Builder’s Questions

Storing a Dollhouse

—–Question—–
A few years ago, my husband put together one of your Victoria’s Farmhouse kits for our daughter.  It’s a wonderful house, and now that she’s outgrown it, we want to store it for future use.  Do you have any suggestions on the best way to store the doll house?

—–Answer—–
The most important thing in storing a dollhouse, particularly one made from MDF as is the Victoria’s Farmhouse, is to keep it dry!  A damp dollhouse just like any natural material, will be a target for mildew, will become discolored, and will degrade.  As such, if you only have extremes in your house, the attic is better than the cellar.  Next, keep it out of direct sunlight and protected from dust.  Sunlight will, in the fullness of time, dull the colors, particularly the shingles.  Dust is hard to clean out of the little nooks and crannies unless you have a powerful air-gun, and will make it hard to pull out on a moments notice.  It doesn’t have to be stored like a piano in heat and humidity controlled space – it is not fragile or vulnerable to anything but water, but the better you keep it out of extremes, the more certain the results.  Finally, protect it from household animals, the domesticated and the wild.  A litter of kittens in the dollhouse is not in the best interest of the floors; Mice are not likely to hurt the dollhouse, but the hand-made comforter for the dolls bed would be tragic to loose.  Store your miniatures in tins inside the dollhouse for the best security.

Painting Pre-assembled windows

—–Question—–
I am in the process of building Special Edition Kit #J-M975, the Princess Anne kit and am about to start painting the windows.  I am thinking if I had a couple extra pieces of the plastic which represents the glass I could paint one side of the window frame, remove the glass and clean it and reinsert it to paint the other side.  This would prevent getting paint on the “other” side and also prevent the window channel from becoming clogged with paint. 
Is it possible to purchase the “glass” pieces separately
—–Answer—–
I paint the windows without a pane in the slot.  If I do get paint in the slot I cut a piece of chipboard (the “shoebox” thickness of cardboard) or a 3×5 card the same size as the pane and slide it into the slot, then back out to clean-up the paint (don’t leave it in while the paint dries).  Having a barrier in the slot while painting actually makes more paint go into the slot. 
Here are pictures:
… and here are other photos of building and finishing the JM975


Shingle guidelines and shingle glue

—-Question—–
I’m getting close to finishing the building—so far it’s looking good! 
I’m at the stage of drawing shingle lines, which brings me to two questions:

1. Shingle overhang: the Houseworks bag suggests an 1/8″ overhang, a book I read said never have more than 1/16″, and from the markings at heights 1 1/8″, 1 5/8″ etc that the 1/2″ Thornhill instructions suggest, I’m thinking they want me to have no overhang for the bottom row of shingles over the edge of the roof.  Am I right?

2. Shingle glue: the Houseworks bag again talks about gluing down the shingles with a thick white glue.  I like both the Aleene’s Tacky glue I’m using for construction and white PVA glue I use for other crafts, so it would be nice to use them and not worry about fumes etc, but on the Dollhouse Builders website it says the glue must be solvent-based.   So is that an issue?

—–Answer—–
I don’t leave any overhang on shingles.  I do a lifter-course with cutoffs to lift the bottom edge, and do the first full course right to the roof’s edge.  A little overhang might be authentic, but I have seen too many photos of “help me” houses with damaged shingles from leaving a vulnerable first-course. 
Here’s a photo gallery of shingling:

I have used low moisture PVA glue to attach shingles, just so I’d “know”… it’s do-able.  The moisture in white glue (or any water-clean-up glue) will cause the shingles to curl and the glue sets quicker than the shingles flatten back out, so the roof becomes more textured, which isn’t bad, but it’s something the builder should know about.  When shingles curl from moisture, they sometimes reveal the roof underneath, so the roof should be stained the shingle color.  As the shingles curl, the edges become harder to use as a reference, so it can be difficult to straighten a row of shingles if applying the next-higher row pushes them around, and a very delicate technique is necessary.

Panel cement that has a “caution flammable” warning doesn’t have water in it, so it doesn’t make the shingles curl.  It does have its own issues though… it’s messy and the technique that keeps the mess from being a problem is a challange in the beginning (I recommend pinching a paper towel on the nozzle to clean off the drip every time).  But it’s thick and sticky so shingles from one course are less likely to make the next-lower course move and, if they do, the whole course can be massaged back in line.  Fumes are an issue in the winter when windows are closed… Here in our workshop we use hot-melt glue in the winter, but that will burn you while you’re learning how to use it, so I don’t recommend it unless you’re already an experienced user. 
Here’s a video of using hot-melt glue:

It’s expected that some of the glue will squeeze onto the shingles while you apply them, and glue on the surface will leave an un-stained spot if you stain after the shingles are applied, so I recommend staining the shingles before they are attached to the dollhouse:
Here’s a blogpost:

Best wishes
Gary