Closing Some Loops

Another Sunday…and yet again, I ended up finishing something that was hobby related. Though I guess this time, it’s perfectly okay given that (a) the house is finally cleaned (hurray!) and (b) I really wasn’t in the mood to do anything pertaining to office work (double hurray!).

I did do some work on DCC – but most of it were just sanding the lumber pieces to make the beams and horizontal slats for the exterior. Which would honestly make for a boring-ass entry. Plus, I had to play baby-sitter to my resident Daft Punk duo. I’m doing everything in my power to not let them know of my remaining collection in storage. I really DO NOT want to be coerced to drive down to the storage unit just so they can check out the bins a la dumpster diving style. XD

Anyways, back to the point of this entry. Yes, it’s about the Neville House, and no, it didn’t get kidnapped like the ARC I. It’s more of an update on what I promised to do to resolve the piss-poor craptacular poorly thought-out, constructed rail on the front deck. If you recalled from previous entries, my attempt to create a “glass” rail left me with a version that was tilting forward due to lack of bracing/support.

*Insert long sigh of disappointment*

In “Change of Game Plans”, I did a to-do list of how to correct this seriously craptacular gross miscalculation. For starters, instead of one continous, single rail, I would install posts in specific intervals on the front deck. Then in between the posts, I’ll install pieces of plexiglass that are sandwhiched between two wood rails/channels…

CorrectedNeville-1

Where the posts will be positioned. The numbers indicate the foundation supports underneath the deck/whole house.

…..and install a support brace on the right side of the Neville house to anchor the new rails.

Side view of schematic.

Side view of schematic.

I said that it would be a straight-forward task. What I didn’t expect was how quickly I finished the task. Think for this…it took about 2 hours. Probably could have been made shorter sans the whole cutting plexiglass part.

To begin, I removed the existing railing. And given the crappy job (finally! the censor police didn’t cross this crap out  – dammit!) I did on that, it came off pretty easily. A quick scrape to remove any glue residue and a thorough sanding pretty much made the deck ready for its new piece.  Next, I cut out and prep the posts. I used a piece of 1/4 x 1/4 inch stripwood, from which I cut four 1 1/2″ tall posts.

The cut posts.

The cut posts…and the (now) rail-less deck.

I sanded each piece until it was smooth all over, then applied some beeswax polish to give it a golden finish. At this point, it was time to do some installation.

All waxed and ready to go.

All waxed and ready to go.

Sorry for repeating this photo, but it quickly gives you an idea of where I’m planning to install the posts. The ones on the far left and right are obvious, but the two inner ones were a bit of a challenge given that I needed to make sure they align to the mullions of the deck windows (shown in the yellow arrows). It’s perhaps a minor detail, but I wanted to maintain some kind of symmetry if possible.

CorrectedNeville-1

Using the above photo as a guide, I installed the posts starting from the left. I used Quick Grip adhesive because I wanted the posts to set pretty quickly. To make it a little easier for me, I positioned the posts to be flush against the front edge of the deck. I stacked some MDF pieces to act as barriers and to make sure the posts are flushed and even.

Making sure the posts are attached flush.

Making sure the posts are attached flush.

Once the 4th post was attached, I did a bunch more measurements for the anchor braces. Again, I used the 1/4 x 1/4 inch stripwood to keep things consistent.

Measuring out the support brace parts.

Measuring out the support brace parts.

Once the parts were cut, I decided to do a dry fit run to make sure the braces were even. Good thing I did that, because I realized the following problem.

Well this freaking sucks.

Well this freaking sucks.

If you look at the above photo, you’ll notice that the main deck (the area in the middle) is flanked by a strip of dark wood (mahoghany). Problem is, the strip on the right (where the windows rest) is higher than the left side. In terms of a solution, I went the easy route by making sure the lower support beam is even via shims. And in terms of shims…I just used some spare 1/4 x 3/8 inch stripwood I had on hand. To make sure the shims stay in place, I planted some acrylic paint bottles pin the strips/shims while the glue dried.

The brace on the shims.

The brace on the shims.

Once the bottom brace was secured (I used more Quick Grip adhesive – I wanted the glue to quickly grab and hold), the top brace was applied. I used a small T-Square to make sure it was as even as I could make it. It looks kinda crooked here based on the angle shot I did.

NevilleNewPosts-09

Support brace completed.

After the support braces were in place, it was time to install the lower rails for the front part of the deck. I purchased more 1:24 scale porch railings on eBay (it was a little cheaper) to use for this project because I wanted to use the bottom rails (they were more square in shape). Once I measured the distance between the posts, I sawed the pieces and sanded them smooth. Once the wood pieces were waxed and prepped, I used Tacky Glue to glue and clamp the bottom rails into position.

Installing the lower rails.

Installing the lower rails.

After the lower rails were installed, I used the measurements of the bottom rails to cut the top rails. I wanted these to be prepped and ready to go once I cut the plexiglass to fit. And in true fashion, I didn’t take pics of the process. Which was probably good, given that I initially cut out a strip of plexiglass that was 1 3/8 inches in height. Only to find out that it was too tall for my already installed railings. So I had to recut the plexiglass strip down to about 1 1/4 inches. Will not lie folks — cutting plastic sheets is no picnic. I ended up pulling out the vac after all was said and done just to make sure I didn’t have pieces of it strewn everywhere.

But once the plexiglass pieces were cut down to size and ready, this part went fast. For each section (luckily there were only three), I dropped the plexiglass so the bottom edge is right inside the groove of the bottom rail. Then I took the top rail, dabbed glue on the ends, and carefully slid it in place. I wanted its channel to rest directly on the top edge of the plexiglass, but also have its edges stay tightly flushed between the posts. I used rubber bands as clamps until the glue dried.

Finished rail 1 of 3. Hard to see the plexiglass at this angle though.

Finished rail 1 of 3. Hard to see the plexiglass at this angle though.

Soon, I was repeating the above process on the other sections…only to slap my forehead when I realized the far right fail is shorter than the others (d’oh!). Too late now I guess. :P

The new rails.

The new rails.

But in the end….I finished the tasks. And this actually looks much, MUCH better!

