Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Off Topic: Wedding Chair Parts Breakdown...

I had several comments from people asking me what I made the back of the wedding chair (that I made for Sans) out of. So here is my big secret. It actually all started with my dogs tearing apart some outdoor lights.....

Here is the main part of the back. You can see where it originally came from here.

After they tore up the lights I was pretty upset but then when I started looking at the individual pieces I saw the mini-potential!! I always check what you're about to throw away for mini-potential!! I just took an xacto and started splitting up the light cases and all kept all the pieces for when I need them.

Also the flowery parts on the chair are actually from clothing embellishments. I just clipped the metal teeth off of the back and carefully applied them to the chair. Then painted the whole thing to look like one piece! The rest of the chair is basswood that I cut to fit.

And there you go... that's how the chair came together...

Also, you might also recognize these outdoor light parts in the back of Lurch's organ:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Computer Issues

This is Ara's Mom. She will be away from her computer for a while and wanted me to let you know that she appreciates your comments and e-mails and will get back to you when she regains access to her computer.

Off Topic: 4 Easy steps to better Photos by Ara

I had a friend here in blog land comment on the photographs of my minis and how I did it so here is my post for her and anyone else frustrated with photographing their minis!

I don't thing I have told y'all much about it, but I have my own photography business on the side (besides my day job) So I thought I would share a few tips on how I get some of my photos to come out ok. I am a portrait photographer so photographing minis has been a new challenge for me and so I've played around with it a lot. So anyway here is a tutorial on how to do this:

If you click on the photo you can see a bit better that the first picture is blurry and the second is tack-sharp! And several other differences. And the following well help you get there.

Also, thought I would share a bit of my work with you since I haven't done that before. Here's a couple portraits.... can you tell I love the dramatic? Of course this is done with big stand lights and big backdrops, and lots of photoshop but we'll do something a bit more simple for our minis.

Here is my camera set up below.... Now don't freak out. I know not everyone is going to have this so I have tailored my tutorial around a camera type that most everyone will have. I digital camera with a retractable lens and built in flash. Below I just wanted to show you the parts so you can see how we are adapting them in the tutorial below.

The bottom item is of course, the camera body and lens. The part above that (in the 'L' shape) is the flash that I have turned to the side. And then at the very top, the weird bowl-looking thing is called a diffuser. It takes the light from the flash and scatters it all around instead of shooting it strait at what you are photographing. This makes a softer and more pleasing light.

Now to start the 4 easy steps..... We'll start with the 4 main things that went WRONG with the left photo at the very top.

1. The camera was handheld and not secured to a tri-pod. This makes it easier for the photos to come out blurry - esp in dark conditions.

2. The background is muddled with all sorts of stuff that steals a persons eye away from the mini (Greta the doll, our model for today)

3. Greta is being flashed head-on by a flash creating a harsh shadow and glares off her face.

4. The camera was held too close to Greta for it to properly focus.

Side note: I am not suggesting this be done for every single photo you take. Sometimes you just want to snap and go... I do that too (even for this photo tutorial). I am just wanting to give help to those who are struggling getting really crisp photos of their final work.

Fix #1: Get a tripod and put your camera on it! It will help, trust me! You can get a very cheap tripod these days and its worth it when photographing your hard work. All cameras ( I am pretty sure) have a hole in the base that looks like a screw would go into it... that's where the camera connects to the tripod.

Fix #2: Make a mini-studio with a chair and a black or white cloth. I always grab one of our kitchen chairs that has arms. This way I can drape it with fabric all around and it makes a little cave-thing for my minis to be photographed in. You can even use bedsheets for this method (but maybe not ones that are too busy looking).

See Greta is all ready for her close up!

Fix #3: Home made diffuser: All you need is a clear plastic cup, a square of paper towel and a rubber band. This will function the same as the diffuser you saw on my set up above. You simply hold the entire contraption in front of your flash. The only tricky thing about this is that it doesn't acutally snap onto your camera most of the time. Also, you will have to be careful that it doesn't show up in your picture while you are using it.

