Sunday, 2 June 2019

A Summer Day - A Modern Urban Patio Scene with miniatures.com





Welcome to summer!  Working with Hobby Builders Supply (HBS) and miniatures.com, I was asked to put together a summer scene using an assortment of products from miniatures.com.  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 miniatures.com.  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 miniatures.com 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 miniatures.com 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.









Your miniatures.com Shopping List



Patio Items





Landscape





Accessories





This post received support from Hobby Builders Supply and miniatures.com



Saturday, 1 June 2019

Outdoor Brick Fireplace Tutorial

Image from miniatures.com


My mini scene in collaboration with Hobby Builders Supply and miniatures.com is still in the works.  I think I'm closer to completion on my scene then mother nature is to giving me a warm day (at least here in Ontario!).

One item I purchased from miniatures.com was their Outdoor Brick Fireplace and their Battery Operated Flickering Fireplace LED Set.  This fireplace is 8"Wx8"Hx2 3/4"D and made entirely of MDF.  It's a solid piece that feels substantial when you lift it.  I wanted an outdoor fireplace for my scene, and was pleased to find this one that lived up to the Pinterest images I was looking at.  

You do not need to worry about any warping with paint on this piece because its etched MDF, meaning, the bricks are part of the wall and nothing will curl up!


Products


I used paint that I already had in my every growing craft paint bin.  The colours were Americana "Desert Sand," Martha Stewart chalkboard finish "Gray," Americana 'Raw Umber," and Liquitex "Neutral Gray."

You'll also need a basic black paint and a clear water based acrylic clear coat in a satin or matte finish.

From the non-mini making shelf in my basement, I grabbed a tub of wall spackle and a putty knife.  Wall spackle, if you're unfamiliar, is the product you use on your walls to fill holes.  You could also use wood filler if you wanted!




The Paint 


I began painting "Desert Sand," "Gray," and "Neutral Gray" on to the bricks in a random pattern.  If you finish and decide your don't like an area of bricks (say, you have too many dark bricks in one area), then just repaint those bricks.  I painted the bricks then came back to it a few hours later to see it with fresh eyes.  

After your bricks are dry, you need to age them.  This task is a little more time consuming.  On the bricks painted "Desert Sand" use "Raw Umber" to age; on the bricks painted "Gray" use "Neutral Gray" to age; and on the bricks painted "Neutral Gray" use "Gray" to age them. 

The aging technique is dry brushing.  Put a little paint on your brush, then blot the brush on a paper towel until most of it is removed.  Then blot or stipple on the brick.  If you get a little too enthusiastic with your aging paint, simply dab on a bit of the base colour to fix it.  Or, if you get some on a neighborliness brick, don't worry, bricks are imperfect.

I will age for soot later, once grouting is complete, because I want soot on my grout lines.


The Grout


In my opinion, even miniature bricks need grout.  If this step terrifies you, you can skip it, but do consider giving it a try!

After all your paint has thoroughly dried, apply your acrylic craft paint sealer with a paint brush.  I used a matte finish because that's what I had handy.  Once this has dried (and I mean really, really dried!) and you've ensured that you don't have any damp sealer in the grout lines, you can move on to grouting.

The sealer allows you to put the spackle on without damaging the paint with the putty knife or having the spackle discolour the painted areas.






I opted to tint my spackle using "Neutral Gray" by transferring a few large globs of spackle and a good tablespoon of paint into a separate dish and mixing.  Otherwise, you will have very white grout lines, unless that's what you want or want to add paint detail to them.

I put the spackle on a bit thick, using the putty knife to press it into the grout lines.  Then I carefully use the putty knife to scrape away the excess.





Once you can again see brick through the spackle, get a damp (not wet) paper towel and wipe the surface.  This might take a few wipes and use a clean slide of the towel with each pass.  I work small areas to ensure I can get the bricks clean before it dries.  When wiped, I then give one pass with dry paper towel to ensure no moisture is left sitting on the brick surface.

Keep going with the process until all your bricks are grouted.  Then let dry according to the manufacturers directions.

The Ledges


I initially painted the fireplace ledge, the top cap and the arch around the opening with "Neutral Gray."  If just painting is fine with you, then skip this step.  But, I had to keep going with the spackle.

