Sunday, May 31, 2015

Perplexed Over Property

I wanted to ask a question

How do you decide which property to build for your witch?

I have spent far too much time pinning images of houses which inspire me, including houses that people have designed for vitual worlds (like the sims and second life) PINTEREST but I want to know how people make that final decision on what type of house to build.

So I have a witch character in mind, she needs somewhere to live and work. However her workplace must be separate from her kitchen. You wouldn't whip up lunch in a science lab, and isn't safe to mix food and magic.

Whatever it is it will be a scratch build so I can make it unique. My witch is a quirky kinda gal (she is a witch after all) so it won't be a standard shabby chic home (not that I have anything against that style I just find that more suited to a cupcakery or tea room). I was thinking more like a wizards tower but don't want a dark dungeony atmosphere. She works mainly with nature magic and has a special interest in herbology research (she has been published in many reputable journals) so a greenhouse will be in there somewhere too.

Probably the thing that has thrown me into confusion is the existence of cob houses, built in natural and recycled materials with lots of curves and flowing lines sounds perfect for the little witch in my brain. Except I can't figure where to put the workspace? A separate building or hut? Do a pinterest search for cob house or earthship and you will see that no two are the same. Perfect.

Mix all this in with the problem of display space meaning I would like to make my house modular meaning I can store each room/floor on separate shelves of a bookcase but put it together when I want to show it off as a whole. Also much easier if I am ever to transport it.

What about a nice cosy hobbit hole! Lots of rooms, no stairs.....????

Or maybe a treehouse???  Perhaps the Burrows??? (Weasley family home from Harry Potter)

And then I end up with a brain filled with indecision and do none of them, spend too much time on pinterest muddling my brain up even further and not getting any minis made.

AaaaRrrrrGgggHhhhh !!!!!!

The annoying thing is that I swore to myself not to get myself in a muddle about this again (it is not the first time, I have the sketches to prove it) and concentrate on the minis rather than the properties. If I had the space and time to build 20 houses then I would just build them all, but pesky reality intervenes.

HELP !!! Your advice, thoughts, opinions are much needed here!

Apologies for the lack of pictures, the house has been visited by the plague this week so not much turning, I am sending myself to the lathe this instant. I have some african blackwood pen blanks to experiment with.

Correction. I refused to have a blog post with absolutely no actual miniatures in it, so I got turning for a few hours with some new pen blanks. African blackwood is very dense and hard, takes fine detail well and polishes up to a high sheen.

I warmed up with a small bowl, the picture isn't very good but there are two lines inscribed near the top with a new tool.

The pot is was turned from a scrap of sycamore left over from making pens at woodturning club on thursday, this one is mine. The pen mechanism is from a simple BIC pen. Length 6".

The the challenge was to make a pair of pillar candle stands, I was more successful this time at matching them but I prefer the first one I made. For some reason the base got flakey on the second one so I guess it just looks more like it is worn with use.

I will try to have a more productive week this week, despite lots of full size things to do.

Until next time, Kim

Friday, May 22, 2015

A few days away from the lathe......but I'm back

Due to a shoulder injury I had an enforced break from turning which made me sad. Also a trip on Friday to have a delicious dinner and film with family for lil sisters birthday. That burger was so good I am making burgers for sunday lunch. With brioche buns. mmmmmmmmm bacon.

I had turned another little bowl on wednesday to take to my woodturning group on thursday but since then I had not turned until today (sunday evening). Twas the first time I had taken minis to club and I think the members were reasonably impressed with the delicate work.
Wednesday bowl (possibly walnut)

I also picked a 2" piece of walnut out of the shavings after the demonstrator had finished making a whistle and he proceeded to give me a piece of African blackwood to try. Supposedly it is very fine grained and strong, dense and perfect for holding the small details needed in mini work. Quite frankly I am too afraid to cut into it yet as it is pretty expensive so I will continue building my skills before cutting into this piece. (Edit: several days later postman brought me 5 pen blanks [3/4" square about 6 inches long]  to try before cutting into the bigger piece.)

