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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chapter 87 - The Sliding Windows to the Left Side Second Floor Porch, Two Chairs, A TV

July 26th - 30th 2014

This chapter just has a few objects to provide a little distraction before embarking upon the railings and awnings of the porch.  The windows were straight forward as was the TV (having already made a few) but this time there were two new chairs to construct.

So, first thing I did was to paint the sliding window pieces and the two support pieces the usual brown.  Then to glue up the windows and add the panes.  Last step was to aggressively sand down the piece where the windows get slotted into place.  Then the final two windows were inserted.  Then, I realized this was the last porch window set I would be doing.  Hurrah!!
You can see the space where I had to sand down for fitting the sliding windows.
Windows in and functional!
The next step was the TV.  I did some searches on the net and found that the TV’s in the kit are very closely modeled after actual 1960’s Japanese television sets.  Which is pretty neat that they would be so attentive to such a detail.  But since I already had two TV’s in the house and honestly I didn’t know where to put this one, I decided to make a portable TV.  So I had to look for some pics and I did find quite a few from that time. 
Cheesy 60's portable TV - inspiration.
I liked the color combinations especially (powder blue and beige) but I had to bash the kit a bit to make the TV portable. I cut back the side pieces and rounded the edges.  I then painted the TV a sort of blue (I don’t have any blue! So had to use some light Williamsburg Blue) and the buttermilk.  I then painted the front of the TV grey (it’ll be turned off) and the dials gold.  I also used a 0.05 fine point marker to ink in the black stripe in the front.  After letting the paint dry, I glued the TV into it’s cabinet and painted the whole thing with a bit of varnish.  I then added the antenna to the back and a handle to the top (which was a metal collar clip from my son’s new dress shirt).  I think the TV is pretty funky!  It’ll look better once it’s positioned downstairs in the kitchen.
The TV cabinet before shaping.
After shaping and a little color.
Finished cabinet and TV ready for insertion.

Finished portable TV.

TV ready to entertain the busy cooks.
Next were the two low chairs.  There were quite a few small pieces but went together quickly.  Once glued, I just had to sand the straight edges a bit then paint them black then varnish.  Next were the seat cushions.  I was undecided on these since I was unsure if leather was actually used on these types of chairs.  I really wanted to use the leather even if I couldn’t find many examples of leather cushions so I cut out some pieces on the bias, trimmed them and used double sided tape to attach the leather to the cushion piece.  I am really glad I did use the leather since the final result is quite nice and the leather fabric, being a coated fabric and faux leather, didn’t unravel during the cutting and fitting.  Very clean final look.
The low chairs before sanding and smoothing the edges.
Cutting the second leather piece.

Finished low chairs with leather cusions.
While I was working on these pieces, I had come across an artisan on FaceBook named Antonio Malacario who makes miniatures for manger scenes.  His work, especially the bird cages and iron work, are very detailed and special.  I came across a cage that would look great in the outside kitchen area and seemed small enough to fit.  Unfortunately, by the time I contacted him, it had been used in a manger bell dome scene and he didn’t have any others immediately available.  But he did have some other cages.  After a few sessions of messaging, he came  up with a cage that satisfied me so I purchased it.  (He accepts PayPal).  He was so nice I figured I’d risk it.  Who knew.  Maybe I just threw away €40.00 but at least if it did arrive it would be nice (I hoped).  All my doubts were erased when the package arrived from Naples today less than a week after the purchase.  The cage is absolutely gorgeous!  It’s the beat up look, stained and dirtied, the little door opens and it even has a removable tray under the birds (which he included) and a feed trough which removes as well.  The only thing I changed was that I put some Japanese newspapers in the bottom tray and dirtied it up with some bird poo.  I think it looks great!  I obviously had to figure out a way to hang it from the pergola so I used some leftover pieces from the TV set and made a hook and glued it to the upper pergola.  Fantastic!
Antonio's super bird cage. Door opens and bottom tray slides out.
I added some poo poo'd Japanese newspaper in the tray.

Sliding feed tray for my hefty birds.
Bird cage in place!
And the kicker is he included a few little extra surprises.  A little fork (which will go outside in the outside kitchen cabinet with the hibachi), a small soup container and lid and the best was a LED lamp with a tack like way of attaching to the house.  Basically, I had been thinking of putting a LED outside in the pergola area but I couldn’t find anything that I liked.  I knew it had to be rustic - like a naked bulb or something.  Well, Antonio must have read my mind because this lamp is super perfect!  The only small problem is that the LED is a 12v but I’ll try and figure out a way to light it up! 

