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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Additional Work : Miso Barrels, Whisky Barrels, Soy Barrel, Water Barrels and Spa Barrels

November 21st - 26th 2014

When I purchased the walnut cleats from the Italian mini shop, I also purchased some small barrels that I wanted to use in the storage area of the kitchen.  I wanted the barrels to contain some things that were common use but also unique.  I found some pictures of some pretty cool barrels for miso (a kind of soy paste used in cooking) and a Japanese whisky (altho not the one that has been in the news recently).  It seems odd but this whisky brand has been around quite a while and perhaps the inn would have a barrel or two for their VIP guests.

First I found some labels that could be transferred to the barrels.  Next was finding the best medium for transferring them.  I printed the labels out on paper and a transparency both on the laser printer and the inkjet and set about making some tests.  All the tutorials I read required certain solvents (Citra Solv which I have no idea what that is and it’s not available in Italy, acetone, etc) or products like Modge Podge which are not available here either.  So in reading the tutorials on how to transfer, the only thing that stuck with me is what can dissolve the printer ink onto a porous surface.  I tried printing off my laser printer onto paper then placing the image on the wood and wetting the paper with acetone, then rubbing.  Wrong.  Not even one small bit of toner ink came off.  So that failed.  I then tried using the acetone on the surface and trying to transfer the toner ink from a transparency - nothing.  So my toner ink is pretty non soluble. 
Next was testing the inkjet on the transparency.
Printing on a transparency.
Clearly the ink is wet so you have to be super careful not to smear it (hence why I printed off many little images) but the size of my barrels are so small you really can’t see details once some of the ink transferred over.  I did discover it was best not to moisten the barrels as the ink just ran and clouded the image.  So, on the miso barrel, I finally got a few transfers to show up.  The soy sauce barrel was a total loss.  So I printed the page out again on calligraphy rice paper and attached the labels to the barrels with water and glue.  As the paper dries, you can see the printing through the paper a little.  Since I couldn’t see enough for the soy, I reprinted it on the other side (still with the toner ink) and then decoupaged it onto the barrel.  So, overall it was not a total loss.  In any case, all the tutorials about transferring images to wood are a bust for small pieces.  There just isn’t enough possibility to get good detail.
You can barely make out the label...
The miso label was a little better on a dry surface
Next was decorating the miso barrels.  One barrel has stones on top (found photos on the internet that showed how they press the fermenting paste by setting stones on the lid) and one of the barrels is open for use in the kitchen.  I used some acrylic paint to color a mix of glue and sand to create a paste-like mixture that I then spread onto the top of the barrel.  I made a small spatula and inserted it into the paste.  The final effect is quite cute.
Inspiration - miso barrell with stones on top.

Inspiration - Miso paste
My mini version of both.
Inspiration from Nikka Whisky
Finished barrels.
I then pulled out the changing room’s wardrobe so I could add some obijimi - obi belts - to the kimonos nestled there.  I just cut and glued some small colored ribbons.  Just a small detail that I wanted to add for a while and finally got round to it.
Adding the obijime.
Next I made a few buckets for the spa and water buckets for the irori fire pit room.  I also painted one bucket red to put into the Buddha room as a decoration.  Red sake buckets are given during wedding ceremonies so I thought maybe a bucket would be used up and then placed as a decoration in one of the rooms.  It’s cute and small.  So I was sold.  I painted “water” in kanji on two buckets which I filled with “water” (liquid Fimo) and baked for half an hour in a low oven.  I let them cool then finished aging them.  I then placed one in the irori room and one in the kitchen near the stove.  I then also placed the miso barrel in the kitchen and the whiskey and soy barrel in the storage area.  I think they look pretty good.
Water filled buckets for the spa.
The shower drain with a small bench.
Buckets filled and non filled for the spa.
Two fire fighting water buckets and the red used sake bucket.
Whisky, soy and miso barrels in the storage space.
Buckets placed in the spa.
Miso paste barrel in place and water bucket at the far right.
It’s now Christmas time as I write this (well, really the day before Thanksgiving) so all the manger accessories are out in the stores.  Often you can find a few little objects that work well in scale but you have to go within a day or two of the displays being put out because the cool objects disappear quickly.  Anyway, I found a set of tubs (buckets for a manger scale but for me they will be tubs) and cleaned them up a bit, painted them and varnished them.  I used a gold paint pen to trace a small band of “metal” round the outside.  I’m not quite sure what I will do with them yet but they are definitely going in the house. 
Manger buckets will become tubs in my house.
Anyway, real life is crashing down on me of late.  My next idea is for the back of the house but I have to plan it out and I’m not really concentrated right now.  So, perhaps after Thanksgiving (which I am going to celebrate on Sunday).

