Fun with (Artist Trading) Cards

Since I started moving to modern miniatures, one of my biggest challenges was the decor. Notably wall decor.

Will admit I relied on the stylings from other modern miniature blogs like Mini Modern where I got introduced (and hooked) to displaying mini Rex Ray paintings and what not.  Or lately, I do enjoy randomly using laser cut beads and arranging them to look like installation art.

Living room in the ARC III.

Living room in the ARC III.

Or using my Photoshop/Illustrator/Fireworks to resize existing work. Vintage travel posters are always a reliable standby.

But again, I didn’t want to rely too much on these options. Hence my discovery on Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) and ACEOs (Art Cards, Editions and Originals).

I didn’t know much about them – but I remember seeing these cards for the first time at a local art festival where BK and I used to live. I initially thought these cards (they’re about the size of a baseball card, about 2.5 x 3.5 inches) were business cards advertising the artist. Until I saw they had price tags – price tags that imho, were WAY more reasonable than the actual life sized pieces.

Jerry’s Artrama gave a good definition of what ATCs are:

“…Artist trading cards (commonly referred to as ATCs) are miniature pieces of art that are traded around the world. Artists create, trade and collect art at organized “swap” events, either in person or online. The only official rule for ATCs is the size: 2.5″ × 3.5″.

Essentially (if I’m understanding it right), the intention is to give artists another means to trade and collect works from other fellow artists. Which is a pretty darn cool idea. Even cooler for a miniature dork like me? They’re another source of artwork to grace my miniature scenes. Especially if I wanted something big.

So whenever I can get a chance, if I see an ATC card, I usually try to pounce on them and buy copies if I really love the design. One such artist is Poxodd – definitely fell in love with the ATCs for not just how colorful they are, but it had that delicious mix of the weird and fantastic that I couldn’t resist.

My first ATC cards from Poxod. Initially purchased from Etsy, but available at shop.poxodd.com

My first ATC cards from Poxod. Clockwise from top: Communications Operator, Swamp Dweller,  Cactootsy – Poxoddland Band #2, and the Bellmeister – Poxoddland Band #3. Initially purchased from Etsy, but available at shop.poxodd.com.

I had initially planned to use some ATC frames (D’s Miniatures and Collectibles on eBay carries some nice ones that can fit them nicely). But I was worried having something frame them these prints would detract the eye from the card’s overall design.  Guess this meant another trip downstairs to my (just recently cleaned) dining room for a quickie project.

My implements of war for this project...and a sorta assembly process. Just work with me people.

My implements of war for this project…and a sorta assembly process. Just work with me people.

Again, didn’t bother with taking step by step photos because (a) was winging it overall and (b) it happened pretty quick. I prolly banged this out in about 30 mins….way less than it’s taking me to write this blog entry. (“Slow and steady wins the….nope, still plodding along”).

But basically what happened was this:

  1. I measured out the dimensions of the ATC card – as stated earlier, they’re about 2.5 x 3.5 inches.
  2. I used some 1/8×1/8 inch wood strips and cut out pieces needed to make a frame that’s the same size as the ATC. To make it faster (since I had 4 cards), I used about 1.5 wood strips to cut out 4 pairs of the long sides for the frame….then when made another 4 pairs for the short sides. Cluelessness Laziness Airheadness Efficiency at its best I guess.
  3. Once the pieces were cut, I group them into four sets (each set having 2 long and 2 short ends). One set at a time, I sanded/wiped down before getting some beeswax woodpolish to make them nice and shiny.
  4. After all the sets were prepped, I used my corner tool (the thing in white) and started assembling them one set a time. I’d glue one long/one short together using Tacky glue, let it set a few minutes, then attach the remaining long/short pieces to form the frame.I used a fast grab type of tacky glue so the pieces would set quickly for me to gently slide them off the tool onto my work mat so I can work on the next set.
  5. Once the sets were dried enough, I attached an ATC onto a frame using GlueDot strips along the back edge of the card before pressing it onto the card. I ended up putting a pile of heavy books atop the framed art cards to make sure the glue strips had a chance to bond onto the frame…and for the frame to stay nice and flat.

