Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What to do next? and tree stump project progress

Ever have that "What to do next?" dilema?
12/8 I wrote this but didn't publish it yet.

I have so many projects that I want to work on, I am at a stand still on what to start next.  Since it is December I really want to work on Christmas things.  This is typically when I am in the mood to do so, but last night, I just couldn't get in gear.
I have a Christmas tree shop that I want to make boxes of ornaments to go with the trees I have made.  When I measure what size those boxes would be, I am not sure how to proceed.  The size would be less than 1/4" and my ornaments are on the larger size, so I am concerned how many ornaments might go in a box.  Then I think well, what else would a store use for displaying ornaments  under a tree and I think of those red apple buckets.  Ok, how to make those, and how big to make them? Make them out of paper, or clay? 
View the trees made for this project
I make a list of the other things that I need do for this particular project and I see a road block.  One that has stumped before.  How to do the snow?  I have used baking soda and spray glue before.  The glue yellows over time so don't want to do that.  I could use white glue but that is hard to spread over certain areas of this project.  I have used spackle, but it can yellow as well.  Also it has issues with spreading.  I purchased a snow product (a Woodland Scenics kit) for landscapes and I am planning on using it.

But I am thinking, maybe I should do a test with it first.  To do a test, I have to come up with something to really test it and that means making something potentially a throw away whatever.
I only want a light dusting of snow, not inches.
And before I can do the snow I have to finish the roof however I am going to do it.  Since it is a tree stump, I had planned to add moss, but am concerned about the color of moss I have. Would it be too green for the time of year?
Ok, so I added the moss.
I was very happy with this moss on the roof even if it was a little bright.  I wasn't worried because I was going to cover it with snow.
In the lower corner of the pic you can see the plexi that I was planning to use for frozen water.

OK, the moss was a really bad idea with the snow. The snow effect was good but I put it on the sides of the trunk and wow, I was not happy with the results.
The moss wasn't color fast (note to self - read all packaging) so the green dye bled through the snow.
Also some of the bits from the moss fell on the base and ruined the snow effect as well.

I have now removed the moss and also the frozen water.  I had to paint the base and trunk again to cover the white.  I did get some of the snow from the kit added to the roof.

And the reason I went ahead with this post was because now I am thinking of working on my 1:12 scale scrapbooking scene.  Funny how our minds flitter from project to project.  So we will see what strikes my creative fancy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Electrical tutorial for miniatures

Recently on one of my yahoo groups a question was posted about electrical and I just so happen to be doing the wiring on my Christmas Tree shop in a tree stump project so I took pics.

The house itself had already been wired.  Each light is 12v bulb that I either inserted through a pony bead or a flower bead.  Then the wire went through a hole in the ceiling.  The wire was then hidden via grove in the ceiling.  This groove then ends up under the flooring.  The wires were are brought together on one side of the house and then I soldered the leads from one side of each light to a longer and slightly heavier wire.  Repeating this process for the other set of leads.
Now this was all hidden under the tree bark (made of plaster cloth).

When the house was attached to the foam base, I just made a hole in the base and brought the connector wires thru the hole.  I then made a groove under the foam base to the side as I had planned to have this connection out that way.  But when I got this new case and the house fit perfectly (after a 1/4" trim to the sides of the base) so I changed what I needed for a groove.
Groove to the left was the before and the groove down the middle is the after.  The white spots on the wires is where I had to add to my original leads.

The wires fit in the groove but a piece of paper can be glued to help keep them in place as well.  Just glue on the outside of the leads.
This case is a basketball display case so it has a hole in the center of the bottom.  It also has another board underneath.  This board was brad nailed in so we didn't want to remove it.
I knew I wanted a switch on this so I determined where my switch and where my wire to the transformer plug will be as well.
I want the switch on the side so I mark a spot for that.
Now I have to drill a hole for it.  I used my dremel tool and a drill bit to start.  Then I switched to another bit that had extra teeth on it.  But my husband told me later I should have used a router bit which is pointed on one end and then curved to the side.
Here's the hole I made for the switch.

