Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Santa Brought Us . . . Joanna, I Mean!

Joanna at Christmas

Here was Joanna at the Biltmore Farm where we went right before Christmas holding a chicken at the farm. As it turns out, we weren't supposed to pick up the chickens but since we used to have chickens and this one didn't mind . . . . .

Here was the little dressed bed by LovNStitches on Etsy, a mother/daughter team and pix of the house kit--wish I was a whiz at putting them together.

We used some of our Christmas money to buy some furniture, the Lee's Line floral chair and loveseat the Spice armoire and coffee table. What I want is Mike Rowe's turned Bradford Pear table, as seen here in his Etsy shop, I may have to splurge unless someone beats me to it. He showed this on CDHM and I think it is beyond beautiful! (Scroll down to see it pictured in my Etsy favorites!)

Happy New Year and here's wishing everyone health, happiness and lotsa mini time and goodies! And remember my favorite Irish blessing:

May all who know us love us.
And if they do not love us, may God turn their hearts.

And if he cannot turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles so that we may know them by their limp.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Door

Christmas Door Shadow Box In Progress'

I thought it would be perfect to create a Christmas door shadowbox using one of the purchased shadow boxes at Michael's or Hobby Lobby. I used Paperclay on the wall but, as Tracy Topps of Minis on the Edge, points out, beginners usually get carried away with the darkness of the colors on the stonework which I did. I used a purchased artificial 'frond' from Hobby Lobby, cut it apart and glued it around the door for greenery. The brass mailbox was yet another little gift from Kim Saulter (now officially my 'best friend' in miniatures!) and I sanded the plexiglass and glued a paint chip sample behind it. It needs a step and snow yet and I think I needed to use the larger shadowbox but I like it. The wreath I received in a swap but I am not allowed by the rules to let you know who made it unless the artisan contacts me and gives me permission--if she stops by my blog! Let me know what you think! I hope these will appeal to 'non-mini' folks.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More Special Artisan Gifts!

Miniature Vintage Cookbooks

We received two special packages this week, the wonderful bake table and occasional table by Kim Saulter and then yesterday, these wonderful little vintage cookbooks by Pat Carlson, Miniatures by Pat Carlson! These will have to have a special spot in Joanna's kitchen when we get her house built and ready to decorate. Joanna and I would like to thank Pat for these special gifts. I'll have to post pix of Joanna holding these precious, special gifts! And I've got to figure out a way to repay them in kind--only my little mini efforts pale in comparison. Thank you both!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Special Gifts from Kim Saulter and a Mini Rug

So Excited!!!

I received the most exciting package in the mail today! Kim Saulter, a miniature artisan whose blog, It's a Miniature Life, you can find in my blog links and you can purchase her exquisite creations at CDHM, Custom Dollhouses and Miniatures where I 'met' her in the forums.

For Joanna's dollhouse Santa is bringing, Kim sent two little shabby chic 'aged' chairs, a precious little oval table with metal scrollwork legs with a sweet bouquet and a decorative china plate. The baking table as you can plainly see, is pink, Joanna's favorite color, and has a wealth of goodies in the midst of preparation--a cake, cookies, cupcakes and a beautiful cabbage rose bouquet, a mixer with frosting on the mixers and a Betty Crocker cookbook! I want to shrink and live in the house where these sweet, feminine little pieces will reside. As a bonus, she even sent two pieces of cake on two little saucers! I can't even begin to thank her enough. Now, what am I good enough at to reciprocate with??? Darnit, nothing, actually. I am working on it but Kim, you'll have to wait a while!

And above (one day I'll figure out how to load photos so that the one I want last is last) is a punch needle rug I just completed. I used the pattern Meadow Bouquet by Acorn Quilt and Gift Company using a Cameo punch needle. Jerry says it is too large and the pile is too thick. (Seems his Martha Stewart-like cullinary and decorating talents extend to the minute in size as well) and I was glad to find that Cameo now makes a micro needle for even smaller loops and lower piles. Maybe Kim would like a punch needle rug???!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Plans for Victoria's Farmhouse

Found Around the Web, Shabby Chic Decor

Here are some shabby chic items we'll need to find in miniature for Joanna's Victoria's Farmhouse. The few pieces I happen to know Santa is bringing can't be shown here, of course, until after Christmas.

