Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Inspirations

Hello everyone!

It has definitely a while since I posted here. I feel bad I didn't get a chance to finish the Betty's trip to Hong Kong series, mainly because my computer is in bad need of replacement and I couldn't get around to do it yet. If my computer dies at any moment I would lose all those precious pictures, and then I could not write anything about it! That would be no good. I am waiting until my computer is at least stable so I can work on that project some more.

Anyway, I can't wait to show you my latest loot from Japan:





Yep, that is right! These are the books from Tomo Tanaka, also known as Nunu's house!

Here is main page: http://www.geocities.jp/koapin1225/
Here is his blog: http://koapin.blog61.fc2.com/

I got the air dry clay ready to go, but I am doing a lot of pattern work and sewing these days, so I don't know when I will get to it. However, miniatures is still in my blood apparently because I picked these books up. I saw that Angie Scarr will have a 3rd book out. I am not sure if I would get that book because I am not really going into polymer clay at the moment, but I have a lot of polymer clay left.

I am sad that there are lots of miniaturists that left the blog world. It was nice to see their work but I can understand why they stopped. After all I stopped myself and have to find my way back to blogland slowly with some determination.

Life is just full of mysteries at the moment. We might as well enjoy it.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Part 2: To Macau!

Hello everyone!

Happy New Year of the Horse everyone! To all who can read this: 恭喜發財! 新年快樂! 希望今年大家會心想事成, 龍馬精神, 萬事如意, 馬到成功。I hope part 1 of the trip at least looks somewhat interesting to you. I purposefully left most of the food we ate out. Food deserves its own post from all the places. More on that later.



So the second destination that we went to is Macau. Macau is a very cool place in my book because Macau is a Portuguese colony! Not Spanish, not British, but Portuguese. It is the only colony Asian colony Portugal has. That means it has a very different feel from either Hong Kong which was a British or the mainland China. From Hong Kong you can only reach to Macau by boat like this, which is a jet propelled boat.

The ride itself takes an hour or so, but I fell asleep halfway through anyway. :P



... and here are my lovely hosts. This is my dad's oldest friend and his wife. He is from my ancestral village but moved to Macau to live for many years. My dad and this friend has 60+ years of friendship! I wish I have friends this long!

So my history with Macau when I was a little girl: my uncle (my mother's older brother) used to divide his work in Macau and Hong Kong as a doctor, so we go there a lot. Macau had changed so much I don't recognize it.



Macau is now a very fast changing city. Because of Macau's sovereignty as a Portuguese colony it is known as my host uncle would say, "the sofa district". It has always been known as a place where people gamble, smoke their crack pipes, and of course visit prostitutes. Now that is back in China's hands in 1999, it is quickly turning into a powerhouse of International powers wanting to profit from Macau's interesting history and laws. Most of Macau still looks kind of poor like above, BUT for the people who sold their now very profitable land it Macau is now very quickly turning into a land of casinos, which I am kind of disappointed at actually.



Parts of Macau actually looks more like Las Vegas, with more crazy buses arriving daily for the crazy mainland Chinese to come gamble.



I just had to take this ironic picture. We were on top of the Macau mountain and for some reason the cannon was facing just at the right place to aim at one of the most prominent casinos in Macau: The Grand Lisbon. There is actually 2 Grand Lisbons side by side of each other, both owned by the same guy! Let's just say the inside of the casinos both looked like the inside of Planet Hollywood or Hard Rock Cafe in displaying exhorbent amount of wealth accumulated by their gamblers over the years.

As I said, there are many other casinos opening that are similar to the ones at Las Vegas and I do not find those interesting at all.



We even have time to crash into a Macau University graduation! My dad's friend's youngest son has a degree in Japanese (one of the degrees that I would love to have!) And it just happened to be that day. The whole family (and girlfriend/wife) attended.



I hope our time in Macau is entertaining to read at least. At this shot we are literally in "Macau", meaning we are in the A-Ma temple, which is where the Portuguese first landed and then named the area "Macau".

I wish I can upload the pictures faster sometimes.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Part 1 of my trip: Returning to my birthplace Hong Kong

Hello everyone!



Sorry this took so long to post! My husband and I took 8,200 photos! Of course there is some of that. I am glad I have it, but don't worry, I will only show you a small portion of those photos. For some strange reason the photos are not syncing with my computer. Gah! One of my New Year's goals is to get a new computer. Until then, I have to deal with all the weird hiccups my ancient computer has.

So... on Thanksgiving week I dragged my husband to Hong Kong with me. I have to say I got us there by the culinary industry. I kind of wish I got there by selling art, but I will return there again, so... don't doubt myself so fast!



This is the first thing I saw when I exited the airport. Christmas is already in the air there when I arrived. Considering that even US stores didn't put their Christmas trees up it was a surprise for me.

