Saturday, December 31, 2011

Beacon Hill Classroom Progress

Happy New Year, everyone! I know I should be posting on resolutions or reflecting back on this year, but the light was coming through so beautifully, I couldn't resist taking these pictures. :)

This is the main classroom in the Beacon Hill Girls' School. In the foreground is a small teaching area (what subject, I don't know yet!)with a standing chalkboard on the right that I'll show in more detail later. In the background, you can see a hint of the traditional American schoolhouse desks sitting on some checkboard patterned paper. That's my way of trying out different flooring ideas.

The top picture also shows my crown moulding shortcut. After wasting many pieces trying to cut the proper angle, I finally decided to cheat and make the corners square cut and put a section of wood block in the corner. A fancy finial will come later. You decide: crafty or cheating?

Again, blog friends, Happy New Year! I hope that 2012 is full of everything that is good and lovely for you and all your loved ones!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

School Necessities

I thought you'd like to see some of the school furniture I've been building. Someone is really struggling with her spelling... :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Built in Cabinetry and a Mystery Gap

I wrestled with whether to make the final room in the Beacon Hill first floor a kitchen or a library. Then I looked at this Home Economics class picture above from my 1920's textbook and I realized that no education for girls of the time would be complete without a teaching kitchen! I already had the Chrysnbon stove below and it certainly fit. Decision made, I moved ahead.
There is a strange gap between the windows and a support structure in the Beacon Hill that has always bothered me. If I did ceiling trim, where would I put it? Inside? Outside? I could do ceiling beams but that didn't fit the Beacon Hill's architectural story in my mind.
I put in open shelving below the windows, but the gap still drove me crazy.
Well, what kitchen can't use more storage? The solution: Cover it up as built in cabinetry! Here's a preliminary mock up using foam board. Purchased shutters from would function as panels for the cabinet doors.
I built a simple table and covered all of the foam panels with balsa, the shutters and pieces of trim wood. Wondering what the opening cabinet door is for?
It's a drop down ironing board, also authentic to the very modern 1920's kitchen.
Here it is covered with a cute fabric that will have to be changed out because it just doesn't match!
Now the next question is paint or stain? To be continued...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Built In Bookcase for the Beacon Hill School

You spoke and I listened! Thank you all for the input on the bookcase from my last post; you said that a big bookcase overwhelmed the space and blocked the stairs. Oh, my...this non-builder then had to build something a bit more custom to allow for display space and an entry area that worked with the architecture of the Beacon Hill rather than against it! Well, how did I do?
I'm planning on a combination of faux boix effects and paint to match the existing paneling and to cover all of the random wood types that I had to use. (I told you I'm not a builder!)
That fiddly bit of cut arches and flat topped post were meant to match the existing stairs. Lots of finish work to do!
View from the front door:
I can picture students stopping here to set down lunch pails and remove wraps before going to classes.
Thank you all for pushing me to stretch my skills! I'm so much happier with this version :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Room Next Door

I've shifted next door from the main classroom and moved to the foyer. For those of us who know and love the Beacon Hill, it has a wonderful turned staircase that I fell in love with as a child. It takes up quite a bit of space but adds a little architectural interest to the room. I added some more wainscoting for more interest too :)I'm using PA dutch style colors which I love but I've got a decision to make and I'd love your advice! If I place this bookcase or one scaled down a bit, it creates more of a cozy room feel, allows me to display books and objects and creates a nook behind it for students to hang jackets and lunchpails.
This picture below is without the bookcase. (Ignore the weird paint job on the doors!) I'm not even sure if I should leave the stairs wood or not? If I had the woodworking skills I would rebuild the stair railings... maybe in the future!
and again, with the bookcase below. I'm leaning towards the bookcase... what do you think?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Extreme Mini Makeover!

Oh, the colors of the 80's! My poor Beacon Hill was subjected to the teal and aqua color scheme that would be just right for an episode of Golden Girls but NOT for a classy lady like the Beacon Hill! In my 12 year old eyes though it was perfect :)

For those of you who like to know the backstory of how the Beacon Hill became mine, here are my former posts: Christmas and Here. It was quite a challenge finding just the right color for the exterior (chronicled here) but the interior was even more desperately in need of some serious makeover work!!
Ah, that's getting better! How did I get there? So glad that you asked!
A few layers of Gesso and a calming shade of "Hearth" by Martha Stewart tinted with a bit of white, and I was ready to begin adding some architectural details. The crown molding and baseboard is from Manchester Woodworks' Ebay store but I took a low tech and low budget way to add the wainscoting details.
The wider wood pieces are just strip wood from the craft store and the rounded edges for adding a sort of bullnose edge and to fill in the annoying gaps in the bay windows are made from...
Bamboo skewers from the grocery store! Fifty for $1... how's that for a deal? :)
And here it is painted, although still looking rather rough. I'm not sure if white is the best of if I should go with the deep shade of green on the baseboards for a more 1920's authentic look?? I'd love your input!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shabby Miniature Bureau Tutorial

