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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Prototypes for June Class, Part 2

Here is the bench prototype; the idea came from the Dutch miniature magazine, DollsHouse Nederland No. 67, although I adjusted the wood sizes to make the bench top wider, and reduced the size of the braces.

As the theme of the class is Pioneer Times, the bench is finished in Williamsburg Blue, with a finish coat of fine furniture beeswax. Other colours that I will offer include barn red and dark green, fairly typical of the period. The bench is lightly distressed to show wear on the legs, top and sides. Before painting this one, I stained the wood in a cherry colour. This prototype will eventually go into my lamp base vignette that displays my miniature pewter collection; I have several other vintage country pieces in this lovely grey-blue.

Tomorrow is my working day, but I hope to get another prototype done before I finish for the day.
Thanks for dropping by my blog!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Prototypes for June 6 Class, Part 1

Today, I designed the prototype for the enamel mug of flowers I will be teaching to a group on June 6. There are several parts to the day-long class, so I am going to try to do one prototype a day if time permits.

The mug is made of a recipe card cylinder, about 1.5 cm high, rolled around a pen to shape it. It has been painted with eggshell acrylic enamel inside and out, with rusty "chips" added using black and terra-cotta acrylic paint. The rim at the top is a bit of black buttonhole thread, and once the whole mug is dry, it is given a coat of clear nail polish inside and out. Hmm, the thread is a bit loose above the handle, I'll need to add a bit more glue there....

Joann Swanson wrote a booklet for the old, small size Nutshell News Magazine, entitled Granny's Kitchen. It is full of ideas for making enamel and metal kitchen utensils, using recipe card and manila file folder cardboard; there is no mug in the instructions, but it is easy enough to "invent" one based on the instructions for the other card items.

The daisies in the mug still need to be bent outwards a little, but I have to let everything dry. The bench the mug is sitting on is the basic bench we will be making, except that for this project it will be worn and painted in a pioneer colour, barn red, colonial blue, or dark green, rather than cheerful and flowered turquoise blue!

The daisies are made of a tiny, rounded yellow paper circle, glued to a wire stem, with a couple of daisy-shape white paper flowers added, along with some hand-painted paper leaves.

Once all the parts are finished, I'll post a photo of them grouped together for the project. There are at least 5 and possibly 6 parts to this project, and this one turned out pretty good, I think.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Haven't Disappeared, Honest!

When the show was over, I got into a lot of other stuff that had been waiting for the show to be over....

Anyways, I have started another miniature carpet, a 16th century Holbein, designed by Felicity Price,
although I am changing the colours she suggested. I like my carpets to be somewhat darker in colour, as dark carpets are what I grew up with; you know, dark blue, maroon, cream, brown, that sort of things.

The piece is being worked on 22 ct. canvas with a mix of Anchor and DMC threads. It will take time, as the pattern is quite busy and I have to figure out the least bulky way to carry threads over along the back of the rug. One of the reasons I started to use cotton floss for rugs is that the "hair" on even fine wool thread is far too bulky for miniatures. This is the first embroidery I have attempted since getting my task-specific glasses last December, and they seem to be doing the job they were meant to.

I am also in the process of producing kits and prototypes for another Artists Who Care workshop; this one is a 2-parter, with me doing part 1 in June and Marilyn of Charminis doing part 2 in November.
The end products is intended to be a corner vignette with a local pioneer theme. I'll keep you posted....

Spring is finally here, the trees are leafing out, and I have flowers out; that means I also have to make time to take the leaf mulch off all the flowerbeds, one of my least favourite jobs as the leaves are slimy and disintegrating and often hide anthills and slugs and other creepy-crawlies. I have 3 varieties of William and Mary (pulmonaria) that are sending out areas of colour, as well as primroses, daffodils and tulips. The rhubarb is about a week from being ready to begin eating.

