Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Quilt Shop Rehab Begins

The quilt shop has finally moved to the worktable. I've been working on furniture and accessories without a real Plan. It seems prudent to get the structural rehab finished so I'll know how to proceed. Here is the old master bedroom, before. The floor is in relatively good shape, so I think it will get a sanding, light stain, and varnish. Mini OSHA would not like the stairwell (against the back wall) open, so I've ordered ballusters and railings to enclose it. I believe I'll construct the railings to be removable for ease in dusting/decorating. (What a great place to hang mini miniature quilts!) The doorway on the right connects with the bathroom. I've ordered doors for this opening and the one on the other side that leads into the proprietor's living area. This is the wallpaper. I think once it had a white background, now yellowed with age, grime, and chemicals from unsealed wood.
Just like in a real house, rehab reveals surprises. This flowered wallpaper was under parts of the blue striped. It doesn't appear that the wooden walls were primed prior to wallpapering. I think I will prime the raw wood with gesso and give the interior walls a fresh coat of ivory or cream paint -- a plain background to set off the quilt shop's details. After the real life quilt show exhibit, new wallpaper can go up over the paint. The ceilings are papered. You can see how the chemicals in the wood have changed the color. It seems to be glued tight. I'm going to try to use gesso and white paint right over the paper. If that doesn't work, I guess I'll have to scrape it.
Here is the room all cleaned up. The basin of water I used for cleaning was so dirty that I think I could have planted watermelons in it. :)

The living room is painted, so there was no wallpaper to remove. The green shag carpeting was tacked in place, so it was easy to take up. The "tiled" area by the front door appears to be Contact paper, the same as in the bathroom. A hair dryer softened the glue but there is a slightly sticky residue. The floor is stained. I think it may get sanded and then a coat of light gray paint with an eye to installing carpeting after the quilt shop moves out. This photo shows one problem area: mini OSHA wouldn't like the stairway without a handrail, so it will be added when I make the upstairs railing.
Here is a shelving unit I made to hold fabric bolts. I've put just a few on it to give the idea. It's made of balsa and will be painted. It's open on both sides with additional shelves on the end cap. The feet are made of wooden beads glued together. No special reason to use the beads; they're what I had on hand. I'm not sure where the shelf unit will be placed. I'd like the viewer to be able to see both sides and the end -- that makes it tricky.

Here is the unit in the room, along with a shelving unit that will hold yarns, thread, and other small items, maybe batting. It fits on the wall with the fireplace and will be behind the cutting table/counter, I think. The doors between this room and the dining room and kitchen will get trim added, but not doors.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Two new quilts

Two new quilts today. The first is stitched together using the strip method. It was tedious and didn't turn out very well. I should have done one with plain cloth to get a feel for it. The pattern was hard to calibrate. This one may end up folded on a shelf. It's lap robe size.
The second one is made from cheater cloth, my candidate for most clever invention of all time. Since it went together so quickly, I used the sewing machine to embellish it with some "quilting." The backing is a dark green/black print. If I weren't so tired of playing with tiny pieces of cloth, I'd have finished stitching between each block. Most of the lines between the blocks are printed. I stitched the center top vertical line; it makes a difference. Maybe I'll sew the rest another time.
One reason I got tired of sewing was that when I changed a bobbin, I didn't replace the needle thread properly. Who knew that skipping a step on the thread that goes through the needle would cause the bobbin thread to make ugly snarls and knots? I wasted a lot of time cursing and rethreading the bobbin assembly, which was innocent. *sigh*

Tomorrow, back to making bolts.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

An afghan without all of that tedious crocheting

One of the Greenleaf Dollhouse Forum members suggested putting together strips of trim to make an afghan. What a great idea! I bought a tiny daisy chain at Walmart* and stitched it together to form a throw. Unfortunately, it's a bit narrow, so I'm going to have to stage it carefully, but here you can see it draped over the foot of a double bed. *Yes, a Walmart that still have fabric. It's in Sedalia, Missouri. The manager says they'll keep it until the store is remodeled. Nobody is saying when that might happen. Meanwhile, she has the go-ahead to keep on ordering. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

A new Project: A Quilt Shop

It has been 2-1/2 months since my last entry. Real life got in the way of minis. I'm happy to report that the White Orchid is nearly finished. Just a few details to add and it will be ready for the final photos. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I have another project. My father built this large wooden dollhouse for my sister and me back in the 1950s. It has been played with and stored for at least 60 years, and has come to me for refurbishing. It's big. Wonderfully big.

