Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sleigh Bed Village - How I made it

Do you ever have visions of minis that won't leave your mind?
I do and this is one of them.
Last year I started thinking about this project.  I don't even remember the exact beginning but it was to mix scales with the bed that had little houses on it in a pile of snow.  This is similar to art by Colin Thompson.  I even bought his book, "Pictures of Home" as inspiration for this project.
Initially I had thoughts of using this bed that I made 20 yrs ago with my club.  It has since been played with and damaged.  I had given the bed to my daughter 10 yrs ago or more when I downscaled.  (Oh, I just invented that as a word for minis.  But it does describe what I did - changing focus from larger to smaller scale in my case 1:12 to 1:48 or smaller.)  She said recently that the first thing that broke was only one foot so the rest may have gotten damaged in my storing it away until I was ready to fix it.  Lesson here is that if I had done so it would have been fixed and maybe not further damaged.  However I will say that the design of this bed was poorly done in that the sides were done all as one piece.  So the grain of the wood goes horizontal.  For the ends and feet this isn't so good structurally.  Last year I waffled around with fixing this bed, making a new one or buying one.  I never found one to buy and ultimately I put the whole project away in a project box.

Fast forward to now - I was inspired by the maker of the little paper houses I am using, Karin Corbin. She talked about making her 2015 set and shared pics.  So when I finished up the other projects Swaps Mall and then RA House additions, I was inspired to pull this one out.


After a brief examination of the earlier made bed, I pulled out the pattern I had from all those years ago.  I decided I would make a new one.  Only this one was going to have curved ends instead of flat in between the rails. I did of course browse the web including pics I had saved to pinterest to decide on that. This is a free form shape that I did cutting a pattern. 

I lightly glued two pieces of basswood together and drew out my pattern so I would make four end sides.  I repeated with shapes for my long rail sides to go between the end sides.  
The sets of three sides (2 end sides and 1 long rail sides) were all cut out and sanded to match.  Then I separated the pieces I had glued together so I had 6 pieces and all these were sanded very well including rounding the edges.  Well except where the end sides would match up to the long rail sides, I did not sand so they would glue together nicely.

Here is a pic on how the curved bed ends started.  I cut the wood from bass wood the right width and used the height of the wood.  Ok, to clarify, the height is the width of the wood (4 inches) that I cut it from. This means the grain goes across the width of how I will use the pieces. Then I got both pieces wet and I wrapped them around a dowel and this glass. The clothespins are clamping the wood to the dowel and the blue clamps were holding the dowel and the rest of the wood around the glass. I let dry overnight.  I loved doing this technique.  


Only problem was I had already cut the ends of my bed (end sides).  The shape of the dowel/glass combo didn't match, so I had to re-wet.  This time I laid the wet wood over two paint bottles.  Two for each piece - one under and one on top the end.  Then weighted them all down using bags of sand. Hindsight I could have done the wood shaping and then cut the end sides afterwards.
I did have to clamp the shaped wood to hold in the right place when I glued it between the end sides. And even then I had to reglue when I added the dowels.  So maybe add the dowels to the shaped wood and then cut the end sides.

Once my two ends were fully assembled, I added in the long rail sides. I added scrap wood at the joints between the end sides and the long rails for inside the bed. Not sure if this pic shows it very well, but the white piece is the scrap wood.  At the top can barely see that there is a join that the scrap is helping support.


Next I painted this entire frame in off white. I wasn't sure what color to go with. I did my sketches with color and was undecided. Granted the sketches helped me eliminate a few colors. I narrowed it down to red or a blue. I waffled on these two for a day or so.  I was all set to use blue, but when I went through my paint, I couldn't decide again.  So I pulled out my fabric stash.  

I pulled this blue and red pattern out right away and it screamed pick me.  

But I keep looking and pulled out several others.  I even waffled back to the red side and traditional Christmas red and green colors.  I laid these on the bed and I just couldn't decide. So I thought, let's switch gears and make the mattress.

I cut a piece of builders pink foam.  I used scraps thinking I was going to put in two layers. Silly me. I had to recut because I only needed one layer. Those scrap pieces of wood I used to support the end and rail sides made perfect supports for the mattress.  But I did decide that due to adding in batting that I would lower the mattress inside the bed. So I trimmed away a bit careful so that the support pieces still held up the mattress but lower than initially. This pic shows the notches I added.

