Sunday, May 6, 2012

Japanese System Kitchen - progress report

I don't really have much inspiration for writing an eloquent post, so I'm taking a new approach and doing a mock progress report form for when I have blogger's block. Bear with me...

Project Progress Report

Project: Japanese system kitchen
Location: 2-room Japanese house

Re-ment system kitchen
Tokyo, A Certain Style by Kyoichi Tsuzuki (Chronicle Books) for lots of images of real system kitchens in Japan and the original inspiration for the 2-room Japanese house by Kris Compas for mat board and painting methods by Brae Oktober for inspiring me with her craft and rigor in which she executes her miniatures projects
Joann Swanson of, because anyone who likes to make their own miniatures has been influenced - directly or indirectly (Maybe I should change the name of this blog to something along the lines of "Ode to Joann"... What can I say? I'm a fan.)

Summary of recent work:
 I've been sanding, gesso-ing, and again to get to this stage in the construction of my system kitchen. In order to get the smooth metal finish characteristic of the kitchen unit with mat board, I've had to do this process about 5 times.

Here, you can see the final gesso coat sanded. I'm adding a drain pipe under the sink that will be seen when the cabinet doors are open. This image shows a grommet that was super-glued from the top in the position of the pipe. The cavity beneath the sink but above the cabinets will not be seen or accessible in the finished piece. The broiler is yet to be built, but the interior will probably not be visible and be painted black.

This image shows the counter top just resting on the cabinet base. About a GA-zillion coats of gesso with lots of sanding in between lie beneath the aluminum spray paint.

These are the drawers with the hardware holes marked and cut. By the way, all these images show the final gesso coat. The painted finish is yet to be... well, finished.

This is another image of the drawers. The hardware will be made of staples - 3 before they are broken apart for each handle.

The closing mechanism of the cabinet doors has been quite a challenge. Because I wanted the doors and drawers to open, I've had to do some weird stuff. I cut holes in the back of the face panel of the cabinets to insert some tiny, super-strong magnets. (I should've photographed them, but I barreled ahead without documenting...) On the back side of the cabinet doors themselves, I cut/gouged out some little cavities for snippets of staples to hold the doors closed. These have since been gesso-ed over and sanded multiple times.

Lessons Learned:
Making mat board look like metal is hard. It takes lots of labor to get a smooth finish for spray painting. Until I do the final spray painting, I won't know if it was worth it. However, other than the repetitive steps, it will be worth it for the ease of cutting the material, accessibility of material, and low cost.

Here's a picture of a credenza that was finished in a workshop by Judy Kincade (at the IMA show in New Orleans). I got the glass jars from Ron's Miniatures in Orlando, Florida for my recent birthday. The soaps are beads from a bead shop in Sarasota and the tiny shells are those collected for me by my boyfriend on our many trips to the beaches here in Florida. the clock, mirror, and porcelain jar are from a Reutter Porcelain set that I received as a gift for renewing either American Miniaturist or Dollhouse Miniatures.


  1. The credenza is absolutely beautiful! Not only would I love one in mini scale, but I'd love to own one for my real house. It's evident that you're very talented and have some serious skills.

  2. Thank you so much! In the workshop, we painted the credenza with a crackle finish and we glued printed artwork onto its panels. This can be done with any artwork on probably any furniture, so you should try it out on your own. It was pretty easy. The hardest part was removing the doors and putting the handles back on. The credenza was a Bespaq piece, so you might be able to find the same one somewhere.

  3. I love this! You are so talented!!