Thursday, April 20, 2017

Oh No!! Say it ain't so!!!

Short post for today - because I just can't face it!

The view out my dining room this morning.

'Nuff said! I'm going to go bury my head until spring actually arrives!!!! TTFN!! - Marilyn

Thursday, April 13, 2017

First things first...

... I forgot to post my Wednesday Weather Watch pictures yesterday but...good news!! - It's officially spring for me! No snow left on the deck at all and only pockets left on the neighbours' yards. Okay - there's still snow in the pool but I wasn't planning on swimming anyway. *smile*

So, now that I'm doing my happy spring dance (it's not pretty but it makes me feel really good!), I thought I would go back and show you some pictures from the 2017 Montreal Miniatures Show and Sale. Please forgive the quality of the pictures - the exhibit room was very brightly lit and almost all of the pieces suffered from the glare of the lights against the windows of the room boxes. Hopefully you can see them well enough to get a feel for their projects, at least.

I was quite surprised to find that, this year, their club project was quite similar to our club project - shallow room boxes with shop fronts. Just like our club project, each one is finished very differently, reflecting the artist's individual style.

Shirley McBain used her club project to display some lovely china ladies - beautiful figurines all ready for a night of dancing!

Eleanor Dutton's formal dress shop, titled "Ella", showcases three fine examples is the front window. One can imagine the rest of the dress shop is hidden behind the semi-sheer curtain covering the whole back wall.

Erica Lapiste's project is near and dear to my heart! "The Shoe Box" really speaks to my love of - well - shoes!!! (and purses too!). I love the painted brick walls, the raised platform with the shoes, and all the little "glass" shelves with more shoes and purses. I also really like the way she made her door. It looks just like one you would find on this style shop.

I so wish this next picture didn't have so much glare off the glass because it is truly priceless! It really made me smile. In case you can't read the sign on this box, Inge Cossette named her piece "The Bachelor". I love the old fellow standing in his socks and underwear, ironing his pants, surrounded by the traces of his bachelor life. So much fun!

Caroline de Repentigny and Fernand Rondeau used the club project to produce a row of three shops.

I got better views of the first two shops in this row but, unfortunately, the third one turned out way too fuzzy to really see anything.

The welcome mat is out at Yvette Reid's "Treasures of the Sea". Don't you love those little yellow rain slickers, the coral, and the little model ships? It makes me think of my home province - Prince Edward Island. (Although I have been in New Brunswick for over 50 years now and do love it as well!).

Michelle Castonguay has tried to think of everything anyone could want to decorate their homes for Christmas. I love to see a shop with lots of things to look at!

A customer is happily trying on hats in Suzanne Wiseman's "Jolie Coquette", while the little puppy waits patiently on the sidewalk. He may be waiting a while -- there's lots of hats in there!

The window of Florence Dafter's "Bridal Boutique" is showing some beautiful dresses for the bride and her attendants. The pretty blue walls create a very calm atmosphere - just what a stressed-out bride needs!

Last for tonight, but certainly not least, Jeanette Ottaway has two shops on display. First,"The Mad Hatter". Bet you can't guess what kind of shop this is!?!

The second one by Jeanette made me smile. It's a great shop but I really loved its name. If any of you out there are fans of Coronation Street, the long-running British soap opera, you probably recognize the name, as did I, of the lingerie factory on this show. Jeanette's "Under World" has some lovely lingerie and accessories showcased. Don't you love it?

Well, thus ends this long post for today. Tomorrow I want to show you some more pictures from this exhibit. In addition to the club projects, and many other pieces on display, there was a varied collection of projects which all had a common denominator - which I will reveal to you tomorrow. Now, I'm going to pay closer attention to the hockey game, then go to bed. Go Leafs, go!!! TTFN! - Marilyn

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Talented F.A.M.E. Members

We had our monthly F.A.M.E. meeting tonight and had a few of our finished projects on display. Hopefully we'll have them all on display together at the Moncton Show next month but - you lucky readers - you're going to get a little preview right here!

First up, we have Sharon B.'s beautiful piece titled "Blue on Blue". Sharon has been collecting blue and white ceramic and pottery pieces for several years. She has certainly shown them to great advantage with her Group Project.

