October 20, 2014

October 19, 2014

The inspector general


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.



October 16, 2014

Storybook style


When I went to cut prototypes I found I was frustrated with the assembly of one of the buildings in the Tiny Tudor set so I replaced it.  I keep getting asked when I will build a castle. Not yet! But I did add a gatehouse to the Tiny Tudor set. There are a number of fun Tudor Revival Storybook buildings in California that have arched gateways in them plus towers and overhanging dormers and bays. Of course the real thing is around in Europe as well. Anyway this is my own original design of that style of building, hope you like it :)

I will cut the prototype for this building this morning. I am busy making friends with my new cutting machine, so far I am pleased with the results.  I don't use a laser to cut this series as the pretty white paper would be not so pretty and white. They are cut with a miniature sized knife blade! Hopefully a bit more fine tuning of the settings will get rid of 99 percent of the hanging chads which will make life a lot more pleasant for me.

October 13, 2014

Tiny Tudor Village

The design work is all done. Here is the lineup of images from my 3D CAD design program.








Tiny Tudor Village Set


The design work is all done now, there are eight buildings in this set.

My old machine lost adequate cutting pressure this week so I will start using the new cutting machine I bought a while back.  I decided instead of switching my mental gears from design mode to technical machine mode it would be best if I just got all the designs finished so I could then focus on learning to use the new machine.  While I am always thinking about designs creating the models in CAD is a rhythmic dance of steps and if I take a break from it then I have to get back into the mode to be proficient. Plus memorizing the function steps on a new machine is best done by focusing all my attention on it.

I am still on track for having some of the new kits for sale by November 1st.

October 6, 2014

Glitter House Inspirations

http://www.pinterest.com/corbincabin/1920s-1930s-glitter-house-christmas-inspiration/
I have created a Pinterst Board  for glitter house inspiration. Some of the images are of real houses others are the vintage 1920's and 1930's Christmas Cards that can be used as inspirations to create village scenes with my little glitter house kits.

 Lots of fun colors in those old Christmas Cards.

The buildings in them are typically Tudor Revival Style some with steep pitched roofs others with the timberi patterns from the Half Timber buildings of Merry Old England. In England they called this "Mock Tudor". Some buildings of that era were also Norman French inspired.

September 7, 2014

September 6, 2014

September 5, 2014

Spooky Village Updates

I now have some of the Spooky Village versions of my Tiny Village series in the Etsy store.
https://www.etsy.com/shop/karincorbin




I will have to wait until tomorrow to finish posting the Old Town 2014 series in the Halloween glitter house black colors. I ran out of the right kind of lighting for the photo shoot. As expected photographing black objects is very tricky. There is an overhead skylight in the room I am in. I can't shoot the photos until the afternoon as Sunlight coming in makes too much color contrast. What is amazing is that I have to take the photos in very low light so there is less contrast. The background paper also has to be of a fairly dark mid range value. Only then will the camera be able to read contrast in the shadows and also see some highlights on the black objects without totally washing them out to a grey color.

So the trick is less light focused on the objects and less contrast. Not at all intuitive to the average, casual photographer such as myself. I will have to practice a lot more but for now at least I have the kits in my storefront for this Halloween season.

I will finish up the photos for the last two kits tomorrow afternoon. Then I must get back to work on my Vintage motorhome interior remodel while the weather is still warm. I don't want Jack Frost nipping at my toes before I get the heating system installed.

May 14, 2014

learning new techniques

I am getting ready to make trim moldings and cabinetry for my little vintage motorhome. The motorhome will become my new work space for making miniatures.

I have decided to use a cabinetry style for my project that is inspired by the architects Greene and Greene. They are famous for the Gamble House which is now a museum in Pasedena, CA.

