Friday, February 21, 2020

Time to put my big girl panties on....

...and finish what I started!!!

And, oh, that list is long. With the limited time I have to work on minis, and the fact that I am so easily distracted, I took the time this week to step back and come up with a plan, which should last at least as long as it takes before another squirrel runs into my sight-line or a butterfly flits past me. But, I promise - I will try.

I am desperately wanting to start work on my "North Pole Postal Service" project that I have been thinking of for a few years now but I have made a decision - I cannot start a new project until I clear up the many I have partially completed. Whenever I start a new project I go full tilt for a short while then something else take my attention and I'm off. This has got to stop!

So - I am going to work my way backwards and finish some things. But, of course, I know I will need to take short detours throughout so I can keep my enthusiasm up.

I will be concentrating on two of my old projects for the time being and insert some little real-life inspired minis in between. The two last projects I had started and not finished are up first:

Dorothy's Corner: Hopefully you remember this little project from last spring. I named it Dorothy's Corner after the poet, Dorothy Frances Gurney, whose poem "God's Garden" is the source of the lines seen on many garden signs and plaques "...One is nearer God's heart in a garden, than any place else on earth..." I even placed a copy of her poem on the arm of the garden chair and the famous lines in a wall plaque above the bird bath.

Well, here it still sits, almost fully complete. Almost is the operative word here. So, to finish this project here is what I will be reporting progress on until it is done:

1. fill the bottom of the hanging basket with moss so the fern isn't "floating" in the basket (easy peasey)

2. paint the handle of the faucet a brighter colour so it doesn't blend into the wall (super easy peasey)
3. add water to the bucket and water and birds to the bird bath (takes a little longer because I will have to make the birds, paint the birds; mix the resin for the water, wipe up the spilled know how it goes)

4. FINISH the d**n hydrangea tree!!! Honestly, I don't mind doing it, it just takes so long for each flower head, then I will have to paint the flower heads, cut and glue on all the leaves, "plant" it in place.. (not so easy peasey - okay, easy but time consuming) Here is the spot where the tree will go and below that is the tree in place with more than half of the flower heads done (the pink cones are the base to which I am gluing 70 to 80 tiny white flower cut outs for each bud).

I will let you know how it goes.

The second project I have chosen to concentrate on is the "kitchen n a cupboard" from last year's Camp Mini Ha Ha. I have lots to do to finish that one before Camp rolls around again in September. I have the main body done (in the picture below it doesn't show the decorative stained top and bottom of the cabinet). I have 2 coats of paint on the cupboards for the inside but I now think I will remove the bottom right cupboard and the slider next to it and replace them with a little stove and cook top. I am planning on putting the cupboard on a base and turning the whole little scene into a shop that makes and sells honey products. In keeping with the honeybee theme, I am toying with what I will name it. I had thought perhaps I would call it "The Honey Pot" but my mini friends loudly nixed that idea - I wonder why???? So - maybe "The Bees' Knees"??? Anyone got any ideas??

For this project then, I have to:

1. finish the honeycomb floor (easy peasey - only the edges left to make)
2. remove the cupboard and build in a stove instead (getting harder)
3. Install all cupboards
4. finish running wiring for the lights in the cupboards
5. install counter top and backsplash
6. install faucets
7. Make all of the honey products that the shop will be selling
8. make shelves and accessories

Okay, a much longer list with this one but I am determined! Again, I will keep you updated.

And finally, to keep my mini spirits up - I am pining for spring in this frozen tundra known as the Atlantic coast of Canada so I have been looking at all kinds of spring decor items (real life size) to decorate my real house with. I may just pick one from time to time and miniaturize it to make me feel closer to the day when the warm spring air starts flowing again.

Until next Friday - when I will be posting from the Southern coast of Ireland - have a great week! TTFN! - Marilyn

Friday, February 14, 2020

It's been how long?????

I cannot possibly believe I haven't made an entry since last June!!!! Yes, that's when I had my knee replacement done so took some time away from most of my computer stuff and, truth be told, also from most of my mini activities as well!

