Search My Blog!

Use the Search box below to find keywords that you're looking for quickly and easily!

Search Feature

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Getting Back Up Again

Hello Everyone! Though I have only been away for six weeks, it feels like I have missed out on so many amazing mini things in the community! I apologize for not leaving comments on blog posts, and for not posting my own. It might take me a few weeks to catch up, but I am looking forward to the effort...

In the past five years or so, especially since I began to share my mini adventures on a blog, there hasn't been too many weeks when I haven't been excited about or looking forward to some kind of mini challenge. A couple vacations or helping my folks move to Arizona aside, I have been all minis all the time. It felt weird not going in to my craft room (a.k.a. dining room), and in fact, I actually found myself pretty much avoiding it. More on that later. I don't have a whole lot of progress to share this time, but in the interest of giving everyone a little something to distract from the craziness in the world (particularly here in the US), I will share what I have managed to do.

First I need to share a little bright spot. I made a fabulous (and rare since Covid) purchase from Gergana Trichkova, the artisan behind CrochetCanto on Etsy. I had been searching for a tiny clown doll for Vera. The real life Vera was a collector of clown figures of all kinds from every place she visited around the world. Each time I would visit she would show me a new one on display and tell me the story behind it. She was in her 70's in the 70's so she had thousands!  It made her so happy to share her passion, so I knew that my Vera would need to have at least one clown in her cottage to honor those memories. In my searching, I saw a leprechaun doll in Gergana's shop. It was created with micro crochet and was so unique and adorable! I wrote to Gergana asking if she would accept a commission for a clown doll with similar style and size, but with a blue and yellow theme. She happily and enthusiastically agreed and a week later sent me photos for approval!

I could not be more thrilled with the workmanship and detailing, and by golly she even gave him a wee balloon! I also ordered a handbag and a delicate pot of daisies - they, too, are a wonder!

It is such a blessing to be able to collect these precious, handmade things from artisans around the world! This time from the talented hands of Gergana in Bulgaria! The shipping process was worry free, too - she provided tracking so that I could follow the package all the way to my door! Gergana even made opening everything feel like a thoughtful gift! Excellent packaging!

I can't wait to display all of them in Vera's cottage!

Now on to my meager progress for Vera and Virgil's cottages... I decided to use up of some of my stash of furniture kits. I really love using the Maker to make furniture, but also feel guilty for having all these kits and not using them. I reasoned that if I use the kits that I have stashed, then I'll have space for more furniture making supplies in the future.
And... I really just enjoy a good mini kit, too!

I started with the hutch and tables/dining chairs for each cottage. For Virgil, I used HOM kits, except for the table which was an old Magic_N_Miniature kit I picked up on impulse on eBay. What amazing wood this kit had! I had to stain the top!

For Vera, I used a Chrysnbon table and chair kit and a barewood hutch that I had left over from the Sweet Christmas Cottage kitchen. I softened it in the micro so that I could pull it apart for sanding and finishing. There was a lot of excess glue, and being able to sand each piece individually makes for a much funner and better job! I also found a nice piece of artwork that I could resize and cut with the Maker to decoupage onto the sides. That project was super fun!

I still have to paint the table and chairs but I can't decide on the color yet. Maybe, once I make Vera's sofa with it's aqua blue polka dot material, I'll have an easier time choosing...

I used HOM wing chair kits for Virgil's living room and, unlike when I made them for the Sweet Christmas Cottage, didn't make any changes to the original design. The only challenge I gave myself was using striped material. I had to go very slowly and make sure I had the right pieces matching at every point. Phew!

When it came time to add the bottom assemblies to the wing chairs, they seemed to be a little too tall for the scale of the cottage. Even compared to the dining chairs (which are HOM kits, too), they seemed imposing. A little off scale is okay because it only adds to the whimsical feel of the cottage. But it seemed if I could reduce their height they might look better.

I combined three shapes in Tinkercad to make new, lower legs for the chairs and for the sofa. Then I made a recess in them to hold a toothpick which would then be used to anchor them into the chairs. This idea came from making the Kris Compass sofa kit for the New Orleans dollhouse. It worked well and it only took an hour and fifteen minutes to print twelve of them on the 3D printer.

Some finishing required.

These will make quite a difference in height and I'll share how they came out in my next post.

I can't really explain what kept me away, and in truth, writing this post was a monumental effort in self discipline. I knew it would be good for me to get back on the horse. All I can point to is that after a rapid battle with lymphoma, my beloved beagle Georgie passed in July. That was the start to a time when I just felt really, really sad. The only joy I could find during this time was to spend loads of time with my beloved min pin boy puppies, Rusty and Woodson. We have had a few adventures in the forest and at the beach, and I am so grateful for the healing power of their love. 💗 We all miss Georgie every day.

