Monday, January 30, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
So, now that I'm making miniatures, one of the first things I thought of making was the lamp. Would you like to try to make a Castiglione Arco lamp on your own, as well? Here's what you'll need to create one:
- (Optional) Buy K & S aluminum tubes in sizes 1/8" and 1/16" sizes, and find out that these are too big and too small respectively.
- Take a small, silver plastic Christmas ornament and cut through it with a hot knife. I found my ornaments in a Salvation Army store. I would imagine you could find them at a Christmas shop, but my preliminary internet searches have turned up none quite the right size. Make a hole in the cut ornament with a heated paper clip. This will be your shade.
- Buy K & S aluminum tubes in 3/32" size. I bought mine at Dick Blick's, but you can order them here. Luckily, these are exactly the right size for this project, so you don't need the blades that I bought for the Exacto knife that I bought at Dick Blick's.
- Thread your shade and your wire through the tube now, so that the tube won't kink when you're bending it, and also so that you don't want to take a hostage trying to get the wire through a tube with a curve in it. Trust me on this last tip. The wire I used is phone cord wire, but only one wire fit through the tube, so husband told me with such low voltage I could just solder the light to the tube and use that as to conduct the current. Okay.
- Download an image of the Arco lamp and scale it down. For my purposes, I chose the 1/12 scale. So, the actual lamp is 8' tall, so in Photoshop, resize the image to be 8" tall. In the words of David St. Hubbins, "I think that the problem may have been that there was a Stonehenge monument on stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf. Alright? That tended to understate the hugeness of the object."
- Print out the image and make a jig (look at me, using words like "jig" with its non-dancey interpretation) by pounding nails along the shape of the arc. Curve the tube along the jig. Now you have a nice arc shape in the correct scale. Now, the fun really begins.
- Buy a AA single battery case and some random LED's from your local Radio Shack. Take them home and become educated from your electrical engineer husband about voltage. Seems that AA batteries have 1.5 volts, and most of your LED's are 6V. This, apparently, will not work.
- Take most of the LED's back to Radio Shack except for the correct voltage LED. Then puzzle about how to fashion a nice looking case for the battery holder.
- Create a template for a net to create a cardboard box to cover box. This will be easy, since you teach math by day and you are a net master. Then realize that you are not a Photoshop master, and it will be harder than you thought. After you finish it, and build it, you realize that it will be too flimsy and there is no way to switch it on and off, nor can you open it to change the battery. Buy switches from Radio Shack.
- Around this time, you will realize that using the tube to conduct would work great, except that the aforementioned tube is aluminum, and I covered soldering aluminum in a previous post. I actually bought aluminum flux, but when I received it in the mail, my husband told me it was welding flux, and it's not the same, or so I'm told. I had no idea the depths of my ignorance regarding some topics. Return flux.
- Fiddle around with button cell candle things bought at the dollar store. It comes with a switch! Cut open case. Then figure out that the candle light flickers, and you don't want your lamp to flicker. I knew the candle flickered when I bought it, but I thought there might be a flicker chip or a flickerization capacitor or some such thing that could simply be removed. No such luck. Awareness of ignorance deepens yet again.
- Decide on electrical power. Return switches and battery cases. Buy bulbs with socket and cord. I got mine at AC Moore's on sale for $5 a pair, but you can buy them here. Try your best not to take a prisoner now, as you have now threaded another wire through your previously bent tube.
- Make a base out of Sculpey clay. Make a hole in it using one of the aluminum tubes you bought. Realize that this now ruins the tube, since it is now filled with clay.
- Print out some pictures of marble. I used this image. Mod Podge that onto the Sculpey base.
- Thread the wire through the base, and reattach the plug.
- Realize that your lamp is now top-heavy. Swear and pound fists. Puzzle now on how to make the base heavier (fishing sinkers? pie weights?)
- Now buy an outlet strip and transformer. I bought the outlet strip from ebay, and I purchased the transformer at AC Moore with a 50% off coupon.
- Would you believe that the outlet and the transformer don't fit together correctly? At this point, it becomes funny. My transformer is for copper tape dollhouse electricity. I need the one for round wire. Duh! Return it. Order what I sincerely hope is the correct one.