Woot! It's done!

Woot! It’s done!

NevilleNewPosts-16

It’s hard to make out the plexiglass, but it is there. Once everything dries, I’ll need to wipe it down to remove smudges.

 

NevilleNewPosts-17

The new support braces. Hopefully this keeps the railings even and flushed!

It's done!

It’s done!

Am pretty pleased with the result. Whatcha think?

 

The DCC Build – Lost in Translation

Besides being the first weekend in spring (finally!), I actually got to enjoy the house by myself. BK is currently on work travel until next Friday, so till then…I have full reign of the house. Granted, I still have to work, look after the pet rats, and (finally!) clean the house…but it’s definitely nice to have fewer distractions. And enjoy eating all sorts of food BK was never a fan of. Like kimchi. Or certain Filipino dishes. Most of which I can’t cook properly, so this means take out! :D

Anyways…while my dear husband is away, I can actually enjoy the luxury of working on my mini projects almost nonstop. In the case of the DCC, I (think) I have my gameplan set. It’s definitely going to be a kitbash, and while I do have an idea of what to do….I probably should be prepared to accept and make last minute changes as the build progresses. Not gonna lie folks – I’m pretty &%^@#$ nervous in that there’s a really high percentage of royally screwing this up. And that…that will not be a good sign.

At least though, there was a silver lining of sorts. My local USPS dude came by with the Saturday mail….and a package. My Daft Punk figures arrived!

What I found in the shipping box....

What I found in the shipping box….

Talk about excellent timing — just when I’m about to start working on the DCC, its muses arrived in their full glory. These guys are set to 1:12 scale, so they’re a perfect size for the build once it’s done.

Yay! They're here!

Yay! They’re here!

Alongside their scale, they’re not only ridiculously poseable….but apparently each figure comes with 7 pairs of hands you can swap. For Monsieur Homen-Christo (the dude with the black-gold helmet), I put his peace sign hands to go for the whole “risen” effect.

Freedom from my clear plastic prison!

Freedom from my clear plastic prison!

Sorry…was having way too much fun with these guys. I really should go back to the DCC! And for some weird reason, given the Daft Punk duo are French, I keep imagining they’re talking in French. (The following is the product of my rusty French. So if I wrote something wrong…don’t hurt me too badly ok?)

DaftPunkFun-04

Thomas, est ce que tu m’entends?
(Thomas can you hear me?)

Thomas: Où sommes-nous?  (Where are we?) Guy-Manuel: Je n'ai aucune idée!  (I have no idea)

M. Bangalter: Où sommes-nous? (Where are we?)
M. Homem-Christo: Je n’ai aucune idée! (I have no idea!)

Meanwhile, I’m just sitting by watching them….until they managed to turn around and see me. Uh..hey guys…

DaftPunkFun-06

M. Bangalter: Vérifiez-le! Une grande fille effrayant!
(Check it out! A big scary girl!)

Okay, my French must be really rusty….looking up that phrase on my app….”A big scary girl”…..HEY! Okay, maybe I’m big because I like my food a bit much….but still!

Without thinking, I reached out to pick up Monsieur Thomas Bangalter….and that was probably not a good idea, given the reaction both gave. Their shrieks and thinly veiled references to King Kong were not helping matters. Nor was my (rapidly deteriorating) grasp in French as I tried to assure them that I meant no harm. Good lord…my professors would probaby kill me at how much I’ve forgotten since college!

This was probably not a good idea.

This was probably not a good idea.

After hearing their screams for several minutes – and seeing certain hand gestures from Monsieur Homen-Christo that belong more in a road-rage induced situation –  I decided to leave them alone for a bit to calm themselves. Plus, I needed to get back to what I was working on before their arrival.

DaftPunkFun-08

Prepping the side walls.

For the DCC, I thought to cutting out portions of the sidewalls to create openings for either large windows, or openings for the wooden slats shown in my inspiration below. As you can see in foreground, there are horizontal wooden slats. It’s a nice comparison to the gray steel vertical beams (and the curved supports that hold the roof). I wanted to create the illusion of large and airy spaces if possible.

Beukenburg House by Sluijmer & Van Leeuwen Architects
From Contemporist.com

I knew for the sidewalls, I’ll need to keep as much of the original shape intact to help maintain the curved roof (plus provide structural stability – I look at it as helping me distribute the weight of the roof amongst the numerous vertical and horizontal beams/slats I’ll have to create). So the first kicker question I need to answer is — what parts of the sidewall should I cut out?

After mulling it over several cups of tea (I can’t figure out how to operate the new coffee maker BK bought — ironic coming from someone who works in IT for a living), flipping a coin, sacrificing a lamb to the gods, and further thinking, this is my (hesitant) gameplan. Hopefully the following pics will make sense.

Since I need to keep the top part of the sidewalls intact (in order to install the curved roof supports in the kit), I decided to create the opening by cutting out the area marked in red. To make sure the upper curved part of the wall can indeed handle the weight of the roof, I made sure it had a 1.5 inch height. Just so I have enough room to install additional support beams if the situation calls for it. This is kinda one of the downsides with kit-bashing — if you plan to deviate from the original construction, you really need to make sure you have contingencies in case something goes awry. And knowing my darn luck…well, let’s just say I don’t want my public build to include my cursing profusely and building a trebuchet in a caffeine/cake-induced rage. Just so I can chuck the pieces over the horizon or something.

At the same time, it actually solved my issue about the already existing window opening. I didn’t want one to begin with, and I really wasn’t in the mood of patching it up with cellfoam and spackling. Laziness prevails in my world apparently.

The area in blue….I ended up waffling back and forth about it. Technically, the area I need to cut out in red will fit my design plans. But if I wanted the opening to be bigger….the area in blue can be removed and not impact the design as much.  Guess I’ll be able to make a final decision once I actually can get to the cutting part.

Right side wall - areas to cut out.

Right side wall – areas to cut out.

For the left wall….I could have just done the same cutting layout as its counterpart. But I had been distracted by my muses. Maybe it’s good they’re robots, because it looks like they figured out how to turn on their English language module. That’s good news for me — my feeble attempts in French landed me in enough trouble already.

