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Saturday, 29 August 2015

More Steampunk Stuff

So late yesterday, I added the map holder and the print file to the stuff for my steam punk project. The map holder was fairly easy to make; a printed map on cardstock, scored, glued and folded. Then I added trim bands at the top and bottom, and trimmed that further with a strand of gold thread. A small block of balsa wood in the bottom keeps everything in shape.

The print file is not my best work!  I followed very sketchy instructions, and of course the angle of the legs didn't fit the holder. So I couldn't glue the legs on; I added the wire spreader to keep everything sort of steady, but the file just sits loosely in the legs. Oh well, hopefully in the vignette the uneven legs won't be quite so visible! The legs are wood, cross-halved and then glued and drilled for the wire. The file itself is mat-board, lined with the lining from my credit card statement, and the outside painted black. Now I need to pick up a gold fine-line pen, to do some decorative work on the file.

I'm really happy with the map holder, though! The maps are printed on paper, rolled over a knitting needle and tied with coarse white cotton thread. Until the next installment!

Friday, 28 August 2015

More Steampunk Pieces

First real piece of furniture; this is the book truck. It will eventually get a handle on the long, left side once I find my copper wire again! This is made in mirror image from instructions in Dolls House & Miniature Scene of March 2015. For some reason, I keep thinking the sales desk will be at the left, and the shelving to the right of that; the long end of this unit seemed the right one for the tall handle. That will be made from copper wire bent into a handle shape, and held to the shelving with sockets made from belt rivets or card circles - whichever makes the sturdier handle fixings.

I also began to make more books; card covers over matboard cores. We have finally, with help from the wonderful people at The Camp, been able to print some book covers to fit. I calculated that to fill 2 tall, narrow bookshelves I will need a meter (over 3 linear ft) of tiny books, aaagh! That means it is unlikely I will have all them done by the time Camp MiniHaHa rolls around. The wheels on the truck are the female parts of large (13mm) black snap fasteners, glued onto copper wire axles, so the truck can roll. Not that this is important, once a vignette is finished, I find I don't mess around with it too much any more.

And this is the hot plate for the water kettle - can't function without tea in my alternate universe. The vial on the top was purchased ready-made, I need to add a handle and a spout. (If I could cut glass, I would make it shorter, too.) The gas burner is a very large, black,  male snap fastener, sunk into the wooden top and base, and held by a steel pin. Scraps of wood were used to make this burner unit, along with black and buttermilk paint and glossy varnish for the "enamel" top. Paper, acetate sheet, beads, and other jewelry findings made the dial, knob and handle. Just like with the radio, the handle is needed to kick-start the hot plate in the event of a power failure. (Think early automobiles!) I do think I may need to add some strictly decorative elements, as it doesn't really look all that Victorian-influenced right now!

I have more tiny books to assemble....

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Two Miniature Steampunk Pieces

Here is the steampunk radio. I got it finished today, requiring me to go to Value Village and pick up a bead bracelet to cannibalise, for the little coggy bead around the central control button. Why is it that when you need certain beads etc. they are no longer available? I was lucky to find that bracelet! Of course, you probably recognize this as a design from, her
cathedral radio. Made of matboard, cardstock, acetate sheet, jewelry findings, gold embroidery floss, beads and imagination, it stands just under 1 1/5" or 4 cm high, somewhat smaller than her original by about 1/8 of an inch. The handle for the crank - you need that when the power fails, to start it up again - is a painted teardrop pearl bead on a silver head pin.

And here is the steampunk  clock, made from wood scraps, baguette beads, brass sequin pins, jewelry findings, scraps of ancient gold paper seals, a printie and more acetate, with a "marbled" finish. It is actually based on an old clock from my Dutch childhood, the style being, I think, a Napoleon clock. (That one didn't have the tubes and coils on it, of course!) It is about the same size as the radio, because of the height of the bead resistor tubes from which the coiled wire springs. The back of the clock face bead was filed flat by my carpenter-in-chief, as the bead is the kind you put another bead in the middle of; i.e., the "catch" and "hinge" used to be the tube where the beading thread went.

The radio was the first steampunk mini to spring into my mind, with the clock not far behind. Now I have to finish the hot plate for the water kettle, and some of the other weird stuff my imagination keeps presenting me with. A book truck - the sort of little wagon on wheels used in libraries to cart books around - is partially finished, waiting for the wheels to go onto the axles. That will likely be the next piece to be finished, and is a mirror image of the one in Dolls House & Miniature Scene #250.

I dug a bookshelf kit out of my stash, and the carpenter-in-chief can make me another to go with it, to hold the books in the bookshop. Part of the kit shelf has to be cut off, as it is 1" or 2.5 cm too tall for the interior of the altered books project. I also found another UFO kit, this one for a small mahogany book and magazine rack (a Cheryl Kerfoot kit), which comes complete with printies for making some books and magazines to go into it. As a few UFO's are being finished to go into the 2015 Camp MiniHaHa project, I can pat myself on the back for reducing my unused stash! Boy, do I feel virtuous!

