November 19, 2015

What I want to do in 2016

There are so many things I want to get done in 2016 (and 2017) now that I am feeling better. First up on the list is to finish the Elizabethan birdhouse shown above that I had started before had to put it aside for a few years.

So what else? A lot of you are familiar with my Acorn Cottage house. Once upon a time I tried teaching it as a class project. The class went great but there are way too many hours of prep work involved to ever want to do that again. However I have two extra ones left that need to get finished. Then when they are complete I will sell them.
Then there is the French Coastal Cottage project I have started. I am itching to get that completed. It is well on its way to being finished but still many hours of work left to go on it.

So lots of things to do this next couple of years including finishing my vintage motorhome and designing more Tiny Village buildings too.
I can't wait to get back to doing some wood carving again.

November 14, 2015

Tiny Village 2015 now in Etsy!!

They're here, come and get them :)

The micro size too...

Now we will look at them one by one...

Help has arrived

This morning I had a volunteer show up to help me get the micro sized buildings assembled. But of course as many of us know its often quicker to do the job ourselves rather than trying to train volunteers how to use tools properly.

November 5, 2015

The cutting edge

My friend Don saw a photo I took where I had my craft knife shown next to a building and liked the visual. He then suggest that I do it this way for the drama! He was right of course, this really does work. There is a small pinterest button in the bar at the end of this posting. Please do share if you enjoy using pinterest. It really helps my Etsy store sales when  you do that and I appreciate your efforts in that sharing.

I don't actually cut the buildings with a #11 knife but I do use it often in the assembling of them for nudging things into position and pulling off excess wet glue. This photo  shows the knife that does the actual cutting along with a #11 knife blade. That  knife tip is so tiny I can barely see how far it is extending out of the holder. The holder is not shown in this photos, What you are seeing is the shaft that slides into the holder. But eventually I got used to knowing when the tip was extended just the right amount for the cardstock I was cutting. In other words my brain got calibrated and that will almost always happen if you quit using those training wheels (click holders) on your machine :) I certainly did fret about it for a while but then one day the fretting stopped and no more troubles since.

October 10, 2015

working in 3D CAD design

This is a view of one of the new glitter house buildings showing it in Ironcad the 3D CAD program that I love to use. At this point I have finished the design of the miniature cardstock building and created all the walls out of virtual paper the thickness of the real material I will be cutting from. Here I am just getting ready to start unfolding it to make everything flat so I can create the 2D cutting files. You see that funny circle and line shape against the roof of the building? It is the special feature of this program that allows me to move an object in all kinds of directions and also do things like duplicate it, snap it against other objects, move it a defined distance or angle, etc. Its a magic tool that other CAD programs don't have. Across the top are the tools for the various functions you can do and also types of options with lots of drop down menus of choices to select from. At first its pretty confusing as this program is very much loaded with what it can achieve in the way of intricate detailed design.  For glitter house design I am only using a fraction of  the capability. Along the bottom are the ways to view the model, pick objects, etc. Of course for designing something this simple I need only a small fraction of this program's capabilities.

It does have a built in rendering engine where I can make the model look close to photo realistic. I don't bother with photo realistic rendering as my goal is not for presenting the CAD model itself to a client to show them what I have designed for them. Its fun to play with if you like being always virtual such as in a video game or for digital art but that is not my art form.

Over on the left side of the screen is a list of all the parts of my building. They can be further expanded when needed. On the right side is a catalog of shapes you can drop into the scene. There are other things in the built in catalogs as well, fasteners such as screws and bolts, color and textures. You can also create your own catalogs of parts such as objects you have designed or imported from some other place.

When I have all those walls flat I click a button and the program launches a drawing file. That next step is super easy to do, I just rotate the CAD model until it faces the right way and choose a 1:1 scale. Then that image exports as a new file in a format I can open in Corel Draw. I use Corel because both my paper cutter and the laser have plug-ins that will launch my project into the software that run the machines.

