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.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Mother Goose 20-30

More how I made the sections or areas of my Mother Goose Project

The outside of the book

The hill is made of floral foam that I added gel medium to as a filler.  I won't do that again for landscaping.  It was tough to do anything with shaping wise.  I had to get my dremel out to sand it.  Better off using paper machie or lightweight spackle, which either would be my usual go to product for that.
I cut the floral foam with my craft knife and used toothpicks to pin it together.  Also use those toothpicks to position it against the book and in place on the pink foam layer.
Greenery is done with green landscaping foam for train layouts.  Also wood colored ballast for the paths.

20 Jack and Jill
I received the well as a swap item from Anne Richards.  The Jack and Jill dolls was a set I purchased at a show.  I don't know the artist.  I did buy several from the artist.  Always good to buy when you can of whatever you like, as may never see them again.
I added the pail made of paper and then painted.  

21 Hey Diddle, diddle, the Cat and the Fiddle
This one is actually several combined as it features several characters that I wanted to do.
For the cat, I used another character from under my cheese dome.  This one was made by Bev Corder.  This was one of those purchases - the price was good and I had the money so I bought what I liked.
I made the fiddle by printing and cutting it out.

22  The little dog laughed
This is a metal mini that I painted and added a bow.

23 Dish and Spoon
When I heard that there was going to be a swap for Mother Goose challenge, I decided that I must be a part of it.  I immediately emailed that I wanted to do the Dish and Spoon.  It was the first thing I thought of to make for a Mother Goose type swap.  That is rare as I don't often have an idea right away.
To make them, I used a 1/12th scale plate for the dish.  I painted the edges and faces.  Then I used super glue and wire to add the arms and legs.  I also used my dremel to add grooves in the back for the wires to set in.  Not sure it made much of a difference or not.  Then added the bows.  I made more than needed for the swap as I had to order extra plates and they just were so much fun to do. They are available in my etsy shop.
The spoons were hand cut from cooper.  Hubby helped me solder on the legs and arms.  My son even helped cut the wires that had to be stripped.  I didn't need their help in the sense that I couldn't do it, it was just the timing.
I spray painted the spoons, painted the faces, added bow ties of paper.  The hats are eyelets.

24 Cow jumped over the moon
I use graphics from ME's book that I modified to fit the back of the book.

25 Old Lady lived in a Shoe
I have always wanted to make a shoe house.  I initially was thinking about making one from a paper tube and paper.  Meanwhile I kept thinking about my baby shoes.  Once I decided it was a good use of them, I quickly tested if it would fit in my plan.  
The first thing I did was to find a door and window to use with it.  Then I cut the holes. I also added a wall at the top to fit up into the roof. 
Inside is a table, chair and a icebox.  Can barely see the table through the window. 
The house is lighted - I might should pop up the roof and change the covering over the light and maybe that would help to see the insides.  
The children are from some kits I  sold at one time.  I did have to paint most of the clay heads.
wire bodies some with stockings already
Hula hoop and scooter were swaps from a prior QC convention

Skateboard from a previous swap as well

26 Ring a Round the Rosy
The children just look so cute holding hands.  

27 Three Blind Mice
I was determined to do or use as much of this project from my stash.  However I took a trip to a miniature store in Atlanta during the time I was working on this project.  While at that store I did look at items that might work.  I saw these mice and I knew they would be so much easier to buy these than to make something.  

28 Sing a Song of Sixpence
This is either a really big 1:48 scale pie or a 1:12 scale pie.  To make this pie I made my own pie pan from a metal lid (from peanuts I think).  I rubbed it to remove the indentions.  I also trimmed it to a round shape a little larger than the bottom would be.  I used a wood disk to push the foil up against then my tweezers to add fluting.  Then I used the bottom of a glue stick to further shape the pan's side.
The birds are a toothpick inserted in a seed bead. Cut and then glued into the pan.  They were then painted.
The crust is paint that I squeezed in place using a syringe.  
I added the black feathers to simulate wings.  

29 Pat a Cake
This was a swap from Shelly Norris.  

30 Mother Goose cover
This is from ME's book and I did modify it to work for my book cover in size and removing extra bits.
I have a photoshop program that I have had for a while.  I have tried it off and on.  It isn't difficult so much as just have to learn what the steps are and what they are called.  It does take time to do the work.  Certainly there are ways to create shortcuts, but doing this as a hobby, it is something I haven't taken the time. My advice is if you have a program, find something you want to do and set a goal to do it.  Don't pretend.  It makes it real to learn how to do something that is actually want you want to do, not just an example of what you can do.
Kite in the tree - from a previous swap

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mother Goose 14-19

I am still blogging about how I did the sections in my Mother Goose Challenge project - Here's #14-19

14 Piggies

The main piggies are on the page of the inside of the book.  Figured there was no point to waste the cover.  The white piggy is a one that a friend gave me.
I always loved the wee piggy.  I never thought of him as crying.  His pinwheel is a pin and paper that I painted and it really moves although can't blow it - too tight on the pin.  I looked for a template online to see how to cut it.

