Friday, July 30, 2021

For those still looking for this kit....

30th July 2021

For anyone still searching for this kit and has the money to purchase it, it's up for sale on Ebay Japan!

Yes, it's probably in Japanese but with this blog you could decipher it no problem.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

After Shocks

The new bookcase installed during lockdown.
1st March - 10th March 2021

Yowser, yes, been a while or what. The ryokan was technically finished quite a while ago but things happen I guess and a project like this, being stored in a room being used as a gaming and hobby area, is exposed to “dangers”.  Apart from the time the bookcase fell and nearly destroyed the house, we have had workmen in the attic area where our hot water heater is installed.  And the workmen, inevitably, bumped into the house causing little after shocks if you will.  Ho hum. Stuff happens. Luckily no real damage but things fell off shelves and being a miniature, it’s not easy to just stick your hand in there and put things back in place.  So, after a rather crappy 2020 (for all of us I’m sure) and many months looking at things that needed to be put back in place, I finally got round to taking care of it.

The outside kitchen area after putting things back in place.
The grass rooftop over the outside portico area was never really thought through.  I just needed something to cover over the area so I stuck some grass and such over a wooden frame and used wax adhesive to fit it into place thinking I could just pop it off when I needed to see or set up objects inside the portico. But every time I picked up the frame, it came apart and the grass fronds would start coming away. So, given that all the stuff inside the portico had fallen and needed to be put back in place, I decided to make the roof a little more stable.
View from the portico without the roof.

I managed to carefully repack the storage area with the food stuff urns and even made them a little more bump resistant with the sticky wax. I then started to pull apart the portico roof. I did some quick research on Japanese garden area roofing (staying away from tile type roofing) and found that many had just simple wooden slats that held roofing material - either fabric or tatami type mats.  So I went with that.


Reinforcing the grass and placing the slats

Finishing gluing everything in.
I managed to find some long pieces from a bamboo calendar (which I had used in the past) and those were easy to cut to size and fairly strong.  Since it is the underside, I decided to use hot glue to reinforce the back side area where the grass fronds are attached to the old frame. I then hot glued in place the calendar slats cut to size. Worked out fine. Yes, hot glue is yucky looking but I did find a type that dries almost transparent.  Once that was done, I stained the slats with dark brown stain to match the house trim somewhat. Done.

Next I wanted to cover over some of the roof with sprouting moss like grass material - like roofing I have seen where over time and humidity, fallen tree leaves and pine needles would make a sort of soil base of their own.  And even wild flowers and grass would grow there.  So I took some of the flower material I had used previously in the back and side garden and made a new little “garden” on the grass roof.  

I had found last fall (really!) a leaf from a tree on my street and finally got around to sealing it with some varnish. Once dried, I used my little leaf cutter (also bought by chance over the years) to cut out little oak leaf type shapes.  I managed to find some green paper I had used on the bamboo plant (I don’t throw anything away!!) and cut out some green leaves as well.  I glued them over the rooftop to simulate the idea of dead leaves accumulating on the roof.  The leaves needed a little color, so I added a bit here and then to give them a more colorful “autumn” air.

Leaf varnished.

Little cut out maple leaves.

Adding flowers and leaf bunches.

Finishing up the roof area.

I then reattached the roof with the sticky wax knowing that if I needed to take it off again in future due to some other calamity, there would be no problem. 

Roof back in place.

Glad I got that done at least.  Something accomplished after a 2020 to forget about.  Wishing that 2021 will make up for a decidedly forgetful year.  Hope you are all well and healthy - knowing that some are not, I prefer not to complain about my own experiences as they are without a doubt minimal compared to some.  Keep safe.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Just a quick note.... invite any followers who might like to check out my new project.  Course it is a big departure from the Japanese Ryokan but I hope it will be fun and a nice learning experience.  It is a normal scale 1:12 Tea Room Orangery set up.  Anyway, here is the link for the lastest installment.  I may not have much time to work on it but for anyone who loves lemons I invite you to check it out !!

