Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Books and Perfume

I've been busy with end-of-semester madness, but that's all over for the moment, so here are a few little things I made recently. I make my books in batches, so sometimes I do many at once, and other times I go months without making any. These are my two newest, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and The Dead, by James Joyce. I've now made 30 different readable books for my library. Only 45 more to go to finish the largest bookcase!
 I've also been trying my hand at different types of perfume bottles. I love the way this one looks filled. I need to remake the box with heavier card though.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


 Every year, my mom does a study of monarch butterflies with her class. They watch them grow from eggs, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly. I couldn't resist making one in miniature.  

The top of the jar is covered with a bit of shear white stocking. If you pull it apart a little, this stuff also makes very realistic cobwebs.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

One of my favorite dolls

A few weeks ago I showed Mom's maid sleeping on the laundry. This is another of the dolls she sold at the  show that I had a hard time letting go of.
After a long hard day of work, she's finally getting to relax and soak her poor feet. We displayed her on an "old" scrub brush, but didn't permanently attach her, so that she could also be used in a dollhouse. The scrub brush started out as new, raw wood, and we had a time dirtying it up one night. Even my brother lent a hand with some of the nicks and gouges!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Another little project...

I only found four of these little metal findings in my stash of old jewelry parts, but they seemed like perfect little decorative matchbox covers. This was the prototype, just made from whatever I had on hand, and I'm not yet happy with the matches. Hopefully I can get the next batch looking more realistic.
 The matches are glued in the box, but the box itself can be opened and shut just like a real matchbox.

Monday, October 18, 2010

May I Have This Dance?

This little dance card is only 1/4th of an inch across. It has a tiny pencil on a tasseled string, and the front reads "Netherfield Dance", along with a date.
Inside, there are many spaces for handsome gentlemen to claim their dance!

You wouldn't believe the number of times I had to tie this string! Even with the reference photos right in front of me, I couldn't get the hang of it, lol. When I figured it out, I actually took the time to scribble out directons for myself. I'm usually a VERY lazy note taker, since I'm almost always able to muddle out the way I made something just by looking at it again. But in this case, I REALLY don't want to fuss with those threads any more than I have to, if I end up wanting to make more dance cards down the line.

Do you take notes on your projects?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Our First Miniature Show!

Mom and I spent Sunday on the other side of the sales table at the Stamford Plaza hotel in Stamford, Ct! We were so nervous, we spent all of Saturday fussing with last-minute details. We practiced so many mock table set ups, I think it only took ten minutes on the actual day! Mom brought dolls, and I brought a few paintings and paper things (books, dancing dolls, and a couple other bits and pieces) to split a six foot table.
Mom was so convinced she wasn't going to sell any of her dolls, she almost brought only a couple large gift boxes to the show to wrap dolls up. Luckily, I threw in a bunch more, because she only had four dolls left at the end of the show! The maid up above was a little hard to let go- we did a lot of the work together. Mom dressed her, of course (I can't make any garment more complex than a toga :) but while she was doing that I painted/distressed the table and matching stool, and we worked on the folded linens together at the kitchen table. She went to a good home though, as did all the others!
P.S. Our favorite porcelain doll parts all come from Ellen's World.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dancing Dolls

I didn't realize how long it had been since my last post. As it turns out, my laptop was fried, so I had to wait a few weeks to get a new one, and then other things came up, so minis have taken a back seat recently.

These dancing dolls are about all I've had time to make. They are all jointed with thin wire, so that they can be posed in different positions.
The joints are hard to see in the photos, but there are at least four per doll. They were quite a challenge, but I'm pleased with the results.
The next post may take a while, since I'm in the midst of packing to go back to school, but I'm hoping to get back to a regular schedule soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Broken Laptop and and Mini Watercolors

My laptop is broken. It turns on, lights up, but the screen stays dark. Right now, it's in the shop getting properly diagnosed. The bad news is, there's a good chance that I'll need a new one. The good news is, retrieving my files should be easy, so I won't lose any of my work.
In the mean time, I've been framing miniature watercolours I painted awhile ago. I hate to make the frames, so I splurged on a bunch of frames from Smaller Than Life.

