Tuesday, July 31, 2012

HP Printer - another side of customer service

You may remember that my Canon Pixma iP3500 died on me (It was an WONDERFUL printer that didn't owe me a penny.)..and that, on the advice(based on my printer use) from the salesman at Staples, I bought an HP OfficejetPro8600 to replace it.

From Day One, I was disappointed with this printer but only because I could not get it to print on card stock even though the specs told me that it should. And, as fellow miniaturists, you know how important this is to me.

And I'm telling you that from Day Two when I first researched and complained to HP about the problem, they have been wonderful.

We have not yet come to a solution but after the first formulaic replies that you get from any 'help' line (when they pick out one or two key words and miss the actual problem entirely), they have listened to me and replied to me and, so far, I think we are going to find a good solution to the problem.

At this point, they offered to replace the printer, then advised me that they don't have a replacement of that exact model to send me. So someone higher up has to make a decision as to the next step.

But people are hearing my complaints....and answering my questions.

So maybe there are some companies out there that really listen and reply to us as we hope.

Canada Post (NOT a love letter)

I am SO angry!

I'm getting really excited about the roombox that I ordered from Alex at Miniland in Victoria. So tonight I checked the tracking number with Canada Post.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that delivery had been attempted today (NOT), an attempted delivery notice had been left (NOT) and that I could pick my parcel up tomorrow at the nearest sub post office (a walk of 1.28 km there and back).

Not only had I not left the apartment all day, there was no record on my phone of a call from the entry of the building.

Now this is not an uncommon experience in this building but after three straight complaints to the post office in the past over the exact same thing, my last two parcels had actually been delivered to me so I thought (hoped) it was a thing of the past.

Unfortunately when my computer crashed, the folder containing all the previous e-mails about similar instances was lost. So I started searching on the Canada Post website for a way to contact them by e-mail. Can't do that any more without setting up an account and couldn't do that because it kept telling me that my password and password repeat didn't match (which they did).

Finally found a back door through which to report it and did so in no uncertain terms...

I am SO SICK AND TIRED of this. According to the tracking site, delivery of this was attempted today. IT WAS NOT!!! I was home all day and there was no call to have me come down for a package. And there was no 'missed call' on my phone from the front door.

This continually happens but I thought after my last three complaints that maybe it wouldn't happen again.

Perhaps if these things had to be re-delivered, the attempt might actually be made in the first place.
Now I have to walk, in this heat, to the post office to pick it up.

Not only that, there is no longer an easy way to e-mail you.

I got an autoreply acknowledging the message fairly quickly BUT there's no message - but four attachments - one of which was the actual message telling me that if I don't receive my parcel within five days, notify them and they'll look into it. BIG DEAL. I'm walking to the post office in the morning to pick it up so, of course, I'll have it within five days.

Guess it's time for a letter to my MP.

I want to make it perfectly clear that my beef is ONLY with Canada Post. Miniland cannot be blamed in anyway for this mess.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Valley Doll Museum

Just had a phone call from a club member who was just in Drumheller. She told me about the Valley Doll Museum there. So I checked out their website and it looks like it would be a very interesting place to visit.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What a day!

Imagine all of you will be able to relate to this story. About two weeks ago, Joanne and I were at Dollarama and I bought a new box of no. 10 envelopes. Since then, I have spent time every day trying to find them. but that red box was nowhere to be found. So this morning, I'm scanning the room again looking for the box of envelopes and I spot the red box of photo paper that I've momentarily thought was "the box" several times before. Then I suddenly realize that there is a BLUE box of #10 envelopes just below it. NOW I remember that I bought the envelopes in the blue box rather than the red because the blue box envelopes are lined. No wonder I couldn't find the new envelopes in the RED box. (Blush, blush!)

Joanne and I spent about three hours at the library fixing the Storybook dollhouse and installing the plexiglass. We found that there were a couple more items missing so we'll be replacing them also. The plexiglass looks really good and offers great protection against little hands.

