Preparing for the overhaul...

Friday, September 28, 2012

REVIEW: Rigid 10" 15 amp Heavy Duty Portable Table Saw

After finally getting to use it a little bit, I was so impressed that I decided to write a review and share my thoughts.  I bought mine at Home Depot; you can look at the saw itself here.  The first and biggest issue is the price.  This is a very expensive saw.  Not Rockler Hardware-expensive, but quite a bit of money nonetheless.  And, well, if your household is anything like mine, money is at a premium.  So I felt a little crazy, and a little stupid spending so much money on a product that, at the time, I knew nothing about.

Unless you have friends with cool tools, who'll let you practice on them, buying any new tool is sort of a stab in the dark.  Lots of highly rated things suck, and lots of inexpensive, unexciting things (like the craft brushes at Michael's) actually rule.  Well, after finally getting the saw home--if you're picking it up yourself, bring a buddy; this thing's heavy--and getting it into our backyard utility area, we were faced with the challenge of actually putting it together.  Jim ended up doing it for me, which was very nice of him.

It's not actually that difficult to assemble, but the instructions are confusing.  It took Jim about an hour.  Not what you'd call "plug and play," but still not horrifying.

Almost all table saws come with a blade, but it's usually an all-purpose blade more suited to ripping plywood than doing anything interesting.  So in addition to the saw, I bought a couple of Diablo blades.  I personally like Diablo; I think their products are well-made.  And, honestly, getting the right blade is important.  I was going to be cutting a lot of MDF, so I looked for a blade specifically designed to cut MDF.  If you're trying to cut something and the motor is whining, or the piece itself is dragging, you're using the wrong blade.  The right blade should cut evenly and effortlessly.

Having said all that, here's why I like this saw:
  1. A lot of portable saws are very rickety.  This one isn't.  The base (Rigid calls it a "table saw utility vehicle") is extremely sturdy, even on uneven ground.  I was using mine over peastone, and it was solid as a rock.
  2. It has good functionality, and all the functions are easy to access.  I raised and lowered the blade, changed the angle of the blade, and changed the angle of the table itself quickly and painlessly.  Sometimes, changing things around can distract you and take up a lot of time, so this is important.
  3. The table extenders are also sturdy, and I had no problem cutting 24" pieces.  The left rip capacity is 12", and the right rip capacity is 25".  But I cut a 48" piece down to 38" with no problem.
  4. The mitre gauge slots are extremely smoothly machined.  Surprisingly, this is an issue I've had on lots of tools: my jig fits into one slot but not the other, or the slots are so burred up that my jig doesn't slide smoothly at all.  Which, well, makes for some funny-shaped pieces of wood.  Another nice feature is that there are mitre gauge slots on either side of the blade.  The only jig the saw comes with is, well, a mitre gauge but that's an important one and it's also very accurate.
  5. While I don't have specifics on tolerances, I found that even cutting a long (4') piece of MDF into thin (2.5") strips, the saw handled the vibration well.  Sometimes, you can end up with one end being narrower than the other, etc, but I measured all of my pieces and they were completely uniform.
  6. It comes with a nice hooked pusher that really works well.
  7. There's a 2" dust port, which you NEED.  I cannot even tell you how much sawdust I accidentally blew through the living room window.  I also accidentally coated my husband in sawdust.
The one thing I really wish it had was variable speed, but so far I've actually been completely happy with the saw as-is.   All in all, it cuts like a dream.  The blade guard and anti-kickback pauls work, but don't get in the way.  Finally, too, the saw comes with an important safety feature that (surprisingly, to me at least) not all saws have: an ignition key.  You can't start the saw without it, and since the key is small and portable, it's easy to keep out of small hands.  Considering that a blade going at 4400 rpm could easily take a finger off, this is important.

All in all, I think it's worth the money.  And between this and my MicroLux, I now have the ability to make pretty much every cut in the book.  Which, well, that's a lot of versatility in not a lot of space.

The Hobby Lobby Petition

One of the great things about miniatures, as a hobby, is that it's an escape from the real world--and a chance to create your own, better world.  Nobody wants a political rant.  And, while I'm certainly not trying to keep my own views a secret, I also don't think it's appropriate to preach at people.  We're all different, we all have different beliefs, and diversity is a wonderful thing.  The last thing I would ever want is for someone to feel like they can't be my friend, because we disagree.