Enjoy and thanks for following.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Mini Earthquake at the Ryokan Inn

May 29th 2019

Well, anyone who has been following this blog knows or can surmise that the ryokan is installed in my attic room.  The attic room is where I do crafty things and where my son games on the PS - especially since the end of 2017 more or less since we haven't had any visitors to use the upstairs room.  I should put it up on Air BnB.  Anyway, my sister became a grandmother and since my Mom died back in 2015, I use my August vacations to visit stateside and see my Dad - now 81 - who lives alone.  He is happy that way but cannot come visit us here anymore due to his age. Anyhow, me traveling down to visit family means no one really comes here to Italy to visit us. So the attic room has become a mess.  And today I took a day off from work to neaten up the room and do my taxes and - fix the ryokan.

During the winter months, Florence can get quite windy.  Upstairs we have two eaves that allow access (and storage space) to our hot water heater.  So instead of installing a door, we just have an insulated panel and a very tall heavy bookcase that blocks it from opening - usually....
Now empty bookcase(you can see the panel behind it) on left, dollhouse on right on its table.
One very blustery weekend, we had a massive wind storm.  The constant vibration on the panel caused the hook on the bookcase to unhook and - WHAM--- CRASH BANG!!!!

My son was upstairs gaming and I was downstairs and as soon as I heard the crash and bang I knew what had happened. "Did it hit the dollhouse!???"


I sat there stunned for a few minutes really too scared to find out the damage.  So my husband ran upstairs - also to check on the door panel and the heater etc., - and shouted down that damage was minimal and it could be worse.

When I checked it out, the dynamics of the hit were strange.  The bookcase slammed into the front edge of the board and table the dollhouse is screwed to and caused the whole house to rock backwards and then forwards.  The house happened to be closed at the time so all the contents did not come spilling out. But inside each room was a massive mess - not to mention the outside back garden and pergola storage area - completely scrambled.
You can see the indent into the wood where the book case slammed into it. The fact the house was closed saved damaging the porches.

Also here, you can see the indent where the book case hit the left side. Amazing really it didn't wreck the whole thing.

The fire pit room was minimal as I had used quite a bit of the sticky wax to keep my ceramic vases attached to the shelving. The kitchen was a total mess !!
Yeah, this was a magnitude 7.5
Actually the right side kitchen wing was open but not all the way, hence the wok on the pavement.
I realized the toughest thing after all this time (truly years since I have played with the dollhouse - positioning or moving things about) was trying to get everything back into place.  Pulled out my tweezers and sticky wax and just put everything back as best as I could remember.  Thing is, I only finished doing it today.  After months since it happened.  Not sure why. Just couldn't face the clean up I guess.  Could also be that now that I am working so much and have no creative energy, the idea of fixing up the house made me sad knowing that I haven't done squat for my hobby in so long.

But, I do feel the bug.  I think I just may finish cleaning the room this weekend so I can actually start mini-ing again.  I have so much material and so many ideas for the Orangery. Maybe finally I can motivate myself.
Kitchen back in business !!!!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Dust Pans and....

April 6 2017

Wow! Been a while or what?

I went back to work full time in June of 2015 and life has been very hectic and tiring.  My MS hasn't acted up much but I am constantly fatigued.  I leave at 8:30 am and get back home around 7pm.  The good news is that I have a stable contract now and a raise (which is paying for gas really as it's pretty far traffic-wise) but with a 90 minute lunch break (so Italian) I have been finishing tons of old cross stitch projects after eating my lunch.  Pretty satisfying!  I kind of wish I could bring my minis to work.
My dog Sammy when he was a puppy.

Now he is going on 14! But I finished the cross stitch of him.

So, I don't know what bit me the other day to try and start my new project (the Orangery Tea Room) and I got to looking at my ryokan and remembered there were a few little things to add.  So, with some extra energy today (instead of cleaning bathrooms and mopping) here I am!

Inspiration Pic of the little dust bins in cheap wood.

