Saturday, October 19, 2019

Christmas Ornament Tutorial

I'm recently back from a week at Mom's in Arizona.  I took along a cross-stitch rug for the Art Deco house and did exactly nothing on it.  I did, however, have a wonderful time with Mom.  Since I didn't get much mini-ing done, I thought I could do a post showing how I made the Christmas ornaments I am using in my gift baskets. 

I started with some wooden beads I had in my stash.  I believe they came from Joann.  Can't remember why I bought these, but I'm sure it was because I knew they'd be good for something someday.  😊    

There were various sizes in the set, so I picked out 7mm beads for my 1:12 scale ornaments and 5 mm beads for 1:24 scale.

(As an aside, I also used one of the small oval beads for a 1:24 hat stand, so—multiple uses!  See, I knew they'd be good for something.  😊)

Since these beads were varnished, I did have to spend some time sanding them lightly to remove the varnish.  If you could find plain wood beads, you wouldn't have to do this step.

I then filled the centers with wood putty.

After letting them dry overnight, I sanded the top and bottom to get them as smooth as possible.  It's best to give the putty plenty of time to dry, because you're pushing it inside the bead, where air doesn't reach it.  When I tried to rush the process, I regretted it.  When I tried to drill my holes in the next step, I ended up pushing out the entire putty plug.  πŸ™„

Next, I used my pin vise and its smallest bit to drill holes in the top of each bead.  These will be used for the hanging wire, but I also inserted straight pins into the holes temporarily for easier painting.

I painted the beads with Apple Barrel Cardinal Crimson acrylic paint.  (Any flat craft paint will do.  I wouldn't advise using gloss or satin, because I don't think the nail art will stick as well.)  Because red tends not to cover well, it took a good two coats (sometimes three) to get them looking the way I wanted.  During drying time, I inserted the pins into the foam block I use for making flowers.

When they were dry, I used some snowflake fingernail stickers (note:  not water slide decals) to decorate them.  Obviously, the nail stickers are flat and the beads are round, but the nice thing about snowflakes is that it's easy to snip between the "arms" to allow for better shaping of the sticker around the bead.

Once I had the snowflakes stuck down, I used one of my ball shaping tools to really burnish them down well.  

I then applied two coats of clear nail polish, to give them a nice shine and really hold down the stickers.

I took some fine brass wire and shaped it into hooks—larger hooks for the 1:12 ornaments and smaller hooks for the 1:24 ornaments.  

I glued gold tone beads (size 8 for 1:12, size 15 for 1:24) over the holes I had drilled, centering the hole of the bead over the hole for the wire, and glued them down with Locktite Precision Superglue Gel.  I then put a dab of the superglue gel on my hooks and inserted them in the holes.


These can hang nicely on standard bottle brush trees.

Hope you enjoyed this little tutorial, and hope you all have a wonderful weekend with lots of time for your minis!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

And the Winner Is. . . .

Shannon, who selected the 1:24 green basket.  I placed all the names on folded strips of paper in a bowl, scrambled them up, and then just picked one out, so it was totally random. 

Congratulations, Shannon!  And thank you to all who participated.  Shannon, please use the "contact me" section on the right-hand side to give me your mailing address so that I can send your basket out. πŸ˜Š  I hope you like it!

Friday, October 4, 2019

A Christmas Giveaway!

To show my appreciation for all the folks who have been reading and following my blog, I'm doing a Christmas giveaway!  (O.K.  I know it's October, but Joann is already stocking Christmas items.😊)  You've seen the Christmas gift baskets I've been working on.  I'm offering one of them to a randomly-selected reader who posts in the comments that s/he would like to participate, including which basket s/he is interested in.  More info below.

As a reminder of what each contains (and a new addition, thanks to a suggestion from Samantha):

Chocolates (one box per basket):

The chocolates are not removable from their boxes, although the lids are removable.

Gingerbread men (1 box/4 gingerbread men per basket):

The gingerbread men are removable.

Wine or brandy (1 bottle per basket, brandy in the half-scale green basket only):

Coffee (one bag per basket):

Gourmet Hot Cocoa Mix (1 jar per basket):

Christmas Mug (1 mug per basket):

Candy cane (one per basket):

Ornament (one per basket):

For the red basket, A Christmas Carol:

These are not accordion-printed pages; they are printed double-sided. Both books contain the same complete synopsis of the story.  The dimensions of the 1:12 scale book are ¾" x ½" x 5/32" (20mm x 14mm x 4.5mm); the dimensions of the 1:24 scale book are 3/8" x ¼" x 1/8" (10mm x 7mm x 3mm). 

For the green basket, The Night Before Christmas:

Again, these are printed double-sided. Both books contain the full text of the poem.  The dimensions of the 1:12 scale book are 15/16" x 7/8" x 1/8" (24mm x 22mm x 3mm); the dimensions of the 1:24 scale book are 1/2" x 7/16" x 1/8" (13mm x 11mm x 3mm).