Extra little surprises in the package.
"Un caro saluto da Antonio"
What a treat! Like Christmas in July!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Chapter 86 - The Porch Sills, The Sliding Windows to the Left Side Second Floor Porch, A Small Table

July 25th 2014

I started by painting the necessary sills brown (I also painted the window pieces brown this time before gluing - mostly because I was dipping into the brown anyway so I just figured I’d paint them now).  While those pieces dried, I worked on penciling in the spaces on the upper sills.  I installed the lower sills which needed some sanding to fit but eventually went into place.  After I installed the upper sills and glued them in.
The underside beams were then installed as were the filler pieces (see previous chapters).  I then glued together the sliding window pieces (slitting in half the double sided tape this time to make trimming easier) and the window panes.
Next was the small table.  I glued together the pieces and used some pieces of wood as a spacer  for gluing in the cross sections under the table.  I painted it black and varnished it and the upper sills.  Looking at it now, it would make a perfect bonsai table.
Underside of the porch with support beams.

Little black table and upper and lower sills installed.
They are not in the picture, but I made two sliding windows as well.  They were put aside till te next chapter.
Chapter 86, done.  Ok, so you can tell that today was a really slow day in real life. 

Chapter 85 - Ceiling to the Left Side Porch Second Floor, 2 Comfy Chairs

July 24th  - 25th 2014

The first thing I noticed is that the piece chart was missing for this Chapter.  Luckily, all the pieces were familiar as I had already made the porch ceilings before and the comfy chairs had the same pieces as well.  So, I slapped together the ceiling, painted the remaining pieces that needed it and installed the ceiling (which I won’t walk thru again as I had done it so many times before - at least this is the last one!).
I also had to attached a few more decorative pieces and the wooden runners for the shōji windows.  As usual, a tight fit.  But I’ll just end up having to sand down the upper piece to make the shōji slide.  At this point, I’m used to it.
Internal detail of the ceiling inside the porch
Finished porch roof.
Next was to make the comfy chairs.  I really didn’t want to use the fabric that came with the kit as it’s pretty boring.  So I pulled out the fabric pieces I had bought at Ajisai and found a neat blue.  Before I could start upholstering the chairs, I had the sand the wooden pieces and round the edges a bit.  The chairs are not stuffed - just wooden blocks covered with fabric.  So the too straight edges really don’t look that great once the fabric has been glued on (I did try one chair without rounding and didn’t like it much).  The kit came with pieces slightly raised in the center or bowed to give a more realistic look to the chairs.  But they just needed a bit of rounding out and smoothing to complete the effect.
Left side after sanding. You can see the raised seat detail. The backs were the same. To give the chairs more dimension.
After that, I had to position my piece to figure out how the pattern would fall on the “cushions”.   The easiest way was to make little pattern pieces and cut the bottom cushions first, then the back.  Course I ended up over cutting the back of one when I was fitting it but as usual, these chairs are well used so I wasn’t too concerned.  Once the upholstering was done, I could sand the bottom cushion fabric where people would have been sitting to make it look worn.  The cotton responded really well to the sanding.  I then stained the wooden arm rests and the peg legs and just waited for things to dry so I could glue them into place. 
Working on the seat cushions.

Gluing the back covering to the chairs and the chair backs to the seats.  Staining the arm rests and peg legs.

Adding the legs and arm rests.
There are areas where the cotton fabric did unravel a bit and was hard to manipulate (it’s a very fine cotton) but overall the effect is quite lovely! I like it! So kitsch hotel/motel 50’s!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chapter 84 - The Walls, Floor and Shōji to the Second Floor Left Side Porch

 July 22nd - July 23rd 2014

After checking to be sure I had all the parts, I put together the shōji doors.  I added some extra vertical pieces on the bottom panel because honestly they were a bit boring.  I then cut four shōji panels (as I knew I’d need two more later anyway) and glued them to the back.  I put them aside for when they would be installed.

In the meantime, I had to paint all the beam and timber decoration pieces with burnt umber and the outside walls Buttermilk and let them dry.  Once that was done, I applied some oriental style paper I had found.  It’s like lightweight wrapping paper.  I don’t think it’s washi but I can’t remember if I bought it at Ajisai or not.  Anyway, I like the cream color (hence I had painted everything in the irori pit room buttermilk) and the little pots and symbols floating around.  It reminded me of kitschy 50’s wallpaper.  I think it’s very appropriate.
Painting the outside wooden decorations and the walls.  Finished shōji.
Wallpapered internal walls.
Once those pieces were papered, I could install them onto the porch back.  As usual, sanding was required, mostly on the right side as the piece needed to be sanding practically down to 2mm (you can still see a bit where the edge is not clean). 
Area which was difficult to insert (power sanding)
I then had to position the front porch piece and clamp it into place to be sure the bottom was square.  I had to do the same for the top front panel as well since the left side was slightly warped inward.  So, just time lost for glue drying and reclamping.  Later I was able to glue on the decorative external pieces and the internal ones that cover up the edges.  This porch has two tatami for a floor so there was a small ledge as well that needed installing.  I actually like it as I may use the area with pillows and what not for a resting.  Even if there is a fire pit in the room, I would still need a sleeping space. 
Angle shows the different pieces that cover the walls and corners
Finished shōji and the tatami in place.

