Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Mini-Making Essential Kit List

One of the things I like most about making miniatures from polymer clay, is you really don't need a lot of kit to get started. Of course like almost anything there are loads of things out there to tempt you, but you really don't need to spend much money in the beginning. Here is a list of the essential kit I use for making miniatures.

Polymer clay - I use the Fimo brand purely because it's readily available where I live (Europe) but the Sculpey brand which is more common in the USA is good too. Plus you can mix them together with no ill effects. I prefer Fimo Soft because I am lazy and don't enjoy conditioning clay, but I do sometimes use Fimo Classic for colours not available in the Soft range. As long as you give the Classic range some extra conditioning, it mixes perfectly well with the Soft range.

An oven - I have an electric oven. No special kiln needed to cure polymer clay, just a normal kitchen oven. It leaves a slightly funny smell, but it's non-toxic and perfectly safe to cook polymer clay in the same oven as you cook food, just not at the same time!

For safety's sake, I would recommend
marking the blunt side of the blade, either with
colourful tape, or with a thin layer of clay.
Ceramic tile - I use a large white ceramic tile to work on as the clay doesn't get stuck to it and I can put it straight in the oven to bake without having to move my uncured and fragile miniatures.

Sharp blade - nowadays I prefer tissue blades, which are quite specialised and expensive, however in the beginning I just used refill stanley knife blades. These were very cheap and are just fine for most polymer clay jobs. I would recommend the tissue blade for cutting already cooked polymer clay canes, and for very delicate, tiny jobs. But for most other jobs, refill blades work just fine too.

A round pen - I use this as a rolling pin. It's just a circular, plastic pen that I had lying around the house. To this day, I have still never invested in an actual rolling pin for my polymer clay!

Pins and sandpaper - sewing pins can be used for all kinds of texturing, from dimples and crumbs, to lines and trenches. Sandpaper makes great bread and orange peel textures, and you only need a tiny bit.
The only official tool I have,
and I don't use them all!
 Tweezers - I used teeny tiny tweezers to pick up teeny tiny things.

A nice to have but not an essential - clay working tools. I have this set, but probably only use two of them with any regularity. They're mainly useful for mixing polymer clay with liquid polymer clay as they have some bend in them without snapping.

If you're really into making miniatures, you might want to invest in a pasta machine, but I still don't own one, so clearly it's not an absolute necessity. It just saves your hands from all that rolling!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Charming Cake

I used to make miniature cake charms for a shop in Sheffield city centre, and now I've started making them for my Etsy shop. The shop in Sheffield (which alas is no more) was a bead shop, so charms and pendants suited it well. I'm not sure if they'll get much attention in what is predominantly a miniature and jewellery shop on Etsy, but I'll give it a go.

Do you think I should make them in more colours?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Miniature 5 a day

I've been making lots of miniature fruit and veg recently.
Here are the fruits of my labour (pun very much intended)!

I also restocked the fruit and veg section in my Etsy shop,
so now there's no excuse not to get your miniature 5 a day.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Teeny Tiny Toys

I found the most teeny tiny miniature amugurami animals on Etsy recently. These are made by Lam Linh and are simply amazing! 

I love nearly anything in pig-form.

I think that's enough squee for one day. I've no idea how LamLinh makes these, but I love them! They would be such a great addition to a miniature nursery or bedroom.

Friday, 18 October 2013

This is Halloween

It's Halloween soon, so here are some miniature pumpkins
I made recently with just that in mind.

The whole time I was making these, I couldn't stop humming 'This is Halloween' from The Nightmare Before Christmas, which happens to be one of my all-time favourite films ever.

Boys and girls of every age,
Wouldn't you like to see something strange?
Come with us and you will see,
This, our town of Halloween!

This is how obsessed with Nightmare before Christmas I am. Here are Jack and Sally from a poster I made for the corridor of my 1st year dorm at university to cheer the place up. (It wasn't even Halloween.) Jack and Sally are both A4 sized, it was a massive poster! I couldn't get a photo of the whole thing. Luckily I had understanding flatmates.

 I never celebrated Halloween growing up. It wasn't a particularly big deal in the UK at the time, and my mother is French, where it was unheard of when she grew up. So American movies are what I base most of my ideas of Halloween on!