Well, I haven't been completely idle during that time period. I admit - there's been nothing terribly exciting going on with my minis but, for what it's worth, here's a glimpse of the few little things I did work on. I checked back through my not-so-consistent postings to see what I have and have not posted in the past. First, a few things I made for gift items:

I don't think I've shown you this one yet - here is my inspiration photo for reference:

I saw the above photo in a Christmas decorating magazine and I fell in love with it. If you have followed this blog at all, you will know that I love all things Christmas so, for a gift for a friend, I copied this and put a Christmas spin on it. Here is my version:

It was so easy to make and I still love the design so I imagine I will make one for myself at some point in the future.

On a completely different note, I have mentioned my friend Louise in postings before and her obsession with all things flamingo. Well, many years before Louise and I met, my husband and I found a cartoon in the newspaper that we just loved. We cut it out and, for decades, kept it posted on the side of our refrigerator. I always thought I would love to replicate the picture in cross stitch. I had never gotten around to it but, with Louise's birthday coming near I decided to combine my love of that cartoon with her love of flamingos and our joint love of miniatures. Here is the cartoon that we kept for so many years:

I stitched the back picture in black and tried to emulate the foreground. At first I was concerned that Louise might think I was being very rude by giving her a picture with a roasted flamingo but, thankfully, she thought it was hilarious and really loved it:

For "Gifties" last fall for Camp Mini Ha Ha, I made market stalls. They were rather large for Gifties, but I hope those who won them make good use of them. I made them from 1/4" MDF. I scored all the pieces at 1/2" intervals to make them look more like boards than solid walls.

I glued the back to the floor, and the sides to the back and the floor with Quick Grip glue. I find it works very well on MDF. I made faux doors for the market stalls using two pieces of Bristol board (I think some people call it poster board?) Once these were ready, I painted the structure, the door pieces (2 for each stall - one for outside, one for inside) and the remaining pieces black on both sides (except the floor which I stained brown on the top side only, and the faux door pieces which I only painted on one side each). Then I dry brushed over the black with a different colour, including the doors with a colour different from the bodies of the stalls. Once these had all dried overnight, I dry brushed everything with an off-white colour to age everything further. Once these were well dried, I glued in two shelves to the long back wall for holding market stall merchandise. Then I attached the upper and lower front walls, the counter and the canopy. I drilled holes in the front underside corners of the canopy and the inside corners of the counter in order to better connect the canopy poles. Here they are lined up and ready to go.

For the hinges and door handles on the doors, I used black Bristol board cut to shape, painted black again so they would be a little sturdier, and glued them in place (hinges and handle on the outside door, handle only on the inside). I played with a few ideas for the roof, realizing that, once covered, the interior could be quite dark. I ended up using a very thin wood, cutting out a rectangle in the middle where a "skylight" would be placed, and used strips of thin wood to make the roof look like metal. I painted them black, then silver, then dry brushed them with a rusty-brown colour to make them look -- well -- like rusted metal, of course!

At the time my hubbie cut out the pieces for these market stalls, I also asked him to cut out enough for 5 additional kits. Out little mini group will get together at some point in the future to do a group project with these market stalls with each of us using a different theme. It should be a fun project. The stalls go together very quickly. The most fun will be filling them up with all kinds of tiny things. As usual, I have two or three ideas in mind for my own so perhaps I can settle on one before we start building them.

Okay - what else???? Hmmm.... well, at Camp this past September, the actual project we all started working on was a kitchen in a cabinet design (from a plan that Connie Sauve generously shared with us). I'll talk more about that one in upcoming posts.

