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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Chapter 111 & 112 - Finishing Edges and Decorations Left Front Roof, The Onigawara

October 21st - 25th 2014

No tiles in this chapter.  So short reprieve...yet this chapter was challenging and perhaps overly explanatory...sorry.  The purpose of the blog was actually to help anyone mounting this kit and trust me, these chapters needed some tweeking.

There were lots of pieces here for decorating the peaks of the front and back left side of the roof.  First was to sand out any impurities and then paint them.  Before I did that, there was a decorative piece which will fit in the very top of the peak.  It had some weird holes and markings on them.  Checking the instructions,  the carved lines were supposed to be curved - like elaborate little bubbles or something.  Anyway, I really hated the way the bubbles were made so I recarved them using a dremel bit and flipping the pieces over and redrawing some of the lines.  I also deepened the external curves.  One was cut quite well whereas the other didn’t really have matching holes.  So I’ll use that one for the back peak.  I then painted the pieces and glued together the first sections for the decorations for the inside of the peaks.
You can see the lousy carving on the right.  Mine isn't much better but at least it's rounded.
Next I pulled out the pieces for Chapter 112 because I had to test fit them as I was building.  The instructions called for the bottom piece to line up perfectly but of course it didn’t so a small lip does show underneath.  Still, I needed to make a piece that would fit flush to the peak wall and it did.  I had to just trim it somewhat to the shape of the roof’s slant and glued it into place.  The piece didn’t match up perfectly with the tile edging but close enough.  I believe the mistake was again my installation of the eaves.  Since I had to overhang the first row of tiles by half a millimeter at the start, when I got to the top row it was more space than anticipated.  Still maybe it was better that there was more space between the tiles and the wooden peak since I’m not sure how much sanding would have been effective on the horizontal piece for this part of the installation.

I started on the peak’s decoration and right off the first piece’s installment instruction was not very clear.  It says “fit piece #3 to the front of the peak”.  This piece is heavy black cardboard with a precreased fold in the middle.  I couldn’t figure out if, in the Italian, they meant fit it to the front peak or fit it to the front of the front peak.  I tried dry fitting pieces a few steps ahead and it didn’t really clarify much. And the illustrations were not zoomed in enough to understand.  But since the piece #3 will eventually support some tiles, I figured it’d be best to glue it to the very top edge of the front peak.  Which I did.
Horizontal beam fitted and test fitting the paper piece #3.
Next up was fitting the decorative beams from the Chapter 111.  I had to saw off about 2mm of excess on the bottom and once I fitted that, I realized that the horizontal beam had been too far cut at the corners.  Even if I was sure to have done it correctly, I think it needed to extend out past the sloping edge of the roof.  Since I really didn’t want to ruin the front by ripping off piece 3 and the horizontal beam, I’m just going to see if I can use some other way of hiding the gaping holes.  (Maybe with more bird’s nests?) One thing I did realize was that the decorative beams are to be installed lining up to the paper piece three and not flush with the peak’s wall surface.  So that it gives a 3D spacial look inside the roof.  Actually very nice if it works out that way.
Gluing the beam decoration on the table - easier for installation afterwards.

Once I had cut the decorative beams, I glued them together and fit the bubble piece. The kit had me installing each piece and fitting the peak perfectly in place on the house which would be pretty impossible given the nature of piece #3 which is heavy card stock.  I figured I could best fit the piece whole beforehand on my table.  Which I did....but...
I still had to take it all apart.  When it came time to attach the tiles across the top, it was pretty clear that the famous paper piece #3 needed to be attached closer to the tiles already installed across the tops of the roof.  Luckily, the the decorative beams were attached to the paper piece so I just cut it away from the roof with the beams still attached, trimmed it to fit closer to the installed tiles and reglued it into place.  Now the beams and the bubble piece were closer to the peak’s surface (no longer 3D) but still looked fine.  I then attached the two tiles across the top.  All of this because I looked ahead (many many pages ahead) and found that the space between these tiles and the roof tiles running along the sides would be filled with some kind of black filler beam (in wood maybe...) so the open space would be diminished by repositioning as I did and then filling later...hopefully.
Fitting the peak decoration and discovering it was too far forward of the roof tiles so...

