Monday, December 20, 2010


I'd like to wish all of my family, friends and followers a happy solstice!

This lovely time of year is a time of renewal, joy, promise of blessings to come, family gatherings, forgiveness and fun! Whatever your beliefs, I wish you well, and hope that the coming year is everything you desire!

As a small gift to you I'm going to tell the story of this beautiful church window, as best as I can remember it.

In about the year 1915 a church in Australia ordered a set of stained glass windows from a maker in Germany. The windows were duly made and put on board ship for the trip to their new church. In the meantime War was happening in Europe. There was a high feeling of anti-German sentiment throughout the British Commonwealth, and the dock workers in Sydney refused to handle the order from Germany.

The windows therefore had to remain on the ship, and it continued on its journey. The next port of call was Dunedin in New Zealand. The windows were eventually installed in a tiny but beautiful church in a village north of Dunedin.

This little church is not on any tourist routes, and is tucked away quietly in its green and lovely churchyard. It is a joy to visit, and it must be a source of great solace for those who worship there.

The windows, the rich dark wood of the interior and above all the sense of peace are beyond beautiful. I didn't want to leave.

The windows themselves are of the highest quality with regard to design, colour and skill of making. They are very much of the Arts and Crafts Era.
The colours are superb!

Here are some more photos - my pics aren't the best quality...
And now I am waiting to see if the full moon eclipse here in New Zealand tonight is going to be visible. It's cloudy, so I'm hoping it clears . . .

Love to you all from Glenda

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gifts from Ewa!

A lovely surprise arrived in the mail today!! My friend Ewa at The Sunny Hours sent me a delightful parcel with Christmas decorations and minis!!
The Christmas decorations will be hung on our tree - we have tree ornaments to remind us of past times, family and friends, and these from Ewa will very welcome!!
The minis will find good mini homes too - I have great ideas about the filigrees and frame, and the test tubes are perfect for my next project :)
The little books and French charm are talking to me of an early 1900s scene . . .

Thankyou so much, Ewa - you are very kind, and a good friend!! :)))

xxx Glenda

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The top of the Tower

After working a few unsuccessful samples of thatch :( I decided to make life a lot easier and use wooden shingles on the roof.
The roof isn't glued down yet, as I'm not happy with the way it sits on the top of the walls. I'd like to make another roof which reaches the very outside of the eaves, but that will be on the five year plan :)
Another reason is that I messed up when I was gluing it together, and the front and back sections don't fit neatly into each other :( Using ten-minute setting glue on such a complicated and mischievous roof proved too much for this girl!
And here is the inside. Since I was small I've always wanted a ceiling with stars, and finally I've got one :D
The ceiling sections are lined with paperclay and stippled with diluted blue acrylic paint - beautiful rich dark mysterious twilight blue! Then I glued on varying sizes of Swarovski flatback crystals. I wish I could photograph the way it sparkles as your eyes move over it! I'm very pleased with this :D


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No internet for 5 days - what to do . . .?

Waaah!! No internet! It's incredible how often I use it, and being without it was a real test :)
I did find something to occupy me, though, as you see.
I can now show you the (almost finished) tower.

The beams are stained veneer, glued on to the paperclay walls. This dealt with the difficulty of 1. not having enough suitable wood for solid beams, and b. the corners on this tower are on a tricky 60-degree angle, and my woodworking skills are abysmal.
Do come in - welcome!
The lower floor.
The floor is made of paperclay. The fireplace is made of egg carton stones - general instructions for doing this can be found here and here.

The painted strip around the walls is based on a design from an Anglo-Saxon enamelled brooch.
The scrolling to the left of the window is a copy of a medieval illumination, and the scrolling to the right is my own, including the leaves of my favourite trees.
Now to go upstairs, or rather up the ladder :)
The whole floor is covered in rush matting (hatstraw), an idea I got from the 'Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry - Janvier' (here).

Thankyou for visiting! I hope soon to be able to show you the roof :)


Monday, November 29, 2010

iMagery in the tower

For a while I wasn't happy with the tower. I'm doing it as a learning experience, getting used to using different materials and stuff like that. A bit boring . . .
Then I had an idea of decorating the walls, and it has taken over my life (in the best way) for the past few days! I'm loving it - I can have images of things I love, and of course my enchanter loves them too :)
These are for the upstairs room - I want this to be a light and airy room, so I've kept it pale and simple.
First is a dragon. It's medieval enough as an image, but for me it has become the Green Dragon which the pub in Hobbiton was named after in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Because it's a hobbity, friendly dragon, I found one which isn't too scary and copied it as best I could.
Next is a tree. The Tree of Life, the Spirit of Nature, the seasons, woodland beauty, and finally a representation of the mallorn trees of Lothlorien. Tolkien again, but I do love his Middle Earth!!
And now a rendition of a medieval border. This was copied from a book on DIY calligraphy and illuminations.
A window border. I made this one up.

