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

© Karin Corbin 2013, all reproduction right reserved

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.

© Karin Corbin 2013, all reproduction right reserved

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

December 8, 2013

Nesting Instincts

© Karin Corbin 2013, all reproduction right reserved

 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.

November 20, 2013

Tea Light Party!

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2013
Tea party with the girlfriends time. This project is just the right size for a Christmas crafting project to make at a party. They will make great hostess gifts at other parties or Secret Santa presents.

You will remember from my blog the other day if you remove the plastic flame from the top of the LED tea candle you can slip the led light up through the hole of the Tiny Village buildings. Look for Tealights with soft plastic flames as they are easy to remove and make sure the tealight has a flat top, not one of the wavy or dished or raised tops designs meant to simulate melted wax. Joanns carries some of those smooth flat top tea lights as does Pier 1 Imports.The Dollar Tree also has some but the battery is very easy to remove so it is not a safe LED tea light if you have young children around. The LED Tealights from Joannes require the use of a coin to remove the battery cover, the battery of the Pier 1 tealights requires a screw driver to remove.
© Karin Corbin 2013, all reproduction right reserved

I am using Crafter's Pick "The Ultimate" glue for this project as it will stick to the plastic surface of the LED Tea Light. But if you don't want to directly apply glitter to your tea light you can cover it with ribbon or pretty paper. Or if you want to use a tea light candelabra for displaying a grouping of these buildings you don't have to do anything to the sides of the candles as they will slip down into the cups on the candelabra.

Assemble and decorate with paint and/or glitter and a snowy roof the Tiny Village kit building(s) of your choice. Remember that building #15 not work for this unless you cut some doors out of cardstock to close in the center tunnel of that structure.

To mount the house I made a cardstock circle of 1-3/4" diameter with a 1/4" diameter hole in the middle. I then cut a snowflake to overlay that first circle, it too has a hole in the center and I glued the two together. Then I added glitter to them.

Next I placed them on top of an LED Tea light, just temporary, do not glue to the tea light at this time. Glue was put onto the bottom of the building and it was slid over the LED and adhered to the snowflake circle. Press together with gentle pressure on the building until the glue grips. Let dry.

Now you can remove that assembly from the tea light so it is easier to work on. Next add trees and some snow around the base of the building and trees. My little trees in the project above are made from Wired Tinsel Ribbon. Just use scissors to shape the tinsel into a tree shaped cone. But use wire cutters to trim the center wire to length. If you want fuller trees double the wire back on itself and twist, twist, twist. Keep the bent over end of the loop at the top of the tree so tinsel does not come out the cut end of the wire and leave you with a bare tree top.

If you wish you can now glue this assembly to the top of tea light or use double back tape or adhesive dots to hold it in place. You can still access the bottom of the light for changing batteries.  I have set mine on top of a snow flake doily that I cut. For display I placed it  on the top of an inverted wine glass. Inverted glasses make simple and inexpensive risers and they will work nicely as a group display of multiple buildings by using varying heights. Display on a mantel piece, shelf or use as a centerpiece on your dining table.

November 9, 2013

The Fairy Ring

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2013
 Buy the Micro Tiny Village houses for making your own  projects at Karin Corbin's Etsy store

At last I got around to taking some time to play with the toys I have been making. Not your 1950 glitter house scene, this scene harkens back to days of old.  I can easily see this project as an illustration in a faerie tale from the late 1800's. Mushrooms were very popular subjects in the beautiful European Christmas cards of that era and the style of buildings I design are the same types featured on those cards.  

I found a mushroom decoration at the local florist yesterday. I had gone in looking for a few things to use in photos. This scene is 6.5" tall and the base the mushrooms stand on is only 2.75" wide. (See the link at the bottom of this posting for ordering the mushroom piece I used in the project from an online source.)

These are the pieces from the micro sized, gingerbread colored Tiny Villages. It is a combination of the 2012 and 2013 pieces. I had to add in a few extra pieces to get it filled in as much as I wanted.
I combined three of the buildings to create a cojoined grouping. A little trimming of roofs is all that is needed to be able to glue them together in a row.
Photo copyright Karin Corbin 2013

Faerie Rings are found in forest clearings. There is a ring of mushrooms with the center area empty.
My Fairy Ring is on top of a mushroom with the Queen's castle in the center. A tiny magical place to visit in a magical season.

