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Friday, 31 March 2017

More Plants for the Club Project

The sun is shining very brightly today, which is interfering somewhat with my attempts at daylight photography. This week, once the commission was done, I've made some more items for the FAME club project, the shabby chic flower shop.

The plant on the left is  commercial one I purchased at a show some years ago. The variegated ivy in the macrame hanger was Wednesday's project, along with the little yellow birdhouse with the sun .
It was made from mat board and cardboard from a package, with a bit of brown floral wire for the perch.The macrame hanger was a Camp MiniHaHa gift.

 Today, I put together the variegated pothos plant, sitting on the shelf; we have a couple of these in the house, they tend to put out very long branches which you then have to lead along shelves or something. There is one, belonging to my daughter, just above the computer. Now I just have to wait for the stems to relax a little more.

I made both plants from scrapbooking card in pale yellowish-cream. The ivy leaves were punched with two Ruth Hanke (Hanky Panky Crafts) custom punches, from the card which was painted green on the back. Each ivy leaf was then hand-coloured, using a dark green, fine-tip marking pen and two very sharp colouring pencils, in related shades of green. The leaves were then creased on a foam sheet, using the back of my Xacto knife. The stems were made from 4 pieces of sewing thread glued together.

The left-over card, with its back painted green, I painted a light green on the front. When this was dry I dry-brushed with two shades of yellow-cream paint, and then spattered with a toothbrush dipped in cream and white, watery paint. When all that was dry, I gave the card a coat of varnish, and proceeded to punch two sizes of small, heart-shaped punches. This plant also has thread stems, light-green in this case. By clicking on the photo, you can see the detail better.

And I decided to photograph the arrangement I kept, in the shop window; it fits very well in the bay.  I am very proud of this arrangement. Because of the sun, it was impossible to photograph both the shelf with the pot plants and the arrangement without huge blank areas of sun reflection, so I did it on its own....

Monday, 27 March 2017

Done in Duplicate

And here is the final product; you can click on the photo for a larger view. The brass pot arrangement will stay with me, while the arrangement in the pedestal vase is destined to go elsewhere. I am really pleased with how they turned out. I also learned quite a bit while making these, so it's win-win all around.

The arrangement was adapted from a Real Life one, changed a little to be suitable in miniature. It's meant to evoke Spring, and I think it does that.

I am now going to waste my time watching television rubbish for a while....

Sunday, 26 March 2017

I've Finally Gone Round the Bend....

For those of you using Google translate, that means I've really gone crazy today! I decided to try a new way of making actual, fuzzy pussy willow buds. carries a tutorial, which involved bits of thread, drops of glue, and flocking.

You start by making little "shelves" of glue, rather like thorns on a rose, along a piece of floral wire, and allowing those to dry. Then you paint wire and thorns reddish brown (I used brown iron oxide), and let that dry. While that is doing what it is supposed to do, you make tiny fuzzy buds on teeny pieces of brown sewing thread;

You stick those into foam (I used a grocery store foam tray) to dry thoroughly. Once dry, you cut the little fuzzy ball off just underneath the flocking, and glue those onto the "thorn" shelves on your floral wire. The result is really nice,

especially with the sun shining through, but it is a lot of work! When I first made miniature pussy willows, early in my attempts at flower making, I used tiny birch twigs from the garden, dotted glue here and there, and sprinkled very fine white decorator's sand over them. Years later, they still look pretty good. This new method may well be a once-off, but I'm glad I tried it!

The forsythia branches have now got tiny pale green leaves here and there, and the cherry blossoms are glued to their branches. The next step is assembling the floral arrangements,,,,,

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Spring Flowers

This is a quick entry, as I spent the day making spring flowers. Two more sets of flowers to go, then I can start the arrangements. Because these are intended to be floral displays, the flower stems won't get any leaves; the leaves in floral arrangements, according to my daughter who worked for several years as a florist, are added afterwards to fill in gaps....

