Dollhouse Underground Laboratory: Work in Progress Part 2

Action figure dollhouse laboratory surgery WIP by Suzanne Forbes April 2018Dang, I have been consumed with this long-delayed project!

SOOO much to do. So many things to figure out. So much foamcore to cut and glue. So many pipes to make out of styrene and straws!

Action figure dollhouse laboratory tube room WIP by Suzanne Forbes April 2018But I am really making serious progress.

Three of the rooms are almost complete, the operating theater (above), the Tube Room, and the Machine Shop.Action figure dollhouse laboratory tube room full view WIP by Suzanne Forbes April 2018

Action figure dollhouse laboratory cryo tube WIP by Suzanne Forbes April 2018What on earth is a Tube Room, you might ask.

Well, in the 90s I had a dear friend named Rob Simpson, who was an editor at DC. We were talking about superhero powers, as we did so often, and he said there was a simple solution to most things in comics.

Somebody loses their powers/needs superpowers? “Put ’em in a tube!” Somebody is dead and needs to be restored to life? “Put ’em in a tube!” Somebody has an evil entity possessing their psyche and needs to be held in stasis so they don’t destroy the world? “Put ’em in a tube!”

Tubes are also known as pods or stasis chambers. Basically they are a MacGuffin where anything can happen. The McFarlane Toys X-Files line from the Oughts provided most of these tubes.

They were intended for alien containment of some kind. I built out the structure around the one above using illustration board covered with chrome selbstklebefolie, which is like contact paper you can’t remove, styrene tubes and the various lids of things painted chrome. Action figure dollhouse laboratory machine shop WIP by Suzanne Forbes April 2018

The Machine Shop also contains the break room/coffee bar.

Action figure dollhouse laboratory making stanchions WIP by Suzanne Forbes April 2018I figured people would be constantly bothering the engineers in the shop for things they want fixed anyway, so they might as well get their coffee while they’re there. The two women robots are “Platinum” from the Metal Men and Angie Spica, “Engineer” from The Authority.

All the rooms are missing a lot of signage and posters (I’m working on figuring out how to get the best results from the self-adhesive inkjet-printable paper I’m using) plus safety tape.

On the right you can see I’m making stanchions for a safety rail using dowels, epoxy clay and blue pearl half-rounds I kept for eight years because I had a feeling I might need them for something.

Most importantly, all the labs need their ceiling panels and lights.

My beloved Friend-Muse-Patron Monique Motil, a fellow creator of Small Art, will bring the lights in May, and then I’ll figure out how to install them, woohoo!

Yes, there will be a “Safety Third” sign!

First Laboratory post is here. Main dollhouse post here.

DJane Alice D., mistress of the hard beats, at Carneball Bizarre.

DJane Alice D and dancers at KitKat by Suzanne Forbes April 17 2018I was invited by legendary Berlin DJane Alice D. to come to the Saturday night party at KitKatClub.

I arrived planning to make a bunch of new sexy drawings for my art show at Other Nature, a fundraiser for Berlin trans* support services.

Dancers at KitKat by Suzanne Forbes April 6 2018However I was absolutely sucked in by the driving beat in Alice’s room.

I wound up staying there, drawing the dancers and just being in the music, for hours!

Young dancers at KitKat by Suzanne Forbes April 17 2018I drew these beautiful young people who were dancing, and the lovely young lady kissed me on the cheek when she saw it.

Good thing I am used to being kissed by gorgeous, sweaty, half-naked or naked young people at clubs and sex parties, or I would have fainted from delight!

Alice is a Burner too, and you can catch her djaneing on the Playa this summer – check her site for deets! As always, I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to document Berlin life and art.

Merlin’s Berlin at Monster Ronson’s!

Merlin Dietrich at Monster Ronsons by Suzanne Forbes April 14 2018Merlin’s Berlin is a queer mini-music-fest hosted by glamorous Merlin Dietrich.

Merlin Dietrich at Merlins Berlin Nr 6 by Suzanne Forbes April 16 2018I went to the sixth edition at the renovated Monster Ronson’s.

What a lovely time! I enjoyed all the acts tremendously. Merlin himself performed some of his amazing super-earworm gay love songs plus some cuts from his upcoming album. He is fabulously erudite and wildly sexy and his songs are mad clever. I was delighted to get a chance to draw him and Mr. Chips!

Wrench and Franks at Merlins Berlin Nr 6 by Suzanne Forbes April 16 2018Gentlemen troubadours Wrench and Franks performed pop songs from another century. They are so good!

You can see their cool animations here and their torch songs from times past here. They made a bananapants video for Merlin’s song “Flying Out to Berlin” with a creepy marionette which you can enjoy here.