Framed, this painting is 2" wide and 1 1/2" tall.
This is the smallest painting- the watercolor area is less than 3/4" square.
This painting is 1 1/2" wide by 2" tall. The colors in this photograph are a bit washed out- it looks much more cheerful in real life.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bigger Projects

I haven't posted for a while because I've been caught up in non-dollhouse projects. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.
I inherited my iPod from my brother a few years ago, and never worried about it since it was already a bit scratched up. Finally, I decided it was time to make it a case the other day. It's basically made like a book cover, with cardboard panels covered in green silk. Making this cover was the closest I get to "tech savvy", and there are still a couple of design flaws.

I found a tutorial somewhere (wish I could remember where) on making flowers out of pine cones. The "enamel" is done with nail polish. I'm going to attach these to bobby pins.

Last but not least, here is the kitchen wall, stripped of nasty vinyl wallpaper from the previous owners. This has been a project that's needed to happen for a long time, so just looking at the unpainted walls is a thrill. And just in case you don't believe how badly this needed to be done, I've included the 'before' picture below...

Scary isn't it?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Good Intentions Didn't Get Me Very Far cleaning up my workspace. I kept coming up with project ideas, until I finally took a break from sorting/labeling/tossing and had a little fun. A few months ago, I bought a few packs of quarter scale brown plastic furniture. Looking through old issues of Little Enough News, I found a page which showed various ways to cut the furniture apart and reassemble it to make other pieces. One of the things I got from the Sturbridge Show was a quarter scale Art Deco house kit. The seller didn't have it at the show, so I haven't started building it yet, but I'm already thinking about how I will furnish it. I decided to see if I could make anything even vaguely Art Deco from the brown plastic furniture.

The desk on the left is the piece I started with. Eventually, the modified piece on the right will be a vanity, with a tall mirror in the center. It obviously needs a paint job to improve the look of the ugly brown plastic, and hide the white plastic I used to modify the shape. I'm hoping that I'll be able to do a realistic looking faux wood.
For this table, I cut off the legs and discarded the pedestal. Then I flipped the legs upside down, glued them to the underside of the table, and added a couple thick blocks of plastic to form a new base.
The chair in the center is the stock brown chair. The little table on the left was made from two of the laddered chair-backs, glued to a scrap square of plastic. The chair on the right is made from two stock chairs. I first removed the back from one of the chairs. Then, I trimmed the legs from the second chair, flipped it over, and glued it to the top of the first chair. With a little more trimming, and a single ladder from the chair back, the second set of legs became the chair's back and arms.

I'm not thrilled with these pieces, but they were a fun diversion. I'm going to continue experimenting with the rest of my stash, and hopefully a bit of paintwork will reduce the plastic look. But first- I have to finish cleaning up!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Not Much to Show

We didn't end up finding much at Sturbridge. There were lots of great miniatures to see, but very little that would work in any of our houses, so we came away with mostly supplies. Mom ended up getting two darling things, but she hasn't yet figured out where she will put them, so I will hold off posting about them until they have a home. In the mean time, I've been having fun making Valentines from frilly bits and pieces.
Lots of gold paper, glitter, and lace. My favorite glitter is actually an additive meant for model car paint. It comes in a range of colors, but I mostly use the gold.

The weather's been dismal lately, so I've been reorganizing my workspace as well. I finally decided that it was time to replace the hand-written labels on all my drawers so the label-maker has been going full blast. I've also been spray-painting cardboard boxes between rain showers. I needed a neat way to store small items that didn't have a home. I collected a variety of sturdy food and toiletry boxes, which did the job admirably, but didn't look very neat. A couple coats of spray paint and printed labels made all the difference. I'll post photos when the re-organization is done: right now I'm sorting the last few drawers and boxes, so it still looks like a mess.

Friday, June 4, 2010

More Little Books

I decided to work on more miniature books today. Below you can see a finished book in the press. This little flower press is the best tool for bookmaking. It's only a few inches wide, but it easily presses two or three books shut at once. It's extra small because it was originally sold as an American Girl Doll flower press. Despite the fact that it's technically a toy, it's held up really well to (lots!) of real use.

Here are the last three books I made: Pride and Prejudice, The Arabian Nights, and The Castle of Otranto. Eventually, I hope to make an entire readable library for my other dollhouse, but so far I've only done a shelf and a half. There are five shelves in the largest bookcase I plan to fill, and each shelf needs about 16 books. Right now, I have 23 books completely finished, and that's taken me over six months (working very intermittently). At the very least, I need to make about 60 more books. I really didn't realize what a big project this would be when I started! Those ready-made books are seeming awfully reasonable right now... Fortunately (?) there's even more to do on the dollhouse, before it is anywhere near ready for a full library, so there's no rush to get the books done.