....I rmoved the whole piece, trimmed piece #3, and...
...reinstalled it.  Then I added the two side tiles.
Next up was the installation of the onigawara (roof ornamentation) used on houses and temples.  Sort of like gargoyles.  Wish mine were gargoyles.  Maybe I’ll have to keep that in the back of my mind and see if I can stumble upon some small gargoyles to stick up there eventually.  Anyway, one side of the roof tile was the valley part of the wave tile so I needed to glue a small piece to level out that side and make an even placement for the onigawara.  I had to also glue a cylindrical piece between the top of the two tiles on the sides of the peak.  I then could install the ornament.  And this side was complete.  Now, I just had to do the peak on the left back of the house following the same procedure!
Adding the onigawara.
Adding a tile to the row that butts up against the back roof peak tile.
I should have installed the back peak first since it was a first time trying it but hey, I have three more to do.  I noticed while installing the back part that since the back roof has yet to be tiled, the left side of the peak tiling was not really matching up.  So, I installed a tile there, then I installed my two peak tiles.  I could not install the onigawara here tho because the tiles for it to rest upon on the left are not there yet! How could they miss that.  So, I put it aside and will proceed with the rest leaving that for when I have actually finished tiling the sides of the back roof.  Odd tho...
Back roof peak installed except for the onigawara. Later....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chapter 110 - More Tiling...

October 17 - 20th 2014

First thing again was to set up the tiles in the jig to straighten them out.  So I did that and left them in a few days.  Still, it helps but isn’t really a solution.

This chapter has me cutting and mounting tiles on the curved edges of the front left and back left eaves.  So it was pretty slow going.  I had lots of left over little bits and bobs from previous tiling so it was just a matter of matching up, trimming and sanding the pieces down, heating them, bending them and gluing in place.  Things went well for the front two areas to tile and I finished that fairly quickly without much pain or frustration (breakage or badly matching waves on the tiles).
Clamping tiles in place....waiting for glue to dry.
Finished front roof.  You can just see the split tile on the second row far right.
When I got to the back, it was a different story.  The left side first two rows went in fine.  I then had to put in two full tiles to arrive all the way over to the curved edge.  The first one went in fine but the second piece, no matter which tile I chose to try, the wavy shapes would not match up.  The only solution was to break a tile, sand down the valley of the wave, then continue on with more tiles matching up the waves as much as possible.  I can see where the valley section is shorter but I prefer this small defect than the waves not matching up all the way across the last four inches of roof.  I dug through the wastage pieces and found other tile waves that matched up for the last two small pieces on the far left and the back tile section was done as well. 
Top right is where I cut the tile to match the wave detail better.
Another split at the top right edge.  I'll live with it.
Finished back roof tiling.
I also discovered, during clean up, that the mask I am using is not working very well.  It’s just a regular work mask but even with the metal strip to snug it up around your nose it’s just not doing its job.  I found all kinds of grey dust around my nose and nostrils tonite (I had some particularly heavy sanding to do for the wave matchup sections) and this dust is really nasty.  I’ve even begun to wear a head scarf and tie my hair up or into my sweatshirt.  So, I’m going to go back to my original “ebola” mask.  I know ebola is not a funny subject but we have these medical masks in the house for when my husband gets a cold or some kind of cough.  I have a lousy immune system (years of anti-immune drugs for the MS) and as I had written a few months ago a cold for me can end up as pneumonia.  Anyway, I’m going to try the medical mask and see how much grey dust shows up during my cleaning routine. 
Ebola mask on the left, crappy mask on the right.
Oh....and summer is finally ending in Italy.  We have had very balmy weather until today.  I guess even though many complained of a crappy summer, I actually enjoyed not suffering in 38°C temps for a change.  Just hope that the winter will be less severe than normal too.
And last but not least....the next chapter WILL NOT HAVE TILING!  Oh joy and rapture!!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chapter 109 - Still Tiling

October 15th - 17th 2014

I skipped chapter 108 simply because it was just another set of armrests which I can do a little later.  Now that I’ve gotten into a rhythm for the tiling, I didn’t want to interrupt it.