Anyway, I spent the first part of my vacation in Hong Kong, mainly looking for family and friends to hang out. I have to say I spent every night eating with someone different! :D That is how a vacation should be! We spent a week or so in Hong Kong, so we did quite a lot of exploring (and sitting in the MTR there going places.)

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Unfortunately (or fortunately if you are my husband) the first meal I ate was McDonalds! We stayed by the airport for the first 2 days. We did venture out to see different things but when my husband's stomach cannot literally "stomach" Hong Kong food or Hong Kong's version of western food we return to McDonalds to eat. I seriously do not want to eat McDonalds again, at least for a while. I will give credit though: McDonalds have decent food overseas. If you live in the US where McDonalds is originally from, forget it! Their food sucks, and there is no way their coffee will live up their name either.

Did I mention I have a huge family? Here are pics of some of my family that is in Hong Kong. The only family that are in the US are my parents. The rest of my family is all in Hong Kong or in China. I miss them all terribly.








As far as sightseeing, I did sightseeing, but it is not what you think. I visited places like temples and take lots of pictures of daily life of Hong Kong (courtesy of my husband). He find those things more interesting than just going to do the regular touristy things in Hong Kong, which we also did.

Here are a few more Hong Kong pictures. This place is all about the skyscrapers.







Here is praying to a fabulous 2014! Next stop: Macau!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Between worlds

Hi everyone!

As I quietly resurrect Live Mini in the background I would like to share a rather personal journey with you all. If you are new to Live Mini I think this will be the new starting point. If you do read my blog before, all previous entries will be deleted. All gained miniature knowledge will be reworked in some way so people can refer to it later. Hang with me while I do this.

So a little about myself before I reboot everything:

My name is Betty and I am in between worlds.

What does that mean exactly? It means that I am an immigrant. I was born in Hong Kong. I came to the United States when I was 6. I grew up in San Francisco, CA. It is a good in between place for me because of the Chinese community. For that, I will never be far from San Francisco. San Francisco will always be to me my hometown in my mind, not Hong Kong.

But because I am an immigrant living in between worlds, it has been hard for me to assimilate into American culture nor am I fully in the Chinese culture. It is an age old problem that many immigrants face. How I deal with it is my own life story. I might have grown up here and even married an American myself, but there are many bits of my life that is missing that can never be filled. For example, there are many references of children stories both American and Chinese that I will never know. I get irritated every time my family, both my biological AND my in-laws, would bring up references of things that they think I should know and it would turn up into a blank in my mind.

To answer some of these questions, I went back to my birthplace for a while: Hong Kong at the end of November 2013 to the New Year.

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... and that is the beginning of my story back into the world of miniatures. ;)

It has been 9 years now since I started Live Mini back in 2005. I want 2014 to be filled with interesting memories, artwork, and even a few surprises. To be honest with you, I thought I would never see Live Mini again. In the end, I cannot leave it. It is a part of who I am. I want to start off the New Year telling this story hoping it would inspire you that it is not bad to be in between worlds, and sometimes in between worlds would even help.

Hang in there, Betty.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

Hi everyone!

It has been a long time coming for me to post here and I am glad I can finally could!

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year! I know it is a bit late for that, but I just got back from vacation and I am still jet lagged from it.

2013 overall was not exactly a great year, but towards the end I think I found my purpose to make art again, and for me that is a big thing. I will post a mini story later.

I want to be able to go back to making art like I used to, as well as helping others make art as well. That would be my goal for 2014.

With that in mind, I hope to see you in 2014 and grow together!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How to make your own silicone cream

Hello everyone!

This is a subjective matter that Pei Li brought up on her blog. Instead of writing a comment on her blog I would write my own thoughts on silicone here.

If you like the Japanese silicone creams you might want to pay attention.

Now I have used many kinds of materials in my day, from clay to resin. I do not claim to use everything out in the market. This is more of my observance on what is becoming more and more in the deco sweets/miniature market: silicone cream for wet looking cream.
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About silicone cream

Before yelling "but you haven't made any work in months" I have been working with my dad building houses as long as I can remember. I did look into buying silicone cream at one point to try it out. I actually worked with "silicone cream" just the other day caulking up the cracks off my bathroom. That was kind of my moment in sparking this debate. Seeing Pei Li's blog of what it looks like when dried confirmed it for me.

That type of silicone that you guys are seeing/using for the cream resemble caulking that is colored differently. Around here because there are so many people who does weird bathroom tiles in houses, you can actually find silicone in pale pinks, greens, etc for basically like $8 a caulking tube in the hardware store.

Heck, you can even find them online if you want to pay for shipping! Just type colored caulk to find a location near you.

