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, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review . . . Part One

Every year I start out thinking that I really have run out of room for more houses and that this year I really had better slow down and stop making so many miniatures.  Somehow when I stop to look back at the end of the year I realise that I really haven't acheived this goal.  At all.

My first project for 2013 was Pennicott's boutique.  The shell for this shop was DHE's "Corner Shop" kit.  I honestly don't think this kit was one of their best, when designing the kit the folks at DHE simply did not realise that the way it was made (and the way I modified it) that everytime a cat jumped onto the nice flat roof the fronts would pop of and fall to the floor.

Pennicott's is set sometime in the 1950's, as I wanted an excuse to make some modern gowns and there simply is no better 'modern' time for evening wear than the 50's.  I altered the kit to have an internal staircase so I could make my shop fill both floors.  Upstairs the shop displays it's range of accessories; hats, shoes, jewellery, purses and underwear. The central hat stand and long counter were handmade as were all of the accessories aside from the shoes.

 The main feature of the ground floor are the dressed mannequins.  These are some of my favourite miniature clothes, the yellow gown in the front being perhaps the best dress I've ever made.  You can see more photos of Pennicott's in my Flickr here.

 While working on Pennicott's I made a start on another project, the Apothecary Chamber.  The Chamber is built in a storage cube around 13" square.  Cardboard and foamboard created the arched roof and fake back wall which allows for a recessed shelf and stairs that disappear behind it.  Air dry clay and a press mould were used to create the brick effect.  This space is the apothecary's preparation room where he prepares the potions and salves sold in the shop which I will one day build above the Chamber.

Almost everything in this scene was hand made, from the furniture to Piers the apothecary himself.   The exceptions to this include the glass jars and copper pans.  Again, you can see more of the Apothecary in my Flickr here.

 Next it was time to make a home for the Dragon Wizard, my winning entry in Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazines doll dressing competition from 2012.  (Check out the February 2013 issue of the magazine to see the competition results).  This was done in another DHE kit, the Garden Pavillion.  As I had already done the Oriental Folly with a Chinese feel, I gave the outside of the Dragon Wizard's Lair a more Japanese feel by keeping the lines simple and the colours muted.  Just like the Oriental Folly I used drinking straws overlaid with strips of air dry clay to make the rounded roof tiles.

 A free desktop background found on the internet was printed out and fixed to the back wall which with the addition of some faux sliding screens gives the impression that the back wall slides open to reveal a stunning mountain view.

The furniture in the Lair was either made from scratch with the help of some laser cut fretwork or were existing cheap pieces that were adapted and added to.  The tall 'painted' unit is one of the latter and is of course 'painted' with more internet print outs.  I made the Dragon Wizard a female companion who lounges on the sofa along the side wall and appears to be thoroughly unimpressed by his magic tricks.

The final thing that the Dragon Wizard needed was of course a dragon to call his own.  Claude is made from polymer clay with a long snake like body and small legs.  He was baked wrapped around a mixing bowl to give him the right shape to stand wrapped around the wizard.  More of the Wizard and Lair here on Flickr.

Finally for part one of 2013 is Bellerose House.  This is a renovation of an older house which I had always hated.  The new version of Bellerose House is set somewhere around 1900-1910 and includes such modern luxuries as a fully plumbed bathroom.

I divided a larger room in half so I could fit in both a bathroom and a second bedroom, but I found my first proper bathroom such fun to do I am a little disapointed that I didn'y make it larger.  The bought the three piece suite at the local doll, bear and miniature fair in the months before starting work on the house.  It turned out to be quite a challenge to arrange the pieces in the space in a pleasing way, I'm still not totally pleased with this final arrangement.

 Another room I had trouble arranging was the Rec Room.  The billiard table fills the centre of the room, but in the final version, the rack for the cues wasn't included.

Next door in the sitting room is one of my favourite pieces of furniture commonly referred to as the King of all Sideboards.  That sucker is huge, about 20cm (7" long) but perfect for the room.  I'm less certain about the fireplace, thank goodness I had the sense to hide it behind a large firescreen.

