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Monday, 21 May 2018

Sometimes Ideas Come From the Strangest Things

The Moncton show was a pretty good one for me, as I sold many plants and food items, some books and magazines, but oddly not a single piece of embroidery, on which I probably spent too much time.

We had severe flooding here, not where I live high above the river, but all along both banks of the river for many miles. The day before the show, the Trans Canada Highway between my town and Moncton was closed due to flooding. This meant a detour of close to 100 km to get around the flooded areas - there are not that many roads here!

My daughter and I went up the day before, and set up for the show. That meant that the day of the show we were able to some pre-shopping. However, I didn't buy anything at that point. Towards the end of the day, I picked up a small wine bottle to go into the eventual pub and was given a lovely little miniature ceramic version of an Amsterdam canal house (I was born in Amsterdam.) But the piece that has fired my imagination is this one:

It's a simple garden chair made of some sort of dense plastic, with a bunch of grape vine twigs and tendrils, a rusty tin star, and a little birdhouse. The little vignette is very close if not exactly 1/12 scale. I knew what I wanted to do with it right away. Here is step one of the transformation process:

The yellow paving stones are too bright; this is just the first coat, with more coats of shading and sponging yet to come. I got carried away and put the dirt and moss in place before I had finished the painting. The brick structure is a brick planter. And this is how they look together:

The accessories will be removed from the chair. The twigs will be planted in the planter, along with the bird house. The star will also find a home in what I hope will become a very small garden vignette. The snow here has melted (hence, the floods!), and my primroses are up. So I visualize a flat of primroses in front of the chair, the twigs transformed into perhaps a clematis vine, and the bird house ready for spring birds. The planter will be planted with flowers, some hanging over the edges. On the chair seat, more plants, a pair of gardening gloves, garden trowel and small hand fork, and perhaps a pair of muddy rubber boots. (Yes, I know that I am likely taking liberties with the correct growing period for what I plant, but it is, after all, my idea of a garden!).

The basic work shouldn't take too long, it is the flowers and plants that will take time. For a while, I hope to enjoy looking at the vignette, but it will probably go up for sale before the winter hits us again. In the meanwhile, I will have some fun....

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Class Photo

Today, for a change of pace, I taught a plant-making class. The people in the class were all new miniaturists interested in learning about plants. (Three others weren't able to make it; among other things, our area has been hard hit with a respiratory flu that takes weeks to get over.) Two of them own Ruth Hanke's book about making houseplants, but needed guidance how to proceed.

In the morning, we made a sanseviera (snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue) out of my rapidly dwindling stock of paper twist ties. There were some beautiful pots made available by one of the participants, and I got three nice pots to add to my collection. This plant is fairly easy to make, uses cutting and painting techniques, and gives a good sense of accomplishment.

In the afternoon, we made a rubber plant (Ficus), using floral tape, wire, paint etc. This one was rather more challenging, but you can see that the participants were all quite successful. With the basics under their belts, they can now attempt some of Ms. Hanke's designs on their own.

It was a fun class, I really enjoyed myself, and they seem to have found it a good day's work too.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Working Away....

I'm still here, but I am working away to create some items for the Moncton Miniature and Doll Show, which happens May 5. It is slow going, but it is a beginning. There are a few needlework pieces I would like to try, the above represents a selection of pillows, mats and rugs; among the items I would like to have a go at, are bell pulls, provided I can find decent hanging findings for them. I did pick up some in Europe years ago, but am now contemplating a different shape, which will have to be purchased via the internet, fortunately with a supplier here in Canada. There is so much money involved in sending anything outside of  this country, as for example a piece of fabric on eBay for which $9.99 is being asked, along with $24.95 for postage and handling....

Postage within Canada is bad enough, but to charge nearly $25.00 for something which could easily be sent in a plain manila envelope, is pushing it as far as I am concerned!

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Oh, Blah!

It must be the almost endless winter, but I find myself making flowers all the time! There are now 2 smaller shamrock plants, as well as a chrysanthemum which will go into the flower shop's autumn display window.

The mums were made from a We Love Miniatures tutorial, although I didn't exactly have the right punches. Instead, I used a sort of asterisk for the two centre petals, and a small snowflake for the remaining rows of petals. The centre is flower soft, and the finished mums were brushed with ochre chalk dust. I quite like them, and will probably make some in pink and purple, and perhaps white, to make a nice mass of chrysanthemums for the window display.

