Thursday, June 12, 2008


This is Tall Chimneys. I wanted to depict a 16th c. cottage that had been added onto over the years by a growingly prosperous farm family. I set it in the mid Victorian era.
The stucco work is drywall compound and the exposed timbers are rough cut strips taken from a pine board. The small tree is a twig from my yard with reindeer moss glued onto it. The greenery is a mixture of more moss, sponges and papier mache. The flowers are cut from a spray of babies breath and silk floral sprays.
The stone steps are cut from a pine board and the flagstones are made from scrap plywood. The grass is painted . I blended sand into the paint and just brushed it on. I used small bits of moss to simulate grasses growing between the flagstones.
Here's another look at the front.

The kitchen. This is the heart of the house. The warm afternoon sun streams in through the windows.
This photo and several others of Tall Chimneys were in Dollhouse Miniature Magazine.
I made all the furniture pieces except for the spinning wheel and the cradle. The stone floor is made of drywall compound. There's a section in tips that explains how I did it.

Here's the hearth with an iron range, or kitchener as they would have called it. I made the range out of scrapwood, covered in a thin coat of Paperclay, then painted black and sprayed with Krylon matte finish. The coals are of bits of Paperclay clumped together, painted orange then dabbed with black to give the impression of glowing coals. I used Houseworks clay bricks for the interior of the fireplace, but here's a secret...I ran out of bricks. I was near the top and found I had no more. Fortunately I did have plywood that was the same depth as the bricks so I cut itty bitty rectangles of the stuff. I blended a color to match my bricks and painted, then sanded the edges of each brick. After I glued them in place I gave the whole interior of the fireplace a black color wash to simulate soot. I can hardly tell where the clay bricks stop and the plywood bricks begin. That rectangular tray on the mantel used to hold eyeshadow. The reddish lidded jar is a wooden bead with a small peg glued into it so that it looks like a rounded lid.

Here's the other side of the kitchen. I've found that you can use odd hardware bits and pieces with great success. The fat candle on the table is a segment of painted dowel stuck into a brass fitting of some sort I found in the bottom of a box of junk in the basement workshop. Somewhere on the table is a small pewter cup that's really another fitting. No one knows what it came off of, but it makes a great old cup. The blue teapot on the chest under the window is another polymer clay one that I made.

A mood shot of the kitchen. I like to experiment with different lighting in my photos.

Below are pictures of the stairs. Someone wrote and asked me once how the stairs were built. I stuck the camera into the rooms and took these shots to show her.


Here's the parlour. It's rather sparse as far as furniture goes, but that would be fitting for a farm family of the time. Rooms didn't get full and cluttery til later in the Victorian era. I made all the furniture except for the green spindle chair and another chair that you can't see in this picture. The green chair was originally white, and I had to trim the legs because I wanted it to be a child's chair. The other furniture pieces are supposed to be old ones that have been in the family for generations. The rug is cut from a paper doily. I really liked it even though it does tend to curl up a bit at the corners. I suppose I should tack them down one of these days. The cushion on papa's chair is made of Paperclay. I lumped it up a bit to look like a well sat-upon pillow. The candlesticks are made from beads. The Staffordshire looking rooster is compliments of Red Rose tea. I just painted it. The silver jar you can just make out on the mantel is also made from plastic beads, and the brass pot next to it is another doohicky I found in the hardware store. The portrait on the wall was a gift from a friend who collects antiques. It's part of a pin. The porcelain picture rested in a metal framework that was made to easily pop off.

Here you can see a 99 cent Michael's hutch redone in a sort of Tudor style. Below is another picture of it.


Here you can see some family antiques. Mama's chair is supposed to be rather old. I left it a little rough, I rather liked it that way. Ditto for the table. I was glad I liked them unpolished, because I don't really enjoy fooling around a lot with furniture making. You can get a better view of the plastic bead jar and candle holder. The small chest is made of a wooden block with a piece of molding cut and glued to the top. I used a dab of thick silver paint to make the clasp. I had some bottles of Tulip paints I bought years ago back when everyone was painting those fake beads onto their clothes. My daughter used the stuff when she was a girl and I finally found a use for the paint. I've used it to make drawer knobs, etc, much in the way I used the silver paint here.

In this picture you can get a better view of papa's chair. I based it on a picture of an 18th c. chair. On the mantel you see a candle box designed to hang on a wall. It could hold candles or sticks of tightly curled paper to start the fire with.

In the bedroom the dresser was an unpainted piece I found at a flea market. The wooden chest is from Michael's or AC Moore. I embellished it with some dollhouse molding. The other pieces I made. Again, the rugs are just bits of cloth. The blanket on the parents' bed is cut from one of my husband's old shirts. The towel hanging on the railing is a piece of facial tissue.

Another picture of the bedroom. They have a small fireplace, a luxury. From what I've read, most bedrooms of common folks in similar houses wouldn't have had any heat in the bedrooms at all. It was the common thing to have to break the ice in your basin in order to wash your face on a winter morning.

Below is the washstand I made.

This picture shows you what the back side of the house looks like. I may make some furniture for the 2nd upstairs room someday. My story is that the farmer's sisters got married before he did and they appropriated all the children's beds and other furnishings for their own broods. The farmer's young children still share a bedroom with their parents, another common practice from those days.


Finally, here's a closeup of the front of the house. I took them to respond to a question about making blooming trees. I stuck a bit of babies breath in the tree temporarily. I think it could work pretty well with a bit less moss greenery.

I almost forgot.........

We had a Christmas swap in a miniatures group one year and I redid the kitchen to show the descendants of the farmer's family enjoying the season using swap items. The old kitchen has become their living room. Of course, I forgot to include my own swap item in this scene. I'll have to take a picture of it one of these days. It was a Santa dummy board.



The carpet is a piece of nice heavyweight flannel I found in the fabric department of a local craft shop. I fell in love with it.

Whew, The End.

5 comments:

Calorchard said...

Wow !!! Great work !!

Doreen said...

I certainly enjoyed my tour of Tall Chimneys

The Dangerous Mezzo said...

A wonderfully atmospheric house and photos -- thank you so much. It's a real work of art! Could you tell me how you did the leaded glass in the windows, if you're willing to share your secrets? :)

Grazhina said...

Thank you. The leaded glass look is easy, atually. I recycled acrylic sheets from packages for the "glass". Some of the thicker acrylic does have a wavy appearance if you look at it the right way.The black leading is Gallery Glass leading, which is a plastic paint in a tube.

To make frosted glass, spray the acrylic sheet with a little Krylon Matte finish. That was a little something I learned by accident. Actually, you can learn a lot from your mistakes ;)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful craftsmanship! love your style and use of "things" reused. Again WONDERFUL !!!!