Yes, I made a boo-boo and will have to fix it.  I also actually picked up the wrong switch and cut a hole for it.  Only difference between them was this switch is shinier and slightly larger, but not really wrong.
Now to connect the switch to some wires.
The switch has three legs and this particular one needed one wire to the middle leg and the other wire to an outer leg.  Once it was soldered I slide the wires inside my base so I could get to them from the basketball hole.

This pic isn't the best, but the third leg on the right does not have a wire attached.
Next I drilled a hole in the back of the base for the wire to the transformer.

This hole only needed to go thru the bottom part of the base, but could have been in a similar position as the switch but for this base would have been a slightly harder hole to drill.  I also choose to cut an opening in the extra board in the base so I could get to the basketball hole on the topside of the base.  This opening could have been round instead.
The transformer that I am using is from a old phone.  I purchased several of these at a thrift store.  Just be sure they are rated for the lights used.  Mine are 12 volt and this transformer plug is as well.
The next thing we checked is what are the mA of the output of the plug.  This happened to be listed on the plug as 300 mA.  If it wasn't, then we would have used a meter to test this.
The 12v lights are labeled as 60 mA and I have 7 lights so this plug was the correct amount.  (Per my husband who is my goto guy for electrical).  7 x 60 = 300.  It is my understanding that too much would not be good and less just means the lights may last longer just not burn as bright.
Next I needed to connect the three sections of wires.

At the top of the pic are the two wires from the house base and the actual lights.  One lead has all the leads from one side of the lights and the other lead has all the others. 
The house wires are black and light colored wires are at the top of this pic.
The two white wires coming from the right side of the pic are from the transformer plug. 
The black and red wires that are coming from the left side are to the switch.

One of the white wires from the transformer plug are soldered to a house wire.
The other white transformer plug wire is soldered to the red wire from the switch.
The black wire from the switch is then soldered to the light colored house wire.
These soldered connections make a circle of sorts. 

Before soldering a connection the wires should be stripped of the outer covering.  I do this carefully with a craft knife to cut though the plastic covering on one side and then fold it open and carefully cut against the side of the plastic again. This generally leaves a section of this covering still connected, but will tear away when pulled on.  (I have added a wire stripper to my wish list.)
The wires if multiple are then twisted together so they are neat.
Then using a soldering iron and solder the wires get tinned.  To tin touch the tip of the soldering iron to the wire and the solder just away from the tip but on the wires.  When the heat makes the solder flow, then run the solder on the wires and it is tinned.
The switch has to be tinned a bit differently. The legs have holes in them. Same prinicple of touching the iron to the leg and the solder away from the tip and when the solder flows, then fill the hole.
Once the wires or legs are tinned then put aside the solder.
Now for wire to wire, I slide a heat shrink tube on one wire to be connected.   This tube should be large enough to fit over both wires once soldered and long enough to cover the bare wires.
Set up the wires so they are touching (a third hand is helpful here) and can even bend them a bit to help then stay together while soldering.
Apply the heat tip to the two wires and let the tinning flow together.
Once soldered together, slide the heat shrink tube over the bare wires connection and apply heat such as a match or candle flame.
The switch was connected to each wire by touching the tip of the solder iron to the leg and holding the wire at the filled hole.  When the solder begins to flow insert the wire in the hole.  These will stick out and can be trimmed down close but not right next to the leg.

Now test the plug by pluggin it in  and flip the switch. 

Here is my house lit up from the front and the back.

Using a battery such as a 9v instead of a transformer
The battery connection would be in place of the transformer leads.
I like to make a housing for my batteries and this basketball case would have worked for that if I wanted.  Using the foam as my base, I could even cut a hole to accomdate the depth of the battery if needed.

In a different project I did use the 9v and cut a hole in the base and also an opening to get to the battery for changing.  In this other project I used a button switch, which I really like and have plans to use more in the future.
Here are some pics of that project.
battery housing

Only problem with this button is when the project is in a dome, which I plan for it to have, I have to raise the dome to get to the button switch.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Scaredy Cats - Cats are done!

I got a sweatshirt a few years ago with this screen print on it. My shirt is black so the colors are darker.
I decided I wanted to create them in miniature and I think they are going to visit my small tree stump house in a salt box.  There is a story forming - so more to come...

I am very pleased with my results overall.  There are few minor variations that I decided to live with.
Tell me what you think.  Post a comment.

