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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Sugar Eggs

I decided to stay with the Easter theme for one more week and make some sugar eggs to decorate your dollhouse. These are a bit more difficult than some of my other projects mainly because they are so fragile. If you want to have a certain number of these I recommend that you make extras in case you do break some.

The wet tissue paper that I use as the core for these does pose a problem with the clay. Water and polymer clay really don't get along at all. I did have a lot of problems getting the clay to form over the paper core but if you are persistent you can make it work. Be sure to cut an opening in you eggs before you bake them. You need this opening for at least two reasons, number one being you need to be able to pull that paper back out once the eggs are baked. Just as importantly you need to have a way for any steam that forms from the damp paper in the warm oven.

When you are removing the paper bits you will need to be very patient if you made the core tight enough for the clay to work with it is going to be a bit tough to remove. Also the walls of the egg shape are thin and fragile. Just take your time, think through the steps and if you have trouble take a break and come back.

Once the paper is out you need to coat the eggs with a thin white glue. This is not the place to use tacky glue, that would be too thick and would not look as delicate. Just use a cheap white glue of any kind, something that dries clear.

The glitter should be an ultra-fine white type so it will have the look of the sugar the real eggs are made of.

Let the glue/glitter coat dry completely before you start to decorate and then let you imagination go wild. Look online for some ideas if you need to because some of the real sugar eggs are incredible. When I was in grade school the mom of one of my best friends used to make these every year (the real size ones) and I was always fascinated by them. She would make dozens every year and I loved to visit their house near Easter when she was working on them just so I could look at them. 


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Up Next- Dollhouse Miniature Sugar Eggs

The next blog post will be a tutorial on how to make some sugar eggs for the dolls in your dollhouse to use to decorate for the holiday.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Easter Basket

I decided to show you how to make some really simple to make Easter baskets this week. The fact that they are really inexpensive to makes is a real bonus too.

We are using some simple embroidery floss to make these baskets in 1/12th scale. I used a piece of dowel that is ½” in diameter but you can use whatever dowel you have that is close to that size. Remember Easter baskets in real life come in many sizes so feel free to play with this one. I think you could also use other items look around and see what you can find. Just be sure to cover your form with some plastic wrap so you can get the basket off when it dries. Same for the handle, look around and see what you have that will work. I used some balsa strip wood ( 3/8” by 3/8” square) but you can use whatever you have. If you are making more than one basket it would be more interesting to make the handles different sizes and shapes anyway. Again the important thing is to wrap your form in plastic wrap.

Just about any white glue will work for this project, like I said in the video I used Mod Podge for the little pink one. I did have to use regular glue to attach the handle though in order to have a strong enough bond to have it hold up.

You can make your baskets as tall or short as you want mine are between ¼” and ½” tall.

If you are working in a larger scale (or I suppose a smaller scale) you can still do this project by changing what you form the basket and handle on. Just look around and see what you can find. Keep in mind the scale you are working with and if in doubt hold the form up to your doll and see how it looks.

For Barbie size (1/6th scale) I think a 1” dowel would be about right but you could go bigger too. I would at least twist 2 lengths of floss together for this scale or braid together 3 lengths. That would give more options on color/design too.

For AG (1/3rd scale) just go bigger, maybe a glue or other bottle for the form. Look for some pretty yarn or string to form the basket with. (see the photo at the end of this post to see an AG size basket I made)

If you want to try to make this in a smaller scale you can easily split the embroidery floss down by separating the strands and use a smaller dowel.

I really prefer on this project to use my fingers to add the coating of glue, you just can't get in all the small spaces with a brush and who wants to wash glue out of a brush anyway.

I think the most important thing is to remember to have fun with this project, don't forget to wrap all your forms with plastic and be sure to have some wet wipes within reach.

Looks like grandma set up an Easter Egg Hunt for all the kids in the neighborhood. good thing they all got new Easter Baskets.

I decided to make an AG size basket, made out of yarn over my glue bottle (8oz Fast Grab Tacky bottle)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Up Next- Mini Easter Baskets

Just thought I would tease you all a bit with a photo of the finished project from the next video/blog

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Clay Test- Baking Times

One of the questions I have heard over and over in my years of workign with polymer clay is “how long should I bake this” This question gets tossed out periodically and everyone seems to have an opinion. Mostly there seems to be two main schools of thought among the clay artists. Those that bake for a long time to make sure their object is cured (I know of a few that bake all their items for an entire hour) and those that bake for just a few minutes. If you have watched me make clay foods you know I am one of the short bakers. We all have our reasons and I think most of us stand by those reasons, we all want to be correct. However, is there an absolute correct?

I decided to approach this question just like I tell my kids to approach questions when they come to them. I've been homeschooling my kids since the oldest was in 2nd grade- he just turned 30. For the most part I have homeschooled for all those years. All but the youngest has attended at least a year of public school at some point or another. The youngest by the way is 14 in case you were wondering. Anyway, when the kids come to a question of this sort I tell them to do an experiment and show the answer.

