Follow by Email

Monday, 17 February 2020

More Work in Progress

Thank you. blog commentators, the Carpenter-in-Chief went cider shopping yesterday (Sunday) for a dish he was making, and came home with a jar of gel stain for me. It is rather more golden than my favourite Ipswich Pine, but it will do beautifully for the undercoat of my miniature "antiques". The tray is supposed to be black with flowers, so it is sitting around until I get to painting again.

On my storage shelf is a basket with "unfinished kits" - so I hauled that out yesterday, with a view to finally completing these things, emptying another box, and perhaps having some more items for sale.

So we have a trellis (I foresee a morning glory vine!), a planter, a "cat butt" bird house, and a bathroom shelf (which is upside down - the round bar is a towel rail. More painting in my futute!

I am particularly proud of this peculiar item; it is, in fact, a very early form of adjustable lighting. The design showed up at my volunteer job (I do museum accessioning) in one of the reference books I was checking. It is an adjustable candle stand; the holes allow one to move the shelf to four different heights, depending on where you are working. A peg through the hole holds the shelf in place. The candle cups in the original were removable, by pushing up  the peg under them. You could thus move your light from this unit to a pierced shelf in another space, pop the candle and peg into that hole, and there you are, one candle in use at a time (or two!). The original post was round, but I just can't drill holes into something as thin as a skewer or toothpick, so my post is a narrow plank. This, once it is painted, will go into my Tudor apothecary workshop.

This peculiar item is a birch twig fairy bed I started many years ago, at least 10. I decided to try and finish it, just to be able to say I did. The headboard is done, the footboard still needs some gluing, and then I can add the bed base. Perhaps this will become a flower bed..... (for those who have never seen one of these, people here sometimes use an old metal bed frame and plant flowers in it, for out of doors).

In between, I am doing some cross-stitch and some knitting, while trying to whittle down my stash of stuff - I'd have to live to 150 to be able to use it all up, so away it goes!

Friday, 14 February 2020

Two Days' Work....Well, A Day and a Half or So!

It's fun every once in a while to dig into my scrap bag of wood bits, and see what I can make with them. Well, we have a pipe box, a candle box, a foot stool or bench, a tray, a candle stand and a wood box.

I've written about the difficulty of getting good wood, since Michaels is the only supplier here; when I was in Maine this fall, I picked up a bag of jumbo craft sticks, and some of the items in this group were made using them. They tend to be quite straight, most of them, and they yield quite a bit of good wood. The wood box was made from less than two of them. It will get leather hinges and rope handles, once the box is stained and painted.

They all need painting, of course! But first, I have to find a colour of water-based stain to use as the base coat. I used to use Varathane Ipswich Pine, a lovely rosy brown shade, but the water-based stains have been discontinued. My local hardware store dealer suggested I look at Min-Wax water-based; although I won't find an ideal match, there may be a colour there that I can deal with.

I'm making things that could sell, but if they don't, can be incorporated into one or another of my mini projects. There are more small bits I'd like to try....

The "fancy work" is done with files, sanding sticks and sandpaper, as well as my trusty knife. My sanding sticks are worn out, and I don't know where to find more of them; the ones I had were purchased some years ago at the NAME National in Nashua, NH (USA). I have people looking out for them for me, though. They are so handy for making nice curves in basswood pieces!

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Things Are in Process

Today at our mini get-together, I shaped and sanded a number of wooden Colonial-style miniatures. Now I have to glue, paint and age them. If tomorrow's storm happens as promised (tghreatened?), I'll work on them then; otherwise, I'll get back to them Friday.

I've already made two pairs of candle sconces; they just need their candle cups and candles now. If I remember correctly, there are at least 5 other pieces ready to finish....

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Messing About with Prototypes

In about 3 months, it should be another miniature show and sale; I'm awaiting the forms any day now. So, I decided I should perhaps try my hand at a few new items. As my sales public is limited (there are very few people in this province), new ideas are always needed. Since I never know if what I decide to make will actually sell, I try to make things I could use in case they hang around forever.

Today, at our mostly weekly mini get-together, I worked on some lightweight prototypes for this year; some are original, some are from old, out-of-print books; whatever I make, I will add my own touches to the finished product.

Four of the pieces are from The Colonial Dollhouse, by Phyllis Gift Jefferson, published in 1977. If you can get hold of a copy of this, it is just chock-full of wonderful ideas in a very wide variety of media and aimed at a wide range of skill levels. I am attempting to make some tinware and wooden ware from file folder cardboard, with faux finishing to suggest metal and wood. These are the lightweight (recipe card from the $ store!) first attempts. The wall hanging box I hope to make to represent old enamel ware.

From left to right, back row: enamel wall salt/sand/soda container, wooden firkin, wooden bucket and front row, wind-proof candle holder and one of several varieties of wall sconces. I will have to find some heavy-duty foil for the sconce, as it really needs to have frilly edges on the back. (I cut them in scallops to give the idea.)

Another storm is forecast for tomorrow; if it happens, I can't get to my volunteer job safely so I hope to work up some real versions of some of these items. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Well, This Took Some Time...

...and generated a fair bit of waste paper and painted paper. My friend Louise had asked me to make a companion dracaena tree, in half scale, for her camp project. She had one, but wanted another to make a balanced composition.

Half scale is new to me; I dreamed about how to tackle this project, before Christmas and after the holidays while I was working away on quilted Christmas and birthday gifts for my family members.
Finally, I decided to cut to the chase.

