Sunday, August 25, 2013

Johannesburg Miniature Fair

This weekend we had our annual miniature fair in Johannesburg. A few weeks ago I told you that I was busy finishing up some of our local club projects.

Well, here they are all finished. the shaving stand was made from cherry wood. The hinges for the blanket chest was copied from a pair of circa 1770 Pennsylvania hinges that I found on a website.

I used dovetails and a slide in bottom for the drawer construction.

The carved door panel slides into the door stiles.

The mirror supports with tongue and groove joints.

The drawer knobs were turned from ivory, I found an old broken piece of a carved tusk awhile ago at an antique fair.

A comment from Josje on my FaceBook page inspired me to make the shaving set. The lathering bowl and brush was fairly easy to make, the old fashioned straight razor was another story though. I found a fair amount of info on restoring and making these in an internet search. The bowl and brush was turned out of ivory and I also used ivory for the sides of the razor.

Here are a photo of the inner workings of the razor, sometime I want to make another one and refine some of the techniques I used as I was a in a bit of a hurry to finish this one in time for the fair.

And now I guess you want to know what I bought at the fair :-)

Some Proxxon cutters and a container for tiny stuff, I like the see through lids.

And the tool bargain of the day, one needle file and three escapement files at $5 each.

Quite a few people got rid of some of their stash and I found these two bargains.

A fireplace kit from Phoenix Model Developments in England for $5 and...

this wonderful fine tea set from Avon Miniatures, also from England for a mere $9, my lucky day I think. The wash set that is on the shaving stand is also from Avon Miniatures, I bought that set back in 2006 in a miniatures shop in Bath, England.

Have a great weekend everybody

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Silver Soldering and Hinges

In my last post I showed my progress on the casket panels and the items I bought for silver soldering, ever since Castine I have been thinking a lot about the hinges I made for the casket, I was never happy with them, knowing that although they were as thin as I wanted, I also knew they weren't very strong and that has bugged me all along. Just to prove it to myself I pulled on one of them just now and yes..... as you can see....

It didn't take a lot of force to pull that apart. Now in Castine, in Bill Robertson's class when we made the hinges for the bone chest, I saw that this time round, he used a technique that I haven't seen before, he silver soldered a tube of metal to a flat piece of metal. This makes for a strong joint and what I was after, a thinner hinge roll. Everything I know about hinge making I learned from Bill, two years ago when I received the scholarship for Guild School I took his hinge class (ha, it seems funny now but when I received the class brochure way back in 2010 and saw the hinge class and was interested in it, I had to Google to find some info on Bill as I have never heard of him before), in any case, in that first year I learned to make hinges with the basic fold over hinge barrel that many people use, but you are limited by the thickness of the metal in how thin you can go, especially when you are working on really small items like the casket or hidden hinges like the ones in my sewing table that needs to recess into already thin wood. I have never silver soldered before, but was determined to learn and so..... today I made my first hinge after a few days of experimenting, struggling, searching the internet and putting on my thinking cap, I love finding solutions for problems.

For the caskets I wanted a really thin hinge that would almost not be visible once the needlepoint has been attached. Now where to find a small metal tube.... syringe needles of course (some of my USA and Europe friends says you can only get them on prescription in those countries), well, here in SA you can buy a box with a hundred and no questions asked, in the pharmacy I bought them they are in one of the aisles, together with things like plasters, bandages, etc.

I bought a honeycomb solder block on Saturday, something I am really grateful for now, as it has holes!!! I am using a needle with an outside diameter of 0.6mm and an inside diameter of 0.3mm, keeping it from riding up onto the flat metal piece proved to be a problem, I think the flux just pulls it onto the metal when everything starts to heat up. In this photo the needle is tied down with some wire, the piece of metal (0.2mm thick tinned metal sheet from K&S metals that I had in my stash) is held in place by a piece of brass, the flux is already applied and three pieces of silver solder is on top of the flux. The tool shop gave me Easyflo flux together with an Easyflo 40 silver rod, ha, cutting that rod into very small pieces is another story, it is rather hard.

