Vickie and Joe's Condo

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Vickie and Joe make their first phone call from their new/old Condo.

Joe: Hi, Mom! How you's me and Vickie. We are finally in our new place, though it isn't done!

Mom:Oh, that's wonderful Joey, what's it like?

Joe: I'll show you on camera!

Joe: We just have the bare bones set up. All our boxes are coming this weekend.
Mom: Oh, you have your dad's desk set up...I can't wait to visit!


Vickie: Hi, we only have few pieces of furniture in, and the furniture covers are coming this week for the couches and chairs. The bedroom is great though. 

Joe:The bedroom isn't very big, but it has a great view of the city.
Vickie: It's gorgeous at night.


And, it has a big space for closet and bathroom, which needs work. 
Joe: The tub isn't in yet either. But, we had to get out of the other place. Jordan came back.

Vickie: the closet needs work, but we have great built-ins in every room. It will be really nice!

Mom: Kitchen looks small?

Vickie: We don't have much time to cook, Mom. It will be fine. The doors to the island are being refinished. We need to find a table and chairs for eating, too.

Mom: Well, I will have to come visit when you have it all done, maybe in a month?
(Vickie hands the phone back to Joe)

Joe: Errr... sure Mom, maybe in two months, let us know when. Love ya, Bye!

Mom: Love you, too, Joey. And, Vickie make sure he eats his greens! Good-bye!

Vickie: Okay, Joey..., do you want broccoli or brusselsprouts with your pizza, tonight. 

Joe: Groaaaaan!

Tutorial: Grand Hotel floors, walls, tile

These are the Nitty-Gritty posts of the how to---or at least how I do things. First, this Hotel was faded, cracked, and very dirty. All the electrical are fried and corroded. Wet tubs and electrical systems aren't compatible. So I started with the structure itself.

Problem 1: Height of the Grand Hotel.

Seriously---Mattel makes 11 1/2" dolls with shoes and stands---kissing 12 inches. Structures are all low...and barely 12" on their main floors, making overhead lighting and some beams, etc. in the way.

In order to give the 'illusion' of normal ceiling heights, since I will want to do many photos in the Grand Hotel, I decided to drop the floor and make new foundations. This meant removing the plastic fold-up floor, which also supplied the columns for support to the second floor, which was shown in Tutorial:Demolition 

My new floors are made from 1/4 AC plywood. My goal is to be able to dismantle and store the entire building in the smallest area possible. Here is the second floor cut from the poster board pattern I showed in the last post. I only had to do a bit of shaving and fitting from this, which i did with a coping saw.

The base is also the 1/4" plywood, the blocks which are becoming the new foundations are all made from scrap 2x4's...which are actually 1 1/2" x 4".

In the last post---I had penciled the actual edges of the Grand Hotel unto my 2x4's. Hubby trimmed them all for me(it was below 0 in the garage) on his table saw and then a hobby bandsaw we have. I sanded and filed any irregularities. I matched the second floor to the Hotel being open all the way. 

The base is 58"x24" wide. I wanted to add a few extra inches to make a kitchen for the cafe.
All my surfaces that will be painted are sealed with Sanding Sealer---this is an older product which replaced the old fashioned use of shellac. It dries quickly and has little odor, and is a great stain blocker. Perfect for use in the house.

I have a huge plastic table cloth I use for a drop cloth. One coat was plenty. A light sanding with  really fine sandpaper gives you a very smooth surface ready for paint. Make sure to wipe down with a clean damp rag or a tack cloth to remove any dust. 

The squares and small rectangles are bases for my posts and will eventually be attached to the floor. They will be  painted white to match the columns. 

The long 2x4's are all going to be painted gray, and the floors white.

My boards are very long so I had to do the surfaces in shifts. The second floor got two coats on each side of satin white paint/with primer in it.

The gray areas on the base board are sidewalk and where the gray foundations will be set---I textured by simply wiggling the last coat with the brush, and a stippling motion.

Using wood glue (that was too thick to spread) and slathered on with a stick on all the foundations and column holders.

Sometimes, I think there is no point in buying a large jar of glue...because they always seem to dry up. After allowing a full day for the glue to cure, I turned the base upside down and put flat head wood screws into the foundation boards to permanently hold them in place.

Here you can see the foundation lined up with the Hotel Structure--you can see I missed a bit here and there with the gray, which I then touched up. 


