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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....

Saturday, 3 October 2015

The 2015 Camp MiniHaHa Project Components

I picked up the components for my kit on Friday afternoon, and unpacked them and looked at them. Help! I am going to need a lot of it, from my friends who went to camp; this one is hard to figure out, without instructions. They have promised to show me how to do it. So here they are:

This is going to be the outside of the vignette: the books are upside-down, because they came pre-hollowed; there are no pages in the bottom at all.

This is the inside, also upside-down. The book sections will need to be glued together, then a box has to be built to go inside them, the actual room box. My greatest fear is cutting the opening for the window through those wonderful book spines. I am not very good with power tools....

And here is the rest of the kit; 10 lights, lots of foam core and a piece of cardboard, 2 windows and a window blank, little wooden pieces, and a metal piece which might be a battery. Oh boy, now to figure out where everything goes. The first thing I have to do is build the inner box, out of the foam core pieces.

So you can all follow my efforts, I will post progress photos on the blog. This could take a while, but we are all hoping to have our versions finished for early December, when we intend to display them at a local hobby show. Five local people have started out with the same components, but the end results will all be very different.

In the meanwhile, we have begun planning for next year's camp.

In the next few days, I will also post photos of some of the gifts I got in the gift exchange. The people who attend the camp, whether beginners or "old pro's",  are marvellous miniaturists.....

Friday, 2 October 2015

Floral Creation for Camp MiniHaHa

My gift exchange item for Camp MiniHaHa this year was the floral arrangement above; I made 6 of them, and kept one for myself, although it is in a different container.

The pillar is a  plastic cake pillar, painted in off-white and gently aged. The floral arrangement was inspired by an arrangement outside my workroom window, which included impatiens in pink and white, purple lobelia, dusty miller and trailing greenery. I borrowed from another garden arrangement, and included a dracaena and geranium plants.

The dracaena is made from dollar store grass; this comes in several colours when it is available, and cuts very nicely with sharp scissors. You can also use your scissors blade to gently curve the plastic leaves.The lobelia is glued on reindeer moss to represent its foliage, while the impatiens is glued on clump foliage from a model railroad store; I believe this is dyed synthetic sponge. It crumbles nicely from the large chunks the store supplies it in, allowing you to shape it to fit your container and your flowers. The trailing leaves are glued onto glue-stiffened embroidery thread; I had tried wire, and it just looked far too stiff.

My tidbit items went to camp, so I will have no photo until I get one of them back in my own tidbit bag, which is with another local camper, another day. I am meeting with a fellow camper from my city, who is bringing my exchange gift items and the kit for this year's project for me. She is also hoping to bring her version of the project - I have mentioned several times that we all start with the same idea, but we all end up with very different projects - for me to have a look at.

I am eager to get started on making my steam punk vision a reality!