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October 21, 2006

The process of making a mini doll can be a long one. Often there's long periods of just waiting for stuff to dry. My trim arrived, so I was able to go on to the shaping part of the skirt.

Thought you might like to see the process. Involves lots of pins and cheap hairspray.

Yes, go ahead and make jokes about voodoo, dolls, and pins. That's why I posted this particular photo.

You're welcome.
October 15, 2006

No, I didn't forget. Yes, I know it's been a while. I just didn't feel like I had the right fabric. I found an interesting piece at G Street fabrics yesterday, and settled down to try and finish this doll before Halloween.

No, it's not done. I still have to do the sleeves and add some details. (trim and accessories. Need to find some chenille trim.) I will admit I'm slightly stuck on the sleeves and shoulders, but I can always give her a cloak if I don't figure it out. Every time I look at the original dress I notice new things. Today I noticed it looks as though she's wearing a robe. That would be FOUR layers of fabric. I don't know that I can get away with that. I can barely get away with three. And I have some shaping to do so the fabric will lay properly.

The eyes. I need to paint the eyes.
October 1, 2006

On Saturday, in the wee sma's of the morning, a butterfly landed on my nose. I brushed my hand at it, but it wouldn't go away. I tried batting at it again, but it was determined to hold its position. I sat up, annoyed, determined to do battle.

Finally, beating frantically at my nose and lower face, I managed to wake myself up from a really weird dream. Obviously, there was no butterfly in my room in the middle of the night. There, was, however one of those breathe right nasal strips across my nose. (they work beautifully when they're not pretending to be butterflies!) I pulled it off and went back to sleep. When I got up the next morning and looked in the mirror, there, along one side of my nose, was a nice heavy red scratch.

Beautiful. I battered my face battling a bogus butterfly!

Erin and Andrew arrived later on to take me to Calvert for the weekend. It was fun, as usual. We visited Flag Ponds park again and collected shark teeth. We also went to historic St Mary's City and Sotterley Plantation.

There were monarch butterflies everywhere.
September 29, 2006

Case Closed!

The Mystery of the Missing Deerstalker is now solved.

I found it in an envelope in a plastic container under my bed, with a whole bunch of old miniature magazines and catalogs. It's, um, squished flat, but totally recognizable. No charges will be made.
September 17, 2006

Project bouncing again. (It keeps my increasingly insane mind occupied.)

I bounced back to my big dollhouse. I admit to being disgusted with it and wishing I could just get rid of it. I can't. It's special. It's mine. It's practically one of a kind.

I almost wish it WERE one of a kind, but there's another one out there. Mom has been going through my great-grandparent's old photos and slides, and brought me one of Gran next to a dollhouse. "Here hon, do you want this photo of Gran with your dollhouse?" I looked at it. "That's not my dollhouse." Same shape, same spacing of doors and windows. But the door is different, the siding is a different shade, and the window mullions are spaced a different way. I have a vague memory of a second dollhouse being in their basement when I went to visit, and I remember poking about in it, comparing the differences between mine and that one. It's been a LONG time though. I want to know where the second one is!

Mine is 21 years old. It has endured 10 years of active playtime by two siblings, dusty basement storage, carting up and down stairs, and then me being creative in it and then changing my mind. Repeatedly. As I stared in it forlornly the other night, it suddenly hit my why I wasn't able to continue working on it.

The walls. 3/8ths inch plywood. It has splintered and cracked along the edge of the opening outer wall (fell off years ago and floated around until I found enough screws to reattach it). There are cracks and splinters from where I forcefully removed the moulding. The wallpaper was poorly applied. The grain in the wood was very heavy, and acrylic paint couldn't hide it. The wall colors I had chosen were dark and rather ugly. (what was I thinking?) The ceilings weren't as bad, but had a definite unfinished look.

I realized I would have to do two definite things.

1. Strip off the old wallpaper.
2. Find a way to fill in the cracks and grain and basically smooth out and/or prime the walls.

I whined to my miniatures list about my inability to remove the wallpaper. It was attached with watered down Elmer's glue, for heaven's sake! I should be able to sneeze and have it come off! Fortunately, lots of replies and suggestions shot back to me, so #1. is now finished. (WARM water, not cold, and a sponge brush, not a regular kitchen sponge. didn't feel like trying vinegar.)

