Tuesday, June 5, 2018

A little more embroidery....




This is going to be made up into a lavender sachet for a friend who needs some cheering up.  The design is my own but I was inspired by the work of Lorna Bateman and Kris Richards. 

The embroidery itself features some raised stitches that are worked directly onto the fabric.  This style of work is much easier and quicker than stumpwork!  It was completed in just a couple of days.  I am now working on a needlecase book in the same style. 

Summer is here at last and sitting in my little garden surrounded by flowers, trees and birds doing embroidery is my kind of heaven!  I believe embroidery is enjoying a revival at the moment.  I am not surprised, it is real mindfulness in action and good for the soul.  Just like miniature making!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Stumpwork

I am taking a break from furnishing Goose Cove and working on some stumpwork (a kind of raised embroidery).  




The design is by Lorna Bateman.  I changed a few details but the overall look is similar to her original.  



This is my first piece of stumpwork and is really a sampler as it features many different stitches and techniques.



There is no doubt that working on miniatures helps with this kind of embroidery.  Both require attention to detail and fine finishing - and good eyesight!




Sunday, April 15, 2018

Ta Da - Problem Solved



American dolls houses are wonderful.  Because they are viewed from the back, the front can be intricate and feature all sorts of things that are very difficult to incorporate into a front-opening house.  BUT the huge disadvantage to this system is that the backs are usually left open. 



Yikes! What about dust? Spiders? Or even worse….cats?  This was clearly a problem I needed to solve when building Goose Cove.  So before I did anything else, I had to find a way of closing up the whole house to protect it when it is not being viewed or worked on.

Hours and hours of work went into various prototypes and ideas.  Sheets of acetate, cloth screens, you name it – I considered it.  But I came to the conclusion that the only thing that would truly satisfy me, in terms of protection of the contents  and aesthetics, would be to build a back wall and roof.  Great idea.  Yes.  But then I had to come up with a design that would allow the back to be removed easily without damaging anything.

Hinging a door was out of the question for two reasons.  Firstly I would have had to fortify the walls to take the strain of hinges holding a weighty back wall.  Secondly the roof configuration  meant this wall would not open without having to leave a significant gap in it to ‘clear’ the eaves. 

Instead, this is what I came up with.  It is a two-part structure.  This shows the house with and without the back wall/roof in place.

Both the roof and wall are held in place by magnets and gravity.  The magnets are visible but I think it is a small price to pay for protection and peace of mind. 


This shows the bottom wall on its own


And this the roof.   Although they are they are designed to work together it is useful to be able to lift off one section on its own if needed.  

To make the back wall more attractive, I added two downstairs windows.  They are not exactly the same as the ones on the side or front but in the same style.  I wanted to try to use the supplies I already had rather than buy anything new.  I think they blend well.




As they say in scientific circles, this is an ‘elegant solution’, or at least I think so!  It is simple, it looks good and it works.  I am really pleased with the result and the effort was well worth it. 


Friday, April 13, 2018

Please, take a Seat!


I am trying to avoid having to start difficult work on the inside of Goose Cove, notably designing and building the kitchen from scratch.  Instead I have been keeping myself busy by making some chairs and a sofa.

The sofa is built using the excellent tutorial by KrisCompas on her blog.  (Thank you Kris for sharing your wealth of knowledge with the rest of us).  My sofa has no skirts, boxing and minimal piping.  This is deliberate.  I want a clean unfussy look for my holiday cottage. 


Then I made an armchair based on a chair in my own home.  I needed something slim to fit into a corner.  Something that would blend with the sofa but be slightly different.  Again I used techniques I learnt from Kris's blog.


I am happy with this sofa and armchair and they will look much better once I start to add cushions, a throw etc. 

I really enjoy kitbashing.  Someone gave me four heavily lacquered chairs some years ago which I knew I would never use as they were.  But they could be bashed!  The glue used in cheap bought furniture is usually ‘hot glue’ that has a low melting point.  10 seconds in the microwave and I was able to pop the chair apart with ease.   

Here is the before:
and after:

  
I really liked the curve of the original back legs which is the main reason I bashed them in the first place.  I made new teeny wooden dowels to stabilize the new front legs.  


The chair covered with calico will be in the bedroom of Goose Cove.  

Friday, April 6, 2018

Greetings from the porch of Goose Cove

For a variety of reasons I had to close my blog for the last couple of years.  Apologies for sneaking away so suddenly and mysteriously - it was just something I felt I had to do at that time.