I DID remember my camera and I took about 20 pictures of the house and contents BUT put the camera away before we finished screwing on the plexiglass so don't have a picture of that.
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Hanging my head in shame...
When we were at Tina's on Tuesday night, I was looking at the shop she made when we were at Camp Mini Ha Ha together. This is the piece that I planned on putting my art gallery in. Quite honestly, it just hasn't been working for me and after looking at Tina's, I gave up on it completely.

Before I left this morning, I replied to a message on Small Stuff from Molly Cromwell asking about the Cerveny, one of Alex's shops at Miniland in Victoria. When I got home, I replied to a further message from Molly, took another look at the Cerveny (which just happens to be on sale 10% off) and decided to order it! (Maybe the 'hanging head in shame' picture should go here. LOL)

Off to the library today

In October of last year, the Miniature Enthusiasts of Edmonton club donated a storybook dollhouse to the Children's Department of the St. Albert Public Library. At the time, it had a plastic snap on cover but it became apparent that we would have to replace that with a plexiglass cover as naughty hands were able to get behind the soft plastic cover.

Joanne e-mailed me on Monday with the sad news that Miss Muffet's tuffet and the spider had been removed from the house (the bowl of curds and whey and the spoon were still there).

The Quarter Scale group meets at Tina's on the fourth Tuesday of the month so I suggested to Joanne that we both attend and use the time to make a replacement tuffet and spider. (Even though I don't work in 1:48, Tina's good enough to invite me to join the group.) She would make the spider while I would make a tuffet.

Erika, the maker of the original tuffet and spider, was at the group so we broke the news to her. (It was a bit intimidating to make the replacement in front of her as she had done such a marvellous job on the original.)

I started with two spice jar lids glued together.

Then I wrapped a length of double-sided carpet tape around the lids and attached a layer of thin foam.
 I then put another piece of carpet tape across the top:

TIP: When you cut carpet tape, you get a lot of adhesive stuck to your scissors. This can be removed with nail polish remover.
 I placed a square of foam over that strip of tape,
 then trimmed it to shape.
A circle of fabric was glued to the top of the tuffet. This was an opportunity to try the new Beacon "Hold the Foam!"™ glue I had bought in the States. Seems to work well but I think I'm more interested in how it will work on the rigid Styrofoam™.

ASIDE: If you're wondering how I got the TM in there, there are hundreds of handy-dandy things you can add in Windows using your numeric keyboard on the right hand side of your keyboard and the 'Alt' key. It's the first time I've tried it here so it'll be interesting to see if it holds when I publish this. For more information, go here.

I then took a strip of the fabric (doubled over at the top)
and glued it around the sides (again using the new adhesive).

Here I've added a strip of white braid around the bottom. Didn't have any red bunka to trim the top so I braided some red embroidery thread and added that.

Joanne hadn't quite finished the spider so I'll get a picture of it today when we place it in the house and put on the plexiglass front.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mini Mail, a T2T

Well, the heat wave has broken at least temporarily BUT we've been hit with a whole pile of thunderstorms and even were on tornado watch for five hours the other day. So it seems like every time I had both the time and inclination to post here, my computer had to be shut down because of the electrical storms.

I got mini mail - all the way from Australia! Jazzi sent me a wonderful set of cushions. Just debating where to put them. Jazzi has a great blog and also sells on Etsy.

A friend and I were looking at the wall hanging made by Joyce Buchanan that is now hanging on my front door and I realized that the andirons in the fireplace are made from the back of cufflinks.

Another use for an old cufflink is to make a standing mirror for a vanity or bathroom.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I had a call from HP advising me that they will be sending me a replacement printer - and that I'll be able to print on card stock on it!!!

Now we'll wait and see what happens.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The MEE roombox sale

Noon today was the deadline for bids on the roomboxes that were donated to MEE for sale. I had bid on 9 of the pieces but only ended up with three.

I had hoped to get the Tartan shop for my art gallery but didn't bid high enough.

I wanted this roombox and Joanne wanted the contents so we bid together and got it. With the plexiglass front AND top, it would be great for the art gallery. On the other hand, my oriental collection has outgrown the setting I had envisioned for it and it would be great with the green paint replaced with a black or red lacquer finish and that gold trim.

