Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Noir in Miniature

The Starlet Bungalow in black and white. Is it just me, or does a grayscale color scheme add drama?

In the absence of color, I could swear these pictures tell a story I sure didn't make up. This picture makes me imagine Lydia moodily staring back at her own reflection while removing her makeup, contemplating fame.

Coffee table chaos: the signed photos (she'll have to do more later), the scripts to read, the pithy trade papers, the highly coveted award...and to what end? Is that all there is?

I barely even notice the SAG card in this picture because the keys dominate the image - even the tiara looks like an afterthought. Why is Lydia staying at the famously discreet Chateau Marmont? Is she secretly shacking up with an illicit lover, conducting secret business deals away from prying eyes, or merely getting away from autograph hounds for a few days?

More moodiness. The empty couch almost seems to imply that someone else should be in the bungalow with Lydia. Or perhaps the couch is vacant because our star can't stop pacing the floor? (Come to think of it, the carpet looks rather lumpy in this picture, even though it isn't in real life. Has Lydia "swept something under the rug", so to speak?)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Shipping minis this holiday season?

Sender (and recipient) beware...according to a UPS truck loader, there are quite a few ways for things to go wrong. (Warning: strong language and some adult content. Possibly NSFW.) Prepare for the worst, miniaturists!

And it gets worse: according to an experiment performed by Popular Mechanics, items marked "fragile" seem to be singled out for MORE abuse. (Ugh, what is WRONG with people?)

I am especially shocked that Popular Mechanics rated the US Postal Service gentler than FedEx or UPS, since I've had more than a few mailed parcels arrive smashed, with broken items audibly rolling around inside, or simply looking as though they'd been used for baseball practice. When I've had miniatures arrive broken, guess what - all shipped by USPS from within the USA. (Curiously, I've never had anything mailed from overseas get damaged in transit...)

Anyway, to cut a long story short - if I ever need to ship miniatures, I'm shipping them in one of those cheap hard-sided coolers...inside a big wooden crate...and if necessary, I'll tuck the crate inside an old Volvo wrapped in a couple miles of bubble wrap and ship that via truck!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

All Right, Mr. DeMille, I'm Ready For My Closeup: Spring Fling 2013

Hollywood, California, 1956.

Lydia Lang, a luminous, curvy brunette, is finally a star. This is a peek into her private sanctuary, which I call "The Starlet Bungalow".

"Hollywood" and "bungalows" go together like "California" and "sunshine". Bungalows have been used on studio backlots for decades - mostly as offices and dressing rooms (although Warner Brothers' former animation building, known as Termite Terrace, was basically a bungalow the size of an airplane hangar). Some are in use to this day (Disney Studios famously preserve and use their fabled "Hyperion Bungalow", moved to its current home from the studio's original location).

Although trailers were certainly in use by 1956, it wasn't unusual for big stars to have their own bungalows (an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour even shows an actress taking refuge in the privacy of her backlot bungalow). Lydia finally got her own.

I watched Sunset Boulevard, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (R.K. Maroon had THE coolest office), and - my favorite - The Artist for visual inspiration. The porch railings are based on the porch railings outside George Valentin's dressing room. I made them out of 1/4" basswood strips and love the way they turned out.

There is a topiary hedge on one side of the bungalow, inspired by the whimsical topiaries seen to this day at Fox Studios. I didn't have the skill to do anything too fussy here, so I drew inspiration from a hedge that has neatly trimmed comedy-and-tragedy masks. Rather than copy Fox's hedge directly, this is meant to be a Walk of Fame star.

Rumored to be the secret daughter of Greta Garbo and Leopold Stokowski (she is actually the daughter of a USC professor and a research assistant), Lydia has played priestesses, queens, spies, revolutionaries - she thrives in roles that add to her otherworldly air. Last night, she took home an Oscar for her starring role as Queen Christina of Sweden. Flowers from the studio's top brass have begun to arrive.

I also took inspiration from Cecil B. DeMille's re-created office at the Hollywood Heritage Museum - it has a door with a window (and green pull-down shades), so I took the door off of my 2012 Spring Fling and swapped it for the kit door (a plain slab door is better suited to the previous Fling anyway). Really, a star should be able to see who's at her door before opening it!

