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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chapter 50 - Railings to the Left Porch Extension

May 30 - 31st 2012

It's in the details.
The parts were many and all for a series of railings for outside the porch.  Some pieces didn’t really fit all that well but being so tiny and with painting them then glossing them, you really can’t see much of a difference.

Again, I am convinced that the beauty of this kit is in the details.  They could have easily had a simple railing set up outside the windows but instead, they followed Japanese architecture and came up with railings with nice little curved details on the ends.  As time goes by, these chapters are becoming repetitive somewhat because they are more or less the same room structures or windows but adding in a color here and an adjustment there makes it more interesting. 
Left Porch completed.  Just need to attach it.
Looking forward to getting to the 2nd floor!  But first, we have to complete the right porch....

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chapter 49 - The Sills and Sliding Windows to the Left Porch Extension, the Kutsunugi-ishi

29 - 30th May 2012

I immediately put together and stained the sliding windows.  Since I had already done quite a few, they went together quickly.

The sills needed staining so while they dried, I put together the shoe cleaning stone or Kutsunugi-ishi.  I made this one with white stones instead of sand since I liked the look better.  Left it overnite for complete drying to be sure the stones would stay put.

I also managed to trim and rework the fern plant so that it would fit in the corner.  Now that it is there, I like it.  I had to unattached the ceiling and the bannister to fit it in (and reglue leaves that fell off again...) but overall it looks cute in the corner.  The finished landing looks pretty nice.

The reworked tree and the Kutsunugi-ishi on the right
The sills required some sanding and positioning but luckily, at least this set, went in no problem.  The top section of the sill was just penciled in lines to give the effect of an outdoor terrace floor.  The wooden beam-like detail underneath was a nice touch.  I am thinking of painting also these with white but will wait till I see the overall look.  I still have to install some kind of terrace railing out there.

The sliding door area needed aggressive sanding as I had predicted.  Since the bottom piece installed in the last chapter was a tight fit and didn’t slide all the way down.  So adjustment was made and the window sections finally slid into place. 

You can see the beam details under the terrace floor

With this chapter completed, I have actually finished one of two and half books that I made for the construction of the dollhouse.  As each edition of the kit arrived, I removed the instructions and made books of them.  That way, I was sure to know what came next.  It was a good thing too because I have noticed that some pages are mis-numbered.  I numbered the kit sets too to be sure I had them in order and could find the chapters while working.  I must say, my prep work saved me a lot of time and has pretty much sped up construction.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Chapter 48 - The Ceiling and the Sliding Windows to the Left Porch Extension, The Little Indoor Garden

May 24 - 28th 2012

Luckily, the ceiling fit perfectly into place.  The only problem was piece number 5 which was supposed to be flush on both sides and ended up needing sanding to remove a lip section which would have fit on the ceiling on the other side.  Just coaxing and it all fit together perfectly.  Piece 6 needed sanding to fit into place (bottom section of where the sliding windows would fit) since it was so tight.  When the top piece is fitted, it will need some extra sanding to be sure the windows slide smoothly. 

The first two of four windows was the usual also.  The plastic “glass” needed trimming since it was too large for the windows.  Painting and using the bi-adhesive tape does the trick for fitting the glass.

The little garden is supposed to be for the corner of the first floor landing but I have my wall painting there so I don’t think it will actually look good there.  It came with a little wooden base that needed whittling to make it appear to be a stone covered mound. 
The leaves were printed on green paper that needed to be cut out one by one.  I didn’t do them all together but over two nites.  I also decided to cut out a few yellow ones from construction paper because I figured I’d add those at the bottom like the plant was yellowing or loosing some of it’s leaves.  I also had to locate some florists tape.  I knew I had some in the house somewhere when we were doing classes in Biedermeier arrangements so after locating that, I was able to twist the wires and cover the ends with this tape.  I think it looks cleaner rather than just twisted wires.
Even if the instructions had you wait till the end to glue on the gravel and small stones, I figured it would be easier to do it now and also glue in tighter the wired trunks.  So, with that done, I then proceeded to attach all the little leaves. 
I glued the yellow ones towards the bottom then had to wait for the leaves to dry since it would have been dangerous to manipulate the trees while the leaves were still fragile.  A diluted hand of gloss varnish and the tree garden was completed.

Ceiling section, bottom of sliding windows, fern tree.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chapter 47 - The Bannister to the First Floor Landing, The Shōji to Left Front Porch, The Telephone

May 20 - 24th 2012

Well, right off, the phone has already been put together so here is a little pic of it inside the phone booth.  As I had already written, I added the LED light in there to give it a kind of run down look inside the booth.  I think it came out great - also considering I almost lost some pieces...

The shōji was simple yet at the same time, when it comes time to install them into the runners, the paper backing creates some obstacle to smooth movement.  Next time, I will install the paper a little further up so they will slide easier for opening and closing.  There is no pic of this since the last chapter showed two out of the four installed.  Just the same thing.

