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Miniature Studio

My Journey in Miniatures

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Miniature Studio

Hello,

My name is Alan, from the Mid-South(U.S.).  I'm new to this forum, and I'd like to share some images of my craft.

My very first miniature was a table that I made from balsa wood and wooden dowels, stained a dark walnut "colour"; and is now in a landfill somewhere, as it was that bad.  I never took a picture of it.

This, my second, and first-serious, miniature: a lady's lingerie chest, constructed entirely of cherry; even the drawer handles.  The handles and sides were steam-bent, the handles made from the thinnest dowels imaginable...

5982ebbd0ed99_lingeriechest.jpg.af5eef187288b195b494cfb76049809f.jpg

The image is a bit grainy, and I know I didn't take it, as my first camera was digital.  I've never owned what I call a "paper" camera.  My older brother must've taken it, as he did of the others of that time.

It was just five inches tall, and I made it entirely from scratch.  That was back in 1991 or '92, and long sold off.

The vast majority of my work was conducted in the early-to-mid '90s.  The designs are of my own, as I've rarely if ever reproduced existing items.  I've made only about fourteen or so thus far. 

I would love to show you the others, but I don't want to press, being that this is my first posting.  Thank you for looking!

Cheers,

Alan

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Darren Thomas

Show More!

- Darren 

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ElgaKoster

Welcome to the forum and yes please show us the rest of your work. We never tire of seeing other people's work.

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Miniature Studio

Thank you all.

I lived in Midtown Memphis from 1983 to 1995.  The location and day-to-day rambling about lent themselves well to inspiration, yes, indeed; the semi-ancient trees, and the homes built at the turn of the last century and throughout the 1920s.

According to my list that I had compiled many years ago, the lingerie chest was actually the fourth, and preceded by a stained-basswood grandfather's clock, second, and a columned fireplace and mantle, third.  I have no photos of either, unfortunately; particularly of the mantle, regrettably, as I think I had made it of cherry; perhaps, perhaps not.

After the lingerie chest, I made a brass refractor mounted on a pyramidal stand, fifth, of either cherry or mahogany, which featured four carved brass animal feet.  I made that one in three days, and it sold in three days once placed with my handler.  To this day, I believe that a tiny speck of brass entered my eye whilst carving the feet.

Sixth: the "Lion's Head" armoire, of cherry, limba and Carpathian elm burl...

5983af94b6d48_lions-head1.jpg.d946ab75e19692279909ce5076c4c1fd.jpg

The work featured a revolving center-door, with it and the side-doors fitted with mirrors.  A neighbour had given me her empty makeup compacts, and from whence I retrieved the mirrors.  She preferred the larger compacts, apparently, and much to my benefit.  When I make an armoire, it must come with a set of coat-hangers; no ifs, ands, or buts.  The rod for hanging them, within the cabinet; I don't know if I had positioned it prior to the taking of the photograph, but it was installed nonetheless.  I was told several years later that it and the lingerie chest were donated to the Children's Museum of Memphis, and by a daughter of the lady who had purchased them.  I went by there, eventually, but the staff were in the midst of a remodel, and with everything stored away.  I may visit again in future.  A bit of steam-bending is evident...

5983b16d97df0_lions-head.jpg.ce661b8d64d681470833b251548a7f3a.jpg

At the time that I created these miniatures, all I had to work with was a craft-knife, sandpaper of varying grits, and a Dremel jigsaw and rotary tool.  I now have a Preac table-saw, a Foredom rotary, a baby and mini drill-presses, and all sorts of carving and grinding bits.

 

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Miniature Studio

Seventh: a grandfather's clock, of mahogany, movingui, brass and 14K gold, and the dial of hand-painted brass; the work from 1994, but the images from 2015...

clock.jpg.6807380e0f2c40f1727e110c867c4c4b.jpg

clock3.jpg.9185b5d5eaebeff07f98821761377660.jpg

clock2.jpg.8093d4e73e611ded71dc52e860302610.jpg

The clock-face door does not open, nor is there a working clock within; the pendulum, however, does sway back and forth, albeit manually.  The key in the door is fixed.

Only the aforementioned cherry lingerie chest was stained.  Afterwards, I've yet to stain any fine wood.  Exceptions may be made in future, depending; but staining is just that, rather than the rule.