My favourite piece is the large blue and orange piece on the table just to the inside of the door.

A view of the items on the top shelf.

I also really love the blue and white plates on the wall...and the blue tile floor...and the blue wallpaper. It may be a lot of blue but it goes together perfectly!

Sharon used jumbo craft sticks to make her own siding. I think they look great and will think of doing this myself next time I need siding for a project.

For those of you who also follow Marijke H.'s blog, Pulchinella's Cellar, you have seen the progress of her beautiful Group Project, titled: "Floriana". She brought her completed project to share tonight and we all oohed and ahed at the skill demonstrated in all of her beautiful plants, flowers and accessories.

A view through the open door:

What a beautiful display window - all decked out for spring. Marijke has the whole display tacked down to a single piece that forms the window shelf. This way she can remove the whole spring display and replace it with a new display for every season. What a fabulous idea! I'm going to steal that idea too! I'm such a thief!

This is a good view of the pots of succulents on the etagere just inside the door. Marijke made the plants from offcuts of scrapbooking card, coloured with colouring pencils to get the different shades of the plant. She also made all the pots. Great display.

Here's an overall view of the back wall - and also the shelf that runs over the whole display. I love all the little touches like the birdhouses, the wind chimes, the hanging plants, the watering cans....this is a flower shop I would visit every day if I could!

Louise McS.'s project, "Lynda's Fabric Shop", was made as a present for a favourite aunt who is a gifted quilter. This is one of the best uses of a "perspective photo" I have seen in a long while. It certainly looks like this little quilt shop is way deeper than it actually is.

Look how the shelving unit in the room box blends right in with the rows and rows of shelves in the perspective photo. Doesn't it work wonderfully?

The black and white tile floor in the room box blends into the one in the picture. What a great effect.

Of course, for any of you who have come to know Louise through this blog, you would recognize that this is her room box, simply because of the sign on the side.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Louise has never met a flamingo she doesn't like - and want to take home with her!

Speaking of which - yes, I am still working on the sleigh bed I am making for Louise's tropical getaway for Mr. and Mrs. Claus. The bed is made and painted. Now I have to make the bedding. So, I decided it had to feature flamingos somewhere. Unable to find a fabric with flamingos that were small enough for minis, I decided to try to make it myself. I took my ironing board out on my deck because it's a good height to work on and because I didn't want to be spraying glue indoors. Then I laid out a strip of parchment paper to protect the top of the ironing board, and placed two sheets of printer paper, side by side, on top of the parchment paper. I then used a can of spray adhesive on the printer paper, let it try for five minutes, then smoothed my chosen 100% cotton fabric onto the paper which, by now, was nice and tacky. I left this whole thing to dry for an hour or two while I prepared the document on my computer.

I searched for flamingo prints and found a wallpaper sample for real houses. Of course, the picture only showed a small square so I copied this into my PowerPoint program, made the background colour transparent so all you could see were the flamingos, not the blue background, then I copied this one square over several times on the page, making sure to overlap the squares so they lined up properly with the repeat of the pattern.

Once this was done I then went back to the fabric pieces and cut them out to the size of the computer paper they were glued to. I put one sheet of this fabric/paper into my printer. I set my printer to best quality and selected high-quality photo paper with no border, hit "print" and held my breath! It went through just fine! Alas, once printed, I thought the first try was just a little too small so I put the second sheet in the printer, went back to my program and enlarged the flamingo print, and the three cushion prints I was also printing, and hit print again. This time I was satisfied with the result - right size, colour is good - works for me! Here you can see the final product on top of the first try. You can really notice it with the cushion covers - the resize really makes a big difference for them! (Click on the picture if you want to see a larger version).

If you want to try this method yourself you MUST have an ink-jet printer, not a laser-jet printer. The ink-jet literally "shoots" the colour into the fabric. Tomorrow I think I will iron these pieces from the back and then the front to hopefully heat set the colour a little more.

