Saturday, August 29, 2009

So Much to Say...

To all of you who made such nice comments about my southwestern roombox, Thank You! The artist in me loves to receive compliments. (Actually, most people do!) Your comments and compliments make the long hours of miniaturing and my blog-writing even more fulfilling.

This past week, the total number of subscribers of my two blog sites (which are virtually the same, by the way), surpassed 90 members! I've not thanked each of you as you've become followers. Please know that as I see your names added, I deeply appreciate your choosing to follow my blog. I am so excited to have followers in so many different parts of the world, too. The Internet is truly a remarkable invention!

So, again, THANK YOU for following this blog and for your kind remarks. I'm so pleased that you've chosen to be a part of my mini world!

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's Official!

I walked through the Iowa State Fair last night with a big smile on my face. As I carried my roombox away from the display building, a blue ribbon hung from my entry. It didn't win best of show. (A woman from West Des Moines won that with her dollhouse that she'd been working on for the last 20 years.) Nevertheless, I was a very happy guy.

Out of a possible 100 points, the judge gave my entry a 100. The judge commented that he/she liked the case I built for the roombox. The case includes stained glass panels on each side of the box, which are lit with rope lighting inside the box.

The rope lighting is fastened just below the top of the mountains in the background, which creates a strong source of light just behind the mountains. It helps create the sense that the sun has just set. Winding the excess parts of the rope light around to the sides helped me do two things. First, it allowed me to create some light to come out through the stained glass panels on the sides. Secondly, I was able to bring it back across the top of the stained glass to add a little more light for the orange stained glass.

I made the mountains using 1/8" thick basswood. After I cut out the mountain shapes, I used some of my small files to add some shapes and details to the hills. The weeds in the foreground are sisal rope that I took apart. I'd take a tiny hank of the sisal, bend it in half, twist it and add a little glue to hold it together. Then I drilled holes into the floor board of the box and glued the "weeds" into place. There are a few lonely saguaro cacti out in the background, too, which I cut from wood, sanded and painted.

The judge also liked the floor in the room, saying "The way you created the tile floor is wonderful." I made the tiles using digital photographs and PowerPoint software. On one of our trips to Tucson, I purchased a floor tile and a baseboard tile. When I got home, I created a grey background that looked like grout, then inserted the picture of the tile, sized it to scale and then copied, pasted and adjusted the placement of the tiles until I had a complete floor. I also used PowerPoint to create the entry floor tiles, too, which are plain terracotta tiles.

The camera has no lens in it. I took a digital picture of the roombox, then reduced it to the size of the screen in the camera, and printed it upside down and backwards (because that's how it would look in a real camera). A tiny light helps the camera picture show up a little more. The wire to the light runs up through one of the camera tripod legs. I made the camera from scratch, using some parts from a hobby store that were intended for remote control airplanes.

The fireplace is made of wood. I used a compass, and drew a half-circle on a piece of 3/4" pine wood. Then I set my Sears jigsaw table at a slight angle and cut out the semicircle. This made the bottom edge of the semicircle slightly narrower than the top edge. I next set the narrow edge of that semicircle on top of the board and traced the shape. Then I cut out another piece.

I repeated this step until the piece was very small. Next, I cut out the fireplace itself, using the jigsaw once again. Then I glued all the pieces together. There were places where I hadn't cut perfectly. So, I used my Dremel tool and sanding drums on the tool to smooth out those imperfections. The mantle is a piece of walnut that I inserted at one of the layers of the fireplace. It was the easiest way to mount it to such an odd-shaped object. The final touch was to paint the wood, smear some drywall compound in various places on the walls and the chimney, then paint again. I used charcoal pencils to blacken the fireplace to a level that satisfied me.

I made the box as a lamp. You can't see it from this photograph, but there's a stem area atop the box where the light fixture comes out. To hide the brass stem, I inserted a couple of four-inch round pieces of wood, and then affixed pieces of saguaro cactus ribs to it. (I noticed in some of the places in Tucson, people have created shutters using these cactus ribs in their shutters.) I intended to do that on the sides of the box, but realized it was too difficult to make with the glass insets.

I hope to publish an article one of these days about how I matted the pictures for the room. For a little more information about other techniques I used in creating this room, I had a post about this room on February 6, if you'd like to read more about it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

When Things Start Coming Together - Wow!

Our miniature club met last Saturday, and worked a good share of the day on our barbershop room boxes.

I love creating a sense of depth in a box that is less than a foot deep and narrower than 18 inches wide. So, I spent quite a bit of time getting just the right picture to show a street scene out the front window of the barbershop.

The picture at left is from downtown Salida, Colorado - my home town. The sky is from a picture I took in Tucson one very moody evening.

I had hoped that it would look like very early morning or end of the work day for the scene, because it is lit by a 7 watt night light bulb. The picture above is not my roombox but rather another of our club members - Jane. Jane is the farthest along in our project.

I couldn't resist including a picture here of Linda as she worked on the brick wall of her box. (It's the wall just outside the doorway of the roombox.) Linda did such a beautiful job with this wall. She really is quite the artist.

I was so excited when Jane put her floor in, added her front door, temporarily mounted the matte board on the frame and then set her picture frame in front of it all! It was a goose bump moment for me as I saw how it is coming together. The box is beginning to turn out EXACTLY how I had hoped it might. And here's how it looks at this point. I can hardly wait until we begin to put in the tin-type ceiling and wallpaper!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Life Sometimes Gets in the Way!

Sometimes, life gets in the way of important things, like having fun, working on miniatures or writing on my blog. July-August has been tough at our household. My wife caught her foot as she was climbing out of the minivan, fell and smashed her humerus near the shoulder. Fortunately, it's not her dominant hand, because she's been in a restraint/sling device ever since. She reported to school for her first day back yesterday; so I've been helping her get her classroom ready.

Then at work, we began moving from year-long temporary facilities (due to the Cedar River flood last summer) back into our regular office building. Then my secretary resigned to take a different position in the agency. Nothing personal, just a career move for her. But then my boss told me we couldn't replace her due to funding concerns.

Okay. I know I was a bit stressed out, because at that point, my back went out. Big time. I could barely walk, and I was out of commission for a week. So, my plans for entering Sara's dollhouse in the Iowa State Fair went down the tubes. I was able to get the southwestern roombox entered in the fair, though. It didn't require any heavy lifting, and thus I was able to get it there.

I'll let you know soon how it fared. (If you'll pardon the pun!)

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