I tried to do a video of the unboxing of Elania’s Vacation House kit, but it was a dismal failure, so here are photos instead.
There is a ton of stuff in this box. The walls, base, roof, and floors, plus stone and clapboard siding, plexiglass windows, logs (if you do the log version), shingles, landscaping materials, stairs, trim, windows (casings and frames), wallpaper, and the full built-in kitchen.
So many little pieces! The first step was to clean off the laser burn with a bleach wash, something I haven’t done before. I usually sand or wipe of the burn, but I have to say the bleach did the job. A little in a jar, swish the pieces around, and then weight them while they dry.
I am now staining and painting all the stairs, doors, windows, floors, ceilings, etc. Once I have all that done, I can begin the actual building.
I’ll be doing the “Aspen retreat” (I’m calling it the Mountain Retreat), which is the one with stone facing and green siding. Don’t know if I’ll do the snow or just landscaping. Summer or winter–I haven’t decided!
I’ve been living about a month and a half in our mountain retreat, and after gathering supplies, was able to do a couple of small projects (micro scale).
I had to start from scratch, so I bought the table, lamp and supplies, and my husband put together the little shelf unit for me as a surprise. I put together the table myself, but it was pretty easy. Very simple and sturdy, perfect for this space.
First project I did was this mini suitcase with a scene inside. Part of the Betterleys “Secret Suitcase” kit club. Real traveling is difficult, but imaginary traveling can be fun, right?
This on is “At the Opera” and has mixed quarter inch and one inch scales.
There is one suitcase for each month. I am way behind–I’ve only put together two. I signed up for this club late last year–I don’t think they are selling these on the website.
Next project was this one–a microscale shop called Lavender Lane (another Betterley kit). The structure only took me a few days to put together (it would probably take most people a day, but I can only snatch time here and there). I have the kit for the interior, which looks adorable, and I looking forward to finishing the whole thing.
The ground floor will be a shop and the second floor a bedroom.
I’m particularly fond of Lavender Lane because in 2019, when I was in Rome, I got an email saying that this kit was on pre-order (the latest of the Watercolors shops). I love the shops to much that I jumped on the pre-order. Now, I was in ROME! A beautiful, beautiful exciting city, and my priority at that moment was ordering this kit! This is my devotion to miniatures. (I did enjoy Rome too and dream of the day I can go back.)
I have another month and a half to go in our retreat from the heat, and I’ve decided do something bigger than more tiny kits. I had some stocked a few full house kits, but of course I left them at our other abode.
In an issue of American Miniaturist, I saw an ad for Hart’s Desire Miniatures on Etsy, so I went to her site and purchased a 1/4″ scale house kit. The kit arrived two days after I ordered it!
This is the one I chose–you have options to make either a stone house, or a log cabin style house or a mix. The kit includes everything, even the kitchen.
In my next post I’ll show you what’s in the kit and my thoughts on getting started. I will be doing the stone mountain retreat to celebrate my own mountain retreat (though we are living in a small wood-sided townhouse, not a lovely villa like this one!)
This is the last mini room I finished before my husband and I decamped to a cooler climate for the rest of the summer:
This is the “Romantic Reading Room” kit by True2Scale. I picked it up at the Good Sam show last year–loved the colors and the books! I’d love a she-shed like this in real life!
After I finished this, we packed things for the next couple of summer months and moved to the mountains. I brought emergency rations miniatures:
As many tools and things as I could fit in a box plus a few little kits. There are hobby stores here, so I’ll go on a paint and glue run soon. I bought a table to work on today and hopefully I’ll start mini-ing soon! Not only the kits but some new ideas on things to build.
I finally have my garden wall finished enough to display. This entire thing, including the “ironworks” is paper clay!
The structure (arch and base) is foamcore, which was covered over with rolled out paperclay. The bricks, the door and doorframe, the stones, all of it is paper clay. The bricks were textured when wet, but the door and door frame when dry.
Looks like wood, but it’s not! We marked the boards in the wet paper clay but waited for it to dry to texture.
My grating didn’t turn out as neatly as I’d like but I can pretend it is a crude wrought iron from the nearest blacksmith. It’s all paper clay, though!
