Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Light Post

I haven't done much miniature making in the past few days. I did make a few Fimo candles, but that's about it. The wicks are black clay which I roll and bake beforehand, and save in a little jar.
I always work on clean sheets of printer paper when I'm using clay to keep it clean. I used to scrub down my worktable before working with clay, but I could never get it clean enough to keep the clay clean. The paper is much easier, and works much better.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Little Details

I rarely show photos of the pink bedroom in my dollhouse, since it needs a lot of work. Aside from the washstand and chaise (which may be moving back down to the parlor since the upholstery works in both rooms) it's full of leftover pieces that don't really fit. But what it lacks in furniture, it makes up in accessories!

I made this little box a few years ago from varnished cardboard. The jewelry inside rests on a white satin pillow.
The lid fits snugly, though I mostly leave the box open. The top of the box is decorated with a little decoupaged image, surrounded by painted flowers.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Collections in the Kitchen

When my dollhouse was redone, one of the big questions was how the kitchen would be finished. Wallpaper was obviously not right, but most paneling seemed a little odd as well. I finally went with beadboard 3/4 up the wall, with a plate rail to top it off. The big chandelier was made by Mr. K.

The majority of the plates were painted by Christopher Whitford. When Mom and I visited England 8 years ago, I found a shop selling them much cheaper than I could find them in the States, and I went a little wild. Mixed in with the Whitford plates, I have a few really special plates, including three painted by Lucy Coles. The pink one at the far right of the photo above is one of hers!

 I haven't quite filled the plate rack. I still need one more, but becuase it's the last, I've been completely unable to commit. In the mean time, I've propped a little tray painted by Mary Grady O'Brien in the space. The tray was a gift from a very dear miniature friend who passed away last summer.
The white plate to the left of the tray I purchased from Lovely Things. It's not signed, but the porcelain is increadably thin- the plate is translucent! Beyond that, I have one of Jane Grabber's redware pieces. The copper molds are mostly from inexpensive German sets. I really should take them down and polish them, but I'm scared I won't be able to get them back up after!

Friday, January 25, 2013

All That Glitters is Not Silver

My dining room has a secret. I have a small collection of sterling silver displayed on the sideboard. But right in in the center sits a big fat fake. My silver pheasant is made out of plastic! 
I found the pheasant in a basket of junk at a local dollhouse store. When I bought it, it had a heavy brass base that was way too big for 1/12th scale. I assumed, because of the weight, that the bird was made of some type of metal too. When I finally managed to pop it off the base, I was shocked to find out it was lightweight plastic. It photographs a little darker than the sterling silver, but it's a perfect match in real life. Sometimes a good fake is all that's needed!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Little Things That Sparkle, Part 2

I'm having a lot of fun making fancy accessories lately.
I started out painting the vanity sage green, and added a few painted roses to the drawers. Now that I've got an idea of the finished look, I'll touch up the color of the roses, making them closer to the deep red I used for the accessories.

I make almost everything on my vanities. The only things on this one that I used just as I bought them were the silver comb (to the left of the necklace) and brown gloves.
I think a lot about color when I put together miniatures. I get nervous about making colors too coordinated, since that can look a little staged. But lots of random colors just look chaotic. To create a little order, I try to throw in a few "surprise" colors, and repeat each color three times. You can see that the bright blue of the little box is repeated on the top of the cold cream jar and the parasol of the figurine. The pink silk of the necklace tray is repeated in the label of the box on the left, and in the postcard of Notre Dame. The white flower is picked up in the lace runner and the bride's dress in the photograph. It's not a perfect rule, but it definitely helps!
I go back and forth on the perfume bottles. Sometimes I love to make them, and other times I think they are the most tedious project ever!  Because of that, I tend to make as many perfume bottles as I can when I'm in the mood.


