Monday, 30 November 2020

Making knick-knack

I had thought, I was going to log the building of the Toy House and its contents in some kind of order that made sense...

As much as that seems a logically and sensible way to go about things, that is never going to happen :-). I make things higgledy-piggledy, when I feel like it, when a great new idea comes into my head and when time allows. 

This week I made this 'thing'. Any guesses? 

It is tiny. Only 15mm (5/8") wide. There are three holes in the top piece and tree corresponding diverts in bottom piece. 

It is tiny. Only 15mm (5/8") wide. There are three holes in the top piece and tree corresponding diverts in bottom piece. 

Another clue...

I bought these Tiny Resin Pipes from Nalladris some time ago and painted them. (Obviously, Thomas Tjørngren would enjoy a pipe in the evening). They are minute and I needed to somehow keep them together and make sure they wouldn't get lost. I had thought perhaps a wall mounted shelf or rack of some kind, but then I found a few pictures of antique pipe racks and was surprised to see just how elaborate and clever some of them were with built-in tobacco drawers and detailed decorations. 

I settled for this more modest version as a model for my mini version. 

The little pipe stand fits beautifully on the shelf in front of the top row of books. The beautiful little vase is by the talented Lorie Marsh of Lorie Marsh Ceramics - I was so lucky to win this and a larger pot.

~ ~ ~ 

I built a small bookcase for the upstairs apartment from scratch a little while ago. I couldn't find one the size or height I wanted - sort of half way up the wall. Those I looked at were either way above my budget or clunky and 'ugly' looking so I figured... It's all just rectangles, how hard could it be?

The bookcase is made from basswood with timber mouldings for the trim at the top and front edges. 
I took the photo before it was varnished - or rather, I use layers of French polish. It takes time and layer upon layer but I find it easier to control the final look of the piece. 

The top moulding doubles up as the front of a shallow drawer. My grandmother had a cupboard with a very shallow drawer at the top like this. Just out reach of little people but not so high grown-ups couldn't reach it easily. I found it most intriguing as a child.
In it, she kept special things.. 

... like photo albums and medals. 

Like the pipes, the tiny medals are from Nalladris. I threaded the medals onto tiny pieces of silk ribbon before popping them into little boxes. The boxes from black card, with ribbon for hinges and silk ribbon for the little 'pillow'' inside.

To fill the shelves, I first made a pile of books. Books are fun and easy and filled the shelves quickly. A couple of them open, but most are made from covered balsa blocks. 

To make the wood look like pages, I scored the block multiple times with the tip of my craft knife before painting them cream/ivory and then rubbing a bit of chalk pencil onto them. I think it works.

There are way too many books and I need to find more knick-knacks, but this is a start. 

I hope you are all keeping well, staying safe and looking after yourself and those around you.
Anna X

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Toys for the Toy House shelves

Four months ago, I (mostly) finished the exterior of my little Toy House. I felt, I was on a real roll and so excited about how it was all coming together. What happened, you may wonder? 

I have been tinkering a little bit, but haven't made any major progress. Having said that, the shelves in the shop are filling slowly with toys that I have gathered so far. Some I have bought, some are made from kits and some from scratch.

I thought I would start listing them here as a way to somehow log what they all are so that I can look back and remember what they all are when where I found them. 

Miniature toys ~ Where Small Things Live

These three little pieces are some of my oldest tiny toys. I bought and painted them.. many, many moons ago. I am guessing they are phoenix miniatures. I rediscovered them in a box when I was cleaning out the shed and almost threw out - before deciding to play with them instead. 

Miniature toys ~ Where Small Things Live

I painted this family of teeny wild animals more recently. As you can see, they are the tiniest of tiny. The Ark is from a very basic little kit. I made groves in sides and roof to add just a bit of details before painting it.

Miniature toys ~ Where Small Things Live

The toys look cute when piled in on the shelf. Time will tell if they stay there. 

The polar bear is just a cheap plastic micro mini - I think he might need a bow around his neck to make him look a bit more friendly. 
The Humpty Dumpty Circus boxes at the back are made with the graphics from original lids that I found online and scaled down. 
One day, I might like to make some tiny Humpty Dumpty circus figures to go in the boxes.
Some of the first toys, I made from scratch are these three. It started with the monkey seesaw, made mostly from paper, with a little bit of balsa for them to sit on and pins for the mast and for securing the wheels. The little seesaw boat is made from a bit of balsa with the tops of fancy toothpicks for the little sailors. 

Miniature toys ~ Where Small Things Live

I love antique toys, so I have had a lot of fun looking for ideas for toys to make for the little shop. So when I saw this pull-along monkey, I just had to make one like that too.  
Another paper toy - a tiny merry-go-round. I found this brilliant download and tutorial HERE. Although it is in French, the pictures are excellent so it is pretty easy to follow. 

Miniature Merry Go Round ~ Where Small Things Live

Next a few little dolls made from kits from Tower House Dolls (the website is currently under reconstruction). The larger doll was a full kit and my first attempt. For the slightly smaller doll, I just got the porcelain doll and made up the costume from silk ribbons and fine lace trim. I am not overly excited about the hair, but it will do (for now).

