Sunday, July 19, 2015

Beginning to build - Alice in Wonderland project - part 3

I cut my foam core pieces the way I had planned to this point.  I decided to use the two matt board pieces for the rabbit hole.

This is the test fitting - taping in place to see if ready to glue - or do I need to trim anything.

Here you can see I have used the toilet paper tube.
I am using two.  Both are cut open in the side.  There is one that is the inner part where the cupboard is and the other is the outside.  I folded it at the sides to fill in - cover the gap between the matt board and the tube.
I have also added back the foam core cut out with a hole in it at the top.  I plan to have greenery making the hole smaller. Note it isn't glued in yet - I will do that after I paint the tube.
I have added the flooring and I have my wallpaper cut, but not in yet.  I am adding some extra paper that I wrinkled and slit to connect the tube to the walls.  I want this taper into the walls.
I have also painted the tube.  I plan to cover it with something maybe some 'dirt'.
Covered with gift tissue paper.  I used thin white glue.  I put out a puddle of glue and use a brush to brush it on the paper and on the tube.  I allow the tissue to wrinkle as I lay it on to the tube.  I tear it at the bottom where the other paper is tapered to the walls.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

More planning for my Alice in Wonderland project

I admit it - I am a dreamer.  I love designing things.  Planning a mini project is a lot of fun to me.  But I get it, many do not enjoy this so kits are a good thing.  
However if you want to continue with me on my journey to my Alice in Wonderland project keep reading.BTW, nothing wrong with getting a kit and kit bashing it - simply to modify it to fit your dream.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was considering a dome that a friend had recently given me. The size of this dome is just slightly smaller than a common size found at the local hobby chains 8 x 12 inches.  This one is 7 x 8 approximately.  I made some paper boxes to see if this was going to work for what I had in mind and for what I was willing to put into effort-wise with this project.  Quite frankly, I love tons of details and love lots of figures but I knew I would get bogged down so I was trying to work around not doing all of that.

I tried the paper boxes and soon decided I needed something sturdier to work with.  Since I was working on an another altered box type project and those weren't all glued in place, I used those to let me see.  I soon figured out the 7x8 dome was more than I wanted to deal with.
Here is the second choice dome - also plastic from a thrift store given to me.  This one is apx 8 x 5.  Here's where I tell you the benefit of letting people know what it is to look for. This second one came to me via my mom who loves to thrift shop as much as me, but goes far more often.
At this point in my designing I am just getting a feel for size and spacing.  Also determining if I want to use boxes or not.  Boxes being squarish and I am putting into a round dome.
This is a different view as I consider the boxes.

Next I source some foam core board and matt board for actual cutting.  I save nearly all scraps so I start with those first.  I have decided against the boxes.  They chop up the space too much.  Not sure if I will still be able to include the illustrations or not.  
This one I have cut two half circles.  Oh how I love blue tape.  I really don't remember what I did before that - guess it was pins or masking tape.
My plan is a long section (can't see it here) - the matt board on the left that is the rabbit hole. I am going to add some curve to that with toilet paper roll cardboard but also have the room below so it will taper to that room.
The tall space you can see on the left was going to have the white rose tree, but have decided it doesn't need two floors/layers.  
To the right in this pic on the second floor/layer can see some paper inserted as a wall.  This is just me testing placement of a wall.
This is more a top down view.  Can see that the top is now a 3/4 circle.  It is actually slightly smaller than the 5 inches across.  This will allow to see more below - less of a house look. 
The matt board section is the rabbit hole.  I will have to cover it so it is indeed a hole and not the 1/4 of a circle.  This top section will just be landscaped mostly.

At this point I will be cutting another 3/4 circle and adding support walls that will also section. There will be three sections on the bottom.  Half will be the white roses tree plus procession of cards and the rabbit hole room and white rabbit's house will be in the other two sections.
The middle section will also have three areas: the rabbit hole 1/4, the tea table 1/3, and the court session 1/3.  This means my walls will not overlap on the non-rabbit hole section from bottom to middle.  

