Monday, July 5, 2010

Long time no post

Sorry for the lags between updates, but real life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of my minis. Stupid real life.

Anyway… I thought it would be really cool to put baked goods on that pretty gold-wire étagère but decided that it would be a good place to put gift items instead:

Top shelf - a Chrysnbon kettle and tea cups painted with enamel.

Half-shelves - seed bead bracelets. The boxes are made from vinyl scrapbook paper and white craft foam. Ever tried to fold and glue a piece of vinyl into something that roughly resembles a ½-inch by ¾-inch gift box? Don't; it is not fun. Stick with cardstock, which holds its shape better.

Fourth shelf - four "jars" made of glass millefiori beads, silver jewelry findings and Swarovski crystals.

Bottom shelf - at the back are two picture frames (difficult to see in this shot) that are simply pewter bracelet charms with the hanging loops clipped off. In the front are two turquoise jars made of beads and pewter jewelry findings.

Floor - Dolphin sculpture composed of a painted wood disk, a "wave" made of marbled white translucent and blue translucent Fimo, and an iridescent dolphin-shaped charm (loop clipped off).

Next project: I'm going to turn the white unit (against the left wall) into a bakery case for breads and rolls. I've got all the pieces (at least I think I do)… now, I just have to figure out how it all goes together.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wall Art!

As pretty as the scrapbook wallpaper is, I couldn't let the walls be bare. So I spent some time putting together some things to hang up there.

  • On the upper left are a pair of shadow boxes put together from strip wood and moulding, including leftover pieces of the double chair rail. Although you can't really see it well, the back walls of the boxes are covered in a scrapbook paper that coordinates with the wallcovering (it's more purple). Those are real seashells glued into the boxes. Tiny, tiny little seashells. Aren't they cute?
  • The posters on the upper right are three clip-art photos of baked goods that I cropped and resized. The photos are printed on bond paper, which was glued to poster paper, which in turn was pasted onto basswood. The frames are made of bits of trim and the "glass" is an adhesive laminating sheet.
  • On the lower left is a photograph of the inside of an abalone shell taken by Jeff Miller for the University of Wisconsin. As I did with the baked goods photos I cropped, resized and framed the image.
  • On the lower right is a little blackboard ornament that I wrote the day's specials on with a white charcoal pencil. If you look carefully, you can still see a remnant of the hanging loop; I wasn't able to get all of it off. It's not too noticeable, though, is it?

And here they all are in situ. I used glue dots for placement, but I'll need to go back later and permanently affix them to the walls. Now that I look at it, I think the chalkboard needs to be hung a bit higher.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ready to Roll (pun unintended, honest)

So all the fixtures and basic decor are in place and the bakery is ready to be decorated, accessorized and filled with whatever FIMO delectables this novice can manage to turn out.

I worked on the outside first, by putting up wooden siding (note: avoid buying siding from Handley House; the wood is poor quality and one of the segments was a different scale than the rest). I bought a lovely "French Blue" Glidden paint sample from Home Depot; it cost only $3 and contained enough paint for two coats. The window and door are by Houseworks. While the door is flush on the inside, there's some dead space under the threshold on the outside; I'll have to fashion a doorstep, which shouldn't be too difficult. Also, I'm not very fond of that wide expanse of wall next to the window, so at some point I'm going to fashion a large sign to hang there.

That was actually easy compared to the inside. Because I am capable of learning from my mistakes, I bought pre-made flooring this time around. I found the perfect wallcovering and border in the scrapbook paper aisle of JoAnn's. Scrapbook paper is similar in weight to copy paper and has an unfortunate tendency to wrinkle, so I had to use a glue stick to adhere it to some poster paper before affixing it to the walls. It turned out surprisingly well.

There's a lot of trim involved in this room! Baseboard, crown molding and double chair rail molding. There's no interior door trim in this pic, but the window has no fewer than 12 pieces: in addition to the 4 surrounding the outside of the window, there are 4 surrounding the inside. Plus, the window is not as deep as the door and the edges of the plywood showed. Therefore, there are 4 more pieces of trim covering the raw edges, one of which I fashioned into a windowsill.

And now that all that's taken care of, it's time to put in the furniture:

Note that the door trim has been installed. :)

The display units are purchased. Behind the counter are two things I made myself: on the right is the counter extension that goes from the the display case to the window, and on the left is a "swinging" door (which has glued-on hinges but doesn't actually work) to close off the employee area from the rest of the shop. The countertop is a molded styrene tile sheet that I painted with cerulean blue enamel, drawing in the grout with a white Sharpie. The countertop is not yet attached because I need to be able to remove the display case in order to fill it.

