Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Quilty Pleasures - Take II

Now that my sister has her gift (her birthday was on the 17th) it's time to reveal the building in its entirety.

At the beginning of the last post I showed you the building "in the raw". I cut the pieces from 1/4" MDF, which is what I use for most of my buildings, and used Quick Grip to glue it together. You saw the wood floor in the last post and the "leprechaun green" I painted the interior walls. I used a textured brick paper for the exterior. I was struggling over what to use as decorative brackets around the roof line when my DH suggested he had some leftover life size baseboard molding. He sliced off the top, flat part of the molding, then sliced 1/4" slices for the long brackets. He then made the smaller brackets from 1/4" slices from just the very end of the trim. I think they look great and will be using these type of brackets again in the future, for sure.

I still had to install the "windows" and trim them out, as well as a decorative trim around the top of the roof line and along the bottom of the window frame. I decided on a 3-layer trim of dentil molding, 1/4" stock lumber and small quarter round, painting them in Wedgewood green and Burnt cherry. I was more than satisfied with how they turned out. Here you can also see the detail of those brackets my dear hubbie, Bruce, made for me.

I glued the plastic pieces onto the window frames then painted some mini baseboard in Wedgewood green to trim them. In this picture you see I have painted and installed the front and back doors as well.

I added the dentil molding combo to the bottom of the window too. Here you can see all of the window molding - - and the fact that I was starting to try out furniture inside the store.

So, I guess its time to show it all together! First, I do want to point out the street signs on the front and side of the building. Quilty Pleasures is located on the corner of C.V. Gay Blvd. and E. Martin Lane. Those happen to be the names of our late parents and I thought my sister would appreciate her gift even more with this little addition.

I made the sign using MSPowerpoint. I used a font called "Algerian" and made sure the text box was set at "no fill" so that I could place another box behind the words. I did a search for quilting stitch patterns and decided on this one which I set as a green colour and placed it behind the text box in PowerPoint. When I had it the size I wanted I printed it out, mounted it onto a piece of wood, coated it with mod podge and framed it with a burnt cherry colour wood.

So, do you feel like shopping? Come on in! As you enter you can see the cutting table, complete with a measuring tape attached to the table and, behind this, you'll find cubbies with a variety of colours of yarn for those who might like to knit, crochet, or maybe use the yarn for a simple tied quilt.

An overview of the shop let's you take everything in at once. I see the shop owner has left her bag hanging on the hook on the back door. She is also obviously a plant lover. There are orchids, a caladium and several green plants dotted around the shop. See if you can spot them all as you walk through.

On the cutting table someone has left two nicely coordinated fabrics, ready to be cut. There is a small cutting mat sitting on the corner (and another one on one of the shelves behind in case a customer is looking to buy one). Under the cutting table there is quilt batting, lining, and wool batting on large rolls, readily available for the local quilters.

There are quilt books on the window seat and a few more in the shelves of the cabinets. Speaking of the window seat, the wood grain look on the seat and up the walls of the window bump out, is actually strips cut from the sample cards for formica counter tops that you find at your local building supply store. The cards are quite large, about 3 or 4 inches by approximately 8", which gives lots of possible uses! I also want to point out that I found online, a variety of posters for what apparently used to be an annual quilt show in the USA called the "Sisters' Outdoor Quilt Show". How perfect is that for a gift for my sister?!? I put one on the front of the cash table and two others above the fabric bolt cabinet.

Finally, these are the last few pictures I took before delivering it to my sister on her birthday. There are spools of crochet cotton in the wall shelf and a box of ribbons, a quilt for sale, and a couple of decorative pots. More than half of the fabric bolts were made using fabric from my sister, so every time she looks at them she can remember each quilt she has made with those fabrics. I'm happy to say, she seemed really thrilled with it.

Thus ends the saga of Quilty Pleasures - happily delivered to its "forever home".

But - talking about a saga - remember Dorothy's Corner?? I still had to finish the hydrangea tree for the back of the garden before I could call it complete. Well, my mini friends and I have been meeting through Skype on Wednesday and Friday afternoons to work on our minis together (virtually). I made the decision that on Fridays I would only work on something from previous projects I have not yet completed. We've dubbed it "Finish Friday". I have been working on the tree on Fridays and on whatever my current project is on any other day of the week I want. I have finally gotten all of the buds covered in tiny little white blossoms.

Each of the 29 buds required between 80 and 90 tiny flowers that each had to be shaped before applying. That was a lot of Fridays!! In the end, the hydrangea tree I was going for is a peegee hydrangea called Pink Diamond. So I then made a very watery mixture using a craft acrylic paint in "old rose". By making it really thin I was able to basically touch my brush to the wide end of the blossom and let it seep into the rest of it. I think it looks way more realistic than if I had used a solid pink paper to cut the teeny flowers. You can see the details better in this picture, and any of the others, if you click on the picture to enlarge it.