Now I could play with the fabric actually wrapping it around the mattress.  So the first one I tried was the blue and red mix.  I added pieces of torn paper towel to give me a visual of snow.  My vision is to have a bed that sort of morphs into a snowy village, so I need the bedding to be colorful.  Well, I think I do at this point.


Next I decided I needed to finish the bed itself - the frame color and finish. I wanted to add some sort of decorative design. I had thought about doing some stencil painting. But I wanted something dimensional. So I looked in my stash to see what I could use. I found some paper doilies. I cut some different sections and combined them for the headboard. 

White on red is kinda hard to figure what it will look like so I did a test of various stains and finishes.

I was trying to decide if I wanted to add white back to the design with dry-brushing.  I really like the aged look in the lower right - using a brown stain that I then covered with a gloss.

Next I finished the blue and red fabric as the bed covering as it was the one I liked the most with the red glossy bed. Notice how much darker the red is now with the brown stain.  Also the stain in the nooks and crannies of the design didn't stay as much as I would have liked but I am still pleased with the color and finish.
Also there was a gap between the covered mattress and the sides of the bed.  To solve that I just added some additional fabric to hang down below the mattress into the long rails.

The feet were cut from some spindles I had leftover from another project. 

Then it was time to start adding snow.  I had visions that I would use the plaster cloth to help with draping.  I did use it but in hindsight and other steps, I think I could have done without it.

I removed the plastic after working the cloth and it was completely dry.  The cloth is very wet so the plastic helped to keep the bedding from being messed up.  Also it allowed me to be messier while applying the cloth.  I think using the plastic was a good choice for working with the plaster cloth.
I don't have a picture of the next two stages - I decided I needed to do the lighting. Also I added spackle over the cloth. 
This next pic does show the spackle added and adding the snowtex. When I added the spackle I worked around the lights very carefully.  With the snowtex it was slow going as well.  I added the houses as I went so I could add more snowtex to level the houses.

When adding the spackle and snowtex, I normally use a small palette knife that I have.  For this though I knew I needed even smaller blades to work around the lights and the houses.  I pulled out my clay tools.  Oh my those are fun to use as well.  So I will be using them more often.
In the front at the bottom was a layer I added with spackle that got broken off as I didn't wait for it to dry.  So I have this extra light sticking out.  I decided to move it over in the area to the right. I am actually very pleased with that change despite the re-work it required. 
I tend to do that with lighting - not plan as much as I should. I actually planned to use a string of lights, but then realized after using the plaster cloth that my layout would not work with the string as the placement of the houses wouldn't work.  My answer was to use separate lights and connect them together - all red leads together, all black(green wires with the led's I have) together and then used a coin battery and push button switch.

After adding the snowtex my next step was adding glitter.  I used white glue to do that. Working a small section at time, I applied glue, then the green bits and then glitter.  The glitter stuck to the green bits without adding additional glue. After each section, I shook off the excess. Also when adding the green bits - they looked best added around each house and not so much around the rest of the areas.  So added too much and assessed it at one point and removed some I had added.
As I was adding glitter to the snowtex, I also added it to the roofs.  A layer of glue and glitter, even though the houses already had been glittered.

One important note - when I turned on the lights, the roofs of the houses that I had painted over with white looked so much better. I had one roof I had not painted. I thought I could just use the white card.  It looked fine until the lights were on. Then the light shone through that one house differently. So I had to do something to fix it. I tried adding an additional later of glitter - nope, a layer of white paint on the glitter - nope, so I opened up the house and painted the underside of the roof.  It worked enough that I could finish this project.
The last two steps I did was to add smoke to the chimneys using fiber fill and cleaning up the bed.  I had to fix a spot or two that got messed up and also wipe off the glitter that stuck by static.

So here it is - my sleigh bed village

My favorite little house is that yellow one in the middle, but the others are great too.

And with the lights on

The back...

Those of you who live or have traveled in the South East US, will want to check out the back of the barn.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Raggedy House Updated 2015

The Raggedy Ann doll turned 100 in Sept. Wow! 

