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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....