I wanted a concrete/stone appearance to the areas that were not brick.  Using the putty knife I slowly and carefully applied a thins coat of spackle to all these surfaces.  The spackle was again tinted with "Neutral Gray."

When the spackle was dry, I gently sanded the areas with a 320 grit sand paper to get rid on some of swirls and awkward spots and get it to the appearance I wanted.  I then applied another coat of "Neutral Gray" to finish it.

Voila!  Two different surfaces (concrete and brick) using the same products!


The Fire


Before I completed the soot and detailed work with the black paint, I went to install the LED fireplace lighting.  The miniatures.com Battery Operated Flickering Fireplace LED Set consists of 3 lights (red and orange flashing lights and one solid orange.  All you need to do is drill a hole through the base of the fireplace (from underneath) and feed the wires through.  A feed the shrink tube over your wire, and a few wire twists to connect them and then pull the shrink tube over the connection.  A blast of heat from a hair dryer shrinks the tubing and your light is now connected to its battery and switch.  


One good hole and one boo-boo hole!


Hole at the back and in the middle

Once the hole is in place, you can paint the inside of the fireplace with black paint and dry brush a bit of "Neutral Gray" for soot effect.

I raided my lilac bush for delicate branches to use for my fire.  I prefer fresh, delicate branches over larger ones because they look realistic and are to scale.  They also let more light peek through.

I start by glue a few branches to the base of the fire and let them dry thoroughly.  This gives you a good foundation to work with.  Then I lay in my other branches and play around a bit (no glue yet!!) to see what works and what doesn't.  

Before gluing down the bulk of the branches, you need to secure your 3 fire lights.  Add a dab of tacky glue at the hole (both ends) and let dry to ensure your wires don't move.  Then glue down your branches.

I also dry brushed black paint on my branches after the glue dried and added a few tiny decorate grey vase filler stones to look like embers.




Back To Paint


Now that everything is in place, you need to dirty up this outdoor fireplace!  A good dime size glob of raw umber and a few table spoons of water in a dish make a wonderful aging wash.  It catches all the grout and sits on top of the bricks.  

If you don't do the wash, even the tinted spackle grout looks incredibly bright and the bricks look very bold and vibrant.  I admit I was a little panicked by the brightness!  The wash, applied with a paint brush, and blotted off in areas tones it down.  I did 2 coats of wash in total.

No fireplace is complete without soot.  I again dry brushed black paint along the opening of the fireplace and onto the bricks and grout.  I added soot to the very top of the fireplace vent too.


The Grand Reveal



Front View - Fire Glowing


Top of Fireplace


Fire with Embers


Rear view


Close-up of Bricks



I hope you enjoyed the fireplace process.  If you have any questions regarding the steps or products just ask me in the comments!



Images courtesy of miniatures.com.  This post received support from Hobby Builders Supply and miniatures.com

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

The HBS Creatin' Contest 2019


Image courtesy of miniature.com

The 26th Annual HBS Creatin' Contest hosted by Hobby Builders Supply and miniatures.com is in full swing.  When I was approached by HBS to share with my readers about the contest, that wasn't tough, because I was already following a few bloggers and Instagramers as they tackled their kits.

The 2019 contest kit, The Serendipity Shed, could be anything, from she-shed, man cave, store, cafe, apartment, or even made larger if you added a few shed kits together to expand your vision. If you head over to miniatures.com you can check out their version, the Japanese Potting Shed, so fear not if you would love to try the kit but don't know where to start!  There is even a handy tip and item sheet put together by Fran Casselman to make purchasing the items easy and quick.


Image courtesy of miniature.com
I gave it serious consideration this year because the build is relatively small, but ultimately I had too many projects on the go!  Had I decided to do the kit, I would have made it into a miniature store.  Not a tiny store, but rather one that sold 1:12 scale miniatures. I've been tempted by smaller scales, and a miniatures store would let me have had the best of both worlds!

What really makes me happy about this contest is that it gets people motivated to make miniatures and keep this hobby vibrant.  You see miniaturists supporting each others projects and helping solve problems, give suggestions and words of encouragement on all content platforms.


