Sunday, July 31, 2011

This post is going to be short and sweet because I have the kind of headache that other headaches aspire to be when they grow up.  I woke up at noon, and art is hard.

I went to IKEA a few days ago, and I got this from there.
Four coasters and six... thingamajigs that look like they'd make great vases or lamps.  Best part is that they cost a buck.  Two dollars, for six lamps/vases and four cork coasters that can turn into bulletin boards.

I know this is stupidly short, so here's a picture of the Doctor hugging an orca whilst a giraffe looks on jealously.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

So, I'm just about the most environmental person I know, but it isn't on purpose.  It's because I can't drive so pretty much I carpool everywhere, and most of my art is recycled, bargain art.  It's just always been that way.  I made five bird masks out of milk containers.  I made a skeleton out of old denim.  It's just how I roll, yo.

Here's a great resource for materials: construction sites.  Now, hear me out, I'm not saying that you should steal stuff that's they're using or about to use.  I'm talking about stuff in their We'll Throw it Out Later pile. 
I came across two little pieces of wood that looked like half of a house each, and I figured I could make a dollhouse within a dollhouse.  Because it won't open, I want to make the outside as groovy as possible.  The pieces are a little irregular, but I consider it part of the charm.  It is the Crooked Cottage.

How it started:

What You Must Do:
Sand it. 
Paint it with white so whatever is going to soak up into the wood already does it by the time you choose a base color.
Choose a base color.

All of my detail work is done with toothpicks, cardboard, paper, part of a popsicle stick, and embroidery floss. 

The finished product:

Friday, July 29, 2011


This post was going to be more interesting, but the thingy I'm making is still In Production so I'm going to talk about paint.

Acrylic is going to soak right into wood unless you prime it.  So look for legit house paint (sometimes they have primer added, already), and even then, you're going to need a couple coats. 

Every home improvement store has an oopsie section, for when they screw up mixing for a customer and they want to get rid of it for super cheap.  Unfortunately, most of the paint there is a shade of baby poop.  So go check, and check often, and check lots of hardware stores.  Eventually you'll find one that isn't baby poop or fluorescent orange or khaki... unless you like baby poop walls or fluorescent orange walls or khaki walls, hey, I'm not judging.  I've found some epic shades of blue.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

If you've never said, "I need an anxiety pill, I have to wallpaper a dollhouse" you have either never wallpapered a dollhouse or you're one of those people who I envy who can just do it without any problem.  Me?  I have problems.

As for wallpapering... I went with the easiest possible method. Fabric with adhesive backing.  It has some give to it, and it's readjustable, perfect for imperfect perfectionists like me. 

Another great way to go is contact paper.  I find mine at the dollar store.  I look for patterns that are small enough to stay in the right scale in the house, or solid colors.  I'm not actually sure how well that's going to go on; it's a lot flimsier than the fabric, but I'll keep you posted.

The way I did it is that I measured it out, cut it along the grid at the back, leaving an extra half inch.  That extra half inch goes a little at the top, and a little at the bottom.  Who cares if the floor has a little extra schmutz on it?  It's going to be covered up by actual flooring later.  Similarly, if it's on the first two floors, the bit that's a little too tall is going to be covered up by the next floor up.  It's like, why bother making super fancy origami with your cheese if it's only going to be smushed into a sandwich anyway?  I feel the same way about the door and window frames.  I went over all of the cut seams with glue, after testing it on a sample area to see how it would discolor, and I'm probably going to brush glue all over the walls anyway, to be safe.
So basically blah blah blah wallpaper is hard.  But once you get it to look good, it kind of rocks. 

Here's Batman in my newly papered room in a chair that I found in the garage, chillaxing with a bear.

Happy arting!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Needed materials for this project:
* guts
* the ability to talk to strangers
* the knowledge that you're doing something pretty neat

Okay, now I'll tell you about the carpet.  The answer is one particular big chain hardware store.  This is how it happened: my mom and I went there and asked if they had carpet sample books in the back that they were going to get rid of, that they wouldn't mind donating to a young artist who wants to make a dollhouse.
And you know what?  They have little carpet sample squares hidden everywhere in the flooring section ripe for the taking! And they have thin plastic wood-looking floor square samples.  They even have samples that look like marble.  They even have actual thick wood floor samples.  The only thing they don't have samples of is tile.

