Friday, September 28, 2012

Handmade miniature marble paper.

I so hoped my marble paper for the caskets would come before the weekend and it did!

Isn't that paper just wonderful, it is so thin, I am almost scared to touch it, but it works beautifully, the velvet paper will be used for the drawer fronts of the casket. The paper was specially made for me by Jemma Lewis in the UK and I am so happy with it. I spent a quick half hour in my workshop to test my ideas out for the casket and just love the results.

I lined the top compartment of the casket with the paper and the front that will be hidden by the sliding panel. I gilded the edges with aluminium, I chose aluminium because it doesn't tarnish like silver and I don't want the petit point to be stained or something after a while. I really like it and are eager to get my teeth into this project.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Progress on the Sampler

Thank you everyone for all your lovely comments on the sampler I have started, I have stitched a bit more on it, it is kind of addictive ;-)

I am quite pleased with the bird after about 3 tries, I used a half cross stitch to give it the sharp beak and a french knot to make the eye. When you stitch something this small your colors have to contrast  a lot more than in full scale embroidery, otherwise your colors just become a blur and you lose the details of the design. I wanted my own name on the sampler but with a period correct date for my dollhouse, so I simply deducted a hundred years from my birth date to put the sampler back into Victorian times.

In a next post I will try and show you how I reduce the motifs for those of you who would like to try this for yourself.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Miniature Sampler

On my first trip to the USA last year I bought a magazine with a Victorian Sampler that has been begging me to stitch it for my dollhouse, just one problem, the chart is way too big to just stitch as it is to be a realistic scale in miniature. To my delight Annelle Ferguson did a seminar at Guild School earlier this year at Castine and taught us how to reduce sampler charts so that one can use them in 1/12 scale. I was a bit scared to try but last week I decided to give it a try, the letters and borders were fairly easy, but the motifs, at first I wanted to be lazy and just use some Victorian motifs from my large collection of books, but on Saturday morning I realized that the motifs was exactly what attracted me to the sampler in the first place.

It took me the whole weekend to figure out the cat, I had to reduce the stitch count by half in both directions, which in effect means you take 3/4 of the stitches away, plus getting the colors right was tricky.

Well, I hope it looks like a cat playing with a ball of wool, I stitched it on a 50 count cotton fabric with Pipers Floss silk.

Have a great mini week

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Blog Give Away Winner.

We have a winner!!!

I used to help me do the draw, number 17 came up, comment number 17 was from Jonquil from latchkey and jonquil. Congratulations Jonquil, please send me your address.

Thank you to everyone who participated.

Monday, September 17, 2012

300 Followers Give-away

I have been watching my follower list the last few weeks and yesterday I hit the 300 mark, when I started the blog I was so ignorant about blogging that I didn't even realize you could have followers or follow other blogs. I would have never dreamt that so many of you would be interested. To say thank you, I have decided to have a give-away.

The give-away items are a sideboard kit from The House of Miniatures, some French antique 100% cotton lace and a resin frame that my daughter painted a few years ago.

To enter the give-away, you must be a follower of this blog and leave a comment on this post.

You have until  21 September 2012 12pm South African time to post your comments (I have a clock with South African time on my side bar) and I will draw and announce the winner on Saturday.

Good luck

Sunday, September 16, 2012

All Things Lace

I just want to thank everyone that regularly leave comments on my blog, it is much appreciated, and I treasure each one of you as a friend.

For the last few years I have been itching to do two things, learning how to make bobbin lace and miniature porcelain dolls, lace I have never made before, dolls, lots of them but in full scale sizes and many years ago, but I still have my kiln and lots of china paint.

Last weekend I went to the Johannesburg Embroidery Guild's bi-annual exhibition, but what blew me away was the room box full of miniature lace and right there and then I decided the time is now. So in the last week every spare moment was spent on researching lace making and all the necessary equipment needed. fortunately for me the Pretoria Lace Guild met yesterday and one of the ladies sells the threads etc, and I had a fun time meeting them and seeing some examples of beautiful handmade lace.

