In reality, I painted the window trim pieces the day I practiced assembling the window. But, there was a lot going on with that project. And, frankly, a lot happened with the painting, so, painting small wood pieces gets its own .5 post.
Once I got the window frame dry fit it was time to paint. For real. Originally, I was going to stain all these pieces. But, at the last second, I changed my mind and decided to paint.
That said, I’m glad I painted the trim pieces. Looking at how the pieces turned out, I don’t think stain was the way to go. But, I’ll probably change my mind again and again and again.
First, a refresher. Here’s everything put together (as a dry fit), with nothing on them.
As you can see, some of the wood is, well, wood. The rest of it is, I’m guessing, MDF of some kind.
That’s cool. It’s a dollhouse kit. I wasn’t expecting Brazilian Wood.
But, in looking at those MDF-like pieces, stain doesn’t make sense. I’ve never stained MDF, but I’m guessing it would look weird. Like brown pieces of wood that were painted, not stained.
I’m adding “stain MDF” to my list of experiments to see if I’m right or wrong about this.
Anyway, as I said, I decided to paint, so my thoughts on stain don’t matter.
Because I changed my mind at the last second, I was stuck with my original paint choices, Bright Yellow, and three shades of blue. Well, actually, two shades of blue. I used Bright Blue on the dollhouse exterior, so it doesn’t make sense to me to use it again. That left me with Mediterranean Blue and Sky Blue for blue.
This means yellow as the contrasting color. I’m not great with color theory, but I know that these colors “work” together. And, the Mediterranean Blue is too close in color to the Bright Blue, so I also know I’ll be working with Sky Blue as well.
The thing is, I don’t want to paint the entirety of the dollhouse shutters yellow. That, I think, would look weird. So, if I’m not staining the shutters, and I don’t want all yellow shutters, I’ve got to pick another color for contrast.
What are the options
Honestly, I like the Mediterranean (on the left) better than the Sky with the yellow. But, and it’s hard to tell in the picture, color-wise, it’s way too close to Bright Blue.
The plan was to paint the large part of the shutters blue and the small part yellow, so they would pop. But, the only way to do that is to choose a lighter blue for the large shutter part.
That means, Sky on the big part of the dollhouse shutter and yellow on the small part.
The First Coat
Here’s what the first coat of paint looks like. In case you can’t tell, I used a bristle brush. I also went light on that paint coat because those are really thin pieces of wood. I didn’t want to get too much paint on the wood and accidentally warp the pieces.
I added a second coat and let it dry. Here’s what that looks like.
As you can see, the large piece of the shutter (the MDF) looks basically done. It needs touch up work, but otherwise, that thing was perfectly smooth.
I can’t say the same for the small pieces, but that’s OK. One more coat should be fine.
In retrospect (and, you’ll see), I wonder if this finished look had more to do with the color of the paint than the wood.
Then, I “assembled” the shutter.
I’m not loving it. It’s fine. It’s what I expected, but it’s kind of making me go “yuck.”
So, I did the only sensible thing and painted the other large dollhouse shutter piece the darker Mediterranean blue.
Here they are side by side. I like both blues, honestly.
But, then I put the small shutter parts between them (not on them, because the dark piece is still wet).
The lighting is weird, but I don’t like either.
With the dark piece, everything looks cartoonish. And, with the light piece, I don’t know. I can’t explain it, but it’s just “not right” to me. There’s something in the undertones (I think) that’s not working for me.
Clearly, I need a new plan.
I did the next logical thing and painted the yellow shutter pieces the Sky blue color and the two large pieces in yellow.
They’re still wet, but I hold them up to each other.
Yeah. That’s better. Here they are dry. pic
So. Much. Better.
It’s still a little cartoonish to me, but it’s a deep blue on the dollhouse, so I think it will be fine. If not, I can repaint them. Or, trash them and start over.
Back on Track for the Trim
Next up, the window trim.
I disassembled the window trim like so:
And left everything in that same position so I wouldn’t mess things up.
That was a newbie mistake.
After I painted a coat or three on the trim, it occurred to me that I did the inside of the window trim and not the outside!
See, face down means the outside of the window is facing down. On the newspaper. Where I can’t paint it.
That’s fine, just not what I intended. I was probably going to do the inside of the window trim in yellow, I just hadn’t committed yet.
When it was all dry (or, I thought it was all dry), I flipped everything over and painted them.
Live and learn!
Still Not Quite Right
So, I knew that when I changed paint design after painting the large shutter parts in both blues, there’d be some problems. Painting a light color (like yellow) on a dark color isn’t awesome. I probably should have primed first, but, well, I didn’t.
Here’s what the shutters looked like the next day:
It’s streaky (which I figured would happen), and you can kind of see the blue through the paint streaks. Not the end of the world, but it’s not great. Fortunately, the small blue pieces are going on these large parts, so the streaks won’t be as noticeable. I hope.
That’s what makes me rethink the finish on the MDF. I’m pretty sure that the “finished” look of the blue is because it’s a darker color, not because of the wood or even the brush. In fact, I switched back and forth between bristle and foam brushes, (just to see what would happen), and I ended up with the same finish both times.
Also, if you look on the window trim, you’ll see some funky looking spots on them.
That’s either blue paint (yeah, I goofed once or twice and wasn’t watching where I put things down to dry), or dried on newspaper that I sanded off, but not well.
That’s probably going to take a few more coats of paint to cover. Or, I’m going to sand it off and start over.
I’ll keep you posted.
The biggest thing I learned from this was how to paint small wooden pieces. I’m going to put together a tutorial, but, here’s something I figured out.
It’s a great idea to rest the piece on something like a wedge when you paint. These pieces are really thin. So, if you paint them on a flat surface, you end up painting it to the surface if you aren’t careful. Or, you’re so careful you miss the edges.
You can’t really hold it down with a finger, because then you miss that part of the wood. Even with a fingernail, you’re missing something. Then, you’ve got to move your fingernail around, and you smudge your paint job.
So, I figured out that if I rest the piece on my thumb like this:
I can get the whole piece at once. Yes, I get my finger, too, but that’s nothing a rubber glove can’t fix.
The other big thing I learned was about color. More specifically, planning the color palette. On my next project, I’m going to spend a little more time thinking through the details for the exterior. Me saying “yellow and blue go together” wasn’t enough. They do go together, and I still think it’s a great combo. But, and this is the hard part for me, figuring out shades and undertones and things like that are not my strong suit.
Next time, I’ll get the paints and actually test them out before I go to paint. That means, trying them together and apart to see what goes and what doesn’t. That should make this easier next time.
Any color advice? Or painting advice?