To find out how I made them, keep reading or click here.

Scaredy Cats - the cats - how I made them.

Several years ago I purchased a sweatshirt with a screened print of three cats with the title Scaredy Cats.

I love this shirt because of this print on it.  The cats are just so cute.
Not long after I got the shirt, I felt them calling me to make them in miniature.  But I was scared myself about making them in clay.
Last fall, I finally decided where they should go when I make them.  Last year, a miniature online group I am on, Small and Smaller Adventures, was making houses using a round salt box.  The houses they were creating started with flowers and later using twigs, but those didn't really intrique me.  However I decided to start on my Tree Stump House by Pam Junk and before I applied the plaster cloth, I decided to test it out to see how it worked.  Look at this album for big tree stump project and this album for Scaredy Cats house.  (Both are still incomplete)  I am still trying to decide if I want the house to be the cats or it may be someone they visit.  The tree stump in a salt box was my test for the larger tree stump house. 

How I made the cats...
I knew they cats would be quarter inch scale 'figures so I determined they are about 1 and 1/4" tall.  I drew a rough sketch of their body proportions.  Using the screen print as my guide, I drew a head and then a body in similar proportions to the print.  This makes them big and fluffy.  They are fantasy and not people so this worked for me.
Next I got out my sculpy and shaped the heads (round ball) and then bodies (larger egg shape ball).  I forgot their tails and had to add them later.  I used no-hole beads inserted in the clay for eyes.  The legs and arms were rolled and attached to the body then I shaped them in various positions so they weren't stick style.  Cooked them in my oven at 275 degrees F for 20 minutes.
Next I started painting them.  I base coated with the lightest color.  Next I started adding stripes to their bodies (ones that needed them).  As I did this I realized I needed to be more methodical.  I found I liked the bands of color rather than just the stripes random.  I studied my own cat who is not this coloration exactly but does have some striping and also drew from memory.  But if I was really going for a realism I would have searched the internet for good pics to draw from.

In the screen print the cats don't have ears showing, so I decided to go with that as well.
They do have faces and I used my 20/0 brush to paint on noses and mouths.
They do have whiskers that are curly and add to their charm, so I wanted to capture those.  At first I thought I could use wire, but I did not have on hand thin enough wire.  Next I thought about thread but getting it to curl and stay, well I that was beyond my patience.  I have cut edges off of paper before trimming them to fit and when I had done so the trimmings were often curly.  So that is what I did.  I also had just recently come across a notepad of black paper and it was perfect for this.  Using sharp scissors I trimmed the tiniest edge.  It often was the width of a hair.  It curled just as I wanted, but then not as I wanted.  The screen print shows the whiskers curling one way on one cat and another way on the other.  So I experimented and the best I found to do was to use a toothpick to curl more to my liking.  This paper was so thin I couldn't curl it using the edge of the scissors like I might do for curling ribbon, so the toothpick was my substitute.  Instead of scraping the toothpick against the edge, holding the curl in my hand, I pressed the toothpick against the tip of the trimming and then gently rolled it.  This curled the trimming.  These all got glued on with the tiniest smidge of glue.
At this point, I scuplted them some tails. Cooked the tails, glued them on and then painted the tails to match.  I wasn't sure the paint could survive the oven so I didn't even try.
Now for hats...
WEll, I could scuplt them, but wasn't up to that so I decided to use paper.
First I cut out a circle for the brim.  Ok, that circle is too big, trim.  Test fit.  Too big and finally cut an oval.  Next I cut a circle/oval from the center.  I knew to give dimension I would have to wrap the brim onto itself so I cut from one side to the center to cut out the center.  Test fit on the head of one cat and then glued the overlap.  Then I trimmed up the overlap edges to make the brim even.
To make the cone shaped top, I cut a triangle.  Wrapped it around and tested it.  Again it was too big and this time to narrow.  I opened it up and then cut a new triangle.  This time the top of the triangle wasn't a right angle but a wider angle.  I also cut the bottom a little longer.  I checked this against both the screen print and the cat and it was good except for being too long.  I glued it together as a cone and then slide the brim down the cone.  Marked under the brim with a pencil and then cut the cone from bottom to the pencil line.  This allowed me to use the flaps I just cut to attach to the brim.  I am not worried about this showing because the brims fit fairly close to the head.  But if that had been a concern, I would have marked then trimmed close to the brim.  I then glued the flaps of the cone part underneath the brim.
Now, time to paint.  I had to use a magnifier to paint the tiny stars, checks and triangles on each hat using my 20/0 brush.
I made the hat bands of painted paper. 
The bowties are also made of painted paper.

