The Den of Slack

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Blackbird Bar interior (finally)

Now that the bar is electrified, I’m done adding tapewire to the roombox and can finally get moving on the roombox interior. (I originally intended to finish this project in December so I can get back to the Victorianna, which I’m hoping to finish in 2018. Oops.)

I decided early on that the bar’s main colors will be black, white, and red. It’s a contemporary place but I want the decor to have an old Victorian gothic feel. And since I rarely work in 1:12, I’m using up stuff in my stash, including some resin wainscot panels I got several years ago at an estate sale.

(I remember these had $1 clearance price tags on them, left over from when woman whose estate it was bought them, and the woman running the estate sale — not a miniaturist — tried to haggle me up. When I pointed out the price tags, she said something along the lines of “But how much are they worth?” and I said “A dollar.” I won.)

The panels would surely be easier to cut if I had the right tools, but I managed by hacking at them with the saw that goes with my miter box (the panel is too big for the miter box, so I had to use the saw separately) and a utility knife. That left a jagged edge that I cleaned up with the disc sander. On the panel that goes next to the jukebox I also used the sander to angle the bottom corner to fit up against the jukebox foot.

On this side the bottom needed to be notched to fit up against the bar.

I painted the panels, the door (which will lead to a faux bathroom), and the ceiling. The door and ceiling were also flea market or estate sale purchases. I love using up stash!

This is a narrow door made by Classics. I added strip wood around the sides to fill in the gap where the door would normally be recessed into the wall. In this orientation the door will swing out into the bar. I’m planning to add a printed picture behind it to give the hint of a bathroom.

I glued the trim that came with the door on to the strip wood. This will get painted black.

Before gluing in the wallpaper, I cut a hole for the power outlet. This will be hidden behind the bar so it’s okay that the hole is a little big.

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Electrifying the bar

Before gluing in the bar shelves I built, I wanted to add lights. The bar needs to be removable from the roombox (it would be much too hard to add accessories if it were fixed in place), so this means the lights need to plug in to an outlet. And of course I didn’t want the outlet to be visible.

In order to add an outlet behind the bar, I needed to hack a hole in the side of the bar. This creates a recess for the outlet and plug to fit into, so the bar can sit flush against the wall. Geoff helped with the power tools. (By “helped” I mean he did it for me!)

The back and side of the bar have shelves underneath, but the front area has non-opening cabinet doors. This means there’s a hollow area behind the fake cabinet that can be drilled into. We started by marking where we believed the hollow area to be, based on the height of the floor, thickness of the front piece of wood, and height and depth of the cabinet. Then we drew a rectangle slightly larger than the socket, and Geoff drilled a small hole to see what was behind it.

Satisfied that we weren’t going to destroy the bar by doing this, he drilled a larger hole.

This hole was big enough to fit the jigsaw blade into, so he used that to roughly cut out the rectangle.

Finally he cleaned up the edges with the drum sander attachment on the Dremel.

The posts that the lights will be mounted on are 7/16″ wide. I looked high and low for 1:12 sconces and literally every one I found had a 1/2″ base. I didn’t want the base to be hanging off the edges of the posts — in fact, I thought they’d look best if they were a bit smaller than the posts. I was pondering this for a ridiculously long time before I realized I should use half scale lights, which only have a 1/4″ base.

These are Houseworks globe sconces. The first step was to plug an outlet into the end of the tapewire and test the lights. They work! Considering my track record with electricity, this is something to celebrate.

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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.

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