Das Fluff at Merlins Berlin Nr 6 by Suzanne Forbes April 16 2018The headliner was Das Fluff, with a new lineup including dear friend Joe Sparkle and Angel Melodyhorn.

They were great! Frontwoman Dawn Lintern was in a truly spectacular outfit featuring a snakeskin corset and hoop skirt. She is a snarling, seductive, ferocious performer who leaves it all on the stage. If you want to catch the filthy, raging Das Fluff live show, look here – they are playing everywhere all the time, in London, Berlin and Japan.

Dawn Das Fluff at Merlins Berlin Nr 6 by Suzanne Forbes April 16 2018There was lots more at Merlin’s Berlin but I couldn’t draw it all, especially by the light of TWO disco balls. As always, I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to document Berlin life and art!

If you would like to see a very entertaining video and don’t mind having a song stuck in your head for the next two days, check out Merlin Dietrich’s video for Like/Unlike.

I have never in my life seen anything more charming than Berlin’s “Advanced Style” icon Günther Krabbenhöft dancing.

Full Moon Cabaret!

Viva Lamore at Full Moon Cabaret by Suzanne Forbes April 9 2018I finally made it to a Full Moon Cabaret!

My Hormone Replacement Therapy for menopause is working amazingly and I have more energy all the time. It’s simply grand! So when I was invited by the wonderful burlesque performer and producer Viva Lamore to draw at Berlin’s queer and wild woman-run burlesque show Full Moon Cabaret, I was happy to go.

Ms. Lamore hosted the event as a glamour unicorn, seen above. Although she did not perform any numbers, she demonstrated her burlesque powers in some sweet moves!

I had a lovely time.

Dancers at Full Moon Cabaret by Suzanne Forbes April 13 2018The music by DJ Don Rogall was terrific and in between acts there was much dancing, with some excellent dancers hitting the floor.

The venue, Diskothek Melancholie 2, is delightful and it reminded me of going to see my beloved Hubba Hubba Revue at the Uptown Oakland. In the drawing below, Violetta Poison, aka The Mexican Spitfire, teaches this blow-up man doll some manners.

Violetta is performing at Hubba Hubba San Francisco on May 11, follow her for news! Burlesque lovers can also enjoy about a zillion drawings I made at Hubba Hubba and other SF burlesque events from 2006 to 2013 here. Upcoming Full Moon Cabaret shows here!Violetta Poison at Full Moon Cabaret by Suzanne Forbes April 13 2018

Lolita Vavoom at Full Moon Cabaret by Suzanne Forbes April 6 2018Here’s co-producer Lolita Vavoom doing some beautiful work with fabric.

And Scotty the Blue Bunny performed although I didn’t have time to draw him! I did get a quick sketch of this rad performer, Rubyyy Jones!at Full Moon Cabaret Suzanne Forbes April 13 2018

As always, I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to document Berlin life and art!

House party, dance party.

Dance party by Suzanne Forbes March 10 2018Just some drawings of friends on an evening in West Berlin.

I actually started another drawing on this particular evening but got derailed by talking to folks and being social, which happens at friends’ houses more than out at events.

House party by Suzanne Forbes March 10 2018Drawing live is the perfect substitute for alcohol for an introvert like me.

Usually I start drawing at a party to have something to do while other people are drinking, or to make a personal record of a great moment with dear folks. At the home of a friend where I feel safe and comfortable, I don’t *need* to do it, so sometimes the drawing trails off as I get drawn into conversation! Glad I managed to finish these two anyway 🙂

March 2018 Unterwegs: including the artist at work!

Self portrait on S Bahn by Suzanne Forbes March 29 2018I drew myself in this month’s unterwegs!

It’s good practice for a portrait artist to do regular self-portraits, but I did so many in school I can’t get excited about it. I know other people find it entertaining though!

Noodles on the bus by Suzanne Forbes March 28 2018This elegant young lady was having some hot noodles on her way home.

I loved her sneakers with stars.

Bubble gum by Suzanne Forbes March 10 2018This girl was really OVER her older sister.

Previous unterwegs are here:

February 2018 bonus round

February 2018

January 2018 bonus round

January 2018 round 1

December 2017

November 2017

September 2017

July bonus round

July

June

May bonus round

May round one

April

March 2

March

January

December

November

Drawing women doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Berlin!

Giulia at Spitfire 2 by Suzanne Forbes March 27 2018What could be cooler?

My friend Giulia invited me to come draw her training at BJJ class. She is an artist and art teacher who also loves combat sports! Would you believe the gym is called Spitfire and they offer a discount to women who train there!!! Cause they want more women at the gym!!!!

