Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Installing the Tape Wire

Previous houses have been lighted using a junction splice and other paraphernalia. The Beacon Hill is getting a new system using a connection block with a fuse from the CR2 system. I described the components and initial trials and tribulations in this post from July 17th. That was five months ago. In November I staged the house to determine where the lights will go and figured out how to hide the connection block. See that post here. I got some advice from a member of the Greenleaf Dollhouse Forum on where to find hookup wire; it seemed silly to buy both red and black, so I bought red.

Today I finally overcame inertia and tucked into the wiring, using the red hookup wire and brass eyelets for connectors. It worked!

The Bambam tool and large brass eyelets make connecting the runs of tape a breeze. The whole first floor is now taped and all segments are live. ☺ The vertical blue tape in the entry hall will connect the ground floor electrical system to the top two floors. No lights have been installed yet. I still need to work out wall treatments before they are attached, but with the Bambam and eyelets, it should not be a problem.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Electrical Wiring Scheme

Once I had all of the bits necessary for a successful installation of the tape wire system, it was time to stage the furniture to determine once and for all the placement of the tape runs.

Before laying out the tape runs, the dilemma of how to hide the connector had to be solved. I think a bit of garden wall will do the trick.The red sketch is approximate. The final design yet to be determined.
The white donuts mark where lights will be attached to the tape wire. When on the floor, it indicates a ceiling light below.


Middle Floor Hallway

Maid's Room and Top Floor Hallway -- the bed was being auditioned. It is too large, will be replaced by a cot.

Living Room -- rug will probably not remain in here

Ground Floor Entry Hall

Dining Room
Next step: replacing the blue tape with tape wire.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Studio Organization

The studio has been in a state of flux since the move-in, a year ago. I've been arranging and re-arranging for most of that time but never quite got it together. With company coming this week, I finally made some serious progress.

Here is a clockwise tour of the room.

The door to the room is to the left, opposite the window.  An old desk has been re-purposed as a worktable.  It is in a good position, near the window, and with a couple of adjustable lamps and the ceiling light, there is all the light I need. The room is carpeted, but the Roomba keeps it relatively tidy. 

Moving around the room in a clockwise direction, this is the view from the doorway. I have a stool stashed out of sight that I use when working on the house. This U-shaped works pace is user friendly. (The luggage rack is awaiting the arrival of my guest. It is not usually in the room.)

The house in progress, the Beacon Hill is sitting on a piece of corrugated cardboard. It slides easily on the table, so the house can be turned around with no fuss. Beneath the table are tubs holding bits and pieces of the BH -- stairs, roof sections, electrical components, etc., that are completed and ready for installation. One tub  holds landscape materials. The egg crate holds moldings and other strip wood. The table under the TV is actually a drafting table, but it is most useful as a flat surface holding a couple of kits. It is a place to put components to one side while glue dries. The tub below holds fabric.
The door leads to the closet. The 6" shelves above the table hold furnishings and accessories, mainly for the Beacon Hill. Below the table, along with a couple storage boxes,  is a lid from a cardboard banker's box that holds materials that can be moved to the desk when needed and tucked away when not needed. I've been mostly sanding and prepping components, so it holds emery boards, gesso, stain, brushes, Exacto knives, etc. The door to the room is immediately to the right of the shelves.
The closet is organized with plastic drawer units from Walmart. The space to the right is 48" wide and holds two units. The bit of pink plastic is part of the second unit. These are not totally useful. Heavier items, like paint, tend to cause the unit to sag, which makes the drawers stick. I'm considering removing the upper shelf and replacing the draw units with wire shelving. The drawers would be stored on the shelves, easy to get to their contents. A couple of the drawers hold bits and pieces of the Beacon Hill, things like windows, shutters, trim, etc., organized and labeled in plastic bags. One drawer holds the bits that were punched out of the sheets; the other holds the bits that have been sanded. 
Shelves and tubs in the garage hold power tools and a makeshift spray booth, a re-purposed large cardboard box. It is still a work in progress. I'd like to add pegboard above the worktable and perhaps get a proper wooden work bench with a vice, but for now the makeshift arrangement suffices. The only power tool in the studio is the pistol-grip Dremel.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Scrap Art

When all of the pieces of a kit have been punched out, what remains is often an interesting composition of positive and negative space. I've been saving the  remnants, and turned two sets into interesting wall art.

