Saturday, December 31, 2016

Workshop results coming in!

I think I mentioned before that I had done a workshop for the "Artists Who Care" program at the local Arts and Learning Centre back in November. Marijke H. assisted which was very helpful. We had 10 participants in the work shop and the theme was a pioneer vignette that would utilize the pieces that Marijke had taught back in June while I was away.

Basically, the project consisted of a corner of a room, done in pioneer style. The skills taught were aging and distressing of wood for the walls, using egg cartons to create a "stone" fireplace, and using a picture to represent the perspective of an outdoor scene. All participants were close to finishing their walls and fireplace at the end of the day-long class but needed to do the final details at home. I have a few pictures to share with you from the class itself and two pictures of completed vignettes.

Here I am showing one of the prototypes before the class began. This was the outdoor option. Everyone decided they would prefer to do the indoor option to better utilize the projects they did in June with Marijke.

At the end of the day, Mary Lou W. stopped to let Marijke and I see her progress on her vignette. Her walls are almost completed here.

Subsequent to the workshop, we have received pictures of two of the vignettes that have been completed. This first one is by Jeanne C. who decided not to put a window in hers. Well, okay, truth be told there may have been a little error in cutting which kind of made the decision for her but it all worked out well in the end. She did a great job. I especially like the stonework in her fireplace. She was able to capture the colours very well. All she has left to do is decide whether to put down a wooden floor or have it resemble the dirt floors of the early pioneers.

The second finished vignette is by Beth McI. who decided on the wooden floor. She also added a little hearth to her fireplace and even has little flames showing inside. Nicely done Beth.

Leading beginner workshops is a good way to introduce newcomers to the hobby. Several members of our F.A.M.E. club will probably be providing our services for beginner workshops throughout 2017. In particular, we will be working with the local libraries and the Girl Scouts to offer occasional classes for children. We plan to get them hooked young - best way to grow this hobby and keep it alive for years to come!!!

So, it's New Year's Eve and this is the first year that I can remember that DH and I are sitting here at home instead of celebrating with friends. Everyone in our "circle" seems to have opted for a quiet night at home this year. Does that mean we're officially old now? Regardless, I hope you are all enjoying yourself, no matter how you choose to celebrate, and that you all have a wonderful 2017! TTFN!! - Marilyn D.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A very mini Christmas!!!

Who could ask for more? Family, friends, good food, and lots of it....and mini presents!!!!

On Wednesday, the 21st, I got an email from Patricia Rose Studios letting me know several of her doll molds were 35% off, including two 1/12th scale ones I had my eye on. After mentioning it to my DH, who totally supported me in ordering them, I placed the order and will be eagerly awaiting their arrival. I've never made my own dolls before but Patricia's are so beautifully detailed I have been dying to try my hand at it.

On Friday, the 23rd, my new issue of Dollhouse and Miniature Scene arrived, although I only just got a chance to sit down and read it today, it was a treat just knowing it was there waiting for me.

I had already received my major presents from DH earlier in the month when he bought me a 54" cabinet on wheels to store my minis and supplies in. These cabinets are usually purchased by men to store the tools in their garages but they contain so many very shallow drawers on easy-gliding slides that they're perfect for keeping tiny things accessible without piling them on top of each other. From Costco he also bought me a four-foot long, wall-hung "power bar" that also has two LED light sections that fold out to any angle to light up my work surface, 6 power outlets, and two USB ports so I can charge my cell phone while I work or plug in an iPod or other device for a little musical accompaniment. How great were these presents!!!! I'm so spoiled.

Then came Christmas Day! Our son and his family sent me a $100 gift card from Grandpa's Dollhouse. Yippee - I can't wait for the January Daily Deals to start! I've got my trigger finger ready to get my bids in fast before they're stolen by someone else!

Our daughter gave me an incredible gift! Each year she has watched me struggle to get my "tidbits" and "Gifties" made in time for Camp Mini Ha Ha in September so this year she purchased and downloaded some printable kits from an Etsy shop and presented me with 10 sets already made and a promise that she will complete another 26 sets before Camp. Best gift ever!!!! I'd love to show you the sets she already put together but then they wouldn't be a surprise at Camp so you won't get to see them until late September. Sorry!

