Saturday, 7 September 2019

The Formal Room Box

The room box is now emptied of its mini bounty....and ready for its Vogue photo shoot.  

The room box is made of MDF and measures 18.5" long 14" wide and 12" tall.  The fireplace brick bump out is permanent.  However, the fireplace isn't glue in, its just held in place with a dab of wax.  This way I can change the style or era of the room.  

The brick wall is embossed brick paper that I glued to the MDF, then primed and painted.  Even 3 coats of paint (primer + 2 top coats) didn't provide complete coverage, but I loved the shadowy effect so I didn't continue to paint.  I highly recomend painting the embossed paper if you're looking for an easy way to bring brick into your project.  No egg cartons, cork or paper brick cutting.  Just glue on the paper and paint it!

I was originally going to put a removable left and right built in cabinet on either side of the fireplace.  However, I ran out of steam and decided that I'd do it later or.... never.  We shall see!

The windows were made of plastic model making quarter round strips and clear acrylic sheets. I did this same window technique for my Real Good Toys room box a few years back.  

When I say "window technique" all I really did was sandwich the acrylic between the strips of plastic.  The strips are also glued to the frame.  It's a cheap and efficient way of making large windows.

So there you have it!  One project done, 30 more to go!

Saturday, 31 August 2019

The Summer (mini) Round Up - Projects On The Go!

I'm writing this asking myself how summer is almost done.  Good thing I didn't set too many mini making goals for myself!

I have actually finished the room box since I last wrote. But before I could take pictures I began staging it for a scene for Hobby Builders Supply and  Got a little too excited to start the room and I didn't take pictures of the finished product.  But soon, I promise, I will have the room box emptied and I will show it to you.

Summer Travels

We took Miss Kitty to Florida and had a nine day adventure at every theme park imaginable.  As a reward for surviving, I convinced everyone that we should stop at two miniature stores in Florida.  Thankfully, they were both located in the general vicinity of where we stayed or were travelling near.

Our first stop was at Ron's Miniature Shop in Orlando.  The store had an incredible amount of inventory.  My challenge was shopping with a six year old that wanted to explore and have all my attention.  It was a balancing act, but we both came out happy.  If you're in the area, definitely check the store out.  I would have loved it if items were not all behind glass so I could have explored more.  It's challenging to keep asking to open up locked displays as you browse!

Lots of acrylic letters (by Ron), a resin skull and a whip (made of wire)

Non-electrical acrylic chandelier and bench (by Ron)

Fun little bits!

Moroccan inspired table (laser cut cardboard by Ron), two vessels by Alex Meiklejohn and vase trio by Susan Johnson

Film reels!  I've never seen a mini version before so I had to get them

Working table top chest of drawers (by Ron)

Our trip to the Kennedy Space Center also included a stop in Cocoa to visit  The Toy Box.  The little store was packed with fine collectibles and general miniature items.  My best find was a leather and metal sofa and chair set by Warren Richardson (not pictured).  In fact I didn't have a chance to photograph the Toy Box items yet!  I got a clear jug of beer, the sofa/chair, and a vase by Alex Meiklejohn.

Other Bits

The scene I'm staging, of course, does not fully match my style of miniature collectibles.  While I had lots of items for it, there were more then a few things I had to make.  Nothing is worse then not being able to have your vision come together. For the last month I've spent my evenings working on furniture, decor and rugs.

One item was the Bay Tree which I made from a kit from The Miniature Garden on Etsy.  If you're new to florals or like me just want to get to the end product without a whole ton of fuss and cursing, these kits are perfect.  I've never run out of leaves or petals, lots of wire and great instructions.  I got the tree and a weeping willow kit for Christmas.  One of two down, now will I get the other one done before this Christmas?

And you get a peek into the room box and some of the other staging I've completed!  

Don't even ask about that advent calendar I was going to make for myself.  It's still sitting there 99% untouched waiting for me.  Waiting for Christmas 2020....maybe.

I'm looking at the start of school and a lot more free time up head, so I plan to translate that into a lot more miniature making and blogging!

