Tourmaline .

Miniature Diorama Photographer

Real Mini Food for Mini Cooking

I got a comment on one of my mini cooking posts recently on where to get the food necessary for doing your own mini cooking. Once I also discovered a similar question in my blog searches a few times I thought it was time to do a formal post on the matter.

If you haven’t yet, also be sure to check out:

Now, I haven’t discussed real mini food previously, because the fact of the matter is that mini chefs use real full size food for the post part. A pinch of flour and sugar for cake, milk carefully dripped into a smaller container, a tiny pinch of ground beef for meatballs, etc. Before filming their videos, they simply pair off tiny portions of exactly what would go into a full size recipe.

via https://www.hidden58.farm/blogs/post/Chicken-Eggs-Vs-Quail-Eggs/

There are a few items however you can buy smaller varieties of – say a cherry or grape tomato. Or lesser known, a quail egg, rather than one from a chicken, a shallot in place of a red onion.

For things like peppers, chicken breast, and the majority of other meats and vegetables, cut off slivers and shaped pieces before you begin filming, rather than including the whole large item.

The tiny food containers you see mini chefs using, they’ve likely made themselves, printing and cutting out labels from the internet, and creating the containers out of thin cardboard or cardstock.

Just a quick warning that I’ve included in my previous posts – As with any cooking, in any scale, you need to use supplies that are safe to cook with. Dollhouse miniature kitchen supplies you buy from the miniature sections of shops have a coating that will bubble and release fumes if exposed to heat. Be sure to use cookware that is uncoated metal, safe to use ceramic cookware, or uncoated cast iron. If you mini cook with the incense or antique variety that can be found in the first post listed above, the cast iron and metal accessories that come with them are made to be exposed to heat and therefore will be safe for your mini cooking.

via https://www.asweetpeachef.com/whats-the-difference-between-onions/

Here’s a chart that may help you find your small food alternatives.

Recipe Calls forSmall Alternative
Dry Baking IngredientsUse small pinches of standard items
EggQuail Egg
FishAnchovy, Sardine, and any other small, sometimes canned variety
LiquidsUse a medicine dropper to fill a small container
Meat, Cheese, Fruit & VegetablesPinch or cut off bits of full size items
MushroomsEnoki or White Beach (Shimeji)
OnionShallot (Baby or Pearl), or the tiny core of a red onion
PastaPastina, Orzo, or broken Angel Hair or rice noodles
ShrimpExtra small shrimp
TomatoGrape Tomato

Anything else you’d like added to the chart above? Let me know in a comment below and I’ll do my best to get it on the list.

The Incredible Strangeness of Welcome to Marwen

I really really wanted to like this movie. I wanted to be able to write an unpopular opinion post, stating all the good in the movie that reviewers are overlooking, and trust me I’ve read the reviews looking for a similar take to what I had hoped to write. But sadly, that imagined post is not what this is going to be. I had hoped, being a toy photographer myself, and finding the story of Mark Hogancamp very intriguing, I’d see the movie through a different lens, and maybe I did, but that lens was cloudy all the same.

I did not like Welcome to Marwen.

Spoilers for both the Marwencol documentary and Welcome to Marwen ahead.

For those of you who don’t know, Mark Hogancamp is a hate crime survivor. He made mention at a bar that he likes wearing women’s shoes, and in return got jumped from behind by 5 guys. They beat him nearly to death. He was in a coma for 9 days. When he awoke he had no memory of his prior life. He had to relearn to write, speak and walk. His state funding for medical care ran out after a short time, and he turned to a miniature world for his own version of therapy. His hands were too shaky for smaller scale models, so at the suggestion of the local hobby shop owners, he settled on 1:6 (Barbie) scale and created the fake Belgian town of Marwencol, set within WWII. Previously an alcoholic, he never drank again after the attack. I say this as a precursor, but yes, his views on women are odd. He adores them, but almost from a distance. They are different than people, better, held on a pedestal, and yet more empty. I could chalk this up to simply poor social skills relearned after the coma, but who really knows.

A man with an interest in women’s shoes, a non-remembered past, PTSD, Nazis, strange views on women, and art as therapy, and you have an incredibly interesting documentary. Add up the same, add in CGI animation, a more forward main character, and an opioid addiction, and you have a very strange plot for a feature film.