I got the wall hanging to hang on my apartment door.

I got the New Orleans house for next to nothing. Have nothing in mind for it at the moment but something may occur to me. Front is nicely done.

I didn't realize until I got it home that there's a little storage drawer below the lower left room. The second wall front the left on the main floor is really strange. There's a door on the right hand side but the wall is solid on the left hand side - in fact the shelving unit on the right in the picture below this was was glued to the wall opposite the door?!?

The 'wrought iron' scroll work is printed on transparencies. The wood sections framing them needs to be repaired by they're lovely pieces.

The set of books was tucked away in the storage drawer.

This half mannequin with 'pearls', headband and handbag was in the house.

There was also a couple sheets of brick paper and a door handle with two keys so the house itself owes me nothing.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The aftermath...

I met the (self-imposed) deadline for finishing the fair stalls.


this is my kitchen counter, dining room table - and the card table (which I don't normally use at all - just brought it out this morning.) The cans of tomatoes were use to weigh down the sides of  "A Scoop or Two" while the glue was drying.

Hate to mention that none of this reflects any of my actual workroom...which is even worse!

Found some info...

You'll recall I was asking about information about this beautiful little piece. I had thought it might be done by a young girl from Calgary who had made a Care Bear which is a cherished piece of my collection. 

But the box that it was in was stamped: Royale Downes, 31 Gladeview Cres. SW, Calgary, AB 

Bob Francis of Calgary (Bob is a long-time miniaturist from Calgary and the current N.A.M.E . http://www.miniatures.org/newsite/index.php. regional director) advised me that Royale Downes and the young lady I remember are two entirely different people.

 Royale Downes is not the teenage girl that was doing the fimo figures - I can't recall that young ladies name but it for sure is not Royale - different person entirely.  I haven't seen Royale for many many years now and am not sure if she is still doing miniatures or not.  She used to do our Calgary show regularly but hadn't done shows with us for several years before our club disbanded so not sure whether she just moved on or what happened to her.  Her work was exceptional and I own several of her bear figures including a Phantom of the Opbeara that is too adorable... 

Upon further discussion, Bob advised me that he felt sure that the piece was, in fact, done by Royale Downes. And had a few more thoughts about the young woman:

As for the young girl, the more I think about it the more I think her name was Kayla or Kyla something and if I remember correctly, she was from Turner Valley or Black Diamond (just outside of Calgary).  She had a very keen interest in horses as well...... she sort of disappeared too but suspect that had to do with her age and interests... sadly, it seems that is what happens with most of the young ones.  I always hope they'll find their way back to us....

Both of them were incredible miniaturists and their disappearance from the miniature scene is a loss to all of us.

The ice cream stall

When this whole Little Fair on the Prairie project first came up, it was suggested that the St. Albert club members include their pedlar's carts that had been done for a previous show. Okay, that's one display done.

Since I had all those beautiful plants that I had bought from Connie Stitt awhile back, I said I would do a garden stall. Off to a great start! Now completed! That's two!

Then I opened my big mouth and said I would do an ice cream stall. That's three!

Then we went to Amber's big sale of miniatures and I found the beautiful stall made by John Greer, a late member of MEE. It just spoke to me and from it came the St. Albert Public Library stall. That's four!

My original intention was to make an ice cream stall similar to Doreen P.'s. What did it matter that I had given away all the tubs of ice cream when I had the great "clean out my stash" giveaway! I could always make more. VBG

Several Christmases ago, DS Carol had given me a gorgeous lace angel that was enclosed in a round box she had made. I knew the box would come in handy 'sometime' so it has been sitting in my stash - just waiting to be made into an ice cream stall.

So I removed the wrapping paper from it:

I didn't want the front completely open like Doreen's - just wanted a very big window so you'd still be able to see the freezers, etc.

Just one problem! This is made from the tube forms that are used to form cement. It's only about 3/16" thick but it's SOLID. I'd have to get out my sabre saw and try to cut a rectangle out of a curved surface...not something I was particularly anxious to do.

