Sunday, 12 September 2021

Ideas and a Progress Report

 Yes, I am still working on the little oriental carpet, in fact, I worked on it Wednesday afternoon while enjoying the company of my fellow miniaturists, Louise and Marilyn. The outer narrow border and its counterpart around the central portion only need the little crosses filled in, and the deep red centre is also all but filled in.

I was able to get out for a trip to the sea on Tuesday, as well as get a behind-the-scenes look at a small, local, very well done, museum. To get behind the barriers and be allowed to open the storage areas is definitely a big plus of my volunteer job.

As my eyes are still in the troublesome stage (doctor's visit in 10 days), I'm not able to do a great deal of close-up work. However, I did pull out two FAME kits, prepared by Marilyn, and did a dry-fit.

This is the carcass of a market stall, minus some details, which I hope to turn into a decorative Christmas market stall. We still hope to have an opportunity to display our creations in early December, but don't as yet know that it will actually happen. All three of us who meet up have Christmas minis, so the suggestion was we would do a display of seasonal items. This is, to me, a good excuse to give some time to this project, for which I've accumulated items for some years. Of course, there is always room for more, and I hope to be able to get some of the marvelous wooden minis being produced in Europe these days.

This is a mirror image of my flower shop, Floriana. The intention is to make this one a small pastry and coffee shop, with perhaps a couple of 2-person cafe tables outside it. As this project needs more time, (I haven't actually made any of the items I want to put in it!), it will have to go on the wait list for now, but dry-fitting it like this is intended to get my imagination working. I can take mental and written notes, and check out useful tutorials on-line and in magazines, which will speed up the actual building process when that time comes.

The trees are definitely turning orange and red, earlier than usual, probably due to the inordinate amount of rain we've had here this year. If only we could have shipped some it out west; my children and their spouses have been living in smoky forest fire conditions for weeks. There is a serious drought out there, which is very odd as usually, British Columbia was our wettest province! Every plant in our garden is much taller than in previous years, and most of the apples on our front-garden orchard are dropping well before they're truly ripe. As a result, dishes made with apples have featured regularly in our menu. For the two of us, we have half a dozen jars of apple butter....But, we've discovered that warmed apple butter is very good on vanilla ice cream!

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

A Little More Progress

I can't get this photo to flip right side up, so you get to see it vertically! It's been a busy few days, with a couple of doctor's appointments moved up due to other people's cancellations; we try to take advantage of those whenever possible, to cut wait times, but it does cut into my working time! My newest doctor practices in a small town an hour's drive up the Trans Canada Highway from home. I took advantage of that yesterday, driving up on the TCH but coming home via the old highway on the opposite side of the river; I saw an otter at one point! I've never seen a wild otter, and I've been around for quite a few years now.

My eyes have been checked, I have had the preliminaries done for the eye specialist, now it is a three week wait until I get the first consult. In the meantime, I am doing anything requiring the use of my eyes in small doses, and I'm avoiding the really hard work in the corners of the rug until I know what is going on with my eyes.

As I am an avid reader, I'm finding the blurry vision and recurring small headaches a pain (that's a kind of joke!), but I am hoping all will go well; aging does weird things, I'm discovering....

We missed our group (electronic) mini session today, but the Carpenter-in-Chief and I took advantage of the lovely weather earlier this afternoon to take a walk in the nature park not far from our house. It was a perfect temperature for a walk in the woods. Lots of colourful toadstools and fungi, Lots of dogs as there is an off-leash dog-walking trail, as well as a tree I didn't recognize, so I get to do a little research. Our days have been warm, with cool nights, which means that soon the deciduous trees will be turning vivid orange, red and gold. We have until about the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend before all the leaves suddenly drop, and then we await winter. It is supposed to be a wet, stormy one!


Monday, 23 August 2021

Small Progress Report

 It's been a somewhat crazy week, which galloped by so fast that I almost missed it! Several days of very hot humid weather followed by several days of rain; it is raining today, and cool enough for jeans and a long-sleeve T-shirt. My older daughter in Northern Alberta province has already had a frost warning....

