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Monday, 21 December 2015

UFO'S Being Finished, But Very Slowly

This is the base of a Welsh Dresser, designed by Chris Dukeman, from the September 1993 Nutshell News. I can't remember why I began making this, perhaps it was a test to see if my woodworking skills had improved over the years. I probably made this 8 or so years ago, not long after I retired. What stumped me was pin hinging - I had had very poor results with this. However, I decided enough is enough, I will finish this.

So I managed the pin hinging, and although it isn't perfect - the left door won't open as easily as the right one - I am happy with it. The knobs for the cupboard base are small, hand-carved wooden beads I picked up at a second-hand store, held on with tiny brass sequin pins.

The cupboard will be painted, so to begin the aging process, I stained it, quite irregularly, with my favourite water-based stain, Ipswich Pine.

This will eventually be covered with two shades of medium-blue paint, one straight from the jar and the other tinted to be either lighter or darker than that, I haven't quite decided that yet. And I am not sure if the bead knobs will accept paint, either. Next up, I need to make the top of the base, and then the shelved portion above; this will require heavy machinery, as it will have to be cut from a piece of much larger wood. My Carpenter-in-Chief is rather short of time, these days, working on other projects and we have Christmas company arriving from Germany this evening. Perhaps I can get him to give me a couple of minutes this afternoon....

Once this is finished, I will decide whether to keep it, or put it up for sale. It may make a nice display piece for one of my other projects, or for a yet-to-be-determined future one!

Friday, 18 December 2015

Back At It, In a Very Small Way

That's kind of a double joke, as these pieces are small and also miniature! We've had a bad week as far as weather is concerned, including a 24+ hr. power outage at the height of a severe snow and ice storm. However, we are back to abnormal, i.e., it is foggy and raining, definitely not Atlantic Canadian December weather.

So I decided to finish some of the many UnFinished Objects sitting about in various boxes, etc., and I managed to (almost) get 3 done; I say almost, as I still need to add knobs to the doors on the back of the painted Tudor commode, which will go into the Tudor house. The design on the front of the box is taken from medieval ceiling paintings which appeared when centuries of soot and grime were removed from a very old church (A.D. 1100) in my home town, Maastricht in The Netherlands, a couple of decades ago. The flowers are daisies, poppies, and cornflowers, which grow along all the corn fields (wheat fields for North Americans!) in that part of The Netherlands.

My grandmother, known as Bonma as she grew up in Belgium, used to have a commode on the landing of the house she shared with one of my aunts; only hers had a rug-hooked colourful cushion on the top. Well, she was over 80, and the bathroom was all the way downstairs and at the back of the house!

Also put the handle down on the leather tankard, and gave it a bottom; this will go to join the other leather jacks in the Tudor marketplace. And then there is the angel blowing a horn; I needed to develop the courage to drill into the narrow wood (1/8" or approx. 4 mm). It only took me several years ;o) 

There are many more bits waiting for a final step or two or three. It is so busy this time of year, that I am having to make time to do minis. However, I am hopeful that Santa may bring me the components for a Christmas Market stall - which is why I am finishing  some Christmas-themed minis!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Show Went Very Well!

We got there early on Saturday, after mostly setting up Friday evening, so we had lots of time to add things, as we had 3 long tables for display and another for sales. As I ended up being the only one with things to sell, I just needed part of  a table. Marilyn is placing some last-minute deliveries. The little step stool under the table is for children; we put the miniatures, as much as possible, at adult viewing level, so children need a little extra help to be able to see.

Three of our CMHH 2015 projects were on display; this one is by Louise, called "Wine and Word", a book shop that also sells wine and cheese plates. I believe this one is pretty much finished; Louise was unable to come, as she had hurt her back. She built a patio onto her books, complete with flowers and flamingos (her trademark), with a tile floor and an iron railing. I could only photograph it from the front, but at some point I will get a side photo of it to share with you, with a better view into both the shop and the patio area.

This one is Marilyn's; her book vignette is an attic, and represents the book, The Picture of Dorian Gray - the man who never aged, although his portrait did. Marilyn placed an angled mirrored wall to the left of her vignette, so that when you look into the window, you see another whole room, which reflects the right side of the vignette, where the portrait is. It is also pretty much finished, she will add a chimney to cover and protect her lighting wires. This gorgeous window is the one which came with the project; I will have to think of somewhere to use mine. The wonderful bare light bulb in the attic
room really adds to her scene. Her walls are lath and plaster, with the plaster oozing out.