Monday, 14 October 2013

Dollhouse on the go

While procrastinating as usual, I found this awesome tutorial for how to turn
an old suitcase into a dollhouse by Cintia at My Poppet.

Cintia specialises in all things vintage and makes some extremely cute things from old fabrics and bits and pieces, as well as posting lots of interesting tutorials.

I especially love the blackboard painted front, so you can redraw the windows however your mood strikes! Cintia is also much cleverer than I am with her gifs and photography. But she kindly has posted lots of tutorials on how do all this technical wizardry.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Ta ta for now

As previously mentioned, I've had to close my Etsy shop temporarily due to real life events as of today. I'm not sure when I'll be able to re-open, but I shall be sure to blog when I do. I'll try to not disappear from the miniature world entirely. In the meantime, have a cupcake!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Come towards the light

One of the things I hate most about Winter and its impending arrival is how long the nights become. Not only is it depressing to go to work in the dark and arrive home in the dark, but it means I have precious little natural light with which to photograph my miniatures. Sometimes it's so dull during the day that even the midday sun is no good!

To solve this problem (the mini photographing one - nothing can solve the living in darkness problem short of emigrating to Florida), I invested in a light box. But I don't have much spare room and I'm not (at all) a pro when it comes to these things, so I use this fool proof piece of kit, the photo studio in-a-box:

It comes with a foldable white tent, two lights on tripods and a tripod for your camera. It all comes neatly presented in a teeny little bag that is smaller than a shoe box.
To illustrate the difference it's made to my photos, here's a picture of a miniature I made taken indoors with artificial light. It's winter but it is day-time.

It's a funny colour as the light bulb in the room is more yellow than white and the shadows are quite severe.
And here is a similar miniature taken using my light tent, still indoors but during a dark winter evening.

The colour is much more natural and true-to-life because the light bulbs in my little lights on stands are much truer than what you typically get in a room bulb. Plus the shadows are much softer and less distracting as there are light sources on two sides and the tent disperses the light well.

On the negative side, I bought my photo studio in-a-box from the USA, so had to convert the cables to take UK plugs. I also had to buy new bulbs as we weren't sure the USA ones would be happy on UK voltage. So if you're in the UK, it can be a faff, perhaps you can find a UK supplier of a similar product, it must exist! Also the light tent itself 'pops' up from folded and it took me a while to get the hang of folding it back up small enough so it fits in its bag. But it's not difficult once you work it out.

If you live somewhere where bad light is making it difficult to take good photos of your miniatures, I would really recommend this or similar. I've had to work hard at making my miniatures presentable, as my photography skills were non-existent and are only very slowly improving, but this piece of kit has really helped!


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Temporary Closure

I will be temporarily closing my Etsy shop on Wednesday 9th October. I'm not sure when I will be able to re-open but hope to do so within a couple of weeks. So if there are any miniature goodies that take your fancy, please don't delay!

Nothing bad is happening, I just can't manage the shop and maintain my usual level of customer service after that date and I'm not sure how long this will go on for. Hopefully normal miniature life will resume as soon as real-sized life has calmed down!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Combining crafts

When I'm not making dollhouse miniatures, I like to do patchwork and quilting. And while I was researching (by which I mean procrastinating) on Etsy, I came across something which wonderfully combines the two.

I found them at SydneyStyle on Etsy, which is full of great mini patterned fabric, but that was my favourite.Teeny tiny scale patchwork fabric. I'd have no hope of producing this in actual patches (I struggle enough with real life sized patches) but these are great, you could stitch the edges and make them look very realistic.
But it got me thinking, are there people in this world talented enough to actually patchwork in miniature?  And yes, as it turns out there are!

These are all by Miniatures Forever on Etsy

By ArtislunaMiniaturas on Etsy
Perhaps when I'm stuck on what to do with my teeny-tiny scraps of leftover fabric I will have a go at this, but for now I will just drool over these lovely miniature creations and appreciate how fiddly they must have been to make.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Snack time

I had the cutest little ceramic biscuit jars so I made some teeny tiny biscuits to go in them. I think our American friends would call them cookies.

This is making me crave bad things!