Tuesday, June 28, 2011

1:48 Learning to simplify

I should take my own advice and stop trying to stuff too much detail into quarter scale :)
This is the fifth, the most simple, and (please!!) let it be the final version of the medieval stove.
It's all made of card - painted, with a gesso texture on the white bits.

There'll be a chimney hood above it to catch the smoke, but a lot of soot will go on the cooktop and back wall. Cooking in medieval houses must have been messy and smelly! They just made a fire on the stone cooktop cooked things around or above it.
As for a bread oven - my weaver is out of luck. He's going to have to go out and buy his loaves - he'll be too busy weaving to make bread anyway :)

The stove will be sitting in the corner of the kitchen near the Stairway to Nowhere (cheating! - just a hint of a stairwell to the top floor).


Monday, June 27, 2011

Tiles, colour, and the heart of darkness

Ok. I'm finding quarter scale fascinating in its little way. Let me tell you about the kitchen floor so far.

This floor is going to have typical medieval tiles - square ones in a red oxide colour. Finding card and scoring it at 1/8th" intervals is easy (once you learn not to use card that's too shiny because it won't take the paint, or too rough because the scoring gets torn . . . or a tool that's not too sharp or too blunt . . .).
After a couple of tests painting it, I learned to start with a 1:1 wash of red oxide (acrylic paint) to water, so that this first colour seeps right down into the score-lines. Full strength paint just won't get in there without rubbing too hard with the brush, which messes the lines.

Then the full strength paint, and the tiles are the perfect colour . . . you think . . . *evil laughter from the crypt*
Here's the thing about quarter scale - it's dark in there. Those tiny rooms have a lot less light entering and reflecting than in larger scales, so the colours are shaded and detail is lost, never to be seen again.
It makes me think that this would be a truly accurate representation of ancient houses, but I want my minis visible!

LED lighting in the house would maybe overcome this in some ways (or complicate it further!), but I'd rather get it looking right without electricity at present.
Here's a photo of some of the tests. I tried pencil and pen lines to accentuate the scored lines - pencil looks too shiny, and the .3mm pen was too thick.
Sealing with a mix of 1:1 PVA glue to water will darken the tiles slightly.
The final result - the end of my rambling story is that the tiles have only two light washes of 1:1 paint/water. (This photo makes the tiles look darker than they are.)
And I have to say that the Darkness Within also made me decide to re-paint my lovely off-white walls with a titanium white paint wash (usually I really don't like bright white) - and it now looks just as I wanted it to . . . :)

The interplay of colour, light and texture are intriguing and 'never the same twice'. This is fun.

Thanks for your patience with my ramblings, and if you're not a miniaturist and stumbled here by mistake, please be assured that miniatures is not a Dark Art, and we aren't really all this obsessed about odd stuff. Well, not much, anyway.

Some conclusions - light and bright shabby chic, large-windowed modern, or pale Shaker, etc would suit quarter scale nicely. Single roomboxes, not too deep, would maybe be a wiser choice if you want a dark setting.

Next - the kitchen cooktop and chimney. I'm currently working on Version Number Five . . . :)


Sunday, June 26, 2011

1:48 breads

It's such a pleasure when you order miniatures, and something arrives that is absolutely perfect.
These quarter scale loaves and buns are delightful! So tiny, and beautifully presented!! The largest buns are only 2mm (1/16") across.
They come from the friendly Ruth at Stewart Dollhouse Creations, where there's a fabulous range of handmade minis offered. It's well worth a visit if you like mini cakes, cross stitch, artwork, wallpaper, laser-cut doilies, and lots more. Lots of 1:24 and 1:48 scale minis, too.
Check out the butterflies, and the Mona Lisa cross stitch kit :)

This bread is happily going into my medieval kitchen. It's not that easy finding medieval food in this scale, as most quarter scale seems to be aimed at modern settings. I'm very grateful to find such a good website - I'm amazed by this tiny food. There'd be some some very bad language if I tried to make it! :)


Friday, June 17, 2011

Walls and pears

Behold, I've been purchasing fruit :) Vicky Guile's quarter scale pears - they are absolutely amazing!! I can't believe how Vicky has made these tinies so exquisitely perfect!!
They are in a beautiful little bowl by The Helmers - the bowl measures 3/16" across the top, to give you an idea of the size.