I have no idea how they managed to get upstairs, but they found this in my three containers that weren’t moved into storage. If I hadn’t heard them huffing and puffing down the stairs – I’d hate to think if they got hurt should they tumble or something.

Look at wthat they pulled up!

Look at what they pulled up!

I purchased this a year ago (maybe more – can’t remember) from Monsieur Renfroe at PRD Miniatures. I signed up for his e-newsletter, and he sent out a mailing about a sale on his stuff. It must have been after I had gotten my tax refund, because I bought a couple of the efficiency kitchen sets from the site. I loved the brushed stainless steel against the white countertop. It’s very slick and minimalistic. Yes, these guys can be pricey — but I seriously couldn’t pass up having something from Monsieur Renfroe’s shop.

I was watching with amusement at the duo admiring the kitchen. It seems like Monsieur Bangalter (the figure on the right with the silver helmet) really loves the white counter.

The duo marvelling the kitchen.

The duo marvelling the kitchen.

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Feeling bad that I had to interrupt them, I cleared my throat to catch their attention.

M. Bangalter: Oui, Madame? I mean…yes, Madame?

DK: Um…sorry to bother you two, but why’d you bring this kitchen set down?

M. Bangalter: Guy and I saw this and liked it very much. And because you’re building us our home…we’d like to have this.

DK: Um…well, sure if you guys want. Seems like a strange request though.

M. Homem-Christo: Vraiment? Pourquoi pensez-vous que cette demande est … est … (Really? Why do you think this request is….is….)

DK: Bizarre ?

M. Homem-Christo: Oui, bizarre! C’est bien, vous utilisez le même mot (This is great, you use the same word)!

M. Bangalter: Guy, parler en anglais, veuillez. Notre gardien…français est un peu difficile pour elle (Guy, speak in English please. Our guardian…has a bit of difficulty speaking in French).

M. Homem-Christo: (after hearing some crackling and buzzing from his helmet). Ah, got it. Sorry about that. Well, why do you think our request is so strange, Madame?

DK: Well….you guys are robots right?

M. Homem-Christo: Yes, we are.

DK: Well…maybe I’m wrong about this, but…I thought robots didn’t eat. You use the kitchen to make food and all, but if you guys don’t need to eat food…then that undermines the point of a kitchen right?

I felt terrible saying this, but I couldn’t help but laugh at the duo thinking about it at first, then giving me the following reaction.

DaftPunkFun-15

Huh?

After a very spirited discussion about food history (and their asserting the opinion that all living things do eat – which I can’t exactly give a counterpoint), we decided on a compromise. I will flesh out an area that can accommodate the kitchen….but if that clashes against the overall interior design of their place, I’m allowed to remove the set. But I’m required (per M. Bangalter’s insistence) to replace it with something useful for them. In exchange, they’ll try to help me improve my French.

So in light of the above deal, I took the efficency kitchen and set it against the left side wall — just so I can see how space that might take up. It seemed to make sense that it’s positioned right at the center.

Figuring out placement.

Figuring out placement.

And based on its positioning, I marked out the areas I’ll need to cut out. For this, I might just have to make do with having some tall windows to flank the efficiency kitchen….or whatever I plan to put here if that doesn’t work out. Like its counterpart, I marked the areas in red that I’ll need to cut out.

In terms of how to cut it….I had initially thought of caving in and getting a Dremel to help me cut out the parts – notably the parts that are curved. But the associate I spoke to at my local Home Depot suggested using a coping saw…or a jigsaw. Granted,  I did a get a brand new jigsaw originally to fabricate The Retreat. But I’m a little nervous if the jigsaw might be too much to cut something like this.

(If anyone has pointers, am all ears. I did pick up some scrap panels to use as practice boards so I can get used to using the new tool….)

Left side wall - areas to cut out.

Left side wall – areas to cut out.

After taking this photo, my phone flashed a display message saying that I was running low on power. My fault in that part — I completely forgot to charge it before going to bed. So from here, I made do with scribbling notes on what to report on this blog until my phone was fully charged.

Now that the sidewalls are (somewhat) planned, I looked at the kit’s original instructions to see how the front part of the kit was built. But when I compared the steps to how my inspiration looks…looks like I might not be using those parts after all. Because if you look at the photo below, the front requires installing posts – almost similar to setting up a porch. Though the challenge will be to figure out how to incorporate plexiglass panels to simulate the glass front. But I’ll figure that out once I get there.

Front of the Beukenburg House by Sluijmer & Van Leeuwen Architects
From Contemporist.com

When I looked closer at the photo – I realized that I forgot to factor supports needed for the outer wing of my design. Similar to the structure above, I wanted to create something like the left wing on the photo. Of course that means I’ll need to install a wider roof….and I’ll need to install a type of support to hold said item. Which ultimately means I need additional sidewalls to do that. Cad-nabbit!

Suffice to say, I ended up placing an order on miniatures.com for another Denise City Cottage kit. Hopefully it gets here next week – by then BK will be back from travel, and perhaps he can help with the cutting. Just in case my practice runs during the work week don’t turn up according to plan.

New Project to Add to the Queue….and That’s Okay

Sorry folks – this was meant to be posted on Monday. But sadly, some serious doody hit the fan at work. Metaphorically speaking of course.

While the dust hasn’t cleared yet (and my veins on my forehead are still bulging out, according to a very wary BK)…some very happy news cropped out. Which I want to share to you guys. ‘Cause again, I’m all for sharing the wealth.

What’s the great news you ask? Well…the folks at 3StarStudioArts released the following kit. And I’m so &%@!@* excited!

The Tiki Bird House
Photo used with permission by 3StarStudioArts

Mme KP sent an email out announcing its release this past Sunday, but I didn’t get a chance to sit down and read the fanfare until later that evening. Which was perfect timing in retrospect – especially since I made the mistake of checking my work emails and seeing what has essentially become a meltdown of sorts. But I’m not gonna go that route — let’s just say I looked at my work email, gave them the mental flying birdie, then went back to Mme KP’s email so I can wrap myself with happy/giddy thoughts.

