Welcome to my life . . . .

This is a blog about my passion: dollhouses and miniatures. This particular blog was started to follow my miniature dream: to create a Victorian Mansion. But work on my Mansion is slow. Very slow. Sloth slow. Ice Age glacier movement slow. Why? Because I am easily distracted by other personal miniature projects (I have 50+ roomboxes and 15 dollhouses in various stages of incompletion) and because I work for a miniature shop and am often up to my elbows in miniature projects that aren't mine! So, I thought, some artists work in a particular medium (woods, watercolors, clay, oils, etc.), I work in progress . . . .

Friday, December 25, 2020

2 year long Birithmas Gift

 Last year I was so busy closing up the shop that I didn't have time to make my friend her Birithmas (mix of Birthday and Christmas) gift.  I knew what I wanted to make her; I had even bought most of the supplies to do it in early 2019.  I just didn't have the time.

Several years ago I made her THIS (click to read blog post about making the box) for Birithmas:

One side of the Birithmas Gift from years ago:
Large Shop Window to be decorated

When I gave her the box 3 of the sides had been decorated. Side 1: Tiffany & Co was painted and designed - my friend just needs to fill the window with jewelry and stuff.  Side 2: We contacted our friend Tish to make a doll for the Queen of Heart's large window display (Link to Post about Other Large Shop Window).  Side 3: And the flat side of the box had been decorated with Broadway Show posters.  Which only left this one window left to be decorated.

I knew friend loved this real life New York City florist window display (from her New York city trip in 2015):

Lots of roses....

So I wanted to replicate something similar for her in miniature.  Plus add a few touches of my own (the miniature window is slightly larger than the real life window so there will have to be more in the window than just the dress and gift boxes).

First up was a reindeer that my friend was giving away.  She got this for a project and then didn't use it.  So I told her I could use it (she didn't know it was for her own gift):

Scrawny little reindeer

Started to fill him in with some lycopodium:
He's got a bushy butt!
Um, did he just become Max from the Grinch?

So once I glued lycopodium to him to fill and fluff him out, he started to look more like a dog than a reindeer!  I was so disappointed and lost my momentum for working on the project.  He sat around my dining room table for a month or so, my little reindog.

Then November hit and I realized I hadn't even started the other projects that would go into the window scene and I was going to miss out on getting my friend a Birithmas 2020 gift!!!  Unacceptable.  So I dragged Reindog out and contacted my friend's mother for advice: keep Reindog as a dog (friend loves dogs!) or bite the bullet and glue antlers on him and hope that converts him back into a reindeer?
Reindog reigns supreme

He still looks a little doggish to me, but friend's mother says the antlers make him look enough like a reindeer. (The antlers were cut off of a rubber/plastic reindeer toy.)  But it wasn't quite enough.  So I increased his reindeer-ness by adding some Christmas decorations to him:
Poor thing looks like Christmas sneezed on his head

Project #2 for the window scene is a shelf unit filled with goodies.  However, I wanted friend to put some of her own style into the window scene so I only added a few items to the shelf (which she can move around, take out, or glue down once she decides what she wants on the shelves).  I added some "garland" (sparkly pipe cleaners) to the edges of the shelves and it was done:
Simple, Quick, and Easy Project: I needed that after Reindog!

Riding high from that success I jumped right into Project #3: The Lamp Post!
Sort of plain looking: needs some Christmas!

I had various bits and pieces that would dress this up, such as more sparkly pipe cleaners, ornaments, flowers, and...

bare trees...

and a sparkly reindeer

I made the sparkly reindeer from a brown plastic railroad accessory.  Spray painted him white, smothered him in white glitter, and glued no-hole-beads to his antlers.  It was like a pampering day at the spa, sort of.  So I glued my bits and pieces to the lamp pole:
Hung larger ornaments and glued smaller ones to the lamp post tray

Lantern and reindeer (bare trees got ornaments and a star topper)

Added a candle to the top lantern and flowers to the bottom basket area and it's done!

Now came the main attraction: the Rose Dress.  I was scared to tackle this project due to my Past Experience with dressing dolls (and really a mannequin is just a headless/armless doll!).  Dedicated a Saturday afternoon to it and came up with:
Don't ask me what those arm holes are doing; they look scary. That's tomorrow's problem.

Not bad from the front.
So, it took me three different design attempts and there were some glue spots on the fabric that I'm not happy about, but this was an acceptable start to a bodice and my patience was stretched thin.  Time to stop for the night (which became a week).

A week later I forced myself to try the skirt part.  And, like the bodice, it took me about 3 or 4 design styles before I got to something semi-decent enough to glue to the mannequin.  It did not help that apparently I like fabrics that look pretty, but are a pain in the butt to glue and sew (yes, one version of the skirt involved my using a needle and thread!).
Have some side skirts happening. Middle is still a bit drafty.

Now has a back skirt in place

Had a 2 or 3 hour debate over how to join the side skirts to the back skirt.  Only solution I could come up with was to glue over them to keep them together.  So I glued the only coordinating ribbon I had over it (a black and gold ribbon) and thought, "I can't give this to her; it looks sloppy with weird trims/ribbons on the back that won't match the white trim in the front, odd size arm holes, uneven seam and hem lines, and I haven't even attempted the roses yet".  I wasn't going to cry, but felt despondent enough over how it was turning out that I wondered what gift I could just buy for my friend because this dress wasn't looking good enough to give to her. Then my eldest walked by the table and said, "Did you make THAT? It looks nice!" And just like that my confidence and momentum returned!  Sometimes all it takes a compliment to keep you going.
The "nice" enough dress

So I glued white bunka trim to the front of the dress:
Arm holes are looking better now

And cut some red aida cloth to fit the front of the skirt for the roses...
Luckily I had bought 3 packs of roses (for a total of 150 roses) for this project!

