Hello in there

K2-S0 says “Heartfelt homage and appreciation for John Prine, RtFIP.”

Mostly, my family and I are OK. My charming husband has been working from home — as I have been for the last 14 years — and given the wee square footage of our house, it’s been remarkably harmonious and kind. We’ve weathered the death of my younger brother, after a long illness, without being able to gather and grieve his passing, and most recently, the furloughs and layoffs of half of my husband’s corporate master company.

The awareness that many others are experiencing far worse experience and circumstance is never far from my heart and my mind. How could it be otherwise? We are all in this together. (And for all of you who have reason to say fuck you with two middle fingers to this trite truism, I hear you.)


Ruby and Maddie are learning to wash dishes. Without me.

Scarlett maintains her unrepentant insistence on knowing interior spaces.

Um, nothing much new in that propensity.

My birthday was in early March, and I splurged on new deck furniture from Tidewater Workshop. Of course our planned new front deck construction is delayed until who knows when, but I built and painted all the new pieces with the leftovers from the wave gate project, and am sealing them as the weather allows. Above are three of the rectangular side tables.

The recent April full moon coincided with my mother’s birthday and mild weather. What a wonderful reason to sit outside late and watch the night sky.

I’ve been keeping busy with multiple projects and diversions. This 1:12 scale Bandai kit was so very satisfying to build.

What with shelter in place and all, my walks are constrained to our hilly mid-century suburban neighborhood, and I’m keen on … finding more interesting things to notice than whatever, or sweating, or not dying from a heart attack. (My neighborhood *is* really hilly.) So today it was flowers, and this one won: Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’ honeywort. I use the iNaturalist app to help me identify that with which I am unfamiliar.

If only there was one for our time.



I have long been a fan of Cavallini & Co. paper products, especially their vintage maps and posters.

I used their map of San Francisco on the underside of the Sea House Pavilion roof.



And their vintage map of Italy on the back wall of Loft 1961, my first ever miniature build.

Cavallini & Co. print on beautiful cream-colored Italian paper of a substantial, but not too heavy, weight. I finally found a retail source, Two Hands Paperie, that carries *all* of their posters — at the best pricing! — and invested in a supply of lovely vintage city and country maps.


Because we all need vertical file holders to tidy our bookshelves, and journals, folios and file folders made from perfectly-scaled vintage maps of favorite places: London, Berlin, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Rome, Paris.


Vertical file with file folders. (London pictured.)


The vertical files hold three sketchbooks or travel journals, as well as file folders and the new Vintage Map Journals with jaunty red bookmarks. The files are the same size as the solid-color Office Essentials vertical files, although of a different construction. The vertical files can also house the new Vintage Map Folios that hold fine cream-colored stationery or map file folders. The folios can also act as a slip case for a sketchbook or journal. It’s an elegant system designed to organize the shambles of your miniature office. Look for them real soon over at MMS+S.


2016 Build: Messing Around


Enjoying sketching and roughing out little idea models for the lamentable 2016 HBS contest base kit. The concept above is very similar to 2012’s MiniTown Loft, my first-ever build, which became Loft No. 1961. For visualizing ideas I work in points and picas (six picas = one inch), because I am a graphic designer and picas are our native measurement system. And, one pica = one foot translates very handily for working in 1:12.

After building — and subsequently giving away, but not before I crated it and moved it across the US — one monster A-frame, I now confine my projects to 20 x 26-inch (51 x 66 cm) hollow core birch-ply drawing boards, with a turntable attached to the underside. They’re sturdy, lightweight, have a nice finished edge, and are reasonably priced. The size restriction helps me plan the site landscaping, which I enjoy as much as building the structure and furniture.

Another thing I’ve realized is that I like to keep a representative amount of recognizable original elements from the base kit. Not sure why. The contest rules are deliciously wide open, so maybe that allows me the freedom to embrace some pre-defined design limitations, and parameters of practicality. Plus, it’s just so amazing to see what everyone comes up with :)

As a wonderful kickoff for this project, a dear family member, who is a custom cabinetmaker, asked me if I wanted any of this stuff that his shop was tossing out:


These four-foot lengths of oak (cut to 1/4 x 3/8- and 9/16-inch, quite near standard dimensional scale lumber sizes :)


and all these veneer scraps, if you can call three- and four-foot lengths scrap. Only one is labeled (upper left, teak) but they look to be perhaps alder, koa, purple heart?, mahogany?, red oak, birch, spruce… I have a labeled sample kit somewhere, I’ll have to cross-reference to identify. Then he casually mentioned he’d be glad to look out for and save me miniature-suitable wood scraps! I see a yummy wood giveaway in the future to share this bounty. Many, many thanks, T. Happy boxing day.



