Sunday, September 25, 2016

I published my first miniature photo book

I can't believe it - I almost forgot to share this.

Two weeks ago I had my first miniature photo book published/printed. 
I made this book using software that I purchased to do family photo albums: My Memories Suite 7. I used the free verison to test this software. But in order to order a photo album, you do have to purchase the software. I purchased this software after testing several other photo book making software that you use online. Some are of course better than others.I choose to purchase software as I didn't like the idea of being online the entire time I was designing. Today I have better internet speed and data amount available, but I would still prefer the offline option. I did ultimately need to upgrade my computer to handle the graphics but that became a problem only after upgrading to Windows 10. Read more about that here.

I decided to create a photo book for this project, not because of a story that goes with it. I do have other projects that do and I am thinking I might make a book for them in the future. Instead it was because the rhymes. I had done research on each rhyme and I wanted to share that. Well I also wanted to share the rhyme with the pics of the project.
To make this more than just a rhyme book, I also wanted to share how I did it. 
So I made it a flip book - making the back of the book look like a front as well.
Here is a pic of inside the book
To keep the book unified I used the same background through the entire book.
I also did the front rhyme section all with the same fonts and font size. But I varied the font color with each rhyme.
This was my third digital photo book (second with the same software). The other two are 12x12 inch size. This is a 8x8 inch size. 
One issue I had was only seen once the book is printed. The text on some pages was too far into the center. If I was publishing this to sell, I would have to fix that. But I am not and won't be spending any more on it. It isn't bad, but a lesson learned for future in smaller books. The software does have guidelines for the edges to stay out of. This is in case they trim it too much in the process of finishing the book. You don't want text or a pic to get cut off. But the inside area issue has more to do with the fact this is a regular style of book instead of a lay flat.

The how to portion was to take all the blog posts I shared on how I made it and put them into the book. I had to do some re-writing so it was a cohesive book. 
The center of the book has a little game and also shows the top view and each side view. In hindsight I wish I had done a two page spread of the side views. That is mostly due to the 8x8 size.

I am overall very pleased with the book and hope one day to share the rhyme part with my grandkids or maybe a great niece or nephew.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

In the box - Raggedy garden corner

A few months ago, I challenged Little Enough News members to think inside the box. I wasn't able to work on one myself although I bought a box to use. I was planning to use the lid as an extension of the box for a extra space and at the time wanted to do  Thanksgiving or Autumn.
Last week I bought two raggedy dolls on ebay for a song. I was so excited that I got such a great deal.  I looked at these dolls and thought what could I do for them to get a home. But I put them down and had to come back.
Later I was moving some items around because I had been packing and shipping stuff for my garage sale. I spied the box I bought for the In the Box challenge and I thought, yes. This is what they can go in. 
I had bought the frame at some point and had in mind to build a box to fit, but this box fit.
Here's my initial items to use:
I didn't take any in between pics, so I will just outline the steps.
Box
The box had a lid and I decided it wasn't needed for this frame. I painted the outside an off white. Inside was light blue on all walls except the floor. The floor was painted brown.
This part was easy.
Later I added the clouds to the ceiling and along the top of the walls.
I applied glue to the floor and sprinkled on the ground cover. Patted it into the glue and let dry. Shake it off to remove excess.
Then I added some shrubbery, keeping in mind where the bench was going to go.
The bench was repainted to fix some issues I felt with the pink. I did consider some greens, black or brown. I decided to repaint off white and just fix the pink color. For once I did not paint the entire thing. I wanted this to be quick as possible, so I didn't repaint the back (that doesn't show) or the bench. 