Here's an Example McPicture!

Be sure to ask first, when you go sampling, so they know you're not up to anything shifty.  And, personally, I try to never empty out a full sample box.

Here's what you're looking for when you look for carpet.  You're looking for a short-fibered carpet square that fits easily together with other squares and won't unravel when they're cut.  You might need to trim the sides a little to get them to fit together.

 Home improvement stores are fantastic resources, and they sometimes have wood scraps that they want to get rid of.  They might laugh at you a little, but you probably just made their day by asking the weirdest question ever.  I haven't come across anyone who's been anything less than helpful!

Happy arting!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

So I'm a big fat liar.  Right now I'm not going to tell you how to get carpet for free.  Instead, warm up your singing voices because I'm going to start preaching to the choir.

Just because you want to do this on a budget doesn't mean it has to look cheap, and it doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice your vision for the project.   Which means... you have to have a vision for your project.  Imagine the color schemes you want and how you imagine each room to look (but be flexible).  Originally, I wanted the bottom floor all in earth tones and warm colors, but then I found this gorgeous turquoise paint that I thought would give a very beachy feel to the room with the orangey-brown carpet.  It's okay to make constructive compromises like that, but don't think you have to settle for the first cheap shade of paint that saunters your way if it really doesn't fit.

Imagine a purpose for each room.  That'll help you get a clearer picture of what you want.  Personally, I want to work in a spaceship room somewhere.  I'm not going to make the house representative of any time period in particular, because I like the idea of a hodgepodge, the way a modern house can be hodgepodged.  Also because I'm not a woodworker.  All the woodwork I do will be able to be replicated with an Exacto knife and a pocket knife.

If there's something you really want to do, you can find a way to make it work.   Happy arting!

Monday, July 25, 2011

My constant mantra as I hastily tried to straighten up to take a few pictures was: "I'm not a hoarder, I'm an artist."  Not a hoarder.  An artist.  At any rate, look at how horrific it is!  Everything is crooked, there are zero right angles, and unfortunately it is already glued down that way.  Thankfully, all three stories are still separate so I can work on them; I just stacked them for a better picture.  And yes, there will be a dragon on the roof.  You can sort of see part of his wing.

It doesn't look half as bad as it is far away, so here's a closer look at the big room on the first floor.  Look at this sad excuse for a floor.  I tore up the previous floor, which was green and very adhesive.  Look at the streaky paint on the walls!  For one thing, I didn't sand them before I painted them.  Don't judge me, I was but a child!  Late teenager.  Child!  And I painted them with regular acrylic paint, which soaked right into the wood like tomato soup into grilled cheese.
And in case you're not entirely convinced by how bad it looks, here's a closer view of the third floor.  Edgar Allan Poe didn't write depressing stuff because he was the master of horror.  He wrote depressing stuff because he was stuck in a dollhouse with cracks in the floor.  Look at how sad he looks.  The flooring is twelve by twelve vinyl self-adhesive tiles, but in rooms that aren't square and are bigger than a square foot, we had to try to cut up other pieces to make it fit, and we ended up with gaps.  Another thing about me: I'm not good at measuring, and I'm rubbish with straight lines.  This renovation is going to be an adventure.
 Next post I'm going to give a lesson on how to get carpet for free.  Happy arting!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm not very good at finishing projects.  I'm kind of a jack of all trades, except none of these trades involve actually making money.

I've had this dollhouse kit hanging around in my room since late high school/early college.  Now I'm a year past graduation, I've finished writing the manuscript for my first novel, and I'm staring at a started dollhouse with crooked walls, streaky paint, and floors with cracks in them. 

This dollhouse is not a metaphor for my life, but it easily could be.  I didn't want to work on it because it was ugly, so I let it gather dust.  Now I realize that it's up to me to make it beautiful, crooked walls and all.  Continuing the metaphor that is not a metaphor, it probably isn't going to be very frilly; it's a home for my action figures!  I have an Edgar Allan Poe, an Oscar Wilde, the Crow, two Doctors from Doctor Who, and several others.

The Dollar Dollhouse is going to be a blog on how to craft on a paper-thin budget, using stuff you can easily get or you already have at your own house. 

Happy arting!