The program I design in is called Ironcad, a high end design program, not one most of you will have heard of before but having been trained in and having worked with  most of the big name CAD programs, this one is the only one of them I would ever choose to work in for my own projects. It is faster than all the competitors and also much easier to learn. Not a free program, this is professional software for serious use. However  the prices for students and educators are very reasonable. There are lots of tutorials for it on youtube created by the company as well as by users. The program does have a free 30 day trial.

Disclaimer...I am an associated dealer of Ironcad because I happen to love using it. :)

October 9, 2015

Tiny Village 2015 more progress

©Karin Corbin, 3D CAD model of a  house from the 2015 Tiny Village Series

Went back to revisit the design of this building to make it a little easier to put together.  I have not test cut it yet but it is wearing its coat of virtual cardstock now instead of being just basic building block shapes. Who knows it might yet evolve further or it might stay in this form. I am having too much fun playing in my CAD program to stop and cut anything. Sometimes its better not to interrupt the design flow by making my brain switch out of its current mode of being locked into the steps required to manipulate the object types in the program.

The next phase of prototype cutting and assembly is the where the cats get to have some new toys to play with and I get to try and try again with removing or adding a few thousandths of an inch here or there or even making a major renovation at times. That is the gruesome phase as any change involves not just changing the original CAD files which has 3 types of files for each design, the full 3D, the walls flattened out in 3D and the 2D drawing of the flattened building that gets exported to Corel. The Corel file is where I do all the painstaking, fussy node editing,  that file is then exported  to the software that runs the cutting machine. So each prototype revision means changing at least 6 different files in 3 different programs.

Someone asked is there a theme for this village? Well this series is as always based on the types of buildings found in historic Northern Europe. But this one will hopefully have a bit of a surprise for the focal point fancy building in the set. I am still puzzling over the puzzle of how to structure it while I work on the other buildings.

Toy Shop for the new Village

©Karin Corbin 2015. Toy Shop Design for the Tiny Village Series

What's a holiday village without a toy shop? This little structure was designed to have that "I am a Toy Shop" appeal by making it slightly chubby looking versus some of other buildings in this set. The arched door and windows help with that appeal as does the overhanging upper story and wide based chimney. Classic story book :)

October 8, 2015

Another 2015 glitter village cottage

A 2015 glitter house design preview. A Dutch influenced roof line on a small cottage home. One sees a lot of this type of steep roof in the village genre sketches and paintings of the Dutch masters. Of course this shape was not exclusive to that country or that era. The dormer is more generous in size than typical but only because at the micro sizes of the Tiny Village sets it would be impossible to assemble if much smaller than this. Just a little charmer, fairly simple rectangle shape as are many cottages but with a fun roof line.

May 20, 2015

Greens are good for you!

If cute cats can make you famous I am in luck with this pair of Siamese, Beans and Zak.
They love it when I bring home fresh wheat grass from the produce department at the grocery store.

May 9, 2015

piece by piece

kitchen cabinet sub frame in progress.

now the counter top has been put onto the sub frame and I am already using it for a workbench for a power miter saw and a Proxxon bandsaw.````````````````````````
One puzzle piece at a time the cabinets are taking shape. I decided to build an aluminum frame to attach my wood face frames to. It was an easy way to go versus building it all of wood. The aluminum angle extrusions made it easy to level and square things up in a decidedly un-square space. Now I can easily remove the wood face frame, leaving the doors hinged to them and have easy access to things such as plumbing, the gasoline tank filler tube, water pump and fresh water tank. The counter top does not have to be removed as it stays supported by the sub frame. In a house kitchen the cabinets are boxes made of thick plywood but that is just too heavy for a little motorhome to haul down the road.

The aluminum frame for the kitchen side has been completed now  I have temporarily installed the counter top and use it for a work bench. I won't cut out the holes for the cook top and sink until I am pretty much done with the interior remodel.

 This week I am getting ready to take out the temporary workbench top I put in earlier and build the aluminum framing for under it and to support the front edge of the rear lower workbench/bed/reclining couch.  But it will take a few days to get it done as I have to fiberglass a small piece of plywood to extend the sub floor area over to the wall as some of the cabinet framing needs to rest on top of that piece.

