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Sunday, 23 December 2012

The People from the Miniature Market

Merry Christmas to all of you from the shoppers and the proprietors of the Chipping Littleham weekly market!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Miniature Flower Seller's Market Cart

This is currently the last of the market pieces; it is still a work in progress, as I have to make far more plants for it as well as a vendor for the cart.

It is a variation on the vegetable barrow; posts in the corners, a ridge beam, two end panels and side panels covered with a piece of striped "canvas". There are several brass rails not visible behind the canopy, from which will hang additional plants. The table top lifts in and out, and holds a series of flower buckets that in real life are Marr connectors (electrical caps for bare wires), from the hardware store.

Looking at the photo, I think I shall glue some small rails around the edges of the table, as they would make it possible to place small potted plants around the edges of the barrow. The stain used on this piece is one of my most favourite colours, called Ipswich Pine; it is a lovely warm rosy gold that looks wonderful on miniatures, and I use it extensively, especially as the undercoat stain on painted and distressed pieces.

The Christmas Holiday is fast approaching; we had a heavy snowfall yesterday, more than 30 cm (about 1 foot) of wet, heavy snow that stayed on all the tree branches. Most of our small cedars and birches are bent right over, touching the ground with their tops. More snow is on the way, but on the weekend it should get cold, which means it will definitely be a white Christmas here. The downside of all this lovely snow, of course, is the inevitable power outages; two lengthy ones and quite a few short blips yesterday. Fortunately, the house is warm again today. As we heat and cook with electricity, and have a well with an electric pump, power outages are more than just a slight nuisance; no hot food or drink,  no water, and no flushing of toilets, not to mention the chill that descends upon the house. I truly don't know how our ancestors read or worked by the light of a single candle.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Miniature "Junque" or Antique Dealer's Stall

Probably all of us who make or collect miniatures have "homeless" minis, things we wanted to try and make or were given, that we don't have a setting for. A second-hand dealer's stall in my market acts as a showcase for some of my homeless minis. This little stall is open to being raided, and some of the children's toys are quite likely to end up in my children's nursery shop. My friend Sonia W. keeps her homeless minis in a roombox antique shop. Sharon B. has a number of small glass and brass display cabinets, in which she keeps her miniature cranberry glass and rose-patterned china.

Other excellent settings for homeless minis include attics, antique shops, and one which really appeals to me, an auction house sales room. I made some of the items in this setting, like the telescope, doctor's bag, Noah's ark and contents, some of which are in the doll's cradle, bunny on wheels, and the rocking horse, among others. The cardboard box contains Christmas decorations, but the miniature nativity scene has been moved to a Christmas roombox. The wonderful sword in the blue and white jug is a Toledo blade cocktail pick, part of a set of four, complete with colourful enamel work on the guard. If you can find a set of these, they are pretty much 1/12th scale. The "estate" crystal on the little side table is from a number of Chrysnbon sets I assembled.

This stall has no dealer, which means I have to get to work one of these days and sculpt another batch of mini people. The keeper of this stall should be just a little shifty, as some of the items he has on sale (or she!) might well have dropped off the back of a truck....

 This week a stuffed envelope of plant kits arrived in the mail; once the hectic holiday season is over I'll get out my flower-making tools and put some of these together. The plant kits are intended for the Camp MiniHaHa '12 project, which means garden design is also on the horizon. As well, I will post another plant how-to.

Welcome to the new followers of this blog, and the people who wrote to say they enjoyed the plant instructions.

For Karen B.

The clematis vine in this photo is glued to a wire armature, with the green fiberfill stuff pulled very thinly along the wires and glued in place with glue dots. The two pails contain 1/4" 3-hole punch dot roses, made with 2 or 3 shades of paper.

The garden gazebo is a Joan Swanson design from a very old Nutshell News magazine, with a floor made of air-dry clay brick. One of the pails is a miniature pail, while the other is a Marr connector, which can be bought in the electric areas of hardware stores.

Monday, 10 December 2012

How to Make a Miniature Paper Poinsettia Plant

What you need is shown above: 3 x 6 red paper petal shapes, 35 green painted  paper leaf shapes, 3 small red dots, 10 pieces of paper wrapped floral wire, railroad red apples, tea leaves, tools, yellow paint, tacky glue and a prepared pot. You also need a blunt tapestry or wool needle, and a piece of craft foam for a shaping surface.

