Tag Archive | MDF

When words fail…use your hands!

I’ve been doing a lot of research and menial rewriting over the last couple of months. Researching agents, tweaking the first 10-50 pages of my manuscript, writing query letters, tweaking query letters, more researching… I hadn’t had much time left over for actual writing—you know, the kind that gets a writer’s butt into the chair and keeps it there—so two weeks ago, I decided to take a break from the research and querying and work on “downsizing” one of my almost-completed manuscripts. It’s 150,000 words, with some scenes that still need to be fleshed out. Ideally, the word count should be around 90,000. That’s a lot of chopping.

I started my attack by hacking off the first few chapters and jumping right into the sixth. Great. Except I cut out pertinent information and character development I now need to squeeze into my new beginning chapters without them sounding like “info dump.” Not so great. Or rather, not so easy. Suffice it to say, by the end of the week I was drowning under old mindsets and negative thinking and had to yank my head out of the water so I could take a breather. And give myself permission not to write for a few days.

Perfect time, then, to make curtains for the living room and finish an American Girl backdrop.






I knew changing the curtains from those drab brown ones could only be a good thing, but I wasn’t prepared for how much a simple piece of hemmed fabric could breathe fresh air into a stale room! Needless to say, I bought more of the same fabric so I can attack the bedroom curtains during my next writing funk.

As for the backdrop…

American Girl backdrop

American Girl backdrop



…I’ve been wanting to work on it for a while, but writing has won out week after week until now. Good thing, too, since my kids get out of school in a week and a half and I wanted this finished by then so they could spend summer days playing with the backdrops as well as their doll furniture!

Some of you might remember my first attempt at an AG-scaled backdrop: IMG_1278

Ever since then, I’ve been playing with ways to make the backdrops easier to maneuver and have come up with this for now:

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A simple 2”x4” piece of wood with grooves cut into it via Hubby’s table saw, into which slide two 2’x2’ halves of a MDF board. Having smaller boards to work with made the decorating go much easier and faster.

To make the wood paneling, I cut strips of balsa wood, glued them in place, then primed and painted the area.


I then primed the area behind the “wall paper” (because fabric on white backing is brighter than on a brown MDF board) and used Mod Podge to glue the fabric to the board. Mod Podge worked much better than the adhesive spray I used last time. After letting the glue dry, I painted two coats of Mod Podge over the fabric, sanding after each coat had dried. Lastly, for my lip edge, I glued pieces of trim (found at Lowe’s) that I had first primed and painted.IMG_3132

All in all, the steps themselves are easy; the time it takes to cut, prime, paint two to three coats, Mod Podge, and glue, on the other hand, can sometimes be hard to find.

My next big project? Moving my soon-to-be middle schooler out of the bedroom she shares with her younger sister into her own room. A room currently dubbed the office/guest room; a room of clutter and one long, shallow, ill-functioning closet. I aim to have this accomplished before the new school year begins in late August.

Gulp. Wish me luck!

(Up for a laugh? Keep scrolling…)

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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.


The door pre-assembly…


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!

Dolls on Parade

It began sometime after I received my fifth or sixth Wilde Imagination doll: The inspiration to create a backdrop for them. Thanks to my mom, I already had a wardrobe and chairs to start the scene and I had painted and stenciled an unfinished bureau from a nearby craft store, as well as stained a mini doll shelf. All that remained to complete the semblance of a room was…a wall! Here is a picture of the first backdrop I made:

Three Ellowynes, one Prudence and Senson's Tori camp out on my bureau.

Three Ellowynes, one Prudence and Senson’s Tori camp out on my bureau.

Because I didn’t have the funds to go crazy elegant or complicated, I simply picked up a 2’ x 4’ presentation board and some fabric from Joann’s and, together with craft sticks, lace, a razor blade and little nails I already had on hand at home, I fashioned my backdrop. It served me well for about two years…and then I was ready for a change and something a little more permanent–and I was willing to use some of my birthday and Christmas money to make it happen!

I have to pause here and say “Thank you!” to my indulgent husband, who allowed me to take a corner of our 11’ x11’ dining room and make it Ellowyne’s “home.” Ello and Pru had inquired after something bigger, but I apologized and said, “Not in this house. You’ll overwhelm any guests we have!” (I am making them a front porch, so that mollifies them somewhat.)

Their new backdrops are made from a 2’ x 4’ MDF board, cut down to Ello’s scale. In future posts, I’ll go into more details about each room, but for now let’s just skim the surface of how I created them.

Ellowyne's Humble Abode

Ellowyne’s Humble Abode

For the living room, I used Mod Podge to glue fabric to the MDF board, and then applied two more coats of Mod Podge over the fabric to mask its cotton origins and make it hard to the touch. The floor is from an 8’ x 16” board and after cutting it to my specifications, I used an awl and Hubby’s square ruler to create the look of floor boards. When stained, the color seeped into the crevices so it remained darker than the surface of the board. I finished it off with two coats of Polyurethane.

For the bedroom walls, I used wallpaper left over from my grandmother’s bathroom (thanks, Mee-Mee!) and the “wainscoting” is painted balsa wood, with lines etched into it via the awl. I painted the floor white, and then glued pale green fabric onto it to give it some interest. Again, I used Mod Podge and again, I applied two more coats on top of the fabric once it was glued down to make it hard and durable.

For the loft area (yes, I have plans to make a railing and ladder—stay tuned!), I used joint compound on the walls, then primed and painted them. The wooden “beams” are stained pieces of balsa wood. Though one can’t see the floor without standing on a chair, I still finished it on the chance some interested guest wanted to “nose” around (that is part of the reason why Ello’s in the dining room and not stuck in the bedroom, after all). Once more, I made it look like floor boards and stained it the same color as the “beams” then followed through with Polyurethane.

None of the rooms are 100% complete, yet. Each one is missing a crucial element or two (or three), but all in good time—as in, when I find the time. At least the prospect of blogging any future progress should help me stay motivated and moving—and perhaps it will even inspire you to create your own backdrop! But be forewarned: Your dolls will have a propensity to get carried away with aspirations for their dream house. Stay firm and remind them: You’re the one paying the mortgage.