I am planning to make all the walls from foam core.  I would use gator board if I had it but I don't.  I am not buying any as I figure I can deal with the warping that may occur as I normally have to do.  I am trying to use up items in my stash rather than purchase anything. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Beginning of my Alice in Wonderland project - the inspiration and planning

A very typical scenario for me is to be inspired by others on what to work on.  I have done this for years – before the internet clubs it was always a local mini club or a show.  
On one o the lists I am on a while back a project was shared by one of my favorite miniature artists – Susie Newell.  She makes fabulous Suessy like dolls.  In the miniature world, far too often dolls can be so blah, but her’s  are so fun and they fit right into her often whimsical structures.  But I digress.  The project she shared was Alice in Wonderland.  As I looked at her pictures, as is often the case, I said I want to do that.  And then, as often is the case as well, I said, not right now (if ever).

Fast forward to last week on LittleEnoughNews where I am a co-owner.  One of my self-chosen roles currently is to encourage fellow LENies to participate.  So I am running swaps, theme months, doing random drawings, etc.  One of our current swaps is Whimsy and as the topic grew and was expanded the Alice in Wonderland idea came up.  So I issued a challenge – make a AW themed project.  

The more I thought about this theme, the more it came to my mind.  OK wait – duh.  Well anyway….  I was reminded of a cake I saw.  Cakes are really good project ideas.  They make miniatures as well as we do, just theirs are edible.  (as an aside – I can’t do the cake thing, all that time and then it is destroyed as that is its original purpose – not me.)  Here’s a link for the cake I liked (BTW, I love Cake wrecks.  Every Sunday are the really well done cakes and the rest of the week are those oh no they didn’t or what was that sort of cakes. )

As I think about this project one of the decisions is what to put into the project.  This is book so there are many aspects to choose from.  Do I choose only one or several?  Since the falling down the hole is one of the bigger ones it is what I am thinking about now.  

The next day I woke up thinking about a comment by another co-owner that she would want to incorporate the images from the book somehow into the project.  The answer goes along with a concept that I am working with another project – altered boxes.  The hole could be the intersection of boxes and the images can be on the outside of the boxes.  My Mother Goose project was sort of altered boxes.  I am not for sure why we are calling them altered.  Mine aren’t altered unless you consider all my work altered as I build it and then have to do some sort of altering as I build it wrong somehow.  Or change my mind about something.  Altered boxes though to me are just boxes that are assembled and then covered with paper and more paper and/or embellishments.  Layered.  But everything works together.  Maybe the papers are color coordinated or the whole theme is coordinated.  Maybe altered because it is added to and not just the minis added.

As I was thinking about what to go into the project, I thought about the playing cards in the story.  I am making mine in 1:48 scale and so small playing cards may be ideal.  I don’t recall having any so I was thinking I need to go buy some.  But it occurred to me that they might be hard to find.  I really don’t want to spend any new money if I don’t have to on minis.  Plus using the cards I wouldn’t use a whole deck so that is wasteful.  Not to mention even if I found a deck would it be a style I like.  My solution was that I could make my own via internet images and maybe even scanning some larger cards and reducing.  

My next thought was about the container.  If you have been reading my blog for a while you know that is important to me.  For this one I thought of a plastic dome given to me very recently.  This was a situation where a friend knew I made miniatures and was helping another friend clean out her house.  My friend thought it might be something I could use and I said yes without even knowing if it would or not.  I will have to modify the base, but I think it will work.

Next comes my sketches and notes.  Rough stick figure type sketches.  Maybe I measure now.  I also need to decide if I am going to light it and what will be lit.  Better to do that now.  Believe me I far too often decide later and then have to undo or deal with the how do I hid it now problem.

So I am back to deciding what is going to go in this project besides the rabbit hole and tunnel.  I decide I need to re-read the book to find out.  This book is available on Google books as it is out of copyright.  I started reading it on my phone and I am doing screenshots on the images for any I think I might want to use on the ends or backs of boxes.

Can’t say when I will next post on this.  Miniature inspiration can leave me just as quickly as it can over take my thinking.  For sure watch this space for future posts about it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

How to get to Rainbow's End

MiniAllSorts - an online group - has a challenge going to make something in a matchbox for an occasion or holiday.  It started as a Valentine, then included St. Patrick's, then it was decided to add all the other holidays.
Inspired by this challenge and also realizing that I didn't have anything for St. Pat's, I decided to make something.