Then, of course, I will get Louise's bed finished. Honest!!!! I will have it finished!!! For which of her birthday's I'm not really sure.....right now - I'm going to bed! TTFN! - Marilyn

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Difference a Week Makes

Last week, in my extreme desire for spring to arrive, I took pictures of my back deck and out my front window so I could measure the progress by the amount of snow melt. Well, I wish it could have been more but, I am seeing a little more of the deck floor and the neighbours' yards are showing grass around the edges. I guess that's the most I can hope for this week.

We're supposed to get a couple of days of rain, then the temperatures are rising this week so I'm very hopeful for the progress before next week's Weather Watch!

Louise and I were in Montreal this past weekend to take in the MEM show and sale. Besides spending lots of time at the vendor booths and visiting the exhibition room, we were lucky enough to visit with Giac, (English Manor Dollhouse) and view the incredible piece of art that is his massive dollhouse. His talent is unbelievable!!! To really understand the artistry this house exemplifies, you MUST go to Giac's site where you can get a close-up view of each room and witness the transformation. I took one long-range picture but still only managed to fit in 2/3rds of the building.

Giac was also so kind to give Louise and me a mini tutorial (no pun intended) on using paint to produce an extremely realistic-looking wood finish. Here, Louise is trying her hand at producing it. It looks really good - even better in person.

We also talked with him about marble faux finishes. When we went to check out the beautiful finishes in his dollhouse, he showed us a little table he had faux finished with a green marble top. Doesn't it look fabulous?

For those of you who also follow our friend, Marijke's, blog: Pulchinella's Cellar, you would have seen that she made a beautiful, formal floral centrepiece as a commission. Well, the commission was for Louise and me because we wanted to bring Giac a little "thank you" gift that would be suitable for a building as elegant as his dollhouse. Giac loved the piece and is trying it out in his front hall (click on the picture to get a larger view). He may move it around from room to room before he decides exactly where it looks best but, for now, I think it looks beautiful right where it is.

After a wonderful couple of hours spent with Giac, and his husband Jo, it was time for us to leave and head back to New Brunswick - but not without big hugs all around!!! (Louise is adamant that Giac gives the BEST hugs ever!! - I think she's right)

Of course, I consider myself the lucky one because I got hugs from both Jo and Giac at the same time! What a pair of wonderful young men! Their parents must be so proud of them.

Alas - we couldn't stay any longer but we know we'll be back!! Something to look forward to, for sure!

I'm heading away for a few days but, God willing, I will try to post a few pictures from the Montreal exhibit room over the next couple of days then before you know it, I'll be back to mini work of my own!! TTFN! - Marilyn

Thursday, March 30, 2017

I'm nothing if not cheap....

... or, in more polite terms, I'm frugal. So, I followed up on an email on the Canada's Minis Yahoo Group that told about a new product that Dollarama is carrying: LED mini strip lighting attached to a battery pack that holds 3 AA batteries. For $3.00 you get a full metre (39") of strip lighting. This is the kind that you can actually cut shorter lengths - as long as you cut across the middle of a set of 4 copper connectors. You would then need to be able to solder a new set of wires to the piece that has been cut off - but many of us do this anyway.

I found them in our local Dollarama yesterday, about half way down the craft aisle, and I bought 3 packages. I didn't want to be too greedy so I left several packages for others to take advantage of.

Here is what the packaging looks like:

So here's my other experience this week. I wanted to try my hand at making more flowers. I really enjoy it every time Marijke H. and I get together and she teaches me how to make a new flower type. Did I mention I have the BEST mini friends!?! Anyway - I was out shopping and decided to stop in at Staples - a large, international, business supply store, to pick up a variety of different coloured sheets of paper that would be appropriate for flowers. I went to the printing section and asked if I could buy two sheets of paper in every colour they have there. The clerk said no, they couldn't sell them that way. I had already explained what I was going to do with them - use them to make miniature flowers. She told me I could buy the different colours in packages on their shelves. I explained again that a single piece of paper would be enought to make dozens of flowers and I couldn't see buying 10 or 12 full packages of paper in order to get all the colours. She apologized and said, that's what I would have to do. So, then I said, okay - how about I pay you to photocopy a blank page onto each of the coloured pages. Again, she said no, if I paid for photocopying, she would actually have to copy something onto the paper. Why??? I have no idea!!

