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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Miniature Foxglove Plants - The First of Many....

This was a kit from The Miniature Garden in the UK, bought at least two plus years ago in Birmingham. It took me this long to get up the courage to make these plants, and it has taken me three whole days!

Each blossom head consists of 40 tiny tubular flowers in 3 sizes, laboriously glued into a tiny tube around a pointed tweezer; then each flower head was dipped in paint for the sepal (my own addition); and then the "lip" of the blossoms had to be teased out with tweezers. Then there are 50 leaves on each plant, in 4 sizes. Except for the smallest leaves, they had to be hand cut. The tiniest blossom  "tube" was formed from a rolled, 1/8" (3 mm?) heart shape, while the largest was 1/4" or approx. 6 mm in size....

And I have to make at least 5 more for the foxglove patch in the Apothecary Garden to look good! However, I will have to punch my own blossoms for these, and I think I will make my teeny components just a little bit larger. The effect is very good, but the amount of work involved is crazy.

The Miniature Garden's kits use scrapbooking card for the leaves, personally I prefer paper that has been hand painted to add some colour variation. And I think the leaves are a little too large, really, except for the very top ones.

Along with 5 more foxglove plants, I also have to make at least 2 more velvet-leaf mullein plants; that kit (Verbascum in the UK) also  made 2 plants, but there was enough material for me to make one more. The mullein plants also require hand-cut leaves; I will check the provided card against what my local Michael's has in the scrapbooking section, before I paint my own paper.

The instructions for at least 3 more medicinal plants are available on the internet, two of them in French, and very complicated; belladonna, deadly nightshade, and St. John's Wort. However, they are essential. An idea has come to me how to make the garden, so I will sketch that out and run the specifics by my carpenter-in-chief; after all, it was his idea to add an herb garden!

In my stash is a white metal dolphin wall fountain; painted like verdigris copper, this would be a wonderful addition, next to the garden gate. I also like the idea of a turf seat under a rose arbour, and 4 to 6 raised beds with wattle edgings, for the smaller plants, with gravelled walkways in between. The large plants will go against the walls, and I hope to add two or three espaliered fruit trees along those walls as well.

This wall was photographed in Arnhem, The Netherlands while I was on mini tour there; it is in the old part of the city, and struck me then as the perfect outside wall for my Apothecary Garden; I just love the diamond-shaped windows with their metal fretwork! Behind this lovely old wall was a bricked terrace area, with potted plants around the edges, like something out of a gardening magazine....

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Santa Did Bring Some Minis

Santa decided my Apothecary Shop needed a jar of medicinal leeches; I really don't like the idea of these things, having been threatened with them as a child, but I do agree they are required in a proper apothecary shop. This jar of the creepy crawlies came with a very fine wooden bowl containing bloodied bandages and an apparently dead leech. Wonder what happened to the patient!

This will look gruesomely great in the shop, eventually!

There are actually four of these pattern envelopes; obviously someone took note of the fact that there are a couple of plastic dress forms among my supplies! I see a dressmaking vignette in my future....

These gifts came from my younger daughter; my older daughter supplied larger, doll-size props appropriate for my Sasha Morgenthaler doll collection. My son and his wife gifted me with another year of Doll House and Miniature Scene magazine, while my Carpenter-in-Chief is giving me a year's subscription to the Dutch dollhouse magazine of my choice; there are two, but one is easier to subscribe to from overseas than the other.

Thanks to all the Santas! A miniaturist friend from Camp MiniHaHa, Maureen H., sent me a pair of Aitken's Pewter coat of arms plates, for my lamp vignette. This was a very good Christmas for miniatures for me....

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas, Everyone

Well, I found the instructions for the other poppy kit, but I put the kit components in a "safe" place, and three days later I still have not been able to find them. And here I thought I was sorting things out quite nicely!

Things outside are not as Christmas-card pretty as last year; it is foggy, and we are promised rain for Christmas day. However, there is a good load of snow down, so it is sort of a White Christmas.

I hope you will all enjoy visits with friends and family, enjoy good food, and excellent company. Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Frohe Weinachten, Gelukkig Kerstfeest, and Feliz Navidad. Hopefully, Santa Claus will bring  a mini or two!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Poppy Cultivation in Miniature

These Oriental Poppies are from a Ruth Hanke (Hanky Panky Crafts) kit I purchased many years ago. The kit called for White-Out Fluid which is not exactly easily available these days, but I decided to try using a gel pen instead, on a scrap of the tissue paper, and it worked quite well. So I decided that tonight, I would finish these opium poppies, which will go into the Tudor Apothecary Garden when it is built.

The kit, like most of them, was a multi-step one; and I used dinner to dry out the gel pen enough that I could go over it with a .005 black Pigma pen. The effect is quite dramatic; two petals of each flower had the black and white treatment, and I am now tempted to try it in deep rose for a white poppy, or purple for a rose one. I tend to make these flowers assembly-line style; first all the tops, then the petals, then the leaves, with lots of drying time in between to avoid tissue paper petals sticking to me and everything else on my work surface.

The buds are cheats; I was supposed to paint mustard seeds, but as I had seed beads in the right colour, I used those for the buds instead. As they sort of lurk among the blooming poppies, they should pass nicely.

Drawing on tiny tissue paper petals is a bit nerve-wracking, especially when your black pen seems to be running dry! But there was an excellent tip in the kit; tack each petal to be painted to the adhesive strip of a post-it note, to keep it from moving while working on it (and to keep from sneezing them away, or the cat from just plain batting them away). It worked a treat. These tissue flowers will need to be sprayed to prevent fading, which tissue is very prone to.

And since I had started these flowers about a year ago, I can now mark another unfinished (small) project off my list! There are, however, some more poppies barely started that I have to find the instructions for; I hope they are in one of my magazines. This second group uses a bead as the centre of the poppy; it will be interesting to see what the final product looks like.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

My Wall of Shame: UFO Number 1, December 2014

This is one big beast of a project: a fishing shack on a pier on a beach. It was the Camp MiniHaHa 2008 project, based on a Joann Swanson design (we got permission from her), from the larger format NN. The shack sits on the pier, which is fixed to the beach base. The pilings are real Bay of Fundy driftwood, aged and darkened to look like the sea comes in regularly.

The shack itself is barn red board and batten siding, and a cedar shingle roof, battered by years of Atlantic Ocean storms, with white trim. My original plan was to have a woman tugboat captain, in retirement, now writing her memoirs and living in the shack she inherited from her father. However, the shack turned out to be too small to make it living quarters for anyone, so the project has sat for 6 years....

The captain's bed will go, although the bookshelf will stay. The dog will also stay, he'd look quite nice lying on the deck of the pier. The wonderful writing table was purchased from an Australian miniaturist, during an on-line miniature show, several years ago, and will be the main take-off for the "story" of the shack.

