Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I've got the building bug

My new mini dwelling - the medieval enchanter's tower. Here it is in the dry build.

I'm realising that it takes a lot of thought to do things in the right order - beams, plaster, painting, and so on. Don't want any of those 'oh ****!!!' moments. :)
Hmmm, thatch or tiles? Aged or new? Lighting? Flooring? Decisions, decisions.


The kit is the Toll House from The Doll's House Emporium (here).

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thankyou for your kind comments

Thanks so much for your lovely comments about my lakehouse in my previous post :)

I realise that the lady who lives in the lakehouse is my alter ego! She is neat and serene, but I'm not! Dear Alan laughed out loud - he's threatening to post photos of my messy house!!

And as my little guardian poppets keep telling me, no, it's not finished :) There is still the outdoor boardwalk to make, as well as a sauna - essential! I told them I need something different to do now, and they won't let me rest! No relaxation where they are . . .

So I have told them that I'm going to start my next mini house. It's a tower for a medieval enchanter. I'm including a fantasy aspect so that I'm not totally restricted to purely medieval elements - in other words, I want to cheat outrageously and include all sorts of fun stuff :)

I hope that satisfies the poppets - they won't stop *looking* at me!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Welcome to the lakehouse!

Woo hoo! I never thought that I'd reach this stage - a project that I can (almost) say is finished to my satisfaction. Yet here it is, my first miniature dwelling - The Finnish Lakehouse :)

So, welcome!! There is a barbeque sizzling on the deck, the gentle twilight is working its magic, and the lake and forest surround us with their captivating beauty.
The facilities are basic, but it's nice to cook and eat outdoors!
If you stay late and can't manage to row the boat back, you're welcome to sleep on the sofa, or on the deck under the midsummer twilight.
The lady who lives here inherited her bedroom furniture from her beloved grandmother who taught her to love the peace of the natural world. She likes to read quietly when it rains.
She has found places for the handcrafted ceramics and glassware which she loves. She made all the rugs herself.
Today her friends helped her to gather mushrooms and blueberries in the forest. You can see them on the deck, as well as in the kitchen.

My first house - yay!! Happiness here :))

Thanks to all those craftspeople and mini artists whose work is inspiring!
And I wouldn't have done this without your kind comments, help and encouragement, my blogland friends!!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I thought I'd share with you how I trim feathers for my potion bottles :)
You can trim them to all sorts of shapes and sizes.
Choose a feather with nice detail up near the top of the spine. Here is the method using guinea fowl feathers - they have little 'eyes' which show up well.

1. Choose a feather

2. On one side, split it to where you want the base of your mini feather to be. With one hand, grasp the top of the feather between thumb and fore-finger, and with the other hand grasp the unwanted portion and pull it away from the rachis (the centre shaft). It should peel away cleanly.

3. Repeat on the other side, to make it symmetrical.

4. With small sharp scissors, trim one side to approximate shape. Fine trimming can be done after step 5.

5. Trim the other side to match, or you can make it asymmetrical if you wish - see the shapes in the group photo.
Now do any fine trimming to neaten it to shape. It is easier to do any fine trimming 'against the grain' from top to bottom - if you do it the other way it will slide away from the scissors.

Here below is the same process with a different type of feather.

I buy my feathers here in New Zealand from Feathergirl. She offers a good mix of at 200 tiny mixed feathers which are great for us minimakers.
She posts overseas, but it is the buyer's responsibility to deal with any customs or import restrictions their country may have.
BTW the NewZealand dollar is cheap! Hmmm, I'm on the wrong side of this exchange rate :(

Happy mini making!



When I started making minis, I mindlessly thought that 'pins were quite fine' - wrong!
(The same applies to sewing threads . . . )
The thickness of an ordinary sewing pin is usually about 0.55mm (or 0,55mm as it is written in Europe). This is not at all fine when you are talking about minis, as I soon found.

So the hunt began, and here are the results. In the photo above, from left to right:

1. Sequin pins. These are not particularly fine (they're about the same as sewing pins), but they are short and make excellent 'nails'.

2. Fine lace making pins - 0.45mm. These ones are short (17mm long) with flat heads. I bought these from Martin Burkhard in Switzerland - http://www.ateliermb.ch/

3. Patchwork pins 0.45mm. Clover brand, art #2507. These have glass heads so they won't melt if the iron touches them. Available from patchwork suppliers.

