DIY Dioramas: Portable Walls!

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When thrift shopping, I never pass up one of these divided shadow boxes. They are usually cheap--and definitely worth the little bit of work to transform.

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I've also used them in permanent settings, such as Vickie's Vintage below. The infamous Shoe wall. This one all I did was remove the two covers and then hinge them together. The sparkle is the mirror that backs each of the cubby holes...perfect for maximizing the shoes for viewing! 
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Upside, I can use the hinge in the middle to make a corner also, as it is in Vickie's now.
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Any of my dioramas that are not in plastic Mattel structures or Vickie's, are set up to be portable. I can break them down and pack the insides away, usually in a small tote. Flat walls are folded and set along my lower walls on the covered concrete block wall bases we have in the craft room. 

I've shared how I use foam core walls to make a 

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Storefront Parking Lot

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A Vacation Cabin/Hut in Costa Rica-there is another shadow box, which was rough sawn wood with paper cut to fit each cubbyhole.

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A huge banquet Party Venue built entirely of covered foam core pieces. I could still set this room up in less than 15 minutes. I used black contact paper for most of the walls. 

I use the same gray/silver poster board for my floors/streets/sidewalks. Bases are done on the thicker foam core  so I can move a set-up if need be, and this gives a firm foundation for pinning the walls to. Half of my doll stand bases are covered in the same silver posterbboard, making wiping the edges out easy in editing my photos. 

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Creating that venue--with blank walls and printed additions!

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Another historical setting,

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 a background for a speaking engagement, quotes from Pinterest and book covers were pasted on paper that had European architecture on. James Baldwin, though American lived in Paris most of his life! 

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A complete pumpkin farm, from upside down painted foam core and a backdrop from a toy box.

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My hand-painted Chicago skyline makes a park and used for many more! 

Now back to furniture walls!
 Joe and Vickie's Condo is set up on two shelves, a 10" deep shelf and a 12" deep shelf, one above the other in my craft room. The back walls are actually the white-washed paneling from the craft room. The grid poles are the bracket holders. Often, if I remember I can wipe these out with editing.

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Here another shadow box is used as a built-in and focal point in Vickie's living room. Again, this one had mirrors, which can be tricky taking photos, My camera is in there along with the opposite storage wall, LOL.

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Another cubby box acts as the kitchen wall and cupboards. This one did not have moveable grids, so I left it the stained finish. I filled it with colorful kitchen ware and food items! 

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Now, back to the DIY for the bedroom diorama. This one was particularly clean and cheap---and the upside was the removable grid came out in once piece. I knew I wanted a white unit for the bedroom, so I started dismantling to prepare for painting. I wiped down the entire piece with alcohol to remove oils and dust.

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Next thing was to remove all the hardware and hinges!

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Luckily these are cheaply made and just prying off the hanger was easy. Many of these pieces are stained with a light sealer. Often the stain will bleed through light colored paints. I used a spray 
stain blocker/primer and then could either hand paint or spray with a satin enamel. Why satin enamel? Because it is a tighter finish; museum wax, tapes, and scratch marks are easily wiped away. 

The cover with glass will probably become a picture window in some future diorama.

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Since the grid was removable, I added a piece of scrapbook paper behind. This is just put in with double-faced tape---
so I can change it. 
Here it matches another fake wall--the back-end of a Barbie plastic closet with the same paper. You can see a bit of pink at the top in this photo. After looking at this photo, the look of wallpaper is good and the scale is the proper. I added a strip for wall trim at the bottom and raised it to cover the closet. I've also used wrapping papers for back drops, as well as contact paper. 

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Here, Vickie and Joe on the first night they moved into the condo, and using their still unfinished bedroom!  The carpet is a placemat from IKEA, though I bought a set of 6 in a thrift store for $2.00.

Happy DIY Dioramas! 

What do you use for walls? 