Final present on the mini front - my sister and her partner joined us for Christmas dinner and presented me with two flats of spring flowers by Marijke Hurkens (Pulchinella's Cellar). You all know how I love Marijke's work. I had just purchased a flat of primroses from Marijke at the Model Railroaders Show on December 3rd. My sister came to the show and, while her partner, John, distracted me, spent time at Marijke's stall, eventually settling on a flat of lovely blue muscari and a mixed selection of crocuses. Combined with my flat of primroses, I'm beginning to envision my greenhouse project becoming an early spring scene, to be sure.

Aren't these beautiful?

All in all, it was a wonderfully mini Christmas for me. I hope it was for you as well. In closing, I leave you with a picture of our full-size "Welcome Santa" we place in our foyer each year. I am determined to make one in mini one of these days. He's one of my favourites and stands about four feet tall so makes a great focal point in the entryway.

Best wishes to all of you and your families and a healthy and prosperous 2017. TTFN! - Marilyn

Monday, December 19, 2016

Introducing the newest member of our miniature club.

I've been promising you for the last couple of days that I would show you some pictures of some really special gifts we were all given by the newest member of our F.A.M.E. club (Fredericton Area Miniature Enthusiasts).

We first met Garry Rutherford when he introduced himself to us at our October show. At that time he and his wife showed us some pictures of the buildings he has made over the years - absolutely incredible! Garry then came to our November meeting and joined our club and we are so happy to have such a talented new member. With the exception of one room box by member Marijke Hurkens, our exhibit tables at the Fredericton Model Railroaders show, the first Saturday in December, were completely taken up with room boxes from Garry. His detailed work is exquisite and the visitors to our exhibit, of which there were more than we have ever had, certainly showed their appreciation for the talent and the amount of work it took to build them. Garry's works included an old country store; A Christmas Eve scene; Grandma's attic; A back porch scene in a round cheese box; a 1980 kitchen; an 1889 kitchen; a homeless scene; and a lovely little nursery in a break-away box.
Garry, and his wife Karla, used to display his work at the Camden show but, since the show no longer takes place they were pleased to once again have an opportunity to show off some of his pieces. Our club is planning on having our May meeting at Garry's place so we can see the complete scale buildings and other miniature projects he has made. I wish I could show you pictures of all of his room boxes but, unfortunately, I didn't get any good pictures. I will bring them to you at some time in the future but, here's your treat for tonight: at our Christmas gathering last week, after we had all taken part in a "Yankee Swap", Garry surprised us all with 1/2 scale sheds he had made since our last meeting one month before. Each one was different and all were gorgeous! We were all so impressed and incredibly grateful for such generosity. Below I will show you all of the little sheds together on the stairs of our hostess's home, then I have a picture of each one individually. Garry made the sheds all from scratch, made all the fences and signs, and several of the other accessories, then finished them off with purchased items here and there.

True to his signature - every shed scene contained at least one dog. I have included a life-sized teacup in some pictures so you can have a size comparison. So - without further delay - here goes:

I hoped you enjoyed seeing these little sheds as much as we all enjoyed receiving them. We truly are blessed to be involved in a hobby which instills such a level of generosity as we see time and time again.
Garry, thank you so much from all of us. I am so proud to say I have a "Garry Rutherford original" of my very own. God bless and -- TTFN! - Marilyn

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Finished! - and it's not even Christmas yet!

Knowing my track record, I bet you thought I couldn't do it! Well, I know I thought that but hey - it's the time of year when miracles really can happen!