BTW it's nerve-wracking drawing straight onto the paperclay walls, mistakes can't be fixed easily, smudging happens, too much coffee makes the hands shake, there are interruptions like sleeping and eating, and the cats love to sit on whatever I'm doing.

I used colouring pencils for these, and watercolour pencils for the dragon. I realised I have to remember not to use a wet sealer on it or it will be dragon-smear time and a very unhappy me, haha.

I'm working on the walls of the lower room, now. Having fun!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Floor test update

The floor test I did in a previous post had interesting results.

Because the tile sheet was dried unattached to anything, it bent slightly, but held together. The gaps between the tiles widened as it dried - hopefully this would eliminate any cracking. You can now see a little daylight through some of the gaps, and the whole thing is slightly flexible and forgiving.
The problem is that the underside is not flat, as you can see in the second photo, with ridges where the gaps are - difficult to glue down :(
The extra separated tiles, however, each warped as they dried - again, difficult to glue down! :( My advice is, don't go there!!

So I did another test, using Jovi (as in the first test) and Paperclay. This time I glued them onto a board while wet, and tried three methods of marking the lines.
The top third is marked with a piece of veneer (less than 1mm thick).

The centre third is marked with veneer, but with a (loose but flat) layer of cling film on top of the clay. This smooths and rounds off the edges of the clay, and gives a type of bevelled effect. This also enlarges the gap a little more.

The lower third is marked with a piece of extremely fine brass sheet. I was hoping to give the effect of flagstones, where no mortar is needed (oh please, yes!!). The gaps still widened a bit, but are very crisp.

I have also tried painting the Jovi - it has a smooth surface, more like polymer clay, and shows every brush mark, and would not take a wash very well at all. If anyone can tell me what DAS is like, I'd be grateful :)
For painting I prefer Paperclay because of its absorbency - takes a light wash beautifully :)

For this technique I'd advise that you tidy all the intersections with a pin or fine toothpick at the leather-hard stage of drying. The more careful you are in the marking process, the less you'll have to tidy later. And make very sure that the marker is exactly the right length between the pinholes.

I'd also advise placing a flat layer of clingfilm between the wet clay and the paper pattern, and pricking the holes through both. The paper pattern buckles on the damp clay.

The gaps made with the veneer would need to be grouted - not my favourite activity!!
The gaps made with the brass sheet could pass for flagstones, not needing grout. I say this hopefully! :)

The Paperclay shrank more than the Jovi - the gaps were wider after drying.

So there it is so far. I hope it may help - sorry I get too pedantic in my explanations, it's a bad habit that I can't throw off . . .


Sunday, November 21, 2010

A lacemaker's light

I found this amongst my stash today. I've always wanted to make a miniature lace pillow with real worked lace on it - this is still on the ten year plan, lol :)

These lights were used by lacemakers in the days before electricity, or even gas lighting. They needed good light for doing detailed work at night, and the glass globes reflected and focused the light of the candle directly onto the work, much like a magnifying glass can do. The candle height was adjustable as the candle burned down.

A lacemaker's lot was not a happy one - usually a woman made only one pattern of lace ad infinitum (boring . . .), and was paid by the yard. The payment was low, and part of the payment was sometimes in goods at a local merchant, who was also the lace dealer. Quite often the dealer could pay less, claiming low quality, if he was a scoundrel. This was a typical type of arrangement in the 18th and 19th centuries for craftspeople doing outwork.

This all ended with the arrival of machines which could produce lace cheaply.

I thought that this type of lighting arrangement would be an interesting one for alchemy and wizard scenes - or just add a candle beside your crystal ball . . .

I can't remember who made this - I bought it at the Sydney Minis Fair about ten years ago when I lived in Australia. It's very nicely made.

You can see a 1:1 pic of these lights here - and a good article about them.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Floor test for the tower

I've been thinking of ways to do the bottom floor in the tower.

I like the idea of hexagonal flagstones here. They're an organic shape, my enchanter likes to study the natural world, and they echo the shape of the tower.

I printed off a hex grid in the right size (from this site - they do a brickwork graph too).