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Spitfire 2 Suzanne Forbes March 27 2018Giulia wears a gi from Fenom, who make BJJ wear only for women.

I learned so much today! I don’t think I’d ever drawn any martial art before. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is very grapple-y, and moves from slow to incredibly fast without warning.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Spitfire Gym by Suzanne Forbes March 27 2018The instructor made me welcome; one of the most charming parts of the experience was his twin girls, toddlers, roaming around the mat during the class.

If there are kids hanging around me I usually let them help with the drawing, and you can see several of these drawings are collaborations.

I kept it loose and didn’t try too hard to get details.

I wanted to focus on getting the movements as little wrong as possible! Just like drawing the tango, it’s inevitable that I will get movements and gestures matched up wrong.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Spitfire Gym by Suzanne Forbes March 27 2018I was right in the middle of the scene; it was just like being at a sex party or dungeon.

Just like at a sex party, I positioned myself out of the way but sometimes the action moved over to me and sweaty people bumped into me. At least nobody used me to brace themselves at Spitfire! And just like at a dungeon or play party, there were very clear boundaries, consent was asked and given, and I had to stay alert for flying bodily fluids.

Grapplers at Spitfire by Suzanne Forbes March 27 2018I didn’t realize how much force and power was in the movements until someone’s arm slammed into me.

Right after I drew this one of the grapplers got a bloody nose and had to walk off the mat cupping a handful of blood. Just like at a dungeon, action immediately came to a halt while the blood on the mat was cleaned up and the area disinfected. Safe combat!!

It was a great adventure, and I’m so grateful to Giulia for inviting me (here’s her Patreon!), Spitfire Gym for the hospitality, and my Patreon Patrons who make my documentary art possible. 

Our three year Berlinversary!!

3 year Berlinversary by Suzanne Forbes March 24 2018Glücklich, Glücklich in Berlin!

Moving to Berlin was the best decision we ever made. I am so happy and so grateful every day for the fantastic life we have here. The amazing creative community. The security and sanity of our healthcare. The great company my hub works for. Our beautiful home. My profoundly meaningful and fulfilling work.

My Patrons on Patreon are a huge part of this.

Thank you so very much for making this sweet life possible. I love you!

Watch til the end for the middle-aged lady getting showered with flowers!

Glücklich in Berlin by Anna Depenbusch

Hello, how nice to see you here, it seems to go well
I think you are happy in Berlin
Your big dream, for many years seems to be finally true
Part of me wishes you good luck
And a part of me wishes back here you

Yeah, it’s nice if you tell me who you meet so and what do you play
in this city you know you made
I mean who longs as home?
A part of me is very happy for you
And a part thinks: Berlin would not be good for me

Too big, too small, too close, too far
One thing goes, the other stays

That I envy you would somehow lied
But it is Great, you pulled the big ticket

You say you’re in the middle of it now, because everything else makes no sense
Because here the big world starts and that’s how real life sounds
Part of me wonders what the whole search is for
And part hopes you’re satisfied

Too big, too small, too close, too far
One goes, the other stays
A part of me wishes you happiness with all my heart
And a part of me wishes you back here

Too big, too small, too close, too far
One goes, the other stays
A part of me wishes you good luck
Part of me wishes you back
To envy you would be kind of sad
But it’s great, you have the big one jackpot

Hello, how nice to see you here, it seems you good to go
I think you are happy in Berlin

An art salon in West Berlin.

Moscow artist Katya Elizarova at art salon March 21 2018 by Suzanne ForbesThis week I was invited to the delightful art salon of curators Denis Leo Hegic and Michelle Houston, in the historic queer art neighborhood of Schöneberg.

This is Moscow graffiti artist and fine artist Katya Q in front of her latest work. There is a deliberately ephemeral work at the heart of these salons, a huge antique chalkboard that is turned into an artwork and then erased a month later.

H Geil at art Salon March 21 2018 by Suzanne ForbesThere was also a performance by H. Geil and R.L. Fardoe.

H. Geil sang the wonderful Marlene Dietrich song Wenn die beste Freundin, a lesbian anthem of the ’30s. He was accompanied on ukulele by Robert Lee Fardoe. It is a song about two married ladies going shopping and sharing secrets, revealing the intimacy of their relationship, and a very snappy number!

Hostess Michelle Houston and guests at West Berlin art salon March 21 2018 by Suzanne ForbesHere you see hostess Michelle Houston chatting with guests.

What a lovely evening, talking art, writing and cooking with creative people!

Work in Progress: the underground superpowers laboratories beneath my dollhouse.

WIP action figure dollhouse by Suzanne Forbes March 2018 Wow, this project has been a long time coming!

