Wednesday, 14 July 2021

A little of this, a little of that...

 I didn't have a lot of time for minis this week but I do have a few things to show you.  First, I mentioned in my last post that I had made a few whistles for my SIL, Jean,  who was knitting a life guard teddy bear for a client but I didn't get a picture of the finished whistles before I mailed them out. Well, Jean sent me a picture once the whistles arrived.  She has made many of these 18" bears in a variety of occupations or other special circumstances like graduates, etc.  Here is her life guard with one of the little whistles.

I also have some good news on the shepherd's hut front - the little lamb now has little eyes and a nose and...da ta da!!....his mommy showed up!

Michaels had a sale of sports memorabilia display cases so I bought one for a football and placed the shepherd's hut project in it.  That should keep the dust off and it has a mirror for the back wall so you can see both front and back clearly.  

Moving on, Marijke and I had  mini day through skype today.  Louise was not able to join us.  I decided to tackle those two exterior lights I had told Louise I would make for her Art Deco art gallery she is making. I mentioned what I needed to Liz at Grandpas Dollhouse and she was able to come up with a couple of suitable globes.  I also purchased some jewellery findings I thought would work.  I had a couple of brackets in my "stash".  Here are the pieces I started with, along with the inspiration picture of the lights she fell in love with.  Unfortunately, with taxes they would have cost over $300 for a pair, hence the decision to try to make a version of them for much, much less!  We didn't need them to be exact - just needed them to capture that "art deco" vibe.

First, I poured some watered-down paint into the little globes and swished it around to coat the inside for an opaque finish.  I set these upside down on some paper towel to allow the extra to drain out while I painted the brackets and the jewellery findings black.  When they were dry I painted them with a clear sealer then when dry again, glued the smaller jewellery findings to the top of the larger ones.  I then cut short lengths of the pearl beading and glued them around the globes to provide interest and to fill in the space between the jewellery findings and the globes. I painted the beads with the same colour I had used to coat the inside of the globes.  Once dry, I also used the sealer on the beads which had the added advantage of filling in the little spaces between the beads.  Perfect!

To get the aged, bronzed look of the metal in the inspiration photo, I used metallic gold paint, wiping some off the brush onto paper towel so the paint would go on with a very light hand.  I think they turned out quite well.

I actually could have finished these lights except....I couldn't find the little LED bulbs I planned on putting inside.  I think they are on my craft table downstairs which currently is hidden under about a foot of "stuff" that is set on top of them.  *sigh*  That may be my next project - cleaning up my craft room again!

So, with the brackets, I think they will probably have the art deco look we are going for.  Perhaps I will have finished pictures to show next week if I can find the darn lights.

I hope you all have a wonderful week and are able to fit some time in on your minis as well.  Big hugs to all!!  TTFN!!!! - Marilyn

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Absence makes the heart grow fonder!

At least that's how the saying goes, isn't it??  I hope so because, at the rate I have been posting this summer, you guys must really love me by now!!!  I do notice that several of us "regulars" have been a bit sporadic in our postings lately and I know that I still love all you guys anyway so I guess all is well!

I have been allowing myself to get distracted by other things - non-mini things - so have been a little lax but, it really doesn't bother me because with summer breaking out and Covid restrictions being loosened up, I am quite happy to get out of my house and do other things.  I will probably continue to wear my mask for a few months though, even when they say we don't have to.  I would like to wait and see what happens in the first month or two before I become comfortable leaving my mask in the car.  Fingers crossed we all stay healthy and can really get back to normal.

As for minis - I did get a request from my SIL in Prince Edward Island which I was happy to try to fulfill.  She loves to knit and has spent a lot of time in the last 18 months knitting 18 inch teddy bears for people who special ordered them.  She started with graduation bears, colour coded to the graduates' schools, of course and complete with gown and diploma.  After that came requests for front-line worker bears.  She has done so many nurse and doctor bears, including scrubs and face masks.  She has gotten requests for various sports - hockey player bears, etc.  The latest request was for a life guard bear.  She wanted to accessorize the bear with a whistle to put around the lifeguard's neck but couldn't find any small ones.

