A Randomly Selected Newspaper Headline:

The following is a randomly selected newspaper headline from many years ago:

Welcome to my blog. Please feel free to leave a comment. I assure you I always read and appreciate everything you have to say. Unfortunately, thanks to Blogger being, well . . . Blogger, I can not respond to comments nor leave any on your blogs. They simply disappear into the ether. Occasionally I will remember to respond in the next blog post I put up, but usually these good intentions slip my mind. So if you want to ask a question or get a response to any comments you may have please leave an email address or other contact method in your comment and I will get back to you.

I have also added a separate page to the blog for the Tower of Magic with a brief summary of all the rooms of the ToM in the one spot. The link is just below this and above the main body of the blog, or you can just click here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas is Coming . . .

The Christmas vignette is finished and I think I am on track to finish Tilli's House and the Bedroom before Christmas.

The one thing I bought for the Christmas vignette were lights.  I already had some fireplace bulbs left over from Preston House, so all I needed were some Christmas lights for the tree and a lamp for the opposite end of the room.  The lamp is a tiffany style made by the Dolls House Emporium.  I was a little disapointed in the faux leadlight shade the lamp came with, so I repainted it using my trusty old Gallery Glass faux leadlighting paints.  The colours on the shade are now much less washed out looking.

Gallery Glass really does have 1001 uses.  For example, the hot chocolate in the cup on the table under the lamp is coccoa brown Gallery Glass.  The biscuts on the plate beside the cup are polymer clay mushrooms left over from the Witch Shop.  I knocked the stalks off them then iced them with Gallery Glass and sprinkled with glitter.  A less noticable use of the Gallery Glass was on the wiring for the lights.  Everytime I joined two wires together I dabbed a bit of Gallery Glass around the wires.  Not only will it dry around the wires and prevent the from ever slipping apart, it essentially turns into plastic when dry so insulates exposed wires as well as the plastic they come covered in.  All the lights are wired into one 9v battery hidden under the armchair.

The fireplace was decorated with assorted Christmas cards that came as cut-outs in various dolls house magazines over the years.  The stockings are made of felt.  The pictures on the walls are all cut out of old cross stitch magazines.

The tree was decorated in the same order as a real tree would be.  The lights were put on first.  I made staples by bending section of wire into "U" shapes and pressed these into the tree over the wires to help hold the lights where I wanted them.  The ribbon went up next.  To make the ribbon curl, I used 3mm wide ribbon and wrapped it around a length of dowel then sprayed it with starch.  When it was dry I took it off the dowel and cut it to length.  I threaded all pieces of ribbon I wanted to use onto a pin, then pressed the pin into the top of the tree.  A few discreet pins at along each piece of ribbon hold it in place.  The baubles are various types of bead.  I found that tear shaped beads worked best.  I dipped the narrow end into some glue and then positioned the bead in the tree, pointy end in.  The star on top is acutally a button.  it's actually a little small for the size of tree, but it's the best I had.

The presents under the tree are off cuts of balsa wood wrapped in pieces of colourful paper.  Figuring out how to do bows was tricky.  The best I came up with was to use a Lil, or short pin.  I impaled a piece of ribbon on the pin, left enough ribbon to form a loop then re-impaled the ribbon further along.  I repeated this until I had enough loops on the pin to form a bow and then pressed the pin bow and all into the top of the present.  The disadvantage to this method is you can see the pin head in the top of the bow.

Excess curled ribbon was hung accross the back wall and a wreath I stole out of my mothers box of cake decorations (most of which are older than I am) hangs in the gap between the two sections of fretwork at the front.

In the roombox bedroom, everything has been re-arranged again.  I'm still not entirely happy with it.  It's the furniture, it refused to look right in the bedroom of Preston House and it's being difficult here too.  The only really constructive change in here is that the cardboard chaise I made last week has been upholstered in more of the pink silk and brocade.  I have decided that the bed definately needs a canopy and have started pleating fabric for it.

There was more progress in Tilli's house with all the remaining furniture for the house made and installed.

In the kitchen, the hood over the oven/hot plates has been installed.  I've also added a few accessories in the kitchen which have started to make the house look a little more lived in.

In the Library I've added a pelmet over the window and a little round table draped in more of the same fabric.  The table is just a piece of 3/4" balsa wood dowel.  The screen in the back corner is an image cut out of an old cross stich catalogue glued onto a piece of cardboard.  The cardboard was then scored and folded to make a screen.