I'd like to welcome my new followers, hope you enjoy the silliness on this blog!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

How to Make a Miniature Delphinium Plant

As promised, here is the delphinium tutorial. I chose to go with a particular variety, a purple one with a dark purple heart and lighter areas on the petals, called "Michael Ayres"; this variety can grow up to 6 ft or nearly 2 metres tall. The open book is my sample picture.

Below is what you will need:

I used a corner punch with 3 different sizes of 5-petal flowers, and 3 sizes of maple leaves, made with painted paper. Punch out 5 each of the flowers and leaves; you may not need them all, but you can save them for use in another project.You will also need painted mustard seeds (or poppy seeds) for your buds, wire, glue, colouring materials, a ball stylus with a small ball, and tweezers and a foam pad.

The variety I decided to make has a deep purple centre; to do this, I made a dot with the Copic pen. Then I used a white pencil (the gel pen in the photo made too obvious a white line) to make the five tiny white lines that go upwards on each blossom. You can simply do a coloured centre and not do the lines.

My apologies for the lack of  progress photos for this tutorial, but I can't get the photo function to work for me today.( Please scroll down to the photo of the finished plant for a picture of the next step.) Put glue on about 3/8" (1 cm) of the top of the flower stem, and glue on your painted seeds for buds. Set aside to dry. In the meantime, shape your flowers by cupping them using a ball stylus and a soft foam mat. Optionally, you can push them into a foam tray from the grocery store; they will cup more deeply, but may have to be pushed out through the bottom of the tray!

Shape your leaves by "drawing" a line using a ball stylus, blunt tapestry needle, or corsage pin down the centre; on the larger leaves, add 2 V-lines, but on the small leaf you can likely only draw 1 V-line.
Dip the back of your small blossoms in glue, and place below the painted seed buds; then do the same with your medium blossoms, and finally with your large ones. I used 8 of the small and medium, and 5 of the large sizes. Now do the same with your leaves; I used 3-5 of each of the sizes, again starting with the smallest, then the medium, and then the largest.

Here is the finished purple delphinium, next to the blue one I made as a demonstration flower for last Tuesday's class. You can see that adding the dark centres and white lines adds definition to the flowers. The blue ones here were made with paper coloured with marker pens. The blossoms were then punched out, moistened by laying them on a damp paper towel, and then pressed into a foam supermarket tray, and allowed to dry. The moistening made the marker ink "run" in interesting ways, deepening it in places and making it look lighter in others. The very top blossom in the purple delphinium was coloured with the white gel pen; you can see that the lines are too noticeable, unlike the pencil lines in the remaining flowers, which are more subtle. Flower making is really a matter of trial and error!
Delphiniums are coloured from white through blue, pink, and mauve, with a variety of centre colours. The leaves tend to be a bright, light green. The book I used is a garden flowers book I borrowed from the library; seed and flower catalogues are also good for flower photos, and the internet's Image file will give you good close-ups of the blossom colours and varieties.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

The Second Flower Making Session

Tuesday evening was very warm here, even with our heat pump set to cool, the living room was toasty and humid with 8 of us, plus a cat, making flowers.

One person is hiding! This session people chose the flowers they wanted to learn to make,  so we made sunflowers, irises, poinsettias and lily of the valley. Rather than make the entire plant, we learned to make the components, so we could finish them at home and take our time (our sessions usually run 2 hours).

The single flowers are the samples that were made. After we made our samples, time was taken to cut out additional flower shapes from our collections of punches. (The potted flowers were my samples.) As sunflowers are usually planted at the back of borders, I tend to leave the lower stems bare until the border is completely planted, then I fill in; no point in having those big leaves where they won't be seen, or get in the way of other plants!

We also did a little gift trade; I got the bird feeder with a wonderful grey budgie on it, hiding behind the potted cyclamen, unfortunately. The plant table is made with a woodsie on a wooden chess piece, ready to be finished to the lucky recipient's tastes or needs.

The lily of the valley were made to go into an existing pergola scene, so here they are photographed in their little spot, in front of the lilies. The lady who made these likes to make flowers to fill up this lovely little pergola vignette; the pergola itself is an old Joann Swanson design from the small format Nutshell News. Mine, I hate to admit, is pretty barren. I was going to plant it entirely in blue and yellow, but there really aren't all that many true blue flowering plants. That means another project to finish up one of these days....

I will post the delphinium instructions shortly. Wednesday morning I woke up very early and unable to go back to sleep. Suddenly, a full-blown picture of a Steam Punk radio erupted into my brain, so I got up and sketched and wrote, and before I had had my second cup of coffee, several other small Steam Punk accessories had made themselves manifest as well. Currently, I am working on the mantel clock and the hot plate/water kettle.

Why Steam Punk? Well, Camp MiniHaHa is coming up next month, we are doing an altered book scene, and I wanted mine to be an antiquarian bookshop, print- and mapshop. Then it decided it also wanted to be set in an alternate Steam Punk universe. As I can't carve worth a bean the furniture will be quite simple, but the accessories and d├ęcor will scream Steam Punk - hopefully! I'll post photos as I finish the items.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Dollshouse Nasturtium Plants

I'm fairly pleased with this nasturtium plant, growing in a broken chimney pot (very English country garden!), for a first attempt. It's a bit too static for my tastes; it should be bushier, somehow. The plant is based on the real one I have growing on my front steps, although that one is in a low pot. (See below.)