So, coming around to Christmas again, our little group got together for a Christmas potluck and gift exchange. I used an idea I had seen online and thought was really cute. If I remember correctly, the one I saw online was not a Christmas theme but the idea can be adapted to any theme really. I started with one of those little metal boxes with a see-through top you can pick up at Dollarama when they have their Christmas stuff out. I think they're meant to fill with cookies or chocolates or the like for small Christmas gifts. The trick here is to pick up solid colour boxes if you want to use them for something other than a winter/Christmas scene. I also picked up a string of those tiny battery-operated lights they carry. Back at home, I cut a small square hole in the bottom corner of the box bottom and wrapped the edges with masking tape in case there were sharp edges. Then I carefully fed the string of lights through this hole to the inside of the box and taped the battery box to the back of the box on the outside. The covers of these boxes are held on with a ridge of metal that pushes out from the body of the box to hold the cover securely. What that means is that there is a "channel" on the inside of the box in order to form that ridge. You can then use this channel to put your lights in the box. For the size of the box I used, I think the light set wrapped around the channel about 2 and a half times. I applied scotch tape to hold down the wires and secure the lights in the channel. Then I took a winter scene I found on line, printed it from my computer, and cut it to fit the back and curve around the sides of the box so the whole scene would be snowy (and also hide the wire from the light string). I glued down a small piece of fibrefill to the "floor" of the container to look like snow. Then I headed to my stash to see what I could fit in. I added two small evergreen trees, a little snowman, a bright red mailbox and a small park bench. Once all were securely glued in place, I dusted the scene, the mailbox and the park bench with some fine white glitter, after brushing the area with glue. All in all, a very easy project that, I think, turned out really nice. We had a wee bit of fun with a "Chinese Auction" drawing for gift choices then stealing them from other people - always a laugh.

Here is the box with the lights off (my apologies - you can see my hand and camera in this picture with the lights off), then with them turned on:

My friend, Louise, actually ended up with this box, took it home, and immediately added a flamingo to it! I have to be honest, I had actually thought about adding a snow flamingo to it instead of, or in addition to, the snowman that I used but, not knowing who would end up with it, I decided not to. I shoulda figured!!!!!

I ended up with this beautiful centrepiece made by my good friend, Marijke H. I just love her work! You may have seen it under construction on her blog "Pulchinella's Cellar". She does such amazing floral pieces! I know I will use this in a White Christmas room box in the future.

So, more about Christmas stuff!! My good friend, Louise, and I always exchange Christmas and birthday gifts. Louise has a couple of big, longer-term projects she has in various stages. In the "dreaming and planning" stage she has in mind a replica of her family's ancestral home in Ireland and in her preliminary stages is a rather large doll house she bought last year at the Moncton miniature show. So, I decided to make something that could be used in either project.

Yes, I cheated and started with a couple of House of Miniatures kits I had in my stash. After sanding well and putting them together, I painted the dressing table green and the mirror gold then started dressing up the table. I painted a round woodsie gold and added a rim of perforated ribbon, also painted gold, then made all the perfume and lotion bottles from unique beads I had on hand. I had a thick cotton trim which was exactly the width of the table so worked well as a dresser scarf. Then I printed off some letters, a picture and a postcard from a file I downloaded from Everafter Miniatures on Etsy. I left an open letter on the table, put the other letters in one of the drawers, stuck the picture into the mirror frame and slid the postcard between "bottles" on the tray. I also made a little stool to go with the dressing table but really didn't like the way it looked so, after Christmas, I used the instruction for Kris Compass's Parson's chair to replace it. The chair looks much better with the dressing table.

And here it is with the slipper chair (a.k.a. Parson's chair) - much better!

One of the projects I have in mind for the future is a very detailed "Santa's Workshop" room box. Knowing that, here are all the wonderful little things Louise gave me for Christmas. I love them and they will look so great on the shelves in that workshop, for sure! Please take a moment to click on the picture to enlarge it so you can see all of the items: a large basket of baseballs and baseball bats, sleds, little carts with building blocks, animal pull toys, xylophones, abacuses, hammers and peg boards, small Santa dolls, soccer blls, nutcrackers --- wow, what a lot of work she put into these tiny things! I love them! Thank you so much, Louise.

I would like to take a moment to assure you that no animals were injured during the process of this particular photo shoot - although one nuisance feline did try to push the boundaries of my patience!! She continues to rely on her cuteness to give her a free pass in life.

