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.

Miniature World: Victoria, BC, Canada

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On my recent vacation to the Pacific Northwest, we stumbled on this gem of a museum around the corner from the Empress Hotel in Victoria.

Of course I had to go inside!

It’s less a museum for individual dollhouses or miniature artisans but dioramas and scenes in miniature. Very well done and so cool.

Click photos for larger versions.

They had quite a few scenes of battles in WWII and WWI. Somewhat depressing but also so very well done!

The scene below is called “Chelsea 1815” when the victory over Napoleon was announced.

There was much more than military miniatures, however! So much.

They have a continuous diorama showing cities all across Canada at the turn of the twentieth century. Toronto, Quebec, the Maritimes, Calgary, and more.

I looked very hard for Murdoch’s house and Police Station number 5. 🙂

Another Napoleonic display.

This was a display of many famous European castles if they were all close to each other. 🙂

Nice display of WWII planes.

A car show on the green in a small town.

Below are dioramas of First Nations houses and totem poles.

Gulliver captured in Lilliput.

A coach heading for Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

Below: Charing Cross in London in the 17th century (Samuel Pepys diary).

I don’t remember which town this was, but, if you look into the window of the theater, you see a “movie.” What you see is your own face. It’s cute.

London again, and the Thames River.

There were many whimsical displays as well, like the dwarves diamond mine from Snow White.

They do have a few dollhouses, including this lovely house. It is fully enclosed with the layout of a real house, with large windows for viewing the inside.

  

Swiss Family Robinson’s treehouse.

These are some highlights, but there was much more, including a space station:

So glad we found this place!

Chicago Show–Workshops

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I had hoped to finish my workshop projects before I talked about them, but um … I will finish them but I’m waiting for the cool magnifiers I ordered to arrive. That’s a good excuse.

I took four workshops, and learned much!

Workshop 1) Mold making with Michael Yurkovic

This was the basic process of making a silicon mold and then casting. We brought a piece we wanted to replicate.

I took a ceiling medallion, because I’m always looking for them, like this one, and it’s not always in stock (I purchased at Hobby Builders Supply some time ago).

This is how the bottom half of the mold turned out. He taught us how to press the piece into clay, build a moat, and pour the rubber. I did make a top half, but for this piece, since it’s flat on one side, I really only need the one half.

We then poured resin into the mold, let it harden (didn’t take long), and voila!

The original and the cast piece side by side. I lost a tiny bit of detail, but not much.

The biggest worry in this process is air bubbles. You have to go slowly and carefully or bubbles happen.

The materials come from a place called Reynolds Advanced Materials, and I have seen the casting silicon and resins in my local art supply store (Arizona Art Supply, which is an awesome place). Reynolds also has showrooms in larger cities and they do mail / website orders.

I hope to use this method when I do stone work for the Westville–I have some stones I can lay in a wall shape, then make a mold from them, which I’ll use with Creative paperclay to made a stone wall facade. (These are good intentions).

Workshop 2: Artist’s atelier by Eric Goddard

This was a two-day class where we finished and decorated this roombox. (He nailed together the very basic box before the class). We did the window, the faux stone wall, the closet, and started work on the accessories.

Lots of work on the little details–we laid the bricks and cut mullions for the window, which was not as straightforward as it seems. The mullions are at a slant and an odd angle, as you can see, so math had to be done.

An LED strip outside the window gives it a soft glow, which goes well with the incandescent bulb in the closet.

I am not finished (still need to age / wash the brick wall, age and paint spatter the floor, and get my accessories together).

In the middle of this class, I came down with a cold (not because of the class but because of the cold weather, which I am not used to), and had to skip a few hours of the morning session, but I was still able to get this far. I’ll finish it now that I’m home with my own tools, lighting, etc.

Workshop 3: Box with Geoff Wonnacott

A workshop with Geoff has been on my bucket list a while. Finally got to one of his classes, which was the evening of the day I caught the cold. So I was a bit miserable, but I soldiered on.

A lovely little box with veneer. It was a short class, so he had cut the pieces, which we glued together to shape the box and lid. We added all the filigree, and I will hinge mine when I get the magnifiers I mentioned above. Need it for this!

