Thursday, January 26, 2012

Headache and miniatures don't mix

I had more time as usual of late and spent most of it working on my miniatures.  I had a piano to finish, made a piano stool and there was also this kit which I was working on.  Today it all came to a halt, because of a headache.  Hence this update of my blog.  Working on the computer is not so draining as concentrating on your work on the wood lathe.

My piano is finally finished.  I had a bit of a setback, but I can only blame myself.  As I mentioned before, my stain was rather old and I should have bought a new can. I would have done a much better job. Now I had to varnish my piano to make it look more presentable, but in reality it made it look worse.  To top it all of the rain has been pelting down here for three days in a row, so it was not quite the right sort of weather to paint or varnish anything.  Everything stayed sticky for a long time.  However, I am quite happy with the way my turning worked out.  I wanted to add some decorative turnings on either side.  Since my son had come and set up his wood lathe I tried my hand at it. The difficulty I was facing was that I needed two identical half shapes and was not game to put a turned piece through my sawing machine or scroll saw.  Fortunately my husband told me this trick: glue two pieces of wood together with wood glue and a piece of paper in between.  So I did and after a bit of practicing I ended up with these:

Remember the problem I had when my stain was too watery and the glue dissolved?  Well, in this case I used the dissolving glue to my advantage.  I turned the wood first and then threw the turnings in warm water.  This is the result.

A piano on its own doesn't look good, so I added a stool as well.  I need to practice turning a bit more for one of those old fashioned stools with a revolving seat, but a modern one will do for now:

The rounded edge of the seat is the toothpick that I showed you before, sanded back so I ended up with a half-round.  The seat has a cushion of very soft kangaroo leather and can be opened to store sheet music:

So, that's finished and now I will need to store both somewhere till I'll find a home for them.  The pictures were taken inside my flower shop.  They can stay there till I get a move on with the shop.

I've also finished the garden gloves and made a basket for them to be used in a garden.  I have made them suitably dirty, so they can't be sold in the shop. ;-)

I had two goes at the basket, because the first time around I made the strips too wide.  The second one looks better, but I used coloured varnish for a change and I don't know if I am happy with the result.  However, I have plenty of baskets, so it doesn't hurt to try something different for a change.

Well, that's it for the moment.  The school holidays are behind us now and the weeks will be busier from now on with all the classes and clubs that I attend, so I don't know how much I will be able to show you.  I do know that I still like to do more wood turning and I am currently looking at a chair with turned legs.  I'll keep you posted.

I have finally found some time to go and visit all the blogs of my new followers (insofar I could find one) and have enjoyed myself very much.  A warm welcome to all of you:

Ana Anselmo at MiniaturesForever
Deborah at Petit 
Audra Pangle 
Karin Corbin at Karin Corbin Miniatures 
Myriam de Bruin at Millie Fleur 
Lea (Auteur du livre Le Grand Livre de la Maison Miniature) at Un jour a la campagne 
Patrizia at Le Magie di Patty
Maragverdugo at Pequeneces
Cristina f
Silver Thistle at SilverThistles 
Sherry Raines 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stools galore and more

Since that piano looked a bit lonely so by itself I decided I'd make a piano stool as well.  I can't finish the piano anyway at the moment, because I thought it lacked something and that is some more decoration at the top half.  I am setting up a wood lathe at the weekend, with the help of my son, who kindly lent it to me and then I will try my hand at some turning.

I could have also turned some parts for a piano stool, but I wasn't going to wait.  I have started on a more modern one with a leather seat and room underneath the seat for sheet music.  I don't have a picture yet, but one of the hard parts was a decorative strip of a half round that I wanted to fix around the seat.  When talking about it it was suggested that I sand back a toothpick, so that's what I did, and with success I might add:

Sanding back a toothpick
In a perfect life I would by now have finished the stool, but my stain was very old and had become quite watery, the good stuff sitting on the bottom of the tin.  As I didn't want to go out and get a new tin I used the old one, but had to put on quite a number of coats to get the darker colour.  Impatiently I didn't let it dry enough between coats and the whole stool fell apart, the water based wood glue having dissolved!  Well, a lesson learned.  The stool is now drying properly on my workbench.

