Tag Archive | crafts

We’ve been shuttered!

“So what have you been up to today?” my mom asked during our late Saturday afternoon phone call last week.

I smiled. “I finished making the shutters for my house.”

Pause. Then, “For your house…or Ellowyne’s?”

Touché, Mom.

Considering the plethora of doll-sized work I’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks, her question didn’t surprise me. In fact, the clarification of whose shutters I had made was on the tip of my tongue when she voiced her confusion.

Rest assured, Ello’s front porch will have shutters—but the ones I completed are for my human-sized house.

A little back-story here. Though Kreh and I have lived out west for more than twelve years now (!), we were both born and raised in New England, and there are things back east we still enjoy—the fall foliage being one of them. 😉 Shutters flanking house windows are another. I felt that very strongly with my recent visit back “home,” where the majority of houses—even those newly built—have shutters. Out here in my corner of Montana, the majority of homes do not have shutters. When Kreh and I go for a drive, while he is on the lookout for wildlife, I am on the lookout for cute houses—and nine times out of ten, the houses I consider cute are those adorned with shutters.

For me, a house without shutters is like an actress at the Oscars without any bling. Something’s missing.

Naturally, then, when Kreh and I bought our current house, one of the things we wanted to do was add shutters.

Something's definitely missing...

Something’s missing…

That was almost six years ago!

But it all came together so quickly and easily, I’m flabbergasted as to why we didn’t do this during year one!

I built the shutters out of cedar picket fence boards, cutting them to size and angling the corners at the top where applicable. When all the pieces were cut and knowing I was going to screw in the horizontal pieces from the back, I drew lines on the garage floor using a right-angle ruler and my children’s chalk to indicate where to place the horizontal slats and where to place the vertical pieces so things would look even and uniform from the front when all was said and done. Cedar is soft wood, which means no pre-drilling for the screws, so while my girls played inside with their American Girl dolls, I put together seven pairs of shutters.

Cut the boards...

Cut the boards…

Assemble the boards...

Assemble the boards…

That evening, Kreh and I laid out planks of wood in the backyard, upon which I set down all the shutters and for three and a half hours the next Sunday afternoon/early evening, I stained both sides of fourteen shutters.

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Stain the boards…

And Kreh went hunting.

(I’m teasing him with that last comment. In truth, he felt a little guilty leaving me to do all the staining, but I urged him to go hunt. We all need time for our passions, otherwise we get cranky. And Kreh blessed our family that night with a bull elk for our freezer, so it was a win-win all around!)

Thanks, honey!

Thanks, honey!

Between Kreh’s success hunting, open house at the girls’ school, and our other “extra-curricular activities” during the week, it was late Friday evening before we finally attached the shutters to the house—and fully dark by the time we finished. I could hardly wait for the next morning to see fruit of our labor!

 

Before...

Before…

After…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before...

Before…

After...

After…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close up...

Close up…

Another view...

Another view…

So our dream of shutters took five years longer than anticipated to see realization, but it was well worth the wait. I might not have a green thumb, and landscaping is not one of my strengths, but with the help of my hubby’s power tools and the abilities God has given me, I’m grateful to be able to bring a bit of charm to our little Montana home.

A Teaser

IMG_1790Hello, everyone! Ellowyne Wilde here. I’m back (finally!) with a quick update on how Laurie is coming along on my front porch. She’s allowed me to reveal a few snippets, assuring me she will have the whole thing completed by the end of September. Okay, so she didn’t promise. I believe the word she used was “hope.” But I have to hand it to her; she’s done more work on the porch in the last couple of weeks than she has in the last six months!

Here is the latest piece completed: the porch roof.

All 816 square inches of it!

Finished roof...

Finished roof…

 

 

 

 

After calculating how many shingles she would need to make and how much wood that would entail, Laurie went about using her hubby’s table saw to cut up a 4’ x 2’ MDF board. She had finished just over half the number of shingles when she began to corral them all into a plastic bag. Well, the bag became heavier…and heavier…and heavier…

Note to self: MDF is too heavy to use for shingles when a doll’s front porch is being constructed by a non-professional.

Sigh.

So, Laurie moved on to balsa wood and ordered several sheets of it from an online company. They arrived a few days after she left for vacation this summer. We dolls would have had a work party while she was gone and helped her cut some shingles…except we worried about knicking our plastic and vinyl bodies with the X-acto knife. Thankfully it didn’t take her but a few days to cut the 322 shingles all by herself (8 sheets of 36” x 6” balsa wood sheets, in case you wanted to know!).