I was a reader as a child and I loved the Raggedy Ann books.  My mom made me a doll and here is a picture
My mom said that the hair was a labor of love.  Apparently it took a lot of time to do.
I very well remember that doll but sadly I didn't keep it.  

As I was filling my Swaps Mall, I ran across some swaps that were intended for one of my RA projects.  The RA House didn't have a container so I had not added a base that would use those swaps that were mostly outdoor.  Earlier this year I bought several containers including one that I decided would house this RA project. 

This week I made the base and used what swaps I could to fit the base.  I added some flower beds with edging to match the house.  The edging is made of thin card cut with scalloped scissors and then I used a hole punch.
The pond was a swap made by Wanna.  In the wheelbarrow (purchased) is a pot of flowers made by Pam Junk.  The flag and the round stones leading to it were also swaps.
As I was looking at my swaps to add to the base, I also discovered this sweet little vase of flowers.  I added it here at the top of this shelf.
More pics of this project

I intended to post this back in Sept, to celebrate Ann's birthday month.  So I am also sharing pics of the other various RA projects I have done in miniature.  I really can't get enough and can totally see myself doing more in my future.
In no particular order:
RA Trunk

RA Play in the Woods I & II
I made two different ones of this
This one I offered as a kit to my club and also at the shop in Nashville.
I love Andy as much as Ann.  Isn't his little boat cute?
BunnieAnn's Bedroom in an Altoid Tin

I started collecting RA things late in my mini hobby so many are in existing projects but I do add to my collection when I can.
This is a treasure I got earlier this year.  The artist is Maureen Thomas.  I have several other of her dolls and rabbits including another raggedy set.
Isn't that panda cute too?
I got this at a show in Atlanta.  A miniaturist was selling her collection.  (I can't imagine why ? ;-) )  So I got it for a really great price.  It was worth going to that show just to have picked up this wonderful piece.



Monday, November 9, 2015

Swaps Mall - Grand Opening - Stacked Boxes Part 3

It’s Done!! No Vacancies in the Mall.  William, the Swaps Mall proprietor, is pleased as punch that all rooms/stalls in the mall are filled for Grand Opening.  He doesn’t take good pics – always closed his eyes no matter how many pics I took.

Although technically it will never be done based on my intentions for this project that it is a temporary home for my treasured, I did finish furnishing it for now. It took longer to decide what goes where and tacking them in place than installing the interior papers. This surprised me as I thought it took me so long doing those papers. Overall, the easiest part was applying Modge Podge to the floors, however I think it would have been beneficial to have added it to the interior walls too. But that is an easy enough fix should I decide to take time to do it.
So here are the ‘finished’ sides. 
For more close up photos check them out on my picture trail site - including some with shoppers.
These swaps represent over 10 years of swapping. I still have a several boxes more of swaps that aren’t displayed. I am thinking in two directions with this. One – make the projects the swaps were swapped for to begin with - like a couple of nautical/sea/beach themed swaps, a cat room and a pet shop (which could be combined) and others. Two – make a printer tray type stacked boxes – one sided instead of like this. Either way, I am inspired to get these treasures out of my swap boxes and out on display somewhere and preferably in the project they were meant for.

For someone who is looking at this and thinking, I don’t need this many boxes – this works smaller.  It could be done with fewer boxes or just one side. There are so many possibilities. 
Don’t want to make the boxes?  There are products out there in the craft stores. Some are sold as stationary boxes. Any box shape can work, just add interior floors and walls the appropriate height.

If new to swapping, then check out my article about how to do it.  I really enjoyed swapping and as you can see built up a consider amount.  For a while I was swapping every month.  I did get the point where I realized I was doing nothing but swapping so my advice there is to be selective in what swaps you sign up for.  Consider doing them every other month so that between can be applied to the project they are supposed to go in. I will swap again, when the right swap theme comes along or I get some projects done that the swaps can be used in.  

Happy Miniaturing!
Preble

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Swaps Mall Part 2 - A stacked boxes project

Updated 
Today, I finished up my stacked boxes project - Swaps Mall.  I haven't added anything in it yet.  But I am very happy to have it done.

