Friday, June 15, 2012

Fixing the Foundation

I'd love to dive right into redecorating the Van Buren, but I would also love it if it stops falling in on itself. So here's how I (hopefully) fixed the foundation.

First, the before shot;

^^^^^   Check out the flaky, broken piece.

Glued the main floor back into the walls. This wall is a little warped and flaking apart, so the tape held it until the glue dried.

Put in some slabs of balsa wood to replace the missing pieces. And that should keep the floor from falling out again.

After the walls dried I sanded all the old foundation pieces, and then added more balsa wood for extra support.

Some of the pieces were still pretty weak looking and flaking apart, so I decided to re-enforce them with paperclay.

So here's the finished foundation, which appears to be working out. All it needs is some paint, that might have stopped this from happening in the first place, and maybe some craft foam so it doesn't scratch up the table it's on.

And as for the old basement smell I've been having issues with...I think I found a solution for that too. Not to drop a plug for any specific brand, but a lemon scented All-purpose cleaner seems to be doing the trick. Scrubbed down the foundation area before and after working on it a couple times-days later and the smell hasn't come back. I think I'll repeat the process with each part of the house as I work on it, and hopefully that's the end of the smell for good. Yay!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Big Renovation, 1/12th the Calories

If you're following this blog, you might have picked up on my interest in dollhouses.

I was completely obsessed with them since I was 4, and that only stopped in high school because I was playing the Sims(technically also dollhouses). On the one hand it's kind of a dork hobby, but meh. We're all dorks.

Sophomore year of college I decided that I had to find something creative to do in between stressing over my design courses, and ended up getting into sculpting mini fruit/food out of clay. A member of my family noticed, and gave me a dollhouse kit for Christmas. Didn't have time to build it, but over the course of 4 years-I made time.

It's so close to being finished I won't post photos yet, but here's one of it's future (also unfinished) inhabitants chilling on the balcony before I install the railings.

More on that later. (If you've visited the mini section of my Etsy shop, you already got a preview of the interior)

Right now I'd like to show you my next project, which I've just started and will keep you updated on as I go.

This beat up beauty is the Van Buren by Greenleaf.  It sat in my basement for a year before I managed to dig up that info. It's a discontinued kit(they re-released it in half-scale though), so I was having some trouble tracking it down.  Ended up finding a stock photo on Deviatart that looked just like it, and messaged the photographer to ask if he knew anything about it. Many thanks to Rodney Smith for helping me out. Nice guy, he didn't know much about the house in his photo, but he did know that it was around 30 years old and purchased at a store in the state, which narrowed my search enough to find out what model it was.

So how did I get the Van Buren? Someone was throwing it out and my brother picked it from the side of the road. He restores old furniture, but dollhouses weren't really worth his time. So he was going to resell it as is. After being lectured, by most of my family, that I wasn't allowed to buy it from him ("There's no room for it"), I got it as a Christmas present. (my family's weird/cool like that).

I've been dying to fix it up for almost two years now, but some stuff got in my way. Like time, money, and the fact that I had to scrub a layer of crud off of it first.

Here's the interior;


Here's the interior again after I lathered, scrubbed, rinsed, and then practically hosed it down;


I know the basics of restoring a dollhouse-Don't destroy what's already there. It couldn't be helped though. Between the dirt, hair(disturbing amount of that, btw), and pre-existing water damage there really wasn't anything to save-it was already destroyed. And it's got this old damp basement smell that I'm still working on getting rid of. I just had to get it clean. My philosophy regarding this house; It was practically land fill anyways, so everything I do is an improvement.

I was also given a box of things that were found in/with the house(Neat!, but also in need of cleaning);


The Good news-The bones of the house are pretty much ok. The house was sagging when I got it, but I took a good look at it-turns out it's got a crumbling foundation. <-Sounds bad, but balsa wood and some glue and she'll be good as new, if not better.

All of the acetate in the windows needs replacing(already tore some out), and the frames have some cracks/broken pieces, but it's all fixable.

Biggest problems are the missing balcony and upstairs exterior door. I have the door's mate, which I should be able to copy, and I've got the supports for the balcony-that's the tricky part. ...The roof is going to be a big mess, I'll probably just pull off the shingles and start over(if they don't fall off first).

So right now I'm broke and have no budget for this project, but between stuff I've collected and leftovers from building the last kit I'm hoping that I can make this an awesome dollhouse, and since it's already put together I'm hoping it won't take 4 years.