During the gluing stage...

During the gluing stage…

Then came the gluing. You guessed it—she used Power Grip glue. And then came the staining, for which she used a cherry finish, along with a 1” foam brush for the shingles and a narrow craft bristle brush for all the tiny spaces in between.

And now that it’s done…we wait.

Because there are several things Laurie needs to finish before she can put all the pieces together. Like attaching the door to the doorjamb on the back wall, for instance.

I watched her working on it yesterday. She didn’t look too happy. Apparently once she screwed the hinges into the door…the door doesn’t fit into the opening anymore! So now she has to take a chisel to the doorjamb.

She had better take care of my wall!

She had better take care of my wall!

Given that the back wall is already finished, she had better not deface my wall with a chisel gone awry!

Ahem.

You know, I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t have hired a real carpenter in the first place—two years ago when this project first took root in that woman’s brain. At the very latest, we dolls probably could have had a completed porch by this time last year!

Of course, then Laurie wouldn’t have had all the fun in making it herself. (She doesn’t like me to remind her of the frustration involved!)

Weighing the options...

Weighing the options…

 

 

 

 

Hmm…weighing the options. Profressional…non-professional. Happy Laurie…disappointed Laurie…

Ooo, wait! Laurie has some carpenter friends, doesn’t she? Surely they’d be willing to lend a hand to a gal in need!

 

 

Yoo-hoo! Mr. Schwaubauer! I could really use your help on something…!

Too busy?

Okay. Um, Mr. Harrison, you interested?

Not into doll-scaled details?

Sigh.

Maybe I should seek out Ty Pennington. Think he’s doing anything important these days?

Anybody know of a reputable carpenter?

Anybody know of a reputable carpenter?

Have bag. Will travel. Almost.

Illustration of a cartoon style about summer and beach holidayser time vector

I’m on vacation for the next few weeks. When you think of the word “vacation,” what first springs to mind? Maybe relaxation. A time to unwind. A yummy drink in one hand and a good book in the other. Or maybe it means going to new places, seeing new sights, doing something different and fun each day. For my family, it means heading back to New England to visit friends and relatives. And for me specifically…it means not having to worry about what we’re having for dinner, because I don’t have to cook it! 🙂 It also means time to knit (since one can socialize and knit at the same time).

What is doesn’t mean is time to write–hence why it’s been just over two weeks since my last post.

Nevertheless, today I’m squirreling away here and there in order to share my progress on the one thing I’ve been able to work on this past week: my Ravenna Satchel.

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Last row of intarsia panel complete!

Roughly a week after I published the last post about the satchel, I finished the intarsia panel—yay! As the end came in sight and the number of color changes I had to make began to dwindle, the knitting process naturally sped up and it became a breeze to finish one row after another in one sitting.

And oh, the smile that lit my face when I knit that last stitch!

Then I saw the loose ends.

Yikes!

Yikes!

I can’t say my smile entirely disappeared. After knitting intarsia for so long, I found it rewarding to do something different. It took me a few blocks of time, but one by one those loose ends got weaved in. Once I fixed some random holes left by unwrapped stitches, I turned my attention to knitting the back of the bag.

In the original pattern, the back is solid black—a bit of a letdown, given the rest of the bag is so beautifully patterned with flowers and such—but I had long ago decided I’d carry the blue background all the way around and ordered yarn accordingly, buying more skeins of Clarity (light blue) and less of Currant (deep red).

Apparently I did not have my fill of intarsia, for I had knit no more than a few rows into the humdrum straight-stitch back panel when I decided to design a couple of flowers and possible leaves to liven things up a bit. Common Sense returned in time to [redirect] my grandiose plans into a more manageable one: one flower and one leaf. That kept me happily knitting for another couple of mornings, until I finished the specified number of rows and joined everything together again to knit the upper section of the bag in the round. That went quick and just before leaving for vacation, I had completed everything but the bind-off edge.

Finished bag just before felting...

Finished bag just before felting…

So I sacrificed a critical couple of pounds in my suitcase and took the satchel-in-progress with me.

I felted it within the first few days of arriving in New England. During the knitting process, I had been concerned about possible puckering in the areas behind which I chose to carry yarn; however, I’m pleased to report that puckering did not occur. Some of the darker colors did bleed a tiny bit, but it’s nothing the needle-felting can’t hide.

