Friday, January 7, 2011

Dollhouses... a real commitment

Holy moly, I just read what a fellow miniaturist wrote about all the steps she needed to do to finish her 1:12 scale dollhouse.  As I read, I was like, WOW.  Dollhouses are a lot of work, no wonder I love making one room scenes. 
I'm not saying I didn't already know this, just that it was one of those epiphany moments.
It reminded me of my first real dollhouse.  My husband bought me a Greenleaf kit for my birthday back before we were married.  I think it was the Westville.  I got this house to the point that I was able to eventually sell the house but I kept the furnishings.
This house had 4 basic rooms, stairs and I hated those windows.  I learned I would rather use HouseWorks windows and doors as they are so much more like real life.  But I digress as the point of this blog post isn't about my learning curve, but the work a dollhouse takes scale vs scale.
After I started my 1:12 scale dollhouse I joined a club that showed me that miniatures is more than dollhouses.  It can be a roombox or even part of a room. For sure a roombox or scene can be completed in much less time than a dollhouse does.  It is nearly instant gratification and this world is full of that.  Like many others I like instant, I have Netflix for a reason and that is because you can get instant movies and don't have to drive somewhere or wait for it in the mail (although I get the mailed ones too). 
A dollhouse in any scale really is a commitment.  Not just in the price either.  There is more time and planning to a dollhouse.  Granted to make multiple one room scenes can take as much time and planning regardless of whether one chooses to purchase or scratch build or not.
However when thinking about scale there is one commitment that isn't so much when considering a smaller scale house.  Size.  1:48 scale will fit in most shelves and even in a tiny one at that.  But 1:12 scale, oh that is a commitment I am glad I am no longer making.  I think if I still had that dollhouse when I moved to my current house, I would sell that dollhouse or gave it away just because I don't have a good place to put it that I want to commit to.
Thinking about that house and what I have been doing since made me wonder, which does it take longer to finish? a equivalent 1:48 scale house or a 1:12 scale house?  Off the top of my head I say it takes longer for the 1:12 scale.  So that got me to wondering why?
First I think about that 1:12 scale house and compare to a comparable 1:48 scale house.
Both have exterior finishing, interiors to finish and furnish, but what the 1:12 scale has is more area to cover.  It covers more space physically so that means more paint or other materials to complete whatever step one is doing.  Even if I were to make the same type of roof out of similar materials just scaled down, it would take longer to paint the bigger house.  It might take longer to apply those roofing materials or it might be the same if can be done the same way.  As if the roofing is in whole strips for both, then about the same on time, but when it comes to paint, even with bigger tools, it still will take more time as you have more detail work.  Well that is if you are perfectionist like me, I am not happy with just slapping it on.  It has to look good when I am done.
Now for wallpaper, maybe the smaller house would take longer as it is more tedious potentially, but if I apply both before assembly then about equal. 
Furnishing could be equal.  If size of the room both equal the same real life size and the furnishings picked were equal as well but in 1:12 scale the detail that can be acheived is greater.  Example, drawers that open, it is easier to make an opening drawer in bigger scale and can be done in 1:48 scale, but I am ok with not so I am more likely to not.
The accessories that one can obtain in 1:12 scale are more, both in what is readily available and in kit form. The detail one can get is easier again, but I am more likely to make do in 1:48 scale so less time there.

Back to the 1:12 scale house I had. 
When I really started doing miniatures as something besides a toy, I was overwhelmed at what could be done.  What one could purchase.  I of course was still a newbie to the real dollhouse miniaturist world so what I knew then was very naive. 
Once I stepped into the realm of something besides a dollhouse and that became my general focus, I didn't have the time or the funds to keep up with the dollhouse.  That's why I was willing to sell it.  I had discovered something I enjoyed more.  (Granted the quality of the house factored into what I liked as well.)

So now I look around and I have 6 finished or nearly finished 1:48 scale dollhouses.  I have more in kit form not started.
Knowing how I am and that I like variety, I see why I have so many projects.  If I had stuck with just dollhouses (even if just 1:48 scale) I wouldn't have as much time to work on the other smaller projects.  The expense, may or may not be the same, worse or better.  Don't really have the data to back it up either way.

Bottom line, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making a dollhouse, it just requires a commitment to finish.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Storing and Organizing Minis Part 7: Fabric

Found this in my drafts, guess I didn't have a pic I wanted to include at the time, but I do now.

Like many other miniaturist, I am a crafter at heart.  Miniaturing brings many of those crafts and skills together.  I have previously been into sewing and also quilting.
Over the years of doing minis, I often kept the fabric seperate.  For sewing/quilting I had big pieces of fabric and for minis much smaller pieces.  As part of my recent scaling back of minis to just 1/48th scale and knowing that I wasn't sewing or quilting anymore I re-organized my fabric.
Before the fabric for minis was stored in some drawers about the size of a shoe box and was sorted by color.  The problem I had with my storage arrangement was simply that when I wanted to get to it, I opened a drawer and had a lot of fabric to go through when I just wanted blue for example.  Even though I tried to keep colors together this just wasn't working.  The fabric was folded to fit in the drawer sort of like files, but was floppy and so got disorganized easier.
I could have stuck with the same drawers and used zip bags that fit the drawer and sorted them into the bags by specific color/pattern, but I did choose to go with bigger bags which is what I had on hand and that meant using a different drawer.

