“I wanna be the very best…”

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There’s a subset of the population who reads this line and feels a nostalgic wave (including the US Olympic swim team at 5:01). I didn’t encounter Pokémon games until college with a bootleg rom of Crystal, but it was a big part of my husband and his sister’s lives, and I’m now pretty into the games and the fandom. Some of Justin’s proudest childhood moments are when he broke the clock in Pokémon Blue (at 255 hours, probably because 8-bit data storage can handle 256 values, including 0), got 13 Pokémon to level 100 without cheating, and won a Mew off another kid way back when those were only given away at contests and events.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first Pokémon games, and the company has been having a year-long celebration. The original games had 151 beasties you could catch and interact with, and in two decades that number has increased to a staggering 720, with another batch on the way later this year (totally reserving a copy of Sun, by the way).

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Image by Firehippo782. It doesn’t include the most recent generation, but you get the idea🙂.

Like Mario, Legend of Zelda, and other lasting video games, the main Pokémon games are rife with traditions that fuel the nostalgia. The player always starts as a new Pokémon trainer, who is given their first Pokémon by a local professor, and then embarks on an adventure to explore the world. In celebration of the anniversary, I’m making a scene from the game world, with my all-time favorite Pokémon team.

trainercard-lizThis project has been tricky to get into, mainly because I kept changing the setting, I had several hundred possible Pokémon to whittle down to about six faves, and a not insignificant part of me wimps out publicly and serially posting the extent of my previously hidden geekiness. This project will also be a huge technical challenge, because most of it is going to be sculpted out of polymer clay and painted. I’m also trying to recreate the feel of franchise’s art style. Sort of like when you go to Mikey and Minnie’s Houses at Disney World and it’s like you’ve stepped through the television screen.

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Who’s that Pokémon?

Half of my team is sculpted in 1:24 scale (though some doozies are left) and the house is in rough pieces.

So grab your PokéDex and choose your starter, because we’re going on a little journey to the world of Pokémon!

 

What’s your 20?

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*Huff huff pant pant*…Hello everyone, how’s it going?

I know I said I’d get back into blogging once the semester was over, but it’s been pretty kooky in the Bradshaw household up til now, and the dust is finally settling.

HondaEggplant

Let’s hope this transport lasts 13 years like its Mazda predecessor.

Since the last post, my husband and I sold three cars, bought two cars (including one Honda Eggplant and a Scion XB pretending to be a different “big blue box”), and moved into our first (soon to be very geeky) house from our apartment.

pokemondoormatHanna has adapted well, and believes herself to have dominion over all boxes (or anything she sees, really) and so she has been pleased with her new, ever-shifting territory.

HannaDominion

Yes, my minions, climb!

I also took on the role of Vice President in my miniatures club, which means I come up with the crafts we do at the meetings for the next year. The ladies decided to take the plunge into making my half scale beach bungalow, and since half scale is hard to shop for, I designed some furniture for them.

beachfurniture3FYI, if anyone is interested in the kits (house and furniture), I have one or two spares I could part with🙂.

As for future projects, the move reminds me of a certain fandom on which I am going to do a mini tribute…

PokemonHouseEach Pokémon game begins with the player moving to a (usually two-room) house in a new (and absurdly tiny) town. This year is the 20th anniversary of the original game, and when I’m not taking breaks from Pokémon Go or Pokémon Sun when it comes out later this year, I’ll be making my trainer abode and team.

JustinEkans

Justin telling Ekans he won’t take no more sass at dinner. Please disregard my finger.

The Pokémon world is both frustratingly and conveniently flexible in its style, so we will see what happens.

dollhousefinishedOh, and I finished Bonnie’s House and got it delivered to kind relatives who will find it a good home. My part in its story is finished but hopefully its tale will be a long and happy one🙂

P.S. – The children’s science museum I used to work at eons ago had radios and we actually used the title phrase often…Probably because most of us were high schoolers and thought talking like truckers was cool.

