Monday, 27 August 2018

Interior progress

Hi Everyone

I hope you are all well and have been enjoying Summer. We've had lots of sun and blue skies which, like so many of you, results in less time spent mini-ing!

I've done more on the interior of the private rooms above the shop - where the owner will live and entertain friends and clients. Despite liking the shape of this cabinet I wasn't in love with the overall finish of it. The colour was the bog-standard faux mahogany and the internal shelves in the display case were too low to put anything of interest in. I decided to give it a much needed makeover - please bare in mind I've never done this before of even come close to a faux wood finish, hence it not being top notch. I started by cleaning it down with a kitchen wipe (hardly a step from the Cabinet Maker's Guide to Furniture care!). I then removed the glass and all the shelves and then painted it over in umber or sienna - I'm afraid I just grabbed what came first.

In the picture below you can see it in place against the back wall of the upstairs sitting room.

It took about three coats before I was happy with the coverage. Next up I sprayed the whole thing with matt varnish to seal in the paint (to prevent it from pulling off when I applied the darker wood finish on top). I also gave the inside of the display cabinet a coat of cream coloured paint. I would be fixing a light later so wanted to optimise the internal light.

Next up I mixed up various acrylic paints in brown, red and black until I reached a colour that I felt resembled walnut; added a splash of acrylic paint thinner to prevent the paint from clotting up and allow it to drag over the yellow base coat. Then it was time to start throwing the paint at the cabinet. There was no plan and I had to act fast before the paint began to dry. I knew I wanted to create a grained inlay effect and a touch of burl walnut across main areas but aside from that I made it up as I went. I'm afraid I was so focussed on this part that I didn't take any pictures.

I have to say it came out a lot better than I ever thought it would - more luck, than judgement! Once dried (or should I say baked) in the sun I gave the whole thing three to four coats of satin finish varnish. next up I added a light and replaced the three wooden shelves with one clear acrylic one to let the light through and allow taller items to be stocked. I decided to turn it into a drinks cabinet as there will be plenty of room for books later and I thought the bottles of wine and glasses gave it a slightly more contemporary feel (it needs a lot more stuff but you get the idea).

Here's a quick shot with the curtains temporarily in place. I'm happy with the end result and it's come a long way from where it began.

I've also been thinking about the front of the shop. I was never happy with how the brick came out. The colour wasn't right with the lower part and it was so obvious (and distracting) where the bricks ran off in a slop down hill! I had considered trying to remove them all and starting again but it would have been a lot of effort and [quite frankly] I just couldn't be bothered. I got to thinking how this would be remedied in real life. How do you disguise shoddy brickwork on the facade of a building?? And then it hit me - I'll paint over it all, coins included. This way I don't have to change the bricks, the colour will tone better with the ground floor and my wonky brick laying will be less obvious and could even come off as "ye olde worlde"!??! I'll show more in the next post.

I've also been battling my inner demons to start a different project altogether - a larger house!!! After spending weeks thinking about it and worrying that the shop would become redundant in a forgotten corner I struck upon an idea - why not add a building next to the shop and create more of a street appearance! I'm currently planning that and will post about it all when I have more to share.

In the mean time, keep enjoying your minis and the Summer - and thanks for making it this far!

All the best...

Monday, 28 May 2018

Two sides to every storey...

Hi Everyone

Thanks, again, for all your lovely comments from my last post.

This week I have been away from home at meetings so haven't had as much time in the week as I would normally like to do minis in, however, I have managed to make some progress.

I finally decided on whether the front would open to the left or right and settled on opening from the right with the hinges on the left. With this decided I can crack on with the sides of the shop (ground floor only as I'm waiting for the upper, residential, kit to arrive later this week). I cut more MDF to create a pavement that will run down the side of the shop (as though it was situated on the corner of a street) and it allowed me to play around with where the door to the upstairs apartment would go.

Next I built the upper storey section and cut out holes for the windows, lining them up with the door on the side.

