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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!