Monday, 30 May 2011

Take a seat - Part 1

Someone's just dropped me a line asking if I would mind doing a tutorial on how I made the chair in my blog title.
Of course I don't mind. If I can help, I will =0)

I'm going to do this tutorial in two parts ~ the frame and then the upholstery because I have a feeling this is going to be picture heavy and I don't want to give blogger an excuse to have a tizzy fit and delete the post *rolls eyes*

The sizes I'm giving you are for a 12th scale two seat sofa. If you want to make the chair too, just shorten the length of the base and back to suit. (i.e. half it)

First of all, I'm using 12mm and 6mm MDF. Use whatever is available to you to make the frame. Glued together bits of corrugated cardboard or foam board work just as well. The reason I'm using MDF is because it's sturdy, cheap and easy to work with. At my local hardware shop, the assistants will give you three free cuts in a sheet so if I'm making a few sofas I ask them to cut the sheet into a few 60mm and a 40mm deep strips. Then I can make three or four sofas at a time.

Okay, these are the sizes I've used

Click to enlarge

The base is 6mm thick MDF, the back and arms are 12mm MDF. I'm sure I don't have to tell you this but if you're cutting/sanding wood then PLEASE wear a face mask. You may not look or feel particularly sexy but neither does coughing up your lungs in years to come =0(

Just in case you're not familiar with getting a true 90 degree angle in your wood, invest in a steel set square. They're no more than a couple of pounds and will last your miniature making lifetime. Place the thicker part of the set square against a flat edge. You shouldn't be able to see daylight coming in between the wood and set square. Draw a line along the other (thinner) edge. This will give you a perfect 90 degree right angle

You will notice that the arms of the sofa are not square. This is so the back of the sofa will be reclined like in a life-sized model.

First, lay the arms of the sofa so that the angled edge is flat on your work surface. Place the back of the sofa in between, glue then clamp together until it dries

Click to enlarge

 Notice the positioning of the arm and back. Make sure that both edges (against your work surface) are in line.

Click to enlarge

This is what you should have now. It looks a strange angle but this is the sofa laying on its back with its arms in the air. This ensures everything lines up =0)

Now, place the base of the sofa on your work surface, spread a little wood glue on the bottom of the arms and clamp together till dry

Looks more like a sofa now.

To finish off the frame we need to do a bit of sanding. One thing I always have in my tool box is a variety of sanding blocks with different grades of paper on them. This one in the picture is a child's building block (sorry Amelia, I promise to replace it) which has 30 grain and 320 grain stuck onto the surface with double sided sticky tape.

Use a sanding block to take the sharp corners off your frame. They don't have to be perfectly rounded, just a few sweeps with the paper to soften the edges.

On the back of the frame you'll notice that where the base and back meet, they are butted up squarely. Use a heavy grain sandpaper (30 grain) to smooth the base so that it is angled the same as the sofa back

Now for the seat cushion. I've tried all sorts of materials for this and found that I prefer foam. The type I use most often is the foam 'kneeling' pads that you buy for gardening. It's soft-ish but keeps it's shape. But you can use anything at hand...upholstery foam, cardboard...

Use a very sharp craft knife to cut the foam to the width of the sofa (which should be 140mm if my calculations are correct) Use a steel rule to cut against and keep your pinkies well away from the blade. Now the tricky bit *dramatic music playing in background* You need to cut the foam that is going against the back of the sofa, at an angle. This isn't an exact science. I normally tilt the knife a couple of millimeters which seems to do the job. If you don't do this you will have a gap at the back of your cushion =0/

Sorry the photo's are so naff. My old camera seems to be having a joke with me grrr

Now you can place the foam snug against the back, draw a line between the arms to get a nicely fitting cushion and cut across with your craft knife. If you want, you can make two single cushions by cutting the foam in half.

Okay, I'm going to get on with making the second part of this tutorial. There's little or no sewing involved, depending on your preference. If at this point you're wondering if it isn't easier to buy the damn thing then please take a look at some fabulous modern miniature furniture makers who have some sublimely beautiful work for sale Minimodernista , Annina and Elf Miniatures

Pepper =0)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Modern Wallpapers

For the last two weeks I've been designing something new for a swap with The Shopping Sherpa What do you make for the girl who has just about everything miniature? The posting date has been set for the end of May which I'm sure TSS will stick to =0/  and had to be made from materials around the home. More on that later

In between sanding, gluing, soldering and cutting my finger twice *DOH* I've been pottering around the modern wallpaper sites and pinching borrowing images for miniature wallpapers. Have I mentioned that there just aren't enough modern/contemporary wallpapers~accessories~houses out there on the market? Once or twice I'm sure. So to save you having to source them I've put thumbnails of the designs below. Just click on them to get the full size (I've scaled them to A4 paper), save it to your computer and print on 'best'. The dpi is 300 so they should print well.

