Thursday, 27 March 2014

Another Miniature Knitting Masterpiece from Helen Palenski

Helen Palenski's red hat lady
You never know what IGMA artisan Helen Palenski will surprise us with next! She has added 'Red Hat Ladies' to her range of tiny knitted figures. This one has been made into a brooch - you can see the clasp to the left of the lady.
  With so much detail shown, it's hard to believe that this little figure is only 1 1/2 inches tall.
  Do you know the poem that was the inspiration for this miniature? It's called 'Warning' by Jenny Joseph. The narrator promises to be a difficult old lady! Here is the start of the poem:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me,
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals and say we've no money for butter.

Helen's wee old woman is perfectly suited to the poem - she looks like a formidable lady with 'attitude'!

If you would like to see more of Helen's exquisite miniature knitting, look in the 'Guest Interview' section of this blog where I did a 2-part interview with Helen.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Doll's House Dolls Book

'Make and Clothe Your Own Doll's House Dolls' by Ellen Bedington

This is a companion volume to one book I have already reviewed - 'Design and Build Your Own Dolls House' (look under the blog label Book Reviews').
  In this book about making and dressing dolls in 1:12 scale, the author, an experienced doll maker, takes you step-by-step through the processes of making four different kinds of doll: a shoulder-plate doll, a flange-neck doll, using a mould and modelling a doll.

Making and Dressing Different Dolls
What I really like about this book are the detailed instructions and the very clear photographs that illustrate each step and technique. I have never made a doll but after spending a lot of time reading this book, I feel quite confident about starting one, with the book by my side every step of the way, of course!
  'Dressing the dolls' section of the book uses the same set-up of instructions and photos. The dressed dolls are then displayed in little scenes to show you what they would look like in your dolls house or room box.

Dolls to make and dress
The only downside of this book, I thought, was that the clothes to make for the dolls was limited to Victorian and Edwardian era styles of dress, perhaps because Victorian dolls houses seem to be the most popular with miniaturists.
All in all, this is a very handy book to add to your library, especially for beginners in the making of dolls house dolls scene!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

How to Plaster Walls in 1:12 Scale

An easy way of plastering in 1:12 scale
Keeping to my Greek theme for the mini shadow box, I decided rather than wallpapering the walls, I'd plaster them. 
  When I plastered the Tudor house (see under 'Tudor House' in the blog labels list) I used a mixture of white paint, PVA glue and talcum powder and applied it quite thickly to the walls.
  This time, because the shadow box is small, I imagined a finer 'plaster' would be better.
  In one of those serendipitous 'aha!' moments, I thought of using gesso. This is a primer used by artists to prepare surfaces such as canvas, wood and paper to provide a flexible, non-cracking surface to paint on. 
  So I squirted some gesso onto the already undercoated box walls and scraped it around with the edge of an old credit card so the walls looked as if they were whitewashed and slightly textured.
  It's an easy way of plastering and the effect was just as I'd hoped for. And because the gesso is white, I didn't have to paint again.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Mini Scene in a Box Frame: Getting Started

Continuing with the shadow box project
I took my shadow box project to minis club this month. In between the talking and seeing what others were making, I got the frame and the box undercoated in white paint, and I made the little pot plant.
Making a start on the small project
I've decided to run with the idea of decorating this as a Greek scene. So I sorted through my 'stash' of bits and pieces and found all of these that will be perfect on the table and shelves.

1:12 Scale Greek Miniatures
Next step will be to plaster the box interior and start making the furniture. So watch this space!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Free On-line Miniatures Magazines to Enjoy

I've discovered two wonderful on-line resources this month, and how I wish I had found them years ago! In fact, I am so excited about the magazines that I just had to share them with you.

Both are magazines that promote excellence in miniatures and connect professional, international artisan mini-makers with others interested in hand-making dolls houses and minis.

AIM stands for Artisans in Miniature and has a monthly, free magazine that you can download or read on-line. Projects, articles, features on artisans, and handy hints along with beautiful photographs make you want to sit, read, enjoy and then make miniatures. There are back issues from 2009 onward on-line too, so there's lots of reading to be done!