Happy Easter!

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HannaEaster

Muahahaha these round things are all mine!

I really apologize for disappearing since early February with the conclusion of the Undersized Urbanite. (I won second place in the experienced category, which I’m grateful for, and this year’s entries were very imaginative!) Since then I’ve had my nose to the grindstone on my Master’s project, my day job, a friendly commission for cartography, and helping out the clubs I’m in, to the level where sleep and social interactions have been luxuries. Once May rolls around, you will find a much more relaxed, crafting, and blogging version of me.

In the meantime, here is what Hanna’s been up to lately. I’ll make use of today’s date to cheer for the Make Mine Chocolate campaign and others that promote not giving children live bunnies at Easter, because many will end up in shelters or worse. Based on her age when she was found, Hanna could have been an unwanted 2009-model Easter bunny, but I think her story turned out alright🙂.

 

In other news, I have been stealing away tidbits of time to put finishing touches on Bonnie’s house, and it will find its new owners in May as well.

Here’s an in-progress teaser until then. Are those two little ears I see?

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Aloha, and welcome to the Ohana House!

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It came down to the wire and our apartment is buried under the most epic crafty mess, but here is my submission for the 2015 Undersized Urbanite, the Hawaiian bungalow. (For the full experience, here’s some mood music.)

It’s called the Ohana House because ohana means family, and several of the items in the house represent my family and friends. (Yes, I did watch Lilo and Stitch last night).

Houseside2littleHouseInterior1littleHawaii is an amalgamation of cultures, such as the Polynesian, Japanese, Chinese, and Puerto Rican ways of life, and I wanted to incorporate them in the house as well. I may post more detailed info on some of the objects after the contest is over, but today is about the whole (i.e., it’s really long because I got behind on posts).

 

Vintage Hawaii

Hawaii3EditedlittleThe surfboard represents my coworker, because she is always cheerful and fun and doesn’t let life’s troubles get her down. She is also a wonderful mom and I see her supporting and protecting her family, as a surfboard supports its rider. This old-school board is made of strips of basswood, mahogany, and walnut to make the pinstripe, with a coat of poly for some shine.

My first attempt at a tiki carving was a laughable failure, but number two was a passable Lono, the hippie Hawaiian god of music, agriculture, and peace (seriously, he rode into the world on a rainbow). I confess his bum cheeks are not symmetrical, and his hands-on-hips stance made the Macarena play in my head for longer than is healthy.

One friend of mine is an avid reader, and her homage is a bookshelf made of Hawaiian koa from Hilo. It came as rough pen blanks that a super cool neighbor cut for me into thin slices. I’ve never worked with such a hard wood, but even covered in sanding dust the koa was iridescent. Most of the books are mini versions of her favorites, plus some National Geographics because my grandmother always shares them.

The lasercut doormat was a more epic undertaking than I’d anticipated, but the results were almost worth it. More than one swear word was uttered as I played a tiny game of Operation, blueifying just the nooks and crannies with paint.

My father-in-law likes wearing Hawaiian shirts, and the last time we went to Hawaii, he asked us to bring back the loudest one we could find. We did not disappoint, but I toned the mini version down a bit. Painting this shirt with Setacolors was nerve-wracking but a lot of fun. The buttons are real mother of pearl so they sparkle a bit, and the kukui nut lei is made of seed beads and tiny paper flowers.

I brazenly admit I spent way too much time on the ukulele, but my strange passion for the instrument got the better of me again. I relied on laser cutting for the birch body, and then did some carving and sanding to shape the neck. It has a real Gaboon ebony fretboard and saddle, and an abalone diamond in the headstock to give it some extra sparkle. A coat of satin poly made me want to hug it, but the stories were true, it takes polyurethane forever to dry on ebony and the instrument stayed sticky for a whole week.

 

Asian Flair

Asian1EditedI have always loved the stylistic portrayal of butterflies and moths in Chinese art, and tried to make a lunar moth on the cabinet. This piece existed before the house did and I used the cinnabar red, jade green, lacquer black, and gold as the color scheme for the rest of the room.

