Christmas Goodies in Miniature

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The holidays are coming up fast and I wanted to get a jump start on my baking this year.

Have you ever bought one of those Italian imported panettone fruit breads and wondered what to do with it? Apparently there is no end to what you can do with them. They make a wonderful base for a bread pudding I found out (swirled with fig jam throughout….yummm!). I hear they also make lovely french toast and also a fancy liquored-up trifle. Some eat them as they come, with a bit of butter.

My miniature one is lovely just as is. I paired it with Italian ricotta cookies…which I will make ‘for real’ this Christmas! I made the serving board from bass wood and painted it white with accents of gold. The cake stand is a painted button attached to a jewlery bead cup.

The tree I formed from sculpey and used soft silver and white pearl embossing powders.

 

 

Then I made a traditional fruitcake with hard sauce. It’s also 1/12th scale and made from polymer clay. Fruitcake gets such a bad rap from most people! Didn’t Johnny Carson once joke there was only one fruitcake in the whole world, but everyone keeps trying to re-gift it?

I have always enjoyed a thin slice of the dark fruitcake with a cup of tea. Even if it’s not to one’s taste perhaps we can agree that it ‘looks’ pretty?

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For children, I made near-life-size cookies (just right for little hands) with holiday red & green sprinkles.

Not for eating of course. These would do nicely for a holiday tea party with the teddies!

If left out to trick Santa on Christmas eve, I do hope he has a good dental plan.

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I hope you have as much fun with your Christmas baking!

Little Pretties

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Warning…in the event you go reeling at the colour pink, there is lots of it coming up……

My favourite miniatures to make are sweets. I had been working on a little display cart to showcase my minis for when I attend sales.

I made this wooden peddler’s cart (which I still plan on embellishing a bit more) and then set out stocking it with goodies. All the sweets you see here, I made with polymer clay.

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The cart is slightly modified from plans I found online at Joann Swanson’s website. If you would like these plans you can find them by clicking here. She does a wonderful one all decked out for Easter. A big thankyou to Joann.

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The cake pictured is available as made-to-order in my Etsy shop.

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These are my neapolitan glazed donuts. Shamefully, even I get a craving when I look at these. Being the one who made them, I really should know better than to drool over polymer clay.

I’ve also put a little pink ‘tea and cake break’ together recently. Isn’t it cute?

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It does need a few crumbs on the cake stand, and maybe a dollop of fallen frosting. Regretfully I had overlooked it before taking the photos. Taking photos are great for study. You can always find improvements to be made. Luckily, these can be added in easily.

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My Autumn Miniatures

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This year we had a much welcomed extension to our summer. It’s only been since mid October that we can feel the crisp autumn air. Now that fall is upon us, I couldn’t be happier. This is my favourite time of year…when we bring out our sweaters, cook more comfort foods, do more family cuddles on the couch…and get my crafting ON! Thanksgiving, Halloween, and soon to be followed by Christmas. There is so much inspiration for us creative people!

I’m almost a bit manic by the time we are ready to kick off the Thanksgiving holiday here in Canada. I have so many ideas for minis rolling around in my brain and just never enough time to finish what I started. However, I did have luck completing a few pieces.

First it began with a ‘naked and raw’ turkey….

my turkey

Add to that lots of texturing and painting …..and before too long, I had made a Thanksgiving roast turkey with several side dishes!

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stuffing and potatoes

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The stuffing and the candied sweet potato casserole are my favourites.

 

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When Thanksgiving was over, my attention was drawn to making Halloween miniatures. I spied some old material I had from one of my kids costumes. I made a witch’s hat from it, a broom, some pumpkins and a carved jack o’lantern.

 

my halloween decor

 

I hope you enjoy a fun and safe Halloween!

Tiny Treasures (a few of my favourite things)

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A nice wine cart and some other purchases. A cake display I have been holding on to until I finish building my bakery. Some second-hand furniture I got at a real bargain.

Recently I attended a miniaturists retreat here in Nova Scotia. It is called Camp Mini Ha Ha and it’s an annual thing. This year was my first time going. I hope to return again.

For 6 days we all immersed ourselves in making miniatures  and nibbling on chocolate. The workshop was open day and night for the campers enjoyment. There was a workshop on sculpting and furring tiny cats. And one of the camp’s highlights were ‘tidbits’ and ‘gifties’…which meant every day at lunch and in the evening we exchanged gifts. We all gave fabulous gifts (mostly made by ourselves) and went home with fabulous gifts.

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And a bag with the camp logo!

It kinda felt like Christmas. But Christmas when you were a kid. Remember the anticipation of getting some secret shiny new toy? That’s what it felt like everyday at camp.