Did I mention that I collect "stuff" in shoeboxes for my projects? This project has 2 boxes, the stuff above is the landscaping stuff; driftwood "logs", shells, seaweed, sand, gravel, rocks, you name it, it is there. Funnily enough, none of it stinks any more, but perhaps I am smelling selectively! The beach already has a coat of sand, but as you can see the front of the beach needs more, the coverage on the built-up area wasn't great. This is something I can probably do indoors; however, pouring the resin for the seawater will have to wait until I can do it outdoors, in five months or so!

And then there is the shoebox of "stuff" to go inside the project! A dory, lobster pots, fish barrel and creels, food, pots, pans, chair, slicker, 2 sou'wester hats, 2 pairs of rubber boots, lobster buoys, more shells, starfish galore, pictures, cushions and paintings, enough gulls to clear out a garbage dump, even a pelican, it just goes on and on. There is also a tiny, 3-prong fishhook, less than 1 cm (3/8") long. There's a can for worms and a fishing rod, two rope mats and one braided one, as well as nautical brass minis. And a lot of it will probably not fit; the scene is massive, the base measuring 50 cm (19.5") by 43 cm (17"), while with the shack on top, it is 50 cm (19.5") high. The shack itself has a footprint of 25 x 20 cm (10 x 8").

What will likely happen with this scene is a complete change of story; it will be a writer's retreat, rather than a place to live in, a sort of weekend cottage, with minimal facilities for making meals and hot drinks.  There will be lots of nautical and maritime stuff on the deck and beach areas, and perhaps a sleeping bag in the loft for long nights. I have a lovely Shaker stove kit, nice and compact, which will go into the scene, and I'll likely add a small sink area for washing up, along with a small table and chair for eating at. The outside will have lobster floats, glass floats, fishing gear, and as much beach stuff as I can get in without overcrowding the scene, with the boat on the beach, of course.

It may yet change as I get back to work on it; certainly the shack could be done indoors over the winter, and some of the basic landscaping. Only the water has to wait for spring. That should empty one box nearly completely, while the decorative indoor and shack stuff can be pared down to what will fit and look good, and the remainder re-purposed.

There were 25 of us at Camp the year we made this, but at the moment I can only recall 2 or 3 which have been finished; a couple at least were antique/junk shops, with so much stuff you never really see everything, it is new every time. It was a rather big project....

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Tudor House Revisited, Part 4 - The Final One!

The street level of the Tudor House is the home owners' embroidery shop. It is sparsely furnished, with just the bare necessities. The trestle table at the centre is a display surface for large embroidery pieces, and is piled pretty high currently. The chest has an embroidered pad on it, as well as a cushion in the corner. The box contains samples of black work offered by the shop, and with the lid down it doubles as an additional seat. The lady of the house is hard a work at another commissioned project; from the looks of it, it is intended to be another seat cushion or pad.

The majority of the furnishings here are from DHMS projects; however, the chest was a kit purchased at Camp MiniHaHa, put together by Shelley A. of mini_addiction. The embroidery designs are from books and magazines; all 3 of the UK publications, and Pamela Warner's and Sandra Whitehead's books on dollhouse embroidery.

The designs are a little more visible in this photo; the peacock table carpet needs fringing, but is otherwise done. Early carpets were too valuable for floors, so they were used as table and bed covers. Dutch people still tend to put carpets on their tables; I do! Those are specifically made for tables, though, and I inherited a narrow Bokhara runner from my parents and a larger carpet from my maternal grandparents. The latter has a small hole, and I am trying to find someone to repair that Real Life carpet for me, difficult indeed in our small province of Canada.

 The small black work squares are "samples", while the larger ones and the rectangles are "for sale". Black work is fun to do, these were done on 22 ct hardanger fabric using a single strand of floss.
Black work was introduced to England by Henry VIII's first wife, Katherine of Aragon, and if you look at paintings and drawings of the period, you will see this type of embroidery widely used in the clothing of the very wealthy, often with the addition of gold thread detailing. 

The small cushion has a bird on it, while the hanging on the left of the photo is of a rabbit. The other hanging is a very old type of sailing ship, with Moorish roots from the looks of it. I just loved the colour combinations in this little hanging.  I really should put a rail on the wall to display these hangings, you can't see them all covered up on the table.... (Oh no, I just created myself yet another project!)

I wonder if I should start blogging photos of UnFinished Objects; maybe that will be the kick in the backside I need to get these projects done. Once they are done, I will not have to have all those shoebox-size boxes, full of things to eventually go into these projects, sitting on my overburdened storage shelves!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Tudor House Revisited, Part 3

The kitchen/living area is the most crowded in the Tudor House. The table, benches and dresser shelf were all made from instructions in Making Dolls' House Interiors, mentioned in the previous post, as were the salt box (seen on the fireplace mantel in the kitchen picture) and the three-legged stool. The green box is a dough box; you mixed the bread dough in the inverted lid, then put the bread to proof in the box, out of drafts. I believe this design came from a magazine, likely a UK one! A decorative, carved wooden box on the dresser holds valuable spices.

Pottery in this setting comes from a wide variety of sources, some of them on the secondary market, and a couple of pieces imported from Mexico and Portugal. The dead bunny was a purchase at Birmingham Miniatura a couple of years ago, while the superb tripod kettles came from Earth & Tree in New Hampshire (Old Mountain Miniatures). The buckets are hardware store finds, stained and with rope handles. There are also some small Mexican copper bowls with handles on the shelf.

There are also food items made by me, some of them for the Christmas season, although in Tudor times ordinary people didn't make a great fuss over the holiday, except as a religious one. The setting also has tiny turned wooden bowls, gorgeous baskets from the UK, pewter, glassware, and a tiny, hammered silver bowl I made at Camp MiniHaHa some years ago, under the tutelage of John Meacham, an IGMA artisan.

There is also a tiny hedgehog in the kitchen; these were kept to help keep down flies and vermin and this practice continued into the 19th century in parts of Europe. This hedgehog also came from Miniatura, one of the items on my long list that I was able to fill during that trip. And a broken egg lies in front of a tiny basket of eggs in the bottom section of the dresser shelf. Also on the bottom shelf is a small barrel with a spigot, sitting in a barrel cradle; I believe it contains Madeira....

Among the food items are a Stilton cheese, pears in wine sauce, gilded gingerbread Tudor rose, Christmas pudding, bread loaf, garlic string, and onions in the basket. There is also a dead chicken, made by me many years ago; it is somewhat primitive; the cleaver next to it is a British find, and it is sharp as the real thing.

The next visit will be to the shop area of the Tudor House.

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Tudor House Revisited, Part 2

To the best of my ability, I will try to remember just where I got the instructions for the contents of this house. This will be a floor-by-floor visit, as I took all the furnishings out before replacing them in the house,  and photographed them using my daughter's home-made photo booth, so no paintings or views out the window in these!

