Next Steps

Way back in the beginning I had decided that I wanted my studio to be part of an apartment building. Since I’m not a completely crazy person I need to figure out a way to capture just part of the building.

I decided to pull inspiration from artists like Ichiyo Haga. However, mine needs to open up to reveal the studio. I’ve let the technical aspect of this intimidate me.

This is where I was last week. It was emptied out. I noticed the top was sagging a little so I put in 2 supports to brace it better.

I used some mat board to create a blank canvas. I needed to hide the spaces I won’t be furnishing so that I could get a better idea of what the outside of the building will look like. If that makes sense.

One of the things I’ve been mentally struggling with is how to keep the build looking like the kit. I’ve been using all of the pieces from the kit and adding more to it, but I know it’s possible to look at it and not know the kit was even used. So how do I keep the integrity of the kit while making my vision come to life?

I started with measuring and adding.

And then some sketching. There are a few mess ups, but it gives me a good road map of how to attack the front of the building. I’m aiming to keep the architectural elements from the kit intact. I’ll just expand them to repeat around the studio. There will be a couple of balconies, lots of tall windows, and a few French doors. The building facade will have a stone or brick finish. The windows and balconies will have iron railings. The center doors and flanking windows will be the area that opens up to reveal the studio. All of the windows will need to be custom, but they will look a lot like the windows from the kit. I may even cannibalize the kit windows. The front will be held on with magnets. This is where next week’s projects will be heading. Yay! Finally I have less of a general concept and more of a plan! It might just be 12% of a plan, but that’s better than 11%.

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Last Day of Summer

It’s been months since I’ve written anything, but I’ve been slowly cranking out projects. And when I say slowly, I mean snails pace. Here’s a quick summary of the last few months:

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I finished the floor and I love the way it turned out. I wanted to wear it on a chain as a necklace for a few days, but decided it was a bit chunky for my normal style.

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The lantern is finished.

I’m thinking of abandoning it somewhere in Boston. I love the idea of a little bit of the wild being left in the hustle and bustle of a big city.

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I made an easel from pieces of walnut. I’m happy with the way it turned out. I know what I would do differently if I was to make another one, but I’m not going to point those things out.

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It still looks a little too new. I plan on giving it a few paint drips to help make it look well loved.  It’s fully adjustable.

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I’ve also made a few million paint brushes. Ok, maybe I’ve only made about 45, but it feels like a million. I think I need to make more. I plan on sharing how I made them in a future post.

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The canvases are made from wood stretcher bars I cut and glued together and fabric. The fabric is lightly glued to the canvas. I want to add nail head trim to some of them, but the nails I have are too big for the scale. The newspapers are scans of French newspapers I found online. I scaled them in Microsoft Word and printed them onto old typewriter paper and onion skin paper. The chair is a Chrysabon kit. I did a little dry brushing to make it look a little bit more like wood. It will be getting paint drops to help it look well loved. The rug has been aged a bit, but needs more work. I have a couple of more rugs that will be going into the studio that are still waiting for their turn to be aged.

Warning: The next few pictures are not for the faint of heart.

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This is what my desk area looked like this morning. This is the result of months of projects and a ferret who loves digging around in the polyfil. He’s also figured out how to get up on the desk, but I can’t figure out how he’s doing it. It’s not a big deal really. He just loves spilling water, knocking things off the desk (usually breaking them), and digging around in my carefully organized piles of junk making them less organized.

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I know it’s time to clean up when my work space is whittled down to roughly 5″x10″. Such a mess, but an organized mess. The funny thing is I know exactly were everything is.

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I’ve been using the build as a random storage area too. This needs to be cleaned out also. In the top left is a sofa I’ve been working on. I don’t like the way the tufting is coming out so it will be getting redone. Below the sofa is a round table from House of Miniatures. I thought I was going to use it in the studio, maybe as a still life setup, but the ferret has knocked it off my desk twice and broken it twice. It no longer sits level and I’m not sure I’m willing to fix it a third time. The rest of it is odds and ends of things I’ll be using and things that were just stuffed there because my desk was a mess.

