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Miniature jukebox from a Christmas ornament

Once the bar and the patrons are in place, the Blackbird Bar roombox won’t have a ton of free space, but there is an open area near the door where I wanted to put something. I thought about a coat rack or a free-standing ATM, but both of those seemed kinda boring. So how about a jukebox?

Even thought it’s way easier to find things in 1:12 scale than I’m used to in half scale, the jukebox pickings were slim. Aztec makes one in resin but it’s pretty sloppy, especially retailing at $25. I found some very detailed reproductions of real jukeboxes on eBay but they were also pricey for what’s supposed to be a quick side project. (I’ve already spent an obscene amount of money on resin dolls…) As I started looking at the dimensions I realized that the “real” miniature jukeboxes were much too deep, anyway. I only have about 1″ of space behind the doorway. Anything bigger than that will stick out and block the door.

So I turned to Christmas ornaments. I looked at Hallmark ornaments first since those tend to work well in miniature settings (I used a bunch in my breadbox roombox). Hallmark has made several jukeboxes over the years but they’re all very Christmas themed, which won’t work for the bar. I ended up buying “At the Hop,” which was made by Enesco in 1987. There are a bunch of them on eBay – I got mine (plus another random ornament I didn’t actually want) for $3.95 plus shipping.

I picked this one because of the dimensions (.75″ deep, 4.5″ tall) and because it’s not super Christmasy. It’s battery operated, and lights up and plays music when you flip the switch at the bottom. I like the lights but the music is beyond obnoxious. I had hoped to light it separately using a bulb, like I did with the Hallmark stove in the breadbox, but I couldn’t see an easy way to take the back off to fiddle with the innards.

While it fits well in the space behind the door, there are several things I don’t like about this ornament. The red plastic around the back and at the base looks fake, as do the cardboard records (plus they’re crooked!) Also, the design with the silver outline seems to want to be stained glass — it’s okay as it is, but it could look a lot better. Let the bashing begin!

I started by painting the base black.

Next I cut a strip of micro veneer to cover up the red plastic. This is the same stuff I used for floors in the Victorianna and Thatched Cottage.

The micro veneer is flexible and sticky-backed, so it was easy to attach over the rounded edge.

Looking better already! A real jukebox would be about twice as deep, but since it’s obscured by the door I think I can get away with it.

Next I did the stained glass. The pastel Gallery Glass colors I already had (most recently used on the Victorianna’s stained glass windows) aren’t right for the bright colors on the jukebox, so I splurged on this variety pack ($15ish for 31 colors).

The silver lines are slightly raised up from the colored area behind them. I spread the paint inside the lines with the tip of a toothpick.

Gallery Glass is see-through when it dries, so some of the color shows from underneath. Since there won’t be light shining from behind to enhance the paint, I did a few coats to make sure it would really show up.

Initially I used White Pearl for the background, not expecting it to be so see-through. I didn’t like the yellow showing through so I went over those panels with a coat of the more opaque Snow White (you can see it in the photos below). The other colors I used are Sapphire (flower center at bottom, doodads to the sides of the leaves, and stripes in the background), Ruby Red, Harvest Yellow, Ivy Green, and Plum (flower at top). The Plum and Sapphire came out so close I could have just used one or the other.

Since I couldn’t get inside the ornament to replace the fake-looking records, I decided to cover them up. I looked online for pictures of real jukeboxes with a half-circle top. I chose this one because the design and colors compliment the ornament, and because the shape of the half circle is close to the ornament’s. (In a lot of the other pictures I found, the half circle was more squished.)

(Source: Rock-Ola Peacock CD Jukebox)

I used Photoshop to resize the image and printed it out at 300dpi for good print quality. I would have preferred to do it at 600dpi but the originally image wasn’t big enough to allow for that. (No idea what I’m talking about? Read this article I wrote a million years ago that explains how to optimize graphics for printing. Ironically, it’ll probably look crappy if you try to print it out!)

I didn’t notice until I’d printed and cut out the graphic that the lighting in the picture makes the right side of the arch look funny, almost like the color is faded.

I went back to Photoshop and duplicated the arch from the left side to use it on the right side. I did this with the original image and then reduced the size, which makes any minor issues like jagged edges much harder to spot than if I’d made the change on the small version.

Pasting an image to the front of the jukebox means it won’t have the depth it did originally, but at least I can make it shiny to simulate glass, using the same lamination material I used on the bar floor. With the backing side up, I drew around the edge of the area to be covered, then cut it out.

The last steps were to glue on the graphic with Mod Podge, and then apply the lamination. I don’t think the pictures get this across but the glossy lamination really makes a difference — the graphic went from looking like a glued-on printie to something that belongs there.

Here’s how it looks through the front door. Classy!

I still plan to add song names to those white spaces, but didn’t have the patience for it today…

4 Comments

  1. Well done! I love the jukebox!!!

  2. Love how it looks. Much more realistic and so much fun!

  3. Wow, it looks great.. much improved. I particularly like the gallery glass additions you did. It turned out wonderfully. :)

  4. Wonderful find and makeover! Love it!

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