I had the original pages from the ryokan instructions with lots of ideas of little things to add and I wanted to make these little dust pans to put one in the kitchen with the broom I repurposed from a 1/12 dustpan brush so I found leftovers and did just that.  Cute and nice to do something after such a long break.  Feels good!
Leftover bits to make the bins.

Finished bins. Bigger one for out back in the garden, small one for the kitchen.

With the broom in place.  I suppose they do as much sweeping as I do in my real house!
 I really would like to add still a 1/20 bicycle out back (vintage with old baskets to go grocery shopping) but I think I will just have to wait to discover a suitable bike.  Been searching on the net for a while but will have to try a model shop when I get back stateside.

Well, that's all for now.  Hope you may check out my new project as this ones seems pretty much complete..... yet....nothing is ever complete.

UPDATE: 10 JULY 2018

Well, my Sammy finally succumbed to cancer.  He did very well considering he was doing chemo beginning last year after he had surgery to remove tumors.  They gave him only a few months and if it weren't for the size of the last abdominal tumor that developed end June, he would have gone on a bit longer. He was still very lucid and hungry :-). The tumor was just so quick growning (from a golf ball to a soft ball in 10 days) and creating difficulty for him in daily life. I was so glad he chose to stick with us for so long. What a good boy! 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Additional Stuff : Fishing Baskets, Dried Kipper-like Fish, Eels, a Demon Banner

Shōki The Demon Slayer

17 Baskets.
June - October 4th 2015

Sorry for the lack of updates.  Things have changed recently as I have gone back to work full time.  I leave the house at 8:30am and am not home usually until around 7pm.  I really didn’t want to go back to work for such long hours but sometimes we really don’t get to choose what we want out of life.  So, my hobby has pretty much suffered and has been somewhat neglected.

I say somewhat because as usual, I always have my eyes open for certain additions or embellishments for the ryokan.  I managed to find around the beginning of June a bunch of baskets (17 in all) that came from an Ebay seller from Thailand.  I had been searching for months for fishing baskets (even looking on Etsy for basket makers) with no luck.  I searched the internet for instructions and where to buy materials to make them myself but couldn’t find the materials.  I was about to make a $25 purchase for 7 little hand made baskets when I happened upon the Ebay offer.  Seventeen for around a few dollars more for shipping.  I am so glad I made the purchase and even if it took around a month to arrive, I was pleasantly surprised! The quality was very high.  The pieces were more than I had hoped for and I think they add a nice touch to the back house area where the fishing equipment is.  I understood from the listing and the person who sells them that they are typical little souvenir basket type objects sold in gift shops in Thailand.  I just hope no little children were involved in their manufacture.

Fishing baskets in place out back.
I used one of the baskets to place on top of the cabinet in the buddha room along with another little daruma doll that I picked up at Ajisai shop in Florence.  The rest of the baskets will probably be spread over the house somehow.
Inside the buddha room.
Mini basket and daruma doll.