First thing I did was to put a bunch of really bowed pieces into the jig for straightening.  The next day, I started installing the first rows of the the right side roof’s tiling.  Even after heating up the tile a bit, this one broke in three pieces.  It didn’t really matter since the breaks are always very clean and so I glued them in place after taking all the necessary measurements.  But the next tile, which would have to be bowed a bit in the opposite direction, I heated it and stuck it in the jig for a bit.  It did help.  Most helpful was just heating them and holding them in shape while I applied a layer of glue.  Then positioning and clamping or weighting them down.  And waiting.....

Straightening tiles.

Curving a tile.
Holding in place....
...all the way up.  Good thing I found these weights!
I did see pretty quick progress once I found my system.  So the front right was caught up to the same stage as the front left (less one tile which was defective).  I'm noticing spaces at the top which seem excessive but I can't know till I start attaching those sections of the roof.  So, I'll just trust the kit.

Completed chapter 109
And more tiling to come...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chapter 107 - Laying Tile

October 10th - 15th 2014

Chapter 106 was the last of the lamp shades which I had already done a while ago.  So I am at chapter 107 which is just more tiling.

This chapter is pretty challenging.  I had to find a way to cut the tiles.  It was not a good thing.  These tiles put up a sh!tload of dust during the cutting and since my dremel type tool couldn’t even do the job, I had to find another solution.  What I came up with is carefully using a pair of cutters and fracturing the tiles at the right point, then sanding them down.  It was a total pain to have to work out measuring for the cutting since the tiles are bowed in the other direction and fitting them to the corner upturned angles meant that I had to first heat them with the drier, then bend them somewhat, take the measurements, cut with the cutters, sand and then rebend them again with the drier before gluing them in place.  My goal of finishing by the end of the year has pretty much gone out the window.  I lost a few days work on the house too because I caught a cold (already) and was miserable from Thursday till Sunday afternoon when finally I felt well enough to tackle the tiles.  In any case, I sanded one with the dremel sander and clearly I will need a mask to do this work.  The tediousness is not very conducive to me wanting to work on the tiles.  But as I pushed on, I found a few helpful methods. 
One was using the cutters and cutting away slowly and taking away smaller bits at a time.  This saved me time in power sanding which created way too much dust.

I also found my jewelry jig.  Using the little pegs and heating up the pieces with the drier, I locked them into place and let them cool in that position.  I was hoping that it would save time instead of heating up one at a time and forcing the bow out of them.  As it turned out, it did help somewhat as the pieces didn’t need as much force to hold them in place during gluing. 
Using the jig to flatten out the bowed tiles
Adding the tiles (rebent in the other direction now)
I got on a roll Tuesday afternoon and then Wednesday morning and managed to finish cutting and gluing in the tiles that were available. (I found my first truly defective tile - the waves go in the wrong direction and the thicker edge is on the top instead of the bottom.  I can still probably use the tile for filling.)  I was covered in dust (but the mask works well-but I'm going to wear goggles too from now on) and used my little weights to hold some tiles in place.  I also had to sand down the height of one of the tiles as I noticed that the width was a bit imperfect.  But with the power sander I made quick work of it.  Albeit dusty work.
On a roll...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Chapter 105 - Laying Tile

October 7th - October 10th 2014

Chapter 104 was for making one of the hanging lamps which I already did so now onto 105 which is all tiling.  Since I had a nice break from tiling in my last week’s work, I need to buckle down and get some more tiles on this roof. 