Yesterday afternoon I made myself a lace pillow from a piece of 6mm thick MDF cut in a circle, topped with a piece of styrofoam that I bought cut ready to size from a craft store. I shaped the edges with a knife and sandpaper to give it the dome shape. I glued the styrofoam to the MDF with white wood glue and covered the whole thing top and bottom with a thin layer of batting and then made a removable cover out of cotton. Most lace makers choose a plain colored cotton so that the white thread will show up, I found this wonderful blue fabric with just a bit of a darker flower print, the thought of plain blue was just too boring!

On top of the pillow is very fine Egyptian lace thread, some pins for miniature lace making, they are only 0.45mm thick and 17mm long, a pricker for making holes in your printed paper pattern and a neat little tool for pushing the pins in and take them out again.

One item that I need a lot of is lace bobbins, one isn't too expensive, but you always use them in pairs and you could need anything from 6 pairs for the simplest lace to 50 pairs or more depending on your project and that can get quite pricey. One of my new friends was so kind to lend me a bobbin to copy, so guess what, the rest of the afternoon will be spent in turning my own bobbins, I have plenty of wood and a new lathe that needs trying out.

And on the subject of dolls, I thought I would show you a few photos of an antique reproduction Armand Marseille doll that I made way back in 1995 and dressed in a dress made of antique lace with an overcoat of muslin and lace. I also made her wig and lace bonnet, knitted socks and leather shoes.

Most antique dolls were made of white porcelain with a thin coating of pink china paint added all over the head before the painting of all the facial details, painting the eyebrows etc is done in a few successive firings, the lip and cheek color is also built up in thin layers with each firing.

Isn't the lace just gorgeous?

I am so looking forward to making dolls again, I will be going for mini doll classes from next month on.

Have a great week everybody

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Victorian House: The Scullery

I was busy cleaning out my dollhouse when I realized that I have never shown you photos of the scullery before. I wanted a veranda too somewhere on the house and thought that grandma would enjoy shelling peas, etc outside on a nice day.

The outside.

Close-up of the roof showing the drainage system. Somebody forgot the pumpkin on the roof and the mice are having a feast.

Imagine having to make a fire to boil all your whites clean.

The scullery door from the inside.

The scullery will be hinged to the house to give me access to it, the door from the front are too small and you can't see the whole of it either. 

I used moldings to disguise the join as much as possible. 

Glimpse of the scullery from the kitchen. You can read more about the dollhouse here.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

17th Century embroidered casket

I have started on a project that I have wanted to do for a long time, Sundays are supposed to be my day off from working on commissions but not today, I started building a prototype of a 17th century embroidered casket. Because of copyright laws regarding photos I am sending you to a few websites to look at to see some original caskets.

I am planning on making two different caskets, one with a domed lid like this one in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and a flat lid one like this one in the Museum of Lancashire. One of the biggest charms of these caskets are all their secret drawers and you can see them in this casket at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

So how the heck does one fit in all those drawers into a piece that measures only 18 mm (11/16") high without the lid and feet and what wood does one use to get to more or less in scale caskets. I went to buy some plywood today for another project and then it hit me, plywood would be perfect, it is a lot stronger than normal wood. Hmm, but will it work???

And so I had to try it to see :-), hence the madness of working on my off day!

Here you can see the back, one side and shelves glued in with the other side next to it to show you that I actually cut grooves for the 0.4mm shelves, the sides and back are made from 0.8mm thick wood. The real caskets were papered on the inside and the drawers and top compartment lined with silk. Silk will be difficult to use in so small a piece but I do intend covering the pieces with paper before gluing them together.

Here you can see the casket with the 2 bottom rows where the drawers will fit in. The top panel is a false front and when you remove it......

there is place for another row of drawers.

This whole thing was done rather hastily to see if it would work, I am pretty pleased with it because it is quite sturdy. I will need to make a few special jigs to make sure that it will be glued perfectly square. As to hinges for the doors, I have a plan up my sleeve that will involve lots of gluing area and no nails, once the casket is covered with petit point, you won't see any hinges in any case.

Have a great week