Monday, August 31, 2015

Gifts from Lisa's friends!

Lisa was sooooo fortunate to attend the Castine school this past spring.  She told me about her wonderful room mate and also told her room mate, Susan, about me and my projects.  When Lisa talked about the bakery, her friend, Susan graciously offered to send miniature baked goods for the shop. 

Wow, what wonderful items Susan sent.  Just look at these perfected formed meringues!  And I have a full jar of them.

And these exquisitely made muffins that are so beautifully decorated.

Two beautiful cakes....

And I have enough macaroons to fill an entire showcase, in a variety of colours.

There's large round macaroons and small round macaroons and even heart shaped macaroons!

They look good enough to gobble up!


And these little biscuits are perfect.  Oops one is upside down, sorry.

And I have loaves of bread, enough to feed everyone.

Love the little sliced pieces.  Sandwich anyone?

Don't you think these crackers are perfect?  

I'm off to find a cracker can.

Thank you so much Susan, you are very talented.  This was completely unexpected.  Lisa and I shared them, so we both got lots of baked goods!

Until the next time....


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Growing Vines

Thanks for everyone's comments on the castle.  I've put the project aside for a few weeks while I leave for VACATION.  Can you say HAPPY.  It's been a stressful year and I've used my miniature time as a form of relaxation from all the stress and my blogging as my diary!  Don't you think that's great.

I tried to finish up the vines on the street scene before I left as a favour to Liz at Grandpa's Dollhouse. I've finished the ivy but I would like to add more leaves and wisteria to the other vine.  Here's the progress to date.

I'm off to Montreal in the morning, and then on to Massachusetts following that.  I have a few blog postings started here that I hope to finish and post while sitting by a pool!  But in the event I have too much fun enjoying myself on my much deserved vacation you may not hear from me until after Labour Day.

Anyone know any good miniature shops or displays in Massachusetts?  You know, you can never have enough minis!

Again thanks for everyone's feedback, you have given me lots of ideas.  I'll be back at the projects in full force in September.

Until the next time....

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Miniature Rug Progress & Needlepoint Rack

I am slowly, and I mean slowly, working on my miniature rug for one of my future builds.  Thanks to Lisa, I found a pair of reading glasses that I can wear that help me to clearly see the project.  

Here's my progress now that I am about 30 hours into the project.  It's about 14 lines of about 260 lines!  I did say this was a multi year project right?

It was however, becoming very heavy to hold the frame in my left hand while I needle pointed with my right hand.  The project was just too large.  So off to Michael's, Lisa and I went.  I found a knocked down stand that would hold my existing needlepoint rack.  

I was a little curious how this big stand all fit into this little box and quickly discovered when I got home that it was really really really knocked down.  It was about 40 pieces, including all the bolts and screws and had the tiniest printed instructions and drawings.  (That's instructions in three languages on that one page!).  There was a little tiny drawing showing you the number of each part and where it was located, but unfortunately, not one part itself was actually numbered.  That would have helped!  

It seemed to be a miniaturist joke!  But miniature patients prevailed and I was able to assemble all the pieces.  

My shoulders are still asking for the services of a masseuse, hopefully the hot tub at our resort will suffice!

Until the next time....

Monday, August 24, 2015

More pondering on the castle finish

Giac made a suggestion that I should add some of the furnishings and accessories I've collected for the space to get a sense of just how busy everything will look if I leave this colours and finishes.  I have a lot of red and gold tones for the fabrics and accessories.

These are the fabrics being used in the furnishings.  I also have some leathers I'll be using on a few upholstered pieces that are not shown here.

The sofa will be upholstered in the stripe, and there will be lots of pillows in the other fabrics.

I have this tudor Bespaq chair that I purchased at Ron's Miniatures in Orlando.  I have to remove the fabric to stain, but I think the colours will still work, so I'll just reattach the fabric after staining.  The wood candlestick is there to represent a pedestal table I need for the turret.  I may build it from this unfinished wood candlestick.  I need a small rug, I've laid a square tablecloth there to show for now.  You can see the new window frames in place in this picture.  Sorry, I turned on the flash to light the turret and it overexposed the outside wall in this image, looks very white.

Here's another close up of the two finishes from the turret to the left side wall.  Excuse the piece of tape hanging down.  You can see the shade lighter on the turret walls.

I still have to center the panelled wall.  I will have to rip a small piece off the end of the panel led wall on the table saw to center it.  You can also see the crown molding on the top of the paneled wall in this picture.

