Search My Blog!

Use the Search box below to find keywords that you're looking for quickly and easily!

Search Feature

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Tasha's Kitchen - The Creative Itch

The tasks that I was just itching to do this week on Tasha's Kitchen were: Skylights, Exterior Cladding, Front Sliding Panel and Lighting Fixtures. Some nights, at bed time, I was just sad that I had to stop working and that I needed to sleep at all! I love being so excited and motivated to work on minis!


I'll start with the skylights since those have actually been completed and waiting to be installed for a few weeks. I don't know if I have ever seen mass produced skylights in miniature, but knew from the conception of the idea that I would need to make them myself. I pondered the best way to go about this for a couple weeks, looked at photos online and then ultimately decided to make both the interior and exterior frames out of 1/4" corner molding. On the interior, the molding covered the inside of the window opening and wrapped around to form the interior frame. I painted them white like the ceiling so they'd blend in.




For the exterior, I also used the corner molding but built the frames as separate pieces. I made the outer frames, cut 1/16" Lexan to fit into them, then cut an interior frame from 1/8" x 1/8" basswood to sandwich the "glass" in. These frames were then attached to the exterior of the roof, sitting proud of the surface like many skylights do.







Next was the exterior. This kit was really neat in that it provided pre-cut clapboard siding for the right and left exterior walls, and thick corner molding for all four corners. The siding even had the 45 degree angle pieces pre-cut for the gables! Because I had added the extra 1-1/2" of height to make the walls higher, I needed to make up that difference on the exterior walls and on the corner molding pieces. I decided to create a foundation for the room box out of some nifty old white bricks I have. For the corner molding, I used a combination of ridge cap and plinth molding stacked up to make fancy corners.




The kit did not include any material for the back, but I have something special in mind.




Since the right front corner molding piece will need to be removed to slide the plexiglass front in and out, I used ten 3mm magnets imbedded into the molding and on the room box to hold it in place. These are tiny magnets, but are very strong! Just holding the piece close allows you to feel the power of attraction! By drilling 3mm holes about 1mm deep, I was able to countersink the magnets so they sit flush to each surface.


I decided to go with the same navy blue that I used on the cabinets for the exterior. Once the painting was nearly finished, I applied the bricks, grouted them with spackle, painted them white and did not like the contrast. I tried them with the navy and liked them much better. This way, they are a textural feature rather than a competitor for everything else. Also, the navy will show less wear and dirt so will be less of a maintenance issue for Tasha. I installed the window and a small but elegant detail with the black shutters.








I added fascia boards all the way around the roof - boy what a difference a little detail can make!



I cut the front sliding panel from a large sheet of 1/8" thick Lexan - I'm so glad I purchased it when I did because it is 2-1/2 times more expensive now! I needed a 14" x 10-3/16" piece. Anything larger than 12" can get expensive, especially if you have a plastics company do it for you. Using the plastic cutter and some patience, it is easy enough to DIY. I won't risk removing the protective plastic until I take final photos before wrapping it for Tasha's birthday in July.



Remove the corner piece and slide the dust cover out.

The last task I was itching to accomplish for the week was creating the pendant lights. I had three of these plastic containers in my stash and thought they would make a good basis for some lanterns.


Utilizing the 3D printer again, I made some decorative tops with holes through the center for the wires, then drilled a hole through the tops of the containers. I also created a cap piece to attach to the ceiling that you'll see in a later photo.

I strung Evan Designs 5mm bulbs up through the bottom of them, painted the tops a unifying black with a Posca marker, sealed them with matte Mod Podge, made the bulbs opaque with white paint and yellow label Mod Podge, encased the wires in a series of shrink tubing and then glued on the clear shades.



Ceiling caps have been added.


I am thinking the same type of lanterns can be made in the future with glass jars of all kinds and shapes. How exciting! I love them in the kitchen and can't wait to light them up!





Speaking of lighting... I know what my task list will include starting this weekend... Look at this labyrinth of wires! 



I've also got a fun idea for the back of the room box, which will include some handy storage for all of the items that Tasha will have to play with. Hopefully, next week, I'll have some fun progress to show after scratching more creative itches!

