Monday, February 26, 2007

My Scraggly, Lovable Dog and Witch's Cupboard





Over the weekend, I worked on my dog. When Kerri Pajutee (see my links) says in her tutorial to use tacky glue sparingly when applying fur, she means it. I kind of got carried away with my glue and therefore, he looks a little like he rolled in honey. I will attempt to make him look less straggly but I love him (even though Jerry said he looks more like a mangey coyote) and he will blend in fine with my Santa's house I am eventually going to do when I can ever afford one of the stomp down grand house kits! At least he does resemble a dog; I learned a lot in the process and even though at this point Ms. Pajutee has nothing to fear as far as competition from me, I am nonetheless pretty proud of my fledgling dog-making efforts. My good friend Eric Nix liked him and Eric is, like me, honest to a fault and would have said if he thought he looked like a mangey coyote. In fact, in my defense, when I told him what Jerry said, he said Jerry looks like a mangey coyote. So there. (Actually, Jerry is tall, dark and handsome but when he makes sneering comments about my efforts, he deserves what he gets!)
The other pix are of various projects slated for my witch's cottage. The little cupboard is the $1 Michael's cupboard. I Dremeled the top shelf roof away so my little potion bottles would fit (which is why the two sides are uneven!), sanded it and painted it with two coats of Gesso, painted it with two coats of orange Ceramcoat acrylic paint, a layer of crackle medium and then a coat of black. I thought, amongst all my crafting junk from my various forays and verrings over the years, that I had spray matte sealer but alas, none was found so I've got to head to Hobby Lobby and buy some of that. I also have to replace the little drawer knobs which looked entirely too big to me. Jerry told me (maybe I already wrote this) that I should have taken the drawer out and painted it separately but I told him that for $1 you don't actually get a working drawer. You have to upgrade to about $15 minimum for working drawers.
The potion bottles are filled with glitter, dried seasonings and beads and I did write about downloading the Magik font at betterfonts.com, printing out my page of potion labels and then cutting them out and holding them near a flame with tweezers to burn the edges. I love them. If only little glass bottles weren't so pricey from various sources--as far as replica Bell jars, etc. I have ordered a few but I do this on a budget with three children (two catapulting at break-neck speed toward college, one driving and one still deep in the bowels of the public school system in second grade) and this is for a friend and, though I love her deeply, I can't afford to spend mega-bucks. The two in the back in the photo are little wood turnings I painted with two coats of metallic paint mixed with regular paint and then coated with clear varnish.
The last photo is of the mirror frame I made from a Sculpey push mold of a plastic belt buckle that was in my mother's things. I've got to paint the back black and still want to work on the gold scrolling but I like the black acrylic paint and though it doesn't show in the photo, I sprinkled it with black glitter which I think looks really cool.
Tonight, I'd like to work on the ceiling of the top floor as I'm anxious to put this thing together. I've Gessoed the floor and Jerry suggests I paint it a light color and then smoke it with my candle. I may try that!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Witchy Printies and A Cool Potions Font





In working on a witch's cottage for my friend, Beth, I have perused the web for images of antique spellbooks and witchcraft manuals, old maps, prints and lithographs. I printed some of these out on photo paper, sprayed them with fixative and then copied them onto a parchment-shaded specialty paper I got at the office supply store. I'll cut these out and glue them to card stock and varnish them and then frame them--or just lay them about on the tables. One is a neat Witch's alphabet and another is a Wheel of the Year. Yes, I have been visiting quite a few wiccan and rare books libraries on the web for these and they usually appear on the screen the very size you need them. I've also printed an index sheet out which prints some of the pages I've found in perfect 1:12 scale for pages. I'll try my hand at making spell books of these.