The blossoms were shaped by dampening them and forcing them into foam meat tray, and then left to dry thoroughly. Then they have to be opened out again, each petal rounded out from the back and then flattened somewhat on the front; as you can see, the real thing has two petals at the top and three on the bottom, with a sort of crease across the centre of the blossom.

When I do up a bunch for the Tudor apothecary garden, I'll go with the bushier or perhaps the climbing form of these flowers. I might also add more leaves to the plant in the broken chimney pot, to try and get a more rounded form. The actual flowers have a spur at the back of them, but that is far too fiddly to reproduce in miniature. I also have to make the veins finer....

Creating new plants is a matter of trial and error; look at the finished item and see what can be changed to make a more realistic version of the plant next time. At least such small challenges keep my mind active.

Now I have to make up tutorials for a variety of plants our FAME group will be working on Tuesday evening. Stay tuned!

Saturday, 15 August 2015

How to Make Paper Dollshouse Geraniums or Pelargoniums

As promised, here is a tutorial for how I make my miniature geraniums or pelargoniums.

You will need 35 tiny 5-petal blossoms, depending on the size of your punch. Mine is a 3/32" or 3 mm (I think!) punch from Hanky Panky Crafts. Punch 13 small geranium leaves; I used a tiny Punch a Bunch punch. The flower heads are built up on tiny domes; mine are made of Crayola Model Magic. Shape your tiny dome, and stick in a wire stem with Tacky Glue. Allow to dry (overnight is best). Cut 9 wires for your leaf stems. You will also need tweezers, tacky glue, ball stylus, pot, plasticine, tea leaves, and colouring materials.

Decide on the colour of your flowers; I coloured some computer paper with a dark red-purple Copic marker. You can also use this marker to colour the Model Magic domes, once they are dry. Paint is another option; I prefer to colour my dome to match the flowers. These flowers have a white centre, made with a type of white china and glass marker pencil. A sharp white colouring pencil, paint or a watercolour pencil would also work for this. Fiddly yes, but it adds depth to the flowers. The leaves were punched from hand-painted paper, darker on top and lighter on the bottom.

If you are making a pelargonium, you will need to add a little semi-circle of dark green to the top of your leaves. (See photo below.) Geranium leaves don't have this darker circle.

Bend the top 1/8 (2 or 3 mm) of your leaf wires at a right angle. Shape the leaves by "drawing" a line on the back using a blunt needle or tiny ball stylus, with leaves on a soft surface. Run larger ball stylus around the outer edge of the leaves to curl them up a little. Turn face-up and re-draw the line from the centre of the leaf to the stem end. Set aside 4 prepared leaves for later. Dip tiny bent edge of wire into tacky glue, extending stem over the bend, and glue to back of leaves. Set aside to dry.
Cup the flowers by pressing ball stylus in them while they are on a soft surface; I use a piece of craft foam. Glue flowers all over the tiny domes, and allow to dry. Glue 2 reserved leaves below each flower head. Drop a little glue on plasticine in pot, spread out evenly and dip top of pot in tea leaves. Clear off edges. (Photo below.)
Now you are ready to plant your geranium plant in the pot. Place flower heads near centre; cut wires to desired length, dip in glue, and plant. Do the same with the 9 leaf stems. Allow to dry. Once dry, you can gently bend the wires to give a pleasing shape to your potted plant.
And that's it! (My glue wasn't quite dry, I see a blob on the pot's surface.) For this project, I used a small resin pot with a diameter of less than 1/2" or 1.3 cm. As the pot is heavy, I didn't weigh it down; if your pot is lightweight, you can glue a piece of split shot (fishing weight) into the bottom of the pot. Keep in mind that this will affect how far down your stem wires will go. If your pot is larger, you may want to make additional flower heads and leaves to fill it up nicely. By the way, this photo is larger than the actual (miniature) plant!
Although I use Model Magic to create the domes, some people use beads or balls of wadded-up paper for this purpose. This method of building up flower heads can also be used for Hydrangea flowers; the dome would be slightly bigger, and you'd  use standard leaf-shaped leaves. Tall Garden Phlox has a similar shape, with long, thin leaves all up and down the stems; consult a gardening book or plant nursery catalogue for flower colours.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Flower Making Session

Four members of FAME came to my house tonight to make some flowering plants, and I got photos of them to share with you. We made geraniums (actually pelargoniums with the dark band on the leaf) and delphiniums.

The samples are on the left of the photo, and the pieces the participants made are on the right. I will do a tutorial for both of these plants this week. A salmon geranium, two in shades of pink, and a red one. All the delphiniums are blue, as that was everyone's favourite colour.

Next week we will be seven flowering plant makers, all doing a variety of things; I will get photos of them as well, and perhaps some more tutorials.....

Now to figure out how to make convincing nasturtiums to go into my Tudor apothecary garden....