The upper level bedroom and working space is sparsely furnished, as it would be in that time, with the basics. The curtained bed and the trundle bed that go under it were designed by Brian Long and found in Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine. The linens were made from linen handkerchiefs, while the red covers are fleece; red was believed to be extra warm, which is why long underwear was made in red versions, as well as flannel petticoats. The cradle is also a Brian Long design, again from DHMS, and swings. The strange structure in the centre is a baby walker; the baby stood in a circular opening in a flat table-like panel, which moved within the structure. This kept the child out of the open fires and away from the staircase, while still allowing for movement. My friend Debbie P. from Nova Scotia made this for me some years ago, from a DHMS Quarterly Special or a magazine insert, I'm not quite sure. A black and white kitten sits on top of the walker, while the ginger kitten on the floor toys with a mouse.

The bedspread on the tall bed is actually a woven rug, bought years ago at Upstairs, Downstairs in Victoria, B.C. Too nice to go on the floor, but great for an extra bed cover. The small bench was a Camp MiniHaHa gift, while the flower arrangement was home-made, again from a DHMS article. The larger bench is from DHMS, with a bedroom set of bowl, jug and chamber pot from JoAnn Shaw, who also made the blue candlestick. In front of this bench is a foot warmer, another CMHH gift from years ago. In case you have never encountered these, they were in use until about 100 years ago. Easily portable, they moved with the owner to friends' parlours, church, and so on. A foot warmer consists of a box with a pierced top, inside the box would be a metal brazier with glowing coals. You set your poor cold feet on top of this box, and draped your skirts around; lovely and warm!

The two baskets need a close-up. The ladies in the house weave, of course, so there is a shuttle wound with wool yarn, a drop spindle, and a pair of wool carders. I based these on a pair of very old Viking carders found in York, UK some years ago, and made them of sequin pins stuck through thin wood, with lightly shaped handles. The shuttle and spindle are also my own design. In the large basket is alpaca wool (begged from a vendor at a craft fair), heritage sheep's wool from Kings Landing Historical Settlement, and some fur from our late cat, RumTum. I had hoped to add a weaving loom, but there isn't space; however, I have a spinning wheel partly assembled, just have to find the right size of small wooden wheel for it. And there is also a Tudor commode to go into this room, it just needs its hinges put on. You wouldn't want to have to run outside to the privy in the middle of the cold night, would you?

If you look at the photo of the bare room, (previous post), you will note a small, blue cupboard on the wall near the staircase; this was made from one of my favourite books, Making Dolls' House Interiors, by Carol and Nigel Lodder, published by David & Charles. This little cupboard has leather hinges, and would hold jewelry, a prayer book, and the like, out of reach of the little ones. A small wooden cross,  a CMHH gift, sits on top of  this small cupboard.

That's all for now, the next visit will be to the kitchen and living level.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Tudor House Revisited, Part 1

Not the best photo in the world, with a painting on one side and a view into the garden on the other; please just look at the house! Can you see the brackets under the main and second level eaves? That was one of the fixes prior to last weekend's show. The brackets are attached to the removable panels, so I have to be careful taking those off. It does add to the house, though.

Another fix was the new fires for the two fireplaces; as the computer is balking at posting long photos, I had to do each level separately.

This is the bedroom cum sitting room level. The chandelier has 4 candles, and there is a fire in the fireplace. As it is near Christmas, a kissing ball is hung from the chandelier. With the back roof now fitted around the newly bricked chimney, no daylight is coming through around the chimney-piece any more, thank heavens!

The kitchen and living level has two candle sconces and a fire, and now there is also a swinging fireplace crane in place. However, one of the fire dogs has fallen over! These dogs have brackets on them to hold a spit in place, but I am fighting the fire's wiring a little (that wire also needs painting to hide it). If I pull too hard, I might break something... One of these days I must add a chicken roasting on the spit in front of the fire, with a drip tray underneath, of course. It is possible to work cardboard to look like old iron cooking equipment, something to experiment with over this winter.

The lower, or shop level, has a single candle sconce. You can see the beams on the ceiling quite nicely here, all three levels are fully beamed, just like the real thing, and if you were 6 inches tall, you could walk up the flights of stairs. The floor here has some tiles "liberated" from religious houses pillaged by Henry VIII's soldiers, set into a beaten earth floor. Once this area was an open market, but it was enclosed when glass became easier to make and install. That large area of glass panes means the merchant who owns this house is quite, quite well off.

These lights are all home-made by me, using grain of rice bulbs and hollow cotton swab sticks for the candles. The ground level wire comes out the back with a plug; the second level has the hidden area for the wiring between the fireplace and the stair-case; and the upper level chandelier has the wires led down through drilled holes in the chandelier frame, and then along a channel in the bottom of the central beam. This channel is hidden behind iron-on wood veneer tape. The three levels come apart to take to shows, which means the upper and lower lights have to be unplugged while travelling.

That's it for now; tomorrow, I will do the furnishings for the rooms, and will note where I found the instructions to make them if you want to try Tudor too.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Show Report

This is the right end of our 3-table display at the local high school, along with the Model Railroaders Club. We had a bit of a problem getting them to understand what we were all about, but one of the members had been to miniature shows in the US and said the stuff on display there was wonderful.

This is a view from the left, while we were setting up. Three of the Camp MiniHaHa lamps (one was finished as a box only) were on display. The project under construction is a joint project of an Irish Cottage, being made by 2 F.A.M.E. members.

And this is the middle view, with our wonderful banner. A new member joined us today, she has been selling Christmas items via Etsy to the US and Europe, and her stuff in incredible. For some reason, she has not had any Canadian buyers yet.

Well, we kind of blew the railroaders away; the model car club has asked us to display at their show the end of May, and the railroaders would like us back next year. They photographed and video'd us and chatted and commented; all in all a very worthwhile event, despite the rotten weather which cut the crowds in half, apparently. But we may have found a new member....


Friday, 5 December 2014

CMHH '14 Lamp Vignette Finished for the Show

There is a wee bit of glare in the centre of the photo, but this is how the lamp vignette from CMHH '14 will appear at the show tomorrow. I still need to build a half fire (no depth to the hearth, you see!) and put some foodstuffs around.

Most of the pewter in the vignette is Philip Aitken's work, bought on the secondary market. Some of it came from shows in Canada, the US and Europe. This insert is removable, which gives me the option of making other inserts for this lamp base. I am very pleased with the look so far, although I would like better stools than these commercial ones, the varnish is too shiny.

The table is a House of Miniatures tavern table kit I've had for years, finally made up and used in something. The rug is OK, but I think a braided rug might be more in tone with a pioneer kitchen.

My story for this miniature vignette is that the table and pewter were brought to their cabin by the pioneers, while the other furnishings etc. are local or handmade. A braided rug in autumn shades would be better, and there should be a cat sleeping on it....

The pewter works well in this setting, and allows my modest collection to be showcased. Now I have to find just the right spot for this lamp, likely in the family room, which has always been far too dark for my tastes. Somewhere I put a black "iron" teakettle, that will go on the fireplace crane; this crane broke while being installed, but some contact (impact) cement and a wooden brace soon fixed that little problem. One more thing more or less off my list.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Provencal Scent Shop Ready for the Show

Well, it is not permanently finished, but this is what it will look like for the show on Saturday. The shelves are now full of merchandise, bottles and packages I've been finishing the last couple of days. There has been another power outage, as well as today's nasty mix of sleet, freezing rain, snow, fog and plain rain, but it has made it a good time to do work, at least during the short days. At this time of year, that means from 7 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m., and the days are only going to get shorter for a while yet. (Funny, the blue check sections of shelf are going off in all directions; in actuality, they are a tiny blue gingham print. Must be pixilated!)

