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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dollhouse Miniature Wall Shelf

This week we are going to add a shelf to one of the walls of the garage building. I would normally wait to add shelves until after I was further along with the building but I decided it would be much easier to film the process without the roof in the way.

Now what should I put there???

Ever since I did the tour of the Toy Store a while back I have been getting requests to do a tutorial on how to put up shelves similar to the ones I had on the wall in there. These are super easy and can be used in so many mini rooms that I decided it was a priority to get this one out to you all.

The first step is to decided where you want the shelf to be. You need to be really sure about this since we are gluing this shelf to the wall. Once it is up there is no going back without re-doing the entire wall. Once you are sure mark the placement and make a straight, level line. Don't eyeball this, go get a real level, again this isn't going anywhere once we glue it in so take a few moments and be sure of where to put it.

Now that you have a placement line you need to cut a bracket. You can use a single bracket that runs most of the length of the shelf or you can cut small pieces and have separate brackets at each end. I like the look of the single one for this project because it seems like it will look stronger.

I used a piece of ¼” by ¼” Basswood for my bracket. If you want to dress the shelf up you can use a piece of a molding.

For the shelf I like to use jumbo craft sticks. They are a good size and weight of wood and I buy them by the huge box so I always have a bunch on hand. Just cut off the rounded ends and you are ready to go. If you need to have a longer shelf that the craft stick will provide I suggest using a piece of ¾” by 1/16” Basswood. Balsa wood would not be a good choice for this because it is too soft.

If you are going to paint or otherwise finish your shelf and/or bracket you will need to do that before you glue it. For this project I am leaving mine as just the bare wood. You can finish you shelf anyway you want to fit into almost any setting.

Now it is time to glue the bracket to the wall. I like a really thick tacky glue for this with a few dots of a super glue along the length. The tacky glue will hold long term and the super glue acts like a clamp to keep the shelf from slipping before the tacky glue is dry.

Bracket glued to the wall

Inspection time, did we get that bracket on straight?

Allow the glues some time to set up, at least let the super glue get good and set up before you proceed.

Now run another bead of both glues on the top of the bracket and place the shelf in the desired location.

Once both the glues are completely dry you can put your minis on the shelf.
See that was really easy wasn't it?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dollhouse Miniature Oranges from Canes

I want to start by stating that if you follow my videos in both this scale and the 18” doll scale I really did just one video this week for the two channels. Some parts of the videos are the exact same tracks and I added portions to each video that was specific to that scale. I know both videos are rather long this week but there was so much to say about the topic. It is up to you if you want to watch both videos or not.

I did this for a couple of reasons. First off I felt that the information was important enough that I wanted to share it on both channels. Even if it did mean a lot more time in the editing process for me. And secondly, I am battling a head cold and I just didn't feel up to coming up with two topics for two separate tutorials this week. This one took a lot of time in both the prep and the filming. I don't do this often but from time to time I will.

Now on to our tutorial.

We are continuing to explore how to use polymer clay canes in making dollhouse miniatures. The orange cane was requested by several people so that was the topic this week. It is an easy matter to change this same cane to any citrus fruit by changing the color of clay you use. The main thing to remember is to use a lot of translucent clay for the interior parts of your cane.

I once again showed you how to work out the color blending to get the right color. Since I wanted a nice clear orange color and the local Joann's was out of orange clay I mixed my own. I was careful in picking my red and my yellow to make sure they were both from the “warmer” side of their respective colors. That way they would blend to become a nice pretty orange. If my red for example had been a cool red (one with a bluish undertone) my orange would not have been as clear, it would have had a brownish tinge to it.

By understanding how the colors work together and their positions on the color wheel you will be much more successful in mixing colors. This is a topic I love to experiment in and we can cover more of this in future tutorials if there is enough interest.

Once I had my colors close to what I wanted I did bake off a test sample. This is important when working with canes since you are using a lot of clay. It is really sad to make a huge cane and then find out the colors shift when baked and the entire cane is the wrong color. I am especially careful when I use red clay to bake a test since red seems to shift color more than any other. Also you really need to bake the translucent mixture to see how it will look because the that clay is very white in the unbaked state but becomes translucent when baked.