The main bedroom makes use of the lovely chinoserie paper that proved to be all wrong for Preston House the year before.  It was a real challenge to find fabric in the right colours to work with this paper and the chinoserie bed set I picked up cheaply on ebay.  I'm not really happy with the green and brown, but it was the best I could do.

The second bedroom is much more to my liking, the soft pink and dark chocolate brown really work together.  Like the bathroom, I only wish this room were bigger.

The dining room doubles as the front door entry hall.  This was a good idea before I started work but I'm not so sure I like it as a reality.  I really would have preferred to have these as separate rooms.  The dresser originally made for the second bedroom serves as the dining room sideboard.  The dining table is set for a meal currentlt being made next door in the kitchen. . . . . 

Kitchens, particulatly messy ones, are always fun to do.  This one is typically crowded and full of half made foodstuffs.  The raised scullery area at the back provides a place to wash up close to the back door while on the main worktable everything from fish to lemon merange pie are being prepared.

To see more of Bellerose House in my Flickr, click here.

Still to come in part two, the Steampunk Inventor's Worshop, Mill Cottage, the first two rooms of the Tower of Magic, the Victorian Christmas Street Scene and the reveal of my latest house, the 1/48th scale cottage.  And I thought I hadn't really done that much this year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

For Mollie . . .

I tried leaving this message below in reply to a comment left by Mollie, but it was too long for Blogger to accept as a comment, so here it is as a special blog post.  For my other followers, 2013 in Review and my first 48th scale house are coming soon!

Hello Mollie,

It's always great to find another Tasmanian miniaturist!  You're right that there aren't a lot of resources for a miniaturist here though.  If you live in Hobart, there is a group called the 'Miniature Enthusiasts of Tasmania' based there.  They don't have a big online presence, but I did find a Facebook page for them through which you can probably get in touch with them.  It's : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Miniature-Enthusiasts-of-Tas/133925716655741  They run a bi-annual fair in Salamanca, the next one is due for mid 2014.  It attracts most of the 'big' miniature stores from around Australia.

I've heard there is also a group in the Launceston area where I live, but have never found any contact details for them.  Eskleigh run a Doll, Bear and Miniature fair every year at the Launceston Casino which will be held on the 12/13th April 2014.  I shop there every year but somehow manage to fall into conversation with people from the other end of the state or the mainland, never with anyone really local!  There are usually only three or four dedicated miniature stalls there compared to twenty doll and bear stalls. 

There used to be a shop in Burnie, but they closed up to move to Queensland.  I think they moved for family reasons rather than business, so there must be a reasonable amount of miniatureists in that area (enough to support the shop at least), but I can't give you any leads on who to contact in the area. 

I rely on the internet to buy, discuss and show off miniatures.  Some good Aussie stores run by friendly and reliable people are Fairy Meadow Miniatures in Sydney and Tom Thumb's Miniature Emporium in Melbourne.

I usually don't light my houses.  This is for two main reasons.  Firstly, if you are going to put wired in lights in your houses, you need to plan exactly where they will be before you start work on the house with very little scope to change you mind part way through.  I just can't work like this; I change my mind, discover well laid plans just won't work or don't look as good as they were supposed to or just make it up as I go along which makes putting a light exactly there at an early stage very restricive.  But that's just me, a lot of people would read this reason for not usuing lights and laugh.  The other reason I don't use lights a lot is the cost.  You'll need to buy a transformer to connect the lights to the electricity (usually around $30) plus a board to plug the lights into (around another $30) plus all the lights (anything from $10 to $100+ each).  For an entire house this rapidly adds up.