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Hello Summer!


When isn't summer busty?  I always think I'll have more time to sit and make minis.  I've squeezed in some late evenings to get some projects moving and take on additional projects (because who doesn't love taking on more projects!!).

Work with me here people, there's been a lot of mini things happening!

The Mid Century House

You know its been a while when a coat of dust and assorted fluff accumulates on a project because its been sitting on the furnace room floor!

Building is a little like playing Jenga.  You have to be strategic and think 5 steps ahead so you don't end up with a headache.  But you still have them, regardless, right?  I managed to finish off the kitchen wall with its floating shelves, under lighting and aluminum sheet back splash.  But before I could secure that wall to the structure I needed to make decisions about the bathroom.  That same wall would hold the bathroom vanity and lighting (which would feed through the wall and be concealed behind the kitchen cabinets.

3 months.  Yes, it took 3 months to procrastinate about what I wanted for the bathroom.  Time was spent on Pinterest, design magazines and Instagram.

The front exterior wall also needed to be cut and finished as its part of the bathroom wall.  I added the ribbed wood cladding to it.  I then realized I could see light between where the new right wall (see picture) butted up to the original structure (the panel with the door, left).  Also, the single strip of black wood between the two sides looked rather underwhelming in real life when I placed landscaping in front of it.  Sigh.  No, I didn't walk away for another 3 months, I added a second strip of black wood, sliced off some cladding and fixed the appearance and the gap in one shot.  

Then I vanished.  I varnished while tired and in a rush.  It didn't go as planned.  I grabbed gloss, not matte.  So the right side was shiny and the left was matte.  Much swearing.  Not sure how I missed the GIANT GLOSS LABEL, but I did.  So now both are shiny gloss that I dulled with super fine steel wool.

Before I could move on with the bathroom lighting, I realized I needed the vanity to set the tone and give me a reference for notching the wire channels and light position/size.

Using the "modern bathroom" hashtag on Instagram, I pulled together a few favourites.  I also wanted to tie the bathroom to the kitchen, so after I had all my wood cut, I veneered each piece and the cabinets edges.  The counter is a very thin tile.  The sink is from ELF Miniatures and the wall mount facet if from Paper Doll Miniatures Shapeways Store.  

The flooring is a sheet of railroad scale "sidewalk" plastic.  I will leave it white.  The wall tile is also from the railway store.

I notched the wall using my Dremel.  Once everything is correctly placed, Ill drill through the wall into the kitchen to run the wires and battery.

I made wall mounted wall sconces using a different veneer and thin metal rod.  Cutting veneer sheets is easy with a very sharp Xacto knife.  The tough part is gluing it and not having it stick to your fingers.

New Roombox

My "why not" project also started in July.  The Restoration Hardware catalogue was sitting on my workbench and the Ethan Allen summer ad had arrived.  I suddenly wanted a white living room space.  Do I have additional time for this? Nope, but why not!

Its a rather big room with big ceilings and windows.  No sense making it small and having it feel jammed with furniture.

When completed it will have 3 walls, the window wall, the fireplace wall and the blank wall.  I may add a removable roof with lights for stability, but for now 3 walls is enough work.

I opted to take the easy route for the brick wall.  I used embossed brick paper, primed it and painted it the wall colour.  Even after 3 coats with the wall colour the brick paper still bleed through, but it adds dimension and gives it a very aged look up close.

The floors another story.  I used a birch veneer roll that had adhesive on the back.  Simply heat your iron to melt the glue and set the floor.  It works like a charm!  But there was a catch.  I had to slice the strip in half lengthwise to get the 1 cm width, but that resulted in wobbly cuts here and there.  When laying regular wood floors, you don't see the gaps and can fill them.  But the veneer glue when melted and dried, looks glaring white.  Very visible against my grey/brown floors.

So, when I finished the floor, and 3 coats of stain and palm sander-ing, I had the colour I loved, just with gaps.