The low, middle shelf unit is currently holding purple floral dishes, which are there only temporarily; they will eventually be replaced by bins of soap, still to be made. I am cheating somewhat, using some flat roundelle beads from a kid's craft department; wrapped in tissue and with a little sticker on them, they should look pretty good. Along with those, I'm going to try to make "artisanal" soap from polymer clay with interesting inclusions to represent spices and herbs.

Each of the shelf displays comes out as a whole; they are stuck to a piece of transparent plastic, fitted to the shelf, with glue dots (Zots). This keeps the contents securely in place, and allows me to re-arrange the shelves as I want, much easier than working within the tiny confines of each shelving section.

The wrought iron furniture is temporary; the shop will get a shabby chic display shelf eventually. Somewhere in my pile of magazines is the exact design I need, but there isn't time right now to go through hundreds of dollhouse magazines - these are what I get many of my ideas and instructions out of, along with my nice collection of books on miniatures.

The hanging bar below the purple centre unit will eventually get bunches of dried lavender hanging from it; for now, we are making do with pots of lavender. And I think the floor needs a shabby chic rug, something light with roses or something....

Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Chimney Is Bricked

Well, I was going to post a photo, it came out sideways and was duly rotated, but when I went to add it to the blog, it was once again sideways.

That was my work for today; bricking the Tudor house chimney. The beam supports are mostly on, tomorrow afternoon I hope to get the chimney cap on and the chimney pots placed. I will take a photo then.

And there are still lots of little boxes to be put together....

Friday, 28 November 2014

I'm Going Cross-Eyed!

Today I came across a treasure trove of shop boxes on the internet for perfumes, bath salts, soaps, powders, you name it, including an entire range of boxes, labels and bags on a Wild Rose theme. Just perfect for the Provencal shop. But boy oh boy! Putting those tiny things together is frustrating....

I have 10 tiny clips and each box needs 4 to hold corners together to dry. So that means 2 boxes at a time can be glued up. My glues that I would normally use for this purpose have given up the ghost, so I am using a toothpick to dab glue-stick glue onto teeny tabs. All the folds have to be scored, of course, and for that I am using an old hat pin type of thing. My fingers are sticky and sore. My eyes are burning. But it is going to look so nice when it is finished, provided of course that I can find a way to keep the lids on the boxes down. Tomorrow I will attempt to punch tiny circles out of self-adhesive labels to make box closures. Failing that, I will have to cut and sand balsa blocks to fit into each box....

My hope had been that some of the rose-themed boxes would fit over cuts of standard basswood, but they are off just enough that that won't work. However, I think I will use basswood sticks to help fold the tops down neatly, kind of like a hand-held jig. There are a couple of nice gift bags, those will need a bit of reinforcing top and bottom, and thread handles through them. Bits of coloured tissue in these will suggest the bags are holding products.

In the meantime, the Tudor house roof is being finished; I had to add some strips to the roof crest to glue the cardboard roof tiles on to. The upper side corners of the removable main and second floor walls have been chamfered to take the beam supports, those will be put on tomorrow. Then the chimney comes off the house to make it easier to "brick" it; I will be using sandpaper bricks for this, as I can't use paperclay due to thickness limitations. Then the chimney cap and pots will go on.

The lamp base insert's floor and wall have been antiqued, the dresser has been glued up, the table is made up, so that is also coming along. Once a fireplace crane and faux fire have been added, I can "dress" that vignette.

Yesterday we got more than 30 cm (over a foot) of snow, along with a 13-hour long power failure. The generator is ordered, I just wish it would arrive; sitting around the house wrapped in a quilt with fingerless gloves on my hands means no work gets done on miniatures, and the show is next weekend! And now, with all the snow and the cold, the installation people probably can't work on it.
Oh well, maybe it will get a little warmer.

And my work-table is a right mess!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

I've Been Working

Pretty tame, but boy, do those tiny bottles and jars take time! Especially when I get the hunger shakes while trying to position a seed bead with superglue on top of a skinny plastic bead....

The little display boxes are made to fit a specific number and configuration of jars. The jars themselves are made of a plastic pony beads, with the top of a split paper fastener glued on. Some of them have tiny labels cut from dollhouse wallpaper scraps. The display boxes themselves also use scraps of wallpaper, along with printies from the internet. These will go into my Provencal shop.

The table is a House of Miniatures kit, nicely rabbeted with holes drilled for pegs to hold everything in place. Only, one hole was rather off centre; luckily I was able to drill another without messing up the whole leg. This table will be stained, painted, and antiqued to go into the lamp vignette base.

We are expecting a snowstorm, so tomorrow will be a good day to work indoors; I did my volunteer job today to avoid getting caught in the storm tomorrow. My carpenter-in-chief likely won't be able to work outside tomorrow, so the Tudor house may get some more bits done as well.

At some point I have to make a piece of shop furniture to display miniature soaps; I kind of shudder at the amount of work in the soaps alone! As well, I would like to make a display counter to hold the cash register, and am thinking of incorporating part of a plastic box as the "glass" for that.

Somehow, miniature vignettes just never seem to get finished, do they?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Photos for Previous Post, or Part 2

As I've said many times before, I am not that great with a computer. That said, I couldn't figure out how to insert/edit my previous post, so here is part 2.

The above image shows the Tudor House taken partly apart; the house breaks down into 3 separate boxes, with the plugs for the electricity hiding behind a false wall in the kitchen fireplace. In order to break the house down, we had to insert an additional plug, and run grooves for several wires. Then we were out of batteries, so that meant a run into town for batteries. However, the lights all light up again, as do both fireplaces. Success! Now a bit of outside work to go. A photo of the building is on the book we used to build this house. The binder has electrification instructions and is much too big for what is in it; another project, move the instructions to a smaller binder! I much prefer LED lights on tiny batteries, but didn't want to get into retrofitting this project, as the wires for the 4-light candle wheel upstairs are carefully hidden in the central roof support structure.

Going back over the blog, I discovered I hadn't  posted a photo of the Tudor Apothecary Shop in its current, outside-is-done state. So here it is! We pushed ahead on this for a show this past April, and it has sat since then while I worked on other pieces. For this one, the interiors need aging and the furnishings need to be done, but it is lower down on the to-do list as I have to work on things for the December show. I hope to add an apothecary garden to the side with the red shutters, some of the plants for it are already made, but I can't seem to find the English Tudor garden that I was getting my design inspirations from any more - it is in one of the garden books in our public library....