Then I rolled out some air-dry clay (I love Paperclay but I found a less expensive one in an art supply shop - it has a different feel but works well) on a plastic sheet.
I put the paper grid lightly on the clay, and pricked holes with a pin at all the corners of the hexes.
With a piece of fine veneer (strong card would work but you'd have to replace it every so often to keep it dry and clean) cut to the length of the grid lines I pressed it into the clay halfway through, using the pinholes as a guide. Otherwise known as 'join the dots' :D

Then I tried a second test, pressing all the way through to the bottom, so that when it dries the tiles will be separate. I'm not keen on having to deal with the clay cracking in a large sheet.

Now to wait for it to dry . . .


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The tower proceeds

Finally! I got more paperclay to clad the exterior walls of the tower.

I couldn't decide whether to set the windows and door in first, or last, or somewhere in the middle of the process. I ended up by gluing them in while the applied paperclay was damp. After it dried I had to fill the gaps left around them with more clay. Untidy. There will have to be vines or ivy to cover some of the worst bits :)
An interesting learning process!
This was all difficult to decide, as the MDF bends and bows when the damp clay is put on, making it tricky to put in the windows and door at any stage, but I kept pressure on the frames as the glue dried, and it seemed to help force the walls to behave and be more straight.

If I did it again, I think I'd wait until all the paperclay was totally dry, then press the walls under weights until they lay flat, then glue in the windows and door. You'd have to be sure to cut away enough clay while damp so they'd fit properly.

This project is taking on a life of its own - it is drifting away from my first ideas. One of the things that has changed is the colour - of the roof support, the roof ridges and the windows and door surround. I wanted a rich golden semi-aged oak look, but with MDF you can't use washes or age it, so solid colour is necessary. I'm not a fan of black tudor, and paler oak colours looked milky. The final choice was a rich chocolate brown as you see (72% cocoa, not pale Cadbury's milk choc!!) made up of 1 part burnt umber to 3 parts yellow oxide.
A lot more contrast than I wanted, but I'm getting used to it :)

The sleepy Green Man ornament is from Mainly Minis - they have several others, fun and quirky (search for 'garden ornament').

Next I have to decide on the floor.
I'm making haste slowly, especially as other new projects keep trying to take over my thinking time :)


Monday, November 15, 2010

And the winners are Whittakers Miniatures, and Heleni!

Many thanks to all who took part in my giveaway!! :)
Congratulations to Kate at Whittaker's Miniatures who won Set #1 - the four hanging potion bottles and the beaded pentagram!
And congratulations to Heleni who won Set #2 - the rush mat, baskets, leather pouch and journal!

Will you both please contact me with your adresses and I'll send your parcels :)
LinkHappy mini-making!!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tree, star and candle

Just some little Christmas Tree decorations made of paper and beads :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Decent at last

I can say with relief that The Dread Machine is now back sulking in its lair. I have a love-hate relationship with my sewing machine, but I usually manage to win :)

My enchanter can now show his face without blushing for lack of clothing.

The tunic and pants that he has now is a style that I wanted - of no one particular culture or time period. They remind me of early medieval men's clothing (pict, viking, saxon, rus, etc), the salwar kameez of eastern lands, and native american clothing, to name a few.

The fabrics I had set my mind on were, of course (call me perverse), ones that fray very easily - linen and silk. The silk looks a bit odd in the photo, it's better in real life :).
I won't go into gory detail, but the vision I had in my mind before I started was just a bit ambitious!! Ain't that the way . . . In the end Simplicity became my goal, apart from just finishing the damned things! :D It took three attempts for the trousers, and two for the tunic.
I tried a few samples of embroidery but decided that I'd save that sort of silliness for his next outfit.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Giveaway time - almost 250 followers :)

I know that I have been remiss in welcoming new followers to my blog, and in thanking those friends who have been with me for a longer time - I do appreciate your interest, support and comments!! :)

As a thankyou I'd like to offer a giveaway in two parts.

The first part is Set #1, four large hanging potion bottles and a beaded pentagram. The pentagram measures 13mm (1/2") across. It was made as a witchy Yule decoration.
The second part is Set #2, a rush mat, a leather pouch, a journal with an oak leaf motif, and two baskets.
To enter, all you have to do is be a follower of my blog, and leave a comment saying which set you prefer.

The drawing will be on November 15th. Good luck!


Parcel from Lorraine - yippee!!

Recently I asked Lorraine over at Dollhouse Miniatures by Dfly Creations to make me some minis. Lorraine's polymer clay work is outstanding - quirky and fun, extremely finely detailed, and so beautifully crafted :)
I had sent Lorraine a parcel recently, and we also included some swaps, both minis and 1:1 items.