Happy Thanksgiving to all my family and friends and remember to appreciate your loved ones at least one day out of the year.  Eat turkey.  Be Happy!!
Super cute pie miniature you can find on Etsy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chapter 120 - Installing the Roof, Installing the Lanterns, The Ryokan Sign

November 18th - 19th 2014
Well, the final big step was installing the roof onto the house.  I checked before and noticed that the roof doesn’t lie perfectly flat on the top of the last floor so I applied large globs of glue in the four corners and positioned the roof on top.  I figured that the weight will hold it in place and the glue will stop it from sliding.  It would be very easy to remove if needed (perhaps for moving the house to a different location?) and then reattach.  I think it looks very super
Globs of glue....
Roof is on.  Looks crooked to me but that's me overcompensating....
I then attached the lanterns using the little hooks I had purchased.  I am glad I had already drilled the holes when I did as it would have been impossible to install these according to the kit instructions (with little nails).  I put a drop of glue on the end of each one and inserted them into their respective holes.  They also are super!
The tiny clips that would fit into the tiny drilled holes.
Lantern in place.
The last thing to put together from the kit (not counting also the last little armrests which I will eventually make) is the signage.  Lots of tiny pieces here and it took me a bit to put it together.  I aged it a bit with some black wash and left it to dry.  I’m going to leave it this way without varnishing it. 
Tiny bits and pieces.
Assembled signage.

Dirtied and in position.
And the build is complete.  What’s left are the little details and things I want to add to the kit that were not part of it.  I want to finish the back with some landscaping and more storage area stuff.  So, from now on, it’s Intermediate Work - which is really Additional Work.  Still, it’s pretty sad having completed the house from a building point of view.  It has been a challenge but also has kept my mind busy and occupied.  Here are some more pics:
Open house.
Left side porches and spa changing room.

Right side porches and kitchen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chapter 115, 116, 117, 118 & 119 - Tiling and Peak Finishing Decoration, Painting the Roof

Remaining areas left to be tiled.
November 12th - 17th 2014

I went back to tiling today.  Cutting, sanding and glueing.  Hardly exciting but needs to be done.  I am working on the back roof of the house now.  Lots of tiny pieces to insert into areas that I hope will be covered effectively later (well, not much later).  Anyway, I had to finish the back roof areas and then also finish off the last three corners of the peaks.  So since I had used some of the tiles previously for the front, I had to open chapter 117 to get more tiles to finish the back and corners.   I finished the last two left corners and while the glue was drying, I pulled out Chapter 116 and 118 which were the pieces to finish the top of the peaks of the left and right side roofs.
Nearly finished tiling.  Just one tiny corner spot left to be done.
Chapters 116 and 118 had these pieces for decorating the roof tops.
First off, I noticed in fact that I had to add a last row of tiles.  This was ok since I still had quite a few tiles to use.  I didn’t add the last row previously since I wasn’t sure if there were large or small filler pieces that would go between the last row of tiles and the top of the peak.  In fact, the space was much too large for the filler.  So I am now adding as I move along pieces to complete the top row of the tiling. 
Once the last row dried in place, I started adding the pieces that would support the upper peak decorative tiling.  It was necessary to use some pieces as filler and glue in place using fairly big globs.  Not only that, for the side peaks I made the mistake of thinking I could glue all the layers together and then place them on the roof.  Wrong.  The pieces are thin and notched to permit you to bend them into place and glue.  But since I had absolutely no way to hold the pieces in place (my little clamps had no where to “hold on” to) I was forced to hold them in place for a while or use big globs of glue and my weights  and just hope that gaps are not so visible from the front of the house.  So again, I lost time waiting for glue to dry.  But at least now I know how to proceed for the rest of the roof.
Two side pieces and the top added.
Creative weighing down to adhere to the curve of the roof.
The next day I finished tiling the last rows and filling gaps where the tiles needed cutting (thereby completing chapters 115 and 117).  I attached the last onigawara (not without difficulty - but I extended a tile in the last row of the right side to accommodate the underside of the onigawara better for attaching) and again waited for glue to dry.  In the meantime, I tested out an area using my black acrylic paint somewhat watered down.  The entire roof will have to be painted black to even out the surface somewhat so I tried an area.  Honestly the layer of black makes a big difference especially considering the amount of dust that accumulated on the tiles while working.  I have dusted them repeatedly but still there is a layer that I can’t remove (unless I wash them - which I am NOT going to do!!!) 
You can see the structure of the pieces to allow some bending.  Not much tho. 
Adding the corner support.  The front of this part of the roof has been painted.
I then attached more gable decorations at the back of the house (using one that came out lousy from the front) and attached some of the angled peak end decorations as well (from chapter 119).  Things are overlapping a bit since I am working while waiting for areas to dry.  Waiting for the front to dry, I finished the last corner to the right front roof, added the corner decoration and painted black under that gable.  Working this way, I moved ahead by rotating jobs.   Some of the things I screwed up on but for some reason the kit came with an abundance of pieces so I just ripped them off and started over. 
You can see the difference betwwen the painted tiles (right) and non.
Anyway, by Monday the 17th I was getting ready to add the last of the edging to cover where the tiles meet in the front.  I finished painting the whole roof and must say now the surface does look nice and even. 
Painting the roof.
Painting complete and adding the final covering pieces.
The final part was just adding the two decorative pieces to the back of the roof to hide the tile junctures, then the back left corner piece.  I had some extra decorative “gable pipes” so I cut them to size and glued them to the front tile cover pieces.  No need to waste extras.  And the roof is fu@king done!!! I cannot believe it!!  And it weighs a ton!
Detail of the corner, gable and juncture areas of the roof.
Finished roof.
Next chapter....attaching the damn thing!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Intermediate Work: The Back of the House, Lighting Part II