So, needless to say, I left there and drove to Covey's, a stationer/business supply store that is locally owned and operated and has been here for as long as I can remember. I went to their print section and repeated my request. The clerk there said absolutely! She then proceeded to go to the print shelves and pulled out two pages of each of 10 colours. The 20 pages cost me, with tax, 69 cents!!! Lesson learned - - deal with your locally owned and operated businesses first! The big international stores just don't care!

Okay - enough ranting for one day. So, I worked at the Irish Room today so didn't have a lot of time for minis but, I did put the second runner on the sleigh bed, installed twisted trim around the head board and foot board, and put on two coats of gesso.

Next will come the actual painting, then it'll be time to make the bedding. I promise, Louise, you will get your birthday present soon - it won't be any more than a month late!

Tomorrow, Louise and I are off to Montreal for the Miniature Show and Sale - whoopee - went to the bank for some cash, checked to make sure I have my credit cards packed - - I'm ready to go!!! The next time you hear from me it will be with news from Montreal. TTFN!! - Marilyn

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday Weather Watch

Okay - it's official - I am completely fed up with winter when it's supposed to be spring. While I am incredibly happy to be living just outside of Fredericton, New Brunswick, where the worst of any weather patterns seem to pass us by more often than not, and I am sorry for people in the other Atlantic provinces who are continuing to get pummeled, I am, nonetheless, more than ready for spring! It is, after all, officially 9 days into it. It's time it started acting it's age!

So - knowing how quickly things can change in our neck of the woods,I have decided to occupy myself by tracking the changes once a week until spring finally well and truly shows up. Here are two pictures - one taken from our patio doors out to the back deck, and the next taken out our front window up the road.

As you can see - this weather sucks!!!!!

I'll post two more pictures next Wednesday just to compare, then the next Wednesday, and so on.

Now, on the miniature front - things are looking a little better there! The sleigh bed I am making for Louise's birthday gift - yes, she knows it's coming - once her birthday had come and gone I thought I'd better show her what I was working on so she wouldn't think I had actually forgotten her special day.

The last time you saw it, I had the foot board curved around a marker to try to set the shape properly while the glue dried. It worked! Once I took the tape off and repaired the places where the tape had pulled off some bits of paper, I cut and glued on 1/4" strips as trim around the edges of the bed. That turned out quite well but I still have to apply a trim to cover the edges of the paper layers on the head board and the foot board.

The next step was to make the sleigh runners that would take the place of regular legs for the bed. I toyed with a few different ideas, including making them from wire, or having someone cut them from wood with a laser cutter. In the end, I cut Bristol board (poster board?) into 1/4" strips, glued two strips together for the thickness I wanted, then started to work with the strip before it dried too much. I drew the shapes I wanted on graph paper, using a heavy line from a black marker. Then I placed wax paper over top of this so I could still see the lines but wouldn't inadvertently glue the runner to the paper pattern if there was some glue seeping out the sides of the doubled strip. I started with the long, main part of the runner then started to fill it in with the smaller curlicues.

Here is the beginning of it:

This seemed to work fairly well so I continued on, trying to make sure I kept the space even between the bottom of the bed and the bottom of the runner. Okay - I may not have been entirely successful with that part but I think it's fairly even. Once all the curlicues were in place, I cut off the extra length on the bottom runner and left it to try for a few days.

So - tomorrow I will be flipping the pattern over to get a mirror image, and start on the second runner. Once that is done I only have to add the extra finishing trim I mentioned above, apply a few decorative elements, gesso the whole thing, paint the runners and trim with metallic paint, paint the body of the bed with a pearlized paint, amd make the bedding - 2 Euro pillows, two bed pillows, sheets, comforter..... That's all!!! Don't worry Louise - I promise you'll have it before your next birthday!!! But, if so, I'd better get back to work! TTFN! - Marilyn

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Club Projects moving along

I'm afraid I haven't been doing too much with minis lately. I missed our club meeting this month because I was out of commission for three days with a very bad back, then eased my way upright again - taking another 3 or 4 days to do that. However, I have the very best of mini friends! Marijke took pictures of the progress on our group projects so, thanks to her generosity I thought I would share them with you today.

