Sunday, June 7, 2009

Part 4-Log Cabin Project - Where'd that window go?

Lots of clamps and lego to hold everything in place.

All right!! Time to add the cross piece above the door.
Sacred Excrement!! I forgot about the window opening. 
Have craft knife, will fix mistake.
A moment of pure serendipity here. Cutting that tiny window is easier than cutting  gluing 4 rows of short logs.  
Well, I'm (finally) back to posting my progress on the Log Cabin project. It's not that I haven't been mini-making, as I have completed and mailed several rounds of swaps, worked on a group project, completed the draft pattern for a 1:48 half-timbered, front opening cottage and the same thing in 144th, and researched what I have discovered is a 1947  Keystone Tudor style dollhouse. It is in 'well loved' condition, with slight damage to the peak of the dormer roof, but everything (even the lighting and wiring) is original. I bought it at a Mennonite Relief Committee sale, have no room for it and don't even know why I bought it, other than the fact it is something I would have loved to find under the Christmas tree in the early 50's. Growing up, dollhouses were for the 'rich kids', as were rabbit fur coat collars and muffs, swimming pools and trips to Florida. So for the time being, it sits in empty glory in a shaded bay window, where it can be seen only by anyone curious enough to look at the window beside them as they stand at the front door. Every time I see it I am briefly tempted to make and add some furniture from my stash of HOM kits, but somehow I think it looks best with the furnishings of my imagination. 

 Now down to business!! As you can see from the photos above, I was getting excited after my last post about getting the walls up and the door and window openings in place so I could get on to the rafters and roof. Everything was going so well getting the requisite 6 rows of logs glued in place leaving the door opening straight and exactly 1/4" wide, despite many interruptions by the telephone, doorbell and curious cats, that I forgot entirely about the window opening. This was supposed to employ part logs for rows 4-6, and it wasn't until the 7th row was firmly glued and I took the photos that I realised what I had done. After some forehead banging and a few choice expletives, I found a ready fix (aka a pencil, craft knife, small flat file and patience), so I didn't have to rip off the whole front wall. PLUS I found it far easier to cut out the opening than to fiddle with all the very small lengths of wood while trying to keep all the horizontal lines of both openings exactly even. If I do this type of structure again, I will probably do the door opening this way as well, but for now, I'll leave sleeping doors lie. :-D


Select  4 matchsticks: 2 for the sides, and 2 which will be trimmed short to fit on either side of the front door opening.
1) Starting with the front, determine where you want you door to be and mark the centre of the doorway lightly in pencil on the foundation row. Measure and mark a point 1/8" on either side of the centre mark for the edges of the door opening. This will make a doorway about 34" wide in RL. I used a door width of 1/4" for simplicity and also because it happens to be the width of the skinny Lego blocks which I stacked to make sure the door opening stayed straight. (A scrap of 1/4" wood will work just as well.) 

2)Measure the distance from each side of the door to the outer edge of the sides and cut matchsticks to fit. Make a step (notch) on one end of each piece as you did for the foundation row (see Day One Part 2) and glue in place on top of the base row with the plain ends even with the marks you made for the edges of the door opening and the notches facing upwards.

3) Measure the distance between the outer side of the front and back of the foundation row, trim the remaining matchsticks to fit, notch one end as above and glue to the base row with the notches fitted together with the front. Before the glue sets on this first row, check that everything is square and upright, adjust as needed, and if you are angle-challenged like me, clamp the newly glued row to Lego to hold the position for a few minutes while the glue sets a bit. Now you can read the next part of the instructions, visit the little girl's room, check the mailbox, give the cat you have been ignoring for the last 10 minutes a head-rub or amputate the heads from a few more matches. 

4) Once this row is fairly well stuck down, do the same thing for 5 more rows of logs, for a total of 6 rows on all 3 sides, making sure to keep the door opening straight and all walls upright. (I did this part with a 3-4 minute delay between the gluing of each row which also gave me time to sit down and check a few e-mails after each row.)

5) Now it's time to add the 7th row, which will enclose the door opening and stabilise the front which is by now a bit wobbly. Take 2 matchsticks, and follow the instructions for making the front (or back) of the base row making  the splice as inconspicuous as possible, Glue this long piece across the entire front, adjusting the walls if needed to keep the corners square and walls upright. Let dry for a good 10 minutes, then using 2 more matchsticks, finish the sides of this row.

