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Sunday, 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

This photo was taken just after daybreak on Friday, because I loved the looks of the clouds in the sky, and all the fine, powdery snow that had fallen was still on every branch and tiny bud. This is the view from my living room, through the windows, out over the Saint John River valley, now obscured by trees, unfortunately; the opposite bank is visible on the horizon.

Since then, we have had rain, and today lots of very strong wind gusts; for a while this morning, we lost electrical power in our neighbourhood. But we are used to this, and our generator kicked in just fine, and by 1 p.m. power was restored to the area. It was likely another tree or branch falling on a line somewhere.

I had hoped to post a photo of my Christmas vignette today, but my camera is still giving us problems; the fresh batteries I put in on Friday were completely drained today. It appears the problem might be that one of the coils inside is causing a drain on battery power. In the daylight, we will try to fiddle with this, using one of my long, thin tweezers.

This was definitely not a mini Christmas; my Sasha Morgenthaler doll collection, however, was very well remembered, with fabric, books and clothing! However, they are the wrong scale for this blog. Now that my work surface has been tidied up, I hope to get back into miniatures. This afternoon, I was madly hemming the last of the patchwork Real Life place mats I had made to brighten up our very quiet Christmas dinner. Now my time can go back to some of my other hobbies.

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Camera Woes Resolved

My camera has been giving me a very hard time lately, as it is eating batteries like a shark with a bucket of bait. Hopefully, we have now sorted out the problem, and I can try to catch up a little bit with the blog.

Our FAME group had a Christmas party at one of our member's homes in the first week of December, pot-luck style with a gift exchange among ourselves. We are now 10 members, and all of us were able to come to the party. The member hosting us this year is a collector of miniatures, and oh my goodness, does she ever have a wonderful collection! There was so much to see that it was impossible to see it all in one visit. As she visits Hong Kong on a regular basis, she has  been able to acquire some wonderful Asian miniatures, very different from most of what we see here. She has been collecting for 25 years, so you can just imagine what there was to see; a small sample would be a guitar case, showcasing musical instrument miniatures, for example.

Our gift exchange was fun, and I got a lovely gift, a Reutter Porzellan miniature loaf of bread with a knife, a submarine sandwich, and a porcelain breadboard, which has now gone into the little cupboard that sits on top of my Christmas room box. (This will be posted on Christmas day.)

The breadboard has a Christmas-y feel about it, although the image is of a rooster, but it looks right at home in the Christmas miniature.

Our newest member (and right now the only male in our group) made a Christmas miniature for each of us. He made a dozen of these little vignettes, and each one was very different, although the little building, the many signs, and the animal or bird in each kept recurring. This piece has a place on a small side table at my house, and will be part of our Christmas display every year:

Mine is a blue woodshed, full of wood, with a dog in a sweater sitting out front and a white Christmas tree, with a Christmas bauble hanging on a branch. There are probably two dozen little signs in this vignette, and all sides of the little woodshed are also decorated. I think it is just fabulous!
One of the pieces he made for a family member has over 70 different little signs on it - he is obviously very computer-savvy! We hope to visit his miniatures in the Spring of 2017 - he travels more than an hour over country highways to come to our meetings....

Marilyn and Louise handed out Miniature  Bingo cards at Camp MiniHaHa this September, and I am attempting to fill some of my bingo squares; two are done, I think, and I hope to get another one done this weekend, as I am repairing the window of the Pawn Shop vignette, which caved in on the trip home from our show at the end of October. Each square of the bingo card has a different miniature challenge, and for each challenge finished - with photographic evidence of the work -  your name goes in one of two draws for a prize in September 2017. I don't know if I can fill them all in by then, but I'm going to try.

We are expecting lots of snow overnight, in time for Christmas; it will, however, cause some problems for people who are travelling. I hope to  be back on the blog on Sunday, although I am really not expecting any minis this year; however, who knows?

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Back Again

We got back from our western Canadian odyssey just in time for me to assist Marilyn D. (Charminis) who was teaching the corner vignette for the class I taught back in June. I forgot to bring my camera. So I am hoping to find some photos somewhere that I can eventually put on this blog.

Once that was done, I had a week to make some items for a Secret Santa Swap. As that has now been received, in the US, in under a week (!), that is done. (That it got there that quickly is a bit of a Christmas miracle, as it can easily take a week or more for us to get a letter from across the river in the town where we live! And this parcel was international....)

Then on Saturday, FAME, our local miniature group, exhibited at the model railroaders' show here in town. We displayed a number of pieces by a new member of our group, Garry R., and had a lot of male visitors to our display - perhaps because there was a man behind the table? Garry has been doing miniatures for many years, has won national (US) prizes for his work, and has exhibited at a number of now defunct shows in the State of Maine. My family and I visited several of those US shows regularly, but I must have been overcome with all the bounty on display, as I have no memory!

His work is excellent: my favourite piece of his is his room box of Maine homeless people, a sad subject, but so beautifully and sympathetically done. There are even wet patches around the manhole cover in the area where the people are attempting to shelter, and posters for charitable groups offering meals and a roof for the night. Again, I forgot to bring my camera to our show, but I have been promised a photo or two in the future. Next up is our group Christmas get-together, a Pot Luck at a member's house that will include a look at her extensive miniatures collections.

I didn't think I would encounter any miniatures on our western trip, but in a second-hand store in Edmonton, AB, I found a book I had never seen before: Make Your Own Dollhouses and Dollhouse Miniatures, by Marian Maeve O'Brien, published in 1975. I own her other book, Make and Furnish Your Own Miniature Rooms (1976) in hard-cover. The new-to-me book is a large soft-cover book.

