It's been over four years since I built this Buttercup cottage by Greenleaf into Amos Gooch's cottage, and I never finished it.
Originally the story was that Amos was building a home for his future bride, the lovely Persis Huff.
Amos was a lobsterman, back in the 1880's. He lived in Cape Porpoise, Maine. Yes, there really is a Cape Porpoise, so named by John Smith, the Pocahontas John Smith, that is.
One day the circus came to town, and Amos took Persis to see it. That's where Persis met the man on the flying trapeze. When the circus left, Persis packed her bags and went with it, and with the man on the flying trapeze. Persis was later sighted in Bangor wearing pink tights and a spangled bodice in the bigtop.
Amos was crushed.
One day he sailed away into the morning sun, never to be seen in Cape Porpoise again. Some said that he eventually married a widow up in Skowhegan, but no one knew for sure.
I had meant to landscape the front, later on, after I did something more to the inside, but I reached a standstill. I knew what I wanted on the outside, but not what to do with the tiny 2 rooms.
I had glued horizontal "boards" to the interior walls. It was a common practice in the 1700 and 1800's to nail boards like this to help keep the house warmer. As a bachelor fisherman, Amos would have found his home to be snug and warm during nor'easters, but his future bride would have preferred a nice wallpaper.
I decided to use some thin birch plywood to cut the floorboards, mainly because a had a leftover piece that would make just the right amount of boards. Waste not - want not. I always save my leftover bits and pieces. You never know when they may be useful.
I should have cut the ends off a little more evenly though. Sometimes I get carried away. It's ok, I'll fix that up later.
I am very proud of my nicely scuffed and worn floor, though.
I started by painting it brown. I thinned the paint with water, so it wound up halfway between a stain and paint. In the old days, people painted their floors, they didn't necessarily stain them. Their color of choice was often brown.
After the paint was dry I used a fine sanding sponge to smooth the boards. Of course, you'd get the most wear and tear on a floor at the door. Amos would probably not have thought to use a doormat anyway. I sanded that area with a little more pressure, just enough to remove most of the paint right where anyone coming in would have put their foot down. Next I needed to decide on a "trail" where there would be added scuffing. For instance, maybe Amos headed for the stove or his favorite chair whenever he came in. The floor would show more wear heading in that direction. I also gave a mild scuffing to the floor in general, but keeping in mind that floors in corners or along walls almost never get scuffed.
Finally, I rubbed the floor a little with steel wool.
Once I finished off a stained floor with waxed paper. I had sprayed the floor with a matte finish to seal it, but when I was done found that the floor was still the teensiest bit rough here and there. I knew from past experience that if I sanded it again, or even just buffed it with steel wool, I'd take some of the stain off. I suddenly thought of waxed paper, and I tried buffing the floor with a piece of it and it turned out great. It had a nice satiny smooth finish, with no obvious shine, just a bit of a luster.
Back to Amos's house......
I had recently read an account about an inexpensive way Victorians decorated their floors, and I wanted to do that in the cottage. They would paint the floor a solid color, then stencil a border around the edges of the room, imitating a carpet. Carpets were expensive, many people couldn't afford them. A fellow like Amos might have decided to paint a pretty leafy border on the bedroom floor to please his darling bride. I decided to just use a light stain on that floor, not paint. I felt the light wood color with the leafy vines would look better.
So there I was, that's as far as I got.
A couple of years ago I bought a Chrysnbon stove kit. Recently I started visualizing it in Amos's house, so I put it together.
I'm beginning to think that after many years, Amos came home to his cottage in Cape Porpoise.
I looked through my personal dollhouse furniture stash, then through the New England Miniatures stock to see what I could find suitable.
I found I had a problem. The room was really small. The windows were in the way. Most of the furniture was a little too big to fit to suit me.
I tried out some of the chairs that fit my vision of Amos's house, and as you can see, those 3 chairs alone take quite a bit of room. I do want a couple of chairs that Amos and his pal can relax in, so I'm leaning towards using the ladderback rocker and the firehouse chair.
I wanted to use my walnut kitchen table, but to fit everything I wanted into the room, I was going to need something smaller.
I'm also going to use a Michael's hutch. Those hutches are slightly smaller in scale than true 1:12, and they're often just the thing for compact spaces. It tucks into that corner by the window well enough.
I had no idea of what I was going to do with the upstairs. I realized it was too small to suit me as a bedroom. A while ago I had a thought. Maybe somewhere in his journey Amos adopted an orphan child, sort of like Star in the Shirley Temple movie Captain January. That room would fit a little girl just fine. Maybe the widow in Skowhegan died leaving her young daughter in Amos's care?
This project is pretty easy to do. The materials are cheap, so if you make a mistake, just start over. The result looks pretty impressive.
Dollhouse molding or strip wood for the valance
Hot glue or other glue for attaching ribbon to paper
White, wood glue, (or optional contact cement)
Thin scrap wood
The slats of the blind are cut from cardstock. I happened to have a paper cutter, which made cutting the paper strips a quick job.