So back to the kit. For starters, the 3StarStudios teamed named the kit “The Tiki Bird House”. The official description of the kit says that the kit was “….inspired by majestic thunderbirds, Native American tipis, A-frame cabins, surfboards and the flair of glorious polynesian buildings.”

I can definitely see the polynesian features, while the middle component definitely screams A-frame (*swoon*). I was initially puzzled by the majestic thunderbird reference until I saw the photo showing the upper part of the house. Then it made total sense (and many apologies for the dim bulb moment on my end, that’s for sure).

Top view of the Tiki Bird House
Photo used with permission by 3StarStudioArts

Don’t laugh folks, but when I saw the word thunderbird, I immediately thought of that puppet action show from the 1960s “Thunderbirds are Go!”. Granted, I wasn’t even in existence when this came out….but I recalled seeing this on weekday afternoons and being fascinated by it to no end. Though the way the eyes move kinda creeps me out…

(sigh) Alrighty, time to get off the time warp and chair, and onward to the review!

What I loved the most about this kit is the interior. The rooms look generous in size, and the rooms within the A-Frame section call for an interesting challenge in decoration. BK and I had a good time deciding on the photos whether it’s really 4 rooms or two rooms with two roof terraces. The ladder’s a nice touch too (but you all know me — that’ll go in my pile of spare parts). :D

The Tiki Bird House
Photo used with permission by 3StarStudioArts

But here’s the best part — you’re probably wondering what scale this kit can accommodate? Is it 1:12? Maybe the 1:16 scale? Half scale? The correct answer is — all of them! Even one of the members of the 3StarStudioArts team graciously provides a demo (it’s a plus that like the ARC, this is something even the kids can play with). The 1:12 and 1:16 scale works really well with the kit’s overall structure. For half scale, it gives the appearance of a house with really high ceilings (and really show off the big windows on the first floor. Talk about delicious mod goodness).

How the different scales look
Photo used with permission by 3StarStudioArts

So the kicker question is: did I get this? Well…yeah, I did. But to justify, I did get my tax refund back early (as I tend to file pretty early in the year out of habit). So…I’m going to consider it as my victory gift. I’ll figure out where to put it once it’s been constructed — based on the description, the house comes out to about 29 inches long x 16 inches high x 15 inches deep. So it’s a good sized house. As for the material, 1/4-inch MDF is used – which I’m intrigued about (no I haven’t thought about kitbashing this yet).

If anyone else has ordered this kit…do share! I’d love to hear folks thoughts and what they opted to do with the kit. I’m still deciding on what to turn mine. I could go for another modern house/villa, but a museum or even a nightclub came to mind….

But for now…I’ll have to wait for this baby to arrive while I start working on the DCC. Reserving that for the next post!

Sally Forth Comrades! Let’s Do This!

One of the biggest perks surrounding the miniature hobby (or in my case, the heart of my obsession) are the contest builds. Every year, there’s a contest calling for all miniature fans to tap on their creative juices and build something amazing. The biggest one that I know of is the annual HBS Creatin’ Contest hosted by miniatures.com. The rules are pretty simple — you purchase the kit HBS created and assigned for that year’s competition and transform it to whatever pleases you.

Of course, the challenge behind this contest is the time. Contestants need to complete their build and submit photos of their work the contest deadline of  December 16, 2015. But given the kit’s are available pretty early in the year…you practically have almost an entire year to complete the build.

For the 2015 contest, the HBS is selling Denise’s City Cottage kit. At first, I got a little confused with the name (“a cottage in a city – wha?”). But once I saw it on the website – I fell in love. Think it was the curved roof and the double doors that sucked me in. And the overall dimensions of the kit (imho) are pretty generous at 20″ wide x 11 3/4″ H x 15″D. You can at least do a really tricked out great room or set up two living spaces inside.

The Denise Cottage Kit Image from Miniatures.com

The Denise Cottage Kit
Image from Miniatures.com

I’ve traditionally opted out of participating with contests mostly due to two reasons. The first one was because of time. Up until recently, I had to pull longer work hours at my job. So whatever free time I had, I used to spend it with BK, my family and friends. But after the promotion last year…and my slowly settling into the new responsibilities (i.e., delegating the work and being allowed to work from home), I’m slowly finding more time to devote to the hobby. Score!

The second reason you might ask? As weird as it is…competitions actually make me nervous. Mostly because despite what I write on this blog, of all the projects I’ve worked on…I tend to look at my projects as a means to learn and improve my skills in the hobby. In a way, I still look at my work as amateurish compared to others. Trust me, I’ll list names of folks whose miniature projects still leave me bug-eyed and breathless (you know who you are, you guys – I still love you anyways).

So imagine my surprise when the ever awesome folks at miniatures.com contacted me with an interesting challenge: they’ll provide me the Denise City Cottage — in exchange for chronicling my build. I was instructed that I cannot use what I build to compete to keep it fair for the contestants who did purchase the kit to join the contest. Which I’m in full agreement.

Which brings us to the point of this post…because my provided kit arrived. Thank you folks at miniatures.com! And thank you FedEx delivery dude for dropping this off during the crappy weather we’re having. :)

Wha, what is this?

Wha, what is this?

I didn’t get a chance to open it since my nephew’s staying with BK and I this weekend. He recently joined the US Navy Sea Cadet program, so once a month, he stays with us for the weekend since the drill site is closer to us versus my parents. We actually look forward to having one of the rugrats (our nephew and niece) over. But the downside though is that I need to clear the dining room/miniature workroom just so we have a place to comfortably eat our meals together. :P

So until I get a chance to open the kit…I’m going to share two important things. One is my gameplan for this kit. And the other…well, let’s get through part one first.

Obviously, I’m going to go for something modern. Not only because it’s along the style I enjoy, but because of my muses.

