Projects: Veneered box and Dora’s Little Loft

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I want to share two little projects I did when the Westville grew too frustrating, and then I’ll turn back to the Westville build.

First, I finished up the box I started in the class with Geoff Wonnacott in Chicago.

I added the hinges myself, plus all the filigree and lock. Papered the inside of the box and then finished the outside with shellac.

The hinge pins were long pieces of wire snipped as close to the hinge as possible and then ground down with a Dremel. I was amazed at how well that worked! New techniques to know.

The second fun project is a kit called Dora’s Little Loft–almost 360 degrees different from the box above.

This is a kit by a Chinese company called Robo Time, which specializes in 3D puzzles and miniature scenes. I’ve seen these kits in various catalogs that come through my house (like Acorn and others), and I purchased this one because it was just cute.

It has a retro feel and is very colorful. The kit contains *everything* in the room–you make all kinds of accessories and little decorative objects, all out of paper, wood, wire, clay, and findings and beads.

Everything here I made from the bits of wire, paper, and fabric in the kit. It’s cleverly put together, even if some of the accessories are a little fiddly.

A tip: Superglue (krazy glue with brush applicator) saves a lot of grief when working with the projects made of wire.

I can put together another post with tips and tricks on this build.

Meanwhile, here’s details of the finished piece.

I used my own pink fabric for the chair, but everything else came from the kit (they include the chair’s fabric, but I liked my color better.)

I chose this kit instead of the plant shop, because I didn’t want to make so many plants. Ha! This one has 19 different potted plants, plus the rose vine and a tree! I cut out many leaves …

I love the details of the cat’s food bowl, milk, and enclosed litter box.

The light fixture with led light and battery box is included–battery box is hidden in a niche beneath the scene. It was one of the easiest lighting hookups I’ve done.

Scale? It’s sort of 1/2 inch, sort of 1 inch. It’s not really exact. But it looks fine. The finished scene is about 8 inches x 10 inches, maybe 10 inches high.

I enjoyed this kit so much (when not cursing at it), that I looked to see what else they had.

HBS (miniatures.com) has four–this one (Dora’s Loft), the plant shop, a kitchen, and a mini camper (I like that one and might get it too).

I searched Robo Time’s website for more, and there are many more. A bookstore, a coffee house, a porch, other shops, all kinds of them. I purchased another one–a music studio–because I play guitar and piano, and it looks cool.

You can purchase directly from Robo Time–they have a U.S. warehouse, so the shipping is from the U.S. (and shipping is free if you spend about $50). They’re also sold through other retailers, and Amazon. Prices are cheapest at the Robo Time site or HBS (miniatures.com)

Anyway, a fun little interlude before I got back to the Westville.

Next post–Westville porch, bay windows, and starting the roof.

Cool Stuff from the Chicago Show

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And now for the gorgeous things!

From Aristocratic Attic

June Clinkscales. Her work is breathtaking.

Back of the chair from June C.

Laura Crain. Fits well in the shabby chic half of my Beacon Hill.

Ulus Miniatures www.ulusminiaturas.com Just amazing things! So detailed and perfect.

A tea caddy from Geoff Wonnacott. He’s talented, and and a nice guy too.

Scroll Chest from Eamon O’Rourke.

From the O’Rourkes again–a Medieval potty. The moss is the TP.

I had just told my husband I was going to cool it on buying kits, but he waves at this table and says, “Have you seen this?” So I purchased this kit for the wine box vignette and the little house below. It’s all his fault. (Jill Castoral)

Gorgeous half-inch scale vignette by Japanese artist, Fumiko.

I put this cat by Sue Veeder into my Halloween room. Doing what cats do!

Fan girl moment! Me and the incomparable Ferd Sobol. I bought his book and also the caned chair in my hand. The Sobols and their daughter are so nice.

Quarter inch scale sofa and chair by Debbie Young.

There wasn’t much quarter-inch scale there, but what I saw I glommed. These are by Debbie Young (Young at Heart) and True2Scale minis.

Lovely quarter-inch furniture from a British artisan–Seaside Miniatures.

I’ve loved Wendy Smale’s things since I started buying her pillows years ago. She does a lot of minerals, shells, fossils, and scientific collections now.

More kits from a German vendor–these looked fun.

The plaques are from Teapots and More Minis; the suitcase pile, chocolates, tray, and macaroons are by Betinha Murta, and the espresso machine from Mini Fanaberia, a Polish artisan who makes appliances that are so detailed (refrigerator lights come on and everything). www.minifanaberia.com

Cute little girl from Pat Melvin.

By Fern Vasi. I actually bought this one in March at the Small World show, but she was also at the Chicago show. She calls it “Parrot Head.”

I also found a lot of fabric and trim from Miniature Luxuries and accessories from Cottage of Miniatures who had a huge spread of hundreds of tiny things (like garden hoses and tools, boxed and jarred foods, desk accessories, bathroom accessories, and much more).

This is only a sampling of what was there. Every time I went into the ballrooms (3 of them), I’d find something new. The show runs Friday through Sunday (closes Sunday at 4), and still you wouldn’t see everything.

As I said in my last post, totally worth it to buy the Friday preview ticket. Go through the show catalog beforehand to find the artisans that are a must-see for you, and visit them first. Then take a step back and browse. Take breaks in the main hall or lobby to breathe and keep calm.

Next post–Workshops.

Stone Cottage done. Westville to Continue

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I pretty much have the quarter-inch scale Stone Cottage done and ready to display. I have not finished the wiring, because my cat ate part of it. He is fine, but the wires are now too short and I’ll have to replace or splice. At least he didn’t eat the LED chips.

