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Friday, 19 July 2013

Attempts at Miniature Woodworking

It's been an interesting week or so. Last week Friday my car was totalled while my younger daughter was driving home from work; fortunately, she is fine except for some soft tissue injuries, pains in her neck and back. It took several days before the body shop was ready to do the estimate, and on Monday afternoon I got the word that they had stopped the estimate as they had already exceeded $15,000 in parts and labour. Goodbye, little black Echo, I had hoped you and I would fall apart at the same time!

I am so grateful my daughter wasn't seriously hurt, or worse.

So yesterday I picked up my nearly new car, a repo 2012 Hyundai Accent with less than 4,000 km on it. It is bright red, which pleases my daughter no end - much more youthful than plain black. She shares my car with me to get to work, as we live outside the city and thus have no public transport available.

I've been working on UFO's some more, as well as making some new things and repairing some broken items. My confidence in my ability to do woodworking isn't that great, but I do enjoy trying smaller woodworking projects.

The red and green "antique" boxes and the dirty white garden carrier are going into my things for sale, along with the barn-red  small bench. The bird-house bench and narrow planter are pieces I'd like to decorate somewhat like what I saw in one of my many old mini magazines, the problem is that I can't remember which one! So I am sort of re-reading most of them in the hope that I will stumble on the correct ones. My memory tells me they were photos featured in show reports, hope I am remembering that correctly.  I have yet to tackle my years of the smaller old Nutshell News, because I think I got the idea from one of the larger format magazines. Re-reading them feels sort of like a waste of time, unfortunately, I'd rather be making things.

 The Versailles planter boxes are going to be white over a light stain, in order to antique them a bit. I'd like to try making an orange and a lemon tree to go into them. The blue bucket bench needs to have water stains and rings added to it. And the robin's-egg blue painted bench will go with the CMHH '12 project, it goes very well with the ochre wall tones. The design for that came from one of the Dutch doll-house magazines, and I've wanted to try it since I first saw it.

While waiting for paint and glue to dry I've been working on a gorgeous  Aubusson carpet in 1/24 scale, for the auction at Camp MiniHaHa '13. The design is from a German website, an amazing lady who works in 1/144 scale, Anna Carin Betzan. My version of the carpet is done on 22 ct. canvas. I'll post a photo when it is done, as I only have the baby blue background left to do.

Next on the list of things to do is to try eggshell carton paving for the CMHH '12 project; it came with small pieces of real slate, but there isn't enough to do the whole front of the vignette, so egg cartons will have to do. I saw the Victoria Miniland example while I was in Victoria in March, and it was very impressive. If the paving works, I may do the chimney stack in my Tudor house in egg carton bricks - I need something that won't stick out as much as bricking, and some of the items I've seen done on blogs lately look really good. Tudor bricks tended to be larger in size than modern brick, as well as being orangey and brownish rather than brick red.

 While visiting Windsor Castle last year, I found a whole compound of wonderful bricked Tudor buildings below the chapel on the grounds; I believe they used to house the clerical staff of the chapel originally. One of these days I will post some photos of them, they were built in a circle with a gate, and a street with larger buildings leading off it. Private dwellings now, I was allowed in to take
photos by one of the residents, for which I am most grateful.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

One of My First Minis, a UFO: The Artist Studio

If you are going to have an artist's studio, you need paintings to go into it; these are 10 small paintings I did many years ago for the studio. The coin for comparison is a 10 cent piece. I am not really an artist; I cheated with this, borrowing books on learning how to paint from the library and doing the steps in miniature, on pieces of matboard. My favourites are the scene with the cows, as the water looks very much like water, and the seascape with the rocky shore. My least favourite is the winter scene in the top row, as the bushes are too red for my liking.

Some five years ago I did some more miniature paintings, 5 of them, as gift exchange items for the Camp MiniHaHa attic roombox scene we did. Those were all portraits in the American Primitive style, worked from illustrations in an art book. So somewhere out there are 5 more, probably unsigned, paintings!

The furniture for studio came from a couple of sources, with the artist's working furniture made from Helen Ruthberg's book, Miniature Room Settings. I love the drafting table, which has a metal rail and knurled knobs (old watch parts) on the sides, a metal edge on one side and a stop at the front. She also designed the tabouret, easel and work table, and many of the tools on top; T-square, set squares, brushes, sandpaper paddle, cleaning brush, etc. The little tabouret contains a rubber brayer, sticks of Conte crayon, a portfolio, and as yet unfinished paint jars and a turpentine can.

