Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tissue paper on foil with glue can get messy and frustrating, mostly because dried glue that's left on your fingers will get picked up and it'll stick right to the tissue paper.  Yes, even when you think you have all of the dried glue off of your fingers.  It's like magic!  Sticky, grumpy magic.  I don't have a fix for it, other than covering up the white dried glue with more tissue paper or picking it off with tweezers.

I made a gajillion bananas, because the Doctor's in the house, and bananas are good.  I even made two that were halfway unpeeled, and an apple that's been eaten to the core.  You can click to make the picture bigger, so you can see it better!

Most of these things are pretty straightforward to make.  Just make the shape out of foil, and cover it with glue and tissue paper.  The exceptions are the grapes, and the partially peeled bananas. To make grapes, I just tore off pieces of purple, and rolled them between my fingers to make small, oblong spheres.  No glue, because it'll hold its shape on its own pretty well, and using glue will just leave a smeary, sticky purple mess on your fingers (I tried).  I wrapped wire around a sewing needle to get coils, leaving half of it uncoiled and slightly curved. I then spread glue on the wire, and applied the grapes, one by one, filling in empty spots as I went.

I covered half of the banana with white paper, the other half with yellow.  And then I took a flat piece of white paper and covered one side of that flat piece with yellow.  I cut the peel shapes, and applied them, yellow side out.

Here's a closer picture!  Happy arting!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I'm thinking Paper Week just might turn into Paper Month, what with all of the inspiration I've been having, and my brilliant idea-factory of a mom.  Today she suggested stationary so I made some lovely... pink stationary.  What else can you do, in a male-dominated dollhouse?  You've got to shake them up.

Fold it up, leaving a little bit of overlap on the bottom, a little more at the top, beads of glue to close the bottom.  I then used a needle before the glue had dried to ensure that the envelope wouldn't stick itself closed.

I made a stamp with liquid paper and a sewing pin, to make a tiny white rectangle.  Then a sharp-tipped sharpie for a bright spot of color.  There's even a tiny letter in there!  I'd read it to you, but the writing is too small.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I am so excited about these tiny coffee mugs. Namely, because it's still Paper Week, and they look like clay.  They even feel like clay.  But they're a lot easier to put together than clay and they're addictive; I could just sit and make them all day.

I used parts of a paper bag for this one.  A couple layers glued together for the bottom, which I pushed over a foil-covered end of a pen. 

Then a long strip, a few layers deep, spun around the pen with a liberal application of glue (though not on the first go-'round, so it won't stick to the foil).  You will get glue all over yourself.  That is okay.

Then the handle, which is just a little glued roll.

I painted them crazy colors, because heaven only knows that I'm not interested until it's bright enough to give a rainbow unicorn eyestrain-related headaches.  Once the glue dries, the mug goes stiff, but when you paint it you're basically getting it wet again, so do thin coats, and several, if you want a nice bright color.  I then glossed them, inside and out.

I made them huge on purpose, because you can never have too much coffee/tea/beverages/whatever Poe drinks. Probably muddy water or something. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I wanted to use clay to make tiny coffee mugs, but right before I went to bed I had a great idea, and I decided that I would give that a go today. This next week (or until I get bored or frustrated with it) is dedicated to making stuff out of paper and glue instead of clay.

Today, it was a paper napkin, glue, and aluminum foil, and string.

Get ready for three of the cutest freaking rats you've seen in your life.  A trio of visually-impaired rodents.

First, make the shapes out of foil. Two chicken-leg shapes, one oval (trapping the string inside so most of it is visible like a tail), one teardroppy head shape, and two short sticks for arms.  Cover them all individually with bits of the napkin.  Glue is going to make it really easy to rip, so it might need more than a few coats of paper.  I used a brown napkin, and I love the way it makes the critter look.  Mottled, and furry. 

Now stick all the bits together!  I did the ears with a couple layers of napkin glued together so they'd be stronger.  Cover up any visible seams with more napkin.

I painted the tails pink, and gave them little black eyes by using the tip of a pencil as my brush.

Here we've got four bilge rats, just one is significantly taller than the other three.  It's a family portrait, really.