Whenever I start a project on my own, there is always something that sparks the idea.  But the idea doesn't tell me how to make it or what to put in it.  To help with that, I like to look at images I find on the internet.  This time I started with images I found on pinterest.  But I also looked at ones from google.
Next I made some sketches of how it might look or be laid out.  I had in mind that I would have the matchbox open and maybe even allow it to slide up and down.  I abandoned that last idea because I decided it would complicate matters.  These sketches are important to me and so this time I used my phone (Galaxy Note 4) that is like a small tablet and OneNote.  This worked quite nicely - allowing me to sketch and take notes in the same place.
Now it was time to put my sketches and ideas in the real world.  I have this tendency to view things in my mind that can't work in real life.  So to that end, I found a container that I wanted to use as the cover.  I was thinking of a much smaller plastic box, but couldn't find it. But once I set the matchbox next this one, I realized the smaller one wouldn't have worked.
See in this pic this size box will give me room around the box and above.  The other box I thought I wanted to use would have been tighter all around.
My idea was to have two levels.  The inside box would be the lower level where the leprechaun will live (his lair) and the upper a building of some sort.
Here are some items I pulled from my stash of swaps that I think I might use in the project.
I absolutely love 'shopping' in my swaps and totefavor stash.  It makes it worth it when I do another swap to recall the fun I have using the things I have received.  Although it takes time (months to years) to use them, I enjoy playing with them.
I found a pic of a rainbow that I thought I would use on the front but I didn't use it.  I figured out that the matchbox cover wasn't very big and I wanted a door of some sort.  I did pull from my stash a door that was for 1:48 scale.  But it would take up the whole cover.  So there goes my idea of the door and rainbow.

Since I was creating two levels and the idea is that the leprechaun is going to go from one to the other, there needs to be a way to get from one level to the other.  So I knew I would cut a hole in the floor of the second level.  It is possible that the hole wasn't necessary.  I am glad that I did as when viewed from certain angles it is there.  The ladder does go up into the opening I made.  Here is how I decided where to make the hole. I laid out the main items to be used.
This is actually my second attempt.  The first cut was too close to the side.  But that is par for the course when designing your own project.
The second level needed support so I decided to add a wall around the matchbox and behind the fireplace.  This was all cardboard (backs of notepads) so weight wasn't much of an issue.
This from the underside.
This pic is after gluing the two levels together, painting and making a ladder.  The ladder is made of cloth covered wire that I just glued together.  The pile of gold is painted waiting for the top layer of 'coins'. It is a cut and shaped piece of builders foam.

I abandoned the idea of a building of any sort (was thinking of a Rainbow Motel) and go more natural.  My solution was a tree trunk around the matchbox cover.
The trunk is thicker paper wrapped around twice.  I fringed the top thinking that would look like wood splinters.  Maybe...
I cut the sides of the trunk to give the feeling of roots.  I wanted something of the matchbox cover to show, but not too obvious so I went with the striker.  Plus I needed an opening/doorway.
The texture is achieved with wrinkled tissue paper. I feel it is important to always use a ragged edge and to wrinkle the paper first. I also used a wad of tissue paper in the top of the stump.  The color is by starting with a darker color, then layering two or three more colors using dry brushing. Dry brushing is removing excess paint so that can just hit the highlights. I use the back of my hand or a scrap paper toweling to wipe the excess paint.  If paint is still wet when you brush with the new color, it will blend with the prior one.  Which sometimes that is good and sometimes not.

The rainbow was made on plastic.  I drew a rainbow on paper, cut the plastic to shape and glued over the pattern.  Then to add the glitter, I did one color at a time.  Glue in the section for the color.  Added glitter, shaking it off at a few moments over a paper plate so I could recapture the excess (well most of it anyway). Once dry I removed the paper backing.

The Results
Let's take a tour of the finished project.
First the rainbow - the plastic was a bad idea, cardboard would have been just as good.  I did have to deal with the curve of it either way, plastic was too flimsy.  It couldn't be too high (due to selected clear box for cover).  I did end up switching it to a slightly larger and taller plastic box/cover.  Not much taller, with the shorter one the rainbow is just resting on the stump completely.
I am really pleased with losing the 'motel' idea and using the stump instead.  The peek of matchbox inside the door is not intentional.  But I like it.
The fairy by the door is by Joanne Whisenhunt. The wee stump she is sitting on and the chair on the other side I am unsure who made them.  Apparently my notes aren't as good as I think.
This is the lovely fairy chair beside the opening that shows the striker on the side of the matchbox.
If my notes are correct (I use Access to store this info, but early lists weren't detailed enough) this lovely bathing area was made by Linda Knapton.

