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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Kitchen Progress: Miniature Dumbwaiter

Welcome folks!

Today's Progress Report is focusing on the dumbwaiter in the new kitchen module.  The complexity of the design for this kitchen is dictating a different approach than I have taken with the other rooms.

As a result, my focus in the near term is on those items that affect the ceiling.  My preferred approach is to complete the ceilings first, then work down, but with this project, there are several elements which directly affect the ceiling treatment, and these I need to finish before completing the ceilings. 

As you can see in the picture of the overall space planned, the dumbwaiter is the tall hollow column at the back of the photo.  Due to its space deep within the kitchen, I must also bring the dumbwaiter close to completion prior to enclosing the space.  So I set about doing that as my first task for the kitchen. 

(It took me quite a LONG time to figure out the approach to this kitchen! Thinking about all the dependencies and tolerances took me a couple of hours!)

After spending an hour or two cutting egg cartons into little bricks 5/16" by 11/32" I applied the "bricks" to the dumbwaiter form.  For this particular item, I chose to just use the mocked up version as the basic form, since it would be entirely covered up with brick.  I am always thinking about weight with this house.  The more wood, the more weight!

As you can see above, I drew guidelines for each line.  Thank You to all of you who posted on this process! You saved me a lot of headache with that little tip!  I would likely have just started adding brick and ended up with "crooked courses".  Having been through this now, I would not recommend trying that!  These lines saved my bacon on this project.  They helped me to ensure my lines of brick remained uniform.

The obvious next step was to paint the brick.  Since I am able to discern the obvious, I began that process. I used a satin latex from Lowes that I found in the clearance (returned) paint samples.  You can get some nice colors that way, for about a dollar each!  I've been watching that area at Lowe's, and have gotten some great colors. 

Here's a shot of the painted wall.  I think it came out rather nicely!  This color is the base coat only.  I plan to work on the coloring of the brick to give it a more interesting appearance.  I will complete that once all the brick used in the room is ready to go, since I want a uniform treatment.

Next, I cut several holes in the column to accommodate the "cupboards" for the dumbwaiter.   I added a second coat of paint.

For the bottom of the dumbwaiter, I used two metal blanks from the craft store.  Of course, the way they package things nowadays, one was silver and the other gold.  (Any musical reference come to mind with that?!). Metal does not take acrylic paints well, so in order to manipulate them to the same rich gold color, I had to gesso them first.  

I added these painted blanks to the dumbwaiter column, and added a finding at the top to mimic another cupboard.  This finding was a "tome" from the Fairy Tale line of findings, found at Hobby Lobby.  It is meant to be used as a locket, but it makes a very nice, in scale cabinet once opened! Unfortunately, all of my "cabinets" are going to be non-functioning.  I am saving such lofty aspirations as working doors until later in my miniature life. 

Next step was to create the wood door for the dumbwaiter itself.  Again, I just used the Foam Core base and added veneers.  This is the same Sapelle veneer I used on the floor in the Grand Parlor. 

To trim off the piece, I cut very thin strips of mahogany veneer into moldings, mitering them at the corners.  I also cut some small strips of wood to fill in between the cabinets, as I thought this added a richness to the piece that would not have been there otherwise. 

The last steps of this little adventure were to add several jewelry findings to the piece.  I added small circular, pierced beads as hinges, some small heart shaped charms (upside down!) and a couple of delicate findings on the metal blanks at the bottom of the dumbwaiter.  As I see this photo, I see a small alteration I need to make (for the first time, I might add!   How long have I been looking at this?  Amazing what we can miss when we are focused.)  One of the beads is at a bit of an angle, and will have to be straightened!  

I think overall, this has created that somewhat aged elegance I had hoped for.  As with everything in this project, it has a bit of a fanciful element to it.  I tend to love fantasy, so I am pretty happy with the piece.  I have some further touch up to do, again, seeing these things for the first time! Photography, you gotta love it and hate it.  Every little flaw shows up in all it's merciless glory in a photo.   I'll attack those flaws with a vengeance, and you will never see them again! 