S.H. Figuarts Daft Punk Figures – Thomas Bangalter (left)
and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo
Image from Tagroom.Daily

These figures are based on the French electronica duo Daft Punk. I’ve posted a video of one of their songs in an entry regarding the Neville House – especially since I’ve been a huge fan since my college days. I usually don’t buy merchandise outside the occassional CD or tracks. But when I saw these figures on bigbadtoystore.com….I had to get them.The fact these poseable figures are about 6″ tall – hell bells yeah! My doll cast are super lucky to have these two celebrities in their lineup. One thing’s for sure, parties are going to be fun with these two gentlemen handling the music. :)

Now that I have my residents…it was time to figure out what I wanted to do the Denise City Cottage Kit. Given that my muses are musicians by profession….should the place be a residence? A recording studio? A secret creative getaway? All the above?

(I got lazy and went for the last one. I know, that was pretty anticlimatic. Sorry guys.)

After a quick search online…my eyes landed on this particular design.

Metal Roof House – designed by Sluijmer & Van Leeuwen via Contemporist
Photo credit by CornBreadWorks (from the Trendir.com website)

Given that the kit has a curved roof to begin with, I wanted to continue that shape using a different roofing medium. For the front and sides, I loved the play of the metal beams and wooden slats with the floor-to-ceiling glass panels.

Metal Roof House – designed by Sluijmer & Van Leeuwen via Contemporist
Photo credit by CornBreadWorks (from the Trendir.com website)

As you can see in the above photo, the back of the house has the curved roof continuining almost all the way down to the foundation. But with the kit’s back opening….still debating whether to try to expand the floor plan by having a deck of sorts. Still hammering that detail out though.

Another thing too…the landscaping is going to be a challenge. Oi, this is going to be interesting how I’ll tackle the landscaping issue. I’ll have to build an expanded base for the Denise City Cottage kit (aka the DCC) to rest on. And if I do that…landscaping is going to be mandatory. Holy $^#@snacks smokes, my supply list keeps growing….

Metal Roof House – designed by Sluijmer & Van Leeuwen via Contemporist
Photo credit by CornBreadWorks (from the Trendir.com website)

In terms of the interior….I love how the wooden slats play a role in the interior design of the room. But I think that’s all I’m planning to incorporate into the (hopefully soon) final design. I don’t want to alter the DCC’s original interior layout of a single large room. I think for my figures, they’ll want to have as much space as possible. Especially when they’re taking a break from work and stuff.

Metal Roof House – designed by Sluijmer & Van Leeuwen via Contemporist
Photo credit by CornBreadWorks (from the Trendir.com website)

That’s what I have fleshed out so far. I know for the next of couple of days, I’ll need to seriously hammer out what I need to do. There’s definitely going to be a good amount of kitbashing of the DCC to implement the components in mind. Hopefully, I’ll be able to describe the steps as I start the build.

So that’s part one of my entry that I wanted to share. The second part is something I’d like to throw to my readers.

Given that I’ve officially confessed the reason I have never competed in a contest build…I’m actually really grateful for miniatures.com to giving me this opportunity. Not because I’m excited about getting a chance to try out this intriguing kit…nor is it because I’ll be sharing my build with you all. But also in a way, this is a great opportunity for me to get over my fears. As BK pointedly remarked “You must be doing good work babe. Otherwise you wouldn’t have been asked to chronicle your build on your blog. It’s almost like getting sponsored!”

So in light of this….I actually want to share this call to arms to those reading my blog. In the spirit of taking up the challenge and facing my fears….I’d like to ask you guys to perhaps do the challenge along with me. If the HBS Creatin Contest interests you (I mean, the grand prize of a $1000 gift certificate is a pretty sweet deal if you ask me), I say go for it! Join me in the banner of all things pertaining to miniature awesomeness! Submit to your creative side! I mean, come on — I can’t be the only one on the planet with a miniature obsession right?

(Really hoping somewhere out there, there’s a roar of the crowd going “heck yeah you crazy woman!” That would be preferable versus hearing the chirping of crickets.)

Okay, I’m getting off the soapbox now…and off to Home Depot (will mention that on my next post).

Change of Game Plans

After riding aboard the SS Apprehension over my (in retrospect, not justified) angst regarding the Neville House’s front railings, I think I now have a gameplan in terms of how to correct it. After  careful consideration, feedback from you guys (this is why I love you all dearly — I really do!), some discussions with BK (given my father-in-law is a retired general contractor), and slapping myself silly some serious thought…this what I’ll be aiming to do. Especially once the supplies arrive (speaking of which, where are they, Mr. USPS dude?).

For starters…the front railing will be handled as such.

Schematic for the front rail.

Schematic for the front rail.

The top and bottom will still be wooden rails, but will install four posts to provide stability. Two will be positioned at the ends of the rail (will need to make sure they’re aligned with the foundation beams #1 and 8). And the remaining two…they’re sorta positioned a bit over from beams 3 and 6. Mostly to make them align with the front patio/windows’ inner beams (indicated by the lime arrows above).  And yes, will utilize plexiglass in the rails to simulate the glass look.

Side view of schematic.

Side view of schematic.

To make sure the rail is as close to staying straight as possible, I’ll need to extend the railing/glass combo to the side. As you can see in the above photo, the yellow dotted lines shows where the extension will be positioned. Figured having it attached to the Neville House will provide additional stability. I was initially bummed that I’ll need to close that end of the Nevill House’s front deck. But for the sake of providing some kind of support to the rails (and BK pointed out, it will help distribute the weight evenly)…I’ll live with it.

That’s the game plan overall for the Neville House’s railing (part II). It’s a straight-forward enough task, but I think the bigger challenge will be to pace myself. Especially if the railings turn out to be bowlegged, I’ll need to dampen the parts and clamp them onto solid, even surface to dry. And hopefully it’ll straighten itself as it dries. The last thing we need is another bowlegged set of rails (oi vey).

The Neville’s Done! Woot!

Today was a bit busy. With my brother and sister-in-law coming to visit us in a few weeks, I spent most of Saturday cleaning the house. Mostly packing up more things to put in storage, and begin the long process of scouring things from top to bottom. Figured it’s best to break up the tasks into manageable chunks versus trying to do everything at the last minute.

Luckily, I finished what I wanted to do around lunchtime. ..which was perfect because (a) I need to take pics of the Neville because (b)….I was officially done in its modification. Well, from a technical sense I was complete. Whether or not I’m satisfied with the outcome is a subject of debate.

For starters, I finally completed the “glass rail”.