The little crystal candle holder was an afterthought. I made it out of stacked beads and jewelry findings, with a clay candle. I only had one each of the base and top brass findings in my supplies. It was a minor miracle that I was able to finish the candle stick, since I kept dropping it and losing those precious jewelry findings! The handbag isn't such a bright red in real life. The vase photographed a little oddly too. Both are closer to the red dress of the figurine.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tips and Tricks for Making My Beaded Handbag Tutorial

Since writing my beaded handbag tutorial, I've worked on a few more complex designs.  I thought I'd pass along some tips about how to deal with tricky areas of beading.
Any pattern that uses a single line of beads is much more difficult than one where the design is made up of big blocks of color. For the red bag above, I had to apply the background beads very carefully, so that the star burst, blue stripes, and gold arrows were not knocked out of alignment. The bag below, on the other hand, is fairly simple, because each block of colors dries to a solid shape that is difficult to knock out of shape.

This blue and bronze bag is the second difficult bag I've been working on. I've finished all the beading, but it still needs hardware. The only really tricky part of this bag was the "E" I added to the top portion. I needed to make the E as even as possible. I chose to work on the letter and the blue background inside the prongs of the "E" simultaneously. This kept the blue beads from knocking the bronze out of alignment but it also slowed me down a bit, since I had to switch colors every few beads .
When I'm working on delicate, symmetrical designs, I often pick through the beads to find the smallest ones. There's considerable size variation in most of the micro beads I've bought, even though they are supposed to be the same size.  I've circled clumps of the largest and smallest sized micro beads in the photo below. It's not always a big deal, but  occasionally that size difference is enough throw the entire design off!
If you've made one of these beaded bags, I'd love to see them!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

3 Reasons I Love Plastic Toothpicks

A few years ago, I picked up a box of plastic toothpicks from the grocery store. I don't remember why I wanted them originally, but since then they've become an indispensable tool in my work box. I don't use them all the time, but they're my go-to tool for any project involving really tiny dots of glue or paint.

1. They can be carved into a sharp point. Wooden toothpicks (top) normally come with a slightly sharper point than plastic toothpicks (middle). However, the plastic picks can easily be carved to apply pinpricks of glue (bottom).

2. They can be cleaned. When glue or paint builds up on the tip of a wooden toothpicks, it's time to change toothpicks. When this happens with the plastic toothpicks, I just scrape the glue off with a fingernail, and keep on going! I find this especially helpful when I'm working with dots of glue about 1mm. The tiny amounts of glue dry almost immediately. One plastic toothpick saves me about half a box of wooden toothpicks when I'm working on a complex beaded handbag design!

3. They are disposable.Unlike more elaborate tools, the plastic toothpicks don't need to last more than one project. If I use them for super glue, I can just throw the glue-covered toothpick away when I'm done.

Have I convinced you? What's your favorite way to apply tiny dots of glue? Do you use toothpicks, fine tipped squeeze bottles or syringes, a corsage pin, or some other tool?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chuffed About Collars and Cuffs

I'd run out of space and money really quickly if I tried to collect all the antique items I find fascinating. But I can almost always find a spot for a miniature version!

I stumbled across some old collar boxes on eBay a while ago, and thought the  curvy shape of the lid was really interesting. I don't think I've seen a miniature version before!
The "Collars and Cuffs" label was a vintage graphic from the Graphics Fairy, which I tweaked a bit. I made a collar from stiffened fabric which fits inside (and barely shows against the white background, sorry!)
I made a hinge out of a bit of silk ribbon which perfectly matched the blue of the box. I still need to make a little latch, since the lid keeps popping open.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Smaller Than a Matchstick

This is going to be a short post. This little castle toy is so tiny!  I made it from a kit which I've had in my stash for a few years.
I added the base, and painted the toy using washes of color, so that the wood grain showed through in places. I always add a heavy amount of dirt and aging to toys. I like them to look like they've been played with!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Change of Heart

 This is one of Mom's newest dolls. When Mom first started dressing dolls, one of the things she said over and over was that she wasn't really interested in making pretty girls. Occasionally she'll make a young maid, but her favorite dolls are usually the craggy old women like this maid trying on a hat. 
(I was sure I'd posted this doll before, but I can't find the link now.)