NOTE: Here's where you get to benefit from my experience when I got distracted.

6) Place the structure with the front wall face down on a cutting mat and pencil in the outline of your window opening. Remember that windows were much smaller than they are nowadays. Mine are 3 rows of logs high and 3/16" wide, or roughly 36" high and 26" wide, which is a bit too tall for historical accuracy, but I think the occupants really want a bit more of a view than a 26"x26" opening would afford them. So choose your desired window size and mark it on the inside wall of the front. 
Use a craft knife to gently score the cutting lines, going over them several times until you feel the knife break through to the cutting mat. From here keep poking the knife tip through the wood until the cut-out part will separate from the main wall. File or scrape off any excess wood inside the window opening and also inside the doorway. A small emery board works well for the doorway sides and can also be used to neaten up any rough log ends on the outside corners.  NOTE: If you want a window on any other wall, go crazy! I've left both ends solid as I will be adding a big fireplace at one end and a sleeping area on the other, but the 'invisible' back wall has a window across from the front door to provide cross ventilation in the summer heat. GOOF ALERT: Don't put the window too close to the doorway, or you will weaken the front wall and it will start to bow inwards. 

7) Cut 2 strips of thin wood or heavy card about 1/16" wide, long enough to reach from the floor to the top of the sixth row of logs above the base row, and another shorter piece abut 1/2" in length. Glue one long strip to each side of the door opening on the inside wall flush with the edge of the opening, to form a frame or trim on either side of the opening. Glue the short piece across the top of the door, trimming the excess or not as desired. If it overlaps the sides of the frame a bit you can use it to hang something long and thin beside the door such as a broom or buggy whip.

7) Now the final row of logs for the walls can be applied, just as you did in the previous step, and making any adjustments to the walls that may be needed as a result of cutting out the window(s).

That's all for tonight, but I'll be back as soon as I have time.

Many Mini Hugs.  



Friday, May 15, 2009

Tempus Fugit but Where?

Wow! This past week and a half has just flown by, with little in the way of minimaking to show for it. I did play with clay a bit and came up with some lovely porcelain-look plates for a 1:48 setting and made some 144th fireplaces and decorated blanket chests, but not much more. (Pix will be up later.) The weather has been so nice lately that I really found it hard not to walk the dogs until they were ready to drop instead of the just usual two or three 30 minute daily outings. Besides, I hate garden work and if I have had lots of exercise from walking the pups, I have an excuse for lacking the energy to grab shears and attack the jungle wilderness that is rapidly encroaching on my yard.  

My poor log cabin meanwhile sits on the top of the microwave  waiting for the rest of its' walls to go up. Every time I see it there I feel a twinge of guilt, but as it is supposed to rain most of Saturday and be cold most of the weekend, I think the time to finish the main construction has come.  And I promise to not even think about another project until this one is completed.  ;-D

Mini Hugs.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Evil Elf Disguised as a Fairy - photos

Last evening I posted about my experience as the hostage of the evil elf and dragon of my dream, and as of 5 pm today, I finally completed the evil elf's likeness. The above photos are not the best quality, but they show the essentials. (oooh, I just discovered that if you click on a photo, it explodes in a new window!) You'll have to forgive my excitement.  I'm still new to this whole blogging thing. :-)  Anyway, the poor dragon is still only a disembodied head and neck, with a half-done torso and no legs or tail, BUT he has sprouted a forked tongue, three fearsome horns and four sharp fangs since my last post. If I wait another day to work on him, do you think he'll start to grow spikes down his spine?

