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Saturday, 28 March 2020

Gate to the Abandoned Tunnel

This is the start of a gate designed to close off a tunnel which ends in an endless crevasse, out of which, at times, poisonous fumes emerge. Well, you have to have a story, right?

The gate frame is made of left-over wood, although I have to fill in a bit around the key-stone. The key-stone is a scrap of foam board, with relief layers of cereal box cardboard, and a code made of nail jewels and sewing thread. My story, and I am sticking to it, is that the three clear stones on the left indicate the tunnel is 3 leagues in length, when it ends at an endless crevasse; the open-ended sewing thread design (you may have to click to enlarge the picture) indicates it is bottomless. The two purple amethysts, triangular in shape, within the funnel design, indicate poison gas, with two stones meaning unpredictable gas exhalations. The red stone means, don't go in, you idiot! I am creating a sign language that I hope will add some additional colour and sparkle to the book shelf insert.

The barred gate - which needs hinges, a hasp and a lock - is made of cereal box cardboard strips and skinny sticks from a window blind sample, that I used the raffia from in my Japanese vignette's gate house. The unpainted tabs on the right are for me to hold on to when I paint. The paint job at this point is experimental, I need to make the lintel and doorposts look more like stone, which means adding some carvings.

If I don't have a padlock, I'll have to design one. I will make loops on the left, and create some wire bits to represent the door hinges. On the left, I'll need to make a plaque for the padlock, with a hasp coming from behind with a loop for the padlock. This assembly is currently intended to go on the left-hand wall of my book insert. Almost opposite it - I have to think about my limited space - I'll add another door which will not have a gate, as the gallery it opens on to is safe. The plaque for this door will have some green stones. Along the walls will be some geometrically carved surfaces. For this, I may use some jewelry findings from the scrapbooking department, and if space is there, I'll make some floor-to-ceiling pillars, with decorations, shoring up the roofs. That leaves lots of corners for dust, stones, and similar stuff....

The counter-top for the candy shop has its first coat of paint; Real Life interfered with my time for mini-ing today, so I didn't get as much done as I hoped for. However, so far, everything is from my stash or left-over, and from the recycling box.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Now What? You May Well Ask...

This is sitting next to my work space; cheap foam board, left-over fabric, empty corrugated cardboard boxes. Now what?

My little candy shop has its tiles, and the shelves are glued in. I checked the fit of the jars I want to use as candy containers, and all is well. However, I need to do the marble counter top next, and that requires the Carpenter-in-Chief and his table saw. He is exhausted from everything he has been doing lately, and is napping, so I don't want to bother him until tomorrow.

So the last couple of days, I have been looking at tutorials on-line to see if I could, perhaps, somehow, craft a book shelf insert; I do have all the required materials on hand, I think. So I gave myself permission to start something new. If you are not familiar with Book Nook shelf inserts, do take a look! The ideas are just fabulous. No scale required, use cast-offs, and if you want to learn new techniques, check out some of the builds the gaming aficionados create. My favourite right now is a  fellow Canadian at Black Magic Crafts (I hope I have that right!)


I LOVE fantasy and science fiction novels, and wore out my first set of Lord of the Rings a few years ago. The gap that Gandalf is defending, is slated to get a Book Nook insert. If it works I may do another, to dress up these bookshelves.

OK, this is the start. I measured the space in the bookshelf, and tailored my insert to fit. These are the walls, floor, ceiling and back wall of what I hope will be a passageway in the Mines of Moria. What does that mean? Well, I have 4" or 10 cm of width to work with, and 9 3/4" or 25 cm of length, and a height of 11" or 25 cm.. The plan, and there is one, is a view down a corridor. The lower portion will have carvings and pillars, a faux doorway, and a couple of torches. The upper portion will be rock, which I hope to imitate with layers of egg carton stone. The ceiling will have some small stalactites, probably some sort of clay, and my intention is to add subtle glitter here and there to indicate crystals and minerals in the rock faces. With luck, I can add an angled mirror to give the impression of further corridors.