But, for informational purposes only, sometimes it's good to share.  And some of you might not know about this petition.  I, personally, like to know what stores, distributors, and manufacturers support so that I can make my purchases accordingly.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

They Used To Call Me Reggie

Okay, so this totally has nothing to do with miniatures at all.  But one of the comments reminded me of my childhood.  My grandmother was a wonderful woman but--like me--she had problems coming up with people's (and things') names.  So she'd call me, and I wouldn't realize she was calling me, because she'd call me one name after another--Eddie (my grandfather), Charlie (my cousin), Lachie (my great aunt).

And when she was really, really aggravated she'd yell "REGGIE!!!"

Reggie was my dog.

Like most terriers, he had a very well-developed sense of propriety.  After my parents took over my grandparent's house (we were all still living together so this was a formality), my dad decided that it was time to remove the sticker on the stove.  You know, the price sticker.  That had been there since 1945.  

Well, Reggie trotted into the kitchen, saw the discolored spot where the sticker used to be, and started barking.  And barking.  My dad put him out of the kitchen and shut the door, but Reggie hurled himself against it so hard that we were worried he'd hurt himself.  So we let him back in...and he went right back to the stove, positioned himself in front of it, and started to bark.  Finally, my dad took us to the movies.

He couldn't stand it anymore.

When we came back, there was poor Reggie, barking at the sticker.  Only, having long since lost his voice, his barks came out more like gasps.  My dad, resigned and defeated, fished the sticker out of the trash and put it back onto the stove.  Reggie wagged his little stump of a tail and trotted off.

The Tools I Use

I thought about going around and taking pictures of all of them, but then wondered, does anyone even want to see them?  Plus, too, my newest toy isn't yet out of its box.  Jim and Jackson went to Home Depot with me yesterday before work, and we got some MDF panels, too.  They're pretty good sports.

Jackson in his jumperoo; he turned 5 months two
London feels left out.
Yesterday, I purchased a Rigid 10" 15 amp table saw with a portable stand.  Due to my oft-discussed space issues, I'll be using it outside.  

I also have a MicroLux Tilt Arbor Table Saw, which is what I do most of my fine cuts on.  I bought this to replace the PREAC.  I had two PREAC saws for years, and was not happy with them.  My biggest issues were vibration and lack of variability.  I found it very difficult to achieve precise cuts, because the PREAC just wasn't calibrated right.  My MicroLux, however, is accurate to within 0.03 mm, which makes a huge difference to the final product.  Also, because it tilts, fits larger blades, has a variable speed motor, etc, it's much more versatile.

The only thing I miss about the PREAC is Pete Boorum's jigs, but jig making isn't that hard and you can always make your own.  Micro-Mark sells some pretty good accessories, including a nice feather board.  I also have their anti-vibration pad, which works great and is worth the comparatively small investment.  My workbenches are kind of old and warped--they came with the house, which was built in '38--and the anti-vibration pad even works in that less than ideal situation.

After experimenting with several different Dremel products over the years--I've owned an embarrassing number of tools that didn't quite work out--I settled on the Dremel 4000.  Not all Dremels are created equal, and the less expensive, less powerful ones aren't always up to the tasks I have in mind for them.  I love dremelling, and most of my projects, large and small, feature some.  I used my Dremel to create the arches in the greenhouse; I cut two arch pieces, placed them back to back, and used my Dremel to create the actual arch shape.  It's a lot easier to create a composite Gothic arch out of two pieces of wood, than try to get that perfect little point.

I have both a MicroLux electric mitre saw and a regular old box-style mitre saw.  I use the cheap one more.  Spending a lot of money on a mitre saw is, I've discovered, like spending a lot of money on a bottle of champagne or a serrated blade knife: past a point, not worth it.  Korbel tastes better than Veuve Cliquot, and our OXO serrated knives work great.  Our Shun knives, however, are worth every penny.

I love 3M sanding sponges.  The best sanding supplies are made for the automotive industry.

I don't have an airbrush, but I'm seriously considering getting one.

I like X-ACTO #11 blades, #2 pencils, and metal rulers.

I stopped using T-squares awhile ago.  Even the really expensive ones are often slightly off-angle.  But speed squares still rule--and, for some reason, are generally cheaper and better made.  Huh?