It contains loads of general tips, instructions for creating 5 houses of  varying complexity, as well as finishing details, electrification, a number of furniture how-to's, accessories, small miniature pieces and miniature needlework ideas. What a treasure trove! I know our group, which is made up of people of widely varying experience in miniatures, will find it a great resource.

I have to make some Christmas miniatures for our Christmas Party gift exchange, which means that I have to look through some of my old magazines to find the perfect pieces, how annoying (not!). I love looking through my magazine stash, but usually do not like how much time I end up losing doing so.

Hopefully, something will catch my eye quickly, and more importantly, I will have everything I need to realize the project right here in my stash.

My blog dashboard has changed; I am to inform you that there may be cookies associated with the website owners (Blogger) that could affect European readers. I have now let you know....

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Going Away Again

Just to let you all know that I will be away from my computer until late November, visiting family on Canada's west coast and my two older children in Alberta.

I really don't know at this point if there will be any miniatures to be seen/acquired on this trip; as in many countries, the internet stores have really taken over from real stores, so places that existed five years ago, my last visit in that direction, may not exist any more, unfortunately.

When I get back I will be the "go-fer" or assistant for Part 2 of the miniature project I taught back in the Spring. So I will try to remember to bring my camera, and post a photo or two. In early December, our miniature group is once again exhibiting at the local model railroaders' show. As I've said many times before, everything always seems to happen at once....

Until then, visit some of the how-to's on the blog, and don't let the winter get you down.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Our First Show Report!

From all indications, it was a huge success! Only one complaint about low sales, and one who found it too hard to travel. We had one of our members volunteer in the kitchen - which was available to vendors and exhibitors - and that went over remarkably well; food was kept fresh, there was always coffee and tea, and a smile and good conversation. Shows we have attended do have a kitchen available, but no one really to look after it. The member in the kitchen, who has had lots of church cookery experience, had made 44 1/2 doz. cookies and squares! We all went home with a few left-overs.

By 2 p.m., 4 hours into the show, it is estimated we had had at least 100 visitors; given the weather was depressingly wet and stormy, and a provincial political nomination convention was being held in town at the same time, that was very good for a brand-new, limited niche type of show, we think. Aside from a brief lull around lunch time, attendance was constant and steady, and no one packed up early, except for one vendor who said he had sold out a quarter of an hour before the show ended. We hope to have the actual numbers of attendees available early in the next week.

We had 6 young ladies aged 7 to 12 for the free children's class, and 4 adults for the free adults' class, also pretty good numbers; our maximum had been 10 each. It appears we may have recruited 3 new members for our club.

The newspaper article appeared in the Friday paper (a morning paper), and that brought in quite a few of our customers. A lovely article, lots of print and a couple of very nice photos; it was the best advertising we could have hoped for. Even people not truly interested in miniatures and dolls confessed to having come just to see what it was all about.

We are already thinking we may have to look for larger quarters for next year....

I didn't take any photos, as I was too busy, but some of our members did and I will try to get one or two to put on the blog. The show was miniatures, doll houses and dolls, and included antique dolls, vintage Barbie and 18" doll clothing and accessories.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Our Miniature (and Doll) Show

Tomorrow, we are being interviewed by the local newspaper in relation to our miniature and doll show, which is happening this Saturday, Oct. 22. It has been busy getting ready for it, every day brings a slew of emails with questions that need answering.

At this point, we have 4 children signed up for the free make-and-take class, and 1 adult for the adult class. That may change when the newspaper story is published!

In the meantime, I've been knitting up lots of yarn scraps to make door prizes suitable for 18" doll people and for Barbie people. And tidying the house. And starting a box of things that have to go to the show on Saturday. And....

Well, you get the idea! Back on the blog this weekend, I hope.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Book Vignette Lit Up

The above photo is of the CMHH '15 books vignette lit up; the street lamp is also lit up, but because it is broad daylight, it doesn't show. At the moment, there is a small bookshelf outside on the sidewalk, which will be replaced at some point with a rotating book display for selling cheap paperbacks. I have to make it, that's why it is "at some point". I do have instructions for a modern version, but I want to make it look steam-punk inspired, so some thinking is required as to how I can bash my supplies for a good Victorian-looking display. I suspect bits of jewelry findings are going to find their way into that project.

A close-up of the shop interior through the window; I still need to make quite a few more books to fill in the shelves, obviously, although the shelves that show in this photo are, of course, those with the fewest books! Yesterday, I spent a day shopping in Bangor, ME and I picked up the nice little globe there, actually part of a charm, that is sitting on the central bookshelf. The other half of the charm was a pair of scale binoculars, which will get a  leather carrying case and then be displayed in the companion piece to the books vignette, this year's CMHH project (I hope).


And I forgot to photograph a few items I picked up from an estate sale while at camp, and a hat on a stand which I got in a silent auction there. The hat and the "wicker" ottoman are for my daughter's dollhouse, as it is Edwardian in period. The writing slope will likely go into one of the Tudor interiors; it is a very fine piece, signed "MJH 79", I think. The crate of apples will go into the between-the-wars market scene, while the wool tapestry rug is going to go into this year's camp project. It is a very fine wool piece, at a minimum, 24 ct. I have worked at that count, but only in cotton floss. The wool used is likely crewel wool, it's the only thing fine enough at this scale not to have a mile of wool fuzzies stick up above the canvas base!

Other than tidying away the stuff I took to camp - some of which appears to have been misfiled by me - is all I have done mini-wise lately. We are coming up to our show in less than two weeks, and that is taking a lot of our attention, to make sure everything goes smoothly. There is a meeting this evening to see how far along we are with the preparations, and still lots to do before the actual day.