In the meantime, I do part 2 of a 2-part quilt course on Friday, so my time has to be divided up rather carefully, right now.  Enjoy the spring!

Just noticed that there are spaces that I didn't put in, and I can't figure out how to get rid of them!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Miniature Flowers Are All Done

It's been a busy week or so, trying to make some new plants to have for sale and display at the Moncton Show this Saturday. I just planted up the last of the daffodils, and I am quite pleased with the collection.

The daffodils are all based on actual daffodil species: Tete a Tete, Poetical, Trumpet and Pink Daffodils.

So here is the bunch; for some reason the photos are rather pale, but I hope this gives the idea. Now I can put away all the flower-making stuff, go to work tomorrow, and sort out my stuff to take with me on Friday.

Miniature Paper Hyacinths and an Amaryllis

And this is yesterday's work; three hyacinths and a potted amaryllis, complete with bulb. The photo is slightly tilted....

Today I hope to pot up the various daffodils, and once that is done, that is all I'm prepared to do for the show this Saturday. The cut I got on my right index finger cutting the petals for the amaryllis is just about healed; I caught it in the side of the punch trying to position the paper properly (I needed only a part of the punch, on a fold line). Who would have thought making paper flowers could be harmful to your health? That cut bled like crazy, so I must have nicked an artery or something.

Once all the flowers are potted up, I'll take a group photo, as what I was trying to do was create a mass of eye-catching colour.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Today's Work - Miniature Paper Primroses

A whole day's work! Now you know why people who make miniature flowers charge the prices they do - the various steps take time and are fiddly.

Each little wooden flat contains 6 primrose plants, in a variety of colours. In my northern garden, they start to push their leaves up while still under the leaf mulch that saw them through winter. This year, everything is several weeks early, so I shall have to use a sunny day next week to remove the mulch from around all those plants that are pushing their way up. There are early tulips pushing their way towards the sun, grape hyacinths, daffodils and primroses, and a number of trees are putting their buds forward.

Now we just have to hope there are no killing frosts; technically, my area isn't frost-free until the end of this month....

Miniature Grape Hyacinths - Secrets Revealed

As I will be busy this week getting ready for the Moncton Miniature and Doll Show on Saturday, I thought I'd just write a quick how-to - but without pictures - for the grape hyacinths, as they are very, very simple.

The buds are poppy seeds, glued onto flower wire stems; dip about 3 to 5 mm of the tips in glue, roll in poppy seeds, and shape to a cone shape. This can be fiddly, especially when your poppy seeds seem to be a little bit moist, as mine were, but if you have a problem, pull off your mistake, and start over again. Please compost any gluey poppy seeds....

When they are dry, paint them white. This is the real trick, one I found in a Dutch mini magazine. Let them dry thoroughly. Then I brushed the white poppy seed heads with a half and half mix of satin varnish and Ultra Blue paint; the thinned paint pools between the tiny seeds and really makes the flowers come alive. The original instructions suggested dipping in blue ink, but I don't have any of that in my house any more, so I reached for the next best thing.

The leaves are made with 2.5 cm long, 1 cm wide strips of green paper. Draw thin white lines (colouring pencil) closely spaced all along the strip. Spray with gloss or satin varnish (optional, but strengthens the paper). Cut into a narrow fringed strip, and trim the tips to points. This is a little time-consuming.Then curl the tops of the leaves over gently with a scissors blade. Now grip the end of the strip in your pointy tweezers, roll the strip up and glue the end. I use a small clip to hold the glued end until it dries, but I suspect a hair pin (bobby pin) would also work as a tiny clamp. The curled-over leaves will fan out a little, but when the glue is dry, fan out the tiny leaves some more.

You can now plant the rosette of leaves in your chosen container, with a bit of glue to hold it in place. For "dirt" I tend to use oasis foam, with tea leaves for the dirt glued on top. Then just glue 3 to 5 little grape hyacinth blossoms in the little hole in the leaf rosette. All done!