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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Intermediate Work - Back Pack and Basket

February 25th - 27th 2013

Over the past year, I have spent a lot of time looking for objects and inspiration on the internet.  I would search out anything that had “japanese” or “miniature” in it just to see what kind of objects were being sold or created.  I’ve come across lots of objects (some too expensive for me to purchase and in any case the wrong scale) and lots of tutorials.  With my latest hiatus, I warehoused in my brain, computer or pinterest a ton of ideas.  This idea came from a combination of a picture I came across and some experiences from my past.

First of all, this is the picture which I had saved to my computer.  By the info of the file, I found it in October of 2012 (during my Halloween break).  I cannot find who it belongs to so I am unable to give credit where it is due (if this is yours, please message me and let me know!).  I loved it so much but I do remember it was the wrong scale (1:12) so even if I wanted it, I couldn’t use it.  But I could use it as inspiration.  I wasn’t sure how exactly it worked till I was watching the film “The Ten Commandments” one night (classic) and during the Exodus, many of the freed slaves had these sort of wooden framed carriers to haul wood, food and....baskets full of stuff.

So, backtracking for a moment, many years ago while I was at University getting my art degree, we had a scupture professor who was a bit bohemian.  Long hair, soft spoken, work boots and a very large basket style back pack.   I had never seen anything like it.  My dream back then was to get my degree and get a masters in costume design.  I used to come to classes ready to throw on the ceramic wheel or chisel at my marble wearing angora sweaters, 3 inch heeled suede boots...well you get the idea.  I never ruined or dirtied any of my clothes but I was very much the complete opposite of the majority of my fellow students - not to mention professors.  Anyway, that damn back pack was so foreign to me it ended up being the way I remembered him through the years.  And by this link, it's not like it was inexpensive!  Recently he has even had a show at the Maine Museum of Art but all I can still picture of my memory of him was that damn bohemian back pack. 

So, I decided to make the basket and the wooden carrier.  My homage to Duncan Hewitt ??

The first thing I had to do was map out more or less the scale.  Since the humans in this house would be 3-4” tall, the carrier had to be fairly small.  The basket could be bigger than the carrier (testiment the Exodus slaves in the movie) but I had to figure out the size and how to lash the shoulder straps to the wood.  I had also decided to notch the small pieces of wood otherwise the carrier would be too awkward and bulky.  After that, a little paint, wood paste and sanding did the trick.  I ended up macrameing the shoulder straps as no other solution was plausable.  The scale is so small that the crochet thread was too tiny (my hands cannot work that small anymore, they kept cramping up) so I opted for the kitchen string which worked out better than I thought. 
Working out the proportions and cutting the pieces.

Notching the pieces.
Fitting them with a little glue and wood paste.
Fitting the center support piece.

Adding the straps using kitchen string and simple macramé.

Adding the basket/load support pegs.

Finished dirtied carrier

The basket was as a lot of fun.  I had checked out a few tutorials and one by “1 inch minis” was wonderful but I just didn’t have the materials to carry it out.  I ended up going with the tutorial for the shopping cart from “Collectors Club of GB”.  I liked this method for two reasons.  One I could actually print out something on photo paper (I went to a site and had “First House” translated to kanji - thus batptising my ryokan) and two, I could use the wire that I had on hand to work with. 

The method was pretty straight forward.  Only a few steps I changed.  I used double sided tape instead of glue to fold over the ends of the basket and I added a strip of rice paper on the top and bottom to reinforce it.  I painted it with a mix of glue and water to help the wire stick to the paper better.  Then, I painted the inside and paper strips on the top and bottom and finally varnished the whole thing.  Once dry, I could distress it as much as I wanted.  I’ve been using some old makeup eye colors and brushing layers on to finished pieces gives it a nice dirty used look.  Sometimes it gets a little sparkly, but just burnishing it a bit with your fingers removes any excess.
Wires cut and ready, printed "basket" with "First House" in kanji. My printer  ink was running out!

Measuring out 1/4" spaces to make cutting more precise.

Sliding in the wires.  No need now to glue as I did that afterwards.