The bottom of the pot has a piece of lead split shot from the fishing dept. in the bottom, and then a plug of floral foam. I find the lead gives the pot a little heft, and makes it less like to tip over.
The red paper is commercial paper, while the green paper is hand-painted, darker on the bottom and lighter on the top. The little railroad apples were purchased at a model railroad store.

Step 1: Dip the end of 3 stems in tacky glue, stick onto the centre of a red paper dot, and allow to dry.
(Optional: Draw red veins on the tops of the petals and green veins on the leaf tops; I use a sharp colouring pencil.) Now using a blunt tapestry or wool needle, "draw" a central vein and 2 V-shaped veins on the bottom of each petal and leaf shape, echoing the coloured veining.

Step 2: Dip the tops of the red dots on the stems in tacky glue, swirl on wax paper, (this spreads and thins the glue), then dip in tiny red railroad apples. Use your fingers to push them lightly into shape. Allow to dry. The red petals and the green leaves in the photo above have been shaped with the needle. If they curl up too much, you can gently push them down over a fingertip.

Step 3: Dip the end of each petal in tacky glue, then glue to the underside of the red dot, 6 petals evenly spaced for each flower. Dip the end of each leaf into tacky glue, then place 1 on tip of each stem, and 2 pairs facing each other just below. Allow to dry. Touch the little red balls with a tiny spot of bright yellow paint; you can use a fine brush, pin, toothpick, or just the end of your finest ball stylus. Drop tacky glue on foam in pot, dip in tea leaves, push into shape and clear off edges of the pot. Allow to dry thoroughly.

Step 4: Cut the stems of your flowers to size, and plant in the centre of the pot by dipping the bottom of the stems in tacky glue. Cut the stems of your leaves to size, and plant them around the poinsettia flowers. I have also made poinsettias in hot pink, salmon pink, and pale ivory with green veining. To dress up your pots, you could wrap them in coloured foil or cellophane.

These leaves and petals were punched with dollar and craft store punches. I used a leaf with a curled tip and a stem for the coloured bracts, and a holly leaf shape for the leaves. In actuality, the leaves should all be the same, as what we think of as flowers are in fact the bracts of the plant; the real flowers are the tiny red and yellow balls!

All paper flowers should be kept out of direct sunlight, as paper will fade over time. You can spray the finished plant with a matte spray. The pink and salmon poinsettias are both several years old.

I hope you enjoyed this flower tutorial! I taught poinsettias in a class some years ago, when I was still working for our local public library. If you would like more flower tutorials, let me know and I will prepare some other plants - or, you could suggest plants and I could try to "invent" them.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Miniature Butcher's Market Stall

The butcher sells all sorts of meats, including ground beef, beef stew cubes, and oxtails. Along with those, he also sells home-made sausages of all kinds, including black pudding (which I do enjoy, in moderation). I was once asked to sell some of the black puddings to a young lady visiting my table at a show; she had a fiance who loved the stuff, and wanted to give him some in miniature. Hey, why not? So I sold her some. Angie Scarr's book once again provided the how-to's for most of the meats. Now that I have the idea, I can also copy meats from photos of the real thing.

The brass bars between the uprights hold slabs of  bacon and larger sausages, hanging on S-hooks. One of the fun things with these market stalls has been finding different scales for the various stalls. This particular scale reminds me very strongly of the scale used by my childhood best friend's parents, who had a butcher shop in Maastricht, The Netherlands. I'd really like to find a nice, in-scale meat slicer one of these days, the sort that delicatessen stores use to slice up the cold cuts.

The legs of lamb and the hams in this photo are caned, with the bones baked separately and inserted in the main portion of the meat before baking. This is a really good way of giving the impression of real raw meat.

One of the funnier stories in preparing this stall had to do with getting butcher's paper, the pink sort, just visible below the table surface under the hams; I went to a local deli, explained what I was doing, and asked if they could spare me a sheet of butcher paper. They gave me that and threw in some parchment paper as well. Total strangers are quite prepared to help miniaturists achieve reality in their settings, they don't even ask questions.

The butcher himself is another later doll; he just needs a straw hat to really look like an old-style butcher. The sandwich board is painted with real blackboard paint. The dogs, however, are vinyl dollar store finds. Every self-respecting butcher's stall should have a couple of dogs or cats hanging around waiting for a lucky spill!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Camp Mini Ha HA was interviewed by CBC Radio Halifax for Maritime Magazine. If you're interested in hearing this interview, click the coloured link at the beginning of this tiny posting....

