Sunday, October 6, 2013

It Pays to have Talented Friends!

This blog is dedicated to my long time crony and talented friend, Karen Haggard.  I have assembled a bunch of photos of gifts she has given me over the years.  This is not everything -- just a few things.  Almost everything in the photos below was made by Karen.

Crocheted snowman basket by Karen Haggard

Crocheted doily and spool wreath

Hand pieced quilt - flower garden pattern

Same quilt on a quilt rack

Crocheted tea towel and granny square pot holders

Tatted doilies and crocheted antimacassars

More of Karen's pot holders

Crocheted purse, working drawstrings!

Baby blanket and pillow

(can you tell I love mini crocheted things??)

Dainty cross stitched rug with lovely fringe

Della Robia wreath and Poinsettia centerpiece

Crocheted stuffed bear and pot holders

Grouping of items by Karen Haggard

It probably wouldn't surprise you to know Karen was into smocking and French hand sewing in her former life (her life before she discovered miniatures).  Textiles and threads are her specialty.  How lucky am I?  It pays to have talented friends!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Dollhouse Mitering Shortcut!

Here’s a neat trick to avoid having to miter dentil molding at the upper back corners of a dollhouse room where it is hard to reach.  This helped to solve a problem I had – two different pieces of dentil molding that didn’t match so I couldn’t miter them together.   Make crown corner blocks from scrap wood – uses the trim pieces that you throw away when you miter!  I can’t believe no one makes these for dollhouses!
Here’s an example in full scale:
You will need the following:
  •  square strip of basswood with a thickness  that measures at least the depth of your dentil molding --the distance it extends from the wall toward the ceiling (mine was about ½” by ½”).   A scrap about 2 inches long should be enough. 

  • Cornice molding (the kind without the dentil trim) OR if you have saved the little cut off miter corners from previous mitering you can use those.

  • Optional – tiny 1/16 x 1/16 square molding or scrap wood to fill in the open square that forms at the bottom of the mitered triangles (you’ll see in the photos).

  • Miter Box such as the Midwest “Easy Miter” and razor saw.  Saw should be very fine – for delicate cuts.

Cut the larger square molding to a length just a tiny bit longer than the height of your dentil molding (mine was about 5/8 inch).  Cut two of these the same length for two corner blocks.

Looking at the photos, cut two tiny pieces of the cornice molding at opposite 45 degree angles (the two should be mirror images of each other – or use the scraps from previous miters).  They should be just tiny triangles with almost no length – each has a 45 degree cut and a straight or 90 degree cut.  Be very careful you don’t break off the fragile bottom lip (if it does, just let it break off on both pieces, it should still look fine without it).  Cut a second set If you are doing two back ceiling corners.

Glue the two angled pieces to each other, angle to angle, then glue the flat top of them to the end of the square block.   It should look like the photo below.

If desired you can fill in the open area with a scrap of 1/16 by 1/16 square molding.

 After it dries, sand if necessary and paint.

Glue the blocks in the corners and then install your dentil molding using straight cuts.  Finished!  Now you have an excuse to save all those miter scraps!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dollhouse Building Tips - Removable Stairs

I needed a way to remove the staircase so I could clean them and get to the wallpaper behind them.  After some head scratching, I found a way using an overhanging top step and molding on the floor.

I was able to add a lip on the very top stair because my stairs ended at the back of the house where the top stair would not be very noticeable.  I glued a piece of bass to the top step so it ‘overhung’ catching on the upper level floor.  This prevented the staircase from falling down.

On the lower step of the stairs, I glued molding to the floor where the bottom step touched the floor.  The molding was glued around the bottom step (but not glued to the step – glued to the floor only).  This kept the bottom of the staircase in place so the staircase itself didn’t need to be glued to the floor. 
Molding cut to fit around bottom of stairs

To remove the staircase, I just gently lift the entire thing up about an inch to loosen it from the molding and twist and pull it out without hitting the chandelier.  I plan to stain the upper overhang a little so it blends in better with the upstairs flooring.
Upper floor (way back) you can see the overhang

Bottom floor - molding is only glued to the floor, not the stairs.

