Monday, October 28, 2013

2013 LBS Challenge - Part 2 - Bracelet shape and FF&aF section

This is the second installment of my 2013 LBS Challenge bracelet, "My Milwaukee: A Triptych".  I do have to warn you that it's a bit long, but there's a lot of pictures.  And... there's a Frisco reward for you at the end.  Remember - it's cheating to scroll down just to see the kitten being cute.

If you missed the first post about the bracelet's inspirations with lots of lovely pictures, you can read it here.

For a quick refresher, here's the finished bracelet:

The shape of the bracelet started with the center piece, Point Fish Fry & a Flick.  I knew it wouldn't be completely to scale, but I wanted to reproduce the shape and atmosphere of the event as best I could.

Again, here's a good view of FF&aF:

Please see my previous post for picture credit.  :)

Before I could do anything, I had to go shopping for the figures.  Nope, I didn't make all those by hand.  I'm not that talented!  I've mentioned before that Steve works for Model Railroader magazine, so it shouldn't be a surprise that I "hired" him as a consultant.  ("hired" is in quotes because I didn't pay him.  Sorry, honey!)

In our basement we have essentially two model railroad layouts - the one that takes up over a third of the basement which is in HO scale (the most common), and a much smaller one that Steve had started for articles in the magazine but needed to come home due to lack of space at Kalmbach.  That one is N scale.  In case you didn't click the links to the Wikipedia articles, HO scale is about 1:87.1, and N scale ranges from 1:148 to 1:160 (a lot smaller than HO).  I'm very familiar with the size of HO figures and knew they'd be too big for jewelry, so we decided I'd use N scale.  There's also a Z scale (1:220), but Steve said the selection for figures isn't very good.  (As an aside, I saw a Z scale layout at a model railroad show once - it was in a briefcase.  Easiest set up and take down ever!  Open up the briefcase, put it on a table, plug the cord in.  Done!)  If the numbers mean nothing to you, check out these pictures: Scale chart for figures (the tallest is 3") and Scale chart for locomotives head-on.

Once we determined the scale, I figured out basically what I wanted and went shopping online.  Thank goodness for the Internet.  Like I've ranted about before, I couldn't buy everything from one place.  Walthers has an enormous selection, but I was surprised that they didn't have everything I needed.  I ended up buying from two different vendors: Wig-Wag Trains and Zug Meister Trains on ebay.

If you want to reproduce what I did, I bought Faller's "Garden Chairs & Tables", Model Power's "People Eating", Preiser's "Family at the Beach" (Family Krause, to be exact), Preiser's "Seated People", and Plastruct's "Pleasure Boats".  I have a lot of leftovers that I'm going to have to figure out how to make into jewelry.

To give you an idea of how small these pieces are, here are the chair parts with a quarter:

The hurdle-looking things are the arms and legs of the chairs.  Two per seat.  Here's Steve my contractor gluing a chair together:

 See that tiny bit of white at the end of the brush?  That's the chair.

After my contractor glued the chairs together, he glued people in the chairs.  I decided to take four people from "People Eating" and four from "Seated People".  Since three of the "People Eating" were standing, I couldn't put them in chairs (duh).  I planned on arranging them so they would mill around the seated folks.  One of the people eating was a tall redhead and looked like Steve, and one of the "Seated People" had brown hair and was reading.  I determined that one would be me.

We're so in love, even in model form!

When Steve glued "me" into the chair, he said, "Just like the real Traci, her feet don't touch the floor!"  So not fair.

I arranged everyone (including an empty chair for "Steve") onto a piece of paper:

It was a little big, so I rearranged everyone and drew out a plan.  I then cut out a template:

 Yes, it's a G, but that can't be helped.

I mixed together some clay (ivory and translucent, I think) and cut the shape out:

This is in process, of course.

Using the pins from my Bead Baking Rack, I skewered the piece longways so I would could sew the form to the bracelet backing.  I then started pressing and gluing little rocks (in the model railroad world they're called talus) into the clay:

That was difficult, and some of them came off when I stitched the lake.  I should have used a better glue like E6000.  I used G-S Hypo Cement because it was thinner, but maybe the thicker glue would have been more adhesivey durable.  Other options would have been to make little rocks out of polymer clay and press them on or to sculpt rocks right onto the base, but I wanted actual rocks.  I thought it would be faster.  Ha!  It does look nice, so maybe that was the right choice.

