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

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Dorothy's Corner - still a work in progress.

For a small project, it's surprising how many details there are that need to be completed to bring Dorothy;s Corner to life! As you know, I am aiming to have it ready to display on Saturday at the Moncton show. Yes, I mean THIS Saturday!

With so much to be done and so little knowledge of how to do any of it, I decided to revert to my absolute favourite work method. It goes by a few different names: the "wing it" method, the "just go for it" method or, my personal favourite, the "fly by the seat of your pants" method.

This method is guided by a collection of pithy sayings that are meant to inspire you to leave the worry behind and just carry on with it - sayings like:

Think of it like driving at night - you can only see as far as your headlights show you, but if you keep following them, you eventually arrive where you want to be.

Or -put very simply, you have three choices: Give in, give up, or give it everything you've got. So - I choose the last one! Here I go, one step at a time, hoping I arrive where I planned to go without too many detours and absolutely no fatal accidents!

When I left you last, the flower bed was built and the lawn was laid. It was time to move on to the actual planting. This is the step I was (and still am, truth be told) a little afraid of since I am only learning how to make a variety of plants. This is where my "fly by the seat of my pants method" will come in very handy!

The first thing I did was to cover the brown-painted floral foam flower beds with a mixture of dried coffee grounds and tea grounds. I like to use the two together for a more realistic "soil" look. I make sure they are completely dry before I use them in a project.

Then I started making leaves. The hosta leaves are from a file I downloaded from Anna Christensen's old site. This plant is "Hosta Great Expectations".

I also put stems of astilbe leaves together - they are not exactly what astilbe leaves look like in real life but I was going for the illusion, not necessarily an exact copy. A while ago my friend Marijke, from Pulchinella's Cellar, had given me a strip of leaves that could be used for a variety of purposes. I removed several from the strip and glued them to floral wire with the wire tips bent over at the end to support the leaves. You can see there are two different colours. I will use the lighter green leaves for a white astilbe and the darker green for a deep pink astilbe.

I see I had two hosta leaves left over and still stuck in the floral foam for safe keeping. *smile*

Once I had these leaves done, I glued in the bird bath, "planted" a hosta plant on either side of the bird bath, and glued in a rusty bucket sitting on some rocks around the corner, underneath an old faucet coming out from the wall. I think I will paint the handle of the faucet either red, or a bright green - just so it is a little more noticeable.

Next, I wanted to plant a white astilbe in the corner on this side (the shady side) of the garden. How was I going to make the astilbe blossoms??? I didn't have any of that "flower soft" stuff I've heard about, but never owned. Also, I felt that the flower stems should be a little thicker than the 26 gauge green floral wire I used for the leaves. I had some white paper covered floral wire so I paint a couple of lengths green, cut it into stems and, using my tried and true method (FBTSOMP method), I grabbed some dark green shredded material used by model railroaders and pulled it apart into even smaller pieces. I used Tacky Glue on the end of the stems and, using tweezers to add a little at a time, I built up the flower heads. Then I left them to dry overnight before painting them.

After the paint was dry it was time to plant the white one. This is when I discovered that the Tacky glue worked for a while but each leaf I picked up immediately came off the wire with only a gentle touch. So, going back to the FBTSOMP method, I reglued all of the leaves using Quick Grip instead then had to wait for those to set up *sigh*. Finally, I was ready to go and I planted the white astilbe in the corner where the fence meets the wall. Eventually, the hydrangea tree will hang over the fence in this area as well.

Once this was done, I used some air dry clay to make cone shapes to glue on to the end of each branch of the hydrangea tree. This will be a "Pink Diamond Pee Gee Hydrangea" which is known for its very large flower heads. Next step for this tree is to add the tiny florets all over the cones and paint them accordingly. Then I will fill all the branches with leaves.

There is still a lot to do before Saturday so tomorrow and Friday I will be working non-stop. I do not plan on having everything done by Saturday but at least enough to allow it to be displayed. After that, I will keep adding details until I am completely satisfied with it.

Coming up tomorrow - making a climbing rose for over the fence and adding more flowers to the garden. Friday will be for working on the inside of the shed. I'll be sure to update you after the Moncton show is over. Have a great night! TTFN!! - Marilyn

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

At least it's sunny indoors!

It's cold and rainy outside but working on this little scene of "Dorothy's Corner" makes me feel like I'm sitting outdoors in the middle of the summer in a private, sunny little corner. My favourite thing!

While the piece itself is still under construction, I keep the picture of what I want firmly planted in my head. Now, the challenge will be to get it to look like I see it in my mind!

When we left off in my last post, I had finished laying the rocks on the shed walls and shingling the little roof piece.

I then marked out an area that would be a garden bed and went outdoors to find some twigs to use to build a split rail fence. I found lots of deadfall that included twigs already grayed and covered with lichen - perfect for my purpose.

I really like how the fence ended up - just like the one in my mind!

Now, my plan is to have a good-sized hydrangea tree with flower-filled branches hanging over from behind the fence. In my stash I found a package of two bare branch trees with red glitter on the branches. I had purchased these at Dollarama at Christmas time. They had a selection of colours - red glitter, silver, gold or green if I remember correctly. I then painted two coats of burnt umber craft paint over all the red glitter and spread the branches out. On the left is what it looked like originally, and after one coat of paint on the right.