Time to quit procrastinating and get to that fiberglass job :(  (I don't like doing fiberglass work)

March 17, 2015

Spring has sprung

It has warmed up enough now to get back to work. Hooray, winter has surrendered in Seattle! I have temporarily installed my new workbench top. The tool/supply cabinet I assembled last fall is beside it. Now I have a taller surface to work from while I continue building cabinetry and some organization to help me find the tools I need. Being organized will be a big help. You can see from the design image below how things are now coming into place but that there is still a very long ways to go.

Tomorrow I will put up some temporary curtains over the windows so I can close them when I am not there working. Soon I will start on the counter top on the other side where the sink, stove and refrigerator will be. The floors are uneven and there are also wheel wells on each side to span over so I need to take a non standard cabinet building approach of first getting the counter tops level then building the cabinets piece by piece to go under them.My workbench top is pine boards, I think I will use the same thing for the counter top on the kitchen side. The nice part is I just have to cut them to length and saw out the holes I need for the sink, stove and top opening fridge. Then put on some thick coats of marine varnish and they are done!

February 27, 2015

Time traveling to Paris France

Yes we really can travel back through time... It's movie night once again on my blog, grab your munchies and enjoy a trip to Paris, France and other locations.

December 23, 2014

Playing with scale

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction rights reserved

Just doing some test fitting plus some glittering today. Working on the larger sized versions of the design. I have been playing around with them off and on this last year. But never have gotten down to making them available as kits in my Etsy store.

These larger pieces are not all that large.  They just big enough to be suitable for a real life tabletop Putz or Christmas tree ornament rather than being a miniature that fits into a dollhouse. It is only by comparison to the Micro and Tiny size village sets that they seem large. The tallest tower on the table is under 5" high. I make them from the heavier weight cardstock papers.

As I have an order for some I needed to do some test fitting of ones I had not cut in this size before. Of course the danger is I will get spoiled by how quick it is to assemble something this size compared to making itsy bitsy micro buildings.

December 13, 2014

Christmas Village Shadow Box Scene

© Kris Hull 2014  Christmas display created by Kris Hull of Forks, WA all reproduction rights reserved.
A photo treat that spreads some Christmas Joy made  by  Kris Hull of Forks, WA.  I just love it when one of my customers shares photos of their projects with us!  Kris used five of the buildings from the Tiny Village 2013 set for this project.

What a great job she did. There is a lot of depth to each of the small vignettes in this scene plus it incorporates other paper miniatures such as vintage Christmas Card scenes. I am loving the sleigh and horses with the bottle brush trees up on top as well. Plus of course she lit it up!

Kris shared the following information about this project.
" just thought you would like to see what I did with my Tiny Houses...this is one of my favorite projects ever! I used a Tim Holtz Configurations box and a strand of tiny lights (the battery compartment is stored in the base that the box is sitting on!) Thanks for the great houses :) "

Kris also said " I made the trees from bumpy green chenille and cut it and painted them with white paint--they were so simple. And the backgrounds are just vintage Christmas card scenes. "

I have not yet taken the time to get out the glitter, tinsel, etc and create some scenes of my own this Christmas season. You have all kept me pretty busy with cutting, packaging and shipping.  I am cutting gingerbread brown buildings today as I had run out of stock of many of those sets. Next on the schedule is making more of the Tea Light Snowflake kits. After that I might get out the glitter and see what I can come up with.

Hope everyone is having a Holly Jolly Holiday season! 

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved

November 29, 2014

Winners of the Black Friday Giveaway

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved

There were a total of 53 entries for the giveaway. Two entries were submitted by email and I added them as they really tried hard but could not figure out how to leave a comment (it happens).

Every person was assigned a number. I printed out all the comments starting with the first comment as #1.  I then used the function from to choose 5 numbers . I had decided that I wanted everyone to have really good odds of being a winner. So you each had  a 1 in 10 chance of winning. This means there were 5 winners!

Thank you everyone for entering. Your comments were very fun to read, lots of creativity out there!