So now I had a plan, do an experiment but what kind of experiment should I do? How should I set it up?

My first step was to gather up a package of each brand of clay I have- I stuck to pale colors since I figured that would show us if the colors shifted from the long baking process. I then decided to add in the translucent version of each brand also since in most items I make I use a mix containing translucent clay and I know it reacts differently to heat than the other colors.

The brands/colors I am using:
Sculpey III- tan

Fimo- Pearl

Premo- Ecru

Cernit- White (Number 1)

Next I checked what the manufacturers had to say about both baking time and temperature. They varied a bit from Fimo translucent calling for 230 degrees Farenheit to the remainder calling for either 265 degrees or 275 degrees.

Premo called for baking for 30 minutes per ¼”, Sculpey for 15 minutes per 1/4”, Fimo for 30 minutes with no thickness mentioned and Cernit for 15 to 30 minutes again not mentioning a thickness.

I made a few decisions about temperature since I wanted to bake all the straight clays in one batch and all the translucent mixed clays in another single batch I decided to go with the lower temperatures stated for each batch. So I baked the translucent mixed clays all at 230 degrees and all the straight colored clays at 265 degrees.

Next I labeled 2 sets of 5 plates with the following times, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes and 60 minutes.

I used my pasta machine to make sure I had consistent thickness to all the clay pieces. I rolled all the clays on first the thickest setting and cut out the 5 discs recquired for the test then rolled the rest of each clay to a middle setting and cut out 5 more. I labeled all the discs so that I could be sure of which were which brand. For labeling I simply used a letter stamp to press a letter in the top of each disc (F for Fimo, C for Cernit, etc)

I then baked the plates at the assigned temperature for the time stated on each plate.

After all the plates of clay were baked and cooled I proceeded to check the clay discs. First a visual check of the color of each disc. Was is the consistent between the different baking times.

Next I checked to see how hard/soft each disc was, and at the same time checked to see if they had become brittle.

I think the most surprising aspect of this test is that even though the clay discs had cooled for a couple of hours none of them were really hard. I think leather like is the best description. I have now let them all sit overnight and they are still the same way. Not a single one has hardened up like I expected.

Since the Sculpey III was the one to give the most trouble I am extra glad that I very seldom use it. I have never really liked the way it works up nor do I particularly like the colors of that brand of clay. For the most part I find the colors to be rather harsh compared to Fimo and Premo. I do use Sculpey III when it is the only brand that offers a color I really need, like their Sweet Potato color. I also tend to pull out the Sculpey III when I want to mix with TLS to make frosting, the softer texture does mix much more easily than the more firm clays I normally work with.

Will I change my cooking method, yes, I will probably lean a bit closer to 10 cooking time for things that I want to make more stable. I still will use the shorter times though, I see no reason to cook for longer than I need to and in some cases, since it did cause a color change it would be a real problem.

I may at some point run the translucent mix clay test again leaving out the Fimo and bake at the higher temperature called for on the other brands just to see if the results are the same or change.

So did you learn anything from this test? What would you like to see as a clay test later on? Be sure to let me know what things you would like to see tested in future videos.

Now lets look at those pictures I took of the baked clays:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Exterior Wall of Building Project

This week we continue the new building project with a look at how the exterior walls are constructed. I show you the method on the wall that will be at the end the floor we made a few weeks ago. This is the center of the lower level of my building. For the rest of the walls use the same technique to make walls to fit the rest of your floors.

We only are adding the poster board skin to the interior side of the exterior walls at this time. Later we will frame in for the windows and doors in them adding the supports we will need to attach those items. Then later when we assemble all the walls, floors, and ceilings to make a structure we will add the skin to the exterior all at one time. Because of this these are the element that is probably the quickest to construct but also the most fragile. I think you will really notice a difference in the strength of the finished wall.

I will be continuing this series in a few weeks, I need time to catch up. In the meantime I have something interesting planned for next week.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Ring Toss Game

This week I decided to show you how to make a fun game for your dollhouse family. Since the basic ring toss game has been around since at least the Victorian era you can use this in many dollhouse settings. You could even “grunge it up” and make it look like an antique.

I do need to give credit to my friend Alicia and her blog for the inspiration. I happened to see that she had made some ring toss games for her project and it reminded me that I haven't made any for a long time. It is a really fun project that I always enjoy making. Thanks you Alicia!!!

This project would be really easy to scale up for Barbie and her friends. I think I would keep the same base, use a 1/16” dowel for the upright part (probably top it with a small bead for decoration) and pick a larger size ring.

If you have 18” dolls I am sure this would be fun to make for them too, again just scale up. For the upright I think I would use an 1/8” dowel and go from there. The base would have to be bigger too, maybe about 2” in diameter.

I would love to see what you do with this project and any others you do from my videos. Feel free to post the photos on the Facebook Fan page. If you have a blog let me know too.