November 28, 2014

Black Friday Giveaway

Today only, Friday November 28, 2014 I am giving away several black paper sets from the Tiny Village Series. Might as well have a bit of fun with the meaning of it ;)

Winners will get to choose one set of their choice from the entire series in the color black and you can choose the micro size or the larger size called "Tiny" .  Some of the sets are shown above as an example of how they look in black. I had hoped to have samples for all the sets in black paper and even some glittered pieces made up and photographed for today. However my Etsy store has kept me very busy this past week doing cutting, packaging and shipping. Which meant no energy left for putting together and photographing the new Tiny Tudor set or for playing with glitter.  But I do have the prizes ready to ship!

So to enter just leave a comment below, but hurry it must be done today! But there is a trick, you need to tell us what you think you might do with buildings that are black.  Don't worry it can be a very brief description unless of course you want to write a longer one.

I used one to make a little haunted house scene with a twisted crepe paper . It was lit by an LED tea light hidden in a box. It sat on the cash register at my local coffee shop the week before and after Halloween and was a bit hit with customers young and old. Next I want to make some with black and gold roofs and details. I have seen Christmas ornaments like that . My boyfriend wants me to make black and white pieces for a chess set. That is an interesting concept but I would need to design a few more buildings for that. I have had a few gamers buying the black sets.

Best of luck to all of you and have a fun Black Friday!

November 23, 2014

Movie Time, we need some fun and magic

Get your popcorn, its movie time. From James Gurney who creates fun books (not just for kids)
He also has a terrific blog where he talks about many aspects of the art of illustration

November 21, 2014

FAQ's from my Etsy Store

I have gotten a fair number of emails in my Etsy store asking various questions and making a variety of suggestions for what my Etsy store should contain. I am creating this posting so I don't have to create a personal response to the same questions that get asked multiple times.

Template patterns
I do not have template patterns available for download. Perhaps someday I will offer some but they are not any available at this time.

The smallest miniature building sizes, the micro sizes, would be extremely difficult to precisely cut by hand and score in exactly the right place.

We are partners in this venture, I do the design and cutting as I have the specialized skills and precision quality tools for making the micro scaled pieces and you do the assembly and decorating.

Size of the buildings and thickness of the card stock
The Tiny Village series are designed in 1:220 scale. All the pieces are designed using a specific weight of cardstock which at this scale can be easily folded into intricate details. Any heavier and it won't fold into those details, any lighter and the structure was a bit too flimsy. So there actually is "just right cardstock" that I will continue to use for this series. I can not accommodate request for a change in material thickness on these buildings without changing the size of the buildings. I cannot make them smaller that the Micro sizes I currently offer (see paragraph below). The scale of the Micro size is approx. 1:336 which is very close to the 6mm micro wargaming size of 1:330. 

I do not have time to redesign the cutting files for special request of thicker paper for the standard sizes I offer. That kind of change is a month's work that means changing the dimension sizes every single piece of each building then creating new cutting files and testing them and no one would want reimburse me for that many hours of labor for just one set of buildings.

Making the pieces in very small scales. 
I get a lot of comments about how miniature glitter houses offered by other persons do not have the detail level mine do and they are correct. That detail level in my work comes because I am using design tools that they do not use. I take into account just how small I can go with pieces and still make it possible to cut and to fold accurately. My Tiny Villages are my personal art that has been very carefully engineered. Yes the two concepts can go together, most especially in architecture.

Realistically there is a limit to how small I can make intricate details that can still be folded. I have to use a paper that has enough substance not to crumple up when being worked with. Size also means realistically you can't get a grip onto and then fold a piece where the paper is nearly as thick as the width of a wall segment. It is doomed to failure to attempt it but naturally I tried and failed. I really don't want that to happen to any of my customers so I test and retest every design. For the micro sized kits I again experimented with the weights of cardstock. The thickness of paper for the 1:220 size would not fold accurately into much smaller sizes of details. When I design the buildings I input the dimension of the actual material thickness of the paper in the 3D CAD program. Every single element in the buildings is based on being adjusted to that dimension which is why they fit together as near to perfect as possible. Even a two thousandths of an inch makes a different in the fit of parts. That is the dimension I use to create the extra little bit of wiggle room such as when a roof needs to slide down over a dormer or chimney.  When I reduce the size of the buildings by a percentage then that also changes what the thickness of the paper has to be in order for the pieces to be perfectly aligned. So making them smaller means using thinner cardstock but the size I had to chose for a reduction was limited by the need for strength in the material.

Making the buildings larger is much the same as making the buildings smaller. The wall thickness of the buildings changes as I increase the size of the cutting file by a percentage. So I need to use thicker cardstock. I also need to use thicker cardstock for larger buildings so they are more sturdy in order to support themselves with those wider and taller walls and larger roof spans.  I have not yet listed any of the larger sized versions made with heavier cardstock in my Etsy store but they are available by initiating a custom order request.

My response to suggestions from people on what I should be selling in my Etsy store.

My etsy store is a place where I sell my own original art work.