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HFIM HOUSE 2020

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2020 HFIM 
For those of you who have missed my earliest posts ---the HFIM house is Home For Impoverished Millenials located in the near Northside of Chicago. Originally a townhouse and a Victorian Mansion joined together, being refurbished by a group of working  vibrant Millenials. By pooling resources (rent, remodeling work, or investing in the house), the HFIM runs democratically with actually few rules-(no shoes, no shirt--no food), and everyone has to help in some way or another in running, maintaining, or repairing the. house. 

The original HFIM Posts began in 2017, HERE on my original blog. Many of the faces have changed, and our grand girl changed some names, now the dolls have a taped name on their butts, so I can keep track.
Later, two basement apartments were added when the inhabitants exceeded the required square footage by Chicago building codes. 
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Ryan and Richelle's work space. Richelle does much of her conceptualizing at her drafting table. 
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With laptops and printers, Ryan can keep in touch with his office  Chicago Department for Urban Renewal. Richelle wasn't all that happy with his choice of Super Heros for Decor. But, love is about compromises!

You can checkout Ryan and Richelle's (she replaced the original Monica) HERE, and Here. (Monica got cast aside--seems the Grand didn't like her, she got a haircut, gray hair and is now Richelle's Mom.) Richelle took on her job though and is now the lead 'architectural designer' for the HFIM house, while Mulan is in charge of obtaining furnishings. The goal will be to eventually sell the property and everyone split their share of the profits.

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The boys' bunk room is in the basement also, currently with Kevin, Ken and soon to be Jamie, and Stuart! 

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It has its own mini kitchen for midnight eating. 

The best part---is the all occupants have become a family while they work off their college debts, start their careers, and eventually move on. We last saw some of the girls after a marathon window washing in October! 
This post is the first meeting for the new year!

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left to right Mulan, Barbie Rowan (Major owner), Sindy (chief baker), Kevin(brother to Dr.Ken), 

Barbie: Well, is everyone here, (she counts heads-16), I guess we will start-Patrick is missing. Okay we are officially coming to order. Kevin, can you give a treasurer's report! 

Kevin: Well, we just acquired our new mortgage at the lower rate. So, the money saved and the increased property value...will offset the increases in taxes, city services, and utilities. So, there will be no increases for rent/food at this time. The Balance in the investment restoration account today is $12,758.16.

Balance in the monthly expense account stands at $2,900 as of December 31st. As of today, the expense account stands at $5,850.41 with everyone's rent in. Sindy and Jamie, make sure you keep your receipts for all food and supplies.  

Barbie: Great, thank-you Kevin. All in favor of the treasurer's report, please say Aye!  AYES have it! 

Any old business? 
New business? 

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Dr. Ken and Belle

Belle: Midge and I will be taking over the cleaning and laundry schedules for all parts of the house! Please check and complete your assigned tasks sometime during each day. The list will be in the kitchen in the file book. Please everyone, disinfect doorknobs, phones, all eating surfaces, and appliances, when you use them. This will keep us all healthy and everyone wash your hands before and after eating and in the bathroom.

Please continue to use your totes for personal hygiene supplies, and taking them with you when you are done in the bathrooms! 

Please remember to sort garbage and recyclables, remember we are trying to go 'Green' in this house. All garbage is to be removed from the house daily.

Barbie: Thank you, Belle, sounds like we have everything under control. 


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Middle back to right, Aurora (Rory) Vance, Jamie Carney, Nemo.


Ken: I will be moving out, but I still be investing some of my salary in the restoration. I'm going to be an ER Resident at Chicago Hope, so you will still see me now and then! Especially to see Belle. I need to live closer to the hospital, though for emergencies. Sorry gang! No more freebie house calls! 

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Barbie: Well, good luck Ken, we will miss you---but your bed will be filled by Jamie! Welcome, Jamie!

Jamie: Thanks, everyone has been great while I was using Aidan's bunk when he was gone.

Rory: And, I will be gone again with a new tour of "Beauty and the Beast," I leave in two weeks and won't be back until early April! So, someone will have to take over the kitchen and ordering duties. 