In the meantime I wanted to try and finish a few more of the numerous kits I have lying around.  This time a modern little kitchen stool-cum-stepladder.  It is a copy of an original one brought out by Ikea.  The kit wasn't designed by me, but it's very cute:

One day I will make a modern kitchen.  Till then I'll just look at the result with satisfaction.  I also have a kit for a fridge somewhere, but I'll leave that one till I actually start this kitchen.  That'll be a long way off yet.

Last night I have started on another kit: a basket with garden gloves and such.  Yes, I am on a roll while I have the time...  I am not happy with the basket, I've done a better job in the past, but I am nearly finished with the gloves and just love them:

This is one of the two.  It's made of real leather and I was even game enough to separate the fingers, so it's a correct into the very detail.  It was fiddly work, to be honest, so I leave the other one till tomorrow and go off to bed now.  See ya...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

More on the ironing board and a piano in progress

Another diversion.  I am all over the place right now.  Just the way I like it! Just doing things I feel like doing.  This time I have done some more work on my ironing board, because I don't like things to look brand new in miniature.  In real life it's quite different, I can tell you. :-)

As you can see, by now the ironing board has had some good use.  It shows the usual spot where the iron singes the fabric.  Instead of the required metal sheet that the workshop in the magazine required, I made wooden edging around the end bit and placed 'asbestos' in the space where the iron usually rests.  I know  asbestos is a dirty word nowadays, but that is what our mothers used in those times.  I have used a bit of old cardboard that I split through the centre.  It had just the required texture and with a dirty smudge it looks quite realistic. A few nails to keep the fabric in place, just like on my mother's ironing board, finishes it off nicely.  While I was at it I remembered that my mother had an additional small board for ironing sleeves, so I made one of those as well.  It looks different from the big ironing board, but that was intentional, because the little board has been re-covered and some small edging fabric has been put around it and fastened with a few nails.  As I said, I don't like pristine objects.  Real life isn't like that.

I am also working on a piano.  It's mainly finishing off a workshop that I had done during my holiday last year with Bert Aarts.  It's not quite finished yet, because I want to somehow decorate the top front with turned elements, but don't know exactly how to go about it yet.  So, the piano itself is finished, but I can't varnish until I have put on the additional decorations.

I have stained the piano in rosewood.  It's probably an unusual colour for a piano, but I liked it and we can take poetic licence, can't we?  The keyboard is only lying on top, to be glued in later. I will add some sheet music of course and now I am looking at the picture I think it calls for a piano stool as well.  Maybe I should take up some more wood turning, but might make a modern stool in the meantime.

Rest me to extend a warm welcome to my latest follower: Patrizia.  I noticed you are also building a flower shop.  It looks promising.  Have you seen mine at The Florist's?  Making miniature plants is another passion of mine.

Well, that's it for today.  It has just started to rain, so what better things to do than playing with my minis????

Bye for now

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My dolls house - part 5

Today I got a bit frustrated with working on the house.  I shouldn't forget that from the beginning this house was to practice on and get some experience, but when things go wrong, like today, I tend to forget that.

I have been fixing the front walls to the house, but the end result is terribly.  The wood is warped and even though I had it under a damp cloth and heavy weight for a while it has not straightened.  The doors are supposed to be held in place by magnets, but those puny little things don't even have strength to keep them closed.

But first I am going to return to where I left of.  After the house had a nice coat of blue I started on the chimneys and dormitories.  The chimneys are very basic.  The dormitories were supposed to be put together and glued on top of the roof.  At first I wanted to make square holes in the roof so you could really look into the attic through the windows, but I didn't want to spoil what I had finished so far, because the roof is rather fragile since the three parts are butted onto each other and glued in place.  Instead I painted the inside black and hung lace curtains in the windows.  At least it looks a bit realistic.

 And then came the big job of glueing the shingles on.  Again it's a cheap finish with just cardboard 'shingles' that are shiny into the bargain.  The roof is overhanging the front doors, so it will get damaged quite easily.  I don't think I am going to care much about it.  While everything is drying I prepare the steps for the front door and the front door itself.  It needs a door knocker, a door handle and a cover for the lock.  The knocker and handle came with the kit, the lock cover was molded into the plastic, but I managed to paint it gold with a good quality pigment.  For a plastic door it looks reasonably well.

So far so good.  It's late again, so I am going to watch the last of the tennis and might see you back tomorrow.  So long.....