I've mentioned this camp a number of times in the blog, and it will come up again and again. You can get a small taste of the fun and friendship this Camp has given miniaturists in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. Many if not most campers are returnees, although we always leave room each year for a small group of newbies, who we then proceed to indoctrinate in our own brand of mini mayhem. And oh yeah, we learn a lot too.....

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Miniature Delicatessen Market Stall

The lady womanning this stall is Margery; she has a little bit of history. Originally, she was going to be a Tudor cook, and was dressed for the period. However, the market needed another stall, Margery was unemployed (her setting wasn't finished), so off came the Tudor gear, her shoes were replaced with chunky heels (to be comfortable standing in the market the whole day), and she got a brand-new wardrobe.

She is pleasingly plump, wearing a white blouse, tweed skirt, hand-knit sweater, apron, and a silk head scarf made from a piece of tiny paisley-patterned neck-tie. Her gray-streaked hair is in a bun under that scarf. I quite like her twinkly smile and dimples. Margery was made once I discovered doll Sculpey, and fits between the Fimo dolls and the later dolls, in terms of "birth".

The stall is the standard Venus Dodge design, with the addition of a sneeze guard made from styrene painting blanks, which used to be available from dollar stores. Most of the stock was made based on designs by Angie Scarr, and once I was comfortable with making cheese and sausages, I borrowed a world cheese book from the library and created some of my own. This stall and the butcher's, yet to be featured, have brass bars between the uprights, from which sausages, bacon, cleaned fowl etc. can be hung with S-hooks made from pieces of paper-clip. You need the old-style clips for this, the new scored paper-clips will break rather than bend.

The butter deserves a special mention; it is simply pieces of 3/8" square balsa, wrapped in textured foil begged from a friend who smoked. Looks just real butter!
 I'd like to figure out a way to do a stand for eggs; flats of wood padded with straw stacked upon one another. The eggs would only have to be around the outside edges, as no one would see the middle of the stacks.

Welcome to my new follower from Australia!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Miniature Baker's Market Stall

The baker's stall was added when the market scene was being showcased at the library where I used to work over the Christmas period. It was exhibited  several years in a row for a month or more, and I tried to add a new stall every year, until the glass-shelved cupboard ran out of space. The food was all made by me, and the wedding cake and petits-fours are an indication of further familiarity with the wonders of using translucent clay. As far as I am concerned, it adds so much dimension to miniature food crafting.

The chocolate cake in the little showcase is a miniature copy of a wonderful cake I ate at a local hotel on some special occasion. It has little chocolate nests on it with pecans nestled into them. In the box is a fruit-topped cake with nuts on the edges, again based on a real cake I had somewhere.

The baker is a later one-of-a-kind Sculpey personage, who actually ended up looking like one of the university professors I saw regularly at the library. I don't know if he ever realized he had a miniature near-likeness, but I thought it was kind of fun.

This chap's hands are quite large, I was attempting to follow Jamie Carrington's instructions for modelling them - not quite successfully, I admit. The hands of all my little personages are bent to enable them to hold things, and my old technique didn't work quite as well with hands with separate fingers. Since then, I've gone back to "mitten" hands, with the fingers indicated but not separated.
Hands are very difficult!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving America

This is a sort of modern cornucopia - I made half a dozen of these for Camp MiniHaHa '11 as an exchange gift.

The new computer has been installed, and my fingers are working again; not perfectly as yet, but I can drive short distances and hold things with my thumb and first two fingers. The ring and baby finger are quite sore and will take a while to heal. My right hand and arm have jaundice to the elbow... (I crushed my right hand between the two halves of a freight elevator door last week!)

Ideas for miniatures come from the strangest places. This little harvest setting grew out of a yellow zucchini I was given by one of my fellow volunteers last year, and I liked the colour so much that I made a bunch of them in miniature. The zucchini is peeking out from behind the pumpkin.

The pumpkin was simplicity itself; wrap a layer of Fimo around a large glass marble, mark in the divisions, making sure two are right across from each other (all of my divisions are, in this case), chalk a bit of green on the top and bottom, and blend in a brownish-green stem. Bake and allow to cool. Using a new Xacto-type blade, slice through the clay along two divisions right across from each other. Remove marble. Glue the two halves of the pumpkin back together. You can also cut a pumpkin face out before baking. One of the small flickering tea lights from the dollar store will supply the candle inside the pumpkin for a lit Jack o'Lantern, and can be hidden under a table or crate or something. As these harvest crates were meant to sit on top of a wall-hung vignette box, the whole is glued to a piece of thin acetate cut from a report cover or sturdy plastic blister packaging.

