Saturday, January 25, 2020

Bedding, Fireplace and a Decision

I have made an important decision regarding the deco house.  I am going to have the wall and flooring pieces cut for me.  I am absolutely incompetent at cutting a straight line.  I do OK with the chop saw and the table saw (sort of), but a house requires more precision, and it requires cut-outs for doors and windows.  When I worked on the Sagamore Hill room box, the door and window openings were a bit . . . wavy.  I was able to disguise imperfections with my windows and door trim, as well as the veneer on the outside, but I'm not sure I'll have the same opportunities with this house, plus there are a lot more pieces.  So, I have sent the specifications off to someone who does laser cutting of 1/8" plywood, and my fingers are crossed that he can do the work.

While waiting, I finally finished the bedding.  I am not super happy with the pillows, and I may do them over, but this is it for now.  I like the luxe look of the charmeuse, as well as the contrasting texture of the silk shantung.

The silk charmeuse was not the easiest thing to work with—it's slippery!  One thing I learned from the Internet (yay, Google!) is to cut it between two pieces of paper.  That's a bit hard on the scissors, but I wasn't cutting that much, and it really did make the silk behave.  When I ironed it, I ironed around a template made of card stock.  That made it easier to get those little turned-under edges straight(er) when I ironed.  In place of sewing or gluing (which discolors the silk), I used Stitch Witchery.  Even that I had to be careful with; a couple of times when it melted, it also caused discoloration.  I used lots of magic words when working on the bedding, but in the end, I think it's acceptable.

I also made up the fireplace.  I realized that I need to know its footprint for when I do the flooring, so I opened the kit and had at it.  One thing I really love about Shannon's kits are the notches she cuts into pieces that need to fit together.  They ensure that I put the pieces together correctly and don't need to eyeball the alignment.  All the pieces are cut beautifully—no sanding or tweaking to get them to fit.

I admit, in doing my research online, I came across what I think was the prototype for this fireplace, so I mimicked its tile work pattern as much as possible.  The kit has all the tiles laser etched onto the pieces, but you can, of course, fill them in with any color(s) you choose.  I went with black and white (duh), with a gold tile for the center piece.  I liked the warmth of the gold in the middle of all that black.  I also went with a black mantel.  I considered staining the wood cherry, but when I held it up against the tile, I just didn't like it.  After trying to decide between gold and silver for the decorative pieces, I realized I should just use both, since there are going to be both gold and silver in the room. When I look at the picture, the silver piece seems a little plain.  Maybe I need to add a tiny bit of gold embellishment?

To get the cleanest tile I could, I decided not to paint, but to use a process similar to the one used by Emily Morganti in her half-scale backsplash.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any punch that cut squares of exactly the size I needed, so I cut them myself using an X-Acto knife and a piece of strip wood of the correct width as my template.  I first tried scrapbook paper, but decided it was a bit too thick so went with the only other black paper I had—origami paper.  I also had some white origami paper of the same thickness, so this worked well.  I used gold craft paper for the center tile. After painting the sections to be tiled a warm white for the "grout," I glued on my little squares and rectangles. This definitely took the longest.  Any irregularities in the tile are due to my cutting and pasting skills, not Shannon's laser etching.  Then I used a toothpick to completely coat each square with some clear Gallery Glass, being careful not to get it in the grout lines.  On those occasions where I did get it in the grout lines (it was hard not to between those teeny rectangles, which are about 1/32" wide), I immediately scraped it out with the tip of a clean toothpick.

Here it is in the room.

I think it works well.  (Please excuse the lousy taping job on the wall.  I had to remove the wall to cut a slightly larger opening for the fireplace insert and had a terrible time taping it back in place.) It's definitely going to need something above it.  Maybe an octagonal mirror?  I like that this one even has beveled edges.

That's it for now.  Keeping my fingers crossed on the walls.

Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 13, 2020

A Small Art Deco Update

I have ordered some materials for the art deco house and, while waiting for them to arrive, have been playing around making things for the house.  (Yes, I should be working on my swap, but I will get that done, too.) 

First of all, my half-inch painter's tape arrived. I tested out stripes with it, and much prefer it. 

For comparison:

The half-inch tape is a darker blue as well, and therefore closer to the color I will actually use when painting.

