March 31, 2009

Good night for a movie

Don't you just love these two architectural models by Timothy Richards? I sure do.

Today  I will introduce you to an extraordinaire model maker from Bath, UK., Timothy Richards. You can buy his models in the USA through several sources. His website will tell you where and it is full of great photos of his projects.

I know they are not dollhouses but that does not mean he can't teach us how to build dollhouses.

What I really went crazy for on his web site was a terrific 19 minute film. He shows some of the steps of building his models and the casting molds they are made in and he talks about how hard he tries to capture the spirit of the building, not just the dimensioned details of it. It is really good to hear the artist talking about what moves and inspires him to work at the artistic level of exceptional quality he has achieved. 

Great buildings have soul and and often character that comes only with time and weathering effects. In this film he shows making a detailed brick mold and then aging the molded wall section.

This youtube channel has uploaded a number of films taken in the Timothy Richards studio covering many of the aspects used in the making of the models.

Where the small power tools live

These two shelving units hold many of the smaller sized power tools I use for creating miniatures. Those of you who might have read my postings in newsgroups over the years will have seen me posting about using them. Now you get to see some of it. Actually this is only 8 feet wide by 18 inches deep of a 57 foot long room that is 15 feet wide.

There are a lot of tools on those two shelving units. A microlux tilt arbor saw, a Jim Byrnes table saw, a couple of Dremel table saws. A grunch of Dremel motors and various drill press stands and also a couple of  router tables and a shaper. A Cameraon deep throat drill press, that was a real jewel I found at a local  second hand tool store. There is a small metal shear, 3 sizes of power miter saws plus a lion miter trimmer. A wire bending tool, lots of jeweler's hammers, pliers, anvils, torches, soldering irons, a resistance soldering machine. Two high speed air turbine carvers, hot knives, air brush and air eraser, foredom carver, power chisel carver, miniature belt sander plus a mini disk sander and a small lathe. I have a diamond lapidary saw with a thin blade that is water cooled for cutting up tile and stone and a scroll saw is tucked in there too. There is a hot polyurethane glue gun as well as a regular glue gun.

If you were wondering why so many miniature saws there are several reasons. One is that I would like to teach more classes on how to use power tools. Another reason is that it is very nice to create a little production line where I have a saw setup for one type of cut such as cutting to width, the next might be setup for the second width rip on the same piece of wood another cut on that part, say a groove down the middle and the third might have a sled jig or jigs for cutting to length at an angle or cutting a notch across the narrow width. This is very handy when creating limited editions of a furniture piece or a building a dollhouse. Of course to have that many saws I need to search for affordable, used miniature saws. But mostly I want the duplicates for teaching classes so 10 students don't have to get in line to use one or two saws.

I keep the miniature tools on the shelves until I am working on a task I need them for. Then I bring the tool over to one of the work tables. I am sure over the next year or two you will see most of these tools come out to play and be shown in use on this blog along with the various jigs used with these tools.

Do I need all this stuff to make birdhouses and dollhouses? Heck no, I am just  a tool junky. It must be phychological compensation for the fact I have a EE size foot and can't buy a closetful of cute shoes so I can dress like a girly girl. It is important to have a ready excuse to blame on your genetics for any over indulgence. My grandfather was a very skilled  man who could fix anything therefore I can't help myself, it is in myDNA to own  tools, a biological imperative.

March 29, 2009

Acorn Cottage materials

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I am often asked about the trees that form the timber structure of the cottage, what kind of trees are they and where did I dig them up? I dug them up at the Home Depot in the lumber section, they started out as Western Red Cedar, square lumber spindles for deck railings. Turning them into trees is band saw work as well as carving with a structured tooth carbide bit in a Foredom Motor hand piece  and then a little more detailing with a hand chisel. An amazing number of jigs for the bandsaw and also the routers are used to create this piece. The acorn which tops the cottage was turned on one of my lathes and then detailed with a hot knife. 