OK, back to the evil elf. In the dream he first appeared to be an elderly, pot-bellied, stubby-legged fairy, but upon entering the cave he removed his golden wings, revealing his true nature. As this blog and most of my mini items are rated suitable for all ages, I thought it best to create the elf as I first saw him, rather than as he really is. I don't want to be blamed for giving nightmares to any over-protected children of this 21st century who know only about the cute little elves that work at the North Pole and Disney's Tinkerbell.  If they are fortunate, they will eventually be introduced by a grandparent or similar figure to tales of the Old Ones and Wee Folk, both good and evil, who have inhabited our gardens, fields, forests, lakes, rivers and homes worldwide since the beginning of time. 
If not, I feel sorry for them. They will never experience the excitement of finding a fairy ring on the lawn in the morning, carefully building little twig and moss shelters under a nearby hedge or bush, including some choice morsels of food for their feast, and the anticipation the next morning of finding signs that the fairies slept or ate there.  In my formative years I spent many hours in my grandmother's kitchen as she cooked or baked, while she told me (as she had my mother when she was a child), not only a variety of fairy tales but stories from the Brothers Grimm, Aesop's fables and stories from Greek and Roman mythology. 
On reflection, there was a lot of violence, blood and gore involved in some of these stories,  but I knew they were 'make-believe', which I took to mean you could either believe them or not. So I chose at the time to believe in fairies, brownies, pixies and helpful elves, and ignore vengeful ghosts, wizards, witches, trolls, Medussa, the Minotaur and any scary monsters. When my daughters were young I told them fairy tales and fables, but admit that I did tone some of them down a bit until they were 4 or 5 and had a firm grasp of what was real and what was imaginary. 

Argh, the witching hour is nearly here, so I'd better get to sleep before that monster under the bed wakes up.

Mini Hugs.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Log Cabin Project Delayed by Dragon and Elf

No, I haven't disappeared into the woodwork, but was kidnapped by a juvenile dragon and an elderly elf three days ago. The two of them somehow managed to sneak into a perfectly ordinary dream in which I was hanging out my laundry and the next thing I knew I was being taken to a cave, conveniently located in my neighbours garden. There they forced me to make fimo miniatures of each of them in 1:48 despite the fact I told them I'd never made elves or dragons in my life. I had made a head for each and was just starting on the bodies when the alarm went off. 
All day I kept thinking about the dream, mulling over whether or not I would need an armature for such a small sculpture, in what order to make them, what parts would have to be cured and then have more clay added for a second curing, what to use for eyes, claws, teeth, horns etc...  After supper  I sat down and began work on the dragon's head and neck and surprisingly, it came out looking much like the one in my dream. The next evening I focused on the elf's face and today I have most of the elf sculpted. I have no idea why I feel compelled to make these two characters as I don't generally make fantasy figures nor do I have any idea where I will use them but it has been both challenging and fun. Perhaps this was my mind's way of giving me a break from making mundane things like log cabins and Tudor bathtubs.
Anyway, time to walk the poopies before bed, so I'll stop here. I plan to go to the OMEGA show in Fergus, ON, so I don't think I'll be making dragon feet or building cabins tomorrow, but hope to post Day 2 - The Cabin Raising Bee within 2 or 3 days. Mini Hugs. 

Sunday, April 26, 2009



DAY ONE (CONTINUED) - Finally, the floor.

Step Five - Installing The Floor Beams 

a) Take a scrap of mountboard, cereal box, off cuts from Woodies or whatever you have handy and cut out 4-6 1/4 squares, then cut these in half to form right-angled triangles. Glue as many triangle layers together as you need to make a stack that when placed on the template area will end up even with the top of the foundation row, ensuring you keep the pieces lined up. Make 4 of these and glue them to the inside corners of the frame to assist in holding the floor level.

b) Carefully measure the empty space inside your foundation. If you have used the same matches I did, it will be 1 3/8" X 1 3/4". If not, you may have to make minor adjustments when cutting the actual floor, so record your measurements if they are different. Take 3 uncut matchsticks, cut off the business ends and then trim to 1 3/8"(or your cabin's depth) so they fit neatly inside the foundation from front to back and act as floor beams. Glue one in place down the middle of the cabin, parallel to the end walls, then add the other two, one on either side of the centre about midway between the edge of the triangles and the centre beam.