The storyline behind this hotel---is it was built in 1892 on the north side of then Chicago for the 1893 Columbian Exposition (World's Fair). Only 22 years after the Chicago Fire...Chicago was an elegant boom town, highly conscious of fire codes.

Because of the blue windows in the Hotel--I think it's best feature, I looked for a tile design that would have been used then. I found this pattern and tweaked the colors, shading, and size. Each of the circles would actually be four 1-foot square tiles in Barbie scale. 1:6 perfect scale for my room. When all the walls are painted should look great. I'm using this tile for all the public spaces.

I printed up panels of 12 Large tiles=to 12-2'x2' tiles, I printed 28 sheets on our Laser printer. Other options for flooring would be stenciling, scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, hardwood, vinyl tiles, marble could choose just about any medium, just be aware of weight if you want to store it flat. The visible white edge on the left will be the removable back walls.

I laid out and fitted the sheets working from the center of the elevator out, just like you would with real flooring.
 I used Modge/Podge matt and heavily applied a coat to the floor for one piece of flooring at a time, apply the paper, then gently brush with a dry rag to set and brush out bubble. Then, immediately thick coat the top surface generously one way and then the other to remove as many bubbles/wrinkle you can.

 Always finish the surface in the same direction with each piece. 

This sets up very quickly--and trying to shift the papers later is impossible, so do your adjusting immediately. 
I worked front center of the Hotel to the back and then to one side, working left all the way to the far end. 
I came back to center and worked right to the other end. I did not try to trim when wet. Wait until it is thoroughly dried, at least overnight.

My tiled panels have a grayed edge to them, which is fine...long as they are lined up.

The next day---almost  all the ripples and irregularities had shrunk out. There were a few scrapes and gaps, etc. I simply cut out one tile and replaced it with a new paper cut one and modge/podged it. 
Too much white that showed between pieces caused by shrinkage,
 I dabbed with grayed paint.
My final finish will be to spray the floor with a satin sealer,
 if we ever get decent weather. 

What's next:---Setting the columns., securing the second floor, and adding the removable sides and backs.
The dolls make the project look easy---but in truth it has a lot of down time and waiting for stuff to dry.

Grand Hotel: Demolition Secret!

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Contractor on the Hotel renovation, Russell Pitt, explains to the girls what his crew found. Sunlight pours through the 'window' in the early morning. 


Mr.Pitt: First, I have to apologize for the secrecy around this 'thing'. I took the liberty of boarding up the street windows here on the main floor. My crew has built a temporary wall to protect the space  behind this window. We don't need this hitting the news or the 'street', before we secured the building. 

I have been in touch with Ms. Roberts, and she has been cooperative in giving me leeway and funds to protect this artifact. Sorry, Miss Lara, I felt I had to go to the top with this. Under her direction, we have asked you here to see exactly what this is, and how to go forward.


Richelle(Lead Designer on the project): I don't know what to say---it's huge. 
Lara: There was nothing in the research on this building to indicate this was here? It's absolutely breathtaking.

(The ladies are dumbfounded and simply stare at the thirty-foot high stained glass window.)


Mr.Pitt: Fortunately, I've been contractor on enough old buildings to know there can be unexpected finds, and I had my crew proceed on the demolition, slowly.  We started by opening one square foot. 
It was worth it, there are only a few minor cracks, but the metal structure needs to be reinforced. My guess, from the wall construction, it was covered over in the 1920's and that is why it is in good condition.


Mulan(representing the Art Institute): I have to take some proper photos. I have a colleague in Victorian Arts acquisitions who will be very interested.


Upstairs, Milan gets another view as the sunlight beams through the window.


Mulan: The detail is amazing on this painted glass. It is not Tiffany. 


(Mulan takes a few more photos)


Mulan: This is the only angle I can get the whole window!


Richelle: The colors and the rippled glass, I think it is original to the building or only a few years later.

Lara Roberts: Thank you so much for your diligence Mr.Pitt. I agree we will have to keep this secret until the window has been fully protected and secured outside and in. Will this effect your completion schedule?

Richelle: Its certainly will affect the rents!

Mr.Pitt: Well, I have an estimate of an 8 week wait for glass for the outsidewall. We will have to keep the building totally secured until that is installed. We have plenty to do inside, and still have to finish electrical and rough plumbing. This will effect the apartment landings though, can't have construction going on so close. I have some canvas and plywood to board this up temporarily, if that is your wish.