Happy American Thanksgiving!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Miniature Fruit Seller and Market Stall

The old computer has died, R..I.P. This is coming from an ancient laptop, plugged into the wall. For some reason, it works better than the regular computer....

The market stall design is from Making Miniatures by Venus and Martin Dodge, David & Charles Publishers, 1993. The design is deceptively simple, and can be changed into any number of configurations, depending on how you do the table top. It will show up in more of the market stalls to come. Again, the crates are balsa, and need to be replaced, as they are falling apart, kind of. The vendor is one of my later dolls; this gentleman has a comb-over, not quite visible in this photo! The items in the stall are from a number of years of making foods, and some of them need replacement as they are very opaque rather than translucent; I have to thank Angie Scarr for teaching me, via her articles and books, on using transparent Fimo to make very realistic fruits and vegetables. This stall sells strawberries and raspberries, very labour-intensive, but really nice, as well as very easy blueberries; poppy seeds with a coat of matte varnish. Doesn't get much easier than that!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Miniature Between-the-Wars Market

Something did work finally, so I can start with the next batch of photos. This market barrow with its vendor was one of the first minis I ever made. The barrow came from the Venus Dodge book, and was finished in 1997. The wheels were a gift from a gentleman from Prince Edward Island I met at a miniature show; I was looking for wheels, there were none for sale, so he just asked for my address and sent me some. You certainly meet some very nice people in the mini world!

Having made the cart, it needed to be filled, so I turned to Joanne Swanson and my old Nutshells, invested in some Fimo, and began to make fruit and vegetables. This market barrow is old enough that the crates are made of balsa wood, and the labels on them were saved from real-life human fruits and vegetables.

Bruno is the vendor; the third doll I ever made, and for whom I used Fimo. Never again once I discovered Sculpey II however, as this Fimo wasn't translucent and far too pink for my tastes. The Sculpey II comes in l lb. bricks, and I have a supply of it handy at all times. It can be tinted to various skin tones with the addition of very small amounts of Fimo or other clays.

To dress Bruno, I turned to Sue Atkinson's book. I knit his vest, using a set of antique lace needles, very fine, and the type of thread used in punch-needle work. Miniature knitting can only be done in full daylight, and if you drop a stitch, just dump the thing and start again! As well, the acrylic thread is quite fuzzy, and all the fuzzy bits grip like spider web. His pants were made from a small sample of men's wear suiting fabric, a godsent for anyone dressing miniature people.

This was also my first experience with DAS/Prang air-dry clay,used for the cobbles of the base. As I didn't realize that it could be tinted with light washes of watered-down paint, I used full-strength acrylic paints. And you can't use mini-hold wax on it, as it lifts the paint. So all my dolls have to be able to stand on their own.

The rest of the market will show up in subsequent posts; the market isn't finished, of course. None of my miniatures ever are, as I always end up adding to them. I've begun on a flower cart, and intend to add a fish stall, a second-hand book seller, and a Christmas stall for seasonal displays.

By the way, the burlap bag is the inside of a bag that came with a bottle of sherry; you never know where you can find good fabric for minis!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Computer Woes

Whatever has gone wrong with this computer has made it impossible for pictures to be uploaded from my camera to the blog. As my chief tech, aka my youngest daughter, is unavailable for at least two more days, I will not be able to post pictures for that time period, and perhaps longer if the problem is more than just the ability to upload pictures, or until the new computer arrives.

One of the things I've been trying to figure out is how long I've been actively involved in miniatures; I know that as long ago as 1993, we were travelling to Moncton, NB and Bangor, ME to attend miniature shows there, because I had one of my daughters' friends from Junior High (since replaced by Middle School) with us on one of the earlier visits. The first book I purchased, I got in Bangor, ME in 1996. So it's been 16 to 19 years of serious miniature activity, at least. What I can't remember is what triggered the visits to shows; somewhere I must have been exposed to one-twelfth scale seriously enough that any show within reasonable driving distance had to be visited. The furthest of those, long ago, would have been the Boothbay Harbor, ME show, which required a day of driving and an overnight stay. Once, when my father was still with us, I got to the MET Show in Toronto, staying with him in Oakville nearby.