One of the features of the cabinetry are small wooden plugs that get installed over recessed screw heads. They are of a contrasting wood. A bit like beautiful buttons dressing up a jacket they dress up and accent the wood work. But of course I want to be efficient in my methods of work so I sought out a tutorial for them.  You might want to watch it if only for the method of safely controlling small pieces of wood on a router table while you put a profile on the edge. That part of the segment is at the end of the video at 14:30 minutes.

March 12, 2014

Up scaling


Now that I have gotten the little paper buildings for "Old Town" up on Etsy and the instructions are posted it is time to shift gears and get back to some 1:12 scale building work. Not a change of time period though, I am still in the middle ages! What can I say, I am drawn to half timbered buildings.

So out of storage comes two unfinished projects. The half timbered "Coastal Cottage ", a Normadie, France inspired building that will eventually have a thatched roof. That is seen in the photo above in its current state. There has been a good ways of progress towards completion of the interior but it is lacking the roof and some interior details as well as a proper base. I drug it out of storage because I needed to get my brain jogged into a different mind set for scale. I have to start looking at and thinking about anything except the thousands of tiny pieces of paper that have invaded even my dreams in the last few months as well as littered every inch of the workspace floor.


But the primary project, I will be working on for next few months to come is the large 1:12 scale Elizabethan Birdhouse shown above. It is not nearly as far along as the dollhouse but it is a higher priority to get completed. It is going to be over the top special so I am really excited to see it finished. It will have one bird nesting box in it but it will serve much of the year as a light fixture in the garden. Looking at this image I realize I have not modeled the leading on the window panes. Oh well I will get to that sometime before I cut the window glass.

Both those projects got set aside when life intervened as it all too often does with other commitments and health issues too. It will be more difficult to work on them now as I have retired with a small pension and needed to let my large workshop space go since my budget can't stretch that far. But I still have space to work in courtesy of my best friend Don. A much smaller area to be sure but I do appreciate having it. Actually my first tasks will be to reorganize some of my shelving and belongings to create more work surfaces for assembling the larger projects. Plus I need a work table on wheels so I can spin it around to reach all sides of the buildings. But that spinning table comes later, at the moment both projects are in the flat panel phase. I do as much work as I can on the various sides of the buildings before I fix them into place. See the ever useful duct tape in the photo of the dolllhouse? No project is complete without it for at least a temporary time.

Unfortunately progress will be much slower than I like as my back does not tolerate long periods of standing, sitting or bending. But slow progress will get me there eventually, hopefully by the end of October when I need to go back to working on glitter houses.

March 8, 2014

How to fold tiny pieces of paper

Tips for folding tiny pieces

 This article is a reprint from my blog for assembling my paper house kits. 

Folding small pieces is easy with a little bit of help from your tools.
1. a small pair of straight, smooth jawed pliers
2. a pair of eyebrow type tweezers with a straight across tip that close flat on the mating edges
3. a craft knife, use the sharp or the dull side right against a fold line

If you bend against a straight edge of some type it is easy to fold accurately.
Tiny delicate details should be supported by clamping over them with tweezers or pliers if those pieces are right next to a fold. That will often be needed where there is a door or window very close to a fold line, especially on the Micro scales buildings that are made from thin cardstock.




The tools











Bending longer pieces with flat jawed pliers clamped next to the perforated bend line.
You can also use the straight across tip for folding shorter pieces or reaching across longer sections to get to a fold line.












I always have my craft knife out when I am putting the kits together. It is my number one, quick bending aid for folding small parts that are not too small or delicate. Yes I do use the sharp edge right by the perforated line but as it is being held still there is no danger of cutting the paper or myself.







I also always have on hand a pair of flat nosed, good quality, eyebrow tweezers.

When I am folding next to an area such as a door or window that is very close to a fold line I clamp over that delicate area to stabilize it putting the tweezers tip against the perforated fold line. Then push on the stronger area on the other side of the bend line to make the fold.









Now here is a very delicate area to fold, a double door to open right next to another bend line for the sides of the building.