So, until next week I will leave everyone with one message: for all my gal friends out there in the blogosphere - Happy Galentine's Day!! For all my guy friends - Happy Guyentine's??? Somehow that just doesn't work - but you know the message is there, right? Big hugs all. TTFN - Marilyn

Monday, June 17, 2019

Something new and something old...

What's new??? My knee, of course! This will be a short post as it is still uncomfortable to sit at this computer for very long but I wanted to catch you up. So - let me ask you, does anyone think I may have gone a little overboard with my obsession with miniatures when I keep staring at the honeycomb dressing and asking myself if there's anything I could use it for????

Creepy, huh?

Overall, for all of you who are contemplating having a knee replacement, or are waiting for the call and are very nervous about it - I am here to tell you this is nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be. To be honest with you, except for right after my exercises, or when I totally overdo things (as I have a habit of doing), I am in no more pain during this recovery than I had been for the 2 or 3 years leading up to the surgery. Now I'm pumped to get the other one done!!! Guess I need to fully recuperate from this one first. *sigh*

What's old?? My old dusty, dirty, rusty bird cage, of course. I'm not able to do a lot right now but it certainly doesn't stop me from giving directions to my DH and getting him to get started on it. Speaking of my DH - since I got home on Friday he has been wearing T-shirts he has gathered over time with "VOLUNTEER" printed in large letters across the back. Coincidence?? I doubt it!

Anyway - today I asked him if he could cut out the section of vertical bars I wanted to remove. My plan was to take out all the bars in the front of the cage with the exception of the ones immediately to the left and right of the corner posts, leaving the front of the cage wide open. However the more I looked at it, the more I liked the arch in the original door for the cage. So, I had my DH turn the cage around, take out the bars at the back, making it the new front, and remove the cage door. The archway now is part of the back wall. I thought it would make a nice focal point.

Using my small metal files, I filed down any sharp edges from the bars that were cut and I'm ready to go.

I know it's a little hard to see because the side bars kind of meld into the back bars in the pictures but you should get the idea.

I have definitely decided to use the little arch in the top portion for a little stained glass. Here is the inspiration for what I will be trying to replicate in those little half-circles:

Things are really coming together in my head now but I need to get DH to pick up some spray metal primer and a tester pot of the paint I want before I can do much more. Sorry for such small posts but, until recovery is complete, I can't do a lot of work at a time. I am enjoying the planning phase though!!!

Thanks for all of your best wishes. Yes, I will be better very soon - I'm a tough old bird! TTFN!!! - Marilyn

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Breaking the 10th Commandment yet again!!!!!

I try, God, I really try! But I just can't seem to help myself! I'm really pretty good with all of the other commandments but that one about coveting??? When there are so many beautiful mini works of art out there? I'm sorry to say, I covet. I covet big time. I'm so bad but remember - I am a work in progress!

Part of my 12-step-plan to overcome my tendency to covet is, when I find something I really love and would love to have for my very own, make one myself!! They do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so it can't be all bad, can it?

So, putting Dorothy's garden behind me, I know I have so many unfinished projects that I could now take up and get to work on but I found a picture on Pinterest that I really love:

Isn't it pretty!!!??? I like pretty! As I mentioned, I found this picture on Pinterest but, unfortunately I can't seem to find it again. I'd love to give credit to the person who made this lovely piece. If anyone knows whose it is, I can update this post to reflect that. [UPDATE: My BFF, Louise, came through for me - she found the picture on Pinterest. This inspiration piece was made by Natalia Volchkova. Thank you, Louise! Natalia: If you ever stumble across my blog - thank you so much for this beautiful piece of inspiration. Your work is amazing. - M.D.]

In the meantime, it occurred to me that I had a really old decorative birdcage out in our garage. I used to fill it with decorative items and sit it in the middle of my patio table outdoors every summer but I haven't done that for a number of years now. So - I went searching and I found it!
It's old, it's dirty, and it was filled with old artificial greenery and flowers, not to mention a substantial amount of dead bugs and spider webs. Yuch!