It may be a little quiet again on this blog....

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Finally, Life is Slightly Back to Normal

I did not get around to posting the gifties and tidbits from Camp MiniHaHa because two members of my family were hit by the flu after I got home. However, I have pretty much tidied things up, and today, while waiting to get rid of a possible virus on the computer, I got around to taking the photos.

Keep in mind the camp theme this year was Crazy Cat Ladies, and I did warn you in a previous post that there would be cats.

Lynn M. made this metal bar cart, complete with glasses and wine bottles. She learned to solder doing this project - wish I had the courage to try that on my own! The cart has real casters.

This lovely blue distressed cupboard and fabric-lined basket were made by Marilyn D. This blue colour is one I've used for a number of "old" furniture pieces, which means I have to put on my thinking cap and design a setting to showcase them all. Hmm, perhaps the room box rumoured to be part of this year's club project....

I did warn you there would be cats! I just couldn't resist this photo of our cat, Cupcake, checking out the miniature mother cat with her kittens. Their food dishes, complete with water and kibble, stand nearby. This gift came from Liz D., and will get a space in this year's camp vignette; I think I have the perfect spot for it.

This is a look down into the secret fairy garden box Myra T. made; it is a little hard to see from this angle, but there is a tiny purple dragon peeking out from under the bush at the lower left. The frog in the walnut shell garden chair appears to be the garden's owner.

I traded one of my gifts for this 1/24th scale pottery set from JoAnne S. Next year's project will be in that scale, but I  will likely have to miss next year's camp due to family stuff. I actually got a portable work station, consisting of a self-healing cutting mat on one side and an ironing pad on the other, but as I had a larger version of that in my quilting supplies, I traded it for the above. I will have to come up with a setting for these tiny pottery pieces as well.  


And this is the collection of tidbits: a bag, silly funny cat pin, industrial piping shelf, cat picture, sticker, "dead" plant, camp bag with fairy wand (preview of next year's project), basket, barrel, cat backside sticking out of a paper bag, challenge in an Altoids-type tin, stacking and opening boxes, ceramic canisters, books, a set of puzzles in a box, pictures, a cat treat kit complete with teeny fish-shaped cat treats (laser-cut), cat toy, basket of felted balls, seaside montage, pencil cup (made from a pencil eraser top) with pencils, a dish of sweets, cat colouring pages with a box of colouring pencils, a prep board for a fish dinner,  funky coat rack, a teeny mouse with a transparent tail, another mouse eating cat kibbles, and printies that can be used in a number of settings. I expect I missed something, the photo is rather small unfortunately.

Some of these items will go into existing settings, others will go into this year's project and last year's, and some I have to put some thinking into. The ingenuity shown by campers never ceases to amaze me, and there are so many different craft disciplines represented here. It seems that miniaturists are also into quite a few other crafty areas, or perhaps miniatures encourage us to explore other crafts as well.

We have a couple of busy weeks ahead, as our upcoming Miniature and Doll Show is happening in less that two weeks, so there may be gaps in the posting. I did finish the street lamp, and will get a photo of that, lit up, once I tidy up the interior of the books vignette; travel over bumpy secondary highways caused the contents of the  room box to fall over. Hundreds of tiny books....

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Camp MiniHaHa 2016 Project

I arrived home yesterday around dinner time, having driven all alone for 7 hours on about 4 hours of sleep; not to be recommended! To stay awake, I alternated travelling on country roads with stretches of high-speed highway, and by doing this managed, just, to avoid a fatal accident between a car and an eighteen-wheeler. I did have the emergency service vehicles screaming down the country road beside me on the way to the scene.

The camp project was very intense, and was accompanied by a number of smaller projects; I managed the lamp shades, but haven't installed them as yet. The radiator, mattress and pet bed will have to wait their turn. The theme this year was Crazy Cat Ladies, so there will be cats....

Below is a photo of the half scale prototype: no mezzanine, and double the number of windows.

I took this photo to help me remember what the pipes looked like; as my plan is for a steam-punk inspired piece, I will be adding pipes, although I am thinking they will be cream in colour rather than black!

This is my project in trial; I thought I had earlier photos, but apparently I don't. The wainscoting is made from scrap wood top and bottom, with craft sticks in between. My setting is intended to be a companion piece to last year's book vignette, the home of the book store owner. The whole thing except for the finished wainscot is held together by masking tape. The grinning cat toy is the weight to keep the mezzanine floor steady.

I decided to do the floor, again of scrap wood, in a diagonal pattern, as the corner will be cut off. The original project had a 12 x 9" footprint, but I cut it down to 9 x 9", as I wanted the project to be a little less demanding of display space - it is running low here!

Flooring and wainscoting in place, the corner of the floor cut off, and the window openings both cut. By this time it was dark, so the windows reflect parts of the room. The wood has all been stained with a mixture of dark burnt umber acrylic and water-based golden oak stain, to look aged, as the loft is a re-purposed industrial space.

Window frames painted, baseboards being tried out. On the mezzanine floor are the two industrial lamp-shades which will light up the place, made from the tops of plastic Easter eggs and a couple of tiny brass bells - held in place for now by the toothpicks I used while painting the plastic with 4 coats of nail polish, inside and out.

The walls were finished in butter cream-coloured tissue paper stucco above the paneling. This now needs to be aged to bring out the wrinkles in the stucco. The central panel of the industrial window is intended to pivot, but as I am not in the least fond of pin hinging in cramped spaces, I will glue one in, in the open position, and leave the other closed.