Here's Georgie the day we brought her home...

 and snuggling her big sister Gracie, who passed in 2013, on the sofa.

It seems as though this year has brought so much loss for everyone around the world. We are all learning to cope with a whole new way of life. And for many of us, that means moving forward without some of the ones we love. Here in the US, we are learning to cope with new levels of shock and horror at human behavior every day. We are learning to live in instability and violence, something many of our friends in other countries have managed through for years. I guess it's no wonder that sometimes all of it makes us sad, and finding joy in spite of it is a battle we must fight each day. To all of you struggling out there with any and every thing, I offer my hugs and prayers.

xo xo,

Monday, July 27, 2020

Fireplaces For Vera and Virgil: A Tutorial

For this week's blog post, I am going to show you how I made fireplaces for both Vera and Virgil. I used designs that I made in Inkscape, then cut them with the Maker from 2 ply mat board. For those of you who have Makers and are interested in bringing svg files into Design Space to cut, I made a whole tutorial page for you called Making 1/12th Scale Fireplaces with Inkscape and Cricut Maker.

For those of you who still enjoy the traditional method of making minis, I have created a couple pdf files with patterns and measurements that you can cut by hand with wood, illustration art board or mat board. You can access them here:

Once you have all of the pieces cut and labeled, by whatever method is right for you, here's how to assemble them. 

There are 15 pieces in each fireplace.

This pattern may be tricky to cut by hand.
Virgil's design will be easier.

1. Glue two Mantle Tops together, flush on all sides, weighting down until dry. Then glue Sub Mantle to Mantle Top assembly, flush at the back and centered. It is slightly smaller and will leave a nice molding looking reveal on the finished fireplace. Weight down to dry.

2. Glue two Hearths together, flush on all sides, weighting down until dry. Then glue the Sub Hearth to the Hearth assembly, flush at the back and centered. It, too, is slightly smaller, leaving a stepped detail in the final fireplace. Weight down to dry.

3. Paint Front and Side Panel Overlays. Paint Front Panel and Side Panels in a different color, if desired. Let dry.

4. Paint Hearth assembly in the finish of your choice. I used my tried and true paint and glaze pouncing method, but if you search the blog you can find my methods for marble, too, using charcoal pencil and glazing medium.

5. On the Hearth Assembly, mask off the area that will be inside the fire box. Then apply the finish to the hearth that will show outside of the fire box. Paint the floor of the fire box in your desired color. I used dark gray and masked off the Hearth assembly area once it had dried.

6. Paint the inside of the Back Panel and both Interior Side Panels in the color of your choice. These pieces make up the fire box and should match the paint color on the floor of your fire box. You may also wish to brick these with textured brick wallpaper or make egg carton bricks.

NOTE: I used the Debossing tool on the Maker to deboss (then cut) a brick pattern onto my firebox pieces (Back Panel and Interior Side Panels). 

 7. Glue dried Front Panel Overlay to Front Panel and Side Panel Overlays to Side Panels. Weight down to dry.

8. Glue one Side Panel assembly to the inside edge of Front Panel assembly. Let dry, then glue the second Side Panel assembly to the opposite inside edge of the Front Panel assembly. Let dry.

TIP: To add strength to my glue joins, I like to run a bead of glue down the seam. Roughly apply and then just smooth by running your pinky in one smooth motion up the bead of glue.

9. Glue Interior Side Panels (fire box pieces) to the interior of the Front Panel assembly. Draw a line 1/4” away from opening to use as a guide for gluing. Let dry.

TIP: If you use chalk paint for your bricked firebox, you can sand them to slightly dull the top layer, leaving more definition in the detail. This looks more authentic (if you look at real fireplace fireboxes) and saves you from a great mess grouting. I used Maui Sand, a dark gray chalk paint.

10. Glue Back Panel to the back of the assembly taking care to ensure all edges are flush. Weight down until dry. Once dry, you will have to paint your edges.

11. Glue Hearth assembly to bottom of fireplace assembly, flush with the back and centered on the sides. Weight down to dry.

12. Glue Mantle Top assembly to fireplace assembly, flush with the back and centered on the sides. Weight down to dry.

13. Spray or brush completed fireplace with the varnish and in the sheen of your choice.

Ta-Da! Adorable little fireplaces that you made!

 But how do they look in the cottages?

And when they're lit?

And most importantly, how do Vera and Virgil feel about them???

They broke out the S'mores! and are celebrating being one important step closer to move in day!

Hope you found the fireplace tutorials useful, helpful and if nothing else inspiring! Have a great week everyone!

xo xo,