Putting together the box is a bit trickier than you’d think, because the corners have to be just right, or it doesn’t sit square. Much trial and error. The filigree is tiny tiny.

What it will look like in the end. Geoff wrote very detailed instructions, and I’m fairly confident I can finish on my own (knock on wood).

Workshop 4: Aging wood techniques with Eamon O’Rourke.

We did not build anything here, but learned aging tricks and about French polishing (shellac diluted with denatured alcohol and poured onto cotton balls inside T-shirt cotton. This makes a pad which you then brush over the wood).

The top piece was aged via distressing the wood (spoons were involved), and staining and wiping and staining again.

Bottom piece was French polished when it was bare. Then stained a bit, wiped, French polished again. Looks beautiful!

These were ordinary pieces of I think oak, and they turned out amazingly well. Good techniques to learn. Again something that seems like it should be easy, but it was a lot of trail and error and plain work.

Eamon is such a fun guy, I recommend any class he teaches.

Those were the four workshops I went to (determined even though I felt crappy for a couple of them). I will be taking more! (As soon as I can find the time …)

Back to the Westville now. I’ve advanced through the staircase and bay windows and outer walls, and the next posts will catch up on all that.

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.

Have a Merry, Mini Christmas!

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Christmas Projects!

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I finally have Christmas projects to post. I just finished up this one:

This is a kit, a one-inch scale peddler’s wagon. I put together the wagon and then all the little things that go in! The accessories kits make lots of stuff–I have plenty left over.

A shot from the front, with the seat. I can put a Bryer horse in front of this–I didn’t have room in the display area for him, but I’ll fix him up for when I put this on its permanent shelf after Christmas.

I’m displaying this on a hall tree with a mirror, so we can see both sides of the wagon.

The interior cubbies light up (LED lights and battery pack included with the kit).

Cubbies on the other side full of more stuff.

More goodies on top of the wagon. I especially like the kit with the stacking boxes–the boxes are finished inside and out and the lids close.

A cool thing about this wagon is that it works. Not only do the wheels turn, but the front wheels are steerable. This is the undercarriage as I was putting it together. The front axel is (will be) enclosed in a box that pivots on a screw. The green dowel already attached is where the harness traces go–turning those steers the wagon.

The finished undercarriage attached to the wagon.

In front you can see the green traces that attach to the front axel assembly.

I’m very pleased with how the wagon turned out. When I get the harness done and the horse hitched up, I’ll post more pics.

I got the kit and accessories here: https://www.robinbetterley.com/collections/the-merry-peddler

Have a merry, mini Christmas!

New Projects

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I haven’t posted much lately, not because I haven’t been doing minis, but because I’ve been writing so much I don’t want to be anywhere near my computer when I’m done. After a day of my laptop, I want to go analog, so I paint, glue, cut, no computer in sight.

But … I’ve built a couple of kits that I enjoyed and am working on another as we speak.

For Halloween, I completed this spice tin (quarter-inch scale). Click photos for larger versions.

A fun little project that introduced me to another way to light minis (because I broke the switch on the battery box in the kit–this is typical of me).

Anyway, the kit came with a lighting kit–LEDs plus battery holder and switch from Evan Designs. This is a cool, easy way to backlight minis, especially great for the smaller scales. When I broke my switch, I easily ordered another one straight from Evan Designs, whose website showed me all the LED lights and switches I could buy! Very inexpensive too.

Christmas Project

I realized I didn’t have enough Christmas minis (I have one vignette and that’s it), so I made this:

This is a microscale “Secret House” kit from Robin Betterley. I have the kit for the interior furniture, but haven’t put it together yet.

I’m working on another Christmas project, a (one-inch scale) Christmas Peddler’s wagon (again from Robin Betterley–my husband got me a gift certificate last year, and I went nuts.)

I’ll post pictures when I’m done. It’s teaching me how to put together a wheeled vehicle, which is very clever.

I also put together another house kit (quarter inch), which I’ll show in the next post.

 

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