Added Fairfield pics and Blue House

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I started adding pictures of the finished Blue House B&B and the Fairfield.

Moving more minis

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I’ve added more pages of pics of my minis to this blog:

Antique Shop

Card Room

Arch de Provence in Quarter-inch scale

Colonial tavern

And a couple new ones:

3D Diner

Yummy Desserts

I’ve had to do a little rearranging of the menus to make everything fit! More to come!

Adding all my minis

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I’m in process of moving my big website to a new one, and it means losing the pages that had pics of all my minis. I am moving all of them to this blog / site. It’s not as hard as I feared porting them over, but it takes time. For now I have up the Black and White Room, and about four vignettes. You can see them via menu items at the top of this blog, or in the list of pages down the side. A work in progress!

Or check them out here:

Black and White Room

This Mess is a Place

Moroccan Fantasy


New Orleans Courtyard

Architect’s Scales–A Brief Intro and How-To


If you collect issues of The Scale Cabinetmaker, you’ll find that many of the projects’ dimensions are given in full scale measurements, and it’s up to us to translate that into the scale we want to work in.

You can either do math (divide everything by 12, or 24, or 48, for 1″, 1/2″, 1/4″ scale), or you can save yourself the trouble and purchase an architect’s scale.

An architect’s scale is a triangular ruler with six different scales listed in inches. (Note it is different from an engineering scale, which is metric–get the one with inches, or you’ll be doing a heck of a lot more math).

Photo of my scale from the top (Click pics for larger versions):

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Here it is, looking at the 1″ scale side (sorry it’s a little blurry):

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How does it work? See the 1 there to the right of the 20? (ignore the 20 for now). That’s the one inch mark–there’s exactly one inch, or one scale foot, between the zero and the 1. To the left of the zero is an inch (a scale foot) broken down into 12 scale inches. (3 inches, 6, 9, 12).

So, if I’m looking at plans for the deck chair, and it shows that one piece is 50″ long, I think, “How many feet is that?” (OK, so you have to do a tiny bit of math).

50 inches = 4 feet, 2 inches (right? I’m an English major).

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I place my scale ruler on my piece of wood, count over from zero to 4 (it’s four real inches, or four scale feet). Then I move the ruler to measure from the left of the zero mark the last two “inches” (scale inches), and there I have my measurement. I have no idea what the actual measurement is (4 1/6 inches I guess it would be), but I don’t need to know that. I know it’s 4 feet 2 scale inches.

It took some time before the lightbulb went off for me. Get a scale, find some projects with real-size dimensions, and practice figuring out how to translate the measurements into one-inch scale.

The great thing about learning how to do dimensions using the architect’s scale is that any project in the Scale Cabinetmaker can be resized for 1/2″ or 1/4″ scale as well! (If you want to do some of those things that small!)

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This is the half-inch side of the architect’s scale. The one scale foot mark is the 10 (because the ruler has six scales, some of the marks are from the scale going the other direction, which drove me nuts at first, until I learned to ignore it). The 2 is the 2 scale feet mark, the next mark is 3 scale feet, and so on.

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Here is the 1/4″ scale side. Ignore the 92, etc, and just use the 2, 4, etc.

Thus, if something is four inches on a side in real life, instead of trying to figure out how big is 1/3 of an inch, you can use the marks on the architect scale to count 3 scale inches and not worry about it.

Clear as mud? It’s clearer when you practice with it. One motivation in making the deck chair and the chest was to see if I could figure out how to mark the dimensions.

Last–The Scale Cabinetmaker does have some fairly easy projects. I look for ones that don’t need a lot of power tools, or have straight lines or rectangular carcasses. The projects contributed by Bill Miller can be done with hand tools and intermediate or even beginning woodworking skills (he also lists his dimensions in inches, so no need for the architect’s scale). I made a backgammon table and 1/2″ scale pool table he designed, and both turned out well!

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Fun projects #2 and #3


More fun. This time two simple projects:

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Again I found these plans in The Scale Cabinetmaker. This lounge chair is made of straight cuts of wood with a little drilling and pinning. It really folds and unfolds, and the back can be adjusted (note the grooves in the bottom back where the rung fits.)

I did not make the grill–it’s there for effect!

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These pieces are from the Realife Miniatures Victorian parlor kit from ages and ages ago. I’d made it as a teenager and the set went in the first version of The Big House. When I was able to afford better furniture, they of course got put in a box.