The flat roof is finished with a hollowed space to hold the battery box for the lights; I asked to have mine cut to continue the slope of the mansard, which I hope to do in faux copper. The idea right now is to make the knob to lift it up out of dowel roof vents. We'll see!

Next to me, the project turned into a much larger Via Rail station lobby, with an elevator leading to the Tim Horton coffee shop on the second level, being made by Louise. Next to her, Marilyn turned her project into a 1/24th scale, New York brown-stone with three floors. Down from her, Myra was doing the project in 1/48th scale! There was also a speak-easy across the room, a townhouse with a roof garden at the end of the table, and two dozen other variations of the basic project. No-one tends to stick to the original idea....

I also, thank heaven, managed to finish the basic steps and spacers for the winding wrought iron staircase up to the mezzanine, very important as I wanted an opening cut in that floor to allow miniature people to go up the stairs without bonking their heads.

Tomorrow, I will post photos of gift exchange items and tidbits.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Working on a Street Lamp

I've been working on designing a street lamp for my book vignette from Camp MiniHaHa '15 for the last couple of days. It's been a lot of experimenting and fitting, redesigning and refitting, and digging among my bits and pieces for what would work. Some of the trial shapes, in recipe card cardboard, are visible in the foreground.

So the rather wonky arrangement above is a preview. From the bottom up, there is a wooden thread spool, around which have been wound 2 bands of card cut from a rice cracker package, which utilize the inside fold of the cardboard as part of the band design; the wooden insides of a fancy drapery tassel, with another band of the card around it; a grommet; a brass tube; a cube of wood, drilled to thread onto the tube, with toothpick ladder supports tipped with silver plastic beads; a 3-layer stepped base of basswood with a rim to hold the manila file folder cardboard lantern - the lantern's glass is a piece is scored and folded clear report cover; a wood square to keep the lantern in shape; a manila file folder cardboard roof; and finally, a purchased wood finial. The pieces are being spray-painted in black enamel, and won't likely be ready to assemble until tomorrow. They are outside drying and rain is threatening.

I hope to be able to electrify this lamp, using a LED bulb with lots of extra wire, which will go through the entire assembly from the lamp base through the vignette base and to the back where the coin battery is intended to hide.

In the meantime I am producing flower and leaf punchies for friends, as well as having a go at cutting miniature-size hosta leaves for them....

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Fall Leisure Expo Display

We got to the venue an hour and half before the doors opened to the public, so we were able to set up at our leisure. The building was very hot and humid, but once we were able to prop open a door into a hallway (held in place with a weight from a weightlifting bar - we were in a gym), we had a very nice breeze in our corner.

We were set up right next to the display area, so during the 4 hours we were there, had front-row seats for all the demonstrations: fencing, karate, highland dancing, jazz dancing, zoomba, rhythmic gymnastics, lots to see. There were a lot of organizations present, including Scouts and Girl Guides Canada, various Armed Forces cadet groups, pipe and drum bands, synchronized swimmers, square dancers, a greyhound dog rescue group complete with lovely dogs, competitive swimmers, a medieval re-enactment group, boxers, and even choirs, churches and similar groups. I am sure there are any number I've missed in the above list.

We were in a corner, and those bars behind us are volleyball and badminton net poles. The Tudor Market was in the centre, with CMHH projects from the past two years at either end, and many other displays in between. We had a gratifying amount of interest in our work and our group.

Marilyn was set up diagonally to our display table, and demonstrated how to make her Irish Cottage walls, inside and out, look like harling and rough plaster. I think she got the whole thing plastered during our 4 hours at the Expo.

Louise provided copies of our show poster for visitors to our display to take home with them as a reminder to come to the show. Very few were left at the end of the day.

All in all, it was a good day and another good way to make the miniatures hobby visible to newly arrived Armed Forces personnel and other visitors to the event. Hopefully, we might get a new member out of our day out.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Well, Three New People Are Done

The dress for my Tudor Merchant lady worked by backing the fabric with iron-on interfacing and then gluing the tiny top and bottom seams, but it took more time than planned. She is ready to go to the Leisure Expo on Saturday:

Her purse is being worn by the friar I dressed some time ago, so I will have to make her a new one. Just the top part of her outfit consisted of 10 separate pieces! Her teeny cap has a very tiny hand-sewn hem all around it. She looks a bit goggle-eyed in the photo, must be the angle at which I took the picture.

This is the Tudor labourer; he has a blond Dutch-boy haircut and a sweeping blond mustache. I quite like the way he turned out. His jerkin is fine brown glove leather (from a gauntlet glove that had lost its partner), as are his boots, which have a suede turn-up. He wears a raggedy red scarf and a light brown knit cap. Not so gormless now, thanks to the mustachios!

The dress for the Tudor lady has been cut out and fray-checked, but I am too tired to do any more this evening. The other Tudor merchant's wife has as many complicate pieces to her bodice as the lady above, so she will also have to wait a few weeks. Both ladies are now wearing shoes, though.

I've been using patterns provided by Dollshouse and Miniature Scene magazine, and the lady's dress I cut is from Sue Heaser's book on making polymer clay dolls. Patterns were made by Sue Harrington and Louise Goldsboro, I believe, although I have altered some of their ideas.

That's it: I am going to relax, pack up the rest of the Tudor Market (you wouldn't believe the amount of dust inside of that), and allow the TV to lull me to sleep.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Progress on Market Hall People

Well, I had hoped for more progress, but we are getting there; from left to right, a Tudor Merchant's wife, she is in underwear, socks, and the modesty piece of her dress. Her dress has some complicated bits, and I am trying to simplify it a little. The original was wool, and she is just too small for a wool dress, so I have to find something that looks like wool but is quite thin. I think I may cheat a little and back the pieces for her bodice with iron-on interfacing, which will make it possible to glue the hems on her bodice rather than try to sew them.