My good friend NJ has agreed to chair the local quilt guild's show in September 2010. The theme is "Home, Sweet Home." She asked if I'd have the house finished by then. She wants to use it as a prop."Don't bother with the inside", she said. "The outside will do fine." But then I got to thinking. This is a big house. Big enough to hold a quilt shop and a studio apartment for the owner.

Here's my plan: downstairs left (the living room) will be the shop area with bolts of fabric, fat quarters, sales counter, cutting table, etc. The room on the right (dining room) will be a workroom with sewing machines, tables, maybe some sale fabric. Behind it (the kitchen. See the door) will be a break room with coffee pot and snacks. Upstairs left (master bedroom) will be the quilting room. A couple of frames for hand quilting and maybe a couple long arm machines. The little room in the middle will remain the necessary and block off the public area from the owner's studio apartment, the room on the right (former children's room).
Since I haven't had much time in the workroom, I've been doing some pick-up-and-go items, namely quilts. The three on the left are made of cheater cloth -- fabric that has a quilt-like pattern. These are not individual blocks. The one of the right is getting close to becoming a crazy quilt. More about that below. I'm sorry I didn't include something in the photo to give an idea of scale. They are each about 7-1/4" high. The one on the left is sized for a king bed. The second is double bed size, and the third is twin size. The one on the right is meant to be a wall hanging, so it's not a standard bed size. Click on the pictures to see larger views.
The calico was the simplest to do. Just layer the quilt top with the red backing and sandwich a couple layers of my husband's discarded tee shirt, baste it, then "stitch the ditch" with the machine. I'm not a quilter in real life, but I have picked up a few terms, enough to be dangerous. Stitch the ditch means that the quilting stitched run between the blocks. For this I sewed the lines between the blocks and around the five little red diamonds.
Here's a close-up of the calico. Please don't look at the bindings. I need to work on the corners on all of these. I'm telling myself that they're prototypes and don't need to be perfect. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
The next one is the Quilter's Quilt. I was lucky enough to find cheater cloth with sewing symbols on it to mimic an appliqu├ęd quilt. Same technique: stitch the ditch.

It's easier to see the stitching on the detail. Don't you love the fancy detail on the border? Bless my sister for passing on to me a very nice sewing machine. :)

The Tattersal Quilt gets its name from the pattern, open lines. These happen to be double lines, but close enough! This one is not stitched, but tiny knots are tied at the intersection of the make believe blocks

The little red dots are part of the fabric design, so red ties seemed a natural. The border on this and the other quilts is simply the backing fabric folded over and glued.

The Stained Glass quilt started out to be a Crazy Quilt. I found some no-wale black corduroy that works well as a mini velvet and used strips of silk for the colors. It seemed a lot easier to use StitchWitchery to glue down the silk in bold strips than to figure out how to cut tiny bits for individual blocks. I cut strips about an eighth of an inch wide for the horizontal lines.

I didn't want to mess with the bulk of turning the edges of the silk under, so I used a zigzag stitch to edge them. Eventually, I'll embellish most of the segments with some kind of embroidery.