I suggest to make one of these, and set aside a day to practice with it. moving it different ways can sometimes have different results. It can get frustrating at times but just walk away and come back when you feel like it. Also if you are tired of holding the cup-diffuser, some cameras do make snap on diffusers so you can look and see online. (But you can see how the tripod would also help here...) (sorry about the chipped nail polish - eek!)

Fix #4: Don't force your camera to shoot too close to the object. Many lenses on cameras have a definite limit on how close they can focus. If your camera is not focusing correctly back up and try again. Most newer cameras have a high enough resolution so that you can take a large picture and crop only what you want to see and still have a decent shot. Below you can see how far back I was from Greta before my camera focused properly.

And now this last photo is the final photo cropped from the one above. Yes, this was taken by my little red camera with the home-made diffuser in use so you can see what any camera can do. Hopefully you can click on it and make it bigger to see the detail. You can see the detail in her hair and the stitches in her clothing. Now don't you want people to see that after all the hard work you put in?

Also I did a bit of color correction that is very easy to do in photoshop. However I know a lot of people aren't too excited to spend that much on photoshop. If you look for Photoshop Elements it is a bit cheaper than the full blow version. Also you can look up the program called 'Picasa'. It is FREE!! to download and super easy to use. It also funtions as an organizational tool for all your photos. I am still learning its ins and outs but I think its a great program.

Well I hope this helped a bit for anyone getting frustrated with photos. If anyone has any question please leave a comment and I will try to answer!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A gift to Sans and the Maharajah from the Addamses...

To thank Sans! for her beautiful one-of-a-kind hookah that she sent to the Addamses, they sent over a handmade Indian Wedding Chair. Please head over to Sans blog and see the wonderful reception of the chair in the Palace! I hope it will participate in many happy marriages to come!

And once again thank you Sans! (and Tara!)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mini Guessing Game Fun!!!

These are my new cups for the Addams Family dining table!!! The look all old and banged up and I love them!!!!

And now for the game part....

First person to leave a comment correctly guessing what these items were, are or originally came from, get an extra point on an upcoming give away. Not sure when the give away is going to be, but don't worry, I will remember :) I really don't know if this is going to be easy or not...

Let the guessing begin!!

The Light Award :)

We recently received the light award from the Whittakers over at The Whittakers Miniatures!!! Thank you guys!! We are really so honored to receive this one as I have seen they've been going to really special people all over blog world. I love the idea behind it and the rules that go along with it.

The Rules of this Award:
1.-To complete the following phrase: I AM A LIGHT AND WANT TO ILLUMINATE...
2. - Link the blog from where the award came from and leave a message informing that person it has been received.
3.- Link and pass the award to five blogs that, in your opinion, are blogs of light.

So here goes.... I am a light and want to illuminate God's love to everyone. God has really been there for me in my life and I pray that anyone who feels led would run to him too. He walks with me daily through life and I would not make it one step without Him.

And now to pass it on to 5 blogs of light:

My sisters blog at Imperfect Saint. She right now is in a small town in Brazil working with young children and teenagers and teaching up a storm. Its going to her for bringing light into many childrens lives this summer.

Sans over at Dollhouse Diaries. Her stories are always delightful and she sheds light on the beauty of a culture other than my own. I love learning new things through following her projects.

MiniKat at Little Thoughts From an Average Mind. She is getting this award not only because I enjoy her blog of course but also because back when I first started this whole blog thing I remember she made me feel very welcome!! Thank you for that!

Also to Tara at The Dollhouse at Pooh Corner. Tara is such a generous soul and I have really enjoyed getting to know her. You can see her light all the way from Hawaii (lucky girl)!!

And lastly Nikki at Witch and Wizard Miniatures. She is always willing to lend her brilliant ideas to anyone who's stuck on a project and the lovely face she sculpts into her minis will light up anyones day!! :)

I know some of you have received this one already but I just couldn't help myself! Thanks for lighting up my day you guys :)

Don't you think Fester is the perfect guy to present this award? I told him he should have presented it with the lightbulb in his mouth... oh well...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Off Topic: Kinda: ATM Swap - Behind the Castle Walls

So I recently participated in a swap at All Things Mini and the title of this one was "Within the Castle Walls".... So I guess still being Addams Family minded I went straight for the dungeon and made this....
And I had to make 3 of them!!! It was too much fun :) Well besides putting in all those little nails - ick! Anyway, so far I think the three people that got them liked them!!