Next I needed to make a spider.  I used a black seed bead as a base.  I pulled a small section of bunka apart to make it fuzzy then snipped the tiniest bits.  I glued those to the seed bead.  Then I used the black paper curls to cut some legs.  I glued all the legs on a bit long and then cut them afterwards.
I used a 1/16" punch to cut out some eyes from white paper.  At first I punched then added the black dot and they weren't right. Really hard to hold the punch and add a dot with a marker even fine point one. then I added black dots to paper and then used the punch upside down to center the dot where I wanted.  I then glued the eyes on.  Well those were too big.  This would have worked except the size.  So back to the drawing board.  This time I choose to use white dots of paint and then dots with the marker.
My next step was to do the flower.  I choose to cut out the petals from white paper.  glue together then paint .  Then I cut out a oval for the center painted brown and then glued on top of the flower petals.  I even used my stylus on the back of the petals to shape them.  I again used the black paper curls to create the curls with the flower.
The bird is made of clay.  Although I feel the bird is too large compared to the screen print, I am happy with her. I painted it and then added paper legs.
Here is my finished Scaredy Cats.
Sometimes the faces seem too dark, but if I look at the screen differently they aren't dark.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

NAME Day Hutch Part 2 - Finished!

Ok, so I have looked through my swaps/totes stash to find some things to include in my hutch.  One thing I wanted was hutch.  I found one that is made of resin that I got with a wardrobe as an auction item.  I started looking at it and found two bubbles.  This is typical of resin and I knew that I could use spackle as a filler to fix it, but I also knew I didn't have any.  So I tried paint/glue and that worked for the one on the shelf but not the counter of the base. 
This one was really bad.  If I had the spackle, might could have fixed it, but I didn't.  My answer was to cut the hutch and remove the counter and put it back together with a wood one.  I got out my xacto miter and saw and started cutting away.  I had little to no problem cutting above to remove the shelves but cutting this counter from the base was harder as I got off alignment.  After I corrected my sawing direction, I used a metal rasp type file to sand it as smooth and even as I could.  I cut a counter from wood, beveled the edges (like the big one) and glued it all together. I painted the inside shelf area white and the entire outside black.
Here is the finished hutch:
The handles are silver no-hole beads.  Broom to the left is a metal mini I painted.
Tray of donuts by Norma Buck.  Teapot and sugar are metal minis I painted.
Plates are paper I printed and shaped.  Click here to see how I made them?
Here's the full kitchen section:

The chair was from a kit and I painted it black and then added the paper cutouts from the ME notepad.  The table was totefavor I made for the last convention. Fruit bowl by Sharon Anderson or Virigina Forham.  The mouse in the tray is by Leann Parker.  The shelf is from Laura Miller, I painted it and added the cutout.  Plates made same as for the hutch.

In the living area, I added two side tables. The tables were purchased as a kit from Suzanne Andrews.
 The lamp is from ?  More about the sofa can be found on Part 1 of Hutch.
Clock by Rhonda Keef.  I believe it was made using a punch of black fun foam, a clock printied, a jump ring, face filled in with glue or gloss type medium.  The feet and top button are seed beads.  Super cool.

On the top shelf is a bedroom section
Dresser from Merri Allen, the standing mirror by Rebekka Tate and the rest of the items are swaps but I can't figure out by whom.  My database is good, but I needed to include more details to describe than I did on older entries.

The attic section...
I purchased this adorable doll on ebay.  The maker is same as who makes the ME dolls that Suzanne Andrews offers.  She has been sitting on this chest for quite some time waiting for the day to be in a project.  I belive the chest is by Ruth Frank.  I think she is perfect for this hutch.  The house is from Pam Junk I think.  Here's another view.  I just love it and couldn't hide this wonderful front.

