Friday, 28 November 2014

Trying to improve Photos

You may want to click on each of the photos to enlarge them so you can see any differences.  If you look carefully at the clock face on each photo you will see how the clarity diminishes. 

There is something ironic about my inability to take decent mini photos.  I was married to a professional photographer for twenty-five years.  My photographic inability is a testament to my lack of interest in how anything works - cars, washing machines, you name it - I simply want them to do it without cluttering up my brain with how. (Kind of applies to people too!)

So here we go....

I am unhappy that my Canon A-1300 16 megapixel camera takes such good photographs.  To explain - they are too detailed for quarter scale items and show every little flaw.  I have been trying to find out how to improve them without getting bogged down in technicalities.

I understand that if you are a whiz with Photoshop or similar software this will never be a problem to you but again, being lazy, I don't want to tackle that either.

Incidentally Carole Kubrican of True2Scale has a great tutorial on her blog if you do want to travel that road:

After asking for advice on three groups I belong to the consensus seemed to be - step back from the object.

So here are three photos of the same objects in (sideways) daylight taken at the same time in three different ways.  There is a notation beneath as to what I did.

Close, no zoom

stand back, zoom in, crop

stand back, no zoom, crop

To deal with the first one last - for me that is just out of focus and too vague.  The second one isn't a big enough improvement over the first to put up with the lack of sharpness.  So it looks like I am still stuck with  'up close and personal'.

I am continuing to experiment.  

I adjusted my camera by changing the recording pixel setting but I am not convinced that taking it down to post card size quality made a lot of difference.

I then changed the compression ratio again down to the same post card size quality and yes, it made a slight improvement BUT so slight as to not make it worth chopping and changing settings on my camera each time I use it.

I am going to have a go at decreasing the resolution on the finished picture in Picasa which I suppose is the same as fiddling about with Photo Shop et al so I will let you know if that reaps results.

Just did the Picasa 'How to decrease resolution on Picasa' exercise and it does what it says on the tin.  It decreases the resolution on a sliding scale down to a workable minimum.  Guess what - Mrs Awkward doesn't like that either.  It all becomes so vague it just annoys me on a whole other level.

Quite seriously I have realised the problem lies with me - I want super sharp images of a perfect object; while the object remains imperfect there is no (simple) way to obtain sharp images which make it look perfect - it is an impossible ask.  I am resigned to all my 'manufacturing' flaws showing up and live in hope that it impels me to simply get better at it.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Sleigh, Sewing Machine - Two little sweeties

Oh, how I wish I knew how to photograph quarter scale in a flattering way.  I assure you that both of these have turned out just great.  They really look the part: not at all lumpy bumpy and scabby as seen in these photos.

This little sledge is a B J Miniatures kit (again).  I just have to chew and generally mess up the string to age it a bit and maybe dirty up the sledge a little.  It will then be hung on, or leaned against, the wall along with two pairs of skis.  I have seen some on someone's printies - if I could only remember who.....

A 'Sister' (not Brother!) sewing machine from Robin Betterley's Miniatures.  I think is it so clever how these designers decide what to leave in and what to leave out to give you a great representation of an every day object at 48th.  Like painting, cooking, writing (!) I suspect what you leave out is the important factor.  It is very easy to over-egg the pudding.

I really enjoyed this one as it offered new(ish) sets of challenges and several of them in one small package.  It may not look it here, but this is a little gem.  Four bits of wood, a piece of paper, a pin, some wire along with paint and glue and we have a sewing machine.

Monday, 24 November 2014

TV - B J Miniatures again

No particular reason for a-make-a-day for the last three days being B J Miniatures other than they must be incredibly useful.

I have a stack of kits, most of which I can't attack until I know where precisely I want to use them.  They might need a wood finish they may need painting and then, if upholstered, the upholstery fabric could be anything, depending on which project and which room and how decorated............

