Friday, May 31, 2013

This and That

 Today is going to be crazy busy, so this isn't a real post, just a couple new photos of old projects. I was playing around with the little cardboard box I'd wallpapered a while ago, and took a couple photos.
 These bowls are made of quilled paper, except for the bottom one, which is made of turned wood. I painted the wooden shelf, which I bought unfinished.

 I noticed that this little bench had the exact same shade of blue as I'd used in this 1/144th scale box.

That's all folks! I told you this wasn't a real post!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ooh La La!

Mom has been checking over her stock of dolls for the Sturbridge show this coming weekend, and I've been taking the opportunity to photograph them. We had a lot of discussions about how to prevent this maid from looking too risqué. Photos of servants from the 1920s were actually the most helpful reference, though Mom did take a bit of artistic license with the short, flirty skirt. I didn't take a photo, but she has layers and layers of ruffled, lace trimmed petticoats beneath!
 I stole the doll away before Mom had added her duster. I just popped the cheap plastic one into her hands for the photograph, but she'll have a nice wooden one at the show. I stumbled across this tutorial after Mom had already purchased a duster, but I'll definitely be trying it the next time we need a feather duster!

I'll try to post once more before we leave for Sturbridge, and I'll definitely have lots more to share when we return!

Monday, May 27, 2013

An Itsy Bitsy Teeny Tiny Miniature

 We just got back from my brother's graduation and I seem to have come down with some sort of flu, which is bad news with Sturbridge just a few days away. Since I don't have the energy to finish up the projects on my worktable, I'll be sharing on of my favorite purchases with you instead. This tiny, 1/144th scale pitchers is one of the smallest miniatures I've ever purchased.
 I purchased this 1/144th scale pitcher from Hannah Roet several years ago. She told me that it took five separate steps to finish each of the tiny vases and pitchers. I've unwrapped my little pitcher maybe three times in the entire time I've owned it, since I'm terrible afraid of losing it.
This photos shows the increadibly tiny flower painted on the pitcher. It's really something else! I've tried painting in 1/144th scale, but I never was able to get that kind of detail.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

That Which We Call a Rose...

 I was going through some boxes and stumbled across an old project that I'd nearly forgotten about. This started out as a basic white commercial table, which I covered with books and accessories. The tablecloth got a bit bent out of shape while the table was in storage, so I have to fix that , but otherwise it was a fun discovery.
 The table has a bit of a botanical theme. When I made it, I pictured this table in a whitewashed summer house. As a child, I spent hours exploring, and would often bring back plants to identify, press, or eat!
I made the magnifying glass out of a fancy turned toothpick and a bit of brass tape. I seriously underestimated the number of books I'd have to make for this project! I just kept making more, until finally the stacks started to look appropriately messy!
I got a little carried away distressing this table! The original white finish was nearly bulletproof, but I finally did manage to get down to bare wood in places. I added several other layers of paint over the top, then sanded most of it off again. The book propping up the table leg is one of my favorite details, though I don't think I could ever abuse a real book in that way!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Open books in Miniature Rooms

Remember these open books that I shared several months ago? I just got an exciting email the other day, from Robert Off of Miniature Rooms Company. We met last November at the Philadelphia Show, when our tables were situated across the aisle from each other.
(photo courtesy Miniature Rooms Company)
Bob builds and decorates gorgeous miniature room boxes, so I was very flattered when he purchased a few little things from my table. The other day, he emailed me some photos of his latest room boxes, and pointed out that my open books were in both!
(photo courtesy Miniature Rooms Company)
Here's a close up of the built-in cabinet in "The Captain's Table" where my book is displayed. I'm dying to get a closer peek at that dining room set as well! This is actually the second incarnation of this room box. The first room box, which had a similar layout but was decorated differently, had to be rebuilt after some significant water damage!
(photo courtesy Miniature Rooms Company)
This "Lighthouse Keeper's Office" is the second room where Bob used one of my books, on the desk. I love the tranquility  of this room, and the playfulness of the dogs!
The rest of Bob's work can be seen on the Miniature Rooms website.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Where I've Been: a 1930s Dorm Room

I spent the last two days hanging out at my old college, helping my little brother begin packing up his dorm room.  I visited a lot of my old haunts, saw a few people I knew, and just had a great time. As we were packing, I snapped a few photos, which I thought I'd share.
One of my favorite things about living at Sarah Lawrence was the dorms. The college has a few traditional dormitories, but most of those were built in the late 1920/ early 1930s and have hardwood floors, Jack-and-Jill bathrooms, and other great details. Even better are the dorms in converted houses.  In the 1970s the college bought up houses in the surrounding area to house more students. The house/dorm above is one of my favorites!
I lived in this dorm during my sophomore year. That big second floor window to the left of the door was my room!
The college didn't do much more to the houses other than put up a few walls to make more bedrooms, so they have a lot of character. This section of the old kitchen was left untouched in Peter's house.
Peter's room is a tiny single in one of the converted houses. He's a bit obsessed with the 1930s, so walking into his room is a bit like walking into a time machine.
Don't believe me? His toiletries are above. His toothbrush is made of bone and boar's hair, he shaves with a straight razor (in the black case below the red harmonica box) and restores vintage lighters (next to the harmonica box) for fun. 

