Thursday, July 21, 2011

Orchard House

As many people know by now I am completely obsessed with Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. I own approximately 13 different copies of this novel including a 2 volume set, first edition second printing. I have read practically everything I can find about Louisa Alcott and watched all film adaptations of this novel, my favorite being the 1995 version with Wynona Ryder followed by the 1933 version starring Katherine Hepburn. The colors used in the 1995 version is how I envision the March house each time I read it and every year I read this novel at least once. There is something so wonderfully inviting about the March family. No matter how I'm feeling, reading this novel sends a calm feeling of nostalgia over me.

For the past few years I have dreamt about creating a dollhouse replica of the real Orchard House in Concord Mass. where Louisa wrote and based Little Women. I have searched extensively online for anybody who has attempted this before or for kits that would work. I even attempted one from foam core last year in desperation to have my dream come true, however this didn't work out and it was trashed. Yesterday, while browsing, I came across a saltbox dollhouse in 2 different scales, 1/12 and 1/2. The website picture is very blurry and hard to tell anything about it so I contacted the wonderful staff and they sent me additional pictures of the 1/2 scale completed display in their store (which I hope they don't mind me sharing here). With 3 modifications I would have Orchard House. This kit is fully enclosed so any landscaping would have to be well thought out so that the inside would be accessible. I am thinking strong magnetic closures instead of hinges on the front and back wall openings so landscaping wouldn't be an huge issue.

This first picture is the kit front, needing a gabled attic window and front "mud room" extension of the front door entrance:

Followed by the side view, one side will need a small extension, which in the pictures of the real house online contained part of the dining room and back staircase I believe:

Interior front:

Interior back:

And finally the real Orchard House:

I am beyond ecstatic. I'm thinking with space constraints my best route will be the 1/2 scale version. I realize that there is still a limited amount of non-bank-breaking supplies, furniture and accessories for this scale but I think I will be better able to create as close as possible replica. I have seen pictures of Orchard House as it is now and however much I love the "bones" of the structure the rest leaves much to be desired. This weekend (fingers crossed) I plan to start my homework. I will pop my 1995 version into my PC and begin the task of taking screen shots of as much of Orchard House rooms etc. as I can and filing it away for future reference. As well as searching online for the real house interior photos for additional room layout ideas and structural detailing. It will be awhile before I save for this kit but in the meantime I will gather as much to start as possible and know that there is something I can work for.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Well as the Gloucester draws to a completion my mind has wandered to my other unfinished houses. I would like to finish the houses that I've started before build begins on any others. My definition of finished is for the house to be built, trimmed, wallpapered landscaped, all ready to start furnishing and accessorizing, just as if the house is ready for the little people to begin moving in. I don't expect any of my houses to be 100% finished as I will still want to add an accessorie here and there, but I would like the structure to be finished. Where would the fun be if there was no little touches left to do? So with this in mind, I have finished the Lydia Pickett Hill, (I still have landscaping I want to do, which I know should mean it isn't finished, but I am waiting as I am seriously thinking of saving up for either the basic or advanced landscaping kit meant for this house to make it easy.)

Now I've chosen my Irish Cottage as the next for completing and was planning on waiting till the weekend before renovating and finalizing began...but couldn't : ) the house was complaining of the awfully drafty windows and the smoking fireplace. So last night I pulled out all of the furniture etc and boxed it up except the pieces that were glued to the walls. I removed the cross bars of the windows, touched up the stain, cut acetate to fit and chinked up some wood dowels for the exterior above the windows and doorway. I will need to use more joint compound for the "plaster" exterior when I install them so they look more built in rather then glued on. The windows will be leaded and finished to look like old wavy glass. Since the openings aren't perfectly square I will be doing all it all from scratch with gallery glass lead lines cut down and clear non-yellowing nail polish applied over the acetate. I also re-stained the front door and I will be add a satin varnish over all the wood work since I didn't do it before and you could really tell. I will be cutting a piece of foamcore for a base to lanscape around the house and will raise the foundation up enough to install a non-working cellar door to one side. The house is small but I want to give the impression that someone could really live there so they need someplace to store their food and anything else they may need. I'll give them a bed pan and pretend they have an outhouse somewhere and they can store the bath in the cellar heehee. I also added a hanging lantern yesterday. The wire will run accross that back of one of the beams and then out a hole I'll drill on the side with the fireplace and run it down the wall behind the soon to be chimney. I'm really happy at the idea of getting this house finished especially as it brings back really nice memories when I see it. I don't have any pictures yet, plus not much looks different yet LOL. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 11, 2011


Well it isn't completed but I wanted to post pictures anyways. Here is the bathroom so far. This is on the third floor right side. For some reason this room has been the hardest for me to make any decisions on. It was very specific on what it wanted when it finally decided though. I have trim that will attach to the top of the panels so that it is a nice even finish. Also, I will be adding baseboards and then the door needs to be installed and then this room will be complete, except accessories of course.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Supplies for an Orchid Retreat

I had ordered Christine Lea Frisoni's book Le Grand Livre de la Maison Miniature and it arrived, it is AMAZING. So inspiring! I will be glued to BabelFish Translation and will have to dig up my highschool French to English Dictionary to understand the instructions as everything is in french. I looked at all the pictures last night and found so many ideas to try on my Shabby Chic Orchid. I was also pondering which lights I will be needing and the cost when a wonderful person on Greenleaf forum had a mini purge and I now have 2 hanging lamps and 2 sconces for a total of $11.00. I plan to change them from black to that white metal with lil' black spots as though the paint has chipped a bit. There was also a set of lamps that I wanted but was too slow and some lucky person got them. I now have an idea of what to look for though. To top it all off I also received the Primrose addition I ordered with the last HBS 30% off coupon. If it all works out I will have the Primrose added to the side of the Orchid for a kitchen. Then the two bottom room of the Orchid will be a small dining area and living/parlour room. I see lots of pastel colors and light. I am also searching through my many manuals and books for a tutorial on making mini Orchid plants. I will have to have at least one or two around the house as the house is named after them.
While compiling all my ideas and supplies for the Orchid I have also been working on my Lydia Pickett furniture kits and some of my Gloucester. I finished the trim in the nursery. All of the lights are installed. The ceiling paper looks bubbled in the photos but in person it looks fine. I'm not happy with the ceilings but they will do. I had so many problems with lighting this house I had to finally cut slits in the paper, groove the ceiling beneath the paper and run the wires in the groove then attempt to smoothly glue the paper back together as seamlessly as possible. Fortunatly when looking at a dollhouse most people don't turn themselves upside down to study the neatness of the least I hope they don't LOL. I also installed the wallpaper for the bathroom. No pictures of that yet as I'm planning on adding some panels or something similar along the bottom half of the room. Similar to the dining room but the boards will be bigger. Still have the back of the roof to shingle and chimneys to plaster but I get bored easily and I tend to wander from project to project. At least they eventually get finished, just takes a bit of time. As for the furniture kits, I am in love! These kits are so precisely made that putting them together is a dream. I never realized how massive my fingers are till I tried to put together 1:48 scale totes. Tweezers, toothpicks and tiny glue nozzles are a must as well as holding your breath. One wrong exhale and your parts go flying. The two pieces of furniture in the last photo still need to be painted and the decals applied. Sorry the post is so long, it's just been a long time since I actually had something to show. :)