Saturday, 19 July 2014

Workshops at the NZAME Miniatures Convention, October 2014

A tiny tin shop used for a workshop at Convention
At the NZAME Convention in Nelson this year at October's Labour Weekend, there is a wide selection of workshops you can choose to do. Ranging from ones taking 2 days to complete to ones taking 1/2 a day, there's lots to tempt us mini-makers!
  Here's a sampling to get you thinking of what you'd like to do!

  • 2 days -         1930s kitchen, and a gourmet shop doorway scene of Provence
  • 1 1/2 days -    European Christmas Market stall, and a setting using card, paint and foam to make food and furniture.
  • 1 day -           wooden country kitchen table, and tin houses and shops like the one in my photo to be furnished with 70 laser-cut pieces of furniture & accessories (very fiddly!), and a glitter Xmas village, and tea in the conservatory, and a woven oval basket.
  • 1/2 day -        hats, and a park bench, and several on polymer clay food, and a garden arch, and an inside/outside kitchen on a turntable, and kumihimo braids, and a street barrow, and using gold leafing, and dressing a bride doll, and making a cabinet with pots, and glass decanters on a revolving stand.
Workshops are allocated on a first come, first-served basis. Find out more on the NZAME website.

Friday, 4 July 2014

A Foodie Theme for This Year's NZ Miniatures Convention

Baking a Lemon Pudding in 1:12 Scale
"Bon Appetit' - that's the theme for the NZAME Convention in New Zealand this October. I wonder what food you would 'cook' for display. Would you do a baking scene, or a vegetarian dish or perhaps a roast lamb? With pavlova for dessert, of course, for the quintessential Kiwi meal!

Preparing vegetables for dinner

A food preparation area, or vignette, could have a duck to pluck, a brace of pheasants hanging or vegetables to be washed & sliced.
Tudor food for a feast
Perhaps your food could have an historical theme, like my Tudor feast, complete with boar's head, made for me by a friend, lampreys, jumbles and soft white bread rolls for the'upper crust'.

The window display in a cake shop/tearooms

The food theme expands to take in buildings as well - a restaurant, tavern, bar, cafe, corner shop, or tearooms. How about a well-stocked pantry to show off bottles & preserves in jars, sacks of flour and tins of biscuits. Or if you'd rather have your food outdoors, a picnic basket filled with goodies to eat and drink would make a great display.

Of course, your miniatures could take us on a gourmet trip around the world to a sidewalk cafe in Paris, a pizzeria in Rome, an oyster bar in Bluff, a Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong, a burger bar in L.A. or a fish and chip shop in London.

Whatever the food, miniature or real, there will be lots of it in Nelson at Labour Weekend. look on the NZAME website for more information. Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Miniatures Convention 2014 in New Zealand

It's almost that time again! The biennial convention of the New Zealand Association of Miniature Enthusiasts. All year dolls house and miniatures enthusiasts from around the country have been planning and plotting and making tiny things to exhibit at the convention. It is a chance to look and learn and be inspired by what others have done. It's a visual feast! And a chance to shop, shop, shop at the traders' tables for those special minis.

This year the convention will be in Nelson, hosted by the Nelson Miniatures Club and held at Waimea College, in Richmond.

This will be at Labour Weekend 24 - 27 October, 2014.

There's a full programme of workshops and round-table smaller projects to do.

More details can be found on the NZAME website.

Perhaps we'll see you in Nelson in October!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Look at the Miniature Circus

The Miniature Circus in a Matchbox

Although this was one of the smallest mini projects I've done, it was also the easiest. No cutting.  No gluing. No painting or staining. All I had to do was pop the little cardboard figures out from their perforated backing card, poke holes in the numbered 'crosses' with my cake tester (that was the finest, sharpest pointy thing I had!) and then push the corresponding numbered pieces into place.
  It all came together in about 10 minutes. For a fun little mini that's very different from the norm, it makes a nice souvenir of my time in Germany.
The Mini Circus Completed

Thursday, 29 May 2014

A Miniature Circus in a Matchbox

A Circus in a Matchbox
I've been in Germany this last month visiting family and, as ever, was on the lookout for miniatures. I found this intriguing little matchbox in a souvenir shop. You can see how small it is with the paperclip beside it.

The makings of the circus
 Now with only a basic sketch for instructions and no picture of the completed circus, I think it will take a bit of working out what to put where. Like doing a jigsaw puzzle without a picture on the box to give you clues!
  I'll make this my weekend project and post a photo next week.

Friday, 23 May 2014

How to Decorate Tudor Dolls House Ceilings in 1:12 Scale

A beamed and plastered ceiling in a Tudor dolls house
 In Tudor times, ceilings had hand-adzed oak beams exposed. These were sometimes stencilled or painted with the area between the beams plastered. Grander houses may have had decorative plastered ceilings in the main hall.
  I used several different types of ceiling decoration in my Tudor dolls house.

How to Make Plaster and Oak Beams in this bedroom and the kitchen.

  • Make the beams from balsa wood or squared wood. Roughen the edges or attack them with a craft knife to make knicks and cuts to give the effect of hand adzing. Stain with oak coloured stain.
  • Mark with a pencil on the ceiling where the beams will go.
  • Undercoat the ceiling with white paint then plaster it with a fine mix of tacky glue, artists sand and white paint, leaving the spaces clear where the beams will go.
  • When dry, glue on the beams with wood glue and dabs of super glue. Hold the beams up till the glue dries with strips of masking tape.
  • If you are building the dolls house, you can do all this in the early stages by turning it upside down to make it a lot easier to work with.

'Painted' beams in a Tudor dolls house

How to Make Decorative Beams: in the parlour.
  • I had used scrap booking paper in a faded pattern to cover one wall of the Tudor parlour and had enough of the paper over to do the beams as well. 
  • I made and stained the beams then carefully cut strips of the paper and glued them on the sides of the beams. Once completely dry I trimmed them up.
  • This gave the effect of hand painted decoration. If you are a better painter than me, you could paint them or even stencil them to your own patterns.
Using embossed wallpaper
How to Make Plastered Ceilings: in the Great Hall.
  • Source some embossed wallpaper from home decorating stores. They often have free samples or left over rolls from ends of runs or out of date pattern books you could use. I've found that once I explain about making a dolls house, the shop people are very interested and happy to give me wallpaper pieces.
  • Carefully measure the ceiling of the dolls house in the room that will be a little 'grander' than the rest of the house.
  • Now you can go two ways here: 
  • a) choose a suitable section of the paper so that the pattern is centred on the ceiling and glue the paper to the ceiling, covering it completely.           b) cut out shapes from the embossed paper, plaster the ceiling and then stick the shapes on. This is what I did.
  • Once the paper has dried, spread a very fine layer of plaster over the paper. This makes it merge in so it doesn't look like 'bits and pieces just stuck on'!
Creating a ceiling
How to Make a Rush Ceiling: for the top storey of my Tudor dolls House.
  • The top floor of a Tudor house was where the servants slept or supplies were stored. It wasn't a place that would be seen by visitors so there was no need to have a grand ceiling to impress others.
  • Slats of wood or rush matting would be laid under the tiles or shingles. In theory this would keep out the worst of the weather and the worst of the vermin. I'm thinking rats here!
  • To simulate this in 1:12 scale I used place mats like this one, made of very thin strips of bamboo. Be careful when cutting them to size so they don't unravel before you have a chance to glue them on.
I hope these ideas will be useful when you are making your own Tudor dolls house or room box.

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.