Come January, I am going back to a Japanese room box; it is actually an outside scene, with a partial inside scene diagonally across the back. This came from a Japanese book I picked up in The Netherlands a couple of years ago (it really is a very global village!), kind of fun because I can't read Japanese so I sort of have to extrapolate the instructions for it. That vignette, which I had assumed was small, is in fact quite big, shockingly so, which is why it has lingered as long as it has. However, I am partnering via the internet with a miniaturist in Oregon who is also working on a Japanese scene, mostly garden like mine is going to be, who is also in a rut with her project. We hope to encourage each other and thus get both our projects on track again. No photo yet, I will be blogging more about that project come the new year.

Back to Miniatures

Now that some of the other, urgent projects are behind me, I can return to working with my miniature structures, to get them show-ready for Dec. 6/14. On that day, FAME (Fredericton Area Miniature Enthusiasts) will be showcasing dollhouse miniatures at the local Model Railroaders Show. We hope to uncover a few more "closet" miniaturists.

The Tudor House is going to be the big structure at the show, and to make it show-ready it needs some rehabilitation work. The lighting works off a battery pack, and some of the very fine wiring had broken loose during previous transport to shows. Also, the bedroom is getting a fire - after all, it is winter now. The corbels are finally going to go on, and if time permits, the chimney will be bricked and topped off. The last strip of roofing needs to be placed, now that we have figured out a system to do that. And the dust was horrendous! The Real-Life hardwood floors were refinished in September, and dust has gotten everywhere in the Tudor House, even in places that I thought were closed up completely.

Then, I need to permanently attach the hutch top to the base for my lamp vignette; the five of us who were at Camp MiniHaHa hope to display them together, to show how very individualistic the same project can become. I suspect I will have to support the hutch at the back of the unit, as the only surfaces available for gluing are about 2 mm (1/16") thick. The table needs to be made, and a couple of stools or benches. Then I can place the pewter pieces that this lamp vignette was intended to showcase.

And, if time permits, I'd like to prepare some stock for the inside-outside Provencal scent shop. That means gluing labels onto beads and gluing tops to those beads, making boxes to display them, and waxing everything down to the shelves so nothing will come off during the show. That piece is best displayed on a turntable, so all sides can be seen, and some people like to see turntables, well, turn....

I am going to publish this now as is, and add photos later this evening....

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Just Checking In

No, I have not dropped off the face of the earth, but Real Life has rather taken over the last month or so. Miniatures have had to go on the back burner, so to speak, as there are other things that need to be dealt with pretty much right away.

The other area miniaturists that came to Camp MiniHaHa have decided to get together at least once a month. This month we will be meeting the afternoon of November 11, as almost everyone is able to come that day (some of us are still working full-time). We seem to have picked a name for ourselves - Fredericton Area Miniature Enthusiasts, or FAME for short. One of our members arranged for us to have a display of miniatures at the upcoming model railroad show, December 3, and we will be talking of the best way to use our 2 tables. It is our hope that we may find some other closet miniaturists visiting the show.

I did find a nice, oblong, unbleached-linen colour lamp shade to go on to the camp project; that needs to be finished a.s.a.p., as we would like to exhibit our 5 versions of the camp project at the December show. The Tudor House will also get a little bit of work, as the hearth fires need to be wired in and I'd love to find another way to light the house; currently it runs off 8 small batteries, and those only work for 6 hours or so. There are also some support brackets to place on the house, and the chimney needs bricking.

In the meantime, I am working on a quilted project for a wedding shower, and knitting up a storm in 1/4 human scale, using self-patterning sock yarns - kind of fun.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

A Little More Paint

Tuesday was my "day off" after camp, to unpack and toss stuff in the laundry, and catch up with what had piled up while I was away. Wednesday I stained the floor of the lamp vignette, and painted in the brickwork. That was interesting, as I used some donated Paperclay for the uprights, and made the hearth bricks out of balsa wood scrap; pieces of veneer left over from many years ago made the floor boards. The hearth turned out quite well, despite the different surfaces.

It all looks too clean, of course, so the next step is to dirty up the floor, walls and hearth area. I would like to create the illusion of a fire in the very shallow hearth, so that is my next challenge to myself.
No mini work today, it was my weekly day of volunteer work; hopefully, tomorrow I will get some more done on this vignette.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014


Just did a little bit of housekeeping on the blog, and removed some ads that got there without my permission and knowledge, as well as a nonsense sort-of comment that had nothing to do with the blog itself.

Your comments are very much appreciated, as they let me know that people are, indeed, watching my miniature progress. Thank you!

Some new people have joined the blog lately, and I would like to welcome you. It is my assumption that if you decide to become a "follower", that you have some of the same interests I have, and enjoy reading my take on those interests.

As mentioned several times in the course of this blog, I am far from comfortable with computers. There are other people's blogs I would like to direct readers to, but the one time I tried to do just that, I apparently down-loaded the entire blog contents to my computer. And I just don't know how to get it to delete again....

Monday, 29 September 2014

Back From Camp

It is late, and I drove for 8 hours today to get back home, with unpacking yet to do. However, I wanted to share this year's camp projects with you.

This was the major project, a room box in a lamp base. All the pieces were pre-cut for us, but we did the assembly and finishing of  the base. The insert is L-shaped, and comes out to allow you to replace it with seasonal or other scenes. The flooring and timber wall were made with scrap woods found at camp.

This is the beginning of a colonial kitchen; squared logs, whitewashed, and a fireplace for cooking and heating. The bricks on the hearth need painting, and the floor needs staining, then I can decorate. This setting is intended to display my collection of miniature pewter pieces, primarily pieces created by the late Philip Aitken, a local pewter smith, and the lovely little hutch cupboard I was lucky enough to find recently. Stay tuned! I intend to have it finished very soon....

The second part of the project is the glitzy costumed mannequin below:

The overall theme of the camp this year was Mardi Gras, specifically the marvellous Venetian Carnival costumes and masks. There were 3 different costumes, I got the gray, white and black one. It was the first time I worked on fabric with glue, and I am not quite sure I like using glue on fabric! Our teacher for this class was Judith Blondell, an Ontario-based miniaturist who is very well-known in Canada for her exquisite fabric and leather pieces. We are hoping she will come back in two years to teach us an upholstered leather wing chair. It is so very nice to come home from camp with a project that is pretty nearly finished, such a satisfying sense of accomplishment!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Furnishing the Pawn Shop Part 1

For many years (oh, how many!), I've had dozens of House of Miniatures kits lying around, waiting for me to become proficient (hah!) at finishing miniature furniture. There really is a reason why I enjoy the Tudor period....

At any rate, the Pawn Shop needs some furniture, and in going through the many kits, I found some that I think will work in the small space of the shop. For practice, I did a bedside table with a drawer, which has my favourite Ipswich Pine stain that will in all probability be covered up with cream paint, and then be crackled, aged and grubbied up. I made a bit of a mess with the drawer, but light sanding soon took care of that problem; apparently a small blob of hardened glue in my gluing jig knocked the parts out of balance, requiring a bit of sanding to make everything fit again.