A dinosaur kit from Michael's got me started. I watched young cousins assemble the animal but was fascinated by what was left over. Eventually it came together as Jungle Beat.

A Greenleaf Dollhouses kit -- I don't recall which one -- inspired City Lights. Not as organic, a different vibe altogether. (Click the photo for a larger version.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Different Kind of Dry Fit

You all know about the standard definition of dry fit: putting the house together with tape so fittings can be adjusted before committing to glue. Well, the electrical system has provided two more definitions: 1) giving the electrician fits and 2) pre-planning the tape runs'

First, about the electrician's fits. This house will use a new-to-me system for delivering electricity to the house. I learned about it in a YouTube video, How to Electrify a Dollhouse by Dollhouses, Trains & More, which was shared by a Greenleaf Forum colleague. They use a direct power system devised by Creative Reproductions 2 Scale. I went on line several weeks ago and ordered the supplies I thought I'd need, including two different power connectors. The video is wonderful, except ... it shows a Mini Power Connector being attached to the tape wire using two wires, one red, one black.

This is the Mini Power Connector. The cord from the power source goes into one end and the red and black wires that connect to the tape wire come out the other end.
I didn't have two wires, one red and one black. I hied off to Home Depot, where I discovered I could buy 300' of cable the size of my wrist, but very little in the size I needed. I didn't know what size or type I needed. I bought something that looked close, but when I got it home it was too big to fit into the little holes meant to hold it. I cut up a couple cords I found in the electronics box of dead devices, but no joy there, either.

I phoned Carl Sahlberg, the inventor, to find out what kind of wire I'd need, but he didn't answer. I went off to Walmart, thinking I could find a lamp repair kit. Nothing. But I did get a call back from Carl, who told me I needed Kynar hookup wire, 28 AWG. Hookup wire -- who knew that was a thing? He sells it on his website, but I couldn't see spending about $16 for two 50-foot spools, one red and one black, when all I'd need was about four inches of each. He asked what I was trying to accomplish, then told me the Power Connector comes with a couple of brass screws that can connect with the tape wire -- no hookup wire needed. The light came on! I'd ordered two power connectors, the Mini Power Connector (above) and a Power Connector with Fuse, as I was not sure exactly what I'd need for the project. The latter is the one that connects to the tape wire and is the one I should have been using. As I was following the video, I'd left it in the box.

These are the components finally assembled. See the Power Connector with its screws, one to hold it to the house and two to connect to the tape wire. It also has double sticky tape on the back. This Power Connector with Fuse has a Mini Connector as part of the device so it can be used with round wire as well as tape wire. The Bambam is a device with a strong spring in the center. Stretch it and let go, and "bam! bam!" the eyelet is slammed home. Am looking forward to trying it out on some scrap before I use it in the house. It is rated very highly on line.
The Power Connector is not lovely to look at, but I'm sure some shrubbery will hide it. It will probably be located below one of the bay windows, which will also conceal it.

Once all supplies were assembled, all of the light fixtures were placed back in the house.
The light fixtures are staged near where they will go preparatory to establishing the tape runs.
The blue painter's tape is sketching out where the tape wire will go. It was a challenge to find the shortest runs with the fewest connections. The little white circles indicate where a fixture will be attached to the tape wire. The circles on the floor will be the connections for the ceiling lights in the floor below. In some of the 90-degree turns the tape can be folded rather than pieced with eyelets.
I'm planning to add Houseworks flooring to all of the floors, so the tape wire will be covered/protected. The ceiling light in the top center hall will be wired inside the hollow tower.

There are two unsettled electrical items. The hanging light in the room top left is a bit of a puzzle. Going through the ceiling means going through the roof, which I'd rather not do. I may have to put in a faux ceiling in this room, which I'm envisioning as the maid's room. There will be an antique Tiffany lamp on a table in a small bay in the living room. I'm not sure how that will be resolved. A wall outlet? Drill a hole in the table and run the wire down through it?

The next step will be to put the furniture back into the house to verify that the intended outlets and connections are in the right place. I want to know exactly where the tape wire needs to go before I get started installing it.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Let the electrification begin!

So, the Beacon Hill has been on a slight hiatus while the ceiling rosettes went missing. No point in starting the electrical work until they are in place, as two chandeliers must be installed in conjunction with them. Turned out they were hiding under a pile of lights. When I dug down, there they were.