I made this bureau for my Orange Blossom and it's still one of my favorite pieces I've ever made from scratch! I'm going to let you know the secret of how I made it from a very ragged block of wood. Ready for the transformation?
I adore the crackle finish and the very chipped patch was a happy accident which is, of course, the very best kind! The open drawer is fun to drape items from and adds to the illusion...
because the drawers are all faux!
Here is the original block of wood that I salvaged from an ugly mini sofa. I cut a piece of basswood a little larger than the top and then went to work with my budget savvy molding method: I cut very bumpy case molding and cut it into long thin strips of various widths. It's the perfect scale for detail trim!
I then used precut wood rectangles and applied them as false drawer fronts, outlining them with my mini-molding from above. Next trick: the open drawer is simply held out with skinny strips for the side and bottom to give the impression of depth.
Here's where it looks as if I've lost my mini mind: I painted it shades of orange and red, using the deepest shades for inside the faux drawer to add the impression of depth. It is all very blotchy and smudged which adds to the realism for the crackle finish.
I applied the crackle finish according to directions and painted the whole thing a lovely shade of white. Add feet and a little hardware it here it is in it's proper home. Who says drawers have to open? :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beacon Hill Identity Crisis

Well, maybe not a crisis yet; but it could be if I stay this indecisive. Can I have a little sympathy? :)

It's fall which seems to restart my minis interest; some kind of nesting instinct, I guess! I've come back around to rehabbing my childhood Beacon Hill and was still wrestling with what to make of it. Another house? Modern family who likes antiques? PA dutch influence? No, that just clashes with the Victorian architecture. I just wasn't feeling anything until I thought of this idea:

I believe it's going to be a girls' school that takes in a boarder or two. I am a teacher and collect antique schoolbooks and recently found a "Elementary Home Economics" course book for girls of 1922 teaching everything proper about Cookery, Sewing, and Care of the Home." It is delightful!

Did you know that there are two kinds of "vitamines" and that fat is one of the 5 foodstuffs? Works for me!! If anyone has lost their recipe for Prune Whip, I've got you covered! :)
Look at this wonderful picture below:
Can't you just picture these girls working and learning in the Beacon Hill?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Mysteries

I knew I asked the right group of people about my mystery items yesterday! Thank you for your responses! Punch needle and bias tape makers sound right. The clips don't have a hole in the end however; the metal is just folded with a chisel shaped tip; no openings except the side just like a big binder clip. Would that still work?
Here is the lovely sewing chest that started it all.How about the prices on these Boye hooks below? I wish my hobbies were that cheap now! 1930's-40's maybe?
The two below are unmarked on the other side of the throat, completely smooth.
These are my next mystery hooks. The first is marked "minerva".
#2 doesn't have a throat at all, #3 and 4 are stamped (not raised) with 10 and 13 but nothing on the other side and the last has no markings at all and that interesting hole.
The heads are so tiny!

Antique Find and a Mystery for all you Crochet Friends

I just made the most wonderful antique find that had my name written all over it... literally! My husband and I were looking through an antique shop and I saw one of those sewing boxes on a stand. Being nosy, I opened it up and it was as if I had opened a time capsule! The entire box (which miraculously still had one tray left) was full of antique and vintage crochet hooks, knitting needles, threads, and embroidery floss. I fell in love of course and took it home. (Did I mention it was only $39 on sale??)

Then I saw the labels on the cotton threads... it was meant to be found by me!
I even found two 3 foot sections of homemade lace, a wonderfully worn embroidery hoop, and more vintage Coates & Clark thread. What a precious gift from the woman whose hands created beauty with some thread and simple tools...
I've spent hours researching all my finds and found a wonderful site all about crochet hooks by the Hook Lady. There are bone knitting needles, lots of Boye and Susan Bates hooks, 2 "Non-Inflammable" plastic hooks from the 60's and a few unmarked and unsized hooks that I'd love to know more about. There are even 2 black Boye hooks that may be a rare kind made briefly during WWII? Any experts out there? :) Here is the mystery, friends; can you help me identify these?
  1. The middle object below has a hollow tip and looks like it may be used for punch needle?
  2. The other pieces are _____? They are marked GMA USA
  3. One more hook that I missed taking a picture of... I have a hook marked VICTORIA which has an oval hole right through the throat where you rest your thumb. It looks as though it might give you a blister after a while! What is that about??
Thank you for any clues you may have to help me! I love a good mystery but solving them is even better! :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Little Pocketbook and Crochet Basket

Another crochet project... this time a little pocketbook for my neice. The yarn is a crinkly, stretchy yarn that is so fun to touch. It was one of those balls of yarn that was so precious that I just couldn't walk by. Look at those colors and the texture! It was perfect for this project for a special little girl. And lest you think I'm quitting minis, I used the same tube/crochet in the round to make the mini basket below using thread.


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