The tweezers are used to clamp over the building side fold line and also go up against door's hinge fold at their tip. Then I slid my craft knife in the cut opening of the door and used the flat of the knife blade to push the door open against the flat of the tweezers tip. This way there is no deformation of the cardstock parts as everything is well supported.

March 7, 2014

Tiny "Old Town" now on Etsy!

© Karin Corbin 2014  Tiny Old Town     www.etsy.com/shop/karincorbin
Micro Tiny Old Town  © Karin Corbin 2014    www.etsy.com/shop/karincorbin

Be the first on your street to own an entire city block of buildings from old world Europe!

Available in the same two scales as the original Tiny Village kits. 
Karin Corbin's Etsy Store


March 5, 2014

red roof prototype



I just cut and assembled the first prototype of the 1:48 scale cardstock building. This is not the final design. As always the prototypes tutor me on what improvements I might want to make. Yes those are my micro sized houses inside a 1:48 scale structure. They work out to be a nice size for a child's toy house of indeterminate scale. Well I suppose I could determine the scale if I did the math. They are 65% of 1:220 which is of course not a standard dollhouse scale.

I  have no idea when this will be ready for sale. I need to get a more powerful cutting machine to handle the heavy weight cardstock. The new machine will also be able to emboss which is going to be fun for adding texture. I will order it this week.

Then I have to try different papers and such and figure out things like what to use for door knobs, window handles and such. I am even going to venture into making some small scale flowers to fill up the planter boxes. Now don't laugh, I have never made flowers for dollhouses before as buildings and furniture are more my thing. But I figure even I can manage to wrap my head around punching out a five petal flower and dot the center with paint then glue it to some foam and stuff those boxes full of posies.

February 28, 2014

Red Roof 1:48 dollhouse


I have been asked a number of times if I was going to make small scale dollhouses. The answer is "of course". My back no longer tolerates a lot of standing and sitting needed the big dollhouses but I am adaptable. So here is the CAD model for the first 1:48 house. I will cut the first prototype tomorrow.

There are always refinements that have to be made to prototypes so it won't be released as a kit in the immediate future. Plus I have to make decisions as to the materials I will be using and what machine I will use to cut the parts. This first prototype model will be cut from heavy, high quality card stock.

The project is inspired by a mid  1920's Gottshalk Red Roof Dollhouse. A fairly typical European bungalow for that era. I thought it would be really fun to do something from that time frame. A future series of the "modern" Tudor Tiny Village buildings will tie into this project. My own neighborhood has a lot of charming Tudor bungalows from that era.

February 11, 2014

All in a row


Just playing around this morning with sticking the Old Town buildings together in a tight row. All that is required to do that is trimming back some of the roof edges with small detail scissors and a knife. Then some glue between. The row when assembled this way is 5" long and 3/4" deep.

The buildings can all be used individually or assembled in various combinations such as the one in the photo above.

February 10, 2014

Xtra sharp craft knives



I am one of "those" people who sharpen their #11 knife blades. In fact I sharpen them before I use them. Those blade edges feel rough to me when they are new as I am so used to how they  feel when beautifully sharpened. No I am not one of those crazed people who loves the physical process of honing tools.  Instead I have a quick and easy method that takes less than a minute to get the job done. My sharpening tool is very portable as it is the size of a credit card. So if you are heading off to a class or club meeting it will tuck right into your traveling tool bag.

My sharpening system:

One Xtra fine, 1200 mesh diamond coated piece of credit card sized steel. I bought mine at Rockler (see photo below). But sometimes I see them in hardware and sporting goods stores. You must have  the Xtra fine grit.

Remove the label from the back of the card and on that back side adhere a piece of 3200 Micro-mesh abrasive paper also purchased from Rockler. Another source for this kind of micro grit is for polishing out scratches in acrylic (perspex) windshields.

I use 3M carpet tape for the adhesive as it is wide to cover the surface without having a seam but you could also use a spray adhesive. No lumps on the surface under the paper allowed. This is VERY important as you must have a flat surface to hone the knife properly.  One reason this system works better than regular sharpening stones or leather strops is because the surfaces are so flat.