This little project was one of those that I was sitting on the edge of my chair the whole time, not knowing what to do next.  You will remember I am working on our dining room table.  Fur was flying, and by the time I was finished with this little project, I was knee deep in mess.  I've spared you the photo, but let's suffice it to say, it took me well over an hour and a half to clean it all up!  My wife is happy to see her table top once more.  

 Courtesy of

Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving holiday!  I am back to work for the first time again today.  I cannot tell you how much I have longed to return to work.  NOT. 

Talk to you again soon!

Doug S


  1. Hi Doug,
    What an opulent piece!! I love how you are dividing up the kitchen area and think the dumb waiter is such a marvellous addition. I am just enthrawled with steampunk.... and as I watch your progress and ideas unfold, I am more tempted to delve into this enchanting world. Keep on inspiring....:)
    All the best

    1. Hi Vivian,

      That would be fun, having a fellow steampunker architect! :0) I am really not sure why I enjoy the Steampunk genre so much, other than I love Victorian Style, Art Noveau, and fantasy. They are all in the Steampunk aesthetic so I guess it suits well.

      Part of the Steampunk vibe is often overly opulent decoration, just like the Victorian age. Just add the over the top elegance of fine metals, and the richness of multiple textures, and you have a great start! I am hoping that once all is done, the whole thing will have an obvious faded elegance that is easily identifiable as Steampunk. We'll see! This is a stretch for me, learning how to do Steampunk!

      Glad you are inspired! I'll have to start a campaign or something, get you committed to that new project! :0) I'll have you converted yet!


  2. Okay, this blogpost was escaped on my eye :( ! And I also know why: now and than my readers list is far from complete, or new updates don't appear since a couple of weeks, grrr....:( ! I've had this problem before, but as you probably will know, you can't do nothing about it, it's quite annoying....
    Well, having said this: your project!
    I see that you've been very busy with an enormous chore: cutting up egg cartons into small pieces, brr, what a lot of work ;)! But the results are wonderful. The dumb waiter is a good addition, it's also finished on a wonderful way. I've seen on more blogs that they use jewelry embellishments for decorating furniture. I must say that for your steampunk project it's a great solution for the decoration.The results are great!
    In the meanwhile I'm busy with a mock up (I've learned a new word :)) of my 1:12 scale farm, but the foam board I am using will be hard to glue. What glue do you use for gluing it all together, Doug? Is it the special glue for plastic, because of the foam in the board? Otherwise it will melt, I am afraid. Well, it is my next problem to solve.
    Well, now I'll return to your newest blogpsot ;)!
    I want to thank you for your comments on my blog, it's very kind of you :D!
    Kind regards, Ilona

    1. Hello Illona! I am glad to see you! :0) I've had that happen, blog posts not showing up, and I feel the same way! It IS annoying! :0)

      I'm learning more about using jewelry findings as the basis for much of the detail in miniature projects. I must say, there is a lot to learn. I have seen some absolutely gorgeous miniatures where jewelry findings were the basis for some of the details. It is an area I will explore more as I move forward. I am a sucker for details! I want to learn anything that helps me add believable details.

      I am so excited that you are using the mock up idea for your farm. I think you will find that while it does mean a bit of up front work, it is well worth it, as you are able to adjust your ideas and you'll end up with something much more to your liking as a result. I just use Arlene's Original tacky glue and/or sewing pins to hold it all together. You can get Arlene's Tacky Glue on Amazon. If you look at the pictures, you can see that MOST of my mock up this time was done using a good old fashioned sewing pin. I usually use glue only if I think I will re-use the pieces as the base for the final version. Pins are much easier! :0) Definitely do not use a heat gun (glue gun) on the Foam Core! You will have a big old mess!

      Good luck with your farm mock up! :0)


    2. P.S. Illona! The pictures I referred you to (sewing pins) were on the next post! I forgot they were not in this post! :0)

  3. Hello Doug,
    The brick looks fantastic, well done, but the dumb waiter is a true piece of artwork. It is fabulous and very well made. you have an incredible eye for detail. I actually prefer non opening doors in miniature. The doors stay closed and people are not tempted to go in and pull on them! Great work Doug.
    Big hug,


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