After I posted my entry last night I was kicking back, thinking about how to finish the bottom level of my Christmas shelf. I needed something to hang in the space to the left of the large central Santa picture, something to hang on the left-hand wall, then I also needed to finish adding accessories. On the back wall I figured I should have something with a red frame to balance off the picture on the right that has a red frame. I didn't want another Santa picture since the centre one was of Santa - - - and then it struck me! I knew exactly what I needed so headed right to work before I changed my mind. Can you tell what these are for?
If you guessed "a little red shelf", congratulations - you think just like me!!! Okay, maybe that should be condolences rather than congratulations but, I'm impressed you guessed correctly with just that one little picture to go by. So - here is the finished product. I was really pleased with how it turned out and it balanced out the picture on the other side perfectly.
Now, I just needed something for the left-hand wall. Well, as it turned out, a couple of pieces fell off my life-size rustic trees as we were setting them up and, like all miniaturists before me and all future miniaturists, I didn't throw them out. I took one, added a little garland I had and a tiny red cardinal siting of a nest. Voila - a wreath for the side wall. I think it looks pretty good alongside the little red shelf.
Turning my attention to the other accessories - I found a wonderful plateful of sweets in my stash that would look great on the table. It had the name "Adrian" marked on it so I am assuming it was a tidbit from Adrian Cooper at one of our Camp Mini Ha Ha weeks. The footed plate was made from one of those pretty little covers you can place over your mini lights to add some interest to your life-sized Christmas tree. Unfortunately, for me, it was too tall. At that height it hid most of the candelabra. I used my small mitre saw and it took less than a minute to cut it down so it sits closer to the table top.
So, now all I had to do for the lower shelf was to place the rest of my accessories - including my dishes. Yes! I found them! I glued them in place in the cabinet and on the table and added some gingerbread houses, Santa and Mrs. Claus and a couple of other little doodads. I hung a mitten stuffed with candy canes and little gifts on the right-hand chair and called the bottom level done!
Moving on to the upper level, I gathered all my materials together. Remember the large gold frame I told you was originally around the central Santa picture from the lower level? You can see how big it was next to the bottle of craft paint - way too big for a mini picture. Looking at it with fresh eyes I thought it might make a nice fireplace. I used my mini band saw to cut off the bottom of the frame, fitted a piece of dark green mat board inside the frame, a textured brick paper on the wall behind it, then stood back to assess.
So - what goes nicely next to a fireplace? A little chair, of course! I dug out a little metal chair I had purchased at the Montreal Miniatures Show last spring. It was on a table with a lot of used items - some not so gently used as others. It was painted a dark brown all over but it only cost a couple of dollars and I could see it had potential. I first painted the whole seat with a white craft paint, just to cover the dark brown, then painted over it with two coats of a nice red. I finished up by painting the trim around the bottom of the seat with a bright gold. Ready to go!
I had an old tree in bad shape in my stash. I had picked it up from the "freebie" table at Camp last year. It had no base - just a wire sticking out the bottom. It was looking pretty raggedy but I thought it could be salvaged. Today, I cut a round piece from foam core and poked a hole in the centre to take the wire end of the tree. I found some fabric with a Christmas theme in my fabric bin and cut a circle a little larger than the foam core. Using a trick I learned from Kris Compass's site, 1-inch minis by Kris, I also cut out a piece of plain Bristol board to match the foam core and poked a hole in that as well. After cutting a small hole if the centre of the fabric round, I used a glue stick to stick the fabric to the Bristol board, then used tacky glue to glue the Bristol board to the foam core. If you try to glue the fabric directly, the glue will often leak through, showing up on the front of the fabric. By gluing it to the Bristol board first with just a glue stick, this doesn't happen. I then glued a sparkly green trim around the edge of the tree skirt and glued the wire end of the tree into the new base. Then I trimmed the tree with some extra garland to spruce it up a bit. At that point, it was simply a matter of adding toys and gifts under the tree, cutting out a little throw rug for the dog to sleep on, and dressing up the fireplace with a Santa and Mrs. Claus, two stockings "hung by the chimney with care", and a little mantel clock. Unfortunately, someone forgot to wind the clock since the downstairs clock reads 10 minutes after 10 and this clock only reads 9:00. Regardless, it's obvious that Santa has already visited and that the people in this house were on the "nice" list. The pictures below show the various parts of the upper level, ending with a shot of the whole unit which is now hung on my kitchen wall.
I think I'm done with it although, all you miniaturists out there are probably a little skeptical because, after all, when do we ever know to leave well enough alone? We always seem to find something to change or add or take away. We'll see. All I know is that I can now cross off another box on my Camp Mini Ha Ha Bingo Challenge - to create a celebration-themed miniature (Christmas, Halloween, birthday, anniversary for example).

Tomorrow I will start showing you those little gifts one of our Club members made for each of us for our Christmas party this year - so well done, I know you'll just love them! TTFN! - Marilyn

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Redefining "stash"....

...because, according to the dictionary, when used as a noun, "stash" is "something put away or hidden". Somehow, in my case, that definition stops waaaay too short. It should continue on to say, "never to be seen again!" At least that seems to be my experience.

I managed to carve out some time to work on my Christmas shelf today. I attached the hangers to the back and got ready to start putting together the little vignettes I had in my mind. I already had the furniture picked out for the bottom shelf, which I showed you in the last post, and I had found a few accessories in the drawer where I keep all my Christmas minis - well, almost all. I have a set of metal cups and plates with Christmas designs on them as well as some additional pictures and serving plates somewhere in my stash. I don't know whether I spent more time gluing down the items I did have or searching for items I didn't. As a result, I still have more work to do before I can call the project "done" and hang it on the wall. However - I'll show you where I am so far - just in case I can't find everything else before the new year.

