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Friday, 24 February 2017

Sometimes Stuff Breaks....

The gate to the Japanese vignette is finally finished, but it apparently fell onto the Japanese maple tree. While showing that one off recently, we discovered one of the tiny branches had snapped. I needed that branch to bring shape to the tree, so I thought and thought and came up with a way to fix it that I think worked very nicely:

In my stash of stuff I have a spool of very fine wire, vintage stuff likely used when people were doing wired bead flowers or something. I wound a length of it around a thick tapestry needle, making a coil, then glued the coil onto the branch stump. Then I glued the broken portion into the top of the coil, and glued on some leaves to hide the repair. It is the right-hand branch at the top that was repaired, but the repair is nearly invisible.

In rescuing the tree, I managed to catch my rather large ring on one of the slats over the window in the vignette, and of course it snapped off.  That repair was somewhat easier:

Yes, the vignette is on its side! Only a few pieces of the gravel I had glued down a couple of weeks ago came loose, so I guess they're fairly firmly in place. The can and glue bottle are acting as the weights. I am going upstairs to eat lunch, so I don't fiddle with my repairs....

Friday, 17 February 2017

"Carving" Wooden Furniture

The old piece of furniture that I wanted to use in the FAME club vignette was rather plain and boring, and my shabby chic vignette needed something a little more elaborate. (Click on the photos for a larger view.)

I decided to try to add some detail, using some of my punches, stiffened embroidery thread, file folder and cereal box cardboard, and am very pleased indeed with the results. Above you can see the various pieces layered and glued on, but still raw. I painted over them with light grey paint when they were dry, and followed that with some dry-brushing in darker grey. That was in turn highlighted with rub-on gold Treasure Wax.

Above is the detail on the vanity table. I used three sizes of flower punch, a fig leaf, a tiny ivy leaf, a 1/16" circle (about 1.5 mm, I think!), and the petals from the tiny daisy visible in the top photo. The table has more gold detail than I really like, but it was my practice piece, and much of the detail will be hidden by plants etc. on top of it when I do the interior of the shop.

The detail on the mirror turned out better; unfortunately, the photo has odd reflections in the mirror portion of this piece! The gold highlighting is much more subtle than on the table.

And this is what the combination looks like. I'm thinking of a shabby chic crate with a pastel label under this table, loaded with plants in pots, to fill up the space. The "stone" cherub  figure sits front and centre in this photo. There will be plenty of room for more shallow pieces of furniture and all sorts of clutter on the floor.

I'm happy with it! So far my "cold" colour scheme is working just as I hoped.

Now I am going to add a couple of beams, partially to hold up the transparent ceiling piece, and also to give me a place to hang things from hooks, like a nice wind chime in brass that was a Camp MiniHaHa gift some years back, a creamy white macrame plant hanger with a plant, perhaps a bird cage, who knows what I can fit in here....

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Another Storm Day

The office at my volunteer job closed again today, due to another storm. It doesn't seem to have hit us as badly as forecast, but I was happy not to have to drive in blowing snow.

So I worked on some plants for the FAME club project:

The shape of the shop is coming together, and I found a vanity from my very first Camp MiniHaHa, more than a dozen years ago, that with a little bit of dressing up will work well in this project. It is painted the same colour grey as the base coat of the building, but needs some knobs and some decorations. I'm going to experiment with card designs made with floral punches.

The two caladium plants are made from printies that I got in a yard sale kit some years ago; they were intended to go on a plant stand, but the construction is the sort that will, inevitably. come apart as soon as you touch it, as it is all butt joints. The other plant, which I think is a Heliconia of some sort, I made more years ago than I can remember.

I've also placed a geranium, the snowberries, a small china jug with daisies and buttercups, and a couple of very old Paulownias (African violets), planted in toothpaste tube cap planters.

My idea is that all the colours will be sort of faded, with the occasional spot of brighter colour, but all against a very neutral, very white/grey sort of background. I also found a cheap tiny Christmas angel in my stash, and that has been painted to look like a concrete or stone garden ornament, but it was too wet still to put into the photo.

Back to thinking what else I can place in this vignette. I have so many plants made, and so much stuff to go into a flower shop, that I can easily fill this one and more besides!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Buildings and Blizzards

For those of you who live in more moderate climes, I am including a couple of photos of our house, taken just a few minutes ago. We are in the middle of a severe  blizzard with heavy winds (80-100 km/h, and severe flood warnings out for coastal areas. Fortunately, I live several hundred feet above sea level, and more than 90 km from the nearest ocean.

This is the view from our kitchen window, out towards the street; the snow is beyond the windowsill, and we have 4 steps up from the street level to the kitchen. The trunks of the apple trees are completely buried in the snow.

This is the view from my work table, in the lower level of the house; the drifts are coming from the patio and blowing up on the retaining wall. I measured the level of snow in front of the door, and at its lowest point, it is 70 cm deep (27.5"). All three house doors are currently blocked by snow, and the snow isn't over yet. Another storm is being forecast for Thursday. (The wind just shrieked so badly that the cat jumped off my lap in a panic!)