I also worked on the vanity for the bedroom.  The vanity is made from a kit by SDK Miniatures.  Something had gone a little wrong in the cutting of the base structure pieces, as their tops and bottom edges were all on a pretty severe angle, and I was worried about how it was all going to go together.  I ended up creating my own base structure with some wood I had on hand.  The rest of the pieces (drawer fronts, sides, top, spacers and handles) were all perfect.  I followed Susan's suggestion to make the vanity two-tone, using both Golden Oak and Dark Walnut Minwax stain pens.  Two-toned furniture was common in art deco.  I gave it a shellac finish and swapped out the mirror card for some real mirror, and I think it's a lovely little piece.

I added a laser-cut dresser scarf I had on hand and my mannequin head with the flapper headband.  I also added a brush, hand mirror and cosmetics from a Mini-Etchers 3-D printed set.  Unfortunately, I don't see it on her Web site, but I'm sure you can contact her about getting a set.  I got mine at one of the Weebly online mini shows, in which she regularly participates.  They come attached to a bar for easier handling and include the mirror, brush, lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, three bottles of nail polish, a tube (toothpaste?) and a spray pump bottle. I painted all the items while they were still attached to the bar, only doing a bit of touch-up after clipping them off.  I then immediately super-glued them to a little vanity tray I had made from a watch part, circle of mirror and some silver-painted fairy lace.  The little items are so tiny (most are smaller than a grain of rice) that I was terrified in between clipping and gluing that I would sneeze and lose them all!  The left-over card mirror from the dresser came in handy for cutting an oval for the hand mirror.

You can see the silk cushion on the vanity seat.  It's from a Mood swatch of silk charmeuse called "colonial blue."  I've decided I want rich colors in the bedroom.  I am going with the colonial blue, with some ivory and eggplant accents.

Of course, once the vanity was done, I had to make the matching bed.  That kit went together just fine, although I always find it helpful to shave down the mattress piece to accommodate the bedding, especially when it must fit within a restricted space (e.g., has a footboard or side cabinets).  I removed around 1/8 inch each from the length and width of the mattress before I started dressing it.  The bedding is still a work-in-progress.  My first attempt at the coverlet was not very successful, and I need to rethink how I will do it, but I do have the bed finished through the blanket stage.  With the sheet and blanket, it's a perfect fit.  The coverlet is designed to not take up any more space in the restricted areas.

While looking at inspiration photos for bedding, I saw some beds with breakfast trays and decided I needed to have one.  ๐Ÿ˜Š  The tray itself it made from cherry wood, using the same technique I used for the replacement shelves on the drinks cart.  The egg cup (you can probably tell) is an earring back, with a half egg made from air-dry clay.  The cup and saucer were metal minis; I had them on hand, so just painted them.  The coffee is still in the process of being built up from Gallery Glass in this photo.  The two plates were made from paper, shaped, coated with nail polish, and finished with a bit of "Liquid Gold" around the edges.  My better half told me the one with the peacock in the center looked like it had a mustache (๐Ÿ˜ฎ), so I ended up using the other one.  The toast is a bit of styrofoam shaved out of the center of a piece of left-over foam core; I colored it with pastels and glued a very thin strip of brown mulberry paper around the edge to create a crust.  The little dish of marmalade was made by snipping bits of orange embroidery thread and mixing them with yellow and orange Gallery Glass in a small bead cap.  The lovely rose was a gift from Debora (Dalesq) on Greenleaf.

Here it is all put together.

For fun, shown next to a postage stamp:

I honestly thought they'd be the same size.  I was surprised that my tray was smaller.

The other addition to the bed was the (non-working) lamp.  If you do a search on art deco lamps, you'll see many shaped like a female figure holding the ball of the lamp.  Here are some examples:

For my lamp, I purchased some N-scale "swimmer" figures.  Unfortunately, the one I wanted to use had her hands attached to her face.  I guess she was doing the breast stroke?  I had to clip them away and clip her arms, then attach two small pieces of wire to create the extended arms I wanted.  I was supposed to get swimmers with extended arms, but, to my annoyance, the swimmers I got looked nothing like the ones pictured when I ordered them.  *sigh*  You can see the join in the picture, but it doesn't look too bad in real life.  I then attached her to a base, painted her a dark bronze, and glued on a glass bead for the light.