Here's another view of this section

This cheval mirror is what I wanted here to go with the doll on the chest, but couldn't find it at first.  I tried to use a resin wardrobe instead, but found the mirror.
Mirror by Nancy White

Here's the entire top of the hutch.
Also when looking at the finished piece I decided to add handles to the doors of the base.
I used a pink seed bead with a yellow no-hole bead center.

Almost hate to show this detail as the pic is so zoomed that the tiny imperfections not seen with the naked eye (or even assisted eye) aren't noticeable.
Digital zoom is great for those tiny things but not for bigger stuff.

There it is finished and I added a notepad sheet as a label on the back.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Making plates

Decided I needed some plates to finish up my NAME Day hutch.  I checked my swaps/totes stash and I didn't have any in the right colors.  So I went to my computer were I have stored some pics of plates.  I got them from websites selling dishes.  Several years ago I made 2 china shops so had a ton of them already.  That shop was 1/144th, but I am going to make them in 1/48th scale today.
I picked out the ones I liked and inserted them as picture in MS Word.  Once in word, I resized them by formating the pic (on right click menu).  Then I used the Size tab and changed the Height.  (Make sure the "lock aspect ratio" box is checked.)
Since I am making 1/48th scale plates they ended up being 0.2" to equal apx 9" plate in real life.  Sometimes the pics were a tad larger so if that is the case, then I might resize to 0.21" or 0.22" and can make them smaller as well.  I have found that it doesn't matter the size of the orginal pic as long as you take into account whether the pic has a lot of space around the plate in the actual pic.  So if the plate and pic have the same edge then use the 0.2" for the 9" plate.  Otherwise adjust for the excess space in the pic.  (Cropping in MS Word doesn't help as the orginal size of pic is retained.  It must be the actual pic is cropped if clearing the excess around a plate.)
Next I copied this pic (several different ones actually) until I had some to fit my space plus some extra.
I didn't leave a line between rows, but if I were to print again, I would.
I printed on HP matte photo paper.  I use an HP printer and I choose the settings to match the paper.  I also set this to Best printing.  (I believe the best quality a printer will give is a combo of same mfg of printer, paper and ink and Consumer Reports articles I have read back this up.)
So here is what the plates looked like after printing.
A word about punches....
Ok, so to cut a 3/16" hole that would equal a 9" real life plate I looked through my punches to see what I had.  I didn't think I had a punch the right size, but when I checked this one, I saw I might.  This is a Creative Memories punch, my mom picked up for me at a yard sale, but can likely be found on ebay... look for snowflake.
At first glance this punch is not 1/48th scale, but looking at the individual punched parts, well we have some different size circles.  This is going to work.  I did get out my ruler to determine which one would match to my needs and it was the largest circle in the very middle.
When I cut the plates from the paper I choose to cut them in a strip which can be seen inserted in the punch.  I needed to do that for two reasons.  First I printed my plates too close together, but secondly, as the punch is going to punch more than what I need so having that narrow strip gave me something to hold on to and it allowed me to avoid the other punched parts.
I turn the punch upside down so I can line up the printed plate with the hole I want to use.  Then very carefully I squeeze and punch.  sometimes I had to adjust the plate to the hole to line it up several times. When just inserting the strip the plate might look to be lined up but it isn't once the punch starts to come together.  That's why it is a good idea to have more than needed because it can happen that the punch doesn't line up even with the patience of slowly squeezing and shifting.

Now I have the plates punched.  But they are flat so here is how I make them 3D.

I use a double ball stylus (larger end) or the end of paint brush (another alternative is a used up ball point pen - with no ink) to shape the plate.  It also burnishes the paper and makes it shiny even though it was matte.
I used the punch to punch the actual shape it was intended and then lined up the plate over a smaller hole.  This part isn't critical as can shape the plate on a soft surface such as a mouse pad or even several layers of fabric, but I choose to use the punch part as  template.
The larger end of the stylus was used to shape and burnish the plate down into the hole of the punched area.  I did try several differnet holes and depending on the actual printed plate as to which was the best.
I used the same photo paper to punch out the full punched shape, but I could have used a thin card (like a business card or index card).  I have done this before and layered two cards together to give more depth.
In photo I hope you can see that the plates are all shaped and now glossy.

