Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Slacking Off

This another doll Mom made some time ago. She's one of my favorite, because if I were in her shoes, I'd probably sneak off all the time to read while I was supposed to dust too! I'm not sure why her face looks so shiny here, it's plain porcelain in real life. Unfortunately, I'm writing this post on the fly, so I don't have any better pictures.
On an unrelated note, I discovered this box the other day stashed away in my supplies. We finally around to clearing out the alcohol in our house a few months ago. None of us drink, so whenever we got it as a gift, it was usually just stuck in a particular cupboard and forgotten. While we were going through the cupboard, I spotted this great box. It's very shiny silver printed with black, and the various designs are lightly embossed.
I hoped at first that some of the top squares could be painted dark to look like cast iron fire backs, but the embossing is too light to really show up much when the design is painted out. But the silver finish can be dulled down to a pewter look by rubbing (dry brushing) dark grey paint over the top. There are a few designs that would work well for miniature shields, and a large cross that could work in a chapel. I'm thinking about using some of these pieces in an empty room box I've had laying about for a while, so stay tuned!

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Big (Micro) Project

Back in June I shared this 1/144th scale garden cottage which I made with Nell Corkin at the Guild School. The week was a lot of fun, and I went home really wanting to do more in the scale.
A few weekends ago, I did!  I decided to make another shed structure, because I wasn't confident I could build on my own. I also worried that the wood I used was not as sturdy as the stuff we used in class, so I wanted to keep the structure extra small to avoid problems.
I'm still working on the landscaping. The foam that Nell provided for grass and plantings had a nice range of colors, but mine is not as well mixed. It's slow going, because I really have to hunt for the bits with the right color!
  The bench out front is actually painted a sunny yellow, and then heavily weathered. I've added a few pots of flowers, but I still need to build up some of the bushes.
 I added a flat trellis with yellow roses along the left wall. This was a much quicker build than the freestanding one we made in the class.

I originally thought I might add a second floor crawlspace to the structure. But when it was time, I chickened out .
 On the right I added a big dresser. I had a difficult time figuring out what to put over here, since there was a lot of wall space but the piece had to be very narrow. I actually built this hutch as an experiment before I began the house, but it ended up fitting perfectly!
 On the right side is a glass bowl filled with yellow roses  from outside. The painting above the table is a micro watercolour of sunflowers I painted a few years ago. You can see more of them here.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Good Man is Hard to Find, and Fake It Till You Make It

I realized that I haven't shown many of Mom's dolls on here lately. She made this fellow a while ago. Though she knew she wanted to put a frilly apron on him right from the beginning, he spent a long time in just shirt and trousers while she hunted for the perfect apron fabric. She also debated giving him a vacuum instead of dishes, but decided that it made more sense to wear an apron to do the washing up.
 I haven't done much lately. I've mostly played with a few other little pieces I picked up at the local dollhouse shop. I've always admired the China Closet's pierced bowls, and am lucky enough to own two small examples. You can see one of those below, on the Davenport desk by Julian Biggers. I'll have to take better photographs sometime soon, because this corner  contains some of my favorite pieces.
In any case, I started wondering if there was any way to make something that looked similar but was a little less fragile. I also wanted something that I could use in a shadowy corner without feeling guilty that it was hidden away. I found a shiny silver plastic bell (the type sold in packs in the wedding aisle of craft or party stores) among my stash and decided to see what I could do.
I forgot to take a before and in-progress pictures, but I'll do my best to outline the process. I used my set of files to first file a groove all the way around the rounded top of the bell, and then to take the top completely off.  With the top off, I could flip the bell over and add a flat base (where the top used to be). I also used the files to sand off the "made in china" lettering and other imperfections. Since I still wasn't sure that this crazy idea was going to work (it looked pretty rough at this stage), I didn't spend as much time refining the details of the casting as I should have. After that, it was simply a matter of painting the entire thing many, many coats of white until the original silver was completely gone.  I used a hairdryer to speed things up a bit, but it still took quite a while. When everything was flat off white, I added a bit of decorative painting inside and out. Last was a glossy acrylic top coat for protection and make the piece look like porcelain. It will never be mistaken for the real thing, but it's not a bad fake for an evening's work and less than $1 in supplies!