I did get the furniture into position and I glued it in place since I don't think I will be changing it anytime soon. I included the poinsettia and amaryllis I showed you in the last post. I love traditional Christmas flowers!

The other thing I feel is absolutely essential is a Nativity scene. I have a few in my life-size Christmas decorating so, of course, there has to be one in my mini scene as well. In the cabinet on the right of the "room" we have Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and three wise men on the bottom shelf of the hutch with an angel on the shelf above, guiding worshipers to the manger.

Above the cabinet, the clock is showing ten minutes after ten - less than two hours to go before Christmas morning!!! The little filigree clock is actually a wooden scarpbooking embellishment. I thought if I painted it all white it would show up nicely against the red wall. The little Christmas tree picture was one I had in -- wait for it---my stash, for a very long time.

The large Santa picture in the centre of the wall was actually in a very large gold frame - way too large to look in proportion with the room. I found another scrapbooking item - a pair of heavy metal picture frames that were also in my stash - and thought one would look perfect in that spot.

I set up the table and chairs and glued down a metal candelabra I also found - well, you know where I found it. In that same place, I also found a large nutcracker and thought he would look really cute in the scene. You can just see him in the corner, peeking out from behind the chair.

So, as you can see, I found lots of things in my stash - several of which you will see in my next post. Now I'm hoping for a little bit of Christmas magic that will help me find what I was actually looking for - my dishes!!! Hopefully that will happen tomorrow. TTFN - Marilyn

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Merry Christmas to me!!!!

I gave myself a gift today. I know, I know, there's still several days to go but I've been a very good girl (by my standards at least), and I figured I deserved it. My gift to myself was to put everything else aside and actually do some mini work today. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed it. I certainly know what my New Year's resolution is going to be!!

It all started as every day has lately - with a ton of other things to do. First, I had to get up early (those of you who know me understand what a burden that is to me!!), to go to my grandson's school Christmas recital. He's in Grade 1 at a school that has only Grades Kindergarten, 1 and 2. They're all so little!!!! Anyway - when his class had their turn, he did manage to sing along with the rest of the kids but wouldn't demean himself to actually do the actions that went along with the song. Instead he alternated between waving to his grandfather and me in the audience and mining for treasure up his nose. We were so proud! We didn't get to see him after the show so headed home to realize we had grabbed the wrong set of car keys when we left - probably because our eyes were still glued shut with from the too-early wake up. Bottom line - no house key on that set!! Lovely!!

We then called our daughter who was just leaving work to catch the second showing of Brogan's little performance (minus the nose-picking as it turned out - shame - it was one of the best rehearsed parts!). We arranged to meet her half-way to the school, got the keys, and headed home for a late breakfast.

Oh, did I mention I had to go to the dentist yesterday for a "tiny" filling. It really was small - they only detected it two days before when I was in for my twice-yearly cleaning and checkup. It showed up on the x-rays but it was actually up under the gum line. That meant they had to cut open my gums to get to it. So, late breakfast for me consisted of a bowl of cream of wheat, followed by soup for lunch and supper. It should heal quickly though so I'm sure tomorrow will be back to normal.

I then spent a couple of hours trying to get the house decorated - which is usually done by the third week of November but this year will apparently be done by the day after Christmas. Then, when I was doing some cleaning up, I noticed it - the little wooden shelf unit I bought at the silent auction this year at Camp Mini Ha Ha. No one had placed a bid on it so I bid 5 whole dollars and no one outbid me. At the time I thought, "what do I need with another shelf?" But then I reminded myself it was a fund-raiser for our Camp so, what the heck!

Picking it up and looking at it again a thought struck me - I could paint it up and use it as some sort of Christmas decoration. And I could then use it as an entry in the Camp Mini Ha Ha Bingo Challenge (more on that later). So, my darling, hard-done-by hubbie went to Canadian Tire for me and brought back a small sample-size can of bright red paint and I went to work.

Below is the picture of this little shelf as I got started painting it. I put green masking tape over the hanging pegs as I didn't want them to be painted red.

Once the painting was done, I let it dry for a couple of hours while I did some more clean up, made a chicken soup so I would have something gentle on my gums for supper, then went back at the shelf again. I used one of my favourite wood stains - Colonial American by Minwax, and went over the whole shelf unit, including the unpainted hanging pegs. It really toned down the bright red and added a nice patina to it.

