Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hitty Doll & Book "Hitty: Her First Hundred Years"

Have you ever heard of a Hitty Doll?  I hadn't, until recently...

While researching dolls online, I ran across the name Hitty. My curiosity was peaked and I started researching Hitty dolls. Sometimes you just have to chase a rabbit or two, because you never know what treasure you might find. :)  I found out that the original Hitty doll was the main character of a book called Hitty: Her First Hundred Years. The book was actually written in 1929 by Rachel Field, and illustrated by Dorothy Lathrop, and it is still being published today.  In 1930, the book won the John Newberry Medal for the "most distinguished contribution to American Literature for Children".  Rachel Field was the first woman to ever win the Newberry Medal.

Rachel Field wrote the book about an actual doll she and her friend Dorothy Lathrop purchased together in an antique store in the 1920's, when Mehitable, nicknamed Hitty, was already over 100 years old. Wait... this book is about a one hundred year old doll's life, before being purchased in an antique store... no question, I HAD to read it! I found a copy on the Newberry shelf at my local library, and started reading it with my girls.

Our Library Book

The book is written as if Hitty were writing her memoirs, so Hitty is telling the story of her life and adventures as a little wooden doll. The book is a wonderful read for both young and old alike. If you like dolls, you will love this book. I am ordering my own copy to keep, because I want to be able to read it again and again, and I want to read it to my grandchildren someday when I have some! With four kids between the ages of 8 and 24, it's only a matter of time hopefully, right?

The book has 17 chapters with 207 pages.  The illustrations by Dorothy Lathrop sprinkled throught the pages are just precious!

Hitty in the woods.

Hitty at her writing desk.

Hitty with her trunk.

I also found a dollhouse scale verson of the Hitty book, and since I'm working on a dollhouse, I had to have that version too. It is a pre-printed kit, and I'm really looking forward to putting it together when it arrives. You can see the miniature Hitty book kit at

The original Hitty doll is a 6.25" tall peg-jointed wooden doll, who was carved from White Mountain Ash wood.  No one knows who the wood carver was who actually carved her in the 1800's. After Rachel Field and Dorothy Lathrop purchased the original Hitty doll in an antique store in the 1920's, she lived part of the time with the author Rachel Field in California and part time with the illustrator Dorothy Lathrop in New York. When Rachel Field passed away in 1942, Hitty stayed with the illustrator, Dorothy Lathrop in Albany, NY. When Dorothy Lathrop passed away in 1988, her family donated Hitty to the Stockbridge Library Museum in Stockbridge, MA, where Rachel Field was originally from. If you are ever in Massachusetts, you can actually visit the original Hitty doll in person at the Library.

Once I started reading the Hitty book, and researching Hitty online, I just fell in love and wanted my own Hitty doll. But where does one get a Hitty doll?  Hitty dolls are actually still being made today by various artists in a variety of different mediums including wood, resin, cloth, clay and more.  Check out Pinterest to see some of the variety of different Hitty dolls being made by artists.

I'm happy to announce that I am excitedly awaiting the arrival of my Hitty.  She is a hand carved wooden, jointed Hitty by Robert Raikes. She's not new, but that's ok, neither was the original Hitty. From what I've read online, Robert Raikes made Hitty dolls in 2002 and in 2005. I found her online, and she should arrive next week. Until then, I just have her picture, so here she is:

Have you ever read Hitty: Her First Hundred Years? I would definitely recommend reading this lovely book. Check it out at your local library. Libraries usually stock all of the Newberry Award winning books, so they should have a copy on the Newberry shelf. Or look inside Hitty: Her First Hundred Years on Amazon. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book and Hitty dolls.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Shabby Chic Kitchen, Dollhouse Part 5

Back with another dollhouse update.  As I mentioned yesterday, I searched high and low for a kitchen set for the dollhouse, but just couldn't quite find what I was looking for.  I even made a sketch of the kitchen that I had in mind, thinking that would help me find it, but I still couldn't find anything like it. Finally, I decided to just build it myself from scratch.  Just a few supplies and some imagination was all that I needed.