When I got this parcel, I was gobsmacked by the contents!!
My first request was for dribbly candles - perfect in all settings!!- and here they are in a lovely beeswax colour, lots of splendid shapes and sizes :)
Next I asked for some barn owl eggs, and these are just unbelievable - they're exquisite, with incredibly subtle colour variations, and are sooo tactile! Lovely!!
And some mistletoe - I realised after I requested this that it was a big ask, being very intricate to make, but again Lorraine worked her magic, and sent these sprigs - they're just so lifelike I can't believe it. I hope she didn't tear her hair out doing this!! :))))
Dragon scrolls - just especially for my future dragon-keeper's room - great detail and wonderfully well made!
I purchased two wands from Lorraine's Etsy shop to include in the order - a curly one and a rustic one - she is the Wand Queen!! I can guarantee that if you buy one you will want more!!! They are very fine!!
But the surprise - Lorraine included her new skull wand in its box!! When I picked myself up from the floor it was still there, I hadn't imagined it! It is just so amazing - my photo doesn't do it justice - the colour is blended from 'bone' to charcoal, and the tiny skull has a character all of its own. The box is a work of art, too - a black velvet lined box with a top to perfectly match the wand. I absolutely love it to bits, and it now has pride of place in my mini collection of very special pieces! :)))))
Not only but also!! As part of the swap, Lorraine (knowing that I like ceramics) generously included a large collection of pots - ceramic, wood and cloisonne - and a watering can and a sweet birdhouse! :))
You can find Lorraine's fabulous work for sale at Etsy here. her work is of the highest quality, and the prices are very friendly!

I am so very pleased with everything you sent me, Lorraine - I can't thank you enough!!! From an extremely happy Glenda :)))

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Elizabethan ruff

It's strange what insomnia can do. That odd state of being half-aware a couple of nights ago produced this method for making an Elizabethan ruff.
I had been trying to work out how to make a ruff for over two years without success, but ta-da! here is the first one. It needs a bit more tweaking, but I'm happy with it so far.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Now that the paperclay is mostly dry, I've taken a pic of it with low-angle early morning sun.
The texture is about what I wanted - the look of medieval walls which have been whitewashed and mended over time.

I don't know if this will show up well when the tower is finished. Maybe there won't be enough texture to show properly, but I'll know it's there, LOL!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

All messed up and nowhere to go

All messed up? - happy mess!! This is the first time I've used paperclay. Having read good advice online (thankyou Nikki and Michelle), I did what I usually do and went my own sweet way (born in the Year of the Goat = stubborn and never do what I'm told). I won't go into detail, but I had fun with plastic bags and rolling pins, water and a lot of luck.

Well I was lucky until I made the decision to lay the finished boards flat in the sun to dry.
The cat woke up and with his unerring sense of helpfulness, quietly walked over the wet clay, then lay down on it - it was in the best sunny spot . . .
Here's Mr Innocent - "who, me??" Note the dark fur - it shows up well on white clay . . .
I had a sharp incline on the learning curve, with tweezers (for the fur) and clay mending (before it dried). Hmmmmm.

Now I've used up all the clay I had stashed away, and I'll have to save up to get more for the exterior walls. I didn't have a clue how much area it would cover. Answer: 32 ounces (900gm) did all the tower interior walls.

And the 'nowhere to go' bit? - My husband's away for a few days and the car's parked at the airport, so Oh No! I have to stay at home and work on the tower!! Yes!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tower progress

Here is the fledgling fireplace for the tower. I've had a good time researching medieval interiors, and fireplaces in particular. They must have been smokey affairs!!

I'm realising how much space fireplaces and stairs take up in a mini house. It seems to be possible to do without stairs (beam me up, Scottie!), but fireplaces are a basic comfort and the eye rests there. The heart and hearth of a dwelling. I do think that modern houses are somewhat lacking when the heat is delivered invisibly. Call me old fashioned . . .
And here is some of the furniture I'm considering. I'm going to have to make a medieval bed from scratch - that'll test me! The tudor rocking cradle is an eBay find, and I love it - I'll fit it in somehow :)

With this tower I'm having to make do with what I have on hand - hence the MDF fireplace base - I have ideas about camouflaging it - watch this space!



I've been doing a lot of pre-thinking about my mini tower - I don't want to have to retro-fit anything awkward . . .
So for a change I thought I'd make some hatpins. This was fun to do, a little bit of pretty to distract me! :)

I left the pins long for trimming later.

If anyone would like some/any of these as a gift or small swap, please contact me :)