Since I’ve already done a post on making bonsai, the only thing I’ll say about this one is that I made the pot similar to how they are made in real life and it got a fun-size glass Buddha. My resident also has a nice Japanese tetsubin and tansu (though no cups to drink tea from yet).

 

The Loft

Loft2littleI imagine the person living in this house to be fond of travel and that they have a collection of vintage travel posters, postcards, and pen pal letters on display in their inner sanctum. I’d been pondering some industrial-style hanging lamps, but after deep discussion, my husband proclaimed this resident was too spontaneous to have dedicated lighting, so they rigged up a string of Christmas lights. The hubs also thought the person would have a sleeping bag tucked in there, but my friend and I broke the tie for a Japanese futon with a quilt and pillow.

loftlitHere is the underside pre-flooring, because it’s hard to photograph the posters in the finished house. I didn’t have a warm tropical wood to line the eaves and loft floor so I used cherry.

 

The Studio

Interior1littleI don’t know why, but putting the ceiling fan together made me very happy, and it was an unexpected cobbling of spare parts. Few homes in Hawaii have air conditioning because they always have the trade winds (a boon of being out in the middle of the ocean) and mild temps. It’s normal there to leave the windows open and maybe have a fan, especially a fun tropical palm fan. The blades are made of woven jute paper.

The shoji lamp hiding in the back left corner took 44 tiny pieces of wood, but I think it puts out a cute glow through the rice paper. As with many other aspects of Japanese culture, these screens were originally a Chinese invention, but they took on a new life, design, and utility in Japan. Each side has eight panes since it is an auspicious number in Japan.

Record3littleA family beach house just wouldn’t be right without my father’s tunes wafting through the windows, and I secretly learned his favorite albums and artists to make a suitcase-style record player. The records are beads that were actually made from old vinyl records! I had to go to the technical support section of the Crosley website to confirm these do have plugs…all of the pictures of these online would lead you to believe they run on magic. I put my family’s name as the brand.

On the wall next to the Happy Bunny scroll is a carved cinnabar jewelry cabochon from the 1940’s (the painted wood kind of cinnabar, not the crystallized mercury kind…I hope).

The hanging chair was just something cool I saw on Pinterest, but I thought it would be fun for someone to sway in it and dip their toes in a fluffy plumeria rug.

Interior3littleEasel1little

 

The Great Outdoors

WelcomelittleHawaii is famous for its rusty red dirt and my mom and I spent several minutes in the paints aisle of the craft store going through our memories of Maui’s soil and picking out colors. The lava rock is florist’s foam, and some of some of the sand on the beach (mostly the shells and bigger pieces) came from Maui. The palm tree is made of thick floral wire, wrapped in quilt batting and muslin. Before this morning it had no leaves, and it will one day have a hammock tied to it.

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The Lanai

HouseSidelittleA Hawaiian hale (house) would not be complete without a lanai (porch), which is covered in teak. I still have a habit of stealing wooden coffee stirrers on my travels, and I had a tidy stash of ones from the Bahamas and Portland. Since both places are known for kicking back with a cold, fermented beverage, I fashioned them into Adirondack chairs. I then realized I had a friend who owns a bar with her husband and they particularly like to relax at the beach setting, so these colorful chairs are for them.

Lastly, I present the world’s tiniest pair of Birkenstocks, made of real cork, leather, and human angst.

birkenstocksI also learned along the way that aloha has a much deeper significance than hello and goodbye. According to Queen Lili’uokalani, it is the recognition of life in another being and the happiness that is being part of nature. It is a powerful word that can only be spoken with a pure heart.

Aloha, friends.

Two very different quilts

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When I asked my grandmother what she wanted to be represented by in the house, she said a quilt, or “If that was too much trouble, a pillow.” I was game for that, since Hawaii developed their own type of quilt when cottons made their way across the Pacific.