I also tried just to see what I could do to make a bowl.  I think would have had better results if I had a few thickness of the punch that I used a template.  I won't use this in this project but might later.  I think if I do, I will use wax paper (or other non-stick type surface) and glue the plate/bowl to the wax paper with paint.  Once dry it should give a ring/foot that some bowls have.  I haven't tired this yet, but what I was thinking might work. The key is to not use too much paint or even glue if it would show to be an actual part of the bowl.  Might need a touch of glue in the center and then dip the bowl in paint to help hold it up right.  Anyway just musing on what might work.

When I made my china shop plates in 1/144th, I did this exact same process I just used a much smaller punch (1/16" and 1/8".  Using this CM punch I could choose the right size.  At the time,  I didn't have different sizes so just used the soft pad.  After I did the shaping I flipped it over on a hard surface and did some shaping on the back as well.  
Oval platters can be done this way as well.  I have cut them by hand, but I am on the look out for some oval punches or punch parts to have in my tools.

Friday, October 8, 2010

NAME day hutch project Part1

So NAME decided to have a National NAME day.  It is a hutch that can be made in various scales. 

One group I am was doing 1/4" which of course is my preferred scale, but I am not enthused with the kit that is going to come with it.  (Also at first I didn't realize there would be more than a hutch so thought the price was high, but really not.)  The NAME online region talked about it and pointed me in the direction to the kit makers if you didn't want to cut one out yourself.  I went the kit route and ordered my kit.
NAME day arrived and I wasn't ready.  I had been finishing up my RA Trunk and I wanted to get it done before I moved on.  So I glued everything down, set aside to dry, then I had to clear off my desk a bit.
Finally, I started the hutch kit.  Meanwhile I was on chat with the QC online group.  But found it difficult to focus on both, so I soon was more involved in my hutch.
I had ordered a 1" scale hutch after seeing some of the proto-types that others had done.  One in particular was shown at NAME convention in July with a ME theme and it had 1/4" scale in it.  Oh boy did that spark an interest for me. I have some ME swaps just itching to be used.  This would be just the thing maybe to get them in a project instead of languishing in the ME theme swap box.
In deciding what color I wanted to paint it I went between red, yellow and black.  I began building this kit and I thought and thought about this theme. 
First I was supposed to put the base together, but darnit some of the pieces don't fit right.  Mmm... what are my options? 1. I could stop and just not finish this. 2. I could cut off the excess or 3. I could go with it and just hide it.  I went with #3 because I knew the base was going to get baseboard trim.  I figured I could hide it and I did.
Next part was building the doors and at first I was laying them out wrong and I thought oh no not again, but turns out was my mistake and had them laid out wrong.  Pieces fit together just fine.  Although I did have to sand a bit at one side to even out - square up the frame.  But nothing some sandpaper won't fix.
Got the base together and decided on black as my main color.  I even determined I wanted to use white inside the upper portion.
I assembled the back and painted it white, then added the shelves.  At this point I choose to devaite from the instructions and put my shelves 2" apart (that's 8 feet for 1/4" scale).  this left one set of shelves as leftover.
Finished building the hutch and got to the crown molding.  Oh really, I can't believe my bad luck with this kit.
The crown molding had one piece cut wrong.  Not me laying it out wrong it was cut wrong and no extra in the kit.  %*&#$!
I looked in my supplies and yes I have a stick of crown molding.  not the same so I had to cut the three pieces.  Now if I hadn't had the extra available, I would have been really unhappy so if there is a lesson to learn here is that it is doesn't hurt to save those scraps or have a extra on hand for whatever.
But I did get it all put together and painted.  That was Saturday night and even went shopping with DH so he could work on my car.  yeah!