Once the rock-gluing was done, I pressed the screen (I'll discuss that in a few weeks) into the clay so it would fit snugly.  I placed the people where I wanted them and pressed their little feet and chair legs into the clay.  I then took a picture so I would remember who went where:

I just noticed all the people eating are men. :::insert sexist joke here:::

After I took the people and chairs off of the clay (didn't want them to melt!), I oh-so-carefully took the skewers out.  I really wish I hadn't had to do that, but I needed to curve the clay while baking, and I couldn't do that with the skewers in.  Steve said I should have curved the skewers, but I didn't want to bend them.  Besides, I probably would have screwed up the piece.  I millimeter-by-millimeter eased each of the pins out and was glad the top part of the G didn't break off.  I then draped it over a pop can (Mountain Dew, to satiate your curiosity), which fit pretty well in the baking rack.  After baking, the form kept its shape very well.  Yay!

Based on the width and length of the FF&aF section, I made an initial paper form of the full bracelet:

When I was testing the bracelet around my wrist, I noticed that when the ends met on the inside, there was buckling on the outside.  That meant that it was too wide to work like a "normal" bracelet and would need some adjusting.  After an unbelievable amount of time and discussions with my model railroad jewelry consultant, I determined that on the inside the ends should form a V.

I made a new paper form (dropping the rounded corners because of the angles needed for the new shape), and Steve and I made a few notations so I knew where everything was supposed to be:

It may seem silly to have so many notations, but I was getting seriously confused.

For the bracelet base, I used Pellon interfacing and Ultrasuede from Knot Just Beads.  I tried to make it work with one piece of Ultrasuede by having one whole piece for the bottom and two pieces for the part that would be covered up with beads, but I had a gluing and logistics problem:

Glue was seeping through in some spots, and the piece on the right in the above picture I tried gluing upside down or something stupid like that.  Like I said, I was getting very confused.  Back to Knot Just Beads I went, and I brought back another piece of Ultrasuede and a hank of very gorgeous dark blue Charlottes I used in the lake.

Not only was the glue seeping through, but it wasn't always working.  I tried a plethora of glues - I don't remember all of them - and finally my scrapbooking Mono adhesive worked well enough.  It just had to stick enough for me to be able to stitch the pieces together while I beaded.  I know there are many people I could have called who know exactly what glue to use, but I was in a rush (as I often seem to be) and needed to get started.  If I had read Explorations in Beadweaving that I reviewed last Friday, I would have known to use E6000.  I even have it in the house already.  That's what I get for not checking my resources!

I should probably say that Explorations in Beadweaving is a great book for learning how to do bead embroidery.  I'm not going to explain how to do it step-by-step in my blogs, so if you would like to know, please pick up her book.  I sent her a Facebook message letting her know about the review.  She's very nice, and we're now friends on Facebook!  (Hi, Kelly!)

I'm glad I had a single piece of Ultrasuede because as I was curving the piece around for testing, the split ended up rather wide and wouldn't have been workable.  Perhaps it was "good luck" that I had so many problems and needed another piece.  If I had spent hours stitching just to find out that the split was screwing everything up, I'd have been pretty upset.

I taped the FF&aF base to the bracelet base and sewed it on, using light blue Delica seed beads to signify water crashing against the pier.  Then I started stitching the lake, using the gorgeous Charlottes, some dark blue 15/0 seed beads, and the light blue Delicas:

You can't tell in the pictures, but the Charlottes are flat on one side, and when that part catches the light it's really beautiful and looks like light glinting off the water.

As I stitched I noticed that I was "making waves" toward the right side of the piece.  I had the boat facing the wrong way for that, so I erased my lines and switched the direction of both boats:

Now it looks like the boat is pushing the water in that direction.

The final bracelet picture for today is this section all stitched up (including the edging, which happened much later) and before the figures and boats are glued on:

Next Tuesday, both straps of the bracelet.  It will be much shorter.  I promise.

Now for your reward for getting all the way down to the end.  Here's Frisco in his new favorite place, the window above my desk:

He's adorable up there, but he keeps knocking stuff off.  It's messy enough up there as it is without him wreaking more havoc.

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