A closer look:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Today's an easy day.  It took me most of today to battle off my lingering migraine, and unfortunately, that's not a job that Batman can help me with.  I've also been feeling kind of blargle-shaped about my artwork recently. 

So.  Easy day.  I'm making a trash can out of a film canister, and a trash bag out of part of a regular ol' plastic bag.  I cut a large rectangle out of the bag, and made handles by snipping out little half-moon shapes.  After all, Poe needs some way to trash tiny unwanted manuscripts.  Maybe now he'll stop throwing his garbage everywhere.  Probably not, though.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I know I've been radio silence for a few days. Don't worry, I haven't been eaten by an  eldritch Lovecraftian horror (note to self: get the dollhouse a Cthulhu). I went on a weekend trip to help my sister move into her dorm (love you, sis!)

After that, I got the kind of headache that beats up other headaches on the playground, and also I've been sewing for a commission piece!

That doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about you.  On Saturday we stopped by an antique shop and got four knobby things that would make great barstools.  Also, I went shooting for the first time ever last week, and shell casings would be fantastic as chair legs, or other metal-y accents, just don't tell the Doctor.  Or Batman.  Also: I have some canvas from... a canvas that my sister didn't want anymore, and it was kind of ruined by hot glue on the surface, so I cut out the canvas from the frame and now I have it to stretch over tiny wooden frameworks.

 I promise, I'll be back to my regularly scheduled yammering tomorrow!  Happy arting!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Today's post is brought to you by the letter B, and nostalgia for Sesame Street.  Birdcage, bear, and Batman, but we won't be making the bear or the Batman.

All you need is string, white glue, and that same thin cardboard we used to make Edgar Allan Poe his pink bunny slippers, plastic wrap, wire, toothpicks, and a thingamajig the shape that you want your cage to be.

I used the plastic container to a very small quarter-machine toy, and a bottle cap, and I covered it with clear plastic cling wrap.  Then I coated string in glue and started to lay it out, crisscross.  The cardboard does well for a bottom, the toothpicks as a place for the bird to perch, wire to attach a door.

After some fiddling, here it is.  It looks a little dinged up, but I think that gives it character (like it's been piled under two novels, an old geode, a lamp, and a bowler hat in the depths of an intergalactic garage), and it's not bad at all for a first go!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I don't have access to woodstains, so I wanted to experiment with what looks best on balsa wood. I decided, to do that, I would need to build a few tiny birdhouses.  It's convenient and necessary, considering how many tiny birds I have.

I can't escape from birds. They're in my writing, they're in my artwork, and now they're in my dollhouse.  That's okay, though.  Poe is the type of guy to dig incessant chirping... right?

Erm, gulp.  I'll get back to you on that.

If you've never used balsa wood, this stuff is epic.  It's so soft that it feels like it has fur.  It literally seems impossible to get a splinter with the stuff... but with my luck, I totally will.

I spent almost an hour staring at the cardstock I was going to use to make the patterns with before I decided, nah, I'm too lazy to make a pattern.  This is probably going to be a mistake.  To the Batmobile (ruler and boxcutter and pencil)!

...it was a mistake.  It looks good now, due to a lot of extra work, which would have been saved had I made patterns.  No matter how lazy you feel, make a pattern missies and misters!   And scratch that about balsa being awesome.  It's awesome until the third time you try to put a hole through a piece and it splits on you and you throw a massive tantrum.  I wanted the holes to be large enough for the birds, but now I see that the birdhouses must have TARDIS technology to make them bigger on the inside.

Soooo painting.  No lie, I always end up with acrylic on my clothes and in my mouth.  I'm like a chef; I eat more than I make!  Not on purpose. I just sometimes put the wrong end of the brush in my mouth to hold it and... thank heavens for nontoxic paint.

The blue birdhouse is exactly what you think it is.  The sides and back are done the same way that the front is.  I probably should've done a flat top for it.  And the primary colored one is for if anyone in the dollhouse adopts a child, who is sure to grow up demented.  Those two are also glazed glossy, which I think really makes the colors pop.

Moral of the story part one:  both watercolor and watered down acrylic sort of looked like wood stain, except it gravitated to the cut edges and stained them darker.  That can be fixed with some blotting.  At any rate, it's something to experiment with! 