But I am back on the lathe with avengance.

Today I was determined to make a candlestick after far too many fails at the end of last week and nothing to show for a good amount of working time.

Progress photos which never reached completion
 As a precaution I thought I would practise with some cheap 9mm hardwood dowel which was left over from making lace bobbins.

Not quite a matching pair

Surprisingly it worked rather well and a pair of vaguely similar candlesticks emerged. The light wood would also be great for anything that was to be painted.

Then another little bowl and a kitchen paper stand and I was finished, a very productive turning session indeed.

Until next time, Kim

Saturday, May 16, 2015

More miniature woodturning

Another session at the lathe and I have a few things to share, two bowls and a small drinking cup about 8mm tall. This one gave me some trouble when I dropped it behind the lathe station into a pile of shavings and spent half an hour on my hands and knees searching for it. Time I think to put a back board on the lathe station me thinks.

After completing the tiny tumbler I placed it beside my first mini turning and made a funny squeeking noise.....

I was so pleased with the first turning, I was overjoyed with the second only about a week later. The walls are so thin! Less than a millimetre. Much like the cake stand which didn't survive the final stages of polishing.

I seem to have reached the limits of the commercial tools I have, with the 6mm spindle gouge unable to reach the bottom of this container. Taking a cheap (and useless) wood carving tool from the craft stash I hit the grinder and shaped it firstly to fit in such a tiny vessel and secondly gave it the profile of a scraper to help me thin down the walls of the cup and flatten off the bottom. I can see me making many more tools to complete these pieces, there are some available online but they are very expensive and the scraper is about the simplest tool there is to make, even if mine does look home made it did the job. Next task, hollowing tools.

To finish, this is a group of my fave tiny turnings so far....

We shall see where this road takes me from here......any suggestions?

Todays images brought to you by Nikon+macro filter rather than Samsung galaxy phone.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Wood turning.....the beginning

 So back to the story....

My Snowman
The following month I went to a community hall about 20 minutes from me and had a fantastic time. I watched the club chairman turn an adorable little snowman before being let loose on a small lathe to make my own. Sure that it was unlikely that my piece would look even remotely snowman-like I had a go anyway and was so pleased when at the end of the night I went home with a little piece of sycamore that ACTUALLY looked like a snowman. He spend the next six weeks on display before being packed away with the rest of the ornaments for next year. I haven't missed missed a meeting yet (2 each month).

Santa must have decided that with all the turmoil lately that I deserved a nice present and brought me a lathe for Christmas. Yes, my own lathe. Not a big one of course (I have to be able lift the darn thing) but an entry level one perfect for someone starting out. An Amazon gift card bought me a starter set of tools and off I went.

I had an awful lot to learn.

With monthly demonstration and hands on evenings I got better at handling the tools and I made a few other little things but at home I tended to spend too long watching turning videos on Youtube and not actually much time on my lathe, partly due to a lack of a suitable bench to put my lathe on.

My Lathe Station
This all changed when a new member to the wood turning group I attend, just so happened to live quite literally around the corner from me AND I found an abandoned, heavy duty bookcase at the bus stop 20/30 feet from my front door in the same week.  Now I had a sturdy lathe station with storage beneath the lathe and a buddy who wants to learn to turn too. G has a more comprehensive workshop where I can use the band saw to prepare wood quickly and also he has a good supply of hardwood scraps from local joiners which he was happy to share meaning I didn't need to worry about ruining the few nice pieces I had.

Inspired by Japanese rice bowl
My first visit to G's workshop I started work on my first ever bowl. Sadly once I got it home I decided to refine a surface I had already finished and it did not end well. With a bang the bowl exploded sending pieces of Sapele everywhere. Thankfully a few days earlier I had invested in an full face shield which saved my left face from disaster (I wear glasses so eyes were safe). I swear never to turn without my face shield! The guy on Youtube is right, goggles are not enough. Those bowl shards had sharp edges and could have done some damage.