Then I decided I wanted to see what ME graphics I had to use to decorate this.  I purchased some notepads years back and I looked at them and bingo this one is it.
This has the black and white that I was looking for and I am totally a sucker for pink. 
So Sunday morning I go to my computer and I scan this notepad (and others for another time).  I had already tested the lovely lace at the top on my hutch and that was going to work out swell.
I used the notepad to make parts so I could print what I needed.  I did resize and make a longer piece of lace in MS Word, by copying and pasting on top of antoher to block off the end.  I just aligned the top pic in word to line up with the first pic.  Then I cropped the sides and copied a bunch of those to print out.
Then I cut them out and glued them on the hutch.
As I was building the base, I decided to paint the inset of the doors white to highlight the grooved wood.  As I was looking at that notepad, I thought ME style and decided that would include something on these doors and the middle of the notepad had that darling girl watering her flowers.  So I cut that out and glued it on the doors.  Yes, it was tedious to cut out these things, but for miniatures it was worth it.  I used some small scissors to do this.  I find it is important the tips work so beware.  Some tips don't and aren't going to work for this type of triming.

close up of the doors
Oh wait... I don't have pink and green themed ME items in my swaps.  Mmm... what to do.... Well, what else do I have?  I searched my swap boxes and started pulling out some swaps I could use.  ( I love, love, love shopping in my swap boxes - which is why I do swaps.)  I found a few things and I started placing them in the hutch. 
Oh no, I can't see the top shelf items with the lace hanging down.  Ok, what to do?  For me that meant taking the top part of the hutch apart.  I took off the sides first.  Then I carefully worked on the shelves.  I broke one of them so I was thankful for the extra I had. But if I hadn't I might could have glued the broken shelf back together and used it.  But I also had on hand some wood I could cut that would have worked.  (Save those scraps!)
I had to sand and scrape to remove the excess glue and paint layer where the shelf was originally but I got it done and then glued the shelves in their new place.  the first shelf was at 1 3/4" (7 feet) and I test fit the swaps I had already pulled and it worked so I put the hutch back together.
here's the full view
The drawers were kinda of plain and after glueing on the side trim of the upper, I had some leftovers and I was able to use the pink check with flowers and make some handles. 

I did add a second layer to the handle itself, but didn't really matter.

The trim around the doors was actually same check as the flooring that I had leftover from another project, but I could have made the check on my computer.
this shows the flooring I added

One of things I my swaps boxes was a resin sofa I picked up at a hobby store years ago.  The colors went with the theme I decided to use.  But it is going to need some paint touch up.  And the longer I looked at it, the more I decided it was too high and crooked.
Out comes my trusty dremel.  I carefully measured from the sofa cushions down to where I wanted the bottom to be and marked with a pencil.  I drew this line all the way around.  Then using my dremel I started sanding/drilling it down.  I worked the edges close to the line and still had a hump in the middle so my answer to that was to remove some extra in the middle and then sand/file it flat. 
This pic shows what the bottom looked like after the dremel tool and the file was used.
I was not concerned with evenness inside the area so this bit worked for me.  the metal file is what helped to make it flat.
Now the painting of the sofa.
The chair to the right shows the colors this sofa had before.  The pic shows in process some various painting designs I was experimenting with.  I first painted it with dots, then decided had to paint the trim and ended up mixing some light pink.  I tried some different pink on the trim and it was too much.  I thought I might try to make checks but too much trouble.  So then I just stared at this sofa thinking what would this wide trim piece be in real life.  It was far too big to be piping which is what the pink might have worked with.  Then I decided it might be the wood of the sofa and be wood color but since I was going with my black/white/pink/green theme, I decided it would look best black.
I still liked the dots I had done so I put those back after covering them over with the light pink.
I used the smallest end of my double ball stylus to dip in white paint and then on my paint pallete to remove excess and then onto the piece to get the uniform dots.
Here is the finished piece with some pillows added.  The pillows were made with black fabric and paper cut outs glued on then trimmed to shape. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Technique - Painted furniture