Lara: By all means, board it up! 

Mulan: Yes, protect it from construction, please.


Mulan: It is gorgeous how the changing light affects the colors. 


Richelle: I have to redo so many of my  design elements and play up the greens. More plants will have to be used. I'll have to redo ALL my presentation drawings. Mulan please let me know what you find out about the window or the artist. Look back,  see what an entrance this will be. Wow!

Mulan: Yes, this really changes many things for this building. Does it have National Historic status? 

Richelle: No, it didn't qualify because of all the alterations to the original building. Perhaps we can apply again, further along in the project if we preserve as much as we can. 

Lara: Well, Mr. Pitt, when you said a secret---I had no idea? I will have to do a lot of explaining to renters, and I will need to redo the brochures. I'm sure you have many bigger changes you will have to make, than my paper presentations. 

Mr.Pitt: Yes, we will have to hold on the glass walls for the apartments, some of those materials were supposed to arrive next week. And, the security issue--is the biggest problem, right now. My guys have sworn to secrecy for the time being.

Lara: Well, everyone here today are professionals and we will keep this quiet for now. But, what a great marketing tool this will be. I have to go and speak with my aunt Barbara right away to go over her ideas. Thanks, for all your hard work, and please stay in touch.

More in this series:

I will try and respond to every comment and answer every question.

All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own. I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions, posts or any products shown or anywhere I shop.

 Please do not use photos without linking back to this blog without my permission. 

Sharing at these fine blog parties-

Amaze Me Monday
Cooking and Crafting with JJ
Tuesdays at our Home
Celebrate and Decorate
Vintage Charm

Thank you for your cooperation, 
Sandi Magle


Talk of the Town

Black History: Madame C.J.Walker

I'm Sarah Breedlove, born in 1867 to freed slaves, orphaned in 1874, a washerwoman and servant until I married at the age of 14, and widowed at the age of 19 with a child, Leila. That's a lot for a 19 year old?


We moved to St. Louis so I could be a laundress for another 17 years. Then, my hair began to fall out in my 30's, and I created a concoction with ingredients from Africa. From old mouth-to-hand recipes, I experimented and refined the formulas and soon I had new hair and the beginnings of a new life.

I moved to Denver for a better opportunity to sell my new products and arrived in 1905 with only $1.05 in my pocket, but with a trunkful of products designed for African American hair and skin. 

"Wonderful Hair Grower, Glossine, and Vegetable Shampoo were well accepted by the African-American women of Denver. By 1906, C. J. Walker moved to Denver and the two soon married."*2
From then on I was known as "Madame C.J.Walker Preparations".  Mr. Walker was a great help for a while, and then we separated. My business and my ambition continued to grow. Again, I had to take care of my family.

The women who sold my products were trained in how to be professional LADY consultants, administer the products, and of course--sell them.

I continued to build my business, filled needs in the market, promoted women's self reliance, and to expand. In 1908 I established a beauty college to teach women the use of all my preparations. We created a national sales force of women personally selling my products. I had traveling agents also teach them how to set up beauty shops in their homes and create businesses of their own.

There is much more to my story, my headquarters in Harlem, the new plant in Indianapolis, my activist years. Yes, I was a force to be reckoned with!

"I had to make my own living and my own opportunity! But I made it! Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!"

Madame C.J.Walker, today, is credited with being the first African American woman millionaire. Much of her profits had been given to worthy causes.

This--all because my hair fell out---and I was tired of washing other-peoples' clothes. 
P.S. My formulas are still available in the marketplace to day---found on something called 'Google'.

Doll: an early Nikki
Dress: Vintage Toni dress (she is stuffed to fit this)
Black skirt: new fabric
Hat: unknown vintage
Gloves: Mattel High Society
Cosmetics: assorted vintage Mattel
Victorian cutouts -unknown source.

1-A'Lelia Perry Bundles, Madam C. J. Walker: Entrepreneur (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1991), 105.
2 National Park Service -

I will try and respond to every comment and answer every question.

All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own, unless noted. I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions, posts or any products shown or anywhere I shop.

 Please do not use photos without linking back to this blog without my permission. 

Sharing at these fine blog parties-

Thank you for your cooperation, 


Sandi Magle