Since each one needs to be matched up somewhat and then clamped into place, the first row is always slow going.  Plus the tiles are so bowed, I have to wait for the glue to set up.  The other difficulty was when I clamped the pieces into place, they were breaking the fragile thin eave wood underneath.  So I then I had to come up with a new way to clamp them without fracturing the wood.  I used some extra bits of wood to distribute the pressure over numerous under eave decoration pieces.  It seemed to work but the damage was already done on one side at least.  But perhaps since we can’t really see the underside of that part of the roof, I can repair it somehow.
Trying to distribute the clamp force and avoid more damage on the eaves
The next day, I knew I had to figure out a way to flatten out these tiles.  I couldn’t keep using clamps and waiting days for stuff to dry.  So I used my hair dryer to heat up some pieces then weight them or clamp them to a straight edge till they cooled back down.  It seemed to work but after a short time, the tiles just rebowed again.  So I had to try and glue them in place before the bowing returned.  Which I did manage in the end.  I finished adding this chapter’s tiling and flipped the roof over - again.
Flattening the tiles after heating them with a hair dryer.
I fixed somewhat the damaged underside (in any case I wasn’t going to be clamping those edges anymore) with some making tape, then reattached the pieces of underside eave that had come unglued (because of flipping the roof and also because each time I move the roof on my work table, these are the points that are getting stressed).  And lastly, since the roof was upside down, I drilled small holes in the six corner beams where the lanterns would eventually be attached.  I figured out a way to get the tiny drill bit into my drill tool (using masking tape to thicken the actual diameter at the bottom where it goes into the bit holder) and drilled angled holes.  I had purchased some “hooks” thru the mini model boat place and with a spot of glue I think they will fit perfectly for hanging the lamps. 
Tiny holes drilled for eventual lantern hanging.
But that’s a bit more ahead.....
This chapter's tiles in place.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Intermediate Work: Japanese Kites, Shelf, An Umbrella Stand, Floor Lamp

October 1st 2014 - October 5th 2014

Well, I need a little break from tiling.  There will be a lot more to do but while I was waiting for tiles to set, I would get these ideas and start navigating.  These are just ideas of how to complete the decoration of the house with objects that would make it even more unique.  While surfing, I came across a lot of miniature Japanese diorama and nearly all of them had scrolls and such decorating the walls.  But one artisan had kites! I had forgotten about Japanese kites! They are great for filling in wall areas.  So I found some images and printed them out.

Kite paper is very light and at first I thought I would use tissue wrapping paper.  But then I remembered I had some calligraphy paper which is also very light, transparent  and beige in color.  I don’t want my kites to look new.  So I had to tape the paper to another sheet so it would pass thru the inkjet printer without getting “eaten”.  Once that was done, I could start cutting and making the kites.
I used some left over pieces from the kit to make the supports for the back of the kites.  The koi fish kites (koinoburi) were made wrapping around a paint brush to maintain the wind sock kind of shape.  Basically these koi kites are used during the children’s festival in May and each koi represents a member of a family.  Black is the Dad, red the Mom and so on.  So I just made a family adding one blue and one green for a boy and a girl.  They are usually hung from a roof but I imagined mine hanging from a kite wand (seen on the internet if you want to buy one) from one of the porches.  Since the bamboo room is a more permanent type bedroom, I figured that could be the owner of the ryokan’s room.  Or someone with numerous family members.  Anyway, I chose the first floor porch for the koi kites.  It took a little time to cut them out, glue them and tie string to each one but I think the final effect is very cute.  They even look like they are hanging from a fishing rod.
Printed on calligraphy paper and gluing small supports.
Working on the koi fish kite.
Finished kites ready for some string and mounting.

Stringing the koi kites onto the rod support.

Kites hanging limp (no wind) outside the bamboo room.
Next up I wanted to make a shelf for the fire pit room.  I had more objects from Elisabeth Causeret that I wanted to put on display so I decided to make a shelf for them.  I had recently found another miniature site (mostly ship building materials in smaller scale) but since there were a lot of materials that could easily go with my 1/20 scale I ordered some things.  One was a walnut panel 3mm thick so this would be perfect for the shelf.  I used some of the walnut cleats I had purchased too (see below regarding the cleats) and shaped them as a false support under the shelf.  More decoration than anything.  Then I varnished it lightly to bring out the dark color.  I love walnut.  I then glued it in place (using some of the sticky wax to hold till the glue set).  I then had some other things I wanted to do in this room so I waited before loading up the shelf with its precious items.
On the left a sanded walnut cleat that I used as a shelf support.
Shelf in place and drying before adding objects to it.
Regarding the cleats, I bought them because I wanted to use them to hold the rope from the bamboo shades on the outside of the porches.  This way, the string is wrapped around those instead of just tied to the bannister.  I think they look cute and it cleans up the messy look on the front of the porches.
Gluing the cleat in place.