Method: a drop or so of water on the diamond side. Holding the knife so the tapered edge of the knife is flat to the surface of the diamond card give it 10 strokes or so per side of the blade. Next turn the card over to the micro mesh side, drop of water for lubrication and another 10 or so strokes to polish the blade edge.

Because the #11  knife blade is so short I am really only working along the edges of the card. But if you are sharpening the flat chisel type craft blades #17, 18, etc. you can do those in the center of the card as your knife handle won't get in the way.

 You can wash your card with soap and water if the grit starts to get filled up with metal that you have honed off the blade. No solvents please as they will destroy the micro mesh paper.

Unless the blade breaks you can use the same knife blade for ages and always keep it scary sharp, even sharper than when it was new out of the package :) Some people actually like using blades with broken tips if they don't need the tiny point for cuts so there you go, no waste at all.

Now that my accidental knife point prick in my thumb has healed over while I wrote this posting I can get back to doing the tutorials for the Old Town project.

http://www.rockler.com/ to  purchase these items.


January 26, 2014

Castle in the Air


I don't think I ever got around to posting  this project. Sometimes I make my tiny buildings in larger sizes.  This one is sized to be an ornament on a Christmas tree but of course it can also sit on a table or mantel piece.

This will be sold in a series.  Most likely 4 castle types of buildings to the set. I will have to design two more buildings to go with this one and the castle tower house from the 2014 Old Town series. I also need to make 3 more snowflake designs. Something for me to look forward to!

January 19, 2014

Micro size "Old Town"


I have begun making up the prototypes for the micro sized version of the "Old Town" 2014 series. So far so good. There is always a question of the perforations being strong enough to hold together but weak enough for easy bending.

All that time I have spent working on fine tuning my cutting machine has really paid off. I can now cut windows with divided light mullions in this scale. Used to be they would tear when I tried to make them in the micro sized pieces. Also no hanging chads which is critical when making window panes that small.

January 12, 2014

Old Town ready to rock and roll!


The cutting files are all done to perfection now. Eight buildings in this grouping. I hope you like them!

I think I will celebrate being ready to cut and package them by going out for Sunday breakfast!

Now I can get started writing the step-by-step directions.

January 6, 2014

My favorite sharp pointed scissors

photo from Amazon

It has been a while since I did tool talk so I think I will indulge myself in a snippet of it as I have this tool out for use today.

I have owned quite a few small, sharp pointed scissors over the years. Including the ones all the quilters rave about. But not one single pair comes even close to the precision and quality of a pair I purchased at a fly fishing store. The point of this scissors is so sharp and precise it can easily pierce you so you need to be sure to keep a protector over the tip when not in use.

They have a fine adjustment screw for tension when cutting varying thickness of materials. The finger loops are generous and comfortable since this is a product designed for use by men. There is a little rubber bumper between the loops to prevent a hard, pinching close. Not many companies pay that kind of attention to details or put their manufacturing dollars towards that kind of feature.

The blades are thin enough to sneak in and make tiny snips and the point is precise enough to do exactly that.

Here is a link to the Dr. Slick Catalog page for this item. DR. SLICK CO
These scissors are available from a lot of sources, you might even find them locally if you have a fly fishing store around. But not all fly fishing scissors are of this quality. This is the premium pair in the Dr. Slick line of tools, worth the extra dollars they cost. 

They will always be in my tool box.

January 2, 2014

"Old Town" for the New Year


I am off to a good start for the New Year! I was working on this project on Christmas Day and on New Year's Day too. I did not mind, it is fun work designing these little buildings. A real paper house binge! This set will sit on the top of a 6" long by 3/4" deep dollhouse miniature fireplace mantel or shelf or on a table top. If you trim the roofs so the sides of the buildings touch, as in the real neighborhoods of this type the group will be about 5 1/4" inches or so long. If you need it shorter then just take some of of the buildings and use them elsewhere. That need for adjusting the group to a custom length is why I am leaving the roofs untrimmed. It is easy to trim the roof back flush with a pair of detail scissors or very sharp craft knife.

