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January 31, 2020

After verifying that yes, my sofa pattern works, I set out to test paper.  What would happen if I used something thinner?  Something thicker?  Something patterned?  Something textured?  At this scale, every tiny bit counts.

I went through my paper stash and picked three pieces of paper that I thought might look good as a sofa.  It was easy to test, I simply held the page I had cut my test sofas from over the potential pages and looked through the holes left behind.

I looked at all the tiny print pages, but also the ones with big, busy prints.  Sometimes, something can be so big that the little bits will work, too.

Things I discovered:

Thicker papers work better.  Thinner papers don't fold as well (I don't know why?) and tend to mash around the edges more quickly. However, there's hope!  Since there's three layers of paper, you can use two layers made out of plain cardstock, and then glue your preferred pattern to the exterior, cutting off the tabs first.
Papers with the same color core are also better, but with a narrow brush and a tiny bit of matching paint, the problem is easily solved.  In fact, the brown one I painted is currently my favorite.  This was one of the textured papers, and it ended up needing paint, because the colored texture had a tendency to scrape off in tiny bits.  It has a white core, so it really needed the help.  Fortunately the paper was quite sturdy and the paint didn't warp the paper.  

I haven't yet attempted to print my own, but it seems perfectly reasonable to do so, if your printer can do the fine work on cardstock.  Both the chair and sofa fit in a 1" x 2" block, so you don't need much!

January 29, 2020

I own a Silhouette Cameo, and for years I've been wondering if it was possible to make dollhouse furniture with it.   It seemed it would be easy enough for 1:48 scale, but could it do something as tiny as 1:144? After successfully making some really tiny cuts for a Christmas ornament, I decided to test it.

First and foremost to determine is scale.  Even tiny differences in size can make a really big visual difference in a dollhouse.  I didn't feel the sofa should be significantly bigger than the bathtub, so I had to nix using the back right sofa in the house.  I made the back left one out of wood, but made the poor decision of attempting to add texture when I painted, and it just looks nasty.  I did like the size, though, so I based my paper design around it.

Then it was nothing but hours of nudging nodes around.  Fortunately it cuts fast, and takes up almost no paper!  Here are my prototypes:

The first one was too small, and while I was assembling it, I came up with a much more efficient design idea.  The second one was the results of the design, which I was pleased with, but needed to alter some areas so they would fit together properly.  The third one I positioned improperly on the page when cutting out - oops.  And #4 is where I decide that yes, this will definitely work.

I used cardstock from the giant multicolor pack from The Paper Studio.  Its weight isn't labeled, naturally, but three layers makes for a very sturdy piece of furniture.  You can also take a nail file to it and rough up the edges enough to hide the fact that it's layered.

The Cameo had a hard time with precision cuts at this scale, but it did much better when I slowed the speed down to 1.  I also have to be MUCH more careful in lining up the pieces when I glue them together!  I was more concerned here with the length/width of the arm.  I am overall very pleased with the results, and looking forward to designing more!

January 28, 2020

My house is lit and controlled by a button.  It's ridiculously exciting.  I don't HAVE to disguise those bulbs, but I want to!

My crafting stash is currently in storage, two time zones away.  It's painful.  I've had to start over.  Fortunately, I had gotten into making knitting stitch markers and had started building up my tiny bead stash again. 

Here's what I had on hand:

From Michael's:
Gold metal rondelle beads.  The holes were too big for the project I bought them for, but fortunately just about perfect for this. 

Small glass rondelle beads.  I used the darker ones for the bedroom, the clear ones for the downstairs.  It was mostly a test to see which looked best.  I liked the darker look for the bedroom, anyway!

One randomly acquired pearl bead.  I don't know where it came from.  I only had the one.  It's a bit too bright, but it looked so good for a bathroom fixture! I need to work out how to tone it down.  I think maybe a little paint will do the trick.

I used e6000 glue to glue the gold bead to the ceiling around the Pico LED, and then glued the other bead on top of that.

And . . . that's it.  The hardest part was making decisions about which beads to use.  Oh, and taking pictures.  Taking pictures of lights is not easy! 