Not bad, if I do say so myself. I will have to be very careful painting around the handle and its escutcheon, though. Having done this, I tackled a Chippendale hanging shelf, which I plan to put on the back wall of the Pawn Shop to hold some nice little silver pieces, and the like.

This was shot at an angle, to show off the fretwork sides; unfortunately, they will be mostly invisible once installed in the shop. These drawers actually fit without the need for sanding, as I cleaned the old glue out of the corners of the jig. The pierced sides are mahogany, which meant using mahogany stain on the other components of the shelf. Below is a front view:

The shadows are quite harsh, unfortunately. I am quite pleased with how this piece came together; all the parts fit with minimum sanding, even after using the oil-based stain.

There is a small square-topped candle-stand  I want to use to hold a miniature Limoges vase, and a grandfather clock that would also look good in the shop. Somewhere in my stash, I have a broken-off china Buddha head which I can mount on a block like an old art piece, and a rather heavy silver-plated punch bowl which may also work nicely. And a lovely, hand-painted tray I purchased some years ago, when the artist was just starting out and prices were reasonable, will look lovely propped against the back wall on the top shelf.

That just leaves some things to put in the window of the shop. Once I am back from camp, I can try to make some clocks, a barometer, and other small items one might expect to find in a pawn shop. It will be fun to sort out and place bits and pieces to make the inside of the vignette come alive.

Why the push? Well, I am taking the Pawn Shop to Camp MiniHaHa on Sept. 24, to place it in the display room at camp. My version of last year's project was the prototype on which the actual project was based; I stuck with the smaller, more compact version. If any of the other ones show up for the display, I will take photos so you can see how inventive our Campers are.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Camp MiniHaHa and the Local Campers

Just heard that a fifth person from my town and area is coming to Camp MiniHaHa this year; it starts on Sept. 24, so I am working hard on finishing gifts and tidbits that add so much to the fun at Camp. Funny how you think you are miniaturing (is that even a word?) on your lonesome, then one other miniaturists moves into the area, your husband turns out to have  worked with another, and a third finds out about the camp at the Montreal Show this past spring. She had a friend who was interested, so now there are 5 of us, with another one possibly getting together with us one of these days.

We hope to get together to work on whatever we happen to be working on at the time, and just enjoy the miniaturists' ambience together.

Back to work on stuff for Camp, now.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Rainy Day at the Local Flea Market

Sunday was a very rainy day, but my daughter had the day off, so we decided to while away an hour by visiting the local flea market. It was also a good excuse to walk off some of the sore muscles we had acquired at the huge, outdoor flea market. The Sunday one was under a roof; however, it is about to go on hiatus again, as they no longer have a space in the place they have been using.

While I am all for unions, helping people to have decent wages and benefits, when a union decides that a local group, not-for-profit (entry fees assist a number of local sports ventures) needs to hire a union employee to set up and take down all the booths, at double time of course as it is a Sunday, we have gone far from the sublime and right down to the absolutely ridiculous.

Anyway, there is one vendor who regularly carries some mini items. Sunday was ten items for $5.00, so I picked out: a bunch of flower pots, always useful; two small wash tubs, good for floral arrangements; four filled glass jars to go into my Tudor apothecary; and a delightful little resin pig toy on wheels that will go into my children's shop.

As I need to get cracking on items for Camp MiniHaHa the end of September, I am finishing up a number of non-mini items that just need a few more minutes' work on them. Then it is back to minis, with regular posts, of course!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Flea Market Report

...and it will be a short one; no minis! I can't really believe it, but all I saw was a tin dollhouse and plastic furniture for the same, some undistinguished odds and ends, and a "wrought-iron" mug tree with 4 red mugs. Nothing to show for it, miniature-wise, but boy am I sore from all that walking.

With camp happening in about a month, it is time to get back to miniatures quite seriously, so I hope to report some finished projects soon.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Part 3 of My Wonderful Recent Mini Finds

This is also the last part of this particular topic; next week I am off to an all-day giant outdoor flea market some hours from here, with my younger daughter, and I hope to encounter more interesting finds there.

This, for me, was the piece de resistance! This little Tudor bench has 12, count 'em, 12 of Philip Aitken's miniature pewter pieces attached to it. I intend to un-stick them, as I have any number of settings they would go into.

My belief is that this was Mr. Aitken's display piece for shows. There is a large tankard, a small mug with a handle, two pitchers and two goblets, a ladle, chamber stick, plate with the New Brunswick provincial coat of arms on it (I also have one of these with the State of Maine coat of arms on it,) a knife, large candlestick (which is in need of straightening out), and a rough, woollen place mat. As I had been collecting his work on the secondary market, to find such a large trove of his pieces in one place made me feel as if I had won the lottery! Each piece has his mark stamped into it, so tiny you need a magnifying lens to see it clearly.

Perhaps some of these pieces will end up on M. Ramet's refectory table as part of a Tudor banquet some day....

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Part 2 Of My Recent Wonderful Mini Finds

The first part was yesterday's post, although I didn't title it Wonderful Mini Finds.

This is an unbelievable trestle table and bench set in 1/12 scale. It is pegged at all the joints, and as you can see, the ends of the table are dove-tailed on, as well as pegged. And, this set is signed:

It was made by Quebecois miniaturist Pierre Ramet in 1986; the little green sticker says the original price was $60.00 - that was nearly 30 years ago. The other sticker is the Aitken's Pewter sticker I mentioned in yesterday's post. This store still exists, and still uses the same sticker. I was so pleased to find this set! M. Ramet still makes his miniature wares, he was listed for the Montreal show in 2013, and again this year, I believe.

This furniture set calls for a medieval banquet to sit on top of it - something to put together over the next winter, perhaps.

The bird's eye view shows the tiny pegs in the table and benches. I consider this quite a treasure....

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Machine is Working Again: Part 1 of Wonderful Mini Finds

I mentioned in a previous post, I think, that I had found some nice pieces at a local second-hand store; this is the first one, and I will try to get the others on in the next couple of days.

This little hutch is likely a kit, and I suspect it might have been a Daisy House kit, it kind of has that feel about it. As you can see, the back panel on the top is not quite sealed; however, the finish on this little hutch is wonderful. One of the knobs for the doors is missing, it is likely a 1/24 scale doorknob, and I hope to replace it one of these days, when I track down some replacements.

The wear on the drawer and doors was very nicely done, and the drawer itself moves very smoothly.
My instinct is that this was a piece made to display miniature pieces; the other pieces I picked up bore the Aitken's Pewter stickers. Philip Aitken was making miniature pewter in the 80's, and showed at a number of big shows both in Canada and abroad. At the time, I wasn't yet doing miniatures, as I was working and raising kids, but I worked on some church banners with Mr. Aitken's wife, and on one visit to their house I was invited to see Philip's miniature workshop. Not long after that we moved out of the country for a few years, and on our return, we learned that Mr. Aitken had passed on. Mr. Aitken was an engineer by training, and he just might have made this little hutch. His son runs a very successful Real Life pewter business here in town.