Porch section added and finished shōji.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chapter 83 - The Back Wall and Sliding Windows to the Left Second Floor Porch

July 17 - 22nd 2014

I haven’t been building the kit following the instructions per each chapter as sometimes things can get repetitive and I end up creating other objects (like the sake barrels or the outside areas) to keep things interesting.  But since I am still out of work, I feel like I really need to finish the build by the end of this year.  I feel like I need to accomplish something to keep my brain challenged and maintain my sanity.  I always have lots of projects but rarely ever complete them.  The last time I was not working (14 months I stayed out of work to get myself healthy) I completed so many things.  And that was before I even started on this house!  I was so proud of myself.  I want to complete this project if only to be able to say it will be my “capo lavoro”.  I have put a lot of my heart and soul into this.  Someone said once that miniature creation is a small version of what you cannot have in real life.  I think this is true for me.  I actually imagine myself as the ryokan owner planning and running the everyday function of the inn.  There was a time when I dreamt of owning a shop or a tea room.  Things that will never come true given my situation and what is available to me.  So, this house is truly my dream house.  Just like Barbie! 
I wonder sometimes what will happen to it when I am gone. 
I had started writing this last week with my reflections on what remains when we are gone and then the air tragedy over the Ukraine occurred.  I hope that the families will find something that can so poetically embody their loved ones like this dollhouse will me.  I could disappear before I finish it, but still you will see me in it.  In a way, our artistic creations make us immortal. And each of has (or had) the capacity of creating art around us.  Some in being simply mothers or fathers, sisters or brothers.  Others in their scientific research.  Our actions now, and how they touch others, are what will make us immortal.  Their effects will be passed down from generation to generation.  Just like this house.  Hopefully.

Anyway, back to the build.
This chapter covered the back wall and windows to the remaining porch. I didn’t document every step as it has already been done previously.  Needless to say, it went together quickly and without fitting problems like I had with this same section on the last porch.  The only thing was to pay attention to the painted panels (Buttermilk on the outside, white on the inside) and making sure that the notched pieces for the shōji were on the right side this time (to avoid having to install the shōji thru the front porch windows like last time).  Otherwise, it came together smoothly.  Course I was busy this weekend so I didn’t do anything for two days.  But I made up for it on the Monday and am posting this on a Tuesday morning. 

Painting and preparing.
Finished back section to the porch.
And the build continues....

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chapter 82 - The Awnings to the Right Side Second Floor Porch

July 9th - 16th 2014

The first thing I had to do with the awnings was create some shingles.  I had some left over from the last porches but now I didn’t have many and I had to start from scratch.  First was to apply double sided tape to the back of the shingle material.  Then I had to paint it with a little color to have different tones when it came time to cut and mount the tiles.  While the material was drying, I could begin work on the underside of the awnings.
Adding some stain to one piece to produce darker color tiles.
First up was to apply the underside decoration.  The instruction had me leaving the end pieces off to be cut to fit later but from my previous experience, this was not easy to do.  So I opted to use the method I used before.  Mounting those pieces then cutting away the excess from where the corner beams would fit.  I just had to measure the angle and cut away the excess.  I then sanded and painted the pieces as well as adding white paint to highlight the underside decoration.  Next up was penciling in some guide lines for lining up the shingles as they get applied.  Now I was ready for more shingle production.

Adding the underside decorations...
...cutting away space for later installment of support beams...
...checking the measurements...
...stained and painted ready for shingle installation.
I measured out appx. 1cm spaces and cut the shingle material into strips.  I then cut the strips into uneven 1cm or less shingles.  There were a few old lighter colored ones that I probably can’t use anymore as I don’t have enough to spread out across the awnings.  But I can paint some over a even darker once they are installed - just to even out the overall shingle shading.  I started cutting the tiles then separated them out by color tone.  In this case just the two tones.  Then next was removing the tape off the back of each one and applying each tile to an awning.  Needless to say, this is not fun. I’ve already done two floors of awnings and this step is one of the most boring.  I ended up skipping a few days and went back to work on the tiles on a Monday and completed tiling by Tuesday. 
Next was to attach the awnings to the porch. I used some sticky wax and glue to attach them.  By having the wax I was able to position and then glue in place with at least some insurance that the awnings would not fall off.  Since the porch wasn’t attached yet, it made the installation easier by laying it on its side.
Measuring the cutting lines for the shingles.
Cutting the shingles.
Applying the shingles to the awnings.

Finished shingles.

Gluing the awnings onto the porch.
The last part was to add some tiles to cover the intersections of the awnings, paint the ends white to the underside support beams and touch up some tiles with dark stain. 
Underside supports glued in and painted white.

Corner shingles added.

Porch in place. Not yet installed tho.

The porch will be installed once I complete the other porch.  That way, I can pull down the whole floor and install them using my table.  But I've got another porch to build!!
View thru the porch into the Buddha room.