Next up: accessories and decor!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Preliminaries

Now that I've gotten the box put together and test fit the furnishings, it's time to get started for real.

I'll be using scrapbooking paper to cover the walls, so I don't know how much the dark (and, more importantly, differently-colored) plywood walls might show through. Therefore, I've slapped a coat of white paint on all the walls.

As you can see, the paint didn't take to the plywood evenly, although it did do a bit better than I expected (yay, Ceramcoat!). I'll need to put at least one more coat on it before I start papering. I made a bit of a mess on the floor but that's fine, since I have separate flooring to install. I like the color of the plywood; the stain I'm going to use on the floor should make it about that color.

I've also been busy painting the window and door so that I can pop them right into place once the paper's up.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Onward and Upward

So now that the 2010 show is done and over, it's time to start thinking about next year's show.

Next year's club project is a scene inside of a wreath. I've decided to use a papier mache hatbox and a grapevine wreath, and I've actually started to do a sketch or two. That's for later, though, as I'm still in the very early planning stages and am not entirely certain how to proceed. I do know that stucco, "wrought iron" and lots of miniature plants will be involved. Gotta get rid of all that leftover dimensional paint, lol.

The other project, which is already in progress, is a room box that I'm turning into a bakery/gift shop. I need to start now because I plan to make all the food myself (yes, I shall be plumbing the depths of FIMO hell; pray for me).

Fun Part the First was putting the stupid room box together. First off, there was the hole issue. The kit came with pre-cut door and window openings, which was great! The window I'd bought didn't quite fit the opening, but a little grinding with my handy-dandy Dremel sorted things out. However, the door was a HUGE problem; the opening was only slightly too narrow for the door I had (grind, grind, grind), but it was nowhere near tall enough.

Really? REALLY? Okay, doors do come in a variety of widths, but the height is pretty much standard. This door opening was a full 1/4" too short. I love my Dremel; I'm not going to make it do that much grinding. I unpacked the jigsaw I got on sale about a month ago, but had no way to hold the piece stable enough to use it (and frankly, I'm kinda scared of that thing; I think I'm going to give it to my cousin or something). The plywood was too hard to cut with my X-Acto knives. I finally wound up using my Dremel to drill a series of pilot holes into the panel and then followed up with some elbow grease and a hacksaw.

Also, the kit contained no helpful tabs, slots and grooves and the box is too big to fit inside my 10"x10" gluing jig, so getting it glued together with corners that are somewhere in the vicinity of "square" was something of a challenge. I wound up assembling it in the master bathroom, using the counter and the backsplash for support and holding it together with about a half a roll of masking tape. Voila!

I went to my favorite mini supplier and was talking to them about the project. One of them pointed out that if I'm planning to display it, I needed to light it. She's right; there was an exhibit at the show that was unlit and it was rather difficult to see inside. But I didn't want to deal with wiring because the box's final destination will be a shelf in my office/hobby room and I don't want to go through all that trouble for nothing. I figured an LED spotlight would be a good compromise.

Well, I popped into Lowe's and found a battery-operated light bar with 3 LED elements. It attaches with either sticky tape or Velcro and is less than 1.5" deep, so I'm going to slap it up on the the underside of the box top and either fashion a bit of a drop ceiling, or just glue an extra bit of trim on the front of the box.

Next step, finding a nice wallpaper. I'm planning to put posters of baked goods on the walls, so it'll need to be something subtle. Guess I'm going to be hitting the scrapbook paper section of Joann's tomorrow.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Club Show

Yesterday was my local mini club's annual show and sale. It was a blast; we had dozens of exhibits and tons of vendors and although it took a lot of work to pull the thing off, everyone had a wonderful time and my club members told me that I did extremely well for a first-timer. My only regret is that I didn't pack a lunch; the hotel charged $9 for an okay sandwich, a bag of chips and a small soda.


Every year, the club has a designated project; this year, we had a small loft kit (the kits were made by one of our members). I decided to make mine into a cozy reading nook. I made the kit exactly as intended (other members did some kit-bashing that was nothing short of fabulous) and filled it with store-bought elements, because I was trying to keep my main focus on my other project.

My other project was a bit more ambitious; a gazebo set on a serene brick courtyard.