Because this kit is built up in separate sections I had to glue the first floor facade to the ground floor one, adding a piece of corner moulding for added strength.

Next up came more egg boxes! I cut out a ton of small bricks and glued them in place. It took a while but I wanted the first floor to have a brick front as the sides are going to be quite plain.

Once these were dry I missed up a dark brick colour from red, black and brown and painted over the whole lot.

By no means perfect but I was more concerned about having a brick effect rather than something that was structurally correct. Once dry I put on a coat of matt Mod Podge and left overnight. This sealed  the colour in so I could paint of it with the main exterior colour, rubbing it off slightly to expose the bumps in the bricks. I'm pleased with how it came out (my first attempt at this) and the colours will all change again when I weather the completed exterior, there will be a more brown finish to it. I also have to put the window frame in so please bear with the pics.

I also painted the inside of the two upper rooms and put three coats on the ceilings. What a difference it makes having them painted, it's so much easier to get an idea of wall colours and furniture placement. In my next post I'll update you on how the rooms are going and my plans for it all but here's a sneak peek at my final decision on the door - it took a lot of thinking and planning but I think that's the best part sometimes!

Don't panic - I will be changing the sofa. I'm also going to try a wood effect on the cabinet an make it look a little less "shop bought mahogany" and that fireplace will be going too.

Have a great week everyone.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Happy Easter

Hi Everyone

Thanks for all your lovely comments on my last post, it was so kind and very encouraging.

I'm pleased to announce that my little shop will be called Sotheby's ! Named after my favourite auction house. I've been lucky enough to be at several auctions held in Sotheby's (never having the capitol to raise a paddle, mind!) and it was the most thrilling and entrancing experience ever. I hope to bring a little of that to my mini outpost of same name.

The next few pictures show what I've been working on since my last post. The name is above the door along with with some additional details such as moulding running around the window, above the grate. Also, you can see my failed attempt at decals. For whatever reason it simply wouldn't work! Even if I could get the decal off the paper before the print ran off, I was left with what appeared to be crumpled gelatin that would not do as I asked it. I gave up and cut squares in the card in the top windows and stuck copies of the warrants instead. I need to do a neater, more permanent job at some point but you get the idea.

I also made a start on the pavement right outside the shop. I started by cutting and gluing a measured piece of MDF under the facade. I didn't want anything too deep and at 13 cm from from to back I think I have the right amount of space for planters etc (I saw a 1:12 bicycle on line which I thought would look great leaning against the wall).

I then went totally out of my comfort zone and went "back to basics"!! Grabbing an egg box from the fridge I merrily set about cutting and sticking down paving stones. I can't emphasise how scared I was as I've seen so many of you do incredible things with this in the past and never thought I would "get it to work". Here's what it ended up like - can you tell I hadn't mastered the idea of using the "right" side of the cardboard? Scott great delight in reading the protein content of an egg to me!

Next up were the colours. I scanned images of pavements (you'd be surprised at the amount of awful pictures there are on the Internet of filthy pavements!) and liked the idea of sandstone. Well, certainly something warmer in colour than plain old grey slabs. I also hoped the warmer colours would help tie in the door. The two colours were as follows...

I watered them down and hey presto... A Disney sidewalk was born!!

Clearly, this was not going to be the end of the process - never mind the fact that you can still read the great benefits of eating eggs on it!! At this point my heart was racing and I had caution had been completely thrown to the wind. Next I painted on two coats of matt Mod Podge and left to dry over night. I was then tasked with what colour to paint over all of this to act as some sort of grout. Again, like with the door, I mixed up a combination of both the lighter and darker colours already on the facade of the shop and slapped this all over the pavement, leaving it a moment before rubbing off with a same paper towel. Sometimes I had to really scrub at it so that the base colour came through. It still needs messing up a bit with burnt umber but in the end I was really pleased with how it came out.

I'm now collecting egg boxes so I can have a go at making bricks for the front of the first floor - there's no stopping me now!!