Now that you see some of the finishes in place, do you think the walls are too busy.  I'm thinking yes.  I may mock up a small board that is grouted and finished the same as these walls and then try applying a watered down wash in an attempt to lighten the grout but without losing the sponge effect.  Could be tricky.  Again your suggestions are appreciated here.

Until the next time.....

Another look in the castle

Here are another few shots of the castle.  The main room now has the base coat and two sponge coats.  The turret room has three sponge coats, the last one being the lightest.  I am not fond of the contrast between the grout lines and the stones in the turret colours, so I am debating my next option.  The walls look very busy looking.

You can see inside of the stairwell.  Sorry I had to turn on my flash to do this and it overexposed the outside of the stairwell wall.

Here is looking into the castle.  You can see the wall to the left is darker.  This is with the flash on to lighten the turret.

Here is with the flash off so you can see how much contrast there is between the grout lines and the stone colour.  To the left the wall doesn't have the lighter coat on, so the grout line contrast is much more subtle.

I am debating if I should try and lighten the grout lines to reduce the contrast.  I think it makes the walls look very busy.  But I don't want to lose the stone effect I've accomplished in the sponging.  So unless I hand paint every grout line, I'm unsure as to where to go from here.  Your opinion is welcome.

Help please?

Until the next time....

Sunday, August 23, 2015

More on our mini weekend

Lisa forwarded her pictures from our mini weekend.  We had a wonderful weekend working on our projects.  Lisa took more of my work in progress on the castle than I did.

This is the castle partially assembled after the first coat, but before I started sponge painting.

I used a rough sanding sponge to remove the excess sand around the grout edges.

On a non-mini related time during our weekend, we decided to see the sunrise early Sunday morning on Signal Hilł.  The first trans-Atlantic wireless signal was sent from Signal Hilł in 1901.  We got to see some of the makeshift art built on the hill.

The view of the city at this time of day is stunning.

Unfortunately even though the city was clear in view, the sun must have been covered in the fog and clouds off the coast.  This was all we got to see of the rising sun, it's glow on the water.

We had a great weekend of making minis and plan to do it again in the near future.  We're planning to work on a new project together rather than our individual current projects.  It will have to be added to my So Mini Projects!

Until the Next time.....

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Castle Window Frames

It's another beautiful day in my city and I thought I would get another sponge coat on the castle outside on the patio.  Unfortunately, it may be nice and warm, but the wind was still a little too strong for a roombox made from foam.  I managed to get one coat on everything before I gave up on the effort, my trays of paint kept flipping over in the wind!

So I took a little break from the castle wall and started on the window frames.  I had purchased the window frames at Camp in 2010 from Grandpa's Dollhouse.  They're laser cut with the usual burnt edges you find on most laser cut wood.  Last weekend I had put a base coat of Raw Umber on all the frames.

Today I started "sponge" painting the frames with the same colours as the walls.  Since the frame pieces are so small I decided to use a stencil brush instead of a sponge.  I had used the stencil brush in the tight corners of the castle walls and it blended well with the sponge painting.

To show you the layers of colour, here's the six window frames in each layer from Raw Umber to Fawn to Buttermilk to Eggshell and finally two coats of matte clear coat.

Here are two closeups.  The first two layers.

The second two layers

After that it was the clear coats.  Here are the five bottles I used.

Everything is drying nicely.  Tomorrow it's supposed to rain, so it's a day in the craft room.  I may get the final sponge coats on the walls.  I also have to start to dress the inside of the turret before I make the final assembly to the castle.  Lighting is also the next step.
Thanks for everyone's feedback, it's so appreciated.
Until the next time.....

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Another Mini Weekend

Lisa and I had another mini weekend this past weekend and this time it was at my house.  We had a beautiful day on Saturday and I convinced Lisa we should enjoy the outdoors at the same time as we enjoyed our minis.  Most of my work I've completed on the castle this past summer has been done outside because it's such a messy project.  Here's Lisa working on a much smaller mini project, a dollhouse for a dollhouse!  She's a brave lady, I find 1/12 scale challenging, I could never imagine 1/144 scale!

I continued work on the castle.  I loosely assembled it and located all the edges that still needed to be painted and put a first coat on all those edges.  Once dried I sponge painted the second lighter coat on all the surfaces.  The turret dried first and I was able to get a third even lighter coat on this room.  I detached the walls from the floors before sponge painting (believe me, I'm not that neat of a painter!)

