Sunday, 31 August 2014

Table - Templewood Miniatures

Templewood Miniatures
Tudor Style Small Table Kit
(mine was labelled 2.5' table in laser cut cherry wood)
(mine cost £2.50 which is what you pay if you buy four or more kits)

I forgot to say yesterday, just click on the company name if you want to look at a site.

hard to resist

Templewood's kits are nicely packed with a colour photo of the finished kit.  The package opens up and becomes simple clear assembly instructions.  I like the pieces shown in different colours and laid out the way they will fit with directional arrows.  Clever stuff.

To be fair this is such a simple little table you could assemble it without instructions so this may not be a fair test but what I found here augers well for anything more complicated.

generous layout in the wood

The first pleasure was the material - lovely silky paper thin cherry wood, no nasty nibbing or warping with this.

choice of finishes

It could be finished with just some waxing but I want to play at this stage of my career so I tested out four furniture pens, some silk varnish and some nail polish.  Not sure if I should use the latter but I fancied a polished table - most unusual for me - indeed, unheard of.  

on the wood

ready to assemble

I chose the nail polish.  If you look at the large right hand piece of waste material you can see the silk varnish finish on the right and the nail polish on the left.  This is why you need to test finishes.  The two 'varnishes' (both clear) not only give the obvious (and chosen) difference in sheen but they give a completely different tone to the wood.  This is why I opted for the nail polish I liked the warmer honey coloured tone.

You might notice the little break in the front right foot of the table leg (above).  Something learned!  Do as the maker tells you and remove the tabs with a knife, do not think you can just wiggle the pieces out - guess what - they are likely to snap.

Again I am reluctant to share a picture of the finished piece - it looks frayed round the edges.  In real life it is as smooth as a babies bottom and did not need de-nibbing.  The wood and the finish is lovely.

Until I've found an answer to the problem of the camera actually acting like a giant magnifying glass you are just going to have to trust me on this.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Crazy woman strikes again

This is what crazy woman does when she is frustrated by not being able to bash on as she would like...........

.........    this is where I claim - "It's not my fault"

A kind person directed me to a Petite Properties' plinth which happens to be made for their Petit Palais.  I want a plinth for The Gate House and the one I was looking at, made by True2Scale, isn't big enough.  So you see, it's not my fault if I ordered the plinth, the house, the staircases and the inner doors.

Since our brief sojourn of 'living in France' I have been in love with Maison de Maître architecture - there was no way I could resist this.  As I explained to my correspondent I have a sort of perverted logic for ordering it.  I have been wondering what to do if I can't find everything  I need to complete The Gatehouse during the winter in Naples.  That would mean I would have nothing to build when I get back in April.  Now, methinks,  if I had a small shadow box or a vignette or two that I could find enough things for, then at least I would have something to be getting on with.  So, just imagine I have combined that box and those vignettes - et voilà - la Maison de Maître.

Yes, I am off to create its own blog....... so you can get giddy running between the two.

..... but, first check it out at Petite Properties if you think you can escape without buying anything.  I don't want to be blamed for leading you astray.

(next dilemma - project name - La Maison de Maitre or Les Roches - the name of the house we had in France?)

Nightstand and mirror - Robin Betterley's Miniatures

As I am going to be pretty much 'on hold' (AGAIN!) with the Gate House until I have assembled everything I need I thought I might work through the kits I have and make a different vendor's item each time to sort of review it.  'Review it' meaning my opinion of how difficult I found it and what I thought of the end result.

I thought I may as well begin with yesterday's piece from 

Robin Betterley's Miniatures.

Miss Lydia Pickett's Cottage Collection
Fancy Night Stand 

Unlike the Gate House itself which had no instructions this tiny piece comes with a welter of stuff.  

Firstly their items are beautifully packaged with attractive labelling and a clear photograph of what you should end up with (in colour).  They are always 'themed' into particular narratives that they develop over time.  

Something I have noticed already is that no-one seems to say on the packages what the finished size will be.  This has already proved troublesome as I am having to take pieces out of the packets and try to calculate the size to see if they will fit in various spaces.  This isn't just an issue with Betterley's per se.

So into the packet and on to the instructions.  On the reverse of this A4 sheet are four photographs which are referred to in the comprehensive instructions on the other side.  Below that is the 'story' of how the Lydia Pickett characters came to create the night stand.