And here is mine, still unfinished; the lighting is provided by a small LED flashlight taped to the ceiling at this point! The books are glued together, but not to the box, and I think I will keep them that way to allow me access to the inside. The window display needs some fine-tuning, and I have to make about a linear meter more of books to fill the shelves inside. A small weathered copper mansard roof over the window is also in my plans. And like Louise's, I'd like to add a base so I can have a sidewalk around the front and door sides of the vignette; I am itching to add a Victorian street light to my scene....

There were some wonderful pieces on display; the artist's studio below was brought by Susan, and represents the studio of Tom Thompson, one of Canada's Group of Seven famous painters. The inside cover of the book tells viewers his story.

At this point the sun had come up, so I had someone stand between me and the windows so I could take a clear photo. We had quite a bit of snow on Thursday, so the reflection of early morning sunlight off the snow was somewhat blinding!

This wonderfully crowded book vignette was also brought by Susan, the sun is slanting across it but things can still be seen. It is amazing how much you can fit into one of these book boxes, and they are so nice to transport to shows, as everything is fixed in place and the whole just closes up like, well, a box!

I hesitated a bit over this photo, as the angle for it taking it wasn't very good, but I just had to include Susan's tree house; two little boys are inside, eating a pizza (one of mine, I think!). Their games are scattered around and one bicycle rests against the foot of the tree. I love this little scene, and just wish the photo had been against an uncluttered background. Perhaps I will get a chance to re-do it some time. It is quite tall, so I had to get some distance to get all of it into the photo.

We had a lovely display, and lots of interest at our table, and I even made a few sales which was rather unexpected as this was mainly a show for model railroaders. We may also have recruited new members for our club, as several people took the information slips we had on the table. Now we will have to see if new people will show up at our next meeting, in January.

Happy Saint Nicholas Day! He left lots of goodies to eat in my wooden shoe this morning....

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Miniature Food

It's been a very busy 3 days, as I have been slowly gluing my book covers together and working on a commission as well as a new market stall. I don't often take commissions any more, but this is for a friend, and I just hope she likes it. She is making her book vignette into a wine and cheese shop, and is much further along than I am. I was asked to provide some of the cheeses.

Along with the various types of cheese, there are some cheese boards and some grapes, apples and pears to serve along with the cheese; the grapes should look nice placed on the grape leaves.

The fishmonger's stall has also gotten some more food items, although they still need to be placed a little more carefully! I usually use a piece of packaging plastic from blister packs to build my shop stock on, as it is so much easier to work on it flat and outside of tiny shelves or table tops. Recently I discovered that tiny glue dots called Zots work quite nicely to hold items invisibly in place. As the packaging plastic remains flexible, it is easy enough to bend it slightly to slide it into place on the table top or shelves.

I made a pile of plaice and five cooked crabs yesterday, and it took me most of the day! Now I have to rearrange the display to make room for these rather large pieces; they are partially covering the cod fillets and rainbow trout.

When I was a small child in The Netherlands, my mother would send me to the fishmonger to buy plaice; it was alive, so you chose it from the tank and the fishmonger would clean it for you to take home, nice and fresh. As I can't really remember the fish being gutted etc. I am assuming he did this out of sight of his customers!

The oysters and kippers are neatly packed into wooden boxes, decorated with seaweeds, while the scallops are in a lovely china bowl with blue and gold trim on it. In the left centre are some squid, and some lemons for colour contrast. All the fish in front of the boxes on the left and the scallops were made for me years ago by my older daughter.

Tomorrow I will need to take a look at my vegetable barrow and fruit stall, to see which items badly need to be redone....

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Books Vignette Progress Six

Today I had a good day for getting work done on my miniatures; quite necessary, because next Saturday is the model railroad show and I have some things to get ready for that. First of all, I did paint and "tile" my fishmonger's stall, and tried some of the fish my older daughter made for me to see how it all looked together:

The silvery fish look pretty good against the tiles, although I think some of the smaller fish products need to be in trays or tubs; however, the bigger fish should look quite good piled across the table. This should work nicely. I'll try to make a couple of trays tomorrow.

I took a number of very big breaths, did some calming thinking, and actually CUT INTO my book covers. The first cut was for the clerestory window, high up in the end wall. There is also "glass" in the window, now, although I still have to make the window frame inside the book vignette.

It fits and there are no huge gaps on the sides, thank heaven. Cutting through book board is very hard on knives, I used a dollar store folding box-type cutter with razor blades in it to do this job. The window is designed primarily to bring light into the interior of the box, although there will also be a set of LED lights inside.

