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

Monday, April 15, 2019

Last call for Montreal!

Well, today's post brings an end to this year's Montreal Miniature Show and Sale - but, as with every year, the inspiration I have absorbed will carry me through to next year, I hope!

In the last post, I did miss one picture from Vanessa Barklay's work. Keeping with the artist theme that was evident in several of the display pictures, this one of Vanessa's really speaks to me. This little studio reminds me so much of one on Heir Island in West County Cork, Ireland - the area that is near and dear to our hearts. Clean, simple and bright with shallow shelves displaying a variety of art pieces, it does take me back to our regular stomping ground of Baltimore, Ireland and the wonderful memories we have made there, and on the nearby islands, over the years.

Jane Bothwell's artist studio even includes a live model striking a relaxing pose on a chaise longue. The large skylights and windows flood the lucky artist's space with light and shadows - the perfect environment for masterful results.

The entries from Beverley Lun, the Chair of the show's organizing committee, never fail to amaze and inspire. I love how Bev can set up beautiful little scenes in very small spaces that display such a high degree of elegance and charm.

I particularly love this next box. Beverley has used this technique before - building a small framed piece inside a larger one, having details spill from one to the other. She told me that the main frame is 5x7 inches so it is very compact and easily displayed. She said the inside box is simply made from foam core. The outside of the larger box is framed in a stained wood to match the front frame. The depth could be made to fit your own purposes. I think this concept would be especially effective to personalize as a gift for a special someone. You could target a particular hobby of the intended recipient, a special birthday or anniversary, a special shared memory - the sky's the limit - constrained only by your imagination.

Bev's last display piece is lovely but, unfortunately, makes me feel particularly envious and inadequate! I, too, have a southwest, adobe-style house under construction but now, when I see how beautiful this one is, I wanted to come right home and toss my meagre efforts in the garbage. I restrained myself though and will try to salvage my own, using the inspiration I received from this one.

Bev shared some of her techniques with me, for which I am grateful, and I will try to use these to guide me to finish my own Spanish-inspired home. Thank you, Bev.

The last exhibitor I have for you has only been a member of the Montreal club (MEM) for a month or two but obviously has been working on her miniatures for several years. Many of the pictures I took did not turn out well but I include them here anyway in hopes that you are able to pull enough detail out to see the amazing talent of this prolific miniature artist, Diane Raymond.

We start with a lovely little Christmas scene - a French-inspired dining room - very elegant, isn't it?

Another smaller piece is this beautifully detailed fortune teller's wagon.

How about this poor lady? Was there something in that goblet lying on its side that ended in disaster? Or did someone brick her up behind a wall with a full bottle for company before she finally succumbed?? A little disturbing to think of but it looks like her little sitting corner was once very beautiful at least.

Diane's "Abandoned Library" is full of character, detail and age, truly showing the passage of time and neglect, including a tree growing right up through the floor!

Unfortunately, the interior pictures of this wonderful old saloon were far too fuzzy to show, but you can still see the talent Diane displayed in finishing the removable front of the building.

This very modern piece shows Diane's versatility. Her pieces range from the historical, to the modern, to the fantastical. Here is her wonderful example of a truly modern home.

From there we visit Diane's bakery/café with scrumptious food and gifts on the ground floor and elegant alfresco seating on the rooftop.

Not all of the pictures of Diane's "Crabtree & Evelyn" shop turned out well but, trust me, it is truly beautiful!

This is terriby fuzzy but gives you the idea of the layout and you can see the stairs leading to the upper level as well.

Now we enter Diane's more fantastical realm. And, I know I now sound like a broken record but I am so sorry the pictures are so bad because the work is incredible!!

First we have the Evil Witch's lair, "La Sorcière la Malveillante".

Last, but by no means least, is Diane's "Steampunk" entry. It is so detailed you could keep coming back and seeing something new each time. Fabulous work.

That brings an end to our Montreal journey. I want to thank all of the talented MEM members for bringing me so much joy and inspiration. For my readers, I hope there was something among all these pictures over the last few days that truly "spoke" to you personally and inspires you to create your own unique piece of miniature art.

Moving on, tomorrow I will be starting a new little project to display at the Moncton Miniature show on May 4th. Hopefully I can finish it in time - it is small after all. However, I have big plans for the small space. I'll let you in on it after my group's mini day on Wednesday. TTFN!!!! - Marilyn