I only use Olfa self-healing cutting mats.

To be honest, my favorite brushes are the synthetic bristle ones available at Michael's.  It's all about the quality of the bristles and the actual construction of the brush, not the brand name.  A set of several costs about five bucks and, on the whole, they're better brushes than some brushes I've paid twenty times that for.  

Q-tips rule, and that is all.

Everything I make, I make with these tools. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Have A New Table Saw!


I just had to share.  I have small table saws, suitable for most miniatures applications, but nothing large enough to, say, cut huge, unwieldy sheets of MDF with.  It's gotten really frustrating, being dependent on other people for services I can perform for myself--like cutting certain sizes of plywood, etc.  I'm a competent woodworker and, besides, this stuff is not rocket science.  Since I'm now at the point where I really need to start building the Haunted Beacon Hill's basement, now's the time.

What finally pushed me over the edge was a semi-unpleasant conversation with a supplier of custom cut MDF panels.  Who basically told me he was too busy to walk to the post office, but if I wanted to arrange a courier to come to his shop, that would be OK--and he'd bill me for his trouble.  So, um, yeah.

Will my new toy pay for itself any time soon?  

Probably only with sanity points!

What You May Not Know

I've been really gratified by the nice comments I've received on this blog, and, in general, with the kind, generous, thoughtful and talented people I've met while roaming around the interwebz.  You've all been far, far nicer than I deserve!  In particular, recently, one tutorial of mine has gotten a little bit of notice: How To Make A Really Authentic Dollhouse Miniature Thatched Roof.  And I would like you all to know that, initially, I got so much negative feedback that I almost took it down entirely.

I remember back when I was 15, I was so ridiculously proud of myself because I was exhibiting a painting in my first real (as real as it's apt to get when you're 15) art show.  Sure, I was all pompous and self important about it but, underneath it all, I was just so excited.  A local artist who'd had some modest success came over to me and told me that I shouldn't sell my piece; I should keep it as a souvenir of that time in my life when I thought I had it in me to become a professional artist.  I could look back on it, he said, and laugh at how deluded I'd been.

Yeah, well.  Happiness is the best revenge, right?  It wasn't until years later that I realized, wow, for him--for a grown man--to be talking to a kid that way, he must have some really serious issues of his own.

After I first wrote this tutorial, which was initially created for a miniatures magazine, I received quite a long email from a comparatively well known miniaturist.  He absolutely lambasted me, going into--in gruesome detail--everything that was wrong with my technique.  Principally, he seemed very worried that this wasn't how real thatched roofs were made.  To which my response was kind of like, um, yeah, very little about dollhouses resembles real life building.  The walls of my house aren't made of MDF, either.

But, basically, he wanted to make very sure that I understood what a rotten miniaturist I was, and requested that I withdraw my article from publication lest I lead other miniaturists astray.  He then went on to, rather tiresomely--and predictably--extoll the virtues of his own carefully honed technique.  Which, he assured me, was far superior and I'd serve myself better by coping him rather than coming up with ridiculous, bad plans of my own.

The then-editor of the magazine informed me--having also been aware of the article's apparent deficiencies--that I shouldn't feel bad, their magazine published how-to articles of all types, even those more suited to remedial miniaturists.

Luckily, I have a healthy artist's ego!

Listen, I'm no one's motivational speaker--I usually offend people when I try--but the moral of this story is, it's YOUR project, YOUR hobby, YOUR investment, and YOUR imagination.  Do what you want.  Some people may not like it, but some people don't like much of anything and they're not living your life, anyway.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Haunted Beacon Hill--Greenhouse/Dining Room Addition Part I

It's been a frustrating few weeks--miniatures-wise and life-wise.  First, and please feel free to skip over this part if it's boring--we're not moving, after all.  I'd been led to believe some things that, well, in the end turned out not to be true.  After the initial devastation I realized that, oddly, I wasn't nearly as upset as I'd thought.  Fortunately, neither was anyone else in our family.  You see, in the end, I'd built up the idea of moving home into something it wasn't.  Home used to be Maine; for years, I'd dreamed of moving back to Maine full time.  And it was fun spending part of the year up there, with my family, playing outdoors, showing them where I grew up, etc etc etc.  But I realized, in realizing some other things, that Maine wasn't home anymore and that wasn't such a bad thing.  Home had somehow, over time, become Massachusetts.  Which is where we are now.