Glued aida cloth to the mannequin and finished filling in flowers

Now that dress is done, I had to work on the blanket of flowers at the mannequin's base.  I wanted the blanket of roses to be separate though because 1. that will be easier for shipping this from Virginia to my friend in Texas and 2. the dress was looking so nice, I didn't want to screw it up with the blanket of roses looking badly so if it's not connected to the dress, I could still ship the dress to my friend and feel like I had a respectable gift for her.

Glued some foam to a piece of cardboard (to get a "rolling hill" effect like in the photo).

Roses spilling out in front of the dress in real life shop window

My foam base for my blanket of roses

I started to glue roses to the foam (just left of center in the back by the dress) when I realized that I should paint the foam red in case there are gaps!  After painting it red, I started to glue the roses to the foam.  And then I started to hyperventilate since I THOUGHT 150 roses would be enough, but I was running out!  I stuck some larger roses in that were "red" and not "deep red" like the other roses but I couldn't think of what else to do.  And now the edge that was supposed to be covered in roses, was just a raw foam edge because I was out of roses.  I debated about covering the edge with a strand of the sparkly green pipe cleaner garland (that would coordinate the dress to the other pieces in the scene) but I really didn't want to do that.  Then youngest asked, "Why can't you just cut off the excess foam edge and paint what remains red?"  Brilliant!  Simple solution!  Can't believe I wasted 2 hours brain storming this and the solution was so simple!  Thank goodness I have smart kids.
Dress and removeable blanket of roses

So the scene is now complete and fits into the window space (I had a template of the Large Window Shop so I knew exactly how much room I had to work with)!
Front and center is the dress and blanket of roses

The larger and lighter roses actually make it look realistic since roses aren't all the exact same size and color.

My reindog and lamp post

Wish the lamp post was more visible but the main focus is supposed to be the (roses) dress so...

The shelves with snow globes and a snow white village scene by MagnoliaMinis

Entire window

It's the first week of December and all the gifts are wrapped and packed for shipping and by the time I post this she will have opened them (can't post until after she opens in case she reads the blog before she's opened her Birithmas Gift)!  Took me 2 years, but I finally finished her rose dress!

Hoping you all are having a rosy winter!  Stay safe everyone!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Trick or trick!

You read that right: Trick or trick! This Halloween cabinet contains no treats. Perfect for a witch or warlock, it's loaded with everything from unicorn horns to eye of newt.

The cabinet started out in a mahogany stain finish with a mirror backing.  I removed the backing (cracked the mirror too in the process but decided to not repair because a cracked mirror seemed more authentic for a Halloween type piece). Then sprayed it purple for Halloween!

I needed to make everything to fill the cabinet. I had started that years ago when I made some items for my friend's witch's scene (Making a few witchy things).  But I needed to fill all my glass bottles and find some filler pieces...
Made some mushrooms to fill in my dirt bowl since I only had 1 manufactured mushroom.  The larger, yellow mushroom is the industry made one.  The smaller tan mushrooms are the ones I made out of FIMO.  "Dirt" is some used and dried out coffee grinds mixed with glue.

Jars were all filled with various mythical/mystical things....

From leeches, blood, and eye of newt to mermaid hair and moon beams, these jars were filled with anything a witch (or warlock) would need.  My favorite jar is the "Essence of Ghost" jars, which unfortunately gets shoved away in the bottom part of the cabinet, but here it is up close:

So the cabinet was finished, and like the first one of these I made 2 years ago, this one also sold out within days of being completed...

First made leeches (down there on the first shelf) for my wizard's cottage back in 1999. I should be worried that I enjoy making them so much...

But, come on, aren't they cute???  (Yes, I described jars filled with leeches as "cute".  You gotta problem with that?  Don't make me concoct a brew to curse you for laughing at me!  I've got the leeches to do it!)  Sorry, my inner witch came out there. LOL

Crystal ball, tea pot, candles: the basic starter kit

Not sure you can read it, but the scroll on the table top lists a Shrinking Spell to reduce yourself to 1:12 your size.

Dragon eggs, snug in a basket, just in case.

There's my Essense of Ghost, hiding in the back right.

I no longer have any more of these cabinets, but I do intend to make more witchy things...I have an uptown witch's vanity I'm currently working on but getting my kids settled into online learning is top priority this week.  And then, for the first time ever, I may skip right into the Christmas spirit - BEFORE THANKSGIVING!!!  And that tells you how truly freaky and spooky 2020 is.  Trick or trick!

Sunday, September 6, 2020

I see the light (house)!

Final customer project has been completed...customer wanted this Real Good Toy's Lighthouse kit assembled and bricked.

All the parts, labeled and ready to start assembling.

Started to glue it together, but (as you can see in the photos) this was right when the store was closing so I had to bring the parts home and finish the lighthouse at my home.

Wired for electricity and interior was primed for whatever decor the customer wants to do!  Love that the beacon light blinks! 

Exterior was still just painted brown at this point.  Customer wanted the exterior bricked, but still light enough that she could move it from the living room table to a display table on her balcony.  So real bricks were out.  We settled on a textured brick paper.

Customer is very happy with her lighthouse!  And I am happy that I am able to work on my own projects now, guilt-free!  I have already made one item (a Halloween Cabinet -- it'll be my next blog post) and it is going up for sale on the store's website tonight!