I’ve had the plan for it for at least a decade, and the specific structure set up for a good six years. And I’ve had some of the props for it for TWENTY FREAKING YEARS.

Original floorplan underground laboratories Suzanne Forbes 2014Well, I like to say that the older I get, the longer my game gets.

Sometimes in art it takes as long as it takes, and that’s fine.

WIP action figure dollhouse by Suzanne Forbes March 2018 I figured out how to build the wheeled base for my action figure dollhouse back in Oakland, using IKEA Kallax bookshelves.

I assembled them, and hired a taskrabbit to help me with the construction of a platform to attached them to so they could support the dollhouse.

But it seemed crazy to ship IKEA furniture to Berlin, so I took the base apart when the dollhouse was professionally crated, and we sold the Kallax shelves on Craigslist.

“Doc, it hurts when I go like this!” “So don’t go like that.”

That meant I had to get new ones here, assemble them, and then build a new base. (I did keep the high quality wheels with brakes I bought!)

For a person who is as deeply lazy as me, I have created a life that often involves a fucking lot of work.

For the past two years I’ve been working on getting all the other projects I brought with us done, and finishing the full-size house (still at 95%). Most importantly, I’m making new art, working on building our community and growing my Patreon.

Finally, the dust is clearing enough to tackle the laboratories.

WIP action figure dollhouse by Suzanne Forbes March 2018 I have so much cool stuff to put in them! There’s just a bunch of diorama-building, model-building, scratch-building and electrifying work to get them ready to hold my two decades of collected weird body-horror, super-power, Island of Dr. Moreau mad scientist STUFF.

floorplan action figure dollhouse laboratories by Suzanne Forbes 2016I’m not really crazy about the actual construction part of model and dollhouse-building, but I value the workout it gives my brain. Since everything is scratch-built or Frankensteined from components of other things, each part requires a new solution. I have to learn about new materials, source them as cheaply as possible, figure out what I have that can be salvaged, scrapped or rebuilt. And everything has to be customized to work together.

This is an example of how existing stuff can be enhanced: these amazing display screens are accessories for figures from a Dr. Who spin-off show.

However, all Dr. Who toys are 5″ tall or approximately 1/18 scale, rather than the normal dollhouse scale of 1/12 (one inch to one foot).

So I built up the bases to make them the right height for 6″ action figures. I just need to paint them to match.

Same with the little water cooler; I built it a styrene platform. I hadn’t used styrene in a long time, and I’d forgotten how amazing it is.

You score it and it breaks perfectly cleanly; you can glue it or paint it so easily. I used balsa wood for the kitbash of the dollhouse itself, and only got into styrene during the sleigh build. Going forward I plan to use styrene a lot more.

I built the bases and the upper platforms, which make it easier to see the things at the back of the deep cubbies, out of foamcore.

surgery buildout WIP action figure dollhouse by Suzanne Forbes March 2018Foamcore is a material I’m not experienced with, but in this case it’s a good solution. The dollhouse-scale molded tile floors (I got the beige and black one for the Tube Room at least eighteen years ago, and have been saving it!) are attached with double-sided carpet tape. Almost any glue will heat up enough during curing to warp the thin, vacuum-formed plastic.

The side walls are illustration board covered with white vinyl contact paper, which gives a nice satin sheen. It’s cheaper and faster than dollhouse wallpaper, and perfect for this kind of industrial/medical look. The ceilings will be foamcore with leds embedded in them for lighting. When I built the dollhouse I learned to solder and used tapewire, but miniature lighting has improved tremendously in the last twenty years.

LEDS, which don’t heat up, last practically forever, come in the tiniest sizes and all kinds of colors, can be embedded directly in surfaces.

My beloved friend-muse-Patron Monique Motil is coming to visit in May, and has graciously agreed to transport my lights from Model Train Software.

Just as beloved friend-muse-Patron Barbara brought my miniature subway, and my mama brought eight million figures and accessories last Fall!

Because anything you mail from the US takes forever and/or gets lost. Seriously, don’t ever mail us anything bigger than a postcard.

I’ve been waiting for some Tacky Wax (museum wax) I ordered from Amazon, thinking it shipped from the EU, for three weeks.

sketch action figure dollhouse tube room laboratory Suzanne Forbes 2017I used aluminum tape to get some clean metal stripping here and there.

It’s tricky to use and tends to mark up and wrinkle over large areas, so I’m sparing with it. Same with the clear styrene panels that divide the upper and lower areas: it scratches easily so I use it mostly as an accent. I have rhinestuds that will become rivets, fine yellow wire for extension cords, and so much weird stuff to put in the cabinets, once I get my dang Tacky Wax.

More developments soon!