The body is cheap dollar store foam board, the kind that you can peel the paper cover off of. The exposed foam is then banged and rolled with twisted baking foil. The whole is then painted with a mix of Mod Podge and black paint for strength. There is an outer body of corrugated cardboard, hence the packing boxes. The fabric will be applied last and varnished, to make the insert look like a book, and my daughter can make a title for the "front" and spine with her Cricut machine - once she gets back home!

The trick is that you sort of have to work flat, and hope you made everything to fit once the pieces are ready to put together. I hope to work with a floor, wall and back, with the other wall to be installed once everything is done.And I hope to have lighting....

It's a challenge; the "carved panels" in the walls will be made with built-up layers of cereal box cardboard in geometric designs. I hope to use cardboard to make the torch bodies too. The effectiveness of this Book Nook will depend on whether I am able to paint and embellish the space to create the right illusion, so I will be looking at further gamer gear tutorials.

I hope you will enjoy this new journey with me. Making something from nothing, or from things around the house, is kind of stimulating!

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Candy Shop Interior

Well, I thought about it, and went ahead and painted the back of the shelves white, and added a frieze of Delft tile paper around them. I like this colour scheme, and think it should work well with glass jars of colourful candies.

The counter-top that came with the kit does not leave a lip, so I have to cut a slightly deeper one; it will, hopefully, be painted up as plain white marble with some light grey veining. The base of the candy shop, as well as the outside, will be green; this colour is traditional in the region north of Amsterdam. If you want to see what it might look like, check out the outdoor museum, De Zaanse Schans, on-line. It is a working windmill museum, with a number of typical fishermen's houses that rich people pay big bucks to live in, which are painted in this traditional green. And I do have a plan for such a typical little house, so perhaps sometime in the future....

I will try to create grooves in the tile paper, which is glued onto bristol board (not fixed in place yet!), to delineate the tiles. Then I'll experiment with a glossy finish for the tiles, as I have lots of small scraps of that paper.

Maybe some day!

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Contemplating a Colour Scheme

I have done a (very) little more on my CMHH '19 project, intended to become a market candy shop. The tiles at the front are in place; I wanted something that looked like encaustic tiles, and this strip has been in my stash for years. It is a decorative element from a no-name brand of facial tissues. The colours include caramel brown and dark green, which is what I will use to finish this project with.

A lot of mistakes were made by me in putting this together; when the project imploded, I lost track of what I had intended. and made some changes that were not great. So I took courage and carefully pried off some sticks I had glued across the top of the box. (I thought the doors were supposed to go into the box, rather than sit on the base!). I am now trying out colours for the interior. The sub-roof is held in place by friction right now, as are the shelves. The wall is bristol board on which I will place my "Delft tiles".

The intention at this point is to have a plain marble counter top; jars of candy will sit on it. The back-splash - for lack of a better description - will likely be the Delft blue tile the box is currently sitting on. However, I think I need to paint the area behind the shelves white, and just have the narrow strip below the strip tiled. I need to think about this! The jars of candy should provide most of the colour, I feel.

My thought is to put a tiny trim strip below the tile level, paint it the same colour as the woodwork, and call that part done. Then I need to make a false ceiling, from which I will place some LED lighting; the cavity of the false ceiling would then hide the batteries and wires.

This past weekend was kind of a loss, work-wise, as I was trying to get in touch with my (very small) family to see how everyone was doing. Up to now, they are well, although I am very worried about an aunt who is in her late 80's, and lives on her own. We are staying in touch by phone.

Stay safe and well, please!

Friday, 20 March 2020

We Are Housebound Now

A State of Emergency has been declared in our province, and no planes are flying from April 1 to April 30 - unless things change. Our daughter is preparing for the long haul, staying with Mom and Dad until things settle down. Her husband will celebrate his birthday alone, poor guy!