We almost got very badly cheated on what would've been a very large land deal and, to be honest, I've no desire to live next door to people who approach life that way.  It seems that cheating me was OK, though, because--somewhere in those same gray mists of time--I'd become a "summer person."  Well, I guess this means I'm moving up in the world!

Anyway, moving on...

My "Haunted Beacon Hill" is also moving up in the world.  Its design keeps evolving; the more I work on it, the more complicated it becomes!  From the get-go, I had some modifications in mind (adding a basement scullery being chief among them), but when I actually started putting the kit together, really saw it in the flesh, I realized a few things.  I haven't even started on the basement yet, but it'll house a kitchen, pantry, and servant's room.  My inspiration, here, was the fact that the house, as-is, really has too small of a footprint to do itself justice.  Such a grand house really wouldn't have a combination front hall/dining room.  A medieval-type cottage, sure...but a Gothic Victorian?  

But then, when I actually started putting it together, I realized that my new dining room (what's meant to be the kitchen, in the kit) was just way too small--for a dining room or a kitchen.  Which gave me the idea of extending it.  Which gave me the idea of attaching a greenhouse.  My grandparents' old house had a greenhouse off the dining room, which I always loved.

Just three additional inches take this room from so small as to be completely useless to really fairly nicely sized.
 I started out with a couple of Greenleaf greenhouse kits.  After playing around with them for awhile, I decided they needed some kit-bashing--both for Gothic features, and for sturdiness.  I decided that Gothic-style arches would look good.

The first set of arches I cut turned out to be the wrong thickness of wood.
The second set of arches I cut turned out to be the wrong shape.  I will find a use for this plentitude of wasted arches...somehow.  Luckily, my third set worked out.
I built out the dining room foundation, creating a platform for the greenhouse.  Here, I'm attaching the stairs.  Which, in of themselves, were a serious effort.  These pictures, sadly, represent an entire weekend's work.  I wasn't entirely sure of where I was going--this is how most of my designs start out, to be honest--and so made quite a few mistakes.

Somehow, the platform ended up being too short.  Oh, well.  The platform, steps and retaining wall are all just forms; I intend to cover them with brick (platform and steps) and stone (retaining wall) cladding.  Or, more precisely, egg cartons but that's way, way far away.

The not quite a tile decoration is something I picked up at a show years ago.  I can't decide whether I want to make that up to go here, or whether I'm putting in a wall fountain.  One is on its way from Sue Cook Miniatures; I'll decide when I have them to compare side by side.
This is just a dry-fit.  I'm going to paint and lead the greenhouse separately.  Scale-wise, this looks to me like wood frame supports rather than individual panels.  Instead of using lead tape to make the panes, however, I'll be using copper.  Which, admittedly, is something of an experiment--although I have high hopes.  Copper tape is very thin and bendy (being used on tiny stained glass parts) and, most importantly, doesn't contain lead.  Not that it's a good idea to eat copper, either, but some craft supplies are not meant to share the house with young children.  According to the CDC, home crafting accidents are actually one of the top causes of lead poisoning in children under five.

I built out the front part of the platform, so everything would be proportional.

You can see, pretty clearly, where the kit leaves off and my design begins.  My add-ons are all 3/32" basswood.  I was ridiculously pleased with myself that, ultimately, everything did go together more or less the way it was supposed to.

I've seen arches like this on real greenhouses.
I was disappointed to discover that the kit's roof wouldn't line up correctly...but then I made my own and was much happier with that, anyway!  There are support beams under the supports; I left those taped on, for ease of fitting in the "glass."  Ultimately, this turned into a pleasantly sturdy little item!

Another view of the roof.
Ultimately, this will have a tile floor.
The retaining wall will be stone.  Well, "stone."
And here's a somewhat ungainly picture from the front.
There are a couple things left to do: build the door, and run some sort of trim along the front where the door-containing panel and angled roof panel meet.  I'm thinking something along the lines of a miniature crenellation?  Something not-overpowering, that would yet look good in a Gothic setting.