When you are working with canes you need to be careful not to distort all the work you put into the cane. This is done by working carefully and paying attention to how the cane feels. If it starts to become wobbly at the ends stop and cut off the end, this means that the clay is starting to split up the cane. It can actually split all the way to the center if you don't take care of it right away.

The more intricate the cane the more important it is to let the can rest after you work it to the finished diameter. This is because the clay gets warm as you work and becomes soft. By allowing it to set and rest it will firm up again.

I always try to cut my round canes with a rolling motion as I tried to show in the video. This helps to keep them round. If the cane is still getting flat for you pop it in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to help it firm up even more.

You don't have to cut the entire cane right away either, it can be stored in a zip locked sandwich type bag for quite some time, just warm it slightly before cutting especially if you need to roll it to a smaller size. I often out the bag of clay inside my clothing and allow it to warm up that way, just don't put it where it will get smashed.

Now about that other second project I was going to do this week.

I had planned to show how to make my very favorite cane, the red onion this week also. However I didn't have any luck with it. I am going to blame it on the fact that I haven't been feeling well (from the head cold I have been battling) and I must have forgotten a step I normally do. I actually made the onion cane twice and messed it up both times. In total I wasted two full blocks of clay and have nothing to show for it other than some additions to my scrap clay bag. So yes it happens to all of us. I have made that cane many times in the past and I have no idea what I am doing wrong this time. I will try to work it into a video later on because I really want to share it with you all. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Introduction to Polymer Clay Canes for Dollhouse Miniatures

Okay, I think this might be the longest title for a video I have ever used. LOL I did that because I want anyone looking at the video to know that we are specifically talking about canes as they can be used for dollhouse miniature, mostly foods. Some of the other videos that I have left the titles more generic I have gotten some rude comments about the fact I am talking about miniatures.

Alright now that that statement is out of the way let's get on to the subject for the week. Polymer clay canes! I love to use canes in my miniature foods, they are not only a lot of fun to create they make the job of making multiples of some foods so much easier.

I have done several projects in the past that were based on canes but I have never done a video on the subject of canes. This was requested by several viewers after the Valentine lollipops video last week.

There are so many foods (and other things) that can be made as a cane but here is a list of just a few: any citrus fruit, apples, hard boiled eggs, carrots, avocados, olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, cut strawberries, the list is endless. On the not food category tiles for either the floor or walls of the dollhouse are also fun to make.

This week I am concentrating on what I refer to as a “bulls-eye cane” that is a cane with a solid center and just one color wrapped around it. I feel it is a good place to start if you have never made a cane before since you can learn to roll and lengthen the can without worrying about distorting the insides. We can even use a soft clay for this type since there is not detail to keep.

So pull our your clay and practice away. In the video I make both a hard cooked egg cane and a green olive cane. I also show you a carrot cane I made on my other channel a few months back. There are so many other things you can make with this simple design though.

I am planning to do a couple more weeks of canes probably next week and then I am not sure if the next one will follow immediately or be later on. Next week week we will do a more complex cane- a citrus fruit one. I am thinking an orange since that is one I need for a scene I am working on. If you want to make a different fruit all you would need to do is change the colors of the clay. I also hope to do a red onion next week too if I have enough time to get it done also. That one is my very favorite cane to make simply because it is so pretty when done.

This week I also showed you how to evaluate the colors of you clay and do some simple mixing to match what you are making. If you guys would like a more in-depth video on this let me know. I do have a basic color mixing video on the channel though already (at least I think I do)

One place some people run into trouble is when they attempt to cut their cane. This step can be tricky especially if you use a softer clay. Simply rolling the cane on the work surface as you apply pressure with the blade will sometimes work and is usually my first choice. Also letting the cane sit for a half hour to firm up sometimes helps too. If both of those fail you can also stick the clay cane in the freezer for 15 to get it firmed up then cut it immediately.

Some canes can also be baked before cutting.

For storage the two hurdles I face is trying to not smash the cane into an unusable blob and forgetting what I have. To solve both these issues I store mine in zippered sandwich bags thumb-tacked to my bulletin board in my office. They are visible and nothing can be set down on top of them.

So that's it for this week. Remember if you have questions or requests be sure to let me know.
the egg cane

the olive cane