I cleaned all of the crap out from inside it and now the bare bones can be seen.

Now - I know it's not beautiful right now but I can really see the potential! I'm going to cut out the vertical wires across the lower part of the front, which also means the woven wicker will have to come out all the way around as well because it will just undo once I cut out a chunk of it. I'm thinking I might use hemp cord to weave through the remaining bars to replace the wicker I remove. Then, spray paint the whole thing either a white or a nice soft bluish-grey, or maybe even soft pink! - Then I'll be off to the races!

I think this could be fun! Once completed, I won't have to covet the one I saw in the picture! See, God, I am trying to come up with a self-cure for my wickedness! I hope you approve.

I'm afraid I won't get a chance to try it for a few weeks as I am getting a whole new knee on Tuesday so may be down for the count for a little while. But the thought of this little diamond in the rough will focus me to get better as quickly as I possibly can. Enjoy the sunshine everyone! TTFN! - Marilyn

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

And the winner is...... be revealed momentarily. First thing to do is to reveal the answer to the mystery - why was my project titled "Dorothy's corner? There were two small hints in the project itself:

1. on the arm of the chair is a little book titled "God's Garden" by D.F. Gurney
2. on the wall over the bird bath is a garden plaque with a stanza from the poem in this book. The stanza is seen on many a garden sign in many gardens. It is from a larger poem (see number 1 above). These lines say:

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
the song of the birds for mirth
one is nearer God's heart in a garden
than anywhere else on earth.

You can read the full poem by looking it up under the name DOROTHY Frances Gurney. That is why it is called Dorothy's Corner. Sorry I made it too difficult to solve. (insert sad face here!!) Next time I run a contest I will go easier on you, I promise!

Now, since no one guessed the answer to the mystery, the name drawn randomly will actually win 2 hostas, 2 dwarf astilbes, a copy of the little book in Dorothy's Corner, "God's Garden", a garden lantern, and a glass of refreshing water with lemon (or you could say it is gin and tonic instead!) *smile*.

And the winner is......


Congratulations, Carrie. Please use my email address under my profile to mail me your snail mail address so I can get your prizes to you. And thank you to everyone who takes the time to encourage myself and other bloggers each time you leave a comment on our blog posts. Love ya all!!
TTFN!! - Marilyn

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Winner to be announced tomorrow morning

Thank you to all who left comments on my "Dorothy's Corner" project. It was a fun, quick little project that fed my need for something sunny and spring-like after a long, terrible winter.

Unfortunately, I was much too subtle with the hints of why it was called "Dorothy's Corner" so no one correctly guessed the answer. Right after I post this entry, I will be asking my DH to draw from the names of those who did leave wonderful comments. Although having a blog is a great way to keep track of my own projects to refer to in the future, it's always encouraging to know that by sharing my successes and failures, techniques and crazy ideas, I may actually be helping someone else with their own projects as well. I know I learn so much by reading everyone else's blog posts. I only hope I can add to the hints and tips.

So, I'm off to draw a name and will post the winner tomorrow morning, along with revealing the mystery of why it is called "Dorothy's Corner". Have a great evening. TTFN! - Marilyn

Monday, May 13, 2019

Dorothy closing in on the finish line

Okay - our little contest ends tomorrow and Dorothy's Corner is not actually finished. *sigh* This is becoming the story of my life! However, it is finished enough for you to imagine what it will look like when it is done, and also to take another stab at guessing why it's called "Dorothy's Corner. I will tell you up front that there are two hints in these pictures now that will point you in the right direction.

I have also decided that the winners of our little contest will each receive a hosta plant, an astilbe plant, a garden lantern, book of poetry, and a glass of water with lemon (or is it a gin and tonic? Hard to say.).

So on to our latest pictures:

In our last post I said I was moving on to make a climbing rose to go over the split-rail fence. For the basic frame of the climbing rose, I found some plastic plant material in my stash that had several "branches" off to the sides. The "leaves" were almost fern-like. I left the centre vein of each leaf, cut off all the feathery "leaves", and painted the whole thing brown.