The lineup of the prototypes for "Old Town" the first release of the Tiny Village series that will happen in early 2014. I like to put them together and take a photo and stare at them for a while. This is an important design tool. I can see that I need to adjust window sizes on a couple of the buildings. But overall I am fairly well satisfied. So just a couple of days of fiddling with minor details and I can start on the assembly instructions.


I am working on a new way to light this group with LEDS but before I get into that I have to get the supplies and run some experiments. Looks like I had better build a 1:12 scale fireplace to display them on at the Seattle Dollhouse Show in March. I think something in pear wood with Tudor style carving; don't you agree with that idea? I need to get my carving skills tuned up as I have that large Elizabethan Birdhouse to get back to work on. It will have a ton of carved details on it.

tags: winterhuisjes, paper houses, cardstock houses buildings, glitter houses, putz, Christmas village, miniature, micro, paper Christmas village

December 25, 2013

December 20, 2013

Old Town Clock Tower Gate


Tiny Glitter House, Putz by Karin Corbin
 The old cities in Europe often had a number of gates into the different sections of town. This is my interpretation of one of those buildings. I found a photo of a real building of that type which had the tower coming into the building at that same 45 degree angle. That angle really livens things up a bit!

No clock on my prototype.  I will have to make one to put on my instructions website as an option that can be used as a printable.  But it might be nearly impossible to tell what it is on the micro scale version if there was glitter over it.

I love the look of that crystal star under the house. It is a crystal wine glass turned upside down. Certainly makes for a classy display stand for a prototype. But even better is that it elevates it above the clutter on my worktable so I did not have to clean up just to take a quick photo. Now that really speeds up a photograpy session.


December 14, 2013

Welcome Harry Potter Fans!


photo coypright Karin Corbin 2013

photo copyright 2013 Karin Corbin

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2013
Just playing with the prototypes for the new "Old Town" section of the Tiny Village series. It will be a little while yet before I get all the tall buildings designed, cut, photographed and the instructions written. But at least I am on the path to get there. The folks at my local coffee shop are long used to see me bringing in buildings to assemble. But they have never seen them used like this before now.

I made no attempt to get everything perfect, this is just conceptual play time. A reward to myself as well as good motivation to keep on going with the process of hatching new buildings. But the ancient medieval sections of European cities are far from perfect so perhaps a bit of chaos, gaps, leaning this way and that is actually very appropriate.

If anyone has ever wondered about the scale of the Tiny Village set it is basically done at Z scale in model railroad, 1:220. But truthfully it is a very loose Z scale as I am not trying to recreate scale models buildings from measured drawings.  However it will make a charming snowy train scene, especially if you can find (and afford) a brass Z scale train set. Or of course you could paint a plastic set white, silver or gold.  The Z scale people and other accessories will work with the Tiny Village. There are unpainted sets of people available in Z scale, that kind of item is probably not going to be in a local train store but you can get them on the internet.

Holiday displays

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2013

Holiday display pieces can be very classy without costing a lot of money. The photo above is a 3" wide crystal salt cellar with a few of the Micro Tiny Village buildings set on top of cotton batting. Very simple to do as well as classy looking. The salt cellar cost me $1.00 at the local thrift store.
photo copyright Karin Corbin 2013

I now have a whole table full of lead crystal glasses, candlesticks and vases purchased for under $25.00 from my local thrift stores. Those colored 50% off stickers and senior discount helped out.  Turn a wine glass upside down and you get an enclosed dome at the bottom as well as a display stand on top. An upside down narrow champagne flute can hold a decorated bottle brush tree in the "dome" with a glitter house village up top. Some of you will already have a china cabinet full of lovely pieces that can be used to make a temporary display. But don't drink too much "holiday" while you work or you will get nothing done and all the glasses will need washing.
photo copyright Karin Corbin 2013