So, here we go. I will probably put new binding on these and use them in the shop. Meanwhile, I have a little plastic tub full of tiny cardboard rectangles and swatches of cloth to make bolts of fabric. And even more very tiny "fat quarters" that need to be folded and boxed. Lots of hand work to be done while sitting or riding or waiting, even if time in the workroom is limited.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

White Orchid Workshop

Today I had great fun unpacking the toys I've been collecting to set up the elves' workshop. I think the elf who's supposed to take the finished work to the elves who pack Santa's bags has fallen down on the job, as the toys are piling up!
The kitchen and stove got a few more accessories. This area needs a rug.
A band of mice have arranged themselves on the stairs. The girl elf likes their music as she cooks.

Not much was done upstairs. I put out some bread with coffee and tea for break time, spiffed up the sewing machine, put books and a vase on the shelves, and found a puppy for the house. This area needs a rug, too. I'm envisioning a braided oval rug under the table and chairs.
Outside, the tiny salt and pepper shakers took their place on the step. Santa seems to approve.
I found some really tiny mushrooms with the toys and added them to the landscape. They will be those little things that people won't notice until about the fourth time they look at the house.

Monday, August 31, 2009

White Orchid Mushrooms Growing

Today I spent in the dark basement, growing mushrooms! The characteristic white dots were added to the red roof, and tiny mushrooms were planted around the house. To give an idea of scale, the pink foam is one inch thick. The stems and caps are made of Fimo polyclay. The stems are translucent with a smidge of flesh mixed in; the caps are red with sparkles. I formed the caps over the ends of a couple of paint brushes and baked stems and caps separately. After they cooled, I glued them together and used the tip of a toothpick to put tiny dots of 3D "puff" paint on them.
They add just the right amount of color to landscaping.

This side of the house looks a bit bare. Not sure what will go here, but it needs something.
The bay window side seems to be finished.
A little visitor came to the back of the house. It's hard to believe he's a button. Too cute!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The White Orchid garden grows

I spent several hours today on the landscaping, adding flowers and several kinds of greenery. In addition to the base paint, there are patches of model railroad turf, dry moss, and model railroad lichen. In combination, they give the effect of a forest floor.The yellow and purple flowers started out as white flowers cut from real life size artificial flower stems. They got a makeover with two or three shades of craft paint just blobbed on. Plain white just didn't cut the mustard. They're not planted in formal beds but just grow willy-nilly.
I like the way the mushroom looks. I want to make some smaller ones out of polyclay to tuck in here and there to bring in more red color.
As a change from the messy greenery, I put together a birdhouse kit I've had for some time. I like the natural colors, so I didn't paint it as suggested in the kit's directions. I painted the pole brown and I think I'll darken the scalloped edge a little; it looks too new. I may have to glue some moss on the roof, too.
Across the back I put a couple kinds of moss. I may add a few surprises there later on.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

White Orchid landscaping

As I typed the title for this entry, I realized I'd started out numbering the White Orchid entries. I don't know why. It's another example of how I over-engineer projects ... lol.

Today I worked on the landscaping. I'm trying to do this with stuff I have on hand. Luckily, there are lots of items left from prior projects. I have no idea where the pine tree came from, but it works well on one side of the door. The mushroom on the other side of the porch is a glass Christmas ornament. I took the hanger part off and used the Dremel ever so gently to remove the glass stub on the top. I glued a circle from the paper punch over the hole. When it dries, I'll glue the mushroom in; in this photo it's leaning.

The base was painted to simulate the bricks, rocks, grass, and dirt. Old tea leaves were glued on for the dirt, and the moss/grass is model railroad greenery. There's a lot of detail work to be done. If you click on the pictures, you can see the small plants on the pine tree side.
In the second photo you can see a bit of fencing left over from the houseboat. I hadn't planned to put a fence there, but it looks good, so it will stay.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to Work on the White Orchid

Two months! That's a long time to go without minis, but I've been keeping in touch via the Greenleaf Dollhouse Forum for vicarious mini fixes. The garden has been keeping me busy, and the first two weeks in August, Lloyd and I were in the Czech Republic. It has been a busy summer! These ceramic pieces are souvenirs from the Czech Republic. They are decorated in the traditional Southern Bohemia manner. They will go into the Pierce, which insists it is going to be a Bohemian inn with a bar and restaurant. I'm looking forward to making mini roast pork and dumplings with sauerkraut.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The garden is semi dormant, and my craft area has been screaming for attention, so this afternoon I descended to do a little cleanup -- or so I thought. I almost hate to post these photos, but you really need to see how it deteriorated while sitting unused.

