Sunday, August 30, 2015

The French Farmhouse: Stonewalled!

All of the pieces necessary to the daily working of the farmhouse were in place in the farmyard: the chicken coop, the well, and the oven. The only major construction task remaining was a wall to define the farmyard boundary and to provide a tidier, more finished appearance to the farmhouse.

 I started the wall project by measuring and cutting the styrofoam pieces that I needed.

I hammered small nails around the edges of the base board and applied glue to the nails and to the edge where the wall would be erected.

 I mounted the long west front wall and the short west end wall by the wine store by pushing the styrofoam pieces down onto the nails; I pressed on the pieces gently to be sure that the wall was securely in place along the board.

 I cut the pieces for the simple gate posts and attached them to the west walls before applying joint compound to the wall sections. Stones were embedded randomly to the sides and top of the walls.

 The east end wall that connects to the chicken coop has been partially installed. I ran out of the colored joint compound that I had used on the west section of the wall and had to mix up a new batch. Always tricky. I kept a record of the colors that I used, but not the exact amounts, so each new mixture entailed much trial and many errors. The paint mixture in the above photo includes Golden Brown, Khaki Tan, and Traditional Burnt Umber. When the new batch dried, it turned out to be a bit darker than the original, which meant more mixing and matching had to be done.

 I erected the east end and east front walls, added on the gate post, and repeated the stucco and stone process.

 The wall was up all around the farmyard boundary. I placed more stones randomly along the top of the wall. The stones for the top of the east wall were individually selected by my granddaughter, Sophia, from the "stone collection" basket. (The basket she had helped fill in the first place.) Sophia had suffered a mild concussion the day before when she fell from the jungle gym at school, so she had a day off to spend with me. I don't think I made her work too hard; besides, I paid her four quarters for her labor.

 After all my concern about color matching for the wall stucco, the stucco had so many cracks when it dried that I had to thin down the remaining mixture to create a "slip" that I applied to all the walls, inside and out. So it didn't matter after all that the two batches hadn't matched - and I had exactly enough of the slip; I didn't need to mix more.

A brief aside: Pretend that you cannot see that "cow" in the shadowy barn. She has a story all her own that I will relate in an upcoming post.

The added slip has almost dried on the west front wall....

...and the east walls were in the process of drying, after which the stuccoing would be complete.

 Except, of course, for the never-ending sanding! I sanded the walls and stones lightly, so that only portions of the stones were completely revealed. And - finally, at long last - the never-ending sanding had ended! But one last thing remained to be done in the farmyard. Two bags of gravel waited to be spread over the entire area within the boundary walls.

I applied a generous layer of glue to the farmyard, working in small sections. The gravel was spread - also generously - over the glue and pressed down firmly. Unfortunately, I spread the gravel a bit too generously because I ran out of gravel just before I reached the well, so it was necessary to buy a third bag.

 The application of gravel continued on to the well area and around to the chicken run. After the gravel was securely glued down, I found a good flat stone that I placed in the approximate standing spot for using the balancing lever for the well. I placed a second flat stone at the outside entrance to the boy's room. 

There still remained numerous farmhouse tasks to complete, but the basic structure and farmyard additions were finished! It was time to move the farmhouse to another (temporary) location where I would work on the myriad of miscellaneous items that had to be done before I could call the farmhouse truly FINISHED.

 This is the table top that Robert built. He makes beautiful table tops but balks at building the table bases. So I brought these antique Singer sewing machine bases out of the storeroom, and they serve their new purpose wonderfully. The table was in the living room of our townhouse in this photo, but it would eventually be moved to the basement family room, where it would provide a permanent home shared by the French farmhouse and the adobe house.

 Moving Up! Robert (left side) and his friend Steve carry the farmhouse VERY CAREFULLY from the basement level to the living room via the outdoor route. They wanted to avoid carrying the house up the indoor stairs, not being sure of its maneuverability. (Nor its weight!)

Climbing the Hill! Our neighbor, Dick, joined in to act as rear guardsman. Just in case. I only watched - with bated breath and rapid heart rate - this oh so scary operation.

The Home Stretch! They've made it successfully around to the front of the house - ready to carry the farmhouse through the front door (only two steps up to manage) and to the waiting table, which is just a few steps inside the door.