Welcome to my little Shabby Chic Kitchen...

The kitchen is not finished yet, but I wanted to share what I have so far. I still need to make curtains for the window over the sink and I'm thinking about adding an island.

To build the kitchen, I bought a bag of random size pieces of basswood at Hobby Lobby for $5.39 ($8.99 - 40% off coupon).  

I used the same tools as for the trim, that I discussed in the previous post (Building a Dollhouse, Part 4), so I didn't have to buy any additional tools. I cut every piece with the utility knife and the metal straight edge ruler, unless it was small enough to cut with the Easy Cutter Ultimate. I didn't use a saw to cut anything. The only power tool I used was a drill to drill a few holes.  

I should have taken more pictures during the building process, but I spent most of the time just trying to figure out "how" to do it.  It was a lot of thinking, sketching, measuring, cutting, gluing, and a lot of trial and error. I stained the wood before painting, so that I could sand off the paint in places to give it the shabby chic look that I wanted. I mixed the Weathered Glass and off-white paint to make it a softer, lighter color.

The refrigerator was built out of basswood too. I cut little strips of basswood to make shelves on the door. I painted the refrigerator first with Gesso, then with white acrylic paint. If you haven't used Gesso before, it is a great craft supply to have on hand. Painting with Gesso first will provide a smooth, finely textured surface on canvas, paper, wood, or plaster. Artists use it to size (prepare) their canvas for painting. I bought a small pair of hinges to attach the refrigerator door.

This kitchen has some elements from my own kitchen, and some are just dream kitchen.  I have an apron front farmhouse sink, so I knew I wanted to make a miniature one like mine. I glued together little pieces of basswood that I had cut to size, to make a box shape. Once dried, I sanded the edges to make them rounded like my sink. I drilled a hole for the drain. I had never used a power drill before, but I learned how for this project. I even learned how to change the drill bit to the size I wanted. I painted the sink with Gesso, which gave it a smooth porcelain-like finish. 

Then, I painted the sink with white acrylic paint, and around the drain with gray and silver paint. I made a little curtain for under the sink. I made the faucet from copper wire leftover from when we built our house. I used pliers to bend the wire into a shape that I liked. I used a mixture of Tacky Glue and copper colored paint and applied it with a toothpick to make a little ball on the end of the wire for the spout. I dipped the handles in the mixture too to fill in the loops.  I rounded a piece of wood for a faucet base, painted it copper, and drilled holes to fit the faucet and handles.  The faucet and handles can be turned.

In my house, all of my cabinets have doors, but I did open shelves in these cabinets so I could see all of the adorable little miniatures that will eventually be in this little kitchen.

I wanted an old fashioned style refrigerator, instead of a modern stainless steel one like mine.  I sanded the corners to give it a rounded top.  The line on the front is just carved to separate the freezer on top, but the door is all one solid piece.  I knew exactly what I wanted the handle to look like, "old fashioned". I looked around the house, and found the perfect item to use as the handle. Can anyone guess what the handle actually was?  Hint: it is made of silver metal and it came from an ordinary everyday household object.

The top two shelves are the freezer compartment and the bottom three shelves are the refrigerator.  I'll make some ice cream to go in the freezer soon.  I glued a tiny magnet on the door, and  I cut a piece of metal from a picture hanger to glue inside the refrigerator to catch the door magnet, which keeps the door closed.

In case you noticed that the freezer needs defrosting (remember this is an old fashioned refrigerator), here's how I did that.  I painted the inside surfaces of the freezer with Tacky Glue, then I sprinkled Fun Flock on the glue. An instant frosted refrigerator. You can get Fun Flock in the scrapbooking and embossing area of the craft store.  It's been in my craft supplies for a long time.