This is a general and messy view into the book box, from the back side. The panelling for under the bay window is going in with double-sided tape, as I think that will hold better than glue in the long run. I seem to leave gaps when I glue, although I spread the stuff using an old credit card! The bay window also has glass, now, and you can just see the side door into the shop. The framing for inside and outside of this door is drying in the photo. Cutting the opening for the door took some more calming breaths! You can also see the clerestory window, minus its inner frame. And white dust, where I had to do some sanding....

For putting the plastic "glass" into the window frames, I used tiny self-adhesive double-sided glue dots; these things are tough, and they should hold the windows in place. I first used these dots (the local brand is called Zots) to glue items onto the shelf liners in my Provencal scent shop, and more than a year later, they are still holding tight. They are pretty much invisible, once they're in place.

Tomorrow, the inside window frame...

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Back to Minis

Now that I have some priority projects done, I can get back to miniatures and get things ready for the upcoming show with the local model railroaders. This year, I will be bringing my between-the-wars market scene, and I finally put the fishmonger's stall together today.

It still needs to be painted, and I have decided to put a strip across the back of the table as well, but it is just about ready to spray white. The design is from the Venus and Martin Dodge book, Making Miniatures, another David & Charles publication. This book was the first one I got, back in 1996, and got me started on this hobby.

The fishmonger is financially stressed,(perhaps the boat needs repairs!) so the canopy over the stall is faded and fraying around the edges. I'm going to try to do a "tile" centre for this stall; seems to me fish look good on blue and white tile, and the cold tiles would also keep the fish cool, as well as being easy to clean, just hose it off. I have some Delft blue tile paper that would do the job, especially with a shiny tile finish. I think the proprietor will be a woman; my great-grandmother was a fish wholesaler in Amsterdam, a century or more ago, and this would be a fun way to remember that. (As a wholesaler, she did quite well!)

There are already a lot fish ready to go onto the stall, some made for me by my older daughter quite a few years ago, including some lovely squid and scallops. I will just steal some trout from the Tudor market, and the oysters from the shop in a box - people here don't "get" buckets of oysters, so they aren't selling. And I may have to add a display shelf to develop extra space. There are smoked kippers and cod fillets ready to go into the stall as well. However, one of these days I need to add shrimp and sole. And perhaps crab and lobster....

Tomorrow I work, but Friday is another mini day - back to the book vignette, which I would also like to be able to display at the show.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Life Means More Than Minis....

....and that means that I must finish off some other projects; some quilting, some sewing, and some desperately needed tidying of my sewing room. After Tuesday, there may be time for minis. Winter is here; the trees are mostly bare, and it is chilly outside today. The garden is almost ready for its load of winter snow.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Books Vignette Progress Five


So the window works; it still has to be glued up and have the "glass" put in, but it works. I only had to re-do the decorative framing five times, I think? And the wooden inner frame exploded on me and also had to be re-glued.

The books are still loose, so they are being held together around the inner box by a piece of heavy elastic. The base of the window gives me more than 1 1/2" (4 cm approx.) of display space, which is a good thing, as the inner box is very narrow and doesn't have all that much display space. Now I have to design a small "copper" mansard roof for the window; a friend suggested a potato chip can might help with this, as I would like the little roof to have a bit of a curve to it.

Guess I have to go out and buy some potato chips; too bad, isn't it?

Monday, 9 November 2015

Books Vignette Progress Four

....well, some progress has been made, but there are also more difficulties to deal with. At any rate, I made the three sections of panelling, which I will detail here:

Above are the three sections in their base coat of terra cotta paint. The front wall section now has to be re-done, as I made it backwards; i.e., the window is not centered in the wall, as the book spines are different thicknesses, and I papered and panelled the wrong side....

The same panels, with the larger pieces now dry-brushed in dark burnt umber, and sponged in the same colour with first, the coarse sponge and then the finer sponge. The small panelling piece has not yet been sponged in this photo.(Sponges are in the photo below.)

On top of the dark burnt umber, I dry-brushed on a deep mustard colour called Antique Gold, (not a metallic gold). This adds a nice depth to the pieces. The upper piece is not yet brushed with the gold colour; you can see it looks more reddish.

The last coat of colour is a wash of diluted brown iron oxide, to blend the colours. In this photo, the two upper panels have been washed with the oxide, the lower one has not; you can see how the iron oxide wash blends and tones everything nicely.  Once it is dry, it can be given a coat of satin varnish.

