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January 2014

The idea of doing this is definitely not original with me.

I made my first house from a Michaels wooden hutch using graphics designed by Pam Junk, a great quarter scaler who I believe was the first to do this, although many fine quarter scale miniaturists have utilized the idea to make marvelous houses and shops.

I will forever be indebted to Pam and those miniaturists for opening up a whole world of possibilities for me as I inched (or quarter inched) my way into smaller scales. It also gave me a reason for having purchased every one of these little inexpensive marvels that I could get my hands on. There are various styles of these hutches; the two that are best for houses have a flat top with a single door, and the peaked roof style.

I continue working with graphics for these little hutches almost every night, or at least when I need a break. As I straighten lines, shift details, re-color pixel by pixel to create windows and doors and shutters and landscaping for these houses, it shuts out everything else, and my mind, which always seems to be teeming with a story or SOMETHING, is at rest.

Laurie Sisson had an explanation for this phenomenon, which sounds pretty reasonable to me:

"This is a right and left brain process, Wanna. One side of your brain is all words and chatty.

The other side has no words but if it thinks of something will send word pictures to you in your sleep for you to process...dreams. When you are awake and in this brain state, you lose track of time and can be very artistic.

I enjoy living in the creative mode. Things like phones and clutter do not exist there. I need to visit there more often. Graphics pixels are like puzzles for me...very addictive."

Anyway, for what it's worth, here are some of the finished houses which I have made. One of these days I will break loose and print out the graphics for all the others I have designed and have a play-party again, as we used to say in my childhood.

THE SUMMER COTTAGE
(LATER RENAMED MISS BUNNY'S COTTAGE)

This was the first one, and the graphics are from Pam Junk.

Pam's graphics were designed in pieces - front, back and sides.

Hers also covered the doors. I chose to remove them, however, with plans to add a piece of clear plastic in front to keep the dust out once they were fully furnished. Unless, of course, they were displayed inside a cabinet.

(I did not paint these houses first; this picture shows one of these suitable-for-houses hutches used for another type of project by my granddaughter Jenna several years ago for her Gingerbread Visions.)

You may notice that the upper graphics are copies of the front upper portion. I used scalloped scissors to cut the shingles, and the cut away part forms the trim above.

The sides were glued on after the front.

These are the windows from the left side of the front piece.

You can see this house fully furnished here.

THE THATCHED COTTAGE

I used a print of a watercolor for my first original house with a lot of shifting around and fiddling before I came up with this final configuration. I can't believe I picked something so difficult to work with for my first one. Oh well; it was a good learning experience.

The second story window is too high in my design, so to compensate I cut pieces to suggest beams to fill in the blank spaces. I have learned since then to have my side windows separate so that I can paste them into place once the sides are wrapped around.

I also used more cutouts of "beams" to sort of frame the interior. If I were to do this again, I probably would not add that checkered trim. I prefer to keep the paper or paint all the way to the top on the upper floor because the rooms are so small and the ceilings so low.

I made shingles for the first roof, but really wanted thatch, using cardstock like the house itself. I Googled and found an image of a real thatched roof and cut a section, reducing it and fiddling and cutting and pasting to get the effect of layered thatch. Boy, that wasn't easy, but once again, it was a good learning experience. I made long strips using the landscape setting on my printer, and cut them into shorter lengths. I used my Minwax Golden Oak stain pen to stain all the edges.

To make the finishing strip for the roof peak and the sides, I cut across the grain of the thatch and folded it.

I used Pam's original Summer Cottage graphics page as a guide and pattern to size mine. I did a lot of cutting and pasting of the original watercolor picture to get the graphics to work well as wrap around corners.

THE HALLOWEEN HOUSE

This is the second house original house I completed, and the first one that I fully furnished. I have several ready when I figure out who lives in each one.

You can read the story of The House Behind the Green Door and how I made it by clicking here.

MARCELLA'S PLAYHOUSE

I wanted to do a setting to display some of my Raggedy Ann and Andy pieces, but instead of the traditional red and blue I decided to use some wonderful images that I found from the original 1929 book. So, I guess technically this is not a house as all the others are, but what the heck.

This was the 1929 book's cover.

I used the basic arched piece for the top, cutting and pasting to make it symmetrical. I also did a lot of tweaking to get better colors. Most of the houses that I had seen others make had trims, but if I were to do this now, I would definitely leave off the cornice trim for the upper floor. The room is just not tall enough for this.

The back of the house is another image from the book. I'm sure it took way too much black ink to print out the pages, but for this one time I did it, rather than painting the hutch and trying to cut and glue the graphics on. With all those itsy bitsy cuts? Nosiree. I did paint the base, however.

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I used one half of the arch for one side, the other half for the other side.

THE SEAFOAM HOUSE

I have a coffee table book of the designs of Graham Rust, whose work I have always admired. I was inspired by various pieces in that book to design Seafoam House.

For this one I used a flat topped single door hutch. I debated about leaving the door, but decided against it for space purposes. My obliging husband removed this one for me, as he did with all the other houses. (By the way, the knobs off these doors make great mushrooms!)

This more formal house is simple and dignified. I painted the top black and added a plain black cardstock trim around the edges.

By this time, I had learned not to put a ceiling trim on the upper floor.

I scanned pages from the book and did a lot of cutting and pasting to combine the window with the cornice trim and the two pictures on either side from different paintings. I worked with the pictures in full size to clean up the lines and whatnot, and then reduced the pages when I was satisfied.

I love the mural and windows, and want to keep the lower floor simple so as not to distract from it. Right now I am considering using a table with a large flower arrangement in the center of the room, and perhaps two chairs, maybe with pale blue upholstery, on either side of the window. Not sure yet what will go above. I am thinking a poster bed with romantic side curtains in the center ...

I used this black pedestal candlestand to display my Halloween House, but it is perfect for this one, too. I just need to remove those screw eyes where some crystals once dangled.

I have done a whole lot more graphics for houses and shops since these pictures were taken. One of these days I shall take some time to print out, fold and paste more of them. They go together quickly and provide a satisfying way to display small settings very inexpensively. I heard recently that these hutches were spotted in a Michaels in Sarasota FL, so I am hoping they will be widely available again.

Once again, my thanks to Pam Junk, who continues to inspire me with her creativity.

Go here to see the process I used to work with graphics to create a house printie.

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