This was a mix of store-bought and hand-made things. The gazebo was a kit, the courtyard bricks were a molded styrene sheet that I painted and grouted, the clock is a pendant from which I snipped the hanging loop and the table inside the gazebo was a mix of purchased and crafted elements.

The courtyard wall and planters are made of Styrofoam covered with dimensional paint. The trees are trimmed and painted bottle brushes, the bushes and flowers are cut-up floral picks. The tiled panel and display vase are made from air-dry clay; the clock is actually an enameled pendant and the roses are scrapbook embellishments. The central planter is made of both Styrofoam and air-dry clay and is filled with moss. The urn is a store-bought piece that I painted antique gold.

Does the sofa look familiar?

The rug is store-bought. The canopy is a reconfigured necklace kit draped with cream-colored bridal veiling. The planters are drawer-pulls embellished with an embossed strip of FIMO and painted gold. The plants are made from fabric and floral wire, set into the planters with clay and topped with sand. The table is a mix of store-bought (the tray, the teapot, the mugs and the plates) and hand-made items (the table frame and the FIMO toasted sandwiches).

Now I'm ready to start planning for next year's show. I haven't forgotten about my Newport, but there isn't any use in starting to build it until I have my hobby area set up. So while it might be a while before I can show you any pictures of the house, I'll periodically have pics of my club projects for next year.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010


For my next trick...

I wanted a Moroccan-inspired sofa for the gazebo. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be something that mini furniture manufacturers are scrambling over each other to make. If I wanted one, I was going to have to make it myself.

It took a couple of weeks to put together, mainly because I had NO idea what I was doing. No idea whatsoever. It was two weeks of trial and (lots of) error, blood (I really sure be more careful with those X-Acto knives), sweat, tears and swearing. The result isn't the most professional-looking thing ever, but I'm pretty proud of it anyway. Here it is:

If you're feeling masochistic and would like to try it for yourself, here is what this thing is made of:

  • 4 pre-cut basswood rectangles
  • 4 pre-fab wooden turnings (for feet)
  • 1 length of miniature resin molding
  • brown acrylic paint
  • black acrylic paint
  • antiquing medium
  • craft foam
  • poly-fill
  • Pier 1 napkin
  • burgundy and green fabric scraps
  • gold fringe trim
  • sewing thread
  • gold thread
Next up... a Moroccan-style tray table.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I am, in fact, not dead

Life has gotten quite a bit less... interesting, so I have finally been able to return my focus to my hobby. I did not, in fact, enter the HBS contest this year, although I did buy the kit. And since my local mini club is having a show in the spring, I've set my sights on that instead... and have actually gotten some work done!

The base of this project is Houseworks' Garden Party Gazebo, which looks like this out of the box:

When I unpacked the gazebo, I was pleased. I loved the pre-assembled roof and the eight graceful columns, all of which are made of solid wood. However, I was less impressed with the platform, which is made of MDF. Clearly, I would need flooring.

My idea was to create an elegant outdoor room in a somewhat weather-beaten structure; this required a wooden slat floor. The smart thing to do would have been to buy some store-bought flooring, then stain and sand it to create a distressed look. Me, I'm more of an idiot, so I bought several pieces of 1/32" basswood and proceeded to cut individual floorboards with an X-Acto knife, carving out the post holes as I glued the planks down. Not the most fun thing ever, but I liked how it turned out.

The next step was to stain the floor. Since I was planning to rough it up anyway, I didn't bother with silly things like reading directions; I just grabbed a can of MinWax and a foam brush and started slopping stain. The resulting train-wreck was actually the look I was going for, so I added a layer of varnish to it and called it a day.

I gave the roof a similar treatment. It didn't turn out quite as badly as the platform, but it was close enough.

That left me with a minor problem: what to do with the columns. I felt that staining them might be overkill (or at least show a distinct lack of creativity). Marble would be too fancy, paint would be too... meh. Brick? I already had plans involving brick, so I didn't want brick on the gazebo, too.

Lucky for me, there's DecoArt.

DecoArt makes a wide variety of craft paints, including a line of textured paints. The "Terra Cotta" paint, applied with a palette knife, results in a very nice stucco texture. Once they dried, I stained and varnished the bases, then antiqued the columns themselves using a bit of brown acrylic paint mixed with antiquing medium. And here's the finished product, all glued together except for the roof.

More to follow (soon, this time!)...