So, I started with the smallest size of round "woodsies", traced around the circle unto a scrap piece of Bristol board, and made the shape of a whistle.  I cut out six outlines and glued each one to a woodsie, then I glued two pieces together for the basic shape.

Now, at this stage, I am sure you have already spied my first mistake.  I have 5 of the 6 pieces all facing the same way instead of 3 one way, and the other three as mirror images.  On to the next step - pulling 2 of the woodsies off and gluing them to the other side.  I truly am an idiot!

I am sorry to say I then got focussed on making these whistles and didn't take any more pictures.  After gluing them together in pairs, it left a gap of 5 mm.  I cut a strip of bristol board that width and wrapped in from the bottom front, around the circle and part way to the top front.  I then left a gap and glued a small strip from the space I left to the front of the whistle.  That left gap which represented the hole at the top of the whistle where the air comes through to make sound.  Of course, these whistles do not really work but the hole is there to make them look like they could.  I also wrapped the little strip to half cover the end opening at the front so the hole at that end would be narrower.  Before I wrapped the 5mm strip, I took small pieces of wire, bent them in half around a toothpick and splayed out the ends so I could glue them onto the end of the woodsies to make something to hang the whistles on a cord.  When I was wrapping the 5mm strip around, when I reached where the metal hanger was, I cut little slits in the strip and it fit right over the hanger, which I had put on lengthways, not crossways.

Once all of this was done, I painted the three little whistles with a metallic silver paint, packaged them up when they were dry, and shipped them to my SIL.  I am so sorry I did not take any more pictures of the process and I hope you can understand my description of how I made them.

So, on to other things.  In my last post, I was just beginning to tackle the landscaping for my shepherd's hut.  I started by gluing down the pieces that form the rock walls and began to cover them with tiny rocks I got from the crushed rock that forms the base of our above-ground swimming pool.

I liked the look of having some of the rock "tumble" unto the ground in front of the wall.  Oh - I also used a facecloth glued over the base and pounced on, with a fairly dry brush, 3 colours of green, some brown and some gold.

I bought a variety of landscaping material from the model railway section of our local Michaels store and, after the walls were finished, tried my hand at landscaping.  For my first try at landscaping in 1:48 scale, I am satisfied with the results but, of course, hope to do better the next time.  Here are some pics of the end result:

You'll see I found a teeny lamb in my stash which I placed by the bush at the corner of the hut.  I really need to add some little details to the lamb so it is not just a little white "blob".  And I probably should try my hand at making a teeny mommy sheep to keep this little one company.

So there we have it - one project finished.  Although, between you and I, we all know that none of our projects are truly finished because we will go back every so often and say - "Hey, maybe I should add this, change that, ......"  But, for now, I will mark it as finished (details on the little lamb to make him look a little less plastic-y, and a mommy for him will come at some point, I am sure).

So, I hope you are all enjoying the little extra bit of freedom we are starting to have and that we all have a great summer!  I will try not to let 3 weeks go by without posting again but....I had better not make any promises.  *insert sheepish grin here*.  

As for Bruce's contribution to this week's post:

Continue to stay safe and healthy everyone!  TTFN!! - Marilyn

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Shepherd's hut coming along

 I had a rather slow week this week but I did make a little progress on my little shepherd's hut.  But first, I want to show you my lovely vase of peonies.  My DH and I have been gardening for about 45 years and it was only a few years ago when I finally learned the secret of having beautiful cut peony blooms in the house without the danger of having a house full of ants!

I learned that you need to cut the flowers BEFORE they open.  When they are still in tight little balls, but with the colour of the petals showing at the end of the bud, it is easy to swipe away the few ants on the flower at this point.  Then, when you have removed the ants which are clearly visible (no place for them to hide since the buds are still quite tightly closed), you put the blossoms into a vase with lukewarm water (I actually slit the bottom 1" or so of stem to allow for better water absorption), and wait for the beauty to unfold.  It only takes 24 to 48 hours for them to be in full bloom.  Here is my vase just after I cut the buds:

They were fully opened 48 hours later and here are a couple of pictures of them another 2 days after.  I am so enjoying my peonies now that I can have some in the house too!