When I have used lights, I've only ever used the wire and plug method to install lights.  This involves taking lights as they come when you buy them, chopping the plug off the end of the wire, threading the wire through holes drilled in the houses walls and floors to take the wire to the back of the house then re-threading it onto the plug and plugging it into the circut board.  This seems incredibly daunting at first and it is horribly fiddly to get the plugs wired back on right, so much so that after the first house I wired I swore I'd never do another.  When I did do a second house I actually kind of enjoyed doing the wiring though, so I guess all it takes is experience and a lot of patience.   If you have a cat, they love playing with the wires that come out the back so you'll need to tape them down securely or hide them behind a false back to the house.  This photo of the back of Preson House should show you what I mean: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dollshouses/7673510526/in/set-72157629823856854  I have a sheet of instructions that came with the first lights I bought that I can scan and email to you if you'd like and if you are in the Launceston area I'd be happy to meet sometime and try and explain how it works in person.

There is also something called the copper tape method.  As I understand it you need to use a soldering iron to do this, something I don't have so have never looked to closely at.  Basically to do this you need to run the copper tape to wherever you want a light, then attach the wires that come out of the light directly to the tape.  Another reason this doesn't appeal to me is that the copper tape doesn't appear to be insulated at all, so you'll be running electricity in direct contact with MDF walls and paper wallpaper.  It just doesn't seem safe to me. 

A third option is to use LED battery lights.  These have no wires to deal with, no transformer or power board to buy, but they produce a fainter light than mains wired lights. You install them by glueing a magnetic disc to the ceiling where you want the light and the light just magnetically clings to this disc so you can easily remove it to occasionally change the battery or swap the light if you decide you don't really like it.  Another problem with the battery lights is that you'll need to turn each on individually by reaching into the rooms and flicking a switch on the light itself whereas mains lights can all be turned on at once by using a single switch at the back of the house.  Most dollshouse stores have both battery and wired lights, but one of the best ranges of LED battery lights are at www.minimumworld.com if you want to take a look.

If you'd like to see more of my miniatures I have photos of all my past dollshouse on Flickr here.  Preston House and Dawncrest Castle both have lights installed.

I hope this helps and will be glad to answer any further questions (and go into more detail about the lights) if you want.  You can email me at: firefae @ y7mail .com (please leave the spaces out of the email address, I'm just typing it this way in an effort to avoid automated spam!).

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Christmas Street

Hey look, pictures!  Rolling back to an older browser seems to have solved my problem with adding photos to the blog.  Thanks to Casey of Casey's Minis for coming up with the winning suggestion on how to fix this most annoying problem. 

As you can probably tell from the photos, my Victorian Christmas street scene is now finished.  The scene consists of two shops, a bakery and an emporium.

 The bakery windows are filled with Christmas biscuits and a gingerbread house.  These were all made from EVA foam sheets using decorative hole punches to create the different shapes for the biscuits.  These were then 'iced' using glass paints and a little glitter.

 Above the bakery is an apartment, the front room of which has been decorated for Christmas.  With the windows frosted (using more glass paint) it's hard to see the details in the room, so below is a photo from pre-frosting:

Okay, so it's still hard to see the details.  On the left of the room is a table with a red paisley tablecloth and a vase of flowers, in the centre is a fireplace decorated with greenery and on the right is a closed door behind a decorated Christmas tree.  I felt too lazy to make and wrap actual gifts to sit beneath the tree so the gifts are just brightly coloured lego blocks topped with big bows to hide the round connectors.

Across from the bakery is the Emporium which sells pretty much anything and everything.  It's window displays a range of items from vases and mugs to a plastic chicken (though I'm not too sure what the latter is doing in a Victorian scene!).

Four people occupy the street.  All four are around 3" high and were as usual made from polymer clay using a mould.

All three of the ladies were skirts made from wire edged Christmas ribbon.  I simply pulled the wire along one edge to gather the fabric of the ribbon and glued it around the ladies' waists. 

The ladies' upper garments were made from felt, again just glued into place with no sewing involved.  The street's one gent is dressed head to toe in felt.

 A piece of mirror paper on the side of the box in which the scene is built reflects the street and gives the impression that the street continues on.

While a street scene I found on the internet creates the impression of the street continuing on beyond the bakery on the back of the box.

 If you've been wondering why the Emporium's upper windows were shuttered closed rather than having something interesting going on in there, it's because I needed somewhere to hide the battery pack that runs the streetlights.  The top of the Emporium building opens to allow access to the pack and switch the lights on and off.

