Friday, August 13, 2021

One Project Ends, Another Begins

Once again, time got away from me.  Only this time, instead of being in a stagnant state, where I could not seem to work on my miniatures, I have been making minis like crazy!  There is so much to report on, I hardly know where to begin.

First, the deco house is finished.  It's not much different than when you last saw it, except that I have added a little landscaping and some plants to the deck. 

The house has now moved off my craft table and onto a bookshelf, making way for a new project, which is—the lighthouse and keeper's cottage!  Here they are in dry fit.

Dry fit is so helpful for planning.  Right away I noticed several things.  1)  The windows of the keeper's cottage are too narrow.  Since the cottage will become a museum and gift shop, it will need wider display windows.  2)  There is a lot of nice room in the first-floor tearoom.  I had originally planned on two tables.  Maybe I will be able to fit three.  3) There is not a lot of wall space for bookshelves for the second-floor bookstore.  Originally, I was going to have an office on the third floor, but the bookstore may need to take up two floors.

I got started on the keeper's cottage and immediately widened the holes for the windows by about ¼ inch on either side.  This helps with the display space but doesn't interfere with the structural integrity of the front wall.  You can see the original window opening on the right and the widened window opening on the left.  

That did mean I also had to make my own windows to replace the ones provided by Real Good Toys, but I was OK with that.  I got used to making windows for both Sagamore Hill and the deco house.  😊  And then, before I knew it, the house was built!  That has to be some kind of record for me.  With the siding milled in and the floors already finished, it really only took a weekend to put the structure together—a nice change from the builds I've been doing.  I will be using a battery-operated light in the house, as it is so small and not really worth the effort of plug-in lighting.  The sign over the door was made from one of the original shutters, which can no longer be used now that the windows have been widened.

I've made display stands for in back of both windows.  They are removable so that I can pull the
 in and out to change the displays.  I'm also working on a glass display case and a counter for displaying my ships.

And now for the real fun—all the little items I have purchased or made for the new project.  More paintings have arrived, and I really love them.  However, I really wanted a traditional sailing ship, and wasn't able to find anything in the size I wanted.  I am not a painter, but I can cross-stitch and was lucky enough to find a pattern that, when stitched on 36-count fabric, is a workable size.  While hunting for the ship pattern, I also found a tiny lighthouse pattern, so I made that up, too.

All the goodies for the tearoom arrived.  Don't they look yummy?

The tearoom table kits come with kits for little tiered stands.  I made them up and added my own scones, finger sandwiches and dishes of jam and clotted cream.

I also made up a test table.  Things are a bit tight on the tabletop, but I think I can make it work.  Also, with that extra space, I may be able to enlarge the tabletops.

The tables and chairs are designed to be painted silver with lavender backs and seats.  I'm not sure that will work for a nautical tearoom, but I can't decide whether to keep them that way or change them.  And if I change them, what colors I would use instead.  The tables and chairs are made of card, so staining is out.  White with blue?  Would that be too expected and too boring?  I do have some nautical scrapbook paper that incorporates a lot of purple, and the sign as I've currently designed it is purple.  

Maybe I should keep the lavender, but go with black or white paint?  What to do, what to do?

For the bookstore—I've been making lots and lots of little books, mostly children's books or cozy seaside mysteries.  To get in the mood, I have been borrowing many of these mysteries from my local library via Libby to read on my Kindle.  Borrowing is a great way to try them, because, well, some of them written are better than others.  In the picture, you can also see one of the bags I made for the bookstore, which is called "Whale Tales."

I do have plans for a lot more books (which is why I think I'll need two floors).  Of course, I'll have to have classics like Moby Dick and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea.  Then there will be books on history and geography, cookbooks, books for older children, magazines. . . .  You get the idea.

For the museum, more ships have been painted for the display.  I still haven't had any success building a ship in a bottle.  My first effort, which involved making a mold of a bottle, placing a teeny-tiny little ship inside, and filling it with resin, was a resounding failure.  The bubbles never dissipated, and part of the ship's mast ended up sticking out through one side of the bottle.  *sigh*  Still thinking about it, though.