In the Blog-o-sphere, you can follow:





On Instagram you can follow the following accounts:


  • @thecraftymillenial
  • @ktunacreations
  • @otterine
  • @mymanysides
  • @miniaturemercantile
  • @aprilwpottery
  • @thedesignerdollhouse
  • @makerofminis
  • @myminiatureabodes
  • @papermoonminiatures
  • @linchens_little_cottage
  • @nevermindthefurthermore
  • @jessminiart
  • @samisminiatures
  • @houstonsminis



Or you can follow the Instagram hashtags (#):


  • #creatincontest
  • #creatincontest2019
  • #serendipityshed


If you are feeling up to the challenge, you have until December 16th, 2019 to complete and submit your build's pictures to HBS along with your entry form, click here for contest details.  Like this past year, grand prize is a $1,000 HBS/miniatures.com gift certificate. Gift certificates will be awarded ($500, $300, $200 for first place, second and third), plus up to $1,000 in gift certificates divided among the top first-time entrants, and all entrants receive a thank you prize.


One cannot end without mention of Sheila's Grand Prize winning entry for the 25th Creatin' Contest, The Wicked Queen's Retirement Cottage.  Thank you Sheila for letting me share this picture of your amazing build!



Please let me know if you are participating in the build I somehow forgot you, as I'm happy to add you to the list.

Good luck to all the participants.










Images courtesy of miniatures.com.  This post received support from Hobby Builders Supply and miniatures.com

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Mini Bits Of Fun



Kits are so much fun!   I got this monster deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant) kit by CastleCrafts from The Little Dollhouse Company.  There were enough leaves to make two plants.


And then I treated myself to an amazing pair of chairs by Pepper via her MitchyMooMiniatures Etsy store



And then because I did the two other ELF Miniatures kits, I decided to make the industrial stove and the fridge.  I didn't have a fridge in my collection of minis!  How is that possible? 





Sunday, 5 May 2019

O.M.E.G.A. Show 2019



Today was the Ontario Miniature Enthusiasts of Guelph Area (O.M.E.G.A.) Miniature Show.  Lots of vendors and a lot of people! Check them out here.

The Haul


June Simpson (still spry in her 80's) has been selling off her beautiful miniature collection over several shows with the help of her friend Marie.  Once again, I was able to purchase another beautiful piece.  This kitchen hutch has fully functioning drawers, cupboards with locks and lots of surprises.  Inside were two pieces of Jane Graber pottery and a honey jar made by James Clark.  Even little cutlery in the drawers.






June made these beautiful metal stacking containers and bucket at the IGMA Guild School in Castine, Maine.  Marie told me the class was given by a French artist (name unknown).  They are so well made despite looking so simple and ordinary.



Grandpa's Doll House  had 3D printed milk crates and cinder blocks! I also grabbed a guitar, some art and a little glass vase.





One vendor, Sheila, was selling a lot of vintage items from her collection.  When I spotted the T & E Brownawell pieces, my heart stopped.  I had been watching pieces on eBay for a long time, but with shipping rate at almost triple that of the already costly piece, I had to pass.  I didn't expect to find three pieces today.  They even came in their original handmade boxes stamped with T & E Brownawell.  




Joan Merriam of Merriam's Miniatures has fast become one of my favourite artists at this show (sorry, no webiste).  She makes the most darling food items, plant kits, and needle work.  I purchased bagels, focaccia bread and ice cream cones.  The black and white embroidered pillows also stole my heart.  I love black and white. 




The ostrich egg canteen was only $1 from June Simpson's collection.  I don't know why I got it, but its odd and cute and I just liked it.  The woven slippers came from Sheila's table.




There you have it, my mini haul.  I've also started a summer patio project (of miniature proportions).  Because why not have 2 large projects on the go!  The patio is nothing more then glue wood boards right now, but soon there will be patio stones and a pool!





Saturday, 4 May 2019

Mid-Century Build - It's Alive!

Building has taken place....over a loooooooooooong time and very slowly.  So slow you might not even think anything is occurring.  But it is.  I swear.

