Thursday, March 27, 2014

Guest Artist - Jillian's pond

As a club, the Miniature Enthusiasts of Edmonton has been fortunate to attract a few younger members in the last couple years. Jillian K. is one of those. She is a lovely, bright, multi-talented and sharing young woman who is a wonderful addition to our club.

For show and tell at our last club meeting, Jillian brought the pond she had made from builder's foam. In addition to the pond, she also used the builder's foam for the base of her camping scene for the camping display for the show and sale in September.

 (I'm so sorry. These pictures are upright in my album but when I upload them here they turn on their sides. Tried twice and I'm unable to fix them.)

She'll be teaching the basic technique for the base at an upcoming all-day workshop. I'm not doing a camping scene this year but I really want to use her technique to make a small pond for the secret garden that is on my to-do list. (In fact, her pond has really motivated me to move the garden up on the to-do list!)

Anyway, I asked her if I could post pictures of the pond here and, not only did she agree to that, she sent me brief instructions on how she made it and gave me permission to publish them.

From Jillian:
Right now I am obsessed with landscapes! So many neat tricks that I have learned on the internet mostly from model train forums. I will give you a breakdown here of what I did. (And please feel free to use whatever info you like for your blog :)

1) cut a square chunk of 1.5" blue foam

2) cut two smaller triangular piece to fit in the corner of the large piece

3) used Weldbond to glue the two smaller pieces to the larger one in the corner

4) used a long X-Acto blade to carve down the edges and chisel out some rock formations, carved out a rough hole in the middle

5) used the cut out pieces and glued back on around edges to create rocks.

6) coated the entire piece in Weldbond glue

7) mixed plaster according to instructions and poured over the entire thing moving it around to spread etc. Let dry.

8) used earth tone watered down acrylic paints to create rock colours, several layers. When the paints are watered down you get amazing effects of the colours blending with plaster.

9) painted the inner pond darker to create depth. (Use high quality acrylics for this part)

10) inserted my rushes into the foam in the pond part

11) poured my woodland scenics realistic water from the bottle into my pond let partially set

12) once almost set but not quiet I attached my Lilly pads onto the water mixture (I did not use the wires I removed them)

13) used clear silicone caulk in squeeze tube to create waterfall. Once tacky I used a toothpick to create effects and bubbles at the bottom.


I'm in particular admiration of her use of colour to give dimension to the rocks. I can hardly wait to try her techniques.

Jillian is active on Pinterest so if you're a member there, you might want to check her out.

I don't follow Pinterest myself. I think it's a wonderful resource but by the time I deal with my e-mail, my groups and write my blog, there is already so little time to actually work on minis that I just can't add one more thing to my computer time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Music room lighting

Looking at my schedule for this week, I think I was overly optimistic about finishing the music room by the end of the week.

I did gather the materials that I think I'll be using for the pendant light (or lights).

First of all, I know I'll be using half of a table tennis ball for the shade.

My first thought was to use the white plastic (hollow) drink stirrers to hang the light but them I remembered the hollow brass rods from my stash. Also found a square piece of hollow brass but think I'll go with the round.

This is one of the LED light kits I bought from Liz. Lower left you can see where I've fed the wires through one of the drink stirrers.

I bought these wonderful brass decorative strips at Chicago International and am looking forward to using them somehow/somewhere.

I got these wonderful retro lamps in one of the club give-aways from a former member. The shades were originally an off-white but quite some time ago I painted them with red glass stain thinking I would use them in another project. I'm rewiring them with one of the LED kits from Liz.
 Tonight was 'Stitch and Bitch' in the condo and I cut one of the table tennis bulbs in half for the lamp shade. I didn't have a glue that could be used in the amenity room so wasn't able to attach the strip of the decorative brass around the lower edge. (I tried Weldbond but it didn't work!)

I tried "" but it wasn't a help in this case but I know I will find a solution in the 15-odd adhesives I have in my stash. (Couldn't have used any of them at S&B since they need good ventilation.

