Guest Post: Plastic Canvas Dollhouse by Mel Dawn

We’re excited to announce our first guest blog post by our friend Mel Dawn! Mel is a writer and crafter based in New Westminster BC, with a love of cats, Doctor Who, and a passion for creating unique pieces with plastic canvas. Below Mel shares with us one of her plastic canvas projects, a custom made dollhouse!

Don’t Turn Away, Don’t Look Back, and Don’t Blink: You Don’t Want to Miss This Craft Project!
by Mel Dawn

Many people collect action figures from the Doctor Who, Marvel, and DC Comics universes, but then are puzzled as how to display them. A collection should never be stuffed to the back of the closet. Over time, you may think you’re imagining the words, “We must escape the bat cave! Exterminate! Resistance is futile!” and loads of other phrases to guilt you into unpacking your geek collection.

Perhaps it’s time to help your lonely action figures find a home. But with a quick scan of eBay, you realize you can’t afford the Tenth Doctor’s TARDIS interior and console room. But you can afford to make your own action figure dollhouse.

It took me two years to make this miniature dollhouse from plastic canvas and yarn. It was actually a Mary Maxim kit, but you can buy plastic canvas from most dollar and craft stores. It doesn’t take a lot of yarn to make—you can use your yarn scraps from finished knitting projects.

Before I started, I didn’t have any specific dollhouse in mind. You can create an idea from Dollhouse, Doctor Who—the house from Blink, a haunted house, or headquarters from Deadpool.

I actually kitbashed my dollhouse. Finished, it’s 14 inches wide by 17 inches tall, but originally the pattern called for it to be around 12 inches by 12 inches. I wanted it to fit not only my action figures, but my Dawn Dolls too. These toys are about six inches tall, though I do have a smaller scale of action figure—Melanie from Doctor Who—who is about four inches tall—in the living room of my dollhouse, as well as a red Dalek. But David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and the Weeping Angel—made by Nick Norris on his 3D printer—stand about six inches tall.

I decided to make the rooms wider, and taller. I actually had to buy extra plastic canvas as the kit didn’t contain enough. I also didn’t follow the guidelines for yarn colours. I kept the colours of the kit in the bathroom and kitchen/dining room areas, but I changed the bedroom to mauve, and the living room to burgundy and red. I also had to use my own yarn as there wasn’t enough in the kit to create the new size of walls.

Plastic canvas is a lot like cross stitch, but you work your stitches on a rigid form of canvas instead of flexible canvas material. You also need to use yarn, though there are smaller gauges of plastic canvas that can be worked with embroidery floss. I worked with the Darice seven count plastic canvas (7 holes to one inch), the largest scale I’m aware of. These come in rectangular sheets, but you can buy other shapes and sizes such as hearts, circles, and squares too.

The stitches are worked a lot like on cross stitch, but instead of creating an X, you create only a row of //////s. You can work a variety of different stitches with your pattern, much like cross stitch, but with my dollhouse it was most //////s.

You can see in this photo where I have first done all the stitching for the front panel of the house. I have also added the brown overhang. The windows are stitched with yarn, but can be cut out.

In the next photo you can see the inside panel of the walls, as well as the left wall attached, and one short inner wall between living room and kitchen. I also made a rug for the living room. This was a pattern I found online. That’s one nice thing about making a project—you can constantly add to it over the years.

Here is the finished inside of the dollhouse. If I did this project a second time I would have added a sturdier form of plastic canvas between the floors and the walls, because you can see it sagging a bit in the photo. Or, you can accept it as the nature of the materials you are working with.

You can see how much fun it is to add your own action figures to the scene. The pattern I had also came with instructions for making the furniture. Again, I had to modify the pattern so the furniture fit the scale of the action figures. I also found patterns online to make other furniture, such as the burgundy chair in the living room.

The dollhouse even has an attic. I made a pirate’s trunk to fit up here. I added a rod to the closet, and made the bathroom cabinet open up.

In this photo you can have a better look at the burgundy chair that I made from a smaller scale of canvas mesh (ten count), so there are more stitches per square inch.

I found a clock pattern, so the kitchen has a clock above the fridge. The kitchen is a bit crowded, and I never made all the furniture that the dollhouse was supposed to have. I also eliminated a third room on the second story, a nursery. In hindsight, I should have made a cat room.