Laid out on the floor, it's looking pretty good.  (But remember, the left-hand section will have to be re-done as I did it backwards.) The white strips are where the panel sections fit together; a space has to be left as the cardboard used for the panels has some thickness. The wallpaper doesn't add any appreciable thickness, so it doesn't need trimming.

I did learn a very valuable lesson; the shiny printed side of the packaging cardboard I used (a  cereal box and a carton that held frozen waffles) will not glue to the walls unless you first sand it to create some roughness. The plastic of the gator board also needs to be sanded to allow the glued panel to adhere to its surface. Then it has to go under weights overnight to dry thoroughly. I used a Bostick glue stick to hold my paper to the plastic; hopefully, it will hold well. My sample is nicely stuck on, so it ought to work.

Now I have to re-paper the correct side of the front wall, and make another section of panelling. And one good thing, I was so frustrated that I gave my work area a thorough cleaning!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Books Vignette Progress Three

Well, I had hoped to get the bay window done, but unfortunately, it exploded while I was sanding it; I think my glue has deteriorated. However, I did take a very big step, and cut the window openings in the gator board inside box.

The clerestory window is painted, and is sitting inside the partially finished wall; the wallpaper is in place, the bottom half of the wall will be panelled. This window has to remain as a friction fit, as I will have to remove it if I need to take the inner box out in order to repair wiring or replace batteries, eventually. I also papered the back wall.

The opening for the front window has also been cut, but not as yet papered, as I am testing glues; the Weldbond I used on the other two walls and the floor has a tendency to ripple as it is applied, so I am trying some other glues on the gator board scraps. Cutting into the board was a great leap of courage for me; I am glad that I finally did it! However, I still have to cut an opening in the two side book covers....

The window frames for the bay window are made and painted; I think I must have made them 3 or 4 times, before I was completely happy. My carpenter's glue has some mould in it, and I think I need to replace it, as it just doesn't seem to want to grab. Tomorrow I will make a quick stop at a hardware store. Now I just have to hope the frame holds together; it will have a bottom to sit on, with a small lip all around, and likely a flat top on which I hope to build the little roof. But the inner frame has to be rebuilt, as it needs to be deeper,  3/4" (approx. 2 cm.) to fit both the wall of the gator board box and the wall of the book spines.

The display shelf and flat roofing piece will need to be cut on the table saw, likely out of plywood, if I have it in the right thickness; otherwise, that is something else I may have to pick up tomorrow. I would really, really like to have the box ready for wiring by our miniature group meeting on Tuesday evening. Tomorrow is another day!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Books Vignette Progress Two

Today I began work on another version of the bay display window for my altered books vignette. I had thought of doing a round window, but decided that for my first window attempt I should probably follow a set of instructions, so I reached for my book, The Dolls' House Shopkeeper by Lionel and Ann Bernard, published by David & Charles. Their design for a toy shop had a nice rectangular bay window, and I decided that I could use the decorative muntins  used for the door to make the window match for the shop front.


So here are the two side panels of the bay window, with the framework for the window and the display shelf, in the gluing jig. I made lots of mistakes as I went along! Although I was making notes re sizes and measurements, I forgot, for example, that I had to subtract twice the 1/8" measurement for the height of the side windows. So although they were glued, I had to take them apart and cut them down 1/8" and then re-glue them. As a result, I only got the two side panels made. The front will, hopefully, be added tomorrow.

The books are not yet glued together, so they are being held in place with round elastic. Here are the two side panels, with the decorative muntins, in place in the window opening; friction fit only at this point, I won't glue again until I am sure I did it correctly! Come to think of it, I will have to add a  inner window lining once I cut the opening in the gator board inside box, unless I can figure out a way to wrap the wallpaper around that opening....

My hope is still to make a small sloping roof over the window; ideally, I would like to faux finish it to look like verdigrised copper. My thought right now is to shape the roof from balsa wood, and then add a paint and paper finish to make it look like copper. We'll see if I can manage it.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

There Is a Door

Well, I am really quite pleased with how the door for the books vignette has turned out. The original design for the door came from Le Monde Creatif de Catherine, while the design for the door plate and handle came from Cinderella Moments. I added a handle and plate on the inside, although the door will be non-functioning, as you will be able to see inside and it would be strange not to have an interior handle as well.

The door plate is cereal box cardboard, painted to resemble weathered brass. The base coat was burnt umber, with a dry-brushed coat of antique gold, which was then dry-brushed with a metallic old gold colour. The handle is made from antiqued brass, 26 gauge wire, 4 strands twisted and shaped.

