Welcome to my life . . . .

This is a blog about my passion: dollhouses and miniatures. This particular blog was started to follow my miniature dream: to create a Victorian Mansion. But work on my Mansion is slow. Very slow. Sloth slow. Ice Age glacier movement slow. Why? Because I am easily distracted by other personal miniature projects (I have 50+ roomboxes and 15 dollhouses in various stages of incompletion) and because I work for a miniature shop and am often up to my elbows in miniature projects that aren't mine! So, I thought, some artists work in a particular medium (woods, watercolors, clay, oils, etc.), I work in progress . . . .

Saturday, April 9, 2016

I'm a Terrible Sister

My little sister is a high school English teacher.  She also likes miniatures (not obsessed with them like I am, but she enjoys them).  A few years ago she bought a tissue box roombox (small room in the front to decorate and it holds tissues in the back) for her classroom.
Unfinished Tissue Box Roombox for sale in the store
And periodically I make scenes from novels for her to swap out/put in the roombox.  Some past years' scenes were Harry Potter, Game of Thrones (thanks to a 7" high Daenerys Targaryen figurine I found in a Walgreens of all places!), Huck Finn (sailing along on his raft), and Pride and Prejudice.  They are not always perfectly 1:12 scale, but high school kids don't care: they look forward to seeing the scenes swamped out.  And anything that gets the kids attention regarding reading is good as far as my English teacher sister is concerned!

So, in December of 2015 I came up with a great Christmas gift for my sister -- I'd make her another scene for her roombox.  And I had a wonderful idea for the scene (from my favorite Nathaniel Hawthorne novel): The Scarlet Letter!  But finding or making a Puritan miniature lady ten days before Christmas is hard to do.  So Hester Prynne must wait....I quickly switched to another idea when I spotted this whale in the toy aisle in a store: Moby Dick.
Great White Whale is more grey than white, but that's ok.
But, ten days before Christmas is not the best time to cram in an ocean creation either.  So sister got an empty box wrapped up for Christmas.  Well, not completely empty: there was a note inside that told her the gift would be completed around January 15, 2016 (and since my sister knows how awful I am at deadlines she had to know that that really meant don't expect it done before February 15, 2016).

Problem is, I dream big.  I wanted to have part of the bow of the boat in the scene.  Or maybe a harpoon hurtling thru the air at the whale.  Wait, that's too violent for a school setting -- well, it is really? High school is already pretty violent all on it's own with those surging hormones, teenage death glares, and attitudes.  Anyway, forget the harpoon; avoid that whole issue.  Focus on the boat - can I do that? Maybe a boat in the distance?  Oh crud, the distance -- the horizon!  I need some back ground or back drop to this scene or else the whale is just swimming along in a striped wallpapered room.  Swimming along...I still need to figure out the waves/water.

Those dopey waves intimidated me.  Do I use Scenic Water (by Deluxe Materials)? But then I have to create a sealed clear box to put the scene in or else I'll have liquid spilling out everywhere before it can dry.  Can I chop away at styrofoam to create the sea? But then how do I nestle the Whale into the "water"?  It won't look very natural.  I want breaking wave caps and textured depth.  Do I use Solid Water or Making Waves (by Deluxe Materials as well)?  After researching (Deluxe Materials Website) I discovered that I really like the concept of Making Waves and I sell it in my store so I really should know how to use it.  Experiment time!

By now it's the end of February and time to move forward (only a month behind schedule).  But there are customer projects, taxes to be done, ill children, Spring Break, ill husband, sick myself, etc.) and here it is, almost the middle of April (are your taxes done?), and my sister still does not have her Christmas gift.  I am a terrible, bad, no-good, rotten sister.

Today it's getting done!

Step 1: Make the base.  Using Dap wall spackle (Goes on pink! Dries White when it's time to paint) I created the waves starting with 2 clumps that I fanned out and pushed together to create humps and lumps:
Dumped two wads of spackle onto my board
Spread them out, pushed parts together...
Used a paper towel and lifted the spackle up until it folded over itself creating my caps
I remembered to make an indent where my whale will go right in the middle (wrapped the whale in plastic wrap and pushed him into the pink wad).

Step 2 (after the pink spackle dried white): painted the waves in various shades of blue, darker at the board and lighter as it went up.
Spackle is all white - some areas cracked but that's ok
Painted various mixtures of blue, gray, and black; some white plaster still shows thru
Dry brushed some white for the crests and breaking caps
 After the layers of painting were applied, I sprayed it with a high gloss sealer:
Even after drying it was glossy, resembling water
It was so glossy even after drying that I didn't need to use the Making Water - it resembled water enough for my tastes.  So I glued the whale on...
As it will be seen by the students in the roombox
Reverse side will not be seen as it will be in the roombox, but if sis decides to turn him around, it'll look good this way too

Looking down on my whale in the ocean
So the whale is frolicking in the ocean waves...Not bad for a day's worth of work.  I ran to a local scrap-booking store and bought a piece of paper that has the sky and an ocean view of sand or islands in the distance to use as a back drop.

He's an odd substitute for Hester Prynne, but he'll do.  And now I can release my guilt over ignoring my sister's gift for so long and move ahead on some other 2016 Christmas gifts that I need to be starting soon if I am going to get them done by the holidays!


  1. GENIUS!!! Oh wow, Lori! That looks AMAZING!!! And what a charming whale you have there. :) Your sister is lucky to have such an artist at her disposal! You make good waves! :)

  2. Oh, I'm good at making waves: just ask my in-laws (heehee, snicker, snort)!
    Thank you, Wendy!