Jamie: I can do that, at least until Sindy's bakery and coffee shop opens. I only have 2 classes this semester in Culinary school until I graduate. I hope you'll like my cooking!

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Sindy: I can help Jamie with the ordering and shopping until the construction is done on the Grand Hotel! I can't do much of anything in there until they finish. We still don't have water or electricity in the shops areas! I need to test out some more recipes' for my gluten and vegetarian offerings I will have at the Bakery.

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Rory: Can you start right away? They doubled my rehearsals and I have costume fittings this week? I'm swamped! And, I'm sure going to miss your zucchini muffins!

Jamie: I can start tomorrow, if you can show me the basics of ordering what everyone likes, and how many show up for meals?

Rory: No problem, we sort of have it down to a science almost...(chortle). You only have to cook for two meals, breakfast and supper. Lunches are help yourself out of the fridge/freezer, etc.


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Ryan and Richelle engaged forever!

Ryan: Sindy, I saw some permits go through the office this week, so progress should be starting pretty soon. I know it has been a long haul. Everything has been stalled with changeover to the new mayor's administration. 

Richelle: And WE ARE getting married this year, sometime! After that Hotel is finished.

Ryan: Um, yes Dear, we are!

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Peder: (from behind Ryan): I just got called back to work on the Hotel, I will start again next week Monday.

Chelsea: Can someone please put in the new door between my room and the bathroom? I hear everybody's, everything!


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l to r, Foofie, Midge, Aidan, Chelsea

Aidan: I can do that, I only have two days this week in "Chicago Fire."

Barbie: (typing madly) Great, that takes care of lots on the new list! Ryan, can you get final quotes on the exterior stairway, and re-surfacing the blacktop for the driveway. 

Ryan: Already on it! These should be our largest expenses this year! We sure can't plan on anything else until those are done. 

Richelle: But, new floors on second and third floors are also on the 'wish list'. 

Midge: The upstairs laundry dryer is making strange noises again?


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Peder and Stuart
Peder: I can check on that, I think it needs a new belt, a quick fix! And, I can repair the switches in that room, the lights keep blinking.

Sindy: we need a folding table in that room and shelves, and more baskets.

Stuart: I'm available next week, for two days for any project, I can do that. There's a piece of countertop the garage that might work, and plenty of wood there, also.

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Jamie and Nemo-front. 
Nemo: Stuart, I'm up for insulating the garage...anyone else? The insulation is just sitting there. Anyone into cars now, the van and scooter need tuneups?

(Aidan raises his hand), I can do that.

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Barbie: Well, that's great! Stuart on laundry room, and Aidan are on vehicle  maintenance, after the garage is insulated. Thanks, Nemo, I had forgotten that wasn't done.

On exterior maintenance, Peder could you make sure to clear the walkways and stairs and everything is salted for snow, for this month please! Enlist anyone available to help if we get buried? If you need more supplies, please ask Jamie to order that for you, before you run out!


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Chelsea: I will still feed the kitties and the dogs! 
Barbie: Thank you Chelsea, how about using the pooper-scooper?
Chelsea: Eeeeww, but I will do that, too. 

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Kevin: Patrick said he will not be available for some time. He's looking for a new space to start his own bar with a food license. Actually he's looking at the basement of the hotel, but not sure if he can get a liquor license for there. He's at a meeting with Lara right now, to see if it is doable!

Barbie: Wow, this neighborhood is really changing. Soon, we will have everything within walking distance.

Okay, any more new business, problems? None? Okay---meeting is adjourned. Now, everyone grab a chair and put all the furniture back! And, thank-you, all.

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Kevin: I almost forgot. As social director---Don't forget Game Night next Saturday night! It's posted on the refrigerator. Sign up and bring your favorite game and we will have a marathon night. I even have some prizes for the winners! Dates are welcome, just let me know who is coming! 

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Doll Winter Fun!

