I Finally Get It

I used to spend a lot of time wondering how some of my favorite mini artists could possibly look at a kit and come up with a great way to bash it, especially so it no longer really looked like the kit itself. All of my own ideas for alterations to a kit build came long after I received it, did a dry fit, and spent some time pondering what it would be.

Then it happened.

Hobby Builder’s Supply announced their 2015 Creatin’ Contest, and the kit’s potential smacked me in the face.

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The front isn’t quite what gave me the inkling. I looked at it and really thought hard about another tiny house, much like the one I started for last year’s Undersized Urbanite contest (and am still working on…). But the dimensions are a little too big for a good tiny house – and a little too small for a “small home,” in my opinion. I’d have to come up with a lot of good ways to fill the empty space.

Then I saw the back of the build.

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I don’t know what it is about the back here that really made it stand out to me, but it did. I had been browsing home plans recently in preparation for, of all things, a new house to build in Minecraft. I have a good deal of experience with both Minecraft and Sims architecture, so my requirements for house plans are pretty strict. Specifically for Minecraft, I need a small house but one with enough room for very thick walls, since that’s the nature of Minecraft blocks.

I finally found a house I really liked for Minecraft. It’s out of my usual comfort zone – I typically prefer more traditional style builds, and this one is very contemporary/modern.

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The floor plan is going to need to change a bit; here you’re looking at it from the back. In the end, I’ll essentially have an open-front home with a really magnificent “back” of the house, haha. I’m still trying to decide if I will add a basement, and what I will do with that…but there’s some time to figure that out, still. In the meantime, I’m going to have a lot of fun actually walking through my 3-D version in Minecraft, and envisioning recreating it in miniature.

So, long story short, I’m throwing my hat into the ring for the Creatin’ Contest. Hopefully I won’t get bowled over here. I am planning to make this a public build, because I really enjoy sharing my ideas here, and because my photography skills need some practice. But I really can’t wait to see what happens when the kit arrives!

New Year, New Beginnings

Hello!

So, clearly I am still alive. As you may have guessed from my last update, things were…a little crazy. Between the unexpected loss of our beloved dog and moving out of state the very next day, I wasn’t in much shape to work on my minis – or much of anything else – all summer.

That isn’t to say the rest of my year was entirely mini-free.

In August, with the help of a friend far more familiar with power tools than I, I completed a set of American Girl-sized bunk beds for a sleepover with my nieces.

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This was done using the awesome instructions from Ana White, which were super easy to follow. My only complaint is that the cuts she lists add up to a greater length than the boards on the shopping list. I purchased extra and still ended up with only a couple of feet of scraps. I will also add that I specifically added length to the bed, because the length she gives leaves a bed barely long enough for the doll. Yup, I’m picky like that.

A couple of weeks later, at the beginning of Fall, we added a new “miniature” to the family, our new puppy Vala:

The little cutie within just a couple of weeks of coming home :)

The little cutie within just a couple of weeks of coming home :)

As I’m sure you can imagine, a new puppy takes an awful lot of time and energy. She has been so, so worth it, though! After only a few weeks without our dog, our home felt so empty I couldn’t stand it. Rhys will always irreplaceable, but his “little sister” is amazing in her own right. Infuriating at times (Corgis generally are) but wonderful.

Vala, only a couple of weeks ago :)

Vala, only a couple of weeks ago :)

Which brings us to now. After a few trials & errors getting our basement set up, including a dishwasher replacement that ended with a near-flood straight into the middle of the finished half (no property damage, thankfully!) we finally organized the basement well enough to set up my craft area. With all that had happened this year, I didn’t want much for Christmas, but when my husband asked me to tell him what I REALLY wanted, all I could think of was my craft table.

Of course, a new home with more space needs an excellent craft table, so here it is…

A smooth 4'x8' plywood board is my new crafting surface!

A smooth 4’x8′ plywood board is my new crafting surface!

Nice and large and ready for plenty of minis. It will take some time to get everything set up again, but in the meantime I’m pretty excited.

A couple of other updates of note: My master’s thesis is progressing really well, finally, and I’ve successfully defended my proposal and have moved on to data analysis. I also joined a new Minecraft server mid-summer, and recently became an administrator of said server, which is an amazing privilege and a lot of fun.

Also over the summer, the official Real Good Toys Pinterest feed featured my last true miniatures update: Tufting a Mini Couch. Of course it would so happen that this occurred during my hiatus, because it drove a ton of traffic here. I know it was well liked by many, however, because not only did my traffic explode, but I began seeing my own tutorial pinned on nearly every Pinterest miniatures board I follow! That was a massive honor, and I hope to finish the couch soon so you can all see how it turns out :)

All of this said and done, I’m really looking forward to getting back to miniatures, and boy do I have a lot of plans. Tomorrow I’ll outline my next project, which is something I will definitely need to finish….