This Eastlake mirror is Peter's baby. We never know what he will bring back from the flea market. Sometimes it's an antique like the mirror...
...other times it's something like these antlers, affectionately known as "Bambi." The photographs and NRA (National Recovery Administration) poster are just computer printouts in thrift store frames.
I can't show the rest of the room, since we'd already started packing and created a huge mess throughout the dorm before I thought to take photos. I hope you enjoyed this little tangent. I'll be back in the miniature world for the next post!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tutorial: Quick and Easy Miniature Shopping Bags

I made this jewelry and perfume counter a while ago, but (true to form) didn't quite finish it. I knew I wanted to add a bunch of glossy black shopping bags to this display, but that idea seemed like more work than I wanted to tackle at the time, so I put it aside. That time away turned out to be a good thing, since this process is much more streamlined than my initial ideas!
I love this method of making shopping bags, because it doesn't require any paper patterns or measuring, but it's very easy to make identical bags. The secret is to fold them around a block of wood.
You will need:
paper for your shopping bag
balsa wood
a ruler/straight edge
white, cloth covered wire
glue (I used tacky)

The thickness and width of your wood will determine the size of your bag. I glued two pieces together to get the right width for the my bag. Decide the height that you want the bag to be, and mark that on the wood, all the way around.
Cut a strip of paper for your bag. I used a very thin, glossy black paper. The exact measurements of the paper strip don't matter, so long as it is long enough to go around the block of wood, and taller than height you marked on your wooden block.

Wrap the strip of paper around the wood, using your fingers to crease the paper at the corners.

Take the paper off the wood. Crease the paper again so that the folds are sharp.

Wrap the paper around the wood again. Use a little glue to glue the paper into a tube.

Slide the paper down the wood until one edge of the paper tube is lined up with the pencil line, and the other edge hangs off.

Wrap and glue the paper around the end of the wood, like you are wrapping a package.
Slide the paper bag off the wood.

Pinch the sides of the bag inwards, starting at the top of the bag and going as far down as you can. It is easier to do both sides at once, but I had to take the photograph!
The basic bag is finished.

 To make the handles, simply cut two pieces of cloth covered wire, and wrap them around the handle of a paintbrush to shape them.

Glue the handles in place.

Finally, fill the bag with tissue paper. The black and white bag I made for this tutorial is about as basic as you can get, but it's easy to change up the look of these bags by using patterned paper, adding labels, or using different sizes of wood to create a variety of sizes. The sky is the limit!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Details From My Mother's Georgian Cottage Kitchen, Part 2

We spent yesterday playing with my young cousin, so it's just going to be a post full of leftover photos today.
 This cabinet along the back wall of Mom's kitchen is a vintage commercial piece made by Reminiscence. While most of Mom's furniture is handmade, she does have four or five Reminiscence pieces scattered about the house. For some reason, they just seem to fit in her cottage! Can you spot the mouse in the photo above?
 The blue and white porcelain piece in the fireplace was made by Henny Staring-Egberts.  I can't remember the proper name for this fire cover, but Mom loves it. There's another mouse barely visable in the upper left corner of the photo. That one was made by Rosie Duck. With all the mice running around this kitchen, it's a good thing the bread is safetly stored overhead in a hanging crib.
One last little detail I'd completely forgotten about until I was taking photos. These Stokesay Ware plates are difficult to see until you really bend down to look in the house. Hope you've enjoyed this peek into my mother's miniature kitchen!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Details From Mom's Georgian Cottage Kitchen

I haven't shown much of Mom's dollhouse recently because she's been busy with other things. But it occurred to me that I've only ever showed a quick overview of the kitchen, which didn't begin to do this detailed room justice!
 Mom built her sink from balsa wood and real miniature bricks which she chipped and sanded to look old.  I was in charge of finishing the sink to look like stone. I used a combination of glue and wood putty to get rid of the wood grain and mimic the texture of slate. I also made the "lead" cistern above the sink out of cardboard. Mom used a few of my paper tiles as a backsplash. Can you spot the Amanda Skinner mouse? There are eight of them hidden throughout the house.
 Mom found this same doll twice on our trip to England! The first time, the doll was in the personal collection of the shop owner, and wasn't for sale. The second time, fortunately, Mom was able to purchase her.
This cupboard is nearly hidden behind the stairs, but it holds several more treasures, including a few favorite pieces by David Edwards.
Over by the fireplace, the high chair is by Brian Long and the jelly cabinet by Johanna Scarborough. The David Edwards egg rack is one of Mom's favorite items. Just above the highchair you can see one of my salt boxes.
For more posts about Mom's cottage, click here.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Antique Enameled Button Sets, Part 2

Yesterday afternoon I made yet another little case of "enamel" buttons, and was able to fix most of the problems that I struggled with while making the first two cases.
 It was much easier than I expected to give the top of the case a "lip." The case was so small that a second thickness of velvet paper around the edge was all that was needed. I also used coffee again to stain the white velvet paper a soft cream. I also made more realistic "keepers" by bending a bit of silver wire around a pin. They are much more realistic now, and are even removable. On the right you can see one of the full scale (but still tiny!) enamel buttons that got me interested in these sets.
For the first two cases I made, the case hinge was just a piece of leather. For this last case, I added a strip of gold thread to the back. Though I thought this case was going to be my last attempt, I may have one more trick up my sleeve. After finishing the case, I started thinking that the buttons should be removable like the keepers. It won't make a difference to the finished appearance of the case, but I'm enjoying the challenge of this project, and want to take it as far as I can.

P.S. Sorry for the blurry photos! There was only about three seconds of sunlight left when I took this photo, and I was in such a hurry I didn't check my camera!