Now I have to do #2. The suggestions weren't QUITE as helpful. Many people suggested matte board, but I feel it will be too thick. (I'm considering bristol board, but I don't know if it will hold paint without wrinkling up. Must test.) A few suggested spackling, which I had somewhere (can't find it at the moment) and may work. I know it'll be difficult to apply evenly, but it will hide a multitude of sins. (I just have to think of it as lathe and plaster.) I thought about using a primer like Kilz, but I really don't know how well it will hide the grain. I don't know if there's anything thicker that's still paint. I really don't want to use something smelly. Wallpaper would solve my grain problems, but I have specific plans, and don't want patterned paper in all the rooms.

The kitchen is complete, save for minor details. I have everything I need for the living room. I know how I want the nursery to look. I know what color I want the dining room to be. I know what details I want in the bathroom. (romanesque look, detailed tile floors, a large statue of a roman woman carrying a jug, etc. . .) I have a vague idea about details for the little girl's room. I decided to leave the paper up in the master bedroom, although it's a bit Victorian. I plan to add to it to deaccent the busy pattern. I also need to make a custom sized bed so it fits properly in the room. (I think it will end up wider than it is long, but so long as the illusion is correct, it doesn't matter.) No idea what to do in the halls or the back parlor. (well, lots of ideas for back parlor, I just need to pick one!)

It's a great mental exercise, I suppose. I want historically accurate, or as close as I can get to it. Turn of the century! Edwardian! Art Nouveau! Craftsman! (I know, I probably shouldn't combine them.) Lots of new things coming in, most important being electricity and indoor bathrooms. I pulled the idea for the nursery straight from a book, and the kitchen sort of did itself. I made the living room wallpaper from a pattern I found on a web site specializing in period prints. I copied the sofa from one I found on eBay. I feel like a scavenger at times, but it's fun. Next on my list is a phonograph player, also found on eBay. Simple design, the audio horn is hidden under the turntable. I'm still looking for a chandelier for the dining room. It has to be electric, but not TOO fancy. I found one design I liked but it was black. I think brass would work better.

Yeah, you see? I want to go on to making the fun little stuff, but the crappy walls are holding me back.

Stupid walls.

They're almost fixed.
September 8, 2006

I am SUCH a geek.

I've been doing a little miniaturing, nothing fancy, just adding the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson dolls I made years ago to my web page.

Today I decided to move my archeologist's study from one shelf to another, where it could be better seen. Along the way I had the idea of building a custom shelf to display all the miniature books, 'antiques' and unusual items that I had collected. This of course, takes a little planning. What do I need to store? How much room will it need? A lot of the stuff I hadn't seen in a while. I dumped all the books out of the shelf and started sorting through them, and noticed I had books labeled 'Sherlock Holmes' along the spine. I assumed they were the Arthur Conan Doyle stories.

This is why I am a geek. They turned out not to be Doyle's stories. They were the monographs Sherlock Holmes had written IN the stories. 'On Dating Documents.' 'On Secret Writings'. 'On Tobacco Ash'. 'On Tattoos'. 'On The Shape of Ears'.

I laughed. And you know they're going right back up on the shelf.
August 19, 2006

Yeah, so you think I have nothing better to do. I know I have plenty of other projects without starting something new, but I just can't help it sometimes. And this one hasn't been easy.

Mom and I experimented last night with the tea dye. Four bags to a bowl full of water, heated for five minutes in the microwave, then soaked til I got bored. Immediately we discovered something interesting with two of the fabrics. The pattern on them had been printed with some sort of ink. The fabric was changing color, but the ink wasn't! I stood there with my stirring spoon, poking at the fabric and chanting, "Dye! Dye! Dye!" It didn't help. While it had an interesting effect on the striped fabric, the beautiful lacy print didn't really do all that much. We couldn't believe it. Next time, a different fabric, and perhaps more tea.

I had bought about 6 different fabrics on Friday, trying to decide which to use for the skirt. Today I chose the three in the picture. (None of these are the weird fabrics from the tea dye experiment.) I rather wish I could have gotten the garments grungier looking with the tea, but I'm not done yet! I may try spraying a solution on with a water bottle, and experiment with ripping the fabric or adding patches.

I also sculpted her hands and feet and face and shoulderplate. Then I ran out of clay. I had to mix the color to get the effect I wanted, and didn't make enough. I DID, however, make enough for the parts that would show, so it really doesn't matter what goes underneath. The hair is embroidery floss (obviously not in its final shape yet). I was hoping to imitate dreadlocks, although later it occured to me that cornrows or even a kerchief or turban would do just as well. I rather like the idea of a turbanish type hat. I will experiment and see!