 

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Miniature Studio

The eighth was a cherry and movingui wall mirror.  I think I gave it to a friend, long ago.

The ninth, a & b: a lady's dressing table and stool, of mahogany and movingui, and featuring flame-finials and hand-painted fabric; the sunburst apron is comprised of as many individual pieces as are discernible...

ldt.jpg.b525ab130babbf651f8dd2c5b6fbadd1.jpg

Just before beginning to make the better miniatures, I had completed a 1/350 scale plastic model of the R.M.S. Titanic, and based this miniature on a dressing table that was photographed within a first-class cabin.  Among the unpainted miniatures, I consider this one to be my best work to date.

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The tenth was a small chest I had made for an in-law, and featured colourful pieces of veneer.

The eleventh: a colour television console, c. 1975, of cherry, and very much like the one my family once owned...

television.jpg.14b8beb2b4fc6b7330d659bab19295c7.jpg

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Miniature Studio

The twelfth was a half-scale bathtub, and given to a friend.  Call me superstitious, but there was never a thirteenth.

The last of my legacy miniatures, and the fourteenth: the "Aviary" armoire, and the first of my painted works...

front.jpg.137a700c484de6400b103e160d2fefc5.jpg  sides.jpg.f3951cb993faf57cfdc5c85b047b65ea.jpg

...featuring two extinct species of birds: the Passenger pigeon, and the Carolina parakeet.  The door handles, when locked, were aligned in such a way as though the peacocks were roosting upon them.  The insides of the doors were lined with movingui...

front-open.jpg.8ce65ddc13652d3194411b4015fa8da7.jpg

I just had to include one of the two of my most favourite of birds: the Dodo, but on the backside of the cabinet...

dodo.jpg.cff9bb3fd4874b8ca4623fa1dda57dbf.jpg

When my handler's staff first examined it, they thought that the birds were decals, until they held it up to the light.  My handler absconded with this one, with no compensation, and never to be seen again.

Thank you for looking.

marque.jpg.797b87e36ca4be149b497bd6e28efcf9.jpg

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Miniature Studio

Along came 1995, a relocation to a semi-rural area about 25 miles south of Memphis, and a continuance of working on a dollhouse for my mother...

house2.jpg.85f569df9ddcb55f68ddd28a89b71847.jpg

..which was destroyed by fire in 2005.  Yes, that was Greenleaf's "Beacon Hill", and a pain, particularly when attempting to round-wire it.  I'm through with those thin-plywood kits, incidentally.

In 1998, I began work as a computer technician, on the road far more than on site, and for the next fourteen years, and with no time to spare for my artistry.  In 2012, I came home, and as my mother's caregiver, but it took almost five years to get back into what I love doing best.  My first idea was to make a stereo system, consisting of an an amplifier, a turntable and two speakers.  It's on hold at the moment, but I have almost completed the turntable.  Incidentally, I finally landed some East Indian, or Ceylon, satinwood veneer.  The turntable is of said veneer, with a mahogany core, and a frosted acrylic platter...

turntable4.jpg.89e8418041a0a5d29291c3fff246ce29.jpg 

...just a little something I started working on.  It will eventually be finished, and will sport either a genuine ruby or sapphire "needle", the bulk of the stone to be contained within the tonearm's head; oh, and a sterling-silver spindle for the platter.

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WeekendMiniaturist

Alan,

:)  Is your Mom your handler that absconded #14?!!!  I think my Mom, or a significant other are the only people that are likely to get away with absconding my miniatures... I am enjoying your posts and photos.  Thankfully my husband's interest in miniatures is enabling my hobby.  

The hangers are lovely touch, that I had not considered making them in wood; it amazes me that miniaturist can still surprise me after all these years with a tiny detail that makes the heart smile.

That is nice key in your clock door; I was working on a little key until about 1 am last nite for my spice chest... I had a nice oval, but I would like to have to side by side overlapping circles as your key handle shows.... so much for my hands to accomplish, so that was my 2nd key; I'm going to try one more...

Welcome to the forum!

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, WeekendMiniaturist said:

Alan,

:)  Is your Mom your handler that absconded #14?!!!  I think my Mom, or a significant other are the only people that are likely to get away with absconding my miniatures... I am enjoying your posts and photos.  Thankfully my husband's interest in miniatures is enabling my hobby.  