I also get a lot of people asking where I got those special leaf shaped shingles. They are ordinary cedar, rectangular, miniature, dollhouse shingles but I shape the end of each one into a leaf by cutting it with scissors. After the glue dried the shingles were wire brushed to soften the edges and give them a time worn appearance. A varied stain of green is applied and a lot of aging solutions along with some brighter green paint here and there for a mossy look. A good looking roof is a great deal of work and thank goodness this is just a small one room cottage.

Most all of the landscaping materials came from the woods except for the moss which I scraped off the docks and the sidewalk near where I live.  The tree closest in this photo is a broken branch from a coral bark maple and the tree on the far side of the cottage is a branch from a curly willow. The stones around the base are local pebbles. The tufty bits that look like grass are the blooms of the moss. The moss has a floral preservative on it. It would turn brown over time but the secret to keeping it looking green forever is to tint it with water color. I mix my own paints so I get a wide range of greens instead of a flat and un-natural looking monotone. The shorter looking grass area is watercolored as well but it is made from the cedar sawdust I get from my power miter saw. The sawdust is much nicer looking than model railroad foam grass and it cost nothing. It is a very common practice in Europe to use sawdust to make grass for miniature projects. It will last a few lifetimes at least. And the moss I use is also long lasting, it won't crumble to dust like Reindeer type moss.

Acorn Cottage Fireplace

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My what an ornate fireplace for such a humble, woodland cottage. Well that was not unusual in the Cottage Orne style as these were not humble real life dwellings, they were indeed fantasy pieces inspired by the romantic notion that the simple life was the good life. Creature comforts and luxury along with the arts were part of the fantasy.

This fireplace beneath its faux limestone finish is of humble origins, it is EPS blue insulation builders foam. I bet you would never have guessed that. I designed the fireplace on the computer and then carved it using burrs in a computer driven milling machine. It was cut as 5 pieces and then glued together. The stone block lines were detailed in by hand. The stone finish is acrylic paint, no stucco coating as that would hide the fine details in the foam.

I made the grate for the fireplace as well as the chandelier from various bits and pieces of brass and solder. The light bulbs in the chandelier were tinted a warm golden color with Krylon yellow, stained glass spray paint. Squirt a little into a cup and paint it onto the bulb with a brush. What a warm glow it gives the room and it takes away that harsh white glare of very bright miniature light bulbs. The fireplace bulbs were coated with the red and orange versions of the stained glass, spray paint.

The ceiling has a mural of a cloudy sky with just a hint of sunset pink glow to the edges of the clouds. I never would have thought I could paint a convincing sky but it is easy and someday I will show you how to do this.

The print on the wall is from "Les Tres Riches Heures" a devotional book of hours commissioned by the Duc du Berry. I felt the gothic arches in the print went nicely with the gothic detailing on the Acorn Cottage. Tall trees with arching branches in the forest inspiring the arches inside a cathedral all celebrating the glory of God was a common thought in the olden days. Of course my project is simply a cottage in the woods but maybe you will find it inspirational in some small way.

Acorn Cottage Interior

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The interior of the cottage was my fantasy for a music room where one could slip away for a quiet afternoon, a private concert or a cozy read by the fire and cup of tea.  Much of the furniture is by Bespaq and was chosen for its small size for a small space.

Acorn Cottage 1:12 Dollhouse

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The Acorn Cottage is a small one room dollhouse I built a few years ago. It is now owned by Sue Herber of Seattle, WA.  Sue Herber is the chairperson for the N.A.M.E 2010 national convention that will be held in Seattle, WA. Sue has told me she intends to display this piece at the convention. She will have it furnished with her own items and I am sure it will be  delighfull.

In the mid to late 1800's and early 1900's it was fashionable in Europe to build picturesque cottages on the estates of royalty and the wealthy. The style was sometimes referred to as Cottage Orne or Ornee.  My design was inspired by those small buildings. 

All of my original designs have been copyrighted. You may not  make copies of them, this includes the Acorn Cottage presented here.

Karin Corbin

Unless otherwise attributed, all photographs, images, and writing on these pages are my exclusive property and are protected under United States and International copyright laws. You may not use the photographs, downloaded copies of my miniatures or written words, you can not reproduce them, copy them, store them or change/manipulate them in anyway without my expressed written permission.