Plastering a Miniature Headframe into an Egg

After painting my 3D printed model of the McIntyre Headframe, I picked a suitable eggshell that had been chipped out on the front and back. To patch up the holes leftover from draining the contents, I used a couple small pieces of paper bandage tape. The egg was then set down on a wine bottle cap for working with – the cap will eventually be the model’s stand.

A (way too large) small quantity of Plaster of Paris was mixed up in an old pudding cup and then scooped into the egg using a steel potter’s tool. The picture below also shows a scrap 3D printing raft, which I was considering laying in with the plaster, but later I decided the plaster alone was sufficient.


This is a close-up of the empty egg and model headframe.


Next, I started scooping in the mixed plaster with the pottery tool. (One end is like a very small spoon, the other end is like small painter’s knife.) I am using the plaster as snow for this scene – the plaster looks lumpy, because I had mixed in a glittery acrylic medium (the acrylic was getting old and coagulated), but most of it was covered by the opacity of the plaster.


A close-up view of the headframe mounted into the wet plaster in the egg. I put a squash seed beside it for comparison. The background is the controls of the washing machine doubling as another workbench.


A shot of the egg model with the materials used. The object that looks like a large hypodermic minus its needle is a novelty shot glass (hence the 1/2 and 1 oz measurements) that makes an excellent slip trailing tool and paint applicator among other things. I was going to use it for the plaster, but it was too thick and easier to just scoop into the egg.


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Tiny Scenery

Some 3D printed trial miniatures, which I designed using Tinkercad.Although each model printed in less than a half-hour, designing each one took three to four hours. The pencil sharpeners in the picture give an idea of scale. Each model has also bee hand-painted.

The McIntyre Headframe, two (not to scale) Hollinger Housesm and two different scale replicas of the Hollinger Mine train engine found in Porcupine. The “bubble” in the background s an inverted 4-inch diameter glass Christmas ball.

The McIntyre Headframe, painted Hollinger locomotive and nickel-sized underground mine train.

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Revisiting an Odd Skill After 20 Years

Back in 1997, when I was 16 going on 17, I experimented with making tiny dioramas inside of eggshells. The first one was a carved sailboat (with paper sails and the top of a toothpick as a buoy), and the second one was a biplane – complete with rotating propeller  – flying over a barn labelled “Jim’s Cows” (a tiny carved toothpick cow is just out of the frame in the picture). I made a third egg – an airplane flying over a winter forest at sunset – which was given as a Christmas present to a teacher. I had started a fourth egg – the RMS Titanic – and then put everything aside as I made my way towards university.

Now 20 years later, a juried miniature show is coming up in town, and it includes a category for sculptures. I decided to give the eggshell diorama another try.

The technique to hollow out the egg is to chip a hole in the top and bottom of the shell (I use a nut pick, although I’ve seen references to using darning needles in old craft books) and blow out the contents of the egg into a bowl, and then rinse out the shell. There are also squeezable air bulbs that can be used if the idea of blowing through an egg is not appealing.

I recall chipping a hole in the front of the egg and then using fine, pointed scissors e to start cutting a line. I would then chip away at the egg using my fingers (and possibly needle-nose pliers), until I had a decent-sized hole… hopefully without putting too many cracks in the shell and making the hole gaping and jagged. This time, I also chipped out the backs of some eggs to enable the central object of the diorama to be seen from the back.

Unlike 20 years ago, there are now so many more options for crafting materials, as well as protective cases (the eventual sculpture will reside in a plastic baseball display stand).

Out of an original 1 dozen eggs – less 4 that failed structurally when being hollowed, and 1 that was stuck to the carton, plus another 2 that broke in the chipping process, I ended up with 7 potential diorama housings – 4 with holes in the front and back. The chipped borders will eventually be reinforced with a bead of hot glue or similar trimming, which will also frame the diorama scene.


Note: Also unlike 20 years ago, I have access to laser cutting. A future experiment may be to see if I can get a more intricate cut-out with it – although it would take away from the organic feel of the chipping technique.

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Miniature Work

Sometimes I get ideas that sit and incubate for quite a long time, in the case of the project I’ve finally gotten around to starting, the incubation period has been nearly 7 years. This tiny train is made of balsa wood (with a piece of hardwood dowel for the locomotive boiler) and has been designed to fit into a 4-inch circle – with a turn radius that would be impossible scaled up to an actual train. I’ll leave it to the imagination to guess where this project is headed.