So we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Friday, 24 March 2017

FAME Project Roof with Progress Photos

So I described how I painted the card roof of the display window of my FAME club project; today, I painted the wooden roof of the structure. I began by gluing on thin wooden battens to represent the strips that hold the "copper" roof sheets in place, bringing them down over the front edge to give the illusion of applied copper sheeting rather than paint.

You can click on the photos to enlarge them, to see the detail. This is the dark khaki coat, which was then dry-brushed with terra cotta.

Here the turquoise and lime green blotching has been added; the raised areas of the roof pick up very nicely on the various paint colours. At this stage, things are already looking more like verdigrised copper than painted wood.

In this photo, the bronze metallic paint has been brushed on with a very dry brush; I love the way these effects come together! The original idea for this finish came from a Joann Swanson article in an old Nutshell News from 1995, but I adapted it for a more whitewashed look, to go better with the whole shabby chic ethos I have going on with this project.

And this is the end product, with the whitewash finish in place, dabbed and smudged with more of the bronze metallic paint. I'm now ready to do some chalk antiquing, but first, I have a commission to work on, to be ready for next weekend. As part of that, take a look at the before-and-after photos of a painted wooden "bean pot", that I hope to use as the basis for this commission:

I had originally intended, some years ago, to create an antique stoneware effect, but something put it off and it languished in my stash of stuff. It is a bit large for my flower shop, so I re-purposed it.

Again, please click to enlarge the photo to better see the detail. I have a number of aged brass flower containers in my house, complete with bits of verdigris and corrosion; I also see quite a bit of aged brass at my volunteer job, which involves museum accessioning, so it was fun to try and create an aged brass container. So here is my attempt to create one of these....

Now I have to see if it meets with the criterion of the commissioners of the project!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Display Window Roof Is Done

One of the things I wanted to try was a roof over the bay display window; I had planned to do a similar roof on my book vignette project, but it just wasn't going to work with the book spines. There are brass screws holding portions of the FAME project together, so doing a roof to cover them up seemed like a good idea.

As I am measurement-challenged, I tend to go with trial and error, so that is how this cereal box under-roof was designed. It is being supported by 3 wooden brackets inside the roof.

Because there is a slight gap between the top of the plastic window, and the top of the window frame, something was needed to mask that shortcoming (ha! that's a pun!). I've been playing with decorative scissors, so decided a verdigrised copper window surround might look good. Yes, I am very happy with that! It was made from manila file folder cardboard, and much paint. It is glued in place around the white top frame of the window.

This is the card roof; manila file folder with "rolled edges", cereal box cardboard strips for the copper strips, and more manila file folder for the corner peak flashing. The edge of the roof overlaps the edge of the decorative strip by about 1/8", or 3 mm.

And here is the painted, verdigrised copper roof. I need to do a tiny touch-up in one corner, I see. The paints used to create this effect include: a base coat of dark khaki, made by mixing dark brown and foliage green; then a dry-brushing with terra cotta paint to give the idea of weathered copper,
then a mottled layer of turquoise. This was followed by a mottled layer of lime green, created by mixing leaf green, light leaf green and turquoise. After that was sort of dry, I used a fan brush, quite dry, to add some streaks of metallic bronze acrylic. Over it all went a coat of whitewash, watered down, cheap dollar store white paint, brushed on from top to edge with a stiff bristly brush for a streaky effect. Once that was dry, I used my fingertip to dab and smear on bits of metallic bronze here and there, for copper shining through.

It's turned out just as I had hoped; the turquoise in the verdigris matches the turquoise of the door, and I still have a washed-out, chalky effect going. Well, that was my day....

Monday, 20 March 2017

Three Days of Work!

I decided I wanted a spring tulip bouquet as part of the window display in the FAME club project, so I tried a new way of making tulips. While I like the results, it took three whole days to work my way through the various steps. The instructions were from Michele Carter of Pepperwood Miniatures.