Then I found a strip of leaves I had taken from a plastic topiary I had, cut off the large and medium size leaves to save for another project, then cut off the two smallest sized leaves to use on my twining rose vine. I glued these smaller leaves onto the framework I had made, in pairs that mimic the way real rose leaves grow.

Then I "planted" the rose at the base of the fence, gently bending it over the fence and pulling one small branch through to the backside before adding flowers. I figured if I glued the flowers on first, many would fall off as I was manipulating the plant itself around the fence. I did end up having to tie off the vines in a couple of places to hold it in place better. I used brown thread so it is virtually invisible.

I wanted an "old rose" variety and I found a picture of one - actually a hand stitched embroidery - hanging on the wall of my friend, Louise's house. The lovely old rose had only two layers of petals, was pink around the outside edges, white toward the centre and had a touch of yellow in the very centre. So, I used white paper and the two smaller sizes from this punch:

I shaped the two different sizes, then glued the smaller inside the slightly larger one before painting.

It was hard to make the yellow dot in the centre to be small enough. Some worked, some didn't, but overall, I think it turned out pretty good.

Then I planted the rest of the garden. Starting of the left side we have a hosta "Great Expectations on either side of the bird bath - which was made by miniature potter Jo-Ann Shaw, then there is a white miniature astilbe followed by a blue hydrangea, white carnations, a tall blue delphinium, a purple agapanthis with a clump of silver grey wormwood in front, and a pink miniature astilbe bringing up the end.

With the garden mostly planted (I'm still not finished the beautiful hydrangea tree I have planned for behind the fence), I turned my attention to the inside of the cross-section of the garage/potting shed.

Moving around the corner from the garden to the shed, we see a garden plaque hanging above the beautiful bird bath, pass by the water bucket standing on a bed of stones under a water faucet, check out the bird in the bird house, who is checking us out at the same time, and enter the working section of the garden.

Moving into the work shed, we see that Dorothy has everything she needs in a very compact corner - from the rake and shovel hanging on the end wall, to the hand tools at her fingertips above the bench. In a hanging crate she keeps some seeds, fertilizers and supplements. For those big jobs, she keeps a regular saw handy as well.

She is getting ready to re-pot one of her African violets (made by Betty Stan), and I see some soil has fallen from the overturned pot onto the floor below. Oh, oh - that's not all that has fallen. I see a broken pot peeking out from under the potting bench. And, her new bag of potting soil obviously has a hole in the bottom corner.

Moving back around the corner to the garden again, we see Dorothy's special reading corner - with her favourite book of poetry (made by me), a cool drink to quench her thirst, and her sun hat waiting to shield her from the brightest rays while she relaxes and enjoys the results of all her hard work. The chair was made in raw wood by Wayne Dieleman. Marijke suggested I hand paint a design on the chair back. Instead, I painted it cream then found a watercolour print that I really liked online, cut it into strips to fit the slats of the chair back, and used ModPodge to seal it onto the chair. Personally, I love how it looks!

Here is the garden from Dorothy's viewpoint, without the planned hydrangea tree in place.

The tree is "under construction" but it is taking me about 35 to 45 minutes to apply the tiny flowers to each flower head. Then I have to apply the leaves. When done, it will be placed behind the fence and hang over into the garden. I think it will be a real focal point. It doesn't look like much now, but I know you all can use your imagination!

Here you also get a better view of Dorothy's chair with her poetry book waiting for her return.

So, we are saying goodbye for a while to Dorothy's Corner. There will be a few final pictures when that darn hydrangea tree is finished. Don't forget, you can always click on the picture to get a larger view. Also - this is your last chance to enter the draw for the prizes I mentioned earlier. There will be one random winner chosen from anyone who has left comments on the blog since the contest was announced. Hopefully, there will be a second winner who will be the first one to correctly guess why this project is called "Dorothy's Corner". Again - there are actually a couple of hints in the project itself. Good luck! TTFN. - Marilyn