Mini dolls for dolls ~ Where Small Things Live

I had so much fun making these little ladies and I can highly recommend Sandra's kits if you are ever looking for a really special mini doll for your mini people. 

Toy doll & dolls house ~ Where Small Things Live

The dolls house is also from a kit - well partly. This one  is from Jacominis. The print is really excellent, but I was so disappointed when I discovered the beautiful front was just to be glued onto a wooden block! That wouldn't do. 

Toy dolls house ~ Where Small Things Live

After a bit of trail and error, I managed to create a paper interior on the computer, that when folded made four rooms. Looking at the photo, I now see the front edges are a little bit wonky (another thing I need to fix) but I still prefer this to a wooden block. Notice the wallpaper in the upstairs bedroom is a scaled down version of the living room above the toyshop :-)
I have been looking for some 1:144 furniture, but have yet to buy some to fill the house. 

There are many more toys on the shelf already, perhaps I need to pull them out and log them shelf by shelf. 

Take care everyone,

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

At 'lock-up'

I have slowly been working away on the Toy House. I kept thinking, I really didn't have much to show & share and then...

... all of a sudden, the exterior is (almost) finished - from a plain sheet of plywood, I have built a house.

Now, the idea for this blog was to have somewhere to make 'note-to-self' to record how I got there, but looking at it now, I realize, I probably should have written a bit more along the way. Never mind, here is goes:
After I had stacked the three room boxes it was finally time to get to work on the exterior. The house front was going to be hinged and the roof (for now) lifts off completely. so I figured it would be easier to do as much of the finishing as I could before attaching the front. 

First up, my handy husband helped me cut the holes for windows and door. I taped off the openings from the inside, so the render would go a little bit up over the window and door frames.

I then 'rendered the front and the sides of the house shell with powder filler mixed with 2/3 water and 1/3 pva glue. I had learned from rendering the attic walls that the powder filler when only mixed with water, was quite fragile and porous and I don't want to the outside of the house to chip or flake. By adding the glue, the render is now much more hard wearing. I deliberately didn't smooth the render too perfectly - remember this is a very, very old little house!
The outside is painted with satin acrylic paint. It was way too 'perfect and too shiny so I have it a few washes of cream chalk paint over the top. Again, I have tried to deliberately make the paint a little uneven to look older and a bit weathered. 

I had not rendered the area behind the shop sign. I painted that section a slightly lighter shade of the wall colour and added a timber moulding (upside-down skirting) for the detail below. That also gives the wee soldiers at each side of the shop sign something to stand on :-) 
I am no good at painting, so I printed the sign onto watercolour paper (I like the texture). I then carefully went over the lettering with paint and a fine gold pen before giving the sign a very light sand and carefully 'aged' it with the tiniest bit of very weak tea. 

I had made all windows and adapted this door ages ago and had them painted and stashed away in a box, waiting to be popped into place. All the windows are made from strips of card stock with balsa wood frames. Back then, I wasn't taking picture, sorry. 
I had removed the original door frame so that I could add a fanlight above and by doing so, make it the same height as the shop window. 

The windows for the apartment and loft are all hinged, using This Tutorial for paper hinges by Aurelea Krieger. To make them a little stronger, I mixed the paint with pva glue and gave them a very generous coating. They are still not made for constant opening and closing, but the glue certainly makes them a little more durable. 

You will notice the windows open out which is most common in Denmark. I have added little knobs (pins) on the inside but I must confess, I stopped short of adding hooks and latches to keep them closed. Maybe next time...

Next up was the front step and narrow cobblestone footpath. The step was pretty straight forward, made from a block of balsa, suitably sanded for wear in the middle. I had imagined that I could make the cobblestone from air-drying clay and glue it in place but as it turned out, it shrank too much and just wouldn't work. Instead, I opted for the same filler and glue mix I had used for the walls and then scored the lines between the stones before it was completely dry. This wouldn't work for perfectly even paving stones but for uneven cobblestone I think it does the job just fine. 
I have since neatened the front of the footpath with a bit of timber, but I haven't decided yet if I will simply paint it or clad it with 'bricks' or 'stones'. 

I had a fabulous time painting and aging the exterior and the cobblestone was especially good fun. I still want to add a bit of moss and perhaps a dandelion or a few tufts of grass growing in the cracks here and there. 

The down pipe is made from a length of 6mm (1/4") balsa dowel. To make the spout, I wrapped the end with a bit of card. The brackets are also made from card with black marker dots for bolts (Thanks to Brae on Otterine's Miniature).
I also added card brackets to the ready-made gutter so it didn't look like it was 'just stuck' onto the wall. 

I was pretty pleased (and surprised) that I managed to cut the angles for the bends at the top of the downpipe correctly. The fact that it is the right distance from the wall to fit the gutter at the top is a complete 'fluke' - I was so focused on cutting the angles right that I forgot to measure it other than by just holding the piece against the wall. You have to be lucky sometimes. 

And with that, the facade is pretty much done and my plywood boxes have become a house. 

But there is still the 'almost finished' left. You would have noticed that the roof is just painted - for now. I am still working out what to do about tiles. I have been trying to make them, but that is a story for another day....

Have a lovely week everyone.
Anna X