Thursday, September 30, 2010

More Garden Swaps

When I returned home there was a note from the post office informing me of a package waiting for me.  Today I got to pick up the package and was delighted to received my garden swaps from Kim.  What a wonderful collection of potted flowers and loose flowers.  They will be perfect around my garden shed.

Kim had everything wrapped beautifully and ensured that nothing was crushed in shipping, all the pots were wired to the boxes!  Thank you Kim.

I've got to dig out my workshop now and reorganize everything from the recent Camp Mini Ha Ha.  With getting ready for camp and then returning with all my new swap items and purchases, plus the castle room, it looks like a hurricane really did go through the room.

Thanks again Kim, I hope you have received my flowers as well, and they work with your projects.  It's so nice swapping, not only do you get wonderful items, you get to see how others assemble their flowers and I've learned so much from this.  I noticed that you have sprayed or painted the flowers with something, that really keeps them sturdy.  I think I will spray my flowers in the future as well.  Thanks for the idea!

Until the next time

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Safely arrived home from Camp Mini Ha Ha

I've safely arrived home from Camp Mini Ha Ha and my partially completed kit, swap items and purchases have all made it safely back to Newfoundland as well.

I had so much fun at Camp and learned so much more about mini construction.  So even though it was a hectic time to go both from a work perspective and considering I am getting married in less than four weeks, I am glad I went.

One of the great benefits of camp is that several vendors of dollhouse miniature items also set up at the camp, and we have several time periods where we can go shopping.  These vendors are the campers who are also participating in the workshop as well.  So I got to purchase a lot of new items, both for the castle project and for other projects still in the works and in the planning stages as well.

One of the new items I purchased was some fantastic rugs.  I had received one of these rugs in the final night giftie exchange, but I also purchased four more for other projects.  The detail in these rugs is fantastic, and the prices were even better!!

I've got lots more purchases to share with you in the coming days.

I also promised to welcome all the new followers in the past 2 weeks. Check out the blogs of the following:-

Annie at
Janine at
Little Miss Kris, I can't to find a blog for this one.  Let me know if I have missed it.
Tabitha Corsica, at

Thanks for taking an interest in my blog!

Until the next time

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fifth day at Camp Mini Ha Ha

Today was our final day at Camp. We pack up to return tomorrow morning. It has been a fun filled week, with lots of mini making and lots of laughs. I am totally exhausted. I’ve learned so much more, collected so much more, and can’t wait to get home with my new minis and continue working on the castle.

Today I carved my floors and walls. It’s a very tedious task to do so. I am amazed at all the planning and thought that has to go into each panel before you even start carving. You have to ensure that the pattern matches the walls that come into contact with the wall you are working on. You have to tape off all the areas that will be glued first, to ensure that you don’t paint these sections in error when you get to the painting stage. You have to lay out the pattern using a pen on the panel before cutting. This task alone takes a lot of time because you are working with a predetermined pattern that you have to continue to match. If there are doors and windows in the panel, you have to work around the trim work for these as well.

Then you have to carve out the initial stones, then round the corners, next use an emory board to round even more in the grooves. I used my drafting brush to brush each piece briskly to remove any cut pieces that remain in the grooves. The cut pieces become filled with static electricity and stick to everything! It’s important when you cut the grooves that you remove all your ink lines, because the ink will bleed through the paint later if it’s still there. Then we used a rolled up piece of tin foil to roll over the foam to give a rough texture to the foam. This task alone gives the walls a fantastic stone effect! So it’s so much to take in and do, which makes it very tedious. But I am sure the end result will be wonderful.

I have so many plans for the castle when I return. I want to electrify it, so I have to select the appropriate light fixtures. I have a picture from a magazine that I am using as inspiration to decorate the castle, so I have to make or purchase all the furniture to fill the room. But first I have to finish cutting the stones, and then assembling the castle room.

