Saturday, 28 January 2012

All dolled up

There are two big jobs I have been putting off on this house, and today I finally started one of them.  The other job will be to make loads of precise small quilts to hang from the ceiling.  But today I tackled the doll population.

I'm not always convinced about dolls in a dollshouse, partly because the ones I can afford don't look very realistic.  Some of my houses have them, some of them don't.  But I felt that part of the ambience of a quilting and knitting shop is to have lots of customers and staff, so I have been picking up cheap resin figures and cheap dolls when I've seen them over the past few years.

I knew it was time to tackle the dolls when DH asked why there were so many 'corpses' littering the shop floor.  We decided that the psychopath must be the guy with the coffee cup as he looked far too young to be drinking coffee and too calm about being surrounded by dead bodies.


So today I tackled re-painting the resin figures.  These are relatively crudely painted in the first place, so there was a fair bit of touching up to do where paint had slopped on the wrong surface or hadn't fully covered.  Also, I had some duplicate figures which I wanted to make look different.  This was surprisingly time consuming and while the results are not perfect, they aren't bad for an average £8 per figure. All touching up was done with Games Workshop acrylic paints. I did find that some of these dolls aren't the same scale, with obvious size differences when you put them next to each other.

I started with the psychopath gentlemen.  The guy on the right who will be a husband just needed touching up plus I painted his t-shirt grey.  The store clerk got darker hair, less effeminate eyebrows, tidier shoes, and a nametag which reveals his name is Cam.

For the knitter, I tidied her up, gave her silver shoe buckles, made her hair and eyebrows greyer to match her wrinkles and reduced the size of her staring pupils.  The shopper in yellow got her bra show-thru toned down, another strap on her sandals, and a tidy up.  Shopper on the right got a tidy up, a blonder hair  colour and improved shoes.

I wanted this other knitter to look younger, despite the wrinkles, so I darkened her hair and gave her a fringe (bangs) which looks awful in this picture but looks more convincing in the dollshouse. I darkened her skirt a little, changed the neckline of her jumper and gave her different shoes.

This figure isn't great to start with, her head is too small and a bit squashed looking.  I wanted the duplicates to look different. I tidied up the left figure, repainted her 'fabric' stack, reduced the size of her pupils and tried to make her eyebrows look less surprised.  She is staff so also got a nametag after I took this picture.  The shopper on the right got blue jeans, a turquoise top, socks, red shoes, blonde hair, different lipstick and makeup, blonde eyebrows.  As a finishing touch, I glued a real leather handbag strap over her arm, cutting it so it looks like it is hanging from her arm.

Another pair of duplicates.  The one on the right just got a tidy up, and a quilting magazine to hold (I trimmed it so it fit into the crook of her arm).  The one on the left got tights, new shoes, a red cardigan, brunette hair, and a handknit scarf.

By this time I had run out of energy so the dressed dolls will have to wait for another day. But I enjoyed sticking the results of my labours into the Willowcrest.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

So much detail

One of the reasons that I prefer constructing dollshouses to actually furnishing them is that there is just so much detail required to give any semblance of realism.  You can spend a couple of hours creating one small thing to tuck into one corner of a scene where it gets almost lost even though it adds to the atmosphere.  Yet a couple of hours might be the only amount of time I get to dollshouse during a working week.

Doing a quilting shop is very detail intensive since your average quilt shop is packed chocka full with stuff.  But I am soldiering on.

I unearthed some 'cutting mats' that I had printed off a few years ago and glued to green card, when I was building the cutting station for the main shop.  This time I cut out the smaller mats to use on the workshop tables on the top floor. Now I need to work out how to simulate 1/12th scale rotary cutters to go with the mats.

My two hours this week was spent putting together a Phoenix Miniatures white metal kit DH51 antique sewing machine.  This is how it comes, and at first I didn't understand how to put it together (there are no instructions).  I did some googling and found it was a model of a Wilcox and Gibbs sewing machine, then found this fabulous website which had pictures of actual old machines to help me understand how to assemble and paint it.

So I glued it together with Zap-a-Gap but left the base separate.  I painted the machine with Games Workshop (GW) Chaos Black, GW Chain Mail, GW Scorched Brown and GW Burnished Gold.  The base is supposed to be wood, so I painted that with Scorched Brown, drybrushed with GW Snakebite Leather, and painted the feet with Burnished Gold. I finished them both with a gloss varnish but in retrospect I think it would have been better to do the wood in a satin varnish as it came out looking too shiny. The gold decoration was way too tiny for me to paint so I just 'scribbled' with the tip of a toothpick dipped in Burnished Gold to give an effect.  If you are wondering what I am holding, it's a wine cork topped with bluetack which my DH came up with as a handy way to hold small things you are trying to paint.  I think he saw the idea on someone else's website.

The machine was placed on top of one of the display cases in the knitting shop, as a cute accent.