Sunday, October 28, 2012

Portrait Miniature

I knew there was an antique fair in Johannesburg today, but kind of pushed it out of my mind. At around noon hubby came back from a camp he went on over the weekend and asked if I felt like going out for a bit, so I said yes, I won't mind a quick walk through the fair, they do finish at two. Well, am I ever so glad for that suggestion, just look what I found.

A miniature portrait of apparently Mary Queen of Scots painted in the late 1800's, I got her for a very reasonable price, I think because of the damaged ivory frame, pieces on the edges are missing or badly cracked and also peeling off. She only measures 55mm by 45mm (2 1/8" by 1 3/4") together with the small inner brass frame. With the outer frame it is a bit big for a dollhouse, so I am thinking of trying to save the inner ivory oval frame and re-framing that part and then save the other bits of ivory for a nice little box, the dark parts of the frame looks like tortoiseshell to me.

Hope you all had as good a Sunday as I did with this nice little surprise.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sampler Update

The sampler has grown quite a bit since you last saw it.

I have just the second bird, butterfly, bottom corner and side border left to do.

A close-up.

And here you can see some of my charting efforts, the letters were an interesting mix of styles, some round and others sharp, most notable on the rounded V and W, but sharp M and N. In the beginning I planned on just using the more rounded letters but later decided to change the M and N to look more like the original sampler, I ended up by just writing on the graph paper and then filling in the stitches until I was happy with the look.

The roses was a bit more complicated, I drew one on the graph full size and then scaled it down (this is also the way I scaled the cat down), but realized that there were too many petals on the rose to successfully down scale it, so I went to my stack of embroidery books and searched until I found some good looking roses that were more or less the size I needed.

I then positioned the roses on my chart, added in a few dots for the rosebuds and then copied the roses into a computer charting program where I could see it in color and started adding leaves, which took me quite awhile until I was happy with them, keeping in the back of my mind that it needs to be a contained in a circle, some of my leaves went right past the boundaries of the circle and then I had to redo them until they fitted. You can see the printout of the roses and leaves in the previous photo.

If any of you want to try this, first decide on how big you want your embroidery to be when finished, work out a stitch count and then, well just play around on a piece of graph paper. It does take time and even in stitching I noticed a few things that I wanted to change, so here and there I had to unpick and start over again, but in the end, well worth the effort I think.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Birthday and another Box

Yesterday my husband and I went to a small town, Clarens, a 3 hour drive away from the city to celebrate my birthday. Clarens is well known in South Africa for both it's natural beauty and art galleries, and since my birthday fell on a Saturday this year we thought it a good idea to escape from the city for a few hours. We left home early in the morning just as the sun was rising on a cloudy morning and we stopped for a lovely breakfast on the way.

We arrived in Clarens shortly after ten, a view of the mountains in the distance from the bottom of the town square, it turned out to be quite busy in town as they celebrated the town's hundred birthday. The town also has a few antique and gift shops and I think we went into almost all of them. And then I spotted it, another box, in a shop that I think sold clothes and all kinds of other things (ha, can you tell I didn't pay much attention to those things), they had an antique table right in the back. Before we left home I did think I must look for a box for my new lace making tools but didn't quite expect to actually find an antique one.

I am not sure how old it is, but it does look Victorian, the inlay in the top is not real, just painted, but beautifully done. It is well constructed with dovetails in the back corners and splined joints in the front. It must have laid in a forgotten corner for many years, the molding was hiding under a thick layer of hardened dust.

The inside of the box. It has lost it's one partition on the right side, one can see a slot on the back where it must have fitted in. There was also traces of an old cream velvet lining that didn't survive the box's history. I plan on making a new partition and lining it again. Then a question, the finish is quite dull on the top and the paint work damaged, now I am wondering what I can use to protect the paint work and revive the finish, I thought of using beeswax but if anyone has any better ideas, please let me know.

By the way, bobbins turned out to be pretty cheap to buy in comparison with the effort of making them, so I just folded and bought some, especially when I discovered that some lace patterns uses over a hundred bobbins at the same time. So I am intending to spend some time next weekend and start making some beginner lace, now that I have all my tools.

We had a lovely day and a great pizza lunch, I took this photo just as we left town, the brown spots are cattle grazing. I really enjoyed the car trip as well, it has rained a lot this spring and everything is just beautifully green after a very dusty and dry winter.

I hope you all have a fantastic week.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Display Box

I think I bought the bargain of the year today, I went to an antique and crafts fair today and found this wooden box there for a mere $3, now who can say no to that, certainly not me, especially as I have been searching for a box just like this for a while now.

The box closed.

And with a few of my miniatures inside. I am planning on cutting most of the door out and replacing it with plexiglass (safer for travel than glass) and pulling the interior fitting out. I am thinking of using illustration board either in a room setting or pigeon holes as it looks now, depending on the kind of miniatures I want to display for a specific event like exhibitions at miniature fairs or Guild School or even non mini events to introduce miniatures to the general public. Removable fittings will also help in using appropriate wallpaper, etc to go with the period of the furniture. 

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lots of little pieces

I spent this morning casting a few tiny dolls, the first time in my life that I did this, in my way distant past life as a doll maker I just used to buy the greenware, molds are too expensive if you only plan to make a doll once. I am exhausted right now, I think from the intense concentration when you take them out of the mold and then trim them, you have to be so careful not too squash them and those little limbs are tiny.

Now they need to be soft-fired and cleaned before the bisque firing, only then can you start painting them. Porcelain shrinks a bit in the bisque firing so they will be even smaller after the firing. Oh, boy, now I have to clean my kiln that I haven't used in more than 10 years and see if I can still remember how to set it up for a firing.

I made a little bit of progress on the sampler, I am really enjoying stitching this one.