This vanity was the first thing I made for the Fling, and I'm glad it was - it's the trickiest thing I've ever done in miniature! The bulbs are real and do light up, although I couldn't get a picture of it without serious glare. Vanity tray is by Patsy-Mac, brush/comb/mirror are from Dolls House Emporium.

Of COURSE Lydia has a chair (from Minimum World) with her name on it! (Such a chair would actually be used on-set, so please humor me by pretending she's re-using a chair from her first big picture.)

The dressing screen is from a McQueenie Miniatures kit. The costume is for Lydia's current project, an as-yet-untitled drama set in 1830s California.

The bookcase is a modified House of Miniatures open-top cabinet, filled with film canisters (actually miniature "biscuit tins" from SP Miniatures with my own labels), scripts and books, a rotary phone (originally a pin), and the fixings for a mid-afternoon cocktail (hey, it's 1956, and even Mr. DeMille kept booze in his office) - gin and tonics by Caroline McVicker, tray by Pete Acquisto, syphon by Glasscraft. The "gin decanter" was originally a tiny perfume-bottle pendant.

Four pictures of "Lydia". The young woman in the pictures wasn't famous, but she reminded many of her friends and relatives of old-school movie stars - polished, sharp, and always dressed to the hilt.

Close-up of Lydia's coffee table (another House of Miniatures kit), with a tiny Academy Award (made by Treefeathers), copies of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, a stack of autographed glossy pictures (I signed them all with a .005 tip pen!), and an open script. (I may have gone a little detail-mad here: even though the text is WAY too small to be readable, I shrank down and printed out a script page from Sunset Boulevard. The two-column format seen here, not standard for screenplays, was used in this case because the film is narrated from beginning to end.)

If you are unfamiliar with Variety (which you probably are), I recommend the Warner siblings' witty take on the trade paper.

Overall view of the seating area. I hope someone takes the time to notice that the window shades have pull cords with covered rings on the ends (I used quilting thread for the cords because it's heavier and tends to hang straighter than all-purpose thread). The sofa is yet another House of Miniatures kit.

Overall interior view. Do note the ceiling beams (and the poster for Queen Christina on the far right).

Loaned tiara (actually a ring) with a Screen Actor's Guild card (Marilyn Monroe's - I couldn't find a blank one) and a set of keys for a room at the fabled Chateau Marmont - where Hollywood goes to misbehave. (What? Lydia's house is being painted...really...)

Another angle.

If you were wondering how I got the background to look so realistic...that's because it's real. I wasn't sure I could paint a realistic backdrop (but if I had, the Hollywood sign would have been on it).

I don't expect to place in the contest, but I am very happy with how this build turned out!

(Disclaimer: Lydia Lang didn't really exist, and the 1956 Best Actress Oscar actually went to the late, great Anna Magnani for The Rose Tattoo - another classic movie worth watching.)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Some time ago, I showed a glimpse of this room box, meant specifically to hold a Halloween party scene. It's going to be a work-in-progress for a while as I slowly collect autumn/Halloween miniatures I like.

The ceiling rose and fireplace are Unique Miniatures. The dentil moulding is from Houseworks. I made the paneling by combining Houseworks chair rails and baseboards with basswood. The "paintings" are tiny copies of Black Apple prints, and the silhouettes are scaled-down copies of souvenir silhouettes from Disneyland (look closely - that's Tim Burton's Sally on the left and Jack Skellington, in "Sandy Claws" hat and beard on the right). It's hard to see the fireback, but it's by Romney Miniatures.

A closer look. Chairs are House of Miniatures upholstered in vintage (1970s?) fabric found in my grandmother's stash (a very lucky find; it's the perfect shade of poison green and has a subtle watermark-satin texture). The table and bench are from a now-defunct Etsy seller.

The mantel. Pumpkin crate and anvil survived my childhood dollhouse (I know the anvil doesn't really belong here but I have nowhere better to put it yet). Candles and jack-o-lantern were made by Pixie Dust Miniatures.

This kitten and mouse lived in my childhood dollhouse. Also shows a nice glimpse of the table's barley-twist legs!