Now on to the shepherd's hut.  Last week I showed you the way I finished the interior.  With the limited time I had this week I worked on the exterior.  I cut 1/4 inch strips of Bristol board and applied it as siding around all four sides, including using some as trims where the siding met at each corner.  I used a watered-down black paint lightly on the "siding", then dry brushed with grey and a creamy colour called "putty" to make the siding look weathered and aged.  Then I painted and glued on the undercarriage, tow bar, and the axles and wheels.  I did find my wire cutters made a perfect support as the peaked roof fit in between the handles so I could keep the hut upside down for a couple of days to make sure the glue on the wheels was well cured.  I was happy with the end result.

I got busy with other things and didn't return to it for a couple of days but, when I did, I started on the roof.  I had already painted the inside of it and installed the small roof trusses.  I found a small-scale corrugated cardboard piece in my stash and cut it to fit the two roof pieces.  I was going to use a small round dowel as a "ridge piece" but my DH suggested I use another piece of "corrugated metal" instead.  I actually quite liked the look it gave. 

 Once the glue dried on that I again used the runny black paint, followed by dry brushing of "Quaker Grey", then Metallic Silver, then Burnt Umber.  I ended by painting a few places with Leprechaun Green" to look like bits of moss was starting to grow.  I followed that up with placing some glue in some of the green painted spots and sprinkling on some fine green landscaping material to show actual moss.  Again - I am happy with how it turned out.

So, that leaves the hut itself almost finished.  I just have to glue on the steps which I will do when I have the landscaping done so I can get them to fit properly.

As you can see I am trying out positions of the hut and the walls on the landscaping platform to see how I want to position it.  So, next week's post should have the landscaping, and the whole project. completed.  If I were a more dedicated miniaturist it would not have taken me a month to finish this wonderful, tiny little project.  

In closing, I would be remiss if I didn't provide you with Bruce's latest contribution to my blog - another crazy cat lady commentary on the wonderful creatures that are cats!

Have a good week everyone and keep safe!  TTFN!!! - Marilyn

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Back in the saddle again!

 First I want to thank you all for the best wishes and words of encouragement when I was very much under the weather.  I'm so glad to say I have gotten over the hump and am getting things back to normal.  

Now I would like to show you a little more of the wonderful gift Louise made for my birthday last month.  My new little baby, made by Aleeta Kent from Alberta at Louise's request, has a name!  His name is Pakak.  This is a northern indigenous (Alaskan, Inuit, Eskimo) word which, loosely translated, means "one who gets into everything".  With that cute little face, he just looks like an adorable little imp so it does seem to fit.

Here are some better pictures of the sled itself.  Louise did an amazing job and I will treasure this forever.

This picture below shows the lacing on the side of the sled and the real leather padded seat and back cushion Louise made.  

She included so many details including the textured foot pads on the back of the runners where the sled driver would stand while holding on to the rounded handle at the back.  Isn't it amazing?

I'm such a lucky lady!  Another gift I received was a gift certificate from my son and his family to my friend Liz's miniatures business, Grandpa's Dollhouse.  Using the certificate I ordered two prep tables for future projects I have in mind, plus a few small pieces of jewellery findings which I hope will work for making a couple of 1:24 art deco-style outdoor lights for a project Louise is working on.  I sent Liz a picture of the inspiration we are using for these lights and Liz was able to come up with a couple of globes which should work perfectly.  I think I may have shown you the inspiration picture before but here it is again:

I know I will never be able to get the lamps to look just like this example but it is the art deco feeling we will be going for, not exact replicas.  Here are the tables I purchased from Liz as well as the findings and the globes we will be using for the lamps.  Wish us luck!

The last thing I wanted to show you today is some of the progress on my 1:48 shepherd's hut kit I purchased from Petite Properties.  This has been a lot of fun to put together so far and I look forward to moving ahead with it.  A couple of posts ago I showed you the pieces of the kit as well as the little wall cabinet I had put together from another tiny kit I had purchased at the same time.  I started by cutting very narrow strips of Bristol board, applying them to the floor and painting them with a watered-down burnt umber paint which I immediately wiped off to make it look stained and aged.

 Then I painted and aged the pieces for the inside of the hut as I figured it would be much easier to do this before I put it together.