I wanted a door that would maximize the amount of natural light coming in to the vignette, although it will also have LED lighting, and this one fits the bill wonderfully. The dark blue matches the book cover on the side the door will go into; the clerestory window that goes into the opposite end, will be a dark brownish-red colour, to match the book cover on that side.

Yesterday I was able to pick up another sheet of the scrapbooking "wallpaper" for inside the vignette; I was concerned that one sheet wouldn't be enough, but they only had the one left over at that time. Fortunately, they got a new shipment.

Now I have to go back to making wall panelling; I'd like to have a piece long enough to cover the entire back wall, about 11" or 27.5 cm, so I have to find a fairly big piece of packaging cardboard. The samples I had made up earlier won't fit; I forgot you have to measure and match your panelling to the size of the wall....

Monday, 2 November 2015

I've Been Busy, Honest....

We got home from our Montreal trip late Thursday, but the travel in Quebec is such a chore, that I needed a day to recover. I've been working steadily for the last three days, so I thought I would show you the progress. They are far from finished, though.

 I have three projects on the go; this one, the bay window for the book vignette, did not turn out as well as I hoped, so I will be redesigning it. It needs more depth, as it goes quite a way into the book spines. And I think a round display window might be extra interesting. So back to the drawing board on that one. I used mat board for my experiment, so haven't wasted any wood.

 Project two is the faux door (non-opening) to go into the book project. I found a design I really like, on a French blog, (Le Monde Creatif de Catharine) and am trying to more or less replicate it. The door is being made like a sandwich, in 3 layers; the window fits into a recess in  the door, so I won't have to use power tools on thin wood. The 3 layers are all 1/16" (about 1 mm, I think!), so the finished door should be 3/16" or .3 cm thick. Right now, I am gluing in the edging pieces. It's one of those glue things up and then wait projects....

And here is the progress on the trunk kit; the slats were stained using  a stain marker, and I really like the colour contrasts. I'm going to try and hinge the trunk. It may end up in the second steam punk project, the one I have to make to take the overflow from the book vignette. (The commercial door under all the wood and the pencil is there for me to use for measurements.)

Working is slow, as my sprained finger hurts all the time. I have to remember not to bend it too much. Knitting is out at the moment, as casting on appears to use my little finger. And here I thought our pinkies, like our baby toes, were mostly vestigial!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Fun Weekend

We had a trunk workshop at my house on Friday night; two visitors from Nova Scotia came for the weekend, and one of them made up the kits and taught the class. The trunk is not finished, of course, as time was required for staining, but we all got started on it.

Mine has the leather binding on the edges, and the leather straps across the top; next come the lighter colour slats, and before I can put those on, the slats and the trunk need staining. Then I also want to line the inside of the trunk with paper: my choice right now is one of those designs one finds inside envelopes from banks, or charge card bills, lovely free boring paper!

Here are some of us, working away; our teacher was Jo-Ann S. (Kilnworks by Jo-Ann). The next day, 9 of us went to a miniature show in Bangor, Maine, USA - about a 4 hr. drive from my house. I didn't buy any miniatures for myself, although I had a shopping list from my daughter, but the others certainly did! I understand there was some competition for some of the items... My trunk effort is the light, striped item at the edge of the photo at the left. 

And, I am so glad, Jo-Ann brought her mini table-saw, so the window has been cut into my book spines. By good luck, the window size I decided on just fit into the spines of the three centre books, much easier than cutting out two slices of the sides of two adjoining books.

Now I have to design some kind of bay or bow-front display window to fit that space. And of course, the white inner box needs to have a matching window-opening cut into it, but I have to go and buy a better knife to do that.

I am off to Montreal for the next 5 days, so no posts for a while. Hopefully, the snow will hold off.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015


Despite a badly sprained pinky finger, I managed to make a pretty good (for a first attempt) clerestory window to go into the CMHH '15 project. I still need to make at least the framing for the bay display window, as I am hoping that a friend will cut the openings in the book spines and the covers for me this weekend. The window is made like a Houseworks standard window, with a 3/8" (approx. 1 cm) depth, to go through both the book cover and the gatorboard box. I made the mitered frame just a tiny bit too big. I did, however, cross-halve the muntins; you can see an extra one to the side.

My pinky is taped to the next finger, and displays a most depressing range of colours; purple, blue, green, dark red and yellow....

This weekend, a group of friends are coming to do a miniature workshop; we are also going on a road trip to Bangor, Maine, USA, to visit a doll and miniature show and shop for wood, paint, and other such things needed to keep us busy during our long winter. I will try to get a photo of the workshop in progress, and of the project we'll be doing.