Here is the finished stack from a couple of sides
So here are some notes I took

  • Be flexible with color.  I did plan at the beginning trying to coordinate from side to side and layer to layer.  But once I was in the making I did make changes.  This was especially true with the interiors.  I did all the choices on the fly, so I did find I liked it better if I was comparing not just side to side as I started with doing the first layer but also from layer to layer.
  • Cover the backs more.  There were several times I had to adjust the position of box to box as the back wasn't fully covered.
  • Problem 1- forgot that I was going to need to fit the round football end holder in between the top layer of boxes.  Fortunately I was able to fix this quickly before the glue dried. But then I also had to add something to the top to cover the open area in between the boxes. 
  • Problem 2 - major issue.  I forgot to include the layers of paper in my measurements in deciding what height my boxes would be.  Once I had completed the top layer and placed it in the case, I realized it was too tall. To resolve this, I worked on the foam core board that was my base. I removed all but one layer of paper of the foam board.  This actually was fairly easy due to the project being all boxes so I was able to turn it over and work on the base no issue. But secondly the foam core separated very easy from the paper of the foam core board. Even if that didn't work, I had a back up plan to remove the paper covered foam core board completely. I could have added either mat board or just paper as a thin base.
I also was asked - what glue did I use for this? I used tacky glue. The key is to use a smoother. I used an old credit card to smooth out the paper. I think using the scrapbook paper also made a difference. Some papers were thicker than others so the glue couldn't bleed thru.
To apply the exterior papers I covered one side at a time. Sides, then the top leaving the bottom blank.
To apply the interior papers, again I covered one area at time. Floor first, then the roof, then the sides and back all in one piece.  
The top was covered in pieces of paper after I made a hole for the holder. The pieces were cut from the scrapbook papers that I used in the overall. 

I just found two swaps that I had planned to go in here. Don't you hate not being able to find something.  It took several times before I did.
Here is my first addition to the mall. This is the proprietor William Jack.
I was absolutely thrilled to get both of these last year. The desk and chair is made by Susan Edmiston and the guy is by Jackie Williams.

I will update once I add some swaps into the mall. 


Happy Mini-ing!
Preble

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Swaps Mall Part 1 - A stacked boxes project

First, let me say, I am so excited that I got to do minis this weekend. My life has been very busy the past few months and this one was extremely so. Plus I was sick the past two weeks and still recovering. This weekend though I applied some of the principles that I am talking about over on my other blog The Organized Miniaturist on doing more minis.

Now to the project
Maybe ten years ago I saw a project done by Debby Barsaraba.  Plus her club did them as well. It was a stack of boxes done as a sort of house, but not necessarily. I thought they were neat because the boxes were covered inside and out and not necessarily typical wallpaper or siding. I saw pictures of these club projects and I was really interested in the idea.
Several years later Debby wrote an article for NAME's Miniature Gazette (issue Sept/Oct 2008) which was a Americana theme. The project there included basic instructions. I stored the idea away until I could bring it to fruition in my own way.
Meanwhile I got an idea to make a Mall in a dome. This was just a means to display all the swaps I have received. I have them in divided boxes but basically hidden from view much of the time.  This Mall would be a temporary location for the swaps.  Ideally.  Having them on display is a proven (at my house) way to get something used.  My minis 'speak' to me and have at times done so from a display dome I have now. I am inspired by the minis I see, so having them on display might get them moved sooner rather than later.
Then along came the Mother Goose project I did. I tried using the boxes idea for that. But I was lazy and didn't make actual boxes. I tried just making walls thinking that I could just glue those down to the base.  It took more work to do that. Lesson learned for sure.

Earlier this year I bought the cover that I needed for this project - a football case.  So in March I started building my boxes.  
Here are some initial ideas I had for each layer


Each of these are all as I was deciding - how they will layout, how many layers
I also needed to determine the height they had to be cut and whether I was going to include a floor between each layer.  Ultimately I decided no on the floor layers and just use the boxes. It was the height of my container and the number of layers I had that determined the height of each layer which are all the same.  
Using the details from Debby's project in the Gazette I cut a bunch of boxes.  Her sizes was my starting point, but I cut more than her list.
I wasn't sure how many I might need so I made boxes and stacked them and repeated until I came up with a configuration I liked.
I used matt board for the boxes and my one base is of foam core board.