Before they were glued in place, each had a hole drilled in the center to accommodate the wires, and they were painted to match the ceiling. This was done while the house was still on its head. It will be turned right side up while the tape wire is installed.
The dining room rosette is slightly smaller, a better scale in this room.

The living room rosette is a bit larger, as befitting the grandeur of the room in which most guests are entertained.
This is a very short entry, just enough to let you know I'm still working. The next post will have photos of the tape wire and lighting in progress.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Sunroom - Casey Mini's Wicker Furniture

Many moons ago I won a set of wicker furniture on Casey Mini's website. I think it was around 2012.  I don't remember how I came to win it. I think it was the luck of a draw. At any rate, I was delighted to have it. It followed me from Missouri to New Orleans and Atlanta, waiting for just the right setting. Today that setting dropped into my lap. I went to Pike's Nursery to talk about trees for my backyard. But as I was walking out, sitting right in front of my nose was this sunroom! I know, it is supposed to be a terrarium, but really, where will I find a better sunroom?
I really like the sloping roof and that it is already primed. I'm thinking egg carton bricks or stones to make a foundation and camouflage the drawer. I gave up my stash of egg cartons when we left Missouri, but I've been replenishing the supply since I moved here. The knob can be replaced by something smaller that will blend into the bricks/stones. The floor will probably be tile; not sure how that will happen -- ceramic? paper clay? egg carton flagstone? Greenleaf vinyl tiles? 

There was a white wire birdcage and stand in the box with the furniture. I don't remember if it came from Casey or whether I put it in there just because it's perfect for the scene. 

Casey included extra fabric for curtains. I'm not sure if this room will have curtains. Probably not, but it's nice to have it, just in case.

I can see potted plants here, some leafy, some vining upward. I'm not sure about the back wall. Something needs to happen to all that glass. Should I make a brick template with a faux window into the non-existent house? Make it stone, with vines stretching up around a tiny fountain? Lattice? 
It will be fun to whip this little jewel into shape while still working on the Beacon Hill, she says optimistically.

Watch this space!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Head Over Heels ~ the Beacon Hill Gets Its Ceilings Painted

When the build was started, I gave most of the main house pieces a thin coat of gesso to seal the wood. Now that it is time to begin electrifying, the ceilings need to be painted properly. Today I flipped the house on its head to make it easier to do the job.

The upper bits of the tower and the chimney without its cap are nearly level. Together they make a fairly steady base. I am patting myself on the back for not permanently attaching the tower roof section. :)  Over the course of the day, I managed to get three coats of satin finish white latex paint on the ceilings, including the ceilings of the front and left bays, which are part of the middle floor/ceiling piece.

This is an overview of the room. The house has been tipped on its head, so easy to do because of the light wood construction. At this point, even without the bays in place, it is quite sturdy. I had no qualms about manhandling it. It is sitting on a piece of cardboard, which makes it easy to slide around on the plastic surface of the table.

It was very easy to paint the ceilings with the house upside down. This photo shows the one wall of the house that didn't get a coat of gesso; easy enough to do it, now that I have the gesso. 
I stopped at Michael's yesterday on my way home from getting the paint at Home Depot. Was surprised at how much the gesso cost -- $36+tax for 32 oz.  (946 ml) With a gift card and the 40% discount earned by signing up for their rewards program, it was manageable. I have $1.90 left on the gift card. :) Since gesso can be thinned with water, those 32 oz. will go a long way.

You may have noticed the chaos on the desk in the first photo. Actually, it is pretty well organized. I've been sanding the various parts of the three bays -- kitchen, front, and left. Each bay has its own clear plastic bag. (Click for photo to enlarge.) The kitchen bay, on the right is finished and ready for paint or stain. The front bay is in the box. I sand above the box to collect the sawdust. Unfortunately this room is carpeted, so controlling where the dust falls is important.

The bag on the left, with the window frames sitting on top, is the left bay. I thought it was finished, then found the frames mixed in with those from the front bay. After they are sanded, they will go into the bag with their buddies.
There is a drawer in the closet with room for the bags of bay bits where they can await installation; they need to get out of the way. My thought is that it will be easier to do the electricity (and maybe some of the wallpapering, if I can ever decide on which patterns to use) if the bays and the shingled roof sections are not installed. I know what I want to use on the dining room walls; that may be the first room finished.