If you cannot find the color you want, you can even color the clear ones with acrylic paint. There are whole forums dedicated to coloring silicone and making molds out of them. (This is where I got the idea of writing this from except with a different purpose.)

Of course, it will dry out eventually but it is not the end of the world if it dries out for a hardware store size tube compared to the little tiny tubes/tubs that the Japanese sells with the extra shipping from foreign countries.
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So how do you choose which one to buy/make?

Well like all silicone products it has shiny, matte, and semi-matte depending on your taste in bathroom or kitchen caulking or in this case, deco sweets/miniature decorating.

Edit: Now it is daylight and I can see the package more clearly, For people who live in the United States, This is the silicone caulking I experimented with: GE Premium Waterproof Silicone Silicone II* Clear. It comes in a RED and white tube and it can be very easily found in the caulking aisle. This particular tube I have is 290mL.

There is also another one recommended called GE Silicone 100% Silicone Rubber Sealant Clear that you can try. Since I do not have it on hand I cannot say which one is cheaper.

What do you need?

You need (Pics will come later):

- 1 tube of clear 100% silicone rubber caulking

Caulking in the US comes in 2 sizes: a small one and a big one. The big one is 290mL.

- 1 caulking gun (make sure to buy the right gun for the job. The cheapest one is NOT it, buy the next cheapest one. It should have a needle on it for poking into the caulking bottle directly.)

- 1 small nail (to seal the hole of the caulking later)

- acrylic paint of your choice and color

- piping bag or ziploc bag

- cake tip coupler

- cake tip of your choice

- gloves

- plastic cups to mix up the silicone

- metal spoon or plastic spoon (wood is probably not the best for this)

To open one of these tubes, take a pair of scissors to cut open the tube. Then afterwards, *most* every caulking gun has a needle to puncture the inside of the package of caulk. The reason why I put stars around *most* is because some caulking guns DO NOT have the needle. Don't get that one. You will want to return it. Then put the caulking tube into the caulking gun. There is a plunger in the end that would push the caulk up to the surface.

If you mix the colors yourself how long does it last? I unfortunately cannot answer that question with a straight answer. There are many types of caulking out there. Caulking in itself have fast drying varieties, which can take hours and then the regular, cheap stuff takes overnight to a day to dry. It really depends on which caulking you decide to buy.

If you extract it from the caulking gun the silicone on the caulking gun itself will probably last longer because it has a tighter seal. You can plug the hole on top of the caulking gun with a nail of the hole size. That is where the nail comes in. Even then you can have the silicone eventually dry out in there but it will dry out at a slower pace than just leaving it out in the open.

After you get the amount of silicone you want, add the acrylic paint directly to the silicone before it dries out. The silicone will absorb the colors and will mix well together.

Once you get the color you wanted, just simply use a piping bag (or plastic ziploc bag), a coupler, and the cake tips of your choice to pipe the newly made silicone cream to your creations.

Be forewarned to clean up immediately after you are done. You do not want the silicone to set in any way or it will become a pain to clean up after it sets up, especially in your pastry tubes! Simply use your finger or any tool to just clean up as much of the silicone as fast as possible. If some of them does dry on your tools, use an x-acto knife to carefully scrape it out later.

Also I forgot the smells. Silicone from the bottle definitely has an odor. Be careful not to breathe in too deeply.

Note to all as well: Do NOT wash silicone down the drain! You can clog the drain as it dries in bits and pieces. You do not want to do that. Just do it with a pan of water if necessary and throw the water out somewhere else besides a drain.

How do you get it shiny? It is not as shiny as I am used to.

Again, this really depends on the kind of silicone you buy. If it is not shiny enough for your liking, you can paint or spray on gloss directly on the silicone caulking.
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... and here is my result!


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So here I introduced it: how to make your own silicone cream for your own use at home without the heartache of spending a lot of money on a little tub/tube from Japan! As much as I love Japan, this is really something you can do at home at a low cost.

I am not attacking silicone cream from Japan! It is a fine product! If you have it use it! This is simply a tutorial for the future when you finally run out of the tube or it dried out in the container that there is an alternative, an alternative that can be made cheaply at home from the hardware store with some paint.

I hope this helps you in any way.

If you have questions, ask away!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Something personal

Hello everyone!

I do have something personal to share.

My father is going to have brain surgery soon. He has a tumor in his brain the size of a machine gumball inside his head. They found it a year ago. My dad thought it would not grow. Unfortunately, it did get bigger, so he will have a major surgery in mid June. The surgery is intense, but the recovery rate is high.

Please pray for me while I take care of my family. I will be making my father a pair of socks and a hat to keep his head safe and feet warm while he recovers. I will post progress of hat + socks, both items I never made before. I will promise to take a picture when I am done. :)

Again, for those lone readers out there who reads this blog, thank you for continuing to read my blog and I will see you soon!