The computer has been back to the repair shop; there is an incompatibility of some sort with the various programs on it, and that has been causing all the trouble. We now have a crib sheet to fix the problem ourselves, should it recur. So, here's hoping we can keep the blog going.....

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Weird Things Are Happening

The entries I tried to post today show up in the google search engine, but don't show up on the actual blog. Photos aren't showing up at all, the screen just freezes. The computer has been repaired twice to deal with this, but it is happening again.

Until we sort this out, I guess the blog will just have to go into hiatus. Dear heavens, I wish it were possible to TALK with a real, live human being at google to try to sort this out.

Thank you to all of you who have stuck with me so far, as I really don't know what will happen from here on in.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Home Again

We got home from our looooong trip a couple of hours ago, and I hope to begin posting again once I recover just a bit from travelling more than 12,000 km there and back across much of Canada; we only stopped short of the Rockies this time around.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

It's Going to be Quiet Here for a While!

Once I have a couple of medical appointments over and done with, my carpenter-in-chief and I are heading out for an adventure in driving. Two of our three children live in Alberta, and they both have houses of their own now, so we are delivering ALL those things they've been storing here forever to them, and crossing much of Canada in the process once again, which means there will likely be no posts until July. All too many of our Maritime university graduates end up on Alberta and other points west, because that is where all the jobs are now. Our neck of the woods is rapidly becoming a haven for seniors, with schools about to close as there are no youngsters to attend them any more.

Although I harbour a secret hope that this will not be my last long road trip, I have to admit that the C-in-C is not that fond of long drives, unlike me. We plan to travel the northern route to the Ontario-Manitoba border, where we will have to join the Trans-Canada Highway for a while, and then we hope to head off along the Yellowhead Highway, on the way to Slave Lake and then south a bit to Edmonton.

On the way back, we hope to dip into Wisconsin for a visit to the House on the Rock and its miniatures for me, and Taliesin East for the C-in-C, although I also enjoy Wright's architecture; a few years ago we visited Taliesin West in Arizona, and we are interested in seeing how this northern setting differs from the southern one.

Please check back in to the blog in July - I should have some photos and other things to share with you at that time. Thank you all for following this blog, and encouraging me to finish some of my projects in the process.

Monday, 12 May 2014

The Sun Is Back

Yesterday, I ran into some problems posting photos again, although it did work at last. This is another attempt to see if I have the photo problem beat.

Well, that worked! This is another old project, a wild garden setting. The flowers and plants include trout lilies, the little yellow ones in the foreground, a trillium on the left, bull rushes in the back and wild irises in front of them. The bird is a chickadee, which we have here year 'round.

The trout lilies (also called yellow dogtooth) grow wild around the back of our garage; these small flowers are very cheerful, as they come out very early in the spring. They aren't out yet, though. There is a pale lavender version of it, which I used to see in Ontario years ago, but have never seen here in the Canadian Maritimes. Our wild irises come in a pale version, and also in the deep blue version that is known as a blue flag iris. Trilliums show up rarely; they don't seem to like the northern parts of Canada too much, although they are found all over Ontario.I tried to keep one on our property alive, but apparently the ground had been disturbed too much for it.

Most of the day it rained, but now that evening is arriving, the sun has come out. Between yesterday and today, the leaves on the crab apple tree are popping open, and there are catkins everywhere else. Even the mountain ash is showing fat leaf buds, they'll likely open soon.

It has been a very long winter here; in two weeks' time I've gone from snow boots to bare feet in sandals. The Saint John River is very high, and there has been flooding in low-lying areas for a couple of weeks. Luckily, I live well above the river valley, it would have to be a flood of biblical proportions to affect our house, but one does feel sorry for all those in the river valley.

Hopefully, I have the photo problem licked!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

The sun was shining, the trees in the garden are showing a haze of green, and a crazy robin keeps attacking all our windows; what you see behind the window  is bird netting, which is currently draped around several sides of the house. It seems each time we drape a net, he finds a different window to attack. Considering we live in the middle of a lot of trees and "wild" land, why do they have to come and nest right on our house and drive us crazy with their aggression? The attack isn't the worst thing; if they get really ticked off at that other robin in the window, they poop and poop and poop..... Did you know the scientific name for a robin is Turdus? Guess we now know why.

There is nothing new to show, so I thought I'd post an old bird-feeder garden project. I made six or so of these years ago, and sold all but this one. The flowers in this garden are a mix of paper, dried flowers, railroad foliage clumps, and flower foam. If I remember correctly, this project is at least ten years old, which shows that if you keep dried and paper flowers out of direct sunshine, they last a good, long time. I hadn't yet mastered wire feet for birds back then, so these two just sit on their bellies.

The birds are mourning doves; we see them here for much of the year. They are very attractive birds, but their call is so sad and depressed, and totally unmistakable. I do enjoy their beige and pale peach colouring.

Currently I am working on a small commission, making up a prototype to run by my client. I hope to be able to show it tomorrow, weather permitting, as the garden is calling out for some more mulch removal, but I do need the sun for that. And currently the sky is clouding over....

Monday, 5 May 2014

New Miniature Acquisition

The only thing I purchased at the Moncton Miniature and Doll Show was the lovely little iridescent purple-pink bottle on the right side of the table. It came from an estate, so I have no idea who made it, but it is very thin and the colour seems to change.

This should look very nice in the Apothecary Shop. There was very little that would work for medieval settings available, but there were some little artist's dolls with wonderful clothing that caught my eyes. However, they were 12" tall and wouldn't work in a 1/12 setting!

Friday, 2 May 2014

More Trouble Ahead....

For the last couple of days, I've been trying to post a blog entry with photos, without any success. It is no problem to write the blog, but when I attempt to add a photo, everything freezes and nothing will go either backwards or forwards.

My apologies, therefore; I did try, but it just won't work. I will try again after the Moncton Show, on tomorrow.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

More Things That Are Now Finished

If you are at all like me, you have a "safe" place where you put things you need to retrieve again; and like me, you probably forget where your safe place was. Well, these cushions and rugs turned up while I was looking for something totally different, so I decided to finish them and put them in my shop box which is truly a "safe" place. These are all 1/12 scale, the cushions and dog rug being done on 22 ct canvas, with the Navajo rugs done on 18 ct Aida - I love their colours, almost makes me wish I was younger and could allow myself to start a southwest project....

The plants are 1/6 scale; these were made specifically for the Moncton show. The fruit was made in both 1/12 and 1/6 scale, showing here is the larger size. I still have to stain the fruit bowls, but that will have to wait until next week as we are once again heading out for the Culloden Memorial in Knoidart, Nova Scotia. It has been snowing all day (that's right, snowing although it is the end of April!), so it will be a very cold ceremony, as it is held on a bleak spot on the Northumberland Strait shore. I feel sorry already for  the men in their kilts. Even people who generally love the winter season have had enough of this one!

My hands will not be idle; I have a larger scale wool rug that needs its background done in basket-weave stitch, that should keep my hands occupied while listening - indoors, thank goodness- to speakers, singers and musicians on Saturday. I am not a whiskey fan, like all those descendants of the Nova Scotia Scots!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Did I Fool You?