More balsa dowel fabric draped tables flank Tilli's bed.  I've replaced the curtains in here and solved the problem of hanging them neatly by adding a pelmet accross the whole wall.  The downside of this solution is that I've effectively reduced the height of the windows back to what they were before I altered them to be dormer windows.  I also took one look at the bed under the pelmet and moved it accross to the side wall.  Tilli now also has a little dressing table and a tub chair flanking the fireplace.  The dressing table is just balsa wood and "Tiny Turnings" while the chair is again balsa dowel for the base with thin cardboard for the back.

The bathroom could be finished, but I think it needs something more.  A place to keep the hairdyer that isn't in the sink would be a good start.

Out the front of the house, a vine has grown up the verandah post.  The vine is lengths of cotton twine that was dipped in watered down brown paint and then twisted up the post after it was dry.  It's currently in winter mode, but Tilli has a green thumb and promises it will be in full bloom by next week.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Opinions Please

My plan is to finish all the projects I'm currently working on before Christmas and then spend my Christmas break getting a good head start on the next project.  The only problem is, what will the next project be?  I have two very different ideas and can't choose which to do first.  The details of the two ideas are below, will you please read through them and let me know which you would like to see first?

Option One:  The Boutique and Tea Room

This idea is inspired by DHE's "Corner Shop" kit.  I had a vision of how this kit might look if two were joined back to back to create one big shop.  The concept then altered slightly to have two ground floor kits joined in one large shop and a single top floor kit above with a large balcony for al fresco dining.  When I considered all the alterations I'd have to do to the basic kit, I decided it would be simpler and cheaper to make my own from scratch.

The ground floor shop will be a ladies boutique filled with dresses displayed on manequins, shoes, gloves, jewellery, perfumes, hats, lingerie and anything else needed for a glamorous night out.  I am considering putting it in a 30s or 50s setting, or at least sometime when glamour was "in".  I think I can make a round sofa (like you sometimes see in Victorian era hotel lobbies) to use as a "husband waiting couch".

Above the boutique will be a tea room accessed via an outdoor stairway.  The door into the tea room will be at the top of the stairs.  The room you walk into will have a serving counter, a few tables, displays of some cakes (etc) and perhaps a display stand showing off a collection of tea pots.  Double french doors will lead out the far side of the room onto the outdoor dining area partly shaded by creeping vines on a pergola.  Planter boxes will provide space for additional flowers.  It will be a tranquil place to enjoy a quiet cup of tea and a slice of cake.

Option Two:  The Apothecary

The Bakery
About three years ago, I made "the Bakery".  It is a house built ontop of a box containing some subterranean chambers under the house.  The main underground chamber houses a "bake kitchen" where breads and other goods are baked and them sold in the street level shop above.  I was looking at it recently and had the idea to make another similar house with underground chamber.  Instead of a Bakery, this one will be an Apothecary.  The underground chamber will house the "preparation room" where various potions and herbal mixes are prepared.  There will be drying herbs hanging from the ceiling, a table full of distillation equipment (think mad scientist) and hot plate/burner for heating preparations and rows of shelves to store various herbs and other ingreidents.

Above the preparation room will be a street level shop to sell the medicines and potitions prepared below.  Above the shop will either be a residence for the apothecary or a room rented out, possibly to an alchemist who uses the space to pursue his arcane experiements (possibly borrowing some of the equipment and potions of the apothecary to do so).

I'm thinking there should be a slight fantasy twist, possibly in the form of some mischevious little dragons causing havoc in the preparation room.

So, those are the two choices.  Which do you like best?  I've added a poll to my sidebar (at the top right of the blog).  Please let me know what you think by casting your vote.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Four Projects

 As scary as it may sound, there are now only five weeks left until Christmas.  Normally, I intend to create a Christmas themed scene, but am busy working on other things in the lead up to Christmas and it gets put off for another year.  Not this time around though!  I was lucky enough to find a nicely sized gift box in a local store and have started transforming it into a Christmas-y vignette using (almost) only items I already have on hand.  The wall is papered with gold and brown scrapbooking paper and the floor in green carpet.  The fretwork at the front is a room divider I bought forever ago but never used.  The fireplace came out of my box of miscellanious furniture and was repainted from mahogany to marble while the fire box within is made out of balsa wood, lace and a polymer clay lions head.  Dan is sitting on an armchair made of balsa and covered in red velveteen with a matching footstool (again made of balsa).

Here's how the tree was made:

Step One: carve a cone shape out of oasis foam.

Step Two: cut pine roping into sections about half an inch long and press into the oasis cone.

 If you're a little short on roping, don't go all the way around the tree, just do the front part where it will show.

Step Four: Use the plastic reel from an empty roll of sticky tape (or similar) to make a base by covering it in fabric and press it into the bottom of the tree.

The next step is to decorate the tree, but you'll have to wait until next week to see how I do that!