 Next, a Tudor labourer, he is half dressed, waiting to have his sleeves sewn in, his jerkin and kerchief added, and then his boots and hat, once he has hair. I am kind of tempted to try a beard on this one, he looks quite gormless right now. Also, the poor dear lost the rim of his left ear when I put his shirt on, so I have to do some ear surgery - with super-glue!

Then we have the wealthy lady; she is the least dressed of the lot, only has socks and drawers at this point. She needs a rather more elaborate gown, so I have to come up with some fabric choices.

 The Tudor merchant lady is next, she  needs her over-bodice, sleeves, head-dress and hair and she is done. She will wear a belt and purse over her skirt and apron, and I have a lovely one that was a tidbit at Camp MiniHaHa the Year of the Castle.

Last is yesterday's lady, now complete. I wish her lovely skirt was more visible! Before I wear out completely, I will give the semi-dressed ones the uppers of their shoes and boots, and perhaps give the wealthy lady a petticoat so she won't have to be embarrassed.

They may  not all be ready for exhibition on Saturday, but I hope to have at least three of them ready to go, and I do have a sense of some progress!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

One and a Half Dressed Ladies

They've been sitting in this box for quite a long time, waiting for me to dress and wig them. So long, in fact, that the elastic bands holding their labels in place rotted. I thought it was just 4 ladies, but there is also a sturdy young man among them.

So here is the first lady; she is a Tudor market woman from the country, so her dress is quite simple and made from homespun and home-dyed fabrics. She is auditioning wigging material, while she waits for her leather waistcoat side seams to dry. I decided the dark brown hair suited her best. 

All done; the most difficult part of her outfit was her hat, which required teeny seams all along the edges and then had to be tied on the top of her head! She has dark hair in a side part, with one side peeking out from beneath the head-dress; her skirt is madder red, her waistcoat is light brown leather laced in golden yellow, and she has brown stockings and shoes. Sorry for the rather dark exposure, I took the photo after the sun went down and the flash didn't do a very good job.

I only got half-way with the second lady; she has her undergarments, one of which is her rust petticoat, with her green skirt kilted up at the side to show off the petticoat. Her stockings are white, and her shoes are black. She needs her upper bodice and sleeves, apron, cap and wig. However, I am too tired to do more fiddly sewing today.

Don't they look weird without their wigs? The ladies don't have ears, unlike the men, as their ears don't show under their hair; besides, ears are also quite fiddly!

I hope to finish dressing her tomorrow and perhaps start on the stockings, shoes and underclothes of the next one tomorrow, with hopefully two more to be finished on Friday. That way there will be some ladies populating the Tudor Market and keeping an eye out on the children....

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

I Cheated!

The thought of cutting nearly 100 tiny rectangles of mat board had me thinking hard at about 2 a.m. last night; the result was a light bulb moment.

This morning I headed off to the dollar store for a sheet of 1/4" foamcore board; you get a huge piece for $1.25 here in Canada. Then I cut a strip off that, tried the book covers, and decided they really, really needed to be backed with recipe-card weight cardboard. That done, it didn't take all that long to score, fold and glue up about 3 dozen or so tiny books, by a couple of my favourite authors, Robin Hobb and George R.R. Martin. The latter may not remain a favourite if he doesn't darn well finish the Game of Thrones series!

Tidbits and Exchange Gifts for Camp MiniHaHa 2016 now being finished, it's on to trying to dress 4 lady dolls for the Tudor market, in time for Leisure Expo at CFB Gagetown this coming Saturday. That will be followed, hopefully, by a decent lamp post for last year's book vignette.

Then once I'm home from camp, it's back to UFO's, likely to include this year's camp project....

Monday, 5 September 2016

Books All Over the Worktop Again

The small books are the ones that will open, the flat ones are magazines, and the pile below the glue bottle are the covers for the closed books. I was trying to cut pieces off my old chequebook - just as I ordered and paid for the cheques, the company changed hands and the cheques became useless - but I can't seem to cut the thick (4 mm) pad straight, not even with a new blade.

So I will quit until tomorrow, as I now have to cut nearly 100 tiny rectangles of mat board and glue 3 of them together to make the insides of the non-functional books. My back hurts.

The doll dressing project has to wait a day or so, as the sewing room is in use besides being a very untidy mess right now. While waiting for glue to dry tomorrow, I will try to sort out the boxes and piles in the sewing room, so I can work in some semblance of order....

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Five Exchange Gifts Finished, and Tidbits In Progress

No photos until just before I leave for Camp MiniHaHa, however! The exchange gifts are ready to be packaged up, just have to print some gift cards/bag tags.

Today I began on my tidbits, of which I have to bring at least 31. This involves making opening books as well as closed books and magazines. The hardest thing has been to find miniature prints of books that actually have spines and titles on those spines - so many are just front and backs. One of the books will be upside down and open, as if someone has just put it down for a moment and left the room, and wasn't able to find a bookmark.

Not everyone likes having a doll in their miniature settings; they feel it distracts from the realism of their scene. But there are ways to suggest that there are "people" in the scene, like the book idea above. Others include a partially eaten snack or meal, a cup of partially drunk beverage, a cross-word visible on a newspaper, partially filled in and with a pen or pencil handy, or an afghan draped casually over a couch or chair; all suggest that the miniature inhabitant has just left the room for some reason.

