on Friday! Now the exhibition’s private view is over, I’ve had a little rest and today I was all motivated to make things again. I’ve been looking at doll’s houses lately and I’m amazed at how intricate some of them are. I’m not sure if I want one because of this or because it’s very difficult to get an actual house when you’re 18 living in England right now, but for some reason,  I do.

I did not have a whole doll’s house, but I did have some doll’s house furniture from when I was little and I also had a box full of books, so I set to work! Firstly I removed the books form the box and coated the inside (which as you can see was bright pink!) with a layer of white acrylic paint. I used a sponge and a dabbing motion rather than a paintbrush to apply it to avoid thick brush marks.

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Not looking very homely!

I’m sure an actual primer would have worked much better but this did the job! By the way, this is my first attempt and I’m still learning lots so this is more of a learn-with-me than a tutorial.

Next I raided my mum’s stash of sample paint tins and found this pretty pale blue colour. I think it took about 3 coat of this on top of the pink to get full coverage. Of course, you could make this much easier by just not getting a bright pink box if you’re fancy enough to plan in advance.

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Ehh, I still wouldn’t live here.

I’ve had this scrap of fabric saved for a while because I thought it looked like a tiny carpet. I traced around the “floor” of the room and cut out a piece that size, but with a little extra added to the bit which would face the outside of the room. I’m not so good at explaining this but I’m sure you’ll figure it out. I didn’t glue the carpet down because to be honest I’d much rather have a wooden floor! For now, though, it works just fine.

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Goodness, that photo turned out really badly. The “carpet” is actually dark green!

Time to start moving in.

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All of this is stuff I found from my childhood doll’s house which I had stored in the top of my wardrobe. P.s. I think just after I took this photo I made the great decision to turn the whole thing to face a window so the photos are less dark after this!

I added a few more bits, glue-sticked some pretty paper (thanks Mollie Makes again) to one of the walls and…

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Ta-dah!

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The miniatures are things I found in my room, mostly, which I’d collected over the years. The jars are a wonderful birthday present I got this year for my 18th, the elephant and the hippo are from a gift shop by the sea. The drum is from a keyring, the Russian doll is the smallest one inside a full-size Russian doll which I have in my room. The wallpaper, image on the wall and mini magazines are all cut out of the most recent issue of Mollie Makes and the tiny folded bird was quite simple to make. The plants are Playmobil (I think) and the star is from a string of broken fairy lights. Oh, and the bed is mostly a folded handkerchief (not that I use them! It was in the napkin drawer.)

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You might not have these exact tiny things lying around, but I bet if you really look there are many things you could use in a little doll’s house scene!

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Things This Room Is Lacking:

~ Skirting boards. Non essential but for some reason it’s bugging me.

~A window! This is pretty important because it’s a little dark and poky in there right now. I’m thinking it’d look best above the bed. I’m a bit scared to cut a whole in my perfectly painted box right now, but one day.

~Maybe a light hanging from the ceiling. Again, not sure how I’d do this exactly but it would be fun to figure out!

~A rug would look nice in that empty space on the floor.

Really there are endless things I could add, but it sure isn’t bad for a few hours work. I like the higgledy-piggledy charm it has to it, with nothing really matching.

I hope you enjoyed this small post! As you can see my photography skills on such a small scale could really use some help so if you have any tips please comment them down below. If you try this too I’d love to see how it turns out. -Julia x

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An Adventure In Dollmaking (2)

Guess who got a body today?

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This thing was so tiny to make, I even had to sew some of it by hand which is something I usually avoid if possible at all costs. I used blue embroidery thread and pulled it through little channels I made around the edges of where each limb would go, and then pulled the thread tight into the dip at the top of the limb to secure it. I have a feeling that doesn’t make much sense in writing! This does mean that each limb can turn though, which is very useful for posing.

I put some plastic beads in the body to try to balance out the weight, as the polymer clay limbs and head are quite heavy too. I used fibrefill to stuff the rest of the body.

This is how she looks without clothes, I think she looks a bit sad! I’ll have to give her some hair sometime.

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I did notice a couple more cracks on her face today that I don’t think were there yesterday so I really hope they won’t spread any more!