I also found at betterfonts.com, some really cool fonts including Magik, A Charming Font, Haunt Roe, and several others. They claim to have 10,000 fonts and they are free. If you're like me and know just enough about the computer to be dangerous, you download the font and click Next when prompted (at least in Windows). Then you open your Fonts folder from Control Panel and condense it. Then you click and drag the font from the file (which you also have condensed in the background on your screen) and it automatically saves the font so that when you open Word, you have that font as one of your choices. I then set up a page with five columns (under Format and Columns) and set text at 10, 11, 12 and used the Magik font to print out my potion labels such as Ear Wax, Dragon Breath, Belladonna, Sulphur, Slug Slime, Mouse Bones, Love Potion, Dead Man's Toes, Toenails, Moth Fur, Eye of Newt, etc., etc. I've already ordered several sets of the little glass bottles with corks and have filled some with glitter in various colors, no holes beads, some dried herb flakes from my kitchen and I found some really neat aged small glass beads that are transparent except for a grey-black dot in each and they make neat looking fish eyes. I also found some really extra fine gold metallic powder in the paint section at Lowe's which I will label Pixie Dust. I am going to cut these labels out in irregular shapes and slightly burn the edges using a candle and tweezers and then glue them on using Aleene's Clear Gel Tacky Glue. I also used this to glue the corks into the bottles after filling them. Some of the small wooden turnings you get in packages at craft stores also make wonderful bottles when painted. Really, I'm having entirely too much fun on this project. And I understand that some people find Halloween to be a pagan, irreverent, occult holiday but although I am a regular church-going Christian who sings soprano every Sunday morning in the choir, my family always celebrated Halloween and had a lot of fun. I don't look at it as a pagan, devil-worshipping holiday. In fact, it gets its name from All Saint's or Hallowed's Eve. Anyway, just had to put that little disclaimer in there for anyone who might be reading this or stumble upon it and think I've completely gone over to the dark side.

I have also ordered a black cat with hackles raised which is so realistic and today, I ordered a 5 1/2" skeleton through eBay. I've got to get my kiln/porcelain issues resolved and make some more polymer clay push molds so I can start selling a few mini's to pay for my habit. And I really want to find some contests and venues to enter this gem when I get it finished. It is quite an undertaking and frankly, I'll be wanting to show it off when completed. I've even roped my wonderful husband, Jerry into helping me glue the window sashes and sils and clamp them.

I'm trying to save as much money as I can on this. One of my projects is a bashed $1 cupboard from Michael's. I have sanded it with my Dremel and painted it with Gesso but then I found that the shelves are too short for the bottles with their corks in. So, I'm sanding down the top of the upper shelf and I'll have to re-Gesso that. I've bought some acrylic crackle medium and I'm thinking of painting it a burnt orange and then doing the crackle treatment with black since the walls will be a goldish tan.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Neat Witchy Items I've Found on the Web





Here are some pix I've found on the web pertaining to miniatures for witch's cottages. The bottle of leeches and the skull on the books are from SP Miniatures which has some really neat, unique pieces. The hutch is by an artisan and I am searching for her website now to giver her due credit. After searching all morning, I finally found her. Patricia Paul, http://www.patriciapaulminis.com/furniture.htm. The book is from a wiccan website and the little witch's cottage is from a photo posted on Webshots. I didn't get anything accomplished on my witch's cottage last night for sewing a hanging sleeve on my husband's quilt that I'm entering in the Pigeon Forge quilt show and must mail this week. Tonight I'm hoping to darken the gel stain and do some more wall treatments of the interior walls. Since this is a witch's cottage, I'm basically slapping it on 'devil-may-care' style, pardon the pun. I can't tell if anyone has found my little blog yet since my stat counter isn't showing up. So, if anyone is out there reading this, please comment!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mini Things I'm Working On





Inspired by Kerri Pajutee, I am trying my hand at sculpting a mini dog which, when I get it refined to the best of my abilities, I will cover in fur. The first and second photos are the basic shape over a wire armateur and the third shows him with a little more meat on his bones and the one ear that didn't fall off when I baked him. I have a really long way to go before I can even say I'm making these 'in the style' of Kerri Pajutee but I'm trying.