This project took me about two years to make, but others may work it faster if they have no other projects on the go. I still have other patterns I want to make, such as a dining room hutch. The playing options are endless, and gamers can even think up ways to incorporate the house into a game.

Plastic canvas is about 99 cents per sheet. You can buy special plastic canvas needles, scissors, and yarn, to make your plastic canvas crafts easier to make. Patterns and kits can be expensive, but you can create your own patterns and designs. Most people who try the hobby get hooked after the first few weeks. If you’re like me, you’ll end up having several folders of project ideas on your computer.

Thanks again to Mel for sharing her dollhouse with us! If you want to see more projects made by Mel or learn about her writing services, please visit her blog website.

Guest Post: Erika – A shark. Painted on a Uke.

Welcome to the first of my series of guest posts! I have some crazy talented friends who practice a variety of different crafts, and I wanted to take the chance to showcase them on my blog. Also because when I first made this blog it was under a completely different name and I was actually co-hosting it with the lovely lady behind this post, Erika, and I have since gone back in time and changed this post (and her other 2 posts) to ‘guest posts’. So yes, these words are coming from ‘the future’ and not actually Sept 2015 which is the publication date. Shh, I know, time travel is dangerous, but if the Doctor can do it than I can too. 😉 Nonetheless, I will probably have more in the future because I really do have a lot of friends who make very cool things! So without further ado, please enjoy Erika’s post about the amazing shark ukulele that she made for our mutual friend Andrea!

 

About Erika Glover

Erika is a graphic artist and designer based in Vancouver. A few years ago a friend introduced her to cross stitch and embroidery and she has been hooked ever since. She also loves to draw and spends her free time doodling, creating geeky cross stitch patterns and binge watching Netflix.

www.erikaglover.com | Instagram | Twitter | Flickr

A shark. Painted on a Uke.

A couple of months ago two friends, Kate and Peter, asked me to help them make a one-of-a-kind gift. Their wedding was about a month away, and our mutual friend Andrea was going to be the emcee. They wanted to give her something special as a thank you present. Kate and Peter are a very musical couple, and recently got Andrea interested in playing the ukulele. Their idea was to give her a uke of her very own. No ordinary ukulele would do though, not for this lady. You see, Andrea loves sharks, really loves them, so something this special for Andrea had to have a shark on it. They asked me if I would draw or paint a shark on the ukulele they were going to buy. How awesome is that?! Of course I said yes!

My initial thought was to use pencil crayons on the wood surface of the ukulele, similar to the technique of artist Bryan Collins (seriously, check out his youtube videos, they are amazing). In my head I pictured a plain wood ukulele, where I could distress the surface a little to get more of a raw texture for the pencil crayons to stick to. However, when I saw the beautiful uke that they had picked up, with teal coloured wood stain and a satin finish, doing anything to distress the finish was out. Now, I got a little nervous. I didn’t want to ruin this beautiful ukulele, I thought it looked so nice just as it was!

Yes, it’s missing a string. Of course a string broke when it was in my possession. This just added to my anxiety of ruining things.

The only thing I could think of that would stick to surface and not rub off was acrylic paints. I remember I loved painting with acrylics as a kid, but it’s been so long I definitely needed some practice. I forgot how quickly acrylic paints dry, and how it becomes hard to blend colours smoothly once it does start to dry. I did some practice sketches and played around with the paints a bit more. I grew more and more nervous about jumping in a getting the actual piece done.

When it came time to actually paint on the ukulele, I was terrified! I’m the type of artist who sketches something out twenty times before I get it right, so I really rely on my eraser. I’m not very good at ‘on the spot’ art, or where I only get one chance. To help give me a little guideline, I lightly sketched the shape of the shark with a white pencil crayon. It showed up enough on the teal surface to give me something to follow. Then I had to just go for it. I slowly built up layers of paint, working quickly so the paint didn’t dry. Once I started and had a few layers down, my confidence grew and I felt much better about what I was doing and that I wasn’t going to ruin this special present.

I wanted to shark to still be visible whether the uke was stored upright or on it’s side, like it was swimming around the curve of the ukulele’s body.

When it was finished, I was so excited. I was really happy with how it turned out, and so were Kate and Peter. I’m really proud to have been apart of this project and know now that I just need to trust myself more. Being pushed out of my artistic comfort zone was scary at first, but paid off in the end. And yes, Andrea loves her shark ukulele!