During the morning I took a smaller class on making a Silver Shield. Each year we have made one piece of silver. The talented instructor is a retired silversmith, who is extremely patient with each of us as he passes on his skills. Last year I made a beautiful sterling silver knife with a wooden handle. This year, keeping in theme with the castle, we had a choice of the shield or medieval spears. I thought the shield was something that could have been passed on from generation to generation, so would still appear in a modern day castle. I thoroughly enjoyed the class, and I was disappointed to find out that this was the last year that our instructor will be teaching us silver work. He is moving to the west coast of Canada, making attending our camp a little more challenging. He will be very missed.

For anyone who is interested in attending in the future, you should check out the camp web site at The camp is located in beautiful Nova Scotia, and it’s worth the visit to the area. Prices include your project, meals and lodging and it is extremely reasonable prices.

We also got a memento of the camp again this year. This year we received a sterling silver dagger (which I think will be perfect for a letter opener) made by our Silversmith instructor. It is stamped with CMHH 2010 (Camp Mini Ha Ha). It is beautifully detailed, but I don’t know if all the details will show up in my photo.

We also received our final tidbit exchange again, and this time I received a wooden barrel, another spear, a witches’ hat, a hour glass, silver oval box with opening lid, wine rack with three wine bottles, and more Tudor accessories.

For our final giftie exchange I received a wonderful area rug. I have also purchased several more of these which I will share at another time.

My next posting will be back in Newfoundland, so until then…..


Monday, September 27, 2010

Day Four at Camp Mini Ha Ha

Day Four

Today at Camp Mini Ha Ha we got to try our hand at the painting techniques required to paint our castle to make it look like stone. We worked from some sample foam pieces and I started with a very light color base coat, then a second light coat that contained sand in order to get the grit effect of stone. I then sponged on several layers of darker colors, but I wasn’t totally pleased with the finish color. I went back and tried painting with a base coat, but once again I couldn’t get enough lighter colors to lighten it up. I want my finish color to be mid range, similar to my inspiration room. I think once I return home I will experiment with more colors until I get the finish look I want.

For the remainder of the day we continued carving our stone walls. It’s a very tedious task and I definitely will not get this finish before we leave on Tuesday. I am concentrating on getting all the interior walls finished and then I can work on the outside walls, crenulations and painting when I return home. I would also like to wire the room, and this is definitely a task left for when I return. All the places showing green tape are the areas where you cannot paint, because later there will be walls or floors glued to these areas, and the paint would prevent a good seal.

I also carved out a recess for a door at the top of the stairs.  I didn't actually cut a hole through, but I wanted to give the illusion that the steps lead to somewhere.  You will see very little of the door once the other walls are in place.  I will carved the door to make it look appropriate for the castle.

One of the instructions carved a quatrefoil pattern for me so I could carve it over the archway to the stairs.  She also made a pattern for a larger quatrefoil between the outside windows.
At lunch time again we got more of the tidbits from the attendees. I received more wonderful little accessories including some Danish spears, picture frame, plant, scroll, wine glass, Tudor styled water carrying case, wine barrel, tapestry and candle box.

In the evening we had another gift exchange and I received a fantastic medieval carving wheel bench. The wheel actually turns! I know I am not dressing my castle in a Medieval theme, but the carving wheel is a beautiful piece in itself, so a definite keepsake.

At the end of the evening we had what is termed at camp a Kit-n’-Kaboodle sale. Attendees can make up kits, do a demonstration on how to assemble them, and then sell the kits. I bought some fantastic items which I will share at a later date.

Overall another great day at camp with more mini techniques learned.

I love reading all your comments!  It's a beautiful location here in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia for the Mini Camp.  Some readers were inquiring about the materials being used.  It's builder's foam which is used in building construction as insulation, usually for basements.  You can see some of the insulation values written in red on some of the pieces.  It's an extremely dense product, very easy to carve, but your blade gets dull very quickly, so you need lots of replacement blades for your knife.  It will be challenging to get it back to Newfoundland on the plane in one piece afterwards, but I will package it will.  I will be travelling with the castle in panels, rather than assembled, and I have brought a seconds suitcase just for this purpose.

The building material they choose was the main reason I wanted to come and do the camp.  The medieval and fantasy themes that a lot of the campers choose to do, didn't personally appeal to me, but the material and techniques used in this project was of extreme interest to me, hence why I came to learn from this!