Now it's time to lay my grass. Yes - what you are seeing is a very cheap taupe-coloured face cloth. I then cut it to fit the outline I had drawn and spread watered-down Tacky glue to the base before stretching the fabric and smoothing it down. I used full strength Tacky to then attach the cloth down the sides of the base before trimming the small bit of excess off.

I left it for about a half hour to make sure it was dry then I gathered my paints. I used three colours: woodland night green, leprechaun, and antique gold.

Starting with the darkest green and making sure to wipe a lot of the paint off before I began, I started pouncing the colours onto the facecloth fabric. It is important to use a pouncing method, not a paint stroke method. It's also important that your terry cloth fabric is a beige or brown colour to start with so it looks like soil underneath. After the dark green I used the light green followed by the gold which is used more sparingly. If you want to try this method yourself I would suggest you try it on a sample piece first to make sure you have the method down pat before you start. I actually like the way this looks for a short-cropped lawn.

Now to lay out the base of the garden bed. I just used chunks of floral foam, trimmed and contoured to fit the space. The flat piece you see cut out by the rock wall is where I plan on putting a bird bath a little later on.

I then painted the floral foam brown in case any of it could be seen through the "soil" I would add later.

I also added some grass behind the fence although some parts back there will be soil.

Next steps will be to add soil and begin planting!

Don't forget - "Dorothy's Corner" brings with it a contest that will end on May 14th. For each of the postings about this project, if you enter a comment your name will be placed in a random draw for a prize which will be revealed soon. Also, one other prize will be given to the first person who can correctly guess why it is called "Dorothy's Corner". There will actually be a couple of hints in the piece itself which will show up as the project progresses. Good luck to all!

While you are waiting for my next post, you might want to check out Kris Compass's blog at 1-Inch Minis by Kris as this month's entry is about building an attic room box from scratch using foamboard. She is then going to start blog entries on items to fill the attic. I think this would be a great little project to do as a club project or to introduce to new people to our wonderful hobby.

Whatever mini you're working on now - have fun!! TTFN!! - Marilyn

Saturday, April 20, 2019

In the words of Marianne Williamson...

... author of 'Everyday Grace: Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness and Making Miracles', "Every ending is a new beginning. Through the grace of God, we can always start again."

Thus we arrive at the ending of the Remembrance Day room box project and move on to a new beginning.

The only thing left for the Remembrance Day project is to add a beret for our elderly veteran but everything else is ready to go.

The remains of a time most of us were fortunate not to experience. We remain forever grateful to those who did. From the weathered canteen hanging from a post, to the forgotten binoculars, the Bible, and even the old photo a loved one, every item holds a story.

And so we move to the outside of the bunker where Marijke used her substantial talent to add the details necessary to show the passage of time. The sand bags become darkened with age and weather, dirt builds up in every available crevice which, in turn, allows the sprouting of grasses and weeds. I think Marijke has done a beautiful job of depicting this.

And above, as we've seen in previous posts, our elderly veteran walks the fields of distant memory, oblivious to the bunker lying beneath his feet.

With a poppy on his lapel, and the crest of the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment on his pocket...

... our hero turns his back and moves on...

... leaving the secrets for another day.

And now we too move on, to our new beginning: Dorothy's Corner.

Here, in New Brunswick, The Moncton Dollhouse Miniatures Show and Sale is coming up the first weekend in May. Our little group from Fredericton will have a display table there and the Moncton Club has also invited us to join their members in entering a small item to be judged in a competition for visitors' "favourite" of the day. This year's theme for the judging is "hobbies". And so, Dorothy's Corner was born in my mind.

I started with a few small pieces of 1/4" MDF: an 8x10" base, a 6x8" side wall, a 2" wide front wall and a piece for the roof that would allow a small overhang. I bevelled the top of the side wall to accommodate the slant of the roof, and one edge of the roof to accept fascia boards along the roof line.

The intent is that these pieces will make a simple cross-section of a building to act as a backdrop for my little scene. Once I glued the front and side walls together, I applied boards and stud walls to the inside.

Then I painted the outside black, in case there were spots where the wall might peek through, and I started applying stones.

Once the rocks were complete, I realized I had taken them a little too far up the wall because the angle of the roof line would make the roof piece hit the rocks. So, plan B, I added a few wood pieces to the top edge to raise it a bit. Now the roof will fit fine. And so, it was on to the shingles!

I love the look of brown cedar shingle against rock walls so this is what I chose for Dorothy's Corner.

After the first two days, I have the wall and roof built.

But here's the thing - of course you knew there'd be a "thing", didn't you????

I have a birthday coming up next month, so I thought perhaps I could celebrate by having a little contest. I haven't decided yet exactly what the prize will be, but I will reveal it as soon as I have made up my mind. *smile* Actually - I think we should have two prizes and two winners.

One winner will be chosen from each person who leaves a comment on anything I post between now and my birthday (May 15th). I won't post everyday but, for each day I post and you leave a comment, your name will be entered one time.

The 2nd winner will be the first person who figures out why I have called this project "Dorothy's Corner" And no, I have never had a relative, loved one or pet named Dorothy so that eliminates those guesses. The answer is probably pretty obscure but I have faith that someone will figure it out before the end of the contest.

The contest will close on May 14th and I will announce the winners on May 15th. Good luck to all! TTFN!! - Marilyn