 November 9th - 11th 2014

So here’s the deal.  When I started the inn, I had an idea that it would be for young people, a bit bohemian.  Not five star class if you get my drift.  I even had an original idea to make it a Japanese bordello...course, as I got into it I could see that it really could be something nicer instead of cheap.  Still, the ryokan, from the start, is a little old and not very well kept.  I chose not to varnish most of the embellishments on the walls and to keep areas unfinished a bit.  My choice was two fold: first I knew I was going to run into problems in the construction (both for my inexpertise and the fact that many of the pieces were badly warped to start with) so I knew the rooms and whole house would have gaps or fit together imprecisely and second, it was my first dollhouse.  There was no way I was going to do justice to a beautiful five star ryokan.  So, my inn is for everyone.  The young the old the hippie....all are welcome! Which brings me to the back of the house.

The kit never was really set up to actually show the back of the house but I didn’t like that idea.  I wanted to do something there too.  Like a behind the scenes stuff going on in the alleyway kind of area.  So, I purchased some stone work printed paper to use to attach or glue on the external walls around the house - exposed brick as it were.  Knowing also that I had no real way to effectively hide the electrical wires, I figured I’d use this paper to create where the ryokan is pretty much falling apart - at least in the back.  From the front, it looks fine.  But we know that the ryokan is in dire need of repair.  I used the double sided tape and attached paper over the wiring.  All of this can be easily ripped out when the LEDs finally give out and need replacing (of which I have NO idea how I may mange that!) and I also cut some of the wooden beam decorations to show they had also split and fallen away.  I will add broken bits of beam all along the bottom of the back sidewalk.  Like they are holding them till they get a chance to renovate the exterior. 
Preprinted stone wall paper.

Cutting to size to hide the wiring.
Cutting more pieces to size.
Once I cut to size and shape, the back walls of the house were done.  I added the last two mini awnings that went over the second and first floor center windows.  And I added a few more random exposed bricks on the back.  Fun. 
Finished back with broken beams and exposed brick.
I also added a few more posters and welcome signs to the inn.  One that’s most important was the “no tattoo’s allowed” sign outside the onsen spa.  I guess in Japan tattoos are frowned upon (due to them often being a mark of mafia affiliation) so I added that - plus a how to behave in the onsen sign on the inside wall of the changing room.  Now we all know how to behave!!!
No tattoos allowed!!
Changing room now carries the "how to's" of the onsen.
Outside welcome (blessing) sign.
Next was making the garbage receptacle to hide the batteries.  I had seen a really nice version in one of the pages that came with the kit (same place I got the inspiration for the rackets and the umbrella stand and even the kimono stand!) and I just liked the overall look of it.  So again I used scraps to construct it.
Inspiration for the trash bin and place to hide the batteries.
The outside of the scale one is made of some kind of concrete.  So, I cut some wood to size and glued it together.  I then added a few decorative pieces to the sides and front to simulate a heavier concrete container.  Next up was covering it in a simulated concrete surface.  I watered down some glue, spread it lightly over the surfaces I wanted and then sprinkled some very fine sand onto it.  That made the surface rough.  I know that they actually sell paints which have sand particles premixed but right now I really can’t afford to be spending money on stuff I’m only going to use this once now.  Then I had to let it dry before applying the grey paint.  I mixed up some dark grey and white and painted the sandy surface with some of it.  I must say, it does simulate concrete fairly well.  I then painted the top and the embellishment pieces a terra cotta brown (I used some leftover shingle sheets from the kit to construct the top and the front) and the trash bin was done!
The design and cut scrap pieces

Testing the fit.
Batteries fit in fine.
Adding some light decorative pieces.
Painting the concrete.
Finished dust bin.
I added some grass the the edges where the wires run while I was waiting for paint to dry so that it looked acceptable in the back.  Eventually I will add some rubbish bags around the trash bin. 

And as a final touch, Bansksy struck!! While I was waiting for paint to dry overnight, the next morning I awoke to find that Bansky had visited behind the ryokan leaving his mark in the homicidal panda.  Little bastard! Now someone will want to cut away a piece of the back wall and sell it at Sotheby’s!
Anyway... wiring and back of the house - DONE! Back to tiling!