Hope this helps someone else with the same problem!  I plan to do it with my 2nd floor staircase also because on that level I plan to have a light fixture behind the stairs (those stairs will be see-through – hopefully in an upcoming blog).

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Houston Tom Bishop Show

Show purchases follow.  I met an interesting lady today, Cynthia DuBose.  She works in silver clay (Art Clay Silver)– a medium she molds then fires (with a cooking type butane torch).  It was amazing to watch her.

Cynthia DuBose and her Silver Art Clay

She takes some clay and forms it over a glass button to make a dish.  She trims away the excess (every dust particle is saved) then finishes the edge by sanding.  She dries it out on a candle warming pad (like the ones you can use to keep your coffee warm).  She checks that all the moisture is gone by setting it on a mirror and looking for condensation.  She files and sands the edge with an emery board.  Then she puts it on a stone and hovers over it with the butane torch until it is “peach” colored (glowing) for 2 minutes. 

Then she douses it into water for an instant cooling.  When removed it has a whitish dry finish which she buffs off with a very soft wire bristle brush.  She has smaller tools for buffing in the tiny crevices.  She uses it in several forms: the clay blob that you can roll and shape, a more watery consistency she squeezes from a syringe (for fine lines) and a sort of paper form that can be punched with a paper punch. Items larger than a quarter she fires in a kiln but small items she fires right on the desktop with a torch.

The cost of the silver clay varies with the market but a little blob, about the size of 2 or 3 quarters would be about $30.  But you can make amazing detailed miniatures with it.  She uses it for jewelry, too. Even more interesting, it doesn’t tarnish as fast (or maybe even not at all) as sterling because it is purer.  And even more helpful to miniaturists is that it shrinks 12% - so you can make it bigger then it gets smaller as you torch it.

 If you want to contact her, she only does classes (doesn’t sell her work).  Her name is Cynthia DuBose ( and she is a Senior Instructor with Art Clay World.  Thanks, Cynthia, for sharing with us!

And now for show purchases:

Karen Markland Halloween pails

Paulette Svec Shabby and Halloween Stockings

Paulette Svec tiny fabric pumpkins WITH STEMS!

Brooke Tucker lamp

Buying minis even makes up for all the Houston humidity and rain!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Christmas Market Stall FINISHED!!

My market stall was a project from a NAME Day held in Saginaw, TX in July 2012 hosted by the Mini Endeavors club.  I finished the market stall back in May 2013 but am just now getting the photos uploaded.  In my last blog (actually 2 blogs ago) I promised that the next one would be some of the finished items.  Well, here it is.

Here are some close ups of the different sides:

Front right side of counter.  The ornaments were made from my Sept. 2012 blog tutorial.  I made the little partitioned box from scrapbook paper edged with a gold paint pen.  The Feather Tree was a project from the NAME Day event.  The stacked tree top ornaments are just beads stacked on a toothpick and lots of glitter.

Front left side of counter.  Victorian cones and ribbon candy under a dome were made by my talented friend, Karen Haggard.  She also gave me the pot of Christmas Cookie pops by Jen Tuttle of Miniholiday.  The soldier is a painted metal miniature.  I made the tray of cookies and ornament under a dome.

Lower front: I dyed the pink Christmas Tree and painted the smaller one white.  All the ornaments and tree toppers as well as the ornament wreath were made from similar techniques mentioned in my earlier tutorials.  The Merry Christmas crate was donated to the NAME Day by Through the Keyhole dollhouse store.  It contains several tote bag items from the event.

Its hard to see but the items on the shelves are:  Top shelf - large nutcrackers are from wine glass charms.  Smaller ones are painted Metal Miniatures.   Middle shelf - Boxes of ornaments including some reproduction "Shiny Brite" ornament boxes from one of my favorite Ebay sellers, Sue's Little Things. Bottom shelf - Glitter house village which I put together from a Carol Kubrican kit (True2Scale).

