Sunday, June 8, 2014

IGMA Forum

Yes, I know, I have been very quiet on my blog over the last while. life has just been very busy, both with miniatures and some real family happenings.

One of the things that kept me busy...back in January I was asked if I would like to help set up a forum for the International Guild of Miniature Artisans, it took me about two seconds to say yes. The forum was officially launched last night at the opening ceremony at Guild School in Castine. The website went live about two months ago but were kept a secret with the exception of a few people who were asked to join and start posting so that there would be some content by launch date.

You don't have to be a Guild member to join the forum, please read through the forum's guide lines before you start posting. I hope many of my friends here will join, this is going to be a great online place to share and inspire each other to build great miniatures! 

Please share this on your blogs and other social media so that we can spread the word among as many miniaturists world wide as possible.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Building a door and two furniture pieces

This last weekend I spend some time on the building of the screen doors. The top rail is curved and after some thought I decided it would be easier to cut a slot in the wood for the glass as opposed to grinding the glass to fit, especially since I have to build four doors.

The slot with the glass in it.

Cutting the slot on my table saw was a bit nerve racking as all the curves and molding were already cut, I didn't even try to cut it to the full depth in one shot, probably did about 15 cuts raising the blade a bit each time.

Cutting the door side rails to length presented another problem, they were way too long for my table saw and I don't have a full scale table saw and my pieces weren't the same length either. in the end I taped a piece of wood to the arm on my band saw and cut all eight side rails to the same length but still a bit overlong.

The last little bit I cut off on the table saw because I wanted a really smooth cut.

The panel for the bottom of the door was slightly too big and I had to remove about 0.5mm on all four sides, with the angle in the middle rail this was all quite complicated to cut and fit.

One of the four doors in the frame to check that the height is right.

I also checked that the glass and small rails will fit right, I am using microscope slides as they are nice and thin and I was lucky enough that they fit perfectly height wise, now I need to cut the glass and the wooden rails to size before any gluing can be done.

I also took time off from my orders to build two pieces of furniture, I had a deadline and finished both of these in eleven days. The first is a 19th century French washstand, the original was build from pine, I used Oregon pine for mine.

I think this piece lends itself well to all kind of uses, I used a granite look melamine to imitate the slate of the original.

And here is the original full scale washstand that I copied.

The second piece is a lovely Regency Etagere from 1840. I need more books for this one!

The original was made from Rosewood, I made mine from some mahogany sheets that I had because I didn't have time to cut and sand the wood I really want to use for this, a South African wood called Candlewood, it has a very nice grain and color that resembles Rosewood very well and I will make some again later this year in the Candlewood.

The reason for the rush, they were for class proposals, I will be teaching for the first time later this year, looking forward to it and kind of dreading it at the same time, first time nerves I guess! I will tell you later when and where when all the details has been loaded onto the website.

Have a great week

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Furniture and Petit Point

I realized the other day that I have only shown you a photo of the finished Federal sewing table, this table has many parts and proved a challenge to build. One thing I have discovered in building more than one of the same table, even though you cut all the parts at the same time and mill all the joinery simultaneously....once you start building, each table seems to take a shape of it's own and each individual drawer etc needs to be fitted separately for each table, so it becomes very important to keep each table and all it's pieces together and not mix them up. Why does it happen...I think because the tolerances are so small, even the finish can interfere with the fitting of a drawer.

Here is a table with all it's pieces, the top and the two small swing out drawers still needs to be fitted before I can glue the top on, I am using a pin hinge for these two drawers, so the drawers needs to be fitted and installed before I can glue the top on.

This one is almost done, I am in the process of putting the finish on this one and then the table top hinges will be glued on. Another challenge on this table is the raising top, it is only 1/16" thick and then you need to cut recesses into it for the hinges and stand.

For one of the tables I covered the big drawer with a silk bag, I think I will do that for my own table too and speaking of my table...

The petit point for it is coming along slowly but surely.

Since I am in the final stages with the last few tables I have started working on a new commission...this is the legs, the inlay isn't finished on these yet...stay tuned, in my next post I will tell you more about this piece and give a step by step tutorial on doing the inlay.

Remember the new rug I showed you a few weeks ago that I started of in french knots, well I ordered a book that I knew had a photo of the original rug in it.

Here is a scan of the full scale antique rug....but the real rug was done in cross stitch, it wasn't knotted and the outer border was a bit more I started over again...

doing it in cross stitch now and I changed the border a bit, I love the colors of this rug, for those of you who owns Annelle Ferguson's book Traditional Stitches in Miniature, you can find the chart on page 78.