Loft No. 1961

Loft 1961, my entry in the 2012 HBS Creatin’ Contest

Loft No. 1961, my entry in the 2012 HBS Creatin’ Contest

Way back in early 2012, I happened across a photo of a Brinca Dada dollhouse, and everything changed. Over the next few weeks I obsessively researched this awe-inspiring world and rapidly determined that building modern miniatures was the one thing missing from my life. And so it began.

My entrance into the realm was via HBS’s MiniTown Loft kit. I had no idea how to build a dollhouse, and totally learned by doing (and undoing, and re-doing). I read everything I could find, and followed the tutorials faithfully. Over the months of the build, I acquired more tools and supplies and ideas. Soon I started hearing whispered stories and catching glimpses of tiny rooms with perfect furniture. I started staying up late.

And I found a community of other people devoted to scale modeling and the pursuit of wee perfect things, eager to share what they are doing and how they are doing it.

The door is open, come on in

The door is open, come on in

Loft No. 1961 went through a few incarnations, until I realized it was the studio of a woman writing a book about her father’s death. Lots of storage was required for reference and research materials, as well as artifacts and mementos. Big desk. An uncluttered bed to sleep in if the work went late, with an open window. A couch to think on.

A good place to work

A good place to work

A garden to sit in, to smell the salt air and watch the fog blow through, and warm your face in the sun.

Build a little secret garden in your soul

Build a little secret garden in your soul

I built and rebuilt intuitively. I remember clearly the moment I grasped the concept of scale. Not that I always achieved it, but that it was the goal, as well as the quest.

I was so happy to win a first-time entrant’s award and recognition (as well as the sweet cash that could only be spent on more miniatures :) Someone else saw what I saw in my build! And they liked it!

Finally, who among us miniaturists do not have versions of this photo?

Napoleon and Albie approve!

Napoleon and Albie approve!

2013 grand prize winner

Inviting you into the Sea House Pavilion, in a magic carpet way

Inviting you for tea or cocktails at the Sea House Pavilion, via magic carpet

Having the Sea House Pavilion win the Grand Prize award in HBS’s 2013 Creatin’ Contest feels like this pic: dreamy, delightful, unbelievable. Completely unexpected. Truly an honor.

Come sit down

Come sit down and hang out

And it has afforded me the opportunity to learn to spell pavilion correctly (I still keep wanting it to have two Ls).

I mentioned in an earlier post that I made a tiny version of my notebook, open to some of my first sketches done in April 2013 (seen above, on the couch).

Computer, enhance.

Some of my sketches and notes for the Charming Cottage

Some of my sketches and notes for the Charming Cottage

I spent most of last year getting our house in Rhode Island ready to sell, then packing it up and driving across the United States in a 31-foot motor home with my husband, our very large dog and two disgruntled cats, to return to Northern California, where I am from. (We shipped all our stuff, except the guitars.) The starting kit Charming Cottage in blue tape dry fit was as far as I had gotten before the move until Mid-September, when I was able to unpack my studio, try to decipher my notes and begin to build in earnest.

I worked on it nights, weekends, holidays and vacations right up to the deadline. I was so happy when I learned we could make a digital contest submission this year.


The sun is starting to set. Might we get some rain?

The Sea House Pavilion is part of a compound in coastal Northern California, in the same town where Loft No. 1961 is, my first-ever build and a First-time Entrants’ Award winner in the 2012 HBS contest. More about that later :)


Loft No. 1961, the studio of a woman writing a book about her father’s death

The loft bed where she can sleep when she’s worked late

The loft bed where the writer can sleep to dream

You might notice some themes that seem to carry through my builds :)

tiny tissues to dab tears of joy

Maureen sent a box of tiny fun for the Spring swap organized by Cyd at Mini Mod Pod. We had decided on accessories as our theme, since we never seem to have enough little things to fully dress a scene.

Loft 1961 has a new tenant.

Loft 1961 has a new tenant.

I took a whole morning off from slaving to get our big house ready to sell, to play with my new stuff. An eclectic assortment it is! Maureen sent two original watercolors, some wonderfully versatile beads (as she said, “I thought even the most modern woman has something like that that belonged to a grandmother or great aunt.”), a delicate green blown glass vase and a dolphin — or is it a porpoise? — two perfect tea mugs, the wire bicycle, a glass mirror (I put it in the hall and don’t think I got a pic of that), a straw hat and the most perfect box of tissues you’ve ever seen.

The new tenant has excellent taste.

The new tenant has excellent taste.

Here’s a closeup of the watercolors:

Straighten these, please, or I won’t be able to sleep tonight.

Straighten these, please, or I won’t be able to sleep tonight.

With traveler’s ingenuity, she used stir sticks to frame them.

This was my first-ever swap, and it was so much fun I want to do one at least every month.

Hello Kitty is the new guardian of the loft. Would you like some tea?

Hello Kitty is the new guardian of the loft. Would you like some tea? Yes, Dolphin — or is it Porpoise? — please. Milk, no sugar.

Thanks again, Maureen and Cyd.