I must have tried half a dozen or more separate ways to do this; you can see some of the waste generated below. Last night I figured it out, the prototype worked, and today the tree is done, just in time for our mini get-together.

The original is to the left of the photo, my version is on the right. (You can see the various attempts at prototypes in the foreground.) Still a bit too bushy for a proper match, so out came the scissors, and hoping I wasn't going to mess it up, the dracena got a haircut.

Better, but too many clumped leaves, so out came the scissors again, and the plant got a trim around the edges. Original on the left, my version on the right. Photos really help to point out where corrections are needed!

OK, now we're cooking! This was my final attempt, as I was happy with the appearance of the plant. The stems were heavy gauge floral wire, wrapped in strips of paper, and then painted. Over that went a coat of matte varnish. The leaves are made of painted computer paper, a piece about 2 x 2" (5 x 5 cm), cut in a gentle curve at the top edge to vary the lengths of the leaves. The paper is then fringed every 1/16th of an inch (about 1 mm), leaving 3/8" (1 cm) uncut at the base.

Then each narrow leaf is tapered to a point (I nearly went cross-eyed). I used my pointed tweezers to roll up the fringed, trimmed strip, stuck in a tiny clamp, and allowed things to dry. Once dry, I curled each individual leaf over my scissors blade, trimming where I felt too many were the same size. When the leaves were all curled, I pulled the tiny clamp out and cut half of the rolled base off. Then I used my pointed tweezers to open the hole somewhat, and stuck in the stems with tacky glue on their ends.

I will give it to Louise at the meeting. Now I have to create a couple of white amaryllis plants. That will take a few days, as I work tomorrow and have appointments on Friday. But I will get to them soon!

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Merry Christmas!

It has been my intention to post a tutorial for this little arrangement in the days leading up to Christmas, but the camera was mislaid until it just turned up - hiding on a chair under the table in the dining room. As there are only two of us and the cat here, we had no reason to pull that chair out....

However, better late than never, so here goes: the arrangement above was gifted to Marilyn D. of Charminis, at our group's holiday potluck. I have another version of it, and will put that photo up later!

I began with a woodsy round and a small wooden plate. You can, of course, substitute a ready-made tray or plate, or make a base of cardboard and beads. I drilled a hole in the centre of the plate, and in the centre of the wooden round, in order to insert a cut-down pin to make the whole sturdier. Glue the disc to the plate, and when the glue is dry, paint in the colour of your choice, or use stain. As Marilyn had mentioned she was considering a white Christmas setting, I went with white.

The second step required some evergreen foliage, glue, and some sparkly stuff; I have some very fine glitter that I used for this. Make a ring of greenery to fit the edge of the plate, and glue it in place. you will have to hold it until the glue grabs hold. Once the greenery on the disc is glued in place, gently brush on some white paint, and immediately sprinkle some of your chosen glitter over the wet paint. It will dry onto the paint.

Now comes the fun part, decorating! Going with the white theme, I made a white poinsettia flower, substituting gold micro beads for the railroad apples I used in my poinsettia tutorial; you can find that tutorial by going to the side bar on the blog. I used a cream-coloured pencil to draw in some veins on the poinsettia petals; once the poinsettia was dry, I used a very fine paintbrush and some half-and-half white glue and water to draw a glue line over the veins of the flower; as with the wreath, sprinkle on some of the fine glitter over the glue. Continuing with the white theme, I made six Christmas roses or hellebores, from a five- or six-petal small punch, using the palest green paper I have in my stash. A dab of yellow paint on the end of a stem, on top of which you glue a bit of yellow flower soft or similar material, makes the fluffy stamens. Slide the blossom up to the paint blob, and secure with a dab of glue.

The candles are cylinders of half transparent and half white Fimo, with a tiny bit of fuse wire (you could also use glue-stiffened thread) in the centre to represent the wicks. Make a hole and insert the wire with some liquid polymer clay before baking, or with a little bit of glue after baking. The candles vary in height, so position them as you like.

White was my choice; you could go with a red theme, a blue theme, a multi-colour theme, whatever your dollhouse vision. You can vary the number of candles, add candy canes or mints, gingerbread men or dried fruit slices. Make your own personal statement with your arrangement.

Here is the arrangement for my flower shop display; as the wreath material was a little thinner, I used tiny tufts of model railroad clump foliage to make a "moss" bed for my candles to sit in.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Winter Is Here

Miniatures are still being constructed, but are having to take a back seat to Real Life, unfortunately.
Mid-month I got news that my sister on the other side of the country - Vancouver Island - was dying. We lost her this Monday; 23 years with Parkinson's Disease had resulted in a body that could no longer carry on. She will be missed.

Yesterday it began to snow; today, this is what my garden looks like, complete with one of this year's fawns - Virginia Whitetail, for those who want to know - in its heavy, dull brown winter coat.

And here is the doe, watching her baby. Soon baby will have to make it on its own, as mom is likely going to have another baby before too many months pass.

Yesterday, Marilyn and I delivered the Remembrance Day Project to the Engineering Museum at our local armed forces base. We had expected to simply drop it off, but when we arrived there were a couple of dozen soldiers awaiting us, along with some officers, including the lady Colonel who is in charge of the Engineers. It was very flattering to have such a nice fuss made over our project. I will try to get a photo of it; I didn't realize there is no finished photo of it on the blog. We were each given a heavy souvenir coin of the regiment, and a guided tour of the museum in which our project is going to be living.

I am still working on the Camp project, as well as on things to go into a new room box that I will talk about in another post.