What I didn’t realize was she was referring to a specific quilt:

quilt1My great grandmother Maggie stitched this many moons ago in the mountains of North Carolina, and though loveworn, it is still in use. Apparently, both of my great grandmothers on my mom’s side of the family quilted, and one was a meticulous planner, while the other (the one who made this quilt) preferred spontaneity in her craft. One of the things I love about this one is it is a classic scrap quilt, with bits of flannel next to loud calicos, and a lot of it looks like feedsack cotton. My mom and I promptly went to a quilt shop and left with a plethora of pleasantly tiny patterns.

There was no way I’d be able to replicate Maggie’s churn dash, but I did borrow her navy blue border. Since I had 36 squares to make, I used twelve fabrics and made three squares of each. For fun, I arranged them Sudoku-style, where each of the three rows had all twelve fabrics, but there was no repeat of that fabric in the same row or column.

squares1Each square is 1/4” with an 1/8” seam allowance, and though there’s a beautiful tutorial where someone has paper-pieced a dollhouse quilt, I took the low road of marking the backsides.

quiltsquaresI kept to the pencil lines as I settled in for a lot of handstitching, but the results were worth it.

finished2I also did it while it was snowing outside (which almost never happens in central North Carolina), and it made me ponder my great grandmother living in the mountains, and how back then quilts were first and foremost functional items to keep the family warm in the days before electric heating. The batting is no-scrim cotton that feels so yummy it makes me want to stitch another quilt just to play with it more🙂. Better keep me away from cotton fields…

I’m of a mind that a house should have two quilts, and I made the Hawaiian one a wall hanging with a breadfruit pattern. I’d been looking for an alternative to my Setasilk paints, because while they work well, the idea of trying to apply the resist in a perfect pattern (to fence in the dye so it doesn’t run everywhere) made me cry a little inside. But Pebeo came through for me yet again, when I found out they have an all-purpose fabric paint called Setacolor. It doesn’t run at all and I was able to get a 12-color set of their opaques for $30 from the UK (yay for birthday money, but boo on the US for not stocking many Pebeo products).
hawaiianquilt1The paints smell a little funky when wet (like Sharpies doused in caramel and I kept wondering if I was going to get a buzz from them), but they are a dream. And I actually had a squee of joy at work when I realized I’d finally be able to paint a tiny Hawaiian shirt too!

Happy Bunny

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Hanna had to be included in the Hawaiian house, and while she was not overly pleased at the time of her portrayal (she’d been a naughty rabbit and had been put back in her cage early), I think I captured her essence pretty well.

disapprovingrabbit

If the Disapproving Rabbits site was still taking submissions, she would have been a shoe-in. This Pinterest link is the best I can do to show you their former awesomeness.

I went to a Chinese New Year festival last year and there was a kind calligraphy artist who did requests and explained them as she painted. The original “Happy Bunny” is framed in my office, but I copied the text.

finishedbunnyWhat I didn’t know is half of the characters denote the parts of speech. Starting at the top, this one says “Happy” “Adjective for” “Upcoming noun” “Rabbit” and “End of sentence.”

I have a tendency to overdo things (surprise) and so it’s a good exercise to do something minimalistic. As you can see, it took a lot of practice before I got an appropriately Hanna-esque result.

happybunny2

The one complete bunny and the thirty-something partial bunnies chilling in the ether.

More posts to come!

To the best Mom ever

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I know things have been quiet here on the blog (because I’ve been pouring my free time into the bungalow), but get ready for a peppering of posts because there’s only a month until the Undersized Urbanite’s deadline! To keep some amount of surprise between now and then, I’ll mostly be showing individual pieces. Several of the items were made to represent a specific person, and I’ll start with the crown jewel.