Oh ... see the Van Buren box? A cousin presented me with it when we went to visit in July. She'd bought it for her daughter years ago but never got around to building it. I think this one will be made and donated to a charity, but that's a way down the line. The current project is the White Orchid, which ought to be finished in jig time. After I got everything cleaned up, somewhat sorted and put away, I worked on the base. It is glued to a lazy susan, so the house will turn easily. Because it has battery pack lights, no need to worry about a cord getting tangled.
The base is a sheet of foamcore board with a layer of contractor's foam with rounded edges. A couple scraps of the foam form the berms on either side of the porch. I covered all of it with a thin layer of wallboard mud. For a while I was thinking it would be a snow scene, but I think it will be a summery forest setting for better contrast with the white of the building. When the mud dries, I'll give it a coat of gesso, and then paint in some rocks and the brick walkway by the stairs. I have some train layout greenery and lycopodium and other bits of greenery and flowers I can use. I may make some tiny mushrooms, too.
It's good to be back in the mini workshop!
By the way, if you'd like to see some photos from our trip, check the blog here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer holiday

I haven't posted recently and probably won't for a while, as the real life garden has been demanding a lot of time. So much so that the miniatures will have to wait patiently, maybe as long as until the fall, unless we get some really bad weather that keeps me indoors. I'm blogging the process at KathieB's Garden. C'mon over and take a look.

By the way ... one corner of the yard looks like a great spot for a fairy village. You can tell that minis are still on my mind.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mining for Magic

Not exactly mining, but this evening I started looking through all of the little boxes of accessories that have accumulated in the past several years. I was looking for lantern tops for the two "oil" lamps upstairs. I found them and a lot of other little goodies that I thought would look good in the mushroom.

This picture shows a wall hanging I made from a printie on cloth. I think it was for a swap, as I found several in various states of construction. Also found some candy, a little plastic rocker so the little elf can rest while the cookies bake, and stuff to put into the cooking area. I think I'll paint the rocker but will save the paper design on it.

[By the way, you do know that if you click on a picture a larger version will appear, don't you? If you do a left click, use the Back button to get back to the blog. If you do a right click, you can open it in a separate window.]

The counter looks awfully clean considering the amount of dirty dishes in the sink, but I'm pretty sure this area isn't finished. It needs some dish towels and a bucket of water for the dry sink at the very least.

For the upstairs, I found a little ship and a sewing machine. One of the elves builds miniature ships as a hobby in the down season. I gave the seamstress a basket for her materials, but I may build her a little bench with drawers or a lift-up top instead. The railing on the stair rail is a little wonky, but I'm not overly concerned. I think that eventually it will be covered by something over the railing, like a drape or throw or a garland.

Here's the sideboard with the new lanterns that I finally found. They are some kind of little bottle. I bought them at Through the Keyhole in Dallas a few years ago with no idea how I'd use them. They came with two or three teensy little seashells. I tested the lights in them and decided they are keepers. The gingerbread house is made from Fimo, glitter, puff paint, and a couple of little gems. It was made for a swap in 2006. I'm not sure if the baskets will stay there. They're being auditioned for color and texture.

Last, but not least, here is the divider wall. I glued a couple of little wooden deer blanks on the shelf and put a scrapbooking sticker wreath at the top. In the corner of the photo you can see a bit of a Christmas tree on a table, part of a 1/2" swap. It has a little card and some packages with it. I'm not sure it will stay. I'm wondering if the elves would go all out for Christmas decorations or would they be so tired of Christmas cheer after making all of those toys that they'd downplay it.