The hangers are lovely touch, that I had not considered making them in wood; it amazes me that miniaturist can still surprise me after all these years with a tiny detail that makes the heart smile.

That is nice key in your clock door; I was working on a little key until about 1 am last nite for my spice chest... I had a nice oval, but I would like to have to side by side overlapping circles as your key handle shows.... so much for my hands to accomplish, so that was my 2nd key; I'm going to try one more...

Welcome to the forum!

Hello,

Thank you for the warm welcome and the kind comments.  I'm just getting back into it, and hopefully to improve as I go along.

I've discarded my first and even second attempts in my work in the past, to fine-tune.  For example, this is the first door I made for the "Aviary"...

5985266410415_olddoor.jpg.72d803c0cb5c174a4e373f41f9e7864c.jpg

You'll get there with the key, and with the "widow's peak" intact.  If I was to make one now, I would use these...

59852a741c15f_minidrill-press.jpg.0c44baa4e914b4ce9f4d1e329795cda1.jpg59852a856be24_minidrill-bits.jpg.f7ccd7eabb45b468e6587828d5488ed3.jpg

...among other tools.

Oh, my mother knows better than to abscond with my works, for I peddle them, as a peddler does with his wares.  I am about to make her a dollhouse, but in so far as the furniture and other minis that I'll make, they all have been and will be parcelled out.  The dollhouse, however, will have fine details incorporated into it nonetheless.

Cheers! 

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Miniature Studio

I suppose that this will be the fifteenth, if it gets finished first: the "Audiophile"...

system.jpg.db036fc153d97830ddd1742c53cbe175.jpg

I made the brass feet for the phonograph from brass tubing, but the feet for the tube amplifier are cone-shaped and of solid aluminum...

59852f83e7172_tubeamp.jpg.12bae0aa5eaeb2485208be3cf3aba545.jpg

The components are far from being finished, and still a bit rough.  The tonearm of the turntable is a rod of carbon-fibre, just like a real one, and moves in every conceivable direction.

Those speakers will be discarded, and new ones made.  I haven't decided yet if I want to include an audio stand, as I would want it of glass and aluminum, but that's going to be tricky, as holes must be drilled into the thin glass.  I'd rather not use clear plastic; for the more difficult the handiwork, the more beautiful it is bound to be.

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Or, this one will be the fifteenth, and the latest preoccupation...

base8.jpg.1bd93e8ab3161f0dea4b8b494b6f69a3.jpg

The base is of hard-maple, to be painted, and the legs of fine English walnut, as opposed to black walnut, and to be sealed only.  I haven't decided as to whether it will be a chest, or an armoire, but a painted whatever in any event, and just as the "Aviary" was, sans the legs.

base9.jpg.039030cd9e0dccce77863ec7f5e1ec78.jpg

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WeekendMiniaturist

hmmm... I have two sons, and neither is willing to make me a dollhouse.  Son #2, is willing to cut it out for me with a prepared list on the full size table saw, but he has drawn the line and his job is complete after the cut list is finished.   (Perhaps your Mom could call both of my sons!)  Having a son make Mom a dollshouse would be high on the list!

Can you laser the holes in glass?  Surely you have a maker space somewhere near you with a laser...even I can go use the laser at our local makerspace, relatively inexpensively too.  Our population is approx 267,000 in our county...?  And as a computer technician, perhaps programming a few holes would be easy?  I watched a You Tube video where a laser etched glass this past week, of course normal thickness of glass, but I wonder what would happen with ultra thin glass...

My delta benchtop drill press - will not work for the key operation; sounds like I need to figure out how to set up my unimat in its overhead mill / drill press operation; I have it semi-dismantled, as I found the watchmakers spindle for it, and I have been playing.  Brass files so easily by hand; I am still surprised by this each time I work with brass.  

OK, you have done it now; I concede a great reason for a micro drill press, but I've been trying to avoid the equipment acquisitions, and how many keys will I really make?

I look forward to your progress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oh, that micro drill-press comes in handy for far more than one might think.  I also have a red, Northern Tool, baby drill-press, and for the larger of small things.  Both were under $100 new, especially the baby.  For the micro, you would need to be prepared to source a belt in the event of breakage.  Just make sure never to throw the old one away.

