Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Experimenting with Curtains, Part 1

Since I've never made curtains before, I figured I should start with one of the easier rooms. The nursery only needed one curtain, and John of Merriman Park had already written a detailed tutorial on balloon shades, which seemed like the perfect solution for the tight corner. The last time I posted, I was torn between using white batiste or this flowered pink cotton. While I love white in a nursery, I thought it would be too similar to the white canopy I plan to put on the crib, and I couldn't resist the way the pink fabric picked up the flowered sconce shades.
I don't have a sewing machine, and dislike sewing by hand, so I knew that I was going to have deviate from John's tutorial a little. While I did stitch a few gathering threads, I relyed more on pins and fabric stiffener to make the the right look. In the end, this worked, but I definitely wasted some time fussing with pins when I should have used a needle!

 A few days ago, I measured and drew a window from my house, then made several copies. I pinned all my fabric directly to the photocopy, letting me see how the curtains would look on the window as I went along.
After some looking at a few photos of balloon shades, I decided I only wanted my shade to have one swag. My window was 3" across, and about 5" high.  I used a piece of paper napkin to double check the size fabric I would need. John recommended multiplying the width of the window by three, but since I was going to have a lot less draping, I made my shade only 5" wide.

 After I turned under the sides and bottom edges (I used the fabric selvage for the top of the curtain) , I drew a line 1/2" from each side, using an air-erasable fabric pen. Then, I hand stitched a quick gathering thread down each side from the selvage (couldn't figure out a way to completely avoid using a needle!)
I used a piece of Styrofoam covered in tin foil (the tinfoil was to stop the foam from flaking and creating a huge mess) to pin my fabric. Over the top of the tinfoil, I taped a copy of my window drawing. I began pinning the top of the shade panel to the foam, gathering the fabric a little with the pins so that the 5" width was reduced to the 3" width of my window. I may have gone a little overboard with the pins, but it helped keep the top straight and the gathers small. An easier/faster/better way to this would be to run a gather thread along the top and glue it to a piece of stripwood (as I ended up doing later).  Once the top portion was secured, I started using the gathering threads to bunch up the shades. I used a few more pins along the gather threads to keep the pleating even.

At that point, I could have sprayed the curtain with fabric stiffener and been done. But it was looking a bit poofy to me, and I didn't like the way the side ruffles were sticking out rather than hanging gracefully. So I borrowed Mom's extra-thin pins and got to work pinning the draping into smaller folds.
This was the longest part of making the shade.

There's no such thing as too many pins!

Almost done! After I had the fabric arranged the way I wanted it, it was just a matter of spraying the fabric with fabric stiffener. My squirt bottle was accidentally set to a heavier stream, so this fabric was soaked with stiffener. Even though I used a hairdryer to speed up the drying time, it took a while to dry.

Just to recap, this was the way the shade looked with just a gathering thread...

and here it is after pinning and spraying! I think it made a huge difference.

At this point, I tried the curtain in my nursery in my house and realized I had a problem. I'd let the shade go a little over my 3" wide window drawing, forgetting how little space I had to the right of the the nursery window. As a result, my shade was a quarter inch too wide. To eat up the extra width,I ran a gathering stitch along the top  of the shade to help gather it in, and then glued the top to a piece of 3" piece of strip wood. Then, I cut a piece of 3" wide white fabric, and glued the shade firmly to it.With a little coaxing, I was able to get the shade to the right width. Since the nursery window is along the back wall of the house, I didn't worry about what the shade would look like from the outside. The only problem I had was that reducing the width made the shade dip a little lower, so now it covers more of the window than I intended. It doesn't bother me enough to redo it (at least not now) but I do wish it was a little shorter.

And finally, here's the shade in the nursery. Please ignore the fact that it's hanging a little crookedly. It's just waxed up there temorarily, since I still need to fuss around with the top a little. Now I just need to finish dressing the crib, and make curtains for all the other rooms. Between the nursery and kitchen, I have four windows (nearly) finished, and sixteen more to go!

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Curtain Dilemma

I've mentioned before that my dollhouse was built from plans, rather than a kit. Unlike most front-opening houses, my dollhouse has windows on all four sides. While I love the light this lets into the house, it does create some problems inside.

The windows are uniformly spaced across the back of the house, but the room layout is a little off center. This means that the windows in the nursery and dining room are jammed into corners of the room, while there's only a centimeter or so of space to the left of one of the windows in the music room, upstairs hall, and kitchen.

 The nursery is pretty cramped to begin with, so I'll probably just add a little balloon shade. I'm torn between two fabrics. One option is plain white batiste, which may be too much white when I finally get around to finishing the crib canopy. The second is a pretty but bright pink flowered voile, which is a little intense for the space.
In the kitchen, I got around the corner window problem with wooden blinds. Mom made the blinds for me from coffee stirs and seed bead spacers.

In the music room on the floor above, I'm completely stumped. I've always imagined huge, blue damask curtains in this room, but the windows are on the smaller side, and that corner window has little room for anything elaborate.