Frame
The frame took the longest to do. I painted three coats of off white. Getting in the openings I intentionally used a cheaper brush so to not ruin one by pushing into those openings. I only painted the back of it once to allow for warping. I think the cutouts helped with this as I had very little issue with that. I sanded between each coat.
As I painted it I wanted to do something to use the red and blue colors of the dolls. One idea I considered but discarded was to add glue or puff paint to add dimensional details. Another idea was to stain over the paint to give an antiqued look. Also this was discarded. It was only after the inside of the box was done that I came up with another idea on how to incorporate the red and blue.
I pulled from my stash some red papers. I decided I wanted to use some red tissue paper although I considered some shiny paper and also some glitter paper. I considered to cover all the openings with the red, but then I thought what if I added blue in some openings. I didn't have any blue tissue paper so I checked my ribbon stash.
In hindsight the all red for the openings would have been much easier, but I am very satisfied with the combo of red and blue. There were several places that I had to use the ribbon side by side to cover the opening since the ribbon I had wasn't wide enough.
One idea for the back, would have been to have a second frame to cover the back to cover the mess. But I didn't have one of those and I like that I can see light through the covered openings so I will leave it a mess in the back.

Base
I knew the frame needed to have the box lifted since the frame couldn't support the front. I noticed the smaller box on my desk and it was the right size height wise, but not big enough to support the box and frame. I had more of the smaller box, so I used two. I then ended up covering these two boxes with some thin card that I painted to match.

Now for the finished piece
From start to finish it took about 4 hours. 

Ideas to make it quicker:
use a printed background in the box
use a single color for the opening or none
stain the frame (then the edges in the openings don't have to be dealt with)
leave the box outside unpainted
not repaint the bench

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Alice in Wonderland Part 7 - Rabbit's house - project in progress

I was trying to come up with scenes to do in my project that fit certain areas. This particular scene wasn't pictured in the book but I felt it was a good fit for what I wanted.
I decided it would just be a part of the house and from the outside.
Months ago (over a year if truth be told) I cut the brick sheet for the door frame and that is where I left it. Ok, I left it because I was trying to make it too simple. Simple to the point it wasn't really working.
This week I was able to get back to this project and I tackled the house. The first thing I did is decide that the house was only going to be half an inch depth. (That's just two foot in real life.)
Next I selected some roofing. In my stash was this piece and I decided it would fit. Only later did I realize it was too short for my preferences. This after I painted this piece. More on that later.

The problem that I couldn't get past previously (mostly because I wasn't feeling up to it) was that the brick is one piece but the foam core is two pieces. With no center section, which is not the best way to be designing even a part of a house. But working with it this week, I decided I could live with it and I did. However it would have been better to have cut a single piece of foam-core.
Next was to cut pieces to support the side so I could adhere it to the wall. Then also cut a piece of brick for the side. Believe it or not I pieced the side one. The pieces fit so well together (must been I was in the groove **pun intended **).
Next I painted the brick - well the grooves/grout. This is done by painting the piece and then wiping away on the face. I found this worked best if I let it dry some more rather then while fresh. But don't let the base color dry solid.
I had to repaint some portions of course to get the amount remaining right. This is one of those try it and see how it works. I have done it many times but always a bit of trial and error to it. If it really looks bad can always start over by soaking it. I have done that too.

At this point is when I also painted the roof piece I cut first. Only to realize I had to cut another. Then that was still too short and cut a third. I wasn't allowing enough at the top at first as I wanted it to fit up to the point the next level met the wall. Then not enough overhang in the front the second cutting. Thankfully I had extra in my stash.
To paint the roof what I found worked best was to start with a medium grey all over, then using a dark grey and a lighter plus a medium green to get these on my brush and sort of swipe at it. The idea was that I wanted it to show the grain of wood where it had aged.
When I changed to cut another roof, I also was using a different sheet. I actually liked this style (although it is very similar) more.
Next I painted the door and frame. I decided that the window might be seen through, so I painted the wall inside and added a faux table. That was just in case could see in the window.

Next was the side wall. I cut a piece of brick like I was going to have another side of the house showing but then I had the problem of what to do with the roof. My solution was to consider something else and that was to peruse my stash and I found the fencing. I'm telling you that sometimes these things just jump out at me and say "hey use me".
With the fencing I figured I wanted some trees or something behind and so my answer was to hand-paint the trees and shrubs. I talked about more how I did that in my previous post here.
The grass and pathway were also discussed in that post.

