December 7, 2011

Visit from Santa...

Some women love getting new jewelry for Christmas, I love getting new tools.
photo courtesy of Fast Cap, see link below to purchase this item

My new stocking stuffer tool I just got for Christmas from my friend Don is a little square that has magnets in the base. It is very nice for squaring up tools with steel tops such as the band saw, scroll saw, drill press table etc. But it is also a wonderful jig for squaring up miniature projects. You know those metal boards you use with magnets for assembling things? Yes, it will work great on those for holding tall pieces in upright positions. How cool is that? The measurements are in inches on one side and metrics on the other.
It is marketed by Fast Cap

Rockler sells them too.

July 4, 2011

Sleepless in Seattle

Today we took the bikes along the canal path over to Lake Union and spent the afternoon messing about with boats both big and small. The Center For Wooden Boats always has an open house on July 4th with lots of activities for all ages. There are several houseboat communities along the shores on the way there.

Honestly I was not even thinking about scale models today but there they were despite trying to escape such things for the afternoon. Might as well enjoy them since I was not responsible for making them on a holiday. There has been a pond boat building program at the Center for many years. This year the land just outside the Center got a landscape makeover in which they installed a sail boat pond. How much fun is that? One of the 4th of July activities for kids is building toy boats.

The photos below are of the workshop where the pond sailing program is held. The program is in conjunction with a City of Seattle Alternative, middle school. What a fun way to learn math and science!
photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011
photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011
photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011
photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

Now for something to inspire you to make a marine related miniature scene. The small shed at the Center for Wooden Boats that serves as their boat rental office. I love the oar for a weather vane and the decorative shingle detail.
photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

My favorite boat of the day, a small steam powered launch.
photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

June 6, 2011

Sunset Hill

This evening an errand took us up to the top of the bluff in my neighborhood. There is a birdhouse up there that I built in the early 1990s so I stopped by for a quick photo shoot. It is one of the first birdhouses I sold. It has that shabby chic, antique look after spending nearly 20 years out in the rain and wind. I think she looks pretty good. It has sheltered a great many baby birds over the years, there is nest building going on right now for the newest generation.

I am thinking about making a version of this bird house scaled for dollhouses. Would you all like that?

A few blocks away from the birdhouse I came across a perfect glitter house project. I will start making it this summer. It works for both European and American scenes, the Tudor revival era from the 1930s. The house has a lot of interest without being overly fussy. It looks great from all 4 sides, not often I come across a house that does not need a lot of modification. I will make some changes to the picture windows to give them a bit more of an old world feel. Those windows look out to the same view I have from the beach.

I adore the twin gable peaks with the chimney between.

May 9, 2011

Home Port

Today is photolog day as I had my camera hooked to my belt loop when I was out for lunch. Click on the photos to enlarge them, they look much more colorful that way.

The marina we live in, I took this photo from the end of the public fishing pier. This view is looking to the south, my workshop is a few blocks south of all the boats.

It has been a very cold and rainy spring, the coldest recorded in Seattle. So no pretty sunny photos for you, this is a reality show today. But my neighbors, the turtles and the duck, found some diluted solar radiation on their pond. I suspect this pond was the home of the lost turtle that wandered into the parking lot at my workshop. A turtle could walk that far in a day or two. We are hoping our young friend who was given the turtle will be accepting of returning the turtle to its natural habitat. I think she has found the turtle to be a rather boring pet so I imagine she will be interested in the project knowing that she can still visit her turtle.

I was feeling a little stir crazy at lunch time today so I hopped on the bicycle and road a short distance up the street. For two dollars you can get a hot dog and sit at a counter with a water front view. The Little Coney burger joint is right next to the marina we live in and it is located in a water front city park with a very nice beach, meadows and wooded hillside. Miles of walking trails and it is at the end of a city wide bicycle trail system. The photo below is also from the end of the pier but looking to the north, that is the beach at the park. The beach continues on around the point.

Looking at the these photos you would not think I lived right in the middle of a major metropolitan city. I can see open space, water, beaches, mountains and trees for miles and miles. There is a miles long wooded bluff buffering us from the city. My little bit of heavenly retreat on the planet earth that has all the conveniences and cultural opportunities of modern urban living. Once in a while we even get warm sunny days!

April 20, 2011

Final Cut

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

The last pair of new scissors I purchased this week also have a micro serrated blade that helps capture the fine fiber so it is easier to trim it off. They are very sharp. I purchased them at a store that sells stamps for crafters. Micromark also carries this little scissors. I think I will try and order a curved blade version of these to add to my collection. They are not expensive, under $12.00 a pair. They are a great tool for that final little trim. Now that I have taken a photo I can see that wee bit more of trimming that needs to be done.

I hereby give myself a certificate in micro scale thatching competence! What a relief to get all that stuff sorted out. But the work is only part way done as now I have to photograph and write the tutorials for the thatching kits.

That is a common sewing pin in the photo next to the penny. Scale is such a funny thing, in the photo the pin looks more like a nail.