If anyone's interested in having a modern wallpaper resource, I'll put a folder into Google docs with a link and add to them as and when I find or design any. 

Friday, 6 May 2011

Formica-ly a sample, now a table

Work was pretty slow today so I managed to finish the office table I was constructing with Formica samples. I've set it in a sort of 'Ode to a miniaturist' type of scene. Some other miniaturist I would like to add because if I was mimicking my own work area there would be a lot more mess, two sorry looking cats covered in sawdust and a disgruntled Husband in the shot.

I eventually decided on embroidery pin heads for the handles. I sorta liked the blocks of uninterrupted  colour over something silver. Any thoughts?

What else did I do today? *rubs chin thoughtfully* Oh yes, I paid my local DIY store a visit and found a couple of life size wallpaper samples that I could use for miniature scenes. Another freebie yay!. It's amazing how generous a store can be, allowing you to take a 12 inch sample of wallpaper, when they think you're going to spend a fortune (£30 a roll) to decorate a full size room. Well I didn't lie...technically...I did want to see how it would look in my room *grins*.

Hmm, the rest of the day I flicked through a fabulous blog Desire to Inspire which is brimming with photographs of modern/contemporary homes. If modern is your thing, drop in and take a look because there are several hundred pages of inspirational scenes to drool over. Apart from that, same old, same old =0)

Well, there's a tall glass of Southern Comfort, lemon and lime beckoning so I'm off. Ahhh heaven. A drink, a huge bar of chocolate and Mr Darcy on the TV.

Have a great weekend all

Scene: 'Wallpaper' is Ikea place mat, hammer and scissors made by the amazing miniaturist~ Danny Shotton, rest of the props made by me

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Something Old, Something New

One of the things I love about my day job is the variety of broken items that inevitably find their way into my miniature 'to do' tray.
After months of nagging about the importance of re-cycling, (no matter how small a scale it is), my workmates now bring me an assortment of objects for perusal before taking them on to the rubbish skip. Our company are often sent samples...Formica, carpet tiles, flooring surfaces. Pretty much anything to do with building maintenance. 

Over the weekend I've been busy recycling two hundred or so Formica samples into miniature.

  The bathroom of my 12th scale pub was in dire need of some colour so the Formica was cut into 30mm squares and dry laid to see how it would look. I'm still pondering the layout and colour scheme *any thoughts?*

The next Formica project is a modern office table with drawers.
One of the great things about Formica or any factory prepared surface is the excellent finish you get to anything you make. I'm sure that anyone who has ever brush painted miniature furniture will agree that it's a pain in the proverbials. It takes a lot of preparation, sanding between coats and cursing to a large degree.
I still have the drawer fronts to sand and glue into place. Then there's the legs...oh and the drawer handles *guh* Always a problem to get modern miniature handles and one of those items that puzzles me enormously. Brass, in comparison to aluminium or steel, is expensive, tarnishes badly and is a pain to reproduce. I suppose miniature suppliers where thinking 'Victorian' and have never quite moved on. 

I've just jotted 'resin handles from molds??' onto my ever expanding list of experiments.

Digressing here a little but does anyone else keep a jotter of notes/scenes they like/photos of furniture or is that just me? =0/

The final bit of rubbish~come~prospective~miniature to cross my desk was a knot of used domestic wire. Now I've always wanted to do a miniature garden. I've had a thing for the simplistic beauty of Oriental gardens for years and I've finally decided to pull my finger out and do one. I saw a mini tree making technique on You Tube somewhere. You basically twist wire to form trees. This is as far as I am ~ a sheet of model makers grass, a copper tree ready to be rendered with air dry clay and paint and an air dry clay patio circle which needs painting to make it look more realistic. I really need to sketch a layout before going any further and maybe Googling some Oriental garden designs. I'll keep you posted.
Before I go I need to ask for some help from the miniature community. The progress of the12th scale Pub has reached an impasse. To maintain a sense of realism I want to install a set of folding attic stairs and cannot find any detailed plans to copy from. The type I'm after is the sort that get stowed away into the attic space when not in use and then pulled down for access. I don't have the floor space to put in another staircase up to the attic so this is pretty much my only option. Any pointers would be HUGELY appreciated  =0)  

Til next time, have a great weekend,