My most recent project needed an extra piece of furniture and I decided to go with a piece I painted.  I ended up painting two pieces and this blog is to explain how I did it.
First I started with some pieces of BPF (brown plastic furniture) that I had in my stash.  This is great stuff to supplement quarter inch scale (1/48th) projects, but I no longer use it 'as is'.  I paint it. 
Now, when I was early on into miniatures and first discovered BPF, I painted a whole house worth of the stuff but I did a poor job because I didn't prepare the pieces, I just started painting.  I still have several of those pieces that I salvaged from the project but I repaint them before using. 
In this pic, I wanted to show a before-before.  I am going to use the piece on the right which is a desk but this was after I had already started filing/sanding and scraping on it.  The two pieces on the left show how blobbed the gold paint is and also the extra flashing that can be on this stuff.  (the middle piece in the middle along the edge has a bump).
I cleaned the piece using these tools.
left to right: screwdriver (like for eyeglasses) that I used to scrape with in a tiny area, a wedge shaped needle file and then the sharp pointed craft knife for getting in the tight spots and scraping the edges after sanding.
I started by sanding the bumps off, sanding down any raised edges, scraping off any excess flashing (thin pieces that sticks out from the edges and is caused by a gap in the mold) and fixing any gaps if the plastic was missing by evening out the line such as an edge.  Sometimes the BPF has mold lines where is should be flat and I use a combination of these three to get it smooth as possible.  Although didn't have that particular problem with these.
I use the file to sand it down and I like that the file is thinner on one edge so can get in grooves.  It also has a wider edge that can be used to sand against a right angle.
The more fine tuning done with these tools the better the look of the finshed product.
When filing/sanding, sometimes the plastic doesn't want to release the sanded plastic and so a fuzzy edge appears.  If this does not wipe away, I use the craft knife to slice or scrape off.
This grandfather clock is the second piece I am transforming. Shown before and after some sanding/filing. The pics actually show the grain of the plastic and I didn't worry with that as I was going to paint it.  (Actually was the flash that made this stand out. Where the grain shows was actually smooth.)
In the far right, the clock face has been scraped to remove some extra bumps (over the entire face and not just the hands which I kept) that I used the screwdriver tool to get in the area.
These two pics show a plan of attack with paint.  I like to do a rough sketch and then use my colored pencils to picture what the piece may look like when done.   This sketch is not about scale or looking exactly like the item, just getting the idea of where I might want to put the colors.  I do sometimes sketch multiple ideas so I don't have to repaint.

Now that I have an idea of what I am going to do, I am ready to paint.  I use acrylics and so I do several thin layers.  It is a good idea to paint and move to the next section and don't go over the first section as it might remove the paint.  This is plastic thing as the paint will be pulled up by brushing too much because the plastic doesn't absorb the paint it just sits on it.
When I paint these size items and this kind of detail, I use a 1/4" to 1/8" size brush for coverage and 10/0, 18/0 and/or 20/0 detail brushes to get these tiny spots.  (And a good magnifer to see that detail to highlight)
Paint needs to be thin but not too thin.  If it is watery it won't cover so I tend to use little if any water added to my paint.  however this blue was globby and I had to add water and later I used extender to keep the paint flowing.
Building up layers of paint requires the paint to be 'open' for awhile.  It may take a minute to paint a spot or area but as I work with each of the different paints the paint can dry up so that is where the extender helped out.
This pic shows what one coat did.  Hey I got white on the blue, no worries I just keep touching up as I go.
Turns out the makers of BPF like to leave what they can open.  In this case, I needed a solid back as the piece will likely be seen at times from the back. So I cut a paper (thin card would work) back and glued it on.  I choose to cut to shape, but I could have gone with a square on the bottom, rectangle in the middle and another smaller square on the top with the edges of each piece butt together.  I didn't cut this to fit exactly the back as I didn't want the edge of it to be showing on the side.
After a second coat on the grandfather clock and on the top of the desk.  It took 3 coats to get the white even.  Consider that I was covering brown with white so the thin layers had to be built up.
I choose to paint white even where I was planning to go red.  I figure it would be easier to go red over white than red over blue and I was correct.  Although a few spots changed from blue to white and then red.
I choose to add white on top of the blue in between the drawers so several layers here. Note I have also remembered to add white to the molding on the clock.  I forgot about that at first but it was something I had planned.
I continued adding the paint in the spots I want.  I made numerous mistakes and had to cover them with the other color.  But as long as I kept the paint thinner rather than thick, I didn't have issues with build up.  Now if this was not a finished piece build up might be an issue, but I would tend to this painting after a kit is built.
All told some spots may have 6 layers of paint, but that was more because I made mistakes and had to cover them.  Either that or I changed my mind what I wanted to be what.
Here are my finished pieces.  I will add some accessories to the desk.  Not shown to size as the clock is under 1.75" tall.
The possiblities of ways to paint using multiple colors are endless, but a general guide is to highlight anything that might not show up if all one color.