 And this is how the lights look in the (near) dark.   The street lights were made as Christmas decorations and stand around 3 1/2" high.

The snow covering the ground also covers the wires that connect the lights.  It is made with Fix-All (a thick white glue) and some "transparent flakes" which I think are just clear and white fantasy film cut into small pieces. 

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Christmas Street Scene

Two Buildings by Alennka
Two Buildings, a photo by Alennka on Flickr.
Here goes nothing, trying to add photos to the blog via Flickr . . . . .

Okay, looks like that worked and now that I have the photo I can come back and edit the post and (so far) keep the photo.

What you can finally see is the start of my Christmas street scene.  It's being built inside a Christmas gift box and to make it all fit is being done in 24th (or half) scale.  It will be set in the 1850s.  Although I'm decorating the insides of the buildings, the fronts of the buildings won't open and the focus of the scene should be the outside of the buildings.  

To respond to a few comments; Margriet, I use Firefox and have done since way back when it was the best of all the browsers.  When I had trouble with comments a few weeks ago I found that to reply to a comment I had to use Internet Explorer.  I wondered at the time if that meant Blogger was owned by Microsoft and were trying to direct you towards their software.  But with this problem, no luck with a different browser.  I'm guessing I may just have to wait for the problem to mysteriously fix itself like the comment thing eventually did. 

Daydreamer, your comment about storage space does make me think.  I usually shrink my photos to speed up the time it takes to upload them, but there are an awful lot of them now.  It could be that I've used up all the storage space blogger gives me (but wouldn't they warn me about that??)  I know there was a limited storage space when I first joined blogger, but the rules have changed since then and I'm not sure how much space we get nowadays.  It's something I'll go and have a close look at in a minute.

Caseymini  I have tried IE, not sure what version.  As I never use IE unless I have to it probably isn't the current one!  But Firefox did update itself not too long before all this started . . . . If Daydreamer's idea about storage space doesn't pan out, I'll try rolling back to an older Firefox.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions.  I am trying to sort this out for as Daydreamer said: "No photos is no fun in the mini world :(!!!"

I would take a break from photos and take a look at the recent updates to your blogs, but now Blogger is trying to tell me I'm not following any blogs again.  Sigh . . . Blogger, don't you just love 'em??!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Still No Photos!!

Blogger still isn't letting me add photos to my posts.  I can't even add photos I've previously uploaded to Blogger.  Most annoying, it's clear that no one else is experiencing the same problem.  When I try to add photos, Blogger asks me to log into Google (didn't I already to that to get to my Dashboard and start making a new post?) and when I've done that all it does is throw up the following message:

The feature you requested is currently unavailable. Please try again later.
I'm open to any suggestions you may have to solve this.
In the meantime, I'm going to try adding a photo to my blog post through Flickr.  This used to work, but I haven't tried it for a few years now, so who knows.  If it does work, I will at least be able to share one photo per blog post.
I will reveal the start of my new little Christmas scene when I have had time to work through Flickr (maybe tomorrow).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Finished . . . ?

Well, I was going to show you some photos of both the Crystal Garden and the Library now I have (probably) finished them but Blogger isn't letting me add pictures at the moment.  I'll keep trying, but for now if you want to see the finished rooms, you'll need to visit my Flickr here:


Or facebook here:


(honestly, I've never really understood facebook, so I'm not sure that adding photos there will have worked, sorry if you can't find them)

I need to go back and try and get some better photos of the Crystal Garden anyway.  I need some good natural light to photograph it and in Tasmania we haven't seen the sun in about ten months.  It is nearly summer here (in theory at least) so maybe sometime soon we will get a nice warm, bright day.  I don't think anyone is holding their breath though.

Now that both of these rooms are finished, I'll be starting a small Christmas scene in the hope it will be ready in time for Christmas.  If Blogger pulls it's socks up I might even be able to show it to you by then too . . . . . .