Step Six - Installing the Ground Floor 

a) Prepare your flooring material by marking off boards, staining etc...... as desired. Prepare enough to make 3 or 4 full floors so if you goof, you don't have to stop and finish more. Besides, you can always use it in another project. GOOF ALERT: Seal the flooring material with a matte finish now, before you forget. It's is devilshly difficult to apply once the walls are up without getting any on the walls. 

b) Cut a piece of your flooring to the dimensions determined previously PLUS another 1/16" on all sides for safety. Test fit the piece on the beams and carefully trim it back until the edge of the flooring overlaps the frame logs by the thickness of a human hair. You want it to be slightly tucked between the slightly rounded edges of the foundation logs and the first layer of wall logs without any gaps but not sticking in so far that it creates a visible line around the outside of the cabin or forces the logs to tip so the rest of the wall isn't perpendicular to the floor. Glue the floor in place attaching it to the beams and the corner supports. Let dry for 10 minutes under a weight while you recover from reading a "how-to-do-it" that takes 3 times as long as the "do-it' part does. 

GOOF ALERT: When cutting wood veneer it will always want to splinter on one of the sides, usually the last one you cut, so leave extra room for this. Extra wood can be sanded or shaved off gently, but you can't glue it back on.    


Many Mini Hugs.

minimadgal, member of GSGOLFOT



PART ONE (continued)

Step Three- Preparing the Front and Back of the Foundation Row

a) Take another match stick and trim 1/2" from one end. (Save these bits as they come in handy later.) Make a step at each end of this piece. Take another match stick and make a step at one end, then splice these pieces together by gluing the two together where the steps slot together. GOOF ALERT: Ensure that sure the joint is straight so the 2 pieces form a straight line, then place something with a bit of weight on top (coffee mug, sauce bottle, tin can, your foot). 

b) Make another piece the same way, then while the 2 joins are firming up, decapitate some more matches (20 will do for now), and make a step on ONE end of each. These will be used to start the ends and parts of the front wall.  

c) Now the glue has dried, take one of the joined pieces and lay it along one long side of your template with the stepped end right on the edge of one corner. Use a pencil to mark where the piece crosses over the template outline, and trim off the excess wood. Make a step on the newly cut end, then do the same to the other joined piece. GOOF ALERT: Make sure the step ends up on the same side of the log as the first one. Sounds basic, doesn't it? But sooner or later i guarantee you'll forget to check the other end right before you make that first shallow cut. 

Step Four - Assembling the Foundation Row - NOTE: Mess this up and your cabin is doomed!!!  

For a free-standing house: 

a) On the template, place 2 small dots of glue along the back wall line and carefully position one of the joined pieces with the cut-out step facing up. Make sure it is lying directly along the line, then do the same thing with the other joined piece on the front wall line. (The glue is just there for now to help keep things lined up to the template.) Take one end piece from Step Two and test fit it, placing the stepped side down so it interlocks with the ends of the the back piece. File a bit if necessary and when the fit is good, apply glue to the stepped areas as well as one or two drops along the bottom so it will stick to the template. Check that the corner is square (Lego time), then do the same thing at the other end, again making sure everything is square. Apply weight as before to the entire frame and let it dry. Let it dry more, and then some more. Ahhhh fiddlesticks, take a 30 minute break. Walk the dog, water the plants, surf the net for images of log cabin interiors,  fold the laundry, have a cup of tea, tidy up your work space or anything else that gives this essential construction time to REALLY dry for 30-40 minutes. 

b) For a direct mount: 

Assemble as above but glue the pieces securely to your base as well as gluing the stepped ends. Then you can go on to the alternate activity of your choice for 30-40 minutes.

Now it's time for me to take a break to go out for brunch with my 2 daughters and some friends before I post the final part of Day One's instructions. My frame is now under a jam jar and by the time I get back, it should be ready for the final steps.

Mini Hugs. minimadgal, member of GSOLFOT




I"m using matchsticks, which are not smooth or even, and sometimes vary a bit in thickness but that's OK. This is a pioneer style, single room cabin with a loft, made from local materials using only an axe and a saw, not a Chippendale chair. So leave the wood just as it is, flaws and all, for a more realistic look.

Before I forget, the following items are helpful but not necessary: 

-some Lego blocks to help make corners square, and walls upright.

-small clamps or clothespins

-a scrap of wood that can be used to ensure end the of the logs line up

   inside the door and window openings and along back ends of the     

   side walls

GENERAL MEASUREMENT HINT: Always use the exact same ruler for every measurement you make on a given project, especially in 144th. Two corkbacked 6" green metal rulers from the local office supply store may look identical, both made in China and bearing the store's logo, but depending on the location of the factory that actually made each one, you may find you have two different rulers. I have 3 such rulers and all are different with only one being accurate when tested against my digital callipers.