I always thought that once paper clay dried, you were out of luck. I thought it had to be worked and textured quickly while damp, and then when it was dry, that was it. But no! Once dry, you can sand it, carve it, saw it, texture it, paint it … (sanding makes a mess, just be warned).
But apparently even if paper clay gets dried out before you can use it (which happens to me), you don’t have to throw it away. You can slice it up, break it up, carve it, even add water back into it to make it malleable again.
Painting can make a huge difference in the realism. The door and doorframe are painted in layers, each layer enhancing and aging the last. Dark layers went on first, lighter later.
Paper clay is also very forgiving. If you’re painting the dry clay and you mess up, you can wet it and rub off the mistake.
The landscaping bits are not paper clay. 🙂 Woodland scenics model railroad foam and landscaping stuff.
I’m very, very glad I took this class, even if I had to be in place at 5 am (it started at 8 am Eastern, but I’m on the other side of the country). I became absorbed quickly and forgot to be sleepy. I learned a ton and ended up with a nice display for a shelf in the living room. Plus, online learning meant I didn’t have to spend a lot of money and time flying to another city and staying in an uncomfortable hotel.
This class was offered through the International Guild of Miniature Artisans (IGMA), and hopefully they will do online classes again.They were open to everyone–you didn’t have to be a member (members received a small discount).
These were the classes if you are interested (see link below). The classes are finished now, but it gives you an idea what they offered and the cost:
My current mini project is an online class I’m taking via IGMA (International Guild of Miniature Artisans). The class is taught by Tori West, and is an adobe garden wall (with door) scene made almost entirely out of creative paperclay.
This past weekend, we rolled out clay and made the base, the wall, the door, and started on the grate work. During the week, everything will dry, and next weekend we’ll do all the texturing, painting, and finishing.
I will share my finished project when it’s done. It’s going to be gorgeous, and almost everything, including the “wrought iron” door grate will be out of paperclay! My door grating is drying even as we speak.
I am learning so much already. I have used paperclay to make stones and stone foundations, but I had no idea all the stuff you can do with it. Once dry, it can be cut on a saw, carved, polished … many things you can do with wood or polymer clay, you can do with paperclay. Who knew?
Anyway, I’m having a great time–even if the class starts at 5 am my time (8 EST). I didn’t realize this when I signed up …
BTW, the horse sculpture on every package of paperclay is by the the instructor for this class, Tori West. They had a competition to be featured on the package a while back, and she won (she does not work for the company).
Finally, I finished a new mini! This is called “Balcony Daydreaming,” and is one of the “Little Kits” that are available from Miniatures.com and also on Amzn and elsewhere.
The scale is roughly 1/2″ to the foot, but it’s not precise. Precision isn’t the point here!
I picked this because a) it’s cute and makes me smile; b) it’s not something I had to put a lot of concentration on–writing has been dominating my time. Right now I’m writing a book set in Ancient Rome, and between figuring out the story and researching the time period, I haven’t had a lot of hours for minis. These kits are a relaxing way to take a break.
Anyway–done! Scroll for pics and then tips on building it.
The kit comes with glue and paint, but I put them aside to use my own. Tacky glue works well, and superglue is good for anything built of of the thin wire (chair legs, bench legs, etc).
I also swapped out the kit fabric for my own.
As much as I prefer to build the structure first and then make the furniture and accessories, you have to have the accessories done before gluing the walls together. The right side with the floor-to-ceiling windows is enclosed, no openings, so you have to put all the accessories in place before you build the walls around them. There’s a small opening to the right of the sliding door (which doesn’t actually slide), but it’s too narrow to really reach anything.
Have a small box or bowl to keep all the accessories in as you build them. I used an empty (and clean) take-out butter container for the tiny pieces.
I coated the walls, which are particleboard, with gesso before I painted with craft paint. Paint both sides at once to prevent warping.
My only complaint is the the photos in the instruction book are very small. The pics are really the only guidance, and it would be nice if they were a tad larger! I have bad eyesight as it is. But I got through it.
Music or an audiobook is good company while making this kit!
This is the second Little Kit I’ve done. The first one is Dora’s Loft:
This one was much more complicated! So of course I did it first.
Balcony Daydreaming is a better one to start with. Fairly easy and cute.
Be warned: These kits are addicting. I have two more sitting in the closet waiting: The “Happy Camper” and a music studio (I bought that one via Amzn).