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.

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!

Monday, 13 January 2014

A Miniature Tin Holds Memories

The attractive front of the miniature tin
I was out and about today, fossicking for minis, and came across this lovely little tin. It's about 2 1/2 inches tall. I had to buy it, because it reminded me of the tearooms and bakery I'd made in miniature. (You can see those if you click on 'The Tearooms' in the blog index). I'd named them 'Bellevue Tearoom' and this one is 'Bellevue Bakery'.

The back of the tin is as charming as the front!
But the real surprise, which I found delightful, came when I opened the tin. Here it is:

The detailed interior of the tin
You see -  the bakery downstairs and living rooms for the proprietors above. It's one of those scenes where each time you look at it, you see something different. There are so many details that are interesting - the welcome mat at the door; two kittens playing on the floor of the shop; patchwork quilts on the beds; dishes on the draining board in the kitchen.
  There were other little tins in the series. Perhaps I should start a collection! 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Mini Projects for the New Year

A Kit Set to Make 
I wonder what miniatures you'll be making, or planning to make, this year. I hope my ideas and 'how to' articles will be helpful for your projects.
  I bought one of these 'Long Vacation' kitsets to make. It's the one pictured in the middle here, called 'Leisurely Lunch'. It's a scene set in a box frame.

The detailed instructions
  The instruction book has such little print, I think I'll need stronger glasses to read it all!

The makings of the box frame
Here are the parts to make up the box frame, the wallpaper and flooring paper.

All the items needed to complete the project
  So far, all I've done is unpack the box the kit set came in and photograph the things to show you. But already I'm thinking that I don't really like the wallpaper; that the blue painted wood to make up the table is the same colour as a table at a taverna in Greece I've been to; that maybe I could tweak things and plaster the walls white and add other bits and pieces of mine to make a Greek theme.
  Watch this space! Who knows how it will turn out!