Monday, November 16, 2009

Disasters...or near disasters in miniature making?

As I sit here re-doing a raw chicken that my mom told me didn't have enough texture (and deep down inside, I knew she was right, even though I sat silently seething), I started thinking about other occasions when things didn't go quite as planned. Here are a few off the top of my head:

1- The first time I made crabs, I put their eyes ON TOP of their shells, so they were looking at the ceiling, as opposed to their proper placement, which is in the front. Someone, somewhere, owns these crabs!!!! PLEASE, if you are out there and you read this, I will make you new ones! Those were deformed!

2- My first attempt at rice involved rolling each grain individually...and winding up with a heap of fat, white maggots.

3- BURNING things! Someone, usually my younger sister, has, on occasion, cranked up the heat on MY oven, resulting in a bunch of shiny, melted looking creations. I would always smell it first, then run over in a blind panic. I'd be so livid that  I'd scream and throw them at the wall :-/. It is even more tantrum inducing if I had spent over an hour or more making them. She no longer has access to my oven :-D.

4- The time my oven went on the fritz a few years ago. It was running out of "juice", so everything I made was undercooked. Yup, they fell apart. Luckily, that happened before anything was sent in the mail to paying customers :-O. I had to make everything all over again.

5- When I try to fit something bigger (or longer) into something smaller. For example, an octopus or squid into a small glass jar. Legs have broken. My reaction? I go to the balcony outside and hurl it into the bushes below. I can't bear to look at it anymore....or have it anywhere in the house!

6. This one isn't that major, but it is annoying: trying to get the perfect color. You keep adding on to the lump of clay in your hand, thinking: ok, just a bit more of this color and it'll be PERFECT....until it turns into a giant wad of the ugliest, most bizarre color you've ever seen in your life, far from what you had in mind when you started :-/. Some of my clay mountain was built on these abominations. Nay, they are the foundation.

7- My first pig's head. Enough said.

- So what are your disasters or near disasters? I would love to hear some!!


  1. First up...I thought I was the only person that ever had a disaster - your work is always so perfect, never imagine any problems!
    The glass jar one used to be a big problem but very often, now, I bake the item in the jar, of course it depends what it is!
    The thing that I do most often is make a lovely creation and then promptly drop it on the floor!!**

  2. Too bad I don't have a fireplace, I could warm myself up with some of the pieces that I have messed up.

  3. I love to read your blog and have a story to share :)
    I once (very recently) had the bright idea to make a pumpkin around a styrofoam ball, bake it and then use gas to dissolve the styrofoam.. I bet you can guess what a disaster that was. Needless to say the room smelled horrible and my toaster finally bit the dust.. It was such a pretty pumpkin too.. oh well, he's gone on to a more proper resting place. :)

  4. I am just a beginner, but oh how this post makes me feel better. I have already done the burnt to a crisp thing and I am steadily learning how things should be done by trial and error- mistakes happening all the time :) Your work is so amazing that it is easy to think you must never have mistakes :)

  5. ...overbaked doll hands...very frustrating when you have spent hours perfecting the tiny fingers...

  6. Me siento identificada con lo que cuentas!
    1-Yo también hago montañas de arcilla intentando conseguir el color perfecto.
    2-Muchas veces se me ha quemado el trabajo de muchas horas en el horno.(aunque con esto busque una solución, hago mini cubos de basura y los lleno con alimentos churrascados).

    Pero mi mayor fustración, es no tener una barita mágica para conseguir la perfección.

  7. I identify with that counts!
    1-I also do clay mountains trying to get the perfect color.
    2-Many times I have been burned many hours working in the oven. (Although this find a solution, I make mini garbage cans filled with food and steaks).

    But my biggest frustration is not having a magic wand to achieve perfection.

    Translated by google!
    It is well understood, or prefer, to continue writing in Spanish?

  8. argh this is not the first time my comment has disappeared after i submitted them! SIGH. okay for the love of kiva, here goes again! :)

    after reading this entry, i know i need to get an oven thermometer right away! :) and i totally identify with the color mixing, i once spent no less than 4 hrs trying to achieve the orange of the first oranges i made.

    and when i wanted to give up, i realise I had been using the wrong translucent all along.


    and and, i am still rolling rice individually! pray tell your solution if possible, my hands go into involuntary spasms when i mention the word 'sushi' now. :P

  9. I love reading these! We can all commiserate

    Mags, haha!!! Yes, I do alot of dropping too! More often than not, it is when they're already baked and it's something ridiculously tiny. This, of course, leads me to going on my hands and knees and peering into every nook and cranny!

    Karin, I am now picturing you in front of the a fireplace, with the world's tiniest pieces of firewood!

    Reisl, lol!!! But you know what? It is so cool that you experiment like that! I think your idea was good one. I read something recently about someone baking a silicone ball inside of an orange....or something like that. It was on an Asian miniaturist's site. I'll try to dig it up for you. When I hollow out a pumpkin, I use my Dremel. It has an attachment that's sort of cone shaped and it's for sanding things, but it works well for that!

    Oh Kim! Believe me, I still make mistakes...regularly!! It's all a part of it! I promise you, I have never met a miniaturist yet who doesn't. I will make something again and again, even if it kills me!

    Sumaiya, I can imagine the heartache! Making those delicate hands of yours is surely time consuming and NOT easy(and you do them so well). Burnt hands would kill me too.