After felting. No, the picture is not out of focus--that's the blurry effect of the stitches.

After felting. No, the picture is not out of focus–that’s the blurry effect of the stitches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which is really what my fingers have been busy with this week.

Following the pattern instructions and taking needle in hand, I outlined each flower and leaf twice with the corresponding yarn and now I’m currently outlining the outline twice with my background color. (Long car rides and evening chats afford great opportunities to stab away at strands of yarn.) As you can see from the flower and leaf I knit on the back panel, it’s the process of needle-felting with the background color that really makes the pattern pop. Once I finish the outlines, I’ll fix any last troublesome areas by needle-felting over it with the correct color.

After needle-felting...

After needle-felting…

And when I’m done with that…uh, no, I won’t be finished. There’s a zipper to add and handles to make, feet to apply…and a search for the perfect fabric to line the inside that will make me smile every time I open my bag.

I suppose those details will have to wait until after my vacation. In the meantime, I can once again look people in the eye while I socialize. 😉

Time to…Play?

Hello, my cyber-space friends. It’s me: Ellowyne Wilde of the Germaine clan, back with some news that’s thrilling enough to keep me happy for more than a few minutes! Yours Truly is now officially in charge of all future Doll Drama posts. Eeee!

I'm excited--can't you tell?

I’m excited–can’t you tell?

Today, I’d like to highlight one of Laurie’s latest projects: an American Girl backdrop. (If I didn’t have three floors of my own and a porch on the way, I might be a little jealous.) From what I understand, these AG dolls—and other dolls of similar size—are quite popular among young girls right now, and I, for one, am very thankful for that…otherwise I might not have half the furniture I currently enjoy in my own not-so-humble abode!

Anyway, it seems Laurie had so much fun making my backdrops that she got it in her head to make some more, except this time on a slightly larger scale for the AG dolls. Heaven only knows what she’s going to do with them all, but that’s her problem, not mine. Just as long as she leaves my corner of the dining room out of it…IMG_1051

So here are the “bones” of her first backdrop: a 2’ x 4’ MDF board (1/8” thick) bought at Home Depot. This picture shows it cut in half then duck-taped together again with an inch-wide “spine,” as well as a cutout for the door. The cutout will later become the actual door.

The next step requires some fun fabric that would look great as wallpaper and spray adhesive glue. Laurie used Elmer’s CraftBond. Cut the fabric so it overlaps the MDF board by an inch or two, protect the area in which you are going to use the adhesive spray, then glue the fabric to the board one section at a time. She did this step too fast the first time and the fabric didn’t stick, so make sure to spray slowly up and down and work the fabric along a few inches at a time, smoothing it out as you go. Because her board was 48” and her fabric only 44”, she used the door frame as a natural break in the two pieces of fabric and lined up the pattern accordingly.IMG_1248 After that, it’s ModPodge time. Two coats of ModPodge, sanding after each coat. This gives the fabric durability and makes it feel less like cotton fibers. 😉 Once that’s dry, carefully flip the backdrop over and ModPodge the ends of the fabric to the back of the board.

 

 

Next stop: the doorframe. Laurie used 1-inch wide trim from Lowe’s as the frame and chiseled out the areas in which the hinges could nestle so the trim would lay flush against the “wall.”IMG_1246 Next she stained the wood and then glued the hinges into place.

Time to make the donuts…er, the door! Using the cutout as her base, she first measured and cut strips of Balsa wood for the detailed work then stained everything the same color as the frame (I know it doesn’t look the same, but it is; case of different types of wood). Afterward, she glued the Balsa wood to the door base, taking care to hide the hinges beneath the right-hand strip of wood.

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The door pre-assembly…

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The door after assembly…

What kind of glue did she use for the wood, you ask? Her go-to glue, of course: Loctite Power Grab, which holds fast and dries clear.

Lastly, she glued on the doorknob—found in the scrapbooking department at her local craft store!! Perfect size, isn’t it? If scrapbooking places are hard to come by in your area, Home Depot has a great selection of small cabinet hardware you could use for a doorknob. (It worked for my front porch, but shhh—I’m not supposed to tell you that yet!)

Isn't this fantastic?!

Isn’t this fantastic?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, look...it's Caroline!

Oh, look…it’s Caroline!

Make yourself right at home, dear...but I get my desk back after this post!