The Neville House with its new "glass" rail.

The Neville House with its new “glass” rail.

If you look carefully at the above pic…yeah, you can see some fudge ups on my end. The big one are the rails….if you look closely, the top rail looks bowed in the center. And on the bottom rail….you can make out where the glue seeped out. Ugh, the more I look at the railing, the more I’m mad at myself. It just seems….sloppy.

Side view with the "lopsided" railing. Urgh!

Side view with the “lopsided” railing. Urgh!

The second photo above….(sigh). You can see How phow the railing not only appears bow-legged (for lack of a better term), but also the entire thing is tilting towards the front. I might need to step away from this and rethink the process….and just redo it. Otherwise, that’s going to bug the crap out of me. :(

BK thinks I’m being too hard on myself. Perhaps I am…but I guess I’m more disappointed in myself not thinking it through.

Tilting railing aside…at least the rest of the Neville is done. And I can safely start putting the pieces in place.

Putting the cabinet in place.

Putting the cabinet in place.

Have to say…it’s challenging positioning one hand to help put the miniatures in place, while the other hand tries to focus and take the shot with one’s smartphone.

Securing the statue in place.

Securing the statue in place.

After the cabinet was moved in, I had to contort my wrists a bit to install the wall decorations on the foreground (more on them later). Then the chairs were moved in.

Steady...steady...

Steady…steady…

Soon…the first set of furniture are in place. I wanted to take a pic of this set before moving the next ones in. The minute I got notification from eBay that I won the Neville House, I quickly made a beeline for the  MultiforMiniatures shop at Etsy. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the items in Monsieur Orloff’s shop were sold.  And I had just marked them as favorites less than 48 hours prior!

Was sweating bullets when I contacted Monsieur Orloff to see if I may be added in his queue for custom order requests. Once again, Monsieur Orloff not only added me in the request queue, but cranked out the items I was hoping to buy before they got sold. I picked the green fabric because I loved the white and mustard “dots” against the green. It really worked out well against the Orla Kiely wrapping paper that I used as wallpaper. :)

So Monsieur Orloff, thank you so much! And you’re right — the brass legs look WAY better in the chairs.

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Credits: The cabinet was created by Monsieur Orloff of MultiforMiniatures. The green chairs were also a custom order made by Monsieur Orloff (thank you!). The dark pink and reddish wooden bowls were purchased from Oppi’s Store Miniatures & More. The Buddha statue, books, and book end were random eBay purchases.

Just another angle shot of the chairs and cabinet.

Just another angle shot of the chairs and cabinet.

Given I was relying heavily on the sunlight coming from the dining room (where I was taking the photos), I was snapping as many pics as possible.

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After I took enough pictures, I started to move the next set of furniture in…

Yeah....please ignore the fat claw known as my hand. Thank you.

Yeah….please ignore the fat claw known as my hand. Thank you.

A few minutes later, everything was officially in place.

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Tadah!

Close up of the dining set.

Close up of the dining set.

The table and chars were also from MultiforMiniatures – I actually saw this still available at the shop (along with the cabinet in the back) and immediately asked Monsieur Orloff if I could reserve them for purchase. Looks like I’ll need to act quick next time I visit his shop — his stuff’s flying off the shelves! :O

On the table, I found some aqua blue dinnerware pieces on eBay. But given the pieces were being used in a 1:16 scale setting, I had to nitpick through the selections. I ended up getting plates that were about 20mm, and the bowls were about 11 mm in size.

The platter and tureen were the smallest serving items I could find in the store’s collection — though it looks like they worked well enough on the table. The drinking glasses and pitcher were also purchased from eBay — but they’re actually 1:24 scale. As for the place mats, I cut them out of cardstock.

For the next hour, I was trying to shove my smartphone in every spot I could imagine around the Neville House to get as many interior shots as possible. The following were the best ones I could get out of at least 4 dozen shots. At this point…I wonder if it’s worth sucking it up and getting a good camera. If anyone has any recommendations…am all ears.

Angle shot of the dining area.  Wooden artwork on wall is actually a walnut laser bead from 3StarStudioArts

Angle shot of the dining area.
Wooden artwork on wall is actually a walnut laser bead from 3StarStudioArts

Another angle of the same area.

Another angle of the same area.

View of the dining area from the left side. Artwork on the walls are actually beads from 3StarStudioArts.

View of the dining area from the left side. Artwork on the walls are actually beads from 3StarStudioArts.

For the outside, I placed some plants on the outside porch. Might end up swapping them with something else. But for now, they’ll do nicely in providing color for the Neville House.

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I was originally going to have inhabitants for the Neville, but BK thinks I should leave this unoccupied. Mostly because he asked to have this displayed in our living room’s bookcase. Then again…I got the following delivered by the USPS dude. My dolls for the Djeco furniture playsets have arrived!

Family Milo and Lila dolls by Djeco.

Family Milo and Lila dolls by Djeco.

I purchased these dolls from French Blossom a couple of weeks ago. Which makes sense, given most of my receipt appears to be in French. Huh, maybe it was good my parents made me take French all through high school and college! I could still read the language and get away understanding the verbal basics. But conversing in it….that might be a different story….

Back view of the package. For 4-10 years old? Hah!

Back view of the package. For 4-10 years old? Hah!

Based on the photos on the back of the box, it looks like the dolls are super poseable. Time to find out!

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Wow, they look so cute!

Once I pulled them out of the box, I was immediately impressed at how well made they are. The painted features look really crisp, and the clothing’s much more intense in color compared to what the package displayed. Again, it totally puzzles me why toys like like aren’t easily available here! If someone from Djeco comes across this….might you please consider having this available in North America? Even Amazon? I’d totally buy more from your miniature series…

But enough rants crazy blogger girl! Time to test them against the Neville!

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The kids are checking out the front porch….

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…while Mom and Dad check out the interior. Looks like the mother’s enjoying the chairs immensely!

Well, they’re definitely poseable. The knees bend very well, and the leg joints move smoothly when I moved the dolls into a sitting position. Though it’s a bit of a bummer than their arms don’t bend at the elbows.