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An original pencil drawing I purchased  
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Another beauty by an artisan/camper who is great at whimsical pieces

 

I’m sharing some photos of my partial collection of minis, which has grown much bigger since camp! My photos include a few things I’ve made this past year, the wonderful gifts from my fellow campers, and items I purchased at camp from fellow artisans and Grandpa’s Dollhouse, which was onsite. Liz, the owner, is also a camper. This is a real treat because in Nova Scotia there are no stores that sell more than a handful of miniatures.

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Gifts will compliment what I already have.
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Some of my ‘tidbit’ contributions

I loved each and every gift, but some stood out in intricacy. Like the stereoscope complete with slides, that, if you were 5 inches tall, would actually work. A very tiny mouse that almost disappears on the tip of my finger. A hand painted glass suncatcher of a waterlily. A miniature pencil drawing of a horse by one of our IGMA certified campers. A needlepoint of flowers that is 80 years old. Miniature puzzles, miniature adult colouring pages, and a clever coloured pencil set made with the metal eraser cap from a pencil. A set of books with printed pages. And the list goes on and on. There are so many wonderful minis that to give mention to them all would take more time than I have.

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This embroidery is 80 years old! The  sunflowers is a print done by one of the campers. 
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The potting bench and lavender pots are done by myself.
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Squeek Squeek! Look how tiny!

 

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This stereoscope has changeable slides! The viewer is made from silver.
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Center: The aquarium display has a goldfish made from a double samaras seed (helicopter seed) from a maple tree.
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A delicately knotted toy for a small kitty
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A pretty hand painted glass piece of a waterlily, done by a talented camper. This will proudly hang in my dollhouse window. 
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Some books, colouring, and Cinnabuns for a leisurely afternoon

Take your time and enjoy the pictures!

A Miniature Pond Tutorial

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I’m determined for my English cottage dollhouse to have a little garden. In that garden will be lavender, a bench, some dainty flowers, and this koi pond. And a zen like peace.

I made this using a mason jar band as a base. First, I formed a cane for my bricks using white, beige super sculpey, and tan, which I squashed and twisted together to get a slightly marbled look (It kinda resembles quartz when textured). I pulled and gently coaxed it into a long cane, shaping this into a rectangular brick shape. This will make a tonne of bricks (haha) with a good size cane to spare. I’ll wrap the cane in cling wrap and use it whenever I need to do quartz stonework.

Next, I added a layer of black polymer clay for the bottom – which I press into the inner band.I bake this for 10 minutes at 250 degrees celsius, then allow it to cool.

I sliced individual stones from the cane, and pressed them into the ring (inside and out). I used smaller random stones to fill in the top. Then I coated the top edge of the band with a bead of liquid sculpey all the way around. I cut some more stones and layered them on the top, creating a ledge. This gives your dolls a spot to sit and gaze into the pond while contemplating the meaning of life.

I textured all the stone work with tiny ball tools and a tooth brush. I cut out small chunks with an x-acto knife. The inside seam at the bottom was filled with a generous bead of liquid sculpey. This helped prevent the resin from seeping out later (or most of it, it seeped a little).

Don’t worry about the other small gaps between stones. They will look great after they are grouted.

Now I did a final bake. I baked mine for 30 minutes at 250 degrees celsius. You can bake according to the manufacturer’s recommended time but I like to bake my pieces at a lower temp and for longer.

After cooling, I used a light weight spackle to grout between the stones. Excess spackle was  wiped away with a damp rag.

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Showing ‘grouted’ right side

After drying, I added some patina. I used watered down burnt umber paint.

When this is all dry,  a bit of debris was sprinkled on the bottom of the pond. I used sand, pebbles, and cut up moss.

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Now I created a simple water pump. I winged mine, and I don’t have a pattern, but it’s basically a simple box and spout. From the spout, I attached a thin strip of plastic to catch resin droplets and become my stream of water. I added copper wire at the back and inside the spout for realism to mimic pipes. The bottom of the wire will later be hidden by some foundation plantings.

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To fill the pond, I used a 2 part resin mixture. It will take your pond a full day to cure.

**A word of caution: resin does have some harmful properties and it is insanely messy! Children should not use resin.** Use gloves. It’s almost impossible to remove, so protect all surfaces and keep in mind you will probably be throwing away whatever tools you use. Even the mixing cups. So use inexpensive cups and a popsicle stick for stirring.

I started with 4 tsps of the resin. This was just for a first layer to lock in the debris and pebbles/sand where I placed them. I saved some resin towards the end and let some drops travel down the plastic strip to start building up my stream of water. I let this start to solidify for several hours. I then snipped some very small pieces of moss and let them drop in for debris. When this is solid to the touch, I placed in my fish.

I slowly poured in another batch of resin (the same amount). This brought the level of resin close to the top. I left this for a day to fully cure.

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I then added lily pads and flowers to the surface.