P.S. Mom and I are going to the miniature show in Sturbridge. It's usually my favorite show of the year. It's a big enough show to be more exciting than our local shows, but it generally has a friendly atmosphere that some of the big shows lack. Is anyone else going?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Good Book

I've been re-organizing bookshelves around the house. I've finally rounded up most of the books about miniatures, and have given them their own shelf. I was a bit surprised to see how many books I had collected over the years, mostly from local book fairs. I'll be sharing a few of my favorites from time to time.

The thick orange book in the photo above is one my favorites. The Collector's History of Doll's Houses, Doll's House Dolls, and Miniatures by Constance Eileen King is the most comprehensive book for antique and vintage dollhouses I have found. It covers sixteenth century cabinet houses, right through the commercial houses of the 1980s, and is loosely organized by both country and century. There are surprisingly detailed descriptions of the construction, contents, and owners of the antique houses, which makes for entertaining reading. The only real drawback to the book is that most of the photos are black and white, with only a few color plates.. I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone who has the slightest interest in antique dollhouses.

(Please excuse the glare, my book is a library cast-off, and the dust jacket has a protective plastic cover that makes the book difficult to photograph)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bottle Cap Footstools

I always save bottle caps. I started collecting them to send micro swap items safely, but it's been a while since the last swap, and my collection is getting a bit large. The other night, I remembered using bottle caps to make footstools as a kid. I had to give it another try.
The bottle caps I had were large, about an inch across, and 1/2 inch deep, so I cut it down to about 1/4 inch high using old scissors, then sanded the cut edge. An adult should definitely do the cutting! Stuff the cap with cotton balls, until they make a nice puffy seat. Cut a large circle of fabric (printed cottons hide glue spots pretty well), and cut rays from the outer edge inwards towards the center. Put glue around the plastic sides of the bottle cap, and then cover the cap with your fabric circle. Don't worry if glue shows around the sides, you will cover that with trim. Secure the fabric with an elastic band, and let it dry. When it is dry, trim away excess fabric, remove the rubber band, and add trim. I'm fond of embroidered ribbon or crocheted lace for this part, but any heavier weight wide trim will work.
Flip the stool over, and glue feet to the bottom (which is the old top of the bottle cap). I used wood turnings, but small beads will work as well. The finished effect is always "cute" rather than "elegant", but they are a fun rainy day project.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Little Mischief

I'd like to introduce you to my mother's latest doll. She's a very sweet girl...
who has gotten into a bit of trouble! There are muddy paw prints all over her clean white dress, and her hat may be ruined-what will Mother say?
Mom dressed and wigged the doll, and I 'helped' with the pawprints. My mother is a brave woman, letting me get near all her hard work with paint!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I'm Back, and a Sneak Preveiw!

Here's a glimpse at my contribution to my mom's latest project.
The fleshy pink blob is the home-made stamp I made this morning. I first made the paw print in reverse, using a bobby pin and micro beads to indent a scrap of clay. Then I used a second piece of clay to get a positive relief from the clay. You have to rock the stamp a bit to get a good print, but it's much faster than painting each by hand.

And here's the real culprit! Hopefully the full project will be done soon,and I'll be able to post more pictures of everything.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Toodeloo for a Short Time!

You might have noticed a bit of dust around here lately. I'm going through the busiest time of my year, so I won't be around for at least two or three more weeks. However, I have a backlog of photos to share, so expect lots of updates soon after!

See you in a few weeks!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

In Amongst the Hydrangas

Happy Easter!
This little fellow was a quick project the other night, made from bits of plastic and wood, four snaps, and a plastic bunny. I sprayed the whole thing gold (the only color I had on hand, truth be told), then used red/pink, green and blue acrylics to accent the toy. Finally, it all got a heavy antique brown wash and a thread pull . He's about 1 inch tall in all.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Painting

It's been a while since my last post! I have been working on various miniatures for the past few weeks, but this painting is one of my favorite. It's oil on wood, about 2" tall. It's a copy of Van Gogh's Still Life with Open Bible.

