Sunday, 19 January 2014

1:12 scale Woodturning

I think, the sofa is almost finished! Since I last posted about it, it has had the sides ripped off and replaced, as one side had an edge that hung too low. That side is now almost perfect. However the other side, is now a bit bumpy. But I think it has got to the stage where the phrase "Shabby chic" comes in really useful. Every mistake can be dismissed with the excuse "shabby chic", "old" or "antique" or my favourite, "rustic". Also it is supposed to be 100 years old anyway....

I wanted turned feet on this sofa, as it was based on a late Victorian, early Edwardian Howard and Sons sofa, so I bought a lathe. I really needed a lathe :D I got a Proxxon one, DB250, and the Proxxon lathe tool set. I bought those quite some time ago,  and I watched quite a few lathe videos on youtube, mostly miniature related ones, but my first attempt was disastrous, mostly because I was afraid of it. Then about a week ago, I tried again. 

The only major problem I have with the sofa is the height of the seat, it is at the maximum, but only at the the edges. A seat height, is usually between 16 and 18 inches, and the sofa seat would be at the maximum, near the sides, but because of the puffy padding, it is sitting at 4.5 cm in the middle, that is 21 inches in lifesize! I could have left out the castors, but that was an absolute NO! For the time being, I am content with it as is.

Slightly wonky, but hey, it's an antique :D The castors are by Houseworks, and they are topped with a brass ring, that was cut from the brass tubing left over from the bed.

The first turning was the darning mushroom, then I turned a few more things, then I built up the nerve to have a go at making the sofa feet. I made the first one freestyle. When I tried to make the second one, the daunting task of a copy, I tried to do this by eye, and a few measurements, and it wasn't happening. I knew there was a tool for doing that kind of thing, I can't remember what it is called, but it works with the same principle as this crude needle contraption. 

So, this is the needle contraption against the copy, and those needles have the profile of the first foot, as you can see, it isn't fitting, but it was close enough for me :D I spent most of the afternoon on it, and IT'S FINISHED :D They are now sitting at 13.5cm apart, no one will ever know they are not the same at that distance! 

My first successful wood turning. And to celebrate, I had to take a photo. Then I got out some wire wool, to sand it as it spinned, and the wire wool wrapped around it, and broke it off, which is why the finished (brown stained one) doesn't have the little ball on the end. I don't think I have ever switched a machine off so quickly. It was terrifying, my hair was tied back, I had my goggles on, there were no sleeves near the machine, but when you are working with a lathe, it lulls you into thinking it is perfectly safe. Once you have found the true centre of the dowel you can no longer see the spinning, so the object you are turning looks static, so when something fast and unexpected happens it is a bit alarming. The machine is switched off in this photo, I could just imagine the camera cord getting wrapped up in those jaws to the left :D Am I selling the lathe? :D

Despite the fact that the lathe is TERRIFYING, you can make all sorts of great stuff, and you feel very proud of your perfectly symmetric objects at the end of it all. Each object took about half an hour to an hour to turn. I used wood files and sandpaper strips, to do the final shaping. It is incredibly satisfying. Though I will need to get a dust mask....*cough*

And at the end of the photo shoot, the sun came out........

There are many things you could make for a miniature house with a lathe, so despite it being a bit pricey, I highly recommend it. Once you get used to it, and take ALL safety precautions seriously :D, I think it is a great little investment. I am going to make a guard for the jaws though, with a plastic cup or something, as I tend to daydream......... :D I used various sizes of Birch dowel rods, which I bought from Cornwall model boats, which were used for all of the turnings.

One thing not to do when turning, is to remove an unfinished piece, as you would lose the true centre. If you were to put the dowel back in, the turned section would waggle. In order to make a symmetrical turning, there must be no visible waggling as the rod rotates, the piece should look static as you work. That is also when you start to shape the piece. I noticed the smaller dowels waggled a lot on the lathe, which meant I had to remove quite a bit of wood, thus making the diameter a lot smaller. The larger dowels waggled less so. I also had to work quite closely to the jaw end as well, less waggling down at that end, hence why I want to make a guard, and completely avoid the possibility of a tool bit sticking out of my head :D There is a device that holds the rod at the other end, which prevents the waggling, but I preferred to work without that. On the whole though, I think it is a great little lathe and I wouldn't be without it, I have a long list of what I can make using it.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

1:12 scale Pine cone tutorial

You will need:-

  • Fine pointed tweezers
  • Heavy stock paper (I used paper from a scrapbook, I think it would be described as heavy)
  • Pva glue
  • Fimo
  • Wire
  • Flower paper punch
  • Nail scissors

I used a Woodware paperpunch, though any flower paper punch will do, so long as the petals are fairly narrow. 

Make a small ball with fimo, then carefully pinch one end, rolling it roughly into this shape, and then insert a wire into it. You can make them a little bit bigger than this, it just takes longer to stick the scales on. Then bake, according to the instructions on the fimo packet. Though, when the fimo is this small, I think you can bake for half the time the instructions say.

Punch out some flowers, I only used the petals from two and a half flowers of this lot, for the fimo base above. Use a stylus tool to cup the tips of each petal.

Using nail scissors snip the ends off, of each petal........

...and store in a receptacle of some sort. Do not cough or sigh heavily with boredom (involuntary around the second or third pine cone) or the scales will fly all over the show :D

You won't need to do this for the first row. Hold the scale in the tweezers as shown, with the concave side facing upwards.

Then using your fingertip and thumb pinch the sides up the way.

Apply a line of glue near the base as shown. I use a fine tip applicator, which makes gluing a lot easier.