I have to ask myself why I'm now trying to work in an even smaller scale - 1:48 - as my eyesight gets worse. No, no, it's not old age; I've found out that I have a rare condition - I'm analog, and the world is digital! :)

My little medieval weaver's cottage is progressing , but mainly in my imagination - there's so much to sort out before the kit is put together; the interior walls and floors have to be finished before gluing, and before that I have to decide where the fireplaces, staircase, internal doors, kitchen stove, etc are all going to be.
I can shut my eyes and happily wander around the house, re-arranging things and trying to avoid those 'oh damn' (or worse) moments later in the build. Otherwise known as daydreaming :D
One moment in the midle of the night was 'Aaagh! Did they have spinning wheels in the middle ages??' My house has now moved to Late Medieval . . . :)

Now, dear Reader, the story of the walls so far.
I love paperclay, it takes dilute colour washes so well, and the texture is great for old fashioned 'whitewashed' walls. In quarter scale though it's much too thick. I tried watering it down to make a paintable slurry, but that didn't work well enough.
So now - gesso, which has a little more texture than plain flat paint. To combat the over-bright white colour, and to get a better surface to apply colourwash, I added some finely grated chalk. At first I mixed the chalk into the paint - this was too textured and difficult to manage (but I'm saving that for 1:12 projects later).
So the final method is here - steps 1-8 are from left to right in the pic:
1. Paint gesso on to the board. (These boards were sealed first with diluted PVA - this might not be necessary as gesso is in itself a sealer. If you are going to make the gesso really thin, add some acrylic paint to the PVA/water sealer as a coloured undercoat)
2. Stipple/dab the surface of the wet gesso very lightly with a screwed-up paper napkin. The lighter you dab, the tinier the stippling. This removes brush marks, which, believe me, you do not want in this scale!
3. Grate a very fine light layer of chalk evenly over the whole surface while the gesso is wet. I used a tool I found in the manicure section of the supermarket - it looks like a nutmeg grater.
4. Hold the board vertically by the sides and tap the edge gently to release any loose chalk.
5. With a clean screwed-up paper napkin, lightly dab the chalk into the gesso, flattening the stipples, until it looks even.
6. Repeat step 4 when the gesso is half dry, if you want it flatter. (You can also do this with your finger, but dip it in chalk first to avoid fingerprints.)
7. Let it dry.
8. Brush very gently or rub with fine sandpaper to get the texture/finish you want.
9. Apply colour washes.
10. Seal with a mix of 1 part water to 1 part PVA glue. Dab this on rather than brushing or wiping, as the colour may migrate. Clean the brush often.

I'm enjoying quarter scale :D Some of the thoughts I've jotted down are:
It seems quite different from twelfth scale - there is more imagery than detail in the initial impression - illusion rather than perfect miniaturisation.
Shapes have to be unmistakable to avoid cluttering the scene.
Colour seems to have more importance; heavy saturation of colours or brightness can highlight some items and unbalance the whole setting. Shiny things need caution, too.  Choose what you want to show up, and where.

If anyone can add to my meanderings about 1:48, I'd appreciate it! The fewer the mistakes I make, the happier I'll be :)


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Quarter scale

I'd like to welcome all my new followers! I don't deserve you all, as I haven't made any miniatures for many months now!! But thankyou so much for taking an interest in my blog :D
I'll have a little giveaway soon to brighten things up :)

Now that I've successfully moved house, my mini mojo has returned!! Yay!! It was hiding in a teensy corner, and pointing to quarter scale. Yikes, I said, what's going on?? That's not what I expected!
'Start tiny' it said, 'and after that it can only get easier!' Hmmm, I don't know whether to believe this.

Soooo . . . having sorted some more of my family history lately, I've become interested in the ancestors who had a woollen weaving mill in Yorkshire in the 19th century. I have no illusions that it was at all romantic or nice (a certain member of the family was shot by an employee for his harsh treatment of the workers . . .!!), but it started me thinking on the story of my new project. You need a story, don't you, to have a mini come alive? And I love weaving - I'm not very competent, but it's oh so satisfying.
And to continue with one of my favourite time periods - medieval. I just can't stay away :)
I've now got this fabulous little 1:48 kit from Bea Broadwood at Petite Properties which is to become the home and workshop of my medieval weaver (a good man, not an owner of a dark satanic mill). I've chosen this kit because it's an intermediate skill level - if I enjoy 1:48 scale, I'll try something more challenging next time :)
For the same reason, I'm going to use laser-cut kits for the furniture. I did buy one of Bea's excellent books on how to make 1:48 furniture from card and paper, and I'm looking forward to trying this, but some of the kits out there are too tempting!

And a personal update -
Our kitten Toby who went missing - he was killed on the road :( We still have our two older cats who we love dearly.
I'd also like to apologise for my extended absence from blogging - my life got a bit serious for a while. Blogland is a happy place, and I didn't want to inflict my problems on the world :)