In the meantime, I am still working on minis; the piece above is a box I put together from mahogany, with a wax finish, and for size comparison I have included a glue cap....Yes, it is tiny, the lid is a friction fit, and I had to sand about 1/8" from the ends of the sides, as they were just a bit too big! It is a lovely little kit, and may end up in the Steam Punk Loft - unfinished as yet, of course. When you remove the lid, it makes a very satisfying little pop sound!

Also on the go are two pieces of "wicker", a miniature doll's bed and a cat bed. The first of these was purchased from an estate sale, and was missing 10 wires and both rockers. I found I had some similar gauge wire in my stash, and painted it white. Then I decided that the cat bed, which had quite heavy gauge wires, would be easier to do - read, less of a problem to drill properly - with smaller wires. So one has been started, and one is waiting. I'll make new rockers to fit the doll's bed, which came with a tiny rubber baby doll in a swaddling blanket. It will go into the toy shop.

While tidying up, I found some more minis, purchases and gifts from CMHH, and some of them are now on display in my wall hanger in the family room, where I can enjoy them daily and borrow from them if the right project comes along:

I picked this up second-hand somewhere, and since the cuckoo clock moved to Alberta, it has hung in its place. It's a great way to showcase some minis that I really love, but that have, as yet, no permanent home. The German saying on it roughly translates as, "Small Things Have Their Purpose Also - Anno 1879". It was probably part of one of those buy a mini a month things that were everywhere several decades ago.

I have begun a new little project, but need a cup of tea first. Stay well, please, everyone.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020


The trunk was mostly done, I finished it yesterday afternoon - well, I have more ideas for it - after going to what is likely to be the last knitting group for a while. I want to line the inside of the trunk with appropriate paper, with an illustration inside the lid, and give it a removable tray. That way, I can exhibit it open and "full" of stuff in my attic vignette. I also need to add some worn travel stickers to it. Although they are not needed as the straps act as hinges, I'd also like to add brass hinges. The trunk is from a kit that was taught at my house when we still had a big mini group.

The plant stand is another kit from CMHH. The construction is all butt-glued joints, so to strengthen the plant holders, I added bits of sewing pins to strengthen the thing. The base is still giving me problems, though, and I may have to add a square base to the centre with appropriate little feet at the ends of the pedestal base.

We are housebound like so many around the world, a good opportunity to finish some stuff. My younger daughter is sort of stuck here for the foreseeable future, and sadly for her, her husband's visit here was cancelled. She is waiting for some commissioned costume work pieces to arrive here so she can work on them. The event for which they were commissioned is end April, so hopefully things will be mostly back to normal, and the event will go on. I have a - hoped-for - miniature show the beginning of May, which started all this finishing up of my mini kits.

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Today's Finished Objects (Yes!)

A mahogany bench kit, now glued up, and just awaiting its varnish coat, is another CMHH kit, made by Debbie P. from her mahogany kitchen cupboards. When they renovated their very old Nova Scotia house kitchen, she cut the original mahogany cupboards down to miniature lumber. The previously shown laundry tub and other vintage laundry paraphernalia is mahogany from that renovation as well, as is a small bookcase I still have to put together - I remembered overnight that I had a similar book case in one of my vignettes, so I dug that out to try and use it for measurements.

On the bench is a laser-cut cat treat kit, complete with a baggie of cat-shaped snacks (which I have to paint cat-treat brown), also put together. The box I will use a varnish on, as I like the laser work on it. It was made by Grandpa's Dollhouse in Ontario, and was a CMHH gift; I have another one of these to make up too.

The bench, with the addition of a cushion, can work in my Tudor Apothecary shop, a place for the rich, favoured customers to sit while awaiting their medicaments. The cat treat boxes will go into the second steam punk project (another UFO), and my older daughter's dollhouse, which was left, according to her, by an old lady to her cats. That house has been exhibited at children's libraries, with a challenge to count all the cats in it....

I have still, on purpose, not photographed all the embroidery kits I have to finish up. Hope my old eyes hold out for that!