Friday, 30 August 2013

LAN room

Some weeks ago, a substantial portion of our grandchildren came visiting. I have never tried to impose my miniature passion on the kids, and while I am happy to show them the houses and room boxes, I never persist if I see that they aren't interested. This time, the nine-year-old followed his mother's prompt and asked to have a look. I know when people, children or grownups, fake an interest or are polite, and I can tell when it's genuine. During the six years of my miniature-making, there has only been a handful of visitors who were really fascinated. This young man wanted to know exactly how I made this and that, and he went on guessing what the various things were made of. I wondered whether he was a model-railway person, but he wasn't. He was a natural.

Of course I had to ask whether he wanted me to make a room box for him, in which case what kind of room. He promised to think about it and finally decided that he wanted a LAN room. I must admit my total ignorance: I had never heard about LAN-ing, so that was a challenge.

As with the yarn shop, my first reaction was: what's the fun? Just a lot of computers. Fortuntately, there are plenty of images on the net, and my savvy son-in-law explained some essentials to me, such as soft drinks and potato crisps. My minituare discussion group was also helpful. However, I did start with computers. I checked ebay, but decided that I could make my own from a printie.

There are several laptop printies available, so I made two different ones and connected them with wire. 

I also made a cord extension: a tiny wooden bit left over from press-out kit furniture. I had saved the bits because I thought they may come handy one day, and I was right. The teeny-tiny sockets are printies. I moved the coke cans from another project, and I made the McDonalds bags and a bar of iconic Swedish chocolate from printies.

The experts from the discussion group pointed out that at least one computer must be stationary, and fortunately I know how to make one because I have it in another project. The monitor is made from a little jewel-box lid, and the base is a lid from a spice container. The keyboard and mouse are cut from a catalogue. I printed out screen shots of Minecraft, which is the grandson's favourite game, and glued on the screens, covered with transparent plastic (old folder cover). I am particularly proud of the headset which is made from a bit of plastic I had saved for years without knowing what to do with. Rule number one in miniature making: never throw anything away.

Now I had to build the environment, and because the room will have to be transported to Sweden, I decided to make it in a shoe box rather than a wine box.

I put Minecraft posters on the walls - I admit it's a bit repetitive, but at least I know it's right. The two chairs come from a set of five I bought some time ago in a thrift shop and didn't know what to do with. I glued bits of leather for the seats and backs. It's hard to see the details in the picture, so I will show some close-ups.

A better view of the desktop. And some more soft-drink cans (from ebay).

The two connected laptops, more cans and a Minecraft mug that I made from fimo after a picture from the web. The discussion group, however, told me that kids don't bother with cans, they buy two-litre bottles. Now, how do you make a two-litre bottle of coke?

From soap-bottle pumps, of course!

For an iPad, I cut out a picture from a catalogue and glued on another Minecraft screen. I only took screen shots that I liked - it took some time to choose. 

Most wires are from binders, so that I could make them stick in the shapes I wanted. I think they look exactly like the wires in our 1:1 home, all tangled together. 

I punched out potato crisps from craft paper. 

And finally, I made a bean bag - or at least it is supposed to be a bean bag.

I am going to Sweden in a week, and I am going to take this box with me in a hard suitcase. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Clockmaker's shop, continued

As I have said repeatedly, a miniature project is never finished, and I am still waiting for an ebay lot of clocks, but I can show details of the clockmaker's shop as they are now. First, there is a table with all kinds of things on it. The table comes from another dollhouse where I have now replaced it with something else. It fits much better here.

The box used to be a yellow plastic shelf from the plastic house. The parts are real clock parts that I use for steampunk jewellery, and so are the clock faces. The tools in tumblers are also tiny clock parts. The magnifying glass, spectacles and chain watch are from various lots.

Now I am going clockwise (sorry, unintended pun!) around the walls.

The hourglass is a miniature that I bought long before I started miniature-making. It fits in nicely here. The cuckoo clock - rather ugly - is from an ebay lot. The silver clock is a pin. The ornate mirror is from one of my recent flea market rounds. I have "aged" it by painting it with a thin layer of black watercolor. Mirrors create interesting effects, so I have several very small ones here and there. The bats (Christmas crackers) are for the atmosphere. On the chest (which comes from a serious antique shop):

A pretty notebook somebody gave me. An antique stamp shaped as an owl. Not sure it really fits in, but can stay for a while, as well as the bottle and the chess piece. Three clocks from charity shops.

The white grandfather clock has an interesting history. The metal clock beside is actually working: a battery-powered desk clock. 

The steampunk construction is made from plastic cogwheels that I painted copper. Most clocks are buttons, but the one in the middle is made from a beer can ring. Note the tiny mirror on the right.

The magnificent corner shelf was bought in a thrift shop for 50p. It has a real miniature compass and some other trinkets. The spiders are for atmosphere (luckily, I have no arachnophobia).

Finally, my pride, the large wall clock, made from a picture frame that I painted gold and a pair of crazy earrings donated by someone. The small clock is a button, and its pendulum obviously an envelope clip. The round mirror is old and naturally aged and cracked.

I have just discovered a site with a hundred different antique clock faces. Come back soon!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Clockmaker's shop

Some time ago, after I had watched Hugo Cabret, I decided that I wanted a clockmaker's room box, with a touch of fantasy and steampunk. This coincided with my momentary interest in steampunk jewellery, of which I only made two pieces.

I butchered a couple of old clocks and a broken scanner, yielding a handful of plastic cogwheels which I didn't quite know what to do with. I took an empty wine box and put some random objects in it, including various wall clocks that I had made when I was practicing wall clock-making, as well as a couple of clocks from other houses and boxes. Then I stopped because I couldn't decide on the interior. What kind of floor, wallpaper and ceiling would a steampunk clockmaker have, and what wallpaper would be good for displaying the clocks? I searched the web for images.