I totally understand how that appeals to buyers and creators alike as I always have a story for my houses.  That said, personally, I do want to create my own narratives and not just recreate someone else's.  Clearly there is a huge market for those who do and they couldn't do better than travel with the Betterley's ideas.

The actual instructions for constructing the piece are fantastic.  Loads of hints and details of how they achieve their wonderful finishes.

The build itself is four simple steps - clearly outlined with the four photos to guide you.  One caveat I would have preferred the photos with the steps so I didn't have to flick back and forth.  Not a big issue but if I am reviewing I need to nit-pick!

For a beginner like me they are dream instructions - they even recommend particular brands of paint and glue and generously share every technique they employ to achieve the very best result.

eight pieces

I try to keep things 'square'

Trying to prevent warp as it dries

 (Before sanding) Bit of warp on the base

As always, it is better in real life
I promise you my finish on this is better in real life when using real eyeballs.  The magnification of the camera shows every little detail.  I did change the pixels from 16 to 2 but I honestly couldn't see any difference.  I have no idea how to photograph quarter scale.  If someone knows how please give me the answer.

The build was straight-forward.  The pieces fitted together beautifully.  I suspect there must always be a bit of warp on wood at this scale (?) maybe painting the pieces before removing them from their motherboard might help (?).

The detailing, such as the carved back, is lovely and if you like pretty this is decidedly for you.

Just to add to the already terrific little kit there was a bonus piece - one of the world's tiniest mirrors.

I did find this a bit of a challenge.  Not sure you can grasp how tiny this is in this scale.  It is standing beside a small brass pin (the handle for the chest) and is made up of five pieces.  I think I was the most impressed by the tiny stand.  You get to insert it in a notch in the back; it went in fairly easily and works beautifully.  The mirror is absolutely free-standing.  The front frame is beautifully detailed - even if you do need a magnifying glass to know this.  I think a little gilding might show it up better.

Well done Betterley's - I had no intention of doing marks out of ten but it is hard to resist when you find a ten.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Round and round I go...

To light or not to light.... that is the question.....

Every day it is the opposite decision.  Being helped by one of my wonderful Quarter Connection people the last couple of days has pushed me back to lighting.  So this is where I am at today (and hopefully the next six months!).

I have to collect every single thing I need to complete the project before I start as things need to go in place while I can get around the object.  This hobby seems to be a complete antithesis to how I have gone about 1/12ths.  There, I was able to have a rough idea of the end place, do the build and find things almost by serendipity as I bowled along.  This scale won't allow me to take that approach so I now have to develop a mind-set of shopping for an almost precise end result and then actually produce it.

Right now I need a ton of things for dressing the various rooms and have nothing beyond a box of tissues and a couple of beads.  I do have a lot of furniture kits but probably not sure what I will or won't use in the house until I try them out.

I have come to realise none of the kits I have give you a finished size so I am having to open up the major pieces and try sections of the furniture in place to see if they will fit.  I bought a glorious Betterley's piece that turns out to be too large, so that will have to have a whole project thought about to go around it.

People who are doing the One a Month exercise at Quarter Connection must have tons and tons of stuff to pick from.

Meanwhile here's some 'dressing' I used on a Betterley's piece from their Lydia Pickett collection.  This is to be used in my bathroom, not bedroom even though it is their 'Fancy Nightstand'.  

really tiny comb, look at the tweezers for a sense of scale


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Just to keep you posted on the thinking

Came in here today to work on furniture - having abandoned the Gate House build again whilst  waiting for wallpaper and wood to make the necessary alterations to allow me to light the place.  All change.....

This first project will not be lit.  it is a shame because it is a lovely little piece but, hopefully, there will be more.

I di three or four dry builds last year and gave it endless thinking time but had I been more productive with that I would have discovered a lot of kit-bashing that is needed to sort the lighting issues.  At this stage, now it is all assembled,  it just doesn't bear thinking about.  The prospect of removing a chimney and remaking it for example would not be easy.

This is to serve as a note to myself (and any other newbie reading this) do NOT start a build UNTIL you have sorted out any issues.  They will not magically sort themselves while you are building.

I think lighting will always need consideration before starting.  At the dry build stage you need to draw up a plan of how it is going to happen - where will the wires exit?  how will they get to the battery?  where will the battery(ies) and switch(es) go?