I decided to see if I could salvage them. I took off the kit’s original fabric, refinished the outsides, and reupholstered in some nice jacquard-like fabric. The rocking chair’s fabric is a little different (a cotton paisley), but the pieces look nice together.

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For the table, I had to bend a new piece of 1/32 basswood, and refinish everything. But now the table stands square (it rocked before), and everything looks lovely!

Now I have a nice furniture set, and no house to put it in. Hmm….

Fun Project #1


I’ve been working on some fun projects since I last posted.

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I made this trunk on stand from scratch. Found the plans in The Scale Cabinetmaker, I believe volume 4, issue 1. I’m always looking for unusual things to build, because I figure the usual stuff–chairs, couches, tables–I can find commercially. I thought this project wouldn’t be too difficult. (It was and wasn’t.)

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I modified the lid, because I didn’t have the right thickness of wood. The plans called for the lid to be carved out of a 5/8 piece, both inner and outer sides carved. I didn’t have the tools either to do this, so I built a regular lid with four sides, soaking and curving a 1/32 piece of mahogany for the top of the lid. Then I covered it with “leather.” (How I made the faux leather below.)

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The trunk opens to reveal an interior with a lift-out tray, which I covered with scrapbooking paper (the paper looks a little like a Monet painting, and pasted in, it looks like old leather).

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I drilled holes and put in every single one of the brass nails (from Houseworks) in all four sides myself. Front and back had 15 each, sides 9 each.

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I’m proud of the stand because it actually worked. I had grand intentions of making the cabriole legs myself, but then I found premade legs of the exact size I needed (I mean exact) in my stash. I figured the universe was telling me to use them, so I sanded and shaped them a little.

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The back legs, however, I cut myself on a scroll saw. I’m pleased that they turned out right and both the same!

I am also pleased because the plan called for the bottoms of the sides to be rabbeted and the bottom fitted into the groove. I’d never rabbeted joins before, so I learned a new skill! I think the added work on the joinery made the stand solid and sturdy.

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The plans called for real leather, but I didn’t have enough, nor did I want to waste it if it didn’t work. So I made a lot of faux leather, very simply.

The base is mulberry paper. This can be found at art supply stores or other places that carry handmade paper, or online. This paper is thin and inexpensive.

I laid out a large piece of mulberry paper on waxed paper. I mixed burnt umber oil paint with artist glazing medium. (I used water-cleanup oil paints which are both cheaper than oils and dry faster. The glazing medium is a common commercial brand I found at Michaels.)

I painted the paper (one side only, because the other side would be glued down), and hung it to dry overnight. The paper turns out soft and supple, looking and feeling like leather.

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The hasp and loop for the lock I cut out of a .005 brass sheet. My first time working with brass. Fun. The hinges were Houseworks.

I’m very pleased with the result!

Shoe House, Outside

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The shoe house in progress. Click images for larger pics.

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Stuccoed the outside using the torn-up tissue method. 1) Take facial tissue (the kind you blow your nose with) and separate each two-ply sheet into two very thin sheets. 2) Tear each sheet into quarters. 3) Crinkle up each quarter sheet then smooth it back out. 4) Paint surface to be stuccoed with a layer of acrylic paint in your choice of colors. 5) While paint is still wet, place one piece of crinkly tissue on the painted surface. 6. Dab with stiff-bristled brush until tissue is absorbed and it looks like stucco. Cover entire surface of house (or wall or whatever), let dry, then give it another coat of paint in your color choice.

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Painted the walls of the house Americana Warm White. The timbers and trim are pink, because Mrs. Mouse (who is decorating this house) likes pink. I started with Delta Ceramcoat Touch O’ Pink, but it wasn’t bright enough for Mrs. Mouse. I colored over it with a Prismcolor marker called Ballet Pink, and this made the color pop better.

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Scroll down for more pictures of the completed exterior. Roof shingle sheet comes with the kit. I painted it Neutral Gray, then aged with by dry brushing burnt umber and black green around the shingles (wiping off if it got too dark).

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Porch more or less done. The basswood post on the right corner is just to prop it up until everything is done. I’m thinking about making walls below the porch to both support the porch and conceal the wiring.

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The kitchen will go in this small space in the shoe.

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This is all that will be seen of kitchen once the shoe is together (I plan to find a way to not have to glue house down permanently, so kitchen can be viewed).

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Must finish hiding the wiring and doing the interior decorating. Mrs. Mouse is rubbing her paws waiting to get started.

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