Saturday, 27 August 2011

Edwardian Dolls House: the Main Bedroom

1:12 scale bedroom accessories
The inspiration for this, the main bedroom, was the photograph from 1910 of my grandmother, wearing her best clothes. I miniaturised it, framed it and hung it by the bed. My husband made the brass bed for me. He was horrified at the price of the one I wanted to buy and decided to teach himself how to do it! The other photos are of children from my family in the same era.
   The walls of the bedroom are covered with, not wallpaper but fabric. Floral themes were popular in Edwardian times for bedrooms and I liked this material. It's stuck onto foamcore with spray-on adhesive.
The Edwardian Dolls House bedroom
   Originally the cream chair was fire-engine red with gilt so bright it glowed! I painted it cream, rubbed brown shoe polish over the gold to tone it down, then stuck a transfer on the back and another one on the seat to give the impression of tapestry.
   I stitched the bedspread and rug using patterns from dolls house magazines. I also made all the clothes in the wardrobe and drawers.
   The mirror over the mantelpiece is actually a $2 shop picture frame. It had just the right Art Nouveau look so I bought it. Off to the local glass cutters then asked them to put a mirror in it for me. They were so interested in my mini project that they did it for no charge!
   Don't you find that some people are fascinated with your miniatures. Others think you're mad!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Tudor Dolls House: Tudor Food in Miniature

1:12 scale Tudor food from polymer clay
I do enjoy fiddling around with Fimo, making miniature food. The books I've read on Tudor times gave me some ideas for the food I wanted in 1:12 scale. No boring old pottage and dark bread in this house. I wanted to make a 16th century feast.
   Lampreys were fish that looked like eels. With a mix of translucent and beige Fimo, I rolled short lengths, curved them so they were slightly wiggly and gave them poppyseed eyes.
   The Harlequin Tart was easy to make with a base of biscuit-coloured clay and tiny balls of clay in four different colours to make the berries.
   The Tudors were fond of Jumbles, knots of dough that were boiled then baked. I made very thin  lengths of beige clay, twisted them into knots, and brushed them with terracotta-coloured powdered chalk before baking them.
   The little pies are solid circles of beige clay with the same dusting of powdered chalk as the jumbles. In real life they would have contained mutton and vegetables.
  On the wooden trenchers are manchet bread. These were soft white rolls eaten by the well-to-do.  
The poor people got the dark, chewy bread or the bits of bread that had burnt on the bottom. The  wealthy got the nicely baked 'upper crust'.
  Of course, no Tudor feast would be complete without a boar's head. This one, in pride of place on the table, was made for me by a friend.

Friday, 19 August 2011

How to Make Flowers in 1:12 Scale

Flowers made from tissue paper
Sometimes I use Fimo, the oven-dried modelling clay, to make miniature flowers. But, after much experimenting, I've decided that I like using tissue paper better. The paper flowers are very delicate and the petals seem lifelike.
 To make tissue paper flowers in 1:12 scale, you will need:
  • tissue paper
  • fine gauge florist wire 
  • yellow flocking   
  • craft glue suitable for paper
  • punches in heart, star and teardrop shapes
  • hairspray
You can buy tissue paper in a range of colours, so choose the colour suitable for the type of flower you want to make.
  1. Cut the florist wire into short lengths
  2. Dip one end of each into glue and then into the yellow flocking.  These are the flowers' centres. Leave to dry.
  3. Fold tissue paper into three layers. 
  4. Punch out a number of shapes. Keep the three layers together.
  5. To make roses, use heart shapes. Dip the pointed end in glue. Using the three layers of tissue paper at a time, wrap a heart around the end of the wire. Keep adding them to build up a rose shape. Bend the outer petals back slightly. 
  6. To make a camellia, use teardrop shapes. Follow the same method. 
  7. To make a peony, use star shapes. Follow the same method. To make these petals look fluffier, separate them a little with your fingernail and curve them upwards.
  8. Punch teardrop shapes out of green tissue paper.
  9. Glue these where the base of the flower meets the wire to cover the join, so they look like the flower's sepals.
  10. Arrange the flowers with a little greenery in a vase.
  11. Spray the arrangement lightly with hairspray to protect it.
I hope you enjoy making these tissue paper flowers. They are quick and easy to make and look  beautiful in a dolls house room. 

