Thursday, January 31, 2013

Undersized Urbanite; January Progress

First, a slight update on my concept;

There are a couple ways of approaching Steampunk. One way is to put random gears on stuff until it looks cool, and another way is to think about everyday objects and imagine how they would be made if the world was cast into a dystopic, modern technology-free future. I've decided that the tiny residents of my house are not in a dystopia, but rather Steampunk fans themselves. So some stuff is going to look like it would work in a dystopic future(hardcore fan-work) and other things are just going to look cool(gluing gears to stuff is fun?).

Now my progress report;

The Steampunk Fridge.
For some reason, miniature fridges seem to be an issue with me.
My mother's old dollhouse had one (either a Marx or a Renwal, I'd have to check), but it was just a plastic form of a fridge-didn't open. It was basically just a hollow rectangle.
My old Playschool house never had one(which I didn't even notice until now, score one for childhood imagination), Barbie never had one(random box that I pretended was a cooler, another point for imagination), and even now they prove difficult to come by.

On the cheap, I managed to buy an icebox that I dislike and have yet to find a use for, and a defective 80's looking fridge that needs new hinge pins just to keep the doors from falling off-Actually that one is perfect for Billy, but right now I need something Steampunk and so I'm making one (I foresee most of this house being custom work).

I would like to thank Karin for explaining monitor-top refrigerators and how they work. It got me thinking in the right direction.

During a google search for reference photos I happened to find out that Brae has one (in miniature). I think it's in her Haunted Heritage house. I wasn't following her blog at the time (clearly I haven't read back posts), and even if I had been, I don't think I would've just decided to use this type of fridge. The white enamel finishes that most of these old fridges have didn't scream, "Steampunk", on their own, but after seeing some aged and refurbished versions online, I think I can make it work.

Actually making dollhouse furniture is kind of new territory, but I've fixed enough vintage pieces that I thought I could manage. This is (hopefully) the most complicated piece I have to build for this project. I used the 80's fridge to get the measurements, Adobe Illustrator to make a paper mockup/template, and here's the construction montage;
(yeah, that's about right)

It's made out of bass & balsa wood, polymer clay, cardboard, paper, and aluminum wire.

I primed it with gesso. The inside will probably be white(as with most fridges), but the outside is still up for debate(won't be white though). The muslin I used for hinges and some of the black clay areas will be painted to look like metal because it's not quite steampunk without those elements.

So that's the fridge(so far).


While waiting on part of the fridge to dry, and watching, "Switched at Birth" (trying to figure out what the heck was going on), I added the wood panel sections to the exterior.

And then I started on the crawl space. The room's half the height of the other rooms, and a crawl space, so I imagine that the residents wouldn't spend a ton of time or money decorating the place. They spend so little time in this room, that the half door doesn't even get a door knob. Just a rope pull, once I've finished painting everything.

I used some scraps from my exterior template to make back and side stone walls. It looked a little too cave like, so I swapped one wall out for wood paneling.

I also decided to start painting the stonework. Took the ugliest dark brown I had, mixed it with dark silver & gold metallic paint and gave everything a thin wash. Now it's various shades of dark brown with metallic flecks throughout. It's going to get a few more coats of paint (I'm starting dark and getting lighter as I go), but now that the darkest part is done and the stone edges have been painted, I can work on the grout.

...I might actually get this whole thing done by May.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Design, Minis, Photos, & A Lot of Talking

Most of my posts lately have been all about my entry for Undersize Urbanite , so I think it's time that I talk about some other stuff (I'm waiting for some U.U. things to dry anyways). I've got a small list of things I should talk about so...

...1. If you don't follow my blog/read all of my posts, then you may not know it, but I'm a Graphic Designer. Freelancing at the moment, I recently wrapped up a project designing a logo and some web banners for a new client.

Bon AppetEats work can be found several places online(and Florida), and is worth a look if you're in the market for some polymer clay miniatures or jewelry.

2. Happy Birthday Jazzi!

As one of the first people I've met through blogging: I thank you for being the nice, friendly person that you are. Best of wishes to you, (and mini Jazzi on her globe trotting, postal adventure).

3. In a previous post  I mentioned that I was going to post new items on Etsy.
If you've been keeping an eye on my shop via the sidebar to your right, then you may have seen a couple new things pop-up, followed by my shop being closed for several days. Sorry about that. I went with my family out to Indiana to celebrate a special someone's birthday (the Big #1), and at the last minute decided that trying to keep tabs on the shop would've taken away valuable peek-a-boo time. XD

The shop's been re-opened, and to restart the current wave of new listings, I've added this lovely necklace;

The non-jewelry, dollhouse version has already been listed (along with a couple of other chocolate boxes),

but I like this photo, so there you go.

You can find more in my Etsy shop.
Moving on...

4. Neen of the blog, "Universe in Miniature", recently acquired a vintage dollhouse, but is having trouble identify the model/brand. If you're a collector (or even just curious about these things), that can be frustrating. I told her that I'd keep an eye out for info on this house.

This is a photo of Neen's house, more on her blog.

If you've been following the progress on my Van Buren rehab, then you may remember that it took some work to find out that I did indeed have a Van Buren. Nice people online and a stock photo helped to end my search, so I'm posting this hoping that someone out there can help with Neen's. It's 1:16 scale and made of fiberboard. If you've got any ideas, either contact Neen or just comment on this post and I'll pass the info along to her. Thank you. :)

...That was going to be it for this post, but then my mother showed up with some photos she just took over at Niagara Falls today, and that inspired me to dig through my old files and share some of my neat winter photos with you;

Frozen Lake Erie, 2010. We went to a winter festival at Evengola State Park in Feb. that year. First two photos are of the frozen and snow covered waves you can find along the shore this time of year. The third photo is of some random people walking out on the lake. Personally, I wouldn't go to far from the shore, but some people were out ice fishing well beyond the horizon line, so it's safe to say that the ice was pretty solid that year.