Now I just have to add the leaves. I think it will take only 8 leaves per branch instead of the 80 or 90 tiny blossoms so it will take far fewer Fridays to actually finish this! Thank heavens for small mercies!

To close, I wanted to leave you with this picture of Dorothy's Corner. It is sitting on a corner of a cabinet and, when my husband was trimming the rhododendron earlier this season, he took one of the branches and placed it in water to see what would happen. The buds were still tightly closed and showed no colour at all. A week later it was in full bloom and hanging over Dorothy's Garden. No way I can duplicate that!

Until my next post a week from today, keep safe, keep healthy, and keep on mini-ing! TTFN!! - Marilyn D.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Quilty Pleasures

To start my post this evening, I have to take a moment to show you our first blooms of the season: my pjm rhododendron is in full bloom. If you walk towards it you clearly hear the sound of hundreds of plump honey bees feasting.

When these blooms start to fade, our lilacs will just be coming into bloom. They will be followed by the peonies which will be followed by everything else - white coneflower, delphinium, pink tickseed, deep purple campanula,and whatever annuals we can get our hands on including the geraniums (pelargoniums) we overwintered in our basement windows. So much to look forward to!!

As for my mini work, on May 4th, I decided I should do something special for my sister's birthday that was coming up on the 17th. Not that it was a special birthday, just because she's a special sister (although at our ages, every birthday should be celebrated!). She has always been interested in my fascination with miniatures, though not enough to try any herself. Instead, her creative outlet is quilting - and she does some truly amazing work. So, to celebrate both her birthday and her talent, I wanted to make her a quilt shop - and I had just under 2 weeks to complete it!

Now, I want to say right up front, this is not an original design of mine. Several years ago I fell in love with a shop made by Casey Rice of Casey's Minis. She called her little shop "The Rusty Needle" and you can find it by looking through her list of labels. Casey was kind enough to share with me the basic dimensions of the box itself so I figured out windows, doors, etc. from there and, from 1/4" MDF, cut out two kits that I could use to make whatever kind of shop I wanted. Did I mention I cut those out in 2016?? Bottom line - I had a room box kit cut out and ready to go which was a big help.

I don't have pictures of the pieces but I glued together the front, back and 2 sides using Quick Grip glue then set the box on the floor and traced around the inside so I could determine where the inside floor would be. It should be noted that mine is a mirror image of Casey's - not for any creative reason, but simply because I'm lazy. The door I had for the front was hinged on the wrong side and I was too lazy to take it apart and re-hinge it. Hence the mirror image. *smile*

Then I painted the inside walls "leprechaun green" and I used Popsicle sticks and tongue depressors for the floor. I quite liked the pattern of two rows of Popsicle sticks, one of tongue depressors. The narrow and wide planks together turned out well. I sanded them, stained them and put on three coats of matte-finish urethane. The picture below is before the coats of urethane.

At this point I will temporarily step away from the building itself and talk about all the things I needed to put in a quilt shop. First - furniture. I found these three pieces in my stash. The large piece will be used for fabric bolts. I took out the bottom centre shelf because I wanted some bolts to stand upright and the shelves were too close together. Then I found an old Michael's hutch that had two doors in its upper portion - which I removed. This would hold a finished quilt and whatever else I could come up with. I also had an old House of Miniatures kit for a bookshelf that was meant to sit on top of a drop-down desk. Here it will be hung on the wall to hold crochet thread, ribbons, and who-knows-whats.

Now, I needed a table to hold the cash register. I was just about to make one when I spotted this buffet and hutch in my furniture stash.

I can't remember where I picked up this piece but I never used it because it always seemed a little "clunky" to me. I think it was the mullions in the doors that threw me off for the most part. They seemed way too thick to be in this size door. So, if I cut the top off, and sanded and sanded and sanded the top of the bottom half to remove the glue, I could stain its top and use it for the cash table.

So now I had all the furniture painted with a few coats of white. Oh yes, I also found a small table to which I added braces between the legs and glued in a bottom shelf. And you can just see the top of a little white pressed-back chair sitting in the middle. I also gathered up already made bolts of fabric - some I bought, some were made for me by my friend Louise, and a stack of fabric scraps I had wheedled out of my sister without her knowing exactly what I wanted them for. I cut 3/4" wide strips of mat board which I then painted white on the coloured side, and cut into 2" lengths for the bolts. Then I was off to the races.

In the tall buffet cabinet I folded up a "quilt" - actually a piece of pre-quilted fabric in a tiny floral pattern, a couple of cushions, two bolts of patterned flannelette suitable for a nursery quilt, a collection of sewing patterns and a couple of quilting books.

