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….

Sunday Readings

Woohoo! Finally…not feeling too sick compared to the last couple of days. I mostly spent Friday resting after getting hit with another fever. By Saturday morning…I was feeling a little bit tired at first, but started to feel like I had a little more stamina. And for once, an appetite to actually eat something beyond water, crackers, and ginger ale. So that was good at least. Because I wanted to work on some miniatures.

But in my case…it was a different kind. As in a different scale altogether. That’s right folks….along with working on 1/12, 1/16 (or 1/18), and half scale…..I’ve made the plunge and added 1:6 scale in my madness.

For those who aren’t familiar with this scale…it’s essentially the scale used for 11-12″ fashion dolls. This scale had intrigued me since college, but at that time, I couldn’t exactly afford anything. Let alone the fashion dolls outside the ones available for little girls. I figured, when I get to a point in life where I can invest more into my hobby…then I’d explore the 1:6 scale realm in more detail.

Which brings us to…I dunno, November 2014. I decided from there, I’d make 2015 the year I really took the plunge and dive into this scale.  And the fact I have to wait for the materials for The Retreat to arrive…figured maybe this weekend, I’m going to complete my first 1:6 diorama.

I will admit here folks, I did kinda cheat by getting things over the holidays. And that’s partly why, if you recall in a previous entry, why I had a HUGE pile of packages awaiting BK and I when we came back. I can now admit to you all that of that pile….maybe 40% of the loot consisted of things I had acquired relating to this new scale.

For starters….instead of doing dollhouses, I opted for roomboxes for flexibility (and for not taking up too much space). I ultimately purchased three over the holidays, and of the three, decided to work on this one.

What...what is this????

What…what is this????

I purchased this roombox from Mlle Yogi of RoomLotus over at Etsy. She specializes in creating roomboxes meant for 1:6 scale, but she does accept custom work if you want a roombox of different scales and styles. I ended up picking this roombox because I loved how it has a corner window…much like what you’d see in condos or urban lofts. For some weird reason, I got an image of the afternoon sunlight streaming through that huge window, while curled up with a good book. Suffice to say, I took that image and ran with it.

I began this project around lunchtime this past Saturday….my goal was to see how quickly could I complete this diorama. I figured, hey, it’s a bigger scale — I should finish this quicker right? Figured so long as I maximize use of all my available resources, this should be a relatively fast build.

For starters, I started with the hardest task. Namely removing the already installed baseboard trim and window casings. When I bought the roombox, it already had the trim installed. I was fine with the trim (sorry Mlle Yogi), but because I was planning to install flooring and wallpaper…I knew it will be easier to install those with the trim out of the way.

So with my utility knife, a screwdriver, and sandpaper…I pried off the trim. Once the walls were sanded smooth, I used remnants of the sapele wood veneer edge banding (that made up the floors of the ARC III) and applied them to the roombox as its new hardwood floors. Then of course, I sanded the flooring and buffed it with my beeswax wood polish.

New flooring installed.

New flooring installed.

While the wood polish was being absorbed, I covered the floor using some wax paper and painters tape before flipping the roombox on its sides to paint the side walls. I ended up using a whole container of my FolkArt Clay Bisque acrylic paint because I ended up doing two coats on each side wall, and sanding it twice to get the smooth finish I wanted.

For the rear wall, I used the Multi-Stem Flower wrapping paper from Paper Source. The design is based on a popular pattern from Orla Kiely (you can get this as wallpaper in real life — if you can afford the cost that is). I love that the paper has the pattern in a larger scale on one side, but if you flip it over, the other side has a smaller scale version of the same pattern. I opted for the latter to decorate the wall — now I wish I had gotten more of this paper. It’s pretty thick (given it’s gift wrap), and when I applied my Yes! Adhesive paste on it….it absorbed the paper like a champ. And it hung like a dream when I applied it to the wall.

Installing the Multi-Stem Flower paper. Pretty!

Installing the Multi-Stem Flower paper. Pretty!

Wallpaper installed.

Wallpaper installed.

At this point, it was about 3:30 pm in the afternoon. BK and I were due to leave to have dinner with my parents that evening, and I only had about an hour left to work on the roombox before I had get ready. I ended up cutting and prepping the new trim for that remaining hour before I had to reluctantly leave everything to get ready. While we had a blast having dinner with my family, we managed to get home early. Mostly for BK to return to finish up work he brought from the office, and for me to at least install the trim.

In terms of the trim, I actually got mine from Manchester Dollhouse and Woodworks. The eBay shop has a section specifically for Barbie-sized (1:8 or Playscale) projects. Am not going to lie…the prices for the trim is a little bit more steep compared to 1:12 scale. When I was purchasing the stuff back in December, I took a gamble and really stockpiled the parts from 1/24 all the way to 1/8 scale. Mostly to make the shipping cost worthwhile. Plus, the last thing I want is to find myself short on a particular piece of trim. 😦

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the actual work done on the trim. But I’ll at least share the following things I’ve learned.

  1. Get a deeper mitre box. The baseboard I used for the roombox was a couple of millimeters taller than my mitre box. I had to jerry-rig a pseudo mitre tool using scrap mdf pieces to make sure I was making accurate 45 degree cuts. Not fun at all.
  2. Use a 1 1/2″ tall saw when cutting 1:6 to 1:8 scale trim. When I was sawing, and I was about 75% through the height of the trim….my saw couldn’t go further. Again, had to jerry-rig a bit to complete the cut — all while cursing up a storm.
  3. When installing window casing….don’t use water based adhesives like Tacky glue. Especially if said trim is kinda on the thin side. The minute I tried to install the new casing around the window….the trim kinda buckled a bit from the moisture. I had to either lie the roombox on its back or sides, and weigh the casing trim down with whatever heavy books I could fit to make sure the trim dried in position — and level. Again, not fun. But at least I wasn’t cursing. At least not too much.

