Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Alice in Wonderland Roombox

Alice in Wonderland in 1:12 scale  
I loved the book 'Alice in Wonderland' when I was a child, and also the movie adaptation that came out last year. So when the chance came to make a roombox to fit the New Zealand Miniatures Convention theme of 'Magic Movie Moments', I knew exactly which movie I wanted to portray in miniature. Eight of us from our miniatures club made a roombox each about a different movie and fitted them together into a circle so that they looked like a film reel.
   The base levels are made of polystyrene then painted green, smeared with PVA glue and sprinkled with model railway grass scatter. I made the toadstools out of halved polystyrene balls and their stalks out of Fimo or 1:12 scale wooden flowerpots inverted and stacked. Strands of real moss hang from the walls amongst various paper and fabric plants.
   The caterpillar was fun to make - blue Fimo with its segmented body made by wrapping cotton thread round it at intervals. Its eyes are white and black beads and its feet are .... false eyelashes!
   But the piece de resistance is the Cheshire Cat. I bought a cheap wooden cat figurine and decapitated it. Then I impaled the head on a fine metal rod so it looks as if it is suspended in mid-air. Who said making minis wasn't violent!

Monday, 30 May 2011

The Tearooms

Miniature tearooms
This is the second incarnation of this 1:12 scale building I designed. I wanted a building that didn't take up too much space so decided to make it tall and thin, only one room wide over three storeys.
   At the time, we were having an extension built onto our real house. I asked the builder if he would cut the wood to my measurements as I didn't have a suitable saw. He said he'd be happy to, then appeared a couple of days later with the whole thing, except for the windows and door, built for me! Good on him!
     When I decided that I wanted a bay window on the ground floor, my husband had a bright idea. He cut up the lid of my yoghurt maker to make the top and bottom of the semi-circular window!
   Originally I made it into a Victorian era emporium called 'Buckinghams'. It had departments for hats and parasols, sewing notions and materials, and lingerie. I made all the furniture and accessories and had a lot of fun doing them.
   Later, I decided that rather than having another dolls house, I would strip 'Buckinghams' out and redecorate it to make 'Bellevue Tearoom'. I added shutters and window boxes, changed the dull brown Victorian colour scheme to a fresh blue and white, applied the gold stick-on lettering and had great fun making cakes, breads, and pastries for the tearooms.
   On the ground floor is the bakery. There is a tearoom on the middle floor and the top floor houses a wedding cake display. I'll show you it in more detail over the coming days.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Tudor Dolls House - Work in Progress

1:12 scale Tudor dolls house 
My Tudor Dolls House started life as a two storey kitset farmhouse in a rustic style. I thought the half-timbered exterior would make a good Tudor house so the idea went from there. I added a third storey, a porch, a large chimney and an oriel window.
   But it is still a work in progress. The interior is done, most of the furniture and accessories are made and the exterior is almost complete. It seems to have taken ages but I've worked on it in fits and starts. In fact, at one stage, it was covered with a sheet for a year because I was feeling so guilty about not doing it! Out of sight, out of mind!
   Now the interior is divided into three storeys. A kitchen, screen passage and great hall on the ground floor; bedroom and parlour on the middle floor; and a bedroom, storeroom and chapel up top.
   One fun thing to do was to personalise the oriel window. I have a document with my family's coat of arms from 1672, so photocopied them, in a greatly reduced size, onto overhead projector film. I then used this to make the glass in the front section of the window, drawing on the black criss-crossed lines to simulate the leading around the diamond-shaped panes.
   Over the coming weeks, I'll post about the Tudor accessories I made and hints for doing the exterior and interior of the Tudor Dolls House.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Miniature Museum: The Egyptian Room

1:12 scale Egyptian miniatures 
For my most precious and unusual miniatures, I set up a Miniature Museum in a large teak bookcase. It has six rooms: Egyptian, Oriental, Statuary, Rare Books, Georgian and Victorian, and Edwardian and Art Deco.
   It is different from my dolls houses as the museum contains largely items I have collected rather than the things I make myself for my houses and smaller projects.
   The back wall of the Egyptian Room features a real papyrus painting. I went to an exhibition on the Treasures of Egypt at the Auckland Museum and bought it there.
  A friend sent me the sarcophagus in the foreground as a present and I bought the rest of the statuettes at various markets and garage sales.
   I love the way the whole display glows golden when the morning sun streams into this room - it makes me smile!

Friday, 27 May 2011

The Edwardian Dolls House

An Edwardian cabinet dolls house 
The Edwardian Era has always appealed to me as a time of elegant fashion, fine food, gracious living, and exciting new inventions. For the rich and upper middle class, that is. I could imagine myself wearing a long, silk dress and a large feathered hat, drinking champagne and being driven in a motor car by a uniformed chaffeur. With my luck I'd probably have been the scullery maid, hand washing a mountain of crockery after the rich had banqueted!
   But I could always dream of creating my own little Edwardian world in miniature.
   So I planned a townhouse of 1910. The more I read about Edwardian times, the more rooms I wanted in a dolls house. I wanted large rooms with high ceilings, rooms for a housekeeper and a governess, a day nursery and a night nursery, a scullery and separate pantry. The plan became a house of 13 rooms.
   Then the hunt was on for a dolls house big enough to fit my plan. None I saw in catalogues would do. I was reluctant to build one from scratch as I actually don't like the construction part of this hobby - I like the interior decorating side of it.
   One day I was in a furniture store and saw the perfect thing! This teak cabinet that is taller than me, with glass doors and adjustable shelves.
   And so began my thrilling, immensely satisfying project - my Edwardian cabinet dolls house.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

What I Love About the Dolls House Hobby

Miniature dining room in 1:12 scale
What do I love about making dolls houses and miniatures? It's the interior decoration on a small scale; the pursuit of realism; the research to ensure historical accuracy; the thrill of searching for and finding a special miniature; the hand-crafting; the planning of a new project; and meeting other people who share my passion.
  For over 10 years now I have been involved in this hobby. During that time I have made many projects, in 1:12 scale and smaller. I also owned a business selling dolls house miniatures in New Zealand.  Part of that business was selling miniatures I had made myself such as minis for scrap booking, and personalised memory trunks.
  During 2010, I wrote a monthly column called Wendy's World for The Doll's House Magazine, a U.K. publication. I also write articles about dolls houses for an on-line magazine.
   I hope you will follow my blog to see the projects I have been working on, how-to articles, guest interviews with other miniaturists and links to articles I have written that are packed with useful, practical information about our hobby. Enjoy!