Deciding to pare the fabric down to what I might use for minis was easy once I accepted that I wasn't going to use it to sew or to quilt.  First, I got all of my fabric together.  Next, I either culled it because I no longer liked the pattern/color, the pattern was too large, the fabric was poor quality so the weave showed or I had too much.  For the too much, I cut a portion to keep and the rest went in bag to give away.  I gave mine to some other quilters, but giving to a thrift store would be a good option if one doesn't know where else to give.
Regarding the pattern is too large, a useful way to determine if it is truly too large is to cut a square opening from cardboard 1/4" by 1/4" for 1/48th scale minis (use 1" square for 1/12th scale).  Then use the opening to hold against the fabric over the pattern.  If the pattern is obscure in most places, then I wasn't likely to use it for 1/48th minis.  The square opening represents the area, one might have in a seat cushion or a pillow.  If the pattern doesn't show well in this opening and is therefore only good for abstract, then I generally got rid of it.   Keep in mind, sometimes very large prints may be used in some types of decorating.  What comes to mind is cabbage roses that are used on a sofa.  In this case, I can see using a rose print that is maybe 1/2" across but not larger than that, because then the fabric is more prominent than the sofa itself.  Not that I often decorate with that style, just that if I ever wanted to this particular fabric could be used that way.
Another consideration is that often fabric prints have large patterns with smaller patterns in them.  In those, I might keep a portion because it has these smaller patterns or even two pieces with the more smaller patterns.
What to keep for minis also has to do with the type of fabric. Fabric for minis works best if it is of natural fibers so silk or cottons are a good bet. However whatever the fabric, keep in mind the weave. In miniature, scale of the weave is a consideration. If we truly look close at the item made of fabric, I don't want to see anything that is supposed to be delicate look like burlap because the weave is loose.  The print may be great, but the weave is not going to work especially in the smaller scales that I like to work with.

Overall, if the fabric had any use for minis I kept a piece 6" or smaller.
Then, my next step was to sort all this fabric into zip bags.  I used the gallon size (12").  I sorted all the fabric into like colors with exception of some metallic fabric I have and that went into its own bag as it frays real easy and I want to keep the fray as it works as ribbon.
If I choose much smaller bags, I would have sorted by color and seperated by print or solid.  Or possibly different shades of color. 
Now, when a miniature project I am working on needs fabric I open the fabric drawer and pull out the bag or bags of the color I am thinking of using.  In this bag I am likely to find carpeting (faux suede), curtains and bedding.
If I ever decide to go with smaller bags, I will sort my colors by shades.  Light blue, dark blue, blue/green etc, just depending on what I have.  I would fold the pieces to fit the bags.
To me the bags are key to keeping this orgazinized.  Even if the bags slip around, I am still going to grab a blue bag and not a bunch of blue fabric that is a jumbled mess.
Here's a pic of my single storage drawer with the red bag pulled up.

Resolutions - Not me

Was lying in bed last night trying to fall asleep because I knew I had to get this morning for work.  Yesterday had the day off so having a three day weekend and also a short week, my schedule is off and it is time to get back to it.
So there I am trying to fall asleep and it comes to me that it was Jan 3 and I had a revelation.  I had not once thought about creating a resolution for new years.
Part of me felt a ton of relief that I had not even considered it and a tiny part said, well I should have at least thought about it and decided that this year again I was boycotting it.
Last year I resolved to not make any.  Maybe that actually worked.  I feel I am old enough to know that it isn't going to work and why can't we make these decisions any other time of the year? 
I know we can and we often do.  I certainly have as I have decided to be more physically active for example.  But that was a decision I made months ago.  I am sticking to it to pretty good.  I don't beat myself up if I miss a day (I don't have a specific schedule  so no worries there actually).  I just decide I have the time now and I do it.  I do my own thing like dance around for half an hour and I do some things I have seen in fitness shows or classes.  When it was warmer, I also would go for a walk in our local park and often that included my husband.
Some might consider this next topic I decided to work on a resolution simply because I did decide I was going to work on this area beginning in Jan, however, I am not focused on day one but on the month as a whole.  I want to change my attitude about it.  I need to stop doing this so I can set aside some for later.
Ok, there I said it, I need to work on my spending habits.  This is one of those things I have struggled with for years, so I need to realize that it isn't something I developed overnight so it is going to take me a long time to change this as well. 
Although it is the first week of Jan and it is possible to call it a resolution for New Year's, I am just not going to label it as such.  I am going to recognize for what it needs to be for me.  I need to change my attitude about spending and saving. 
Taking small steps to change my life is not about making a resolution that I will feel guilty about later when I mess up. 
I am not one of these driven people that must reach a goal by a specific point in time.  I am satisified with progress.  I do pat myself on the back so to speak when I do what I set out to do.  But I don't beat myself up either when I slide back into old habits.