(I took these photos before the landscape was completely done, but the grass is all on now.)

This was a good learning experience about what worked / didn’t work with stucco, and how to work with Creative Paperclay (much easier than I feared).

I will return to the Westville and start finishing. Interior first, I think, with tape wiring, then the stucco and stonework when the outside is one continuous surface.

Before that, I will be going to the Bishop show in Chicago–primarily to take classes. I signed up for four! All day ones a couple evening ones. I intend to learn a lot. I’ll share what I made and what I purchased (cause I know that’s going to happen).

Westville: Stonework practice–Painting

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I painted the stonework I made with the Creative Paperclay in my last post. I’m fairly pleased with the results. This has been a good learning experience.

Painting started with making a base wash of gray. This is a very, very light wash: 1 drop of black plus one drop of burnt umber mixed in a plastic shot glass of water.

The next step was to paint stones with a darker gray wash in a random pattern.

Next the other stones were painted with a brown wash. Then random stones were highlighted with burnt umber and burnt orange.

It turned out a little bit more brown than I wanted so I washed it over with gray again until I liked it.

That’s my paperclay experiment. I like the results, it’s much easier than I feared, and so I will do stonework on the Westville.

For now, I want to finish this little house.

I’m adding LED lights from Evans Designs (made my own fixture below). Here I’ve strung the wires from the house, which I’ll thread through the base to hook up with the battery switch there (that’s the plan, anyway).

Roof pieces painted and ready. One thing I love about quarter-inch scale is the roofing is ready-made, usually from railroad modeling supplies. So much easier than gluing on one shingle at a time.

I’m almost done with this house, then I’ll switch back to the Westville.

Westville–Paperclay Stonework/Stone Cottage

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The paperclay turned out to be easier to use than I feared. I kept it in a ziplock bag after opening, quickly digging in each time I needed some and sealing it back up again.

Here’s the base stonework on the quarter-inch experimental house step by step.

First step is to build up the shape of the walls. Here’s my bare wall coated with yellow glue (wood glue or titebond).

Next I put a roll of paperclay at the base and then smoothed it up with a plastic tool and my fingers (tool easily purchased at hobby store, e.g., Michael’s)

For some reason, I had to remind myself to add the glue to the wood, but it’s essential. I guess I figured the clay would just stick to everything itself (like it does to my fingers), but no. The glue holds it in place while you form it.

Base walls are shaped and ready for the stonework.

The kit includes a mold for the paperclay stones. This is quarter-inch scale. I’ll have to make my own for one-inch scale or figure another way to make stones when I do this on the Westville.

Paperclay smoothed into the mold.

Molded paperclay glued to the base. I cut away the excess and reused.

Poking with a stencil brush adds a little texture.

Made little stones to add to the base. These were easy to roll with my fingers.

I dabbed each stone with glue then placed it at the bottom of the wall.

Filling in the stair wall was a little trickier, and involved lots of fingerwork and trimming. This is the stair wall half done (above).

Stair walls done.

When I came back after letting everything dry overnight, I saw that the paperclay had shrunk (it does that), and it had pulled away from the top of the wall (as you can see above).

I added a row of stones under the ledge. They look darker in the photo because they were still wet, against the already dried portion.

The stonework is mostly done. Now to let it dry and then paint it.

This part was much easier and went much more quickly than I feared. I’ll see what happens in the painting stage!

Westville–Exterior plans

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I had this great idea to do the exterior of the Westville with stucco and paperclay stonework.

Not that I’ve ever done anything with paperclay before.

But–I had a quarter-inch scale house kit in my stash which is stucco on top, creative paperclay stonework on the base. So, for practice, I took it out and started it.

This is the structure so far. It’s a simple house (a couple of rooms). I have stuccoed it and put on the trim, and I will do a build-along for the paperclay part. A learning experience for me!

For the stucco, I used carpenter’s wood filler. I’m not sure I will do that again to stucco the Westville. I live in a dry climate (and it’s a dry time of year), and the wood filler was already half dried by the time I took it out of the container. It was impossible to smooth down, and I ended up with a much thicker coat than I wanted. But it’s rustic, right? So I will experiment with other products and see if I can find something better (textured paint comes to mind).

The interior is simple but a nice space. This is Stone Briar Manor from Suzanne and Andrew’s minis. They based it on a real house, which is now a library, so I might make mine a library too. (If I don’t chicken out making all those books …)

This kit has been retired and no longer available. They’ve retired a lot of their kits, which is sad, because they’re fabulous!

But peeking on their site just now (https://andrewsmini.com/miniatures/), I see they have a Fairytale house that looks cute. Also a Seaside Cottage that is a variation of the Creekside one I did. I really love their kits so I hope they continue them or bring back retired ones from time to time (which is how I got the Stone Briar one).

More on paperclay to come!

Mini Show 2019

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As usual I went to the Small World Miniature Club show and sale this year, and as usual, found some cool exhibits to photograph (and bought too much, also as usual).

I thought this room in a microscope was a great idea!

I love the unusual room box.

Below: Nice Microscale house.

I love this Victorian house. I think it’s 1/4″ scale.

Another lovely smaller scale house.

Nice vignette.

House on stilts.

Haunted house: Note the skeletal hand in the window.

I have a thing for grungy bathrooms, unless it’s one I’m using.

Front and back of a cart–so pretty!

Love this scene of little boys building a plane out of crates. “Girls Keep Out!”

This is “Fox and a Hen House” by Connie Sauve. She is amazing!

  

And there’s the fox …

Another house by Connie.

I love looking at everyone’s minis. We all come up with different things–the creativity inspires me.

I bought a few fun things that I’ll post when I get everything sorted out.

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