4. Insect pins size #000, approximately 0.275mm. These come in steel, or black enamel. I love these!! They are strong and flexible, and hold well in a bent position. Perfect for adding to fantasy orreries. I found mine on eBay.

5. Beading needles size #16 - approximately 0.25mm. These are very flexible, and almost impossible to thread without a magnifying glass! Would be good to cut short to resemble pins or needles in a mini sewing box. Available from some online beading suppliers.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Gleanings from nature

I think miniaturists may be just a bit obsessed sometimes . . .
We had a picnic lunch at the beach a few days ago when the sun was shining. I was idly beachcombing when I saw that there were a lot of little dead crabs. Alan got a fright at my shriek of delight - 'dragon's teeth!!' He helped me gather a whole lot.
I can use the whole claw as a dragon jaw, or cut the tips for teeth - perfect for my little dragon scene :)
And how about this - big grape pips make instant bird skulls - if you hollowed out the eye sockets while they are still soft, let them dry out, then paint them black you'd have raven skulls.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A rough guide to wigging for dummies :)

After a disastrous attempt to attach a stretchy wig to my Heidi Ott lady doll (don't ask!) I searched online for ways to do it myself from scratch, as I can't afford to ruin any more wigs. The Heidi Ott range produces lovely dolls and wigs, BTW, but I think you'd need to practice to get it right, or just be more competent than I was :))

Here below is my second attempt at DIY, for your entertainment, ladies!
I found a tutorial online (sorry I can't give the link as it's lost in my confused filing system!) so here goes -
To save making mistakes I decided to practice first by wrapping the doll's head in cling film/food wrap and tying it down tightly. This way means you can practice until you know you can do it right with the method, and the materials you have chosen.
Doll hair seems to be usually made from viscose or mohair or lambswool, depending on the look you want. Mohair is said to be a bit stiff and good for male beards etc. Viscose can be rolled and heated to make ringlets or curls, and lambswool is already a bit curly.

I had a hank of tussah silk sliver on hand so I thought I'd try using that.
I cut a length about 20cm long and dyed it with coffee.

To dye it - tie both ends of the little hank to prevent it becoming tangled while dyeing. Move the silk as little as possible while dyeing. Put a cup of strong cold coffee in a wide heat-proof glass dish and add 2 tablespoons (50ml) of white vinegar. Add the silk and make sure it is thoroughly wet. Microwave on high for 90 seconds, stir it very gently then heat for another 90 seconds on high. Remove from the oven (carefully, it's hot) and leave to cool a bit. Add tepid water slowly to cool it more if you're impatient. Then rinse well in tepid water, roll it in paper towels or a clean cloth to remove excess moisture and lay straight to dry. Cut one end and gently comb it out ready to use.
The coffee dye produced a red-blonde colour - it wouldn't go darker because of the natural sericin in the tussah silk. Bleached silk sliver would dye darker.
Apply tacky glue to the plastic wrap over the head, stopping at the natural hair line.
Select a small bundle of the silk and lay it from forehead to nape onto the glue as shown below, and press it all down.
Run a fine line of glue across the top of the head from ear to ear.
Apply a fine hank of hair to this and press down firmly. This is the hair which naturally sits at the ears, and this addition also helps to secure the main hank of hair down onto the head. Let this all dry thoroughly.
The front hair can now be gently pulled back into the desired style. Here is a quick Edwardian look :)
And now for the magic bit - grasp the hair in a bundle at the back and gently pull it up and away from the plastic wrap - it will come away as a loose wig, fully shaped to your doll's head.
Here below is one I made in viscose.
Now I can practice making wigs until I'm happy with one, which can then be permanently attached.

Notes - test a blob of your chosen glue on the plastic wrap first (it seems that no glue likes to stick to it) and make sure it peels away after drying. This worked for me with Aleene's Tacky Glue, Instant Grrrip and Crafter's Pick.

So there it is - a bit rough as tutorials go, but I hope it helps.

Glenda :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mushroom rugs swap

I've been amusing myself by designing a new rya rug pattern of an amanita mushroom. Here (above) is my version of a faded amanita muscaria - fly agaric - I had to make a 'faded' one in red-orange for the simple fact that I don't have any bright red thread. :) (NB: this red one has now gone to a new home)
Here above is the delightfully named amarita pantherina - panther cap - in browns, my favourite :)
And lastly a gold version, not a named amanita - or maybe it is 'amanita peppercorn' :))

If anyone would like any of these as a swap, or something negotiable, I'm open to offers. Please leave a comment or e-mail me :)