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Beginning of the Cheese Boards

Terrible photo, far too much white in the foreground! I've made pears, tiny bunches of grapes, some cheese balls, cheddar cheese, Wensleydale both plain and with cranberries, and Brie and Camembert cheeses. The board was made very quickly, just so I would have something to plan a display on.

More cheese is needed for my sales box, and I also had a request for some cheese boards. Now I need to make Edam, Gouda, Stilton and Gorgonzola, as well as some small blue cheeses and Emmenthaler.
Next batch of photos will, hopefully, be better!

I usually mix a good-sized batch of polymer clay that will make a variety of cheeses; this was the yellow cheddar and white cheeses, as well as the translucent filling for the creamy cheeses. The Dutch and Swiss cheeses are yellower and not so translucent, while the mouldy cheeses will all require blue and green worked through them; some of those will also get creamy rinds with a white bloom on them. Until the next time!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Last of the Kensington Stuff

This photo will be the end of the Kensington Dollshouse Festival purchases.

A set of hinges is for a Tudor door, and I have forgotten where I got them, unfortunately (perhaps Black Country Ironworks). The shelf signs, and cookie and biscuit tins, along with some wooden platters (not shown), came from Janet Brownwell, whose stuff I really like a lot. The roll at the top is lead tape, no longer available here in Canada - it is considered unhealthy, because it is lead. However, it cuts beautifully with a sharp knife to make super leading for Tudor windows, and I am careful. And the last is a very elaborate pewter bracket for a sign; I am sure I will find a good use for that.

There are some printables available on the internet for the "naked" cookie tins, so I will look these up one of these days. My polymer clay work is not done, hopefully by early next week it'll be good to photograph. There is a good variety of cheese ready to varnish, and some pears, but I didn't get to the bread and I need still more cheeses. Blending the clay is proving a tad painful to my stupid shoulder, so I have to rest for a day to prevent more problems.

 For the next few days, leading up to the Canadian national elections on October 19th, I will be out being political, so I will probably be absent from the blog until Tuesday. We are expecting some early snow flurries over the weekend, and I will likely be outdoors delivering flyers to mailboxes....

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Tidbits from Camp MiniHaHa 2015

At the miniaturists' meeting last evening, I picked up yet another bag of goodies, this time the tidbits, from Camp MiniHaHa. Every camper who participates brings a small gift item for all the other campers, and at lunch every day, a bag of goodies appears besides our plates. We can't open these until we have eaten, however!

These are all book-related; a set of nautical bookends, a stamp pad and a pad of book plates, a desk-top book shelf, three books (two in leather covers), and a key, a set of giraffe bookends, a laser-cut book stand, which has the Camp MiniHaHa logo on it, a set of piggy bookends, and a rare book display case, ready to be painted to the recipients' choice. I am definitely going to have to make another steam punk room box to hold all the overflow!

These items are study or work area related; a tiny radio, a display mineral sample, a tiny painting of a real Canadian light house in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia,  and two desk blotters; one with a crossword puzzle ready to go, while the other is for writing letters. Somewhere between the upstairs and the downstairs of my house, I have managed to mislay a gold desk set, with an ink well, plume  pen, sand and pumice shakers; I suspect the cat found it, and I will find it under a chair or something. It should still be in the little plastic bag....

And there was food for the body as well as for the soul and mind; a bottle of wine, glass of milk, cupcakes on a lacy cloth, a mug with the Camp logo on it, a display of pastries, and a quart of fresh blueberries; the latter was my tidbit contribution. The person who gave the mug also gave a key ring with the camp logo on it, as well as a nice saying about miniaturists.

And some lovely miscellaneous gifts; a carpet, two picture frames and two decorative wall details, a set of metal house numbers, a tiny doll, and on the card, because a breath would blow it away, a very tiny bookmark with a tiny tassel on its end! One thing which I did not show, because it is very large, is a piece of gray leather; as I also collect a few dolls, I shall have to go into the shoe-making business. If I could learn to skive leather (thin it out from the back), I could use it to upholster mini furniture. Maybe some day someone will demonstrate that for me!

I already know where most of these tidbit gifts will go, there are so many projects that I've done or am doing that they will go into beautifully.

With some more instructions, which I received last night also, I am going back to try and work on my large camp project; the backdrop for the photos was the gator board insert that goes inside the book fa├žade of the project. Now I have to fit that into the hollowed-out books, to see if any adjustments need to be made. Stay tuned!

Monday, 12 October 2015

More Kensington Stuff

It's been a busy Thanksgiving weekend here; I've tried to sort out some of my stuff, which is spread all over the place, and tried to work on minis as well. I haven't been very successful at either....