I hope to make a nail bed for Uncle Fester soon.... :)

Somewhat tutorial in Aged Windows, Walls and Door....

So I am not really going to call this a Tutorial because I am not giving step by step instructions... just kind of sharing my tools and thoughts on how I made the wall in the previous post.

Below you can see the new door that I bought. The Alison Jr. door just didn't have enough character for me and I didn't want to spend a ton of time bashing it so I just spent the $7 on a new door at hobby lobby. I aged it with the same tools you can see below that I used on the window frames. I still need to add some plexiglass to the top tiny four windows and maybe some more leading.... anyway it functions as an opening door and everything... need to find a decent door nob though...

Below you can see how I modified the original Alison Jr. windows. They came with a pine colored frame and white painted stripes to look like window mullions. What I did was banged the frame up a bit, stained it, sanded the edges of the plexiglass to make it look foggy/older, and then went over the white painted lines with fake leading (I posted a pic of the bottle of that stuff below). If you want to do this remember it is important to SAND THE PLEXI BEFORE YOU DO THE LEADING or you will most definitely have to slap yourself on the forehead.

Here are the basic tools I used to beat up the wood frames of the windows and door. A box cutter (or a xacto will work too but the box cutter is bigger and doesn't hurt my hand as much), a couple files, and some sand paper. I dig the big gouges you see in the frames with the box cutter and then I make lighter gouges with the files. Then I sand the whole thing over to make it look rounded and well worn. don't be afraid to gouge into the sides of the frames either... make it look like someone rounded the corner too fast with a peice of furniture and took a chunk out :) PS. I do this all before I put it into the wall.... I just happened to show the window already in the wall here for some reason...

Here you can see the fake leading I used. This is the big bottle... you can get a smaller 3 or 4 oz. bottle for smaller projects. You can find it in the isle with the peices of glass and plexiglass most of the time.

Also, very last tip. So I wanted to age this sheet paper (scapbook paper) that I am using as wall paper with my stain. BUT the paper absorbed the stain so quickly that I couldn't work and let me do it in layers as I wanted to. So i decided to paint on it. So anyone wanting to do this DO NOT use acrylics. They are water based and will crinkle and wrinkle your wall paper. If you want to use paint, use oil paints. My suggestion is look for a tube of 'yellow ochre' OIL paint. It will grunge and yellow anything up :). Then you add a bit of turpentine to the paint slowly and it will thin out the paint so you can paint in thin layer and build up to the intensity of color you want. My suggestion is to add the turpentine by getting a bit on your brush and then putting your brush into the paint and keep doing that 'til its thin enough for you.

Feel free to ask questions if none of this makes sense. Also, I wouldn't suggest painting anything else in your house with oils as oils take FOREVER to dry. This is really the only thing I would use oils for - just to 'tint' a wall paper without wrinkling it. And the turpentine is smelly so beware...

Ok - that's it. Sorry for the long winded explanation. Look like I still have some touch ups to do on the windows looking closer at the pictures..... anyway happy dirtying :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yay! Interior Progress!!

Ok- its not much, and there is still trim to do..... and a column to put in the middle there.... and well lots more... but here's a quick peek at my first wall I've been working on!!! Excitement!

So some of you might be thinking .... yellow? Well, its a darkish yellow. And the whole house is gonna be so so dark that I need something light in there. Also.... I have been enjoying the Addams Family TV show sooooo much and they are just so cheery that I wanted to reflect that just a bit. There really is a remarkable difference between the mood of the tv show and the mood of the movies.

Anyway, if you are wanting to check out any of the old Addams Family tv shows, make sure and visit Hulu.com. they have almost every tv show ever made I think....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mail Call: A gift from Sans....

The mail came today!!! Thing answered it as usual and found a package from Sans to the Addamses!!! I knew what it was but the Family was clueless. You can see Thing showing off the contents of the package below:

Its a Limited Edition Harem Hookah from Sans! Pipe Dreams!!!! Also in the package were several skeleton hands that I believe will be worked into a cooky chandelier!!

As you can see the Addamses have been enjoying the Hookah for many years now and are very proud to own their very own Sans!! (but when should we inform Thing that he might have a slight issue with this activity??)