Off to do some more decorating.  I will probably add to this later.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Easiest way to decorate

This must be the easiest way in the world to decorate.

Three walls and the floor are covered in True2Scale's peel and stick wallpaper.

It is made of fabric so gives a lovely matt finish.  I presume if you wanted shiny tiles for example you could always 'varnish' it.  No more waiting for paint to dry on the walls, or glue to dry on the floors or even worse hoping it won't warp the building with the wet glue and paste.  This took a matter of minutes and was ready for the next stage:  in my case it is skirting boards but, of course, they are painted and need to dry.

All you do is measure, mark up on the reverse, cut with a knife, peel and stick.  Another advantage is that it can be re-stuck a few times so I just measured the height of the room cut strips that width and put it in place.  I then sharply creased the corners peeled back a little way and trimmed off the surplus.  I do like a little wrap around in the corners with wallpapering.  I even cut out the doorway in the same way which saved me having to make a template.

One caveat - the plain cream fabric was a bit see through so it won't hide any holes, marks etc. on your walls or a darker coloured 'wallpaper' underneath (my corner wrap).  You could simply put another layer on to cure this but of course this will up the price - so just test any you buy for opacity and have and think about the surface it is going on and see what you need to do to make it work.  

This doesn't put me off in the slightest and the rest of the property is on hold now until I can get to Naples and order some more 'peel 'n stick from True2Scale.

This is probably a good thing because I think I need to make a lot of furnishings before I commit to lights and skirting boards and other fixed items.  For example I want to pretty much fix things to the walls in the kitchen so I don't want them shoved forward by skirting boards and I need to know where seating is going in each room to help with lighting decisions.

So my next few posts will be sharing various furniture kits with you.  If you want to see a couple I've already done they are in another album labelled Gate House furniture.

Added bathroom wall

I spent a jolly couple of hours last night decorating the existing bathroom wall and making another one to slide into place when I can get the floors down.

You know you have joined the true fraternity of nutty quarter scalers when you find yourself tiling inside the window jams and sills with tiles measuring 1/16th".

So, here we are with wallpaper in place, tiles done, and now for the beading....

Isn't this a gorgeous product from Quarter Source - double beading in 3/64".  It painted up beautifully.  I did one coat of a sample pot colour (Little Greene Company) rubbed down with my 'magic' sponge and then one coat of acrylic gloss and rubbed down again and arrived at a lovely finish - just a slight sheen and really looks the part.

I then made up its opposing wall in matt board which will slide in when I have figured out how to go about lighting for this floor and the floor below.  I can then then lay the flooring up here and glue the wall in place.  You can see the floor loose-laid in the top picture.  Again, this is another wonderful product - very thin (spot on scale) real wood floorboards.  This was the pine version painted in the same way as I did all the other woodwork.  There is a great dark walnut version which you'll get to see in the rest of the property some time.  Don't get confused and think it is just the slim floorboards that you can get from houseworks for 1/12th (I use that too) these floorboards are even narrower at a scant 1/8th inch wide.  That translates into real life 6" wide floorboards. The flooring comes from A Trifle Small here in the UK - indeed it is just a couple of miles up the road from me.  Sadly not a shop.

This is the entrance side to the bathroom.  Love the hinges - they are part of the Grandt Line 1/48th series.  The door knob is a bead.  Sadly, I have a bag of incredibly detailed and tiny door knobs which looked just right until the went against the door and they are imposing to say the least.  sad to resort to a bead.  Hey Ho.  That's something I need to source - quarter scale door knobs.

Yes, I know the opening is a tad rough - I have to trim up with an architrave but am holding off for now as I might want to hide wiring behind wallpaper.

I am silly proud of this as it is my first quarter scale 'build'.  I swear to you it looks lovely in real life.  I wish I had a magic quarter scale camera to disguise all the 'rough' details that my 16.0 mega pixels seem to find!

Onwards and upwards now that I've got the bug!

.........  sadly my husband wants to take me out to lunch...... no consideration some folk......... wonder how quickly we can eat...........

Monday, 25 August 2014

Sessions one and two

As with all my projects I like to keep a blog of its progress mostly as my own long-term record to visit now and then.  Sometimes other folk follow my progress and contact me for a natter about it or to offer advice which is really nice.  So, as you are already reading this (!) please get in touch if you see something I am doing wrong (or maybe even right) and we can 'share' the build.  