Next I painted and aged the lamb box that also serves as a crude bed platform inside the hut and started to put the whole thing together.  And look what I found in my "stash"!  After all, the shepherd needs more places to sit inside then just the bed, right?

I was also able to use the little wall cabinet I had made.  It fit perfectly just to the right of the little shelf that came with the kit.  The tiny wood stove on the opposite wall also came with the kit.  I'm loving how this little gem is turning out.

Now I will be moving on to the outside of the hut before I tackle the landscaping of the base for the whole little scene.

I really am enjoying this little scale.  I think everyone should give it a try at least once.  You might be surprised with how easy it really is to do, despite how small it is.

I leave you this week with another of my DH's kitty contributions - because we all need a chuckle now and then,  Until next week, take care and stay safe!  TTFN! - Marilyn

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

I've been missing - not in action!

 It's been a few weeks since I have been able to post, or even to check out all of your wonderful blogs.  At first it was because of other commitments.  The person who I was finally able to pass over the editorship of the Irish Association's newsmagazine, after 10 years of doing it myself, was unfortunately unable to continue with it after putting out three issues.  She still works full time, has two college students living and studying at home, and is taking courses herself towards her Professional Project Management certification so I do understand.  The main problem was that I got it back at the beginning of May and had a print scheduled for May 24th and only 3 articles and a couple of reports that came along with it.  It was then a scramble to find enough material to fill the 48 pages, do the setup and quality control and get it to the printer on time.  So - that kept me away from anything that was not focussed on that work.  Then, a few days before the May 24th deadline, I started to feel ill.  By the day before I was very ill.  By the time I sent it to the printer the next day I was deathly ill.  For 4 days I was completely down and out.  I still didn't eat a thing for another couple of days after that.  I was surviving on Gatorade to try to keep my electrolytes up.  I am still trying to recover.  I find I'm a little weak and not my best when I get up in the morning but by noon I am actually feeling pretty good.  That lasts for a few hours then I have to go for a nap.  Then I'm good for another couple of hours, then things go downhill in the evening and I am forced to go to bed pretty early some nights.  Every day is a little better so I hope I will be 100% soon.

I am so looking forward to going online and catching up with all of your wonderful blogs but please forgive me as it may take a while.

But, in the middle of all this - while I was working hard on the newsmagazine but before I got sick, I had a birthday.  I had a wonderful day because my work kept getting interrupted.  Yay!!!

First, my sister arrived with a lovely birthday card to start my day.  Then, a little later, my dear friend, Louise, arrived with this wonderful birthday present which will find a home in one of my North Pole projects:

Isn't it absolutely perfect?  Don't forget you can click on a picture to enlarge it.  Louise had a friend of ours from Alberta, Aleeta K., who makes wonderful dogs, cats, and other animals, not to mention luggage, and other leather goods, to make the husky dog for her.  Then Louise built the sleigh herself based on a picture of a real life one she saw online.  She cut up an old cashmere scarf and used her printer on it to get the stripes of the Hudson's Bay blanket.  Then she wrapped all those tiny packages.  What an incredibly thoughtful and beautiful gift!  Thank you so much Louise (and Aleeta too, of course!)

Here are some more pics:

After being back to work on the newsmagazine for a little while after Louise's visit, my daughter arrived with a gift from her, my grandson and son-in-law.  I had hinted that I was running out of my favourite dish cloths - her hand-knitted ones, so she brought me 4 new ones which she had sewn together to hide yet another present - something else I had wanted for a long time:

I love these dish cloths.  I don't think I will ever go back to store bought ones.  And that little iron?  It is going to come in very useful when making clothes for the elves.

Well, my apologies, I had wanted to show you the inside of the tiny shepherd's hut because I did get the inside done before everything got on top of me.  Unfortunately I am starting to feel quite bad again, given the time of day and must cut this short for today and get to bed.  I will be back regularly on Tuesday nights I hope because, surely, I will be getting a bit stronger every day.  Next posting I will show the little hut, and also a few things I received in my recent order from my friend, Liz, at Grandpa's Dollhouse.  And, God willing - progress on the landscaping for the Post Office.  Until then, please stay safe and healthy and keep mini-ing! - TTFN - Marilyn