My Mother was the one who got me started on my path in art, and as a toddler I would sit next to her on the floor with my colored pencils and crayons and do my best to mimic her beautiful watercolor paintings. For a good part of my childhood, she did still lifes of flowers for a company called Wildwood. It was common in our home for her to have her painting nook, with her giant palette of colors and Mason jar of brush water, and live or fresh-cut flowers poised under lamps as her reference. Her paintings would go on to China and be painted on (quite expensive) lamps. You can find a few of her prints today, but many more designs appeared on the lamps.

wildwoodlamp3As a tiny tribute, I made a watercolor easel with all the trimmings. It is assembled from 35 pieces of cherry wood with a tung oil finish and brass and gold-plated fittings. I did make it a little bigger than a standard fold-n-go easel, because she tapes her paper directly to a drafting-style table. It was also the first time I made a functioning drawer, and it works so well that I’ve had to restore its contents no less than five times already.

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easel1She uses Winsor & Newton paints, and I shrank one of their labels to put on the tubes, which were made using a great tutorial. These things are so small that you can’t tell what brand they are anymore, but trust me😛. The palette is lasercut cardboard that I painted white, and the watercolor smudges are actually heavy-bodied acrylics.

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I had one tube of Winsor & Newton, and by golly I was going to use it for a size comparison photo.

The brushes are carved from mahogany, walnut, and cherry, and are a mix of Japanese and European-style brushes, including a big wash brush. Some of my older paint-pushers sacrificed their bristles to don the tiny handles.

brush2Lastly, I took one of my Mom’s paintings and shrank it. She’s done numerous orchid studies and you can bet we looked at the ones growing in Hawaii. I plan to put at least one more of her paintings in the house.

Thank you Mom! HUG!

A little aloha spirit

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The Hawaiian bungalow has come a good way, but since some of its parts are doing double duty as Christmas gifts, I can’t post them here yet, so here’s a merry distraction I made earlier this year as a belated Christmas gift.

pairTo explain what the heck these are, I work for a large collaborative (a group of universities and regulatory agencies) that does research, education, and outreach for foodborne viruses. Most of what we do is about norovirus (the “stomach flu”), and we make ample use of the cuteness that comes in the form of GIANTMicrobes plushies. One of the things we did last year was a social media campaign where I got to make tiny Halloween costumes for the little grey goobers and we paired the photos with educational quips about the virus. Here was the spooky set:

Norovirus plushies

Don't let #noroviruses suck the life out of you. An estimated 1 in every 15 Americans will experience the virus each year. Help you and your friends avoid the curse (and a lot of quality time in the bathroom) by practicing good #handwashing and #foodsafety.

Don’t let noroviruses suck the life out of you. An estimated 1 in every 15 Americans will experience the virus each year. Help you and your friends avoid the curse (and a lot of quality time in the bathroom) by practicing good handwashing and foodsafety.

Seriously, I got paid to do this😛. They were even featured on the local news station!

Well, my boss and leader of the collaborative wanted a bedecked beastie of her own, and since she was heading to Hawaii, I chose that as the theme.

UkuleleOne is a ukulele player (surprise) with a real koa ukulele, and the other is a buxom hula dancer. Her skirt is made of some vintage crepe paper, and I made molds of a grocery store bouncy ball to make sure her Sculpey coconuts were appropriately perky.

leiThe leis were made from lots of silk flowers and since kukui nuts would have been too big, I used tagua nuts instead.

We’ll be back to our regularly-scheduled programming soon!

Going meta

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Sometimes I can take it slow with creating my minis, and sometimes I’ve given a piece away moments after declaring it “finished.” At least twice I have put on the last details for a gift in the passenger seat of my husband’s car on a dark winter night en route to a holiday function.

Well, this Monday night wasn’t the closest I’ve cut things, but it was pretty close.

Monday was the annual Christmas party for my miniatures club, and in addition to eating lots of tasty potluck dishes, we have a gift exchange. Last year I gave a bunny toy (also finished in the nick of time and his bow was still drying on his tiny body in his gift box at the party), and this year I had a whopping six spare hours before the festivities!

