10 posts from June 2011
I've had a very productive week of work, though my studio looks like a tornado has passed through.
The build is done, the furnishings are in, and I've got a good start on the landscaping. After the landscaping is done I've a few accessories to make so that the place looks lived in, but should have no problem finishing up in the seven days I've got left. The only thing I'm fretting about now is taking good pictures.
I learned some new things this week, and remembered some I'd fogotten...
No matter how hard I squeeze a bottle of glue nothing will come out with the cap still on.
Never try to take just a little bit off the sides of a door with a table saw.
It's easier to put acrylic in windows before the trim is glued on.
Don't sneeze while holding a paintbrush full of wood stain next to your building.
A curious cat looks funny with a blue nose.
For every one itty bitty nail I pound in I will lose six.
No matter how many pieces of paper I have in my stash I will never have one the right shade of green.
Best of all...if I leave a corner of my worktable cleaned off sandwiches will magically appear there.
I took a week of vacation this week, to get the Spring Fling finished before the contest deadline. I'm making pretty good progress, I'm half way through my time off and half way through my to-do list.
There are, of course, parts I'm especially happy with and parts that didn't turn out at all like I wanted them to. Once I get though my list I may re-do some things, if I have time and am not so sick of the project that I want to set fire to it.
I already spent an entire afternoon fixing a really silly, dumb mistake I made. What I'm turning the kit into is a...hmm...let's call it a business, that's a broad enough term. The business is set in a foreign country...alright, I'll say it's France, since you all know I vacationed there last year.
Anyway...I put a large sign on the front of the building, made of individual letters which spell out the type of business I'm making...in French, of course. I realized a couple of days ago that the word I spelled out is not a word. Seriously...I didn't do something as forgiveable as mis-translate for the wrong foreign word, I made up my own word...which is especially dumb because I know what the right one I should have used is, as it's a common French word. To add insult to injury, I found when I double-checked other lettering throughout the piece that I used the right word on the business' bags, etc...which is nice, because I don't have to remake those, but a harsh reminder that I knew all along what the right word was...where I came up with the wrong one I just can't figure out. Sigh...
After a frantic dash to the craft store for a couple more letters I was able to pull the wrong word off, take the front of the building back to a flat finish, paint and distress the new letters to match the old, rearrange the letters, put them back on, then age the finish on the front of the building again. Whew! I'm so glad I caught that before I published the piece.
Susan pointed out to me that I could have told everyone that my word is the family name of the owners of the business. Susan's pretty smart, but I couldn't not fix my mistake. I'll have to see if I can work it into the piece somewhere else...somewhere not so obvious.
I took everyone's advice to play around with color so added in some of the same material that I'm going to use for grass around the base of the house. It looked better, but the whole thing still wasn't working for me. It's just too big, too much, too prominent, too...something.
The color still isn't right, and the plants need to be smaller, definitely. Small sedums in scale would probably be flocking, and I have some flocking, but I don't like flocking, it looks too fake.
I ripped the plants off the roof, then played around with shorter iris, moss and other various smaller materials, but nothing worked. I'll try planting a thatched roof later, on a different house, after I've given it some more thought and experimentation...or maybe on a half scale house flocking would look fine. I don't want the roofline to be the focal point of the whole project, I want it to blend in. With the Spring Fling deadline looming over me I don't have time to figure out a planted roof right now.
Perhaps it's a matter of perspective...when I walked around the real house I had to crane my neck to stare up at the roof, while I'm looking down at the roof on the miniature. Maybe a planted roof just isn't going to translate to miniature.
This is the roofline in my inspiration photo...
It looks good in person, but it doesn't look good photographed...my assistant told me it looks like somebody threw up green glittery stuff on the roof. I can't decide if I should pull it all off to leave the roof unplanted, try again with smaller foliage, or keep going. What do you think?
Because the temperature was in the high 40s/low 50s last week the babies were all huddled together in the bottom of the nest keeping warm, so I couldn't take any pictures. It warmed up over the weekend. I took this picture yesterday morning...the nest was empty by evening. The babies flew away one by one over the course of the day. I catch glimpses of them hopping and flying around the back yard, but they're too quick to snap a picture of.
I made a list last week of all the things I need to do to finish the Spring Fling. The list filled both side of a page on a legal pad...it increased my anxiety tenfold, at least. I know I have a lot to do, but the list seems longer on paper than it did it my head, and much more overwhelming.