Until tomorrow!

Moving…

Everything is currently on hold while I move to a new home this weekend. Hopefully I’ll be back to miniatures soon.

In the meantime, if you are willing and able, I would appreciate positive thoughts and prayers for my beloved dog. He suffered an accident yesterday and will be having surgery today to fix some internal bleeding and remove a mass from his liver. So far he is doing quite well, but that doesn’t make it any easier for us.

I hope all of you, my wonderful readers here, are having a great start to your summers and finding plenty of time to mini away!

Best wishes, and hope to be back here soon!

Update: I’m heartbroken to say my beloved puppyboo is no longer with us. Thank you for your prayers. We did everything we could possibly do, it was just a combination of many unfortunate factors which came together at once. I am very grateful he did not suffer today, and I am happy he will not be needlessly stressed by our move tomorrow. We will miss him greatly.

Tufting a Mini Couch

It’s highly unlikely I’ll finish my Undersized Urbanite build at this point, sadly, but I am still plugging away and having a good time when I can. Right now I am still teaching, writing away at my thesis, and now we are moving in less than 2 months. Lots to do, and sadly minis don’t take mini amounts of time!

Most recently I’ve been working on the sofa. I wanted it to be both grand and understated, or at least that’s the best way to describe it. I had a House of Miniatures Chippendale Sofa kit on hand, and decided to utilize it to make my visions come true.

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I’ve seen an awful lot of tutorials on Pinterest about making your own upholstered, tufted headboard, and I used many of the techniques here. I started by marking out lines on the back of the sofa, to create half-inch squares. I then drew diagonal lines to find the middle of each square, and proceeded to use a pin vise to drill through the back. This helped me to create an offset pattern for each of the “buttons.” If I had truly thought it through, I would have begun with a centered line – sadly, I did not, but ultimately I don’t think it would have done a whole lot to change the finished product.

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The next step was to find the best way to cover the couch. House of Miniatures kits are old, and while the foam included for the couch cushions was in good shape, I knew it is likely to dry out and disintegrate in the near-ish future. I ended up cutting new cushions out of pink craft foam, 2 layers. Unfortunately for me, the pink of the foam showed through the linen-esque fabric I chose, even after a layer of white felt. I ended up covering the bottom half with a scrap of fabric (seen above – you can see some of the pink through it!) and the top half with another piece of felt to add a little extra fluff to the top part of the couch. When it’s all covered with the larger piece of fabric, you can see it looks pretty uniform in color.

The next part was by far the most difficult part of the whole process – adding the tufts. The holes were quite small, and finding a way to keep the threads pulled really tight was hard. I ended up using two different methods – nails and bead crimps. The bead crimps were easier, but if I had to do it again I’d do nails all the way. More complicated, but it seems like a stronger hold. You can see the nails below – they are the tops of jewelry pins, cut off and carefully hammered in partway.

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To get the thread through the holes, I first put a bead on the thread and put both ends of the thread through a long needle (Needle 1). I then took a second needle (Needle 2) and pushed it through the hole from the back of the couch. Next, I took Needle 1 and pushed it through right next to Needle 2. Then Needle 2 was pulled out from behind, and Needle 1 was pushed all the way through until all thread had come out the back. I then taped the thread down so it wouldn’t accidentally be pulled out. This took a little trial and error, as Needle 1 was not always in the correct position to just go straight through the pre-drilled hole, but it was by far the easiest way to get the needle through all layers of foam, batting, and fabric, in the right place!

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Once I had the full row done, I pulled the threads as tightly as I dared, wrapped them around a nail several times, and held the thread tight while I hammered the nail in fully. This is definitely the way I would recommend doing this if you try, and if I try tufting another piece I will do it this way again. It is complicated and can be frustrating, especially if you knock a nail out, but is far easier than the bead crimps. Had I known I’d use bead crimps, I definitely would have picked up sturdier thread. Occasionally the crimp would just cut right through the thread and I would have to completely re-do the tuft all together. I’ve also had a couple come loose since I finished, leading me to have to glue a couple of beads back on – definitely not ideal!

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This is the unfinished product – one row done! I did not bother tufting all the way down, because half of the back is hidden behind the back cushion. Instead, I started in the middle and worked my way up.

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The finished product! Before I attach this to the rest of the couch, I’ll take a needle and try to get all of the beads facing the same way. Until then, I think it looks pretty darn good!