I had intended to make this scene with items I already had on hand, but decided to lash out and electrify it.  I already have some spare fireplace bulbs so I've ordered a string of lights for the tree and a lamp to go next to the chair.  I figure to hide the elcetrical connections in a big present under the tree.

Coming back to ongoing projects, my bedroom roombox window has been installed.  The window is made of strips of balsa wood glued onto a backdrop that was a free cut out in an old Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine.  The curtains made last week frame the window.

 I'm still re-arranging all the furniture in here.  This is how it looks at the moment.  This arrangement makes room for a fireplace on the back wall and a chaise by the window.  I'm still not sure I'm entirely happy with it so by next week you might find it's been totally rearranged again.

Tilli's house hasn't been ignored either.  All the rooms now have rugs on the floor.  These were made by printing rug designs on something called "canvas paper".  It's paper that has the look and feel of fabric canvas and is designed to make printed images look like they were painted on canvas.  It's perfect for rugs as it has a woven texture and always lies flat on the floor without curling up.

Both bedrooms have had their fire surrounds installed.  A fan shaped jewllery finding was used to create a fire screen for each room.  I haven't fixed the curtains in Till's bedroom, still building up the courage to tackle that problem.

 Downstairs in the kitchen/dining/lounge room, new furniture has been added.  There are two small coffee tables, one at the end of the couch and one between the two armchairs.  A third large coffee table fills the floor infront of the fireplace.  All the tables are balsa wood tops with plastic chess men for legs.  A set of shelves by the fire was made with pieces of "Tiny Turnings" and yet more balsa.

 To help put the size of Tilli's house in perspective, here's how it looks when Dan pays a visit.

 And when he actually makes it inside:

And now for a surprise.

Last month I dressed a doll to enter in the fantasy dressing competition run by DHMS magazine.  Now that the deadline for competition entries has past, I can finally show you what I created.

I call him the "Dragon Wizard" because of his Chinese influence.  I think he turned out absolutely perfectly even if he comes dead last in the competition.

Now I just have one problem . . . . what do I do with him now?  He's been standing ontop of the CD player in my ipod dock for the past month, dangerously close to where I slosh paint and glue around and sooner or later he'll get splashed.  I need to find someplace suitable (and safe!!) for him.

Whew!  That's it for this post but come back soon as I want to get your opinion about which of two very different projects I should start to work on next!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Curtain Call

This week involved making four sets of curtains with two very different results.  The curtains for the roombox bedroom are quite possibly my best curtains yet.  They are made of damask with silk dupion tails and swag.  The total height of the curtains is about 20cm.  The next step is to make a window for them to frame, then they can be hung on the wall.

 At the same time as making the curtains, I dressed the bed for the room in more of the silk and some pink brocade.  The bed covers are fairly basic with no fancy flounces or frills because I didn't want them to detract from the bed itself.  I am thinking however that I need to add a canopy over the bed of some kind.

Now to move on to curtains of the less sucessful kind.  The curtains for Tilli's bed and bathroom were made from a light green linen and are . . . pretty horrid to be kind to them.  It's not the scale (24th instead of 12th) that is the problem, its the way I did the windows.  The windows and roof line are all angles with no where to really hang curtains from making it really awkward to get the curtains to hang and look right.  Add to that the fact that I either didn't starch them enough or weren't left to dry long enough as all their pleats unpleated themselves while I was struggling to get them in the right spots.

Fortunately Tilli's bed was much more cooperative.  It's fairly basic, just a bed sized slice of foam for the mattress while the headboard is the one that came with the foam house kit.  The base of the mattress was covered with a ruffled trim to create a valance while the bed cover is a lilac cotton covered with a white and silver lace.

The bathroom curtains are just as bad as those in the bedroom.  They're also too long and hang down behind the toliet.  As you can see I'm replacing the so called bath tub that came with this 1/24th scale bathroom set with a larger built in tub.  If you recall the original tub was a tad on the small size.  The frame is balsa wood and foam while the tub itself is airdry clay.  When the clay it dry it'll be trimmed around the top and painted to match the sink and loo.

 Downstairs in the lounge is another set of curtains that rest somewhere between the green and the pink ones in terms of success.  They are a pre-crinkled fabric with a piece of fancy trim used as a pelmet.  Not horrible but not fabulous either.

At the kitchen end of the ground floor, the kitchen has been installed.  The cabinets are simple box shapes covered in thin cream card.  Extra rectangles of card ontop of the fronts make the cupboard doors.  Dashes of gold leadlighting outliner give the impression of hinges while the handles are pieces of gold wire positioned on blobs of outliner.  The countertops are balsa wood.  The oven is balsa wood with wooden bead feet painted silver.  I still need to add a hood over the hotplates. 