Simply tell your sons that you know someone who is building one for their mother.  That might do the trick; might, might not?  I do hope you're successful in swaying them. 

If I can't do the work here at home, it doesn't get done.  I'm thinking a small diamond drill bit, and with the glass immersed in ice water, or oil, might work for making the holes; trial-and-error that would be, most certainly, and it would be done with the baby drill-press.  The holes wouldn't have to be the diameter of the support tubing; just a stud jutting out of both sides of the glass; that would require precisely-square cuts of the tubing.  I think I could manage that with the Preac.

Incidentally, I found a source for precisely 1mm-thick plate glass: Dollar Tree 8x10 picture frames.  I bought several once I examined one that had been opened.  I couldn't believe my good fortune.  It's bottle-green glass, the edges that is, but after rounding and smoothing the edges I could silver same.  Eventually I want to try making mirrors with said glass, and with either Krylon or Rust-Oleum mirror paint...

Would that I had a neighbour next door, yet again, who favours large, mirrored, makeup compacts.  Oh well, I'm afraid that that was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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WeekendMiniaturist

I used the Krylon mirror glass paint when I was making grape christmas ornaments, but I haven't silvered a mirror.  I do remember a post in the forum about making a mirror and using krylon mirror paint - I will try to get to Dollar Tree and see if I can purchase the same thin glass; as it has been on my list for years.  I would really like to try and bevel an oval piece of glass for a specific project that has been on my list for many years.  And although, houseworks uses acrylic in their windows, I want real glass for my dream home build.   I hope your drill test works well; perhaps you can test on ordinary glass first?  

I have great appreciation for my preac table saw, it is a wonderful tool.... I also use my micro lux tilting arbor, but when precision is required, I use my preac.

Time to go visit the lathe!

P.S.  Referencing Mr. Robertson's Twin Manor for his mother, Esther,  I tried the "I know another son built a dollhouse for his mother"... I got son #2 offer.  It's fine... I'm happy that they are part of our daily life...

 

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I was wondering as to the success of using said spray-paint on clear plate-glass.  I've also wondered about bevelling small pieces of glass.  I would imagine that successive grits of corundum-paper could make that a reality; a jig of sorts would serve; something to accurately and evenly slide the glass back and forth onto the paper, and at varying angles.

It's a shame that parts aren't readily available for our Preacs any longer.  I did find some jeweller's blades for mine.  I suppose I could also scrounge up a belt that would fit, in future, when the inevitable occurs.

That's the one thing I haven't gotten yet: a small wood lathe.  I had a mini metal lathe, but it had gone through the fire, too.  It didn't burn, but it did rust over considerably afterwards.

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WeekendMiniaturist

Son #1 gave me some rust remover, that I was planning to test on an old plumbers type wrench, but I can't get the jar open at the present time, and forgot to ask someone recently to open that up for me.  I'm pretty fussy about preventing rust on all my equipment, but you can't help the situation with a fire.  If that experiement is successful, I will post my results to the forum.  

I was imagining using the angles on my worksharp to bevel my little pieces of glass... 

 

 

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CollieFeathers

Very much enjoying your work, Alan. Does the Grandfather clock work?

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No, the clock is not a working one, although the hands of the dial are separate and were cut out of brass, fashioned, and then painted black.  The window is of plate-glass.

In that watch-works require adjusting and repair, especially as they age, I wasn't inspired to include one.  It's a full dial, make no mistake, just like a real one, but with no mechanism.  Even the Moon dial is a separate component, albeit incomplete if one was to rotate it.

A close-up of the clock-face; the Moon is something of a self-portrait...

detail.jpg.ac0b5792a5e3a8d071925f099c862af4.jpg

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CollieFeathers

It's beautiful Alan. All your work is beautiful. The reason I asked about the clock is that a Grandfather clock is on my list to make.

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ElgaKoster

I made a tall clock in a class with Carol Hardy in 2011. I liked the idea of a working clock and used the movement of a small ladies wrist watch. I removed the knob on the side and just gently use a pin to move the hands if I need to adjust the time. Colliefeathers if you are interested here is a post on my blog about it.

http://elgakoster.blogspot.co.za/search/label/Tall Clock

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Miniature Studio

You have to be careful, when integrating Carpathian elm burl within a miniature.  It can easily become overpowering.  I dragged out my four sheets and took some pics...

