Friday, January 18, 2019

Josiah (by SuAmi)

I'm still working on the orange chair, although I have had to take a break to work on my items for the annual swap for the HalfScaleMinis group.  Unfortunately, I can't write about my items until after the swap has occurred, on pain of being banned from the swap in future years.  I can say that my original idea did not work, which necessitated a return to the drawing board, but I finally came up with an alternative plan, and production is going full speed ahead.

In the interim, I do have a little something to post about, a very little something—Josiah!  In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt was given a badger by a young girl in Kansas.  The Roosevelts named him Josiah and kept him as a family pet for a while, until they had to give him up due to his habit of biting people.  In return, they got a stuffed badger for the library.  He looks kind of ferocious.

My original hope was to crochet an amigarumi version.  I got a pattern for a stuffed toy badger and thought I would be able to make one the right size by using a single strand of embroidery floss and a size 14 hook, as well as simplifying the pattern a bit.  I actually have done miniature crochet like that, with decent results.

This time, however, despite several attempts to modify and simplify the pattern, I finally had to admit defeat.  I have no idea how they crochet in the round for those teeny little legs without losing track of their rows and wanting to tear their hair out.  It was time for my back-up plan.

SuAmi on Etsy does some of the sweetest, tiniest amigarumi animals I have ever seen, and I have always wanted something by her.  So, as a Christmas gift, my mother bought me one of her badgers.  (Admittedly, at the time we ordered it, I hadn't made my goats and sheep, so I hadn't considered the possibility that I might be able to make a polymer clay version work.)  Anyway, he arrived this week, and he's cute as can be.

Here he is in the room.  I think he fits in there very well.

I am telling people that he is the real Josiah, not the stuffed version.  He just happened to wander into the room and stand at that exact location. πŸ˜‰ It's clear he's not nearly as fierce as his taxidermy counterpart. 

The books are also coming along, slowly.  At last count, I had made 269 books (including the books on the desk and side tables), but I still have 17½ shelves left to fill.  Fortunately, I can make the books while sitting and watching TV.  Suggestions of good shows to binge watch while making swaps and books are welcomed.  😊  We subscribe to Netflix, BritBox and Acorn.  Last year, I watched all three seasons of Broadchurch while making my swaps.  I've already consumed all of A Place to Call Home, 800 Words, The Great British Baking Show, and most seasons of QI.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Two More Animals

In my continuing effort to make the animals for the library, I made a second goat about the size of my first completed goat.  (The very first one I made is on the left, below; the new one I made is in the middle.)  Unfortunately, it goes over the door, and I forgot that I have less space there.  The middle goat head was too big by about 1/8 of an inch. *sigh*  So I made yet another one (the one on the right).   It is only about the size of a dime, and I shaped its base around a piece of the picture rail that runs around the room, so that it can fit over the rail when hung.

Next I moved on to what I initially thought was some species of antelope.  Based on its coloring and lack of markings, however, I've decided it's actually some kind of sheep.  In any event, I only had a picture to work from this time, but I am very pleased with how he turned out.  (OK.  I had one first try that never made it to the baking stage, because I fiddled around with his head for so long that the clay got a little too warm, and his neck basically turned into a ribbon.)  But this guy I like.  😊  I initially had his eyes in the wrong place (more on the top of his head), so I filled them in and did a second short bake, then I used my pin vise to drill holes in the correct place (on the sides of his head).  I actually like the way the drilled holes worked for housing the microbeads.  Here he is painted and ready for flocking.

He was much quicker to flock, because I only needed the powder flock.  There were no "long" fur pieces that I needed to attach.  However, I couldn't find a color of floss I liked, so I used two colors—one a bit darker and one a bit lighter than I wanted.  I pulled each color's six strands of DMC floss apart, then alternated the two colors in the bunch of strands I used for snipping my flock (see steps 12 and 13 in this link).  Together, they made the color I wanted.  I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut the mounting plaque—it's three layers of thin chipboard and one of mahogany scrapbooking paper.  

After I glued him to the plaque with JB Weld, I filled in around the edges with more flock.

My second goat is on the right, above.  He looks a bit fluffier than the first one.  With him, I put a layer of the powder flock all over him before laying down the longer pieces of "fur."  Mountain goats have quite heavy coats, for obvious reasons.  I think I'm going to add a little more powder flock to the face of my first goat.  My brother thinks my goats look a lot like dogs (except for the heavy brows), and there is definitely more of a "cute" factor to all my animals than their real-life counterparts.

From this angle, my sheep/ram looks kind of like a teddy bear.  I guess that's fitting.

I am going to take a break before making the boar's head, for which I want to try the air-dry clay that Brae recommended.  There is at least one more chair to make, probably two.  I received an engraving tool from my mother for Christmas, and there is a carved chair in the library that is calling my name. . . .  😊

Monday, December 31, 2018

Mountain Goat 1

It is with mixed emotions that I am starting on the animal heads in the library.  I am not a fan of big game hunting or killing animals for sport, and that’s one thing about Teddy Roosevelt I’m not fond of.  On the other hand, miniature taxidermy fascinates me, and, to make the library accurate, I need the mounted heads. I wish I could do what Brae did in her wonderful miniature taxidermy shop, and claim that all the animals are actually living animals who are just holding still for the picture :-), but it’s a little hard to do that with heads and rugs.  So, I took a deep breath and got started.