Have a great week

PS: The rain has stopped and the sun is out, the worst flooding happened in an area three hours north of us, my niece who stay in that area, her house got flooded, they stayed with her in-law's for the last week as the river got higher and higher, they could go to their house for the first time today, she says there is mud everywhere. Here are two photos as it looked late last week in the town.

This area had a lot of damage and I guess it will take quite awhile for things to go back to normal.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Progress, fitting and rain, rain, rain....

Sorry for the long is just so busy!

I made a bit of progress on the Cape Dutch home, because the door opening between the hall and back of the house is so big, I thought it would be a lot easier to glue in the door frame before I screw the walls together.

Using some squares to keep the frame square while the glue dries, hmmm, the rusted big one isn't mine!

A close up of the frame.

Test fitting with the two side walls...something was bothering me.

Oops, the roof isn't going to work like this, can't have those two gaps..I kind of did expect problems here, the room on the back of this wall was added about 70 years after the original house was built, the gables on this house was also added at that after thinking about it for awhile I decided to change this wall to what it would have looked like before the additions.

I cut the wall down as you can see in this photo.

And then added a slanted piece of wood that I cut on my band saw to bring everything up to the height that it needed to be.

Next I need to finish the four doors, fitting the rail with the slant is rather a job. Somebody asked me why the side rail is wider at the bottom, I am not really sure...but I wonder...these doors are a lot taller than your usual door with a lot of glass in the top section and I think...maybe it was to have more solid wood in the bottom part of the door to support the weight of the glass.

Last night Yoda came to inspect the house...he is rather a bored kitty at the moment as it has rained almost non stop for more than a week now over a fairly large part of the country. We have a river going through our city and the least bit of rain makes it overflow now, roads are starting to cave in...

The building to the right is a hotel... just behind it to the right is a big shopping mall that I often go to, I live on the other side of the horizon, the water you see here is the river bursting it's banks. Fortunately I live quite high up and away from the report says it still going to rain until the end of next week!

A damaged road in one of the suburbs.

The highway between Pretoria and Johannesburg, this happens to be the sign for the off ramp that I take when I come back home from Johannesburg, fortunately it wasn't raining when I used the highway on Saturday to go to our mini club meeting.

A road in, that is serious damage, and I wonder how many more are going to crack when it starts drying up, I have noticed a few potholes appearing in roads that I drive on...I took none of these photos, most of them I received in an email.

Keep well

Friday, January 31, 2014

Cape Dutch House: Entrance Hall

I spent the last few days building the side walls for the entrance hall of the Cape Dutch house.

Busy gluing all the studs on.

Ready for the plywood to be glued on, since I don't have enough big clamps this happens with the assistance of my hubby who puts some very heavy over sized concrete bricks on it, too heavy for me to lift. Next time I will try and remember to take a photo.

Next I had a bit of hand trimming to do at the angled door openings.

I still need to glue the walls permanently in place. Ha, I had a big bummer...for some reason I got my measurements mixed up and the attic door openings were too low, raising the bottom wasn't too difficult, but the top...still need to fix the top level on the right hand wall.

The plywood surface is not the nicest I have seen, I don't particularly feel like spending hours on filling and sanding the walls, so I have decided to cover them in watercolor paper and then paint them. The paper has just the right texture for a plaster wall that isn't quite smooth. I am rather happy with the size of the room, none of these furniture will go into this house, they are just there to give you an idea of size. Sorry for the bad photo, it is gloomy outside and raining, not that I really mind, so far January has been very hot and dry.

I was hoping to show you some photos out of a book that I ordered on Monday, but a postal strike put a damper on that, last year we had one as well and that took six weeks of striking and backlogs to sort out with many parcels disappearing forever...I was so looking forward to receiving it, it is a newly released book on Cape Dutch furniture with over 400 pages and more than 1200 full color photos and lots of new research... the last books on this subject was published in the 80's with mostly black and white photos. This book isn't available at the usual book stores, my middle brother is in the museum business himself, got to hear of it and let me I don't know how long I am going to have to wait...grrrrr...

Since the rug I was busy stitching is so very Victorian and won't fit in with the time period of the Cape Dutch house...I started a new one.

Not much yet, but you have to start somewhere...right? I chose a chart in Annelle Ferguson's book, it was charted by Sue Bakker from an antique English rug from about 1740. I have a book on the way with the original rug in there...but that one will probably also land in the strike backlog...another grrrrrrrrr...I will go and ask at the PO later today, maybe I am lucky and it got here from the UK before they started the strike.

