Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Micro Cottage Project and Other Things

Oh boy, it's been a while since I last updated! Everything started happening at once. My brother Peter just graduated high school! On top of celebrating that, and my cousin's middle school graduation, my mom's school year ended so we had to get her kindergarten classroom packed down ASAP (for the record, my dorm room didn't take nearly as long to pack up as it took to get her classroom safely stowed away). Then we had a family reunion, complete with six hour drive. Finally, the family computer kicked the bucket, so my laptop has been the only access to the Internet for the past few week or so... and of course Mom and Peter have needed to use my laptop to price shop for classroom supplies and college things respectively. I've been climbing the walls waiting for them to give my laptop back in "fifteen more minutes".
So I went back to work finishing up the interior of this micro cottage.
I added a basket made of thread and an open book to the bench outside, and I'm considering adding a small tree or birdbath still. I also touched up the roof.
Most of the work was done on the inside. There is a tiny easel in the corner with one of my micro watercolors, and another is framed on the wall. I still want to add a dog in the center, and maybe a few other little touches.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gold Paper Project and the Kitchen

I've been working on more micro watercolors and some other projects for the last few days, but nothing with much direction. I played around with an old corner cupboard and some gold embossed paper yesterday, trying to make it look like it had carvings. I'm in the process of painting out all the gold right now, and trying to figure out if I have a spot for it somewhere.

Here's a quick shot of my dollhouse kitchen. My mom loves miniature kitchens so she had a lot to say about everything that went in this room. The walls are covered in bead board below the plate rail. For some reason, family members who are not at all interested in miniatures like the plates, so many were gifts. A few of the molds came from my mother or grandmother's childhood dollhouse. I got to go through everything a couple of years ago, and it was really fun to see everything and hear the stories.

The orange thing on the back wall (between the window and hutch) is silly. I fell in love with a hand painted Natasha salt box at one of the local shops, when I was seven or eight. It was far too expensive for me, but I played around and made a (out of scale) mock-up out of index card and printed paper a few years later. I've thought about taking it out, or even replacing it with a better version, but I doubt I ever will.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Little Projects and New Supplies

I stopped by the Christmas Tree Shop yesterday looking for inexpensive nail polish. I have a collection of all the wildest colors that I can find, which I use for a variety of miniature projects. In the past I've found sets of really wild nail polish for only a few dollars. I didn't find any nail polish, but there was a whole bin of stain pens for only $3 per set.

I forgot to mention that I got two tiny brushes at the Sturbridge show. They were sold by Phyllis Hawkes. I decided to test them out by trying some micro watercolors. The lines of the index card helped me to keep a sense of scale.
Each painting is less than 1/4th inch square. I tried to paint a dog, but wasn't quite happy with him. The shape was fine, but I couldn't add any shading at this scale!

I was much happier with this bowl of fruit.
This vase of flowers was one of the last I tried. I'd love to try portraits, but I don't think that I'll be able to get enough detail to make them look right. I'd also love to try micro oil paintings, but am worried that the paint will be too clumsy in this tiny scale. Does anyone have any tips or tricks for small scale oil painting?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Adapting Inexpensive Minis project

So I just showed the monkey that I adapted from a resin chimpanzee in my last post, but he is part of a larger project which I started over the winter. I really enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, as you can (hopefully) tell from this post! I wanted to make a miniature or two that was related, without spending alot of money. I just kept getting new ideas, and it kept expanding. The way it was going for a while, I might have made the entire Royal Navy chasing Jack!
I started out just trying to make a doll that looked like Jack Sparrow. I'm not fond of dressing dolls, so I took far too many shortcuts with him. I used an inexpensive Town Square doll ($10). I stripped the doll down (using nail polish remover to remove the painted features), and then went to work.

I repainted his features with acrylics, re-dressed him, and wigged him. His beard and moustache were a bit of a challenge,but I'm quite happy. His clothing on the other hand was a rushed job, so I'll continue to fiddle with it. Jack was holding a rum bottle, which helped disguise his clumsy hands, but he seems to have dropped it!

I found the boat at my local dollhouse shop for $12, and knew that it would be perfect for Jack. I did a lot of sanding, painting, and even burning to age it, but I'm just glad I didn't have to build the boat! I even managed to add barnacles to the boat bottom, made from painted dollhouse gravel.