Here is a less cluttered photo. The box with the tubes of paint needs a little colour added to it, time to get out the marker pens. And that easel and table  are far too clean for a working artist!

The living furniture came mostly from Carol and Nigel Lodder's book, Making Dolls' House Interiors. The two chair seats were made with hemp jewelry cord, and were inspired by Vincent van Gogh's bedroom chair. I am very fond of the warm golden brown colour of my favourite stain, Ipswich Pine, and use it for just about everything. The two shelf units are unpainted, as I need to decide on my artist's colour scheme.

The photo above is a closer look at the living furniture. There is a roombox for everything to go into; I wanted it to look like a factory loft conversion, so had put a roof skylight in, with textured glass. Unfortunately, the framing let go, I re-glued it, and now the glass doesn't fit. My intention was to make a removable front with mesh wired glass windows and brickwork top, bottom and sides.

The roombox for all this stuff (and more that I purchased) is the one Ms. Ruthberg suggested, with a raised area at the back, where the artist lives, and the studio space at the front. It has a door, but it is too short, so needs to come off. (I suspect I made it with instructions for a 1/16 scale scene!)  I am having a hard time with that, as I made it myself with laboriously sanded panels in it, and glued-on items rarely come off without damaging the MDF they are glued on. It is huge, and lives on a shelf in the basement storage area, until such time as I get the courage to take it apart and re-do it. There is a bed, but the mattress has yet to be made. I've already got a wonderful, aged oriental carpet to go into this scene. Oh yes, the raised area needs a railing, something else I have to make as yet.

By the way, any decorative work on the furnishing was done with files, knives and sandpaper. I am not really comfortable with power tools. My husband gave me a Dremel tool years ago; it lives in his workshop and he uses it....

I am working away at the Camp MiniHaHa '12 project, as well as finishing off some small UFO projects, like antique boxes, a couple of small benches, Versailles planters, bucket bench, flower box, and a birdhouse bench, all items that have been sitting around for years. Some of them will go into the CMHH project, others will go into my box to take to shows and, hopefully, sell.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Designing a Dollhouse Garden and Making Plants

Last year's Camp MiniHaHa project has been tidied up a bit, reinforced by wooden framing on the edges of the vignette and along the interior floor. The edges of the walls were framed with wood veneer strips to hide the pink bufoam, but were unable to correct the bowing of the uninterrupted wall; you can see the shadow created by the bow in the foam. I've decided to live with this; really, I have no other choice, if I try to bend things I'll wreck the whole structure, most likely.

These are some of the flowers I've prepared to landscape the outside of the vignette. Some of them were from the kits we were provided with, some are my own design. The next step will be to plant them to see how they will work best. I am hoping to have a wrought-iron fence along the edge of the setting, but have to see if that will hide the flowers too much. I kind of think I will need something like a clematis climbing up the wall by the chimney to extend the garden upwards a little. Designing a miniature garden is almost as much work as designing a full-size one! And of course, there is the birdhouse with the robin, and the cat, to fit in as well.

The areas painted dark brown are going to be garden beds, along the chimney wall, and a slate walkway in front of the shop. The bare section is where I hope to put the polymer clay "granite" footings for the fence, as you can see there isn't all that much space. I think there may be a shabby chic wrought iron plant holder by the window, and some other planters and pots as well. This little scene needs lots of colour.

It is intended to be a little shop in the area of France where they grow flowers for the perfume industry, primarily lavender, although I will have other scents available as well. This means making lots of bottles, all of which will need nice labels, which I have yet to find. Also, soap and bath salts and toilet water and other pretty scented items. And of course, furnishings for inside the shop. I did buy some very nice pieces at Victoria Miniland in March, but am leaning towards making my own after all; I visualize this place as being rather shabby chic in appearance, so somewhat worn off-white or white appeals to me for the furniture finishes.

While in Arnhem last March, I bought a wonderful sheet of printies from Iris Arentz, which will inspire the interior of the shop. She did a soap market stall, which is the inspiration for my project.
Lots of saturated colour, like deep gold and purple....