Speaking of quilting books - here are the 8 book covers I made, then used mat board to wrap them around to look like books.

Here's a picture of the smaller wall cabinet, mostly filled. In the top shelf is an actual mini quilt, folded. I made the balls of crochet cotton by wrapping 3 strands of embroidery floss around pony beads. I also made a wall holder for DMC floss. Agghhhhh - I don't know that I will ever make skeins of floss again!!

Here is my first try at floss skeins. I used a couple of posts in my wire-bending jig. Nu-uh!! DID NOT WORK FOR ME!! After several failed attempts I put two layers of black foamboard together and stuck two tapestry needles 1/2" apart. I taped down one end of the floss, wrapped around the needles 7 or 8 times, slid little pieces of paper underneath and wrapped it around and glued before cutting off the ends of the floss. I started getting a little better with the last two I made but I can't see me making a career of it!! It was truly one of the hardest teeny things I've ever worked on.

I will save a look at the other furniture pieces until my next post which will show the progression of the quilt shop itself. I hope you like the progress so far. TTFN!! - Marilyn

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A couple of spring projects

I know I've been absent for several weeks but I haven't been completely idle. First of all, thank you to all of you bloggers who aren't as negligent as I am - I have been enjoying reading your posts, for sure.

First, for those of you who aren't aware, after the Montreal show had to be cancelled ( I am SO disappointed!) I had a few emails back and forth between myself and Bev Lunn and Michèle Castonguay of the Montreal Club. I mentioned that one of the things I was going to miss the most because of the forced cancellation was the exhibits from their club members. As a result - we all get to see them. Michèle has provided a "virtual exhibit room" on the website for the Miniature Enthusiasts of Montreal where we can get all get a chance to see examples of the fabulous work done by many of their members. Be sure to pay a visit - such great projects and so inspirational.

So, I have spent my "isolation time" trolling through other people's blogs like Elizabeth's at Studio E, Jodi's at My Miniature Madness, Marijke's at Pulchinella's Cellar...okay, too many to mention you all individually but I just want to say, thank you for the joy and inspiration you have all provided with your posts. Incredible work is being done by very talented people.

As for me, the 15th of March was my friend, Louise's birthday. She had mentioned a few times that she would like to try making miniature wicker furniture. So - I gave her a kit for her birthday and one for myself. Then, with the covid-19 isolation rules, we set a date and time for a Skype call and worked on our chairs together. We both really miss our regular Wednesday mini meeting times but this virtual option was way better than nothing! Here is the chair I was working on.

I used this kit from Barbara Richmond:

It came with a pre-drilled base and pre-cut wires as well as waxed linen thread for weaving. Some kits have larger wire for the 4 corners and smaller for the ones between. This one required you to use 4 wires together in each corner then the single ones for the in between ones. It's important to note that the holes on the corners are, of course, larger and that the back and two sides are drilled all the way through while the holes for the front are drilled partly into the bottom - not all the way through.

I followed instructions to a "T" - not one of my usual strong points as we all know but I thought it might be important for my first wicker project. Turns out I was right. *smile*

I started by weaving the upper level first, regular weaving to start then followed a different pattern for a few rows for a decorative accent. At that point the wires on the sides were to be bent to almost a 90 degree angle, gradually straightening toward the back, and the weaving continued.

When I finished enough rows for the upper part of the chair, I followed the instructions for the lower section, matching the decorative section under the seat as well. To finish off the legs, I added a few wraps to the bottom which were not mentioned in the instructions. Any wicker furniture I have ever owned always had a little "bulbous" wrap to end the legs so I took the liberty of mimicking them. I then cut off the extra wire and made a braid to go around the upper and lower edges to hide the wires and make a more finished look. I made a double braid to go around the edge of the wooden seat.

Now, the kit came with a fabric, already pre-cut for the seat cushion. However, it was a flowery blue which just wasn't my style. I dug out an old silk tie that my husband had thrown away (I have no idea how it could have ended up in my fabric stash) *grin*. It had a dark blue background but had all these really neat squares and rectangles with really attractive designs on them.

Much better! The original blue fabric is next to the finished chair. I really like how it turned out in the end and, with such easy instructions I can see myself doing more wicker furniture in the future. It was really fun.

So, speaking of fun, I was also thinking about a real-life spring arrangement I had seen online and decided I wanted to try to make a mini one. I didn't have any real measurements so just used my usual "fly by the seat of my pants" technique. I cut two ends, a bottom and two sides for the container. I first folded a piece of paper in half to draw out the shape for the ends because I wanted to make sure they were symmetrical and the same size.

Then I put the container together and used some "dirty water" to make it look a little aged. Using a really cheap white facecloth (the thinner, the better), I covered a medium sized bead with glue and stretched a small piece of the terrycloth from the facecloth around the bead. I took a small bit of cotton batten and rolled it with a little glue to form a tiny white puffy ball and glued it to the covered bead. Then I cut two tiny shapes from thin white felt and put three pink dots for toe pads and one for the main foot pad on each little felt foot and glued the little feet on either side of the little bunny butt.