I apologize again if my pictures are not in the right order. The internet connection here is very slow, and I am having a lot of problems with uploading and arranging the photos. I am writing my blog posting the evening before and copying it to the blog the next morning, so it’s been somewhat challenging.

Thanks again for everyone’s comments on the previous postings, and especially to my fiancé! I miss you too.

Until tomorrow…..


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day Three at Camp Mini Ha Ha

Another great day at Camp today. I started to cut my windows in the tower, and made a mistake by cutting them the exact size as the wood window. Once I sanded the opening after cutting, I quickly realized the holes where two small. Since there was an inner wall on this side (to hold up the ceiling), I was lucky and cut the inner wall smaller and the wood windows can lie back on this panel. I decided to wait for another day before attempting to cut the remaining windows!

I decided to move on to carving the stone. At this point I made a big decision. Instead of having a stone floor, which most medieval castles had (if not mud), I decided to have a rough hewn wood floor. I was told that only the upper floors were made from wood, so we will all have to pretend there’s another level under this floor that we can’t see right now.

I drew my pattern unto the foam with a pen first, then scored it with my sharp Olfa knife, and then using a wire brush, I dragged it through the planks to give it the rough hewn effect. I hope you can see the difference in the “planks” before and after I added the grain. I still want to add nailheads, but we are tossing around a few ideas on how to do this effectively. It’s a job for another day.

Then I moved on to carving my first stone wall. Again I laid out a pattern on graph paper first, then drew it on the wall using a ball point pen, and again I made a mistake, but once it’s painted you won’t see the two lines that are drawn in the wrong spots!!

I carved out the stones with the same knife, and it looked too perfectly straight, which wouldn’t be the look of an old castle, so then I proceeded into chipping away bits of the stone to give it a more authentic look. We also textured the walls using a rolled up piece of tin foil. It leaves an extremely authentic look to the “stone.”

I don’t seem to have accomplished a lot today, but I never stopped all day! Just the planning of the walls and floors is extremely time consuming. This project will definitely not be completed in the five days. Thankfully the organizers and teachers recognize this as well.

During our lunch break we got another bag of tidbits from the other attendees. Again I received some wonderful items. A beautiful wood candlestick with dripping candles, a leather bound book and feather pen, a Tudor styled water jug in a carrying strap, a beautiful hand turned pottery bowl, “silver” desk accessories, some jar of potions, and a beautiful Tudor chair. The chair came with a note explaining it was Mistress Ann’s Bogchair. The original was built for Mistress Ann by Lord Sylan of Thor’s Mountain – to be potable and set up at different garden events – so that Mistress Anne could use it for the whole event she attended!

Tomorrow we have another busy day ahead, but we are hoping to get a little personal time in and visit some of the local areas!

During the evening session we exchanged gifties and I received a beautiful Tudor chest.

During last evening and today we had several vendors set up selling miniatures. I’ve done some shopping, but I’ll save all my new purchases for another day.

Also in the evening we had a miniature auction to raise money for next year’s Camp. There were many wonderful items donated for the auction. It was a fun evening, but I wasn’t successful in winning anything at the auction. There will be a silent auction tomorrow, so hopefully I will be lucky then!

At lunch I received a wonderful card from all the ladies for my wedding and they gave me a monetary gift which I have to used to buy something miniature to remember all of them! I was hoping to get something in the auction, so cross my fingers for tomorrow’s auction! Thank you to all the wonderful ladies for such a thoughtful gesture! It’s only four weeks away today from my wedding!! Time is getting closer!

Sorry I tried to get the pictures in the right order, but I am struggling here with the internet and it appears moving the pictures around, even in html is next to impossible.  Hope you understand the sequence!!

Until then…..

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day Two at Camp Mini Ha Ha

We got to working on our castle today and we dry fitted all the Styrofoam pieces and then taped any areas that were not to be carved or painted. If paint were to accidentally be put on these sections, the castle would not be able to be glued together.

We had the option of doing some customizing with our castles, so I made by hidden staircase room a little smaller to give me more available floor space for furniture later. I removed the second level of stairs in the room, and added a door at the top of these stairs. In the original castle the stairs were twice as high, and you couldn’t see the wall at the top of the stairs anymore, so there was no need to add a door. The lower staircase exposed more wall space, so there had to be something at the top of the stairs, hence why I added the door.