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2013
The snow on the roofs and the ground was created with Scribble brand, dimensional fabric paint. Before the paint dried I sprinkled it with ultra fine, crystal glitter. The glitter on the houses and trees is from Barbara Trombley, she makes very beautiful blends of glitter colors. I wanted a soft, almost monochromatic color scheme to go with the mushrooms.

The mushrooms I used are cloth covered. I trimmed back the fuzzy surface of the fabric with a pair of scissors then I coated the fabric surface with white gesso and then some lightweight acrylic modeling paste before I started applying glitter and the buildings. The acrylic modeling paste can be used to create a raised snow effect on the ground. Glitter will stick to the wet modeling paste.

How to make a mushroom for your micro tiny village.

Where to purchase the mushrooms online. Remember the mushrooms are a seasonal item and might be out of stock at certain times of the year.

Happy Holidays,

November 2, 2013

Miniature glass domed architectural model

photo copyright  Karin Corbin 2013
The Tiny Village buildings are not just for turning into glitter houses. In the 1800's and early 1900s people collected architectural models. Many were made from white plaster or white paper. They were generally exhibited in glass cases or under domes. White objects that could not be washed and coal fires did not coexist peacefully.

My Etsy Store is now open for buying the kits.

This posting is dedicated to the gentlemen of Merriman Park who might say..."darling the model could use a touch of gesso to cover the cracks"

October 31, 2013

Snow for miniatures

Here is an easy way to apply realistic looking snow on the roofs or landscaping of miniatures.  Use Golden Brand, Light Modeling Paste. It truly is feather light and it dries opaque. If you apply glitter while this product is still wet the glitter will stick to it which is a nice time saver.

I use a small pointed artist trowel or a brush to put it on. Smooth out the snow as best as you can. After you apply the glitter you can pat it down even smoother with the back of the trowel, your finger tip or other small tool. The glitter is somewhat like sprinkling flour on dough, now the tool won't stick to the snow so it is even easier to get a smoother surface. After it dries if there are any high spots or funny peaky bits you can gently knock them off. You can put more paste on top of a previous layer and more glitter should you feel the need to rework an area.

Keep your snow in scale with the size of your building. On my little cardstock buildings the modeling past did not make the paper soggy, it dried fairly quickly.

My Etsy store is now open for buying the paper village kits.

February 23, 2013


photo copyright 2013 Karin Corbin

Decorating cakes and cookies is NOT my favorite thing to do. So don't laugh at my unenthusiastic attempts at it. I really need you guys to send photos in of your projects because I know for sure you can do this stuff with much more finesse. It might help matters if I had not been doing the decorating at my local coffee house, that caffeine added extra squiggles to what should been straight lines. I had to switch my order to decaf espesso this week but one must make sacrifices for ones art. Not that my squiggles actually qualify as art as I am no longer 6 years old.

I will to stick to basics by using a white gel pen to draw in the icing details. A bit of glitter will get sprinkled on later today.  Despite my lack of graphic skills they are still turning out very cute and charming.

My Etsy store where you can buy the gingerbread house kits.

photo copyright 2013 Karin Corbin

February 13, 2013

Fairy Dust

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2013
UPDATE: You can now buy the kits at my Etsy store.

You might call this stuff glitter, but I  call it fairy dust because there is always a fair amount of it that has to be vacuumed up and wiped up after working on this kind of project.  I use ultra-fine polyester glitter on these tiny buildings.

This photo show the starting phase of creating a village scene out of the various buildings. I have a long ways to go before the scene is done. Roofs to glitter, snow put on for the roofs and the ground. Trees to make and install. Lights to install too. I will post a finished photo of this project in a couple of weeks when I am happy with how it looks. At the moment I am just fooling around arranging and rearranging the pieces before I commit to the placement of them. Looks like I need to design more buildings to fill up the top of the box which I don't mind doing in the least.  But for now there is no time to work on new designs and still get everything done  before the first of next month. So I think I will be creating a grouping of identical row houses to fill in where future buildings might go.

I am using a small white box I found at a local craft store to mount my scene on. It has a hinged top which will make it easy to install some LED lights with a battery. You could do the same thing using an empty cigar box.

As I am going to take this scene to the Seattle dollhouse show for my sale table as a demonstration piece I wanted something easy to flip open to show the possibilities of adding lighting to the village. I am not selling lighting kits at this time, it is not in my budget to bring in a bunch of them at wholesale prices. But I have put some links on the glitter house blog for various sources to get them.

I glittered the miniature Gatehouse in a pink marble color in honor of Valentines day. It would be a fun color to do for a girly girl's scene in her dollhouse bedroom.