This isn't put together yet but I've 'posed' it so you can get an idea what the ceiling hanging lamp will look like when I finally figure out how to put it together.

Since I wasn't too sure I would be able to make too much progress on the light tonight, I had cut a piece of basswood (1 1/2" x 3 1/2") for a coffee table top. I 'painted' it with black marker then glued the brass musical pieces to it. I'll give it several coats of gloss varnish.

Still not too sure how I will finally finish it...debating trimming the edge with the same brass trim I'll be using on the pendant lamp. Haven't yet decided whether to go with legs from the square brass piece above or square strip wood. (The violin needs to be moved a bit to the right but that's certainly do-able at this point.)

Must tell you:

Once I got really thinking about the logistics of lighting this project, I realized that I wanted to use more two-light LED kits but I had only ordered/received one two-light and two four-light kits from Liz.

So Sunday night, I frantically e-mailed Liz at Grandpa's Dollhouse and ordered three more two-light LED kits...."not in stock"....but Liz performed her incredible magic and created them for me and her DH Wayne got them to the post office on Monday.

If this isn't finished soon, it will NOT be because I don't have the supplies! Thanks Liz and Wayne!

Monday, March 24, 2014

some questions and answers

My friend, Sus, from Denmark had some questions for me that I'll attempt to answer here:

You really have an eye for it from start to finish. Wish I had that. Sus, I’ve been doing this off and on for about 35 years. When I started I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But eventually I collected a lot of books, magazines and, eventually, got a computer and discovered online groups and learned so much more from other miniaturists around the world. It’s something that develops over the years. And especially in someone like you who asks questions.

But for how long do you collect items for a specific “job” before you start? Depends what I’m working on. In the case of the Christmas Shop, the last five or six years that I worked, I often made five or six Christmas vignettes as gifts to co-workers  each year so I ended up with an incredible supply of Christmas items. After I retired, I had a lot of items left over so it made sense to put the leftovers into a Christmas Shop.

Sometimes I find a piece (usually furniture) that ‘speaks’ to me and I build a whole scene around that. If you read the descriptions at the beginning of the albums, they’ll give you an interesting picture:

Do you make all the little items, done by yourself before start or along the way? Again, it depends on what I’m working on. My absolute favourite rooms/scenes are those that are copied from real life.  In those cases, I look at the photos of what I’m trying to copy and figure out how to replicate them as I go.

On the other hand, the perfume shop, Scentimental Journey came about because I went on a perfume bottle making jag and needed a place to put everything!

Are all your room boxes the same size? I wish they were! It would make displaying them much easier. Many of them are at least close to the same size and therefore fit on a regular 11 ½” deep bookshelf  but I’ve had some major problems lately in placing them because the Penthouse is 16” deep and the Christmas Shop is 13 ½” deep. And the music room that I’m working on now is 12 ½” deep

Do you make a drawing… Do you write a lot down…. What is your “story”? Sometimes I sketch out a layout of a room on graph paper but since I usually have the actual roombox available, I’m more likely to try to move furniture around to get a layout that works for me. I’m constantly making notes (mostly in my mind, but often on my blog).

The “story” is most often in my mind and I hope that the scene will express it. Hopefully it speaks for itself – but sometimes I feel I have to tell the story on my blog or hint at it in the description on my Fotki site.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A lightbulb moment!!

Pun intended!

Way back in November I started work on a music room but I got totally stalled with lighting it!

The area behind the bay window is 'landscaped' so I have to have lighting back there. So I ordered some LED lighting from Liz at Grandpa's Dollhouse for that area.

At the Bowmanville Show, I bought the wonderful battery operated light fixture below (middle of the bottom row).

It's perfect in style but it's totally dwarfed by the size of the room. 

So on Saturday I was reading the Home section of the Edmonton Journal and right there on the front page was an article on pendant lighting with a picture that just screamed at me, "There's your answer!"