I knew from another miniaturist who had done these type of projects before that it was important to have good notes on the way it was laid out.  It wasn't enough to just determine the arrangement - but good drawings or pictures of the arrangement would be needed later when re-assembling after covering with the papers.
So here are some of those

I also had a cheatsheet on the layout per each side, not pictured but it really helped when I was deciding on the papers to use.
But photos were the best as the labels were in the back of the boxes

In March I got all the boxes exterior covered. Picking papers was a major challenge. I used scrapbook papers from a pack I had bought. This pack provided a variety of different colors and patterns but was very cohesive overall. This pack is called a slab and about an inch thick and is the 12x12 inch size. They also were double sided which gave even more variety. I used almost all from the same pack, but added in a few others that I had. 
I tried to coordinate the colors from box to box both side to side of each layer but also from layer to layer.  Maybe I was overboard with my coordination efforts but that is just what I wanted to do.

Then other things took my attention away - and finally now in October I was drawn back to working on this. I learned a long time ago, it works best for me to work on what I am inspired to work on.  So I will work on a project and then when it stops inspiring me I put it away and switch to another.
Here is my progress from this weekend

The first level is done - the base is covered using one single sheet of scrapbook paper. The center had to be open (not pictured) to allow for the round holder that is for the football ends. I considered using a variety of papers around this base, but decided to keep it simple instead.
To cover flaws and add an accent, all the interior papers are getting a gold edging using a gold paint pen and the exteriors some as well. Not sure it can be seen in the photos or even it will matter when I am done.  For sure though it does cover the edges that don't meet so there isn't a white gap.
Here's the second floor all papered and added to the first level. This is when the photos of the arrangement was very helpful - for lining up what I had planned.  No amount of marking on the boxes would work as the papers cover them up.
The interior papers are coordinated with the boxes to the sides.  
The clamps and clothespins were needed at this level and not so much on the first one.  The boxes are meant to be square but each one isn't necessarily.
So there I am right now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Card People - Alice in Wonderland project part 5

In part 4 I shared the first card people I made.  I googled images of cards and found a set of fronts that I liked.  Then did same for the backs.
I used MS Word to insert the images.  Then I re-sized them so that the cards were about an inch long.  In hindsight, I might have gone a bit smaller, but rather than waste the ink, I used what I printed.  I did print them on two pages as I did not care to deal with the alignment of two sided printing.  This also made it very easy to deal with the wire arms and legs and allowing them to be sandwiched in between.
Once willing to have stick like 'people', it is easy to just have wires for their arms and legs. It is an easy step to the feet being circles and hands non-existent or even circles as well. The head is another decision altogether.  I have done clay heads before and considered that, but paper heads would fit in with the paper bodies.  
One clever thing I think Lewis Carroll did is the use of the suites.  Spades are the gardeners, Clubs for the guards, Diamonds for the courtiers and then the Hearts are royalty.
My problem came back to heads.  The face cards have a face; the number cards do not. My ultimate decision was to use the face on face cards and add heads to the number cards.  I used the faces from the spades and clubs for the number card heads.  This worked out because I wasn't using all 52 cards, as in these are just extra.  Plus there are two faces per card. I found it interesting that the faces were different not just by J, Q, K but also by suite.

Here is how they are made:
1. 3 inch wire (26 guage black colored copper wire) for each side.  Plus 1/2 inch wire for head.
2. Made a circle for a foot and then bend for an ankle. Bend at the shoulder.
3. I applied glue to the back, laid on the arm/leg wires and a head wire. Then laid on the front and press together.
I should have took this pic without the glue, every time I look at it, I think that the glue is going to dry out.
4. I removed the head wire.  Wasn't trying to glue it in place just yet, but did want the space for it.
5. Used one of the faces cut from a face card,glue to wire and add a covering.  For some this was ribbon, some was bead with the face glued on.
6. Glued the head in place - trimming wire as needed.
Optional - to make the diamond cards have more depth, I added a roll of paper inside before I did step 2 and 3.  The wires for the legs then had to go through the roll.  Also I skipped the head wire since I wasn't adding one.  Some of the trims for the diamond cards was added before the two cards were glued together.

