Friday, 27 June 2014

Another week, another posting.
The week has been busy, still working on the Assembly manual as well as the Italianate Painted Lady, but also have pulled out of storage one of my own larger projects. I've decided that I need to put my Craftsman house aside for a while, I really want something special to show for next years Sydney dollhouse and miniatures show, and the way life is getting in the way the Craftsman would still be 2 or 3 years away.
So after a lot of thinking and discussions with my wife, I've restarted an Art Deco Egyptian movie palace, I had originally drawn up and assembled the entire structure in 1/24th but it just didn't feel right and because of where I was living at the time I didn't have enough space to build it larger so it was dismantled and put into storage. Almost 3 years ago we bought our current home where I have a large workshop out the back, I've been lucky to have made props for a couple of feature films as well as some TV series and commercials working from my workshop at home. At the moment being between any other jobs I've been busy doing the dollhouses that I've previously posted about but there never being enough hours in a day, I went crazy and picked a BIG project.

This is part of the only photo I currently have of the Egyptian Theater in Boise,Idaho as it originally was when it opened in 1927. I have copies of the architects plans from The Library of Congress which are just amazing as well that the building still exists and has been beautifully restored. 

googlemaps. Egyptian theater  is a walk through of the Theater.

I am only building at this stage the part of the building as seen in the above image, mind you the footprint for this is 2362mm x 900mm (approx 8 x 3 foot) plus another 300mm in front and to this end to allow the marquee over the footpath. (finished size 9 x 4 foot)

The model will include the exterior as shown, 4 shops along the front, the original ticket booth in the foyer and hallway across the building with as close to original Egyptian hieroglyphics as research will allow. The description of the opening from the 1927 newspaper article describes more hieroglyphics, as well as a 1936 photo of the exterior showing the foyer paintings. I will also be building the rear section of the auditorium with approximately 388 seats including the Loges and rear circle as well as the projection box and auditorium ceiling  The existing building has had some modification over the years, for example turning the shops into the ticket and concession areas. I love what they have done with this building but I want to show how it was because that's different to how it is. I can also put up that amazing Marquee sign which will make the model almost 1500mm high (5 foot).

I am contacting various organizations in Idaho to try and find more period information but if you have any early photo's or info I would love to hear from you. I would rather get the same info multiple times than miss an important detail. Until next time........

Yours in Miniatures (bigatures)


Friday, 20 June 2014

I've now started on the next version of a Victorian Row House. An Italianate fronted version based on a photo of a house a customer found on the internet, I have been looking for more photos of this house or to narrow down it's location to where in San Francisco, but I suppose I really doesn't need more than I've got to get the house designed as it is a very typical design,

It is the house to the left that I'll be working with, which is just a little plainer than the one on the right, I will be using the same structure for the interior and redesigning the exterior details for a more
Italianate look. This will allow this house to be intermixed with the previous and future versions as part of a street scene by being able to fit on the existing bases.

The other thing that I have to get finalised is the fitting of windows and trim section for the assembly manual of Painted Lady version 1, Once that is finished I will then be ready to start selling the kit properly. As I posted last time the first kit has gone out, but as she was excited to get it, we agreed to send it before the assembly manual was finished. I am using a resin coated board for the windows and extras trim with an adhesive backing, this allows easy gluing to the acetate used for the glass.

Well I'd better get back to work.

Yours in miniatures


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

My first Kit ready for wrapping and posting to a new owner.

I,m excited..................

yours in miniatures


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The first 1/48th Painted Lady is boxed up ready to post in the morning, and the roofing is finished on the 1/24th Fairy Tale Villa. I'm reasonably pleased with how it's looking, painted up this would be a lovely dollhouse for any little or big girl. I hadn't sealed the verandah roofs so in the sun today they warped a little, will lay them flat tonight and seal them tomorrow morning with shellac.

also looking at thickening the posts on the verandah to give a bit more detail. I've also just noticed that the front verandah railing is on back to front with the etched detail at the back out of sight, Doh.  Until next time

yours in miniatures


Thursday, 12 June 2014

didn't quite get it finished today, but I do have the woodwork assembled, Was rather tricky getting the roof to work as well as I would like in a kit. I want it to go together well, easily and accurately for any builders. I did get all the windows, doors and roof tiles designed and cut and will start assembling them in the morning.

The RC board arrived this morning from the states and it looks beautiful. Looking forward to doing a test cut tomorrow of the windows for the Painted Lady. Then I'll be able to add to the rest of the kit and post off to Kim in Queensland.

Yours in miniatures

Hello all,  I hope you are finding something interesting in my posts. In the last week I've been busy working on 3 dollhouses, a 1/24 version of the Fairy Tale Villa, the designs are finished and the basic shell went together last night, being held by tabs and masking tape, will cut and fit the windows,gingerbread and roof tiles today. hope to post photos later today.

I have also been working on the Judy in 1/48th for an order, This is a very simple little house that I've added stairs to, as well as opening up the roof, I've made versions in boxboard and mdf.

As promised last post I've also started painting up a Painted Lady. Although this is not completed yet, I thought you might like to see what its starting to look like. The kit is finalised, but I'm just waiting for some RC board to arrive from the USA to cut the windows and trim from. This is a thin but quite hard card that works exceptionally well in the smaller scales for laser cutting and because of the coating takes paint exceptionally well.

When  I was at the Sydney dollhouse show I was asked how I stop board and mdf from warping, I had forgotten that this was a problem because for years I've found I just coated everything in a thin coat of shellac.