Winners you need to email me include your mailing address and also the kit of your choice. Please put Black Friday Winner into the subject line of your email. Go to to see what the sets look like and their names. Then send me that name so I know exactly what you want. Just copy and paste the name of the set into your email. The kits are shown in white but there are always 3 colors to choose from. Remember you can choose any set you want. If you choose the 2012 village set the church shown in that set will be substituted with the buildings shown in the photo at the top of this posting unless you tell me that you would rather have a church instead of that tower house with chimney variation.

The winning comment entries are:

1. Blogger
 Caseymini said...
Karin, I have been a fan of your work for years. These black ones would be to put in one of Tessie's rooms. Being a witch, she would love the littlest ones for her mantle or even under a witchy Christmas tree. Thanks for all of the tips and tricks that I have learned from you along the way!

ShellyH-Y said...
l would use some of them as birdhouses for Ravens house. She is a tiny witch/herbalist who lives in the woods and cares for many creatures. Her house is already built (1/24th scale) and done in shades of purple and black, so these would be PERFECT! Thanks Karin!

Sanschichis said...
Hi Karin,
Thanks for this amazing giveaway! I would like to build a chrismas scene with them: black houses in the dark night, flown by Father Christmas's sleigh! Keeping my fingers crossed!

Judith Andraka said...
They are great!They would be perfect for a "Brigadoon" village that I have been wanting to make - rising from the mist among the hills. Thank-you for this give-away opportunity and your great blog.

Wanna said...
I see a spectral figure (like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come) holding out his arm with all these little black houses on it. The caption would be:
There are some neighborhoods that are best kept at arm's length.

November 28, 2014

Black Friday Giveaway

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved
© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved
© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved
Update,  Black Friday is over. No more comments please.

I have already printed out the list of eligible entries. I will post the lucky winners very soon. I  will assign everyone a number then I will use a random number generator to choose who gets the set of your choice.

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved

November 18, 2014

Shipping time

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved

 I was preparing some of the Tiny Village series orders for shipment and noticed what a colorful array they made. So just for fun I took a photo of them.

November 11, 2014

Micro Tiny Tudor set is now in Etsy

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved
They're here, I got the micro sized glitter house village, putz buildings are all assembled and lined up for a family portrait. This new micro sized kit is now ready to ship.

The new cutter with its high resolution has made it possible to include all the flourishes and details of the larger sized Tiny Village set in this micro sized version. Ruler included in the photos so you can see the size of the set.  The average height of the houses is about 3/4" and the height of the gatehouse to the top of its chimney is 1-1/16". The detailing of these pieces is from the Tudor Revival and Normal style Revival buildings  of the 1920s. But of course revival styling means they also look much like the original buildings they were inspired by.

November 3, 2014

Fairy Tale Castles

© Karin Corbin 2014  Fairy Tale Castles, a glitter house, putz kit.

What's next? Why a fairytale castle set. Today as soon as I finish the directions for the new Tiny Tudor set I will be tweaking the castle pieces that are from the other collections and releasing them as their own grouping.

I had made up my mind to create a special grouping of the castle style buildings last Christmas. They will be cut in 4 sizes. The two sizes you are used to Micro and Tiny and also 2 more larger sizes that can be used for Christmas ornaments and decorations. I can cut thicker cardstock with my new machine so that means I can expand the designs into the full size glitter house market opportunity. Of course they are still miniatures ;).

One of these days I will do a larger castle with more turrents but that won't happen this year.

November 2, 2014

Fireplace mantel village snow scene

© Cecilia Colo 2014 project made with Karin Corbin's Micro Tiny Village Gingerbread 2013
Cecilia Colo from Mexico has graciously shared  photos of her Christmas Village scene on a 1:12 fireplace mantel. What an outstanding job she has done with this project. I love the vertical use of the space with the trees coming down the slope. No doubt about it there is Christmas magic in this scene! That garland with Christmas cards is lovely too, what a great touch that is, it really adds to her artistic composition.

I love seeing what people do with the kits so please share photos with me. 
photo © Cecilia Colo, 1:12 Gingerbread Village Scene using a Karin Corbin  Gingerbread Village houses kit.

