Thursday, December 27, 2012

Undersized Urbanite-Style Decided...Finally

Thanks to the winter storm (a lot of snow-no big if you're from Buffalo) I know that I'm not going out for a while, so now's a good time to stay in and talk about my progress on the Cupboard City Townhouse. First, here's what I did after my last update;

Since my sketches are only 8X10in., but the house is 14.5X23.5 in. I decided to enlarge the earlier grayscale version and adjust it to fit the front of the house,

Which involved a little more cutting/pasting than planned. It turns out that the roof was way off.

Ditched the roof for the time being(it was just a sketch), patched a few spots on the front, and...I didn't like it. Some parts I knew would need adjusting (bigger stone pieces, less grout area, fixing parts that don't line up right), but even when I was sketching it out, something wasn't right(and it's kind of boring).

The colors weren't matching and I was struggling with the style/theme. I kept switching between Victorian & modern, floral and industrial. I knew I wanted brass and tarnished metal colors throughout the house, but my brain was not putting it all together. Hadn't looked at the plans since I packed everything up to make room for Christmas, but thanks to after Christmas sales, I decided to make a few final decisions that thankfully sorted out most my decorating problems.

One store had scrap book paper on sale, so I picked out the first floor's 'wallpaper'. Since I really want the brass fireplace to work out, instead of yellow, I'm going with just gold("brass"), and black. I almost never use gold, I don't even wear it, but I'm up for trying new things on this challenge.

So along with a riveted/brass fireplace, I decided on these modern gold/black stripes & a faded floral prints.

Went to basically every craft & hobby shop in the area and got a few post Christmas deals (sort of unrelated stuff-I'll get to later), not realizing that, by deciding on that brass fireplace and color scheme, I had settled on a style without even acknowledging it. Why? Well I came across these at my last stop:

Turns out that I was just a few gears shy of seeing the whole picture.

I'm trying to design a house around a brass fireplace, with riveted details. I'm combining brass and gears with a faded Victorian-esque floral pattern...

...Duh, it's Steampunk.

I'm making a Steampunk house! No wonder my exterior didn't feel right. It needs metal and pipes, and gears. Not the greens and grayish brown colors I've been sketching in. Thankfully I was only sketching up to this point, now I can just change a few things without having to completely redo anything (see, always sketch out your ideas first).

I haven't really tried Steampunk yet, but I know that normal looking furniture/appliances aren't going to look right, and that I should probably do some research before I sketch out the rest of the rooms. For the sake of finishing on time though, I am going to move forward with the sketches I've already started.

Here's the original layout;

And here's how some of my 1:12 scale furniture actually fits;

I am planning on a smaller fridge and a smaller counter/island instead of a table, so this could work. I might have to rethink the door if I can't get everything to fit, but I'm OK with that.

My current to-do list;

Finish sketching out the house
Re-work exterior
Look up how to make a Steampunk refrigerator.

Now I just have to find time to do all of this. ^_^

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas ~ 2012

I wasn't planning on a Christmas scene, but since the Billy, happens to have a tree now, it's small resident decided to put it to good use and throw a Christmas party.

He invited his cabbage patch friends, various other random dolls, a penguin, and the Catrina from Halloween (she's been sitting outside the house since October, so he invited her in). It was a modest celebration.

Props used;
The tree, if you're not following along, is JS Miniatures.
The cabbage patch dolls are old McDonald's happy meal toys from my childhood.
Everything else is misc. gifts from friends, garage sale/ebay finds, recovered items from the Van Buren, and/or my own handmade originals.

Speaking of which, if you've had your eye on one of my mini gingerbread houses or any of my other works currently available in the Etsy shop, they will remain posted until January (unless they're sold, of course). After that, some of the listings will expire, and I'm not planning on renewing the seasonal items until those holidays roll around again(that includes fall and winter holidays).

New things are in the works for after Christmas, including progress on my entry in the Undersized Urbanite Contest (I hope), but until then,

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The JS Miniatures Christmas Tree

I was lucky enough to be the winner of the Christmas giveaway over at the JS Miniatures blog. I've never won a blog giveaway before, so I was pretty excited. Jennifer, who is very nice btw, has a couple online shops, so I'm going to try and promote her work a little.

First, what did I win?

The Decorated Christmas Tree Kit with tinsel & baubles

I set it up inside Billy's kitchen/living room. The house's (still unfinished) resident was surprised, he didn't know that he was getting a Christmas tree. Here he's taking a break from hanging baubles on the tree, so I could take a photo. (I would love to make a Christmas scene, but I've got a deadline this week. So it will have to wait.) I like the natural wood color, but I might paint it if  I decide to keep using it in this house (it doesn't go well with the floor...maybe I should try a rug).