Oh well, that's it for now. We're off to our wonderful in-laws for the Easter weekend - the first bank holiday of the year and one which is always hotly anticipated, not least because its a four day break!!

Have a great Easter what ever you get up to and thanks for making it to the end of the this lengthy post.

Best wishes to you All.

Thursday, 22 March 2018


Hi Everyone

Well, progress continues with, and this is where you fall off your seats... my new (amended) project -
It's an antique shop!!! Yes, I know, I did that before but this is slightly different in that I've building and heavily adapting a modular style kit. The shop consists of a ground floor room box and the upper floor and attic are a separate build (which I haven't bought yet).

I know! Your shouting at your screen, "but you've already done an antique shop!!". What can I say?! This won't be so much an antique shop but more like a branch of a high end auction house like Sotheby's or Christie's. There will be accommodation above the shop but this will be done at a later date after I get on with the shop part.

Here's a picture of how the ground floor kit is "meant" to look - sorry for the really bad quality, its a picture of the [so called] instructions.

And here's what I did next, outside and inside.

I removed the central strip of wood from the window to make it larger and more versatile. I'll build a raised platform for the window displays later on.

The next pic shows the outer detail which I switched around.

By putting the original bracket piece (just a piece of wooden moulding) at the bottom of the pillar like a foot I was able to get some little treats from Sue Cook to add some pretty details.

You might recognise the doors from the old project which meant I had to widen the space in the wood as they are larger than the kit doors (yikes! I still get chills recounting the amount of "projects" I've been through!). I also had a tiny piece of brick effect wall moulded in plastic that fit perfectly along one side. I thought it gave the wall a solid feel. I also added some old plastic fencing underneath the window to add some detail and suggest a basement window cover or something.

Finally, in these pictures you can see the lamp and an over door I made to fill in the gap. It is just a piece of thick card with an old moulding I had. I also painted the fence/grill part to tone in with the rest of the facade.

All in all I'm really pleased with it. In the three spaces above the main window (currently with painted card behind them) I am planning to stick in decals of royal warrants from the Queen etc. I've no idea how this will turn out as it's my first time but the paper has been ordered and the printer is ready...

Obviously there is still a lot to do like finish the top area running across the whole front, probably with a name if I can think of one. I also want to make a stand for it like I did with the French style house I built a few years ago.

Well, that's about it for now. I'm hoping to get some more done this weekend and will post more when I have it.

Enjoy the rest of your week and stay safe and warm, those of you with snow, like us.


Sunday, 11 March 2018

Happy Mother's Day

Wishing all the wonderful mothers out there a very Happy Mother's Day - Mine and Scott's in particular...

A picture from our garden last Summer

Hi Everyone

I hope you have all been keeping well.

Where have the past few months gone?! Like all of us, I've been busy over Christmas and New Year with work and projects at home.

I am gradually getting on top of all the Spring chores (flicking through seed catalogues; pressure washing patio; sorting the greenhouse, to name a few) and beginning to have more time to focus on MINIS !!

I have small plans for the upcoming year! Ordinarily this would not be something to be shouting about, however, on this occasion it is BIG news! I've spent some time thinking about what stresses me out with my mini obsession and realised that its all about commitment - in particular, being scared of it!! By that, I mean I am often daunted and ultimately put off by the scale of a project which leads to despondency and eventually disinterest. Also, perhaps, because results are less instantaneous. All silly I know, but what with juggling an ever increasing workload and a garden that is as demanding as the most spoilt of children, sometimes the [self imposed] pressure of "creating" falls further down the list of pleasures.

So, with this in mind, I am downsizing my current project. I have salvaged key pieces from my current house (see previous post) and allocated them to a new smaller project which, I am sure, will be much more enjoyable and should allow myself to simply enjoy the process rather than resent it.

Anyway, I'll sign off there before I ramble on much further. Have a wonderful day, what ever you get up to and whom ever it is with.

Best wishes