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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A little of this...a little of that...

First, I wanted to share a couple of pics my DH took the other day. It was a beautiful sunny day, just after the storm we had, and our frequent visitors arrived once more - and actually stayed still long enough for a couple of photos.

These Bohemian waxwings love the small berries that this tree produces - not that I know what kind of tree it actually is. On a bright sunny winter day they arrive in droves...well, about 30 to 40 of them at a time, at least. Here's one little guy who turned around as if posing for us. Isn't he gorgeous?

These birds may be one of the smaller varieties but, when you have 30 of them at a time flitting around in your front yard - what a cacophony of sound!

So - what else do I have for you today? Well, I have been working on a few small things. Marijke H. generously helped me learn how to make another type of flower - a hydrangea. I decided on a white one. Marijke very rightly pointed out that I shouldn't use just white but also sprinkle in a little off-white or buff since no flower is just a single colour throughout. I love the way it turned out although I still have to put a little pale green or yellow colour in the centre of each of the little "flowers" that make up the hydrangea head.

I also made some tulips, daffodils and irises. I need to make a lot more of these to get better at them.

While I was learning to make these flowers, I took great interest in watching Marijke produce her incredible plants and flowers. She made these perfect little roses as well as the two adorable bird houses. Take notice of the various shades of one colour she uses in a single flower. How realistic it makes them look! They will probably all be used in her latest project of a shabby chic florist shop. You can see it on her blog at Pulchinella's Cellar.

Other than that, with the very busy St. Patrick's week I had, I only had time to work on a couple of little things (no pun intended). I decided to work on something for a friend's birthday. She is planning on an slightly unorthodox version of a house for a rather famous couple. As such, I wanted to make her a special bed -- in 1:24th scale. I started by looking at one on Kris Compass's site. She doesn't have a tutorial for it but I am trying to build a smaller version by referring to her pictures as I go.

I decided to make it a queen-sized bed so, in 1:24th scale I made it 2.5 inches wide. I made it a little longer than a regular queen-sized bed because I knew I would have to allow for the foot board to "roll" over the end of the mattress. Here is the start of it.

For the curved head board, once I decided on my shape, I cut it out of three layers of card stock, and glued the layers together with wood glue. I wrapped them around a bulbous-shaped air freshener, just like Kris Compass did with her French chaise longue, to make it curve and to provide a slope for the back. I held it in place with elastics until it was well and truly dried so it would hold it's shape and harden. I left it for several days but probably could have taken it off after 24 hours. I used two layers of 1/4" foamcore to make the mattress base. Then I made a small tufted mattress and glued that down as well. It's difficult to see the tufting here but, trust me, it's there.

Once this was done, I cut three layers in the shape of the mattress form, but long enough to give me the sleigh bed footboard shape. I glued these together with wood glue then, while they were still wet, I glued them to the base then curved them up with the use of a marker and taped things down to hold the shape until it dried. Unfortunately, I used the wrong tape and, when I removed it, some of the paper came off the card stock so I will be adding a thin piece of paper to cover these areas. Small problem, easily repaired.

I now will make runners for the bottom, instead of legs, and sew up some bedding to finish it off. I'm hoping to have it finished by Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

The only other thing I've done is to start making my tidbit for our club meeting on Tuesday. I am making a set of 1:24 scale kitchen canisters. I used a pencil for the smallest, the top of a pen for the middle size and a small marker for the largest. Once the strips of cardstock were wrapped around and glued with fast-grab glue, (make sure they don't get glued to the forms!), I left them to dry for about 15 minutes or so, then I spread a light layer of glue around the bottom edges and stuck them to small pieces of card stock. After they were well dried, I used a pair of cuticle scissors to trim the excess paper from around the base.

I'll finish these off and have them ready for the club meeting, I hope. If not, I'll give something else as my "tidbit" or provide something from my "stash". Let's see how it goes, shall we? TTFN! - Marilyn

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Better late than never!

I've been so busy lately, it's been hard to find time to post. Our mini group- F.A.M.E., did hold our monthly meeting in February, although it was delayed by a week because of a major, major snow storm. Oh - you already know this since I did post pictures of the snow in our yard and covering my car.

Having said all that, last month was our second time to work together on our shop projects. We are all at varying stages of completion but are aiming to have as many done as possible before the Moncton Miniatures Show in May. We will have a display table there and would like to showcase our latest pieces.

Here are some pics from our last meeting. The first one shows Marijke's work in progress in the forefront with Louise and Sharon chatting in the background. Marijke is making her project into a shabby chic florist shop. You can follow her progress on her blog at Pulchinella's Cellar.

This next picture shows Sharon's work in progress. I love the look she is developing here but - I'm having a senior's moment and can't remember what kind of shop she is building. A little voice in the back of my head tells me it's a chocolatier but, I could certainly be wrong. My voices tell me all sorts of things ....but we won't go there right now!

The decorative iron pieces on the roof are just placed there in the picture above. They will be permanently installed later.

Lynn's project is going to be a laboratory - she's still debating whether it will be a mad scientist's lab or another kind of lab. Notice the little stethoscope sitting on top of the room box in the first picture? It'll find a place inside for sure.

In the next two pictures I've provided a close up of the incredible pieces Lynn has picked up online for this project, including glass beakers, test tube holder (complete with the glass test tubes), glass storage containers, and so much more! I'm really looking forward to seeing the final product for this one. What a great idea!

The last one I'll show you this time around is from our newest F.A.M.E. member. Garry is such an incredible talent and generously shares his wealth of knowledge and experience with the rest of us. What a great addition to our group he is!

Garry expanded on the original project to make it a little deeper, then turned it into an old west bath house. Incredible! It's still a work in progress as well but already looks amazing.

He also added a small piece on the side which will become an attached outhouse (and possibly a place to hide his battery pack if he chooses to light his room).

The next two pictures show the wonderful array of accessories he has already managed to fit in his piece (with more to come before it's finished, I'm sure). In addition to the water pump and the bowl and pitcher, he has so many small items scattered around including other bowls, straight razors, combs, a mirror, the bucket of water heating on the stove, vintage pictures, signs and notices, two old-fashioned and well-used tubs for bathing, and, of course, his signature dog. Every one of Garry's pieces has a dog in it somewhere. Isn't his work inspiring?!

Garry has the most wonderful collection of vintage signs he has made up. There's always something for every occasion and he's always willing to share. He allowed me to pick one for myself last time we met and I picked an old 1950s-style sign of a woman from that time saying "I understand the concept of cooking and cleaning - just not how it applies to me." I just love it! I will definitely find a place to use it in the future. Hope you enjoyed this posting, regardless of the fact that it was almost a month late in coming. - Story of my life - a day late and a dollar short! TTFN - Marilyn

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. It's not that I haven't been doing minis - it's just that i'm doing minis that I can't post about yet because it would spoil the secrets for some people. *smile*

On the other hand, as a very active member of our local and provincial Irish Association, the few weeks leading up to St. Patrick's Week (yes,to us it's actually a week, not a day!) are always so busy I can hardly fit in time for anything else. Good news is - starting tomorrow I'll have some time to myself again. Yeah!!!! Mini time for sure. I'll be back to you soon. In the meantime,enjoy St. Patrick's Day - I know I will! TTFN!