The beads were all roughly 2 mm sized, to help you figure out scale.  They do look a bit big in the house, but lighting is one of those things you can easily cheat on in regards to accuracy.  They come in so many sizes in real life, too!

Oh, look.  It's been four years.

What can I say?  Life has been busy, and I started sharing my projects on Facebook because, well, I get responses there.

BUT, I started posting about my 1:144 scale Willowcrest here, and I'm going to finish it here, so let's keep going!  Here's where we left off:

Bathroom and bedroom furnishings and walls completed.  The next thing to work on is lighting and  . . . oh, yeah, now I see why it's been four years.

Yes, I was determined to make this tiny house light up.  That required a bit of planning.

Things you need to think about before lighting a house are:

What kind of fixtures do you want?
What materials can you use to make them look that way?
Where do you want the lights to be?
Where do you put the power source for the lights?
How do you run the wires to those locations from the light source?

I'm going to address the second part of these questions first.

I opted to keep it simple, and just put one ceiling light in each room.  I turned to Evan Designs for my supplies, based on suggestions from True2Scale.

I ordered 1 switched coin cell battery holder, 4 3v warm white pico LED lights, and some heat shrink tubing.  (please hover over the text for the links, the lines don't show up?) These bulbs are TINY.  I can't really take a photo of them, they're just little yellow blobs, but they give off an amazing amount of light.

I used poster board for the ceiling on the upper floors, and ran the wires up through a tiny hole, then down the outside sides of the house.  (Had I planned ahead further, I could have run them down the inside of the house.)

For the lower floors, the wires are glued to the ceiling and run to the interior corners, then down the wall and out under it.  A little paint will make them vanish.

You'll notice that each bulb has two wires. One is colored red at the far end, just before you get to bare wire, and the other colored green.  Once you've got your wires where you want them to end up, you need to carefully gather up and twist all the exposed ends of the red wires together, and then the ends of all the green wires together.  (it's possible the green wires were black, just make sure your colors match!)

Cut two short lengths (about one inch, perhaps?) of the narrower heat shrink tubing, and slide one onto each of your twists of wires, pushing it further back so you can work with the exposed ends.  Then you need to match your twists to the proper color on the battery coin holder, and twist red to red, green to black, ensuring the exposed metal touches.  (it's only important that the reds go together, the other color clearly doesn't matter!)
Now, get a battery and test to make sure it all works before you do anything more permanent.  Make sure the exposed ends of the red and green wires don't touch!

Oh, and relax.  It's only 3 volts.  Your skin has a resistance to such tiny amounts of electricity and you won't feel anything.  I can hold the wires directly against a battery to test the lights and it's just fine. But it could mess up your project if it's improperly wired, so make sure your exposed wires are completely covered!

I ran into the slight problem of having a coin cell battery that was labeled 3v, but only half the width required to fit in the device. I must have scavenged it from a Dollar Tree magnet flashlight. I eventually found the right size. 

Once you've determined everything works, slide the tubing to completely cover all the wires, and use a heat gun or similar to shrink the tubing.  I tried to use a hairdryer, but it apparently didn't get hot enough.  Tug gently to ensure there's a tight grip.  I will say that I had some problems with this,  (the wires are too thin for even the thinnest tubing!) and I'm not sure how to fix it, except with another, longer layer of heat shrink tubing.  Just make sure you put both layers on the wires first, and keep the second layer away from the heat source!

And it works. Check it out!

So where did I put that battery and switch?  It's pretty obnoxious to have all that wiring and that heavy battery and casing dragging about with this tiny house.

Fortunately, this particular dollhouse came with a simple wooden base, and I was able to use it to hide the wiring, battery, and switch.  To keep it accessible, I cut out a frame to fit inside, and then used a piece of cardstock to act as a sliding lid.  I'm using museum wax (and/or orthodontic wax, they're essentially the same thing) to prevent the battery from sliding.  I used E6000 glue to hold the switch in place.

I didn't measure properly, or I would have realized the button was the same width as the side pieces, and I would have cut the frame to glue to the bottom of the piece, rather than level with the interior.  It's a minor problem, fortunately, and easy to work around.

And the lighting is done!  Not too painful, right?