So, let’s start from the beginning. Today I went to Regal theater down the road on my own. I’m loyal to Regal because they got me to sign up for a rewards card at the mall in middle school, and for some reason that makes me like them. I went on my own because no one else wanted to go. I could have easily dragged my boyfriend along this evening, but I decided to spare him and have popcorn for lunch while he was at work.

The man at the ticket counter had to have me repeat the name of the movie.

I got into the theater at 1:17, 7 minutes past showtime. The previews were rolling and I was the only one in the room. The movie started at 1:29 and it was still just me.

Contrary to what you’ll read, Hoagie, the CGI/action figure Steve Carell, does not climb out of his crash landed plane in heels. His military issued boots burn off, he finds a woman’s luggage and thus her patent leather heels and places them on his bare feet. Practical.

You’ll also read about terrible animation, but I personally think it worked. They’re plactic GI Joes, Barbies and the like, made to look like their voice actors. Some reviewers found it creepy, I honestly think it was well done.

An employee walked in a few minutes after the movie began and I thought for a moment I’d have company, but alas, my private viewing continued.

One thing is for sure, I can completely relate to having trouble getting plastic figures to stay standing.

There are some immaculately built miniatures in this movie. The bar in itself would have cost thousands upon thousands of dollars, custom 1:6 scale figures with articulation are expensive enough. Real life Mark makes all of his scenery with plywood and the like.

Also, Nicol and her douchy ex do not exist in real life. Nicol works as a stand in for other woman in Mark’s real life, however I thought Kurt was pretty unnecessary as a dramatic plot point, as Mark already has plenty to overcome without an angry man occasionally popping in across the street and speaking in German at him.

Welcome to Marwen also fails to mention Mark’s mom, but it does include a Russian care taker, that I assume is filling that role.

Okay, so enough about the differences for the moment. My main concern with these is whether or not I would have known what was going on, had I not been familiar with the documentary to fill in the gaps. And while yes, I could have watched and followed the movie, I would have been even more confused as to why Mark and the dolls of Marwen were the way they were. The dialogue is so stunted. Mark is a broken character that I have so much sympathy for one second, and a chipper almost condescending one the next. While I don’t think they meant him as condescending, the tone of voice in which he says “Cool! Espadrille wedges. Thank you.” bothered me so much. And yet, when he’s experiencing PTSD in the hobby shop I wanted to cry for him. Steve Carell did speak with the real Mark Hogancamp as to how his disabilities effect his movement and such, but I didn’t actually get the vibe that Carell was trying to be a similar character to Mark, more his own version of someone in this situation.

So anyway, then come the jokes about tiets and sausages surrounding the story of the milk maid Hoagie rescued. The milk maid dies about 5 seconds later and thus was only there for these jokes that don’t even land. Granted I only have my own sense of humor to weigh these against, but they were, in my opinion, just super cringy.

Side note, if you don’t want to be visited by a creepy witch while you sleep, don’t put her next to your bed. Symbolism I know, but come on. If you haven’t seen the movie and that makes no sense, Deja, the witch of Marwen is a symbol for Mark’s addiction. Her hair and glove are the same color as his pills, she tells him she is the only thing that understands him. We later learn that Deja is also a Nazi spy and she is banned from Marwen. So she also seems to symbolize Mark learning to recover from his PTSD, because without Deja the Nazis stop coming back to life. Mark does not have an addiction in real life, but Deja is one of his dolls, and she is jealous. Hoagie marries her, and ends up with 2 wives, to keep the peace of Marwencol.

By 2:06 I was bored. And just after, the Barbie stand in for the hobby shop owner that has a crush on Mark gets her shirt ripped open by the Nazis. Yay doll boobs. At 2:10 the employee came back through.

Mark inevitably shows off his shoe collection to his new neighbor Nicol. Her character is odd. Again, I imagine we know her only through Mark, and thus her existence seems empty. Shes an overtly female stereotype with heels, sundresses and a teapot collection, and she gets much too distressed about a minor amount of fake blood. Mark tells her that he does not have a shoe fetish, but that he is collecting women’s essences. And I have nothing against shoe fetishes if that’s your thing, but I sure have something against the phrase “collecting women’s essence.”

At 2:28 two teenagers snuck in. They peered around at me, giggled, then quickly receded back into the hall and continued to snicker. They came back up the hall at 2:31 and ducked into side seats near the front. I wonder if the immediate gunshots, Mark watching creepy porn and PTSD screaming confused them.