The Gardeners (spades) got paint brushes and buckets
-These were made by cutting a strip of paper, rolling it up and gluing it together.  Then I glued the roll to paper.  After it had a chance to dry, I cut around the roll.  I painted the outside grey and added red inside.  Then I added a handle.  The handle is also paper.  I cut a very very thin strip from the edge. 


The Soldiers (clubs) got clubs
These were made from black paper I punched - 6 circles glued to a wire that I added circles to both ends.
Arms then were bent to hold the clubs in place.
I also added a belt to one of the soldiers I am sharing today.  I made a couple others with more trim added.  Will show them later on.

The Courtiers (diamonds) got fancied up with various trims. Notice they do not have heads added.  

The card people were so much fun to make, especially when I got to play around with adding trims and such.  

The Hearts aren't done yet.  Figured I could share that later.  

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Painting Roses Red - Alice in Wonderland project part 4

Reading through the story again - I had picked out several different scenes that I wanted to try to do.  The painting the roses red, just strikes me as so ludicrous that it must be done. Well, plus I figured it would be reasonable easy for me to do with materials on hand and my skills.  If it involves making figures or too many details, well it just might never get done. Because I won't, not be cause I can't.
A large rose tree stood near the entrance of the garden the roses growing on it were white but there were three gardeners at it busily painting them red.  Alice thought this a very curious thing and she went nearer to watch them and just as she came up to them she heard one of them say, "Look out now Five. Don't go splashing paint over me like that". "I couldn't help it", said Five in a sulky tone. "Seven jogged my elbow."On which Seven looked up and said, "That's right Five. Always lay the blame on others!"
Then there is this illustration to go with it.
In my mind, I want a ladder, so that is what I am doing.  Also my tree is going to be more of a tall vine.
The illustrator took artistic license as shall I.  They are more like people with cards on their bodies than how it is described in the text.

In my stash, I had some etched brass leaves.  I have collected several of these over the years.  One or two even a kit to make a rose vine, but without the flower petals.  

This what this product looks like.  I have turned over a branch so can see that one side is plain and the other is etched with veins.
I love living in the South.  I do not care for the harsh winter found in other parts of the USA so I lovingly deal with the consequences of hot humid summers.  But it does hinder me using spray paint. The mfgr recommends to spray paint as a base coat at least, but I don't even bother with spray paint in the summer due to high humidity.  Too much effort to wait until it isn't.  I just doesn't fit with when I want to mini.  So that meant multiple layers of acrylic paint.  Thin coats of course were used and sometimes seemed I didn't coat it at all but I just kept doing it until the brass was covered.
On left can see the painted with two colors of green and a brown.  The lighter green doesn't really show here it is under the leaves.  I don't know why but I can't get away from painting stems and branches brown.  I even mix in grey or black to try to get more grey.  I checked my own rose bush - a miniature one, which has green stems.  Just couldn't do it - leaving the stems green.  So they are mixed up brown.  
On the right can see the flowers I made.  Maybe they are roses?  I used two punched 5 point petals per each.  Wet them on a paper towel, layer two together with the petals offset, then used my tiny end of the double-ball stylus to shape them pressing them into some fun foam.  I actually prefer a faux leather pad most times when shaping flowers but the fun foam maybe holds them in place longer.  Negative with the fun foam is that it does remember the holes where the faux leather doesn't most of the time.

After creating the above post but not publishing it, I did some more work on the roses.  They are all together as a rose tree as described in the text.  Can't see it in this pic, but I have attached the metal to a real wood stem to make it a tree. It is brown and matches perfectly. It was meant to be. The stem also gives me a sturdy support to stick into the foam base versus the flimsy brass.  

I have also put together 3 cards for the gardeners.  I will still need to add heads.  The cards I am using, I found a set of faces and backs as images online.  I printed them on separate pages so that I can glue the wires in between.  The plus was that I also didn't have to line up for the double sided printing. However one issue I have is that the Jack, Queen and King have faces, the lower cards do not.  So these need heads.  Which actually might make sense of why the Queen would call, "Off with their heads!" so often.  Maybe she was jealous they had them.  LOL
Next I will be painting the roses red.  Hmmm, the title of this is 'painting roses red' but I am going to make you wait for pics.  Is that mean?
Maybe I will update this post - or add another.... Off to make paint brushes and buckets for these gardeners.