    Jocelyn, you crack me up, you are a riot :-D!!The bit about mixing clay for oranges....for FOUR hours!! Now THAT is dedication, girlfriend! But yup, I've done the same thing with resin! A few days ago, I kept trying to get the right color for something in a jar and I ended up with this muddy, baby poop color :-/. I finally threw the jar over the balcony and started over again! I can't believe that I am admitting to the balcony thing, but I've been doing that for years. Isn't that awful??? Jocelyn, after I mix the rice color, I roll it out super thin and just chop up short lengths of it. You know the wild rice on my website? That was just a whole lot of chopping! After I chop a little pile on my tile, I transfer it to the plate (or whatever I'm using)and arrange it. I go back and forth with this until I have a nice sized pile. Then, if you want, you can kind of tidy it up a bit with your tool (I just use my needle tool to further arrange the grains so there are no bald spots, etc.). But if you are making a bowl of rice, you can "cheat" by padding it with a little mound of rice colored clay, then covering that mound with your chopped up grains! I have this Japanese miniature food book that I bought a long time ago, and although I can't read a word of it, there is some kind of ready made material that they sometimes use for rice! Like, already formed little pellets! For awhile, I was trying to hunt this material down, to no avail :-/.

  10. ¡Teresa, de que es la solución perfecta los cubos de basura que usted hace, que amo!! Cuál es un " ¿baryta"? Está confortando para saber que todos pasamos con desastres similares, isn' ¿t él? ¡Pero perservere y hacemos él la derecha la próxima vez… bien, esperanzadamente la próxima vez, lol!!

  11. I am late but I will budge in anyway. My disasters are peppered throughout my blog cos I post them shamelessly! lol

    1. One of my 1st attempts at making minis were a set of "silver goblets" made from beads. None of them could stand on their own without blu-tack. I kept them in a bottle and just last week, I found them all in pieces when I took them out because the glue I used was lousy. My goblets are now back to being beads.

    2. My 1st tree. I spent hours gluing real moss from my garden onto real dead branches. They looked ok in the dim light but when I saw it the next morning, my tree looked like it aged overnight and was balding and droopy. Since then, I have had to add moss every 3-4 mths because I refuse to throw away any of the "1st things" I made.

    3. My 1st mini kilim rug. After 81 days of constant stitching, I finally finished my rug. It was horrible to say the least. I didn't use enough threads so it looked bald (again) and "moth eaten" at certain places. Instead of a rectangle rug, it was a trapezium! It couldn't be saved so I roll it up, put it behind a camel and pretend it was going on a long journey! After 81 days, I can't do the " throw over the balcony" thing. It makes a good story once in a while too.

  12. Kiva, you have been a great find. ;)

    Remind me not to stand under your balconey.

    I'm glad I don't have the courage to foray into clay and such things.

    My biggest regret is not buying enough fabric after I've wasted in mistakes! :(

    and to never find that pattern again...

    Think I should buy by the bolt to make minis from now? lol ;)

  13. Susan, my God, you just gave me some good laughs!! The one that killed me is you reapplying moss every few months to that tree!

    And I laughed and cried at the same time, thinking about those EIGHTY ONE DAYS you spent stitching a bald rug!! But you gave it a good use in the end ;-)!

  14. Haha!! Thanks Dale ;-)!! You know, I sometimes wonder about those years of balcony flung minis. Surely, some people have found them and wondered....what the hell!??

    Ooh Dale, that has to hurt :-/. I wish I could sew like you! The most I've done with fabric is cut out pieces to line baskets with. Do you buy "fat quarters"?

  15. Kiva, I think it has to hurt being binged in the head, with one of your substandard mini's being hurled from the balcony. ;)

    I confess, I don't really like the fat quarters. They press and fold them such that it is virtually impossible to remove the creases from them, which you know in scale mini's a big crease in real life just will not do.

    They also tend to be fabrics that are so mass produced that you find them everywhere!

    I find a lot of my fabrics that I use for mini making out side that realm... I just think small and find really cool things that way. :)

    I used to just buy a quarter of a yard, which is fine for a lot of the fabrics I use, but, I now have to buy more of the fabrics that are simply to die for. ;)

    'Cause once you turn your head, they're gone! ;)

  16. LOL!!! Dale, you know how they say that if you drop a penny or dime off of a highrise building, you could literally kill someone? That won't happen! I'm on the third floor and I throw it way off to the side, in the bushes :-D.

    I should have known that you hunt down the really cool fabrics, not the mass produced discount stuff near the cash register ;-).

    But how do you know you wouldn't LOVE clay?? Dale, before I started making miniatures, the last time I picked up a lump of clay, it was to make an ashtray at camp! You make perfect little things, so you never know unless you try! There could be a Michelangelo lurking in there and you'd never know! Do what I did and just buy a bar or two and play around!!

  17. That would be great! I posted my dilemma on cdhm and got some great ideas. I used aluminum foil and then picked it out with tweezers.. still a pain, but worked. I'll try the dremel with the cone. Oh, and silicone! My wheels are turning with thoughts of what I could do.. I thought to get some modeling wax at one point and that it would melt out as baking.. but that would be the worst mess.
    What a great post you have here!

  18. Hey Reisl! I found the link to that website:

    If you look on the left, it is the fourth entry down the list of how-tos. She explains how to make mandarin oranges, but she used that silicone ball method. Very interesting! I had to translate the page and it's not perfect, but you can get the gist of what she's talking about ;-). Actually, all of those how-tos are great- she shows methods for making things, done in ways I've never seen before.

  19. Thanks!! What a great site! I bet it will keep me occupied all morning :)

  20. Oh boy you should see my first experiments. I finally have a home for them after many years. I found Angie's book and went nuts one day and made so many miniatures that I was sick of fruits and veggies. Now at least they are going to a very talented wire crocheter in exchange for some cool ornaments.

    I hate dropping things too. The worst part about dropping things is to find them in the carpet years later all grounded up and you can't really get them with the vacuum. That and losing a bunch of glass or dishes because you dropped them, never to be seen again.