- Rethink battery idea. Battery holders come with covers. Buy dollhouse conductive, 2-strand wire. Mod Podge marble image to battery case.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
|She is just behaving yucky|
I'm concerned. Just today, I passed by a school bus and was struck by a bag of nachos that was thrown out the window, which is lovely. But, what bothers me more is that, while following the bus for a few blocks, the children inside where making rude gestures (vulgar, really), pointing, and laughing, as if I was the object of derision when they were the ones acting like animals. I know that kids have been mean since time immemorial, but it is so allowed in today's culture. Why didn't the bus driver at least request that the kids sit down? (Don't answer that, because I know why. He's got a schedule. And I'm sure bus drivers have long ago abandoned trying to get students to behave. Teachers can't even do this.) And when they are injured because they weren't behaving, there will be a sad, innocent face on television with the voice over actor saying ominously, "a child hurt while just trying to get to school." It's all just too yucky for me.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
It's NOT the teachers! Are there bad teachers? YES! When I first started, I knew 6th grade teachers who couldn't add fractions, teachers that somehow managed to FALL ASLEEP while kids were rioting around them, and teachers who just had kids decorate things and draw rather than teach. As long as the school could get a body to supervise a classroom, they didn't really care what was going on inside. Of course, in schools where taxes are high and parent involvement is much higher, you could always get competent people. It has been a LONG time since I have seen a terrible teacher merely babysitting students. I have worked in some tough schools and seen some really stupid people (lovely people, with good hearts, but dumb) in front of a class. I still work in a "tough" school, and teachers are no longer slouches, let me tell you. There is competition for teaching jobs now. Schools can find people with skills and experience and work ethic, and they no longer have to settle for anyone desperate enough to want to work at an inner-city school. Everyone is desperate nowadays.
Friday, January 20, 2012
Sunday, January 15, 2012
I'm starting a modern miniature business. I'd like to convey a non-granny, fun, different, stylish dollhouse company. If anyone has ever contemplated a dollhouse for their daughter, grand-daughter, niece or, let's be honest, oneself, then you know that dollhouse furnishings tend to be rather old-fashioned. Barbie has a more modern sensibility, but her's is a wee bit girly and definitely single-girl-on-the-prowl. I like fun as much as the next person, but hot pink swirly plastic stuff is just a little too tres, no? What is a design enthusiast and a miniature lover supposed to do? Well, thank goodness that I'm filling this huge need for stylish dollhouse things!!! Here are some ideas for names:
Teensy Weensy - doesn't exactly convey stylish, but not exactly fuddy-duddy, either. Too cute?
Nanomod - Very hip. But is it too techy sounding?
La Petite Maison - too pretentious? But, pretentious kind of sums me and my business up well.
Gossamod - gossamer + modern, get it? Anyone?
Which do you like the best? Any other ideas?
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Due to extreme near-sightedness, combined with a lack of glasses for the first 10 years of my life, I, not surprisingly, turned inwards. When I went to the beach, did I look at the horizon and take in the crashing waves and dazzling, glinting light? No, because I could not see it. I looked instead for the teensiest shells that then adorned my Dawn dolls' shoebox camper. When I was around 10 years old (hmmm...a lot happened that year), my parents built me a dollhouse. My father constructed the wooden elements, including carved shutters and an end-of-a-popsicle-stick doorknob which really captured my sisters' and my attention. My mother wallpapered, crocheted rugs and, most fascinatingly, sewed cardboard living room furniture. Although my dolls always hit their heads when they went up the stairs, it was easily the best gift I've ever received, because it sparked my creativity. I was quickly fashioning quill paper plants, baking mini-breads and even sewing together small books that I then filled with mini-pictures (this was before photoshop and home computing, so I just cut out pictures in the background of pictures - it never occured to me to take a picture of something far away and use that as a picture). I loved filling my dollhouse with the items that made it a home. And I'm having just as much fun today trying my hand at making some of my favorite modern design classics.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
So, why all the fuss about soldering? I'm trying to make mini Eiffel base chairs. Yes, that is correct. Why, you ask? I'll leave you in suspense on that one. So, first part done. Next part, learning how to sculpt the fiberglass seats. That should take about a month.