More successful was my attempt at a lightship basket, which you may remember that my mother had suggested.  I made up the basket itself with instructions from One-Inch Minis; I made my own form from polymer clay.  The "scrimshaw" on the top is made from an oval of wood painted ivory and sanded as smooth as possible.  I then drew on the whale with an ultra-fine point permanent marking pen and finished with a bit of satin varnish.  The "frame" for the scrimshaw was made by wrapping some of my painted crochet cotton around a piece of florist's wire.  I like that it made a rounded edge for the top of the basket.  The "hinge" is a snippet of 1/8" inch ribbon, and the closure is a loop of the crochet cotton and a bit of florist's wire painted ivory.  Effie was very happy to get to model it, but sorry she couldn't keep it.

I also wanted a diving helmet.  I bought a quarter-scale 3-D printed one from Stewart Dollhouse Creations thinking it might work as a scale model, but I felt it was too small for the museum.  It is now a model sold that will be sold in the gift shop.  For the museum display, I made a half-scale version with a wooden bead, some jump rings, tin foil, a microbead and a crimp bead.  With a little bronze paint and verdigris, it's a pretty good facsimile.   

 Other items for the gift shop include a little seashell arrangement with a tiny seagull made from polymer clay (I also made a "full-size" seagull for the lighthouse), a mermaid statue and a fishing plaque (both painted metal minis), another amigurumi whale (this time I was actually able to make the two colors work!), a beach ball, some sea glass jewelry, and some t-shirts. 

The printing on the t-shirts isn't all that great, and up close they look more like sweaters than t-shirts, but with a bit of distance, I think they work fine. (The spousal unit has now said I need to make a hooded sweatshirt. 😮)  I borrowed one of the tables from the tearoom to display them, but they'll have a table of their own at some point.  Most recently, I made up one of my garden hats with an extra row around the edge to give it a nice, floppy brim, and it is now a sun hat.

Does the window display tempt you to enter my shop? 😉  I am thinking the other window may have toys in it.

I've actually made more since I started writing this, but I think that's enough for now.  Until next time (which will, I hope, be sooner rather than later)!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Almost Done


Well, I've been back mini-ing with a vengeance.  Once I got the bathroom done, things happened very quickly.  I got the roof/ceiling cut out, LightingBug lights installed and roof on.  I added the chimney and stacked circle detail that was already ready to go.  

Next it was time for the railing.  Posts cut – check.  Holes drilled – check.  Washers spaced and glued down with JB Quick Weld – check.  The railing itself was a bit of a problem.  Wire generally comes coiled, and despite my best efforts, I can never straighten it out properly.  It always looks a little drunk.  So I bought some silver metallic elastic cord to use instead.  I think it works OK.  Right now, the ends are just taped to the back of the house, in case I decide to change it, but railing – check.  Then came the post caps, and everything came to a screeching halt.  My prototype used some Reflections brads from Michaels.  I removed the legs, and the tops formed the exact caps I wanted for the posts.  They came as part of a mixed set—silver, copper, black and pewter.  Naturally, there weren’t enough of the silver ones to complete the job.  No problem, I thought; I’ll just buy more.  It’s a lesson I should have learned long ago—if you like something and know you’ll want to keep using it/use it in future, buy more now.  Which, of course, I hadn’t done, and now I can’t find them anywhere.  I tried other brads, but none worked—too big, too small, too flat; none matched.  

GRRRR.  I finally took the legs off the pewter ones (of course, I had plenty of those) and used Rust-Oleum Bright Coat Metallic Finish in chrome on them.  That was pretty amazing stuff, and I’m quite happy with the result.  They’re not an exact match to the silver ones, but they actually work better with the washers, so caps – check!

For the deck, I made up some furniture from kits I had purchased at one of those estate sale tables at the Stockton Miniature Show.  They are Cane Creations from Twin Palms Miniatures, which does not appear to be in business anymore.  I have no idea when the kits were made.  There is one black-and-white photo of the finished piece (from only one, not-very-helpful angle), a lot of very dense instructions, and some hand drawings, so I’m guessing they’re not of recent vintage.  The instructions were a bit hard to follow, and, for the chair at least, following the instructions would not have yielded something that looked anything like the cover photo.  I found the rattan somewhat difficult to work with, and the confusing instructions didn’t help, so the pieces look a bit . . . rustic.  But they’re patio furniture, so they don’t need to be super elegant, and I’m glad to have used my kits.  I also found the foam for the cushions was cut very oddly, so I ended up cutting my own.  The fabric was printed with my ink-jet printer.  

The Star Line deck chair is a kit from 
Michelle’s Miniatures, and, fortunately, it made up beautifully.  It will likely also get a cushion, but I haven’t decided to print more of the chair fabric or try to find something complementary.  I have a few more plant kits coming from SDK Miniatures, but then it’s just landscaping, and I’ll be done with the Art Deco house.  *sigh*  It’s always a little sad to finish a project.