One last word to encourage any of you that are finding yourself stuck or uninspired to create...

Perfectionists are often that way because of a fear of failure. If you are seeking perfection, you probably tend toward getting in your own creative way. Just do your best. If you want to do better, try again. Share with someone who won't judge you but will celebrate the spirit of creativity with you. Us fellow miniaturists are great for that! Whatever you do, do not let fear, for any reason, stop you from scratching that creative itch. You must give your own unique masterpiece the opportunity to materialize. Who cares if it's not perfect? The point is to be joyful and to have fun!

xo xo,

Jodi

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Tasha's Kitchen - Thorndike's Theory

This week has been a time of trial and error, to the drawing board and back again. It makes me feel a lot better when I read that Henry Ford spent two years and over a million pre-depression dollars to create an eight cylinder engine, in spite of every "expert" telling him it could not be done. I know minis are not a modern marvel on the level of an automobile, and I'm no genius inventor, but if Thomas Edison failed 90 times before he succeeded with the light bulb, I can give my experiments a try or two. I always manage to learn something in the process, and this just proves Thorndike's Theory.

I started off the week's adventure drawing up a rough idea of what the island should look like. I included all of the pertinent data such as the length, width and height, but I also kept in mind what I'd like to end up with in terms of functionality. I wanted some working drawers and maybe an opening cupboard door. Since the rest of the cupboards and appliances in the project are dummies, at least with the island, Tasha can pull it out to arrange and play with the accessories when the urge comes.


The rest of the bugs were worked out while I was making up the parts and pieces inside Cricut Design Space. As with the other cupboards, I used Cricut 2 mm chipboard and the Maker to cut them out.

My first attempt at the outer shell hit a hiccup right at the start. I forgot that the interior brace piece was supposed to be placed where the top drawer could rest on it. Making non opening cabinets so often has trained my brain to center the supports. Instead, in opening units, I need to be thinking about where they are supposed to go to support the opening parts! It was a happy accident, though, because I had also forgotten to cut the sides with a recess for the toe kick!

Ah, well... Luckily, chipboard is cheap and I have all the time in the world. 😊

Once I re-cut the pieces, I began to assemble the island - correctly this time!




Next I assembled the drawers and door. See the torn cardboard in the top drawer? Mistake #3. I glued the drawer bottom to the top of the drawer by accident. It mattered because of the way the drawer needs to slide and fit into the front. I pulled it off, glued correctly and sanded smooth before I finished the drawer. 



I painted everything in what Betsy is calling Freda Kahlo Blue (because Freda's famous house, now a museum, is blue). I printed off some chevron patterned liner to Mod Podge into the drawers, then added silverware dividers. Tasha is a big fan of chevron patterns!


When it came time to attach the door, I got out my supply of hinges. For a person who feels dread the minute I think about installing them, I sure have a lot of the little devils!!!

Here's where I am like Henry Ford. I KNOW they can be done, and I am determined to solve all the required mysteries to become a Hinge Master someday like Betsy, but it might take me $1,000,000 and a couple more years. After consulting with the resident expert contractor (a.k.a. Russ who was very impressed at the variety of hinges I have), he advised that due to the way I made the door panel fit into the cupboard opening, and the fact that I used chipboard rather than wood, I would have my work cut out trying to successfully use a hidden or recessed hinge. I did not want to place hinges on the outside of the cupboard because that would really detract from the clean design aesthetic that I am trying to achieve. So after weighing all the options and not wanting to ruin the island (effectively forcing myself to start over), I went with the old tried and true fabric ribbon hinge method. It functions well enough, though it is a little disappointing not to have been able to achieve a hinge victory.

I hope Tasha and Betsy will not be disappointed in me. 😔

The next thing was to figure out if there would be enough room in Tasha's kitchen for stools. If the answer was YES, then I could make an overhang for the island's top. If the answer was NO, then the island top would have a minor overhang equally around all four sides. I was really hoping for a YES!