First, we have Liz's "in progress" room box. Liz is the newest member of our group and, before making the crazy decision to join up with us, had never done miniatures like this before. Many years ago Liz made porcelain dolls, in a couple of different scales, so was, at least, familiar with the miniatures hobby. In this, her first project, she has painted the outside a beautiful shade of dark green with cream trim. She has plans for her floor and, of course, how she is going to bring in the elements of a dress shop, which is what her project will end up as.

Krista has been collecting miniatures for years - all kinds of miniatures, in a variety of different scales. She wasn't familiar with the "scale" concept but knew what she liked. And when she found something she liked, she picked it up before it was gone! As a result, she has an amazing collection of beautifully wrought little things - from brass pieces to ceramic pieces, to wooden pieces, to musical instruments...and on, and on. Since joining our group, she has learned a tremendous amount about scale and also is learning a variety of techniques through several small projects that eventually led to this, her first room box she has built herself, with advice and assistance from the rest of us, especially Garry, who is so generous with his time and experience.

Krista's project is, for all intents and purposes, finished although, if she's like the rest of us, she'll probably keep making changes and adding things. Her project is, quite obviously, a sign shop. I love how she has included a bin of scrap wood around the side of her shop. I think she's done a great job on this, her first build.

Lynn's project started out as a science lab. A couple of posts ago I showed you some of her wonderful glass pieces she was putting in it. However, she decided that such a great collection of science equipment really needed a larger space to create a complete scene around it so, her project has become a Christmas shop. She repainted the structure, both outside and inside, and has started to look at the furnishing and decorating of the inside. This will make a wonderful decorative piece to display at Christmas each year - or to keep out all year as a conversation piece. Lynn has been making miniatures for several years and has so many great ideas - I know this room will end up packed full of really beautiful things for Christmas.

Next we have Louise's quilt shop. She is making this as a gift for her aunt who is a phenomenal quilter and has been so good to Louise and her husband. It's still a work in progress but is coming along really well. Don't you love the picture she chose for the back wall that makes it look like the room is actually way deeper than it actually is? I also really like how well she matched up the black and white tile floor n the picture with the same tile look in the actual room box. It just adds to the illusion of depth. She still has some finishing touches, including the sign over the window, but its easy to see how beautiful this will be when completed.

Next, we have Garry's project. As I mentioned before, Garry is a very experienced miniaturist and his work is amazing. With this project, he expanded the box to make it deeper and made a few other little changes to bring his vision of an Old West bath house to life. He did a fantastic job. I see, since the last pictures I showed you of this one, he has completed the attached outhouse - and it looks like it's a two-holer!
When working on this, he contacted the rest of us looking for some miniature corn cobs - just the cobs - with no corn on them. He said that "back in the day" some people used them in their outhouses. They used the cobs from regular white (yellow) corn and those from red ones. Apparently one used a red one for the first - well - "swipe", I guess, then the white one to make sure everything was, well -- do I really have to explain this???? I had never heard of it before, even though I was very familiar with outhouses in my young years. However, it didn't take me any time to understand what he was trying to tell me about the use of corn cobs. So - moving right along, here is what hs project looks like from the oustide now:

Marijke is really coming along with her shabby chic flower shop. I'm not going to put any pictures here because you really should go to her blog to see how it has progressed. It is going to be really beautiful. I can hardly wait to see it completely overflowing with her incredible flowers. I love watching her work on her flowers. I have to say, I have seen miniature flowers made by many different artisans and I can't say I have seen any that are better than Marijke's. There may be some out there but I haven't found them yet! Anyway - to follow the progress on her flower shop, please visit her blog: Pulchinella's Cellar.

So - that's probably enough for tonight. Now that I am mobile again I will have to actually work on my own club project room box so I can add some pictures of it to my posts. Soon - I promise -- soon! But, for now, I'm going to finish watching the hockey game(s) and go to bed. TTFN! - Marilyn