And I have started some tiny mini embroidery projects, as the Moncton Miniature and Doll Show is coming up the first Saturday in May.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Too Much Snow!

The last little flakes from a two to three day snowstorm stopped just before lunch today; we have now had 3 major snowstorms in less than a week. This morning, the Carpenter-in-Chief had to dig out a nearly meter-wide, meter-high pile of snow left at the end of our driveway by the snowplow.

So I made some more flowers. This is a Cape Daisy (Osteospermum), and is based on another design by Mette S. Laurendz, in the August 2013 issue of Dolls House and Miniature Scene. Hers featured a dark red-purple Cape Daisy, but if you google the images of this flowering plant, you will see that they have a wonderful variety of centres, not to mention a wide variety of petal colours.

It involved a bit of experimentation, but mine have a bit of purple near the central ends of the petals, done with colouring pencils; then a ring of orange stamens, made of flowersoft; and a centre of teal blue sand, over a tiny teal blue central disc. There are 8 flowers, and a dozen buds that are in various stages of opening, as well as a couple of different sizes of leaves, cut down from flower punchies, and punched out of hand-painted paper.

My original design used colouring pencils for the central circles, but it just didn't look right. The Real Life version has a narrow ring of beige stamens between the orange and the blue, but I just could not manage that in 1/12 scale.

I am pleased! Now, I think I will do a couple more shamrock plants, a little less bushy, perhaps, just in case....

30 seconds later, it is snowing again....

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Saint Patrick's Day

Yes, I know that I am rather early with this post, but I had a mini day on Friday and put together this shamrock plant in time for Saint Patrick's Day. The Carpenter-in-Chief is about to finish a course on Celtic (Irish) Literature, and this was kind of inspired by that. The plant and its pot are under 3 cm (1" and a bit)  high. It is a design you can find in Joann Swanson's DIY blog. There are 25 little shamrock leaves and stems in a pot that is about 1.7 cm or 3/4" in diameter. It was remarkably quick to put together, using a tiny heart punch (do the math; that's 75 little hearts!), punched from painted paper. I am very satisfied with the shamrock, which will go into my flower shop's Spring window display. I still have to find a chocolate with green foil wrapping, to use the foil around the pot (and, of course, to satisfy my occasional chocolate cravings, too!).

While I was at it, I began cutting the pieces for two other plants, also destined for the flower shop's changeable window displays. The first one is below:

It's a white hellebore, or Christmas rose, which will be part of the Winter display. This one took time, as there are 7 open blossoms, two of which are a bit darker as they have just about finished blooming, and, I must admit, ended up having tea upset on them.... Then there are 10 buds in various stages of opening, and 10 leaf stems. Again, the same size pot as the shamrock, amazing that one can cram 26 pieces of flower wire into such a tiny area. This plant was designed by Mette S. Laurendz, from Denmark; the tutorial, which is very clear and well illustrated, is in the March 2015 issue of Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine.

The third plant will be a either a Cape Daisy or an osteospermum; it has been begun but it will be a few days before it is finished. as I am struggling with beading on a Real Life embroidery; I keep losing count of the threads in the linen. I am again following a design by Ms. Laurendz, but I am going to change things up a bit, with a more colourful flower; both of these plants come in such a wide variety of colours, with an even wider variety of multi-colour, concentric centres. I am going to start with a white one, with faint purple at the base of the petals, and an orange and teal blue centre. For the Summer window display, this will be plant number one.

I use glue dots to adhere the flowers and plants to a clear, plastic base cut to fit the window, which just allows me to slide the displays in and out as desired!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

So I thought I'd try to make some baby's breath (gypsophila) branches, using the technique for the lady's mantle plant. It sort of worked; pale green stiffened thread, dipped in glue then in fine white sand, and then the sand is painted white.

I added three red rosebuds and a small glitter heart to the arrangement. The sparkly green vase was a gift from Camp MiniHaHa, and I think it may be a little too bright for this bouquet; however, it was the right size for these flowers.

This will go into the Spring window of my flower shop, on the left, where there is an empty space right now. There is already an Easter arrangement in the centre of the window, so perhaps I should do a St. Patrick's Day arrangement for the other side; that way, I will have covered the special days celebrated in Spring. I think Joann Swanson's DIY site may have instructions for a shamrock plant.

Spring will not actually happen here for two and a half months....