This girl doesn’t have an outfit of her own yet, and you can tell exactly where she got these clothes from by the now half naked dolls sitting on my shelf! The hat is far too big and keeps slipping down over here eyes. I don’t think she minds.

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Here she is! With awkward scraps of thread sticking out of her hand-me-down dress and this scratched up little face, I think it’s safe to say I fulfilled my prediction that she wouldn’t be perfect (that one wasn’t hard!). I made her anyway and I’m so happy I did! It’s been a really educational experience, actually. There are lots of things I might do differently next time but I’m just a teeeny bit proud! Look at that face. She can suck her thumb. I can’t tell if this is because I made her and I’m not sure what she looks like to other people, but to me she’s kind of sweet. I don’t always like the things I make so this is very exciting.
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I love how this hat makes her head look like a huge strawberry.

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I think I’d definitely like to make her clothes of her own sometime, but for now this has been my little dollmaking adventure! I hope someone out there enjoyed this. It’s good to know it doesn’t require much to make a doll (of some sort) and I’m pretty sure if I can do it anyone can!

Also thank you so much those of you who commented on my last post, they were all so sweet and it made me so happy reading through them. I wasn’t really expecting anyone to even like it, seeing as it’s only the second post! You guys are brilliant.

-Julia

An Adventure In Dollmaking (1)

One thing most dolls have in common is that they were, at one point, sculpted by an artist. How hard can it be to make a simple doll? I said. Little did I know that Fimo soft doesn’t behave in real life quite as it does in my head. Before I set out, I got two things straight.
Firstly, that this doll wouldn’t be perfect. No matter what. It wouldn’t be. This is my first attempt, after all! Secondly that I would make it anyway, from start to finish. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and often start things, get disappointed and never finish. This kid, I told myself, no matter how weird, will be a doll.

To set out I drew up a sketch (maybe a sort of blueprint?) of the size I wanted the doll to be. This is nothing pretty, just a sort of visual reference so I didn’t get completely off-track!

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I’ve also got my materials all gathered here as if this is going to be an organised pursuit of creativity and not a frustrating lint vs pale clay disaster. I have flesh coloured Fimo soft, baby oil which helps to smooth out the surface (but it did make the Fimo quite sticky!), and some foil. I screwed up the foil into a tight ball to fit inside the head.

Next, um, all this happened.

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It was starting to go dark by this time so please forgive the horrific lighting. The sculpting, as you can see, is a bit awful too. You smooth out this stuff on one side and find that your fingers have been digging into the other side. Fingerprint marks are everywhere, the arms look like alien worms and the face captures your exact mood at the time. It is not a peaceful one.

So, I rolled this head back up into a ball of clay with a piece of foil in the middle and did the same with the alien worm arms. It was a moment of pain but the second versions of each definitely beat the first!

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This is the head I decided to bake before baking. See all that lint? My workspace hardly even seems dusty, yet it’s everywhere! The eyes are also a little wonky here.

Once I was done with poking bits of clay and wondering if this was even a good idea to start with, into the oven she went for 30 minutes at 110˚c. When she came out, she looked like this! (Then I blushed her nose a little for the second picture).

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My limb sculpting is truly shameful. To be fair, this is all in one evening though! She looks ever so angry in the first picture, maybe because of the crack in her head that formed in the oven? Poor girl. Time to give her a face! I had Fritzi and a baby Sasha doll on my desk for reference. Safe in the knowledge that I could paint over all of her if this went terribly, I tackled her with chalk pastels and acrylics until she looked like this!

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Not perfect, as promised. I do think she turned out a little sweet though! Fritzi even lent her her bunny hat, but it was far too big.

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Oh, also, I decided to make a feature of her “scratch”. She has very blushed cheeks largely due to me forgetting to tap the chalk dust off my brush one time, and then having to match the whole face to that level of intense pink! There’s so much I didn’t even notice about her in real life, but that is quite noticeable in photos. Such as that line on the opposite side to the scratch- what even IS that?

Right now I’m working on her wig, and next will be her body! Hopefully in my next post she’ll even have a name. Thanks for sharing my roller-coaster dolly-related experience! -Julia