I had a good long chat with Beverley Lun, the MEM Club president, about the different techniques they learned during the construction of these boxes. Also, when I mentioned our club was going to put on our very first Miniature and doll show and sale in October, Beverley offered several hints and tips for that as well as some great suggestions for our planned adult and children's workshops we are trying to finalize. It's wonderful to be able to talk to someone with so much experience in all areas of the hobby and have them so generously share ideas with you. I'm really grateful to have met her and hope we will be able to keep in contact. Thank you Beverley for all your advice and suggestions!
The basic boxes were constructed from regular builders blue foam, used for insulation purposes in real-life building projects. This makes them light weight yet sturdy enough for building and decorating. Several of the projects used marble or stone-like vinyl floor tiles cut and prepared to look like stone floors. What looks like slate tiles over several of the bay windows is actually "slates" cut from regular foam disposable plates you can get at the dollar store. The pieces then are given rounded edges, and marks and dents are added in the foam to mimic the look of real slate. They are then painted using a few different colours layered over them, again to take on the colour and texture of real slate. I think they look marvellous. I am definitely going to try out this technique.
To start our tour of the Group Club Projects, we will begin with a pub created by Caroline de Repentigny and Fernand Rondeau. In their case, both the upper roof and the one over the bay window are made to look like thatching - so typical of old English pubs. The vine growing up the side and across the top of the door is kept in perfect scale. It is details like this that can keep the eye fooled into thinking it is a real-life scene. Inside,, while one person is about to sit down for a bite to eat, we can see that there are two people who have temporarily left the room (to the loo perhaps??), leaving their checker game in progress and their beers waiting for their return.
From Suzanne Wiseman we have a lovely little café. Her choice of roof, for both the main roof and the bay window, was a traditional metal-type roof. I'm not sure if this is meant to be a copper roof that has aged to green over time but I don't think so. It looks to me to be more like the coloured metal roofs we see on buildings today.
This next piece - a little gift shop - is wonderful! The roof over the bay window uses the Styrofoam plate "slate" tiles but the upper roof gives a nod to ecological sustainability with a "living roof". Covered with plant material, there is even a goat who has made his way to the top to munch on the greenery. Any of us who grew up around farm animals understands just how goats love to jump and climb. It never ceases to amaze me the number of unbelievable places you can find your goats if you don't keep an eye on them! In the grounds the artist, Erica Lapiste, has created a pond, obviously with fish lazing amongst the lily pads since there is a hungry-looking cat eyeing them eagerly. Her gardens are in perfect scale - right down to the pink flamingos in the side garden. She even included rain gutters and downspouts. Great attention to detail. Inside, the variety of perfectly-crafted little gift items are making we want to run to my work table and see what I can come up with. Inspiration is all around me!!!
Inge Cossete brings us a restaurant/bar with beautifully stuccoed walls, a copper roof, and a wonderful sidewalk vignette taking place outside. Inside we can drool over the scrumptious food displayed while two customers are waiting to sit and the server is ready to assist.
From Jane Bothwell we have a darling French-inspired tea shoppe/pastry café. The simple landscaping allows the beauty of the structure to take centre stage and the interior includes delicate looking tables and chairs, tiled floors reminiscent of a Paris bistro, and very tasty looking treats!
We now have another pub, created by Jeanette Ottaway. Her thatched roof shows great detail and authenticity. The sign over the door indicates this is a "Free House" as some "public houses" were designated "back in the day". I was really surprised by how much Jeanette was able to include in such a small place. I believe this is the only example I saw of an extra wall being added to the club project box. It does show another great option for the same basic plan.
The next two examples are both by Beverley Lun. I mentioned earlier that Louise and her sisters and I had each chosen our favourites then compared notes later to see whether we might think the same or how far off we would be. Surprisingly, we all chose these two boxes as our top two however, reviewing all of the pictures I took, I have to say that Erica Lapiste's project with the goat on the roof and the very detailed landscaping might now be my very favourite with these two of Beverley's tied for a close second. I wonder which one(s) each of you would pick as favourite?
We see that Beverley has used slate tiles over the bay windows in both of these projects but, for the main roof, one project has a copper roof that has not yet weathered to the Verdi Gris colour we associate with old copper roofs, whereas the second has completed the aging process. She has captured that weathered, green finish perfectly. She also employed the floor tile technique of using cut up real vinyl floor tiles in two different ways. Each of them are very effective. The wisteria over the door of the first box is exquisite, as are the pieces of lingerie displayed inside. The food items and layout in the second box make you want to pull up a chair and stay awhile.
This delightful, quirky piece by Patricia A. Nahorniak just has to bring a smile to your face. Entitled "50 years On", it envisions the same structure as it might look after 50 years of abandonment and total neglect. The detritus that has gathered through broken windows and gaps in walls and doors seems to tell a tale of its own. On an amusing note, one of the MEM members told me that Patricia plans to make the other room box to match - the one that shows the building as it would be if brand-spanking new. She decided she would make the ruin first because, that way, if something went wrong - how would you know? Then she could correct any problems in construction when building the new, pristine version. How funny!
The last of the club projects was created by Monique Marinier and Pierre Marinier. A quaint antique shop, it features slate tiles over the bay window, a galvanized roof, a beautifully landscaped courtyard and lots of lovely antiques inside.
Now, it seems very fitting to bring the curtain down on this year's MEM show by bringing you the artistry of these beautiful hand-crafted wood-working items from the estate of Jack McMeekin. From what I picked up from overhearing conversations of those around me at the time, I gather that Jack was a member of MEM, or if not, at the very least he was a well-respected artisan within the community. Looking at these pieces leave no doubt in my mind why that would be. Please click on the pictures to see them in a larger version.
So, my friends, we have come to the end of my first journey to the wonderful Montreal Miniatures show put on by the MEM (Miniature Enthusiasts of Montreal) Club. Tomorrow I will return to my real world and hopefully get some of my own work done. I feel so rejuvenated and inspired by all of these wonderful artisans. I want to be just like them when I grow up!!! TTFN!