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My dolls house - part 4

With tennis on tv in the background I thought I'd fill a bit of time getting another installment done on my dolls house story.  It's been a while since I have worked on it, partially because of health problems, partially because of the busy holiday period with visiting grandchildren and such.  However I am back with a few more pictures.

I must own up to the fact that I don't like this dolls house very much, other than that it got me started with this wonderful hobby.  It's not of the best quality and I am mostly using it to practice, although I tend to spend more time on the interior.  The exterior I don't like at all with its plastic window and door frames and cardboard roof tiles, but I am too eager to get it finished to put a lot of extra effort in finishing it differently.

I have to go back all the way to 2008.  As I was too keen on working on the interior I just went on and decorated the kitchen, hallway and living room.  Not before I was happy with those did I proceed with the next floor and the attic.  Really stupid, in hindsight, because it was much more difficult to straighten the walls and floors and get everything square.  Video cases and clamps helped me nicely along, but I needed to keep them there for days on end...

First floor: bathroom and living room

The walls being kept straight with video cases and clamps

The attic and roof put on

A sneak preview of what it will look like with the front walls and windows 
As you can see in the picture above the roof came in three parts and had to be butted together and then glued.  As there was no other support the roof parts wouldn't sit together correctly, so I removed the smaller hinges and attached them with a piano hinge the length of the house. Picture below (taken recently):

Next I added an undercoat and came across some pretty wallpaper for the bedroom.  That was the last I did for a few years and the house just stood and gathered dust.  It moved house twice with me when I relocated, and it wasn't until last year before I started working on it again.  I fixed all the front walls, glued the frame on and the wallpaper of the respective rooms, only to discover that I no longer had any wallpaper for the bedroom (or I couldn't find it).  So, I might have to just paint the front wall of the bedroom.  I just wish I had had a spare bit, then I would have copied and printed an extra sheet, but hey, that's life!

Living room wall

Kitchen wall
The bedroom wall I had to leave blank as well, because I have no idea yet what I am going to do with that area.  I might even split it up into two rooms, since the bathroom is rather big.

Next I had to choose a colour for the exterior.  I went for roughly the same blue as I had used in the kitchen, because from experience I know that the fewer colours one uses, the better it is in miniature scenes.  Besides, the white of the window frames will look nice and crisp against the blue background.

And that's the house painted so far.  Tomorrow I will show you the rest of the pictures as it is rather late now and I am longing to go to bed and relax for a bit with a good book and perhaps a glass of red?

See you later

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A diversion from my dollshouse story

I know I was telling you all about the dolls house I am building, but sometimes I take a break and do other things instead.  This time I have been trying out the new machines I bought earlier last year, during my overseas holiday.  I already had a disc sander and a table saw that I hadn't used much, but I wrote about it in the instalment: Getting Technical.  Back then I made a sliding table for my sawing machine.  I have also bought a thicknesser and it works a treat.  So I managed to lay my hands on some finely grained wood which I then put through my thicknesser to make it 2mm thick, the thickness I needed for my projects. 
My handy little machine in action

I wanted to make some wooden furniture and looked through my magazines for something that wouldn't be too hard to start with.  I found an old fashioned ironing board and a the very chair I would be able to use in my 50s house that I plan to build in the future.  It is a chair that converts to a little stepladder.  We used to have one like it when I grew up in the 50s and I have one right now, but a more luxury one which, in this case, is called a library chair.

The ironing board I changed a bit from the project in the magazine to make ik look more like the one my mother had.  The kitchen chair I had to make twice, because the first time I was 1 degree out with the hind legs.  That made them shorter, because they spread wider outwards, so I had to make the front leg shorter and also the back rest, because when you move it over to create the stepladder it sits on the floor.  Anyway, it was still usable, so I kept it, but made another one the correct way.

Since I wanted to use templates to get the degrees correct I decided to make a few kits to be used for a workshop at our miniature club.  All in all I had an enjoyable time and got to know my machines a bit better. :-)

The ironing board and two chairs, one of which is converted into a step ladder

Ironing board folded away

Both chairs together

The kitchen chair as a chair

The same chair as a step ladder

Sorry, I had published too soon (pressed the wrong button again!) and hadn't uploaded all my pictures yet.  Also I would like to welcome a number of new followers.  Unfortunately the list keeps coming up with different names all the time, so I am not too sure who the last newcomers were, but I wish you all a warm welcome and also a happy new year.