In the back row, are the bead on top of the stem, with stamens and pistils made from glue-stiffened sewing thread; a single strand of black for the stamens, three strands of light green twisted together for the pistil. When dry, dot yellow paint on the pistil. So step 1, day 1 was stiffening the thread. Step 2, day 2, included snipping the threads to 1/8" (3mm) lengths, gluing the pistil in the centre and then gluing on 6 stamens per flower (!) once the pistil was dry. Then you trim (the back row isn't trimmed yet).

Step 3 is punching 6 petals per tulip, shaping them, and then gluing them on; first 3 evenly spaced, then 3 more when those are dry. The pink ones are complete, but the white ones only have 3 petals at this point.

So I punched petals while waiting for other petals to dry, and that took me all morning and part of the afternoon. Then you add the leaves, and plant the whole thing in a pot. Was it worth it? Well, you can see below; I won't make tulips this way again most likely, but the end result did turn out well.

The maddening thing is that all those lovely, time-consuming pistils and stamens are pretty much hidden by the petals of my tulips....

We miniaturists must be nuts!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

New Photos of FAME Project

Our meeting last week didn't happen, because of yet another storm. We are meeting this coming Tuesday instead. I have been working away at the club project, because I hope to take it to display at the CFB Shearwater Hobby Show in early April, in Halifax-Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

I have made some more flowers, in this case roses in white, to add to the shop. I'm trying different things inside the shop and window, to get some idea of how much space there is. The answer? Way more than I thought....

The shop with "stuff" in the window is shown above: I'm going to have to build some display pieces to showcase plants and flowers in the window, as different heights will display them more easily. On my worktable right now is an effort at making a large tulip display for the Spring window display.

The white roses are newly made, while the pink ones are my experiments from some years ago. They suit the colour scheme of the shop and will remain in place. The bucket of iris in the foreground is also several years old; their pastel colours will also work quite well. The large hanging plant needs to hang from a bracket on a beam to get it to a better height, right now it is tied on with fishing line.

The "marble" display table is finally done! It went through quite a number of incarnations, before I convinced the Carpenter-in-Chief that my original idea was the best one. I wanted room to display plants and flowers! I still have to design and build a shelving unit, though, based on a photo of a Real Life plant display unit I saw on the internet.

The irises and the roses are a little more visible here. I experimented with the pink ones, but I think I have it worked out with the white ones; they were done assembly-line style to allow glue to dry, and done in a couple of hours.

It's coming along nicely!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Club Project Mostly Built

The shop is mostly built; I just have to add a roof to the top of the display window, and do a few little housekeeping chores. The windows are in place, the door is in place, the shelf is up, but the top (roof) is still loose, as is the rooftop sign and the decorative finials.

Now I can start filling it up. This means building a couple of pieces of furniture, as well as adding more and more flowers and accessories.

The name on the sign is a "cheat" in that, with the help of one of the resident computer experts, I made a computer sign in outline, then painted it in old gold, and then in metallic gold. Once everything was dry, I outlined it with a fine permanent marker. Then I cut the name out fairly close to the letters, and used Mod Podge to glue it onto the roof comb. I'm happy!

The whole thing still needs a bit of aging, and perhaps some old posters on the side walls.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Of Brackets, Buckets and Beams

I had hoped to have the shelf and beams installed today, but as usually happens, things got in the way. The buckets are ready to fill with flowers, once the glue holding the weight in the bottoms dries up. I'll push a piece of floral foam in to keep the flower stems in place. In order to keep paper buckets from constantly falling over, it is a good idea to give them a little heft; I use split shot from the fishing department for that.

The little brackets are picture framing, cut and painted, and will hold up the shelf all along the back of the flower shop. The beams were going to run perpendicular to the wide edges, but it was since decided by the C-in-C that across would be better, so new ones were prepared. They are intended to hold up the plexiglass insert to allow light into the shop, as well as a place I can put hooks to hang things from.

The brackets under the display window are in place; just a few more things to go, and the shop building portion will be done. There are already lots of things to fill it, but some furniture is needed to hold it all.