Arrange the scales as shown, with the convex side facing out. You do not need to pinch these scales, before attaching. Moisten your fingertip, ok, I dab my fingertip on my tongue, and then lift a scale that way, and then you can manipulate the scale with the fine tip tweezers more easily. Lifting a scale using tweezers from a flat surface is nightmarish.
When doing each row of scales, it is best to make sure the glue in the last row has dried, otherwise you might dislodge a few scales. Having a couple of pine cones in the making gives you something to work on, whilst a row dries. 

Add a second row of scales, (with the concave side facing inwards, and the convex outwards) and layer these so they have the effect of roof shingles. Instead of applying glue to the fimo, as in the first row, I put a blob of pva glue out, on to the nearest non absorbent surface usually, and dip the base of the scale in to it, before attaching to the fimo base. These scales should be pinched lightly first. Position the scale so just the cut edge is attached. I also put the wire into a brass tube off cut, to make the pine cone easier to work with, which I can put into a small glass or likewise, when I need both my hands for pinching the scales or something.

At about the third row, on my fimo base, you can see the ball is disappearing. In nature the pine cone scales would be getting smaller and fewer as they spiral inwards toward the top (and at the base too, but I just ignore the base) and still maintain a regular spiral overlap. Anyway, because the scales are all the same size, you will have to use artistic judgement to decide where to put the scales, so you have the appearance of regular overlaps, this is why the pinching of the scales is important, particularly near the top.

Once the glue has dried, you can paint them with slightly watery acrylic paint, though work quickly as the water will soak through and soften the glue, which may cause the scales to fall off or move from position. 

You can also roll the pine cone between your fingertips, to close the scales. I used some water colour paint on this one, which has caused the paper to swell, my acrylic paints are in the attic, and I was too lazy to go up and get them :D So avoid using water colour paint.

You can leave the wire in the pine cone, if you want to attach it to something that way, or just snip it off.

These are larger pine cones, than the one in this tutorial, and take a bit longer to do, as they have more scales. They are about 8mm high. That would make them about 10cm high in real life. I painted these with slightly watery acrylic paint, and dry brushed the scales with white acrylic paint, and used the tweezers to bend the scales back a bit.

1:12 scale Embroidery silks tutorial

Handmade embroidery silks, beside magnifying glass and thimble by Danny Shotton.......and a cat hair by the cat, damn!

You will need: 
  • 3 needles
  • polystyrene or balsa.
  • pva glue
  • tracing paper (optional, standard paper will work too, but will not be as fine)
  • silk thread (optional, any thread will do, but the results will be finer with silk thread)
  • watercolour paints
  • tweezers
  • scissors
  • nail scissors
  • ruler
  • cellotape
  • craft knife
  • black marker (optional)
  • gold pen (optional)

Cut a thread about 9 inches long, wet your finger tip, place the thread on a watercolour block (acrylic paint might work too), and pull the thread through a few times to colour it. When the thread is dry, you can lightly wax it, by running it against a bar of wax or candle. Then tape one end as shown. The needles should be placed about 13mm apart as shown.

This counts as one wrap, do this about 5 more times, so you have a total of 6 wraps. 

When you have the 6 wraps, they should be "piled" on top of one another with no overlapping. So long as you keep the thread taught whilst wrapping, it will layer like this naturally, after each wrap, you can use your index finger to push it down and hold it whilst you wrap again.

Now use your third needle to carefully push the wraps up the needles, so you have a little space underneath.

Cut two thin strips of tracing paper ( I used a black marker and gold pen to colour one side, though the gold pen wasn't working very well). I made one strip slightly wider than the other too. Push one strip, coloured side down, under the wrap, ensure that it is under all of the thread. Then dab some glue on to the end.

Alternatively, you could try using printed labels, but keep a long strip on one end.

Pull the strip under, and then using the third needle, or your tweezers, lightly push down the wraps at either end.
P.s. That dirt under my finger nail is what all of the colours of my watercolour tin looked like when mixed together. BROWN! I have cleaned up for the next photos :D

Use the tweezers to "push the tab over, then hold the tab down using the side of your tweezers, and lightly pull the long end of the strip, until the tab is stuck close to the other side. You don't want to stick the tab to the other end of the strip, but have it butt up against it. If at any stage small blobs of glue appear beyond the boundaries of where it should be DO NOT PANIC! You can pick or push them off with the third needle :D

With the tab in place, put a tiny dab of glue on the other side of the strip, close to where it meets the recently glued tab end of the strip, enough so that it will stick to the top of the tab. (I haven't put the glue on in this photo, as it would have dried by the time I took the photo and moved on to the next step)

Pull the long strip over, and use your thumbnail to hold it tightly in place.

Do the same at the other end of the wraps. Then you can remove the needles and lift the piece off.

Use nail scissors to cut the surplus strips off, as close as possible to the join. If you have a little surplus left, you can roll the skein between your thumb and forefinger, which should hide it.

Bend the long thread ends as shown, and use scissors to snip them off, to the same height as the loops. I used normal scissors for this part, as I found the silk "slipped" when I used the nail scissors, fraying the ends, rather than giving a clean cut.

Then roll the teeny weeny embroidery silk between your thumb and forefinger, tease the loops out, and push the two black bits together, twist it a bit to make it bunch out in the middle.

And then make more so you have a rainbow of embroidery silks. They are screaming for a display stand! :D

Here they all are in a little sewing box/basket I have been working on, which is not quite finished yet, but I needed somewhere to put all those embroidery skeins :D

You may notice a large, in your face, demanding PIN IT red button if your mouse goes anywhere near my images from now on. I will replace it with a small one soon, but after a hair raising experience in the html script department, I am just pleased that the big giant unsightly button is working and that my blog is still here, so don't feel you have to pin anything just because the giant button tells you too :D