The next test will be to find the box of electrical stuff with the tape wire. I know I have at least one large roll. Somewhere. Maybe in the garage. I can't recall when I saw it last. *sigh*

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Beacon Hill Staircase Makeover [Step 7 ~ Ground Floor Adjustments]

Brace yourself! I figured out how to slide the ground floor staircase past the dining room door trim. A few more tweaks needed -- when are they not? -- but the concept works.
See the filler strip to the left of the unit. It  is wide enough to permit the unit to slide past the trim on the doorway at left. The newel post on the landing needs to be reset. Somehow it got out of square, but even more important is that it needs to move closer to the wall. Not sure yet if it will dangle off the edge of the original landing or better yet, be glued to the wall. In the latter case, the baluster (or two) and handrail will be attached to the unit, and the handrail will butt up against the glued post.

The right side, up near the ceiling, was trimmed a corresponding amount. The upper corner was cut to accommodate the crown moulding. The frame of the front door will have to be adjusted to accommodate the first step, which has moved forward, but that is so far back that when everything is in place, it won't be noticeable.
But what about the floor of the landing, you ask. Won't there be a gap?
The gap is filled with the top board on this wall bracket. The bracket will be glued against the wall. The board at the base acts as a guide, so the stair unit will slide straight in. No wobble.
One thing became apparent in this fitting frenzy: there will not be room for a chandelier at the front of the foyer. One will fit in the back, by the front door. but if there is a ceiling light in front, it will have to be shallow enough to clear the stairs.
If the balusters and railing are glued to the base unit, there won't be room for any kind of ceiling light. If the balusters and railing are part of a separate unit that drops in from the middle floor, a ceiling light would be possible. My keep-it-simple solution would be one or two wall sconces along the right/living room wall. Between the two doors would light the under-stairs area. If I can find or make a sconce that sticks out less than 3/8" deep, it could go on the left wall, between the dining room doorway and the front edge. Even a small lamp or candle could be glued to the wall while a table beneath it remains removable. 
Speaking of electricity, it is time to dig out the lights and start the tape runs. For this house, I am following the Dollhouses, Trains, and More video, which suggests using the Creative Reproductions Power Connector rather than a transformer. I have the requisite supplies. Now it's a matter of before I can do this, I have to do that.

I need to get some satin white paint and paint all of the ceilings before I can think about installing any tape wire, but I think it would be useful to stage the lighting and mark the tape routes with a pencil or marker, as with wall, table and ceiling lights, the electrical schematic can will get complicated. I'm impatient to see the foyer finished, but even the flooring can't be laid until the tape wire is in place.

Lagniappe: while waiting for glue to dry, the pile of strip wood and mouldings began to annoy me. It was all heaped on a table and difficult to pull out the pieces I needed. I went out into the garage to look for a suitable container and found the milk crates.
This works well for the moment. I've marked the contents on the ends of the boxes. The loose pieces are easily identifiable. Short pieces can be rubber-banded with their full size brethren for the loose items.
Somehow I've strayed from my original intention to do up the outside before starting the inside, but this poor house has been neglected for so long that I'm happy to see any progress at all!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Tower Roof Tweaked

I think I mentioned a few blogs ago that I did not like the way the aging on the copper roof of the tower ended up. Here is what it looked like:
If you click the photo for a larger version, it is easy to see how the salt caked and built up on the surface. It just didn't look right.
I used a plastic scrubber sponge and rubbed off the salt crystals on the left side. I liked the difference. It looks more like a copper roof that is aging naturally.

When it was all dry scrubbed, I used a damp paper towel to remove most of the remaining salt dust. This photo is a bit on the blue side. It is more coppery looking in person. I may give it a coat of clear satin polyacrylic to give it a hint of metallic sheen. It's back on top of the house. I'll live with it a while before doing anything else to it.
The tower roof got attention while I was waiting for the glue to dry on the upper floor stair railing. I'm using wood glue. I like that after a few minutes the glue holds the piece together but is supple enough to make micro adjustments. It eventually sets hard. Good glue. :)
This looks as if it is somewhat cattywampus, but the jig and the old railing are keeping it square. When it is time to put it into the house, a glue dot under each newel post should keep it in place. Another glue dot will adhere the middle floor stairway handrail to one of the newel posts and yet the whole unit will remain removable.
Somebody asked me why I am making the stairs removable. Good question. For one thing, the walls that the stairs are against will be impossible to decorate if the stairs are installed permanently. If I knew what is to go on those walls it wouldn't be a problem, but I'm still undecided. For another thing, it's the challenge. I'm stretching my bashing muscles on this one, for sure!