After the soldering is done, it needs to be cleaned, the instructions for this specific flux is just soaking in hot water and brushing, easy and no chemicals involved. Oh, yes, I did struggle with the heating too, this solder melts between 650 and 710 degrees Celsius, in doing some research a bushy, pulsing flame was recommended, when I tried that things got easier and I loved seeing the solder melt and run along the joint, in the beginning I also used too much solder, well, you learn a lot by trying.

All the flux leftovers has been cleaned off, now for some filing to get it nice and smooth, oh yes, be careful, that needle point is rather sharp, after all, it was made for piercing skin, as if I don't stab myself enough with needles when I do petit point ;-)

Two pieces ready to be sawed and made into hinges.

I used some jewelry wire for a hinge pin, since it bends fairly easy, I first put in a 0.3mm drill bit to line everything up nicely and then pushed the wire in. Tomorrow I want to find out if you get music wire in 0.3mm and if one of the hobby shops here carry them to use for hinge pins.

Tins are a great source of free thin metal, so far I had no luck in finding metal shim, except in bulk, when I need thicker I will have to buy a life time supply, every place I have phoned so far denies having any knowledge of where to find thin metal, you can almost hear them think "crazy woman"!!!

I made my hinge a bit bigger than needed, it is just easier to handle while soldering, here I have cut it down to the right size, the metal is thin enough to cut easy with all purpose scissors, I only polished the hinge barrel as the rest of the hinge will be covered and a scratchy surface will be better for gluing the petit point panels on.

I decided to make a recess in the casket where the hinge is going, I am really happy with how this turned out, I did tug on this hinge too and it is nice and strong. Thank you Bill for introducing this technique to me.

For all my British and European readers, Bill and some of the other IGMA teachers are teaching a few great classes just before the Kensington show in London next year, don't wait too long in deciding, I am pretty sure these classes will fill up quickly, go and have a look here.

Enjoy the rest of your week
PS: I am going to play with making brass hinges in this way too, found a 1mm brass tube in a hobby shop here.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Little Bit of This and That

Later this month we will have our annual miniature fair in Johannesburg where our club will have a table and exhibit some of our monthly club projects, I am busy working on our present project and also finishing up one or two older projects in time for the fair.

Our present project is a shaving stand, this is the prototype that our chair lady Lisa Martens made from Imbuia.

Here are two of my fellow club members Di and Aubrey very hard at work on their shaving stands at last month's workshop.

My daughter hi-jacked my kit and I decided to make the shaving stand in Cherry as the color will fit in better the rest of my miniature bedroom, Lisa also send me a photo of the original stand that she used for inspiration and I changed mine a bit here and there, you can see it on the left of the photo. On the right is a blanket chest that just need some nice hinges, we made this last year at one of our workshops.

My shaving stand with the drawer and central dividers added, we will continue working on them at our next workshop on 10 August.

I am almost done with the second side panel of my casket, just need to add the back stitching, my new phone takes really good photos of my petit point, you can even see the French Knots that I used for the hair and cuffs. The new photos show the detail much better, so here are the other panels too.

The first side panel and....

 the back panel, next I will stitch the two doors, still need to do the charting for them though.

I went to the tool shop that I mentioned in my previous post and bought some supplies for silver soldering, big bummer though, when I tried the torch, the knob for opening the gas flow was stuck fast. I phoned them about it and they just delivered a replacement at my door while I am typing this, although they are not far from me, they have a driver and you can order from them at any time and they will deliver straight to your door, now in a country where even local post can take a few days, this is a real bonus :-)

And last but not least, I couldn't resist showing our cat Yoda's favorite drinking spot, the running tap in my bathroom, of course this involves looking at me with big eyes and saying, "please, please open the tap, I am a thirsty kitty". Oh well, he melts my heart every time ;-)

Have a great mini weekend, everyone!