Luckily, I have a new project to plan for—the Real Good Toys lighthouse and cottage!  Here is my idea:  Lighthouse first floor—tearoom.  I have two absolutely lovely Charles Rennie Mackintosh tea table sets from Jane Harrop that I have been wanting to put together and use for a long time.  For my birthday, I got a nice little slanted display case from Bauder Pine to display little goodies.  Lighthouse second floor—book store.  I know I can make bookshelves and books, and another birthday gift was a little center display table from Mini Etchers.  The third floor may just be a stock room.  If I can fit a desk in there, I will.  The cottage will be a nautical museum and gift shop. 

I had a lot of fun “shopping” my stash to find items I could use.  These included a metal “shell collection display” that I bought at the very start of my mini-making.  I just wasn’t as comfortable painting small things back then, so I got as far as the blue background and stopped.  That has now been finished and will go in the museum/store.  As part of the “fill the shelves” swap from the online Half Scale group, I had received a lovely shell décor piece that will also work nicely in the gift shop. One of my little purses, the one I call “Under the Sea,” could work, too.  

Oh, and I still have some left-over marbles that I got to make the Japanese fishing floats for the Merrimack’s rec room, so I’ll have to add a couple of those. 

Of course, we’ll need some boat models for the museum.  My mother gave me her old charm bracelet, in the hope that I could use some of its charms, and it had a Viking long boat and a sampan.  With some paint, they will do just fine.  

I also have a sailboat charm and a ship’s wheel charm, as well as some shells I bought at the annual sale/swap meet at Peg’s Dollhouse in Santa Rosa.  And I have some seashell nail art stickers to decorate mugs.

Then I went the tiniest bit crazy and starting ordering some things from Life of Riley (her baked goods are so exquisite!), Timber Ridge StudiosTrue-2-Scale, the Virtual Dollhouse (if you’re willing to do some painting, she has so many inexpensive metal minis in half scale), and various artists on Etsy.  I know I can print out and frame art, but real miniature art just seems so much nicer to me.  Two have already arrived—the acrylic painting on the left is by Lucia Crippa of LuArting; the water color on the right is by Paula of Pbjewelryandgifts, both on Etsy.

Ooh, toys! I’ll need toys.  I ordered an itty, bitty amigurumi whale with spout from SuAmi (who made the badger in the Sagamore Hill library), and then I decided to try to make some of my own toys.  I started with a little braided octopus—the kind I once made at summer camp.  I used a round metal bead for the head, and even though it had a fairly large hole, I could only stuff enough embroidery floss through it to make a hexapus.  😊 Still, I think she’s cute, and I’ll keep her.  While hunting around for a good example of the braided octopus, I discovered a tiny octopus crochet pattern and decided to be brave and tackle mini amigurumi again.  The original pattern calls for embroidery floss (the full six strands) and a 1.5 mm (US size 7) crochet hook.  I used one strand of embroidery floss and a .7 mm (US size 14) crochet hook.  For my first amigurumi, I think he turned out alright.  He’s sitting on a penny for scale.  Then I tried a little whale.  He’s supposed to be two colors, but there was something funky with my color changes (I have to experiment with worsted yarn so that I can see what I was doing wrong), so I ended up making him a solid color.  Inserting stuffing through a hole the size of a toothpick was the hardest part!  I had to put a little thread around the microbeads I used for his eyes, because the black was disappearing against the blue I used, so he looks less like a whale and more like, well, a fish, but that’s OK.  Once I sort out my color changes, I may try the two-color version again. 

Then the spousal unit asked if I was going to include a ship in a bottle (oh, sure, I can’t even find bottles I like in half scale, let alone one with a ship inside) and some scrimshaw.  Scrimshaw—in half scale?!?  You’d need a microscope to make it/see it!  (But I'm still thinking about how I could do it.) Then Mom suggested a Nantucket lightship basket, and that got me doing more planning.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to have more ideas than room!