I sprayed it with 2 coats of matter oil based spray varnish.  Then I solved the glue issue.  I mixed an exact match floor stain with craft acrylic paints.  Using a fine brush I painted all the white, then wiped off any paint that got on the boards.  The oil based varnish meant it wiped perfectly clean.  After the paint was dry, I added 1 more coat of matte varnish and it was flawless. 

I'm now painting the window trim the same as the wall colour and will apply a final wall colour coat too!

And now here's a little mini fun!  I always bring minis to the cottage.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

The Un-box Room Box

My urban patio scene is large.  And given that I'm still chugging away at my mid-century build and some other ideas in the pipeline, space will get short.  I decided that I wasn't going to make the patio a traditional room box, but rather an un-boxed room box.  I'm at a loss for clever words/phrases to describe it!

The 2 walls and the base are not attached, just 3 slabs of wood.  I used a few books and vases to prop the walls up.  Next time I have my table saw out, I plan to cut a wood triangle and put a 90 degree groove in it to essentially keep the two walls together at the top while I use the scene.  The beauty of this design means I can use different backgrounds, or use the walls for other photo shoots.

The Pool

The pool is a trimmed with some scrap baseboard trim I had laying around.  On top of the trim and the "water" area, I applied wall spackle.  Or wall filler.  Or wall patch filler...whatever you call the stuff that fills holes in a drywall or plaster wall.  I then used a simple yellow sponge with a green scrubby top to texture the stucco.

The pool was my first foray into this magical water for model making.  There are a few brands out there, Magic Water and Woodland Scenics.  Both are "pour and done!" No mixing products.  That said, you can only pour 3-4mm thick at a time. In the end I did 3 pours waiting 24 hours between layers as directed.  By chance I watched a YouTube video about the water and it said that it can be cloudy for a few weeks as it slooooooooowly cures, but in the end it will dry clear.  Between pour 2 and 3 it was cloudy.  And it had every changing sections of cloudy for 3 weeks!  It finally cured and is now clear.

Had I not known about the cloudiness being normal, you might have seen that plywood go flying out my front door!

The Stones

I had enough egg cartons for the stones, but the thought of painting and cutting them up was too much.  So I took the $10.99 route.  I went to the art store and found some thick, rough, texture paper for painting and decided that it looked like stone.

The paper was 22 by 30 inches, so I have A LOT of stone available for future projects.  I took a variety of grey, off-white and brown paints and made a mess on the paper.  Then I proceeded to cut it into bricks.  The process was quick and painless, and took much less effort then egg cartons.

Some might take the time to use a ruler and make marks for the herringbone pattern.  I did not.  Sheer laziness.  I did, however, find the center of the board and made a mark there so I had a starting point, but that was it.

Once the tiles were laid, I sealed the bricks with a water based top coat and used the wall spackle as grout.  Then came many washes with brown and grey to dirty it up.  

The Concrete Walls

I have always wanted to try making a concrete effect for a mini project.  I didn't know where to start, never had the right project and was worried it would look like garbage once I had it finished.  Well, on a hope and a prayer, I took the wall spackle and gave it a try!

There are many types of concrete walls.  Do a quick internet search and you'll see there are long panels, square panels, panels with pipes, and panels you can see holes where rebar existed.  Many options, all worthy of re-creation.  I decided to keep this first try simple with just tall panels.

I mixed the spackle with grey paint to lessen the paint needed to finish it at the end.  I then divided the walls into equal sized panels.  I taped off every second panel.  It's a two step process.  Then I applied the spackle and textured with my fancy yellow/green sponge. You definitely need an image of concrete as you texture to get the right smooches and stippling.  

Once the sections started to dry I removed the tape.  The following day, I applied tape to the spackled sections and spackled the unspackled panels.  Valuable lesson: you don't need to intentionally leave a space between the panels for effect.  I moved the tape over too far and left a huge, unnatural gap.  I then re-taped right along the stucco line and it became clear that the adjoining panels were distinct with a line between the spackle.

After everything was dry I sanded with a fine grit sand paper.  This is KEY to getting the concrete look, because it removes any obvious sponge marks or unnatural swirls.

Then its just a few simple coats of medium grey paint and a few well placed dabs of darker grey applied with a sponge.