Moral of the story part deux: if you have shaky hands sometimes like I do, there's no shame in hitting pause and not arting until your hands are working properly.  Well, maybe a little bit of shame, but not a lot, and no one but you needs to know.

Moral of the story part trois: not really a moral, but I've had Birdhouse in Your Soul stuck in my head alllll day.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Guys, you better be so proud of me!  I finally finished the flooring in the turquoise room!  I used shaggy carpeting that's evil to cut but it covers up the seams gloriously, and just melds. 

Here's my workspace.  I made a template of the room, then mapped it out with tiny squares.
It was actually the easiest flooring I've done, once everything was cut.  I had a few close calls with the boxcutter; kids, be more careful than me.  I'm a clumsy-bug.  The shagginess of the carpet made it really forgiving, especially since it has this kind of chaotic look to the weave already.

Here's the Doctor talking to a benevolent giantess.

Here's a closer look at the floor proper.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Door knobs make perfect little tables, and if you don't believe me, imagine this, rotated on its side onto the roundish flat end (maybe with tiny beaded feet added to keep it steady), with a table cloth over it the flatter flat end.  Kind of hip, huh?

If you want to get fancy-pantsed, look for older door knobs.

Crystal side down, but for the others, I'd suggest flat side down, with a round, thick piece of plastic (or glass, if you want to get fancy) so you can still see the intricate designs on the top.  It's kind of round, but if you glue the plastic flat right at the middle, and cover up the seam all the way around with a trim that looks good with the color of the knob, you should be right as rain (if rain has rights).  It's weird and quirky, but I dig that scene, yo.

I don't have one myself to show you, but I was inspired by two (two!) separate occasions of garage sales today that had doorknobs for sale, except they were all quite rounded.

I need to man up and do the floors.  Maybe tomorrow, at never-o'-clock.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I am living in a pit of artistic squalor. 

The reason this is taking me so long is that I have some serious decisions to make.

Here's a groovy dollar store find!

The cheap-looking satin bow and ruffles are held on by hot glue, so I peeled it off, and now there's just the one question: am I going to keep it white and classy, or paint it a wildly bright color like the rest of the house?

And I have new carpet for the teal-ish room that I went medieval on a few days ago!  But I have to decide which one to use.  The picture doesn't do it justice, but they both have flecks of green in it, and other colors, and they're pretty gosh darn groovy, and shaggy.  I'm equally enamored with both.  I could just chop them into smaller squares and checkerboard it, but I don't know aaaah what do you think?

Also deciding which room I want to make the Batcave since there really isn't a basement.  HEY YOU GUYS GIVE ME YOUR OPINIONS.  I want to keep them in a little jar have some input.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In a furious fit of obsessive compulsocity I ripped up the carpeting from yesterday.  It wasn't working. 

Here's something that I learned the hard way that no one ever told me: SUPERGLUE DISCOLORS STUFF AND THEN IT HARDENS AND THEN IT'S USELESS.  I knew to try it on a sample bit, and I did, but maybe I didn't try enough.  At any rate, I may try to salvage what I have, or I may get more samples and start from scratch.  Only time (tomorrow) will tell, because I have another rule: never art anxiously.  At least, never for something that matters.  Go to town on a canvas to get out some aggression with abstract splashes of paint and swishes of glitter and snips with a scissor, but don't try for precision work.

I do have a tiny stroke of brilliance for you to make up for it, though. Six words: Dollar Store Battery Operated Tiny Booklamps.  They'd make the perfect indoor lighting.  You're welcome!  Happy arting.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Okay, so, no post yesterday.  That's because I came home late and I was tired.  I have a rule: never art tired.  It's the same reason I don't get drunk.  I'd swerve all over the place, cry to my friends about how much I suck, and then stare bleary-eyed and blinking at the results of the evening.

Flooring day.  Did you hear my screams from where you are?

It started out like this:
This terrible floor makes Batman cover his face as he weeps.

I made a pattern, and tried to follow it, and ended up experimenting more than I followed the pattern.  I glued each piece as I went.

Better, but the seams in between are too huge, and Batman is now wailing on his stomach:

I superglued the seams together, dotting glue here, dotting glue there, and pushing the fibers together.  It's a little better, but I still have to play with it.  See?  Now Batman can do what he does best.  Punch bad guys.