Gluing the fish in place.
Bucket of eels and threaded fish
Not long after, I happened across a FaceBook posting in the miniatures page I follow.  The posting was super interesting.  It had to do with food stuffs from the Tudor period.  I actually enjoy reading a lot of historical information about the Tudor family and medieval English royalty so when I happened across a posting about lamprey (gross sucker fish) I ended up linking over the the poster’s Etsy shop .  Mary Thornton has the most amazing little objects in her shop but what’s more, she has an amazing blog that gets into the details of the food stuffs she reproduces in miniature.  Not long after she had made the lamprey, she made some eels!! Yes eels!! I know that the Japanese use quite a bit of fresh water eel in their kitchen so i decided to order a bucket of eels.  I ended up messaging her and we got to chatting about smoked fish and kippers.  I sent her a pic of the smoked fish I had been trying to find for months (most fish are way too big for the ryokan house’s scale) so she said she’d give the smoked kippers a go.  I’m glad she did! In between the time I ordered and when she actually shipped everything some time had passed (first because it was summer holiday for lots of people including Mary and then we needed a little time for the fish to arrive in Italy....say no more) but when they did I was blown away.  The were perfect! Now I could make my Japanese hanging fish holder (as seen in my favorite wrapping book “How to Wrap Five Eggs” which is a misnomer because they never actually explain how to wrap five eggs or anything else).  I ended up having a momentary lapse on working out the knotting (which ended up being resolved again by posting on the FaceBook miniature page and a having a helpful soul assist me in remembering my crochet!) and finally got around to making the hanger.  I had to chain crochet the fish onto the raffia.  I then put some liquid glue on the back to hold them in place.  And finally I have my smoked kippers and eels ready to serve the guests.  The leftover fish went straight into the salted fish container I had made ages ago (from left over tatami mat) and back in the outside kitchen hutch.  Very cool.
Salted fish container now full.
Hanging fish and eels waiting to be grabbed and skinned!
Around the end of August, my sister came for a visit.  She had been to a show at the MFA in Boston which I would have loved to see.  Since I was a teen, I have been attracted to Japanese woodblock prints.  Mostly the technique is what intrigued me.  In fact, when I finally went to university to study, I majored in printmaking.  Anyway, the show was about the ukiyo-e prints and in particular the works of Hokusai.  Who has been following my blog knows that I used his “Under the Wave off Kanagawa” or more commonly known as the Great Wave print inside the spa.  I’ve always loved this print.  The wave reminds me of a great hand ready to scoop up the long boats in the water.  Well, my sister gave me the MFA’s accompanying book for the show.  Apart from the comprehensive collection info it provided the book showed so many prints in detail that it was amazing.  I think I would have been lost at the show.  It would have taken me ages just to study each print.  In the book, there was a banner of a demon queller known as Shōki.  Like often happens, he was originally a Chinese legend who then became popular in Japan.  Here is an excerpt from the book:
“He was said to be the ghost of an unsuccessful candidate for an official position in the Chinese bureaucracy who committed suicide after he was unfairly disqualified in the imperial examinations, but in his afterlife became a benevolent guardian.  Supposedly, he appeared in a dream to the Chinese emperor and vowed to fight all demons, especially those that cause disease.  A picture of this supernatural warrior was considered an auspicious object that would promote the health and well-being of everyone in the home in which it was displayed, particularly that of children...”
I thought it was pretty funny how in the afterlife a politician agrees to do good and even come back to protect people.  But what I liked most was that the banner designed by Hokusai was created for a festival (then only for boys but today for all children) which is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month and is the same one that uses the koi kites which are already on display on the outside porch of the ryokan.  So Shōki fit right in.
I printed a reduced version of him on some rice paper, then attached some thin wooden strips with glue to simulate the banner staffs.  I then glued a small straw onto the wooden railing and inserted the banner there.  It’s not glued in.  That so I can change banners if I want in future.
Trimming Shōki for fitting on his banner staffs.
Shōki protecting everyone in the house.
Right now I am working on some more geta shoes that my friend gave me.  She has the same kit but since we are no longer working together, she isn’t really working on the mini’s anymore, which is sad.  She was bashing her kit into something different so she didn’t mind giving me a few pairs of geta to make for the house.  Course, they are still a total pain in the ass to make so I suppose I’ll finish them at some point.

Well, that’s about it for now.  I am still looking for a nice 1/20 scale bicycle to add to the outside but no luck so far.  But I’m patient.  I figure like everything up till now, I’ll come across it when I least expect it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Additional Stuff: Ikebana Using Various Plants