Most of those shows are now gone. The only ones I am aware of in the Canadian Maritimes, where I live, are the Moncton Miniature and Doll Show each May, and more recently, the CFB Shearwater Hobby Show in Halifax/Dartmouth each April. The nearest miniature club to me is the one in Moncton, a considerable drive especially in winter weather. The next nearest are in Nova Scotia. That means I mostly mini alone now, as the two friends I've gotten together with irregularly in the past are dealing with health issues and not travelling much; we live about a 90 mins. drive from each other.

Books and magazines are one way I've learned; without them, I doubt I'd have been able to learn about scale and construction methods. I have collected most of the old Nutshell News, the small size, and find them to be invaluable. I learned the most from Joanne Swanson in the beginning; when I became a bit more comfortable with woodworking, I began working from Chris Dukeman's articles. Since then, I've been given or purchased every good miniature book out there, including a number that have been out of print for decades.

Because my main interest is the Tudor period now, I began getting Dollhouse and Miniature Scene from the UK five or more years ago, after a mini friend passed on some of her old ones to me. I own most of their quarterly Project magazines, and have made quite a few items from those instructions. I also at times am able to get hold of the two Dutch magazines, as well as the German one.

In March of this year, I had the trip of a lifetime, travelling with a Nova Scotia friend to the UK, where we had a miniatures-based holiday, including a trip to Birmingham Miniatura. We stayed with a British friend nearby, and the three of us subsequently travelled on to The Netherlands, to see the XXSmall Exhibition in The Hague, and visit the huge Dolls House Nederland show in Arnhem. The three of us met originally at Camp MiniHaHa in Nova Scotia. We met up there again this September, and will be back September of 2013.

It has been said that the dollhouse hobby is disappearing; however, I beg to differ! The Netherlands publishes two mini magazines, Germany one, the UK three or more, and there is a good one in Spain as well. Shops have been opened in Italy and Turkey; go to a  big show, and there will be vendors and artisans from around the world. Japan produces an excellent series of (pricey) magazines and books, and if you visit eBay on a regular basis, you know that lots of minis are being made in the Far East these days.
We are probably dealing with switching over from brick-and-mortar stores to electronic stores, and once the economic slump settles, I hope some of the old shows will return.

On my must visit list are the Chicago shows, the Philadelphia Show, and the IGMA show in New York. I am lucky, in that I can drive to Castine, ME and back easily in one day, so I've been able to visit their shows of teachers' and students' world-class miniatures.

I need to finish knitting those socks, so I can get back to working on my minis....

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Miniature Embroidered Medieval-ish Tapestry

Miniature needlework is one of the things I really enjoy; if I see something that speaks to me, I do it, even if I don't actually have a use for it right away. This was one of those pieces. It came as a set of 3 graphs for a folding screen, in Pamela Warner's book, Miniature Embroidery for the Tudor and Stuart Dolls' House. I didn't particularly want a folding screen, but I did want a millefleur-type tapestry, so I decided to join the three graphs together to make a single hanging.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the right-hand graph with the pond had an extra row on it, not until I had begun on the other two parts in an attempt to get the thing to match....

Anyways, it completely threw off the other two graphs, so I had to fudge somewhat in the foliage of the tree. It worked out in the end, and I am quite pleased with. Originally, the thought was to hang it on the main bricked wall of the Tudor market hall council chamber; however, it may be too big for that. There is the castle we began at Camp MiniHaHa two years ago, it would fit well in that. However, that castle is far from complete, I still have to carve the wall blocks into it.

My December issue of Dolls House and Miniature Scene arrived this week, and it has a really good wizard costume in it. It is supposed to be Merlin, but it reminds me too much of Saruman from Lord of the Rings - the long, white square beard is too reminiscent of Sir Christopher Lee's characterization in that film. Next month we get a costume for Morgan Le Fay, another villain. But perhaps she could become Nimue, a sort of villain but also Merlin's protege for a while. Hmmm, perhaps the castle, if and when it is finished, will house a wizardly pair. That would allow me to use some of the wizardly gifties and tidbits from CMHH, as well as have a nice, big wall to hang the above tapestry on.

Back to this tapestry; it is likely the one and only large, fine-count piece I will ever do. I think it is 36 ct. linen, and every stitch of it had to be worked under a 3X magnifying lens, using a single strand of floss.
My family used to hide when I was working on it, it frustrated me that much at times.....

Thursday, 1 November 2012

This Computer is on its last legs...

This computer, which is fairly old as far as computers go, is constantly conking out. As a result, a new one has been ordered, and will hopefully arrive soon. That means that I may have some problems posting on the blog, if it coincides with another down period.

I will continue, but there may be a bit of a lag until the next post....