Make yourself right at home, dear…but I get my desk back after this post!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that the hard work is done, let the glue set for 24 hours…and you’re ready to play! I, uh, mean, your kids are ready to play. Naturally, I don’t mean you. (Not to worry—your secret is safe with me…)

Hey, Laurie, guess what…

You're not the only grown-up who plays with dolls!

You’re not the only grown-up who plays with dolls!

Let Your Light Shine

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Here’s a simple tutorial for making an inexpensive, non-working lamp for your fashion doll.

You will need:IMG_1217

– two 3” wooden craft candle sticks

– a votive holder

– some fabric (pre-cut quarters work great)

– stain or paint of your choice

– heavy-duty glue (my favorite go-to glue is Loctite Power Grab that holds fast and dries clear).

First, you will need to cut off the top 1/4-1/3 of one candlestick. If you are anything like me and don’t yet have confidence in your ability to get that close to a power saw without lopping off a fingertip, enlist the help of your hubby or significant other. You might want to use a power sander to smooth the surface after it’s been cut. Then, flip the cut candle stick upside down and glue it on top of an uncut candle stick. Once it’s dry, you may stain or paint it to your heart’s desire.

IMG_1245While you wait for the stain/paint to dry, cut your fabric so it will completely cover the votive holder with at least a ½” to spare. IMG_1249That extra half-inch is what you will glue to the inside of the votive holder. There’s the tricky part. Put a line of glue along the upper inside lip of the votive holder and press down a finger-width section of fabric. Make a nice pleat along the length of the votive holder and press down the next finger-width section. Repeat all the way around until you come back to the beginning; the last pleat will look slightly different than the others—that’s the side you turn toward the wall. 😉

Closeup of the pleats

Closeup of the pleats

You will also want to use a finger to tuck some glue between the folds of the fabric on the inside lip to keep everything tight and tacked down. This is why I like the Loctite glue; if you use something like Elmer’s glue, it will not hold the fabric in place before the glue can dry.

Inside the votive holder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When everything is dry, flip your new lamp shade over its base, glue in place if you like, and voilà: you’ve made your very own OOAK (one-of-a-kind) lamp for your fashion doll. This same procedure can be applied to make an American Girl doll simply by using larger candle sticks for the base and a small, inexpensive garden pot for the lamp shade.

 

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Happy crafting!

Ladders and Railings and–oh, MY!

Hello! Ellowyne Wilde here. Laurie has graciously allowed me to write another post—

~She twisted my arm.~

I am a doll. The only arms I’m twisting are my own ball-jointed ones!

~(She twisted my arm.)~

Anyway…my bedroom is now one step closer to completion, for Laurie finished making the ladder and railings for the loft area!IMG_1200 I wish I could claim to have built them myself, but I don’t go anywhere near power saws. Do you realize what sawdust would do to my hair? To say nothing about my clothes and joints and—

~Moving on.~

—(And my shoes!) So, the railings. After spending an enormous amount of time making the railings for our front porch (she won’t let me post a picture yet—hmph!), Laurie decided to take the easy route for our loft and bought a railing that in other homes would sit atop a kitchen cabinet. Not the case in this home. After cutting it to fit the perimeter of the loft, she stained it to match the loft floorboards and wall timber.IMG_1136 I’m told she will eventually anchor the railings to the floor, but for now, they’re just sitting there. Careful, Mistletoe!IMG_1201

To construct the ladder, she bought another 3 ft railing (yes, she decided to pay for the convenience of having pre-drilled holes rather than making the drive to use a friend’s drill press—again) and pulled the pieces apart after cutting it to the correct length. The little posts she set aside for some future project—who knows what at this point in time—and painted the “holey” lengths with Valspar Ultra Paint + Primer.IMG_1198 From a 5/16” x 36” dowel, she then cut nine ladder rungs and painted them with Valspar Royal Gray (looks dark blue to me). Once everything had dried, she fit the pieces together and voilà: We have ourselves a ladder!IMG_1199

Again, Laurie has promised to glue the rungs to prevent the ladder from falling apart, but everything is—for the moment—tightly wedged together. (And I was too anxious to get this post off to wait around for the glue to dry!) So…um…use with extreme caution, Tori!

 

 

Tori and Mistletoe making mischief in the loft.

Tori and Mistletoe making mischief in the loft.

Sigh. Why did we want a ladder, again?

Sigh. Why did we want a ladder, again?