The tree is perfect for 1/12th scale and it's surprisingly sturdy. Little trees have the habit of falling over on me, that's not a problem with this one. And the baubles are pretty.

Jennifer also included fool-proof assembly instructions and tips for finishing the tree. All you have to do is slide two pieces together, but I could see a novice miniaturist running into trouble with paint and glue without that info.

This is a Christmas decoration, but she makes and sells beautiful minis year round.  
If you aren't following her blog yet, you can find it here.  
And here's her Etsy shop. (The fireplaces are gorgeous).

Thank you for the giveaway Jennifer! The tree was a nice Christmas surprise and I appreciate it.



Friday, December 14, 2012

Undersized Urbanite - Exterior Plan

Everything I was supposed to do this week has been delayed and pushed to next week, which means that the stuff I was saving for next week had to move to this week, otherwise I would be sitting around doing nothing. Sort of unhappy about this because now I'm behind on this week's to-do list and I had to throw some stuff together just so I could try to do next week's stuff now. On the bright side though, I did work out some of my plans for the Undersized Urbanite contest.

Click here to see my first post about this project. I'll post new photos when I actually do something to the cupboard house. Because I have a deadline and limited materials, I'm being a designer about it and sketching things out first. Here's how that's going;

The cupboard's setup is a little odd. The front is basically a silhouette of a house and the inside is a shelving unit that really doesn't match. All white, it isn't a distraction, so hopefully my siding decisions won't mess that up. I had already decided to do stone(egg carton) siding. The Van Buren's going to be an old cobblestone, so it's clean cut stone for this house.

(Just took a photo and painted over it in Photoshop)

I don't remember which architect it was (I know it was around Frank Lloyd Wright's time, pretty sure it wasn't him though. Oh, this is going to bug me...), but they thought that tall buildings should be designed to actually look tall. I kind of agree, and this house has four floors (that's tall), so I'm (hopefully) adding some vertical wood paneling along the windows to make it feel more like you're looking at a tall little house. Although, next to those small stone bricks it is looking a tad busy, so bigger stone pieces,...maybe. 
I also decided to add in a small sculptural element in-between the two upper windows as an interesting detail (sculpted out of paperclay). I marked it's place in the above sketch idea, but didn't really have any inspiration for the design. 

In my parents' kitchen, there's a very busy, entertaining old 70's wallpaper (some hate it, I love it). I kind of liked these two characters;

A very geometric looking flower would be perfect for the stone sculpture. I've also been playing around with some ideas for stained glass windows (fake ones of course), and the tail on that bird was just the abstract form I thought I was looking for. So after some copy/paste and enlarging that bird for the windows I ended up with this;

I don't hate it, but I did not really want to use red for the exterior. So I saved it in gray-scale, printed it out, and used colored pencils to sketch in some details.

I want it to be more brown than green(just a little green along the edges), but it's getting there. I didn't want to just copy that flower, so I've been reworking it into something more original, and I'm starting to like the stained glass design(this is the 4th sketch idea). Might just use white and blue because the yellow makes it look like the house is on fire (ah!). I've got some, "frosted vinyl", that I plan to use for that.

I think I'm almost ready to actually begin work on the exterior. ^_^

So how are the inside sketches going?

Well I decided that the, "Crawl Space", will be a basement. And I started mapping out the 1st floor above that;

(It's like a pile of blocks-I did this one in Illustrator, btw)

I labeled it for you, so I don't have to explain much. It's a kitchen/living room. Left is the kitchen. Right is the living room. There will be cushions or chairs once I figure out how much will fit in this space(haven't measured anything yet). The fireplace is something I've been wanting to try since last summer. This house has two implied chimneys and no giant windows to stop me. No nautical stuff though. I haven't settled a theme yet, but I know brass seashells would be a bit much(sorry houseboat fireplace).

Colors for this room,...For some reason I want to use black and yellow. That's a potentially ugly combination, (And I thought it up before I remembered the brass fireplace-which would match...) but it is different from anything I've done before. That's one of my goals with this project, so I'll go with it (at least in the sketches).

The door on the right would just be for show. The house seems a bit narrow, and I don't have room for stairs, so I'm thinking that adding in some fake doors will make it look a little more believable as a house.

I'm still a little torn on what artwork will be on the back wall. I've used business cards and print-outs before, but that was stuff I've had sitting around since I was a kid. Now I'm an adult, and an illustrator. I kind of think I should be using more of my own work. The only piece that I have that works with my current concept is, "Dancing";

It's not quite right though. There's a ton of red, And who wants a foot in their kitchen? Maybe I'll draw something new, or recolor something else...I'll figure that out once I actually have a room in progress.