Once the tidbits are done, hopefully by tomorrow evening, I intend to go back and dress the Tudor ladies destined for the market hall, which is about to go on display again. That would also clear a pile of magazines, files, sewing notions and a box of fabric off the floor of my sewing room!

It is a well-known fact that untidy spaces are a given, wherever creative people are working....

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

I'm Working Away

Two fellow campers reminded me that it is just 22 days until Camp MiniHaHa. Every year I intend to start my gift exchange items and tidbits early, and every year it gets put off closer, and closer, and closer to the camp date....

Well, the last couple of days I have completed 2 of 5 exchange gifts, and have finally come up with what I hope is a viable idea for the tidbits. I just have to spend a little more time on the computer to see if I can gather all the required components.

I hope to devote 3 more days to the exchange gifts - oh wait, I volunteer all day Thursday - oh dear, that means they will likely not be done completely until Friday or Saturday...

See what I mean?

Saturday, 27 August 2016

First Petunia Trial

 OK, this is the first attempt at a petunia plant; it needs way more leaves, but I thought I'd hold off with that until I try the other idea I had for reproducing these. The leaves are very tiny and each is shaped individually; there are 60 of them on this plant, and it probably needs that much again!

The blossoms were made with white, light-weight computer paper, on which I drew a star-shape (4 intersecting lines) with a purple  non-waterproof marker pen. I wanted to see what would happen when the coloured 1/4" (6 mm) circles were dampened; my hope was that the colour would "run" in interesting ways. That part worked well, and I may try it with alcohol inks, as some people have suggested to me. Apparently, that is a technique taught in art schools.Also, the blossoms will not need to dry if using alcohol inks.

The colour variations add to the realism of the flowers. They are also flared differently, giving the appearance of flowers wide open and others still to open completely. The friend who wanted the plant components has decided it is too time-consuming and fiddly; unfortunately, that is the case with any and all petunia plants, they require lots of flowers. so this experiment is over.

Update (Posted August 30): I won't be trying the other idea I had, as the plants aren't needed now. Some day I may try to make some petunias for my own use, but Tudor medicinal gardens didn't have any use for petunias!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

How to Make Paper Geraniums

The kit contains: 2 pre-made flower domes, coloured to match your flowerets, 50-60 tiny blossoms, 12 geranium leaves, and 9 short wires. (You may not need to use all the tiny blossoms.)

You will need: tacky-type glue, ball stylus, foam pad, tweezers, and planting medium, either a pot, window box or garden plot. Optional supplies include green colouring pencil, white or yellow gel pen (if you are putting centres in coloured geraniums).


1. Bend top 1/8" (3 mm) of your short wires at a right angle: I use the tip of my tweezers to create this bend.
2. Optional: With your green colouring pencil, draw a dark partial circle on the upper side of each leaf, as for zonal pelargoniums.
3. Shape leaf  by running your ball stylus around the underside edge of each leaf. Turn over, and gently push the centre with you ball stylus to indent. Fold the little leaf stem downwards. Set aside 3 of the leaves.
4. Dip the narrow bent end of the stem wire in tacky glue, then touch to underside of leaf with the small bend facing in to the leaf centre and the bent stem over the angle. Set aside to dry,

Flower Assembly:

You may find it easier to use the thumb nail of the hand holding the flower head, as a glue palette, as above.

1. Use your ball stylus to round up each tiny floweret.
2. Put a drop of glue handy, and use the tweezers to pick up a blossom, dip in glue, and place on flower dome. How you proceed is up to you; over the top in a row, then fill in the halves, whatever suits you. Set aside to dry. Repeat for the second blossom head. Do NOT cover the base of the dome.
3. Add a reserved leaf to each flower stem.


1. Whether you plant in a pot, window box or garden, the method is the same. Trim your flower head stems to fit and plant in the centre of your planting area.
2. Plant stemmed leaves around the flower stems, cutting to suit your planting area.
3. Glue the last reserved leaf on any obvious bare spot.
4. When thoroughly dry, bend flower heads and leaf stems gently to make plant come alive.

That's it for the how to. It appears that I quite forgot to bend my wires before taking the first of the photos! I used white blossoms and added a coloured centre with a marker pen. You can also make a tiny white or yellow centre for your coloured blossoms. Geraniums come in so many colours that you could plant a whole, colourful garden just with them!

My flower domes are made of Crayola Model Magic, into which are glued paper-covered flower stems. The domes are painted to match the blossom colour chosen.

Now I am going to eat, and then I will experiment a little more with paper petunia plants. I am trying to see how dampening the flowers interacts with water-soluble marker ink....

There is another tutorial for paper geraniums in August of 2015, with more photos, that you might want to take a look at. There are some slight differences in the number of leaves and petal used on the older tutorial, however.

Monday, 15 August 2016

How to Make Miniature Cattails or Bullrushes

Above are the contents of this very limited edition kit: 3 polymer clay cattail heads, 3 stems, and 5 paper twist ties. The kit will be available at Camp MiniHaHa, by request. (It is quite inexpensive!)

You will need to supply: tacky-type glue; green and/or yellow/tan paint (I used blended shades of Ceramcoat Leaf Green and Americana Wasabi Green); scissors; paint brush; matte or satin varnish; vase, tub or landscape to plant the cattails in.

Step 1: Glue polymer clay heads to stems, leaving a 3 mm/3/32" piece of wire sticking out at the top. The stems are already cut at different heights for variation, but feel free to trim some more if you want.

Step 2: Cut a small piece (different sizes) off each twist tie (twist ties are thin wires sandwiched between paper, and are becoming difficult to find; most of them are plastic these days).