I am very fond of my mountain ash tree, grown from a $19 sapling more than twenty years ago. However, the poor things is half dry and brown. As we couldn't find any insect damage, we called in an arborist. He didn't know what it was either, but took photos to put on an arborist website; we got the word yesterday, our poor tree is suffering from a bacterial infection, called fire blight. I wondered if we should consider cutting it down, but the arborist recommended letting it leaf out next spring, to see if the infection was still present. We could make an informed decision then.

After I got the tree, we discovered several very young volunteer mountain ash trees had grown up in various parts of the garden, parts of which we keep tidy but essentially wild. I hope they don't get sick either. Our area is currently dealing with an outbreak of emerald ash borer, an insect that eats at the tree inside the bark; the trees inevitably die. Also in the garden are three mature black ash trees, much treasured by our First Nations' people, as they use this wood to make their traditional ash splint baskets.
We also have to keep an eye on those trees, as they are quite valuable when mature....

The Persian rug has filled out a little; I find I can do the solid or outline areas, and the borders are do-able for me as well, despite the seriously blurry vision. However, the detailed corner sections, while roughed in, will have to wait until I have a diagnosis of what is bothering my aging eyes, as the colours on the graph I'm following blend into each other, creating colour blocks that are just not there.

On the stair situation in the wooden shoe factory, I am going to sort out how big a battery pack I will need to run about five warm LED lights; if it is compact, like a coin battery, I can leave a small section of the stairs removable, for battery replacement purposes. However, if I need a bunch of AA batteries, with their very limited working time, I will have to come up with something else. The lights in my Tudor house are run on a battery pack of 4 or more A A batteries (seven grain of rice bulbs), which will not even manage the lighting for one day of display. I really don't want to become dependent on plugging into the wall at shows, etc., as display areas with electricity are usually scarce and rather more expensive, plus you have to navigate wires etc. I also find the weight of either battery packs or transformer units tends to break the very fine wiring used for dolls' houses.

I do wish I was more comfortable with electricity!

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Well-Worn Stairs

The stairs are painted and distressed; for the distressing, I used a tack hammer, a pointy rock from the patio, a sponge sander, emery board, and a small screwdriver, with occasional applications of the back edge of my Xacto knife.

Our local Michaels is now carrying a limited supply of MidWest basswood, and although they didn't have the thickness my project called for, the sander belonging to the Carpenter-in-Chief thinned the pieces just right to make the last five stair treads. I hope the store carries more of this product, as it is way better than the stuff they carried the past several years!

We are still scratching our heads as to how to have a part of the steps open, in order to replace batteries on the eventual lighting, the wires etc. of which I'd really like to hide there. There is a real dearth of miniature, vintage industrial lighting fixtures available, which means I'll have to create my own from scratch. I need four hanging lights, and one wall sconce in a cage for the stairway wall. I also have no idea how many LED lights can run off a coin battery, nor how long such a battery would last with five LED bulbs on it.

Now the risers and treads need a varnish coat, and once that is dry, an application of antiquing gel to bring out the dents and scratches. Once the stairs are glued in place, I can dirty up the wall and the corners to look well used, and perhaps not all that carefully cleaned....

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Miniature Embroidery Things to Think About

I thought it might be interesting to do just a short post about miniature embroidery. I've always enjoyed embroidery, and when I began to make miniatures, a quarter century ago now, naturally I wanted to use this craft in my miniature settings also. I learned to do needlepoint in Grade 2, at an all-girls' school in The Netherlands taught by nuns. We began knitting in Grade 1, making underwear and then a dress for our dolls, and the next year embroidery was introduced.

The three little Serendipity rugs or mats I made recently were made without a pattern, i.e. I just used left-over threads and created the "design" as I went along. This is a rapid way of making miniature mats, rugs or carpets. However, working a complex design from a pattern is a whole another story!

This is a miniature version of an actual Persian carpet, from the Mazlaghan region, near the city of Hamadan in western Iran. It is a twentieth century design, so not antique. I've always loved the   colours in this rug, which you also see in the RAF tartan; light slate blue, dark red, light grey and navy blue, with small accents of a mid-brown colour. The pattern comes from a book by Meik and Ian McNaughton, entitled Making Miniature Oriental Rugs & Carpets (Guild of Master Craftsman Publication Ltd. in 1998.)