End result? I got my lovely ATCs from Poxodd set to look like they’re artwork on a canvas frame…and I got to a chance to display the back of the cards (to show the artwork’s title and the artist’s name. Win!).

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Was pretty happy at how this on the fly project worked out. So much in fact…I actually had extra pieces that made the frames. Ended up bagging them so now I’ll have a template to use the next time I decide to do this for future ATCs/miniature artwork.

Let's hope I don't lose this...I really don't want to waste my lumber supplies figuring this out all over again.

Let’s hope I don’t lose this…I really don’t want to waste my lumber supplies figuring this out all over again.

In the meantime…looks like my new roombox’s new occupants made dibs on a couple of the prints. I’ll think about it. Right now, the place still looks like a disaster zone! (shudder)

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Hey! What are you doing??? Put those back – no never mind, they left the cash on the table. My bad!

 

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Move In Day

Now with the Lundby roombox done (I haven’t figured out a name yet…BK and I are still doing rock-paper-scissors-Spock to determine who gets naming rights), it’s as my mother and sister love to call “funsies time”. AKA decorating time.

Thought maybe this might provide some (hopefully) giggles from my readers (seriously, thanks for your patience not going after me for being absent putting a decapitated horsehead on my bed) …figured a scene for a not so fun time in our lives would be in order. Also known as moving day.

Holy crap, the %$@* just happened here?

Holy crap, the %$@* just happened here?

Will have to admit, moving doesn’t bother me so much. Mostly because I seem to have a weird fondness for cardboard boxes, the smell of storage units (is there a candle scent for it? No?) and the rustle of tissue/packing paper.  Though I definitely don’t like driving a moving truck (BK doesn’t mind it thank goodness. Again, another reason why I married the man).

Of course, for every move…you gotta have moving boxes. I didn’t have any, and at the time I decided my scene needed said item (at around 1:00 am Sunday morning), I was determined to make some. After all, I had a pile of shipping boxes stacked by the recycling bin. So why not wing it?

I didn’t take pics of how I did it, but I did chicken scratched scribble down some notes. This was what I was able to read from my handwriting.

  1. If using actual cardboard from shipping boxes, use the flaps (that make the bottom/top of the box). They’re thinner and easier to work with.
  2. Use a sharp blade. Box cutter is deal, but larger X-Acto knives are easier.
  3. Score lightly on areas you need to fold. Makes it easier/folds look neater.
  4. Pay attention to scale. No one ever uses a moving box that’s 50% of their height. (yes, I wrote this apparently. Stupid insomnia)
  5. Use actual packing tape. It’ll hold the cardboard together during assembly. Cut into thin strips so it looks believable/to scale.

In terms of a pattern, it was roughly like this. Basically, I stuck to the general rule that the top/bottom flaps of your box should be 50% of your overall box dimension. So for example, if you’re assembling a 1-inch square box, then the flaps should be about 1/2 inch.

Moving box pattern.

Moving box pattern.

Once I got the hang of the pattern, it was actually pretty fast and easy. And so long as I stuck to the ratio, I was able to assemble good number of 1 inch square and 1.5 inch square moving boxes (a reasonable size for 1:18 scale). Most of the boxes I sealed shut with tape, but the ones I left open I filled with crumbled bits of tissue paper and kraft colored origami paper to simulate packing paper…or the crumpled up remains of it.

View of the chaos.

View of the chaos.

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BK suggested rolling up the rug and stacking it somewhere. I took the rug I’m planning to use, wrapped it tightly around a pen before tying the ends with some snipped up rubber bands.

The “plastic sheeting” around the credenza is actually from those plastic bags you use to hold produce at the grocery store. I had to cut out the back part (that didn’t have the store’s logo on it), and wrapped it around the furniture. Not bad right? And the big box I created to house some square wood frames.