Also, the Sam Bucovetsky ruler came from a bag of miscellaneous stationery supplies bought at the Timmins Value Village a few years ago. The glob of glue was already stuck to it.


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Linocut Prints for Sale at the Great Canadian Kayak Challenge Festival

I set up a table in the Arts and Culture tent at this year’s Great Canadian Kayak Challenge Festival, being held at the Mattagami Historical Conservation Area Participark this weekend. I have an assortment of linocut items – cards, bookmarks, and 4 X 6″ unframed prints for sale between $2.00 and $4.00. There are also some watercolour reproduction cards and photo magnets available. Drop by anytime between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday August 27th, 2016 or between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday August 28th, 2016. 


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Dark Sky Lantern Part 3

The dark sky lantern was completed over a month ago, but I hadn’t gotten around to posting more updates. Here it is after t stained an Aurora Borealis motif on it before covering it in clear glaze. I used a light green, coral pink, and purple for the Northern Lights, turning the lantern upside down to let the stain run. Although it appears to have a purple sky, the lantern is actually a very dark blue for the most part. I also made a base and a lid for it.

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Dark Sky Lantern Part 2

The dark sky lantern’s main shade/structure has been completed A lid and base in the process of being built as separate pieces to go with it.

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Dark Sky Lantern

Another project I’m working on for the summer show is a Dark Sky lantern. I started with a large slab rolled and formed into a cylinder about 6 inches in diameter and close to 12 inches high. Using Northern hemisphere July star maps for reference, I then started mapping the night sky using various sized drill bits, starting with the Milky Way.


Starting to form the holes. At this point, the layers of newspaper, plastic, and the cardboard cylinder form were still in the middle of the lantern.

Milky Way in progress.

The view from the interior once I removed the cardboard form.

The Milky Way completed with Saggitarius, a.k.a. “The Teapot Constellation” off to the left.


From left to right (excluding the far left) the three big holes are Saturn (top), Antares (bottom), and Mars.




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Beach ball and Japanese Fishing Float Salt & Pepper Set

The pottery class I’m in is putting on another show this July at the Black Spruce Gallery here in Timmins. The theme is “Summer”, and the objective is to make something that represents summer to us. We can play around with scale, make display objects/sculptures, or make functional items. One of my ideas was to make a salt and pepper shaker set that looks like a beach ball and a Japanese fishing float sitting on a shoreline tray. Below are the rough greenware forms.


The two ball forms have been made by pressing white clay against the inside the two halves of a plastic Christmas ornament form. These are approximately 2 inches in diameter.


The shoreline tray has been hand-formed with a raised edge. Two impressions have been pressed in using the marble ball seen in the background of this picture.


This is a test to see how well the ball forms rest on their indentations.


Although the tray now resembles a Minion character, the additional ridges were added after I remembered that I still had several flat glass marbles from last year, which I could fire and melt as “water”. The top half of the shoreline tray has been textured by bouncing an old tooth brush all over the soft clay. The forms are now resting for some detailing work once they harden a bit.

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Photographic Experiment: Water Drops

This was a simple kitchen sink set-up done at a Porcupine Photo Club meeting. A plastic glass was placed upright on another inverted glass in a sink. A piece of cardboard with a scrap of black cloth was used as a backdrop. The glass was filled with water, and then the faucet was left on just enough for a steady stream of drops to fall down. I set my camera to a 4-second exposure at ISO 100, f/16 and focussed the lens on a knife blade that had been held right on the drop stream to line everything up. The room lights were turned off, and the shutter was opened. The club president then took an external flash and fired it manually towards the set-up before the shutter closed again. If a drop of water happened t be falling at the time, the flash would capture it in action.



The first two pictures above had a “Holga Effect” added to them using Picasa photo editor.


The above picture shows a bit of the set-up with the flash off to the side. The flash was moved around to get different effects.


The rest of the pictures were taken with flash powered down by half and the aperture opened up to f/8.0.


This final picture was taken using a strobe effect on the flash, giving the illusion of multiple water drops. The same drop (or two) is actually being caught in several positions as it falls into the pool.

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