I took my Greenleaf kit out of its "primed and stuffed in a corner" purgatory and started its transformation into a little mid-century home.  Like most of my projects, there is minimal planning, lots of swearing and regrets and praying that Instagram and Pinterest have an actual image of the house I have in mind.  

It turns out, they kinda did have a similar picture (which I can't find anymore) but I used it to inspire the exterior of the house.

The Canvas

The plywood house was a bit warped after I primed it.  Pressing it under heavy books helped a lot.  

The vision I have is a mid-century home with an added on sun room, not era correct, kinda like most homes!  Added for function, not its architecture.  Truthfully, the sun room is a secondary add on kit for the house that is a greenhouse.  I decided to flip it and put it on a base to make the extra room.  That space will be the living room and also the bedroom (couch/bed).  The privacy for that space (and to hide its not quite era appropriateness) will be the breeze wall sent to me from the wonderful Anna-Maria (The Shopping Sherpa).  I had been drooling over the wall, and its was like she read my mind!!  Now it will have a home!

The inside and part of the outside will be clad in 1/2" square cinder blocks.  To define the front door I trimmed part of the front in black wood and used corrugated wood siding stained using Danish oil to prevent warping.  

To the right, there will another section, the bathroom, built on.  the roof will form a "butterfly" roof with the main section.  Lemme tell you, trying to envision the roof angles, the shower stall (that will also be angled to the roof line), and just constructing that thing is the reason you see no room!!  I'll get there, but I just need a burst of motivation.  I did buy the clear plexiglass sheet and knife at Lowe's, to nudge me along.





The Door


The door also came from Greenleaf.  I used a sheet of vellum paper from Michael's as frosted glass.  I will be honest, I really dislike having to hang doors.  If I could have purchased a pre-framed door like this I would have paid a premium, but I didn't find anything I liked.  There are slight framing gaps which anger the perfectionist in me, but I will just not have lights on inside the build when I take pictures, and the gap will never be visible to the world!




The Sun Room


Let's not even discuss how I measured many times and somehow managed to not only make BUT GLUE TOGETHER the base before realizing it was too large for the entire glass frame to sit on.  But, I added the black ledge and its fine now.  In the below picture, its not glued on yet, so due to some warping, it looks like it doesn't fit, but I assure you it now does.

I applied stucco to the interior and exterior of the base then painted it.  I went with wax as a finish because I didn't want any sheen on the stucco.  

For the sofa bed, I made two toppers, one is the beige linen and one is a very fine deep beige corduroy.  I know I want to make the build vintage at times and then modern, so making two makes sense.




The Kitchen



The kitchen space in the build is tiny.  Nothing more then a galley kitchen!   That said, I wanted something that stood out against the blonde floors, so a dark wood was most appealing.  

I have been hording a large box of veneer for 2 years.  First, I was clueless on how to use veneer and second, it looked tricky.  Throwing caution to the wind, I made my sink unit and veneered each board, then glued it together.  The only "trick" is to clamp each piece of wood and let to thoroughly dry and to use a (many) sharp blades when trimming the veneer.  One day I will make a tutorial for everyone, because it is a lot easier then it might seem.  

For the island, I veneered a Houseworks kitchen island.  It was the right size and it had a butcher block top.  

The stainless steel counters weren't terrible to make.  I used a sheet of hobby aluminum from a model train store.  To achieve a bend in the metal, use a sharp blade and score the line 2-3 times (but don't cut through!), then bend against a metal ruler.  I had to use the Dremel to cut out the sink hole, but scoring and bending was too tough.

The kitchen faucet is from Paper Doll Miniatures Shapeways Store.  The sink is from Marion Russek's Shapeways Store.  I made the sink and stove from kits by ELF Miniatures.

What I haven't photographed is the actual wall behind my galley kitchen (below is just staged in another space).  The kitchen has a stainless steel wall with floating shelves (which have under shelf lighting).  That took forever to make!  All the batteries and wires for the kitchen will be hidden inside the sink unit.




And that is that!  Before I can attach my kitchen wall, I need to plan the bathroom (which shares the back of the kitchen wall and door).  Much more mumbling and grumbling and procrastination will occur!