A lot of people new to miniatures will soon run into Chrysnbon Furniture Kits. These are polystyrene plastic furniture kits. They have a wood grain texture stamped on the surface of the plastic to look exactly like wood. You would not be able to tell they are plastic until you take a closer look. A lot of miniaturists do not like Chrysnbon kits because they have very few pieces with working drawers or doors. I love them because they are very detailed, authentic replicas of antique furniture and perfectly scaled in 1". They work very well for tab and slot dollhouses. You can also finish them in a number of different ways to match your decor.
Chrysnbon does not make all types of furniture but they do carry accessories as well. They do not have a bedroom set, living room set, etc. There are books that can be purchased which show you how to bash existing kits into other furniture sets here. I have a mixture of wooden furniture and Chrysnbon kits in my Beacon Hill Dollhouse, which works well.
Assembling Chrysnbon kits is very confusing and difficult until you get the hang of it. Half the battle for success is the right adhesive. Polystyrene is very difficult to adhere to itself. You need Testors Liquid Cement For Plastic Models. This is the only adhesive that will work well with these kits unless you are very experienced with them and other adhesives. Testors Liquid Cement is clear and dries quickly. Its drying time is approximate to super glue. This adhesive actually dissolves the polystyrene to achieve a permanent and strong bond once the two items are placed together. Though it can dissolve polystyrene, it's completely harmless to touch. It bonds only to polystyrene. This adhesive is a little difficult to find. It usually is in a hobby store where plastic models are sold and on the internet.
When you buy your Chrysnbon kit, it comes in a box in a bag of parts. Some of the parts are attached to "trees" to be pulled from and some are loose. Nothing is labeled. Only the illustrated instructions will give you any clue as to which part is which.
Assembling takes a lot of time. You need to dry fit your parts, every step of the way, to make sure you have them correct before cementing them together. Be very careful to follow the illustrations exactly. They will show how each part fits and in what position for cementing. Your item is assembled in a series of sub-assemblies that will all fit together to form the item. These sub-assemblies must be assembled correctly to fit together properly.
Today, I am assembling the Kitchen Cabinet kit. Your kit may be a different type, but assembles the same way. With practice you can assemble them all.
The instructions will tell you to paint all of your pieces first, while they are still on the trees. I recommend for you not to do this. The stain that comes with these furniture kits is a fruitwood stain that must be sealed or will come off. If you stain all of your parts before assembly, you will damage your stain in the process, have to make repairs and stain it again. When you go over old, dried stain with new stain, you end up with a blotchy finish. Not to mention, you will get cement over your stain and it will be visible. Because of these reasons, it's best to leave your staining for the end, even if some areas are a bit difficult to reach. It will just give you a better finish in the long run. If you have a fine tipped, paint brush, you should have no issues staining afterwards.
After you pull off your parts from the "trees", you will notice little rough areas where the parts used to be attached. You can clip them off using a toenail clipper. That way you can get pretty close and not leave any bumps. You can also sand the areas after you clip them off using a fingernail file. Be very careful you do not snip off tiny tabs that are needed for assembly, especially those that will act as hinges for your cabinet doors.
When using your cement, make sure you close it tightly after each use or it will clog your precision tip. You can unclog the tip by inserting a thin metal wire into it, provided with your cement. Be generous to get a good strong hold. Try to keep it neat and don't worry if cement is a little visible in the joints.
You can see how each sub-assembly is assembled first. I left all the "glass", door knobs and pulls for after staining. Follow each step of the sub-assembly in order to avoid assembly conflicts. Dry fit everything to make sure everything will come together correctly.
As you can see, in this particular cabinet, everything works. The drawer, hutch doors, cabinet doors and flour bin. That's why assembling things in order, ensures that you do not permanently cement something that you want to work. This is why I like to apply stain last. You do not want to apply stain to the inner, non viewable areas of this item so that cabinet doors and drawers open more efficiently. The extra layer of stain and sealer will prevent their smooth operation.
When all the cement is dry, you can prepare your items for staining following these instructions. Lightly sand off any visible cement, using a fine grit fingernail file before you apply your stain. Make sure you don't sand off the wood grain texture.
Though these kits come with Cherry Fruitwood Stain Packet, you can paint them with acrylic craft paints easily. You can also use other types of stain if you want. The stain packet included with your kit may not be enough for the entire item. The fruitwood stain used to come with ample amounts, not anymore. I like to finish my item all the way around, including the underside, so you might have to buy extra stain. Incredibly, I was able to color match the fruitwood stain by mixing several hues of acrylic craft paint I had on hand to finish this kitchen cabinet. If you're good at color matching just by looking, you might be able to do the same thing.
Apply your stain lightly, evenly and one section at a time. The details in these furniture kits are very tiny and if you apply too much stain, they may get lost to sight. If your stain seems blotchy, it's not the stain, it's the plastic. The way the stained effect is achieved is by brushing it on the plastic, which causes a grain effect. If you apply the stain as evenly as possible, you will get a "stained" look. If you apply too much, you will get a painted look.
After you stain, you need to apply a coat of acrylic gloss varnish to protect the stain for a more realistic wood finish. Again, you need to apply your varnish sparingly, in sections. Varnish has a tendency of becoming white in excess and when applying it to non-porous plastics. A little goes a long way. You do not need to wet your brush too much in order to achieve a shine.
Everything comes unfinished, so you will need to paint your knobs and handles as well. I painted mine gold as in the picture. This is done best after you install them. They are much too tiny to be painted before assembly. If you paint them while they are still attached to the "tree", your painted finish will be damaged once you cement it in place. Remember, the cement melts polystyrene in order to make it bond. I also painted the rolling pin, which comes with this kit.
I applied the "glass" panels last. Everything on the kit is precision cut to fit correctly. Make sure you understand how your doors sit closed. Usually one door is made to sit over the other. They are slightly different in the outer edges where they join. The stain and varnish will not affect the movement of the doors, if you apply it sparingly and indirectly to the "hinged" part. Metallic gold and silver paint is used to enhance the details of these kits.
Painting your stoves with matte black or charcoal acrylic craft paint helps achieve realism.
Adding your own details with acrylic craft paints can enhance your Chrysnbon furniture and accessory sets. Many of the accessory kits, that are used with these furniture pieces, do not come finished in any way but rather are all one solid color, usually white. They may come with details molded into the plastic but you will not appreciate them until you can bring them out using paint. All you need is a fine tip paint brush to bring out the details of your kit.
Sometimes, you can find Chrysnbon accessories, already painted and finished for sale but you will find yourself paying up to three times what the original unfinished kit would have cost you. It is much more cost effective to finish them yourself.
Some of these kits come with decals that are applied to the items in the same way a temporary tattoo would be. Oftentimes, the decals will not stay in place and slowly peel or flake off. That is why it is better to use your own craft paints and paint your own decals onto the items.
If your stove bottom grate decals begin to lift, just add a small amount of tacky glue to them and press them back into place. Lift your decal very gently when doing this as they are delicate and will rip easily. The tacky glue will dry clear and prevent the decal from further lifting.
Go online and find pictures of real Victorian items so you have a painting guide for when you are ready to finish your kits. You do not have to finish them right away. I had some items on display for years, unfinished, until I finally had the time to get around to them.
Chrysnbon kits hold up very well but they are best for display dollhouses, rather than play dollhouses. Some users have claimed that their kits have changed color with time but I have had mines for years and none of them have changed. I do not know what length of time would have to pass for the kits to show wear and tear. Like other types of miniatures, keep your displays away from sunlight and humidity as these can affect the longevity of your kits.