The hall is less of a problem, since it only has the one window on the back wall, and another on the dollhouse door. I'm pretty sure I want to use an asymmetric curtain over this window,  but I can't seem to settle on a fabric. I will have to shift the artwork around a little since I didn't think about curtains when I hung these paintings.

I'm determined to tackle these curtains soon, but I honestly find the overall number of windows in my house, and especially the number of corner windows completely intimidating. I've been reading and re-reading the fabulous tips,tricks and tutorials from a couple blogs in order to get my nerve up, but I'd welcome any other tips or links to tutorials. These are the tutorials I'm relying on most at the moment:

Ray of Modern Miniatures has a very detailed two part tutorial

Casey makes curtains look easy with her ceiling tile and pin method

I love the thin fabrics and overall lightness of Josje's curtains

John of Merriman Park passed along some very useful information about making fringe and curtain rings.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tiny Paper Toys

I've been working on some tiny paper toys for our next miniature fair. I really enjoy making these types of projects, but there's a limit to how many one dollhouse can hold.  Since my dollhouse is already crammed with tiny objects, it's good to have miniature shows to use as an excuse to make more.
I also did a little tidying of my workspace, which was getting completely out of hand. I'm usually pretty good about cleaning up if I'm working on one project at a time, but lately I've been working on two or three miniatures at once, which not only meant three times the supplies, but also that I never had a clear stopping point to pick up. Thankfully, this is the "before" photo! I desperately need to figure out a new solution for the things in the white baskets on the left. They hold most of my glues, specialty paints, nasty chemicals, etc. and are a constant mess. I've straightened them up for the moment, but I know they will revert to chaos the next time I use something.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Peek in the Dining Room.

Sorry, it's another short, thrown-together post this morning. I woke up sick, but hopefully a quiet day or two of rest will get me over the worst of it, and I'll be back on track for Saturday's post.
The dining room is the darkest room in the dollhouse, and also one of the least complete. It's an odd room, tucked behind the stairs. There's a door to the kitchen on the left, hidden behind the stairs and a Mark Stockton screen. The door along the back wall goes outside. I wish I had removed it or shifted to the kitchen when the house was redone! The table and chairs were a steal on eBay several years ago. I think I got the entire set for $25! The chair seats obviously need to be recovered, but I'm waiting until I have a better idea of the carpet and curtains (I've been saying this for at least 5 years now).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Crazy for A Quilt

I don't have much time today, so I'm only posting this little teaser of a project that is still very much in progress. I've always wanted a crazy quilt for Phoebe's bedroom, but they are nearly impossible to find in miniature! I finally decided I'd had enough of the bare mattress, and set out to fake one of my own.

For the last year or so I've been scouring thrift shops for  silk ties with tiny patterns, which I combined with snippets of fabric I stole from Mom. I've attached (glued) them all to a base fabric, and am slowly outlining each patch with feather stitch worked in gold thread. Most of the time, this hides the raw edges of the patches pretty well. Crazy quilts were usually made of solid fabrics, to show off embroidered details. But since I have no skill (or patience!) with embroidery, I thought the patterned fabrics would capture the elaborate look of the originals with a lot less work. The little elephant came from a woven (jacquard) tie, but the fabric is too thick to be used for big patches.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pretty Details

A while ago, I bought a little set of brass fan sticks. The other day, I dug them out and decided to give putting it together a go. I made the leaf out of white silk, then painted over it with acrylics.
I kept the sticks of the fan brass, since I was orriginally thinking that I'd make this a working fan, and wasn't sure how a painted finish would hold up to the fan being opened and closed. When I decided that the fan would go in a case instead, I added some dots of paint to break up the brass of the sticks. I used "old glass" for the case, which made it really difficult to photograph.

Now I just need to figure out where to display the fan. I'm leaning towards hanging it in the hall, where the greyish blue wallpaper really brings out the blue in the design. The red of the case interior is a little jarring at the moment, but I've already planned for several touches of red throughout hall. You can just glimpse the red sail of the ship painting on the left.
 Eventally, I'll have two antique pieces of red and blue pettipoint I've been saving made into carpets for the halls. This portrait on vellum will eventually go in the hall as well. It was painted by ebay seller Sylvia Rose, who often copied one of my favorite portait painters, Élisabeth-Louise Vigee-Le Brun. Sadly, I don't think Sylvia Rose has listed any paintings since about 2007, when I won this one.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Day Late...

I know Valentines Day was yesterday, but I figured I'd share these pop up valentines anyways.
 They're made  with paper and goild foil trim. Though I made little folding tabs for the popups, the paper is too thich for the cards to really close. Each is about 1/2" wide.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Experiments Gone Awry