At 2:50, just after Mark proposes to Nicol (so cringe, please stop), an old couple snuck in. Like I get the whole movie hopping thing, but what are you hoping to get from a movie an hour and a half after it’s started?

More doll boob humor. But I must admit, I thought Hoagie’s head spinning all the way around in the church, and then the SS soldier taking off his arm in the next scene to reach his gun were kinda funny.

The old couple left at 3:08. They only lasted 28 minutes. The teenagers stayed until the end.

Roberta, the hobby shop owner is not a person in Mark’s real life. Instead, his local hobby shop is run by a nice old couple. Roberta however, was a refreshing woman in the movie. She is real and sympathetic and not so empty like the other featured women. She clearly has a thing for Mark, and we have some hope at the end of the movie that maybe they’ll get together. At the same time Mark also gives us hope that he’s learning to separate his real life from his imagined world, as he showed us wasn’t so separate earlier in the movie.

The documentary also gives a similar hope in the final scene of Mark at his gallery show, as he has the bravery to put on his shoes of choice. Mark in Welcome to Marwen is less shy altogether about his shoes, so they had to offer him another type of growth moment.

While we aren’t told what the sentences for Mark’s attackers, seemingly Nazis, but not so in real life, are in Welcome to Marwen, I’ve read only 3 of the 5 got prison time – 1 with 9 years and 2 with 5 years each. By the time the documentary was filmed in 2010, 10 years after the attack, all the men are out of prison and out and about in the same town with Mark.

With the violent animation, PG-13 rating, dolls in lingerie/ sexual attraction to dolls, and multiple uses of boob and penis jokes, I’ve come to the conclusion that this movie was never intended for families or children. That’s all well and good, but honestly it only seems that a few select instagram toy brotographers would laugh at the oddly placed jokes and what a niche group that is to make a movie for.

This and the documentary of the same story are intimate looks at the inner workings of a broken man. And I give the film makers credit for taking on such a task. So overall, sure, still see the movie. But, go into it to see what a stunning confusing mess it is, not to learn about Mark Hogancamp’s true, inspiring story. You can instead rent the documentary on itunes here.

What a weird movie.

Have you seen either Welcome to Marwen or Marwencol? What are your thoughts?

A Delightfully Cute Dollhouse Line

I’ve found just about the cutest dollhouse line. I have no interest in it photography wise, but my goodness it’s cute.

HABA is a German company that’s been in business for 80 years. Their US operation is based in New York and their toys are manufactured in Germany and Asia.

Little Friends is one of HABA’s toy lines. The dolls are a bendable plastic, and their environments and accessories are made of wood and fabric.

Their buildings are simplistic but whimsical, and because of their simplicity, run much less expensive than the typical dollhouse.

This Homestead Farm for example is $29.99.

I really have nothing of depth to say here, just wanted you all to join in on the cuteness. Also, wouldn’t this make a great wedding cake topper?

Learn more, or buy some stuff here. This is not a sponsored post, I’m just enamored. 

3 Christmas Toy Catalogs that brought back all my Nostalgia

Is anyone else here nostalgic for printed toy catalogs?

I’m talking about this way too late for it to be useful for your gift buying this year, but I wanted to talk about it anyway :P

I was a kid in the 90s and early 2000s. I remember fervently looking through the toy section of the JC Penny’s catalog, dog-earing pages and even cutting out the pictures of the best toys and placing them in my view binder cover. It was a very special binder that held floppy disks of my Crayola Make a Masterpiece digital drawings and print outs of some of those same drawings, and then on the cover were mini cabbage patch dolls that Santa never got around to bringing me.

When I’ve talked about this to peers as of late, they nostalgically mention the Toys R Us toy catalog, but for some reason I don’t remember that one as well.

This joy at pictures of tiny things I could maybe own didn’t stop at Christmas toy catalogs though. The Dollshouse Emporium used to produce printed catalogs. Each category featured a room display with letters corresponding to that item’s product listing. The little dollhouse scenes with ornate furniture, and toys for the toys told me stories and I longed for every piece. They were exponentially out of my price range however, so I just enjoyed their 2-D counterparts. I ordered a catalog to fill this void, but that will be for another post :P

In attempting to fill the void that Toys R Us left, other retailers decided to release printed versions of their toy offerings this year. Of course Toys R Us says they’re coming back, and KB Toys said they’d be back by this coming Christmas, but it doesn’t seem those things are coming to light yet.