The next project was the bannister and the floor landing from a  previous chapter.  That meant I had to properly install the 1st floor on top of the bottom to insure a good fit for the landing.  Working that out, the stairs wouldn’t fit so I had to dismantle them and start over.  Since, honestly, this bummed me out, I avoided it for a few days and decided to make a shamisen.  The reason was since I had navigated lots of sites and couldn’t find a decent mini shamisen in the right scale, I figured I’d just find some detailed pics and make my own.

I checked out the actual dimensions.  Lots of these sort of banjo-like instruments are made with snakeskin or worse yet, dog skin, but I found a nice pic of one that was a simple white skin.  So I used that.  I then downloaded and printed off a pic of kimono silk fabric to use as a decoration on the external part.  I think it is quite successful.  All the little pieces were just left overs or pieces I picked up from my friend’s Dad who is a huge 1:78 scale model builder (mostly ships and boats) but he has lots of materials left that he figures he’s never going to use so he gave me some.  Very generous indeed.

My inspiration for the Shamisen
Once I finished the shamisen, I had no more excuses so I had to attach the stairs again.  I repaired the unglued areas and managed to fit in as close as possible - just wasn’t going to fit perfectly.  Glued, braced and left overnite.  The instructions say not to actually join by glueing the two floors.  Just attach the stairs.  So I did.  The bannister had to be slightly unattached from the wall because I made my wall hanging there but I still think the area looks quite nice finished.
Miniature shamisen finished

And if you're interested, here is what a shamisen sounds like - a video of dueling Shamisen! Very cool.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chapter 46 - Walls, Floor and Shōji to Left Front Porch Area

May 18 - 20th 2012

More painting and prepping.  The floor was the same as the other simulated hard wood floors.  Just measuring out and drawing straight lines across the wood, cutting with a utility knife vertically to simulate the floor junction, then just staining and varnishing it over to give it the wood floor look.  I decided to make the wood slats a little bigger than the vestibule and the first floor landing - like a different wood floor - just to give a little different look to the porch area.  The porch walls were easily installed and the most time consuming is always the window frames and shōji.  Just to glue them and make sure the glue takes before attaching the rice paper.  I had contemplated using some rice paper with a design on it but in the end, just for the first room, I am using the regular white paper.
Porch Area and first two of four shoji

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chapter 45 - Front Wall and Sliding Windows to Front Left Porch Area First Floor

May 16 - 17th 2012

The next chapter tackles the front porch area which will also be the hinged facade for the upper floors of the house.  These have been stylized into a sort of porch which will cover both the room and half of the first floor landing.  They will be independent of the bottom hinged roomboxes so you can open specific rooms for viewing.  Course, precise fitting will be necessary to be sure they will slide open without being hindered by the below floor’s roofing.  We shall see.

There was lots of painting and sanding for this one.  Once that was completed, I started putting together the window details (the ranma).  I had to weave a few thin pieces of cane which required some clamping and waiting till the superglue took. 

The rest of the wall was basically patient assembly following the instructions carefully since so many pieces were similar.  I had to custom fit a few pieces but nothing major since the final pieces fit in perfectly.  There were sections that they had as no glue areas but I decided to use some bi-adhesive just in case the areas became loose during additional installation of the porch area.
The ranma with woven canes

Part A of door/porch area is complete.  You can even see the wall hanging thru the clear windows.

How the door will eventually fit.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chapter 44 - Wooden Overhang to Right Hand Room Entrance, Ceiling to First Floor Landing

May 13 - 15th 2012

Ikkyu Hell Maiden - Yoshitoshi
Before I put the ceiling on the landing area, I wanted to add a wall decoration to the back.  Mostly also because I think that the decoration in the kit is stuff I can use eventually in a garden space outside the house so I prefer to decorate the walls with objects for internal furnishings.  So, I made another Kakejiku.  This one just had a woodblock print on it with no religious meanings.  It’s from a Yoshitoshi series of prints.  He is one of my favorites as he treats life and death themes with a wonderful sense of humor.  I believe this one is called “Ikkyu Hell Maiden”.  Fun stuff.

Building the overhang and ceiling was pretty usual.  Of course, we will have to see how it fits with the rest of the staircase once that part of the build takes place.  The overhang had to be cut a lot to size because of the small decorative pieces that get inserted onto the roof.  Under there is a small bamboo support.  There were instructions to trim the inside edge but it seemed to fit fine to me so I didn’t end up trimming anything.  I left it overnite for a secure fit and then added the bamboo support.

The ceiling required the usual measuring and spacing and this time the stairwell slats were cut correctly so no re-cutting and fitting like the ceiling to the vestibule.  Just some slight sanding in the back part of the stairwell and the ceiling slid into place.  For now I’m not glueing it as it seems to sit snugly without glue.  I think it looks pretty successful already even before I add the staircase in there.  I realized tho that during the build the house is getting pretty dusty.  I bought a little USB vacuum and it works pretty good except the cord is a bit short.  Oh well, will have to figure out a way to vacuum the house somehow! I hate vacuuming my own house let alone a mini one.
The ceiling installed, the overhang on the right, the dimmed bulb in the booth.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Chapter 43 - The Telephone Booth, the Kakejiku (Gohnzon)

Cutting up a freebie calander
May 9 - 12th 2012

First thing I had to cut up a paper calendar which had the slats I wanted for the wall hanging (Kakejiku).  I also printed off the Gohnzon (there are many versions and I will probably make another one for another room) in smaller scale to fit the hanging.  I think it looks very cute.  Once I have some oranges, a bowl with fake water, a bonsai tree, an incense dish and a ceramic “bell” to sit on a small pillow, then the alter will be complete.  But one thing at a time.
Just need to install the light source and finish the alter

I toned down the LED by painting it a bit. Here it's too bright.