Nevertheless, that was the only con against the list of good points the dolls provided — and seriously, I can live with that. Definitely happy that I got these dolls to go with my Djeco sets — now I just need their future home to arrive.

What is it you ask? Well…I’m not sure either. It’s definitely experimental that’s for sure!

(yeah I know that was mean of me. I’ll make it up to you all soon. For now…please don’t hurt me)

Childhood Love Achieved

Warning: The following post is not about 1:12 miniatures. So for all you mini fans who aren’t into 1:6 scale….avert your eyes!

My childhood was actually spent in two places – I grew up in the provinces in the Philippines until I was about age 7. By then, my mother – who took the risk to come to the United States to pursue the American Dream – returned to take my siblings and I to this strange new world. Which has now become more home to me than my native land.

But in both places….I remember the toy I commonly played the most were Barbies. I remembered loving the idea of dressing them up, coming up with stories of adventures they’d have. But outside those things…I guess something never seemed right with my dolls. Even when I came to the U.S., and my mom (and future stepdad) gave me more Barbies to play it..it always felt like something was missing. I could never put my finger on it.

I guess my parents picked up on it because the birthday and holiday presents got a little more elaborate. I remember receiving furniture sets, fashion sets…even a townhouse with a elevator for my dolls to live in. They were awesome and stuff from what I remember (thanks Mom and Dad!)….but still something was missing. It wasn’t until I started working with miniatures that I started to realize what it was.

I was trying to insert the wrong things in the worlds I created. In a way, my dolls didn’t fit in the environments I worked so hard to envision.

Have to say, was relieved I didn’t come to that realization until I was older. At that point, I knew what my preferences were. And I definitely realized that while I love miniatures and dolls…I couldn’t connect with Barbies. Maybe it was their body shapes and proportions. Maybe the choice of fashions weren’t my thing. Or maybe I thought Barbie should be dating GI Joe versus Ken with his weirdly molded hair and kinda sketchy smile/leer.

Then along came Lammily.

Lammily Doll.
From the official Lammily Doll website.

I actually came across Lammily in early 2014 when its creator Monsieur Nikolay Lamm set up crowdfunding via Kickstarter. I was intrigued at Monsieur Lamm’s idea of creating a “fashion doll” but using actual healthy human proportions. In a way, he wanted to create a doll with realistic dimensions to provide children with a positive view of one’s body image.

And given how many of my friends and I struggled with self-image perceptions and what not….it was refreshing to hear it. Plus, I was sold seeing the denim button down and shorts Lammily was wearing. I could totally relate to that!

Without hesitation, I donated the minimum requirement. I figured, why the hell not? Next thing I knew, I got the emails saying the fundraising was a complete success…and that I’d be getting my Lammily in the mail. Looking back, I think it was the latter part of the previous sentence that officially made me consider entering the 1:6 scale realm. If the Barbie playsets of my childhood didn’t reflect the realities I wanted to conjure…then I was going to make my freakin’ own stuff. Which I managed to pull off I guess with my first 1:6 roombox.

So remember those crazy piles of boxes I got in January? Yeah….Lammily was one of them….and what I (finally) just finished setting up as her bedroom. The way I would have imagined it. Once again, advanced apologies for the poor lighting. My work schedule pretty much restricts me to doing most mini work, blogging, and photography during the evenings.

Welcome to Lammily (now Ana's) bedroom.

Welcome to Ana’s bedroom.

When I got word that thanks to my donation, I would be getting my doll in the mail, I was already formulating what she’d be like. That her name would be Ana Letizia Reyes. That she was born in Madrid but attended college in London and got her masters in journalism in New York. That she decided to move to Washington DC to work for CNN as a journalist. And that she lived in a small but cozy studio apartment in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. And is not a fan of the city’s Metro system. <laughs>

And I thought of all the above while I was sitting in a meeting at work. Ah well, at least I wasn’t the only one day-dreaming during that particularly long event. :)

But enough rambling — onward to sharing the wealth!

The roombox was purchased from Minimagine’s shop on Etsy. If I’m not mistaken, this might the same roombox Mlle Milena posted on her blog. I thought it was a weird case of providence given how I fell in love with this specific roombox. Who knew several months later, I would be purchasing the same exact one! I love everything about this room – the wide wooden floor planks in white, the pink fabric wall. And most importantly – the big window. Where Ana could place her plants to get as much sun as possible.

Left side of Ana's bedroom.

Left side of Ana’s bedroom.

Along with the roombox, I purchased a wardrobe that Mlle Milena painted white per my request. This type of wardrobe was something I had dreamed of having when I lived in my studio. But after meeting BK…and seeing him gradually move into my place…I had to give up on the dream and resort to installing a closet system to accommodate our stuff. So while I was $^@# out of luck on having such a piece….at least I can provide one for Ana’s needs.

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Close up of the stool from Minimagine. Wardrobe also from same shop. Bags are part of Lammily’s fashion packs. More on that later.

Little did I know that along with the wardrobe, I got a cute little wooden stool! Again, talk about providence — I can see Ana using for extra seating. Or maybe to help her reach the top of her wardrobe. Above the stool, I hung Ana’s bags on the wall by pressing some white map pins to act as hooks.

Ana's (current) fashion selections.

Ana’s (current) fashion selections.

Inside her wardrobe, I took a huge splurge in December and purchased a couple of fashions available for the Lammily doll. While I didn’t get all of them (I only got all but two), I thought it was enough to populate Ana’s closet. Heck, her collection of shoes is way more impressive than mine! It’s a bit hard to see in the pic above, but you can see a shelf near the bottom of the wardrobe — she has a total of 5 pairs of shoes. That is way more than what I have in my own closet!

But again, it goes back to what I thought was missing in my childhood: now I have a doll that I want to dress up in the clothes I want to wear. Seriously, I’d love to have a yellow jacket like hers! That is if I could ever pull off that color tone….

Good thing I have plenty of extra hangers on hand. If my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me, I think I caught Ana on my laptop scouring Etsy for more clothes. Oi…that crazy gal. I’m not paying for her dry cleaning bill that’s for sure!

Close up of the top of the wardrobe.