April 19, 2011

Thatching tools

Every time I create another prototype for the Shamrock Cottage I do a little more thatching practice. The other day my thatching frustration resulted in one of those ah ha! moments. I was using the wrong kind of scissors for the job.

What I needed were scissors with micro serrations on one of the blades. The small hairlike fibers will drop into the grooves and stay put instead of skating away across a smooth blade. What a huge difference those scissors made, it is so easy now to get a nice even thatching job.

There are two pairs of micro serrated scissors in the photo above. The ones with the plastic handles came from a beauty supply store, they are made for trimming hair. I chose the inexpensive pair that was less than $15.00. I use those for the basic level and bevel cutting.

The second pair has a small, arrow point curved blade that is only half an inch long. Those are perfect for digging in and feathering out any areas that have too long of strands or areas that look somewhat clumped and ridged. I call them my blending shears. I found those little curved scissors in a store that caters to fishermen who like to tie their own flies. The exact same micro serrated scissors are also available from stores that cater to embroiders. To find a pair like this the keywords to search on are ... micro serrated arrow point curved scissors .

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

The other essential tool in the photo is a fine toothed wire brush. The fibers must all be combed in the right direction or your roof will look like a recently vacuumed carpet with fibers going in all directions.

March 18, 2011

Japanese Influence

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

Architecture from all over the world has been a big influence on my artistic life and the lives of those who commission my work. The two structures shown above, one a pagoda style birdhouse, the other a very large light fixture, were commissioned from me by a woman who loves Japanese architecture. She does not live in a Japanese house but she does live on a bluff on an island.

The last time I visited there about 4 years ago there had been weeks of heavy rain storms and the bluff was in danger of collapse, in fact some of it had already sloughed away and the pagoda birdhouse was then in real danger as it very close to the edge. I have no idea if it survived, I am afraid to find out as I would mourn the loss.

I feel the loss of the lives and also the loss of the buildings and cherished gardens in Japan.

More of the Asian influenced birdhouses I have made are below.

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

The cherry trees are starting to bloom, it is time to build real birdhouses again. This year I will also make 1:12 scale birdhouses including a miniature of the one above with the slate roof on it. The miniature will also have a real slate roof.

March 15, 2011

Shamrock Cottage

Top O' the mornin to you all!

In the spirit of St. Patrick's day I planned a surprise for the blog this week. I just finished this prototype for a new 1:144 cottage kit. The roof is gold, the treasure that was found at the end of the rainbow that was over my workshop this week.

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

A closer look at the detailing on the window and doors. The ruler is to help you understand the size of this wee wonder. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

I am linking this post to "White Wednesday" at the Faded Charm Blog. Be sure to visit it is fun too see all the White Wednesday links.

February 22, 2011

Ladder is finished

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

Here is the ladder that will be used in the 1:12 scale dollhouse. I made it with a bit of a nautical influence from the style of companionway ladders. The imagined resident took a bit of care with the crafting of this functional object. It is not primitive rough work although it does show some wear from feet and a bit of dirt of course!

I posed it against the outside wall of the structure as it would have been too dark to photograph inside the house. I was not in the mood to setup lights for a proper photoshoot this evening. Don't you just love the duct tape that helps hold the sides of the uncompleted dollhouse together? I am looking forward to the day when the interior is finished to the point where I fix the walls together permanently. But getting there is fun and you get to go along for the journey.

I really enjoyed making this ladder, it was a nice change. But now I have to get back to the paper houses for the rest of the workday.

February 9, 2011

Valentines and Doves

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

I found some lovely pale peach paper the other day, it looks great with the pearl white. I liked it so much I decided to make a Valentine's Day version of the Dovecote. The Cottage will be done in this color scheme too but it won't be finished until the weekend.

I think the peach will become one of the standard color choices I will be offering.

January 19, 2011

White Wednesday

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

I have done a little resizing on the 1:144 dovecote design to match it's scale to the small cottage. Today they are dressed in winter whites. Christmas might be over but winter is still going strong with lots of new snow on the beautiful mountains that I see when I take my walks. We had two inches here at the workshop the other day.

I have noticed a real trend in blogs that feature all white interiors in homes. I thought it would be fun if I offered these little houses in an alternative color scheme. I think they are very charming this way. My material choices are actually ivory white and a pearly, iridescent golden white along with a bright white for the landscape.  The pale turquoise door adds just that little bit of spice to the look.

Yes, these two finished houses are for sale, they are $35.00 each. Just write to me to order them, karincorbin at gmail. The cottage is 2.25" (55mm) tall at the peak of the roof.

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2011

When I glanced over at my countertop just now it looked like a tree farm in a snowy field, in miniature of course. I had to bleach some bottle brush trees for the white houses. After bleaching and rinsing I rubbed white paint into them. I use a piece of white styrofoam scrap as my drying rack. I certainly did not intend to create a snow scene. The front edge of the piece looks as if children had been making a whole bunch of snowballs in anticipation of defending a snow fort.