Closer shot of the food on the table. Cake stand and plates are from A Lavender Dilly (again, look closely - Jack Skellington is on those plates!), candy jars are Lola Originals, "poison apple" cocktails are by Carolyn McVicker, and the cake and chocolate bats are by Hummingbird Miniatures.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Upstairs Construction

Welcome, new followers! Please excuse my construction dust, glue globs, and wiring channels...I will be moving soon, so I might not be able to make much progress on the house beyond this point for the next month or so. (John, if you're reading this: you think your unfinished room box looked "rustic"? If it weren't for wood putty, plaster, and miniature moldings - to cover up all the holes, gaps, and clumsy cutting - I would never get any of my mini settings to look remotely realistic.)

The upstairs is a plain, glue-stained plywood shell for now, but this should give some idea of the layout.

Master bedroom (with walk-in closet...yes, I decided this house had to have a closet somewhere):

(I swear it's bigger than it looks, even though I carved out closet space!)

In between the bedrooms is a tiny, not-yet-finished bathroom. Since this is supposed to be a 1920s house that saw some "updates" circa 1962, I decided to turn the "midcentury pink bathroom" thing on its ear by giving the bathroom hot pink walls (the floor tile is identical to that of the kitchen and is meant to suggest original tile from the '20s).

Last but not least, the second bedroom (this will be a bedroom/playroom for a little girl):

There likely won't be any updates on the house's construction for several weeks, but I will still be posting pictures of my Spring Fling after the winners are announced. (That's going to be a long post...I went a little bit crazy with the details!)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Spring Fling Teaser #2

First of I the only person who suddenly can't post comments on blogs? It's been going on for days and it's really driving me crazy. Rest assured that if I'm following your blog, I've been keeping up and like your work.

That said...

I finally did it.

I took pictures of my completed Spring Fling, chose three, and sent them to Greenleaf.

I don't harbor any illusions about winning (there are some incredible miniaturists out there who are sure to beat me by a pretty wide margin), but I've had a similar project in mind for years, and this gave me the kick in the behind I needed to finally do it.

I will post all of the pictures, and the inspiration behind my build, when the winners are announced. For now, have fun trying to figure out how the heck THIS could possibly relate to the previous clue:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 3: Master Bedroom

Last "birthday" post, I promise.

Looking through minisx2's sold items, I fell in love with this Paul McCobb bedroom set, and had to have it (in cherry). Now I just need to accessorize it. (The bedspread won't actually be green; I just grabbed a batik swatch I had on hand for the picture.)

I'm currently working on building the upper floor of the house, and should be able to take some progress pictures soon.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me: Part 2

As mentioned in my last post, I got an Etsy gift card for my birthday, and commissioned some midcentury furniture from Patie at minisx2. Besides the record cabinet and a few pieces detailed in the next post, I really, really wanted my imaginary occupants to have a couple of Heywood-Wakefield pieces.

Heywood-Wakefield is an East Coast company. However, its clean, Streamline Moderne lines and light finishes pair beautifully with sun-filled California homes and midcentury modern anything (and it reminds me of one of my favorite antique stores). I asked Patie if she could make an X-base coffee table and a 1534 dresser - thankfully, she was game, and they look exactly like their real-life counterparts.

I couldn't resist trying out a living room setup. (The bungalow is undergoing some dusty construction right now, and I don't own a light box. These scenes were photographed using the top of my record player for the "floor" and a vintage barkcloth skirt wrapped around a board for the "wall.") Here, you can see the X-base table and record cabinet, along with the scratch-built sofa and Eames chairs.

The dresser is destined for a little girl's bedroom (I haven't assembled the bed yet). The Lundby-esque dollhouse was scratch built, the VW Beetle is a Micro Machines car my little brother gave me for my childhood dollhouse circa 1994, the Snow White doll is by Ethel Hicks, and the Bad Badtz-Maru t-shirt peeking out of the drawer was an incredibly lucky gift-with-purchase at the Sanrio flagship store in San Francisco in 1998 (it's scaled a bit big for a child, so I might put it in the master bedroom).

Next time: the master bedroom set.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 1

My birthday's actually in two weeks, but since I got my present early, I thought I'd start sharing my wonderful, wonderful haul.

