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hans_co

Hello from Portland and--help?

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hans_co

Hi folks,

I am a sometime artist/sculptor who has finally realized that he's always wanted to be making miniatures. This is a craft I am new at and want to learn well. However, scouring the web, I've found it difficult to find good "beginner" or tutorial info. I've come across the Scale Cabinetmaker, and it seems like a great resource, however the issues are not cheap ($6 per digital issue) and there doesn't seem to be an "introduction" issue--I can't afford to spend nearly $500 on the whole back catalog!

What I'm looking for is a book or magazine or blog that focuses on beginners, with the assumption that we don't have a whole workshop. The first few tools to get, the first few projects to undertake, etc. I am interested in making buildings and scenes--interiors as well as exteriors, so that would include miniature furniture making, as well as figures (though I recognize that's a different art and I'm going to be learning woodcarving as well).

Any resources you can point me to that are good for the beginner? Any particular issues of The Scale Cabinetmaker? I did read their index and one of their issues dedicates 7 pages to an introduction of tools, so I'll pick that issue up. I've checked in the resources part of this forum and nothing else really fits the bill.

 

Thank you for your time and patience!

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Wm. R. Robertson

Welcome and we are glad to have you.

 

In answer to your questions… well it is basically what this forum is suppose to be all about. The TSC is great and I knew Jim and Helen Dorrset the creators of it. It is expensive to buy at it all and I can't think of any single issue. Didn't they offer a sample project on their web site? As for a book, check out the book section, I think it mentions Harry Smith's book on furniture.

 

If you don't see what you are looking for just start a topic and ask…. someone surely will have the answer.

 

Again Welcome and hope to see some of your questions.

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Bill Hudson

Hans,

 

I'm not really clear where your skill level is. A some time artist sculptor does not give me much information to go by.  What tools do you now have to work with? What type of miniatures do you want to build? Furniture, structures or other? Furniture; Harry Smith's book is a good place to start if you can find one. There ares also some Shaker furniture books out that usually have measurements in full size but can be scaled to 1/12th easily.

 

Welcome here and I hope it all works out for  you.

 

Bill Hudson 

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WeekendMiniaturist

Welcome to the forum... Wm and Bill, both are master- jedi-miniaturists:-) !!!  Well young apprentice in master mini making, let's redirect.  What do you want to make first? (I'm feeling a little like Yoda, short, squatty, pointed ears right now!)   A structure or a piece of furniture?  That will help us give you recommendations.

 

The Scale Cabinetmaker is wonderful publication... and I have all of them in the old fashioned printed format - by far my most treasured reading for dreaming about what to make...   I was just reading the last issue of TSC, and Jim's last editorial discussed how the journal changed over its 20 + volumes and the editorial allows us to go back and remember that the journal sought to meet the needs of its readers... and the first thing they did was introduced kit-bashing.  It is a great place to begin.  Have you ever assembled a piece of furniture from a kit?  Now, after you have made a beautiful piece of furniture from basswood, go make it from cherry.  The patterns are right there in the box.

 

If you tell us what you want to make, then we can probably direct you to a specific issue, but it really isn't necessary.  The library is a wonderful resource... anything that has been printed with dimensions can be resized to 1/12th scale, etc, if this is the scale that you want to work in... and there is nothing like a real life model to work from and reduce to 1/12th scale. 

 

For furniture and structures; I love my jewelers saw; can't live without my preac table saw, but can't part with my micromark table saw... have a band saw, dremel tools, and a wood lathe... palm sander, etc, etc... - but it all really depends on what you want to make.    Don't let us depress you with the cost of tools, there are always a work around, so you don't have to spend thousands of dollars on tools to make a piece of furniture.   (My band saw, dremel tools and wood lathe, palm sander are just normal everyday tools... the preac and micromark are made for scale modeling.)  When you read the earlier books on making miniatures many things were made without expensive machines and without power tools, but I'm guessing that TSC and Guild School move the bar up...  machines provide accuracy, and of course ease to make multiple miniatures to sell them.

 

You can do wood carving with an xacto or scalpel.  How about getting started for $10 for a scalpel and/or xacto knife and blades? I remember being obsessed carving the ball and claw in a house of miniature Chippendale highboy kit. 

 

What is your medium that you prefer for sculpting?  Sometimes it easier to miniaturize what you already know... sometimes you just have to try something new...

 

 

Tamra/Indiana

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hans_co

Hey folks, thanks for the responses and good questions.