THE BASE ROWS - Making the foundation


Step One - Make a template

Decide whether you want to build your cabin directly onto a larger  base or make it free-standing and then mount it on a base. I'm doing mine free-standing for now because the base I will attach it to will depend on how much or little landscaping I am willing to do and how big the plexiglass box I still have to buy will be.

For a free-standing cabin, draw a perfect rectangle measuring 1 1/2" by 2" on a small piece of plain paper. Label one long edge "Back". This will be your template for the walls so make sure it is accurate! For a direct mounted cabin, draw the shape directly on the base where you want the cabin to sit. Don't forget to plan for a path, woodpile,water barrel etc..... and label one long edge "Back". 

Step Two - Preparing the Ends of the Foundation Row

Using your tool of choice remove the business end of 6 matches clipping as close to the coating as possible without setting yourself on fire. The pieces left should be 1.75" long, so trim or file them if needed. Dispose of the business ends. Take one of the sticks, and using a craft knife make a shallow cut across one end going just halfway through the wood, at a distance of one matchstick thickness from the end. Repeat for the other end. Now turn the matchstick on it's side, and carefully slice up from the end to the cut you just made, removing a chunk of wood and forming a little step. Trim the step if needed to make it exactly half the thickness of the toothpick. Repeat for the other end. These 2 logs will form the 2 ends of the base layer. Set aside. (continued in Part 2)

Friday, April 24, 2009

NEW PROJECT - 144th Log Cabin - Materials


I've  decided what I will work on next, and it is one of my own designs reduced from 1:48 to 144th scale. (Did I mention earlier that I have masochistic tendencies?) Photos of the original cabin are here: 

I've gathered the materials together so if you want to make it along with me, here's a materials list:
2 boxes of 30 pocket size wood matches (I used Red Bird brand). Kitchen matches       can be used but unless you shave them down, they will be way out of scale. You will         use only 45-50 allowing for goofs, but the boxes are perfect for matchbox scenes.
A scrap of foamcore board about 3 inches square for the fireplace and chimney.
A small piece of mountboard, illustration board, or thin wood for the base the cabin will sit on.
Scraps of thin wood (or heavy cardstock if wood is not available). I have part of a wooden coffee stir stick, scraps of Woodies and a 2"x2" piece of dark woodgrain I had printed on cardstock (for the wood floor) that I had left from another project. Veneer works too, or print off some wood texture onto cardstock or even use plain card painted and drybrushed to look like wood.
Small amounts of black, green and brown craft or tempera paint.
A brush-on water based matte sealer.
Something like PolyFilla, spackle, stucco mix, or even white craft paint thickened with baby powder for the caulking between the logs.
Optional: A good handful of teeny-tiny rocks from a playground area or gravel path to use for the fireplace and chimney.   
Tacky glue, scissors, ruler, tweezers, emery board and anything else you usually need. 

OK, that's it for tonight as my hairy-faced children need to go for a walk. My next post will cover getting started on the cabin.

Until then, may all your problems be mini.

Min Hugs.
minimadgal, member of GSOLFOT


FREE DOLLHOUSE PROJECT #1 - 1/12 Office Whiteboard

I'm back! I thought that somebody might have a need for an office whiteboard and as it so happens, I have a project sheet all made up. If you save it to your hard drive, then use print preview to ensure it looks like it does in the blog image BUT if it doesn't, try adjusting the scale of the print until it does. For 1:24 scenes, set to print at 50%. Have fun! 
Miini Hugs.
minimadgal, member of GSOLFOT


Welcome to my blogspace. There's not much here yet, but what do you expect after less than 15 minutes of life?  :-)  This will be my own little soapbox from which I will sometimes rant and rave, but from which I also plan to share free resources for miniaturists working in smaller scales such as printies, tutorials, patterns, videos, hints and tips and the like. Along the way I'll be recording in words and photos my progress on various projects, along with noting problems and (hopefully) solutions as I come across them in the construction process in hopes it may help someone else avoid them in the future. So if you are looking for unique miniature project how- tos as well as how-not-to-dos advice, keep watching this blog. 
Mini Hugs.
minimadgal, member of GSOLFOT