Step 3: Shape the twist ties using scissors; cut a "planting" point on one end, taper to the other end of the twist tie, as above. Garbage and small offcuts included for clarity.

Step 4: Paint leaves on both sides; I put a dab of two colours on a paint tray, and mix them to create colour variations for each leaf - subtle but realistic. If your cattails will be planted, they should be more green in colour; if they will be displayed in a vase, the leaves should be yellow/tan to appear dried. Allow paint to dry.

Step 5: Paint both sides of leaves with matte or satin varnish, and allow to dry.

Step 6: Planted version - place 3 cattails in centre, and place leaves around them. The wires in the leaves allow them to be gently bent to look more realistic.
             Cattails in vase - you may have to trim the leaves and stems to fit into your vase.

There it is. Does it make sense? The instructions for the kits will be printed only, with a single photo of the finished cattails as above. People will be able to access the blog to look at the "in progress" photos.

These cattails can be used in gardens, water gardens or ponds, or as dried cattails in a floor vase in room settings.

The polymer clay cattail heads are made by pushing a stem through a 1/4" or 6 mm ball of dark brown. Shape gently by rolling between your fingers. I rolled them with a woodworking file to get a little bit of texture on them. Bake on the stems at the temperature specified by the clay manufacturer for 20 mins (I used Fimo Classic Terra Cotta.) The heads will slide off the stems and will need to be glued on.

I have misplaced a small landscape using cattails, but as soon as I find it, I'll re-post it. I think I may have posted it sometime in the past.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Oh, The Joys of New Programming

Warning! This is a rant.

Somehow or other, I ended up with a long comment in Arabic characters on the last entry; when translated, it turned out to be an advertisement for Real Life window replacements. Duh! What? From Canada, am I likely to order windows from somewhere in the Middle East? I don't think so!

This is the second time that someone's ad appeared in the blog's Comments section. Please be aware that I DO NOT permit these ads, that is not what the blog is for. The purpose of this blog is to share ideas with any miniaturists who are interested in doing so. Any and all ads in the comments section will be deleted immediately (or as soon as I can figure out how to get rid of them).

The rant is now over.

Welcome to my newest followers. One more day of things other than miniatures waiting to be finished, and I will begin posting miniatures-related content again; recently, I was asked to make up some plant kits, and I will detail that experiment here on the blog. As I have not done any printed instructions for any of the projects I do/have done, until now, it will be a learning curve, so blog readers may become my alpha (or is that beta?) test group.

Also, I thought if I included the instructions on the blog, with photos, it might be easier for those persons who will be getting the kits. In 38 days (if I added things up correctly), it will be time for Camp MiniHaHa 2016, so minis are definitely taking a front seat for the next few weeks. And Camp is where these kits are headed for....

No wonder I have endless UFO's (UnFinishedObjects) lying about and have such a hard time finishing anything in a timely fashion. I have too many hobbies!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

This Is a Busy Summer

I thought I'd better check in and let you know that I am still around, although miniatures have had to take a backseat this summer; we are busy constantly, and already the next three weekends are taken up with events.

Minis have had to wait while I try to finish some other projects - I am running out of space! The main difficulty is that I have to order just about everything electronically. I'd love to be filling up the Tudor Apothecary buildings, for example, but I need to make shelving etc. for them. I can no longer pick up decent basswood locally, as the only store carrying it has a very low-end brand that just doesn't work for decent miniature furniture.

The other problem currently is the low Canadian dollar; as most of the supplies I need have to be paid for in US $, even if they come from Canada, the price goes up 30% immediately. I keep hoping things will settle down, but it is a very s-l-o-w process!

Bear with me, please! I am hoping things will settle down, just a little, later in August. In the meantime, enjoy your summer.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Two Rugs Done

And they're done. It was still nice out this evening, although the wind is starting to come up, so I took the photo on a large rock in the garden.

I tend to pride myself on the neat backs of my rugs, but must admit that the rug on the left has rather more threads travelling than I usually like; the pattern required it. The hems are mitered, sewn with a flexible stitch, a herringbone variation, in case they go out of square; flexible stitches allow the rugs to be re-stretched. And the fringes are hand-knotted, one 3-strand looped tassel in every second hole in the canvas. I use an old, very fine crochet hook for this.

Think I'll start a couple of cushions to go with the lighter rug; perhaps I'll attempt a Jacobean foot stool or bench while I am at it....

Monday, 20 June 2016

More Student Work

Yesterday evening, an email dropped into my inbox with photos of 4 of the finished projects from the June 6 class, as well as a separate email with a fifth.

I don't know all the makers, but suspect Jeanne, Helen, Barb, and an unknown maker for the four that came as a group. The fifth came from Mary Lou, who is also a member of our local miniatures group, FAME.

This photo was taken at the studio, as a couple of unpainted canvasses were used to create the background.

This is probably another photo taken at the studio; I really like the deep fringing on the teacloth.

Another studio photo.

Love the daisies painted along the edge of this one! Also, another finished braided rug.

This one is Mary Lou's; she had never worked with polymer clay before, and thinks she may to want to experiment further with it.

It is very rewarding for an instructor to be able to see the finished projects! Thanks to all the ladies who took the time to send their photos to me.

Friday, 17 June 2016

My Own Rugs - Nearly Done

While looking for something else, I found the envelope with the earlier Holbein rug in it, so hauled it out to finish that up. This rug is taken from a painting, and is very dark; I wasn't sure about it, but decided it is kind of interesting in its simplicity and dark colouring. Once upon a time, everything was sort of dark, as we were dependent upon natural wool colours or on plant dyes, which tended to fade over time. Deep, colourful dyestuffs were incredibly expensive, like the shells used for royal (Tyrian) purple, or Mexican cochineal beetles for vivid red.