And yes, in case you're wondering, the door from the dining room to the greenhouse is a bit off-center.  This is because I wanted the two dining room doors to line up with each other; I thought a little symmetry would improve the appeal of the room.  Not to mention, make it easier to fit furniture in there!  I like the way it's come out looking on the outside, though, because it echoes the general heap-ness of this house.  There are a number of walls, planes and angles that don't quite line up the way you might expect...and yet, as a cohesive house, it all works.  That slight note of...what?  Informality?  Makes it--to me, anyway--more believable as a Gothic Victorian.  The ones I've visited, while strewn with gigantic fireplaces, gargoyles, etc etc etc weren't actually that formal.  Which is, in the end, what I suppose I found most appealing about them.

Please ignore the mess!  This build is occurring in what is, under normal conditions, our library.  And while I like to think I'm usually pretty good at cleaning up after myself...I'm a bit overwhelmed with craft items right now.  It's a process.  Also, too, between our mountains of laundry, my son's seemingly endless need for storage and my need for natural light, we thought a temporary move upstairs would be best.  

The odd accumulation of items taped to the blank wall don't actually represent anything yet, except a vague idea that "I'd like that space to be more interesting."  I'm probably doing some sort of niche, although not quite as massive as what's currently taped there.  Once I find a statue that appears to be the right scale, I'll have a better sense of what I'm doing.  But I've seen features like this before--I went to college and law school in Boston, where there's a lot of over-ambitious brickwork--so I have high hopes.  Ah, how that usually ends...


Monday, September 10, 2012

Model Cars That Should Exist

Spending quite a bit of money I don't really have to spend, I (with my husband's encouragement) made up for a truly horrible day by purchasing a few model kits.  I already have a 1:16 Phantom II in my closet (along with my Franklin Mint dolls--tell no one), just waiting to be put together.  And, well, the 1:12 Datsun was calling my name.  I think it'd be an awesome addition to my Horrible Rural Shack.

Which brings me to my first question: why are 1:12 scale models quite so expensive?  I mean, sure, they're larger so they'll cost more...but hundreds of dollars for a box of extruded plastic?  Really?

Second, has anyone else used 1:14 or 1:16 scale cars (or bikes, or trucks, or whatever) in their scenes?  Has it worked?

And, finally, on a really mostly unrelated note, there should be better (or existing at all) kits of the following cars:
  1. Tucker Torpedo
  2. Stanley K Raceabout
  3. Delahaye Cabriolet (the 135 would be OK, too)
  4. Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic (or the 735 B)
  5. Daimler-Maybach 1889 "Steel Wheel"
  6. Phantom Corsair
  7. Edsel Corsair (an ad running in "Life" proclaimed that "the Edsel is here to stay!")
  8. Jaguar XK120
  9. Stutz Bearcat (Mr. Burns owns one, as do Dirk Pitt and several of Anne Rice's characters)
  10. 1958 Plymouth Fury
  11. 1936 Ford Siebert combination ambulance/hearse (um...great)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How To Make Old, Grimy Cookware

Surprisingly, there are a lot of things you can do with Chrysnbon cookware.  I have a couple different ideas in the works, and will be posting pictures when I'm further along with them.  Which, incidentally, might be awhile.  We actually have found a place to rent for the winter, but between work, moving, etc, I really don't know what the next few weeks will be like.  I do know that I'll have an actual craft room--if a small one--for awhile, which will be nice.  And, hopefully, our house will get built within a reasonable time frame.

Anyway, moving on...

You will need:
  1. A set (or two) of Chrysnbon cookware.  Sometimes you can find it cheaper on eBay.  
  2. Testors buffing aluminum plate metalizer (unless you have an airbrush, make sure you're buying the 3 oz spray and not the airbrush only formulation).
  3. Testors metallic copper enamel.  I personally use the spray formulation, but it really doesn't matter; if you're more comfortable with a paintbrush, use the bottled version.  It's the same stuff, and interchangeable.  Sometimes, I spray things and end up touching them up with a brush later on; you can't tell the difference.
  4. Americana brand craft paint in "lamp black" and "burnt sienna."
  5. Q-tips (these are really good to have on hand anyway).
  6. Toilet paper (for all purposes, I prefer Charmin Ultra Strong.
  7. A sanding sponge or two.  I use 3M "fine" grit sanding sponges, which are intended for automotive use.  "Fine" is really, for miniature purposes, really more of a medium and, since these sponges hold a grit pretty well, as they dull down, they work well for successively finer work.  These are a little pricey but, in my opinion, worth the extra money; they last a long time, serve variable purposes, can take the place of multiple grits in many situations, and are excellent wet or dry.  If you buy them on Amazon, you can save as much as 40% off list.
  8. Brushes.  Michael's actually sells some very high quality craft brushes for cheap.
  9. Testors "dullcote" spray.
  10. Water, and, if you're using enamels (as opposed to water based modeling paint), thinner.
Your first step is to separate all the pieces from the sprue, assemble them where necessary, and sand off any odd bits.  The little circles on the baking sheets, etc are almost impossible to completely remove; don't worry about it.  This is only a problem if you want brand new-looking cookware (and you can fix it; I'll get to that in a later post).