When I go home in ten days time (counting the hours) I intend to measure and photograph The Gate House and Les Roches and try to make lots of decisions so I can bring back notes and can crack on making stuff to fill the houses.  I won't have much time when we get back Jan 3rd as we have back to back visitors pretty much until we leave for the UK at the end of March but there will be time here and there.  The joy of most of these kits is that generally they don't take a lot of time to do.

So for now I have sorted out just a handful that are sort of generic wherever they are used - the infamous rocking chair, yesterday's coat hanger and today this lovely little gem:

man-size TV and stand

Just like my portable Jim, I think it is the bee's knees.  You even get a choice of programmes that you can stick on the screen which I have ready in case any of my little people end up watching TV.  Right now I have other plans for them.

I had fun with the no-hole silver beads.  B J kindly made holes for the handles/beads to sit in and provided gold ones.  I swapped to silver - the fun bit was trying to lob them into the holes - talk about pin ball alley.  Proud to say I only got four out of the pot and was able to return two.

Incidentally these came from the little mixed pot I bought from Ruth Stewart's table at the show.  Absolute bargain ($1.25 I think) and hundreds of all sorts of colours and sizes.  I would imagine they would do most things for quarter scalers without having to buy pots and pots of different colours.  That said I do have a few pots already back in the UK!  Don't do as I do, do as I say........  just because I am like a magpie for shiny things.****

**** scientifically studied this year and declared to be bunkum - I am nothing if not a source of useless information. 

Coat rack - Boo hoo

Boo hoo! There doesn't seem to be another rocking chair like the one I turned into a pile of crumbs.  I looked on Debbie Young's site and B J Miniatures and nada.

I did go on to make a pair of coat stands from B J Miniatures in (probably) the very same wood as the chair and they are OK.  They are very fine so need to be treated with respect.  I did not stain these pieces nor attempt to buff them up in any way.  I still managed to break off one of the hooks trying to remove some excess glue.

Hope you can get some idea of how delicate these pieces are.

Tah dah!

My gent is about six feet tall aka 1.5 inches.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

So sad

Those of you who do these things will understand when I use the big words 'heart breaking' to describe this evening's 'work'.

These nine pieces should be only five.

This was the loveliest rocking chair with a rush seat.  It is a kit made by B J Miniatures but I think I bought it from Debbie Young's table.  I stained it last night, left to dry thoroughly overnight and came to assemble it this evening.  It simply fell apart with each handling.  Now I know the material (wood) is very, very fine but I think the issue is something more than just that.  It would 't take the slightest pressure, so gluing and straightening up the angles was just impossible.  It even felt sort of soft in my fingers when I was handling it.  I wonder if it was the stain that affected it?  I used one of my Min-Wax pens.  If so I have no way of knowing when that may or may not happen with something else .....

I tried to mend the first couple of breaks a few times but that made additional breaks and eventually I had to admit defeat.

Footnote some days later:  After lots of help and tips from three mini groups I am pretty sure it was all down to me.  Basically I soaked it in stain and assumed it would dry overnight and now I suspect it hadn't - hence it sort of funny feel and weakness.  I am a chump.  A good tip for staining was to put on the minimum and blot off excess and give it as long as you can to dry thoroughly.  Common sense really when the pieces are so fine.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Experimenting with my iPad

II have known for ages that I should be able to blog from my iPad but have never seen the need until I was away last week and had time here and there when I could have 'done something useful'.  So this is my first attempt to blog away on my lap instead of at my desk to see if I can do it.

I just made a sweet little clock from Petworth Miniatures...... Now, there we go, how in heaven's name do I link the name to its web address?  Can't be done.... 

Onwards.....  Try inserting photo....

Well that seemed to work from here no idea how it will turn out in the blog and I don't seem to be able to resize it or add a caption or get it to sit in the middle.

Back to the clock...

I did a couple of things wrong with this little gem so if you want to make one listen and learn!  

Handle gently.  I broke the legs on one side trying to squeeze everything together when it was gluing.