However, I have been working on the Japanese vignette; the photos below are of the sewing process for attaching the thatch to the gatehouse roof:

And here is the more or less finished product. I still have to glue the bamboo ridge beam in place, and I think it might need a bit of tying to hold it down properly. Some small angled beams will be added under both roofs to act as supports. And I may have to glue down the odd fly-away "straw" from the roof as well.

That's it for now. I can smell dinner cooking, and I desperately need something warm inside of me to take my mind off this miserable weather!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Working on Two Things at Once....

....results in piles of stuff all over the place!

And now the computer is giving me error messages and doing very weird things! Let's see if it will allow me to put a photo on the blog: Yay!

The shabby chic shop has been disassembled, with bits cut off, and is now being painted prior to re-assembling. I just hope that I have enough pale grey paint to finish this project, as I can't purchase my favourite paint brand, Ceramcoat, here in my part of Canada any more. You can just see through the window in my work area here; can you tell we had more than 25 cm (10-12" of snow overnight? And our temperatures are below zero Celsius, in the double digits.

And then there is the gatehouse assembly project:

So the gatehouse is being glued up, upstairs on the kitchen counter. It turned out that we couldn't make actual moving gates, so instead we have a single fixed gate; you will just have to develop a willful suspension of disbelief. The dark brown lintel down below is what will hold everything in place once the gate is permanently positioned. For now, I need to be able to move the gatehouse out of the way while I work on the gardening plan.

Back to work; I have to do the second coat of whitewash on the shop project, let that dry overnight, and then sand things down to look shabby chic. Then I can let my mind wander with television for a couple of hours, before it is time for bed.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Japanese Vignette Gatehouse

We are expecting another ice storm today and overnight, with more bad weather tomorrow, so I though I'd post where I am at present with the gatehouse for the Japanese vignette. We've already had 8 cm (more than 3") of soft, powdery snow, which has been removed from our drive and walkway. Freezing rain and sleet are heavier than concrete to move, hopefully there won't be too much! But I will likely have to miss yet another volunteer work day due to bad weather....

The upper portion of the gatehouse is ready to paint, the sliding door is done, and the threshold of the gate is ready to stain. The barred gate turned out to be somewhat of a problem child, so my Carpenter-in-Chief took it upon himself to assemble it. Even so, one of the cross pieces cracked, but fortunately, it doesn't show!

There will be a small thatched roof on the top and side of the gate, once I get the thing painted, and fully assembled, and the bars placed in the gable window. Then it will be on to the actual landscaping; rock and shrub walls alongside the gatehouse, with grass, trees, a walkway, plants and flowers on the courtyard, and some garden stuff like a water feature and stone lantern. But the actual build is now coming to an end.

I am using a Dover reprint (from 1964) of an old book from 1912, Josiah Conder's Landscape Gardening in Japan, for some of the features to come in the garden area. The  big stone that will be placed in front of the narrow landing is called the Shoe-Removing Stone in this book; a combination of rock paving with slab paving is known as Stepping Stones with Label Stones. Loads of good ideas there, including traditional bamboo fencing variations.

And just to challenge myself even further, I am mentally designing a rhododendron for my miniature Japanese garden; the only example I've been able to find is a kit from The Netherlands, and I think it is a little out of scale for my purposes. If you can't find it already made up, I guess you have to "invent" it!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Oh Boy! And Some More Progress

We lost our computer earlier this week, the hard drive failed apparently. Well, it was 7 years in use, and they tell us they're only good for 5 years or so. Anyways, the PC Girls managed to transfer all our info onto the new drive, but....

From early September until this week, more than 3 dozen emails to my gmail account did not arrive, for some reason. So I discovered many messages, a number of which had been in connection with our miniature show last October, that I only got to see yesterday. Among them, several people requesting sales tables for the show, people wanting to take our workshop, and most heart-breaking, a request from our radio network (CBC NB) for an interview about the show. They've all had apologies, and most of them have already replied with kind understanding.

So I'm back to work on the Japanese vignette. The Japanese maple tree is now finished, and I am quite pleased with it:

I will rotate it when it is actually in place on the vignette, to get its best side facing forwards to the viewer. The leaves were made of coffee filter paper, coloured with a Copic marker, then punched out in two sizes, shaped, and glued to a twig from the garden. Lady Iolanthe in a comment suggested the cat might be looking at a Japanese nightingale on one of the branches of the tree, and that is something I am seriously considering!

The gate framework has been tested, I am now working on the panels and the sliding doors will follow after that. Once the gate structure is in place, I can decide the size and shape of the hedges and fences, and start designing them. Everything will still be removable, until I do the landscaping of the courtyard. Only then will things get fixed permanently in place.

 I found an odd, antique thread spool in my pile of stuff, which will work out perfectly for the Japanese lantern's pedestal; it even has a couple of raised bands on the shaft, like many stone pedestals do, but no flared top like most spools have, just a flare on the base. All it will need is paint. The lantern is actually Chinese rather than Japanese, but I think with a coat of paint and some aging it will work out well.

The club project has hit a glitch; I can't hinge the front as I had hoped unless I make some drastic changes to the overall look of the project. It is sitting on the kitchen counter, where I can see it and think about how to go about doing what I want to do. I have about 9 days until it should be ready for the interior decorating to begin....