While Tia Dalma inspired me to create the doll, I still have a strong impression in my mind of Queen Mousette in Blues Brothers 2000. I know I have stills of her costume somewhere, but I remember it as being very shiny. I think I prefer the earthy bajou look. Again, I still have to experiment. But first, I need a body to dress.

The clay kept getting too warm, and too soft. I had a hard time preventing everything from shifting the wrong way, and I can never see my mistakes til I take a picture, at which point, it's too late! I tell myself that real faces are rarely perfectly symmetrical, anyway. Just please remind me not to forget to paint her eyes!

I forgot the penny again. For scale, a penny is the size of her head. I just measured.
August 6, 2006

Item Four of Very-Hard-To- Find-In-One-Inch-Scale items: swords.

Attempt at a Katana. Roughly four inches long, so it's just a little bit too long for true one inch scale. (that'll teach me to eyeball things.) The silver and gold clay by Premo has a really great effect to it, doesn't it?

However, I'm having a problem. I'm not sure if it's the clay or the way I'm baking it. While this sword may LOOK halfway decent, it, well, it's a bit . . . floppy. Admire it all you want, but take it in your hand and it will allow you to perform daring feats of strength and skill by bending it almost in a circle. On letting go, it will slowly begin returning to its original position. It's basically a miniature rubber sword.

That wasn't exactly the effect I was going for.

Stop laughing.
August 5, 2006

2 am, and I'm making miniature canopic jars.

Worried. DEFINITELY worried.

I think they turned out well. I really like that 'gold' clay. Took quite a bit of research to figure out just what canopic jars traditionally looked like. It boiled down to a figures of a human, a jackal, a baboon, and a bird (falcon? hawk?). The baboon proved to be the hardest to sculpt. I realize there should be writing on the jar, but I'm not sure how to go about it. Hieroglyphs are a lot more complicated to do when they're that small!

Go ahead and add THESE to my list of things not available in one inch scale!
July 25, 2006

I'd like to rant a bit at the miniatures world for their lack of certain items. One inch scale cameras are very hard to find (at least realistic looking ones) and video cameras next to impossible. (I've only seen ONE, and it looks very old.) Most of what IS available are modeled after antiques. Come to the 21st century, my fellow miniaturists! I'm willing to give you money for what you can produce!

In the meantime, I have to make do with my own sorry attempts at digital equipment. Two attempts at digital cameras, one at a MiniDV camcorder. Really,they're very SIMPLE designs! I need a bit more practice.

Oh yes, and one last attempt. I wanted lots of pieces from around the world, and thought Sake flasks, or Tokkuri, would be appropriate for Japan. Here's attempt number one. (definitely needs a second try!)

July 23, 2006

Bag End in One Inch Scale

Fantastic job! It'd be a cool project to try someday. I think I have floor plans somewhere, too . . .
July 22, 2006

I've gone from having a creative streak to being a creative freak.

This is actually an old project, but I was never happy with the heaviness of cardstock. Today I thought I'd give it a try with the leftover Bristol Board from my interior decorating project. Perfection. They even SOUND like composition notebooks. I'm quite pleased. I also had to print a page of them, so there will be lots! The whole thing was designed in Photoshop. I did try to use images of real composition books, but it just didn't work out the way I liked it.

I also uploaded the original image for other miniaturists to try and print out. I have no idea how well that will work. I may try to create a PDF file once I get to work.

I failed to resist. I bought Stikfas.

They came in nice neat packaging, but I still hate flash. It took me over an hour to remove, trim and assemble these lil fellas. My fingers hurt! And I'm a bit disappointed with the white showing underneath the darker colored pieces. I guess I'll try painting over them and seeing what happens. The kitty and the brown girl are part of the Jungle Adventure theme. She came with lots of stickers that seem to be repositionable. So I gave everybody eyes (or sunglasses) and the white dude a tattoo. They were a bit goofy, but I liked the variety of items. There was also a HUGE variety of accessories. Guns, whips, dynamite, backpack, canteen, telescope, shoes, hats . . . Very amusing.

Robert gave me a weird answer when I asked how to pose them for the shot. Fingers! So I did. The box in the background says Stikfas on it, but obviously it didn't show up.

I'm going to take a few to work, just to have something mentally relaxing to concentrate on once in a while.

I may possibly stick one in the car. Merlin could use some company.
July 21, 2006

I've been trying to keep myself amused while waiting for the postman to bring me stuff. (Hurry up! Creative urges don't last long!)

