Now Hiring a Barista Mouse

building miniature cabinet

building miniature cabinetI finally got to sit down and start building all those pieces of furniture for the café.  Most of it went pretty easy.  But the display case in the front of the café that holds all the pastries was such a pain.  All those little shelves and nothing quite fit together right… then you realize you glued everything on backward and then a cabinet nob is super-glued to your hand…. it was a little nightmare.

A room with a red chairI had to rip some stuff a few times, so I think I’m going to end up painting some of the furniture to hide my mistakes.   And I got a nice big gluey fingerprint on the front of the glass cabinet (notice now I strategically left that out of the picture).   So I’ll have to come up with a way to hide that…. maybe a nice sticker or sale sign or something.

Now my friends have decided I need a little mouse barista.   I started searching taxidermy on Etsy and a few other sites… cute stuff but not really matching what I want.   Google image search provided some nice hits but nothing that was for sale…  just images and art pieces people made.   According to Etsy, the going rate for a stuffed mouse is about $80+ … I’m not sure I need a barista mouse that much.  At least not for my first model.  But, I should figure out something cute to stick in there.

Arsenic Mouse
Mouse by Amanda’s Autopsies

Glue and Sort

chinese language manual

Last night, I had a short bit to sit down and keep working on my miniature café.  I can’t wait for retirement when I can do whatever I want all day and not just try to squeeze in a little time here and there.

Anyways… I was going through all the pieces again when I stumbled upon a piece of gold foil wrapped up in a packet of wires.

There IS fabric after all!   And the first thing that came into my mind was “OMG… I lied to the internet.”   Normally I would wait until there was more done to post about, but I had to correct this situation.  After all, you can believe anything you read on the internet and I will not be responsible for ruining that.

So yes, packed away with some wires was a small packet of scraps that will be used for table cloths and seat covers.   Honestly, they kind of suck and look dirty, so I’ll likely replace them if they don’t clean up well.

I got my walls glued together and set aside to dry.

I got some of the signs (menu board and outside company sign) put together.  And then I sorted through the rest of the furniture pieces to make sure I have everything and that the correct pieces were in the right groups.  Some of them were so similar I could’ve easily mixed them up and not realized it until something didn’t quite fit.

chinese language manual

Last, I started going over the little LED lights and how to wire it.  I tested the lights and everything appears to work.  But by the time I deciphered most of the pages in Chinese on lighting I realized I didn’t care enough and went to bed.

So yeah, not much progress but I feel better having righted a wrong.

First Miniature

A graffiti covered wall

A graffiti covered wall

I’ve always been slightly fascinated with miniatures.  After browsing Etsy for a while I finally bought a few kits.   I don’t really care about pre-made kits since I tend to make most everything myself.   But the ones I picked out were really cute and I figured I should see how others construct these things before venturing off into my own projects…. which is very unlike me.

First thing, wait for the kit to arrive.   Then wait more, because it’s coming from china and will be weeks.   I knew this when ordering, so no big deal.  It was also cheap, so I am not expecting much.

When it finally arrives, take note of the smashed up package and realize it probably won’t make a difference because… well because it’s super cheap and wouldn’t be worth the effort to return it if something was wrong.

Next, open package and dump everything out.

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See?   Just as I expected.  Plastic, more plastic, some wood and lots of paper you’ll be gluing on everything.   Even the fabric in the picture is actually just folded paper.  The only fabric in the kit was a cut up doily for the window decorations.

 

Next, take all those papers and throw them out.

 

Did you do it?   Good, now go get them out of the trash and put them aside, you might want those as templates later.   But throwing them out felt good, didn’t it?

After gluing a few pieces of paper down to walls and floors I realized I would not be happy with the results.  I mean, I know it’s just a kit, but I also want to walk away with something I want to look at again.   Then, I cut through a sheet of paper that was stuck to another sheet…

oops

Which was fine.  The whole time I was gluing I was thinking how I could make this better with all my craft supplies.  So this little accident just forced me to do it.   Sure, I could’ve just scanned it, fixed it in Photoshop and reprinted it…. but that wouldn’t’ be much fun.

First, I went to Home Depot.   While I had most things, I didn’t have scrap wood.  And my floor was going to be a wood floor.    In the dowel section they have square dowels… I grabbed a bunch of those.   Over in the painting section I grabbed some cherry stain.

I rough cut the pieces down to size to fit their wood base in the kit.   It already had a notched area where the floor was somehow supposed to sit.  (I’m not sure how, I couldn’t get it their floor piece to fit to begin with).

 

A brick wall

I also took a razor blade and cut in little floor board markings about every three inches.  Then I applied a light coat of cherry stain and varnished it.