However, Target, Walmart and Amazon all released printed versions of their catalogs this year. Worse for the environment I have to admit, but I was also stoked about it. Amazon left me off their mailing list, I tried to call them out on twitter (I’ve bought plenty of toys from them this past years, I mean we bought an LOL Surprise house, what more do they need?), but to no avail. Target did send me theirs though (shout out to Target, although it was addressed to an Ashley, but at my address). And all three can be found and perused online.

Click on each catalog cover to be taken to that specific digital catalog.

Organizing

I have more props than I should. But, as I don’t ever settle on a scale, I have to have items for every scale. These have been collected since childhood really, and added to as necessary for different photo series along the way. 

But overtime, I’ve had things piled in bags, bins, etc. and just shoved under my art table. Good organization is expensive. I’ll put it this way, my art tables are plastic folding tables – good for easy clean up of paint and such, but not so good for hiding what resides beneath them.

After having the hardest time finding what I was looking for when planning on making some photos the other afternoon, I’d had enough. And in my ever constant state of wanting to organize as cheaply as possible, I was off to the Dollar Tree to buy some plastic bins. 

I organized everything that would fit by scale in the bins and labeled each to match. I have a nail drawer organized for smaller items, but that didn’t come into play too much here. 

The bins now occupy a space on the bookshelf, so maybe this isn’t the end all be all, but it sure makes my life easier for now. 

Before:

During:

After:

Have you done any organizing lately? I’d love to know your art supply organizing methods especially.

18 Best Chrome Extensions for Blog & Email Marketing

This is a sponsored post.

So as all of us WordPress users have learned, from the switch from one post editor format to another over the years, Google Chrome extensions can come in clutch and help ease that transition (Tapper monkey in 2015 anyone?).

Well, if you hadn’t noticed already, Chrome extensions can help with so much more than that! From organizing your busy life, reminding you when to post, allowing you to open multiple links at once, giving writing suggestions, tracking your analytics, and the list goes on. Seriously just saving you from so much headache.

I wish I had known about these sooner. There are so many times I’ve forgotten to schedule a post, or I’m researching a post that will require a bunch of citations and references, and extensions like ToDoist, Evernote and Liner would have been so helpful. Also, now that I’ve switched website URLs, I have so many broken blog links, so I’ll leave you to read the below list, while I go use Check My Links!

So, today I bring you 18 Chrome extensions to help you out with your blog, email marketing, and your online life in general as compiled by Lane Harbin of Emma.

1. ToDoist

ToDoist is your ultimate solution for online organization. It integrates well with over ten platforms, allowing you to manage tasks, save items, and collaborate seamlessly from your browser.

best chrome extensions for marketers

Pinterest | Buzzfeed

2. Switcher Extension Manager

You’ll need a way to easily manage all these extensions, right? That’s what Switcher is for.

3. Linkclump

Who has time to open or bookmark one link at a time? Linkclump lets you open, copy, or bookmark multiple links from your search results with one easy effort.

best chrome extensions for marketers

Pinterest | MakeUseOf

4. Bookmark Manager by Papaly

This bookmark manager from Papaly has a beautiful interface for organizing (and actually using) all of those saved links. Plus, you can use it to collaborate.

Best Chrome Extensions for Marketers: Writing and Copy

Make your writing flow smoothly with minimal effort and mistakes.

5. Grammarly

Even if you’re a writing veteran, Grammarly is perfect for avoiding an embarrassing faux pas. Plus, it works for almost any platform, including social media posts.

6. Orwell

Our writing gets stale sometimes. It happens. But Orwell is ideal for freshening things up with composition suggestions and other cool features.

best chrome extensions for marketers

Pinterest | Business2Community

7. Evernote Web Clipper

Evernote Web Clipper seamlessly integrates with your Evernote account to save things you see online: link articles, Gmail threads, highlighted text, bookmarks, and more. You can also add your own comments and assign tasks to others.

8. Airstory

If your writing involves a lot of research-heavy material or quotes, you need Airstory in your life. This extension allows you to easily highlight and insert text and citations into your copy.

browser extensions chrome

Medium | Sam Liebl

9. Liner

Do you miss using highlighters in your reading? Well, Liner is for you. You can pick different colors and the highlighted text will reappear every time you open the webpage.

Best Chrome extensions for marketers: analytics

These are the best Chrome extensions for marketers to track analytics and results.

10. Google Page Analytics

How could we write about the best Chrome extensions for marketers without mentioning Google Page Analytics? This is a must-have in 2018 (and maybe always).