I had some Classics Bar Stools in my project stash drawer for the Beachside Bungalow. Being bar height, they would be too tall as counter height stools, but could I cut them down? At only $8 a stool (what I paid for them), it was worth a try. I took the cushions off, nuked them on paper plates in the microwave for about 30 seconds each, then using a cotton kitchen towel as a glove, pulled the pieces apart.




I determined that 1" would need to be cut off each leg in order to be a good height for the island counter. Once I had the legs cut down, I sanded all the parts and re-glued the chairs together.




The remodeling looked okay, but how would they work in the kitchen? The space they used up was at the maximum limit, and they would have to be displayed pushed in all the time, but it could work. 


Something was missing so I added some leg braces. Still not quite right. Maybe worse!

How about painting them teal, perhaps? Tasha's favorite color.

That's not it. How about white? Better, but still not quite what I had in mind.

You know, when you just don't love something, you have to throw in the towel and try something else. Sorry Henry. Guess I am not quite as stubborn as you. The chairs will get stored in a drawer and maybe work for a different project in the future.

I decided to see if I could make my own stool with the 3D printer. I'd done it before, and that stool is still being sold in my Shapeways shop. That gave me the encouragement to try. I found this stool online and not only did I like it's simple, modern vibe, it looked like something I could make in TinkerCad by just manipulating shapes.

Sure enough, just three shapes (trapezoid, round roof and square) and 30 minutes later, I had my first prototype! 


One of the things I am still learning about with 3D printing is that just because you create precision parts in TinkerCad does not mean that they will fit perfectly together once printed. Especially if, in the slicer program (the program that prepares the model and settings for printing), you add support for unsupported areas of the model (like overhanging or hollow areas). Imagine a roller coaster track. All of the support structure under the track are what the slicer program adds to support overhangs and recesses. Normally, you just snip them away post print. In my case, the support frame reduced the size of the openings that I had created for cross leg supports to seat into. So for the first set of prototype stools, the cross supports were too large for the recesses. To salvage the effort, I replaced the printed braces with wood ones, instead.

The good news is that the rest of the stool design was perfect! Just the right height and depth to fit the island and still not make it feel like the floorspace around the countertops was crowded by them. Stools were a YES! Especially if you imagine that the "fourth wall" isn't really a wall at all but an opening to the room beyond.


But I was compelled to take what I had learned from the first stool design and try for better results. In the second stool design, I made the openings larger to account for the reduced space that would occur as a result of the support structure added by the slicer program. I also tweaked the design a little, adding an additional leg support on the sides and adjusting the placement of the front and back supports.

The patterned design on the pieces is a naturally occurring result of
infilling by the 3D printer. Sometimes it adds nice detail as a bonus.

I painted the legs blue, left the seat black to tie in with the black areas on the appliances and sprayed them with matte sealer.

First attempt, Right, Second attempt, Left.


I'll show them with the island in a moment. But first... Let's talk about the island top. Now that I knew for sure there would be stools, the island's countertop needed an overhang. Since she loves to cook and is always chopping something, a butcher block top using the same three species of wood that I used to make the herringbone floor would be a great feature for Tasha's kitchen. I was also planning to use that pretty walnut for some floating wall shelving. I wanted to tie the floor and the walls together visually, somehow. So I got busy laminating the 1/8" x 1/4" wood together. The butcher block top and cutting boards are comprised of maple, cherry and walnut. The wall shelves are all walnut.

Once the laminated boards were dry (overnight), I cut, sanded, waxed and buffed them. 

And attached the large one to the island. I love how it turned out! I am so excited to fill the cupboard and drawers up with treasures for Tasha to discover!




The wall shelves were sanded, stained with dark walnut stain pen waxed and buffed. Then I attached them as floating shelves to the walls. These will make swapping out seasonal décor fun and easy for Tasha!










Other than the ceiling/roof installation, making pendant lights and the decorating, of course, I think the inside of Tasha's Kitchen is pretty near finished! I'll probably spend the next batch of mini time getting my plan finalized for the exterior of the room box. I'm sure there's plenty of trial, error and opportunity to prove Thorndike's Theory out there, too!

xo xo,

Jodi