 

Hans,

 

I'm not really clear where your skill level is. A some time artist sculptor does not give me much information to go by.  What tools do you now have to work with? What type of miniatures do you want to build? Furniture, structures or other? Furniture; Harry Smith's book is a good place to start if you can find one. There ares also some Shaker furniture books out that usually have measurements in full size but can be scaled to 1/12th easily.

 

Welcome here and I hope it all works out for  you.

 

Bill Hudson 

 

Basically I worked in found/mixed media; a lot of improvised tools and using whatever was at hand--not fine or precise sculpting by any means. I don't really have specialized tools other than an X-acto knife and a "Flexcut" cutting knife for whittling (which I also want to learn how to do).

I suppose I'd like to start with structures. I want to learn how to build furniture as well but structures seem like a good, broad place to start. I'm not interested in recreating any particular period; I'm interested in gaining the skills of making miniature scenes that look real so I can use those skills for my artistic purposes. Thanks!

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ElgaKoster

Welcome Hans

After reading all of the above, what kind of structure do you want to build, a room box or a house, for house building there are quite a few good books out there, this one got me into the hobby.

http://www.amazon.com/Making-Character-Dolls-Houses-Scale/dp/0715308548/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

And a review.

http://dollshousesandminiatures.blogspot.com/2013/04/book-review.html

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WeekendMiniaturist

ebay item # 121404819724 is a completed item and structures for a floor plan designed by architect Fred Stephenson.  These were wonderful series of floor plans.  Shellie's Miniature Mania has a San Francisco Row House, and a lot of plans were published in magazines, The Nutshell News and perhaps Miniature Collector.  I wonder if we have any Guild members who live in your area that you can peruse their magazine collection?  eBay has lots of listings for dollshouse plans, sometimes structures, ie roomboxes.  (Unfortunately I can't cut and paste a link into this forum...)  Does your community have any woodworking or carving groups?  A million years ago when we graduated from high school, our local high school had adult continuing education classes, where people learned to use computers, or could go to a woodworking class, etc, etc...  This may give you access to tools; if they are not in your budget.  Your local library will have a lot of info - go take a look!

 

If you can find someone with a printed catalog of miniatures; it was a wonderful resource for the items that were published...

 

www.shelliesminis.com, click on dollshouses, she sold the floor plans to the Knob Hill...

 

Do you want to do miniaturized 2x4 construction with thin plywood walls?  or 3/8" plywood construction?  Lots, and lots of decisions... perhaps the reason why lots of dream structures stay in our heads, and are never built. 

 

Most certainly, you can draw your own plans - only the cost of paper.  You can get 1" block paper on huge tablets at the office supply stores that are made for presentations and are put on a large easel for meetings, cost is about $25 - $50 for the tablet of paper....  It is a great way to sketch or draw a design.

 

The older versions of Nutshell News and Miniature Collector Magazines are great resources for a beginner.  There are searchable databases online. 

 

Are you in Portland, Oregon, Maine or Indiana? 

 

Tamra/Indiana

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hans_co

Welcome Hans

After reading all of the above, what kind of structure do you want to build, a room box or a house, for house building there are quite a few good books out there, this one got me into the hobby.

 

 

Thank you for the resource! That book looks good and cheap; I'll definitely pick it up. Starting small sounds good, though, so I'll look around for room box projects, as well.

 

 

Do you want to do miniaturized 2x4 construction with thin plywood walls?  or 3/8" plywood construction?  Lots, and lots of decisions... perhaps the reason why lots of dream structures stay in our heads, and are never built.

*   *   *

 

Are you in Portland, Oregon, Maine or Indiana? 

 

Tamra/Indiana

 

Thanks as well for the resources and questions, Tamra. I suppose I'm showing how in over my head I am over here as my answer to your first question is...I don't know the difference! I suppose I'm here to discover those things. I just need to get building. I'm probably weird in that I don't have a specific project in mind, whereas most beginners likely have a goal they want to get built. I am simply looking to gain the skillset of a miniaturist in the most efficient way possible--ideas for projects will certainly come.

As for your second question, I'm in Oregon. How arrogant of me to assume everyone would know. ;)

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ElgaKoster

Hans for roomboxes I would recmmend these two books, I have used many of the ideas out of these two in the past.

They both have some furniture making too, really good books for beginners that don't have lots of tools.

http://www.amazon.com/Making-Miniatures-Dolls-House-Projects/dp/0715399632/ref=pd_sim_b_15?ie=UTF8&refRID=1SV8R5KSF2K3NF40PFMK

http://www.amazon.com/Making-Dolls-House-Interiors-Scale/dp/0715306154/ref=pd_sim_b_10?ie=UTF8&refRID=1SV8R5KSF2K3NF40PFMK

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WeekendMiniaturist

Dagnabit, I don't have any known miniature friends in Portland, OR to refer you to; but I lived in Klammoth Falls as a wee child...ok, well do keep us posted on your progress. 