I normally only show projects I'm happy with on this blog. Today I thought I'd share a project that is still in the messy trial stages.
It all started with this punch needle kit from Joan Grimord. It was such a quick and easy way to make a rug,  I started thinking about the other rooms that needed carpet. I've planned to put an oriental carpet in the dining room for years, but never found the perfect one. Then, at the Guild School, I saw a gorgeous oriental carpet Joan had made by shaving a piece of punch needle embroidery. Unfortunately, it didn't seem like she'd be making a kit for the shaved carpets anytime soon. So I finally decided to just see what I could do with what I had.
I only worked on a one inch square test piece, and used colors that would work in the parlor. I figured if it looked good, I could use it to fill the empty little footstool frame has been kicking around. The trial piece didn't turn out so well, but I stuck it in the footstool anyways, just for fun.
  So here's what I found out:
1.I really need to measure more carefully- even if this carpet attempt was successful, I made it so small the base fabric shows all around the cushion edge. 
2. The thread colors darken once it's been shaved.
3. The DMC thread I used is no good for the shaved rugs, though it works nicely for the hooked versions. The fibers seem thick and clumpy, and the brown sections frizzed until they looked dusty.
4. Shaving sometimes seems to distort the pattern.The center design was a pretty clear spray of hooked pink flowers, but shaving turned it in to a pink and green mess.
Obviously, I have a lot more experimenting to do before I can start on my dinning room carpet, but I'm excited that I got something vaguely carpet-like on my first try. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

A New 1/144th Scale Project

I haven't posted any new projects in a while, because I've been working on a special little project.This roombox started out as a piece of bespaq furniture. I made the wallpaper pattern out of a few clip art designs, which I shrank and repeated. I built two quick little console tables out of little brackets for either side of the fireplace. As it turned out, the one on the right can barely be seen.  I took the crooked andirons out and fixed them right after taking this photo.
See? No more crooked andirons! I mostly furnished the box with resin pieces from Nell Corkin. The fireplace,sofa, wing chair, and dresser were all from Nell. 
I added a plastic model railroad cake and teacup to the table.
The flowers in the blue pot were a last minute addition. I used a vintage seed bead, which is closer to the blue of the furniture in real life. I still need to finish up a few little details. I'm debating whether I should add a pair of candles/ginger jars to the mantel, or just leave it plain. I also need to line the drawer below the room with some pretty paper, but other than that, this project is done!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Cozy Attic Bedroom

As a girl, I always loved the character Pheobe from Lousa May Alcott's novel Eight Cousins. In the book, Pheobe is a maidservant who becomes a successful singer, and ends up marrying one of the sons of the family she use to work for.
So when I found a pretty maid doll for my house, I had to name her Pheobe. I've taken a little liberty with her backstory. My Pheobe's sweetheart is a sailor rather than a son of the household. There are several scrimshaw trinkets (made by BoneArt)  he's sent her scattered about the room.
The brass bed was a two year search. The only ones I could find were the wrong size, badly made, or far too elaborate. I finally stumbled on this one during our trip to England. A local shop (now closed) used to carry the crocheted blankets. I plan to move one of the blankets around eventually, when I finish the crazy quilt I'm slowly embroidering.
This little writing cabinet is one of my very favorite miniatures, but I've never found it a true home. It was painted by Rosemarie Torre.
This ironing board has a matching dummy wearing a half-finished dress. It was a birthday gift from the uncle who built this dollhouse.
The dressmaker's dummy is tucked behind the dresser. Can you see the tiny birds hiding in the wallpaper? This wallpaper is my favorite wallpaper of all time. The problem is, I have no idea who printed it, or if it's still available. I mislaid the manufacturer information about a decade ago, and it's never turned up again. The only thing I remember is that it was patterned after a real historic wallpaper.  If anyone knows where I might find more of this paper, I'd love to know.
I've been gradually filling this work basket with sewing supplies. The knitting done on pins is incredibly tiny.  I just wish I could transfer it on to the sweet little wooden knitting needles. If the hatbox it sits on looks a little tattered, the wear is legitamate. It was made by my mother for her childhood dollhouse! 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Best Projects of Wasting Gold Paper: 200 Posts!

Today is my 200th post. I started Wasting Gold Paper in 2009, the summer between my senior year of highschool and freshman year of college.  It's been a crazy couple of years, and to be honest, I'm starting to forget half the posts I've written. So I thought I'd do something a little different today. I've gone through the blog archives and picked some of my favorite posts and projects to share again.

 Hope you enjoy!
Way back in 2009 I posted about this decoupaged screen. While it hasn't stayed in my dollhouse, I did make another which is in the parlor right now.
I've written more than one post about my micro (1/1728th scale) dollhouses, including the tiniest chateau in the world.

After I made the 1/144th scale garden cottage with Nell Corkin at the Guild School, I built a few of my own micro structures.  I also made this secret 1/144th scale room hidden in a book.
I've posted a lot of Mom's dolls over the years. But this one was one of my favorites.
These vintage paper toys were lots of fun to make, but the joints on the dancing dolls nearly drove me over the edge!
 I made over 600 tiles for this dairy room box, which is still waiting to be furnished.

This dummy board, painted to look like our dog, was a Christmas gift I made for Mom.

About a year and a half ago, I started painting furniture. More recently, I've started 'dressing' some of my painted furniture with accessories.

I noticed while I was going through my old posts how many oil and watercolor paintings I used to post. I guess it's time to dig out my art books and work on some more!

My Beaded hand bag tutorial has been one of my most popular posts. In addition to the original tutorial, I also posted some 'Tips and Tricks' .