Edit: Adding photos of finished top floor railing.

The top floor railing is out of the jig and in place. (Ignore the dust on the floor. It's going to be covered with hardwood eventually.) 

The middle stairs and top floors railing are finished. Next up is the railing for the middle floor. Can't have little people falling through!

Beacon Hill Staircase Makeover [Step 6 ~ Bottom Stairs & Upper Railing]

Two orders arrived from (HBS), so work on the staircase is progressing. I very cleverly sliced a wee bit from the top of the staircase to allow for parquet flooring. The good doctor is pleased to see progress. He likes the sample of stained parquet. The foyer will be elegant when finished. I don't think he has noticed a couple of engineering issues that need to be resolved.

The staircase slides in and out rather nicely now, and the plan to handle the baluster issue is pretty much resolved. BUT ... in looking at the photo, another issue appears: how to slide it past the trim that will be on the doorway to the left. It will be impossible to twist it enough to clear the trim.

Removal of a slice from the section at upper right would move it far enough to the right to slide past the doorway, but when it is in place there would be a gap between the lower part of the staircase and the left wall. Something to ponder ... a strategically place bit of greenery? Maybe a piece of stripwood the same depth as the door trim and attached to the wall will blend in with the wood of the staircase. I don't believe the slight gap between the landing and the wall will be noticeable. If is is, a piece of baseboard/skirting on the wall would probably do the trick.

Hmm ... but now I see another problem: the upper right section will have to be trimmed to allow it to slide in along the cove moulding on the right wall. 

Have you noticed the Contractor is missing from this photo? I think he's in hiding.

Meanwhile, the railing that surrounds the upper story staircase hole is in the magnetic gluing jig. The piece at top is the kit solution. The balusters in the lower piece and the railing they stand on are glued. The light piece of quarter-round is raising the tip of the balusters so as to keep them horizontal. When the glue sets, the handrail will be glued in place. The balusters may be a tad bit far apart, but what did the Victorians know about OSHA? I think it will be aesthetically pleasing. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Beacon Hill Staircase Makeover [Step 5 ~ Bottom stair begun]

The ground floor staircase has a bit of simple decoration. The panel inserts had 90-degree edges. I like them better beveled. All it took was a sharp eXacto knife and a little patience.

The inner panels edges have been beveled. The bit of quarter round taped in place is auditioning to see if edging the entire section would look better; it didn't make the cut. This view shows the wide balusters that are part of the kit. They will be replaced with the more delicate balusters like those used on the middle floor staircase.
Here are the beveled panels stained. I wish the grain of the wood were not so evident, but when it is installed in the house, I don't believe it will be as noticeable. 

And let the demolition begin! I started to saw off the balusters but realized quickly that the Easy Cutter would do a quicker and neater job of it. A little sanding and some stain, and the new balusters can be installed.
You can see how the balusters on the far side are truncated so the entire unit can slice in and out of the ground floor foyer. I haven't quite figured out how this can be accomplished with the new balusters. It may be that they will be attached to the handrail instead of the tread to become part of the middle floor railing unit. Still pondering this.
A little bonus: a set of wooden spoons turned up on the Greenleaf Dollhouse forum the other day. It inspired me to make a set for the Pierce/Bohemian Inn kitchen.
Here is the result of my first 1:12 attempt with its full size counterpart. The full size spoon was made by my father many years ago and is used frequently in my real life kitchen. The mini looks awfully small beside the full size spoon, but it is one inch long and the full size spoon is 12 inches long. (I just went back into the craft room and measured them to be sure!)

This closeup reveals the slight lopsidedness of the bowl. I used a couple very sharp eXacto knives, the carving tool in the photo above, and an emery board to get this far. A popsicle stick I happened to have on hand provided the wood; it has a nice, tight grain. A bit of paint will give it an aged, well used look.

In looking back over the file, I realized the Pierce was begun seven years ago, hibernated for two years, and after a brief spurt of effort has hibernated again for the past five years.  Poor Pierce. It's time to get the Beacon Hill finished so I can move on!