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See? The mess wasn’t that bad. This is after about 25 minutes. Now it’s a blank slate, ready for new messes.

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So much more space now.

The kids go back to school tomorrow. While the summer was fun and full of trips, laser tag, and beach visits I’m glad it’s over. I’m looking forward to having a normal schedule again. Now I just need to think about what mess I want to make tomorrow.

Lots of Little Irons

The last few weeks have been a hodgepodge of projects. Some bigger than others.

I finished my tiny pumpkin project! I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s always a nice little boost to finish a project.

A few weeks ago I made the original walls from the Serendipity Shed kit taller and just a tiny bit deeper. The window holes were patched with some foam core.

This side of the walls will be seen, so they are getting the most attention. I want them to have the look of old plaster. To hide the joints and window openings I first gave the entire wall a thin coat of spackle and then sanded that smooth. I wasn’t a fan of the finished texture of the spackle. Next I decided to try glueing a piece of tissue paper over the spackle, thinking that maybe it would create a more worn plaster look. Sadly it’s created more of an old leather texture. I’m still not happy. I might try another plaster type product and see if I get a better result.

Since the walls had me a little stuck, I decided to keep cutting out wood for the floor. This is what I have so far. Clearly I need a lot more wood for the floor.

I’m kind of in love with the color and pattern. The pieces will be sanded and will be fit together better. I just needed to make a mock up so I could estimate how much more wood I would need. I have plans next week to drive up to my closest dollhouse shop, Earth and Tree Miniatures, to pick up some molding pieces and more wood for the floor.

And now for something completely different. I’ve been wanting to make some tiny little projects and decided to work on them in my Creatin Contest down time. I love this little house.

The roof is shingled and the sides have custom wood siding.

It even sits on a stone foundation. It’s about 2.5″ tall and 1.5″ wide. I’ll be ordering a tiny cloche for it to sit in. I’m certain I’ll knock it off the shelf if it’s not protected.

And finally, I’ll leave you with some pictures of a few more projects I’ve been killing time with.

While I haven’t gotten as much done with the Creatin Contest as I’d like, I have been keeping myself busy. I’ll share more of the finished projects as I get them done.

Two Right Feet

I’ve put my pumpkin project on hold the last few months. Those darn shoes have had me stumped. That is until yesterday. I needed to drop my husband off at the airport, which gave me the perfect excuse to visit the closest dollhouse store to me. After spending too much time taking it all in I found a pair of little white tennis shoes. They are made of a soft metal and painted white.

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After getting them home and taking them out of the package I realized there was something off about them. Turns out they were 2 right shoes.

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I used a metal file and tried to reshape them a bit. My original plan was to use only the front half of the shoe, so I ended up cutting the shoes in half before repainting them. I’m hoping the one on the left looks a little less “right”.

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This is where I last left the pumpkin box:

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And for a refresher, here is the inspiration:

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This is where its at now after repainting the shoes and finally starting to glue things in place:

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I’m pretty happy with it so far. It will possibly have an acrylic cover over it. I want to try to include the words “dive into fall!” on the acrylic to tie more into cover of the magazine.

The art studio build is moving along slowly. The walls have been made taller and squared off by adding some MDF to the original slanted walls. I’ve also filled in the holes for the windows with some foam core, I just haven’t gotten pictures of that yet.

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I’ve also taken apart the front panel of the Serendipity Shed to get a better idea of what the front of the building will look like. It’s rough, but I can sort of see it.

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Now, if you need me I’ll be cutting eleventy billion pieces of wood for the herringbone floor.

Unreliable Brain

After hours of contemplation, plotting, and planning I’ve made some changes to my plans.

I’ve decided to not to do the arch. I didn’t like how tall it was going to make the whole build without really adding substance, if that makes sense. It would be a distraction. I’ve decided instead to do a small section of a larger building. It keeps the focus on the art studio, while offering opportunities to add life behind other windows.