My own art deco lamp!  I would love to make a working model, but given how thin and delicate the figure is, there would be no place to thread the wire.

That's it for now.  Have a wonderful week, everyone.  My wood circles and my black-and-white Marlike flooring tiles have arrived, so I hope to start working on my base soon.


Thursday, January 2, 2020

New Year, New Project: The Deco House Mock-Up

Happy New Year!  Had a very busy Christmas week.  We had our usual Christmas Eve buffet (Julbord), then Mom flew in from Arizona on Christmas day.  It was a lovely visit; one of the highlights was afternoon tea at the Claremont Hotel, which was fabulous.  I tried to stay away from too much online time, but, fortunately, Mom was happy to read and relax while I puttered around with my miniature projects.

As I'd hoped, I was able to do a foam core mock-up of the art deco house.  Yay!

It is meant to be painted with blue horizontal stripes on the ground floor and chimney (which I didn't make in mock-up).  I applied some blue painter's tape to get a sense of how it would look, even though I would use a darker blue paint.  At the very least, this showed me that I have to do a better job of lining up my windows!  I also think these stripes are just a bit wide.  The painter's tape is .7 inches wide; I think I might like the stripes to be .5 inches wide.  The beauty of the mock-up is I can test before I decide.  I'll get some half-inch painter's tape to try it out.

Here is the house without the stripes.

The floors and roofs are made from ¼" foam; the walls are made with 1/8" foam.  I intend to use wood of the same thickness for the actual house.  The curved walls are currently poster board.  For the actual house, I'm thinking mat board, scored to allow it to curve, and covered with a "skin" of card stock. The poster board tends to lean a bit, and I'm hoping the mat board will be more stable.  The bars on the windows are made with gray quilling strips.  The original design calls for cardboard.  I'll likely use card stock, of a similar or slightly smaller width.

The posts around the second-floor edge (there will be more) will be connected by jewelry wire to form a railing.  The original plans call for quarter-inch dowels with button-form caps.

I used 3/16" inch dowel, as I didn't have any 1/8" dowel on hand.  I actually like it and will probably use it in the finished product.  The caps are made from some brads I got at Michael's.  They're a bit fussy—you need to pull out and clip off the "legs," as well as do a bit of filing, but I like the way they look.  Maybe washers for the bases?

The front and side walls are designed to be removable.  Thin strips of wood make grooves for them to slide into at the bottom.  Not sure what I will do in place of that catch, which I can't quite wrap my head around.

Here is the house with the walls removed.

The mock-up also gives me the opportunity to test out furniture and layouts, decide what I need to add/replace/say goodbye to, etc.  Some of the furniture is just dry fit for now, so that I can at least get a sense of it in the space.  A couple of pieces are borrowed from other houses.  I also had enormous fun hunting through my stash.  The large copper vases outside the front door are from a half-scale swap.  The palm tree is from a tropical diorama that I took apart to scavenge some of its elements.  And I had forgotten I had that little statuette of Bast.

Here is the living room.

This room is not significantly different from the original plans, other than the staircase.  The plans called for a rise and run of ¾" each.  

That would make for a 3/8" rise and run in half scale.  That would fit the space and would make for a pretty staircase, but it would also be quite steep with uncomfortably shallow steps.  A more realistic design is a 3/8" rise with slightly less than a half inch run.  Unfortunately, this would slam the end of the staircase right up against the wall to the piano area.  I can't get rid of the wall because it's load-bearing, so I decided to turn the staircase.  I think that works.  It allows for comfortable steps and doesn't extend too far out into the room.  Another reason why mock-ups are good.  ๐Ÿ˜Š  I tried three designs before settling on this one.  

Now that it's in the room, I like the purple chair more, so I may keep it and cover the sofa with the same fabric.  ๐Ÿ˜Š  There will be a deco face to the fireplace, and an oval coffee table (possibly this one, or something similar).  And, of course, there will be a rug.  Not sure if I will keep the cabinet or go with this one, which I love.  The piano is a Bespaq piece I got on sale at a miniature show.  I do like it, despite the truly annoying keyboard.  (Do miniature designers not have eyes?  The 1:12 piano I had in my childhood dollhouse had only sets of 3 black keys.  Sheesh!)  You can see the leopard-print chair and Jazz, situated to be visible even when the house is closed up.