Well, that's my plan so far. I like that it's only December and I already have an almost-solid idea for the exterior(I don't even know if that was supposed to be sarcastic or not). Seriously though, if you're participating in this contest, and you haven't worked much under deadlines-Get started ASAP. May will be here before you know it and minis can take forever to finish. :)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Quick Sale on Etsy

I was thinking about having a small sale, and there are quite a few seasonal items in my shop, so...

Semi-Random December Sale!

From now until sometime Tuesday Evening (whenever I change the prices back),
Everything in the, "Seasonal Minis and Decor", section of my Etsy shop is on sale.
No coupons needed, Sale prices are listed in the item descriptions.

Please visit the , "Seasonal Minis and Decor", section to see the new sale prices.

All purchases made through my shop by 7pm(EST) Tuesday 12/11, will be shipped out on Wednesday 12/12.

 Happy Holidays.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Small Surprise

Last week was St. Nicholas day. Wikipedia has a pretty accurate description, so I won't waste your time poorly re-explaining it. I'm in the United States where it's not an actual holiday, but since my ancestry is a mix between German and French, some European traditions are still kept up within my family. I always liked getting a visit from St. Nick when I was little. It gave me something to look forward to in-between Thanksgiving and Christmas (that's a long time for a little kid)

Since it's Christmas time, yes there are stockings hanging up in the living room, but I'm in my 20's now. I thought it was safe to assume that I had outgrown the tradition.

Nope, I was wrong, "St. Nicholas" showed up. I was doing some design work when I noticed that the stocking with my name on it had something tucked inside. Guess I was good this year;

It's furniture made for mini outdoor/fairy gardens, a local garden store carries them. I don't have a garden, but I was at this store a few months ago with my mother. She knew I thought these were neat, and that Billy has no outside furniture. But how St. Nicholas knew these things, I do not know...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Undersized Urbanite-I'm In!

Long ago, well a year or so, I started a modest blog about, me and my art/design profession, BUT THEN 3 posts in I posted a link to a dollhouse challenged issued by an HGTV star (who will not be named here).  I barely even started my blog, hadn't heard about the challenge until it was far to late to start, didn't really have time to work on a dollhouse, and was still visibly uncertain about bringing my underdeveloped miniature hobby to the internet (I can be a real idiot sometimes). My plan was to watch the whole thing play out, slightly disappointed that I couldn't find the time to enter the challenge myself. The blog fates may have been on my side though because the hostess flaked, and the participants were pretty much left to end the challenge themselves.

While that challenge was a flop, it did sort of strengthen the mini-blogging community. Or at least it helped it get a little more connected. And by finding all of these blogs I've since had the chance to be part of a few smaller challenges. Which is why after hearing that there was a new dollhouse challenge, that actually seems to be legit and not at all delusional in nature, I've been looking for a way to justify participating. And this weekend I think I found it. So as of right now I'm joining in on:

I didn't think I had a house for this, but gee, this looks like a house doesn't it?

It was supposed to be a display for future projects and I was going to use it as practice for egg carton stonework(before trying it on the Van Buren). So that's 2 birds, 3 once I add my name to the contest page, with one stone. Awesome!

Here's the inside;

Kind of weird, right?

So I'm basically doing my own miniature rendition of that White Room Challenge show. I'm thinking  city townhouse as the theme, trying to keep myself from designing the same house over and over. It's not a super small house, but it's still pretty compact.  Here's my plan, thus far;

I think I should do some sketch ideas first.

I'm got some more freelance work (I love saying that) and I'm still finishing some things for Christmas & the Etsy shop, but once Christmas is under control I'm sure I can find time to work on this project. How can I justify it? Easy, I'm a designer, and I sell minis, for a living. This is self-promotion. Why did I not think of this sooner? Because I can be a real idiot sometimes (told you).

This should be fun. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The 2012 Mini Gingerbread House Series

 I made a couple mini gingerbread houses last year for a contest, and they ended up being one of the most popular things in my DA gallery. So I thought I would try and make it a yearly tradition.

This is the 2012 Mini Gingerbread House Series, by Kyle Lefort;

Everything is hand sculpted. The houses and tiny candies are polymer clay and TLS. The base is re-purposed cardboard, covered in paper-clay, and painted with acrylic paint.

They took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to make (started in September), but I'm pretty happy with them.

I just posted them all separately in my Etsy shop.
I don't like being a salesman, but when they're gone, they're gone-just sayin'.

Happy Holidays. :)