Thursday, March 29, 2012

Miniatures retreat this fall: Camp Mini Ha Ha in Nova Scotia!

I'm so excited that I'm going to be going to my first real-life miniatures retreat:  the 12th annual Camp Mini Ha Ha in Cornallis, NS, which takes place at the end of September!

I'm looking forward to five days working, learning and playing with other miniaturists at this great event, which is only two hours away from me, in the beautiful Annapolis Valley.

And here's a little peek at a delicious-looking plate of Stilton cheese, bread and grapes by Amanspeak Miniatures in the UK that just arrived: 

Nice work, and suitable for any period!

My roof slates arrived as well, from Richard Stacey, and I've been slating like a mad thing.  More photos of the house, soon!

Monday, March 26, 2012

1690 miniature sampler by Annelle Ferguson

I finished the main stitching for this sampler last night -- now I'm just deciding whether or not to fill in the background or leave it as is :)

This is a gorgeous kit designed by legendary miniature needleworker and IGMA Fellow Annelle Ferguson, based on a 1690 English band sampler.  It's on 48 count silk gauze making it the tiniest scale thing I've ever stitched (it's just under 2 inches long :)  I can handle this count with my naked (nearsighted) eyes, but any smaller than this and I think I might go a bit nuts.  Or need a magnifier.  Or both.

It's a beautiful design and was a pleasure to stitch. I made a couple of mistakes and I lost Annelle's red thread (so continued with a different shade) but I love it, my imperfections and all :) It's a beautiful design.

I'm going to frame it and it'll go in the WAMH, as a souvenir of my 1:12 scale alter ego's late 17th century youth!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What I bought from the March Online Miniatures Sale

All the little lovely things I bought at the March Online Sale have arrived, so I can share them with you!

The beautifully-made string of onions (and the loose ones) are by Canadian artisan Cheryl Hartlan (
They're perfect for my WAMH kitchen!  Thank you, Cheryl!

The blue bowl hand painted by Elizabeth Chambers in a Chinese style is from a very fine dealer, Lovely Things, and of course is destined for the Blue and White room :)

And the period ephemera are by Monserrat Folch, and are just gorgeous in person! Each piece has its own texture and detail and they will look wonderful in the house!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How to make a simple fire/ember unit for a 1/12 scale dollhouse

Here's how to make a simple (and very inexpensive) electrified fire/embers/coals unit for your dollhouse.

Tic Tacs are a pretty worldwide candy. If you live somewhere where the orange Tic Tac box is orange (and the mints are white - like Canada) then you have an almost instant source of the right coloured material to make a fire! 

(This will also work if you only have clear boxes -- get some transparent or translucent glass paint and paint the plain plastic the colour or colours you want your glowing embers.)

You'll also need black paint and a 12 volt bulb -- I'm using a pre-wired frosted grain of rice bulb.

Cut off the bottom 1/2 inch or so (15 mm) of the candy box with a saw or even scissors. (You can also cut one of the sides down, if you need a shorter unit -- the one I actually made for my kitchen grate needed about 1/4 of an inch taken off one side. ) Cut a slot or drill a hole where the wires will exit at the back of the unit.

 I just dabbed it with thick globs of artist's black acrylic paint for coals, but you could also glue on logs or bits of real coal or even black beads for verisimilitude :)  Let it dry.

I drilled a hole in the back of the kitchen grate and placed the bulb inside.  I then put the fire unit on top of the bulb inside the grate and taped the wires securely at the outside back of the grate.  Then I fed the wires through a hole in the back of my fireplace nook and added an electrical plug and plugged it into my electrical board.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Early Georgian kitchen range and shelves

On the weekend I made a set of pieces for the kitchen fireplace -- together they make a sort of early range.

I made a hob-style grate using this tutorial by Carol Clark, which looks almost exactly the same as Brian Long's instructions from his Georgian Doll's House book.

Then I made a "cast iron" bread oven and fire box for the left hand side of the fireplace -- David's going to remake these for me in patinaed brass, but they'll do for now.  I haven't added the door to the fire box, but there will be a fire inside :)  I'm also making a fire for the grate.

 I made a few little shelves with some sections of full-size moulding, whose profile looks just right for 1:12 scale brackets!  One can never have too many shelves ...

I have a busy theatrical time this week, so I don't know how much I'll be posting.  Talk to you soon!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Egg carton stone floor for Esther's house

Over the past few weeks Esther and I have been working on the 1:12 Tudor house she's building.  She wanted a stone floor in her kitchen, and I suggested we try egg carton stones, as I'd been saving egg cartons for about a year :)

We had three different colours of egg cartons, and cut a variety of rectangular pieces from them.  Esther started laying stones in the middle of the floor and worked outwards.  This meant a lot of cutting and fitting around the sides, but it wasn't terribly difficult.  ''

When all the stones were glued in place, then we added weak washes of three different colours -- dark slate grey, light grey and raw umber.  The egg cartons are VERY absorbent, of course, so there's no open time for this layer.  If you want to be able to work your glazes at this point, I'd suggest sealing the stones before you do your colour washes.