First Completed Bowl
Undeterred I chucked up another blank (from G) and completed my first bowl. It was not perfect by any means but it was mine and I was proud of it.

There are a few other things I have turned for practise, a tool handle, a mallet handle for a 100% recycled mallet for guide camp this summer, a couple of mushrooms (a lathe staple) and a failed honey dipper (half my fault, half the wood grain was too course) but you didn't come here to read about full sized items did you?!?

I had pinned many mini turnings on pinterest, some simple, some definitely not simple. On my last trip to G's workshop I had dug around in the bin for the bits left over when you cut a circle out of a square on the band saw for a bowl. The pieces in the corner were cut into small blocks (1" square by 2 inches long) and they came home with me. Later that week I had been working on some normal sized items and after the honey dipper I decided to try something small in dolls house small.

To be continued


First turned miniatures

And so....

Taking one of my tiny chunks I glued it to a block of scrap pine and just decided to see what happened. A plant pot appeared from the block of wood followed my a slightly more curved one the day after.
Plant pots.  Push pin for scale.
The next day came another two minis from the same type of wood, a bowl and a deep platter which I don't have pictures of for some reason. [Correction. Making up for being a bad blogger I went and got them and photographed them.] The base of the bowl on the left is a little too thick but all good practise.
First Bowls

The next session at the lathe I used a piece of Yew wood which had cracked during drying and was no use for full size work. Broke it down and glued it up for this little pair of beauties, the wall thicknesses were getting thinner and I was very happy with these items. The little dish is just 6mm (1/4") tall.  I think yew may be my favourite wood, works easily, has a lovely warm colour and grain and finishes wonderfully.  We are lucky to have a tree surgeon amongst our group and I shall have to offer him baked good for more yew (and other woods)

Now we are almost up to date, I hit the lathe again this afternoon and after turning a spinning top (normal size) from yew as a warm up, I started with another bit of the same wood as above. Perhaps I was getting over confident and the first bowl I made was destroyed in a catch, there was still a little left so I went for another little dish like the one above but I was an idiot and made the same mistake and lost that too.

Next a piece of sapele, turned a small bowl, sanded and finished and just needs the bottom cleaning and finishing before I can photograph it but very nice. Still lots of wood left so I started a plate, which began to develop a base which turned into a cake stand, all was going well and it was just as I was finishing the polishing up that I held it wrong and it was destroyed, the top was super thin (in scale but fragile) and it would have been stunning. I was rather sad. Thin top platter with an simple but elegant pedestal in a warm brown wood.

Perhaps all of my walls today were too thin and overly fragile. That is the danger of mini work, walls less than 1mm thick and it is so easy to slip and destroy nearly an hour of work. At least I am not short of practice wood, G tells me there are more scraps to salvage in his workshop, his timber come from local joiners so they are somewhat limited in variety, hopefully when word gets around our club that I can use pieces that are firewood to them I may find myself inundated with a larger variety of woods (a terrible burden). For exotics I may have to resort to actually spending money and buying them. And hunting in the garden. We have a lot of garden.....seriously.

For anyone wondering, I am trying to get back to my blogging and the mini community in general so I would love to get set up for some swaps or personal exchanges. I would happily swap something I have made for something nice that someone else has made with love. I will get set up for better images as I do have a dslr and a macro lens, I just need to get somewhere set up with decent lighting. The next upgrade at the lathe station will be two lamps for excellent lighting and I am hoping to put together a little photostudioroombox which can sit (with magnets) on the lathe bed and borrow the twin lights for good photographs.

And maybe, in etsy shop?

And because blogs need pictures and the latter part of this blog is lacking, here is a cute kitty in a bag.
I couldn't bring myself to take the bag away.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

I'm a bad BAD blogger!

Good evening followers, or at least the 18 that Blogger says are still out there somewhere.

I have indeed been a bad bad Blogger, going two years without a post. Unacceptable.

There has been a lot of change here at Chez Malarkey as last time I wrote here there were more humans in the house than cats and now we are outnumbered. Supper must be on time or the cats will start a revolution.

