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MaryKate

San Franciscan 550 -- Here I Go

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Welcome to the forum - I’ve recently completed a Duracraft San Franciscan - sadly the Instructions aren’t the most encouraging or even the best written.  
 

I built the walls and then carefully dry fit all the pieces (you can go to my photo albums and see my dryfit) then I carefully disassembled the dryfit and began building and decorating one floor at a time.  If you’re electrifying with tape or round wire you’re going to want to make a plan on where you want electricity at the dryfit stage.   For this house, I personally decided on battery lights.

 I did not install the stairs when the instructions said to - I literally followed the instructions to get through one floor and then stopped to wallpaper and  install flooring on that entire floor before moving to the second floor and then the third and roof sections. 

I didn’t attach the tower and I’ve left the tower roof unattached as it’s easier for me to come in from the top than to try and reach around.   On the tower note - I wallpapered the tower pieces before assembling them with the windows for ease of access. 

its a great Build and if you take your time you’ll be happy with the results.  
feel free to ask questions anytime as someone is always willing to share. 
 

hope this helps you feel less undaunted! 

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3 hours ago, Qubanqtee said:

...On the tower note - I wallpapered the tower pieces before assembling them with the windows for ease of access...

I wish I'd thought to do that!

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After trying to get my hand in there in the dry fit I figured it wasn’t going to get easier :chat:

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41 minutes ago, Qubanqtee said:

After trying to get my hand in there in the dry fit I figured it wasn’t going to get easier :chat:

One of the best arguments in favor of dry fitting.

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I didn't learn to dry fit building Dura-Craft...

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The tips are sounding great.  Thank you!  I kind of like the idea of leaving the tower roof unattached (or maybe making some sort of hinge or hook arrangement).  I don't see how you can actually reach through to get anything into the top floor of it from the back.  I have pudgy hands.

Oh, before I forget - anybody got a source for the wand that you wave at your finished project that turns it two-dimensional so you can just slip it against the wall to store it in your already way too overcrowded house?  ; )

I'll go look at the photo albums.  I'll bet they all look amazing!

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I received a lot of help from many who have become friends and so it's only right to pay it forward....you'll have fun.

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Posted (edited)

One thing that usually bothers me about dollhouses is the windows.  The white painted lines that are supposed to represent wood holding each pane of glass never look right because they're flat and level with the "glass."  Does anybody know of a method to make them stand up - a particular kind of paint or putty or something to put over the painted lines?

Edited by BookMad

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You can use caulking to define the lines and use a cake tip - such as a number 1 and it’ll pop beautifully 

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That's a good idea.  I also wondered if my brother could do something with his 3D printer.  Maybe even in black so it looks like stained glass leading.

I've been reading through the directions, and realized that mine is 555, not 550.  I hadn't known there were two different San Franciscan houses.  (Or three, now that I've looked).  So I've posted in the wrong place.  Oh, dear!

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No there’s nothing wrong with you posting here - the differences in the houses are mainly trim and top attic windows - the 557 is made of MDF and the 550 (the original model) and 555 are both plywood and the salt built walls ... the layout of the rooms is the same ... 

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You're talking about the decorative screen printing on the clear acetate window inserts?  You can use the puffy paint for painting dimensional designs on fabric.

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10 hours ago, BookMad said:

Does anybody know of a method to make them stand up - a particular kind of paint or putty or something to put over the painted lines?

Narrow strips of white labels can add depth. Use pointed tweezers to move into place and gently press to stick. Carefully handled, the narrow strips are flexible enough for the curves found on Gothic windows.

Lead tape used to weight golf clubs can be cut into strips to imitate leaded glass windows. This also works well for containment if you are adding Gallery Glass color to make a stained glass window.

My hand isn't steady enough to get clean lines with paint or caulk, and trying to clean up the lines usually results in further disasters. I find the cut strips work best for me, especially as they are easily removable if I don't get them placed well the first time. 

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My hands are a bit wobbly, too, so I think I'll take a look at the lead tape.  I'd never heard of it before, so thank you for telling me about it.  And I just had a thought:  gimp, that stuff you use to make lanyards.  It's got some dimension to it...

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26 minutes ago, BookMad said:

My hands are a bit wobbly, too, so I think I'll take a look at the lead tape.  I'd never heard of it before, so thank you for telling me about it.  And I just had a thought:  gimp, that stuff you use to make lanyards.  It's got some dimension to it...

It does, but it might be too thick, scale wise. Try using a ruler and permanent black marker on either side?

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I've been gathering materials and hoping to clear a spot on my table to start gluing my walls -  and planning colors.  Have any of you read the Betsy-Tacy books?  When the third friend, Tib, moves to Deep Valley, she lives in a chocolate-colored house.  I was thinking a rich chocolate brown with very pale pink and green  (or maybe blue) trim.  Like a chocolate Easter egg decorated with frosting.  Or dark chocolate with milk and white chocolate trim.  Or maybe a combination.

I also thought that it would look better with slate roof tiles, if I'm feeling energetic enough to paint some shingles to look like slate.