I began this rug on Friday; it is now early Sunday evening, and as you can see, I haven't really got a lot done. The rug will measure 6 1/4 x 4" (162 x 99 mm) when finished, worked with two strands of cotton floss on 24 ct. canvas, that is, 676 sts per square inch. And I learned something when I started this; the graph in the book is not that large, and I was seeing double; therefore, I decided to head into town on Saturday to get an enlarged photocopy made. However, I am still seeing double.

I  need to get new glasses, again; I went from being nearsighted, a couple of years ago, to becoming far-sighted, but now my prescription is not working. I realize that print has become blurry, as has the type  on the computer. So tomorrow I'll make an appointment with my optometrist. In the meantime, I can work for an hour or so before the blurriness gets bad. As I love this little rug, I will get it finished!

Until I get the wood for the stairs in my wooden shoe factory, that project is at a temporary stand-still; there was none in the right size to be had in town, but I will try again this coming week. 

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Three Little Serendipity Rugs or Mats

So far, I have completed three small rugs using scraps of needlepoint canvas (24ct) and loose and odd threads drawn from a left-overs pile in my embroidery supplies.

The first one is varieties of browns, creams and greys accented with assorted rust shades. It has a very mid-century modern feel to it, I think. Some of the stripes were worked with a blended needle, i.e. two strands of different colours. If you choose closely related colours, the end result can appear to be a single colour; however, if you use contrasting colours, the effect is that of tweed.

The middle one I call Denim Blues; that was the starting point, and is also a little like a rag mat we have in our powder room. It has accents of thin red stripes on various blues and greys. The size of this one would make it work nicely in many eras, from an updated bath to a servant's bedroom.

The far one is Graphic Greens, and is the most planned of the three. I pulled out many shades of green for this one, then bordered each one with a deep, nearly black green. It is definitely a modern rug.

The problem is, of course, that in my part of the world most people live and breathe Victorian miniatures, so finding a buyer for these in my small circle of miniaturists is likely going to be very difficult indeed!

Most of my stairs for the wooden shoe workshop are ready to attach, but I am trying to come up with a way to make a section of them removable. That would allow me to hide the lighting batteries and wires very neatly, and allow good access to them when the batteries need replacing. I chose a dark red-brown colour to paint the stairs, the colour I remember our stairs in Maastricht being; they dated to before WWI, thus fitting neatly into the period of my workshop.


Monday, 2 August 2021

The Next Big Step....

 ....involves the staircase. 

I had ordered the wood for this months ago, during the height of the pandemic, and when it arrived one of the pieces I needed was very badly warped, as well as stained. This happened at the factory, as the package itself was dry and unstained. While I was out this morning, the Carpenter-in-Chief contacted the manufacturer, with a photo, and new wood is on the way to replace the damaged piece. At least, I can begin sanding, painting, aging and distressing the pieces I do have.

When we started this project, the C-in-C wanted to know where the heck this stairway was going, did I really need it? Well, it goes to an imaginary second story/attic, so I will attempt to paint the illusion of a dark opening in the "ceiling", to suggest that. After all, I need that staircase to hide the privy under, and perhaps also the eventual electrics!

So, as those among you who do embroidery for their dolls' houses know, you end up with an awful lot of tiny pieces of canvas. Along with those, I have a massive lifetime collection of embroidery floss. I like to think of this as a Serendipity project; making something from left-overs, essentially. The tangle of floss represents left-overs from kits, threads I can no longer match to their skeins, floss my children used when they wanted to learn embroidery, and so forth. And the first result is the "modern" rug in the centre. This one is done, ready to have the hems turned. It was worked on 24ct canvas, with 2 strands of floss; some of the stripes have two colours in the needle, which gives a subtle, tweed effect.

A small project like this is handy to carry around. Basically, I decide on a colour scheme, pull all the various bits of those colours from the tangle, and stitch away. The next one is intended to be a rag rug, the sort you use in front of the kitchen sink (or in the bedrooms of your servants!), in blues and greys.
This one, in brown tones, may fit into my Trash-to-Treasure Loft Project, as it pulls from the natural shades in that little vignette. But if we ever get back to having shows again, I may also try to sell it.

Tomorrow I begin sanding the treads and risers of my staircase....