Friday, December 13, 2019

Meet Jazz the Greyhound

As you may remember from the last blog entry, I really wanted a greyhound for the art deco house.  I could find several miniature greyhounds in 1:12 and one in 1:48, but nothing in 1:24.  (Trying not to whine.)  I looked at charms, but they tended to be too small.  I found a 3D printed greyhound in 1:24, but it was running and not really what I was looking for.  Finally, I decided to try making one myself.  Polymer clay really is not my strength, but I did OK on the animal heads for the Roosevelt library, so I figured, "Why not at least give it a shot?"  I looked at other miniature greyhounds to get a sense of what I wanted mine to look like.  She is made from polymer clay and then painted, and I added microbeads for her eyes. 

I know she is not perfect (and some areas proved tricky to sand, so there is some roughness in close-up), but I am actually pretty happy with her.  Her name is Jazz, and she immediately hopped up on Shannon's chair and made herself at home.

I also tried making an art deco club chair from an SDK kit.  The kit comes with gray suede paper for the upholstery, which was not the look I was going for.  I had a tie that I thought would be perfect, but now that it's done, I'm not so crazy about it.

I think the upholstery is just too dark against the black wood and maybe a little too thick with the brocade texture.  I do have additional kits for a chair and a sofa, but I really need to re-think before I make them up.  I have a nice silvery gray satin tie that might work. 

I could also get thin white leather, which I think would look stunning, except I was planning on doing a black-and-white floor, and I'm afraid that would be too much black and white.  Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Any advice would be welcome.

Hope you are all getting a chance to enjoy the season and that life is not too crazy!  

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Back to Art Deco

Hope you all (those who celebrate) had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I ate way too much, but definitely enjoyed the good friends and good cheer that accompanied the holiday.  Our friends solved the murder mystery, as well as all of the codes and puzzles we threw at them along the way.  😊

Again, not much time for mini-ing, which I hope will change now that we're past the major holiday, although since we have another one coming up in less than a month. . . .

I have continued to play around with dressing mannequins.  I have two versions of a 1920's dress:  Day (with cloche hat)

And Evening (with headband).  

The day dress was never intended.  I was just playing around with some fabric from a tie to test my pattern, and ended up liking it so much, I formalized it into a day dress.  The purple dress is made from silk from Mood.  I love their fabric swatches; they're usually big enough for me to experiment a bit, without costing an arm and a leg.  (Swatches are $1.50, compared to buying a yard of fabric at, say, $35/yd.)  I think the fringe I used for the skirts is actually eyelash yarn/ribbon.  I got it from Dragonfly International and just love it.  (It's their silky fringe, TR23.)  For the cloche hat, I used this tutorial.  However, felt was way too thick for half scale, so I ended up using flannel instead, and it did a pretty good job.   I added a big red flower to give it some pizzazz.  

The hat stands are made from two of the larger round beads from that wonderful set of wooden beads I used for the Christmas ornaments.  I added toothpicks and round woodsies for the bases, puttied in and sanded the tops, then used a permanent black marker to draw a bob on each stand.

And those beads!  I don't know how many of you remember the Julie Andrews movie "Thoroughly Modern Millie."  As I struggled to get the beads to hang the way I wanted them to (and didn't always succeed), all I could think of was that scene during the opening credits where Millie's beads will just not hang straight like all the other girls'. 🙄

Both dresses are destined for Etsy, but I have saved the pattern so that I can make one for the art deco house as well.  The nice thing about this dress is that it slips off the mannequin, and I can put it on a hanger or lay it on the bed.

And speaking of the art deco house, I'm hoping to get to do a mock-up of it while taking some time off over Christmas.  In preparation, I started making up some furnishings.  I find it's helpful to have actual furniture to place in my mock-ups, as it gives me a sense of whether I have the proportions correct.  I started with the lovely art deco tub chair kit from Red Cottage Miniatures.  I have to say, it went together beautifully.  When the pieces are glued together, there are shallow channels designed to exactly fit the fabric-covered card stock pieces (helpfully pre-cut by Shannon).  I used the Brodnax leopard-print silk in half scale for my upholstery, and I love it against the smooth black finish of the chair.  I've paired it with the half-scale art deco hourglass table from JBM Miniatures, topped with a martini I've borrowed from the Merrimack.

Here it is next to the mannequin with my flapper dress.

If only I could find a half-scale greyhound/whippet to lounge in my chair, all would be perfect. *sigh*

I'm making up a few other pieces, as well as working to fix up some things I already have, and I'm still working on the Etsy store.