So in the mean time, here is a scan of the rug Sue Bakker stitched, I am stitching mine with french knots and this rug is destined for the bedroom.

Have a great weekend

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Bit of This and That

This weekend turned up some unexpected treasures, I was asked by the chair lady of our club to go and look at some tools at an estate sale of a miniaturist that passed away last year, somebody I have never met as he only lived here for the last few years of his life to be closer to his family and he wasn't active in the local clubs. He was well known in Cape Town though and much loved by the members of the club there.

This man was a furniture maker and there were these chests of drawers mostly filed with all kinds of woods, both exotic and local woods, many that I would like to have but are difficult to come by either because of cost or rarity. The family seemed to be hoping that the wood would go to a good home and be used for miniatures. Well, I am saving for my trip to Denmark later this year and was torn in two....and then hubby came to the rescue and offered to buy it for me, the deal included the chests of drawers, a good thing because I wouldn't have known where to put it otherwise, there were ten drawers!

The two woods I was most happy to find was birdseye maple, hard to find in SA and expensive and the second stinkwood (so called because of the smell it gives when cutting it), a local hardwood that is protected now, it was extensively used in Cape Dutch furniture, a very dark and close grained wood...and I was just wondering last week where I was going to find enough of a kind friend has some that he can't use because of faults in the wood, the good parts are big enough to use for miniatures, so he is going to give it all to me when I see him again. I am really happy about all this as I like to use if I can the woods that were originally used for the antiques.

I spend some time over the weekend cutting more wall panels for the Cape Dutch house. View from what will be the front of the house, I had time to cut door openings in the one wall before the sun set, as I do this outside.

This will be the center wall of the house, fitting all those different roof lines are going to be an interesting exercise.

I also started a piece of embroidery last year for my newest sewing table, this one will be mine, I am copying an old English piece, you can see the original here, I used a different border from another antique sampler and moved it to the bottom as the bottom will be hidden when the screen is pulled up. I am cross stitching it on 75 count silk gauze with Pipers silk.

Well, that is all my news for now, have a great week everyone.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Today...28 years ago...

I married the love of my life.

Wow, we look so young, well I was... scarcely 20, and Greg 25.

We celebrated a day early and went out scouring around some of the secondhand bookshops in Johannesburg yesterday, something we both like to do.

First stop was a charity bookshop, where at first I only found the booklet on Queen Mary's dollhouse. Hubby was still busy while I was busy getting bored and itching to go on to the next shop.....when I happened to see one of the staff bringing a new pile of books, I went and looked and found the bargain of the year, the book on the right. It was printed in 1980, is out of print, rare and normally quite expensive, out of my reach in any case, they charged me a mere $3, oh, happy day.

At the last bookshop hubby bought me this book as a gift, it has all the history on the old 18th century kitchens in the Cape, the layout of the kitchen, the furniture in it and all the other items necessary for a kitchen of those days, this is going to help a lot in planning the kitchen for the Cape Dutch house as most other books doesn't mention the kitchen at all, with time as I work on the house I will show you some of the photos in the book.

Next we went for lunch at a tea garden that I haven't heard of before, it is at a house that were build in the 1930's and loosely based on Cape Dutch style.

It was really hot yesterday, 35 (95) degrees, this is a typical summer's day in December and January, our two hottest months of the year in SA, just love the contrast of the green lawn and bright blue sky.

Hamburgers with a delicious homemade meat patty, I liked the tomato on top, first time I got a hamburger served like this.

The main entrance of the house, the house was gifted to the municipality in the 1980's and houses a library in the left wing, the rest of the house is used as a recreation center for the local community, ballet, karate, art classes, etc, they were busy painting etc, I would love to go there again in a few months.

The back of the house.

The house fortunately still has some of it original features, like this bar in the shape of a Viking ship, the guy who built the house was of Norwegian decent, his father was born in Norway, his mother was from Scotland and the house is called Norscot Manor.

The windows in the Billiard room, I wonder if they hanged the curtains in between the windows and the part that juts out in the front, I have never seen something like this. I loved the air vent above the window, they were in every room of the house.

The beautiful view from the lounge, when the house was built this area was way out of the city and a farm, now it is in the suburbs.

A lovely fireplace in the bedroom, there were quite a bit more to see but impossible to photograph with all the renovation work going on at the moment. All in all we had a wonderful day celebrating our anniversary.

Enjoy your weekend