My whole family chipped in for an Etsy gift card, so I contacted Patie at minisx2 with several requests. She did an amazing job with every single piece and was wonderful to work with. I will definitely be back when I need midcentury-ish furniture again.

First, there was the matter of my half-furnished living room. I had to have a midcentury record cabinet with angled legs - and here it is, displayed on my real-life turntable to show the scale.

I'm aware of the poor quality of these photos (I was so excited I snapped them as fast as I could with no concern for the lighting), but I hope my dear readers notice Patie even painted the feet to look like brass.

The cabinet doors slide effortlessly, and there are even dividers inside! Now I just have to fill it with miniature records.

Stay tuned...there's more to come.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fruit Crates

Most people don't realize this, but California is an agrarian powerhouse. If you live in the States and have canned tomatoes in your pantry, there's a good chance they're from Sacramento. If you have a jar of applesauce in the refrigerator, it probably came from Sebastopol. California is the only US state that commercially grows almonds, and one of the few that produces rice and olive oil.

In the early to mid 20th century, more and more California produce was shipped to other states, with growers realizing that labeling their crates was an easy way to advertise (those of you who've read Steinbeck may recall Adam Trask's failed attempt to ship Salinas Valley lettuce back East). The labels gradually became fancier and more colorful (the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica had an exhibit on fruit crate labels in 2005). I used a real vintage "Sebastopol Apples" crate as the model for these crates. They'll be scattered in and around the house, serving various practical storage purposes.

Incidentally, my 1:1 crate was used as shelving in Acres of Books, a Long Beach landmark, for decades until the store finally closed in 2008. I'd link to Ray Bradbury's 1989 essay immortalizing Acres of Books ("I Sing the Bookstore Eclectic"), but it sadly seems to have vanished from the internet.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Little Tips for Armchair Research

The next time you're trying to recall exterior details on a building (or in an entire neighborhood) that's not close to you and don't have reference photos handy, try pulling up Google instead.

If you know the address, enter that into Google Maps. If you don't know the exact address but know the street and a nearby cross street, try that. If you aren't sure of the street name but can think of a local landmark, enter that and go from there. Then, open up Street View and use the arrows to "explore" until you find the right building. Turn, re-position, and zoom in or out as needed. (Google Image Search can also come in handy if referencing a historically or architecturally significant building, since interior images are likely to come up as well. That isn't the case with Street View.)

So far, I've used Google Street View to research Greene & Greene houses in Pasadena, midcentury modest houses in Orange County, pre-1930 cottages in Santa Monica/Venice, modest bungalows in Echo Park, and Storybook Ranch details in my family's old neighborhood. It can be a bit time-consuming (especially since I'm looking up neighborhoods that have older, and therefore fairly large, trees blocking some details from Google Street View's cameras - this wouldn't be a problem in a newer neighborhood with younger trees, but then, I wouldn't want to miniaturize a newer house!). That said, it definitely beats spending hours and hours (and lots of money on gas!) driving to all of these places just to look at tapered columns and faux dovecotes.

Incidentally, since my current build is meant to be a 1920s beach bungalow that saw a few additions and minor "improvements" circa 1962, I've also been poring over the archives at Retro Renovation. Many of the houses seen on the blog have been "updated" over the years and are often being restored to match the house's age, so the "before" pictures are a good resource for seeing two different eras mixed in real homes. Retro Renovation is also a goldmine for pictures of original details that newer houses just don't have. Definitely visit the site if you appreciate early-to-mid-20th-century North American houses, but be warned: it's addictive.

P.S. If Google Street View creeps you out for privacy reasons, look up your address and ask Google to blur the image.

P.S. I've gotten a lot done for the Spring Fling...but I can't show you, of course ;)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Spring Fling 2013 Teaser

What the heck IS this?!

All kidding aside, it's an in-progress shot of something I had to scratch-build, having never seen anything similar in miniature.

I don't want to reveal TOO much, so there might not be a new teaser for a while. I'm still sorting out some of the details in my head.

Are you completely stumped now?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bungalow Progress

Hello, what's this?

The bungalow has grown another room!