598bf56f71731_Carp.ElmBurl2.thumb.jpg.3f43b1e0b6e0851afd3ea3580a7ab1cd.jpg

598bf592b474b_Carp.ElmBurl.jpg.e5139fda3dda075a84101dbc5d28bc95.jpg

I got those sheets about 25 years ago, and probably from Constantine's.  You can see the sheet, there in the foreground, from whence I gleaned this piece...

detail.jpg.306cd171655c012c4bed7c0469bc7285.jpg

The piece, from the revolving-door of the Lion's-Head armoire, was not stained in the end, only sealed, and it did not come from the right side of said sheet, but from the upper left section instead, as that area was a good deal richer in colour.  However, I was not prepared for the transformation once I applied the finish; magical, 'twas!

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Kathe
On 8/3/2017 at 7:35 PM, Miniature Studio said:

Thank you all.

I lived in Midtown Memphis from 1983 to 1995.  The location and day-to-day rambling about lent themselves well to inspiration, yes, indeed; the semi-ancient trees, and the homes built at the turn of the last century and throughout the 1920s.

According to my list that I had compiled many years ago, the lingerie chest was actually the fourth, and preceded by a stained-basswood grandfather's clock, second, and a columned fireplace and mantle, third.  I have no photos of either, unfortunately; particularly of the mantle, regrettably, as I think I had made it of cherry; perhaps, perhaps not.

After the lingerie chest, I made a brass refractor mounted on a pyramidal stand, fifth, of either cherry or mahogany, which featured four carved brass animal feet.  I made that one in three days, and it sold in three days once placed with my handler.  To this day, I believe that a tiny speck of brass entered my eye whilst carving the feet.

Sixth: the "Lion's Head" armoire, of cherry, limba and Carpathian elm burl...

5983af94b6d48_lions-head1.jpg.d946ab75e19692279909ce5076c4c1fd.jpg

The work featured a revolving center-door, with it and the side-doors fitted with mirrors.  A neighbour had given me her empty makeup compacts, and from whence I retrieved the mirrors.  She preferred the larger compacts, apparently, and much to my benefit.  When I make an armoire, it must come with a set of coat-hangers; no ifs, ands, or buts.  The rod for hanging them, within the cabinet; I don't know if I had positioned it prior to the taking of the photograph, but it was installed nonetheless.  I was told several years later that it and the lingerie chest were donated to the Children's Museum of Memphis, and by a daughter of the lady who had purchased them.  I went by there, eventually, but the staff were in the midst of a remodel, and with everything stored away.  I may visit again in future.  A bit of steam-bending is evident...

5983b16d97df0_lions-head.jpg.ce661b8d64d681470833b251548a7f3a.jpg

At the time that I created these miniatures, all I had to work with was a craft-knife, sandpaper of varying grits, and a Dremel jigsaw and rotary tool.  I now have a Preac table-saw, a Foredom rotary, a baby and mini drill-presses, and all sorts of carving and grinding bits.

 

Amazing!!!

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I happened upon some better, more detailed photographs of the aforementioned lady's dressing table...

ldt3.jpg.4b0bf2e665a156c0d443a1c4182f4977.jpg

ldt4.jpg.e404c3f45cc79edd64b1953c71e386af.jpg

ldt2.jpg.0cd7c29d2f13088b0d646291b04ff577.jpg

Again, the dresser was based on those found within the first-class cabins aboard the R.M.S. "Titanic"...

59bf5dce78004_R.M.S.Titanic.jpg.7c35d83c377b251b75e6d3e2d8cbae17.jpg

...the aforementioned plastic model, 1/350-scale.  It won second place at the King Con model show in Memphis, and around the 80th anniversary of the ship's sinking.  Later, I placed it for sale at a hobby shop, and was eventually bought by someone affiliated with the Titanic Exhibition when it came through Memphis in the spring of '97.  I attended that exhibition.  I wouldn't have missed it for the world.  I was told that my model was used as a guide for a much larger model for same.  The model does not have double masts as it seems there.  Rather, that's the shadow caused by the flash.  Under the ship, I had made and placed a house with a car in the driveway, for perspective. 

After I built that model, there was was really nothing else to challenge me.  It was then that I turned towards the making of miniatures in wood, and what I consider a natural progression.

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