In the meantime, if the weather gets sunny, I'll take another batch of photos of miniatures to share with you. Keep well, and hopefully we'll be back in touch soon.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Post Tropical Storm Sandy

We have weathered the storm, which gave us rainy weather since Sunday. It has been quite gloomy, and the lights have to be on pretty much all day. So far, all we've had is a brief blip with the power; we have electric heat, and an electric pump in our well, and cook with electricity, so no electricity puts us back to the dark ages for a while - for you city dwellers, that means we can't even flush the toilets. Today, we saw a bit of blue sky, but then the rolls of dark gray clouds flew in again. No horrible winds, thank heavens, but we did have a freakish thunder and lightning storm this morning at 2 a.m. Also, the security light in our driveway, which is motion-activated (we live in the country), came on and stayed on. I checked to see if the local deer herd was sheltering in front of the garage, but saw only flying leaves and buckets of rain.

Our house is filling up with Hallowe'en visitors, as our daughter and a couple of friends are hosting a gaming night, with a horror movie playing in the background. Already in the house are Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty (who is pregnant and can't zip her robe closed any more!), her husband the Jedi Knight, complete with a light saber I could really covet, complete with sound effects, and our daughter in her steampunk outfit. A Sailor Moon is expected, as well as ten or more other assorted costumes. These four costumes were designed and custom-made by my daughter.  My husband and I are hiding in the basement family room....

The last photo I had taken to share with you decided to turn itself sideways when I tried to move it out of its folder, so I will have to get my daughter to help tomorrow after the party is cleaned up, to try and get it right side up. If the sun comes out, I will do up another set of photos - there is a between-the-wars market setting with half a dozen stalls and customers, as well as all the food etc. for sale, that I made quite a few years ago. It has spent the Christmas period in the local public library for years, but now that I'm retired, it lives in a box. Pulling it out and dusting it off will be a good thing!

Hope this evening is a pleasant one, with only treats, no tricks.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Further to Aging....

Before I discovered chalk aging, I used very watery colour washes. This is what I used on this particular building. The paint underneath is a textured paint called suede, which was custom coloured to a meerschaum pipe colour. I have a quart of it, which means quite a lot of buildings can still be coloured with this paint.

Aging comes to me from the artwork of Anton Pieck, a Dutch artist who is best known for his Dickensian scenes, generally including timbered buildings that are quite discoloured and worn with age. I always loved his illustrations, and have used some of his ideas in my minis. I think Mr. Pieck may also have inspired Rik Pierce, as his buildings remind me of Pieck's work. Some miniaturists in South Africa have reproduced Pieck-type buildings in one-twelfth scale, and they look just wonderful.

My trip to the US had the hoped-for results, as I was able to buy the matte exterior sealer I use on all my paper-clay brickwork; it was no longer available at our local Michael's store. As well, I was able to find some basswood in the sizes I needed to continue work on the Japanese scene I was working on. Michael's these days carries Revel basswood, which becomes completely "furry" when you touch it, even with a 600 or 800 grit sandpaper.  A.C.Moore's in Bangor still carries MidWestern basswood, thank heavens! Of course, I have to drive for four blessed hours through the piney woods to get there....

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Age Can Be Wonderful....

The Tudor House, like the Tudor Market, closes up completely. The narrow view is the actual front of the house, which stands on a corner, while the view with the door opens on the other street. The wider walls are the ones that come out. Currently, they are a straight friction fit, but I may have to come up with something else once I get the support brackets on under the eave beams.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I am off to Bangor, ME for the day with my daughter. It will be the last long trip before the winter hits. Given the weather in my neck of the woods, it's unlikely we'll be making any other long trips until April. On the list are visits to A.C. Moore's and Joanne's Fabrics, in the hope of scoring some mini supplies I can no longer get here. Her main goal is a visit to Hot Topix, a punky sort of clothing store heavily inspired by Japanese street fashions.

We are tidying up the garden in anticipation of Tropical Storm Sandy brushing by us on Monday....

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A Market Needs Foodstuffs to Sell

Markets aren't markets without things to sell. When the Olympic Torch came through CFB Gagetown on its way to Vancouver, I was asked to display my Tudor miniatures for the Cultural Expo being held at the base. Every school child in the district came through that show, and I had an absolute ball.

This is the equivalent of a fast food place. The customer can purchase ale and a main course of a pasty, easy to carry while doing the shopping. I found a wonderful resource on line, a Food Time Line which shows you exactly when people began eating certain foods. Another good resource for period food, especially the medieval period, is the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA).