Wrapping the blind's rope round it.
Much cleaner look.
Old style umbrella stand.
My next project was an umbrella stand.  I found it in the pages that the kit provided for information about Japanese culture (lots of good pics and ideas here) and when I went online, I couldn’t easily find a pic of this old fashioned stand.  The umbrella stands now are not really stands at all but the usual cylindrical ceramic decorated ones that most businesses just leave at the door.  (Like the one I already installed in the front portico area.)  But I really liked this one and was going to give it a try.  At first I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to use the walnut I just bought but then I figured “why not”

Basically I have problems with available tools.  The walnut is pretty hard to hand drill so I broke out my cordless drill.  There were some small bits so I measured out some circles and started drilling from small to large.  Obviously the last bit was still too small for the overall hole opening so I found some bits in my Dremel type hand tool that would plain out some of the wood and sand it down into a circular hole.  Still, the final sanding of the holes would have to be done by hand.  So I wrapped a paint brush with some sand paper and just sanded the holes. 
Plaining down the inside of the holes.
I then had to cut the side support pieces which was slow and also a bit imprecise.  One day I will invest in a mini table top vice.  Anyway, I cut the pieces then sanded the edges and did my best to match up the sizing.  I then glued the hole panel onto the side panels.  Next up was making the slots for the handles.  That was a chore.  I had to first use a saw then I had to chisel out a bit more as the umbrella’s toothpick size was a bit bigger than the slots.  After I could finally measure out and position the support piece onto the stand.  The bottom of the umbrellas (cocktail umbrellas by the way) would be resting on the support shelf.  So I had to trim back my handles a bit.  Then I painted them after matching them all up.  I had seen in the pics that in some inns they actually have rain gear that you can use so I chose my four umbrellas (orange) and tipped them with bright orange as well.  I managed to find in my files the kanji lettering for “First House” and traced it onto the umbrellas.  I then had to varnish the handles of the umbrellas and the stand obviously.  And that was that!! The umbrellas are now available for guests!
Staining and painting then varnishing the umbrellas.
Marking them for the ryokan.
Umbrellas in their stand.
And the stand set up in the foyer.
Tree branch by Dame NiSuru
And as the final intermediate project, I wanted to make another lamp but I wanted a floor lamp instead of a hanging lamp.  I had seen some nice shades on the internet and I liked the idea of a branch.
The firepit room has the giant tree beam running across the ceiling and the firepit itself lends itself to an outdoor kind of feeling.  So the tree branch decoration would look very nice in there. First I had to drill a hole in the back wall to accommodate another LED light which was done with some little difficulty.  I was eyeballing the hole and missed of course.  So that can be covered up in the back later.  I finally got the hole drilled in the right place and inserted the LED adding a little sticky wax to make it stay put in the position I wanted. 
Three stacked block for support from the inside.
The lamp construction was exactly the same method that I had used before only this time it had to be taller.  So I put three of the little blocks together to make the inside support for working on the lamp. 
I then found a nice black and white branch design (see above) and made a flipped version of it too.  I measured the blocks and how tall I wanted the design to be and printed it out on some of my shōji paper.  I touched up the design with some random branch extensions so the design didn’t seem too similar overall.  I then wrapped it round the blocks and found more leftover pieces to make the supports and side pieces as well as some little decorative pieces.  It wasn’t easy since my hands can’t handle such small pieces all the time but after a lot of patience and gluing, I got it done.  I then touched up the black areas and varnished it and placed it in its position.
Printed out on the shōji paper.

Wrapping around the blocks for support.
Finished lamp.
I think it came out really well.  I then put the ceramic objects onto the shelf and once lit, it lights up these as well.  You can see the cracklé in the ceramic! Gorgeous.
Check out the cracklé on the ceramics.  Really lovely! And the kites are on the wall!
I have one more object I want to place in this room but it will have to wait.  I must get back to tiling if I want to stay on schedule! And sorry for the long blog post.  I was feeling very creative this week!
Peeking thru the front doors to the foyer and my new umbrella stand.