I began mixing polymer clays today to make a variety of cheeses, both to replenish my sales stock and as part of a special request. There are some pears ready to go into the oven, but they will have to wait for the cheeses and breads, so I can bake the lot in one go. It seems to be taking longer to mix and soften the clay; perhaps my hand muscles are out of practice!  In the meantime, I thought I'd share another batch of Kensington Dollshouse Festival purchases.

I picked up three kits from True2Scale, for a chocolate mold, a pair of Christmas cookie tins, and a mold for soaps. The first two are for my planned Christmas market stall; the latter will make shell-shaped soaps to go into my Provencal perfumery shop. I haven't begun to play with them yet, as the market stall still has to be designed and built, and I kind of got carried away with steam punk stuff and haven't gone back to further stock the scent shop. The soaps will be housed in a piece of furniture that still has to be built too.

As well, I bought a round basket kit from Ruth Moe; at Camp MiniHaHa three years ago, I was lucky to receive this kit in a Yankee swap (it goes by any number of other names, too). Anyways, this is a sort of game, in which you pick out a gift based on a number you picked; the people who pick after you can then take your gift from you, if they want it. And someone who picks after them, can then take that gift away again. Long story short, I won/lost/won/lost the kit, and when I saw the very same thing at Kensington, I just had to have it. It will likely become an embroidery basket, someday.

There is one more photo of acquisitions that I will share with you; tomorrow is the FAME meeting, at which I will be picking up my CMHH tidbit gifts, and I am really looking forward to going through the bag of goodies. I will also go back to working with polymer clay tomorrow, as I would really like to have the cheese and bread items finished; other things are calling out for my attention!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Why Pulchinella's Cellar? And More Kensington Purchases

People have asked me where I got the name Pulchinella's Cellar, which is also the name I use when I do the very few shows at which I sell or exhibit, as well as the name of this blog. I have to take you back to my childhood for this.

The marvellous old building at the end of the photo is "Het Dinghuis", in Maastricht, The Netherlands. Built in 1470, it was the parliament building for the town and area when it was first built. Over its many centuries, it has housed a very wide variety of functions indeed; currently it is the Tourist Aid office for the city (VVV).

See the little door under the staircase? When I was a child, this door led to a magical place for me, a professional puppet theatre known as the "Poesjenellekelder", which operated as a children's theatre as well as an adult political theatre from 1953 to 1967.

My father was a press photographer, and had attended Art College; he knew a lot of people in the art field, both through his job and his education, people who were and still are well-known in South Limburg. He got me backstage once, and I will never forget it! The walls and ceilings were hung with puppets of all types and sizes; hand or glove puppets, marionettes, rod puppets and shadow puppets. They sat on shelves, hung from the ceilings, and their miniature props were visible everywhere. I probably first got infected by the love of all things small here.

Most of the shows my sisters and I saw were re-tellings of fairy tales.The stories were magical; we sat on backless benches, in the cellar of a 500-year old building, and the normal world disappeared for us for about an hour or so,  and for us children the puppets were alive and real. Almost sixty years later, my memories of this place are still magical.

I actually took a puppetry course in university (Fine Arts Program), because of my memories of this magical place. While working as a children's library assistant, I performed puppet shows at work. My children also had simple puppets when they were young, and I made puppets with children I babysat as a teenager. When I was looking for a good name for my business and my blog, the name of the theatre came to mind. The word "poesjenelle" is derived from Punchinello, of Commedia del'Arte fame; you may know this character better as Punch, from the British puppet shows. The word "kelder" is Dutch for cellar. Now you know....

While we're on the subject of puppets, here are some hanks of viscose wigging I picked up at the Kensington Dolls' House Festival; I had a lot of grey and white wigging, and a huge hank of auburn, but was sadly lacking in other hair colours for younger characters. I love viscose hair, as it handles beautifully, and has just the right amount of shine. There are also 2 packages of fine cotton lace - the third one isn't visible - for use with the dollhouse people I make. It is so difficult to find real, cotton lace; the one shop I used to get it at in the US closed years ago, so I was very happy to find this in the UK.

This is Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada; the leaves have turned, the heat is coming on in the house, and the geese have been flying over in their hundreds. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Canada!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Constructing the CMHH 2015 Project Part 1

I had glued the wooden feet onto the inner box base a couple of days ago; it is my hope to get the flooring paper in place later today. The instructions for the  project arrived, so I began the very messy job of gluing the cut pages of the books together. I can only do 2 at a time, as they have to be clamped.