The gazing ball in this pic was made by me and makes it look really large.  Not the best shot of it either.  But check out that grass.
When I went to my stash for grass I found a square of this grass paper.  I got this in a supply swap and it was perfect for this project.  Except for the color variation, I think I will buy some on my own.
That pile of gold really glitters.  The wee pot was a wood turning I painted.  I got as a prize from QC.
The bed is BPF I painted white used in another project and then took that project apart.  So I repainted it and added this fabric that looks like a quilt.
The fireplace was made by Betty Perry.  It seemed perfect for this room.  The plates and the green teapot I think were made by Laura Miller.  There is also a table, wicker chair and chest in this room - all swaps.  

This was a very simple project and took only the weekend to do from start to finish.  It helped to have ideas, materials and swaps - all on hand. Other than the swaps, the cost of this project was very small. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

People in Miniature

So I was thinking about miniature people or characters recently.  I finished up my Mother Goose project that I used a variety of people/characters in. 

When I started doing miniatures – as more than a dollhouse as a child, I didn't much care for people in my scenes.  They seems very staid or too dollhousey.  Yes, that is a word – it just means something is more for play than what I do.  Although I do 'play' with my miniatures - once I am satisfied with how they are laid out, I glue stuff down.  Mostly because my projects are small enough to hold in the hand and things tend fall over when picked up.  Once you glue it down, that stops the 'play'. 
Another way to think of dollhousey is that the items are clunky or not in scale with each other.  I know that I used to make that sort of stuff, so this is not meant to slam anyone.
When it comes to the doll in a scene I guess I used to think that it always looked like a doll.  It was posed and didn't look real like sometimes the scene itself could be.  Granted the dolls I saw were typically not well done to the point you had to look twice to make sure it was just a doll. 
I don’t recall seeing many 'characters'- people that are not meant to look like a real person. At least not the stuff I was exposed to.  I am sure the fantasy/whimsy stuff was out there.  I just didn't see much of it.  Even what I think I did see, I recall as being ceramic animals dressed as people.  I even have a rabbit doll like that I used.
Now days, I do like people in my scenes.  Visit my pictures and other blog articles and you will see this more and more.  Not every scene of course, but more often. 
When it comes to making them – well we have a plethora of media available to do that. My dolls/people/characters come from plastic figures (train figures, nativity figures), resin (rabbits, penguins), clay (hand made by me, or purchased), wire, paper and cloth (I offered kits of these before) and I think I even have some ceramic people but haven’t used them anywhere yet.
Out in the miniature world, dolls I see have come a long way.  The ceramic playthings are still out there and they have their purpose.  There are doll artists who make dolls so real you would think they are if you stare at them long enough.  I have yet to plunk down the price they ask for them.  I think they are well worth the price, but just not for me.  Also those tend to be in 1:12 scale which I don’t do much anymore.

I love to purchase the ones in 1:48 scale that are made in polymer clay.  These actually fall into what I call 'characters' although more people in body shape.  It is their charm that has won me over.  They so darn cute. 

When it comes to peopleing my scenes, I am using what I can to do that.  In my Mother Goose project, I did use a variety of people.  Variety as in the types of media and shapes.  In other projects, I would lean towards one type (media)  and one style (people vs character) in the project as a whole.  So no 'realistic' with 'whimsical' type figures.  
The reason the MG project was different was that I had so many characters I wanted, that I used what I had available.  That was sort of a theme for that MG – use what I have.  For all the simpleness of each section, it was the overall project that consumed the time.  That being the case, it was indeed ‘use what was available’ as I didn't want to make every character by hand. 
Several of the ones I used for the MG project were plastic or resin and required that I re-work them.  I am really enjoying doing that now.  It is fun to have a resin or plastic figure that works with no tweaks, tweaks of paint, but fun all the more to play around with the dremel tool and making it into something else.  This is especially true if I have more than one of the same character or an odd one that doesn't match up with anyone else.  
Here are some examples of the variety I used in my MG project with before and after:
These figures didn't have bases.  Just a paint job improves this one, but I also took off the spy glass and the bucket with sailboat.
Wire doll bodies
 Dressed bodies
Plastic nativity figures I have started modifying
After painting and modifying to fit the tub

Lessons here: be on the lookout for people including ones that can be modified.  Secondly, don’t be afraid of the dremel.  Third, be willing to paint over that mess that the factory did.  Lastly, adding people/characters to a scene may be just what it needed.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

31 Days of Organizing on my other blog

Happy New Year

For the month of January, I am sharing 31 Days of Organizing over on my other blog: The Organized Miniaturist.