The trim around the top was quilling paper that I painted. The base was painted below the brick and then I used the landscaping to hide it rather than make it look super good.
The step is a piece of foam-core board cut the size and painted.

For now this portion is done. But I am thinking on whether or not to add rabbit on his way to his house.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Landscaping - Part 6 of Alice in Wonderland project in process

A group I am on recently asked what sort of tutorials people wanted to see and one of those was landscaping.  So today, I thought I would be more detailed about the landscaping for this project.

First, let me say that landscaping materials come in many forms and one of the best is from the model railroading industry.  I use many from that category.
Second, for this project, I used mostly foam products.  So let's look in more detail.

The roses red area is basically grass or a lawn look.  To accomplish this I used a finely ground foam product.
In this picture it sort of looks like green sand, but if you look really closely to the sides it may have holes in it.
To make the lawn - I first painted the base with green. I use a green that is close to the foam product I will use. If I want it to be lush then the paint will be green, but if I wanted a more sparse look, then I would have gone with brown for dirt instead.
I know that some people will use the paint as a means to adhere their landscape foam, but I don't. Instead I will spread a layer of tacky glue. I just squeeze a bunch on and then I use something to spread it around. Ideally if doing a larger area - always leave a wet edge (uncovered) so can avoid lines in the material.
After spreading the glue I sprinkle on the foam.  I do this most often over a paper plate.  But a piece of paper or other item like newsprint would be fine.  I don't recommend plastic as this does have static properties.
To assist with spreading I also use a tool known as a bead scoop.  This has been a great tool for working with landscape materials.  I like that it has a small tip and it helps to sprinkle a tiny amount from the end or larger from the side.  I also use the scoop as that keeps the zip bag zipper portion cleaner as opposed to pouring out of the bag.
This pic shows both the bead scoop and some variety of the foam. The bag to the left is a mix of yellow and green. This produced a nice wild grassy look for this scene:
I am super happy with how the grass turned out. The background not so much -more on that later.

Back to the bead scoop pic - the middle one is a much larger material that has holes in it. I've used this in 1/48 scale and it just depends on the project. One time I did the process and then after it was dry gave it a manicure with scissors. That helped get rid of bits that seemed out of scale and neatened it up as well.
The third bag is very fine foam and it makes a nice lawn.

I do like to transfer from a non- zip bag to a zip bag once I get it so I can easily close it.  Otherwise I have tried tape and that attracts the product and then the tape stop working.  Also the tape may be difficult to open the bag later.

When I spread the material on, I like to do so fairly thick and then press into the glue.  If the glue was thin, then this just makes sure the material makes contact with the glue.  Then I let it sit for a bit.  Can let it sit overnight, but I am typically too impatient for that and just get 10-30 minutes.
The next step is to shake off the excess onto the plate.  It is important that the plate have been under the area that was being covered so that if any falls over the edge there is a place it can be caught.  No point in wasting the extra.  I will tap and shake until the stuff stops falling.  I rarely blow at this point but I may later if it has settled somewhere I don't want it.
Sometimes I will use a finger or other tool to brush and remove more loose product.

The stone work in the rose red section is a from a paper sheet of stone.  I'll admit this was large scale stone and probably intended for 1:12 scale, but I decided to use what I have and stones do come in many sizes.  This product appears to be a photo of a stone wall but then it was also pressed so that the rocks are 3d. Although the 3d effect is not obvious in the pics.
For using this product, I cut it to fit, then glued it to the wall.  It was glued to the wall before I painted the green as mentioned above.  But I did paint first the blue sky.