The phone booth is on the first floor landing.  Staining and glossing and glueing were straight forward.  I was thinking of putting some paper in there where people would write when they are on the phone or better, on the wall, but I can’t write kanji.  I also was puttubg a LED in there so I had to mark out where the hole would go because there is also a small phone that needs to be installed in there.  I ended up dimming it down a bit because it was too bright.  Looks better dimmed and "seedier".  Like a real boarding house phone booth.

Once I completed the phone booth I realized that it would be easier to install the mini phone now before I put on the roof rather than after.  Also because the LED is now installed so I figured I’d use the bi-adhesive tape to put the roof on the booth.  That way, if/when the LED needs to be replaced it won’t be so risky pulling off the roof.  So, I jumped to Chapter 47 to grab all the phone parts.  That was no big deal and after resealing the blister pack to Chapter 47, I started putting the little phone together.

Again, like the geta shoes, this one was a real test in patience  There were lots of tiny pieces but the worse were the golden nail tips that would double as phone bells.  I had to cut off the tips from nails.  Got the whole phone put together and was in the phase of putting the finishing deals including the nail tips and thought “crap, if I drop this thing I’ll never find it...”  So, of course, I promptly dropped it.  Frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t find it, I had to figure out a new way to simulate the bells.  I took a break (had to make a small necklace for a communion present for a friend’s daughter) and by the time I came back I was ready to finish the phone.  One last look around and “eureka”! On the floor was the lost nail head.  So, finishing glueing it together and mounted it into the phone booth.  I added a little Hokusai picture in the booth too.  Like postcards or something on the wall.  Anyway, the door swings no problem and the LED looks good.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chapter 42 - The Tokonoma for the Right Hand First Floor Room

May 4 - 8th 2012

First thing was to wrap the “trunk” section of the Tokonoma with some bamboo paper to match the wallpaper.  I managed to match up fairly well the bamboo to somewhat simulate a bamboo trunk. 
Simulating the bamboo trunk

Working on the pieces for the rest of the Tokonoma required a little planning because the room is full of shades of green and wallpaper.  So I wallpapered the left side wall piece and painted green the internal wall and upper right side wall piece. 
Fitting was tricky and I had to actually assemble the wall dividers in pieces rather than inserting them into place.  They never really match up as the concave areas that were pre-made in the kit just can’t ever match up.  But some sanding and coaxing and the sections fit in.  Glueing and leaving to stand for a while always does the trick.

Doors to cabinet
The shelving and the final chest in the room were pretty straight forward but I had decided to make the chest into some kind of gilded special container in the room.  So, that’s exactly what I did.  I used the usual gold foil and special glue and just covered the areas where the cabinet would show.  I just love the glow of gold.  I’ve decided to have the light hang inside the area where the bamboo wallpaper is because I wanted also a Gohnzon (buddhist mandala) hanging there and I figure the filtered light from that area would fall nicely onto the gilded cabinet.
Cabinet and sliding doors
Standing up on end....
 After checking the upcoming chapters, I figured at this point it was ok to attached the final room of the first floor to the upstairs landing.  So again, standing it up on end and using a series of clamps, I glued it and left it overnite.  I am still not going to glue it to the ground floor yet as the lighting needs to be finalized.  I added the bedroom set and other objects to give an idea of what the room space will be like.
Lighted area to give an idea of cozy comfort. And Godzilla.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chapter 41 - The Tatami and Finishings for the Right Hand First Floor Room

April 26 - May 3rd 2012

The hated tatamis.  But we need 6 of them to lay down flooring in the bedroom.  I discovered that the tatami tends to pull away from the wood (bi-adhesive tape isn’t enough) so now I’ve turned to super glue for attaching the tatami and the black fabric trim.  To give you an idea of time, I started the dreaded tatamis on the 26th, and finished them on 2nd May !! Mostly also because I came down with a super nasty cold and was sick for almost a week (and still am coughing as I write).  The dreaded tatamis did not help either.  I found also that gluing altho better wasn’t easier.  I had to leave things to dry before folding and finishing the black fabric sections.  Also, the kit gave smaller pieces this time around so not all folded perfectly around the tatami mat to the underside.  But seeing as this part is virtually invisible, it really didn’t matter much.
Tatami number 6 still in the vice.  What a pain!
The rest of the pieces were the usual sanding and fitting wooden slated embellishments.  They all fit in pretty well as did the dias piece which evens out the floor once the tatamis are in.

I still have a few more parts to add to this room before I permanently attach it to the rest of the floor.  I think the bamboo wallpaper is quite successful.  More bamboo to come! (But hopefully no tatamis for a while.)
Bottom floor kitchen and extension, top floor bedroom nearing completion.