New Doll Furniture Coming Soon!

It has been a very very busy year!  My business in Austin has been booming, but it didn’t leave any time for little big chairs.   I finally decided “this would not do!” and started finding moments to create New Stuff.  My vision also included a new garden window to go with my garden door, and an archway from the library to the new “Sun Room”.  I just love makin’ all this stuff and the remodel should be finished soon.

NewStuffTeaser

The photo is just a teaser to let you know I have been busy (click to enlarge).  As you can see, there are no complete shots of any single piece of furniture……..but you kind of get the idea…..yes?  This is about half of the new stuff.  The brighter colors were inspired by an Etsy visitor and thanks again Linda for your influence.

My girls are in “rehab” and as soon as they return…..looking better than ever…..I’ll post a notice here to let you know that I’ve finished: taking the photos, taking the measurements, processing the photos, creating the listings, figuring the shipping, getting the boxes, and uploading everything…..phew!!  I need a nap just thinking about all of it.    So be sure and follow this blog!  I’m pointing towards the end of the month.  Thanks for your interest and have a great October!  Melanie

DIY Doll House Floor

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You can easily make this pink and white marble floor for your doll photography or for a dollhouse floor.  I’ve pick a pattern I saw in a magazine, but you can google marble floors and find ultra fabulous patterns that can make you crazy looking at them.  They’re not that hard to figure out and since there are no rules…..you can’t go far wrong.

Start with your materials.  I’ve chosen a large piece of pink poster board which will serve as the base for the tiles and will show through as my “grout”.  Honestly, it’s a pink grout floor, but that didn’t have the zing that “pink marble floor” has, and I was going for subtle pink.  Also shown below (click on any photo to enlarge), are a couple of pieces of white poster board and some darker pink wall paper which will be used as accent tiles for this floor.  Some of the white poster board has already been cut into small rectangles which will be my white slate/marble tiles.

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I started by drawing a very very very light pencil line on a diagonal across the pink board as a guide line to get started.  All you have to do is start placing the white marble tiles on the pink board with a touch of glue.  You don’t have to be perfect.  I only made the one guideline and eyeballed it from there, but do whatever you have to do to keep things in line and fairly square.

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Keep adding more of the white tiles.  Below, you can also see that I’ve cut up the piece of wallpaper into small accent tiles.  You will have to figure out the scale of your floor to suit your needs at the start of the project.  I wanted pink “grout” to also show around the little accent tiles, so they were cut with that in mind.  Paste them in just like the big tiles.

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Here’s a close look at the finished product and then a photo of the whole scene.  You might notice that the accent tiles are made from the same wallpaper as the wall.  These kinds of touches are fun to make and can add so much visual appeal to your doll photography or dollhouse.  The garden door in the last photo is fun to make and you can learn how here.   Hope you like it.  Thanks for looking.  Ask questions if you have any.  Best Wishes, Melanie

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City Girls……Modern Chaise for modern dolls

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I got an idea.  I ran with it.  Unlike my usual traditional style of doll furniture, this is decidedly MODERN!  It floats on plexiglass legs and drips with red velvet goodness.

This version is for 12 inch to 14 inch dolls.  Hope you like it too.  I’ll be posting it to my Etsy shop in a couple of days along with a few other new styles.  Thanks for looking.

My Books

As much as I really like electronic media, I also love books.  The books on my library shelves are just props.  You can certainly find amazing tiny books on the internet to use with your dolls, but since I frequently have scraps of leather, fabric and wood from my upholstery business, the best way I’ve found to recycle or upcycle is to turn them into stuff to fill my bookcases.  My intention was to create the illusion of books.  Plywood is my favorite, since it has layers that looks more like pages than regular wood, but I use both.  Here’s a edge view of one.  All photos can be clicked to enlarge

Sometimes I paint the edges white or gold, which is common in the book binding industry.  Also adding images, lettering or decoration to the spines is a lot of fun.  You can see my collection of BJD Encyclopedias made out of teal leather in many, if not most, of my photos.   Linen-like fabric makes nice books and you can write on the spine with permanent markers.

Working with wood is easy for me, but because most doll owners don’t have the tools I have, I thought I’d show another option.  Using foam board scraps from my black and white floor, doll sized books are very easy.  Scale your books to fit your dolls.  I have two sizes, depending on the size of the furniture I’m photographing.

For the purposes of this post, I cut out four 1/8th inch pieces of foam board and glued them into two pairs.  Cutting the foam board is done with an exacto knife and a metal straight edge ruler.

Next, a piece of leather, cut to fit, is glued with hot glue to one side. I let the cover be ever so slightly larger than the “pages”, just like real books.

Here you see me holding the leather on the spine while the glue cools. You want the glue to bond well to the entire length of the spine.

Now I finish the other side and then trim it.  It’s easy to trim after glueing, but I frequently cut everything out before starting a batch of books.

You could also leave all four sections loose and have a book that opens in three places, but the glue does tend to separate at the spine as you open the book.  A fun way to cover the unattractive separation at the spine (if that’s important to you) is to add paper pages…..or you could make a whole book of paper pages….but that’s a lot of work for a prop.