At this point, it was already close to 11:00 pm, and I was already exhausted. So I took my antibiotics and got ready to bed. Figured once I get up on Sunday, the trim will have dried nicely — and I can resume working on the roombox and finish it up. You can imagine how relieved I was when I checked the roombox — the glue dried up nicely, and the trim was level around the windows. Capital!

At the advice of my sister, she suggested that I try taking pics of my work in the living room since I can get as much natural light as possible. That was actually a good idea — not only did my pics appear a bit better, but I could safely take pics in probably the most tidy room in the house! 😀

Sunday morning: the trims are all installed and secured.

Sunday morning: the trims are all installed and secured.

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Another view. The prints in the back were purchased from a local artisan BK and I admired for years. The print behind the roombox represents the town hall in Old Town Alexandria, VA — where BK and I lived before we got married….

 

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…while the print on the right is a painting of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. BK and I got married just outside the estate. 🙂

Now that the trims are all secured….it was time to setup the pieces and decor.

The finished roombox.

The finished roombox.

The furniture I used is actually a doll furniture playset from IKEA called Huset. If it looks familiar to some of you…it’s the same pieces I used to furnish the CC. I actually bought 4 sets of this during an IKEA run last year. For $13/set…I couldn’t pass it up. I used one whole set to furnish the room, but hijacked the green table from another set.

Close up of the completed room.

Close up of the completed room.

What do you think? Does it look cozy? I really had to scrunged around my remaining bins (most are now in storage) to see what I could use to decorate the room. Again, I wanted to create a cozy setting where one could curl up on the couch to read a book. Or maybe have company over for coffee and some homemade pastries.

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Another view of the IKEA Huset doll furniture set.

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Above contents: pink couch, yellow chair, rug, green tables, and bookcase are part of IKEA Huset doll furniture set. Pillows from MiniaturesfromAvalon. Tall lime green plant and wooden bowl from ItsPerfectlyPetite. Coffee pot, mugs, and pastries were random eBay purchases.

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I didn’t realize I was taking a pic of my 1:6 living room….that had views to my actual living room. Trippy!

For the walls, because the accent wallpaper provided such a strong background…I wanted the wall art to be just as strong. Given that BK and I are still grieving the loss of his beloved Grandma Ellie….I found myself doing a search on vintage travel posters of Martha’s Vineyard. I ended up settling on these two designs. I resized them in Adobe Fireworks, and increased the dpi to 300 to make sure the design and colors remain crisp. I then printed them on some matte photo paper, trimmed to size, and then attached to matboard. The frames are actually wood ACEO frames I purchased from D’s Miniatures and Collectibles shop on eBay, which I stained a dark walnut and waxes.

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Martha’s Vineyard travel posters.

For the left sidewall, I resized and printed some movie posters. King Kong (the 1933 version) is one of BK’s favorite movies so I wanted to put it here as a nod to him. The other print is actually a nod to the movie Pacific Rim, which is one of my favorite films.

Guess this is another sign of BK’s and my compatibility. When it comes to terrorizing cities, he’s for giant apes; I’m all for giant robots.

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For the right side wall, I found this travel poster for Nantucket, which is someplace BK and I haven’t visited yet.

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For the bookcase…because I had the Vineyard prints, I guess I ended up gravitating towards something nautical.

 

Close up of the bookcase.

Close up of the bookcase.

SundayReading-19Bookcase contents: Plant is from Minimagine. Leather books were an eBay purchase. Green vase purchased from Manor House Miniatures. Aged deep diver’s helmet and red lantern from Diane Paone Miniatures. Paper box on lower shelf, file folders , and books on upper left cubicle from Paper Doll Productions. Captain figurine from private collection. Yellow chair and heart shaped pillow from IKEA Huset doll furniture set. Red/blue pillowcase from Paper Doll Productions.

Now that the decoration is complete….I can move in two (of my slowly growing) collection of 1:6 scale dolls. For this roombox, I figured I wanted to have best friends Anya and Lia to be the official occupants.

Close up of Anya (left) and Lia (right).

Close up of Anya (left) and Lia (right).Anya is a customized Volks head attached to a 25cm Obitsu body. Her dress, stockings, and red shoes were eBay purchases from random vendors. Lia is actually a “Who’s That Girl MAMI” head attached to a 27 cm Obitsu body. Dress was purchased from SquishTish. Shoes were also an eBay purchase.

I’m still relatively new to the dolls….I don’t have a clear criteria per se in terms of what I’m looking for. I definitely wanted ball jointed dolls (BJDs) for maximum movement and articulation. And I definitely wasn’t too interested in Barbies…or the very popular Fashion Integrity dolls. Don’t get wrong…am sure others find them appealing. But I guess since I had grown up watching Japanese animation/anime….I leaned towards the somewhat cartoony. And I wanted my (female dolls) to dress in clothes I’d love to wear everyday if I could. Hopefully I’ll get a better bearing as I delve deeper into this.

For now…I’m just going to let the girls enjoy their Sunday afternoon. While I sit on my couch nearby and enjoy my book and tea.

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Lia savoring her mug of tea while she listens to Anya's stories

Lia savoring her mug of tea while she listens to Anya’s stories

Going back and forth if I'm liking Anya's glasses....

Going back and forth if I’m liking Anya’s glasses….