Depending on whether you want copper or aluminum, spray your pieces appropriately.  You'll be the happiest with your results if you work in successive thin coats.  Once you've gotten the coverage you want, LET YOUR PIECES DRY OVERNIGHT.  This applies also to situations where you have to spray one side and flip it over--i.e. the baking pans.  I usually leave about 6 hours' dry time in between, then let everything sit for a day or two.

For the aluminum pieces: using a q-tip, or a square of toilet paper where appropriate, buff each piece to a shine.  The metalizers can be a little tricky to work with; if you get too over-enthusiastic and buff off all your paint (hard, but possible to do), just spray it again and repeat the same process.  It's really necessary to buff; not only does it really transform the piece into something real-looking, un-buffed metalizer sheds like crazy.  It's attracted to the oil on your fingertips much the same way fingerprint powder is.  I learned the hard way, wash your hands thoroughly after you've finished buffing.  I've ended up accidentally leaving silvery fingerprints on more than one stove part.

Some aluminum pieces in various stages of buffing.  The "cast iron" pieces have just been sprayed with flat black.  I like aluminum cookware; my grandparents' cabinets were full of pots and pans that looked just like this.

For the copper pieces: assuming you want your copper to look old, you want to spray it with a coat or two of "dullcote."  Basically, what this does is remove the shine.  It also provides a good base for the acrylic paints.  Sometimes, depending on your spraying environment, the thickness of the coats, etc, you can end up getting a kind of cloudy effect which, depending on your ultimate goals, might not be desirable.  One way to avoid this is to, first, spray your copper with a gloss coat (Testors calls it "glosscote" and it's pretty good stuff) and, once that's dry, spray it once or twice with the "dullcote."


Successive thin coats are best.

Starting with the aluminum, paint the insides of the pans with successive washes of burnt sienna.  My own technique is to paint the wash and--working quickly--dab off the excess with a q-tip.  This creates a more realistically "gross" effect.  In my washes, I try to concentrate my paint in areas where goo would accrete.  

Then, going sparingly--you can always add more--darken some areas with successive washes of lamp black.  I went more heavily in some areas (the inside of the muffin tins, for example) than others.  The edges and corners--like in the baking sheet--got a fairly heavy treatment, too.  I've found that what works best for this is to use a fine angled brush and pull a line down as far into the crevice as you can.  then, you can blur the line either with a q-tip or with a second small (dry) brush.  Keep going until your pans are satisfactorily disgusting.

Pay special attention to areas that'd be discolored by burnt food, oils, etc.

Remember the hard to reach places like corners, under and around handles, etc.  Also, some areas (like the insides of muffin tins) seem to get more disgusting than others.  Or maybe only in my kitchen?

For the copper, start by painting the insides of the pieces black.  I find that this is really where the "dullcote" makes a difference; it gives the paint something to adhere to.  I did several coats on the insides of the pots, baking dish and coffee pot, but only a couple of thin coats (addled by q-tips) on the insides of the pans.

Then, when I did the outsides, I thought about--again--where copper pots naturally discolor.  I paid special attention to the area under the lip, the area around the handles and, of course, the undersides of the pots where they'd be sitting on the burners.

The "baked on grossness" look is created with q-tips.

I also used a q-tip to stipple the black on the insides of the pots.

Some areas--like the lids--didn't get much treatment at all, since, in real life, these don't tend to get too dirty.  Also, for example, the actual handles, since constant grabbing would keep them pretty grime-free (and oils on your hands, which rub off on the metal, prevent discoloration to some extent).  The important thing to remember is that successful aging involves contrast.  Grimy areas are interesting, because they're next to comparatively clean areas.