May 29th - June 13th 2015

Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arranging.  Of course it is quite old and has traditional compositions and content but for simplicity’s sake, I will create a free style or Jiyūka design.  I figured I’d use some of the “flowers” I had bought at the beginning of this project and just dye them pinkish since I wanted to try and make sakura branches.  The flowers already had a slight purple hue so bringing them to pink was no big deal.  I then laid them out to dry so I could work with them.
Dying and drying the petals.
I wanted to have two kinds of cherry blossoms in the ikebana vase.  One from Georgie Steeds Miniature Garden Centre kit and one using the tutorial by Marianne Cook from the March 2015 issue of The Dolls’ House Magazine (the one with my ryokan feature).  I thought the tutorial was really very nice and wanted to give it a try.  The first part was easy dipping the florist’s wire into some red paint but the next part was a bit more exasperating.  You have to cut some small threads and glue them to each stamen.  But there was no way I was going to be able to be super precise and get the bottom part of the threads to match up with the underside of the red painted bulb.  So I just glued them on as best I could, let them dry and then cleaned them up a bit.  Once dried, I trimmed them down, then dabbed more red paint on each pink thread as well as the stem and let them dry.  Next was to punch a hole in the center of each flower and thread them onto the stem.  Sometimes I punched the hole (with a needle) too close to an edge and the petal blossom split while I slid it up the stem.  So I’m glad I made a bunch of flowers.  Once that was done, more drying time.
Dipping the tips in red acrylic.
Cutting the stamens
Gluing the stamens
Finished stamens before trimming.
After adding the flower and trimming the stamens.
Next was making the sepal (underside petal) for each flower.  Since I didn’t have a puncher, I had to take the flowers I had and just trim them into star shapes.  I then painted them deep red.  I did check and this part of the flower on a pink cherry blossom is quite red.  So I did the same.  After letting them dry I shaped them pressing a toothpick in the center and then piercing them to make the hole so I could insert them onto the stem.  A dab of glue and the sepals were in place.  I liked the final effect.
Trimming the stars to size.

Finished blossome with the sepals
Next up was fashioning some branches.  It was a bit difficult as my hands are not very steady but I managed two branches by wrapping different gauge wires around a thicker one.  I added some dots of glue at the joints and let them dry.  Next was just to paint them brown and let that dry too.  Then I added the blossoms around the branches.  I had only made 16 blossoms so I decided to use this branch as the full pink blossom and then make another with just white ones.  I then added some green leaves leftover from the plastic plants I used in the back of the house.  I painted them a little red and varnished them with a little shine since that’s the kind of leaf I found pictured on the net (at least with pinkish blossoms).  I can’t really complain about the final result.
Final result pink cherry blossoms on a branch.
Next up was the cherry blossom kit I got from Miniature Garden Centre.  These blossoms were really quite small but still, given the small scale of the house, they would give a perfect overall look.  First I painted the “branches”.  I painted two black as I had seen a really nice arrangement with pink petals on a black painted branch.  So I wanted to try that.  Then I just formed each petal (using a mousepad and pressing a toothpick into the center) and glued each one onto a branch.  After drying, I put a dot of glue on the inside of each blossom and sprinkled them with the yellow “pollen” dust.  They’re perfect!
Gluing the blossoms on the branch.
You can see the finished cherry blossoms on the right and beginning the centers for the white flowers.
While those were drying etc., I started work on the last set of blossoms.  These ones are white so I painted some petals white and let them dry.  I then dipped the tips of some #30 gauge wire into glue a few times to form a round top, then into yellow acrylic, and finally into a more liquid glue solution and the yellow pollen.  These will be the centers of my flowers.  Once dry, I pressed the petals into shape (two per blossom) and slid them up the stem gluing them into place.  Next up was to make the sepal.  From what I could see, they are green for white blossoms.  I managed to locate a star punch (!) even if it was too big for mini flowers it proved useful.  All I had to do was to trim each of the stars more or less to size.  I realized tho that the flowers looked less and less like cherry blossoms.  But really that was ok with me.  They still looked convincing as far as flowers go.
Once the sepals were glued in, I attached the flowers to its branch.  Then I made some twisted bamboo pieces and placed all the elements into the tall vases on the top floor hallway (plus a few cherry blossom branches in the squat vase on the first floor).  I made a few long leaves using the green sushi grass and the ikebana vases were done.  I think it adds to the final effect in the hallways and fills out those oversized vases pretty well.

Cutting out and trimming the star shapes.
Gluing the flowers onto their branch.
Finishing the branch.
Ikebana vases. 
Two larger vases with the blossoms in place.
And another element is finished.
Left side Ikebana arrangement.

Finished right side vase.