I started digging for supplies from my stash and I believe I have a plan in place. But I promised myself I wouldn't start work on it until I got the Christmas Shop pictures up on Fotki.

Now that I've accomplished that, I'm calling it a day but will start work on this tomorrow. If this all comes together as I hope, this room could be finished (or very close to) by this time next week. I foresee a couple problems since the room is all papered on the inside and covered with fabric on the outside but am mulling those in my mind.

Christmas Shop pictures up - finally!

Took almost seven hours but I finally got the pictures of the Christmas shop up on my fotki site.

I started with a couple hundred pictures and ended up with just under 60.

If you want to look back through the progress, I started blogging about this on February 9, 2014.

Friday, March 21, 2014

the shopping basket

Now, ideally, the shopping basket would be of metal mesh!

So I sketched out this little pattern on a memo pad that I had from somewhere....
 Then I took out this wonderful metal mesh that I got at Dollarama...
 Cut the pattern out....
 Taped it to the metal mesh...
 And cut it out...
 Released it from the pattern....
 Looking good! A bit bigger than I thought it should be but okay...
So I tried a couple ways to 'glue' the corners together - none of which worked. And it was too large then I thought I should try to make it smaller and put tabs on the corners and try to adhere the overlap...but working with the mesh just didn't work. Well, to be honest, I might have been able to make it work but I was anxious to get this finished VBG.

Then I decided to go with a red 'plastic' shopping basket.

Scaled down the pattern a bit, added the tabs to glue the corners together and transferred the pattern to some red cardstock from my stash.

Here it is cut out and folded with the tabs for gluing:

Before I glued it, I used a pushpin to make holes for a handle. (SO much easier to do that now than after it's glued together.)
When the glue had dried, I coated the outside with about three coats of clear nail polish to give it a plastic look:
Then I took a piece of wire , put it through the first hole, folding back about 1/4" on the outside then following the left hand side of the basket to the corner, making a 90 degree angle, following to the end of the basket, another 90 degree angle to the right as far as the bottom hole, cutting the wire that extra 1/4", putting that through the second hole then folding the wire back against itself.

After the handle was in place, I added a small strip of dimensional medium to the middle of the top of the handle and after that dried, I painted it with red nail polish.

I should have made two or three of these to add to the shop (especially since I had designed this so it would stack) but I didn't.


I started this post almost two weeks ago but just didn't get around to finishing it until tonight.

Didn't get any work done on the Christmas Shop yesterday as I spent the afternoon at my sister Shirley's where her step-daughter was visiting. Hadn't seen Leslie in many years so it was an incredible visit. Leslie is one of those people who lights up the room when she enters it.

Read a book last night (surprise, surprise!), set the clocks ahead, then woke up this morning after one of the best sleeps I've had in ages - almost nine hours!!

Tried to get a bit of tidying up before and after my 11:00 a.m. walk with Barb as another neighbour, Rosemarie, was bringing her sister and mother over to see my miniatures at 1:00 p.m.

In my Christmas stash I had these incredible little Christmas angels! The larger one was made by Linda Austin in Spruce Grove but I don't know who made the two smaller ones.

These are pieces that I SO wanted to highlight in this shop but wasn't quite able to figure out the logistics. Then I thought maybe I could put them against some of the velvet that I had used on the right hand side of the room...but I thought I'd be dealing with a lot of thickness.

THEN about an hour before Rosemarie was to arrive, I recalled that I had this very small strip of matboard with a gorgeous green 'velvet' finish. I cut a small piece to highlight the angels then cut a small piece to support it. Lightly cut through the small piece to give it an angle to the front piece.

That doesn't make a lot of sense in words but hopefully this picture will explain it. (It's like the slanted back on a picture frame.)

You can see here on the left where the angels are in place inside the counter.

Placing the items inside this counter was a nightmare! Couldn't find my angle-ended tweezers (of course, found them afterward) and my good angled hemostat was broken (UGH).