Home Safe! And the French farmhouse was finally at rest on the beautiful new table: safe, sound, and 
all in one piece!


The French Farmhouse is nearing Moving-In time, which will also be the time when I introduce the inhabitants of the farmhouse. But before that day comes, there's another inhabitant of sorts that requires an introduction. And an explanation. And possibly even an exclamation. (Cowabunga!!) I hope you'll stop by next week to meet this mysterious embarrassment.


  1. Oh Marjorie! How well I remember the anxiety of moving day, but how Wonderful to have reached that stage! I think that the getting the roof on was a milestone and got you so close that it super-charged you regarding getting the rest of the farm completed. I have to say that the wall truly was the Finishing Touch! It is like having a frame around a painting or a margin around a paragraph, it contains it, defines the structure and gives it polish! Adding the gravel was a good choice too, as it too, is Very French! Your introduction of the mystery cow has me glued to the screen and I can hardly wait to hear more about her! What a cliffhanger! :D


    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      Thank you for your comments; I like your description of a "frame around a painting" - what a nice way to think of the stone wall!

  2. Que nervios has tenido que pasar en la mudanza de la casa a su nueva ubicación!!! Pero por fin está en su sitio y sin sufrir ningún daño! La mesa es perfecta!!
    Me encanta el muro que has construido de delimitación y la grava del suelo tan francesa!!!!
    Me quedo con ganas del nuevo post en que nos hablarás de la vaca,que intriga!!

    1. Hello, Pilar,
      It was certainly a relief to have the farmhouse moved safely! Robert thanks you for your nice comment about the table that he made. I always appreciate hearing from you; I hope you enjoy my next post!

  3. Hello Marjorie,
    This house takes my breath away. Thank you very much for your lovely comment on my post, but I can assure you I would never be able to create a house like this. You have really mastered many techniques that are foreign to me. Your plasterwork is wonderful and so realistic. the wall was the missing touch that really completes this mini masterpiece. I also love the table it is on and happy that there was no damage in the move. It took my breath away to look at the house in it's entirety, but I must say my eye goes to the kitchen. I can't wait to see what awaits us next time. Keep up the fantastic me when I say you have nothing to hide under the bed about. You are a very talented miniaturist and do excellent quality work.
    Big hug
    N.B. I hope Sophia is all better!

    1. Hello Giac,
      You are so kind to restore my confidence in my miniature endeavors! Thank you for that. I'm actually very happy that so many miniaturists have very different visions, strengths, and skills so that we can learn from one another and share our appreciation of those differences. I always enjoy reading your comments; they give me much motivation and inspiration. Thank you for asking about Sophia. Yes, she is fine - completely recovered and enjoying climbing the jungle gym again!

  4. Marjorie, the table done by Robert is beautiful! I really like these antique sewing machine bases.The new place for your beautiful house is perfect!

    Big hugs!

    1. Hello Magda,
      Robert sends his personal "thank you" for the nice compliment on the table that he made. I was so happy to have the sewing machine bases on hand; they worked out very well and it was good to finally put them to use. Thank you for keeping in touch.

  5. Phew so glad you got your house displayed safe and sound you had great helpers :)). The wall looks fantastic and is a perfect finishing touch. Your husbands table is gorgeous. I cant wait to find out about your very interesting cow lol.
    Hugs Maria

    1. Hi Maria,
      Thanks for the nice comments about the table that Robert made and about the wall around the farmhouse. It was a happy relief to get the house moved upstairs without incident! I hope you'll stop by next week to see what that curiosity of a cow is doing.

  6. Привет Marjorie!
    Вы сделали большую работу! Стена смотрится очень хорошо! Я рада что вы удачно переместили дом. Он очень большой! Я люблю ваш невероятно красивый стол! Ваш муж молодец! Моя бабушка имела такую же швейную машинку. Это замечательная идея! Я сделаю маленький стол! :) Т:) :)

    1. Hi Tatiana,
      Thank you! It was good that I happened to have those sewing machine bases - they do make very good table bases. My husband secured the wood top to the base very well so that it won't tip or slide. I hope you get to make one; post a photo if you do!


I'd love to hear your comments!