Image from Original Series by MGM Home Entertainment

Thank you Sans for the beautiful Pipe! We all love it!! The Addamses have something for you as well to represent their gratitude. Thing will be dropping it in the post sometime this weekend!!

Hugs from the Mini-Mansion, Ara (and thankful glares from the Addamses :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Working on the Master Bed.... going for ooky...

So yes ... I have been procrastinating on the house again by working on more furniture. I am in the process of making Gomez and Morticia's bed. I constructed it and stained it and then wanted to put something ooky on it in the center. I thought a monogram but I came across this Egyptian beetle symbol and it just struck me. The Addams love Egyptian antiques and it seem just ooky/charming enough for the bed. What do y'all think??

Now just to work on the bedding...

Also, below you can see the bed before I finished it... it was for a Spring Cleaning contest on All Things Mini!! Here you can see my lovely dog Clemy helping with the laundry (I wasn't happy with the flocking on the dog but it was my first try)! And I won second place!!! (Never mind that there were only 2 entries - haha). Tara won first place. You can see hers here.

Now everyone repeat after me "Ara, stop messing around and go work on the dang HOUSE!"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lurch's Organ on Fluffy Bricks!

I am so honored that Lurch's Organ has been featured on the blog, Fluffy Bricks!! Please head on over there and check out all the gorgeous miniatures Living finds and showcases. Thank you, Living, for the lovely write up :)

You can go here to find my original post about the organ and if you are intrested in how the keys work you can go here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The fate of the Blue house as been decided....

.... and boy are the Addamses glad to get their blog back :)

I watched a few movies last night for inspiration.... a couple of them recommended to me :) But I finally decided what the Blue house must become:

I am chronologically starting the story of Bentley Manor after that whole fiasco with Mr. Boddy so that they stories, rooms and even weapons can even be left up to my imagination :) But of course the well known and lovable (cough cough) characters will remain the same.

Please visit my new blog Clue: Murder at Bentley Manor to follow along with this project. It will go a bit slower than the Addams Family Mansion because I promised not to neglect them :) But I will post whenever I get something for it done! I am just glad to have a direction before I start renovating... this way I can keep some of the natural creepiness from the oldness of the house if I need to :) Thanks for all of the ideas! -ara

Monday, June 1, 2009

Off Topic: Update on the Blue House

Its a 'Dura-Craft VH-600 Victorian'. I can't find much on it so I am guessing its somewhat rare?? Anyone heard of it before? Also... as you can see mine is missing the original tower. I am liking the idea of possibly adding the tower back on. We'll see....

Gonna do some deciding on a direction tonight and then will post a link to the new blog for this new project... the Addamses would like to keep this blog for their own :) Thanks everyone for the super ideas! So many possibilites are swimming around in my head right now! -ara

I've been tagged twice! Oh my!

So awhile ago Julie Campbell from Bellabelle's dolls tagged me and I am just now getting around to it! Yikes! Please go visit her blog and check out her beautiful creations!! and please go a few post back and make sure you get to her "Old lady who lived in a Shoe" post. The little children are just precious!!
Also I was recently tagged by Beyondbaffled. Go to her blog and make sure you check out the antics of her adorable little dolls!! Currently she's working a Saloon that I can already tell is going to be spectacular!
I am gonna skip tagging people this time since I did so about a week ago or so... I'll tag again the next round ;) Instead I'm gonna list 6 tools I haven't been able to live without this week as I have been working:
1. My box cutter..... forget the xacto knife (that thing hurst my hand!) the box cutter is king!
2. Tacky Glue... I love you!
3. Not exactly a tool.... BUT I love my 1/2" thick peice of plywood cut the perfect size for my lap and my storage cupboard that I do projects on. It's easy to move and can take quite a beating!
4. My set of metal files... boy those things work fast and get into the smallest spaces!
5. My new sculpting/carving tools... they are so tiny and so helpful.
6. And lastly ... this thing .... my new favorite friend :)
BTW - Happy beautiful Texas morning to anyone reading this! Today is starting out wonderfully as work just made a wonderful annoucnement! I won't be specific but lets just say it frees up my time to do more on my minis - yay!