Suzanne Forbes, an expat New Yorker in Berlin. Made possible by the generous support of her Patrons. https://www.patreon.com/SuzanneForbes. Former DC Penciller for Star Trek, former courtroom artist, painting portraits and teaching drawing.
It was a bit of a bear to make this, but I’m glad I powered through!
In general, I prefer having miniature things to making them. And I am very good at sourcing things. But I couldn’t find a big, school-style blackboard from any of my usual miniature sources. It needed to be scaled to Dr. Hank McCoy, who is a big figure! So I built it from scratch.
Luckily, I save every single piece of miniature wooden trim!
I cut a backing board from illustration board and then framed it with several different trims to get the ledge for the chalk and eraser.
I had to miter cut the trim with my miniature miter-cutter, which I hate doing. I packed and moved the miter-cutter to Berlin knowing I would need it, and I have. But damn, it drives me nuts.
I pleated a piece of felt and glued it to a strip of trim, then cut it down, to make the eraser. Pesky!
For the board surface I used self-adhesive chalkboard vinyl.
It may not be as archival as chalkboard paint would have been, but it was neater and faster. I used two layers, for opacity, and I still only needed a tiny bit; I can give the rest to my friend with little kids.
And white gel pen was perfect for the writing – it even smears.
I did some work on the facade of the house today too; the whole thing is coming along. It’s damn near completely done, in just about a year. And then, the front garden, with gates. And then the Danger Room, underneath, and the Morlock subway tunnels under that, just like the laboratories and subway under the other dollhouse. I gotta make a custom Callisto…
From the beginning it was clear that teen mutant Doug Ramsey and Warlock, a techno-organic being who was identified as “he” upon arrival on Earth, were in love.
Art from New Mutants #21 by Bill Sienkiewicz and Glynis Wein, one of the most charming scenes from a charmed run.
You don’t call just anybody your “selfsoulfriend”. Doug Ramsey, aka Cypher, was the local computer nerd – until he met an alien teen robot who lived on lifeglow and they were suddenly thisclose and loving it.
One of the most wonderful things about the X-Men and New Mutants for me as a queer kinky teen in the 80s was how casually gay and freaky everybody was.
Sure, it’s totally ok to be in a deep psychically linked relationship with your (assigned as) same-sex team-mate, even if they’re sort of a robot and from outer space! Or a werewolf!
It’s all good, and safe, inside the X-Mansion.
The safe harbor that those 80s stories represented for queer teens reverberates forward through time, to the young people who continue to discover them.
I myself was extraordinarily blessed to live with a mother whose radical acceptance of me and my freaky friends created an IRL safe harbor.
I was blessed enough, in the 80s, to have a mom who would take me and my girlfriend to brunch.
But most queer teens didn’t have that in the 80s, and so many still don’t have it today.
Especially for trans kids, Warlock’s total control of his physical form is an exhilarating notion. His gender was clearly only assigned as male because of the limited thinking of the era; to today’s non-binary kids it’s obvious ‘Lock is a they. In the age of tumblr (RIP) and AO3, Doug and Warlock as lovers are an arena of profoundlycreative and experimental sexual ideation.
I wanted to honor those young people who love these characters by the way Doug and ‘Lock are represented in my X-Men dollhouse. And also gently acknowledge what a funny, square little geek Doug was in the ’80s. He had a wholesome quality that really flared against the teleological darkness of characters like Illyana. And his hair was SO 80s!
Spidey in civvies action figure custom by Jacobs Toys
He’d used a Tom Holland Spider-Man head and a Lex Luthor body to create a Peter Parker in civilian clothes.
The recipe, as action figure customizers call it, was perfect for my version of Doug. (‘Lock, a Build-A-Figure released last year, was already perfect).
Doug should be in civvies, of course – his uselessness in the field was legend. I don’t know why they ever gave him a uniform!
And Tom Holland’s face has exactly, exactly the boyish handsomeness of Michael J. Fox and Matthew Broderick in the 80s. He sells the wide-eyed mischief and wonder of a teen with super-powers in the most incredible way. (I loved Homecoming! Gonna go see the next one next week!)
Well, actually I also filled in the peg-holes on the bottom of his shoes and gave them sneaker texture, also with Apoxie Sculpt, because he’d be sitting crosslegged and I am slightly a perfectionist 🙂 And I also covered hair and shirt with Matte Mod Podge and then sprayed them with Matte Acrylic Sealer, as I learned on this excellent customizing site, to protect the paint.
I hope this sweet pair of lovebirds pleases the folx who love Doug and Warlock, and love their queer, trans, geek-robot love.
It is now fully wallpapered, permanently assembled and has a base, thanks to power assists from my husband and mom. The grooves in the floor are for the wiring for the lights.
Getting it put together wasn’t *hard*, per se, at least not in terms of structural complexity – but there were a lot of pieces that had to be glued in the right order, and the gluing had to happen all within a very short time.
Any errors were mine, in terms of not quite lining up the wallpaper perfectly here and there, but luckily trim covers a multitude of sins.
If you’re willing to stain, sand and miter-cut it, that is!
Oh, how I hate staining, sanding and miter-cutting trim.
I also hate putting on dollhouse wallpaper, but it had to be done.
I used Streets Ahead dollhouse wallpaper paste for this house, instead of Yes! paste, and it did not have the greatest adhesion.
It was repositionable and didn’t warp the papers, though.
I skipped the step of spraying all the papers with matt fixative to strengthen and waterproof them this time, and I shouldn’t have, as they tore a little here and there when wet with paste. It was fixable or not noticeable, but that step is worth doing. I did the wallpapering before the final assembly of the house, on the panels, rather than once the house was assembled, like my first house.
I kind of think there are pros and cons to each way.
There was a huge amount of measuring and cutting, which I do not like.
I guess actually I like having a finished dollhouse to create a work of art in, and planning and choosing the components to build and decorate the dollhouse, but I don’t actually like the building the dollhouse at all. Ah well! It must be done!!
At least there’s no soldering now I’m using LED lights with battery converters. More about that next time.
Meanwhile, my beloved mama came to Berlin and brought the perfect 80s kitchen I found in Canada and had shipped to her (it would have cost about a million dollars to ship it here!) It arrived missing a piece but luckily I found that piece from a UK seller and it should get here this week.
I need to put a final coat on the front panels, install them, install the windows and front door, install the wiring for the lights, and then miter cut ten million pieces of ceiling trim and floor trim.
Oh and put the stairs together and install the floors and carpets and the ceiling paper and…
I still think it can be done by Christmas. I’d hate for the X-Men to spend another holiday in storage 🙂