The only miniature work I managed to do in the last two years was finish the build of Goose Cove.  The inside is a work in progress which I will be showing as it happens.   This is the front of the little holiday home so far.  There is loads of work to be done still both inside and out. 


I will be able to share more photos when I have access to better light and space, but in the meantime this is it!


The little box of vegetables is by Sarah Maloney and I bought it on Etsy years ago.  The barrel was purchased at the Kensington Dolls House show in 2016.  

I am probably going to be talking to myself for quite a long time because my blog has disappeared from Google due in inactivity.  But if anyone does happen to visit - Welcome!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Morris, Yeats and a Fairy’s Bed

 

While Goose Cove is being glued together, I thought I would show you some more furniture I made for Ivy Lodge.  Once again I have tried to design something that is suitable for a simple woodland fairy – a bed where she slumbers and has her Midsummer Night’s dreams.

Firstly I edged the bedhead with a simple curved border that I cut out with my scroll saw and then sanded using mini sanding cones and a Dremel. 




My idea was to have the fairy sleep under the protection of a tree so she would feel safe at night.  The tree itself is a simple (crab) apple tree and includes some stylised apples to reflect the final lines in W.B. Yeats poem ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’.  This poem is has always been special to me and I imagine the ‘glimmering girl with apple blossom in her hair’ to be Celandine, the fairy for whom I am building this little home.

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

William Butler Yeats


The bedspread is inspired by another William.  I embroidered it based on a design by Pamela Warner which in turn was based on the bedspread that William Morris had on his own bed at Kelmscott Manor. 
  


It was only when I went to look for a good photograph of William Morris’s own bed that I stumbled upon a blog that intriguingly links William Morris’s bedspread back to Yeats! The embroidered bedspread, pelmets and curtains of Morris’s bed were embroidered by his wife in collaboration with his daughter AND Lily Yeats, the sister of W.B. Yeats!!  So my inspiration was coming from two Williams, both interconnected but without my knowledge.  

The flowers are perfect for a woodland fairy’s bedroom - pretty and natural – in lovely summery colours.  The fabric used is the humblest of all cottons – unbleached calico - again in keeping with the rustic, simple theme of the home.  Doing this embroidery was very enjoyable.  I used a frame.I will probably add another pillow or cushion to the bed in the future when I see the whole room put together. 


The dressingtable and stool complete the furniture for the bedroom.  So far there is only a writing set on it. 


 Naturally the rest of the soft furnishings are yet to come - rugs, contents of dressing table, vases of flowers, mirrors, pictures etc etc.  





Sunday, June 19, 2016

Arthur becomes Goose Cove

My ‘Arthur’ is now called Goose Cove and here is the background to why I am building it.


My friend Ellen, who carried this kit over to Ireland in her suitcase, lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts.  This area is beautiful all year round and one of my favourite places in the world.  She and her husband used to live in this divine gabled house with wrap around porch right on the water’s edge of Goose Cove in Gloucester (they have moved a few hundred yards up the road to another beautiful cove called Lobster Cove!!).  This cottage I am building is a reminder to me of all the happy times I have spent with them in both the old and new houses.


There is a small vacant plot right beside their old house where (in my imagination) my little cottage will go as a holiday cottage just for me to while away blissful summers!  (Oh I wish this were happening in real life, but a girl can dream!!!)  This local house with its 'Arthur' type centre gable and porch is a further source of inspiration.


So Goose Cove is a tiny New England cottage by the sea.  In front of it are some rocks and a floating dock and, of course, the water.  Moored to the floating dock is a rowing boat which is useful for checking the lobster pots!  So this is not a sandy BEACH house but more of a waterfront home backed by trees.


Just a few minutes walk from Goose Cove is a picturesque village called Annisquam.  It can be reached by a wooden footbridge and leads on to Annisquam lighthouse and sandy beaches.  The houses in Annisquam are simply gorgeous.  Tall trees, rocks, sandy coves and the sea.  Absolute heaven.  These photos were taken during my last holiday there and again show my inspiration.  


I think it is important to know this kind of background to a house that you are building.  I tend to project myself into the house and area and this helps me make decisions about what I want to include, colours to use etc.   



The first change I made to Goose Cove was to change the windows and door from having arched tops to being rectangular (I also raised the height of the two in the front because I felt they were too low).  




However, I am not sure what way to treat the windows.  Below are four variations ALL of which can be found locally in other houses in the area, so it is really a matter of which will look best. The house will have siding on it which will be painted a light stone colour.  