People write me with lots of ideas of what I could sell in my store or things they wish I would make and sell. However being an artist is not about selling other peoples objects or using other people's designs to generate income. There are people in the miniature business who have that business model, I don't. There are other people in the miniature business who sell glitter houses that are made from patterns that were published in old craft magazines and patterns taken from web sites of glitter house patterns, projects that included things like trees and fences, but I am not one of them. They sell lots of things to go with their kits such as LED lights and small trees or figures but I don't. I am not a merchant and I don't want to run a variety store. I am an artist. I only do my own original designs and I only make what I personally am inspired to make. What I am inspired to make is architecture in miniature of my own original design based on historic forms of architecture from around the world. Of course I also have a passion for furniture design but that won't show up in my Etsy store in the immediate future but one of these day I hope to make that personal dream come true.

Creating lots of pretty display examples to post photos of
 Please send me photos of what you have done with the tiny buildings. It puts a smile on my face to see your creativity in partnership with mine. I would love to have permission to post them in a gallery on the glitterhouse blog. I admit to being much more of an architect than a glitter fairy godmother who creates magic sparkles wherever she goes.

I don't own a house or live in one or even in an apartment.  I don't own a dollhouse or a roombox. I don't decorate for the holidays as I don't entertain at home. You will always be the ones who do more decorating with them than I can. When I was much younger I enjoyed decorating things with glitter and such but not so much anymore. But I love designing buildings and these paper kits are fun to design. Every now and again I get inspired to do something with some of the prototypes I have assembled, most often when I need a gift for someone, and that is when you see photos of them all decorated up with glitter on my blog.

Posting more detailed photos on Etsy
Etsy limits the number of photos on a posting to 5. It is absolutely essential that I show a photo of all the pieces in the set with a ruler in front of them so the size is clearly understood. Then a second closeup photo of a building  with a ruler showing the height.  I try to show an example of them dressed up in glitter or arranged as a village or feature the buildings next to a recognizable object be it my hand or  sitting on or next to penny. I must also show the various color options I offer the pieces in. Because the number of photos is very limited I will never be able to show all the details on every side of each building. But I do provide a link to my blog where I post photos and also to the step by step directions that has lots of photos with every single feature and detail of each of the buildings.

Shipping the items
When I designed the first set of miniature paper buildings for a girlfriends' Christmas party in 2012 I quickly got asked by people who are into dollhouse miniatures if I would sell them. As I need supplement my meager retirement income of course I said yes! Which of course brought up the need to be able to ship them anywhere in the world. I needed to keep my shipping simple so it was easy for me to do and affordable for my customers. As the  buildings are shipped as small flat pieces of cardstock and don't weigh a lot I devised packaging that would distribute the pieces across the width of a business size envelope and also distribute them top and bottom without creating any large or hard lumps. In the USPS rules as long as the items in the envelope are flexible and under 1/4" thick with no big lump and weigh 1 ounce or less  they only need a single first class postage stamp to ship anywhere in the world. If I put two sets in one envelope then it jumps into an entirely different postage rate and I would have to weigh each package and calculate the postage by specific addresses. That would drive up my labor and I would have to charge you more for the shipping. Also I would have to purchase much more expensive mailers to put them into. Again that cost would have to be paid for by yourselves. So while it might seem unusual or strange that I ship each set on its own the reason I do so is to save you money.

On orders in the USA if someone is ordering six or more kits the shipping price then equals the cost of priority mail service. So I do an automatic upgrade to priority mail shipping and then they are sent together in the same mailer that is provided by the post office.

On any customer orders for the larger sized buildings shipping will have to be determined by where it is going. Typically in the USA it will be shipped by priority mail at a predetermined flat rate. For Europe, Canada and elsewhere I will have to evaluate your needs with what is going to be the most affordable option.

Custom Orders
Custom order request in my Etsy store are for size and quantity variations on the items that are listed in the store.

I can not make a replica of your home for an affordable price. The design time involved to create the cutting files makes it impossible to keep the price affordable.  I  design original buildings that are based on historic architectural styles of buildings. I am not making scale models of existing buildings although on occasion a specific  building or group of buildings may have a strong influence on a pieces I design. 

I will not make replicas of other people's designs. I respect their design copyrights as I would hope they respect mine.

November 18, 2014

Shipping time

 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

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

The lighting used in the scene is from Evan Designs

November 1, 2014

holding a ruler down for cutting

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!

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.

October 27, 2014

Candle Light and snowflakes

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

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
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.

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
Micro Tiny Old Town  © Karin Corbin 2014

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 enough to cover the steel 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 an absolutely flat surface to hone the knife properly.  The sharpening card will likely come with a sticker on the backside and you will need to remove that sticker and any adhesive left from the sticker. One reason this sharpening system works better than regular sharpening stones or leather strops is because the surfaces of this stainless steel card are very flat and they will stay that way.

Method: a drop or so of water on the diamond side. Holding the knife so the beveled edge of the knife is flat to the surface of the diamond card and 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. I get asked which direction to push or pull the blade. After experimentation my conclusion is it does not make a lot of difference. I find I am often using and short stroke back and forth  motion rather than focusing on going only in one direction. That is likely something I began doing because the blade that has such a short length. I also get asked what is the angle of degree you hold the blade at. Only one answer, I have no idea what angle they set the blade grind to be. I just match the angle the blade was ground at to place it flat against the surface. You can become sensitive to feeling it flat against the surface.  Its just a matter of practice rather like learning to eat with a fork when you were a toddler. Our brains will develop the sense of what is right within a short time and memorize the angle to hold it at, then you won't even have to think about it, you will just do it.

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. to  purchase the extra fine diamond coated steel card and the micro mesh abrasion material to adhere to the backside of the card.

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.