Then Esther sealed the floor with three coats of satin acrylic medium -- you could use varnish.  She'll play with the stones a bit more (maybe adding grout lines) but I think it looks pretty darned good!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Little transferware plates by A Lavender Dilly and my first original mini crewelwork!

I just received some wonderful little blue and white plates from Australian artisan Carrie Lavender, who sells through her shop A Lavender Dilly on Etsy.  Aren't they sweet?    Check out her blog

I also finished my first original miniature crewel piece, and I think I may be addicted.  This stuff is fun!  I look forward to getting much, much better both at my stitching and my design :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Meeting East Coast Canadian miniaturists in real life!

I've had a Epiphany of sorts, all thanks to a lady named Cheryl H. :)  I visited her virtual table at the March Online Sale, and was excited to see that she's from Nova Scotia!  After purchasing one of her onion braids, I asked about real life groups in the area, and there are actually several, which makes me very, very happy.

Until now, 99% of my contact with other miniaturists has been online.  Although I've loved this, and it's been both a lifeline and a real pleasure to share the hobby with so many talented artists around the world, I have longed to meet some folks in real life, and now I'm going to!

Cheryl seems to know everyone involved in miniatures in Eastern Canada -- and even further afield, because she runs a Yahoo group devoted to Canadian miniaturists.  Here are some of the links she shared with me:

Canada Minis -- a Yahoo Group  "Canada Minis is a group for miniaturists to gather and share information about the Canadian miniature community, to find out about shows, clubs, places to shop, and other general information about miniatures in Canada.

Shearwater Hobby Show  April 15 and 16 in Shearwater, NS  This model making show includes dollhouse and miniature exhibits and sellers.  I've just booked my table, so I'm going to bring in the Tudor castle kitchen, I think, and some stuff to sell :)

Moncton Miniature and Doll Club -- which also runs an annual dolls house show the first weekend of May.

Miniature Enthusiasts Across Canada --

Miniature Crafters of Nova Scotia -- meets monthly

Camp Mini Ha Ha -- a miniaturists' retreat and camp held annually in Cornwallis, NS.  I want to go!

And I'm talking with a very nice woman from Bridgewater who wants to start a South Shore group.  Things are happening!

Friday, March 9, 2012

March Online Miniature Show

I've just been checking the wares at the March Online Miniature show -- there are some beautiful items!  I think there could be more information about the show in general, the listing of vendors could be better organized (perhaps by scale and then by category) and the process of ordering could be clearer or more streamlined (it seems to be largely by email) but it's a great idea and I'm shopping!

There are lots of small scale minis available for those collecting in that scale -- especially 1/4".

Some of my favourites:

Lots of gorgeous ephemera for many periods from Monsterrat Folch, including this sealed letter set and ribbon-tied letters:

Gorgeous creations by Oiseau de Nim, including these peonies:

Stunning traditionally-made baskets by Australian Basketcase Miniatures:

Very attractive and reasonably priced food (including lots of sweets and cakes) from Amanspeak Miniatures:

I could go on, but I must dash!  Do check it out -- the sale is on now until Tuesday!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Progress on Armenian Gendje Carpet

Here's the current state of the carpet I'm working on from Meik and Ian McNaughton's Making Miniature Oriental Carpets:

 I've loved this one since I first saw the pattern, although I was intimidated by the complexity of the design.  It's much simpler to stitch than it appears, once the basic framework is set up.

In related news, I am the proud owner of a copy of Annelle Ferguson's book Traditional Needlework in Miniature.  YEE HAW!  After months of tracking down a copy of this out of print gem, I finally got one!  I am stoked to start stitching from it ...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hipped dormer for William and Mary dollhouse

I have four hipped dormers to make for the William and Mary dolls' house, and I started with the one in the kitchen roof.  I'll do a proper tutorial on hipped dormers when I do the three on the main house, but here's a walk through.  

Here's my reference photo:

Based on this photo, I chose the Housework's working casement window.  I painted the window white and added the panes using 1/32" vinyl model striping.  Then I built my dormer from foam core, because it's light and easy to adjust.  I glued and then duct taped the dormer together.

I drew the outline of the dormer unit on the backing, and cut out the opening.

I glued the dormer to the backing panel over the hole, and used narrow strips of aluminium tape (used for duct work) to mimic lead.  I slated the dormer with Richard Stacey Versi Slates, using folded slates as ridge tiles.  Then I started slating the roof, making sure that the backing panel for the dormer would lift free of the roof base, so I have access to the little room underneath.

I've run out of slates, so have to wait for my shipment, but I'm very pleased with this first attempt!

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