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Aldus the Wizard

As you can see, not too much progress in the Library this week.  A scattering of papers, nick-naks and yet more books have been added ontop of the shelves.

These of course are strategically placed to cover the places where the trim around the top of the shelves was slightly mishapen and the cornice very badly joined.

Seated in the wooden chair I 'borrowed' from the Witch Shop is Aldus the wizard who's fallen asleep while reading.  He's not quite finished yet, most notably he needs hair and a book to have been reading.

  Beside Aldus you can see part of the finished fire box.  I seem to have overlooked taking a good photo of this so will reveal it properly next week.

At the same time as I made Aldus, I started work on another wizard for the Library, but like Chrysta in the Crystal Garden I came to the conclusion that he wasn't going to be able to squash in so again he'll be set aside for a later room in the Tower of Magic.  Hopefully by next week I'll be able to reveal the finished Library and Crystal Garden (for which I'm currently making an extra vine to grow up the wall and accross the ceiling at the front).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Christmas Came Early

Last week the wonderful Lorraine of Fairy Meadow Miniatures sent me a message to let me know she was sending me a surprise.  I was thinking it was so generous of her to send maybe one or two small items.  Then the delivery guy showed up with this:

Once I'd picked my eyeballs up off the floor I opened up this massive parcel to find two boxes absolutely stuffed with wonderful things!

There were kits for all kinds of furniture and embroidered cushions, rugs, all maner of furniture (including the kitchen sink!) and so many little accessories.  There was a set of brass scales (of which Piers the Apothecary has been in dire need).  There were plates of food and ceramic jugs.  Even a wired outdoor light.  Every time I thought there couldn't possibly be anything else squeezed into the boxes something else new and exciting emerged.  There was probably enough in those boxes to furnish and accessorise an entire three story house!

I can't thank Lorraine enough for this bounty of wonderful and infinately useful items.  This is absolutely the best and most appreciated present I have received, possibly ever, but certainly since the Christmas I received a Magic Moves Barbie (hey, it takes a lot to top a doll whose arms move by themselves!  And there's a thought, how come no one makes a 1 /12th scale doll you can wire into the houses electrics so that when you switch on the lights the doll will start drinking tea or flipping the pages in a book?).

Even the empty boxes were enjoyed by Charlie who sat in them and proceeded to shred the cardboard.

Included was this package of books.  I have to admit my first thought on seeing them was 'Oh no, not more books!' having made so many over the past few weeks, but it didn't take long for an idea to form. . . .

I glued the books into a crazy stack and added the victorian cookbook stand that came free with the current Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine to create this bookstand.  The book displayed on the stand was made from a free printie glued ontop of several layers of plain paper aged with some tea and cut to size which were in turn glued onto a piece of thin leather.

The bookstand only just fits into the Library now the rest of the furniture for the room has been made.

The canopied desk sits at the end of the centre row of shelves.  It has a sloped writing surface and plenty of shelves both above and below the writing slope to store such neccesities as bottles of ink and even more books.

Another open book made in the same way as the book on the stand sits on the writing slope.  Spare scrolls, books and a crystal ball have been piled on top of the canopy above the desk.

For the back corner of the room is this wing chair made from balsa wood with bought oak legs and upholstered with blue satin.  The celestial pattern on the fabric seemed perfect for a wizard's library, I just wish I could have srunk it down so you got more of the pattern on the chair.

To help reach those high shelves there is this set of library steps.  They are again balsa wood with a staircase spindle and some small brackets.

If this chair at the front of the room looks at all familiar, that's because I stole it from the Witch Shop; there were always too many chairs in the reading room anyway and I think the chair looks much more at home in the Library.

The firebox for the fireplace has been started, but still needs work.  The back is cardboard with a thin metal scrapbook decoration and polymer clay lion's head glued ontop.  The front is formed from wire mesh between two short turned posts.

Now you've come to the end of my blog for another week, please everyone (at least those of you in Australia) go and pay a visit to Fairy Meadow Miniatures.  You may not end up overwhelmed by freebies, but you certainly won't be disappointed by the service.