In other news, I received my second COVID shot today.  Woo hoo!  Dose two!  I am looking forward to two weeks from now and being able to get together with vaccinated friends in person.  Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.  Thank you for stopping by!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Back and Building the Bathroom

Well, it's been six months since I last posted.  I didn’t mean to disappear for that long.  First, I was busy on the Halloween decorations, so not making minis.  After that it was Christmas, lots of masks, and learning how to program in PowerPoint to make game show games to play with our friends on Zoom.  I also took a longer-than-expected break from social media, starting the week of the election.  That whole process just seemed to drag on and on and on, and I continued staying away.  While I breathed a sigh of relief on January 20, I had been sidetracked by so many other projects that minis were not high on my radar.  I admit that part of my problem was that I needed to do the upstairs curved window next, and I was not looking forward to it.  The downstairs window had gone smoothly, so I’m not sure why I was so paralyzed.  Then, one day a few weeks ago, I just did it, and it took (ta da!) two hours.  That’s it.  Months of inertia because of two hours of work.

Once that roadblock was cleared, I was able to quickly install the stair railing that I had already made, as well as put up a surround for the staircase opening, which I made from railroad lumber and another strip of cherry wood.  I was very happy with how it turn out.


Next I prepped the hall wall, which is completely inaccessible once installed.  You can see two doors.  The one on the left is real and made entirely from strip wood with a pin hinge.  The one on the right is fake and is just veneer with some strip wood.  (That doors do not get narrower at the bottom; it’s just the odd angle at which I took the picture.)  The fake door goes to an imaginary closet which corresponds to the bump-out behind the tub in the bathroom.  I had wanted an art deco armoire, but there simply wasn’t room, so I decided the next best option was to make a “closet” near the bathroom.

With the wall prepped and up, I got to the very enjoyable part of decorating the bathroom.  You may have noticed, in previous pictures, the disparate pieces (taken from three different collections) I am using in the bathroom. 

I gave them and a half-scale tile sheet a unifying coat of glossy pale green spray paint.  It’s not quite the eau de nil color I had wanted, but my spray paint options were limited, and I felt this was the best of the bunch.  The penny tile floor is just printed on cardstock (no texture to it), with a coat of ModPodge.  Because I did not like the look of the painted “wood” tub sides, I made an outer cover of matboard and painted that as well.  

To give the bathroom a luxe, slightly over-the-top feel, I found some art deco mermaid art for the tub surround.  Using Word’s color adjustment options to make it cooler (i.e., bluer) made it fit a bit better with my paint color.  I added an overlay of fine white lines to represent the grout and printed it on double-sided matte presentation paper, which has the thickness of cardstock.  A tiny ball embosser was used to press down along the grout lines to give the tile a more realistic look, before it was given three coats of clear nail gloss.  I also tried clear Gallery Glass, but felt the tile looked too lumpy-bumpy.  That might be just fine in other contexts, but not for this one.  Finally, I made an art deco tile border, in black and white, for the trim. 


Then, of course, the tub needed a bath caddy, which I made from cherry strip wood.  I added a little cake of soap on a half-shell soap dish (nail art), a pink scrubbie made from bunka, a bead “candle,” a bottle of purple something (lavender-scented shampoo?), and, of course, a 1920’s Photoplay magazine.  Now my little homeowner can have a luxurious, relaxing bath with some entertaining reading material.


The sink had a tiny, almost flat set of fixtures as part of its mold.  You could barely see them, and I thought they detracted from the look of the sink, so I sliced them off with a box cutter.  When I had finished painting the sink, I glued on a “chrome” fixture set I had purchased from Dollhouses, Trains and More during their “going out of business” sale.  The medicine cabinet is from a Greenleaf half-scale bathroom furniture kit.  I flanked it with two nail art mermaids I had painted silver (they were originally a cheap-looking gold), and added two crystal beads to make art deco “light fixtures.”  For over the toilet, I made a little shelf unit.  The one I based it on had a fancy filigree silver edge.  I had thought that I could paint some fairy lace silver and use that on my edges, but to be honest, it just didn’t look right, so I opted for simply painting my edges silver.  I’ve added some Scot Tissue, Camay Soap (“The soap of beautiful women”), some dusting powder, and pink bath salts.


A towel rack, toilet paper holder, and fluffy rug made from a scrap of velvet and some fringe trim completed the decorations, but then I couldn’t resist adding a pink peignoir with black lace trim to the back of the door.  😊


With the bathroom done, the house is getting very close to completion, and I have another project coming up!  My better half bought me Real Good Toys’ half-scale lighthouse and cottage, and I already have ideas for them.  Hopefully, I won’t go another six months before my next post.

I hope you have all been well, staying safe and healthy.  I look forward to catching up on all the posts I've missed while I was playing hooky with other crafts.