To enter, just post a comment and tell me which size (1:12 or 1:24) you would like, and whether you would like the red basket with A Christmas Carol or the green basket with The Night Before Christmas.  Your choice will not affect your chances in the drawing.  I will be picking a winner on October 15, 2019, at noon Pacific Daylight Time, so please get your entries in by 10:00 a.m. PDT on October 15.   

Good luck!               .

Friday, September 27, 2019

Fantasy Friday: An Art Deco House

Now that I've finished my Throwback Thursday posts on my previous builds, here is a "Fantasy Friday" post on something I'd like to build. 

Once upon a time, someone at Greenleaf asked, "What would be your dream dollhouse?"  I had recently discovered the dollhouses of Henry Colbert, and it was a no-brainer for me to pick his 1:24 scale Sun House.  (Check out the Sun House, as well as more of his houses, in the link above.  One has a pool, a pool, beautifully lit with blue LEDs under the resin water!)  While looking around to find good examples of similar dollhouses, I saw plans for a dollhouse in a 1937 issue of Popular Mechanics. A couple of versions apparently built from the plans can be found here and here.  I immediately fell in love with it.  The moderne, ocean-liner style of architecture with its art deco elements had me swooning.  It occurred to me that I might even be able to build it someday.  Someone else on Greenleaf has put together half-scale plans for this house, but I've been working on some of my own.  I have very specific requirements for the house, one of which is that it must fit on a bookshelf. 

My floor plan is not a true one-half of the original.  For example, the original kitchen was only 6 inches square, which would translate to 3 inches square in half scale—that is a tiny kitchen, and almost nothing would fit there.  I expanded both it and the dining room a bit, so that I could put furniture in them!

Second, there was no bathroom. I took some space from the bedroom to make one.  I couldn't do a moderne home without an eau de nil bathroom!  (Here are some examples that Henry made.)

The sink I have sitting on the plans will likely get swapped out for the one on the right, once I've affixed it to a pedestal.

As you can see, I've been collecting items and kits to be made up for the house, with a few more on the way.  (Hi, Shannon😊)

I've also been collecting ties, have purchased the Brodnax 1:24 scale leopard print fabric, and have been test printing some other fabrics to use in the upholstery for the deck furniture.  I won't necessarily use all the ties, but I like their patterns.  The tie second from the right is a beautiful silver color that doesn't really show up in the picture.

Take a look at this amazing art deco dollhouse that has provided further inspiration.  More information on it here and here.  Believe it or not, this house was originally designed in half scale.  Here is an example of the 1:24 version.  (Of course, it's no longer available on eBay, although I probably couldn't afford it if it were!)  The makers (Chris and Joan Rouch of Top Toise Designs) appear to still be in business, but they are based in the U.K. and don't have a Web site, and I'm not going to be making it across the pond to attend Miniatura.  πŸ˜”

So there you have it.  Once I'm back in full build mode, I really hope to make this my next big project.  Stay tuned!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Gift Basket Update

We were on vacation in San Diego most of last week, but I got some time over this past weekend to work on my prototype gift baskets.  After my first sneak-peek post on the baskets, Sherrill suggested I add handles—perhaps thread wrapped around floral wire.  Well, I thought it was an excellent suggestion, so I did just that.  I used a larger gauge of floral wire for the 1:12 baskets (obviously).  Then I trimmed them both with a bit of holiday decoration—holly for the red basket and a poinsettia for the green basket.  What do you think?

I also had, I think, good success on making the half-scale mugs.  I used this method:  I modified things slightly.  Of coruse, I changed the size of the paper strips (mine were just slightly less than ¼ inch wide).  Also, instead of quilling the bottom, I punched out  a circle of card stock.  I used a U.S. size 5 (3.75 mm, size 9 UK/Canadian) knitting needle for wrapping the cup itself.  I started trying to wrap the paper near the tip of the knitting needle, but had difficulty getting my edges to stay even.  Finally, I realized that I could wrap against the back of the needle, butted up against the needle cap, and this worked so much better! 

For the handles, I made my ring around a bamboo skewer.  It has a flat end, so I could push the ring down against my work table to keep it relatively straight.

I used Elmer's glue, because it dries hard and rigid, and I wanted a sturdy mug!  When it was dry, I coated it with a bit of gesso, sanded it, then painted it with white acrylic paint and sanded again with a piece of brown paper bag.  I wanted a thoroughly non-porous surface before giving it two coats of gloss white spray paint. Here you can see my two mugs flanking a manufactured half-scale mug that I already owned.  (Yes, I was experimenting on it with my nail decals, too. 😊)

And here they are with the 1:12 mugs.

I've now completed my 1:12 gingerbread men.

And filled all the baskets.

The half-scale green basket does have a bottle of brandy, but it's so short it doesn't show from the front.

I had a bunch of half-scale candy canes that appear to just be made of wire, but they look pretty good to me, so I put one in each of the smaller baskets.  The 1:12 candy canes I made from polymer clay, in my never-ending quest to actually get good at working with it!