11. LiveHive Email Content Tracking & Analytics

LiveHive is the perfect extension for tracking and optimizing your email communications–especially for anything relating to sales–with templates, analytics, sequencing, and automated responses.

browser extensions chrome

LiveHive.com

Best Chrome extensions for marketers: SEO

Level-up your SEO game with these extensions.

12. Keywords Everywhere

The name says it all: Keywords Everywhere lets you browse search volume and other data across multiple websites, all from the extension.

13. Check My Links

Who has time to sort through every website they manage and track broken links? That’s exactly what Check My Links is for: it does the work, so you don’t have to.

browser extensions chrome

Pinterest | BrandThunder

Best Chrome extensions for marketers: social media

Simplify your social media marketing efforts with these extensions.

14. Momentum

Momentum allows you to customize your new tab page with social media widgets. This allows you to schedule your posts quickly and easily.

get more extensions - social media chrome extension

Pinterest | Zapier

15. RiteTag Social Media Optimizer

Hashtags are a perfect way to get your brand seen, but it’s difficult to know which ones are trending. RiteTag can eliminate the guesswork with hashtag suggestions across multiple platforms.

social media chrome extension

Pinterest | DigitalBrandingInstitute

16. Buzzsumo

Content marketing giant Buzzsumo offers one of the best Chrome extensions for marketers to track social shares, analytics, and other information from every page you visit.

SEO Chrome extensions

Pinterest | Social Media Examiner

Best Chrome extensions for marketers: design and images

These are the best Chrome extensions for marketers, especially those who need help with design and images.

17. Nimbus

Screenshotting is rough on every device. There are plenty of limitations when screenshotting, but Nimbus makes it easy to capture full-page screenshots, sections, and even add watermarks.

best chrome extensions for marketers

Pinterest | Bergman.udl.blogspot

18. Colorzilla

Do you miss the eyedropper in MS Paint that allowed you to grab any color you want from an image? That’s what Colorzilla is, only for the entire internet.

best chrome extensions for marketers

Pinterest | FreeTechForTeachers

Wrap up

Spending hours a day on the internet doesn’t have to be a headache, especially once you’ve streamlined your processes. These Chrome extensions are the perfect solution to keep your life as stress-free as possible and optimize your productivity.

What Chrome extensions would you add to this list? And let me know which ones here you end up adding to your online routine.

For more marketing help, make sure to check out Emma’s email marketing platform and resources! Discover more Chrome extensions here.

Making it Grey

I have these moments off and on, when I’m working on a new series and I think to myself – “this is it, this will be my best work, this is my niche,” or something of the sort. The fact that I’ve had similar thoughts multiple times means maybe I was wrong, or maybe there’s never a perfect ah ha moment. But in any case, I thought it’d be interesting to look at the series of works where I’ve had these elated moments, and compare what they each have in common, and what they separately bring to the table.

Headlights

This began as a fully black and white series, and is a much larger series than what I’ve chosen to include here. I’ve come to however like the red break lights shining through in some of these. All in all this series is a voyeuristic take on the mysterious film noir look, made with HO scale (2cm tall) figures and accessories and lit entirely by electric miniature car headlights.

Miniature Architecture Studies

These are simply dimly lit grainy close ups of tiny buildings, both HO and N scale. They also have a noir feel, and although there is an absence of people, the constant window views have a voyeuristic aesthetic. 

I have played with these themes in color imagery as well, and it seems to be a shooting style I return to when taking an experimental approach. I normally plan out what I shoot, but little buildings seem to strike a different kind of inspiration.

Monochrome

This is a series that is still in progress. I’ve been working on it since around June, and have a good bit more planned (at least at the time of writing this). It again is black and white. This could still be considered a voyeuristic look as we are seeing an intimate portrait of a life, but it has a different feel. The camera is closer, and sees fully inside the house without the need for shadowy environments or window shots. While a different approach, and I could simply consider it a progression of my work, I more think this is simply a different way to show an intimate portrait. The woman walking along the road in the headlights glow above is simply going about her life as well, we just never really know what’s fully going on in other people’s lives, in their heads, and I’d like to think while the Headlights images allow the viewer to imagine what’s happening in the pictured figure’s life, the Monochrome images allow the viewer to relate and insert their own experiences into the life of the pictured figure.

So, desaturated narratives. Maybe that’s my niche.

What’s yours?