A month after I last wrote here J's mum was admitted to the hospital with an Alzheimer's related crisis and 6 weeks later she went into a care facility. Things were a lot quieter at home and even the cats were noticeably more relaxed. Sadly in the October 2013 his Dad had what appeared to be a minor medical problem however a chest x-ray showed he had cancer.....everywhere. With palliative care he left us three weeks later which turned out to be a sudden emotional roller coaster. This made the house quieter still and black cat Loki missing his favourite human. Exceeding expectations, MIL made it through all of 2014 and into 2015 before passing away suddenly one Saturday afternoon in February. Despite being just 3/4 miles away when the care facility called us we did not make it in time to say goodbye.  A lot of sudden change in just two years.   Summer 2013 I also had (another) major surgery which was my last scheduled and left me without the unpleasantness of an ileostomy bag. YAY!

Christmas Present Lace
Back on topic of minis and crafting in general, I have been busy learning to make bobbin lace and have made good progress, making some lace trimmed items for my grandparents last Christmas. Here it is in progress. Most of the bobbins were bought and painted in pairs but as this pattern took more than the 25 pairs of bobbins I owned I used some hardwood dowel and whittled myself some more.

There are two books on the art of miniature lace (by Roz Snowden) and I have acquired both, they do look rather intimidating even for someone who likes to work small.

My other creative endeavour has been something I have been looking at since I saw how lace bobbins were made, I mean I knew what a lathe was and basic idea of how it works (wood spin, insert sharp tool) there was one in the workshop at my (all girls) school though I never saw it in action.

Last October (2014) I went to the great northern lace fair in Leeds and I was slightly overwhelmed by so much lace stuff in one room. However, in another room I encountered some gentlemen with a stand representing their wood turning group, I chatted with them for a while and admired their work and whilst this club was too far for me to visit regularly I hoped there was one nearer to me.

There be continued!

This post was getting rather long so I am breaking here for tonight, but I can promise the story will continue and ends quite well......and includes and explosion!

Until next time. Kim.

Monday, February 04, 2013

It's happening again......

I am over planning things.
I have carefully sketched out a complete cottage design for Belinda (who is still an image in my mind) when she has nothing to put in it.

I have something of a tendency to do this, let my plans get away from me and then they can become overwhelming and actually stop me doing things which is really stupid and annoying. Hence a few days without posts, also home responsibilities were above average keeping me busy.

So despite having partially written a post about the ground floor plan/design I am going to leave it un-published in the draft section. I am going to be strong and try and keep myself thinking small.

Some of the nicest minis I have seen are not full houses, some are just a single dresser/hutch filled with co-ordinated goodies or a single corner of a room or a lone worktable. And for the time being that is where I need to keep my focus. Thinking small.

When I look through my pinterest pins there are so many things I want to make, all different styles of baskets, pots, ceramics, tiles, plants, books. The list could truly be endless and so for now that is where I am going to focus.

Maybe in a while when Belinda has a physical presence and a stack of possessions she will demand a space of her own and I will re-visit those plans.

I shall return to the theme of art supplies until I am satisfied with that, and then I will pick a new theme and order anything I need for it (eg wire for baskets) and then I will do lots of that item in various styles. I will link to tutorials I have found most useful and give you any variations that I have made to those or tutes of my own.

Belinda's magical cottage is not the only theme I like in mini, I know that shabby chic is a very popular mini style and it is one I would like to play with as it is not a style I would ever have in my actual home. Not super shabby chic like a cath kidston shop just vomited its entire contents into my mini, but a shabby lite, more neutrals with pastel highlights and some tasteful wear on the furnishings.

When I make baskets (again as an example) I can make some in neutrals and pastels for future usen, whilst Belinda will need darker tones.
I shall go and get a good night's rest and start with a fresh mind tomorrow. Does anyone else have this kind of problem? If so, how do you cope with it?

Until then, Goodnight all.

PS. This thursday till saturday I will be in Manchester for an event, finally getting to see Hank and John in person and I CANNOT WAIT, so excited!!!!!!!