The fourth photo is of the paint job so far on the interior of the witch's cottage, a project I am dangerously obsessed with. I can hardly think of anything else. I first painted two coats of Gesso sanding lightly in between and then a coat of 'Sand' colored Ceramacoat acrylic paint. Then I mixed an acrylic gel medium with a Teddy Bear Tan and another goldy/brown shade (can't recall what color) plus some metallic paint. I dabbed this all over with a medium sized brush and then scrunched up a plastic grocery bag and just pounced all over to get a textured effect. I intend to go back with some darker shades and repeat this process. I want the walls to be a goldish mottled, aged color and texture. I've also ordered a few Halloween/witch items from some eBay miniature sources and a kit to make a spell book and set of tarot cards from Paper Mini's. As I say, obsession. There is a little antique store nearby in Campobello that sells old timey toys. I bought a large clear marble with a blue swirl effect inside that I intend to turn into a crystal ball. I borrowed a little Avon ginger jar bottle with a plastic base and today went to Clay King in Spartanburg (they mainly sell on the web) and bought clay to make molds, and also to try my hand at throwing miniature pottery on the children's pottery wheel my brother and I had as children and never used. Maybe it will go slowly enough for a rank amateur not to broadcast huge amounts of wet clay all over everything in my basement.

The last pix is very blurry but I couldn't seem to get a good shot with the flash at such close range so turned it off and must have breathed. Oh well. You can probably basically tell it's my attempt at a pet iguana/lizard type animal for the witch's cottage.

Another reason I had to visit Clay King was this major tear-inducing problem with my kiln--or slip--or whatever. Both kiln loads I have spent hours and hours pouring, soft-firing, cleaning and bisque firing have been almost completely ruined. Most pieces either partially or completely collapse in upon themselves, turn white or pale pink and look oily or greasy. I've received conflicting explanations or suggestions including "your kiln is firing too hot and melting your pieces" to "you're underfiring" to "that's evidently not porcelain slip but a low-fire ceramic slip." So who knows. I had to go buy witness cones 5, 6 and 7 and I'm going to sit three of them on each shelf next time I attempt to fire and see to what temperature it's firing. Back in the days of my porcelain doll firing phase, I never had any major issues. I am baffled and weary trying to figure out whether it's the wrong temp or I've somehow mixed ceramic slip with porcelain slip. Anything is possible. And there are no sources for porcelain slip--specifically Seeley's French Bisque in my immediate area anymore and it costs a small fortune to have it shipped. So, I've managed to waste time, money, materials and electricity in my first attempts to fire mini porcelain dolls and my cherubs. But I'm going to persevere and figure this out.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Witch's Cottage





One of the projects I'd like to accomplish in miniature--and by this October!!--is a witch's cottage. I found the pix of this precious witch's house on Webshots in 001char's photos. I love all the bottles and containers of potions and elixers, the fireplace and rocking chair, the buzzard on the roof hovering over his collection of bones, the mushroom garden outside and all the other little details this artisan put in! There are several witch's cottages and houses you can view on Webshots. This was one of my favorites.

I have a friend, Beth, who loves Halloween and we especially love the movie Hocus Pocus. She has a big party every Halloween and has her house all decorated and looking so great. And she's all dolled up in her witch's costume and looking so great. I'd love to create a miniature witch's cottage for her (shhhh! Don't tell her)--if she'd let me borrow it back if I wanted to at times! So, I bought The Orchid house kit at Hobby Lobby with my 40% off internet coupon and I intend to get started kit-bashing it ASAP (in between work, children, the tiny modicum of house cleaning I get done, etc., etc., etc.). I'm pretty excited about it but we'll see if that will be a long-lasting feeling once I start pulling sheets of wood out of the box and plowing through the directions. I've skimmed them and they keep stressing, "assembly is easy IF you follow the directions step by step". I'm pretty famous for not following directions at all so we shall see what we shall see. There is a Greenleaf Community of blogs about various people's construction of their kits so I'm sure I'll be 'haunting' that (pardon the pun) as I dive into this project.