Disclosure....animals have been frequently chastised in the making of this project.

February 3, 2013

Doing the Crow Step

No the crow step is not a new dance craze it is architectural slang for a stepped gable. Also called a Corbie gable, corbie being derived from the Latin word for crow and what do you know that is also where my last name comes from.

 Another new building for the Tiny Village. Someone had mentioned it seems like I had skipped a few numbers when I was showing the gatehouse building. That is just because I was aggravated with one of the designs that was using an earlier number, #9.  So yesterday out of frustration I finally sent that file to my computers trash can and started over with a type of building style that I had wanted to represent on a few of the village structures.

Stepped gables are fairly common in a number of European countries but we do have some in the USA on the European inspired classic brick buildings. And they even show up on the false fronted, wood buildings in older  towns such as often used on general stores in the cowboy western movies.

The construction approach on this little building is a bit different from the others. I have overlayed a separate pieces of paper on top of the two stepped ends and also over the front of the dormer wall.That was the easiest way to get the steps and it added an easy opportunity for a little extra depth of detailing such as one sometimes finds on brick buildings with some bricks set back further than or proud of other bricks. I am sure to do more overlays on buildings now and again, it works nicely at this scale. There is just enough depth to the cardstock to create shadow lines.

February 1, 2013

Giant attacks tiny village

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2013
UPDATE: You can now buy the paper village kits at my Etsy Store.

All the villagers have fled in advance of a giant. How were they to know he was friendly?
Nothing like a bit of silliness to lighten up the day!

Those are some buildings from the Tiny Village collection shown with a 1:12 scale action figure. This will give you an idea of how it would work with dollhouse items.

I took this photo to help customers understand their relative size. They are smaller than a 1:144 dollhouse would be, more like the size of the old German toy houses with red roofs. The tallest building in the photo, the tower at the back is 1.25" high.

Eventually I will sell some of the buildings in an even smaller size but at the moment they are not available as I don't have enough of them to make a nice grouping to offer as a set. The more complex building designs can't always be scaled down. Window mullions can't be done at a reduced scale as my machine can't cut that narrow of a piece without tearing it.  Truly narrow sections can't be bent without distorting them so that also induces design changes that have to be made for micro sized kits.My cutting knife can't reliably swivel fast enough to make an accurate micro sized radius.

I keep this action figure around because it looks just like my son! It also happens to be an accurate 1:12 model for his 6'4" height. I find it handy for designing dollhouses.  I set him into the cardboard prototypes to see how comfortable the rooms feel with a human figure inside them. This action figure came from a Lord of the Rings set. But I call him Siegfried the dragon slayer.

January 31, 2013

Gatehouse Portal

My love affair with gatehouses started many years ago. How could I resist adding one to the Tiny Village collection? It is #15 and a definite keeper! This is the first prototype, almost right but as always there is a little more fine tuning to be done. But there are not any visible changes to be made. Only a few adjustments that will help make easier the alignment of the walls of the towers. Those tower sections might look large in the photo but they are only 2/10ths of an inch wide and 1 inch tall.

The detailing at the top of the towers folds down to create that layered look. A bit of extra work for you as a dab of glue has to be put under each section but it is not difficult to do.

There is another new building, a nice little house #14, just to the right of the gatehouse building.

January 23, 2013

The redesign

I made a few changes to the center, 1st floor wall.  Not a major change to the design of the piece.

The entry door wall is recessed further back which took away the issue of trying to align the side wall of that section. No side walls means less to fuss with aligning.

I added a support bracket detail under the overhang, that helps get the bent sections all squared up nicely at 90 degrees. It also added a bit of fun detailing to the entry area.

I liked the design the way it was before but I also like this variation that solved assembly issues.
Rear View with chimney

Yesterday there was a comment that this design would make a good dollhouse. Yes it would, all these little buildings designs could be made larger and converted into plywood shells for dollhouses.

When designing larger scale builds I create a study model out of cardboard  before I cut into any wood. You can see one of those at the link below.

January 16, 2013

new mini buildings

UPDATE: You can now buy the kits at my Etsy Store

Two more almost ready for production, still some relatively minor tweaking to do. I have a third design done as well but did not assemble it for the photo.

Still using the concept of the walls all being folded up from a single piece of paper. Roofs and chimney are separate pieces.

Can you figure out how the house on the right folds up :) ???

First one to guess right in the comments wins one of them! But that means some work, the description of what happens first, then next, has to be accurate. Reminds you of one of those IQ test in which you have to figure out what the next view of an object looks like.