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Just a quick vintage post and a new doll, also! The theme for WindyCityBDollCollectors meeting for January 2020 was Frozen.
While, I didn't get to go this month, we are sharing photos of theme on the Facebook website, here. Anyone interested in Barbie can join the FB group for free and find out about our great club in Chicagoland.

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My Frozen Ice Queen, Zoe, works for Vickie at the Vintage store, models the Crystal Wedding 1995 dress and four vintage petticoats! She is actually a 1998 Cool Blue/Cool Colors Barbie with that wonderful Bob Mackie face! She wears a glittered Super Star Headband/tiara, and carries a white fur muff(unknown).

I love this dress, but for some reason when editing out some snow wrinkles---the editing picked up the dress stripes, and after three tries I gave up...! This dress has very soft iridescence to the sheer fabric stripes and the stones on the pearl encircled buttons! She is one of my favorite dolls, and has finally acquired an MTM body instead of those huge flat feet from that era.


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This gal is a new unnamed MTM baseball player or basketball, not sure, which. I'm very sloppy with my records and I have to start keeping a serious list of who is whom.
She has "Ski Fun Barbie" 1991 skis, poles, and boots. The sparkle stretch pants(Rocker maybe) I'm not sure of, nor the jacket. They are older and in great condition. Hat is from one of the red velvet dress sets from long ago, (I think one of the catalog or department store exclusives), it has a little green/red flower I hid behind under her hair! It's always such a hunt!

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When I updated my Mac I lost all my favorites/bookmarks and notes. Never thought I should have saved those. She has a nice face, I may have to leave her as is, though I don't need another blonde in my gaggle of girls. 
I really need to find or make some gloves/mittens before it snows again.


Do you have trouble keeping track of Doll bodies/heads/names/dates? What's your system?
And clothes and accessories...are you religious in storage,
 or a mixy-matchy gal like me?

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Winter Sale at Vickie's Vintage!

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Well, when the weather outside is frightful, what do Chicagoland girls do? 
Go Shopping, and what is better than Sale shopping!


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Dressed for ugly winter weather, the girls line up in front of Vickie's.

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We really cleaned the place out! Everyone has a bag full of some wonderful bargains! Of course, Vickie's is always full of great vintage wear!

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DeeDee has joined the group, she is a Tall, no,123 playline.
I bought her because of her hair, and she will be looking for a new body...? She's wearing Sparklz capris from last year, I made the white turtleneck and the fur vest which is nice and long for her. She is unnamed at the moment!

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Another new girl on the left is a petite MTM, I gave her a haircut, and she is also unnamed. I took advantage of low prices when I was doing my online Christmas shopping. Adding a few MTM's in, to get free shipping. Prices were fluctuating greatly on various dolls at Target and Walmart online. So, I ordered quite a few for their articulated bodies.

Anyway she is quite sweet, and she is wearing the very short and small, Fashion Fever Winter blue Closet over metallic dotted stretch pants. It's too cool in Chicago to have bare legs!
The scarf is a Vickie's Vintage hand-made special!

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My goodness, where does Carly shop when she isn't working at Vickie's?
Vickie's Vintage of course. Carly(Nikki doll from Dream House series) wears a Target sweater from 2018 and some mommy-made vintage leggings! 

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Midge from Life in the Dream House wears, Twice as Nice #2295 white pants, vintage Silver boots and a Sparklz coat/dress from 2019. Her purse has the Barbie logo, and I have no idea how old it is.


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Trish from Divergent wears my WindyCityBDollCollectors club's 60th Barbie birthday party pants, and the outfit I've lost the info on. The boots I think belong with this outfit, with pom-poms removed, and the sparkle purse-I have no source for, it is soft plastic with a small purple flower if anyone knows?

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"Babs" is Wedding Day 1961 Repro...wearing the WCBDCollector's Sweater , 
Jacket is another one I have lost the source for---though it is 90's I believe. 
Her pants are the fireman pants from 2017? And vintage riding boots, this makes for a toasty outfit!

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Babs: Let's go get some Irish coffee and a nosh---before we walk home! 

DeeDee: Sounds good to me!

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