Cut a sheet of cardstock to the width of your window frame. You’ll then cut the strips from this sheet.
Ideally, the paper strips should be 3/16” wide, which equals a 2” wide real life blind slat, but ¼” wide strips work just as well.
You’ll need enough strips so that when laid side by side, they’ll cover the window. I saw right away that not all the strips I cut were exactly alike. Some were a bit too narrow, others a bit too wide, so I cut more than I needed.
Once I had a nice little array of paper strips I started matching up the ones that were closest in size, and I arranged them so that they’d cover about half my window. I then set these safely to one side, keeping the other strips to stack at the bottom of the blind.
If you want your blind to cover the full length of your window, you’ll just have to make sure you have enough paper strips that are the same width.
I then cut 2 lengths of ribbon, making them quite a bit longer than I needed, in case I made a mistake somewhere.
I drew a picture of the window on a piece of paper, then I drew on how I wanted the blinds to look, measuring the distance between the tapes (ribbon).
and checking how many slats I was going to need. A standard single dollhouse window needs about 13 slats to cover it halfway and about 26 for full length.
Iron the ribbon before you use it, so that it stays nice and flat. I used a bit of spray starch to stiffen it up a little, and make it easier to work with.
I decided to use hot glue, because I didn’t feel like waiting for glue to dry, and I wanted to make sure my paper slats or ribbon didn’t crumple from the glue. You can use any other glue that you feel works well for you.
Lay a length of ribbon on the table, then squeeze a thin bead of hot glue on the ribbon, about 1” or so long. You don't want the glue to harden before you get your paper strips attached. Carefully lay your paper strips on the glue, pressing down gently. You’ll want to leave about a ½” overhang.
You’ll also want to leave an extra 1” or so of ribbon at the top.
Once you’ve got one side done, carefully flip the paper strips and ribbon over.
To attach the second ribbon, you’ll need to glue the ribbon down onto the strips, instead of gluing the strips to the ribbon. From my experience, I found this the easier way.
Mark your ribbon, so you know where to bead on the glue. You don’t want it to go up or down too far, or it will get in the way during the next steps.
You should now have what, on the face of it, looks like an unfinished tiny Venetian blind.
If you’ve decided to make a blind that completely covers the window, you can skip the next section I call “stacking”.
Remember the extra paper strips, that may have included ones that were maybe a tiny bit too narrow or wide? You can use these at the bottom of the blind.
If you look at a real size Venetian or mini-blind, you’ll see there’s a wooden or polyvinyl slat at the bottom. I used a Skinny Stick to make one for the miniature blind. You can also cut one from a 1/16” thick piece of basswood, or a craft stick. Cut it the same size as your paper strips, and paint it white, and let dry.
Next, glue a paper strip to the wooden slat. Use just a narrow bead of white glue down the center. Keep gluing on strips of paper till the height of the stack looks right. How many should you glue on a stack? That’s up to you.
If you’re making your blinds full length, you’ll just need the wooden slat.
Position your slat, with the stacked paper strips, on its side, just under your unfinished Venetian blind. You’re going to hot glue the ribbon to the front of the stack, then down under the bottom and up the back.
When it’s all cooled, dry, and secure, you’ll need to glue the ribbon up the back of the paper strips.
At this point, you’ll have a cute, very mini Venetian blind. All you have to do now is attach it to the window frame.
Next I cut a length of dollhouse molding, though I could also have used stripwood, for my valance.
I lined the top of the blind with the bottom of the valance. I chose to overlap my blind slightly (about 1/32" or less), gluing it to the very bottom edge of the back of the valance. I thought it might make the blind a little bit sturdier. Then I glued the end front and back ends of the ribbons to the back of the valance, cutting off any extra ribbon.
I used a short piece of bass stripwood as a spacer, and also to help in firmly attaching the blind to the window frame.
The spacer makes the top of the blind come forward slightly, so that the bulge at the bottom isn't noticible unless you peer closely at a side view.
I glued the spacer to the back of the valance, sandwiching that tiny edge of the top paper strip between the 2 pieces of wood.
When the whole assembly was dry I glued it to the window frame. Since I was using wood glue, which can sometimes take a while to set, I turned the house on its side, so that the wall be more or less horizontal.
It occured to me now, that contact cement is another solution. You'd need to spread a little of the glue to the back of the spacer, and some to the section of the window frame where you were going to attach the blind. Wait 10 to 15 minutes til the glue was dry, then set the blind into place. You have to be careful and do it right the first time, because you will probably not be able to reposition it.
The last step is to cut tiny pieces of valance molding to glue into the space between the valance front and the wall. See side view photo.
You can skip the side pieces if no one is going to see them. I believe I attached one to only to one side, because no one will ever see the back side view.
When gluing the paper strips, I placed them side by side, and when the light shines through the window, you can see little glimmers of light. If you want to block the light, overlap your paper strips slightly when gluing them to the ribbon.