The stove is made of basswood and painted with Gesso and white acrylic paint just like the refrigerator and sink.  To make the stove top, I first glued 4 silver beads where the burners go with E6000 glue.

Next, I glued two different sized stainless steel washers for each burner.

For the top of the burner I used four rubber O-ring seals from the plumbing department at Lowe's.  I also used Size 3 Hook and Eyes from the sewing department at Hobby Lobby.  I clipped off the hook part and slid 4 hooks on to each seal to make the black grate part of the burners. I glued these on with Tacky Glue since I needed a glue that dried clear (E6000 dries white).

I shaped the stove knobs from silver polymer clay.  The oven handle is carved from basswood and painted silver.

I painted the inside of the oven with grey paint, then speckled it with black and white paint. I glued a piece of clear plastic cut from packaging on to the inside of the oven door. The door is hinged by drilling a tiny hole through the door frame and into the door on each side at the bottom, and inserting the thicker part of a toothpick with some glue.  It works perfectly as a hinge.

I added two drawers to hold silverware, etc.

I shaped two tiny pieces of basswood and attached them to a piece of dowel to make a towel holder on the end of the cabinet.

 Here is how the stove and cabinet looks in the kitchen.

Above the stove are open shelves to display some miniatures. Behind the shelves, I attached a piece of the same fabric that I used for the curtain under the sink. On the shelves is a Cherry Tea Set from Hobby Lobby, a set of Cherry Canisters from Michael's, and two unusually shaped glass bottles with corks that I found in the jewelry department at Hobby Lobby.  Inside is real Olive Oil in one and Balsamic Vinegar in the other.

The backsplash is made from a sheet of dark brown embossed paper from Hobby Lobby.  It looked like tile to me, so I wrapped a piece of basswood with it and painted it with Gesso. This is what the paper looked like before painting it with Gesso.

After painting it with Gesso, I painted it with white acrylic paint, then I dry brushed it with my Cottage Rose paint, so that it just picked up the color on the raised parts. I finished it with a coat of Glossy Mod Podge to make it shiny.

Here is another shot of the stove, the shelves, and refrigerator.

Some very excited dolls have been waiting patiently to try out this kitchen. 

Twinkle climbs to reach the shelves and Amelia Thimble helps with washing up the dishes.  :)

Little Pullip Stica is ready to go to work as a maid in this little kitchen.

Mini American Girl Kirsten cooks up something delicious for her friend Felicity.

Kit gets the dessert out of the freezer.

My daughters keep asking me who is going to live in this dollhouse. This dollhouse is the standard 1:12 scale or 1 inch scale, and I built the kitchen to that scale too.  In case you're new to dollhouses, this means 1 inch = 1 foot.  So the countertops are 3" high, which is equivalent to 3 feet high in real life (standard kitchen counter height).  The ceilings are 9" high, which is equivalent to 9' ceilings in our houses.

The mini American Girls fit, but they look a little large in there.  This makes sense because they are 6" high, which would equal 6' tall in real life.  Six feet is fine for adult height, but mini AG dolls look like little girls, which makes them look a little big in this scale.

Amelia Thimble (Wilde Imagination) and Twinkle (Fairyland RealPuki BJD) are a little small, but since Amelia is a little girl and Twinkle is a fairy, you would expect them to be smaller than adults.

Hmmm... who should be the residents of this house?  What do you think?
Don't forget to leave your guess below about what the refrigerator door handle originally was.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Building a Dollhouse, Part 4

Time for another update on the progress of building the Dollhouse. I've been very busy working on the dollhouse, and it is changing every day.

My sweet husband has been working on the shingles whenever he has time. He's not finished yet, but it's getting close. I just bought the 4th bag of 350 shingles. This house has a very big roof.