The kit used to create the scene above is the Micro Tiny Village 2013 in gingerbread color. They really do look like a gingerbread house when displayed this way. You can buy that kit in my Etsy store Micro Tiny Village 2013 Gingerbread
photo © Cecilia Colo 2013, all reproduction rights reserved

The lighting used in the scene is from Evan Designs

November 1, 2014

holding a ruler down for cutting

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved

In a chat today I was reminded that it is easy to have trouble with some of the basic tasks in model making. This time it was how to hold a ruler firmly while cutting. My best friend happened to be close by so he became my hand model. He has that hand tremor condition but despite it can do great fine detail model making so he is perfect for demonstrating its all about how you position your fingers, not about how steady your hands are. The little finger is on the table adding stability, heel of palm can rest on the table for extra stability if needed. There is a cork backing on this steel ruler. Do not use a ruler for cutting against with a knife unless it is made from steel. Never plastic or aluminum rulers as the knife blade can snag into those materials.

October 31, 2014

Tea Light sets now available!

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved
They are now in my Etsy Store.

Snowflakes only are in this first set made for 4 tea lights. No buildings included and no tea lights. Later next week I will release a set of 3 houses with 3 snowflakes sets included.

You might wonder what determines how many items  are in the sets I put together. It is based on what will fit into a business sized envelope that weighs less than one ounce when all packaged up. I do it that way as a business model for several reasons. First of all I can keep the shipping very affordable. I also can keep a supply of regular stamps on hand and don't need to find a post office to ship from. When I send kits overseas they look like the purchaser is getting a greeting card in the mail so no delays from customs.  The most important reason is I can fit this business into the lifestyle of a gypsy woman who chooses to live in a tiny vintage motorhome for much of the year. No space for storing cardboard boxes for shipping.

I will have the assembly photos for the tea lights posted on the very soon. But it is pretty much obvious how they go together.

So many photos yet to take this next few days to get ready for listing  the new Tiny Tudor Village set. But it will most likely happen this Sunday. Had a slight delay in launching the series as I had several large orders come in this week that I had to cut kits for. But one of those orders was what made the new Snowflake Tea Light accessory kit available to all of you.

Still learning to use the new cutting machine. It is more accurate than the original hobby machine I started this Tiny Village series on. That has made it possible to cut those fancy snowflakes. But it has not been without its learning curve.

Off the topic, did any of you catch the news that the Dremel company is launching a 3D printer for sale next week on November 3rd ? Now that is interesting news. It only works with PLA plastic filament and it steps in vertical layers that are .004" thick. That is about the standard resolution for a 3D printer in the price range of just under one thousand dollars. Home Depot store is one of their retail partners for developing this new printer, Amazon is also a retail partner in the project. Actually it is the first 3D printer that has been created for sale by any major tool company. It makes sense that it was done by the Bosch company, they own the Dremel brand name. Dremel has always been a primary power tool line used in making miniatures by hobbiest.  I won't be purchasing one as my boyfriend  owns a 3D printer that can use more types of plastic filament.

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved.

October 27, 2014

Candle Light and snowflakes

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved
The new snowflake set for creating scenes with flickering tea lights. Not decorated with glitter, I don't have time for that this week. But I had a custom order request for the snowflake sets this week so I wanted to grab a quick video since I was set up to do photography for the Tiny Tudor Village instructions.

The micro sized buildings will not fit over a tea light as the hole in the base is not large enough.

October 20, 2014

Tiny Tudor Village Set

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved
All done with the design work! I can start cutting and packaging the kits now :)

October 19, 2014

The inspector general

© Karin Corbin 2014, all reproduction right reserved
Zak's favorite spot to hang out while I work. He sits right in front of the heat exhaust from the laptop. I am doing the final check on the prototypes this morning. At this stage I work right by the computer so I can make immediately stop and make any needed adjustments to the cutting files as I am assembling the prototype buildings.

I should be able to start producing the new kits tonight!  Creating the instructions usually takes several days.