The kitchen/dining area changed more.  For one thing, they are both a bit bigger.  The original plans had the kitchen being 6" x 6" (3" x 3" in half scale).  That is a very tiny kitchen!  Mine is 4" x 4 1/4"; not a huge increase, but enough to make the kitchen more workable.  The kitchen and dining room also have full-height ceilings; in the original plans, their ceilings were lower than the living room's.  The two-level roof line was pretty, but I decided I needed the space more. 

The stove and refrigerator are both works in progress; the work table was borrowed from the Fairfield for size and placement, not so much for looks.  That blue square represents the sink.

The original sink I bought at a mini sale is really nice but, I think, may be too big for the space.  I could make it fit, but then there would be no room for a work space.  If I move it all the way to the right, I could possible squish in a small table, but I'm not sure I like that.

The dining room is also larger than the original.  The plans call for it to be 6" x 8" (3" x 4"); mine is 4" x 4 3/4". 

The table is just a mock-up made from mat board and toothpicks for size, and the chairs were borrowed from the bungalow.  These are the actual table and chairs I will have.  The drinks cart is from a kit by Jane Harrop.  I love how well Jane's kits are cut, but the wood is not the best.  It always has little fissures in it.  I filled in the wood on the circles as best I could with stainable wood putty, sanded well, and gave it two coats of cherry stain.  I then replaced the shelves with very thin birch wood to which I added a cherry veneer, and the railings with cherry strip wood from Northwestern lumber.  My replacements were also given a cherry stain, and the whole thing was finished with shellac for a well-polished sheen.

The liquor bottles are a combination of the standard half-scale liquor bottle set (with new labels), and some 3-D printed bottles from Shapeways, given some Gallery Glass coatings.  (Yep.  That's a bottle of absinthe there on the right.)  And remember those annoyingly small wine bottles?  One of them had its neck snipped and was turned into a bottle of Angostura Bitters. ๐Ÿ˜‰  I have a left-over reject from the champagne glasses in the Orient Express on the second shelf.  I'll be adding more (and better) glassware to the cart.

Upstairs, I extended the second story back to the edge of the kitchen/dining room so that I could make space for a bathroom, which was entirely left out of the original plans.

I think I need to move the second story about a quarter inch to the right (the window is not quite lined up with the window on the ground floor), which will give me another quarter inch in the bathroom.  If I adjust the door position a bit, I can create a surround for the tub (check out this gallery for some examples, although mine won't be quite as fancy) and pretend that the bump-in is a closet opening into the hallway.

Not sure these will be the sink and toilet I use; the toilet will almost certainly be replaced.  They were what I had on hand.  The sink appears to be meant to be a wall sink, but for now I made a quicky pedestal for it out of a golf tee.

In the bedroom, I had originally envisioned a sitting area in the window space, but now I'm kind of leaning toward a writing desk.  Maybe something like this or this?  I have to create at least a couple of my own minis for this house.  ๐Ÿ˜Š

There will be a deck on the ground floor roof.  Right now, I've borrowed a chair from the Merrimack.  I have a chair and coffee table kit from Twin Palms to make up, and I really think I need a deck chair. ๐Ÿ˜

And there you have it.  It will be a while before I can start construction, as I have to work on my items for the annual half-scale swap, but I will likely continue to work on some pieces for the house in and around my assembly-line work.  ๐Ÿ˜Š  Stay tuned.

As always, thank you so much for stopping by and for your encouraging and astute comments.  Hope you all have a wonderful new year, filled with joy and minis!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Meet Jazz the Greyhound

As you may remember from the last blog entry, I really wanted a greyhound for the art deco house.  I could find several miniature greyhounds in 1:12 and one in 1:48, but nothing in 1:24.  (Trying not to whine.)  I looked at charms, but they tended to be too small.  I found a 3D printed greyhound in 1:24, but it was running and not really what I was looking for.  Finally, I decided to try making one myself.  Polymer clay really is not my strength, but I did OK on the animal heads for the Roosevelt library, so I figured, "Why not at least give it a shot?"  I looked at other miniature greyhounds to get a sense of what I wanted mine to look like.  She is made from polymer clay and then painted, and I added microbeads for her eyes. 