In Singapore: Finding Minis

Chinese zodiac charm
I've been in Singapore for two weeks and, as usual, was on the hunt for miniatures. In this place where shopping is considered a national pastime, I was happy to go along with the throngs, looking for tiny things I could use in my dolls houses.
Calligraphy supplies
    Chinatown provided rich pickings. Tiny wooden carvings and china ornaments in the shapes of Chinese zodiac animals were perfect for a miniature nursery or toyshop. Some stalls displayed many trays of beads in different shapes and sizes. The beads made of pale green jade and others in blue and white porcelain would make beautiful vases for a dolls house.
   There are many places in Chinatown supplying everything needed for calligraphy. I thought the little marble and stone figures on top of the squared or rounded pillars sold in these stalls would make beautiful statues in a dolls house hallway.   
Sterling silver merlion charm
   On my travels I often buy sterling silver charms. Usually these are sold for bracelets. But they are just the right size to make 1:12 scale ornaments for a mini mantelpiece or sideboard. I bought a charm of the Merlion, Singapore's half lion, half fish fountain, as a memento of my holiday. I will put it in the Oriental room of my Miniature Museum.
   If I had been making a miniature toy shop I would have been very tempted to spend up large in Lim's store in Holland Village. They had a whole cabinet of tiny Disney ornaments, from Tinkerbell to the Little Mermaid, made of china, finely detailed and hand painted. This shop also sells a wide range of oriental-style bits and bobs in colourful displays, many of which could be adapted to 1:12 scale.
    My holiday was great, combining three of my favourite things. People watching, seeing new places, and shopping for miniatures!  Now, where to next?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Tudor Dolls House: Miniature Embroidery

Tudor Rose embroidery in 1:12 scale
, I love doing embroidery and enjoyed stitching the bedcovers, wallhangings and cushions for my Tudor dolls house. It was fascinating to find, when doing research on the Tudor era, that metallic threads in gold and silver were used extensively in their embroideries. Some of the decorative work was extremely complicated and must have taken a long time to do. Not to mention the risk of severe eyestrain trying to stitch by candlelight. Embroidery these days must be much easier.
  In the main bedroom, the motif I embroidered on the counterpane, using some gold thread, is the red and white Tudor rose.

Dolls house Tudor bedroom embroidery 
  The other bedroom has a wallhanging done in fine wool from a kitset. It is a Persian design depicting the waters of life. Perhaps a crusader brought it back from the East!
  The bedcover in blue is stitched with curved bands of silver thread. The pattern was an integral part of the fabric so all I had to do was sew over the lines. Easy - like painting by numbers! 

Miniature blackwork cushions 

The Tudors were very keen on blackwork embroidery, and so am I. I like the crispness of the contrast between the white fabric and black thread. These cushions are made with designs featured in a dolls house magazine feature on Tudor times. Although they look intricate, they were easy to stitch as the motifs are repetitive.
   Next on my 'to do' list is a wallhanging for the parlour.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Miniature Museum: The Edwardian & Art Deco Room

Edwardian and Art Deco miniatures
This costume and furniture gallery is the last room in my miniature museum. It features the Edwardian and Art Deco periods with items and clothes that were in fashion during those years from the 1900s to the 1930s.
   Now my sewing expertise runs to embroidering but not dressmaking, so these dresses are all glued, not stitched. The cream Edwardian outfit I copied from a photograph of a real model. I got a resin doll and glued the fabric and lace to her, made the tiny ribbon roses, then chopped off her head!
   The Tiffany lamp, handpainted fan and biscuit tin on the table are all Art Nouveau, as are the two posters by Mucha of elegant, semi-clad women with swirling locks of long hair, his trademark motif.
   During the Art Deco period dresses were shorter. I took another headless doll (can you tell that I don't like dolls?!) and glued a piece of material round her and draped a stole over her shoulders.
   The round table and chair are Bespaq pieces I spraypainted gloss black then stuck on silver peelies as trim. The china is miniature replica pieces of Clarice Cliff ware which was very popular at the time. On the chair is a little flapper's hat I made. With its rosette and jaunty feather it's just the thing to wear when dancing the Charleston!