The gift had an Asian feel thanks to my UU project, and I made a bonsai tree. Being a bit impetuous and on a 7-hour deadline, I went with my gut on shaping the tree and didn’t look much at the styles and composition of bonsai until I was almost finished. Mine turned out to be a pretty masculine (jagged and angular, with a sturdy trunk) moyogi (informal upright) juniper in a masculine (rectangular and deep) pot.

BonsaitreeThe tree is made of some of my dad’s copper wire leftover from his electrician business. I spent an evening with some pliers and my parents watching murder mysteries on Netflix and shaped the body. The cardboard bon (“shallow dish”) took a good deal of my allotted time to shape and paint, such that I was gluing green tufts on the sai (“planted tree”) during my lunch break at work.

I included a couple of glass Buddhas (in normal and fun size) since Buddha gained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, and it is not uncommon to have a small Buddha statue near a bonsai.

My art teacher in high school would always ask us if something was life imitating art or art imitating life. I guess I’ve gone meta, since I’ve got art (a dollhouse miniature) imitating life (a live bonsai), which is imitating both life and art since bonsais are art pieces, shaped to mimic full-grown trees in nature. Perhaps I’ve gone doubly meta, since I made a miniature thing of a miniature thing?

Happy Holidays ya’ll.😛

“I see a red door and I want it painted white”

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I’d hoped to avoid a big jump in the progress posts on the U.U. bungalow, but honestly, 90% of the work these past few weeks has been painting. One weekend was devoted to whitewashing, because even though it’s a glorified roombox, the house has a goodly amount of white trim. If anyone ever makes this house in the future, I certainly won’t begrudge them just getting a can of white spray paint. It took a layer of gesso (thanks again GOLDEN) and two layers of paint to get a crisp white.

So much white...

So much white…

The color theorists must be right about hues and moods, because I could paint white for extended periods and feel sort of meditative or vacant, but if I spent more than an hour layering red paint on the front door I became noticeably testy. I wanted a strong red because of the Asian elements I plan to put in the house, and because a red front door signifies welcome and hospitality in many cultures. Part of why I picked the title is the red also likes to rub off on things, and even under a layer of polyurethane, it has turned the inside of my nice white doorframe pink. C’est la vie.

The next weekend I got to move on to colors in earnest. I fought a lot with the inside wall color, adding more and more white until I was sure it was just shy of pure white, but every time I put it on the walls it was still darker and stronger than expected. At about three coats I had to call it done, and aqua is my favorite color, so I was going to be like it regardless.

beforeassemblyWhile it looks like Santa’s after-Christmas vacation home, I did have a reason for the deep green exterior. The original Hawaiian plantation cottages, while inhabited by the workers, still belonged to the plantation owners. Not surprisingly, they looked for what was available on the islands or could be sourced cheaply from the mainland. During WWII, “battleship grey” was plentiful surplus from the military bases and found its way to these houses (which I’m guessing looked a bit drab in the tropical landscape). Dark green was also a common color, and a couple of sources I found described the workers making the paint themselves with linseed oil or tar and “shingle stain green.” As we near yule, mine is an appropriately festive mix of holly and evergreen acrylics.

greenwalls

Insert sound of jingle bells.

I kept coming to the question of how weathered the house should look, and my final answer was “a little bit.” Since I’ve imagined it on a beach, the salt spray would be rusting the nails. The green has some age on it thanks to pastel dust, but the trim received a fresh coat when the current owner moved in.

floor1I also did the floor, which I think turned out pretty spiffy. The porch is bedecked (tehe) in unfinished teak wood, since teak is a classic choice for surfaces that see the elements. The inside area is covered in real Hawaiian koa with a natural tung oil finish, and while my iPhone pic didn’t do it justice, it is a very pretty wood.

The walls are actually vertical now, but that’s another story and shall be told another time🙂.

Also, you may have noticed some changes with the site, like actual header images and some widgets moved around. If you see something you like or don’t like about the new look, please tell me.