The vegetables include red, green and white cabbages, two types of beans, beets, turnips, onions, leeks, garlic and wild mushrooms. There wasn't really a very great variety to the medieval menu, so some very strange combinations were used to add some differences. As well, without refrigeration meat and other animal protein product tended to spoil. One of the pasties in the fast food place is a mix of fish and fruit -
so not appetizing to me!

Not too much fruit as yet: small pippin apples, green pears, regular apples and prune plums. I need to add some exotics like quince, some precious oranges, and pomegranates.

And then there's the seafood, a very important part of the medieval diet. The wooden tub contains rainbow trout, each painstakingly painted by hand, a design from Kiva Atkinson. The basket contains cod, the heavy buckets have oysters in them (designs by Angie Scarr)  and three buckets of eels which were a tidbit from Camp MiniHaHa. Most large homes had their own stew-ponds, where they raised fish for the table, as did large religious institutions like abbeys and convents. At least it was fresh! For religious reasons, everyone ate fish on Friday, and every day during the forty days of Lent leading up to Easter. People became quite sneaky, designating things like ducks and swans as seafood, in order to have meat on the table on fish days....

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Dolls or No Dolls? I Love Them...

Here are the Tudor children who currently populate the Market Hall. Children are not my forte, I do better with adults. They all have stories; the little boy in blue is the son of the seamstress, who re-uses parts of old garments to make nice clothes for her son. The child standing above the others in the back is the local lord's son, a very naughty but nice child who has a knack for getting himself and his friends in trouble. His best friend is the hatless youngster, the woodcutter's son - he needs a leather hat, but I have to learn how to work leather first. The youngster in the chamois waistcoat is the shepherd's son, who is supposed to be out on the hills helping his father.

The little girls are generally dutiful children, but they too have their moments. The little one in the green  print skirt is very shy. The child with the pink skirt is the oldest daughter, and her mother has many small ones at home, so she is mother's little helper. The girl with the green skirt is learning how to work at her parents' inn, while the oldest girl, in pale orange, is a merchant's daughter.

Dolls have appeared in my miniatures since the beginning. This group came into being on one day, while my son was visiting from Alberta. While talking with him, these little people just kind of came into existence. They are still waiting for their parents and other adults...

When I was a small child, I had a tiny cloth doll, made by a great-aunt who was a cloistered, Carmelite nun. At about age 5 or so, I visited Aunt Julia when she was dying, and the tiny doll she made for me was also called Julia. I remember her as having silk skin and embroidered hair in a dark bob. I probably made beds and the like for her, so perhaps she is the beginning of my fascination with miniatures. Sadly, Julia was lost not long before we emigrated to Canada - I suspect she was carried off by a cat.

Dolls in miniature settings are somewhat of a source of polarization with miniaturists. I really like them, as I feel they give life to my  miniature scenes. However, I quite symphatize with people who feel they detract from their wonderfully realistic settings. It isn't easy getting a 10cm sculpted doll on a bendable skeleton, wearing stiff fabrics, to look realistic.

Catherine Meuniere and Marie-France Beglan are two sisters, who in my opinion make the most wonderful dollhouse people in the world. I am totally in awe of their  mothers and children. Their dolls are stylized, beautifully dressed, and very, well, real looking....

Thank You and Possible Computer Problems

Thank you to the people viewing my blog, and especially to those who have posted comments; I love to share my work, and I appreciate hearing what others think of it! I am also very open to sharing how I made something, as I learned from other welcoming miniaturists this way.

Our computer is having some problems the last couple of days. I will try to post again this evening, but the darn thing is not happy with us right now.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

We're back to the Tudor Market Hall. The design is by Brian Long, from a DHMS Projects Quarterly. Quite a bit of time was spent on the cobbles and kerb stones, each cobble being shaped by hand. I guess I'm just a bit obsessive! One of my favourite activities is ageing my structures; this corner, by the jail, shows the moss and weeds growing between the cobbles, and the rising damp from the ground. The stone and brick work is DAS/Prang air-dry clay, and is done inside the market as well as outside; the only place not bricked in are the three walls of the upstairs council chamber, they are painted to represent whitewash.

The market hall is a miniature version of a real one, currently in the Wealds and Downlands Museum.

This is a front view of the market; it is lop-sided because I held the camera at an angle, but someday I will learn.

The jail side of the market hall, with the stairs going up to the council chamber door.