By the by, thank you for the comments and keep them coming!   They totally brighten my whole day!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

You might notice a distinct lack of thingamajigs and doodads and whatsits in this post.  And that's because my mom brought up, quite rightly, that this was a dollhouse building site, and my dollhouse is still languishing while I make thingamajigs and doodads and whatsits for inside this shack of a dollhouse. 

So tomorrow I'm doing flooring (uuugh, flooring), and I intend to complain loudly about it the whole time (loudly, you hear me?  I am going to be in one of those moments where I scream, and the camera pans away from me and out to the house, and the camera pans out to the city, and the camera pans out to the planet small in a swathe of space, and all the while you can still hear me screaming).

In preparation for that grueling task that I'm hoping to get to tomorrow if I can finish my reading, I am doing absotively nada today.  Well.  Paint touch-ups in the room I'm going to carpet, but.  Nada. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

I wish I could say that I made the bunny slippers for Poe because his feet are the most stable and he was the most likely to be able to stand in them.  But I didn't.  I did it because it was funny.

Look at it.  Felt, white glue, embroidery floss, and patience.  The bottom is that thin cardboard you get from the backs of notepads. 

A closer look:

Look at how thrilled he is about it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

This post almost didn't happen, because I worked out yesterday for the once a week workout that I do and I didn't want to get up, sit down, get up, paint, sit down, wait for the paint to dry, get up, crouch.  What can I say, though.  Today I'm a limping artist with a mission.

Check out these pen caps.  They look pretty uglytastic, huh?  The first thing you want to do is snip off the bottom, either with scissors you don't mind ruining or a pocketknife (but be super careful).  Look for caps you can imagine as vases or lamps.  Ones that are fluted, or ones that have a nice shape.  The white blurry blob is fluted, and I think it would look pretty elegant as a vase, with a few modifications.

You don't want to try painting it with regular acrylic paint.  A long strip will peel off just when you think you're finished and then you will throw a mondo fit.  Trust me.  I've done it so you don't have to.  And if you paint it thick enough to cover, it'll look lumpy.  I know, I know, the first thing they teach you in Artist 101 is that you don't put acrylic paint on slick plastic because it won't take, but I wanted to try it anyway.
Then I tried covering it with paper, and I did make a workable paper bottom, but overall it looked schlocky, not the professional-looking stuff I promised.

My mom had a brilliant idea.  Nail polish!  It sticks like a dream.  I wanted to try a different kind of fake lightbulb so I dipped a q-tip in pale yellow paint and then this incredibly shiny gloss.  The picture doesn't look that great because, well... camera phone I AM SO SORRY GUYS I'LL GET MORE BATTERIES ONE DAY. 

And the final picture, with my brother watching tv in the background.  The base looks kind of blocky, but I guarantee that in real life the cap tapers up just slightly and it actually looks pretty neat.  It's this really deep blue enamel with a neato sheen to it.  I might add a pale ribbon to break up the space about two-thirds of the way up.  I still need to work on the bottom a little.  But hey, not too bad for a first experiment!  I imagine Doctor Frankenstein said the same thing.
Happy arting!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lamps!  They're super exciting!

I'm using those thingamajigs from IKEA, and a template for a lampshade that I found on the internets.  The internets will be a great resource for dollhousing on a budget because it has printables!  Printables will be your bff (best friend forever).  You will paint each other's toenails, you will gossip about the cutest boy/girl/alien/robot/otherwise unspecified together, you will call each other up crying over the season finale of that show that you both love.

Basically, printables are normal things but shrunk down to tiny size and flattened and put on the computer so they are printable.  I've seen everything from teeny movie posters, to 3-D foldable Victorian chests, to tarot cards, to whole printable dollhouses.

Anyway, I printed the lampshade on cardstock, scored the folding lines, cut it out, glue-stickified the fancy paper I wanted onto the cut out template, and cut around it one more time so I'd be sure it would match up exactly.  In case you don't know: I'm not very good at cutting.  Or gluing.  Art is hard.