CDHM stands for Custom Dolls, Houses and Miniatures and also features wonderful work by artisans in our hobby. Their magazine is called CDHM Miniature Way. As well as the magazine there are tutorials on making lots of miniatures, many of the lessons taken by IGMA miniaturists.

I hope you enjoy these publications as much as I do, and are inspired to try some new things in our mini world.

Friday, 7 February 2014

How to Make a Wooden Picture Frame

Oh, dear, I chipped the frame taking it off the dolls house wall!

As promised, here are the instructions for making a wooden picture frame. (For the demonstration photos, I've used wider wood, in longer lengths than 1:12 scale so the pictures are clearer to see.)

Mitre box, razor saw and gluing jig

You will need a mitre box for the 45 degree angles in the corners, a razor saw and a gluing jig. Also the picture or embroidery to be framed, glued onto thin card.
As you can see, my tools have had so much use that I've had to tape them up!
  If you are using a very thin wood, or balsa wood, or even cardboard to make your frame, you could cut the angles with a craft knife. And for a gluing jig you could use Lego blocks to hold the pieces together when ready.

More supplies for picture frames
You will also need a mechanical pencil, a steel ruler and suitable wood. Because the scale is so small, every millimeter makes a difference so a mechanical pencil gives the finest mark for where you need to cut the wood.
  Now you must follow that old builders' adage of 'measure twice, cut once'. Measure how long the sides of the frame need to be to fit your picture. Measure again. Mark where the cuts will be with a mechanical pencil. Cut on the 45 degree angle using the mitre box and saw.

Checking the sides match
Now take the pieces and place them together like this to see if they are exactly the same. I don't know how many I've thrown in the rubbish in disgust, or kept taking off a little more, then a little more to try and get the sides the same, as the size of the frame gets smaller and smaller!

Check again!

Now is the time to stain the wood, before gluing, so the wood will take the stain. If you want to paint your frame, you don't have to do it now, you could wait till the frame is assembled and the glue dried.
  Assembling the frame takes time because you need to let the glue dry on each piece before taking the next step. This is really hard for me because I'm always tempted to fiddle with it! Use the gluing jig and walk away!

Glue two sides together. Let dry.

Glue the third side into place. Let dry.
The completed frame, ready for painting.
The angle of the photo makes the frame look slightly lop-sided, but it isn't!
  I hope this tutorial will be useful. Have fun looking for little pictures to frame to hang on your dolls house walls.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

How to Make Miniature Picture Frames

A Painting Framed for a Dolls House

Things to use for mini picture framing
I like to make pictures in frames for my miniature projects and have used all sorts of things for the frames. The photo above gives you an idea of what you can use that is ready-made: the silver and gold ones are charms; the 'Bless This Mouse' embroidery is framed with matchsticks for a rustic look in the Mouse House I made.
  The partly made frame is in wood, especially made for 1:12 scale. You can buy lengths of it from dolls house suppliers and hobby shops. It has a groove down one side (the rebate) that the picture or photo sits in. (I'll write more about making wooden frames in my next blog post.)

Scrapbooking frames are good for dolls houses
  I like to use frames that are made for scrapbooking as well. These have a softer, jelly-like feel. Because they are sticky backed they can be pressed straight onto a picture then the excess paper trimmed off round them. The peacock picture above is framed with one of these.
  I have also used fancy buckles as frames which work well once the 'pointy bit that goes through the holes' is removed!

Three examples of picture framing
  In this photo of my Edwardian morning room you can see three framed pictures. The one on the back wall is a little Japanese print of irises (my favourite flower) framed in a plain metal square that was a scrapbooking accessory.
  The painting of a young girl on the side wall sits in a cardboard frame I made. I then stuck a heavy lace braid over the cardboard and painted it with a gold pen. It looks like one of those ornate gilded frames you see in museums.
  The flower painting above the fireplace has a frame I made from wood, then painted gold before sticking the picture in it.
  I hope these examples give you some ideas for your own framed pictures. More on making wooden frames next time!