My original plan was to use G scale animals.  Preiser makes animals that are supposed to be G scale.  They are mostly out of stock everywhere, but I finally found a snow goat on eBay.  When it came, I realized I couldn’t use it, for several reasons:

1.  It is too big.  Seriously, snow goats are not the size of cows, Preiser.

2.  The head is turned at an angle.

3.  It appears to be made of some hard, hollow plastic that I’m afraid would shatter if I tried to cut it.

     4.  It turns out I can’t stand the thought of cutting the head off even a plastic animal.

I next looked for charms or beads, since that had worked so well on the lion skin rugs.  Unfortunately, the only goat’s head charms I could find were either skulls or had Satanic symbols on them (not the look I was going for). 

Finally, I decided that I would have to try my hand at polymer clay.  As I’ve mentioned several times, this is definitely not my mΓ©tier, but I found that having the 3-D example of the Preiser goat helped.

Here is try number one.  I really liked the way it turned out, but, even though it is a bit smaller than the Preiser goat, it is not small enough.  Darn!

Here is try number two.  A much better size.  I don’t know that he turned out quite as well as my first try, but it was a little harder working at a smaller size.  His right ear broke off, so I ended up redoing it.  (I had to build up the bottom of the base a bit anyway.)  This time, I used liquid Sculpey to fill in the joins and, I hope, make them stronger.

When he had cooled and I had sanded and trimmed him a bit, I painted him.  You can see I used a variety of paints.  I like mixing them in water bottle caps, which I save for a number of miniature purposes.  The horns had an undercoat of the Country Twill.  That paint was quite thick, but I ran my brush across the horns horizontally, and the thicker paint gave the horns a bit of ridged texture.  After that paint had dried, I went over it with a wash of black thinned with water.

Then I added his eyes, which are black microbeads.

His coat was made from white DMC 6-strand floss.  For the longer pieces, I separated single strands of floss into their two parts, then ran them through my wet fingers to straighten out the kinks.  

These were then cut into pieces about 1/8” long.  The flock was cut from regular single strands of DMC floss.  No pictures of this, since I need both hands to do it.  This is definitely the most tedious part of the process.

I tried to follow Kerri Pajutee’s excellent tutorial for flocking, but I couldn’t pat things down as flat and even as she does.  Nevertheless, I did get my little guy flocked and “furred,” and I think he turned out OK.

Here he is in the room—temporarily.  He won’t go up permanently until the ceiling is in place, and I’ve taken him down now and am putting him in a nice, safe place until it’s time to put him up, because he is rather delicate.

Now I just have another goat head, a gazelle head and a boar head to do.  :-P
As you might have noticed in the Preiser goat picture, I have been working hard on filling the bookshelves.  It’s a slow process.  Each shelf is taking around 14 books to fill, but I am getting there.

And, finally, although Christmas is over, I wanted to show you the picture of the Christmas Eve smorgasbord in the Merrimack.

The ham is from Mountain Miniatures, the cookies are from Sue’s Little Things on eBay, you already know about the eggs, and the rest of the items (including the rather odd looking salmon and lefse) I made myself.

A Happy New Year to you all, with lots of joy, wonder, and miniature treasures!

Friday, December 21, 2018

This and That

During my week off (and my mother's visit), I didn't get quite as much done as I had intended.  Sometimes life gets in the way. 

Of course, the mystery picture was identified and put in place.  πŸ˜Š  The fairy lace for the lamp also arrived. I used the darkest gray, but it looks white in this picture.  (The pattern on the table cover is washed out, too.)  Nevertheless, I am happy with the way the ruffles turned out.


I also finished the annoying rug.  I loved doing the blue field, which zipped along, but then I hated doing the design, mainly because I'm just not thrilled with the way it looks.  However, it will mostly be covered.  It's really the border that matters.

Here is the finished rug:

Here it is under the zebra skin rug, which has been given a little mane made from embroidery floss:

 See?  You can barely see the main design.

And with the lights now in place, I finished the doorway.

You may have noticed that there has been a proliferation of teddy bears in the room.  There are no teddy bears currently on display in the real-life library, but I'm sure there must have been at least one there at some time πŸ™„, and I haven't been able to resist adding a couple.

The fuzzy one in the leather chair is from NeedleFeltedLove.  He was so cute, I had to have him.  The one in the flowered chair is from Dollhouses and More on eBay.  He is just made from resin, but I loved his little bow.  He seemed very much in keeping with the original teddy bears, who really were named after Mr. Roosevelt.

The bowl next to him does exist in the library. 

I'm not entirely sure what's in it, but I got a little set of green plastic bowls as an extra gift from Oakridge Hobbies when they sent my light bulbs, so I used some Testor's paint to turn one into a "wooden" bowl.