Meanwhile, I got some more clocks at flea markets, adding to the room unsystematically. I also got distracted by other projects. Yet the other day I felt that I was ready to start. Reasonably, I started with the ceiling, painting it dark brown and adding beams. I fixed the lamp under the central beam.

The lamp, by the way, is made from a caviar tube. I made it a while ago and so far hadn't used it. The bulb is an eyedrop container, and for the room box I used binding wire.

The floors and wallpaper are printies. It took me ages to decide on the right combination, but I think the wallpaper is perfect for this project. 

Then I just put back everything that I had. 

I will show and explain the details in the next post.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Making a fancy door

The entrance door in the Georgian house is non-standard, so there is no point in trying to buy anything that would fit. I had painted it brown on the outside, following the descriptions in dollhouse books, but on the inside I wanted something more interesting than plain white. I once made doors in my Victorian house, but it was long ago when I was just starting my life as a miniture-maker and didn't have enough materials, tools, experience and imagination. Nevertheless, I studied those old doors and thought I would paste some wooden strips on the door for depth effect. And then I had an idea. I am sure I had seen it somewhere.

I cut three frames with increasingly larger opening, from plain white card, recycling last year's student handbook.

Then I pasted them upon each other and added the internal panels with three layers of card. I used an envelope clip for door handle.

Here it is in the interior. I think it is one of my most beautiful creations. Now I must finish the bow window and make the door posts.

Developing the Georgian house

After the succesful completion of the plastic house I felt I was in the right mood to return to my Georgian house, or Chippendale house. It was originally meant to display the beautiful set of Chippendale furniture, but once the rooms were decorated, I didn't go back to finish the exterior or to decorate the front doors on the inside, and it spoiled the impression. Anyway, I started by finishing the front and painting the side and back walls and the roof.

I know the quoins (corner stones) are not quite right, but there is no way I could paint half-stones neatly enough. I decided to paint the roof to begin with; I may cover it with tiles later. I used a red hobby paint that turned out awful, so I diluted with with water with some brown paint added to it, which produced tolerable results. At least the house looks somewhat finished now on the outside.

Then I turned to the front doors. I had painted one of the windows earlier, just to see what it would look like, and it doesn't look good at all. 

But first I had to decide whether I would use paint or wallpaper. I know my limitations, so I realised that I would never be able to cut neat wallpaper around the windows; therefore I decided to paint. I used Brian Long's excellent book The Authentic Georgian Dolls' House for colour guidance.This is what I ended up with:

My next concern was what to do with borders and how to separate the two floors. For the latter, I used a dado rail, and I painted the upper border white and added a cornice. As usual, I take the step-by-step pictures because only then you see how each step makes a difference. You don't see it with simply the before and after picture, at least, not in a larger project like this.

For the opposite door, I chose a different colour scheme, and again, the rail and cornice make a neat finish.

I still need to decide what to do with the side borders.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Plastic house: finishing touches

I am not going to spend much more time on this house because from the point of view of what I wanted to do with this project - make something ugly into something pretty - it's done. I am sure I will be adding to it just as I keep adding to all my houses and room boxes, but for the time being it's finished. I have added some details  as final touches. I will describe them room by room.

In the bedroom, there is a lamp on the wall over the bed which is a button. The vase on the chest is a bead, and flowers are real. The heater is a stray Lego bit.

In the bathroom, the toilet is from kit, but the bath tub and the washbasin are plastic things of forgotten origin. They have identical taps that are parts of tiny water pistols from Chrismas crackers. The ceiling lamp is cut from a medicine card. The curtains are made from a ribbon.

The drawing room has a standard lamp made from kit and a table lamp made from a chess piece and a toothpaste lid. The fruit bowl is another medicine container, and the fruit are beads. The painting on the wall has a frame which is a button. The curtains are ribbon here as well.

The utensils in the kitchen are wrong scale, but I will find something better later. The bucket feels right, and I made the broom in the way all miniature maker are familiar with, from a piece of string and a toothpick. The clock is a button with a face cut from a catalogue.

On the whole, I am very pleased with this project. I have learned how to improve kit furniture, and I have trained my half-scale eye.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Fireplace makeover

It has been a while since I made something for the Georgian house. There is not much to add there, but the bedroom needed a freplace, and I had one from a set of plain wooden furniture.

This is what I made with it: I painted the inside and the base black and the front, white. I left the top as it was, because it was quite common with wooden tops, and it looks nice. I considered decorating the front, but decided that in a bedroom it would most likely be plain (I have a ornate one in the drawing room). I glued a piece of lace on the fireguard and painted copper. I made the fire in a technique that I have used for all fires, with some variations. I built a log fire with twigs from the garden and covered with tiny bits of red and yellow-golden ribbon, shaking them to make it look natural.

Here it is in its room. As always, just a tiny improvement makes a huge difference.


Thursday, 1 August 2013

More replacements

I have replaced another piece in my Victorian house. Among the many things from the flea market there was a plastic coffee table, not particularly pretty, but I thought I would decorate it with egg-shell mosaic. I saved egg shells, painted them in two shades of gold, and while they were drying, I took the plastic table to see how it would fit in the room. Frankly, the room is rather crammed already, so another table would probably be too much. And then I suddenly saw the coffee table I made all the way back five and a half years ago when I was taking my very first steps as a miniature maker. I was very proud of myself then, because I had either pinched from somewhere or discovered myself that chess pieces came handy. But it was then. Today, I see how clumsy the table is:

There simply aren't tables like that. And I realised that I didn't have to bother about mosaic; that the plastic table would be just fine. Don't you think?

Then I put in the display cabinet from the same flea market round. The displayed objects are too large, but it will have to be so for a while.