And I'd like to thank Rosezanne from the Greenleaf forums for sharing her PDF Victoria's Farmhouse building log, She gave me persmission to share it here and it is perfect. I love the stencil she used for the door and shutters and the trimwork she did on the banister railings and the way she stained the shingles. And I've never tape wired a house and she shows and explains it step by step.

In other news, I have been bitten by the Christmas bug (as a chronic procrastinator this is unusual for me) so am making lycopodium mini wreaths and creating a lycopodium tree from one of the bottle brush Lemax trees I bought in a package at Michael's when they were 50% off. Now to hope the ceilings in Joanna's house accomodate a 9" tree?! Watch them only take a 7" or 8" one! That might threaten my Christmas spirit! I'll post more pix--maybe one of Rosezanne's finished house when I don't have to get dressed for work . . . on a Saturday . . . when my Dad, husband and oldest DD are headed to the football game, Joanna is going to be dropped off at a birthday party and we have a huge out of town wedding this evening. Working on Saturday's in retail is sometimes a big old bummer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What 'We're' Getting For Christmas!

Joanna is Getting a Victoria's Farmhouse for Christmas!This beautiful dollhouse by Real Good Toys is going to be left at our house by Santa this year for Joanna, nine. I have advised her to decorate it in Shabby Chic style like the beautiful room featured on Calamity Kim's blog, I think she wrote that this is a neighbor's cottage interior?! Wow--great neighborhood.
These two rooms in shabby chic style are by Kim Saulter (you can visit her blog from my links and buy her exquisite creations through CDHM, Custom Dollhouses and Miniatures in the galleries section. Her style is so wonderful and she mainly specializes in bakery roomboxes.

This is my favorite, a Christmas room. It is perfect in every detail.
And now that I am finally getting the hang of punch needle after purchasing a needle and weaver's cloth in Utah when Becky and I went out for HandiQuilter training, oh, three years ago, I will have to order this pattern form Joan Grimold, see her link in my listing! It is divine. Oh, aren't I . . . I mean Joanna and I . . . going to have fun decorating our, I mean, her house?!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Betsy & Mini's on Martha Stewart!!

Follow the link to see Betsy Neiderer on Martha Stewart! What a great way to promote mini's:

Copy and paste the link in your search box to find it or go to Martha Stewart's site and search Betsy Neiderer or mini cookie ornament.

And here is Betsy's video:

The Fabulous Works of Betsy Niederer, IGMA Fellow and CDHM Member

The Exquisite Works of Betsy Niederer
The first pix is of a cheese and fruit tray by Betsy Niederer, IGMA fellow and member of CDHM based on this one featured in Martha Stewart magazine. Betsy began making food for her children's Barbie house and decided she had a knack for it. You can see more of her beautiful works on her website, and in her CDHM gallery where you can purchase them for your own!
I know that Betsy uses paper punches to punch out her cookies from polymer clay and then glazes them with liquid sculpey and/or textural paints and glazes.

When I get this good at mini foods from polymer clay, maybe I'll be an IGMA artisan, too! Betsy has been very generous to share some of her tips on CDHM and with me in an e-mail and I 'd like to thank her for giving me permission to share some of her photos here. And also to Kerri Pajutee who did not yell at me (haha) for posting her gorgeous, realistic animals. That's me--living vicariously through other miniature artisans!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Kerri Pajutee Miniature Animals

These are a few of Kerri Pajutee's exquisite and beautifully detailed miniature animals. You can find more on her website, She is one of the IGMA (International Guild of Miniature Artisans) who regularly contribute their tips, tutorials, and advice on CDHM, Custom Dollhouses and Miniatures. She has answered my questions after my feeble attempts at sculpting realistic animals. It's just one of the things I would like to master. I so admire her work and wish I could take a class from her.
Basically, she sculpts the animals over a wire armature using polymer clay, often in subsequent layers between baking and, if necessary, she refines them using carbide scrapers available from Rio Rondo, and then she flocks and furs them using mohair, alpaca, wool and other natural fibers. Beautiful!