It's beginning to look like a real room.

On a completely unrelated project, I also had time to make the teeny, tiny deviled egg kit from Stewart Dollhouse Creations for the Merrimack (my mid-century house).  Every year, we (in real life) have a Christmas Eve Smorgasbord.

This year, the imaginary homeowners who live in the Merrimack decided they would like to have one, too. πŸ˜‰ Deviled eggs are always a part of the spread, so I couldn't resist the kit, which I saw when I was ordering my doilies earlier this fall.  Making it up was incredibly fiddly.  There is a silicone mold that holds six whites and four yolks (no idea why they aren't the same number). You need to press polymer clay into the mold, level it off and scrape away the excess, and I kept accidentally pulling the little whites completely out of their slots.  AAARGGGHHH!!  I finally got the hang of it and baked several batches to make enough eggs.  The beautiful little plate comes as part of the kit.  It's 3-D printed in a translucent material.  You then coat it with clear nail polish, and it's suddenly transparent and looks like glass!  It's impossible to tell in this photo, but the yolks actually have tiny little ridges, so that they look as though they were piped into the whites.  Now that it's done, I am very happy with it.

I do like the Stewart molds.  I used their gingerbread men/women mold for the bungalow, and it made the cutest little cookies.  (That's my pinkie finger in the picture.)

That's it for now.  When the Merrimack table is fully laden (which has to happen by Christmas Eve), I'll post some pictures.

Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season with friends and family, and are not getting too stressed out!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Mystery Picture Identified!

Thanks to the incredible kindness of a blog reader who would prefer to remain anonymous, and of Sheila, who passed along her message, the mystery picture has been identified.  It is Colonel Davy Crockett and his Dogs!  I would never have guessed this in a million years, but you can see it, can’t you?

I was so excited when I read the message, I was dancing around the house like a crazy person.  J  The picture has now been framed and hung, and Theodore Roosevelt’s “Wall of Heroes” is now complete.  Aaaah!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Well, it's been a frustrating couple of weekends.  Things got off to a good start with my little lamps on the desk and by the brown leather chair.  I painted the cord on the desk lamp brown (it was originally white) so that it wouldn't stand out as much and got that lamp in place.  I had to make a minor adjustment to the table lamp.  Originally, I had a piece of metal tubing at the top of the base.

However, there is a thick, coated bit between the bulb and the wires.  It was too big to fit within the metal tubing I had, so it sat up on top, causing the bulb to be higher than the lamp shade could accommodate.

So I removed the original metal tubing and instead made my own tube from a foil stove burner liner (a little heavier than aluminum foil).  My tube is big enough to fit around that coated part.  (I'm not explaining this well, I'm afraid.)  Anyway, the bulb now fits within the shade.  Yay!  Although the painted shade is a bit dark and doesn't let a lot of light through, I can assure you, it does work.

The cords for both lamps are in a groove between the floor and wall.

I had an idea for making my own lamp for the table by the flowered chair.

Problem one came with the base.  I cut the bottom part of it from wood, drilled a hole in the center, and cut a groove for the cord.  I wanted to cover it with some shiny metallic Duck tape I had, but it would not stick to the wood.  I even tried various glues, without success. 

I then tried some shiny origami paper and was able to get that to stick.  The next part of the base was going to be a stack of clear round beads.  Unfortunately, they did not want to stick together in a nice, straight line without also blocking the holes through which the wires needed to pass.  I tried a couple of sizes of beads, to no avail.  I truly spent two Saturday mornings and a few evenings working on this, trying various glues and techniques, before finally throwing in the towel.

I took the lamp I was originally going to use, which had a super shiny brass base, and painted it silver.  

The original shade had met with an accident and been crushed, so I made a new shade from velum paper.  It has not been glued on yet, because I still need to add the ruffles around the top and bottom.  I have ordered some fairy lace in various shades of gray that I'm hoping I can get into decent-looking ruffles.  I first tried tissue paper, which I thought I could sort of crumple into ruffles, and that was a resounding failure.  I have made ruffes from fairy lace in the past, though, so my fingers are crossed that that will work well enough this time.

 Now that the wires are in place, I have put in more baseboard, and will soon finish the doorway.

Still trying to track down the picture that goes under George Washington on the back wall.  Samantha (hi!) found a video from Sagamore Hill that almost shows the picture.  Actually, it does show it, but it's a little too blurry to identify.

The picture appears to be a man waving his hat, and possibly riding a horse or steer.  He also seems to have long hair.  I've tried searching for pictures of TR campaigning, TR as a rough rider, various generals that TR might have admired, and even Buffalo Bill Cody (who knew TR, had long hair and had rough riders in his Wild West show), without success.  I tried Google images, but it matched it to soft-focus images of black-and-white landscapes.  I've e-mailed the folks at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site twice to ask what it is, but they haven't responded. I'm guessing they think it's just a really odd request, and they're ignoring it.  *sigh* 

I am off next week (yay!), so should have more time to work on the library.  I have a few little projects planned.  😊