I wrote all of that weeks ago. But it still relevant to what I have been doing this week. Two more sections have been worked on and both of those included landscaping.
In addition to grass I added landscaping to the walls of the other sections.
In the rabbit house area - I hand-painted some happy little trees and bushes to go behind the plastic fence. The fence is from my stash and is a Grandtline product. I think other companies carry as I have seen it in black, grey and white. This was black and I didn't paint it at all.
The painting is really easy. Thin lines of darker grey paint using a liner type brush. Shaky hands are an advantage here. Also if the paint tends to skip and therefore not make a long thin line, then use Extender to roll the brush in before picking up paint. Then go back with a second lighter color of grey to give depth. I then used two shades of green at the top and bottom.  I figured i could try this and if I didn't like it I would paint over it. The green is done with a angled brush and sometimes just dabbing the color on.
In front of the fence I added some chunks of foam for shrubs.
The pathway is a brown ballast product. The ballast product comes in different colors and different sizes. I apply it same as I do with the green foam. Paint base, apply glue, sprinkle, press, then shake off excess in paper plate.
Depending on thickness of glue as to how deep the product may be applied. If I don't press into the glue and the layer of glue is thicker, then more likely to see gaps and the shiny dried glue.
The green taller shrub in the corner is a dried floral item. It was longer and I cut it shorter.

In another section I wanted a more defined tree in the scene - but not the whole thickness.
I used spackle to make the trunk.
I loved the look this gave. I will definitely use this technique again.
Here are two pics combined to show how the tree looks with paint - several greys and dry brushing.
Notice how the light changes from the left to the right pic. Well the left is without flash and the right is with. I love the shrubs in the without flash but not so much with the flash.
The shrubs are a combination of painted wall and then glued on landscape foam.
Once I add the top foam layer - above the tree - I will add more green to the tree that is to the bottom of the foam layer.

Other materials I use to landscape with besides the foam and dried floral items is paper and brass. The roses in the garden were made with the brass for the leaves and paper for the roses. I shared more about that on this blog post. Paper being punched shapes and brass being etched. Both of which I purchased. Although I have a few paper punches that I use for various flowers. When it comes to punches - I like to use the whole thing and parts. The parts of a punched item have a variety to them as well. Using a portion of a punch - either one that has several parts or cutting up a punch is a good way to get shapes might not find otherwise. Or a way to use shapes that are too big as far as scale.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Don't Look Back - scene in a cup

Some might assume that a tea cup project needs to be a tea time scene, but I am happy to prove that is a totally unnecessary assumption. This project was inspired by the cup and saucer.  I bought this recently at a yard sale along with a few other related items. I wanted them mostly as I thought they would work with my other items with this style. I didn’t necessarily purchase them for making a mini in. 
I set up a display in my living room on a shelf I have just for this purpose. I rotate the displays here as I feel like it which is usually at least with the seasons, but sometimes more often. As I was quite busy, I didn’t actually finish this display. I kept adding things and then didn’t get back to finishing it. But I walk by in every day as it is near the door to my bedroom.  
Several times as I walked by I pictured something on top of the cup. This wasn’t something I already had. Instead it was something that would need to be added. I have various prints from this same artist and one in particular came to mind. I went to that print and said, yes, I believe it could work.

Fill the cup

There are a number of ways to fill the cup.  In all likelihood, I might could have just glued a heavy paper/card to the rim of the cup and that might be ok. My concern is that over time the paper could sag. Also I was planning to stick things in and knowing that, I thought it best to have foam at the top. I use builders foam often, so this was my go to solution.
I cut a circle first and then smaller blocks that I would stack underneath. I did have to angle the side of the circle as I wanted it to be level with the rim. I also wanted the foam rim to match closely to the cup rim, so I used my craft knife to cut away a little at time until I was happy.  There was a gap in a couple of places but figured I could cover them with the landscaping product.
I did have to add in the triangles (at bottom of pic) to force the foam to stay in place. I wanted this as pressure versus glue as I was gluing to ceramic.


Landscaping basics
I drew a rough outline of the path and then painted brown and green.  I adjusted this until I was pleased with the shape.

Next I applied glue to the path and sprinkled on fine brown ballast from my stash. I patted this in place and let dry a while before shaking the excess over a paper plate.  The excess was then returned to the bag. I allowed the brown to dry before I moved to the green.
Next was the green.  I used two different products. One was a very fine medium green foam. The other a mix of lighter green and yellow. I mixed these two together until I was pleased with the result. Then I added glue to one section of green at a time, repeating the sprinkle, pat and shake process. 