 

It is a wonderful hobby, that is surely allows your mind to be fully engaged in the possibilities... so much to learn, so little time!

 

Tamra/Indiana

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bonni.b

Portland, Indiana never occurred to me, thanks for the reality check, Tamra. Of course I always assume Portland, ME, but that's because it's the big city here in Maine. Welcome to the Forum, Hans, where you're already surrounded by "enablers" who can help you scratch itches you may not have known you had before now. There's a huge depth of talent here, definitely keep us posted as you find your bearings here.

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abcd

looks like answers were well done, and additional questions I would have had reading the original post were already asked and provided :) not much I can add never knew there was a Portland in Indiana either!

 

and it seems like a great resource, however the issues are not cheap ($6 per digital issue) and there doesn't seem to be an "introduction" issue-

 

 

I don't find $6 expensive, but someone on a tight budget would of course, the thing to keep in mind is, this is not an expense it's an investment in your education and a possible future income making endeavor! If you went to some local place for "classes" you can expect you would have to pay a class and materials fee, and be one of several students vying for the instructors' limited class time each week.

 

So don't think of the back issues or the like as an expense or expensive, if they (or some other publications, books etc) have valuable information you want, can use or need bite the bullet and buy what you need to do this right!

 

You can find a lot of used print magazines on Ebay cheap, I bought a whole stack of Miniature Collector to look over for ideas, ads, pictures and articles- I think the whole box full of them, about 20 issues ran around $23, they are good to see what other people do, what kind of "standards" are used for various things and what is trending.

 

As far as sculptures go, it appears your form of sculpting differs from mine considerably, my work in the Victorian and Art Deco architectural styles exclusively  however, is a very good match for making models in miniature.  I briefly explored the structures in "O" scale model railroads to see if that might work but in the end I don't want to have to use a microscope to see what I'm doing so 1/12 scale is as small as I'd ever want to go, roomboxes are a great match for me.

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hans_co

$6 is okay when it comes down to it, if I'm buying an issue of something and knowing what I want to get out of it, but for my purposes right now I'd be buying blind and not sure if it would be worth it.

Thanks for the tip about mags on ebay. 

What are generally considered to be the good magazines in this area?

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WeekendMiniaturist

The Scale Cabinetmakers were the best - limited advertising... just really wonderful things to make; issue after issue, something great to make in each one.  The old Nutshell News have a lot of projects, but I would consider the magazine to focus on crafting, kit bashing, and scratch building, re-purposing found items for miniatures.  Miniature Collector (MC) focus on fabu collections, articles of interest, reviews artistic endeavors, articles on artisans, some projects, the older the magazine; the more likely they had a project to make.  MC had great multi-issues for Brooke Tucker & Whitledge Burgess roomboxes, that I can remember off the top of my brain....I haven't subscribed for some years, but of the current mags; generally available in the US, American Miniaturist, Dollhouse Miniatures and Miniature Collector, you should be able to see them in a miniature store, or perhaps Barnes & Noble.... The Spanish Miniature Mag, has the finest print items that you can cut out for crafting purposes.  Our printed items in in the US mags doesn't match their quality (in my opinion.)  I can't believe I bought Spanish Magazines that I CANNOT READ, for the printed cut out items.

 

I do find ALL my miniature magazines to be a great resource; generally so much has been instructed in magazines that I find them very helpful resources.  They also allow me to research who made what, before I joined the miniature world.  Its nice to be able to piece the puzzles together.

 

They are all good, and serve a purpose.  When I first joined a the local miniature club, my library in the next city over had all of the Nutshell News and you could just go check them out.  Have you gone to the library yet? Or searched your library's digital records?  I still love books, and instructions that are printed on paper! 

 

Tamra/Indiana

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abcd

$6 is okay when it comes down to it, if I'm buying an issue of something and knowing what I want to get out of it, but for my purposes right now I'd be buying blind and not sure if it would be worth it.

Thanks for the tip about mags on ebay. 

What are generally considered to be the good magazines in this area?

 

You might look at Ebay and just buy a few newer issues of different magazines others listed titles of here and see what they have in them, so far I have not found much in the way of what I would call a professionals/craftsman or trade type magazine, it seems the majority of them are geared towards "dollhouses" and childrens' toys, and they are full of ads.

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hans_co

I hear you. For myself I don't really care about the stereotypes or the "dolls" label; I'm proud to say women and girls cornered the market on something awesome because they realized it was badass while men missed out because they were worried about appearing "manly". Your mileage may vary.