Oh, and the first photo is of an alleged witch's cottage in Beverly Hills--not a miniature. Would I love to go through that!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

On My Mini Compulsions





This is my first entry on my blog about my compulsion for miniatures. My other blog is about my other creative obsession, quilting at http://carolinaquilter.blogspot.com. While I have mentioned mini's there and posted a few pix, my fellow quilters in the two rings I belong to are not into mini's and I don't want their eyes glazing over with boredom while I expound on this particular creative outlet or post pix of my mini little accomplishments, wants and wherefore's.

When I was a child, my father actually built me a dollhouse. It was a Colonial style two-story house with two added wings which were the den and kitchen. We went so far as to wallpaper and carpet most of the rooms and furnish every room at least partially before I discovered boys and went on to various art lessons including oil painting, acrylics and watercolor. Over my 44 years including college, marriage and three beautiful children, I have dabbled in various creative pursuits. When I say "various", I mean that our basement looks like a graveyard of cast off arts and crafts including the basket-making phase of the early '80's, the porcelain doll-making phase of the later '80's (by far the most expensive foray), the easel and tackle box with oil paints from college, and the shelves, plastic storage boxes and cabinets literally filled with my quilting stash of fabrics, notions, patterns, etc..

In fact, I actually believe I have a syndrom heretofore unlabeled in this day of syndroms and disorders, CADHD, Creative Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I even took one of those internet psychology tests the other day (a dangerous expedition into the better-left-unknown waters of self-discovery) which said among "blah, blah, blah . . ." something to the effect that my particular personality type is always seeking that elusive 'something better' as far as our creative pursuits go. Like I needed that test to tell me that. It's the story of my life. As I am the poster woman for 'Jack of All Trades, Master of None', that one big success in my various creative pursuits that will lead to "fame and fortune" has thus far elluded me and thus, I continue to search and leap from one thing to another.

Which leads me to my circuitous route back into mini's. For some unknown reason, I have this compulsive desire to create a Santa's house complete with the Missus baking in the kitchen, the toy testing room filled with elves tinkering, testing, painting and assembling toys, etc., etc.. I can't exactly say why this is a burning desire. As a card-carrying member of Procrastinators Anonymous, we didn't even get our Christmas tree up this year until about three weeks before the big day and then it stayed up for about three weeks afterwards until we made the children take everything down. I'm not one of those women who live to bedeck every corner of the house in evergreen boughs, red bows, and poinsettias. So, anyway, for whatever unknown reason, I have been making and collecting tiny pieces of furniture, toys, accessories, etc. for the day I can actually afford a large miniature house to transform into Santa's digs.

I am even back into pouring and firing porcelain. I bought Ethel and Samuel, two older man and woman molds from Doreen Sinnett with my Christmas $$ and am pouring my old Scioto cherub molds and the mini's. I even had two or three old Iandola mini molds including three nesting bowls and two wall pocket plant containers. Of course, with my work and teaching schedule at the quilt shop where I work, I hardly have time to do any of this but I fit it in where I can.

So, the photos are of various mini's I have made and collected. The top photo is of a pair of snow shoes I made from an Around the House kit from Minikitz.com, a mini teddy bear sans the ears and final assembly, a snow scene worked on 48 count silk needlepoint material and which I adapted from a pix in one of my back issues of a miniature magazine and a polymer clay mirror frame I made using a plastic belt buckle I found in my mother's things while cleaning last week. I made a press mold and will paint it. The last photo is of some of the things I've bought on eBay through various mini stores there and from Cotton Ridge Designs. The basket is an Al Chadronnait and the coping saw is a Sir Thom Thumb piece. I had to have some 'whitey tighties for Santa and the little mini top is perfect.

I intend for this blog to be about my various mini projects and will include links to photos, tutorials, etc. that I find interesting in the vast world of mini's. One of my biggest tips for other miniature buffs is to print out tutorials and pix on the web and put them in sheet protectors and large 3-ring binders for easy access and protection. Perhaps if I successfully finish my miniature Santa I'm attempting to sculpt in Super Sculpey, I'll show him here. I'm still tweaking him.