Next, I took the walls that I had previously glued paper ‘wallpaper’ too.  I picked something similar off my shelf of fabrics.   Maybe a little too similar, but I still wanted to retain the café look and finding mini prints was fabric was proving difficult even with my large selection.

wallpaper

Now the walls are covered, the floor is stained and varnished, windows were put in and some various other accessories were glued.   All that took a long time…. but it was mostly waiting around for things to dry or the time it took to saw all those wood pieces.img_0041.jpg

Stained tuned for the next segment where I’ll be erecting walls and adding the LED lighting.   OOooOOooOohhh!  Exciting stuff!

 

Paint your soul

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So I set up a canvas and painted my soul.  But then I realized they don’t make a black dark enough for this project.  So I picked something else.

I found a beautiful series of photos on Pinterest of ballet dancers.  I’m into ballet, but the photos were so stunning that I wanted to paint one of them.   I won’t post them here, they aren’t mine to post, but they really were pretty inspiring.

So my friend, Mark, who knew I was nervous to do skin tones and paint any type of realism, told me to start drawing it out.  He likes to draw in oil pastels, so he also suggested working through the colors that way.    Oil pastels were never really an interest of mine but I thought I’d give it a shot.   After all, he takes a lot of my suggestions, I should take his too when he offers some.

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Did you know oil pastels are nothing like painting?   Yeah, I didn’t think that one through as far as I should have.   I got through a sketch and then ruined it with pastels.

I think the last time I used them was almost 20 years ago in art classes.   I kind of forgot you could really layer colors like other mediums.   So my whites were nowhere near white enough and I just kept smearing colors around but not getting what I wanted out of it.  As you can see it’s nowhere near done and I threw down the pastels in disgust.

I’m discouraged and I’m opting to let this project sit a bit longer.   I’m just not ready for skin tones and realism.  I know I won’t do it justice and I’ll be disappointed.

So it’s time to plan out something else out for this canvas that will fit in around my cartoon house.

Finished Foxy

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I was just going to let the fox quietly drift off to its new owner.  I figured everyone was sick of seeing my posts about it on various social media.  After several weeks, I sure was sick of looking at it. However, I had several friends demanding to see the final product.  So I nabbed it back and took a few photos.

So here it is, teeth and all.  No more gumming the city to death.

Now that this is out of the way, it’s time to start something new.  YAY!

A fox gums the city

9 tailed fox with no teeth

9 tailed fox with no teeth

My painting has come a long way since the last post.    The purpose of this painting was to make something for a friend but, for me, it was to play with mediums and do something different.  I fully expected it not to turn out, but right now i’m pretty happy with it.  It’s hard to take a photo because the mediums I used were so glossy and everything is shiny but I think you’ll see enough of it even with the light from the window.

The only part left untouched at this point is the mouth.  It’s funny, I actually forgot about it until my last photo.  Then, I realized there was still a big pink blob in the middle where a mouth was blocked out.  Next time I’ll have to remember to take some steps back and take it all in for a bit and not leave out an important part.  Right now he’s just running around gumming the city to death like a geriatric monster.   Hopefully tonight I’ll throw in some fangs and he’ll be complete.

I ended up trying 3 mediums in this painting.  Texture paste, which pretty much covers the entire painting.  Airbrush medium, which I pretty much used to wash over the whole thing and darken it.  Last, I tried glazing medium, which I used for highlights and coloring in the monster.

Speaking of highlights, check out how that glazing medium made the reflections of fire actually come out on the billowing smoke and on the buildings.  It’s not as impressive in the photo, but in person with the gloss and texture, it’s really like the thing is glowing.  I actually shut the lights off to see if it was just a reflection off of something red in the room…. but nope, it was just my amazing glazing.

Hopefully tonight I’ll finish it up and and maybe show a before-and-after photo before moving onto the next project.

So foxy!

wip nine-tailed fox painting

wip nine-tailed fox painting

After all my cleaning I finally got to sit down in my clean painting room and work on a project.  Hopefully, I can keep it clean for some time if I stick to one project at a time and clean up throughout the project instead of just flinging things around while I work.   Ok, I don’t do that, but I do somehow manage to destroy a room throughout a project.

A friend has requested that I paint him a nine-tailed fox from the Naruto anime.   I dug up and image online and decided instead of copying it like I usually do, I’d take the opportunity to try something different… maybe push myself out of the comfort zone a bit.

So here is the fox so far.   It’s far from done, but I really concentrated on texture.  My sky started out more Van Gogh, but ended up as just solid color swirls by the time I was done.  I guess I was a little obsessive and didn’t realize I was mixing the color streaks so much…. oops.  I still like it.