If you remember, the front porch of the house was stained wood, like the floors inside. I was debating on whether to make that area the front yard or a front porch. A lot of my readers suggested to make it like a courtyard area, and I love that idea. Thank you to everyone who left suggestions!!! I am planning to do a technique using egg cartons to make it look like flagstone. To begin this transformation, I have painted it a dark gray. This will show through as the grout in between the stones. It took about four coats of gray paint to cover the wood stain completely.

Next, I wanted to get all the interior trim done. I used bass wood to make all the molding. I carved lines in the wood to make it look like actual molding. I am amazed at how many little pieces of trim had to be measured, cut, labeled, painted, and glued in place. I worked on molding every day for a week to get it all done. This picture is just a fraction of the pieces being painted. You can see on the bottom rows that I had to go back after the paint dried to paint the end of each piece where I held it to paint it.

These are the tools that I used to cut all of the molding. On the top left is the Midwest Easy Miter Box and Saw. I got this set a Joann Crafts for $9 with a 40% off coupon. This set was great to have to cut angles especially on thicker wood. On the top right is the Midwest Easy Cutter Ultimate, which I got at Hobby Lobby for $16.79 with a 40% off coupon. The Easy Cutter Ultimate is my favorite tool.  It has a guide rail that you turn to the pre-marked degree for the angle of cut that you want. Then you just squeeze the handles to make the cut. The Easy Cutter is quick and easy to use, and was definitely worth every penny. I also used a Stanley Utility Knife (from Wal-Mart) and a metal straight edge ruler (from Hobby Lobby) to make all of the straight cuts that couldn't be made with the other tools.  The utility knife and metal straight edge ruler are both a must have if you are doing any work with wood. Just above the ruler is the Ball Stylus that I used to carve the lines in the wood to make it look like molding. I've had this ball stylus for a long time, and I've used it in the past for embossing paper and for sculpting polymer clay.

Here's a better picture of the Easy Cutter Ultimate tool, so you can see the degree markings and the guide rail. My husband also enjoyed using this handy tool to cut the angles on the shingles. It was so much quicker and easier than cutting them with a utility knife.

I installed baseboards, crown molding, door facings, and window trim and sills. Here is the kitchen and dining area.

I'm so glad that I took the time to figure out how to add window sills to the windows. I looked at my own windows to figure out how to make the sills. I can just see little potted plants and things sitting on the window sills. The windows came with the house, but no window sills or any other trim or molding was included.

I went with a bigger, bolder molding around the front door than the other door frames. I carved away on a piece of wood until I got the look I wanted. You can see how I made it different from the door frame next to it that goes into the dining room. I wanted it to stand out to really showcase the front entry.

I got some unfinished wood finials from Hobby Lobby to use as newel post caps. I painted them Island Blue and glued them to the top of the newel posts. I really like the way the off-white baseboards sets the wallpaper apart from the wood floors.

Upstairs, more newel posts and more trim. This wallpaper looks a lot darker in the pictures than it actually is.

Here's the bedroom next door. I am so ready to start working on some furniture for this empty house! In the mean time, there are a few things in here to look at. The rug is from Ebay. I found the metal rocking chair at a flea market for $1. It was gold, but I spray painted it white. The potted plant in a basket is from Michael's. I found the little dog at Goodwill for .59¢.

The bathroom is a work in progress. I have added wainscoting, trim, and some fixtures. I still need to decide on the arrangement of the furniture and fixtures, then hang the mirror, make curtains, and add some more details to finish up this room.

On the third floor, I added molding and repainted the knee walls off-white to match the molding.  

The little doggie from Goodwill ran upstairs for his closeup.  

Coming Soon...

The big kitchen reveal. I have searched everywhere for the style of kitchen I wanted, but I just couldn't find quite what I was looking for (maybe it only existed in my mind). I tried the little black stove, but it just didn't work. I thought about buying a set and altering it to what I wanted, but miniature kitchens are very expensive to buy one just to remodel. So, I decided to build my own from scratch - cabinets, stove, refrigerator, and even the kitchen sink. 

Have a wonderful, blessed week!!!