Of course I have no idea what will happen to the crystal Christmas display when I am finally finished with it as I don't have a fireplace mantel and my dining table rolls from side to side when it is stormy.  My workshop space is not a good place for fragile crystal either. There is no china cabinet in my life; crystal and motorhomes do not mix well. But it is important in terms of marketing to show these kind of display ideas using my designs, so it is still a good investment of my time and money. I know, one of you can invite me to a New Years dinner party and I can bring the centerpiece! I have a lot of work to do if I am going to get this display pulled together by January 1st. But I know you enjoy those behind the scene shots so here you go...

Another new hatchling


Hatchling number three is designed. it is 1-5/8" tall. Numbers one and two are almost production ready. See the prototypes in the image below. Today I will cut what is hopefully the last prototype version of these three designs. I am very picky about the proportions and the ease of folding and assembly so it generally takes three or more prototype revisions to fine tune the details. No major changes, just fussing with how deep is an overhang, how wide is a window, how large are the perforations, etc.



When I get tired with the fussing on the final fit I start slicing back roof overhangs on buildings to see how they look with the walls touching each other. I won't know the final arrangement until I get the whole grouping done but I can't resit the reward of playtime.

I have been having way too much fun at the local thrift shop buying cut glass pieces. Most of them are real crystal. For $30.00 I have a whole table full of pieces to use as display stands and cloches. I do need to make some larger scale buildings for that project. No shortage of ideas for new pieces in my head, I have clip files full of images of old buildings plus Seattle has lots of fun 1920's and 1930's Tudor style cottages and bungalows as well as some good looking
Victorians.






December 12, 2013

Hatchlings


New buildings for the Tiny Village Series!
The new babies are jumping out of my head this week and becoming real objects. Two so far but hopefully a half dozen or more for this next grouping in the Tiny Village series. I have no idea when I get started exactly where I will be stopping. I just have to let the work talk to me until I hear that answer loud and clear.

Here are some of the tall building designs I mentioned in my posting the other day. I hope you like them, I think they are coming out nicely.   I won't decide which ones will end up smacked against the other until I get most of this grouping done. A bit like arranging flowers, it is best to have the objects in hand.

I have already started cutting the prototypes.

December 8, 2013

Nesting Instincts

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2013

 The faeries have been busy again. This time they have taken over a bird's nest. You just never know what you will find when you go walking in the woods in December.

The florist shops and garden centers have a lot of natural types of Christmas items out this year. I thought it would be fun to create a Tiny Village in a birdsnest. I have set it on a wine glass. That allows for some height but also gave me a place to tuck the battery for the lights in so it is invisible. I used a small set of warm white LED lights on thin silver wires that I purchased at Joann's. I fed the lights up through the bottom of the nest.

The first step in this project is of course to assemble then buildings then glitter the walls. Next I put snow and glitter on the roofs. I purchased a roll of bleached white cotton from the drug store. You can find it in the first aid supplies. After tearing it to the size needed I set it in the nest. Next I glued the buildings in place. After the glue was completely dry I sprinkled some fine crystal glitter over the cotton and sprayed with hair spray to fix the glitter in place.

I used a tooth pick to find the small hole that is in the bottom of each building. I widened the hole enough to slip a light up inside the building. The extra lights were coiled underneath the cotton. They help create and extra glow with the soft light coming from under the cotton snow.
photo copyright Karin Corbin 2013

The little trees are made from silver tinsel pipe cleaners that have been brushed with glue and sprinkled with soft green glitter. I double over and then twist together the two strands so the trees are nice and full.

I used some moss that is on a wire mesh, another floral supply purchase, along with few sprigs of glittered artificial ferns to create a base for the bird's nest to nestle on.

A sprinkle of Vintage Mica Snow for some added texture and sparkle completed the project. Photo from the Vintage Mica Website.