In any case, I've found a lot on ebay of 10 various dollhouse intro books and a few magazines thrown in for around 30 bucks. Seems like a great way to hop in and get a breadth of viewpoints. Just what I was looking for!

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abcd

There you go, $30 and you get a stack of different books and magazines to pour though, you can't go wrong.

I can really see there's somewhat of a "hole" in miniature publications directed at men, and in advertising etc., at least as far as houses and roomboxes, furniture etc goes, there's loads of model railroading books and magazines, clubs, groups etc but that's a different category.

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Wm. R. Robertson

Interesting how this introduction is turning into a discussion on is it OK for guys to play with little houses..... Simple answer is YES!

Artist, maybe you should start this as separate topic in the General section so more folks would see it and chime in..... It is a great discussion.

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Elinor Cruze

Hi, Hans.  I'm a new member, too. Have you looked at the tutorials on about.com? Just type "make miniature rose [or whatever]" in the search box. I did a bunch of Leslie's tutorials when I first started less than 2 years ago, and they really helped me. You can find cheap new or used books on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, too.

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abcd

Artist, maybe you should start this as separate topic in the General section so more folks would see it and chime in..... It is a great discussion.

 

Yeah, I could, thanks!

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hans_co

Hi, Hans.  I'm a new member, too. Have you looked at the tutorials on about.com? Just type "make miniature rose [or whatever]" in the search box. I did a bunch of Leslie's tutorials when I first started less than 2 years ago, and they really helped me. You can find cheap new or used books on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, too.

Thanks, I have run into those. I've been reading a few, just to get a sense of things. I also ordered this book on Amazon. EDIT: Oh, and I've found the beginner section! The website is organized somewhat poorly so it took me a while to even realize they had one.

Some folks replied to my original post and asked what exactly I was looking to do--furniture, roomboxes, etc. I think I've figured it out, or knew all along and couldn't articulate: I simply (ha!) want to be able to make scale models of all sorts of things--houses, interiors, everyday objects, even vehicles, etc (though I know those are a different beast). I'd love to be able to just look at a room in my house, and recreate it in scale, even the laundry basket and clothes lying around, the fake wooden flooring, the bookcases, etc.  And do so with a high level of craftsmanship. I want these skills.

Now, I know one doesn't get to that level overnight. But the difficulty I'm having is seeing a path to that level. I can learn how to make a certain dollhouse in a book, or learn how to make a certain brand of antique chairs, but I'm looking for the holistic skillset, and I'm not sure how to approach that. Maybe the thing to do is to pick a modest project that will get me some basic skills I need, and go from there. Certainly I'll read my book when it arrives. 

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WeekendMiniaturist

Have you miniaturized anything ever?  You can adopt Nike's slogan from their advertising campaign in the late '80s and Just do It.  (Swoosh) and next thing we know you are genius miniaturizing all kinds of things. 

 

I think you will like the Venus Dodge Book. 

 

A high level of craftsmanship is all of our goals, but my ability to miniaturize a Rubbermaid laundry basket, is very limited...It is a plastic basket, that was probably injected molded, I'm not even going there... but I can make a wicker laundry basket without even thinking about it.... after a lifetime of miniaturizing things, projects and club activities, workshops, guild school, etc, etc, you do gain a skill set.  Just go make something! 

 

Afterthought, you might be a genius programmer and have access to a 3D printer for my Rubbermaid laundry basket - if yes, it would be fun to have one.

 

What is the next thing that you want to make?  In absence of the one thing that you want to make, most, right now, just go with the flow of the book, pick a project and go with it..  The I want to make all of it, well, is very common, but once you begin a project you will know what you need to do next to fill your vision.  More then likely your brain will fill up with all kinds of things you could add to your list, and when you start dreaming of miniatures, you are definitely in the zone. 

 

Is their a character that you would like to miniaturize and sculpt?  I would love to sculpt Dragons - just no time to play.  I would love to have a toothless Dragon from the movie that is a 1/12th scale toy.  I admit it, I buy little 1/12th dinosaurs... and have little cars and other real life toys that have crossed over occasionally in my miniature collection, as I want the inhabitants of my miniature world to play, and have fun...This of course is not a serious miniature endeavor, but if I went to program a 3-D printer to print me a little toothless Dragon, then it changes my perspective and it becomes are very time consuming endeavor, as I have no idea how to program the instructions to print a mini 3 D toothless dragon.

 

So carving it out polymer clay might be much easier.  Making a costume for a miniature kid, might be fun... the options are only limited by your imagination, and that is what makes this hobby the best! 

 

 

 

 

Tamra/Indiana

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