Monday, 27 May 2013

Kitchen Scales

Looking at the small collection of mini-treasures I have collected for my 1:12 doll-house, I noticed something... not all the objects were really true-to-scale. My biggest bug-bear was the set of kitchen scales I had bought. I had hunted around to find them in plain black, and was so pleased when they arrived through the post. BUT... if they were real, they'd be over two foot long! I just wanted a little set of scales to look nice in my dolls kitchen. The other slight problem was that I had decided NOT to have the kitchen in pine with black and copper accents, but instead to have it all white and purple. So... here's a step-by-step guide to what I did;

Everything I used to construct the scales were things I already had – I bought nothing extra.

Firstly, for the top bowl, I took a metal pie dish (1:12 scale, obviously) and glued to the bottom of this a 10mm bead cap. I used super-glue, simply because I am always worried of things falling apart, so use whatever I have that I think will be strongest. These were left to dry overnight. I also used two 1:12th scale small paper plates glued together for the top part of the scales as an alternative.
For the next stage, other people may use a 1/2” cube of balsa wood – but I didn't have any. What I did have was 2mm grey-board (a thick cardboard used for crafting). This had a white paper covering on one side – but that's not essential to the project. I cut the cardboard into 1/2” strips, then cut these strips down to make 1/2” squares. I needed eight of these squares for the scales – but I always cut extra because I am terrible at cutting things straight, so may have need a few more :)
I glued the eight squares together, making sure that two of the sides were always perfectly lined up – well, as perfect as I could make my wobbly squares.
I then waited a good 15 minutes for the cubes to dry (leave for longer if not using a quick-drying glue). I then carefully cut a wedge from the front of the cube using a stanley-knife, and trimmed off any excess from around the rest of the cube to make it neat.
What was to become the top of the scales needed to be wide enough to fit the 10mm bead cap on... I've already made a couple that weren't quite big enough (maybe I should go and buy some smaller bead caps?)

Next, I sanded the faces of my scales so that the surfaces were all even and not too 'sharp'.
When I made my first set of scales, I cut a wedge shape out of the first piece of cardboard, glued on the following piece and then used the first piece as a guide the cut the wedge again... and did this with all eight pieces. This made the finished scales have much more defined edges, which I can't decide if I like better or not!
For the next part of the project, I cut a strip of thin paper just slightly over 1/2” wide, and wrapped this around the scales. Any bits of paper that were overlapping the edges, I chopped off with scissors. This covered the joins of the card to make the shape stronger... it also gave a smoother finish. I also made sure that the paper join or overlap was at the bottom of the scales.
Now, I am a VERY messy crafter – I have rheumatoid arthritis which means I can't really do fine detailed work... so my scales were looking pretty ropey by this stage. So... out came my favourite crafting item - ModPodge! I first painted it on the sides and the bottom of the scales, and left it to dry. After that I painted the rest of the scales. This was left to dry overnight so that it was quite hard. Then I sanded it down gently so that it looked smoother (but not a lot smoother, unfortunately!).
That's all the difficult bits over and done with!
Out with the paint (the colour I wanted the finished sales to be), and I painted the separate pieces – the underneath of the top bowl, the back of the 'dial' (or face - which is a blank brad about 1/2" in diameter), and the main body of the scale too. I waited for them to dry, and then begun assembly. I made a little hole on the front of the scale then cut down the 'legs' of the brad I used for the face, and gently eased the brad into the scale body. When I was sure it would fit properly, I removed it to apply glue so that it could be attached permanently.

Then I added the top bowl, glued it securely... and then out with the paint again! I finished the painting and let it dry.
Fitting the printed out face to the scale front was easy enough – I just had to make sure I glue it the right way up :) As I'm a bit of a ModPodge addict, I used a gloss version to give a final lacquer to the piece, doing the bowl first and the rest of the piece when the top had dried. One set of scales I finished, I roughed up the metal bits – scratching through the paint to make them look used and battered – I did this before adding the ModPodge.

For the face/dial, I was going to cover it with Glossy Accents... but had some little clear 'bubbles' I used instead. I added this when the scales were completely dried.
Hey, presto! a finished set of kitchen scales that actually fit my dolls house! So... they're not perfect – but I'm no artisan, just a crafter and a 'hobby-ist' :)

Variations:
I used a larger brad for the top of the scales, and have also added a fancy brad to make a base. I guess I could also make a square or round cardboard base? Maybe for another day :)

On the original scales (above), the 'face' is made from a punched circle of card with embroidery thread wrapped around it and painted (with my purple nail varnish). It was glued onto the base with a stack of very small punched circles.

4 comments:

Ustvarjalni utrinki Tamara P. said...

OMG-stunning,
how lovely they are
hugs Tamara

Di said...

Oh my giddy Aunt!! Just been looking at these gorgeous scales and also a couple of recent posts I missed. Fantastic work Bubbles - you really ought to be selling some of your stuff, it's exquisite and so perfect in every detail!

Hugs, Di xx

Karolyn said...

AWESOME!You did a super job.
I too have a lot of problems with artisan and commercial pieces being out of scale.
Thank you for sharing how you did it. :-)

Elizabeth S said...

I LOVE This Tutorial! You are a lady after my own heart. I have been wanting to make just such a kitchen scale for over a year, and by following your clear instructions and Innovative Creativity, I think that I might just give this project a try! Beautiful Work! :D