Posted in diorama, Iplehouse, Olive, overhead, roombox

Creating 1/4 scale flooring for $4

After going round in circles for while figuring out how to make a realistic-looking treehouse floor, I finally stumbled on something that seems to be working.

For something to work for me, it needs to be:

  • Easy
  • Cheap
  • Realistic-looking

I’d dismissed the stick-on parquet tiles, because I doubted the girls would install parquet floors in the treehouse, but once I found a grey, weathered parquet floor, I realized I could change it into weathered boards with a few snips.

Here’s part of a vinyl parquet floor tile I picked up at Home Depot for $0.89.

It doesn’t look right in scale as it is, but you can easily cut along the lines using pruning shears (my cutting tool of choice).

And then clean up along the edges using a utility blade.

And then lay out the individual pieces on a solid piece of wood.

And it looks like some old planks of weathered wood that the girls might have found.

Here’s Olive working on laying out the floor.

And here she is relaxing (in a way cool $10 chair from WalMart on top of a $1 placemat from Goodwill)

Covering the whole 21 x 21″ piece took four pieces of parquet flooring, so about $4 altogether.

For 1/6 scale dolls, I recommend the vinyl oak parquet flooring tiles. Here’s one in red oak next to the tile I used:

The wood pieces are much smaller, and the less weathered look is more appropriate for indoor flooring.

I’m really happy with my solution, and I think I’ll start using the 1/6 scale flooring to create some of my second draft rooms for the Mia Fiorello girls.

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Posted in BJD, doll photography, Dollsbe, Iplehouse, Supia

From each according to their abilities

My fashion dolls all have pretty similar posing abilities. The two dolls on the Barbie Made-to-Move bodies (Lily and Daisy) are easier to pose than the two dolls on Obitsu bodies (Camellia and Rosie), but they all pose in pretty similar ways. That means that, when I sketch out a plot, I’m not figuring out who will star in a role based on posing ability.

Not so my ball-joint dolls. Working on the treehouse with the three sisters, I’m finding that I have to re-write the episode based on who can do what, instead of based on the characters themselves.

Specifically, there’s some sawing to do in order to start building the treehouse. Willow (the eldest sister) isn’t involved in the building work – she’s a bit more of a homebody, and she also has the responsibility of looking after the other two so spends less time playing and more time working. Which is a darn shame, because Willow (a Supia Aasta doll) is a terrific poser. She’ll get into just about any position and hold it like a champ.

That leaves the two younger sisters, Olive and Fern, to saw through branches. Normally, I’d expect that the older sister would saw and the younger sister would help, but Olive (an Iplehouse Amy doll) is not good at all at sitting or kneeling on the ground. First, she’s loose in the hips – a problem I haven’t worked up the nerve to address yet – so I’m constantly popping her hips back into her joints. Second, she has a very hard time holding any kind of kneeling position. Mostly, her knees just buckle. If they stay solid, then I have to spend a ton of time getting her to balance on them.

She also strikes an awkward post with her knees bent and sitting on her bottom. It works, but it doesn’t fully resemble how a real person would sit.

Compare this with the ever-graceful Willow who looks completely like-like in this position.

Olive can sit cross-legged, but that means that she’d be sawing over her lap, which seems kind of dangerous.

The little sister, Fern (a Dollsbe Strawberry doll) is terrific at kneeling – she’s probably the best poser of any of my ball joint dolls.

But is Olive really going to have a sister that young wielding a saw?

All of which has led me in a round-about way to decide to spend more time in each of the doll story worlds before rushing on. By the time I really learn how to work with one set of dolls and their settings, I’m on to the next scene. And, by the time I get back around to the first one, I’ve forgotten everything I’ve learned.

Also, at the end of an episode, I’m totally in that world and I can really feel where they ought to go next. Once I’m away for a few weeks (or months, in the case of my ball joint doll stories), I’ve totally lost the flow.

So, I’m going to continue with an episode a week (except for this week), but I’m going to stay in each story for several weeks. So, we’ll have a little time over the next few weeks to get to know the treehouse girls. Then it’s back to Mia Fiorello for the final episode, and, by then, by 1/3 dolls may be here.

Posted in BJD, doll photography, Dollhouse, graphic novel, Iplehouse, Olive, overhead, Photography, toy photography

Back to the treehouse

While the Mia Fiarello team is making their way to Camellia, let’s check in with the treehouse sisters.

When I started working again on this story, I realized how incredibly slapdash and haphazard I’d become about setting up for episodes – just grab a few items, set up the camera, and shoot.

I *could* do that for the treehouse, but I’m expecting them to spend much of the next year there, so I think I have to slow down and really create a space that works.

That task has become somewhat harder because of my inability to find a tree that really works as a 1/4 scale treehouse. The trees in my yard that have the right kind of branch arrangement are far too big to work at 1/4 scale, and the ones that work at 1/4 scale don’t have the kinds of branches you could build a treehouse in.

For example, here’s Olive standing next to one of my (fruiting) cherry trees:

which looks great, in scale. But the branching on the cherry looks like this:

with really no place to build a level platform.

That means that I’ll just need to show them working on a treehouse in one of my outdoor trees, but that any building of the actual treehouse will take place in my workshop.

So, let’s look at what I have.

Because I want a permanent space, I need something solid to use as a base. For my 1/4 scale dolls, I find that Ikea Lack side tables are just the right size, and dirt cheap at $8 a pop. The top of the table (which I’ll use as the floor on the Overhead treehouse and as a side wall for the In the Picture rainforest house) is a 21 1/2″ square. The legs (if you use them) are 17 3/4″. That’s plenty big for the In the Picture space, since the legs define the depth of the of the space, but it’s not quite big enough for the Overhead treehouse, since the legs form the upright corners and the dolls themselves are almost 18″ tall.

