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Queensland Architecture in Miniature - finale!

By Nat Duncan and Michelle Brown | 17 November 2022

Sketch of a Queenslander house

Fretwork, breeze blocks, casement windows, VJ walls and hardwood floors; there’s a lot to love about Queensland architecture and we were excited to see what locals would create when we developed this workshop series.

Over four weeks workshop participants immersed themselves in State Library of Queensland’s collections and brought to life the rich design elements of Queensland homes through digital fabrication techniques such as laser cutting and engraving.

Qld miniature architecture book nooks

If you haven't already, read the first blog post on how our six workshop participants began their design journey to create these miniature pieces of Queensland architecture.

The goal of the workshop series was to provide an understanding of designing vector graphics using State Library collection resources and to fabricate these designs using the Fabrication Lab at The Edge into a book nook, which is a small room that you can place between books on a shelf. 

For the first session we focused on vector design using Inkscape, running through our comprehensive beginners guide developed on the SLQ Wiki, which anyone can access to up-skill via the written and video tutorials.

One of the biggest inspirations for the designs came from the fabulous State Library Built Heritage collection, with the 99 Everyday homes for Queenslanders providing a veritable treasure trove of interior archways, casement windows and doors for our workshop participants to learn to vector trace and use in their final designs. 

Drawing of Queensland house

99 everyday homes for Queenslanders, 1939

Coloured illustrations featuring 99 domestic architecture designs and internal floor plans for Queensland homes.

After building confidence using Inkscape and working with vector graphics, the participants were introduced to designing the book nook template using an online box generator that creates designs for laser cutters. 

Many of the visitors to our Fabrication Lab space use box generators for their laser cutting designs. It's a handy tool for basic structural base design using box joints (also known as finger joints). These allow for a nice snug construction but are also very handy to work with for our nooks as they allowed participants to accentuate the base design with further architectural elements and paint them before assembling. 

 Qld architecture miniature archways

Once provided with the basic box frame design (which had basic wall panelling plus window and door spaces) it was up to participants to choose what type of individual flare they wanted to bring to their nooks.

We asked them to design their own or choose from the 99 everyday homes designs for the following;

  • Hall archway
  • Breezeway
  • Door panelling
  • Stained glass window
  • Window and swing door casements
A photo composite of 3 imafes showing detial of miniature Queensland architecture

With their new Inkscape skills, base design, and sizing guides, it was then on to a laser cutter induction in session two. If you aren't aware of State Library's laser cutters, you can find out more and how to access here

One of the key advantages of designing with vector is the ability to change scale and make adjustments easily once a basic design has been created, and it's a terrific pathway for learning how to use the laser cutter software to cut and engrave designs on ply, acrylic, cardboard or even paper. 

For this workshop we were working with plywood, boxboard and clear PETG for the stained glass windows. 

Workshop participants making Qld architecture miniatures
Qld architecture miniature painted pieces

During session three of the workshops, participants came in ready to cut their designs armed with the new skills taught during the first two sessions. Dedicating the session to fabricating and painting was the end goal and the book nooks started to come together with gorgeous colour schemes and individual designs. 

Highlights included a wonderful bin chicken (local vernacular for the Ibis for those unaware!) stained glass window design and a beautiful art deco inspired nook. 

We referenced the following books for inspiration on Queenslander colour schemes, which you can request and collect from level 3 of SLQ;

Composite image of books used as reference in the workshop

In the final week of the workshop a multitude of design aspects for the little homes came together, with participants meticulously painting, decorating and assembling the components of their nook design.

Feedback from participants was positive, telling us they enjoyed their time working on their creations in the lab. Angie enjoyed portraying her favourite artwork at home by creating it in miniature to hang from her nook picture rail, and Jen created tiny pottery items that she threw on a tiny pottery wheel.

Qld architecture miniature stained glass pieces
Qld miniature architecture Jen Lui composite image
Qld Miniature Zenobia Frost composite image
Qld Miniature Ange Fairweather composite image

If you're interested in using our laser cutters for your own projects or attending one of our creative workshops, sign up to our The Edge eNews (monthly) for announcements on upcoming workshops and open labs in 2023. Receiving this monthly update will also highlight upcoming activity at The Edge - in our Digital Media Lab and Fabrication Lab. 

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