The left side of the stall has hanging candy items mentioned in my August 10 2013 blog.  The red and white stocking was one of my earliest miniatures purchases from way back in the 1980s.  I wish I knew who the artist was.  The two net stockings were from Lori Ann Potts of Mustard Seed Miniatures - also vintage but purchased recently.  I modified them by adding items inside the socks and adding a paper card and string.

 The right side of the stall:  On the shelves are boxes of Christmas Cards made from some printies provided in the NAME Day tote bag by the late Donna Aldrich.  I wrapped blocks of scrap wood with a strip of folded antique looking scrapbook paper then glued on a card cutout and a thin film of clear plastic cut from a packaging blister.  The flower pot Santa & snowman were projects from the NAME Day event.

Inside the stall I put a little area for the stall owner to sit.  The curtains were described in an earlier blog.  The little stool is the bottom half of a Chrysnbon chair with a chair pad added.  The little filing box is just a block of balsa covered with a metallic gift wrap and a staple for a handle.  The Happy Meal was a tote bag favor.  The little box of ribbon candies (on the counter above the Happy Meal) is another item from Sue Ayers.

Well, glad that I have finished one project...only a hundred more to go!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mackenzie-Childs Inspired Dollhouse Miniatures

Inspired by Mackenzie-Childs
miniature wreath, Christmas tree

Christmas table with Boutonniere runner

Close up of Boutonniere Theme table

Miniature table with Holly Berry napkins, tablecloth

Close up showing napkins, napkin rings,
hanging double drop ornament

Full Size Holly Berry tablecloth and topper
(Original From Neiman Marcus)

Mini version Holly Berry stocking

Mackenzie-Childs own lovely Stocking

Miniatures inspired by Courtly Check canisters, plates

Mini hutch with Courtly Check inspired
canisters, plates

TUTORIAL -Candy Tubes, Candy Cards, Stockings

Supplies: 1/8” outer diam. clear plastic tubing (JAR-JAF Miniatures item # R-194),  Tiny candy balls (railroad fruit, no-hole beads or candy sprinkles – must fit inside the tubes), 5 mm white pom pom, 5 mm plastic flat back rhinestone,  5 mm round punch from black sequin or thin plastic (I used part of a wiggle eye), 1/8” round punched piece of fun foam, tiny black no hole beads, orange thread.

Snowman Candy Tube – cut a 18 mm length of the plastic tube using an X-acto (rolling it while cutting).  Smooth cut end if necessary with a file or emery board.  Glue the rhinestone to the bottom as a base (see top photo).  Fill with the tiny candy balls.  Glue the pom pom to the top.  For the hat, use the tiny punch from fun foam on top of the black 5mm disk.  Glue these to the white pom pom.  Glue black no-hole beads for eyes.  For the nose I used two tiny snips of orange thread (for a carrot).  I kind of twisted them together at one end to make a point.

Santa Candy Tube – For this one I used a slice of a Fimo cane (a thick slice) that was about ¼” diameter for the top.   It had a Santa face design.  I used metallic no-hole beads for the ‘candy’. 

Candy Cards – these were made using various scrapbook stickers (Jolees, etc) in small shapes like Christmas socks, Christmas bulbs, etc.  The plastic bubbles were either pill blisters or wiggle eyes with the back sliced off.  Fill with purchased Fimo candy (or buy the canes and slice them yourself).

Finished side of stall with candy cards:

Below is another pic of the candy cards and candy tubes.  

Stockings - The red and white stocking above was an early miniature purchase from 1986 (artisan unknown but I recorded that I paid $6 for it).  The other two stockings were bought in a lot on Ebay and were made by Lori Ann Potts of Mustard Seed Miniatures.  They originally were hand sewn (red tulle netting, I think) around the edges and contained only Fimo candy.  I embellished them to add the Santa and Angel figures, the red & white trim around the edges and the labels.  Here is how I did the red and white trim (below).

I bought the green ribbon at Christmas time from Hobby Lobby.  I trimmed off the tiny candy cane edge trim and glued it around the sock.  I had to notch it around the toe so it would fit the curve.  I made a card on the top from just a clipping from a wrapping paper catalog (Container Store).

Next time I will show finished photos of the entire project and give sources for some of the items.