I added a kitchen area, plus a walk-in pantry and half of an open staircase (I will install the upper half of the stairs after building the upstairs landing).

How it all fits together (the doorway at the top leads to the living room).

But wait - there's more!

I bashed together two of Greenleaf's mini greenhouse kits to make a screened-in porch. In smaller, older  homes, particularly in coastal areas with small lot sizes, it's not unusual to see porches screened in - or converted into rooms - to add precious space without changing the house's footprint. I have seen former porches converted into bedrooms, and in one case, a living room.

I originally planned on a stone floor, but wound up not liking the way it looked. My grandmother's midcentury house had a huge screened porch not unlike this one, but with a brick floor. I felt that brick walls and a brick floor would have been overkill, especially in 1:12 scale. So, a gently distressed wood floor fit the bill.

Next time: Spring Fling 2013 spoiler.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Scratch-Built Couch

Please forgive my recent absence. My grandmother passed away, so I paused work on the bungalow to help clean out her house.

Inspired by Josje's modern sofa, I wondered if I could make my own for the bungalow. Thankfully, she posted her sofa-making method (I also referred to Pepper's tutorial).

This red velvet two-seater sofa, previously glimpsed in my Minis Modernas contest entry, is meant to be a miniature version of my real-life sofa (well, okay, my sofa folds out into a bed and this one doesn't - now THAT would be a feat).

It does look a bit battered, but so does the real sofa. (Note to self: make throw pillows.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


As I've mentioned, I'm building the Craftsman/Midcentury house in stages, as a series of room boxes. The living room is fully built apart from the ceiling, so I couldn't resist arranging some very 1950s-looking pieces I'd chosen for the room, taking pictures, and entering it in Minis Modernas' second anniversary contest (psst...there's still time to enter. Go for it!).

Imagine my surprise when I checked their blog tonight and saw that they'd posted my picture! I'd planned to post it here after the contest ended. Instead, I'll post a "bonus photo" I didn't include in my submission...this is the living room on my patio, where the pictures were taken. I can never get the lighting right in my work area, but it's always perfect outside on a sunny day (you can start envying me now, John).

The stones on the fireplace and patio are real (and I'm sure it's obvious where they came from). I had to have a stone fireplace with built-in planters because my grandmother's 1961 home had one, as did a 1966 apartment I lived in after college.

Now I just need to find a coffee table I like and fill the bookcase area...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bungalow Sneak Peek

I've mentioned that this house is going to take a LONG time to build.

I'm building it as a series of room boxes, and will insert them into a shell when complete. Building the interiors of the French house was not easy, even though I worked on them as flat boards before installation. I keep changing the exact layout of this house as I go along, so this method is working very well so far.

I couldn't resist putting a few things into the mostly-complete living room and taking this preview shot. You can really see the "midcentury modest" influence here...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Capturing My Homeland in Miniature

In the spirit of Andy and his posts about English period style, I'd like to tell you a little bit about my homeland's distinctive architectural styles, since they are the inspiration for the next house I've started (in spite of not having ANY space for it...).

I was born in my homeland's largest city, where several generations of my family had roots, but have gone on to live in several different areas. Most of my relatives had modest, but well-built, little bungalows, although one had a very Asian-looking house.

I have countless memories of surviving Spanish buildings (and more than a few terrible imitations of Italian architecture), Tudor-esque cottages that could have housed Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, huge castles (no joke), Norman houses with little turrets, and a tiny hobbit village, complete with round doors. There was even a small, fairytale-esque house with a very steep, ramshackle roof, protected by a small moat (one legend claimed it was a witch's house). And believe it or not, you can live in a house overlooking a canal, if you can afford to shell out a million dollars or more.

There were a few Chinese and Egyptian-influenced buildings, believe it or not. And if you know where to look, to this day you can find houses with a Hawaiian "Tiki" influence.

So...have you figured it out yet?

If the "bungalow" clue had you thinking Australia, you'd be mistaken. If the clues about various European styles coupled with the hobbit village, canal houses, and "witch's house" suggested England...guess again. If the Asian and Hawaiian buildings made you wonder if I grew up on a small island in the Pacific Ocean...nope, keep trying.

I'm a Californian.