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View of the wrapped credenza using plastic grocery produce bags. Framed artwork a gift from Monsiuer Z, Mme KP and Mlle Luna from 3StarStudioArts. Thank you all for it – I LOVE IT!!

And of course, moving day won’t be complete without some groceries…didn’t have time to create 1/18 scale groceries, so made do with the ones that came with the Lundby kitchen set...

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Well, I’d better beat feet before the new occupants come back. I’m guessing they went out for some pizza and beer to celebrate. Or steel themselves in cleaning up this hot mess…

Deutschland Goodies (Part III)

Finally! I can write about the last item from my delivery last week. And I had to save the best for last.

In all honesty, I actually found this on Aparello.de – which I guess I can best describe as an online antiques/vintage store that’s based in Germany. I found it by accident during my search for German mid-century mod miniatures, and upon finding this item, explored the site some more….and found the two sets I mentioned in Part I and II. But seriously, even if the other sets didn’t exist…I still would have found a way to bring this home.

After talking with BK about this (he was totally game with it thank god), I initially tried to purchase them through the Aparello website – but for some reason, it wouldn’t allow me to complete the transaction. I was so close to giving up until BK suggested that perhaps the vendor is selling the same merchandise on eBay. That was such a brilliant idea – becuase it turned out the seller not only had listings on eBay…but he was also selling all three miniatures. And even better – I had the option to submit a best offer!

Not sure about you all, but apparently the mini gods decided to smile benevolently on this village idiot.  Because I did put my offer on each item, and they were accepted a few hours later. [imagines a huge yellow arrow pointing above her head going “AW YEAH!”]

Now if anyone (at least those in the United States) is thinking of hunting for miniatures in Germany for the first time, I’ll pass on the following advice:

  • Keep an eye on the currency exchange rates.  When I bought my items, the exchange rate was 1 USD = 0.901 EUR.  If it had been the other way around…I would have been forced to walk away from these goodies because it’d be just too darn pricey.
  • Be prepared to not just possibly pay alot for shipping but also expect to pay for the VAT (value added tax). And customs fees.
  • And be prepared to wait for a bit. Found out that my shipment arrived almost a week late because my shipment stayed in a warehouse in Frankfurt before it was shipped to New Jersey (as port of entry) and handed to the US Postal Service for delivery.
  • If you don’t know German…use a good translator. Or in my case, bribe my husband to read and translate German for you. And use Google translate on days he’s too busy/annoyed to help.  Now I owe him several dinners at his favorite Thai restaurant. 😀

Okay, I’ve rambled enough….let’s get to the finale yes?

So the last item was pretty big….well, it was large enough to begin with. But the vendor made it even bigger thanks to the…I dunno, several yards worth of bubble tape and shipping tape used to wrap this mysterious beauty. I tried to be careful but after 10 minutes for frustration, BK saved the day by procuring some scissors and cutting at some strategic locations.

Once the wrappings were removed, BK and I moved the item to our dining room table, where he left me alone to gape (and drool) at what’s to come. Prolly a good idea too – because once the wrappings were removed, I started coughing at the amount of dust that was disturbed. I ended up going upstairs to get a face mask before resuming.

After removing the bubble wraps...this is what I was presented with.

After removing the bubble wraps…this is what I was presented with.

After removing the papers, more of the mystery item was revealed. Wow, the vendor did a really AWESOME job packing it.

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Left side exterior. Check out the huge windows!

Left side exterior. Check out the huge windows!

Exterior right side view.

Exterior right side view.

Am sure you guessed what it is at this point. This is actually a handmade dollhouse that was made sometime in the 1970s. But the sweet part about this house? The vendor was selling not just the dollhouse, but all of its contents. And I mean EVERYTHING.

But before I could show you the contents, I pulled out the wrapped items because I wanted a closer look of the house. The vendor provided pics in the original eBay listing which were lovely and all. But it’s definitely different seeing it as the new owner…

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Overall view of the rooms.

