The Den of Slack

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Seaside Villa siding

I’ve never attempted to use clapboard on the octagonal portions of my houses — too many small pieces to cut and corners to make neat. On the Queen Anne Rowhouse, I just painted the wood. I would have done the same with the Seaside Villa, except I needed to fill in a portion of the door frame to make the front door fit, and that would have looked bad with paint over it. So I used board and batten siding like I did on the Victorianna’s towers.

I like this stuff because it’s easy to cut, and the vertical lines allow for neat seams at the corners. I glued on all the front pieces, then moved on to the clapboard, saving the smaller pieces on the back of the tower for last.

A few years ago I bought two old packages of Northeastern Scale Lumber clapboard cheap at a flea market. In the past I’d always used Houseworks siding. I’m not sure if it’s due to age or this is just the quality of this product, but the siding is very brittle and hard to cut without splitting. I thought about buying a new package of siding for the Villa, but that stuff is expensive, so I decided to do a few test pieces first. If I had any trouble cutting those, I’d order a new package.

I started with the piece under the upstairs porch roof, since the roof gives a flat surface for the siding to push up against. This would help me keep the pieces lined up all the way around the house.

(Note: I didn’t actually glue the pieces on as I went along — I cut them all first, then glued — but I’m showing the pictures I took as I glued them in.)

Next I cut the angled piece above this. I made a template of the space using pieces of paper.

I expected this to be a mess when I cut it, but it came out perfect. I decided at this point that I’d move forward with this siding.

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Stacking ring toy in half scale

This year the Half Scale Miniatures Group‘s annual swap had two themes — Toys and Plants. I was especially excited about the toys because I have three kids’ rooms to fill up in the Victorianna. My contribution was a stacking ring toy.

I got the idea for this after stumbling across rubber jump rings on Etsy. They come in lots of different colors and sizes, but it was a challenge to find the right colors in the right sizes. The rings on these toys go in rainbow order, and each ring needs to be slightly bigger than the last.

I spent a long time looking at available sizes of jump rings (also called o-rings). Not only did I need specific sizes in specific colors, but I only needed 40-50 rings of each color and didn’t want to overpay for larger batches, or pay too much for shipping by placing orders with multiple stores. I contacted one or two stores to ask if I could get smaller quantities for a discount and they said no.

In the end I placed an order with MyELEMENTS for blue (6mm), green (5mm), black (4mm), and orange (3mm). Black was the only color I could find anywhere in the 4mm size. I also had a hard time finding 2mm rings, but another store had 1.5mm in red.

Okay, a few problems. That red ring is much too small! I took an orange ring with me to a local craft store and was able to find a red seed bead to use instead of the tiny red rings.

Also, the blue and green were supposed to be one size different, but they looked exactly the same. I put them on a rule to confirm it — the inner diameter is different, but both of these are 6mm wide.

Here’s my first prototype. I wish the red ring matched the others, but since it’s the top ring, it’s okay for it to be a little different. (In fact, Melissa & Doug makes a stacking ring toy with a red ball at the top instead of a red ring.) But it’s obvious that the blue and green rings are the same width.

I emailed the store and it turned out they’d accidentally sent me 6mm green rings instead of 5mm. Replacement green rings arrived in the mail a few days later. Crisis averted!

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Seaside Villa with Majestic Mansions windows & doors

In December I got an email from a woman named Sue who reads my blog. She was downsizing her mini collection and offered to sell me a half scale Seaside Villa dollhouse shell. This house used to be available from Rocky Mountain Woodcrafts, a line owned by Norm’s Dollhouse in Colorado, which shut down in 2017.

For a while after that Norm’s son David continued to sell the Rocky Mountain Woodcrafts houses (and Sue told me that David built this one). But according to his website they’re no longer being produced.

The Seaside Villa — actually named the Sea Side Villa, but I can’t bring myself to break “seaside” into two words! — was originally a 1:12 house. The design is based on another dollhouse, the Visalian, that was available in the 70s/80s as a 1:12 kit by One-of-a-Kind Wood Shop, and later as a 1:48 kit by Debbie Young.

The Visalian dollhouse was based on a real house built in ~1902 in Visalia, California, that burned down in 1983. There’s a snippet of info about the house as well as a photo from another angle on Historic Happenings, a Visalia history blog.

Here’s a comparison of the two 1:12 dollhouses. On the left is a picture of the Visalian taken from the instructions (I grabbed it from an old eBay auction), and on the right is the model from Norm’s Dollhouse / Rocky Mountain Woodcrafts.

The Visalian and Seaside Villa have a few noticeable differences: the Seaside’s tower is taller/steeper and it has windows on the third floor. The Visalian has bay windows on the first floor, a chimney, and a peak on the porch roof. You can find a lot of pretty pictures of both houses by searching Google or Pinterest, as well as a beautifully built 1:48 Visalian on Cynthia Howe’s website.

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