Also by now, time is running shorter, my enthusiasm has waned, and I want to simplify this project drastically! Plus, quite honestly, I'm running short of display room and would rather make something that I can dispose of after The Fair.

So last week before Joanne and Barb came over for a work session, I was tidying up the kitchen and went to throw away this empty ice cream cone box. It's the perfect size for a stall and if I cut the service window small enough and put a doll behind it, you won't be able to see inside and I won't have to make the freezer or anything else inside.

My original thought was to use the box pretty much "as is" but the miniature ice cream cones I have are the regular kind, not cups, plus once I cut the counter out, most of the effect of the filled cups will be gone anyway.

The original idea was to cover the sides with matboard and put a matboard cover on the top flap so I would still have access to the inside of the box to put my doll in place.

But I got to Joanne's and realized that I'd left a couple sheets of matboard at home and had to borrow some from Joanne to make the side pieces below. In order to make the best use of the matboard, the side pieces were cut so they don't quite come to the top of the box. At which point I decided to make a removeable cover for the stall.

Below: The pictures of the one, two and three scoop cones will have prices below them. That will go on one side of the window and the flavour list on the other.

The two pieces below will go on the sides of the box.

TIP: When you stop for lunch, make sure you rinse out your brush (I was using Yes glue) before you eat. BUT if you don't and the glue dries HARD, all is not totally lost. Tear off the foam and you're left with a handy/dandy glue spreader!

Another "Learn the Hard Way" TIP: Yes glue and glossy cardboard don't particularly do well together. (Think maybe my first clue should have been with the Yes glue pilled up on the outside of the box.) It was too late for that first side of the box - we'll see what happens when the glue dries - but I've lightly sanded the rest of the box to create some 'tooth'.

Oh, this is slow going. The actual work only takes minutes but each "wall" has to be added individually and weighted until the glue dries.

The glue has dried for the sides and back. Now waiting for the front piece to dry in place.

Along the way I've prepared some things for later.

Before I glued the back piece on, I scored where the door would go. I cut a door frame from coffee stirrers, then stained it.

I cut the matboard for the front and decided how big the opening for the counter would be. The doll from Pat that I had planned to use was a bit tall but fortunately this one (about 3/4" shorter) was in my stash and the top from Pat's doll fits her.

Cut out counter opening,

Then traced the opening on the front of the box and cut it out also.

The counter is cut and ready to install.

Once this last bit of glue dries, I can put on the door frame, install the counter and glue on the price and flavour signs.

I DID SOMETHING RIGHT! I installed the counter, then added the signs.If I had put on the signs, then tried to install the counter, it wouldn't have worked.

That just leaves the lid to be made.

I am so angry and frustrated. Ordinarily, I would design the lid on the computer, including the stall name, print it on card stock - a few cuts and folds and it would be finished.

But, WAIT!!! I can't print on card stock with this fancy new printer!!!!!!!!!!!

So now I have to transfer the pattern to the card stock and do the name by hand. Not a happy camper! Well, then I decided to print the stall sign separately and glue it above the counter opening.

I'm declaring this finished! Just noticed that I haven't put the prices on  the sign but that's a minor detail at this point.

Left side:

Added the door frame and a door handle made from a watch stem. Big OOPS here as I had cut the top piece of the door frame too short and had to cut another one and stain it. In terms of time, I had 10s of door handles in my 'hardware' box but I wanted one that didn't cost me anything....

My first thought was the plug from a halogen light bulb

But I couldn't find one in my 'Hardware' box. So then I looked for a watch stem. Found one - but it took about 20 minutes of digging! Then had to drill a hole and install it.

Right side:

When I went to put the doll inside, I couldn't find the bottom half of my doll stand so I just glued a film canister in place and put her legs in that. Actually sturdier than a doll stand.

The furniture and the boy and dog with the ice cream cone are off the lawn between my two houses. Thanks very much to Doreen for the idea of the RL ice cream scoop on top of the stall - works well with the name of the stall - which just came to me.