Also, found on CDHM this week, I had to share what Jinny wrote about the hazards of working with miniscule little parts and pieces in a thread she titled The Horrors of Fat Finger Syndrom:

Finally the weekend...I decided to ignore my mountain of schoolwork and my majorly sleep-deprived state and ice the handful of plain, already baked doughnuts I made a while back.

Of course, fat finger syndrome stopped me from doing so. After mixing up the clay-TLS combination, I found that my too-wide fingers could barely hold the tiny doughnut, let alone ice it. But somehow, I managed to spread the icing on a little doughnut.

After making about three doughnuts this way, I set the fourth doughnut too close to the rest on the aluminum foil. And my horrendously fat finger brushed against the icing of another doughnut, causing it to stick to my hand. Frowning, I removed it with my other hand and dropped it on the baking sheet again. As my luck would have it, it landed icing-side down.

Annoyed, I pried the doughnut from the aluminum foil, but in doing so, my fat fingers accidentally nudged against the icing of two more doughuts. After finally getting rid of the little pink leeches, I almost gave up and went to sleep. But decided to try to finish one more.

Bad mistake.....

It was almost as if my fingers had gained weight in that short span of time. And finger obesity is a horrible thing, folks. I was entangled in a horrible pink mess. I gave up, washed my hands, and went to go take a nap.

Stupid doughnuts.

Friday, November 7, 2008

As Seen Around The Webosphere

Angela, who is a miniature artisan and regular contributor at CDHM, Custom Dollhouses and Miniatures, has posted a You Tube video of her beautiful Tudor style house, Ravenhurst Manor which I assume is named for the mystery game.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Witching Hour Approaches

Progress on the Witch's Cottage

Got to clean up some of the hot glue residue. I made the potatoes from polymer clay and pastels using the paper bag trick as shown on a Victoria Miniland video. You make the potatoes, drop them in the bag one by one so they don't clump together and then rub ochre and light brown pastels on paper and sprinkle the dust in the bag. Close up and shake vigorously. Then pour them out on your surface and make indentations with dark brown or black pastel dust. Voila!

My attempt at corn stalks using a combination of stalks from dried material and raffia. Could use some tweeking on my next attempt. The pumpkins were made using a combination of translucent Fimo, bright orange and a tad of light brown. Love them! Happy Halloween

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

When An Artist Creates a Dollhouse

When An Artist Creates a Dollhouse

Today I'm featuring the beautifully detailed, warm and inviting dollhouse created by Amy Gross, a textile artist. Above you see the ironing board folded beside the refrigerator, for example. You can see more of Amy's dollhouse on Flickr where she is amyla174:
This chair is resin and is by Take a Seat by Raine. I'd love to sit there and read one of the many books on the shelf.

Happy Halloween! Amy has decorated her front porch for the season! Beautiful!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Witch's Cottage Nearly Done

Despite My Prolonged Absence, The Witch's Cottage is Nearly Done
These shots show my attempt at Creative Paperclay stonework painted with acrylic washes. Someone out there needs to donate the funds for me to take a Rik Pierce workshop (Frogmorton Studios) or I need to take a vacation and live with Tracy Topps (toppdollar) for a week so she can teach me how to do it correctly! But for a witch's cottage, it's okay, I suppose. The little carved pumpkin on the porch I bought at Miniature Memories in Charleston, SC this past weekend while on a therapeutic trip with two friends. Miniature Memories has to be one of the best, most well-stocked and decorated miniature shops in the nation--not that I'll ever see many. In the back, there is a museum of artisan roomboxes and I understand they are seeking to enlarge it. It is worth the visit even if you're not into mini's! The other too-bright, too-shiny pumpkin I made early in my polymer clay career but he had to go in for senimental reasons.
And you'll notice that there are two window panes missing! Where did they go?! Got to find those in the basement as winter is coming and Witchy will get her toes chilled.
I must add a note to explain my prolonged absence: I have just dissolved our Bernina sewing machine dealership (oh, let me clarify: DH and I decided we couldn't keep paying bills any longer with no sales and did the only thing that made sense and sold our floor models at half price. Let me be clear: Our district manager CLOSED our dealership. That'll show us! I'm sure she would want that made clear so to anyone out there who gives a flying rip: SHE closed our dealership--certainly not us!!! We were perfectly willing to just keep paying that debt while selling absolutely nothing. Anyhoo, I am still washing off the funk from that little doomed experiment in capitolism. My parting thoughts are that while the machines are well-made and have many features, rah, rah, blah, blah, blah, most sadly, they are grossly overpriced for our small town and general area. When the new state-of-the-art, be-all-end-all 830 comes out, the suggested MSRP is $12,000. Need I say more?????