We’ll start with the living room….I was surprised that the wallpaper was still intact. And the curtains were still in almost perfect condition.

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View of living room.

Moving onto the next room – the kitchen. I didn’t realize how small the doors were….and how they were framed with red electrical tape! Similar to the living room, it looks like the ceilings were covered with some kind of white vinyl contact paper….I might have to look at either trimming the loose edges or possibly stripping that off and replacing it. (still mulling)

The kitchen.

The kitchen.

As weird as this sounds…this room captivates me. Not sure if it’s the wooden stairs, of the flower pots glued on the window sill….or the yellow wall lamp and plug on the wall. I’m gonna have to figure out if these light fixtures are working! *crosses fingers*

The hallway/stairs leading to the second floor.

The hallway/stairs leading to the second floor.

The second floor was set to display two bedrooms. The first room is pretty huge. Sadly, I was bummed to find out that the wires for the wall lamp on the far right wall was cut. Hopefully I can figure out a way to rewire it.

The second bedroom’s ceiling light was in just as bad a shape. You can see whoever installed the lighting used strips of white contact paper to hide the wire leading to the wall….which was also torn in half along the wall. Looks like I got some seriously pondering to do in terms of fixing this…. 😦

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #2.

Bedroom #2.

With the rooms inspected, I started the long but ridiculously fun process of unwrapping the contents of the house and putting them inside my newly acquired property. Huh, guess there’s a color them going on here….

Das rote haus (I think that's right)...

Das rote haus (I think that’s right)…

The (furnished) living room

The (furnished) living room

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The kitchen.

The kitchen.

View of the kitchen units. Check out the pattern on the table!

View of the kitchen units. Check out the pattern on the table!

Once I started placing the furnishings for the bedrooms…I was wondering why the white parts were looking gray and dingy. Only to realize that all the furnishings were covered with a thin layer of dust. And my fat-ass sausage-like alien-shaped clumsy fingers were smearing them everywhere! 😦

(To do list #1: Clean the miniatures alongside the Modella and Crailsheimer sets)

The children's room.

The children’s room.

(To do list #2: make mattress and new bedding. The “bedding” the pieces came with….smelled really funky. Enough to make me not want to find out what it is)

The master bedroom. Need to figure out a better configuration.

The master bedroom. Need to figure out a better configuration.

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In my excitement, I forgot to take pics of the accessories that came with the furnishings. It was actually funny opening up drawers and doors and having mini cups, lamps, pots and pans, etc., spill out onto my dining table. Or in most cases, on my lap. And like the furnishings, they were all dusty.

(Update on to-do list #1: clean up LOTS of vintage minis)

And of course…what’s an apparently loved and cherished puppenhaus (or puppenstube) would be without its miniature occupants?

The dollies of das rote haus.

The dollies of das rote haus.

If I’m right, the mother and father (and the baby on the far right) are Caco dolls from Germany. The other dolls I’m sure of, but I did find them wrapped with the children’s bedroom set.

Close up of the kiddie dolls.

Close up of the kiddie dolls.

While the children dolls look like they’re in good condition (they’ll need a good dusting/washing I think), the Caco dolls were in not so good shape…

Uh-oh.

Uh-oh.

I’m gonna throw this out there to my dear readers: anyone interested in giving these dolls a home and possibly a makeover? The father and mother doll’s necks look like they’ll break at any second, and the father doll’s head/neck is completely seperated from the body.

I was tempted to borrow a soldering iron to maybe connect the head/neck to the body (since they have a wire skeleton inside). But I’m worried that even the slightest bend will cause them to seperate once again. So again, if anyone thinks they can fix these dolls, let me know and they’re all yours.

That’s it for now. I have to think of a name for this vintage beauty. And I got a pile of minis to clean in the next few days. And prolly cough my lungs out from all the dust.  But hey, totally worth it yo!

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.

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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.

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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. 😛

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!

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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.

 

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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?

 

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). 😀

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. 😛

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).

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!

CompletedNeville-25

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)