Life is a little crazy

IMG_20140314_145622195It has been far too long since I have been able to make a post about progress – sadly, not a whole lot of progress has been made. Since my semester ended in December, I’ve been working on my thesis a lot, but I have also been hired as a teaching fellow for a huge university, which is a very awesome step for me! Unfortunately, it means less time for minis – but I’m trying!

Above is the progress I’ve made on the kitchen. You can see a bit of the staircase as well – that will have a nice feature of some pull-out stairs :) After struggling with options for the counter top for a while and really not being happy with any of my DIY options, I finally decided to contact ELF Miniatures about a custom worktop. Elizabeth at ELF has been incredibly amazing, and I’ve experienced some of the best customer service I’ve ever been given. I can’t wait to showcase the final result!

The most work left at this point is finishing the kitchen, putting together the bathroom, and a few pieces of furniture. After that it will be decorating. I don’t know if I will be able to finish in time for the Undersized Urbanite, but I’ll certainly be trying!

 

Everything and the kitchen sink

Working on the kitchen has resulted in a lot of trial and error. I had a very specific vision for what I wanted it to look like, but figuring out what materials would actually get me there was not easy.

After a lot of wandering and musing, I finally found the perfect kitchen sink. I am not even kidding when I tell you this is version #3 of the sink – version 1 was made out of wood, but I was unable to get the shape I was looking for with the materials I had. Version 2 was attempted out of poly clay in several different forms before i realized it wasn’t giving me what I wanted, and baking it was going to be a nightmare!

So, on to version 3 – a chopped up full-size ice cube tray!

IMG_1442I know, it’s hard to really see. I was working with poor lighting and a white ice cube compartment on a white cutting board – my bad. It wasn’t until I was done when I realized I should have had a different background, paper or something, to better display what I was doing.

Ah well. I carefully cut out this one cube compartment from an old ice cube tray we had lying around. I’m pretty sure it was actually left behind by the previous tenant in our rental home – talk about repurposed freecycling! After I cut it, I sanded down the edges to make sure they were even and slightly rounded. This is going to be mounted under the countertop, so it needs to be able to be flush.

From there, I used a pin vise to drill a pilot hole, then a jewelry sander to make it big enough to insert a brad for a drain:

IMG_1443IMG_1446Once that was finished, 3 coats of silver enamel paint, and it’s nearly ready!

IMG_1448The paint job is sadly not the cleanest, but I’m considering a 4th coat tomorrow. Additionally, with the placement of the sink, I don’t think it will be too terribly noticeable – we shall see!

 

 

Playing with Poly Clay

My Pinterest feed is filled to the brim with gorgeous miniatures day in and day out, many of them pictures of miniature food, flowers, and other items made from polymer clay. While I love to spend ages pouring over the pictures and the websites they’re from, the artisans who make them (rightfully) charge higher prices than I am able to pay for the items I so covet.

Lucky for me, an awful lot of artisans, some in miniatures and some in other areas (e.g. beading and jewelry) are also willing to share their tips and techniques to allow people like me to get started without too much failure in the trial and error process. And so, here begins my journey in polymer clay!

I’m in the process of working on the kitchen for the Undersized Urbanite build (man, I really need to actually come up with a good name for it – any suggestions?) and due to the tiny size, I thought I would utilize some of the basic kitchen utensils as decor. I have actually already done this in my lifesize home, because my cookware doesn’t all fit in my cabinets, and I didn’t want to stack them because it would void their warranty.

314768_10100564392135489_44882342_nThere’s blue poster board behind them since we rent and I did not want to damage the walls – that also makes the whole ensemble look like a rather nice modern art installation, even when dirty pots are missing!

As I was musing for items I could feasibly utilize for decor in the tiny house, Christina at the Little Victorian posted this update to her home kitchen, inspired by photos from Houzz. Both my mother and grandmother occasionally hung cutting boards up in the kitchen, and it all just clicked into place.

That said, finding nice miniature cutting boards is far easier said than done. If I actually made them out of wood, the ultimate product would not look nearly so nice with the materials I have in store.

Enter polymer clay, a quick Google search of tips to create wood grain in clay, and a scant 20 minutes or so playing, cutting, and cooking:

IMG_1440They are modeled after my favorite olive wood cutting boards which my aunt introduced me to. I’m a little undecided if I am going to actually use these, or if I’ll have another shot at it. I cut the white clay with some brown, but did not think it would stand out quite so much – so we’ll see what the final decision is! If I decide to stick with them, in all likelihood I’ll only use one.

More kitchen updates coming soon :)