After filling in the rest of painting with texture I plan to play with glazing techniques.  Which I also have not ever done.  Should be interesting, hopefully I don’t ruin it all.

Palette

rectangular painters palette melamime

I finally broke down and bought a painters palette.  I’ve always been a little thrifty with painting.  I wait for the best deals, use household goods when I can, and I buy relatively inexpensive brushes.  Art supplies can be very expensive and while I’m not a cheap person,  I do have a lot of interest in different art mediums so I need to spread that art supply money around.  Up until now I’ve always made do with wax paper or palette paper… because cleanup is as easy as tossing the paper in the trash can.  But, using an actual palette seems to be a thing and for $15-ish I figured why not give it a try?

When I bought it, it was all plastic wrapped and such, so you really couldn’t try it.   Slipping it on my thumb I noticed it wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, but after a few hours of painting I’m sure I’ll appreciate the rubber thumb cushion.   After using it for a bit  I  realized what I’d really like is a plain board with a cushioned strap on the bottom so you can hold it flat in your hand without worrying about dropping it.

And then there was cleanup.  I keep moist hand wipes around the art spaces to just do a quick clean up and I thought, ‘hey, this will be a breeze.’   Nope.   By the time I was ready to stop for the night most of my paint had dried and while most of the paint came off after a little wiping there’s still a very thin layer of paint on the board that’s almost like a stain.  I know you can use a razor to scrape old paint off, but I wanted to avoid scratching up my new palette on the first use.  I scrubbed with all my might and finally just tossed it on the table and decided it wasn’t going to get any better without a magic eraser sponge or something more than moist wipes.

So… I guess I’m happy I bought it, but I wouldn’t mind redesigning it and maybe changing it’s color since stains will obviously drive me crazy.   I’ll keep using it and maybe my attitude towards it will change.  Palettes are a thing after all, I just need to figure out why.

And we have shelves

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To be honest, not much art or crafts have been done lately.  Work has been taking it’s toll.  By the time I get home most nights I’m lucky to shove something in my face before heading to bed.  But, last weekend I did manage to get to Home Depot and grab a closet shelf system.   Things have been piling up and this closet has been a catch-all for junk around the house that really doesn’t belong any where.   So I took the few things out of there, hung up the shelves and now it’s time to reorganize…. especially now with everything on floor.

I’m slowly making my way through the pile of stuff and I am almost done.  It doesn’t seem like  a lot of work but I’m coming across a lot of things that was always ‘next’ on the list after I finish the current project.  For instance, I had a pile of shirts I needed to cut down into reclaimed materials.   Lots of stuff that I don’t want to just slap down on a shelf and forget about…. so it’s a process of actually dealing with things instead of just organizing.  But soon my sewing room / temporary painting room will be ready for use again.  After this I should really move onto reorganizing one of the other art rooms (yes, I have many, don’t judge) but I may need to slip in a painting or quilt first.  My art has been suffering and life can’t be all cleaning.

One In & One Out

finn and jake coffee table

spongebob squarepants end table

This last weekend I finally had time to bring in my SpongeBob end table from out on the deck where I had lacquered it.   I had sprayed it down and let it set for several days since the can of lacquer said not to use it for 4 days and it was going to be sunny all week.   I never used a paint sprayer and it turned out to be quite the learning experience.  The spraying was fine, however the wind liked to blow up the tarp I had put down on the deck.  Even with it being weighted down it got loose and stuck to the legs of the table.  Ugh!  So the backside is not as great, but who cares – it’s the backside after all.

finn and jake coffee table

I brought SpongeBob in and took the coffee table out.  Again, I lugged out the sprayer and got to lacquering the table.    Then, I ran out around the second or third coat, and I didn’t feel the coverage was great.  The wind was blowing a lot of the spray away and this table is going to get plenty of use, so I wanted to make sure it was coated well.

This time, I got the same brand of lacquer but in aerosol form.   Easier right?   Nope.  When I came back the aerosol coats were all spotty (the picture was taken before this point).  Some parts glossy some parts satin.   It was supposed to be semi-gloss, so if by semi-gloss they meant some parts glossy and some parts satin then I guess they were right.   So I gave it another coat … how many coats was this going to take???   When I returned it was still spotty.

It’s staying out there and not coming in until it understands why it’s bad!

… or until I decide what to do about it.    I think I may just go get some gloss lacquer and go over the top where it’s spotty.   I think gloss should hide it pretty well, but I haven’t decided yet.  I may just go get some Plexiglas and cover the top so I don’t have to worry about it getting dinged and scratched from usage.

Besides that I still have to make the themed coasters and stuff to go on it.  It never ends.