The Mean Doll, Part V: The Trunk (inside)

doll trunk inside after

Once the outside of the trunk was finished, it was time to tackle the inside. The original paper was yellow with tiny flowers on it, and was stained and even slightly ripped in places. I knew I could do better, but while scrapbook paper and dollhouse wallpaper were both available, neither of them came in sheets large enough to fit the 13″ height of the trunk. This was only a problem in two of the compartments (since the other two had drawers to take up vertical space), but I really wanted to avoid horizontal seams, so I had to think of something to take up space either at the top or bottom of the trunk’s walls.

I originally considered doing baseboards and crown molding, but they wouldn’t be tall enough to make up the difference, so I went a step further and decided to put in wainscoting. Discarding the idea of wooden dollhouse wainscoting– too expensive and too small in scale– I next thought of chipboard. It comes in various thicknesses, and people often sell it pre-cut into fancy shapes so I wouldn’t have to cut it myself. I ended up buying some sheets of chipboard, which I cut into strips of various widths and then layered to make molding. I glued the strips together with tacky glue and weighed them flat with heavy books as they dried to keep them from buckling. I also bought several die-cut pieces of chipboard in a “plaque” shape, which I cut into wide and narrow variations to use for the wainscoting panels. I layered and glued those as well to add dimension.

trunk chipboard

Then I glued the wainscoting and molding pieces to flat pieces of chipboard to install onto the walls. I had to miter-cut the corners of the molding to get it to fit properly, which was kind of a pain since I used a steak knife to do it (the handsaw didn’t work on chipboard). I painted and varnished the assembled chipboard using the same techniques as the outside of the trunk (though concentrating the umber paint on the edges of the panels to bring them out a little).

I made enough molding to use as baseboards for all of the compartments, just for continuity, and then started work on the floor. Taking my cue from some dollhouse tutorials, I cut out pieces of brown cardstock to fit the floors of the trunk compartments, then cut some wide tongue depressor-sized popsicle sticks so they looked like floor planks. I glued them to the cardstock with a thin layer of tacky glue, staggering them like a real floor, and weighed them down with a book so they’d dry flat. I painted and varnished them, then slid the cardstock into place on the trunk floor, tacking it down with more glue and weighing it down to dry. I also painted the drawers and the vanity to look like wood, installed panels on each drawer, and replaced the old knobs with new, shiny brass ones.

doll trunk paneling

doll trunk vanity

Once all of the woodwork was done, I turned my attention to the wallpaper. Despite the general availability of scrapbook paper, I couldn’t find anything I liked for the walls– it was all too modern. Instead I went with dollhouse wallpaper, decided on a design called “Cottage Floral Stripe,” and purchased four 10.5×16.25″ sheets. Of course, this did require a wallpaper seam for one compartment, but since I was hanging a closet rod right around that height anyway I figured it wouldn’t be too noticeable. To hang the extra closet rod, I used the wooden blocks that had originally acted as hinges for the Murphy bed (before I removed it) and moved them up to support a short length of dowel, which I painted the same color as the original closet rod. I attached the blocks to the walls using a combination of tacky glue and my favorite adhesive, E6000.

After installing the wallpaper, the woodwork, and a satin ribbon to tie the doll in place, I realized that I hadn’t done anything to the ceilings– I painted them ivory, and quickly regretted not having done that first, since I managed to accidentally smear ivory paint onto my freshly installed wallpaper. (sigh)

The main work being done, I painted the outsides of the drawers and the insides of the drawer compartments burgundy, and lined the drawers with black velvet scrapbooking paper.

Before:

doll trunk before inside

After:

doll trunk inside after

Tips:

1. Chipboard comes in various thicknesses, so make sure you get the thickest stuff for this application. Or, as I did, glue layers together and let them dry completely before proceeding.

2. I used kitchen shears to cut my tongue depressors, which worked reasonably well but not perfectly– they still caused some bending and splintering at the ends during the cutting process. I don’t think they’d have worked as well on regular popsicle sticks, which are thicker.

3. I used tacky glue to glue everything down, rather than white glue, figuring that the stickier it was (and hence, the less water that it had in it), the less likely it was that I’d get buckling as it dried. I brushed it on with a flat paintbrush to get nice thin layers.

4. When installing the wallpaper I painted the glue on the walls, rather than the paper, again very thinly. Then, after carefully laying the paper down, I burnished it with a credit card to avoid bubbling. When the edges didn’t line up perfectly I used an exacto knife to level them out after everything dried.

5. The chipboard pieces will be thicker after you paint them, especially in the mitred corners, so be prepared to re-cut and sand the corners after you’re done painting and varnishing.

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