This is going to be difficult to frame. It was sort of an impulsive painting, so I forgot to allow room around the edge for the frame to hide. There's plenty of room on the sides, and enough on the bottom edge, but I'm worried about the top. Please notice the warning along the left side. My mom jokes that "wet paint" is my signature.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Don't sneeze!

I posted this micro chateau I put together out of paper a while ago, and a few projects more recently but looking through some old photos, I found a few other tiny projects. These projects were not necessarily as challenging as the chateau, but they remain some of my smallest attempts!
This doll and toy soldier in a box were fun! The doll was made according to instructions on Frances Armstrong's site. Both these projects found homes in micro scenes later on.
These baskets are made of thread. They are slightly large for true 1/144th scale, but are quite effective in some settings where scale is not such an issue. As you can see, I got a bit carried away making these - I made about 30 in a few days at one point!
This was just thrown together, using miniatures that needed a home. The chair is an N scale (1:160) brass piece. The music stand is also painted brass.
On the chair is a 1/144th scale violin! It is made of styrene (plastic), paper, and various other materials. It took lots of experimenting to figure this one out! Though they cannot be seen in the pictures, there are even tiny black tuning pegs on the neck, as well as a black tail piece. The violin is about 1/8th of an inch long.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Little Details

My uncle built the original shell of my dollhouse. When it was refurbished about ten years ago, I realized for the first time how unusual my house was. It's similar to the Katherine, but was built from plans rather than a kit. So my floor plan is slightly different, and I have many more windows. There were several problems with using the opening windows which I wanted all over the house, but we were able to use one for the kitchen. I think all kitchens need an open window for little boys to steal the baking, don't you?
The fuzzy African Violet was made by my mom from a kit. The muffins were a joint effort.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snowy Day Projects

I woke up this morning to find that it had snowed again, on top of all the snow that we got last week. This is taken from the window over my bed. It's a very pretty snow, but I'm getting a bit of cabin fever!

To pass the time, I've been cutting scraps for more miniature scrap screens like this one. I'm thinking that I might make a scapbook or two as well. Unfortunately, I've run out of the unfinished screens that I used to use. Does anyone know a source for plain wooden (or even painted) screens?
Empty, clean tic-tac containers are great for storing scrap, especially since I have a tendancy to knock containers over! Most scraps fit through the small top opening, but the entire white top can be removed if necessary. There are enough pieces here for one screen, with a quite a few left over.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

More Books, and Help Please!

I've been trying to put together more books over the last few days. Here they all are. I need to press them all shut still, in my doll-sized flower press, so that they will actually fit in a bookcase without popping out.
Top row: Lover's Vows, Alice in Wonderland, Heidi,The Monk, Lady Windermere's Fan, A Simple Story
Bottom row: Buckle My Shoe, An Old Fashioned Girl, Ivanhoe, King Arthur, Line and Form (an art book), Robin Hood, and A Little Princess.

I need help thinking of more titles. I'm trying to concentrate on older titles, since I doubt that I'll ever do a modern dollhouse, but I confess that I know far more recent fantasy/scifi books than anything else. Since the books I've made so far will only fill a few inches of shelving, and my eventual goal is a readable miniature library, I'm going to need lots of titles. What are your favorite books?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Shoe Makeover

I try to mostly show my miniatures on here, but I'm going to post a different type of project just this once.
I have a hard time finding shoes, so when I found these shoes on eBay quite a while ago I was quite excited. I bought them knowing that I'd change them around a bit. That floral pattern wouldn't work with anything I own.
I didn't think to take photos of the process, but this is what I did with those shoes:

It's just a quick re-cover, with fabrics and trims that I had on hand. I didn't cover the entire shoe, since the blue satin accents seemed like they would be too difficult to change. I worked around the blue details, and ended up gluing seven separate panels of the grey fabric. I used old remnants of grey linen, which appears quite blue in these pictures. The black trim is bunka, and all the other details are beaded and sequined elements cut from some netting a friend of the family gave me. It took me two evenings to cover the shoes, but I rushed a bit.
I really like shoes with detailed backs, I've decided. The beaded designs are quite symmetrical in real life, despite how it appears here!

Since making them, I've worn them out and about a few times. They seem to be holding up fairly well, though some of the beading I glued on the sides of the heel has been damaged.