 Though the original idea was to make this girl into a tavern wench, now that she's dressed, she looks more like Cinderella to me. I seriously tried to talk Mom into giving her a glass slipper, pumpkin, and mice!
She's just too sweet to be serving ale!
 It's not very visible in most of the photos, but she is wearing a cap.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Two Projects Finished

Today I was able to finish up a little project that I've had hanging around for a while. In one of the books I received for Christmas, I found a photo of the rules for the servant hall of a grand house. I'd already retyped all the rules, but today I finally printed it onto aged paper and hung it up over my kitchen sink.

Last night, despite my initial doubts, I decided to add the white flowers to the Wedgwood vases in the music room. As Giac and a few others commented, adding more leaves helped a lot. But, just in case I change my mind down the road, I "potted" the flowers using a removable piece of Styrofoam.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Think Pink: Having Fun With a Painted Table

I really had no idea how this table would end up when I began. Lately, I've been tending towards "pretty" miniatures. I've been pulling out my (normally seldom used!) stash of crystals, glitter, etc at the slightest excuse. So once I'd painted the table top and apron pieces cream, I didn't think twice before painting the legs petal pink.
In for a penny, in for a pound.  I added a few freehand roses and ribbons on the table apron...
and more roses and some flourishes on the tabletop. At the very end, I toned down the pink legs. I think this table hit my limit for sweetness!

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Dillema

 While we were at Philadelphia, I was able to duck away from our table long enough to purchase some flower kits from SDK Miniatures. The other night, I started putting together the Camellia kit. I only got through a few stems before needing a break from the fiddly bits of paper! I'm not sure what I'm going to with these flowers yet. I thought originally that I might 'plant' them in the Wedgwood vases in the music room, but when I held them in the room, the white flowers just faded away.
You can see, I haven't  even finished adding leaves to the stems. I may try them in the hall or parlor where they will show up better against the darker wallpapers, or I may try tinting them with watercolors.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A New Addition to My Mother's Cottage

Here's a quick peak into the fourth room of my mother's dollhouse. This is the least finished room in the house, and I have a terrible time photographing it, so I'm only showing glimpses. It's the ground floor room next to the kitchen.

 Mom hung a few of her favorite paintings above this table, which she's set up as a desk.

 Here's a close up of the desk, with an open ledger.   It's a bit blurry, but right in front is the newest accessory- a tiny, hand embroidered case for letters, made by Latchkey and Jonquil.
Here's a better view of the front. The stitches are so tiny, I can hardly see them! It photographed white, but it's actually a very pretty shade of off white. If you want one of Jonquil's fabulous embroidered pieces for yourself, check out her etsy shop.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Upstairs Room in Mom's Cottage

Mom's dollhouse is a four-room cottage, but I've only ever shown the exterior, kitchen, and one of the upstairs rooms. This is the second upstairs room, which is directly above the kitchen.

The stairs are lined with petite point samplers and watercolor paintings. There's another dummy board (painted by Josephine Meyers?) hiding behind the stair rail. I forgot to get a good photo of it.

Can you tell that Mom loves petite point? 

This little avocado is so tiny! Mom says it reminds her of her grandmother.

Over in the back corner, the fireplace is hidden by drying laundry.  The red socks hanging on wooden stretchers (on the beam above the fireplace) always make Mom smile. There are four more petite point pictures in this corner!

Mom made the bed to fit under the eaves, following instructions from Brian Long. The little doll on the bed is an antique.
This was just the briefest of overviews, but I hope it gave a general sense of the room. Honestly, Mom has so many tiny details in her house, I could probobly photograph it for years without showing it all! For more posts about my mothers house, click here, here, here,and here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Winter Blooms

I've been playing around with some velvet paper and a few little punches. A few months ago, I bought some pretty vintage velvet flowers to add to my (real) winter hat. Seeing those little pansies again, I thought it might be fun to make some in miniature.

I only had white velvet paper on hand, but as you can see, I didn't let that stop me! Through a bit of experimentation, I figured out that the best way to paint the paper (without squashing the velvet) was to dip the paper into watery washes of paint, letting it soak through and stain the paper. I raided my collection of crystals for a little extra sparkle.