In the tower room, the original prototype only had one larger window. My inspiration room for the castle had 6 smaller windows in the tower, which is what I will be doing. I just have to figure out the carving detail around each group of two windows tomorrow.

Lastly our staircases were customized for our particular needs. I tried several configurations but because I want to panel the back wall, I was very limited. I am still not totally please with the stairs I have built. They may change later.

Once I finished with the customization, I cut the round support for under the tower room. It took two tries before I got the circles right. In the prototype they have five layers of Styrofoam for the support, but we are only using three layers. We have the option of adding more, but for now I will keep it at the three, before final assembly, I may adjust if needed. I have a picture of the finished support and my cut section.

I am very pleased with my paneled wall I have laid out. I still have to build the fireplace to insert into it, but overall I like what I have dry fitted together. I still have to glue and clamp this section, but I am holding off until the last minute, in case I need to make adjustments.

Before proceeding we had to do a little research on the stone pattern we want to use in the castle and the molding pattern around the doors and the windows. Tomorrow we will have to draw it all in place before we start to carve each wall to ensure it will work out. I plan to draw my pattern on paper before I draw on the foam, just to be sure. They had all sorts of sample patterns, and lots of pictures posted everywhere for inspiration for everyone. At the end of the day, I also came back to my room and checked out Brian Long’s book on Tudor Miniatures to see if I can find other patterns as well. I did find a great window detail pattern I would like to use, I will have to sketch it tomorrow and see if it will work with my double window configuration.

It’s a very time consuming project, and it’s clear we will not complete the roombox in the five allotted days, so we will have lots of work to do at home when we return, as well as decorating the inside of the castle.

We received our first package of tidbits today and I got some wonderful little accessories for my castle. Many of the attendees made Tudor themed accessories, but since my room box will not be a medieval themed room, I may have to use them items in a future project. Some are adaptable to a modern room though, which is good. There was a spear that can cut to size to fit your project, a bucket of eels, complete with the recipe for eel soup!!, a brass wine goblet, two jars of witches’ potions, a “Faberge” egg, a crown for the queen of the castle, a glass ball (to see into the future of course!!), and a beautiful plate on a wooden stand.

At the end of the evening we had our giftie exchange again, and this time I received a beautifully decorated hutch, perfect for a sewing room or sewing shop.

It was an exhausting second day at camp, and I was only too pleased to get into bed at the end of the day!!

I am so far behind on my blog reading. There is only one building, the dining room, in this complex that has internet. So I have been writing my blog in the evening and when I go to breakfast in the mornings, I have been uploading and posting it to the internet. I have only had a few minutes to read a few blogs, and now I am about 4 days behind. I’ll have a lot of catching up to do when I return home.

I know I have new followers to welcome, and I do apologize if it appears I am ignoring you, I have noticed each and everyone of you. Once I return from camp, I’ll post a welcome note to each of you.

All my pictures are in the wrong place.  I've tried over and over again, and they place where they want, I don't seem to have any control today.  Sorry.  I think my posting today has been become a long winded posting. I hope it was not too boring and I’ve made you interested in attending Camp Mini Ha Ha in the future!


Friday, September 24, 2010

1st day at Camp Mini Ha Ha

Thursday was our opening day at Camp Mini Ha Ha, and even though we didn’t start working on our projects today, we still had a fun filled day. We registered for the Camp and passed in our individual gifts I made for each camper (called Tidbits), and our larger daily gifts called Gifties. For Tidbits I made were Tudor styled wall tapestries, which I scanned from a Tudor wallpaper and printed on fabric. For my Gifties I made a Tudor table. The castle is designed in the Tudor style.

Later in the evening we had our first get-together where we were each awarded our first gifties. I won another beautifully made Tudor table back, plus a wonderful roasted hog’s head meal, all ready to be served in the Tudor dining room, and a fantastic handmade Bent-Neck Lute. All these wonderful items were made by Nancy Maxwell, the lady who I visited recently in Nova Scotia and got to see her wonderful miniature collection.


Till tomorrow….