Amusement 1 was borrowing the Da Vinci Code from the library. Probably a bad idea. The historian in me says, oh, wow, what? And then I run off to look up Da Vinci and Mona Lisa and the Knights Templar and Paris and cryptography and special encoded keys and it'll be a while before I finish this book.

As for Amusement 2, I went to Miniatures in the Attic today - possibly for the last time. In the back of my mind are all my projects and the specific items I want/need for them. Because of the book, I'm thinking about history and archeology, and because of the miniature shop, I'm thinking of my Archeologist's Study.

I'm planning to create a web page for the room, but I keep thinking, "I want to add THIS first before I take a picture." There's a lot of THIS going on. More furniture to display things on, more things to display on the furniture. It's hard to find 'just the right thing.' I started thinking about how it needed more books, and started looking around at books, and then started looking at the really NICE miniature books and then, while looking at those, up popped "I can do that."

Well, what else have you got to do? Dig under the bed for an old leather purse. Find a little detachable mirror inside with a perfect small leathery grain inside. Get the X-Acto knife. Take mirror apart. Find parchment paper that doesn't seem to end. Measure and cut. Remember old envelopes with really shiny pretty insides. By some small miracle, go right to them and pull them out. Cut apart, measure, cut. Get glue everywhere. Mess with metal bits until you decide not to bother. Find some bunka and tie. Say "whoa, I did that."

Run tell the world.

Plan the next book, and how to make it better.

*UPDATE, a few hours later*

and here's the next book. This time I used a block of balsa to represent the pages. Turned out better, at least they cooperated by staying in place! I scored the page edges with a knife and painted it gold.

I really lucked out with the leather for this one. I had an old wallet that was apparently really good quality. It had the flower embossed on the outside, and on the inside had ridged leather for where the wallet bent as it opened and closed. I used the ridged for the side of the book, although it's a bit hard to see in this picture. (had a hard time with reflections, may try again later.)

I still need to figure what to do about the edge of the leather so the white doesn't show. Perhaps a little paint?

I'm pleased with the results. And since I've run out of purses and wallets for the moment, I think I'll stop for the evening.
July 18, 2006

Creativity's flowing out of nowhere.

The picture here is what I'm using as inspiration for Rána's lantern. I found it at Alley Cat Scratch in her Lord of the Rings Section, apparently it was a display at Neiman Marcus?

That part was free. The rest is going to be testing and spending money. I purchased a frosted shade that I think will work well (don't want the bulb to show!) and several types of 3 volt miniature bulbs. Remember, this is an experiment! I also bought a 3 volt battery holder that runs on 2 AAA's, in case I panic about using electrical tape and a coin battery. If there's an on/off switch, all the better! I forgot to check about that. Hope to soon find out!

Now I need to get to sculpting.
July 17, 2006

My search for something plausible to light the lantern took me all over the place. I found a web site for a cute little something they just called Throwies, a very basic design of an LED light attached to a battery and a magnet. (sounded rather fun for parties!) Didn't need the magnet, but obviously I could go a lot more basic than the necklaces I had been looking at! (and make sure it didn't flash.)

In the end, all I really needed was a 3 volt battery and an LED light. A bit of research and discussion lead me to believe I could use dollhouse conductor wire so I could seperate the battery from the light. While looking at the conductor wire I discovered that Cir-Kit Concepts made 3 volt grain of wheat bulbs on an 8" wire.

**insert stunned, shocked and 'doh!' expression here: 0.o **

So technically, I should be able to run that light on a 3 volt battery. (if not, I know there's 3 volt battery packs available. I can work around the fact it's made to look like a dresser.) I made the staff hollow so I could run fiber optic wires (my previous option) through it, and it should feed the regular wires through just fine.

Now to design the lantern!
July 16, 2006

Started thinking about that lantern for my miniature elf again. My experiments with the fiber optic wire did what I expected, but it seemed to be a lot more effort than it was worth. So it was back to the drawing board.

Glow in the dark paint could be an option, although I'd prefer to be able to see that it was lit without the lights being out.

LED lights just might work. There's quite a few available as jewelry - pendants and such. The main problem is that most of them have flashing lights. It'll take a lot of digging to find one that doesn't.
June 21, 2006

Speaking of miniatures, I realized I'd never taken a picture of my Alice Zinn cat.

So, um, I took a picture. It looks much sleeker in person, I guess the hair got lit up by the flash.