I painted the IKEA thingamajig with five million coats of gold so that it would cover.  The gold picks up the gold accents in the super rocking paper I chose.  I used ticky tack to keep it still when I painted it, because, again, I'm totally not a delicate, graceful flower.  I'm more of a sledgehammer than a surgical instrument.  If I can make this look good, anyone can.

I wanted it to look as much like a real lamp as I could when you looked down the lampshade hole, so I took a clear bead and some wire and tried to imitate the look of a lightbulb by stuffing the ends of the wire into the beadhole and pulling until there was a loop, then flipping the loop. 

Then I took another wire, curved it into a circle so it would fit near the narrower part of the lampshade, and I had pieces that were too long so I could attach the shade and the lamp itself, and then I hotglued everything together.  Make sure to click on the pictures to make them bigger.  I took them with my cellphone camera, so.  Sorry for the quality!

Check it out, yo!  The glue stick is for scale. 

You might be thinking, "But Heather, I can't get to IKEAland, how do I make lamps and vases that look groovy?"  I'll cover that tomorrow, for sure.  Happy arting!  And feel free to leave comments on the blog-o'-blog!  I'd love some feedback.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Okay, so this probably wouldn't have taken me eighteen thousand years to make if I weren't so focused on making it fancy-schmancy.  I'm annoying like that.

This bulletin board is actually pretty basic.  Take a coaster, cut it into a rectangle, back it with cardboard because probably it's going to be sort of flimsy.  Remember those bamboo slats from yesterday?  You can make a workable frame with the scraps.  What I did is I used two slats that are still attached, so I could curve it around the edge of the coaster and cover up any raggedness.  Trust me, there probably will be a little bit of raggedness.

It took me forever to find the shade of purple that I wanted, and it's still not 100% there, but then I painted some gloss over it and I'm more chill about it.  For scale, the shortest side of the bulletin board is slightly shorter than a standard pair of tweezers.

And the pins!  These are just regular pins, cut with  a wire cutter, and you are probably a lot better at this sort of thing than I am so you are probably not going to stab yourself in the fingers so often that people don't even look up anymore when you yelp (you know who you are).  Slide a small bead onto the pin, glue it, and leave it standing pointy end up on a piece of plastic wrap until it dries like the world's most painful cookies.
I added some shinies onto my board, just stuff I had lying around or stuff I could cobble together from stuff I had lying around.  A TARDIS, for the Doctor.  A red bow tie for the Doctor.  And a raven's feather for Poe. 

And in case you can't read the notes....
First one:
Pick up:

Second one:
You can't put a person on a grocery list.
* Toad

Third one, all smudged and crinkled:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Okay, homeskillets.  Because I was super lazy yesterday I decided to do hard work today.  Flooring.  Which I have been dreading.  Mostly because I'm making it up as I go along, and I have no idea whether this method will work.

But look at how bad the floor looks now!  It looks like a place that a sick koala bear would go to bask in his own misery.  Something had to be done.

If you're a big doofus who hates measuring like me (and you have no right angles to work with, like me), you can make a pattern.  Like so!  You do it by taking pieces of cardboard and paper and taping them together in the room that you're going to be flooring, until it reaches all of the edges and is a perfect fit.  It looks stupid, but it's good for you.  Like yoga.

What I'm using for this floor is bamboo placemats that I got at the dollar store.  See?  Pretty nifty, huh?  To get the brown fabric edging off, I just pulled the stitches.  It can be tedious work, so I just found a youtube playlist full of Queen music and rocked out as I worked*.

Then it was time to fit it to the pattern.  I taped the placemats to a big piece of cardboard, traced my pattern, and cut.  Cutting bamboo is tricky, evil business.  It's hard to turn corners with your scissors without splitting the whole piece.  What I do is just make horizontal cuts, then vertical cuts, and I let the piece come out that way, rather than trying to turn my scissor.

When you glue, make sure it's flat, squish it with books if you have to.  If you have to make corrections, you can use some of your scrap and cut it to size.  I have a few slats that I'm going to replace.

And voila!  You have a room where the aforementioned koala bear can recover and have a cup of tea in peace**.

*this is related to whistling while you work, but with fewer cartoon birds
**the area rug is a potholder also found in the dollar store (two for one buck!)  The chair I got from my sister who went antiquing.  And the cup I've had for a while.