  
I really like option C myself but wonder if it is too busy.  It is important to know that there will be NO gingerbread trim on this house and the porch will be extended and will be straight across at the front with no extra gable.  In other words, the outside of the house has been 'de-frillied' and for that reason I would like to have a bit of interest in the window panes.
Any thoughts or comments would be of help and interest.  So please help me choose!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Chaos Theory and Flow Chart Analysis


(Because I have nothing else to show, I am adding some shots of flowers from my garden…..)

Before starting to build this kit, I had completely forgotten one of my major character flaws – my total inability to keep things simple.


How many times have I bought a knitting pattern that is exactly what I want EXCEPT that I intend to use thinner/thicker yarn, change the armhole setting, add a collar, make it longer, incorporate waist shaping, throw in a cable design and then do the whole thing in a size that is not even included in the original pattern?


The Arthur was to be a little treat.  A complete change from the mental mathematics I went through trying to construct Ivy Lodge.  This time I was going to build the kit exactly as it came.  I was going to add a couple of LED battery lights at the end so there would be no wiring.  It was going to be RELAXING. 


I am trying not to laugh/cry at my own stupidity!!  Did I really think I would not make changes?  Did I really think I would not end up wanting to wire it???!!


Far from doing exactly what I intended, ie. just making the kit as is, I have gone off on a good few tangents.  Nothing dramatic mind you, but just enough to require a battalion of mathematical instruments, digging deep into my rusty knowledge of geometry, drawing up accurately scaled diagrams and all the time taking sideways glances at the bin and wondering if I should not just toss the whole thing out and go and have a nice cup of tea instead.


I have absolutely NOTHING to show for all my angst.  Instead I am caught in a circle of problem solving and trying to do things in a flow-chart sequence.  All in vain!  Just as I am going to do something, I remember that I probably should be doing something else first.  I am sure this is familiar to you all, but for the time being I am living in total self-inflicted chaos……….

Friday, June 10, 2016

Woodland furniture and Wax

While I am still planning and doing preparation work on the Arthur, I thought I would share a couple more pieces I made for Ivy Lodge.

The back of this delicate bedroom chair is designed to represent a branch bending in the wind.    The simple side table has ‘tree shaped’ ends for it.  These two pieces look good together but will actually be in different rooms in Ivy Lodge.

All the furniture for Ivy Lodge has been treated with tinted beeswax to give some uniformity of tone.  I use solid beeswax (because that’s all I have!) but I found a neat way to apply it to miniatures.  For larger flat areas – like the top of a table – I would use fine steel wool, just like for 1:1 furniture.  But this does not work for areas with angles, carving or ‘holes’ like this chair.  So I use a bent cotton pipe-cleaner. 

It gets into all the little crevasses but is gentle and rounded. Gently buff the wax off with a piece of old t-shirt or something else very soft.  If there are little bits of wax left, I remove them with cotton wool buds and/or sharp tweezers.


And just for a bit of fun!  I often make a scaled prototype to see if something looks right or if I need to make changes.  Here is the prototype of this chair and the final version.  


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sanding in the Sunshine - oh and a question of scale

In Ireland we are enjoying really glorious weather - very unusual for us to have long spells of fine sunny weather like this.  It has been perfect for sanding in the garden and means my tiny workroom is not covered with dust.  


My father always told me preparation was key to success in painting/woodwork.  So I have sanded, filled,(stopped to pull splinters out), sanded again and filled a bit more. I decided to wood-fill the edges of the plywood in case they are visible at the end.   Lots of these edges will be inaccessible when the house progresses.


I plan to do another dry fit over the next few days and then prime everything before sanding again.

I ordered lights for the house but had to return half of them because they were totally out of scale despite saying they are 1:12 scale.  There is no dolls house shops left in Dublin (or Ireland) and I have to buy everything online - unseen.  I wonder has anyone else had this experience.  I was amazed at how enormous the fittings were.  This one, for example, is a lovely light and was going to be over a kitchen table, but it is HUGE.  The shade would have been the equivalent of 18 inches in diameter  and almost two feet high in real life!!



I also ordered shutters that claimed to be 4" x 1".  They are actually 4 and 5/8 inches x 1 and 1/4 inch.  Perhaps the people running these businesses do not realise that exact measurements are important to miniaturists.  Grrrrrr........I am going to have to cut these and patch them.  Very annoying.