I did go back through this and try to make sure I had mentioned all the times I had goofed and/or run into trouble - especially for Natasha who had a really bad miniature day a couple days ago.

Hon, whether you've been doing this one year or thirty five - sometimes things just don't work out the way you originally planned and you have to regroup. I just wish I had come as far in my first couple years as you have in your first.

Ought to have my head examined!

Got off to a good start this morning and cleared the dining room table so I'd have a place to work on and complete my ice cream stall. Pulled the box I'm using as the core of it from the supplies I had taken to Joanne's and remembered that it was full of items that had belonged to Joyce that I had said I would research.

There is a bag of 15 pots painted in southwestern themes:

They are signed:

Roughly 10 years ago, a teenage girl from Calgary did a couple of the Edmonton shows. She did the loveliest polymer clay figures and Leanne and I still treasure a Care Bear that I bought from her.

Joanne and I were sorting through more of Joyce's stuff yesterday and we found this piece I'm sure was done by her. The info on the box is: Royale Downes, 31 Gladeview Cres. SW, Calgary, AB 

Other items were a lovely pewter dish with Alberta's provincial crest and an incredibly beautiful miniature of Salisbury Cathedral, both in their original boxes and identified as the work of Philip Aitken.

Found this information on those:

Martin Aitken, then 17, had apprenticed with well-known pewterer Dr. Ivan Crowell and set up his own shop in the city. The following year, his father Philip joined him, and the Aitkens ‘touchmark’—the triple A in a circle—had its debut.

Phil Aitken (the father) has since passed away and the company only makes a limited number of miniatures

The final item was the mechanical workings for a barrel organ (sometimes known as a hurdy gurdy).

This is where my sanity comes into question! I looked at this and thought "Gosh, what a great addition that would be to The Little Fair on the Prairie!" Just when I can see the end in sight to my projects for this display, I'm thinking about adding another one?!?!?

I did some googling and can't find exactly what I want this to look like IF I tackle it. Didn't exactly help that there was one at the St. Albert Farmers' Market last week. So I'm thinking maybe I'll have to walk over there today and IF he's still there this week, maybe I can get some good pictures of it. Then I lucked out and found a picture of the one at the market on their FB page and it's not what I want anyway so at least saved myself a trip there.

What I want it to look like (IF I do it) is something like this (picture near the bottom). Bright red with scenes painted on it.

Hopefully, I'll convince myself that it would be too much of a PITA (especially since I don't have a doll to play it) and give up on the whole idea.

At least I should get the ice cream stall finished today - two days ahead of my self-imposed deadline! Oh, my, what's the world coming to when I'm actually AHEAD of schedule on something.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Library stall for the Little Fair on the Prairie

I'm going to Joanne's tomorrow to work on our market stalls. We went out last night (to visit some air conditioned places and get out of the heat) and decided that neither of us were pleased with hers that we worked on last week so we'll revamp that.

I got together everything that I thought I would need to work on the library and ice cream stalls and made the bases for both.

Last night I found two crates in my stash. Stained them and filled them with more books to store under the stall.

By the time everything was printed for the library stall, I decided I may as well finish it tonight. My night shirt got a reprieve as I decided to make a striped paper canopy for the stall. I actually prefer the green and white stripe to the multi-coloured stripes in the night shirt fabric.

Canopy and price sign in place.

Decided to make a sandwich board to announce the library hours. Cut to pieces of matboard about 2" x 3" and a piece of card stock 2" x 1".

Folded the card stock into a tent that I glued to the tops of the pieces of matboard.

Dug out some chain and eye pins to use on the sandwich board. Used a push pin to make pilot holes in the matboard and added a piece of chain to each side.

My original plan was to have a 1:144 model of the dollhouse that MEE donated to the Children's Department of the Library on display but don't know if that will get done. It would be the perfect addition to this but time and energy aren't my friends at this point.

With any luck I'll get the ice cream stall done tomorrow and then I can get working on some of my long-abandoned UFOs.