Close up of the top of the wardrobe.
Wooden artwork on wall are actually laser cut beads from 3StarStudiosArts.

Because Ana does a good amount of travel (either for work or to see family/friends), she needed luggage. I picked these pair of suitcases on eBay, while the plastic bin was actually a clearance bin find at my local Office Depot (think they’re called “Really Useful Boxes” – used the 0.14 Liter size to simulate a rubbermaid container in 1:6 scale). It was the right size to store Ana’s growing collection of books.  To the wall on the right, I purchased some laser cut beads from the ever awesome 3StarStudiosArts. I want to add more to the wall, but BK thinks this  is plenty.

Close up of the wooden art on the wall.

Close up of the wooden art on the wall.

For the window, I had initially thought of putting some kind of window treatment. Am now glad I went against it. Think it would have detracted on how big the windows look. Opted to keep it simple by putting some plants from Minimagine and It’s Perfectly Petite.

The bedroom window. Sorry folks - didn't have time to put a backdrop image behind the window.

The bedroom window.

Sorry folks – didn’t have time to put a backdrop image behind the window. I had some street view windows of the Adams Morgan neighborhood that I meant to print out and use as a backdrop. But I guess the excitement of setting this up got the best of me. :)

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Check out the cozy looking bed!

In terms of the bed, I came across this piece from Mlle Seiler of It’s Perfectly Petite. I fell in love with the colors used in the frame and the linens. And I even loved the pink and white rug. You can actually purchase just the bed or the set (you’d get the bed, the rug, table, a lamp, and a plant). For Ana’s room though, Mlle Seiler was super cool to let me purchase just the bed and rug. And it looks perfect in the room.

Close up of the awesome bed from It's Perfectly Petite.

Close up of the awesome bed from It’s Perfectly Petite.

Above the bed, I wanted to put something as decoration. I had originally sketched out the idea of maybe hanging framed photographs of places Ana might have traveled. But apparently she had other ideas in mind because I found her pointing to some other laser beads purchased from 3StarStudiosArts. So I took what beads I had (but reserved some key pieces to use on the Neville later), and started playing around with them on my living room coffee table.

Hmm...nope.

Hmm…nope.

*Yawn* Nope, nope.

*Yawn* Nope, nope.

Once I started to add other beads, things got more interesting. BK came home seeing me staring intently at my arrangements. He said I looked like I was playing chess with Grandmaster Bobby Fischer or Boris Spassky. Or something remotely nerdy like that.

Okay....we might be getting somewhere.

Okay….we might be getting somewhere.

Okay, getting warmer...

Okay, getting warmer…

Hey...am liking this...

Hey…am liking this…

Tadah! Insert trumpet fanfares here.

Tadah! Insert trumpet fanfares here.

I had to refer to the above photo to make sure I could replicate the setup in Ana’s room. Though I accidentally switched the “leaves” around. Ah well.

New art installation above Ana's bed.

New art installation above Ana’s bed.

Close up.

Close up of the untitled wall art installation.

Next to the bed, I got a travel poster from Shed a Little Light. Have always loved this travel poster. As a nightstand, I found this Rement table lamp on clearance online. I was intrigued by it because if you click the switch at the base of the lamp….

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….it glows! There’s a compartment behind the nightstand where you can put 3 AAA batteries. Given that the CC is the only dollhouse I own that has working lights….am willing to take this as another victory in that department. And man, was I glad to find this on clearance — this sucker has gotten crazy expensive!

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Providing some nighttime illumination….

Once the room was finished, I let Ana come and have a look-see of her new room.

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Relax Ana, I have no plans to borrow your clothes. I can’t exactly fit in them, you know. I like food too much.  But the clothes are cute and all though.

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Then again….do you have a book I can borrow on the Metro ride home? I read all the books BK got me for Christmas….

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Sweet! What do you have that you’d recommend? It better not be one of the 50 Shades of Grey books…dude, the first one was just (makes a face)….

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Okay…History of Byzantium? That actually sounds good – may I borrow that copy? Hmm….Out of Time? Ana, is that another one of those cheesy historical romance stories? It is? Yeah, I’m gonna veto that recommendation. You know pretty darn well the only fromage* I’ll only accept are the ones we get at that fancy deli down the street!

*Fromage = french for cheese. Or in the case of my sister and I….that’s what we call cheesy romance novels.

What the…Living with Linux? Hey, that’s my book! I was looking for that!

Close up of Ana's books. Book set purchased from MiniPlacesStudio.

Close up of Ana’s books. Book set purchased from MiniPlacesStudio.

Of course, before I could say anything else (or even ask how the heck she got my Linux book), she boots me out of her room. All because her best friend from Italy Giovanna is in town with her boyfriend Jotaro (one of my most favorite Japanese anime characters growing up).

Ana meeting her friend Giovanna and Jotaro (Giovanna's boyfriend). Giovanna is a J-Doll Via Appia doll. Jotaro (jojo) is a Real Action Heroes Jotaro Kujo figure by Toys Medikomu

Ana meeting her friend Giovanna and Jotaro (Giovanna’s boyfriend).
Giovanna is a J-Doll Via Appia doll. Jotaro (jojo) is a Real Action Heroes Jotaro Kujo figure by Toys Medikomu

Lordie, what is up with my doll cast giving me the boot? And after I finished building their places of all times! Do I need a bath or something? (sniffs her shirt to make sure)

After being unceremoniously booted out of Ana’s place, Giovanna stopped by my work desk at home to apologize. Not sure why she has to do that, but I guess that’s how she is. Giovanna’s so ridiculously sweet and polite to everyone. It’s kinda scary sometimes.

According to Giovanna, Jotaro made friends with someone that worked in a neighboring office building. And this person might be a potential boyfriend for Ana. And because of that…might I be open to welcome a new cast to join my miniature/doll world?

Huh, imagine that. Like I have a choice in the manner. Well, techically yeah I did. Given this “mystery man” will be arriving from overseas pretty soon due to an interesting find on eBay. Let’s hope Giovanna’s right that this match up works out. Cause I’m not gonna lie — I really don’t know if I want to be on the receiving end of Ana’s temper if the introductions go south….