I told Tracie I’d written her biography, which she just loved…..she’s had a most interesting life…and you can see how pleased she is with it.  She keeps it with her when she’s not modeling.

If you look closely you can see personal items on my bookshelf.  Here’s a couple of close ups which include a little distressed frame with a butterfly print and a photo of myself as an infant in my great Aunts arms, with my brother on the left.  To the right of that photo (second one below) you’ll see books covered in rattan I took from a small rattan sample book one of my designers gave me.

The books with printed titles are the name of that particular color of leather which was stamped on these particular samples.   The names can be pretty funny so I cut them out and glued them to the spine.  From a distance they just look like titles. Enlarge either photo above, especially the top one, and you’ll see what I mean.

Since most people don’t have access to sample books, try Tandy Leather if there’s one in your area.  They frequently have small bits of leftovers for sale, or instead of getting rid of that old leather purse that’s so worn out you’re embarrassed to use it, upcycle it into vintage doll books.  Making some books to stack around as props in your photos can be a lot of fun, and who knows, perhaps your dolls will take up reading like mine.  Oh no!  Then you’d have to make them a lamp so they don’t strain their beautiful eyes.  ;o)

My Photography…..so far, Pt. 2

My photography improved as I began to create more illusion with intentionally created walls and floors.  I consider them props just like the rugs, furniture and plants.  It’s important to create them so they lay flat when not in use and can be mixed and matched.  I would recommend creating a “base wall”.  This is like the “bones” of your set.  It keeps the wall standing up straight and not falling over on the dolls, and allows you to shift the whole set as needed to get optimal light.

I frequently use my bookcases as a base wall because they’re so sturdy, but you can easily make one with common tools.  For the purposes of this demo, it took about less than ten minutes to make this since I had the materials on hand.  It’s simply a piece of foam board to which I attached small feet, also created from foam board.  The feet are removable (so it will lie flat), since they’re only attached with straight pins, which easily slide into the foam (below).  You can see one pin at the top and one at the bottom.  If you’re not worried about space, you could also hot glue them permanently into place.  This base wall measures 29 inches wide and 25 inches tall.  My cutting table is 57 inches wide and by turning it at an angle to my window, or letting the bookshelves hang off a little on each side, I can get up to 60 inch wide shots.  My bookcase is 29.5 inches tall, but can extend it upward with little wall extensions if I want to.

Now, you can start to place any one of the several beautiful floors you’ve created up next to it. Then lay one of your wall textures against it vertically (temporarily held in place with pins or tape, see second photo close up, below).  Voila!  You have the basic set ready to adorn with accessories.  A small piece of moulding (not shown) spray painted gives the appearance of a base board, adding realism.  Setting the stage is much like getting dressed in the morning.  You want lots of options that you can mix and match and accessories to make it pop.

My architectural prints wall was first covered in fabric and the prints permanently applied.  Fixing them permanently is a good idea if you have a collection……I love collections.  But, if you’ve worked hard creating a beautiful wall, or it’s a beautiful color of poster board and you don’t want to make a permanent hole in it or risk pulling the color off with tape, here’s what I do.  Rather than metal wire or twine, use clear wire commonly used for beading and jewelry making, or fishing line.   For the purposes of this demonstration, I’ve used a black twine.  Otherwise you couldn’t see it and would think I was bonkers!

The twine was looped through the little metal attachment on the back (I purchased this frame at a hobby craft store on sale). Several knots can be tied in it to allow you to hang it at various levels and it’s simply secured with a pin stuck down into the foam board  at the top of your base wall.  The clear jewelry thread doesn’t show at all in the photos.  I’m using 1/8 inch foam board which seemed sturdy enough.  If your picture frame is not too heavy, a pair of magnets works wonders without marring the wall surface.  Super glue one magnet to the top back of the frame and then position the other directly across from it on the back side of the base wall.  It stays up like magic and is easy to move up and down.

So here’s the base wall with the floor and the picture.  A really realistic scene coming together and haven’t even thrown in accessories!  Let’s add a rug and plant next. The rug is a nice piece of upholstery fabric…..very nice.

Now put in all the other little items that make you and your doll happy and we have the un-cropped finished look, followed by the cropped version.

In hindsight, probably should have lowered the painting to a lower knot on the chain, but……..I’d already broken down the set (takes about 30 seconds) and couldn’t reshoot it…….but this is how I’m currently creating realistic scenes for my stuff.   I like the way the small size of this set cuts off the floor, the pot, the chair & the painting.  It looks like we’re looking in on a private moment.  Shooting from an even lower level might have been interesting….and this is the problem….you can never get it quite right….so you never get it done….and you never stop having fun and being creative!  What luck!

Developing my vision of the scene in my mind and doing a little sketch on paper is a time saving practice.  Drawing it helps more idea flow to you.  You don’t have to be a great artist…..just a sketch is helpful.  I hope this has sparked your imagination or convinced you that great idea you had two months ago just might work.  Thank you so much for reading.