You may be wondering where Tilli does her washing up and keeps her refridgerated foods.  Unfortunately, the answer is that she doesn't.  There just isn't room to include a sink and a fridge in this house.  Infact there are lots of details that there just isn't room for which isn't surprising when you consider the house was intended to be a cheap toy.  Next time I do a 1/24th scale house I'll design it from scratch and allow space for everything!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Dig Site in DHMS!!

As I said in my post earlier this week, my Dig Site had been published in the December issue of DHMS but at the time I didn't know exactly what they'd included.  When my copy finally arrived in the mail I was absolutely astounded - it was a four page layout!  That's four whole pages!

The first two pages are about the dig site itself, while the following double page spread has "how-to" tutorials to recreate Kiki (the mummy) and other features of the Site.  I love the way the good folks at DHMS have laid it all out and the background they've used is absolutely perfect.  I just couldn't be more pleased with what they've done.

Minerva, my bicylcle riding witch, is also famous, albeit on a less grand scale.  Look out for her on the last page of the magazine!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Glow of Success

Fabulous news!  My blog has been given an award!  Thank you so much to Christine of Hollyhock Cottage for looking past the frequent spelling errors, invented grammar and just plain madness she finds around here to give me my very first award.  The award will have pride of place on my side bar from now on.  I would love to simply pass the award back to her as her blog is very deserving of rewards, but instead I'll pass it along to six other fabulous blogs.

In no particular order they are:

Daydreamer at About My Doll Houses 


Dark Squirrel Victoria at Dark Squirrel's Miniature Asylum

both recieve this award not only for the wonderfully imaginative miniatures they create but also for the wonderful and charming stories they share.

Margriet at Margriet's Miniatures recieves the award because anyone who loves dragons so much deserves a reward.

Irene at The Tenement for her deidcation to so accurately reproducing such a wonderful historic property.

Dangerous Mezzo at Tudor-Medieval-Jacobean-Queen Anne Dollhouse Project for the stunning work she and her young friends create and as a chance to give a cheeky nudge: when do we get to see more of the Castle?

Linda Carswell at Une Petite Folie for her lovely miniatures and evocative images of Paris and because us Tassie miniaturists should stick together.

Still on the subject of success . . . has anyone seen the current (December) issue of Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine yet?  If you have, did you notice any Egyptian themed articles that looked a little familiar?  Think back to around April-May this year when I was working on the Dig Site?  Any bells ringing for you?  Maybe you need to think even further back to the Pyramid (two years ago).     Amazingly, the good folks at DHMS liked the Dig Site so much they asked if I would send them some photos and how-tos they could publish.  Although I know that there is something in this month's magazine, I won't know exactly what until my copy arrives in the mail (it can take ages for mail to travel from the UK all the way around the world to Tasmania). I'll let you know more about it when my copy does arrive and I finally find out just what is in there but in the meantime, take a good look and see if you can spot me.  I'll be credited under my real name, not as Alennka.  You might also want to glance at Erin Summer's article the last page too, you may just see something familiar there as well!

 Now that we've finished revelling in all the glory that is me (cough, cough), I'd better get a move on and let you know what's happened with Tilli's House this week.  As you can see, there has been a lot of work done on the exterior of the house.  First up, the weatherboards (that's clapboards for those in the US) were painted a creamy yellow.

Then the roof was covered in corrugated cardboard and painted sage green to give the impression of a painted tin roof.   This is my first tin roof and it is really effective, my only worry is what happens if a cat tries to climb on or eat it as it's not all that tough.

 Next came the front verandah and balcony.  I used extra bits of the sceond foam house that I cut up to add an extra floor to this house to make the roof and floors for the structure and balsa wood posts for the supports.  The railing around the balcony is made of fan blades just like the staircase in Preston House except this time I used the top edges of the blades and left them as wedge shaped blocks rather than cut away the outside edges.  It's a little . . . eccentric . . . but once a nice flowering vine grows up one of the posts and along the railings you'll never notice it.

Between adding the verandah/balcony and adding the balcony railings I glazed the windows, added doors and framed around both the windows and doors.  The doors are both balsa wood and like most of the doors I make open by pivoting on a pin pushed through the top and bottom of the frame into the door.  The window and door frames are the biggest failing so far in this house.  I think it's the colour I don't like, but if not white, then what colour should they be?

Inside, not much has changed this week.  I did replace the ground floor wallpaper.  I decided that the existing wallpaper was too heavy for the space and it would be too hard to find paint and fabric colours that worked with it.  I've replaced it with a lavender paper with a check pattern.  It's still a bit overpowering in such a small space, but once it's been broken up with curtains, pictures and cupboards it should (hopefully) work.