Diorama stuff: Emerson’s Apartment

I’ve been kind of quiet here on the blog. I haven’t got an excuse–I have got reasons!

Firstly, I have been giving a lot of thought to the two roomset/dioramas I want to get on the ball with making. The first is Emerson’s apartment, and although it isn’t strictly 1/6 (I have to make allowances for that simply because we don’t live in a big enough house to do it to true 1/6 and still have room for us humans and furballs 😉

The second is the cafe and that’s just on hold until I can afford to buy the supplies to make it. 😛

In anycase, I am basing the apartment on one I lived in in NY. It wasn’t my favorite apartment but it wasn’t the worst one I’d lived in either. I also feel that with some tweaks and flips I can use it for other characters who may,or may not be living in the same building… 🙂 I could actually see one of her cousins living in the same building (possibly she put in a good word with the landlord Mr.Benedetti and got her the apt?) And who knows who else lives in the building???

So without further ado: Emerson’s apartment!


Now the great thing is that I have got the bases for the diorama made. All I need to do now is rip the MDF into the various sizes for each room and add windows, doors and flooring and then start decorating it. (I make that sound like a hop, skip and a jump but its a little more complicated than that) it’ll probably take about a month since I want to make some specific furniture for Emerson’s place and that will take time.

BTW: if I haven’t introduced her—this is Emerson (Emerson Appleton).


This is the part where I get serious: Dioramas!

You know how people make “bucket” lists of things they want to do or see before they drop dead?

Mine is pretty simple, if time consumptive–I want all of the dioramas made that I have in my head and in my notebooks! Yeah, it would take years to make them all. I knooooooow. And of late I haven’t been doing much of anything like moving them along…

But this is where that stops.
I thought about all of the ones I want to make, all of the ones I started or planned on and decided I’d pick two and run with them. This year (what’s left of it anyway) is going to be their year.

The oldest diorama that I have been trying to make/scrapping/trying to make is without a doubt the Cafe. It was meant to be a social spot in Quinlan for the University students and other city folk to go to. Open mic nights/ poetry nights, acoustic bands, you know, that kind of thing.  You may recall that I have been talking about it on and off since….2010. Six years. I feel it’s one of those do it now or STFU about it forever.

So I redrew up the floor plan for the cafe and the sidewalk outside of it. It’s a big set, but not as big as I’d originally planned nor anywhere near as complicated.

The other diorama I drew up floor plans for is Emerson’s apartment. I know she will be moving to Quinlan and will need a place to live. I debated whether I needed Emerson’s or Giselle’s done first. I think that since Giselle will be seen a lot in the Wrenwood Hall sets and the cafe there isn’t an immediate need for her to have an apartment (although she shares one with one of the other cast-members of WH.)

This means that I now have to start going through my accumulated props and pieces to see what can be used where and how.

This is all made a little more difficult by the fact that our living room is my current studio since the house is in a state of renovation and it seems unlikely that I will have a studio/ office space of my own until next year sometime if I am lucky. (then I will be able to set up my dioramas and leave them set up!!  The sheer luxury of that would be Awesome (because it takes me hours to dress a set for a photoshoot) and that would save me the time and effort.

I’ll update soon on how the 2 sets are going.


Wrenwood Diorama #1: with photos of progress

Making the first diorama for the Wrenwood Hall photostories should be remarkably easy–except of course for me having that commitment issue when it comes to allocating dedicated walls to the diorama!

To re-cap where I left off in the last post about Wrenwood:

the small Wrenwood set has 2 long walls (26 inches each) and 2 short walls (22 inches each). Not a huge room by any means. But what I am trying to keep in mind as I decide which walls get doors, windows etc. is that the long walls (26 inch) will be useable in the large (36×26) Wrenwood Hall diorama base too…I really DO try to get as much use out of a wall (in as many sets as possible).

Anywho…I decided that for the first go-round I wanted to have a smallish door (hah hah! This is only small when you consider that the door in the large set will be a double-width door–maybe I should call it “regular” size?) and the window seat/alcove for this set.

The regular door will fit in the side wall, and the window seat/alcove will go in the long wall.

Here are photos of the diorama it as it currently is–in progress! 🙂





You can tell I messed up a bit because durh! I originally put the “regular” door in the long wall! Oh well. That is part of the reason I wanted to be sure to have a couple of extra “blanks” for the walls.