So, on a personal level, I didn't even realize how it enslaved me and actually squelched my creativity instead of enhancing it. I was supposed to be a slave to their product and push it mercilessly and relentlessly at my own expense. I am thrilled to say I will now be going back to working three days a week at the quilt shop and have a few days to do miniatures, my own quilting designs and I will have time to spend with my Dad who certainly deserves no less than a little bit of my time after all he has done for me in my life.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fairy House Painted and "Ivied"

The Fairy House Painted and 'Ivied'

The fairy house has been painted, although touch-up's are needed on the front and I need to do something around the windows. The inside also needs some more work and I think I'm going to add another partial floor level just underneath and to the left of the bottom floor.

And here is Seymore Mouse waiting at the door.
And here is the Dracula-styled coffin I got in a swap with Angela in the UK on one of my Yahoo Groups. I love it. Now how to incorporate it into my witch's cottage? It will fit somehow. She also included some Halloween goodies, too which I love. By the way, I sent her some porcelain mini arms and legs and a few little goodies. So, I swapped body parts for a casket--wickedly morbid!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fairy House Progress

Some Progress on the Fairy House

Between moving our oldest DD, Maggie into college (at least it's local so I'm not grieving as badly as if it were out of state), getting back into the school routine, work, after-hours quilting classes I've been teaching, etc., etc., I've hardly had time to do anything on the mini front. I've been mostly awol from my Yahoo Groups and just made fleeting 'appearances' at CDHM, Custom Doll Houses and Miniatures. And then there was the fairy house set-back.

I had started using Creative Paperclay on the exterior over the layers of masking tape and strips of newspaper soaked in glue and water. After using five packages with no end in sight (that is roughly $25 despite my 40% coupons if you add in the gas I spend getting back and forth to Micheal's and Hobby Lobby which is about a 20 minute drive from home) I decided that good old paper mache was the better way to go after all. So, yet another very costly lesson learned both in time and bucks which I have neither to spare. Then it was the search for the best paper mache-- or papier mache, as they call it over the big pond--recipe. I researched various recipes in my 'spare' time and after rejecting the toilet paper, flour and water one which I could visualize as a sticky mush and the boiling flour and water for so long and then cooling, etc., etc. as too time- and effort-consuming and the sugar and water one as not very longlasting albeit tasty for every bug within a five-mile-radius of my basement, I decided to go with the old stand by of white glue, water and more strips of newspaper. Plus, I added my own 'secret' ingredient of cornstarch which I also mix with acrylic paint as a cheap thickening agent. Joanna and I spent part of Labor Day covering all of that wonderful Paperclay up with newspaper strips. Since she wore surgical gloves, she mostly enjoyed mixing and soaking the strips in the water/glue/cornstarch bath.

This morning I actually mixed some cream, brown, black and gray acrylic paints with water and cornstarch and started slathering that on with a sponge brush. Depsite my mild depression over having invested so much time and money on Paperclay and then deciding it best to cover it up with strips of free newspaper, the act of slathering paint on willy-nilly with a sponge brush was cathartic and liberating to say the least. I intend to keep layering this and as I twisted and folded some of the strips of paper and layed them on in a mostly vertical fashion, after several layers of thickened paint, it should resemble rough bark. We'll hope. And the beauty of it is that only I will know its true dollar value (how could I be so dumb?????! I continue to amaze myself through this journy of life).
I am also experimenting with a free motion stitching technique to create miniature textured rugs. These are two I designed and stitched. I'm hoping to perfect this technique and make some to sell to support my mini habit. They are pictured with my little checked chair by Lee's Line and a side table. And, hey, if you're interested, please do shout out! I am in the process of reopening my Etsy store to give that a go again since Maggie's tuition is nothing to sneeze at and I do need to find a way to make my various creative endeavors pay off!!!!!!! Wish me luck and visit me there at Cotton Blossom Designs. Please!