Have a great week, and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

It's a Mystery

Besides working to finalize some things for the proposed Etsy store (I did make the saddle shoes and two more 1:12 purses), I have not been doing quite as much miniature work as I normally would because I have been getting ready for our annual Thanksgiving mystery dinner. 

Every year for the past ten or so years, we've dreamed up a mystery for our guests to solve, then created the clues they will need to solve it.  Over the years, we've had letters, magazine ads, dry-cleaning slips, train timetables, posters, sewing patterns, cocktail napkins, photos, paintings, a crossword puzzle, and even the plans for a Rube Goldberg machine among our clues.  Between dinner and dessert, we provide our guests with the clues (sometimes in a very careful order) and see who can solve the mystery first.  Some years, we vary the mystery-solving process to keep things from getting boring, and this year the mystery has quite a few escape room elements.  I can't say any more about it, because I happen to know that some of our guests read this blog. :-P  However, I can show you what we did a couple of years ago, when we decided to create a Frances Glessner-Lee-style "diorama of death"  as part of our mystery.  If you haven't heard of her before, it's worth checking out the link.  She was a fascinating woman, and her work is still used by police departments to train investigators.

For this project, I worked in 1:12 scale, for a couple of reasons:

1.  Half scale is just a little too tiny for folks to really see and dig around in.

2.  There is so much readily available in 1:12 scale that I was able to put the room box itself together relatively quickly.  The only things I really had to make, besides the clues, were the typing table and the radio (which some of you may recognize as a Kris Compass project).

I built the box from simple foam core, covered in wood-grain contact paper and trimmed out with a little strip wood.  The floor was wood veneer, and the rug was printed on velvet paper.  I wasn't going to ruin a perfectly good miniature rug with a "blood" stain!

I have to say, it was a joy being able to work with 1:12 hardware.  Ready-made windows that really opened!  (And that open window was a clue.  😉)

Clues were everywhere.  On and in the desk:

In the file cabinet:

In the waste basket and in the typewriter:

And, of course, on the bookshelves:

I created most of the clues full scale, then shrunk them down to miniature size:

As guests found the mini clues, they were given the full-size clues to read.  Reading such tiny text with eyes "of a certain age" is not all the easy, and we didn't want to make things that hard.  😊

One problem with having guests be able to touch the diorama is that they did disturb the evidence.  One guest "helpfully" hung up the phone because the receiver seemed to have fallen off the hook. (No, no!  That was a clue!)  But having our friends be able to observe the "crime scene" in 3-D added a fun and interesting element to the mystery that year.  Oh, and we stumped them.  No one got the solution exactly right, so we ended up awarding the prize to the person who got the closest.

We're hoping this year's mystery is just as much fun, even though it doesn't include any miniature elements.  I've certainly been having fun making the clues and puzzles for it.  
Hope you all have a wonderful week and happy mini-ing!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

An Etsy Store?

Greetings, mini friends!  Not much to report this time.  I have been seriously considering an Etsy store, so have been playing around with ideas on stocking it. 

Jeweled handbags.  I have made several more in 1:24 and want to make a couple more in 1:12.

Dressed Mannequins.  I have painted a new umbrella to go with the walking suit.  This one is brown and gold instead of black and silver.  (Not sure what the odd white spots are, as they don't show up in real life.)

And I made accessories for the mid-century couture *cough*Chanel*cough* suit that I made a while ago.

I love how the little brooch turned out.  It is (you guessed it) fingernail art.   Ditto with the belt buckle below.  If women ever stop sticking pictures, jewels and other little items onto their fingernails, my stash will suffer greatly.

This is a little 50's outfit with poodle skirt.  I need to make some saddle shoes to go with it, and maybe stick a little pink bow on the poodle.  I'd also like to make a cardigan for it, and I have a lovely black jersey swatch from Mood, but I don't know if I'll be able to pull it off.  Can you tell I've been in a clothes making mood lately?  I have a couple more ideas for outfits I'd like to make.  We'll see how they go.

Gift baskets.  Now that I've figured out how to make 1:24 scale mugs, I've made one into a "I San Francisco" mug to round out my half-scale San Francisco gift basket.  Hmmm.  The basket itself seems kind of plain next to my Christmas baskets.  I'll have to come up with a way to add a little pizzazz.  Suggestions welcome.

I am also nearly done making a new 1:24 green Christmas basket to replace the one Shannon won, so I will have all four types available.

I'm a little nervous about getting started, and there is a lot to do to get set up, so it may take a while.  Stay tuned. 

Thanks for stopping by and hope you have a Happy Halloween and a wonderful weekend!

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.  🙄

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. 😊  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!               .