The end of the book that will remain open is at the back, with a map visible on the inside cover. I hope to add a non-opening door here, to allow more light into the vignette. The L-shaped section in front is one of the inner books; there are 5 of these that all need their pages glued down. The glue has to be massaged in with my fingers, and since it is Fast Grab Tacky, it gets everywhere! A bowl with a damp paper towel at the side allows me to rinse off my fingers. But I have to wait for each section to dry thoroughly before I can do another one, as I don't have enough clamps.

So I thought I'd put up some more photos of what I purchased at the Kensington Dolls House Festival in May; I forgot to post the rest!

I do like kits, and I picked up several. Three of them are from Art of Mini: a series of antique boxes that are going into the nursery shop, a small box for the Christmas stall, and a complimentary set of 6 coasters with clock designs on them. There is also a lovely brass-inlaid wooden box from Templewood Miniatures in the UK, reddish wood and  a tiny garland of brass ivy leaves.

I also purchased a kit for a St. John's Wort (Hypericum) for the Tudor apothecary garden. This is a Pascale Garnier kit, and was a bit of a disappointment; the packaging has a smaller photo of both flowers and berries, but the kit is just for the berries, with the berries having to be made from glue by me. So I paid 14 euros (nearly $25) for some wire stems, tissue leaves, and instructions! I was so happy to find the St. John's Wort that I purchased it without really checking the package out. Fortunately there is a tutorial for the flowers on one of the French miniatures sites, allowing me to add some in.

 The last kit is a Nicola Mascall kit for an intricate Tudor cushion, done on 40ct silk gauze. I've always admired her work and thought I'd take the plunge into petit-point with this gorgeous kit, and it will surely fit nicely in one of my Tudor settings.

Fall has come to the Atlantic Provinces of Canada; in the last three days, the trees have begun to turn red, orange and gold. While it is very beautiful, it also means winter isn't far behind, and our winter lasts from mid-October to mid-April. People who predict the weather are suggesting it will be another very snowy winter. I am not a winter person....

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Gift Exchange "Wins" from Camp MiniHaHa 2015

As promised, here are my exchange gift items from CMHH this year. If we decide to participate in this exchange, we bring 5 items, made by us or purchased or a combination thereof, to a certain suggested value.  There are some excellent crafts persons at camp each year, as the photos will show.

This is a walnut (I believe) prie-Dieu, upholstered in wine-red velvet. It came complete with a black lace mantilla, and a tiny wooden cross. These were made by Debbie P. of Nova Scotia, Canada, who is very comfortable with a lathe and a jig-saw. The prayer stool will look wonderful in one of my medieval settings. I recently came across a miniature printie for Les Tres Riches Heures de Jean, Duc de Berry, on the internet, and that would look wonderful on this prie-Dieu.

Becky N. from the United States, gifted this wonderful harvest table, which has 2 working drawers, and is painted in my favourite shade of green. I can see this as a table with a complicated meal in the making on top of and under it, and that is most likely what I will use this for. The drawers just beg to be partially open with linen and cutlery showing inside them. (Thanks to all my CMHH co-campers for letting me know who made the table.)

This piece is from Elizabeth R. from Ontario, and is going right into my vignette; a folding chair/ladder ideal for reaching the high shelves in my antique book shop.

And here it is folded open in the ladder position. This piece is also distressed, which will suit the ambiance of the book shop perfectly.

Two takes on the same plant table; one is elegantly steam punk, while the other, which came with a laser-cut, intricate doily, green artistic vase, and a silver dish of licorice all-sorts, makes me want to do an Arts and Crafts vignette. They were made by Iris S. from Nova Scotia.

And last but not least, a  gorgeous leather and fabric pet carrier, kitten, and pottery cat dish, all made by Jo-Ann S. from Nova Scotia. (Jo-Ann sells her creations as Kilnworks by Jo-Ann via the on-line miniature show that happens at least twice a year, the next one in November, and her items have gone all over the miniatures world.) I'm going to attempt flocking the kitten....

It certainly was a wonderful variety of items that I was lucky enough to get in the exchange, don't you agree?

This afternoon I tried to start on the camp project, but am already in trouble. It is smaller than I had thought, so I will have to reduce the items that go into it. If lots of steam punk items are left over, I just may have to create another steam punk vignette to use them all up! Too bad, huh! I hope to turn the current  one into a book-end; miniatures that are useful are extra wonderful.

The backdrop for the photos is a corner of the steam punk project, held together by low-tack masking tape, as I try to figure out what I am doing....