The scary moment ..........

I have no idea why I thought the how-many-parts-are-there! stage would be any less frightening because it is smaller than 1/12th.  It isn't - at this point I can never imagine it being done.

This kit didn't come with instructions which is double scary for  a total 48th newbie but my husband persuaded Geoff Lewis (the creator) to do some for me.  So, armed with those and the diagrams from the box which identify the pieces, by the end of my first session I had completed Geoff's opening salvo which is to build the cottage and build the tower.

one cottage

one tower

I have thought hard and long about how much build to do before tackling individual rooms as always what you gain on one hand you lose on another which ever process you choose.  In the end I have opted for his method which is to build the project and then decorate and furnish.  It is an unusual finished piece as every area remains very accessible to you.  The two front walls come away from the building to see inside, the middle floors slide out and both roofs come off so, in theory, it should always be possible to decorate and furnish it at will.

An upside to finishing rooms after the build is being able to see where various elements start and end - the slope of a roof, the beams in the tower, the chimney breasts, stairs etc.  I probably won't be saying 'upside' when working on two inch wide wallpaper strips.  I am hoping to complete one room at a time and then finish the exterior.  

I can see something of a snag if I am going to light it.  It is not an easy building to light as it works on several levels and viewing is accessed from the front and the back so there is no obvious place for the batteries and switches to go.  If they go underneath (that means I have to construct a platform for it) I am having to travel the wires out invisibly down the walls  somewhere  to get to the bottom.  Similar problems arise if I just conceal the power in the roof of the cottage.  This is a visible area as it gives access to other floors and would have been a used  floor area in itself - in this case it will be a bathroom.

For now I am just shoving the lighting issue away until I have to resolve it.  

Fireplaces are also an issue as my fireplaces are wider than the chimney breasts - one of which is internal.  Somehow I am going to have to add width the breast.

 As for the external chimney where I thought I might set in wonderful lit fireplace, I can't for the life of me see how I can hack out a hole big enough to fit this in as the external chimney just isn't wide enough to take it and still leave sound edges.

Enough thinking for session one, and so to bed ...... 

back today to complete the basic building.  

Looks a bit church-like at this stage but it doesn't when it is finished.  Here you can see the buttresses in place around the tower and the two front walls which simply remove to see inside. 

Here the walls are gone and there are the five rooms waiting for me.  Bottom right - the kitchen/diner, above it is the sitting room (we can assume nice views of the countryside.  The attic room above gives access to the round tower (the nightmare yet to come!) and the bathroom.  The tower gives access to the two rooms above the 'gate'.  The first (on the same level as the bathroom) is the cosy bedroom (no chimney, therefore no fireplace) and above that is the room they call the eyrie.  This is beautifully beamed and with a large fireplace and makes a lovely reading nook and occasional guest bedroom. (pull-out settee).

A delightful place in the Cairngorms to spend a quiet Christmas for two.

(Meanwhile does anyone know someone who makes 1/48th radiators?

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Here we go at last

Those that follow me in 1/12ths will know by now that I am giving up on those.  I need to reclaim some house space.  Also, I have a low boredom threshold so four years at an interest is something of a record for me.  I was midway through building my 1930's (Mountfield) house and I realised, as each month passed, that my rate of progress was getting slower and slower.  tasks such as 2,000 versi bricks were bordering on a 'chore'.  I came to the conclusion that I should quit while I was ahead.  I have loved building and dressing my three narratives - Wentworth, Bentleys and Chocolat and the thirties house was sort of appealing but the UMPH has decidedly gone.

So here I am selling off all my 1/12ths (over six hundred items):

If you are interested you need to pop over to Lilliput Minis

Meanwhile the whole of my quarter scale hobby fits into one cupboard with room to spare:  

The Gate House is a Geoff Lewis creation and is a pretty complicated one for my first attempt at this scale.  Wouldn't you know it, he is teaching a class at The Cotswolds Miniatures Weekend (11/12 October) and I can't go because we will be in the States!   Aaaaarrrrgggh!

Hey ho, instead of which I will be getting started tomorrow in this nice, tidy, ready for me and my Gate House space:

Be nice if some of you come along for the ride.......