This weekend, I decided, was going to be the weekend to thatch the roof, since that's the highest prioritized item on the list with the longest anticipated completion time...and the most worrisome, as I've never thatched a roof before.
It didn't take as long as I thought to do the thatching. I scheduled the entire weekend, but got it almost done yesterday. I could have finished, but sometime in the last decade, I'm not sure when exactly, I apparently became too old to sit on the floor cross-legged all day. My back was so sore by the end of the day I wanted to cry. Thankfully, all I need to do to complete it today is to do some trimming and to finish the peaks.
The longer I sit here typing the longer I can put off getting down on the floor again, so I'll share with you my observations on my first time thatching...
It's messy. Messy, messy, messy. I have coconut fibers all over the floor of my studio, down the hallway, in the bathroom, stuck to the cat, in my coffee cup...I managed to glue almost as many to myself as I did to the roof. I'm going to have to throw away the pants I wore yesterday, as they now look like part of a scarecrow costume.
It didn't take as much thatch as I thought it would. I had three hunks of fibers, but didn't use all of the first hunk. It did take a lot more glue than I expected, though...I used an entire bottle (the big sized bottle!) of Aileen's by the time I was about three quarters of the way through the thatching.
It's tedious, painstacking, messy, monotonous, frustrating, messy...and I have enough left over to thatch two to three more houses. I'll have to bury it deep enough in my supply closet that by the time I stumble across it again I'll have forgotten how painful the process was and only remember how good it looks...because you know what? It looks really, really good...and will look even better once I'm finished.
I'm still working away at the Spring Fling...I vacillate between being proud of how much I have done and panicking at how much I have left to do.
I'm almost done with the exterior finish. I spent time yesterday evening adding texture to the walls to give them more depth, then took pictures to send to Susan and Melinda for their opinions on a couple of things...and was disheartened to discover that the texture isn't noticeable in photographs, just the color. Sigh...
I won't show you a picture of the exterior of the Spring Fling build, but I will show you a couple of tables I put together from kits during drying time lulls. The Chippendale sofa table is a Mini Mundus kit and the dressing table is a McQueenie Miniatures kit. Because I had a discount coupon I won in the roombox competition with the pub I sourced as much of the furniture and accessories as I could from Minimum World. I was planning to paint the dressing table white, but after it was assembled I couldn't bear to paint that beautiful mahogany.
My husband told me I have to work a bird's nest into the Spring Fling, even pointing out the spot it needs to sit. It's not a bad idea. Actually I was a bit startled, as my husband doesn't pay any more attention to my miniatures than I do his record collection. He popped in to my studio to tell me his mother had dropped by, looked at the build, and told me he really likes the exterior finish...then he dragged his mother in to show it off. How odd.
Robins built a nest on the shelf in our carport. This morning I saw four upturned heads, beaks wide open. Just as I was getting ready to snap the picture one of their parents landed on the side of the nest with a beak full of worms, and refused to get out of my way, even though I quietly waited quite a long time. They should be in the nest for two weeks, I'm sure I'll have better pictures to post later, as they get bigger and I can see them more clearly.
After three years of blogging almost every day it's odd not to blog. I miss you guys. It's especially evident now, working on the Spring Fling kit all by myself, how much I have come to rely on your thoughts and opinions when I've run into problems or am indecisive about a path of action.
So...while I won't give away exactly what it is I'm building, I don't see why I can't share snippets. I'm getting lonely and frustrated working all by myself.
I wanted to finish the exterior over the three day Memorial Day weekend, which, in hindsight, was a totally unrealistic goal. I made a lot of progress, but (obviously) am not done. I need to marry the additions to the base unit yet, then finish papering the sides of the base unit. I've still got quite a bit of trim work to do, as well as finishing the roof. Hopefully I'll have time after that to add the finishing details which will make the building look aged.
Oh shoot, I just remembered that I haven't even unpacked the cupola and dormer kits yet. Sigh...
The picture on the left is a snippet of my inspiration building...the picture on the right is the miniature.
I'm not sure about how I finished the windows on the addition...the ones with brick on the sides and top, over a stone base. Do they look too top heavy with the darker brick over a light colored stone?
I didn't successfully translate the finish on the other windows to miniature...it looks like I painted them in candy stripes. I should have widened the trim before I papered it.