 

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On 7/19/2020 at 7:21 PM, BookMad said:

My hands are a bit wobbly, too, so I think I'll take a look at the lead tape.  I'd never heard of it before, so thank you for telling me about it.  And I just had a thought:  gimp, that stuff you use to make lanyards.  It's got some dimension to it...

Miniature designs sells the leaded tape. This is much easier to cut for some reason than the golf stuff I bought. You want your cuts to be about 1/32 of an inch. It takes a lot of practice to cut, but it looks so nice. https://miniaturedesigns.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=4_76_275&products_id=34679

 

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Oooh, Leslie, I like that color scheme!

Re: Window mullions: The 550 kit includes very narrow strip wood that you cut and fit to the windows as you assemble them. I used some of it to make the acetate "glass" into panes, but I left some windows "open" and some the others I made "stained glass" with Sharpies. This is a house for a little girl, and her sassy princesses wanted some ooh-la-la--and some ways to sneak in and out of the house! 

In my Orchid build, I'm using drafting tape, which you can buy at art and craft stores. It comes in various colors and widths, and the 1/16" and 1/8" work well for window leading. I take a strip and lay ito on wax paper, and color it with metallic Sharpies (silver works well for a leaded effect). Let that dry for a bit and then it can be applied to the windows, sometimes with tiny drops of clear glue to help it stick. I really like the effect. If you want more thickness you could probably create a double layer of the tape. 

I have to admit I was going gangbusters on the SF550 in May/June, but this month has been deadly for all my creative endeavors. In other advice, I agree with everyone who's said to decorate as you go and to paper the tower walls (at least) as you assemble them. My niece's hands will be able to reach into the corners, but mine definitely will not. And I'm going to leave the tower roof loose so she can reach in and play. 

I don't know how old your kit is, or what kind of foundation the later kits have. The 550 has a sheet of thin, splintering strips you're supposed to punch out, sand, paint, and glue to the sides of the foundation to make a lattice. I took one look at that and went, "NOPE." Unlike the rest of the wood in the kit, that sheet was awful and there was no way I was going through all that effort for a 4 year old's dollhouse. After assembling the foundation piece, I glopped on sparkling compound to make it look "more organic," as the house's recipient's 8 year old brother called it. Then we put it on the porch table and got out every color of green paint, along with some brown, that I had (this was mid-stay-at-home orders so I wasn't going out to get more). The three of us used sponge paintbrushes and had a grand time dabbing the different colors of paint all around the base and into the nooks and crannies. By the time one of us finished a side, it was already drying and ready for the next randomish coat of paint. Once that was completely dry, I got out some tiny paper flowers, along with some flower, insect, and butterfly stickers that are a good match for the scale (not *to* scale, as I'm not super finicky about that with this project), and we glued them onto the sides all around the house. It looks fanciful and fun, and I saved some flowers to make vines going up the tower (where Rapunzel is going to live, along with Ariel and probably at least one Descendants character, as that's her latest obsession). You could probably do something similar with more in-scale and authentic details if you're interested. I need to get more pictures loaded...once I sew another batch of masks.

The 8yo was worried we were getting green paint on the "floors" of the house, but as the house's footprint doesn't cover the whole base, I told him it was a good thing to make it look like the grass is growing all around the house. I will probably use something other than the flooring strips to make the first floor of the house, but whatever I do, any green that leaked through will be covered. It was a fun way to involve the kids in the project. 

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Carrie, that door is *gorgeous!*  I've just followed your link and ordered some of the lead tape.  Would a rotary cutter and ruler be the best for cutting it?

If it gets too complicated for me I may do part of it with the drafting tape and silver marker, too.

That website had some genuine slate tiles for the roof.  I'm seriously tempted....

Mary, the 550's foundation has the brickwork that you make by sticking a grid to the painted foundation and then spreading the brick dust and glue mixture on it, then pulling the grid off.  Not sure how sticky the grid is after all these years (the instructions are copyright 1984, I think) so I may have to put some spray glue or something on it first, but it still sounds easier than building a lattice out of poor quality wood! Your greens-and-brown paint dabbing sounds like a wonderful project for you and your niece and nephew to do together.

At one point you wrote sparkle instead of spackle, and it made me think of these little tiny jewel stick-ons that are intended for fingernails - I bought some of them at some point just because they were so pretty.  Wouldn't one of your rooms look magical with jewels scattered on the walls?

Found a lovely Valspar paint color called, appropriately, "Chocolate Bonbon."  And some pale yellow that looks like white chocolate.  I also found a beautiful pale pink and pale green, but they were out of sample-sized paint cans and I wan't going to buy an entire quart of either one of them!

My kit came with a VHS tape.  I need to connect my VHS player and watch it and see what the company that made the kit thinks I should know.

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13 hours ago, BookMad said:

Would a rotary cutter and ruler be the best for cutting it?

That is exactly what I ended up using...ha ha. With a clear ruler. Barbra Sabia uses X-acto type knives, but I found the rotary cutter smoother.

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Leslie,  my  SF555 came with the VHS tape and other than showing the assembly of the tongue & groove sections using masking tape it wasn't much help to me.

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