Using a small piece of flat wood to facilitate inserting the wires. I then cut out the basket and folded and fixed the edges.
I used a travel size square lotion bottle to help keep the shape of the basket.  It was easy to trim to size. I also had a small square piece of balsa wood for the bottom.

After covering it with a mix of glue/water, the wires were fixed by adding a small strips of rice paper to both top and bottom.  Then covering again with the glue/water mix.

After painting the rice paper strips, I varnished it and distressed it using old eyeshadow powders.

I added the last braided strap to hold the basket in place (when attached to the carrier), distressed the carrier and the trick was done.  I really like the finished piece.  It was a lot of fun seriously.
Braided safety strap to hold the loaded basket.

My bohemian back pack.

March 2nd 2013

Added a small sewing hook painted black to the back wall to hang the back pack on.  The basket I placed below it as I figured it'd be near the back door for quick access when they need to go out and gather wood or something else.

Kitchen with the backpack hanging on the back wall.
April 3rd 2013

My sister found an old foto of me at University and lo and behold next to me is the infamous basket.  Forget about my derby, the basket is what kills me!  And on a side note, I am sitting on the ground in a Norma Kamali coat.  Fashion plate to the last.  So 80's !
Raku firing in a Kamali coat. How chic!

17th October Update!
I found the original back pack picture ! You can purchase it here.  So glad.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Intermediate Work - Porch Repair, MiniaturItalia Minis Show

February 8-13 2013

First of all, many apologies for not having posted any news here for some time.  I had so many Halloween decorations (and houses) to build. Then we got into Thanksgiving which, believe it or not, I do here in Italy (my Italian friends have come to expect it - this year I even did a Gordon Ramsay turkey which was fab), then we got into Christmas.  Given it takes me a full two days just to put up my tree, well, suffice to say that I lost my concentration on the ryokan house project.  Not to say that I haven’t been mini-ing in the meantime.

I’ve made a few purchases during my “vacation”.  I found a lovely Coca-cola cooler for the front foyer (which I aged a bit and then stuck a few Japanese Coke adverts on and around it), plus a few purchases such as eggs and baskets and wooden serving trays.  All objects that will be used in the service and cooking for my ryokan guests. But more to be added later.
Open coke cooler with lots of ice and bottles

Few adverts attached.

 I finally removed the right front porch which had been annoying me since I had actually installed it.  I filled the holes with some wood putty and then redrilled and repositioned in the hopes of diminishing the large listing difference to the left hand porch.  Altho it’s not perfect, it’s better than it was.  So, it’ll have to do.
Filled in the holes with some wood putty
Re-positioned and drilled. 
Reduced list - matches somewhat better
I also attended my first miniature fair.  It was held in Milan, Italy this past weekend.  It was great to get away and fun to spend a few hours walking around the fair.  Since my needs are very specific, I only ended up spending around €60 which isn’t much I admit.  But if I feel I can make something myself, then I just can’t bring myself to buy it.  I did end up spending on a vintage Baseball Board Game (another project I have in mind) and a dyecast cash register which was very nice.  For the ryokan, I found a perfectly tiny hand brush to be used for cleaning up coal and carbon dust in the kitchen.  The other brush was a 1/12 scale and much too large.  Not to worry.  I cut it and sanded and glued a skewer on it and made myself a broom for the house.  Perfect !  
1/12 hand brush before reuse

Cut hand broom, sanded and attached a skewer for a handle
Finished broom and hand brush on the coal bucket
I found some beautiful raku style pottery which will fit in the Japanese style.  The pieces were extra special and really well priced.  I also located a wonderful marble cutting board/platter from a vendor who makes gorgeous marble minitaures.  And the final purchase which was just too cute to pass up was a miniature posable Panda bear.  Simply fabulous!!!
My mini purchases.
Little panda bear on the bed

Hopefully I am now back into the groove of building and things will begin to progress once again.  I have long since passed my 1st year anniversary of the build and considering I’ve neglected the build for a good 3 months, things are not so bad as they may seem.  So many ideas have formed in these months, I can assure you.  Lots to follow !