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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Dollhouse Blueberry Cake

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Inspired by these pretty plates which I had saved for such a pretty dessert, I made a blueberry cake and tea set in dollhouse scale.

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There are so many wonderfully talented artisans online who make miniature polymer clay cakes. I am constantly pushing myself to learn more and improve my skill. I am always thinking of ways to do it better next time.

I find texturing cake very tedious, even for me. And I usually don’t mind repetition, but working with a small needle making miniscule swirls over and over can become painful. My hat off to the ‘bakery artisans’ whose main focus is on this kind of work.

It’s no piece of cake.

Bringing home da’ bacon!

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I have to say,  I’m pretty excited about how this ‘bacon’ turned out!!

I made bacon in 1:3 and 1:12 scale.

As you can see, the bacon is kind of on the red side before it’s painted. It doesn’t look that hot. It is the paint that gives it realism. I used watered down acrylic paint and applied it in layers, sealing each one with matte glaze. This way you get a build of variations of colour, which is also important for realism.

 

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To go from a large scale to a much smaller one, you simply (but carefully) stretch it longer.

 

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Another thing you can do for a more realistic texture is mix fine craft sand in with the paint and glaze.

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“Wakey, Wackey, Eggs n’ Bakey!”   Here it is, a complete 1:12 scale breakfast.

 

Chicken Skewers for American Girl dolls

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Today I made these grilled chicken on skewers from polymer clay, for my shop.

The scale works for any 18″ doll, or larger ball jointed dolls.

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As a thank you to my small (but much appreciated) following, I thought I’d do my first give – away!! The prize consists of 2 grilled chicken skewers, made to order, in either 1:6 or 1:3 scale…whichever you choose! The winner will be announced this Sunday, June 26th, after a name is randomly drawn. To enter, please visit my Facebook page.

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Best of luck should you choose to enter 🙂

 

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.

Pepperoni Pizza in 1:6 Scale

DSC_0549 (2)I made this as a gift for a customer. She collects miniatures in 1:6 scale.

Clay Pizza is fun but also time consuming. This took most of the day but it was worth it. I hope she is pleasantly surprised when it arrives!

Some day, when I have this process down to a science, I would like to post a tutorial. In the meantime, I wanted to share my  recent effort.

Constructive criticism and suggestions  welcomed 🙂

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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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Maddie Chamber’s Hand Made Hobbit Hole – Bag End from Lord of the Rings

Oh WOW…I had to share this woman’s blog. She is a UK artist, Maddie Chambers. I never made it to quite 5 feet, so I think I would be quite pleased and content to live in a Hobbit dwelling! Isn’t it magical?! I would move to the Shire in a heartbeat (as long as my family came too).

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Aerial View of Hobbit Dolls House

Background on Bag End:

My name is Maddie Chambers/Brindley and this all began when I was a young child and read the Hobbit for the first time. I believe I was about 10 and I was instantly hooked. My Nanan lent me her copy of the Lord of the Rings about 1 year later and I remember thinking that the trilogy leaped into a far more complex world and one that I completely lost myself in. I have read Lord of the Rings about 20+ times now and each time it holds as much magic as the first time. When they announced that they were making a movie, I was really concerned that it would not live up to my imagination and that I would be disappointed. As it happens, a lot of it DID live up to my expectations, and when Gandalf visited Bag End…

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