The 1:12 baskets have a bit of extra space, but the 1:24 baskets are crammed pretty full.  Do you think I am missing anything?  Is there something else you would be expecting in a Christmas gift basket that I don't have?  As a reminder, each basket has a bottle of port or brandy, a book, gourmet hot cocoa mix, a Christmas mug, coffee, gingerbread men, chocolates, and a candy cane.

Thanks for stopping by, and hope you all have a great mini week!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Random minis

This post will be a bit of a mish-mosh, as several things have been happening.

First, Dollhouses, Trains and More, our local (about a 30-minute drive away) miniature and hobby store, announced that it would be closing its doors at the end of October.    It is sad to lose a brick-and-mortar store, especially one as large and well-stocked as that one, but the good news was that everything is 40% off.  We made a pilgrimage on Sunday, and I probably spent more than I should have, but I tried to buy things I knew I would actually use. 

A few highlights:

I bought a lot of frames, including one that was perfect for Samantha's cardinal painting, so that is finally framed and hung in the bungalow.  Woo hoo!

Second, I made a minor splurge on a Victorian settee to replace the rather ungainly day bed I had in the Fairfield's upstairs sitting room.  Now the end table looks a bit large (sigh), but I do think the settee fits the room better.  I still need to replace the pots on the etagere.

I also got half a dozen half-scale cats because I always like animals in my builds, and . . . 40% off!  I love this little cutie who has taken up residence on the rocking chair in the Fairfield kitchen.  The kitty-cat love of my life was a gray tabby with white paws and bib.  Effie likes having her as company in the kitchen.  She is an unusually well-behaved kitty and never gets on the table.  πŸ˜‰

My next project for the Fairfield is supposed to be the window boxes.  I have purchased several from Heritage LaserWorks and just need to make them up and fill them.  However, I've gotten sidetracked with my Christmas baskets.  I am trying to make truly equivalent baskets in both 1:12 scale and 1:24 scale.

Things I am thinking of including:
  •   A box of chocolates (you've seen these already, but here they are again):

  • A bottle of port or brandy.  The middle bottle is supposed to be 1:24 scale and is what I have been using in my half scale baskets.  The bottle on the right is a 1:24 scale "liquor" bottle.  I added some Gallery Glass to deepen the color.  I'll need to paint the top with Testor's and add a label.

  •  Gourmet Hot Cocoa Mix.  The 1:12 jars aren't great, but the original jars I got seemed humongous to me.  I can never tell if that's because I am so used to working in half scale or they really are huge.  These are a bit smaller.

  •          A book.  I have two different options.  A Christmas Carol:

And A Visit from St. Nicholas (aka Twas the Night before Christmas):

In both scales, A Christmas Carol has a full synopsis of the story; Twas the Night Before Christmas has the complete text of the poem.
  • Christmas mugs.  Still can't find half-scale mugs, but I have a plan of action for making some, based on some mugs I received in a half-scale swap and a tutorial I found on YouTube.  In the meantime, here are the 1:12 versions.  These are just inexpensive 1:12 white mugs, decorated with fingernail decals.  I have a large pack of decals I bought to use for some Christmas decorations in the Merrimack, and they really stick well.  There are some tinier ones that should work on half-scale mugs.

  •          Coffee

  •          Gingerbread men. 

A couple of years ago, I bought a very nice mold from Stewart Dollhouse Creations for 1:24 scale, and I have been using that.  When I bought the molds for the 1:12 scale chocolates, I also bought a gingerbread mold, but I am not as happy with it.  So for fun, I thought I would see if I could make my own. 

I printed out a generic gingerbread man image in the size I wanted—a high-resolution version on paper and several regular versions on card stock.  I stacked four card stock men, with the high-res paper image on top, and after gluing them together, sanded around the edges. I used glue to outline the mouth and the wrist and ankle frosting (unfortunately, you can't really see that in the picture), and glued microbeads on for the eyes and buttons.   

I have some Easy Mold 2-part silicone putty from Blick; you mix equal parts together, and then you have about three minutes to make your mold.  It cures in 20 minutes.  It takes only a little bit each time, so I still have plenty left, even after all my experiments (and there were more than I detail here 😊).

On my first try, I glued a toothpick directly to the back of my gingerbread man and stamped him into the mold.  The problem was it was difficult to get an even impression, and the silicon tends to smoosh up around the edges, making it difficult to fill the mold with clay and then scrape any excess off evenly.

When, after a couple of tries, I realized that was just never going to work, I glued the gingerbread man to a small square of mat board, then glued a toothpick to the back.  I didn't try to stamp more than one cookie, and I left my prototype in the silicon until it had set.  

The silicon still pushed up around the edges, but I was easily able to slice that off with my utility knife, making a smooth, even mold that was easy to fill.

He's not perfect, but I don't think he turned out too badly.

And that was my mini week.  I won't be able to mini for a few days, but I'll definitely still be online to see other people's work, which is always such a treat.  Have a great weekend, everyone!