That wall won’t go to waste since it’ll attach to the set (could for example use the long wall with the door & the short wall with the door and have that room as a bit of a pass through or else an outer chamber to someone else’s rooms…) There are always options 🙂 Like in the photos above I’ve actually included that wall in the shots and think it will work for an entrance to another room, a storage room or something….

You can also see that Electra wanted to help! She’s showing off the window seat wall.

It IS very wide but some of that will disappear with I’ve done the stonework and treatments. My version is supposed to be wide though since I am roughly modeling it on this one: (notice I did say roughly!) Excuse the poor photo I can’t find my other files at the moment. :S


I guess I should say at this point that I made the openings for the doors and window/alcove large enough so that I could have the Tall Fashion Royalty guys (specifically London Calling Kyu) and the FR2 (or Fashion Royalty 2.0 which is I guess what they are calling the newest generation of the body for the girls) going through them without smacking their heads.

Bearing in mind that I have an eclectic mix of dolls and action figures as cast members I also made sure that they are wide enough that even the super brawny Hot Toys guys can get through them (because, hey, you never know when you might have some marauders breaching the hall and stealing away the hot chicks!)

I have been pondering whether I want to do the walls to appear like they have been rendered and whitewashed (aka plaster/ tudor walls with  linen fold paneling) or to do them all as stone (probably what I will go for).

Pros & cons of doing the different styles of wall treatments:

  • The whitewashed/plastered look (with or without paneling) would be easiest and quickest.
  • Plaster/paneling would look ok but I don’t think I’ll get that dark and semi gloomy look / feel I want with them.
  • Stone look would allow me more leeway on where and how I place wall hangings / lighting without the worry of damaging the plaster look or the plaster getting stained (or cracking).
  • Doing stone the way I plan to will be labor intensive and some of it will require me making it up as I go for how to make the treatments for the windows & doors.
  • The stone look will seem IMO more in keeping with the feel I am going for. More work, more effort but probably (maybe) worth it?

Ok so there you have it! That’s my update for the week. Oh, yea, and I should mention I am working on a decorating scheme for my standard white wall diorama (you know, the one that shows up in Friday Monologues, Etsy pics and stuff).


Photostories focusing on 1/6 scale?

I’m in the process of trying to update my links and to scope out new 1/6 stories — so I wanted to ask the folks who visit here:

  • Do you have any links to photostories that you can recommend?
  • Do YOU make any photostories?
  • Want to share the links?

Let me know and as I update I’ll be sure to add them in the sidebar! 😀

(also if you have any recommendations for other sites & blogs I should link to please share! Also, what d’yall think of the links having images? I would have to make graphics for the links but wonder if it would be nicer to look at than plain text?)

The Wall: 1:6 faux bricks completed! *with pics*

Yes, yes it’s done! Mwhahaahah! (I’ll apologize now for the photos–I didn’t bother to adjust the white balance so the photos aren’t consistent) 😛


Speaking truly, it doesn’t live up to my personal expectations.

I AM disappointed.

Even a little disheartened.

Getting the brick wall made–that was a real task this time around. Like the last time when I did the one out of foam core I had a couple of different ideas about how I was going to do this wall. And yes, every one of them was labor intensive. I think the next one I make will be even more so. But for now, let’s discuss this one…


It’s okay…but just….it falls really short of what I wanted to achieve.
The colors are ok, and the texture was so-so but despite everything I tried (that I had on hand) I just couldn’t get the bricks to look the way I wanted them to. i was going for crooked wonky brickwork–which I succeeded on. But the texture and overall look just = fail.

And the mortar –well. I had 3 different plans for it and none of them panned out. (you can’t see the parts on the wall where I screwed up with the previous 3 attempts). Then I went with my last ditch effort and that’s what it is for now. I might go back through and try to re grout it, but eh, I doubt it. I’ll probably wait until I do the next brick wall (which will be for the Cup & Saucery Cafe).


Oh, and I am going to say this again:

I do things the way  do them. I don’t expect other people to do things my way, and I don’t think that my way is the only way (or the right way). It’s simply what works for me (using MDF vs Foam-core).

Do what you want.
Do it however you want to do it.
I’m not going to knock you for it.
I’ll do things my way!
And as long as we’re making dioramas (and photostories!!!) that’s ALL that matters 😉



Changing my Focus: my collecting–a reality check

Sometimes you have to face unpleasant truths.