This isn't the best picture ever, but you can get a sense of where I added the black.

This can be kind of a long process.  My husband read me an entire (long) article about the politics of the moose lottery while I worked on the copper pots.  It's a really good activity, I think, for when you're watching TV, or stuck inside on a rainy day, and want something relatively simple--but also absorbing--to work on.

If you want to age your cast iron, what I personally think works best is Testors acrylic "rust."  Trust me, you want your washes to be water-based.  The pan on the left has been sprayed flat black; the pan on the right, after being sprayed flat black, was given a couple washes of rust.  I concentrated the color on one side more than the other, theorizing that my dolls' cast iron pans don't age any more equally than mine.  I also like to have pots, pans, etc in various stages of revoltingness in my dolls' kitchens; after all, in real life, not every pan was purchased at the same time, gets the same amount of use, is of the same quality, etc.

So there you have it: gross pans.  I'm also working on some other colors and styles, so hopefully I'll have some more pictures to post soon.

Where's Everyone From?

I've written a couple of climate and location-related posts, recently, and it got me thinking: where's everyone else from?  And anything else you'd like to share about yourself?  Obviously, you don't have to share anything, but I thought it might be interesting...

My vacation project...
Getting the rings apart and back together again was really hard...
We found a very large caterpillar.
Metallic "ruby" turned out to be My Little Pony purple, so I repainted it with "insignia red."
"Easy Off" oven cleaner really does remove enamel paint, but the fumes will knock you out.  I had to use a respirator...and even after repainting, I still wasn't happy with the finish I got from the Floquil.  Hence it becoming an "aged" stove.
Some old, gross pots and pans, either for my Haunted House or, potentially, for my Hillbilly Shack.  Or I could make another (similar or slightly different) set, one for each.  Thoughts?

Cast iron pans, one new, one "old."

So enough about me...

PS: If anyone wants to know how I did the cookware, let me know and I'll make a tutorial.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

In Search of Corrugated Roofing

If things go as we hope--and that's kind of a big "if" right now--then we'll be in the right location, but in a relatively small space.  Which certainly isn't the end of the world, not in any circumstances and certainly not in ours, because we're talking temporary lodging.  It's difficult, moving.  But, while we (hopefully) build our house, we've found a place that'd be perfect to rent.  We're waiting to hear back on that as I write.

I don't think we'll be putting our old house on the market until we've at least got a pretty good bead on what's happening with the new one and, preferably, not until we're actually ready to move.  Our old house is, um, nowhere near our current location and, for a variety of reasons, we want and need to stay where we are.

So I was thinking, OK, assuming things go our way, I'll have some space--there's a lovely upstairs bedroom that'd make a perfect craft room--but not enough for everything I'd like to work on.  Certainly it'd be a tight fit for two full-sized dollhouses (although I may try anyway).  I was thinking I'd bring up either the not-Lincoln or the Haunted House, and something else small.  For awhile now, I've wanted to make a Maine-style shack in miniature.  It seems like it'd be a really fun project--or, at least, certainly a personality-filled one!

I've been driving around, taking pictures for inspiration.

Now, obviously, not all of Maine looks like this.  Some of it looks much worse!  Heh.  Don't worry, our generally, um, creative approach to architecture is a subject of nearly endless humor among Mainers.  And, of course, many of the houses--here and all across the state--are simply beautiful.  Naturally, there aren't too many of each as we're thankfully still pretty rural.  I also took some (in my humble opinion, naturally) wonderful pictures of farms, fields, etc etc etc but those aren't so interesting.  Unless, of course, you happen to dig pictures of sheep.

I have a little Greenleaf kit I'll be bashing--and if anyone's interested, I'll post more of my inspiration pictures when I'm a little further along--and a general idea of how I'll finish it.  But what I don't have is corrugated roofing.  I bought some from Oakridge Hobbies, a delightful establishment I patronize frequently.  This stuff purported to be 1:12 scale.  I was excited for it to arrive and was HUGE!  HUGE!  Literally, it would've looked normal on a full-sized house.  There are, of course, hundreds of other sizes of corrugated roofing--for our model train-making friends--but the descriptions of size, etc are, at least to me, almost nonsensical.  

So what now?  It's not exactly economically feasible to buy one sheet of each size, hoping for the best.  Although, at this rate, I may have to...