I know she is not perfect (and some areas proved tricky to sand, so there is some roughness in close-up), but I am actually pretty happy with her.  Her name is Jazz, and she immediately hopped up on Shannon's chair and made herself at home.

I also tried making an art deco club chair from an SDK kit.  The kit comes with gray suede paper for the upholstery, which was not the look I was going for.  I had a tie that I thought would be perfect, but now that it's done, I'm not so crazy about it.

I think the upholstery is just too dark against the black wood and maybe a little too thick with the brocade texture.  I do have additional kits for a chair and a sofa, but I really need to re-think before I make them up.  I have a nice silvery gray satin tie that might work. 

I could also get thin white leather, which I think would look stunning, except I was planning on doing a black-and-white floor, and I'm afraid that would be too much black and white.  Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Any advice would be welcome.

Hope you are all getting a chance to enjoy the season and that life is not too crazy!  

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Back to Art Deco

Hope you all (those who celebrate) had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I ate way too much, but definitely enjoyed the good friends and good cheer that accompanied the holiday.  Our friends solved the murder mystery, as well as all of the codes and puzzles we threw at them along the way.  ๐Ÿ˜Š

Again, not much time for mini-ing, which I hope will change now that we're past the major holiday, although since we have another one coming up in less than a month. . . .

I have continued to play around with dressing mannequins.  I have two versions of a 1920's dress:  Day (with cloche hat)

And Evening (with headband).  

The day dress was never intended.  I was just playing around with some fabric from a tie to test my pattern, and ended up liking it so much, I formalized it into a day dress.  The purple dress is made from silk from Mood.  I love their fabric swatches; they're usually big enough for me to experiment a bit, without costing an arm and a leg.  (Swatches are $1.50, compared to buying a yard of fabric at, say, $35/yd.)  I think the fringe I used for the skirts is actually eyelash yarn/ribbon.  I got it from Dragonfly International and just love it.  (It's their silky fringe, TR23.)  For the cloche hat, I used this tutorial.  However, felt was way too thick for half scale, so I ended up using flannel instead, and it did a pretty good job.   I added a big red flower to give it some pizzazz.  

The hat stands are made from two of the larger round beads from that wonderful set of wooden beads I used for the Christmas ornaments.  I added toothpicks and round woodsies for the bases, puttied in and sanded the tops, then used a permanent black marker to draw a bob on each stand.

And those beads!  I don't know how many of you remember the Julie Andrews movie "Thoroughly Modern Millie."  As I struggled to get the beads to hang the way I wanted them to (and didn't always succeed), all I could think of was that scene during the opening credits where Millie's beads will just not hang straight like all the other girls'. ๐Ÿ™„

Both dresses are destined for Etsy, but I have saved the pattern so that I can make one for the art deco house as well.  The nice thing about this dress is that it slips off the mannequin, and I can put it on a hanger or lay it on the bed.

And speaking of the art deco house, I'm hoping to get to do a mock-up of it while taking some time off over Christmas.  In preparation, I started making up some furnishings.  I find it's helpful to have actual furniture to place in my mock-ups, as it gives me a sense of whether I have the proportions correct.  I started with the lovely art deco tub chair kit from Red Cottage Miniatures.  I have to say, it went together beautifully.  When the pieces are glued together, there are shallow channels designed to exactly fit the fabric-covered card stock pieces (helpfully pre-cut by Shannon).  I used the Brodnax leopard-print silk in half scale for my upholstery, and I love it against the smooth black finish of the chair.  I've paired it with the half-scale art deco hourglass table from JBM Miniatures, topped with a martini I've borrowed from the Merrimack.

Here it is next to the mannequin with my flapper dress.

If only I could find a half-scale greyhound/whippet to lounge in my chair, all would be perfect. *sigh*

I'm making up a few other pieces, as well as working to fix up some things I already have, and I'm still working on the Etsy store.

Have a great week, and thanks for stopping by!