Only by facing them and accepting them can you move forward and make progress on the things you mean to do.


I have been one of the longest, staunchest supporters of Volks dollfies (27cm). I have collected them for more than a decade and I have loved their articulation, their ability to easily share clothes with other fashion dolls, and the fact that generally speaking they were low-cost and fantastic for customizing. For those reasons they became my go-to figures and make up the bulk of my 1/6 scale doll collection. However, it has now been years since Volks ceased production of the EB body type and the other options that they offer are….not for me. Yes, there are other 27 cm figures–Obitsu/Parabox make but for me those are too small and too petite.

Where does my collecting go from this point, now that I have finally moved out of Denial and into Acceptance?

Don’t get me wrong–I have a number of different kinds of dolls and action figures in my collection. I have Takara Cool Girls/Cy Girls, a few Fashion Royalty dolls, I even have a Barbie or two, but of all the other kinds of dolls that I have, that I really think I am going to start concentrating on are the dolls being put out by Integrity.

Did you hear me just eat my hat? Possibly. 😛

Some of my biggest gripes in the past with Fashion Royalty dolls were:

  1. Poor articulation and  body design (compared to my volks-biased experiences)
  2. (cough) the price.
  3. They had hands that wouldn’t come off (pre-handspeak system) which made dressing them a PITA.
  4. Prone to loose joints and tended to be floppy and if I wanted them to sit upright on a couch without slumping I had to tweak the body. Not ideal IMO.
  5. They are Amazonian in height. That part made it difficult to find male partners for them unless I wanted a lot of tom cruise/ Nicole kidman kind of couples…. You get the point, right?

But….to be fair I had a lot of things to like about the Fashion Royalty dolls.

  1. They had some really lovely face molds. (I adore Giselle and Agnes and Natalia)
  2. They come in a wide range of skintones which makes for some nice variation and more realism in the population of people for my photostories. That was something missing in my collection.
  3. IT got wise to the idea that removable hands were a great thing and started using the handspeak system
  4. Integrity makes some nice complete figures, they make nice accessories and often times the clothing they make is done to a pretty high specification. Much better than most of the Barbie clothes Mattel puts out these days.

And of course IT has been playing around with the different kinds of bodies they’re making these days.

They’re making Poppy Parker, Misaki, FR2 and according to the word on the Web they’re revamping the regular Fashion Royalty Line and the FR2 line and will be revealing what the new body style and design will be like in October at the FR Convention. And I understand that in 2014 that they will be doing that for the NuFace line as well.

All of that speaks to the fact that Integrity, although not making dolls as posable as I’d prefer, is still working on making new dolls, trying to do something with their QC and also, giving people like me (head/body swappers) a wider range of options to choose from.

SO Yes. I have officially eaten my hat.

I am going to be collecting the FR dolls again, and doing my best to integrate them not only into my collection but also into the photostories that I have planned for the Quinlan Chronicles.

Just to be clear here–I’m not saying that FRs are my all time favorite OR the be all end all best doll out there… I doubt I’ll ever love them the same way that I love my volks. But for now, the Fashion Royalty/ Dynamite Girls/ Poppy parker / IT dolls just happen to be the ones that I have taken a new shine to and want to see what I can do with them….


More progress on the Dioramas: dorm room/ student lounge/ academic office

The weekend didn’t go as I planned. That’s ok. The trip has been rescheduled to later this month and I spent most of Friday and Saturday in bed, and ignored the computer.  Sunday…Sunday my body was feeling better but I didn’t feel up to facing human beings in person or online. So I stayed home (from archery practice as well as from Lowes or Home Depot) and decided it was long past time to get those pesky-half-done-but-not-quite ready-roomsets closer to being done!

This is going to be a kind of short post but I wanted to share how it’s going so far:

You can see the various walls and doors: (I know it all looks a bit rough right now.) It needs another coat of paint and some window treatments (for all 3 sets). I’m also keeping an eye out for fabric that I can use for a rug. or something. We’ll see.


The windows are all from my old (UK) dioramas. We cut them out and posted them over. Splicing them into the new MDF walls was a trick and I am thankful that Mark had the patience for that part since I sure didn’t! I did get to do the spackling though to try to hide the join/seams into the walls.