Obey the maker.  I keep telling you this but I don't heed my own advice.  In her instructions Gayle suggested it could be painted and then gilded.  I decided it would be utterly impossible to just gild all those incredibly tiny details so I just went with 'painting' it gold with my lovely pen.

You will note it is impossible to get the pen in all the nooks and crannies so it would have been easy to paint and gild.

Never mind, unpainted and half crippled it is still a sweetie.

Cross my fingers as I hit Publish.

PS   Think I would have to be pretty desperate to Blog from an iPad and if I can't add links it is a definite no-no.  Is any one out there doing it this way?  Why am I not loving it?

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Finding Findings

I find it really hard to track down bits and pieces to make accessories with as I am not out at the craft shops on a regular basis.  Also, if you do find the one you want, you have to buy how ever many there are in the packet.  When I was at Philly I discovered a fantastic source for findings.  They are called Jar-Jaf Miniatures and have just been acquired by Judy Oak (Acorns by Oak).  

At the show they had great displays of their items beautifully laid out on revolving boards so you can find just the one you want, note the ref number and buy the required amount.  Clearly this isn't the cheapest way to acquire one piece if you are lucky enough to have a hundred friends you can share with but, if like me, you work pretty much in isolation it is still cheaper to pay 95 cents (or whatever) for a piece rather than three, four or more dollars for many of them and never use them.   

This is a link to their catalogue where the items are printed life size, so you can measure any that interest you and figure out if it will do what you want.  It does satisfy all scales.  This is high on my keeper list:  Jar-Jaf's catalogue

click to enlarge

I was told after publishing this in an on-line group that mailing costs and possible import duties make things very expensive to buy from the States but I was reminded we do have Tee Pee Crafts who do some lovely stuff.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Bought at the Philly Show

If you want to see the things I bought at the Philly show for Les Roches and The Gatehouse, click here Dolls House Shows

Philadelphia Show

My comments on the Philly show and a link to the photo album are in my Dolls House Show Blog.

Sunday, 16 November 2014


Here's a link to a few general dolls  house related references, so you have something to look at while you are waiting for the proper blogs from my Philly trip.

Photo References

Agecroft Hall is a 1600s house moved from Agecroft in Lancashire (five miles from where I live!!) to Richmond Virginia with (as the English would say) more money than sense and reassembled as a centrally heated electrified (contemporary) home.  I have mixed feelings - nice to see how much has been saved but it sort of begs the question, when it is redesigned and reset this way, as to why?  Hey Ho!

There is a Sears and Roebuck bungalow aka The Avalon which I am still slathering after and a reminder that if I am ever stuck for references for an American Victorian house I need go no further than Google 'houses Cape May images'.

There are some visual notes for ideas I have stewing such as buying several of the same building and making a row of houses with very different inhabitants in each.


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Felt tip pens

As I have been boning on about the gold leaf pen I thought I might share the sum total of my 'painting' pens with you - this is all I have - no colours or anything fancy.

seven in total

As you can see I did a sample of each of the Min-wax wood finish pens on coffee stirrers.  I need to get a few more for the other pens: meanwhile they are on a piece of scrap wood.  These are just a quick reference when deciding what to use for what.  Their colours will change from material to material but this is a 
rough reminder of how they look.  In addition I satin varnished half of each of the wood ones so I could see the difference that would make.

new gold v. old gold

Sorry this is so out of focus but it will do well enough to show you the difference between the gold leaf pen (left edge) and the gold pen I was using before.  Incidentally there is a down side to the gold leaf pen it has a rather chunky nib for our purposes;  don't despair, if you pump it a few times to get it wet you can pick up the gold from it with a fine paintbrush and go from there if you want to do any detailing.  Your brush will need to be cleaned with spirits though as I discovered too late to save my sweet little brush.  

You will now get a week's respite from me as I am off to the (four day!) Philadelphia show tomorrow and then a bit of a road trip down the coast to end up flying back out of Richmond, Virginia.  What japes, Pip!