And then we have the aforementioned Niagara Falls. Just the United State's side because I don't think I've ever gone to the Canadian side during the winter. Customs and more mist to deal with, not worth the trouble for photos when it's that cold. Winter 2008. These were taken in January, I think. The falls don't freeze over often but the mist does. The ice can build up on everything the mist can reach, including my camera, so I remember not staying on the observation deck for very long. Top photo is just the American falls, while the bottom photo also has the Horseshoe falls in the background.

One misconception about the WNY area is that it's a snowy frozen wasteland for most of the year. Not true, we get all of the seasons (sometimes all in one week-twice) and a lot of beautiful things to see throughout the year.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Undersized Urbanite - Exterior Siding Done...ish

Spent the week doing three things at once, BUT then I finished two of the things and as a "reward", I decided to spend most of Thursday finishing the egg carton siding on my cupboard house. Which is good because it really needs to be done, I can work on other parts of the house...finish the whole thing by May...

 As you may remember, I wanted to incorporate some kind of sculptural emblem into the siding of the house and was using this vintage wallpaper as my inspiration;

(specifically, that geometric looking flower)

And after lots of thinking, sketching, re-sketching, and re-thinking,...I started to put it all together.
I decided against the giant square of paper-clay on the front of the house, but I couldn't glue my egg carton stones in place until I knew what the final design would be (Since it's SteamPunk, there were some ideas about using gear shapes, but I decided that sticking gears on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g would be overkill). So I reworked the geometric flower into something even more geometric, decided to just stick with using egg cartons for the design, and then I got to work.

traced the design onto the template

improvised a few more details as I worked.

With that finally finished, I could now glue on all of those egg carton pieces that I previously cut out (had to make a few dozen more because,  of course, I ran out half way through)


I think that having the large stones being cut into by the emblem's shape would've looked a bit forced, so I added on a few more sections to the design(more detail-yay!), and am going to try adding some metal elements(metallic paint anyway) in where the red drawing still shows through.

As you may have noticed (either here or the previous post) some of the egg cartons have text printed on them. I am going to paint the siding once I decide on a roof, but it would take a ton of paint to cover the text and that would ruin the texture of my stonework...
...Which is why I primed everything with gesso. Dabbed in a couple of thin layers over the text and then just dry brushed the rest. The uneven consistency will help make it look like real stone when it's done.

(The green-ish vertical sections will be covered with paneling later on.)

The side panels(not shown in photo) came out a little darker than the front so they'll probably look a bit older, but I know that with real stone and brick buildings it's usually like that (you spend more time maintaining the what can be seen from the street, so the back of the building ages a little faster).

The siding is glued together, primed, and ready for paint. Hooray!

Now what? Everything else? ...OK.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A January Headache & Egg Cartons

The past few days I have had a headache that Would. Not. Go. Away. I think it's the weather(or just January?). It didn't stop me from getting my design work done, but it did kill my ambition to work on anything else this week. So not much happening in the mini world, and I think I'm just going to skip the, "Happy New Year", blog post (Happy New Year!)...

...Although I will take the time to say that because 2012 was supposedly going to be the year that the world ended(which I've known about since...6th grade), I approached things with more of a 'Carpe Diem' (seize the day!) attitude than normal. Went all in on the freelance designer/artist thing, walked away from the closest thing I ever had to a steady income because it was conflicting with my career goals, and ignored anyone that tried to talk me out of either of those decisions. So thank you 2012. I'm broke and uncertain of my future, but surprisingly not scared and way less delusional about that uncertain future.
2013, I've got a ton of work to do...Don't let me down.

So after two paragraphs of ranting, I now move on to what non-work thing I did manage to work on this week;

(Yeah, I know it looks like I just colored it red)

I filled in all of the extra spaces, (more stone/less grout), and made the templates for the other exterior walls. I drew bricks over the sculptural part for the time being, something is still going above the door, but the gray square was really bugging me (needs to be more Steampunk). I'll re-work that part later. 

The house front/cabinet door is wider that the rest of the house/shelving, so a part of it that looks like interior wall (when open), is actually exterior. Which means that I needed to make a couple tiny wall templates for those places too (glad I caught that).

My plan is to glue and paint everything right on the templates and the stick them onto the house with double-sided tape. That way, should I screw up, or change my mind about this whole thing in a year or two, I'm not stuck prying it all off and then having to repaint the whole thing. And if  the tape stops holding in a year or two, and I still like it, then I'll permanently glue it all in place. It's either a good plan or I'm in the middle of another, "Learning Experience". Should be fun.
Also this week, I decided to start in on cutting out the egg carton stone pieces.
(Thus proving to my family-I am not a hoarder, I really am going to use these.)

(I bleach these before I use them, Idk if you have too, 
but it kills germs and it assured my family that their 
egg carton donations weren't going to kill me...
...If you're not an adult, ask one for permission before using bleach)
I only went through two of the smaller cartons so far (not sure if all the pieces are in that photo). The pieces are pretty big (considering everything else anyways), so only the carton tops worked. I'm still saving the bottoms though, I will probably find a use for them elsewhere.

Hoping to get more done next week, and catch up with my plans for the Etsy shop (that was supposed to be this week too, *sigh*).

Fortunately, the headache seems to be gone now (woohoo!).