But I persevered!

Counter top: cash register from; glass jar filled with candies from Belara Beach; glass Christmas tree from a Christmas tree in Cape Breton, NS
Inside back: the lace angels (middle one by Linda Austin from Spruce Grove, AB; a small green Christmas tree flanked by two vases from John Parker of Swallowhill Dolls (painted with red nail polish and decorated with Christmas fingernail decals; a Father Christmas painted by a former club member
Inside front: Janice Crawley dish; two pair of Christmas slippers by Cheryl H. of NS and two Christmas stocking by Judy Mitchell of St. Albert
I had another Janice Crawley Christmas dish that didn't fit inside the counter so put it on top along with a purchased gift box lined with crumpled paper.

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Then I pulled an unfinished stool from my stash, painted the legs gloss white and the seat with red nail polish.
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Let's face it, the shop takes credit and bank cards so you have to have card reader! So I found a great straight-on picture of one online, copied and resized it. Made two copies in case I fouled one up and glued them to a small scrap of 1/8" basswood then cut around one with my X-Acto knife then sanded the wood smooth. At the bottom I cut down the section where you enter the card. Then I took a black marker and 'painted' all the wood. (Didn't get pictures of all that but from the picture below they wouldn't have been that good anyway.)

And here's the overview with the card reader in place by the cash register.

The plastic case containing the rolls of wrapping paper to the left of the back shelving.
Got the chains shortened on the stained glass hangings. Had to switch them to fit properly.

The final pictures of the right hand side of the roombox.

The white wire rack on the far left was filled by Judy Mitchell of St. Albert AB. The table and all its contents were made by Bev Potter-Marien of Edmonton AB as was the incredible Christmas tree. They were both from our MEE Christmas gift exchange.  The afghan was bought at Bonnie's Estate Sale and the two petit point cushions were a Christmas gift from my friend and neighbour, Barb R. (They are more visible in the picture below.

Pretty much finished. (Have two more small additions in mind.)

Because it's so incredibly difficult to get good pictures of this due to the mirror on the back wall, my next thing will be to go through all the pictures and post them on my fotki site so you can get a good look at the separate sections that come together to make the entire piece. That will take a while but I'll let you know when it's done.

Poor photography aside, you really need to see this in person to get the full effect of it.

Just as a matter of interest, I looked at my fotki site and the album there showing the work on the outside of the glass and the items I started making for it was dated July 2009.

A personal note here: While I'm very, very pleased how this turned out - and the fact that I figured out how to build most everything into the top itself - I don't have the sense of pride in this that I do in other pieces such as Dennis's office and the Leo Nickerson art studio in which I personally made at least 95% of the contents. And yet one of my favourite rooms is my Art Gallery for which I only 'made/adapted' one item! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

My purchases

I WILL get back to the final pictures of the Christmas shop but for now I want to show you my wonderful purchases from the incredible January sales from  Liz at Grandpa's Dollhouse

Absolutely love these four 5" x 7" shadow boxes in green, pink, cream and white:

YES!! Won one of the special deals!
"stone" bench, Chrysnton kit,
bird, wonderful dinosaur cookie jar, vase, Dustbuster, Tacos and salsa,
calla lilies, bowl, vase, pie
 The 'stone' bench will be aged and go in the Secret Garden.  Chrysnbon goes anywhere...
Beautiful vase that will go almost anywhere...
My other purchases:
Top: I bought two wall sconces and two lovely table lamps:
Bottom: I bought these small LED lights to (hopefully) finish the Music Room and the Attic)
Not too sure exactly where these pieces will go:

Corner sink - think it might go in the "Lady's Bedroom". Beautiful Reutter glasses - will see...

The dollhouse kit boxes will end up somewhere. All the vegetables will go in the fridge.
I didn't really need the wrenches but they are so incredibly lifelike that I actually tried to adjust them!!!