I love organizing and storage solutions just get me excited.  I don't claim to be the most organized, only that I enjoy doing it and want to share my ideas and solutions.
I am open to suggestions or requests, if there is something that I don't cover, feel free to contact me

Friday, November 28, 2014

Mother Goose - beginnings - electrical and building

The Mother Goose project required a lot of planning that I didn't put in place up front.  I like doing things as I go.  I did try to plan ahead and not just glue everything I had made so far in place.  I tried to think of what I still had to do that would be affected if I glued this down now.  

Beginnings of this project specifically

  • Mother Goose = book - check, decided it would be smaller
  • Multiple rhymes = many rooms or sections - check - I make these as I go
  • Lighting? yes
  • Which rhymes - well I made a list of ones I was familiar with, then browsed the internet for more ideas and also I saw what others were sharing
  • Cover? yes, yes, yes - with the plan of the rooms/sections I figured the football case I had heard about would be good.

back of cover, planned hill and the pumpkin, oh also planning where the switch goes

Electrical layout

When planning electrical, need to know what type of lighting will be used; what will be the energy source; if battery, where will it go plus how to access it later to change it; where will lights be; and will there be a switch and where will it go.  So I am using 3v chip LED, 3v battery and holder, with a push button switch and I will use the round inset of the case for the battery.  Oh and I want the switch accessible with the cover on.  This is a lesson learned from previous projects.  Where the lights will be - yet to determine them all.
Another factor to consider is the number of lights relative to the power source.  I figured I could put all I needed onto one battery but if I had to have to switches and batteries - that was doable no issue.
When I built the shoe-house I did choose to light it.  I knew I could add lead wires to reach.  Which is what I had to do.  I also lit the pumpkin inside.  Although I learned that if I leave the lights on then the battery drain is enough to not light the inside of it very well.  So there is a lesson - turn off the switch.  
I debated lighting the book sections.  The bottom row might could have used it but why do one row and not the other.
I concluded the bottom level all needed lights and best lighting position was to the outside.  I did some tests with the lights once the sections were assembled to see if two was needed for each section.  I was fine with one for each section (plus the extra inside the pumpkin).
All my lighting products came from a company called Evans Designs.  I did have to order some lights as I didn't have enough of the chip lights on hand.   
At one point I assembled the wiring - which includes both levels.  It would have been nice to have had a connector so I could take that back apart.  This was because I hadn't landscaped the upper level yet.  So when I did, I put paper over the entire bottom section to try to avoid the foam going inside the bottom sections.  So that is a lesson learned as well.  And yes, Evans sells connectors.


One of the lessons I learned for this type of combined project that will come in handy with another planned project is the rooms.  I came up with the walls but didn't actually make the rooms until I needed to assemble it.  That made it harder to get things to line up and did require that I trim up some pieces.  However this is the nature of doing your own thing.  Short of making several mock ups and figuring out every step before assembling, the way a kit maker has to do, I just do it this way.  I am not going to have everything all made and everything ready to put together so I know the dimensions of everything in order to do all that pre-planning. 
I guess that is indeed why I dive in and just get started on my ideas.  I do some planning.  Sometimes I do more planning than before, other times less planning.  I do vary my attitude about how much planning.  Which can result in my over thinking some aspect.  That ends up then with me realizing I have spent way too much time figuring something out instead of doing something simple that I know will work just as well.
I did have a layout of what rhyme goes where.  Actually several of these from a quick sketch to then the finally layout where I determined the extra walls I had to add and how big each room was going to be.  
One thing I didn't plan for initially with the pink foam levels was the wood edging I added to finish these off.  But that worked out as I had to line up the rooms and they didn't end up too big.  I did have to trim the pink foam to match up to the rooms once they were all combined.  I had built onto a layer of matt board I would have had that too big and had to trim to fit my cover.