I can see one edge I missed still above the steps to the turret!  You can see the turret is much lighter.  The wood paneled wall is just propped into place and a little off center at this point.  

I am having a little issue with some of the painted edges peeling.  Nothing major, just the top of the chimney and the front edge of the floor.  I have to figure out why it's doing this to ensure it doesn't happen again!  Luckily it's repairable in both situations, but I don't want it to continue to happen.  

I still have a final lighter coat for the turret walls and a finish coat for everything.  I plan to have a much lighter look by the time all the sponged coats are applied.  I think the much lighter colour will work nicely with the "wood tones".  

The paneled wall will be capped with a crown molding, plus I have to build the fireplace mantle as well.  I still have to cut the stones for the crenellation at the top.  I tried cutting them this past week with a blade, but I can't cut it straight through the 1/2" foam, so I may have to cut it on my table saw.  I know it will dull the blade and I only have one blade for the saw, so I am holding off on this task for now.

Here's some close ups of the castle.  You can really notice the lighter finish here on the turret, but I still want it much lighter.  I'm glad I started with the darker coat however, it makes the stones stand out.

I still have to put several layers on the brick.  You can still see where I drew the brick incorrectly on one side.  But it's carved correctly, so once it's all painted, the pencil lines should disappear.

Lighting in areas like the stairwell is important.  Right now you can't see much.  I plan to drill holes up and down through the foam to drop in wires for the lighting.  Considering there is no ceiling in this project I have to work with wall sconces for everything except the stairwell and turret.

Here's a shot of the outside, looking at the turret windows.  I have wood windows to insert into these cutouts.

Overall I am pleased with how this project is coming together.  My incorrectly cut wall it not visible once I painted.  It's a shame I stuck the project in the corner for five years because of this mistake.

Surprisingly, a castle was never a room I would have chosen myself.  But I am glad Camp Mini Ha Ha choose to do this as one of their projects.  It's forced me to research an area I would probably never have looked into had they not went with this idea!

I have so much more to do yet, including a lot of furniture to make.  But I have all the furniture pieces decided on, just have to make them all!  Accessorizing this project will be fun as well.  I've got some great inspiration pictures for the project.  I'm going to have a little fun doing a bit of landscaping outside as well.  But not too much, there's not a lot of space, but a lot of wall.  I'm thinking ivy!

I'm waiting for Lisa to send her pictures from this weekend.  More on our fun weekend together once I get those pictures.  It was great sharing the hobby with someone!  It makes it much more enjoyable!

Until the next time.....


Sunday, August 9, 2015

And so the needlepoint begins

I'm back from my latest road trip and all my exams are over for another semester, so I have a few weeks now to concentrate on my minis.  I decided to start on the miniature rug pattern I purchased from Nicola Mascall.  As you may recall from my earlier posting, here's a link, I purchased the pattern from the designer directly.

I'm hoping to use the rug in the Equestrian Spa kit I have.  In order to determine the size needed, I measured the floor panel from the kit and it order to it to fit I had to use 40 count cloth.  I had a small piece of 40 count silk, but unfortunately it was too small.  So during my recent road trip I found a needlepoint shop in Las Vegas and dropped by.  The only 40 count cloth they had in stock was linen, and even though I was hoping for evenweave of silk, I decided to buy the linen.  It has been challenging because of the inconsistency of the weave, and after a few false starts, and finding the best needles and frame to use, I decided to start the project in one corner, and work across in a straight line.  The pattern is so large and the thread count so small that I've found working in a straight line is causing fewer missed count stitches.

This is my work after 10 hours (including fixing errors and restarting).  At this rate, I am expecting to complete the rug in about 5 years!  It has over 100,000 stitches and so far I've completed about 1500!

I did iron the cloth first, but linen is so difficult to press and even with the frame, the camera shot still shows a wrinkle.  Interestingly looking at it without the camera, the wrinkle is not visible.  

I started my first rug about 30 years ago, and had no limitation with seeing what I was doing even with the 28 count I started with.  Thirty years later and 12 count smaller, I found that no degree of magnification is helping.  The best thing I can do to see this clearly is to remove my contacts and just use my normal vision, with no glasses, albeit at about 8" from my eyes.  Time is so cruel to our vision isn't it?

I'm excited for next weekend.  Lisa and I are planning another mini get-to-gether, this time at my house.  So I will have lots to share after that.

Again thank you to everyone for reading my blog and sending feedback, it is so appreciated.

Until the next time...