I also added props from the three movies to the boat. The original map was seemingly backed with thin wood. I used a heavily textured fabric instead. The pistol is a metal miniature that I adapted slightly and painted. I made the open compass (the black dot sitting on the map) from layers of card. There is also a piece of cursed "Aztec gold" on the map.

I had to make Jack's weather beaten leather hat as well. I'd never made a pirate hat, or a hat from leather before, so I didn't really know what I was doing. I just kept fiddling until it looked right, and bugging my brother (who loves vintage hats) for information. I set the boat on a (aged and distressed) frame from the thrift store to make a display base. Oddly enough, the resin for the "ocean" was the single most expensive part of the whole project, at $20 for the bottle. Altogether, I think I spent about $50 on this project. I've still got a few more touches to add (the sail is still a bit too new, and I'm dissatisfied with Jack's clothing) but I'll wait until I'm really in the mood to fix those things.

Monkey project

Remember this little fellow? Well, I've been wanting to find or make a monkey as a final part of a project. I found this chimp at the Sturbridge show, and really liked his position. I was a bit nervous to sculpt a monkey from scratch, so instead I decided to adapt this resin figure. I repainted his fur brown, then super glued on a tail made of thick florist wire. I mixed up a dark red flocking from red and purple flocking and glued it on to make his jacket. I had to go back and touch up a few spots later, but lightly tamping it down with a soft brush helped a lot. Then I worked on the head, using little snips of brown viscose wigging. I chopped up more wigging into flocking for his tail and legs.

The gold "embroidery" on his jacket is really just gold nail polish. I used antique lace at his collar and cuffs.
He's not quite anatomically correct of course, since I started with a chimpanzee rather than a monkey, but I'm quite happy with him all the same.
I'll get pictures of the entire project up soon!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Back from the show

Mom and I got back from the miniatures show with a few finished treasures and lots of supplies. I mostly bought landscaping materials, which I've needed for my 1/144th scale projects mostly.

Mom bought lots of lace and trims...
and unfinished dolls from Ellen's World. This is my absolute favorite source for unfinished dolls, because she has so many to choose from, and I like the way that Ellen paints them (something I am VERY picky about).I only found one thing for my house, this tiny old plate from Lovely Things. It will go on my kitchen plate rail. The porcelain is so thin!
I found this little fellow at Ladybug's table, along with most of the landscaping supplies. I'll post the project I needed him for soon!

This was the last purchase. I've been looking at these little fairies in lipstick tubes for probably four or five years now, but I always passed it up thinking I'd try to make one on my own. Never got around to it, so I finally caved.
The tube has a very pretty cloisonne style flower, purple butterfly and the tiniest fairy. I love the colors- all pastel. In real life, it is very sparkly!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I was tagged by Josje of A Beautiful World. The rules of this tag are: Name the person who tagged you, mention 6 things that you like and 6 people that you are tagging, leave them a note on their blogs. I'm only going to tag three people, I hope that's alright. I'd like to tag: Texas Belle at Myrtlewood Manor, Ara at Adams Family Mini Mansion and Clue: Murder at Bentley Manor and Sandra Morris at Tales from a Toymaker.

So here are six miniature things that I like, in no particular order.

1. Miniatures that really work. I'm fascinated by anything miniature that can really do whatever the real object is meant to do. This little silver sewing bird's beak opens and closes to hold fabric.

2.Miniatures made from unexpected materials. This bobbin lace making pillow was made from absolute "garbage". The pillow fabric is the lining from my first wallet. The bobbins were found in an old radio/alarm clock. They only needed to be clipped out.

3.Miniatures made by people I love. The bobbin lace pillow was made by my mom. Neither of us knows how to do bobbin lace, but I was fascinated with it so she made this for me. The lace "in progress" is actually purchased lace which she sat and picked apart!

4. Miniatures that mimic real-life things I love. The top picture is a miniature copy of Renoir's painting, Girls in the Meadow, painted by Josephine Meyer . My grandmother has always had two copies of this painting hanging in her living room, one painted by my great-grandmother, and the other by my aunt.
The second picture is of my miniature dresden ballerina from Gobel. Behind it is my real dresden figurine.