It's a room box, no its an un-box room box!  And now its sitting in its 3 panel form neatly in my basement not taking up valuable real estate. 

Greetings From The Mini-Miniaturist

Miss Kitty is now 6 and quite the miniaturist.  She sets scenes with all her dolls and Lego on a daily basis.  But when she saw all these mini goodies out, she couldn't resist getting in there with mom!

Using my minis and a huge selection of her own, she made her own patio scenes.  No mini can be left behind, everything gets into her scene no matter the obstacle or lack of space.

I promised her I would post her accomplishments. 

Sunday, 2 June 2019

A Summer Day - A Modern Urban Patio Scene with

Welcome to summer!  Working with Hobby Builders Supply (HBS) and, I was asked to put together a summer scene using an assortment of products from  Given the lack of sunshine in my area at present, how could I say no to the prospect of making some mini summer sunshine?!

I didn't have a modern urban patio backdrop available, so I decided to start from scratch.  I made my own tile flooring and lay it in a herringbone pattern.  I then made concrete walls using wall spackle and paint.  And no summer is complete without a pool, so I made one of those too!  I will post in the near future about how I built this set.

I hope this inspires you to see what just a few items can look like if you want to make your own outdoor scene.  I made just a few modifications (paint, scissors and glue!) and created a few items to round out the scene.

If you're in the mood for even more summer outdoor fun, visit Kristine at Paper Doll Miniatures, who is also working with  Her stunning Backyard Patio Retreat is gorgeous and a inspirational.  We've both had a long, cold, snowy winter, so making our summer retreats has been a lot of fun.

The Lounger

I can imagine a movie star lounging high above the city on this Wicker Lounger away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi.  The "Rattan" Table/Stool would be the ideal place for a wine spritzer (gotta watch the carbs!).

I sewed the linen pillows and the towels are made from baby wash clothes.

Behold the beautiful hedge!  I was so impressed with the "Squeeze Me" Evergreen Hedge 3" x 24" that I built a concrete-effect planter box and a trellis set to showcase it.  It provides lots of privacy.  And yes, since its foam based you can squeeze it kind of like a stress ball!

The Dining Table

The 5 pc Wicker High-Top Dining Set looks and feels like wicker, though its resin.  I went and added some linen cushions to make it softer to sit on.

No table awaiting a BBQ is without condiments!  I took elements from several sets and set my table (see the shopping list below).

The Fireplace

I know you've all seen the fireplace before!  I posted about how I transformed the plain MDF Outdoor Brick Fireplace into a painted brick and concrete beauty.  If you jump over to my Instagram page you can check out the flickering fire video using Battery Operated Flickering Fireplace LED Set.  

Sitting on the ledge of the fireplace are the packaged "Supermarket" Steaks waiting to go onto the Charcoal Grill and its "Start the Grill!" Set.  On the other side is the White Floral Watering Can that I painted gloss black.

The Bar

It ain't a party unless you have chilled drinks for all of your guests!  The bar features the Modern Ice Bucket and the Classic Cocktail Shaker.  Chilling, is some milk for the kids and some soda for the adults.

I added my own touches with the planters, the bar and the art.

The Landscape

I took one of the 6" Large Evergreen Tree and trimmed it!  Yup, just shaved it down with some scissors to make it a bit more narrow.  The great thing about these foam based trees and shrubs is that its green all the way through, so trimming doesn't result in bare, non-green spots!

I used some of the Autumn Foliage Mat to make the little yellow/orange flowers peeking out in my pot.  The mat can be used as a good sized sheet or cut down to meet your needs.

The pool is no more then 4mm of Magic Water.  I simply painted the base of the pool blue and poured 2 coats of Magic Water over top.  The result is a glossy water-like finish.

There you have it!  A fun, modern urban patio scene perched high above the city.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to work with Hobby Builders Supply and to place some of their beautiful pieces in my mini scenes and make them shine.  And if modern isn't your thing, they have lots of more traditional options for your patio or porch.

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This post received support from Hobby Builders Supply and