The shelf unit actually had an open back to it which I wanted to be closed so, while I hunted down the paper and wood trims I had in mind for the back wall, once again my darling hubbie came to the rescue and cut out a 12" x 9 and 3/8" piece of Masonite to fit in the back.

Here's some pictures of the papers and trims I chose out of my "stash". It's hard to see but, the upper paper has a pale green background with a small window-pane check in fine white and red lines. The bottom dark green paper is textured, almost like a grass cloth. I really like the way they look together. Then I cut and painted some trims for baseboard, panel molding and crown molding.

After installing the trim I fitted the back wall into its space. I will eventually secure it better but I'm still thinking of whether or not to add lighting so am leaving my options open. I started to gather up furniture and little accessory items to complete the scene I have in mind. The last picture shows a few pieces of my old Chrysnbon furniture I had painted with a Christmassy pattern as well as my beautiful amaryllis made by Marijke Hurkens ( a poinsettia I made myself in a workshop Marijke gave last spring.

Tomorrow I'll go on the hunt through my stash for more Christmas items, dishes, pictures, etc. Then I'll glue or secure everything in place, attach a couple of hangers on the back and get it hung on the wall. I'll be sure to post pictures of the finished product as well as some pictures of some wonderful pieces that one of our club members made and gave away as gifts at our Club's Christmas party on Tuesday. They are simply amazing and you will love them, I have no doubt!! So, until then, TTFN - Marilyn

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Catching up with catching up....

Well, a very busy September morphed into a very busy October...and November's not looking too relaxing either. So - time to catch up so I can move on to the fun stuff.

September started with our F.A.M.E. club taking part in the annual Fall Expo at C.F.B. Gagetown. As I mentioned in the last post (yes, I know it was so long ago you don't remember!), each year the nearby military base holds a day where many groups come together to provide information to newcomers to the area so they will have an idea of the activities available in the area. The exhibitors ranged from sports clubs to service clubs to hobbyists, exercise classes get the idea.

It was an extremely warm day but Marijke, Louise and I persevered and made it through the day. We set up an exhibit of some of the work of our club members on two long tables. We attracted a lot of attention since we were very different from any other exhibitor present.

On another table nearby I set up the Irish cottage that I have been neglecting and spent the day applying a stucco finish to it and talking to anyone who stopped by to ask questions.

We received a couple of requests to do children's workshops and/or displays in the new year. We'll fit them in as we get time - they're good ways to spread the word of our hobby and, in particular, our club.

Later in September came my favourite - Camp Mini Ha Ha!!! It was a really neat looking project however, as usual, by the time I was finished making my alterations to the original design, it bore no resemblance to the intended project. But the good news is -- I think I'm going to love it when I actually get it finished (more on that a little later).

So, 31 Campers attended this year. The Annapolis Basin Conference Centre is the perfect spot for our annual Camp - large work room, good food, great company - what more can we ask for!!??

This year's theme was cats. Some of the costumes on Sunday night were really great - everything from cats, dogs and mice to crazy cat ladies and a "puss in boots" ...or, in our case...a puss in sneakers.*smile*.

Overall, I have to say my favourite was the three blind mice with their seeing-eye dogs....Strike out the "Crazy cat ladies" comment and just call us all crazy ladies in general!

As usual, my friend Louise had her project concept completely thought out before arriving at Camp and had many accessories already made in advance. Her finished project will be a Via Rail station with a Tim Horton's on the 2nd floor (remember the doughnuts, cookies and bagels I made her for her birthday in March?)- can't get much more Canadian than that!!! Unless she then builds a Canadian Tire store to go next door with a poutine restaurant on the corner! In the picture below you can see the work in progress. She does have the elevator doors in on both floors but doesn't have the upper floor and Tim Hortons in yet in this picture. I will be sure to get a few pictures of it when she's finished it. So far it looks amazing - she's my hero!

What's that you say - what's my project look like?? Well, it doesn't have the intended shape of an industrial loft. I had new walls cut to my size and shape. I chose the 1/12th scale kit but am building in in 1/24th scale so I would have more room. Tomorrow I will show you the progress on the front and back walls, which will bring me to the end of my September catch-up. Wow - I feel like I'm moving right along at the speed of...well...the speed of government services maybe?? No offence to government workers - it is, after all, a process....with lots and lots of roadblocks and hoops to jump through along the way...just like the way I work! TTFN. - Marilyn