All these products are stored in plastic zip bags. I prefer the zip bags over a non-zip bag as tape just didn’t work for me. I use a bead scoop for getting a little or lot of product from the bag, instead of just shaking out of the bag. It also helps to keep some of the product out of the zip area. 
Road sign
The pole is a bamboo skewer painted white and cut longer than I needed. The extra length was to stick in the foam. I did use a needle tool to poke a hole in the foam rather than force the pole. The sign itself is heavy card. I used my craft knife on the end of the skewer to open a slot for the sign to slide into. Sign glued in place and skewer glued back together best I could. The paint helped hide any gaps. I hand-lettered the sign with an extra fine point pen.

Mushrooms
I knew I had a bunch of thicker paper holes in my stash. I pulled out this bag and decided they would work for the largest ones. I did use a my swirl punch for the smaller ones also using some thicker paper. I used a double ball stylus and paint brush end plus a foam pad to shape the mushroom caps. 

The stems are round wood toothpicks painted white. I was able to get 4 stems per toothpick as I wanted the narrow pointed part for most of them. The caps and stems were glued together and then I painted the caps red. They were then glued to the scene. To help with placement, I did punch a hole in the landscaped foam but mostly in the landscaped grassy part, as a deeper hole wasn’t needed. After the mushrooms were all in place I went back with dots of white on the red.


Morning glories
The vine is made from strips cut from the edge of copy paper and then painted. These super narrow strips tend to curl on their own but I did some strategic gluing to get it in place. To get length, I just glued them one to the other. The curls made same way but added as I was working the flowers and leaves.

The flowers are more hole punches from thin paper. I cut a slit in them so that I could make a cone shape. To shape them, I rolled them against my finger with my needle tool. Then glued them and then painted. 

The leaves were some punches that I purchased with a group. 

This group went together to buy a bunch of different colors and shapes from dealer that offers both punches and punched petals. One individual did the ordering and then separated them into smaller amounts to send to or each group member. I glued the punches to the vines and later went back and painted all the leaves to match the vines. 


Egg-shape flowers
Again I used the swirl punch for different sizes. Then I shaped each flower with the double ball stylus. Rounding them from the back and then dimple in the front. Then I painted them. The leaves for these were also some punches from the group but were heart shape and cut them in half to use them. To give them dimension so not glued directly to the grass, I added a bit of foam to the back to elevate like a short stem.

Daffodils
To make these I started with a strip of paper. I used my craft knife to cut petals of similar shape and size. Just slightly curved cuts.
The center is a roll of paper that I frayed the edge of the tube.

 The green leaves were from my stash. I purchased them online or at a show. I could have easily hand cut these as they are similar to the other petals. I repainted them to match.

Star-flower/lily (orange and white flowers)
Since I made the egg flowers I decided to stick with making these as well as similar to the illustration as possible. 
They were made similar to the daffodils with different petal shapes.

Dandelions
I thought these were too much and so I took artistic license to not include them. I find them too much of fantasy. Sure that doesn't exactly make sense with the other flowers I made already, but I am just drawing a line and not making these. It's the whole the yellow flowers are too small relative to the leaves thing that bothered me.
Tree
One thing about doing a project based on a picture or drawing is how much of the picture will be done. Sometimes the picture has a depth that would simply be difficult to achieve in the space available. With the trees this was indeed the case.
The trunks are made with dried plant material. I choose the shape best to match the trees I had room to do. The greenery is just the cluster landscape foam sold for trains. I love this stuff. The shape was general. But the choice to flatten the top is because I want this project to fit in a plastic box.
Owl
Before I started this project I told myself that I would find a bead/charm to do the owl. I wasn't particularly interested in making one in clay although it was a possibility if the bead/charm thing didn't work out. Indeed I was able to find a suitable charm and even ones the right size and without any loop to be cut off.
This product is sold for going inside of a clear locket. It is flat on the back, but I was ok with that, rather than creating in clay.
To add feet, I cut a piece from the hole punches.
I cut the tail at the same time and this also gave the charm a place to sit and something more to glue to the top of the pole.

