Getting back into our routine after our trip to Oz has taken quite a while. I have only just adjusted myself to the realities of the weekly food shop and housework. Carving out time for creativity has been a real struggle and seemed beyond me!
But slowly I’m kick-starting the organisational skills it takes to create, make and blog and I am pleased to say that the boyfriend and I have finally finished the girls Christmas present! I don’t feel too bad about them getting it in March. They got SO much stuff over Christmas from us, relatives and of course Father Christmas, a bit of time between gifts will not have done them any harm.
Last summer I found a pair of toy kitchen units by the bins of a nursery. They were a bit battered and with some bits missing, but they looked like they could be rescued with a bit of love and attention. I was with the girls at the time and had no way of taking them with me, so I persuaded Malc to pick them up the next day. He made sure that it was OK with the nursery to take them as that is what you are meant to do. I don’t really understand that bit. If someone’s left something outside of their property next to the rubbish, I think it safe to assume that the previous owners don’t care who takes it, they just want it gone. But as we are disgustingly proper and HAVE to do the right thing, we asked anyway.
The units had been hiding in our attic until the end of last October. I thought this would give us plenty of time to get them shipshape for Christmas…it did not
The first thing I did was give them a good clean with some sugar soap. I had never used it before, but Malc suggested this might clean them well enough so that they would not have to be completely repainted. It did get rid of a lot the muck, but after a good think, I decided that I’d like to completely re-paint them. It would mean losing some of the lovely markings on the knobs and surfaces that I would not be able to replicate, but we would be able to paint them exactly how we wanted to and make them a bit different.
We made a list of all the things that needed to be mended or replaced. It went like this:
A new shelf in both
Replace bottom panel in both
A new door on one unit
Replace Perspex on both doors
Find replacement washing up bowl
Stencil/paint/stickers for graphics etc
Now to be honest Malc has done a lot of this. All the cutting of new wood for the panels, shelves and door, replacing the Perspex and the majority of the painting has been up to him. Big up Malc!
My work has been mostly nagging him to do these things and sulking when he didn’t. I did finish off the last leg of the painting, source the Perspex, make stencils for the new marking and applying these.
I tried to think of different ways round replacing the markings. I considered cutting vinyl shapes out for the hob graphics and using ready-made vinyl lettering. I thought about painting everything on freehand, but couldn’t face the tension so I decided to make some stencils. I knew I wasn’t going to get a super sharp result using gloss paint, but I decided that the blurry lines and smudges would be part of the character.
I copied the graphics from a photograph taken before we painted, painstakingly cut them out and tried not to lose the pieces. I used spray mount to attach them, hoping they wouldn’t bond too much and I would be able to pull back the stencil easily. From the little I read about successful stenciling, I learnt that thin coats are best and I did my best to be stingy with the paint. Inevitably I loaded the sponge too much because I was impatient. The result was good but not great. I have had to do quite a bit of re touching with a teeny tiny brush. There was a fair bit of smudging. If I had really taken my time and been supper light with the paint, I am sure the lines would have been much cleaner. Oh well, you stencil and learn.
I came to a complete standstill trying to replace the washing up bowl. The units themselves are discontinued toys, so trying to get spare parts from the manufacture was pointless. I thought perhaps a baking tray, plastic box or piece of Tupperware would fit the whole left in the top of the unit, but nah. After quite a while of feeling stumped, it occurred to me to make a fabric one! I bought some silver material which was too thin, but was all I could find and I backed it on to some calico with Bondaweb (love that Bondaweb). I made a simple pattern in two pieces. Piece One was a long strip/band to create the sides and Piece Two was a curved rectangle for the bottom. I made some cuts at the top of the side panel in the corners so it could be folded back and be staple gunned to the underside of the top of the unit.
And that’s about it. The door we have replaced is not perfect and maybe after I’ve done a woodwork course I’ll do it again. Apart from that, I think they look great and I’m pretty sure the girls are going to L.O.V.E them.
I better get started on renovating the dolls house for next years Christmas present now!