These aren’t just great for dollhouses. They would make a sweet paper weight on someone’s desk. For those moments when you need to zone out from your work.

An Apothecary Table & Potted Lavender

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Recently, I made this apothecary table out of bass and balsa wood. Polymer clay is still my first love, but I thought I might branch out a little…by trying my hand at miniature furniture. My dollhouse needs some furniture, and after all, necessity is the mother of invention. I loved making these so much that I now have them available for custom orders in my Etsy shop.

To find a design I liked, I looked through some life size furniture plans. When I found one I prefered, I just modified and converted it. You can try this yourself by dividing measurements by 12.

The basswood top boards were the best part of the project. After sanding, dinging them up a little, and applying stain, the table really popped and came to life. It made it look like it had a story, just like Phoebe said on the Friends’ ‘Pottery Barn’ episode. I was hooked on these style tables (and Pottery Barn) after watching that show!

 

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And the knobs are just tiny jewelry findings that I painted! I’m in love with this table! ❤

Another favourite of mine, is lavender. Nothing is more English garden, to me, then some welcoming lavender by the home’s entrance. So I made a pot for my dollhouse porch. I adored it so much I made 3 more!

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They are actually very easy to make and can be made in an afternoon. A tip for realistic dirt: used coffee grounds!

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A Parcel of Goodies

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I was out of province for the past week, spending time with my eldest daughter, who had a tonsillectomy.

When I returned home I was happily tackled by 3 little ones, my husband, and our fur baby, Lenny.

And…as an added bonus, a parcel from Italy was waiting for me too!

I had to share my joy and these lovely dollhouse items with you, superbly crafted by a fellow Etsy seller, ‘Mondina Dollhouse‘.

I am not being compensated, nor was I asked to blog about this…this is just a well deserved shout-out.  She (Raimonda) makes beautiful textiles in dollhouse scale. She also sells some furniture and little tid bits, but it was her textiles that caught my eye.

I’ve been longing to buy from Raimonda’s shop, but waited until my dollhouse was closer to completion. I can’t wait until it’s time to start feathering the nest!

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This beautiful cushion has this image printed on both sides!

Her style is definitely romantic, even precious. Some of her stuff I’d call shabby chic, some can also fit in contemporary doll houses. If you have a chance, check out her pillows and linens. They are lovely!

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A crisply folded tea towel for my country kitchen
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A cute book on chocolate cakes….mmmmm…chocolate…
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A beautifully detailed cotton area rug with fine corded edge and a soft backing to lay flat. Magnificent!

When I am ready to decorate, I will share a source list and some of my other great finds with you.

A Dollhouse Cookie Sheet

At some point, I want to get some aluminum sheets to make some baking pans. Since I didn’t have any, I settled for polymer clay. I love polymer clay. But when it comes to dollhouse miniatures, I like using materials closer to the real thing….For the sake of realism.

This may lack a bit in that department, but it’s still cute. And I am pleased how it turned out.

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Here, I scored and formed the sides using my Sculpey knife. Some liquid clay in the corners will help fuse the corner seams.

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Then I made a pink spatula with a marbled end. I went on to create a baking scene with some cookies and dough.

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You can smooth and polish the edges of polymer clay after it has been cured. The less handling while forming tiny items, the better.

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Polymer Clay Floor Tiles

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Do you remember when I started these polymer clay tiles for my first dollhouse?

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Well, they are finished! And now I am installing them in the upper level of my dollhouse. Installation is near completion and then I will ‘grout’ them with a mixture of acrylic paint and light weight spackle (the fluffy white kind).

I’m so pleased with how they are turning out that I thought I would share. Cost wise, I got about thirty four 1-inch square tiles from each 2 oz block of polymer clay. I used an economical brand of polymer clay since this was going into my first dollhouse. It cost just under $3 per block. I made approximately 180 tiles so I think it cost roughly $16 for the upstairs flooring. Not bad at all!

The benefits of making your own are in the price and the aesthetics. They look real, they are durable ( I dropped a bag of them on concrete without one breaking!), and they are light as a feather.

You could do the same with air dry clay but I find polymer clay is a better choice. Moisture won’t affect it like it would paper clays. Polymer clay also takes texture and colour (I used chalk) very easily. You also don’t have to worry about misting it to keep it moist. Another plus is you can make a big batch and store it for later, without any special preparation or storage concern.

Later on, I plan on using paper clay to make stonework to give this a lovely English cottage charm…but for tiles, I think I would opt for polymer clay.

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Can you see my schnauzer’s beard in the upper corner? Lenny is always inspecting my work!

And here is a set of tiles I made for a lovely buyer from Utah. They have a softer terracotta look. I used several variations of colours of clay here, combining them together. She wanted something that resembled Santa Fe tiles….

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