Today, just to give myself some more work, I thought it might be fun to have a small variety of window displays ready to insert, for different times of the year. As we are heading towards Easter, I think I'll check my German and Dutch mini magazines for ideas to dress the window for that holiday. There could be a display for Christmas, and another for Autumn, as well as a summer one. I think if I stick the pieces to transparent plastic, it will be very easy to swap one season for another; also, small displays won't require that much storage space.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Today's Work

New today, two birdhouses, the beginning of many roses, and some galvanised metal cache-pot containers. The tall birdhouse is a commercial unfinished one, the small one I cut down from a scrap of wood, both painted by me using a very fine brush, the end of a toothpick, and my fingers. The roses are made of paper circles (they still need leaves), and the flower containers are made from light-weight card, cut with decorative scissors, then punched with small paper punches and painted.They need a coat of varnish to strengthen them.

My younger daughter says that all flower shops are incredibly crowded, and she knows as she worked in one for several years. And this one will be crowded! Accessories will go on the shelf that will run below the roof all along the back wall, so lots of those are needed. I have quite a stash as I've been planning a flower shop for years, so there is lots to fill the place up with. However, I also need to make some items that are specifically shabby chic.

I may do a tutorial for my method of making roses, some day, if there appears to be interest. They are made with commercial paper in various closely related shades, and don't require specialised punches.

As you can see, the bay window is now in place, just waiting for the glazing to be installed, I hope to have it ready to show at our next FAME meeting, next Tuesday, although it definitely won't be filled as yet....

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Filling the Flower Shop

In the last few days, in between other things that had to be done, I've assembled some more plants for the FAME project. The door to the shop has been aged, the transom window has been "frosted", but the door handles and the display window are not yet in place.

The side bars for the bay window are in place, but the main part of the window is still being constructed. The Carpenter-in-Chief feels things should be held together with glue and screws, but it is taking time....

Two taller plants have been added; the wonderful hanging (commercially made) plant will hang from the eventual ceiling beams. As well, several more (3, I think) smaller  plants have also been completed. Marilyn D. gave me the super glass dome on a stand, it is an antiqued bronze finish and is just crying out for a special plant. She has also given me some gorgeous picture frames, to be painted, aged and then have gold highlights added, to go into the shop.

It is a small space, and I do have to be careful with what goes into it; the dressing table and mirror frame are definite, but I have yet to decide what other surfaces/shelves will work with my shabby chic flower shop vision. I think I like the idea of an old dry sink, shelves on the wall and along the ceiling, and perhaps a table with a marble top and a shelf underneath. If it will all fit, that is!

I've also made the hostas for the street-side beds of the Japanese vignette; they are ready to be planted once I make up my mind how to put the fences in place. Pictures of that to come when things are a little more ready.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Working Away, But It Takes Time

Applying many coats of paint, and then waiting for the crackle finish to get really dry, does take time. In the time in between working on the door and window components for the FAME club project, I've made a few more potted plant leaves, and begun the hydrangeas for the Japanese vignette. That one is now in the throes of landscaping; first you paint all the lawn areas green; check, and done. 

On reading my book on Japanese gardens, there are a lot of rules to follow. Everything down to the tiniest detail seems to be laid down by master gardeners, and the plans have been in use, virtually unchanged, for centuries. I really, really love the Korean bamboo fences in the book, but couldn't figure out where I'd get stuff thin enough to bend, that looks like bamboo. Well, the light-bulb lit up. and I am going to try corn broom straws; they are the right colour, and I think that if I soak them and bend them around a jar or can, I can make nice rounded bundle fences.

There should be a small fence near the front door; the water feature, in my case a hollow "stone" with a dipper, needs to be next to that fence. There needs to be a shoe-removing stone in front of the step to the house. There are several interesting types of walkways that I can build. The lantern also has a specific place in the garden. Alongside the front gate, there will be fences, perhaps on "stone" bases, with bamboo tops. These should allow a glimpse into the garden and its flowers and plants.

And of course, lots of photos to study in the meantime, too. Surfing the internet is a good way to pass the time while waiting for paint to dry....