Anyone with a good 1/12 eye will be able to tell that these floral arrangements are too big, and you would be right; they are fashion doll or 1/6 size.

A number of fashion doll collectors show their treasures at the Moncton Miniature and Doll Club Show, held this year on May 4. They had asked me if I would try some fashion doll scale items, and I decided to fill an apparent little niche in my market. These are the first two arrangements I've done in that scale, and consist of a mix of purchased paper flowers, plastic foliage, and my own hand-made flowers. The little containers, of which I have 3 more, were picked up at flea markets and antique shows in the past year. They are sitting on a hand-carved Barbie-scale table my youngest daughter acquired, along with a whole host of other nice Barbie furniture to match, during the years we were living in Kingston, Jamaica.

I've also tried some fashion doll scale cushions, and a rug. If the items are well received, I may add this particular scale to my occasional show offerings. It's kind of fun trying another scale.

Back to work! The sun is shining, my glue is too thick, I think I have to head into town tomorrow.

Monday, 14 April 2014

What A Beautiful Chinese Doll!

Last year in June I taught a one-day class in Nova Scotia on polymer clay doll sculpting. One of the students, Sheena McC., had a Chinese setting but hadn't been able to find a Chinese lady doll anywhere. She sculpted one in the class (photos back in June of 2013), but found it to be too masculine. She sculpted another doll, and this is the result. Isn't she just gorgeous?

Sheena had an art background, which may have helped her in creating this beauty, but this is just the second time she had worked in polymer clay! I just love this little personage, and the costume Sheena made for her is absolutely beautiful, delicate brocade and velvet. This lovely tiny lady was one of the display items at the CFB Shearwater Hobby Show two weekends ago. I am very glad that Sheena allowed me to share her creation on this blog. Hopefully I will get to see her in her setting some day.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Getting Ready for Another Show

So that's four mince pies, five pumpkin pies, twelve butternut squash, eight sweet dumpling squash, six Jack-Be-Little squash and four buttercup squash; re-stocking for the Moncton Miniature and Doll Show has begun. My hands are undergoing constant attention with Badger Balm in an effort to soften up my fingertips; fingerprints and polymer clay work do not go well together. I am out of practice; it takes a lot of work to soften and mix clays that haven't been touched in nearly a year.

Three cushion tops have been worked, and I am now edging them prior to sewing them up. Four more interesting designs are waiting to be worked. My stock is so low I have to give some time to this project. As well, I've been requested to try some 1/6 or Fashion Doll scale items for this show.

We thought winter was over; however, it has been snowing lightly for the last couple of hours. The poor robins are back, and are probably wondering what happened. The only places for them to find worms is right on the edge of roads; gardens and fields are still under several feet of snow. Overnight, our compost bins were raided, with raccoons  being the likely suspects. Boy, did they leave a mess!

Right now I am kind of seeing double, with or without glasses, so I think I will have to take a little break. While visiting an antique show briefly this afternoon, I found a tiny blown glass jug with a cork in it, and a little yellowish handle; this will likely go into the Apothecary shop with some colourful liquid in it, if I can get the teeny broken cork out....

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Tudor Apothecary Garden: Pot Marigolds

Today, I felt like making some flowers. I had seen an excellent tutorial in AIM Magazine On-Line for making marigolds, which some of us know better as calendulas or pot marigolds. This plant's flowers are edible, which is why they are known as pot marigolds, but they were also an integral part of any medicinal garden in the medieval period.

The Latin name is Calendula officinalis, and the medicinal parts include the leaves and flowers. They were used as teas a wide variety of stomach ailments, for intestinal disturbances, against vomiting, fever, boils and abscesses, while a salve made from them was used for bruises, sprains and wart removal. Very useful, thus a patch is required in the eventual Apothecary Garden.

There are already some other plants I've made for the garden, mostly from kits I acquired in the UK and The Netherlands two years ago.

The tall plants at the back, which need an awful lot of hand-cut leaves still, are mullein or verbascum, useful against coughs, spitting blood, gripe and colic, while the fuzzy gray leaves were applied to wounds that were difficult to heal. The dark red plants at the left are black hellebore, which can be a serious poison but it is also used for heart ailments. Then we have dark pink coneflower, which pretty much everyone now knows as Echinacea, used for coughs these days, but originally it was used as a blood-purifier. The little plants in the foreground are lily of the valley; I am not entirely happy with the way they turned out, and will likely make them to my own design. Again, this plant is poisonous, but it has long been used medically in very small quantities.

Looking up medicinal plants is very interesting, and translating them into miniatures made of paper, wire, glue and sand is a challenge. The biggest challenge facing me is making up the foxglove kit; this requires me to roll teeny tiny hearts into a lipped tube shape with spots on the lip. Probably it will be one of the last kits to be made up!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Back from the Show

...and I didn't buy anything miniature! However, I did get some building components like turned wood pieces, hinges and so forth, which will be turned into miniatures one of these days. There were some plant-making items like flocking and flower pots as well. Someone was getting rid of a large collection of bits and pieces, and I got a small share of it. I am trying to be good and not accumulate all kinds of things that I have no projects on the go for...

Turns out I am not able to sleep that well in strange beds any more; I expect I am too used to my fairly hard mattress and ancient feather pillow. Anyways, I am still tired from the trip, which included a 5 hr. drive both ways on roads that are very badly affected with pot-holes, normal for early spring in any northern part of our continent. Good thing we didn't lose any tires, or hit any deer foraging around and through clearings alongside the Trans-Canada Highway.

Now it's on to producing some new stock for the next show, which takes place the first Saturday of May. That is only a 2 hr. drive away and a 1-day show, and I'm hoping the pot-holes will have been filled a bit by then. This means it may be a bit quiet on this blog for the rest of April, although I will post photos of things I manage to make.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Tudor Apothecary Shop Attic and Roof

The last few days have consisted of lots of little jobs being done on various components of the Apothecary Shop, which have finally come together in a way worth photographing.

The dormer windows have been installed, the steps have been painted, and the roof is being tiled. Once again this is a long-term job, as each course needs to dry before I can do the next one - both ends are absolutely flush, so clamps are useless. On the right edge, I am leaving extra tile as there will be beams and plaster there; this is the gable over the eventual apothecary garden.

The planked floor in the attic on this side is a different shade from that of the workshop, to add some variety. Once things are dry, the little tie-beam lying on the floor will be installed in the apex of the roof. The base of this side of the shop is still raw wood, as I have to decide what colour to paint it once the whole thing is sitting on its base. The base is intended to look like a courtyard when the buildings are opened, and will likely have stone slab flooring or cobbles. That is a decision for the future.

This will be the last report for a few days, as some of us are heading off to a show on the weekend. The Tudor Apothecary Workshop and Shop are going along, although the shop end is not quite finished, but people can get an idea of what the finished product will look like - I hope! I am looking forward to viewers' comments, and who knows, perhaps I'll pick up some items to go into the project too.