5. Books I have to have miniature versions of my favorite stories and poems. The book above is Tennyson's poem The Lady of Shallot. This is about 1/12th scale, but I also make larger miniature books of favorite poems (about 2" tall) to throw in my purse or pocket.

6.Hidden surprises. I like tiny things which aren't seen at first glance. It's just as much fun to discover the miniature bird's nest as it is to find the real one in the tree outside-maybe the miniature is even more fun.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Parlor

This is the room that drives my mother nuts. She calls it the dust trap, but that was kind of the effect I was going for. This room is really CRAMMED with treasures.

The painting in the back left corner of the room was done by Josephine Meyers. It's copied from a Renoir painting, Girls in the Meadow. I always loved this painting, because my great grandmother and aunt both painted (large) copies, both of which hang in my grandmother's living room. Every time I went to her house as a little girl, I would stand in front of the paintings and just look at them. I love to have miniatures that are coppies of real-life things I love, because they have twice the meaning.
This davenport desk was built by Julian Biggers (the chair is Bespaq). It has so many secret drawers!
We're off to Sturbridge tomorrow, so hopefully I'll find another treasure or two, and lots of supplies (not that I really need any more supplies...)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Micro Project in Pocket Watch

I watched The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe the other night. I really loved C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and was reluctant to watch the movie for just that reason. Film adaptations of books (particularly children's books) seem to always butcher the storyline, turning complex character struggles into simplistic battles between good and evil. But the movie wasn't nearly as bad as I was anticipating. In fact, it got me thinking about making a Narnia scene in miniature. I've had this pocket watch lying around for awhile, and it turned out to have just enough space to show that first meeting of Lucy and Mr. Tumnus.
Sorry for the lack of clarity on the above picture. The glass front made the scene difficult to photograph. I used a very fine white glitter on the snow. The lantern is made of a few little plastic bits glued together.Both Mr. Tumnus and Lucy are carved out of toothpicks. I tried to stay true to the book's description, giving him a red scarf and black umbrella. He is carrying packages wrapped in brown paper. I nearly forgot his tail! Luckily, I remembered and was able to glue it on before I closed up the watch.
Lucy has tissue paper clothing and bunka hair.

Here they are together!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More of the Music Room

I've just realized that I've never shown the whole house interior. Here are a few more details from the music room. I love this figurine. It's really made of porcelain (most of the other figurines in the house are cast metal), so I'm terrified that one day I'll knock it over. One of the wedgewood vases was a birthday gift. I found the other a few years later.
There are two paintings of Venice in the room, both from Josephine Meyer. This one has tiny figures (bottom right) sailing a toy boat (bottom left).

And here's another picture of the little budding musician...

The Music Room

This room is the only room in the house which even slightly resembles my original vision of what it would look like. I pictured far less white, and quite a bit more gold, but overall I'm happy with how things have turned out. This room is on the second floor, on the far left. The violin on the chair is a new(ish) acquisition. I've had a plastic violin there for several years, and always looked longingly at the better-made miniature instruments. I managed to snag this one for a much lower price than normal at a recent (local!) show, and I'm thrilled to finally have a good one. I played violin for several years, and was sorry to give it up, so it was important to have one in my dollhouse.

The screen behind the chair has etched glass panels. My mom built it for me, several years ago, because we simply had to figure out how to display the panels. The shop that sold them (now out of business) only had these three left. There are two with urns and plants, while the center panel has a very intricate cherub design. If anyone knows who might have made these etched glass pieces, I'd love to know!

Mom also made the two ferns in this room.

The chandelier is from Mr. Kay. However, when I saw it in the room I thought it looked a bit bare, so I pulled the elastic out of a rhinestone bracelet and draped it evenly over the three arms.
This little musician is a very new member of the dollhouse. I've tried to restrain myself to only a few animals, but I really couldn't resist him. The odd thing is, I don't know any real life Dalmatians, but all the other dogs in my dollhouse (there are three others, an English Cocker Spaniel and two Beddlington Terriors) were meant to be real dogs that I know and love.

I'm going to try to put up a few more photos of this room later.