I set out this week to pick up some MDF to start the outer box. I learned that my mind isn’t the sharpest when thinking on the fly. While standing in the hardware store I completely lost all sense of space and dimensions, changed my plans based on this confusion, and bought MDF in the wrong sizes. Once I got home I realized the errors of my ways and vowed never to trust my brain again. Thankfully I could return the wrong sized pieces and then started over, this time with my measurements in hand.

I’ve got the whole outer box together now, just haven’t taken a picture of it. Next will be adding the shelves in to frame out where the kit is going to be.

Also, I’ve learned that stepping outside of your comfort zone is a surefire way to second guess everything you do. I’ll just keep plugging away and it will all come together…I hope.

Let the Fun Begin

Last week was February break for my kids. We try to plan a trip to escape the cold and snow of New England. We headed west and didn’t stop until we hit Hawai’i.

It is also the week that the new Creatin Contest kit is mailed out. I was extremely sad to leave Hawai’i, but really excited to get started on the Serendipity Shed.

I had put our mail on hold, so even though we were got home on Saturday I had to wait until today to get it. Pure torture!

The dry fit went together so quickly. I love it’s little footprint. I plan on increasing the height, so the footprint shouldn’t change much. It might get a little wider, maybe about 6-8″.

My plan is to raise it up on arches with a cobblestone street or walkway that goes underneath.

The challenge will be how to make it obvious that it’s not a stand alone structure, but a piece of a building or city block.

I love the work of Michael McMillen and Michael Garman. I’ll probably try to incorporate some of their techniques to convey that my scene is just a small part of a much larger whole. The trick will be to do it in a way that doesn’t draw attention away from the main subject and also doesn’t look like a scene from Saving Private Ryan.

We’ll see how it goes. If it doesn’t work I can always rethink and rework.

There’s a really rough mock up of my thought process so far. The arches are off scale from what my plans are. I’m not very good at eyeballing.

I plan on making the windows taller and make them open like the French doors. The doors might need to be made taller also or I might be able to get away with just adding a transom window. I want to raise up the roof a little and flatten it out since it’s just one floor of a much larger building. There will be a lot of brick and stone work, as well as a bit of “iron work” for railings. Window boxes dripping with plants will add some softness to all the hard elements. Inside the studio there will be herringbone wood floors, some plaster architectural accents, and maybe faded wallpaper (if not there will be plaster walls).

That’s all I’ll think about for now. The list can go on and on. However, I think my first step will be to build the arch framework to see if it will work.

Inspiration for 2019’s Creatin’ Contest

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This year’s kit is the Serendipity Shed. I’m so happy it is on the smaller side, help ease me back into larger projects. It would make an adorable floral shop, farm stand, or bakery. However I see something a little different.

 

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Big open windows providing lots of natural light.

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Every surface littered with tools and supplies.

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And walls adorned with inspiration.

If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m planning on making an artist’s studio. More specifically an artist’s studio in France during the early 1900’s. I’m seeing beautiful architecture that has been neglected during the frenzy of creation.

A look inside an artist’s studio is undoubtedly a view into the artist’s mind. A place of creation and personal haven, the studio, like a diary, is full of an artist’s personal baggage… It is a place where one’s greatest artistic triumphs sit beside one’s greatest failures, finished pieces among works in progress, where piles of books, clippings, and other specimens of inspiration or just general interest collide, to form great ideas and eventually great works of art. It is both a place of joy and disappointment; inspiration and frustration. But most of all it is a necessary place in which an artist may grow.   – Lydia Andersen

To do this I’ll need to raise the roof some and flatten it out (not a fan of the slant). I’m planning herringbone wood floors, enlarging the windows, and adding transom windows over the French doors. I’ve yet to decide if I want this to be set in a garden or in some way as part of a larger building. I think once I get it I’ll be able to picture it more clearly. Until then I’ll keep keeping on with my little pumpkin project.

 

 

Hello!

So, it’s been a while, but I’m still here! Getting myself back into the creative groove after our move took way longer than I expected. My work area had turned into a catch all for anything and everything. It was not very conducive to creativity. After Christmas I was determined to take it back.

