Before getting deeply into the big project, the Chinese Tea House, I decided it would be good for me to ‘reactivate’ my rusty mini-skills such as painting, gluing, cutting, sanding and attention to details, those skills that I haven’t used for 10 years. So I made these wooden slot and tab building kits. The ancient styles include a Chinese Opera Theatre, a Chinese Tea House, a Chinese Silk Factory and a Chinese Inn or Hotel.
As good as they were when completed, they lacked a certain authenticity because of the exposed edges and the slots and tabs not being painted.
I worked to match the paint colours and painted the blue-grey and the brown exposed edges and white spots. Now I feel much better about their looking more authentic than before.
Last touch will be to paint the off white parts. Another job for another day.
Ramblings on the Slow and Steady Progress of My Chinese Tea House
I received my order of 1,000 Starbuck’s wooden stir sticks to make the wood plank flooring. Good thing it was that much since more than half the sticks are wonky in some way, not straight or not flat.
After sorting enough sticks for the floor, I weighted them down with a board so that they could flatten even more (it’s the rainy season right now in Kunming, China) so the humidity should have some positive effect.
As for the knock-off PaperClay, it’s fine. It dried well, it stuck to the board and it only shrank a little. No cracking, which is a good thing. I’ve decided when I start to do the brick walls, I will do sections horizontally. Need to measure off the horizontal rows and use my long metal ruler to carve the horizontal lines of bricking. Then go on to carve the vertical lines for the brick. My bricks will be 1″ x .25″ and will simulate the Beijing brick which is longer and thinner than Western bricks.
Then I also need the Pu’er Tea Cakes that are wrapped in tissue paper with a round label. I’m trying out different colours and textures of fine tissue to see what’s the most realistic.
So much to do! I’ll keep you posted.
The facts about my miniature 1/12th TeaHouse:
- I haven’t done a miniature project in 10 years.
- I’ve dreamt about this project or one just like it for most of those years.
- I’ve been slowly and diligently collecting small bits of tools or supplies from Toronto.
- I recently met a Canadian architect and creative soul who’s encouraged me to follow my passion – after all this time.
- In spite of the fact that there’s no Michael’s Craft Store or a hardware store like Home Depot, I have managed to begin the process of building a Chinese Tea House. The things that are underlined below are things that I have had to search high and low for because they are not sold where you would assume them to be sold.
- It all started a few weeks ago when I found a recipe for air-drying clay using cornstarch which turned out the be only moderately good for making tea cakes that are 7″ in diameter (less than 3/4″ in 1:12th). I need hundreds of them for a real tea shop and found artist’s air drying clay at an art store that I hope will turn out better. But yesterday was a water-shed day! I got my hands on (actually had to order it from Taobao.com because it’s not sold in any stores I went to) regular white craft glue and found a somewhat similar board to gator board to build the structure. That night I did a test of a small piece to see the board’s ability to accept the white glue and remain well glued together.
- It worked after I tried again using a combo of white craft glue and super glue. I finally found a tough cutting knife and a large set square or whatever that long ruler that grabs onto the end of the board at right angles is called. So I’m on the way!
- Now the box is built because I finally found a box of straight pins (also from Taobao.com to use to nail in all the pieces of gator board to make the room box shell very strong), and I’m making the window for a partition in the back of the tea house and the rest will slowly materialize.
- August, 2015 – This week I finally got some knock-off Creative PaperClay to make the bricks for inside and outside.
- Today I had time to make a sample of this knock-off air drying clay.
I’ll have to wait a day to see the results of the test. Does the clay adhere to the gatorboard? Will the clay crack when it dries? Is it really paintable?
I think this is amazing. My friend Leslie made this dead fish carcass (after being filleted with a filleting knife sharpened with a sharpening iron) for presents for a miniature luncheon some of my friends are going to in Niagara Falls. It’s customary to bring a little miniature project as a gift to an event of all miniaturists. There will be forty people at the event.
For those of you who were wondering, in China restaurants serve the fish whole and you take off the meat in bite-sized chunks from the bones at the table.