If you use mdf or cardboard in your model making keep a sealed container of thinned shellac on hand. I make a mix from a cup of flakes in a bucket, cover it over with methylated spirits (also known as denatured alcohol.) let it dissolve the flakes then add more meths and then a little more. Shellac is a wonderful sealer and finish for wood working but this mix is thinner than what you would use for that, Because the methylated spirits evaporates quickly it leaves the dissolved flakes to settle into your board and reharden, you are only wanting a thin seal, not a heavy finish. I just slap it on with a 2 inch brush and then wipe off again almost straight away with a rag. The first photo is my bucket of shellac, this bucket is about 15 years old and I can't get this brand locally any more but I just throw in some more flakes and a bit more methylated spirits and it keeps on going. Even dried on shellac rethins with more meths. Use a lidded bucket because even this amount will evaporate in about a day or so. The second photo shows the mix slapped on the house with runs, quickly wipe of and you have an even surface to now finish however you like.

Then leave it to dry for half an hour, because it hasn't dried yet even though it feels dry. I just did half the house in about 20 seconds to take the photos.

Second 2 for 1 Tip Use fine or medium steel wool to sand the shellaced board if you need a smooth surface, Not sandpaper, steel wool works quickly and gets you into all the nooks and crannies. Now its a smooth as a babies (you know what).

When dry, paint and glues will stick as if there was nothing there, so you can seal pieces before assembly or after as in this case. In set construction in the film industry we coat everything in shellac as it seals out moisture from the air and even a bit of rain, however this is not suitable for exterior use, but hopefully your dollhouse is staying inside or if its being left outside, whether the shellac hold up or not is not relevant .

A Warning: methylated spirits will soften PVA glue if left on to long or to heavy, If it starts softening your glue, just leave it to dry out again and your glue will harden again. My preferred option is to use exterior grade PVA as this is not affected by Meths once its dried. I also prefer exterior PVA as it dries faster and seems more tacky, almost like a tacky glue.
Also wear gloves and try not to get to much on your skin, Its not particularly poisonous but it's better to not come into contact with any chemicals. And work in a well ventilated area.

Last picture for this post, The getting towards finished Painted Lady................

Until next time....

Yours in miniatures

Warren  or Wazza.
no wonder I have a split personality

Thursday, 5 June 2014

and people said we'd never get here, #2 post. As I mentioned previously, I'm working on some 1/48 Victorian Town Houses. The first is based on 712 Steiner St in San Francisco and will be followed by an Italianate and the rest of the 710 - 720 block, this is probably the most photographed set of Painted Lady's any where in the world.

712 Steiner St is the blue house second from the right in the top photo, I then will be doing the Italianate version from the second Photo, and then the other 5 from the set. One of the first things I thought would be useful and interesting would be to design a base board that would allow the houses to sit next to each other and also to create a sloped street. My thinking was that this would allow people to create individual houses, but then to be able to as a group put them together at a show. This would require a little planning as a group because at the moment I have created 6 sloped blocks that are all slightly higher than each other and a decision is needed of which step you would need to fit in with others. I will probably make a flat version as well that could fit at any level. I fact there would be know limit to how many houses could go in a row.

These are 5 of the 6 bases with rough working prototypes of 712 sitting on top to see how it was working out. I am pretty pleased with the effect achieved. In front of the steps is the footpath with the curbing at the front edge. To the right of the steps is a driveway into the garage. I am in the process of assembling and painting a prototype for use in the instruction manual at the moment so no finished shots yet. The house has an option to fit a garage or have a basement window. This also allows individuality and the option of a driveway or front garden depending on period modeled. As I continue designing, any of my row houses will fit on any base. Some of the other things that are happening with this house are that the entire interior slides out the rear like a large drawer. This allows the interior to be built, decorated and dressed out of the building, I don't know about you but my fingers aren't getting any smaller as I get older. 


It also means that the exterior can be finished and the interior done when ready to, it also that the interior can be taken out and seen if you have a row of houses side by side. I will also be offering a version with removable panels on the sides for people who would prefer that though.

None of the above photos show the current detailing that is now part of the design, These are all just earlier test mockups, or concept models as we would call them in the film industry. They allow me to check build-ability and form and to see how I can make both better.

I hadn't planned on this blog or putting these ideas out there quite so largely but I was listening to Jordan Belfort who is the real "Wolf of Wall Street" and one comment he made stood out. If you tell enough people that you intend to do something, you end up having to do it. So here goes, I would like this kit ready to send out by the end of June 2014. I will probably be selling through E-Bay initially. The kit will be  $100 and the base $20 or $15 if purchased at the same time as the kit.

Is that public enough.

Till next time when I will have finished photos to show.

Warren or as most call me Wazza

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

my name is Warren and this is my first post on my new Blog. The purpose of this blog is to hopefully keep people informed about the Miniature architecture, dollhouses and furniture that I have and will hopefully be creating,

I sort of work in the Australian film and TV industry as a prop and model maker, however as I find I get older, I am going back towards my main interests in Architectural dollhouse miniatures, I have been developing processes and designs for a 1/12 Arts and Craft Bungalow for the last couple of years which is starting to come together. The photo below was taken at the recent Sydney Dollhouse and Miniatures Fair, where I and a couple of friends displayed for the first time. These are 2 of 18 rooms in the house. I will go further into this house in a latter posting.

We had a lot of interest in what we are doing, and that has further inspired me to create more accessible dollhouses for people to buy as kits to assemble and decorate themselves. At the show I was asked about what sort of things I would be doing and one piece that I had on display was a Fairy Tale Villa that people really seemed to enjoy. This was laser cut from 1.6mm board to 1/48th scale.

This design is based on a set of plans from Paul Campbell at although it as been modified to suit my specs. I had on hand a catalog of Paul's designs and the house that had the most interest was a San Francisco painted lady. Since the show I have been working on the first of a range of new 1/48 designs to create a street scape of Victorian Painted Lady's. MORE TO FOLLOW