Doll
It took me several weeks to get back to this project because the next phase was the doll. I knew that I wanted to make this using cloth covered wire. I knew I could do it so the time delay wasn't me procrastinating like often happens, but simply real life activities keeping me busy.
To start the doll I used a wire pin template (pins in a block of wood a the wrap points) I made for some previous dolls.
This is the result of the template
Next I shaped the body by squeezing the legs and arms together, then painted the feet as shoes. I also added some tissue paper to the feet to build up the shoes.
The socks were also tissue paper and I painted. The lines are done using a 20/0 liner.The technique is to make sure the brush is wet and roll the brush through the paint to get a fine tip. I also like to use extender which is an acrylic product that extends the drying time but also thins like water but with different properties than water.
To give the body depth, I knew I wanted to add stuffing or something. My something was batting used in a jewelry box. I wrapped the stuffing in the middle and then wrapped with white silk ribbon. I applied glue to the ribbon to keep in place. I didn't use a lot of glue, just enough to hold it in several places. I could have tried to match the color of the ribbon to the finished color, but I figured painting the ribbon would hide some of the glue marks and make it look better. (I was right.)
After completely wrapping the torso, legs and shoulders, I painted the body blue.
I then added tissue paper pants. These were painted as well.
Next was a tissue paper jacket/sweater that was also painted. Here's with the black base coat only.
 I think the tissue paper did well cover the ribbon. I wasn't worried to much about the top.
The white tissue paper was to keep me from getting the yellow edging paint on the blue.
Next was to paint details on the jacket. I used my liner and a 3/0 round to paint with. The dots were made either with a double ball stylus or a needle tool. I repainted anything that was too big when creating the dots. Black dots in the egg flower shapes here were added after the red dots.
To finish up the doll, I decided to use a plastic bead for a head and gave her a face. The hair doesn't show in the illustration so I went with curly blonde. The hair is bunka unraveled, glued on and then trimmed.

Doll hat
For her hat, I used a bead  on a toothpick for shape. I applied thin white glue to a piece of tissue paper and applied to the bead. Boy, waiting for that glue to dry was an inconvenience. Meanwhile I also cut a brim from paper. This was a round piece with a smaller round piece cut out of it. 

I glued the brim on to the tissue paper. Then I decided I needed another layer of the tissue paper on top of both. Once dry, I careful removed from the bead. It did get squished up, but I was able to reshape it. To finish it out with color, I just painted it all over one color then adding several similar colors in lines and swirls to try to mimic the straw pattern.

Hobo sack
Of all the things I thought was going to be a severe challenge, this wasn't it. But it was. At least until I applied glue and paint.
I tried first with cotton cloth. No way. I didn't want to try tissue, because I wanted to tie it.
Next I made a square of silk that I applied a line of glue to avoid fraying. This silk was some from my stash in off white. I've had this silk for many years and purchased the smallest amount I could at the store we got it at. I got several colors but for this type of doll any light color is a good choice. A good source is thrift stores. Silk isn't easy to care for so I think it gets donated a fair amount. The key is of course finding a light color. But I digress.
The silk square gave me the best chance of achieving this. But it was applying thin white glue and then later paint that made it able to be pinched and sort of tied into shape. 
Inside the square is a plastic bead that I had to glue to the middle to fiddle with the silk square.
The paint was a just a base coat. I let this all dry before I applied the little details.The stick is just some grapevine that I cut the right size.
Suitcase
The suitcase is two pieces of strip wood cut to size. I sanded all the edges before gluing them together. Then applied paint. To give it depth, I applied a dirty water wash (thinned black paint) and wiped off as I went. The handle is wire I painted after inserting it into the wood. The label/travel ticker is paper that I glued on and painted.
Finished
Overall this was a really fun project. I will say it was more challenging in some areas than I expected, but nothing I couldn't conquer with trial and error. It also feels really good to have completed this. This year hasn't been a year for minis so far. That's ok, because those other things were important and minis can wait.