The swirling designs are the original swastika design, often used in early East Indian art; the swirls go in the opposite direction from the bad one, and it represents the Wheel of Life.  I just have to edge the two long edges on this one, and fringe the shorter ones.

The Tudor era Holbein rug is nearly done; I am close to running out of the coppery thread so am trying to see how far I can get with it. If I run out, I will have to try to find a matching substitute or try a blended needle (two different coloured threads that "read" as one colour). The original thread is Anchor, which I can't get here; however, there is a DMC colour that appears to be a very close match.

I need just enough to finish the borders, and I have about a meter and a bit left over; split in three-strand threads, it may be enough. There is enough of all the other colours for me to try to make some matching cushions and perhaps a bench top, but I will use the matching shade for those. The little floral designs in the diamonds are different; I am not really used to these in rugs, mostly they seem to use geometric or paisley shapes, although my parents had a hall runner with a design of hunters. That one was very unusual to me!

For a year, when I was a young adult, I lived in a country that produces some of the world's best-known carpets; I was told early on that the best ones stay right there, and that only the not-so-great ones were exported, because people outside of that country didn't appreciate them sufficiently. My very favourite carpet there was a huge, palace-room carpet done primarily in cream and deep brown, with lots of cobalt blue and some tan for accents, in a peacock-feather pattern. I would walk to the showroom where that one was displayed, drooling, and knowing full well that it was entirely out of my budget. But I really did love that carpet!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Students' Rugs

I promised that as I got photos of the class I taught, that I would post them. These came to me today, but without identification; however, I suspect Helen and Barb of being the makers.

A round blue (or black) and white rug, made of knitting yarn. The yarn was braided and glued onto a muslin base, and when all was dry, the muslin was trimmed to the edge of the rug.

And an oval rug, made of teal, purple and gray wool yarn; this is a very subtle colour choice for a pioneer-era braided rug.

My students can be proud of their rugs, I think! One of these days I may get to see them in real life....

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

....And Back to UnFinished Objects

Now that I don't have to make up 5 kits to go into 16 project kits each, I can go back to some of the things I was doing before the class. Yesterday and today I went back to work on the little Holbein rug, and things are going pretty good. My new task glasses work well, although when I look up from my work everything is very blurry.

The right border and right row of hexagons are done, while the others are ready to get to work on. I have at least one more partially done rug to finish, another Holbein although it is in a darker colour variation, as well as any number of other things just calling to me....

I do like the coppery rust colour in the border, and can't wait to get this rug done. There are more embroidery designs waiting for me.

The most difficult thing with this design is the amount of detail; however, I find that working it as uninterrupted as possible makes it easier to keep track, i.e., for the chained border, I zigzag along, going down and then back up.That is followed by the contrast centres, which makes it easier to do the dark outline, and filling in the background is the last thing to be done. The pattern keeps falling off my lap, which is also in high demand by our family cat!

Monday, 6 June 2016

Class Report

Today was the day of the mini class for which I created the prototypes. There were 9 students, and they got pretty much everything done except for the braided rug.

We only lost 2 bench legs to splitting while cutting out the V-shape on the bottoms, and one of the braces was cut wrong; as I make mistakes myself, I always bring extra pieces for just such little emergencies, so no worries!

The students, some of whom also came to my class last year when we filled up a Michael's hutch, enjoyed themselves very much; one of the benches is being painted to match the hutch, to become part of a small set, hopefully to go into the corner vignette we will be making come November.

As people left at different times during the course of the afternoon, I have no photos to show you; however, they all promised to send me photos of their finished projects. I'll post them here on the blog.

As I was picking up my box to carry out to the car, I sliced the side of my finger on the cutter of the wax paper box; ouch! It bled like a faucet, dripping all over everything, but fortunately there was a roll of paper towel handy, and two adhesive bandages later, I was able to drive home.

Tomorrow I sort out all the tools and put them where they belong....

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Prototypes for June Class, Part 3

The final vignette will look like the above; a small, worn bench, on it a breadboard with a loaf of bread, sitting on top of a homespun towel, and a chipped enamel mug holding a small bouquet of daisies. The whole will sit on a braided mat, which I will be demonstrating to the participants, but which they will have to do at home, as I don't have enough of the tapestry yarn to share with them.

These little rugs can also be made with heavier knitting wool, like knitting worsted; they are very simple, a  series of braids of 3 strands of yarn in mix-and-match colours, which are then glued on to a cut-to-size piece of muslin backing, using tiny dots of fabric glue. For this rug, I used beige, tan and brown yarn, with orange for contrast; the colours are close to those pioneers would have to hand, natural sheep's wool plus one dyed colour.

I put an overhand knot into the three strands, then pin that to my pant leg. As the braid progresses, I move the braid of yarn up from the pin, so I am working comfortably at a distance that suits my reach. If you are very clever, you can introduce new strands by cutting the one(s) you are replacing, securing the ends, and then beginning with the new colour; keep at least 1" of both these ends on the underside of your rug.

 When your braids are ready, start with a 1" (2.5 cm) wide line in the middle of your fabric. Allow this to dry somewhat, then coil and glue the braids around and around this central stripe. These braided rugs look best when you limit your colours to 4 or 5, and mix them up as you go around. Once you have done 2 or 3 ovals around your central line, change the colour; unknot the yarn and carefully glue the end as flat as you can to the base, then just as carefully glue the start of your new braid on top of that. When the mat is dry, you can press it with an iron. (Be careful if you use synthetic yarns, you don't want them to melt...)