The market view, with the removable wall to the council chamber removed to allow a view. The livestock will eventually find a place in the market, the horses just have to look less "plastic".

The council chamber has a series of settle benches with embroidered cushions; even the scribe's stool has a cushion. I still have to make him a lap desk to write on. At some point, when I figure out how, I intend to add sliding shutters over the windows, which are of the old style without glass.

The only people in the market at this point are the children; I still have to make the adults. The rich boy and the shepherd's son are on the balcony looking at something up in the sky...

One of the things I really like about English dolls' houses is that fact that they close; in this photo, the removable wall of the council chamber is in place. However, the front roof is not in place as yet, I ran out of card to make the slates.

And this is why I like dolls' houses that close. Cupcake can't get in to the council chambers, but she certainly has a very good time slinking in and out of the market area. Amazingly, she doesn't knock over all that much, which is a good thing, as I don't like glueing food into place. Upset an apple basket, and several dozen miniature apples are rolling about the ground!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

This scullery roombox grew out of the mangle in the right back corner; two friends and I meet irregularly to "do minis", and one day we did this. It was so  much fun, we kept on going, and a room box got started to hold it all. The sink and copper came from Carol and Nigel Lodder's book. The folding drying rack and the 2-position folding ironing board were my original designs. I especially like the pine settle; it was the first time I did faux painting in miniature, adding light graining and knot holes. Again, air-dry clay was widely used, even for the copper which is hiding under the wooden lid. The floor is water-proofed with exterior matte varnish, and grouted with dry-wall compound. Since this photo was taken, some vintage laundry product boxes were added, including "blueing" which I remember from my childhood.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Working on CMHH12 Project

This year's Camp MiniHaHa project was an inside-outside scene. The interior is mostly done, and I am beginning to make the flowers for the small outside garden. The hollyhocks were an experiment, one I am very pleased with; they are made with coffee filters, markers, paint and the usual bits and pieces of mini flowers. Coffee filters take colour very well, especially professional markers like Copics, which have a pointy end and a flat, chisel-point end. They do take time, though; about three days from start to finish, with all the drying times in between!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Slate Roof Made from Cardboard

This is the cardboard "slate" roof of the Tudor Market Hall. As mentioned on The Camp, it is made from strips of cardboard from the back of a flip chart, as I like to have the strips the full width of the roof I am finishing. Half of them start with a full tile, the other with a half tile. This is only half of the roof; the front half with the ridge tiles is not on in this photo.

This is a close-up of the slate roof, to show the paint effects.

For fun, I included this donkey, a repainted  Dollar Store find that had the maddest staring eyes. This little donkey will get a medieval pack saddle and a load to support in the market hall setting. By the way, that is not a person on the side; my daughter is a costume designer, and this is one of her dummies. As you can see in the distance, I also quilt....

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Tudor House Interior

This is the ground floor of the Tudor house; a view to the window wall on the left. In the rear is a trestle table with a table carpet and some other embroideries. Samples of blackwork are in the small chest, which doubles as a table. In the foreground is the frame, on which one of the ladies of the house is commencing another piece of embroidery. The floor is partly painted tiles liberated from a monastery, and partly beaten earth.

 This is a view of the kitchen and living quarters. On the right is the stairwell going down, on the left the one going up. There is now a fire in the fireplace, so this photo will have to be replaced at some point!

The upper floor is the bedroom. There is a trundle bed under the canopied bed, and a cradle for the baby. The older lady has her carding at hand; the carding combs are based on a Viking version found near York in the U.K. The spindle is in the basket, and a footwarmer stands ready in case it gets cold.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

This is my first dollhouse, although I prefer to think of it as a miniature structure. It is The House That Moved, from the Brian Nickoll's book. My house is intended to be middle class; the inhabitants have a shop that sells embroidery. The setting is late Tudor. Just about everything in the house was made by me, including one or two silver pieces. My ideas come from books, magazines in various languages, and once in a while from my own designs based on paintings or photos of historical artifacts. I still have to purchase metal, pottery and glass; I don't know if I will ever learn to do these on my own. 

The stone- and brick-work is made with air-dry clay. The beaten earth floor on the lowest story is drywall compound. There is a little lighting; the fireplaces, and some sconces. This is not complete - in fact, I don't know if it will ever be truly finished, there always seems to be something more to do....

Hello World

The intent of this blog is to showcase my miniatures. I especially enjoy recreations of historical Tudor and medieval structures and their contents, although I do have some other, smaller projects.

 Stay tuned for photos and updates!