Fortunately, it’s a treehouse, so I can slot in some sticks for the four supporting beams. That would look something like this:

The table comes with four double-sided screws and pre-drilled holes

so all I need to do is find three more corner supports for the walls.

The flooring is a little more difficult. I can’t leave it as is, but I haven’t found any rough wood surface that really works for this scale. What I’d really like is some kind of wood that has a distinct grain, but where the knots are not overly large for this scale. I’d thought of just using small branches, but nature isn’t in the habit of producing a straight line, so I can’t really lie them flat or have them join nicely with each other. Really, no one wants to live in a treehouse where the floors look like this:

I have some contact paper with a wood pattern, but it looks both unnaturalistic in close-ups and far too precise for a tree house. Same thing with the parquet floor squares that I use for my 1/6 dollhouse floors. I’ve yet to see a real treehouse with parquet floors.

What I’d really like is scrap wood, but from a 1/4 scale house. Cast off cupboard doors and table tops would be just perfect, but I’d need a 1/4 scale house to start from and, once I found a 1/4 scale house, I’d never scrap it.

I’m going to take one more look around Goodwill to see if anything looks right. If not, I may have to mock up the wood grain.

In any case, the girls aren’t going to have a completely built treehouse this week, although they are going to start working on it.

Posted in Daisy, doll adventure, doll photography, Fashion dolls, graphic novel, Lily, miniature adventure, miniature photography, photo novel, Photography, Photoshop, Rosie, toy adventure, toy photography, Wildflower dolls

Episode 34: Worlds in motion

After the flurry of activity in Rosie’s last episode, it’s oddly quiet today. In Silverton, OR, not a creature is stirring.

 

And everything is quiet in Syracuse, IT as well.

I wonder where everyone could have gone?

Ah, *there* they are.

Well, looks like they’re all taking off. Let’s hope that Rosie’s map is right, and we’ll see you next week.

Posted in Daisy, doll adventure, Fashion dolls, graphic novel, Lily, miniature adventure, photo novel, toy adventure

A sense of place, revisited

In one of my first posts, I wrote about trying to find a place for Camellia in the real world. Her location was difficult to find, since I needed a livable, sparsely-inhabited island which might house a panther.

Since there’s not going to be a real reveal on place for her (just far away shots of Rosie’s map) I can say that I imagine her on one of the islands near Venezula at a time before there was much tourist traffic to those islands.

Daisy, Rosie, and James are somewhat less defined. I’m imagining that they’re somewhere in Oregon, but I never did find a town for them that I loved.

Lily, however, is in a very definite place, and I’ve been using shots of that place throughout her episodes. She’s in Syracuse in Sicily, not too far away from my grandfather’s birthplace in Nicosia, Sicily, and a few hours away from my grandmother’s birthplace in Coreleone, Sicily. I’ve never been to Sicily – on my one trip to Italy, I never got beyond Florence and Rome – but I like the feel of Syracuse from the distance of my living room.

But, in this week’s episode, everyone is leaving where they are and converging on Camellia. Oh look, here are Lily and Daisy arriving at the airport now.

Posted in BJD, doll photography, Dollzone, Emily, In the picture

New eyes: Changing the look of a doll

I love the look of the Dollzone Gill doll. Unlike most of the 1/4th dolls, Gill is solidly a kid, although maybe a kid who’s prone to allergies and is always on the outer edges of the crowd.

But, when I got my Gill, the only eyes I had for her were these odd blue eyes with cone-shaped irises (or however you pluralize that word) – the eyes actually come to a point in the center. With the red-rimmed eyes, I thought it gave her a little bit of a creepy edge in some shots, like here:

or here

Partly, it’s that the blue isn’t a great color for her, but it’s also the way the light catches on the odd shape of the eye that makes her look a little other-wordly. That wasn’t terrible for the NOTLD piece, but I wanted to recapture her little girl look.

It turns out that she has the same eye size as one of my 1/6th scale dolls, so I switched eyes between them and gave Gill a more normally shaped pair of brown eyes. Here are a few shots with her new eyes:

I think she’s solidly back in little girl land now.

Apparently, Charlotte and Emily had a timely send-off for Roger Gorman. Most of his early films are in the public domain, so download a copy of NOTLD or Bucket of Blood and have a fun evening.

This week, I’ll be finishing the penultimate My Doll Adventure episode, with a whirlwind of activity as everyone makes their way to the location that Rosie pinpointed. In my never-ending revision mode, I’ve given that adventure a new name, and left the “My Doll Adventure” name as the moniker for my whole effort to create all these different stories.

In honor of their Italian heritage (and my own), and their floral names, I’m calling it my little flower, or Mia fiorella. I’m imagining it’s what Lily called Camellia when she was a little girl. If I’ve gotten the Italian wrong, let me know 🙂

Posted in Camellia, doll adventure, doll photography, Fashion dolls, graphic novel, miniature adventure, miniature photography, photo novel, Photography, Photoshop, toy adventure, toy photography, Wildflower dolls

Episode 33: Back to the beginning

Camellia recalls the night she fled.

There had been a dance.

Camellia dances with the stranger, and then sees that Cado is watching

And then, when she realizes that Cado has left, she goes upstairs to find him . . .

and finds him holding Daisy, with a gun to his head.

************

As the late publication might suggest, I had a terrible time with this episode. I’d finished taking the photos with my original ending, and then felt like it was just too much – too much threatening of Daisy, and too much vilifying of Cado.

Here are those picture:

But, really, holding a gun on a toddler Disney Rapunzel? It’s just not right 🙂

So, we’ll go with this as the beginning, and, next time around, I’ll figure out a clearer way of moving towards it. And Camellia will shoulder a little more of the blame.

But, that’s it for the beginning. Now we’re on to the end.