Much like our culture, our architecture is largely a hodgepodge of different styles, adapted to suit changing tastes and our (mostly) warm, sunny climate.

Although "California" conjures up Hollywood, Charles and Ray Eames, and even Barbie's Malibu beach house...California has a longer history than non-Californians realize. California doesn't "feel" old the way that London and Paris do because until modern construction techniques existed, earthquakes, fires, and floods routinely destroyed entire cities. San Francisco, founded in 1776, was devastated by a massive earthquake (and the ensuing fires) in 1906, thus making the rebuilt San Francisco a very Victorian-looking city. Los Angeles, founded in 1781, has also seen many old buildings reduced to smoldering rubble by disasters, or simply torn down for re-development.

So...what IS a Californian house? The answer depends on who you ask, but our homes do tend to have certain features:

  • Californians can - and do - spend lots of time outside because the weather is so good. Our homes usually have at least one patio - and Craftsman houses often have huge front porches.
  • This is earthquake/fire/flood/landslide territory. Our homes are often made of fire-resistant materials (i.e. stucco is MUCH more common than wood siding), we're not big fans of open storage (open shelves + earthquake = big mess), and houses with basements are FEW and FAR between. (We also don't often have finished attics - maybe a crawl space for access to ventilation ducts, but the only finished attic I have ever seen was in a large Victorian house.)
  • Open floor plans and big windows that let in lots of sunshine are pretty much the norm in all but the oldest houses. (French doors and sliding glass doors are also very common.) We also tend to use a lot of white paint to reflect all that sunlight (even when it's not required by a landlord).
  • "California" and "midcentury" go together like peas and carrots. It's not a coincidence that the majority of the Case Study houses are in and around Los Angeles.
  • We have our own version of Craftsman style - you can see the William Morris influence in the stained glass windows and Tiffany-esque hanging lamps, but the fireplaces are more likely to have tiled facings, stone is often used in place of or in addition to brick, and we're not ashamed to paint original wood trim white (though some of us go to great pains to restore old wood to its original appearance).
  • Little old bungalows and cottages, many of which have been bulldozed to make way for larger, flashier homes over the years, are now highly coveted. If you want a house with character, it won't come cheap.
  • Lots of us have solar panels...and some houses even had primitive solar heating way back before natural gas was commonly used!
It's beginning to look like I will eventually have to leave my home state (long story). I always wanted a cute little Craftsman I'm going to build one that I can take with me.

Two weeks ago, I began building the first room out of leftover plywood from the French townhouse. It won't be a "pure" Craftsman bungalow - the house will have Craftsman bones, but with some "midcentury modest" and "1920s beach bungalow" touches. I've already incorporated some details from real houses belonging to family members and friends. Also...I may have bitten off a little more than I can chew, since it's another scratch-build...based on plans for a real house! Have I mentioned my complete and utter ineptitude with carpentry and power tools?

This is a BIG project (and I mean that quite literally, since I plan to give it proper landscaping as well, which means a large base). I knocked out the French townhouse in a few months, but this house may end up taking me a couple of years.

I'm looking forward to comparing notes with Emily at Architecture of Tiny Distinction as the project progresses...she's building a bungalow from a kit, combining elements from American and Australian bungalow styles. Her project already looks much different from mine (go see the incredible things she's already done with the door and windows!).

But, so far, it's going surprisingly well. Photos to come soon...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

New Room Box

Well...technically an old, battered room box I gutted and remodeled. This room box is going to be sitting empty for a while, since I plan to gradually fill it with Halloween-inspired minis (vintage-cute Halloween, not scary Halloween), and the best ones can be a bit expensive!

Because of its small size, I decided to make the moldings myself.

Take a chair rail, a baseboard, some "window mullion" scraps from a previous build, and a balsa wood sheet...

Measure, cut, and glue carefully...

All done! 

(Note: the "paintings" in this room box are scaled-down copies of Black Apple prints. No one's ever brought this up with me, but I just want to put it out there: I support handmade artisans and encourage others to do the same. If you're copying someone's artwork for your dollhouse, help them make a living and buy a print or two. Long-dead and/or extremely wealthy artists don't need your money, but please remember these are very tough times for self-employed creative people.)