Mark was awesome in making me the two new doors (and he even made the hinges!) He’s now gone back to working on the house related stuff (he just built himself a worktable to make real 1:1 scale doors for our house). We were originally going to use that stain (on the doors) for our house but out of the can and on the wood it’s much darker than we wanted so….back to square one on that one :S

Here you can see the as of yet unfinished floor:


I want to make a wood floor (mock hardwood) which I can use for any and all of the rooms.  I have the strips of wood cut to size and now I need to stain them and attach them. After I do that I’ll coat them with some lacquer/ PU and see how they look. Hopefully good. LOL.

I’m also working on a new brick wall: (sorry for the blurry pic)


The point of this one is to replace the one I made earlier this year out of foamcore. >:(

Despite my best efforts I can’t get over my intense dislike of the stuff (or its inability to cope with the wear and tear it suffers at my hands!). I know hundreds of people swear by it, and use it for all their diorama needs. Good for them!  But …it’s not so good for me…

So–I had an offcut left from the room-set walls and it’s just big enough to use as a short wall. So I’m going to try using that and see how it goes. I should update later this week (probably towards friday) with *hopefully* finished room set pics!

Wrenwood Hall: more thoughts on casting, characters & sets

Ok, so a brief change of gears here–from modern/ contemporary diorama planning back to pseudo-medieval diorama planning & thought!

It seems like I do a lot more thinking these days and not as much “making”! Grr! Frustrating! But the warm weather is coming & that means I’ll be able to make more things (without say, realizing that the house is so cold that the 2 part epoxy won’t come out of the tubes LOL)

The plus side to it being so cold is that I can dedicate the time to think about/ plan/ how to make things.  I have primarily been finalizing the basic *female* character roster for Wrenwood Hall. This is what I’ve come up with thus far: (click on the image–then on the white “X” for larger version). Yes, you’ll notice that at the moment they are all Fashion Royalty dolls from Integrity Toys–I do have a few other characters that I am hoping to use my Takara CG female figures in too…But I’m not ready to commit them to specific roles yet….


You’ll notice that I haven’t yet cast Lady Merithi. That’s because I haven’t found a doll yet that I like for that character. Still hoping I’ll find one at some point (or  somehow do a massive about face and cast someone who already exists LOL).

Next I have to start thinking about the main male characters…

I’m still working on sourcing them so that will be updated (and decided) later. I know roughly 5 roles that require guys so I am keeping an eye out!  I’ve seen a few male action figure heads on feebay lately that I think could work for them.

Speaking of the guys….On flickr I saw that Hot Toys has put out their True Type Advanced Muscular Body–which appears to be half a head/ or slightly more/ taller than the standard Hot Toys True Type Body.

Here’s a great comparison pic: http://www.flickr.com/photos/53915760@N04/8560432997/

That would be awesome if it’s really taller since I want to use Hot Toys action figures as the male cast—but they are short-asses compared to the Fashion Royalty female dolls——-and I really don’t want to have to do constant shots where I’m hiding the fact that the guys are standing on boxes to make them the same height or taller than the women in the cast!!!!

Sets: Hmm, where do I start with these?

Before I left the UK I had 3 ideas in mind that I wanted to do for Wrenwood sets.

  • a small chamber–with window seat. –useable as a small bedchamber/ personal space/stillroom
  • Medium size Hall –with alcove at one end and two entry ways (with doors) into them. Stained glass windows, flagstone floors and faced stone walls.

I know it’s all kinds of crazy work to do–on top of doing my 3 main roomsets for the regular chronicles (university based). Which means that these are going to continue to stew in the back of my head. But I think I’m pretty excited about it anyway. For the cloister/garden area  I’ve been looking into plants and ideas on how I can use them for the settings—and if I should try to do the whole cloister set outside—on the ground—or….on raised beds/ tables outside.

I know it sounds a bit bonkers to want to do it and make a set that could withstand the outdoors and the weathering it would get. I really love the idea of being able to shoot in natural lighting with _real_ weather to color the scenes and give it that added realism.

Anyway, I’m thinking that I’ll leave the cloister set until mid-spring, and see about making the small chamber. From a purely financial standpoint that would be best–it’ll take the least amount of supplies (just to make), and I could use it for quite a few scenes depending on how I shoot it. We’ll see I guess? (I’ll need to decide if I want to do rendered “lime washed” walls, or use faux stone appearance.



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