I put a small amount of floral foam in the bottom of the container, glued in the bunny butt and tiny bits and bobs of floral material and Easter eggs I had lying around. I just adore how it turned out. I think I'll make more of these because they are just so cute! I know, I know, we're not supposed to use the word "cute" to describe our minis but hey, I calls 'em how I sees 'em!!!

Here are my two little projects together. I am happy with both of them.

But, if you'd like to see something bigger...I actually have accomplished something else you might be interested in. Of course, you will have to wait a few days for my next post to see! In the meantime - stay safe, stay healthy, work on minis!! TTFN - Marilyn

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Keeping busy in these strange times

I hope everyone is keeping safe and well while we try to weather this health scare together - while still remaining separate.

Luckily my DH and I returned from Ireland just before all this broke loose on a global scale. We have remained healthy and are limiting activities outside our home. My DH is doing any shopping needed - but then he usually did anyway so that's not such a big change. It's the almost emptiness of the grocery stores that is so surreal.

In the meantime come all of the cancellations. While I didn't mind having my dental appointments cancelled, I was disappointed to have my haircut cancelled as the length of my hair is really starting to bug me. Cancelling our St. Patrick Week festivities was one notch up on the disappointment scale but, the biggest disappointment?? - the cancellation of the Montreal Miniature Show! I so look forward to this show every year. Even though it is an 8 hour drive each way for me and my friend Louise, it's a weekend of pure joy when we hit the sales and exhibit floors.

The members of the Miniature Enthusiasts of Montreal do such incredible work. I love spending hours looking at all of the projects they have on display. Also, the ability to shop at so many different vendors is such a treat for us since the closest miniature store to us is a seven hour drive in the opposite direction (Freedom Miniatures in Kentville). Luckily the owner, Shelley, has a great website so I can still purchase anything I need between her shop and my other favourite - Grandpa's Dollhouse.

I know I have lots of mini tasks that need to be done but, rather than actually making minis, the last several days have been spent trying to sort and organize my craft room. Even though my craft room is all about minis, the task itself is Herculean! The good news is, while I'm mourning the loss of this year's Montreal Miniature show, I came across some of my favourite purchases from past shows. Once of my favourite vendors at the Montreal show is Janice Crawley. Here are some of the things I have bought from her in the last couple of years:

A teapot and two vases in the Jasperware style:

Here are the two vases next to a life-size one I own. The life-size vase is not terribly large as you can see by the Sharpie pen behind it. That gives you a sense of how tiny the two vases from Janice are. Beautifully done!

Here is a gold tea set with a rose design which is much prettier in person. I love it!

Next is a casserole dish in what I think looks like a Belleek-type finish, and a set of pottery beer mugs.

I love these Santa pieces and I'm sure they'll end up in one of my Christmas-themed projects in the not-so-distant future.

Next, I have two of Janice's china figurines. The one on the left looks very like the full-size Royal Doulton dolls my mother used to own. On the right,the porcelain-dipped lace skirt reminds me of the lovely Dresden pieces of my mother. The little china bird in front is a mass-produced piece from one of the other Montreal vendors. I just thought is was so cute.

The last two pieces of Janice's that I am showing you today are so beautiful. Take a close look at the jug on the right. The top of the jug and handle are actually a lovely swan. Janice then used blue on the body of the jug right under the swan to indicate water, with green leaves of water plants below. How gorgeous is that?

I have a few more pieces of Janice's that I haven't come across yet in my craft room clean up but I know they're in there somewhere! Janice - I sure hope you will be at the 2021 show in Montreal! I will have my wallet full and ready to be emptied!!

One vendor I only saw once at the Montreal show was silversmith Greg Matusovsky. His work, as was his father's before him, is beyond words. I was lucky enough to purchase this pair of candlesticks from him a couple of years ago. I would so love to buy more but the website on the business card I got from him does not seem to be active anymore. I hope he is still making as his work is exquisite,

So, after several hours of sorting and rearranging things in my workroom, I decided it was time to quit. Okay, I was greatly encouraged to quit when the two trays of small wooden letters I had set at the edge of my table were knocked off and went everywhere!

I didn't take a picture of the disaster on the floor - I decided to shut the lights off, close the door, and go back to it tomorrow. *sigh* The good news is that I will be sure to find many exciting pieces of eye candy that I totally forgot I had. With that in mind - I will actually look forward to tomorrow's work - even if it means starting off by picking up a couple of hundred little wooden letters and sorting them alphabetically again. Take care everyone and be sure to stay active and safe. TTFN - Marilyn