15 London Bridge is falling Down

I needed something to fill the space and this rhyme was one of my favorite as a child.

16 Three Men in a Tub

I have collected various people figures over the years.  My father is an O gauge enthusist and he gave me a bunch of train people in different poses and shapes.  I selected 3 figures to make the three men.  These figures were covered in bad paint jobs that needed to be redone.  I had the bright idea to soak them in polish remover - straight acetone.  Well the paint came off but the plastic was melting as well.  I threw those out. Thankfully I have a whole bunch of these so I was ok to toss these and not try to recover them.
Moving to another tact I looked at the wire dolls I have made.  I have a number of bodies made but need to be dressed.  Well those seemed too much work - so I put that all aside.
Then I decided to have a garage sale and found some Christmas items.  This box included a bunch of nativity set people.  I had seen these used to make people.  I selected three I felt would be suitable and I started modifying them with my dremel tool.  here is the process:
3 nativity figures 

legs cut off, staffs cut off, removed backpacks and hat is ready to be pulled off
desicant container emptied - use as the tub
checking the fit - what needs to be modified

Part of the fun in doing this project was to research ideas for what this might look like but also I used a site that told how the rhyme came about.  It seems this one was about three maids in a tub at a sideshow/fair and the three men jumped in with them.  That's a lot of people in a tub (bathtub or otherwise) so I stuck with the three men.  

17 Row, row, your boat

I made the rowboat by cutting a shape and sides from paper printed to look like wood. To go around the shape I folded a lip and cut a bunch of tabs - gluing them individually - overlapping if needed. The gunnel is a piece of bunka.
The guy is a kneeling nativity figure (same one I used for the butcher).  I cut the bent leg off and added it back in a different position.
The oars are straight pins that I cut the head off and then added shaped thin card for the blades.

18 The Pie Man

One of the swaps I received was the pie man's tray from Kim Wood.  I decided to use a resin bunny for the man.  Using my dremel tool, I had to cut away a shovel and shape the belly to allow the tray to hang properly.  Then a re-paint.

19 Rock-a-bye Baby

The baby and cradle was made by Jyl Adams
The tree is made of wires twisted together and adding some texture over the wires.  Previously I have tried using paper machie, layers of paint and spackle.  This time I used gel medium.  This worked very well for this purpose.  Then layers of paint to give color.  This time the layers weren't to add depth.  I do a lot of dry brushing when adding paint like this.  Although this was more just adding several colors dabbing and brushing about all over, but not full coverage coats.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mother Goose 9-10-11-12-13

How I made sections 9-10-11-12-13 for my Mother Goose Challenge Project

This was a purchased book that I added the walls to make sections.  
I painted over the inside before I added wallpaper so there was no color show-thru.
9 Little Jack Horner
The stool with the pie is a swap item from Ruth Goodger. Sweet.
I made the wallpaper.  Flooring by Joe Hermes.
To make Jack I modified a resin rabbit. With my dremel tool, I removed the spy glass leaving just the top to paint as a plumb on his thumb.  I also removed a pail of water with the boat. Then a repaint.

10 Mother Hubbard
The shelf unit/cupboard is my own design.  
The dog and bowl were metal minis from Susan Korman. I did the painting.
I made the wallpaper.  Flooring by Joe Hermes.

11 Hickory Dickory Dock
The clock and mouse were a swap made by Heather Drinkwater.  Cute.
Rug from a previous swap by Sharon Anderson.
I made the wallpaper.  Flooring by Joe Hermes.

12 Pussycat, Pussycat
The throne is a swap item by Catherine Wojewoda.  See the face and tail?
I made the wallpaper.  Flooring from a supply swap.

13 Humpty Dumpty
I was very interested to learn that Humpty was a canon - a very large one that got knocked off a wall.  
I used the graphics from ME's book - modified to fit the area and what I wanted to show.
I wanted an egg for Humpty, but also didn't want to buy one.  I made him using polymer clay. First I made a egg shape of foil.  Then added a layer of clay.  I cut around his middle before I baked him.  I also insert pins into the spots for the wires.  Then to the oven.
He came apart quite nicely.  I removed the foil unsure if he would be totally open.  It helped to work on the wires that way.
Under him is indeed an egg yolk.  I just made sense why he was broken  beyond repair.  
I did paint him all white and had shaped his face.  That was creepy  and so he got some extra paint to soften the stark white and add some clothes.