This is what I ended up after a trip to Ikea, an unexpected trip for the kids to visit grandparents, and a few days of organizing and purging. Not too shabby. It’s not that clean right now, but everything has a place and I love it.

Have you ever imagined making something and you can’t let it go until you make it. That’s what my current little project is. It’s been camping out in my brain since October.

I saw this magazine cover in a doctors office and knew instantly that I had to recreate it in miniature.

I started off with some questionable math to figure out the dimensions for my box. I tried to scale down the magazine size based on how big my putka pods where in relation to the measurements of pumpkins on the magazine. It’s just a bit off, but I don’t think it will be too bad.

Next the pods needed stems. I used some jute string and lots of glue.

It’s at this point that I start to question if I have any clue about what I’m doing. Thankfully, I’ve learned to just keep going.

I’m glad I did. After it was dry and trimmed it looked pretty good.

Here they are after a little paint and some dry brushing. I also made a few tinier pumpkins out of polymer clay.

Now on to the box. I painted the inside of the box with a yellow ochre paint and made a foliage base from moss and dried leaves that were crumbled up.

Speaking of leaves, I’ve seen a tip about using dried leaves and a leaf punch to make realistic fall leaves. The problem I ran into is that all the leaves around my house are brown now. I needed them to have a little bit of color variation. I ended up using watered down gouache in crimson and yellow ochre to tint the leaves.

This is a test of how the leaves would look. I’m pretty happy with them. I’ll probably need to punch more, but I’ll do that as needed.

That’s where I am now. I need to do the finishing touches on all of the pumpkins and work out how to make shoes. I’ve made a few attempts that haven’t quite worked. I’ll be making a few modifications on the last pair that I attempted and I hope that works right. On the up side I haven’t glued the shoes to my fingers yet, so that’s a win.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to and I look forward to sharing more of the crazy places my brain takes me.

Slow Moving

Getting back into the habit of minis is harder than I thought it would be. Add in 4 nor’easters, losing power for 5 days, and still trying to get settled into our house and it starts to feel impossible.

This is where I am so far. Since the structure itself is overwhelming me right now, I decided to smart small. These are all made with Crayola Model Magic and then painted with craft paint. I like it because it is an air dry clay that doesn’t seem to shrink very much.

The bread still needs some detail work. The carrot tops are laser cut ferns. The little roots on the leaks are tiny pieces of jute string. The baskets are from Miniatures.com and the flower pot is one that I found at a thrift store many years ago.

I’m attempting cookies and onions. So far the onions look like lemons, but I have faith they’ll work out.

I’ve been turning to watercolor doodling when I feel like I’ve hit a mini wall.

Clearly, I’ve been hitting a lot of walls lately. It’s ok. I know that when the inspiration hits I’ll be able to tackle anything. Right now I just need to move slow and try to be kind to myself.

Inspiration

When I saw the new kit for the first time, it stumped me. I want to think outside of the box. I love trying to see past whats given and create something unusual. I just couldn’t see past the cute cottage. I showed my husband and shared why I was stuck.

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After a quick google search, he showed me this picture. He said the kit reminded him a bit of a hobbit house, minus being imbedded in the side of a hill. Cue angels singing.

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I plan on having the house look shorter from the outside, imbedding it into the landscaping. There will be lots of timbers, stone, and brick. Not so much thatch. I’m thinking of a grass covered roof to create the idea of being in a hill.

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Round doors painted fun bright colors with carved wood trim. Lots of warm lamp light.

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Worn weather wood, round windows, and cracked plaster. Overgrown gardens with vines and flowers.

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Right now I haven’t decided on whether or not I will keep the ceilings tall. At one point I had thought of having the ceilings be low and curved like Bag End and create a little root cellar.

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Similar to this pantry that was in the movie The Hobbit.

My other thought was to keep the ceilings tall with large wood beams and maybe have a loft area that would be the bedroom. There would be steps from the front door down into the living area, creating a sunken living area feel. I’m sure as I start working on it the vision will become more clear.