Life

Hello!

It’s been a while. I’m sorry for the radio silence. Life has become increasingly hectic. 


First, I finished the little little badger. The recipient loved it! I’m so relieved. I always have a little doubt demon sitting on my shoulder pointing out all of my mistakes. I’m glad I can shut him up for a little bit. 


Next piece of life getting crazy, my black belt test is going to be in June. 

*insert internal screaming*

I love karate. I love doing the katas and pushing myself to get better. However, I hate sparring. Well, not all sparring. I like light sparring to work on movement and combinations. I don’t like when my partner thinks pain is the only way to show good technique. Blah.

And lastly, after much deliberation we have decided it’s time to move. We’ve lived in Florida for about 6 years. At the time 12 months of sunshine and daily thunderstorms sounded like heaven. Well, we managed to pick the one part of Florida that doesn’t have daily thunderstorms. We barely ever get rain. I need rain. There is just too much sun! There are other factors too, but I won’t bore you with the details. So, for the past 2 weeks I’ve been packing, decluttering, touching up paint, and finishing house projects so we can get the house listed by the end of the month. 

*insert more internal screaming*


This is the current state of my creative space. I haven’t touched it in weeks! I’m really hoping I can get away with packing up 95% of it and leaving just enough to be able to do some playing. 


That’s a lot to go through and pack. I also have to pack up my 2 finished houses (that’s going to be fun) and my 2 works in progress. I’m not considering the Craftsman Cabin a workin progress since I haven’t done anything with it yet. Yes, I just took this picture tonight. To say I’m feeling behind is an understatement. 

 

However, im worried that we will need to move all of my stuff, including my desk, out of this room to be able to stage it properly when we get the house listed. I’ll probably go back to how I used to work (on the dining room table and cleaning it up at the end of each play session). Oh, well. There is still so much left to do to get the house ready, I don’t even have time to think about playing right now. 

That’s where I’m at right now. There will probably be more radio silence until the house is at least listed. I’m dying to play and make little things, but no playing until my work is done. Until then, I’ll be scrubbing floors, rearranging furniture, weeding, and trying to keep my sanity intact. 

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Almost done

I’m hoping by the end of the weekend my little Hufflepuff Badger will be done. 


Only 3 more colors to finish up, then a quick press and into a frame. Today is day 15 since starting it. Some days I was able to work on it for hours on end. Others I had to grab a minute or 2 when I could. Only one of those days did I not touch it at all. Not too bad considering the majority of my projects sit untouched for months. It probably helps that I have to mail it this week.


I’ve seen people post pictures of their cats in their dollhouse builds. I have 2 cats (Skippy, who is pictured, and Penny) who couldn’t care less about my dollhouses. 


The closest my dog, Bolt, has gotten to the dollhouses is when he runs into their tables while playing with the kids, and I have a mini heart attack. So, I’ve always thought how lucky I was. 


Then I received this picture in a text from my husband this week. 

Um, no. 

A few months ago, before Bill was adopted, I had asked for help building plexiglass cases for them. I guess I’ll need to get more serious about following up on that request. 

The Craftsman Cabin

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My beautiful picture

I live in a small town on the East Coast of Florida, minutes away from NASA. The town was established in 1925. In the 1960’s the town had a 1000% population increase thanks to the space program.

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The majority of the town was built during the 1950’s and 60’s and pride in the space program was quite evident. Schools are named after space missions.

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Our local elementary school has a boilerplate from a Mercury mission proudly displayed in front of the school.

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Most of the homes and businesses in the area were built during this time. A time noted in history as mid century. My home was built in 1965 and is one of the youngest ones on the block.

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You might be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with the Craftsman Cabin kit for this years HBS Creatin Contest?”. Well, I’m glad you asked. Having been surrounded by mid century architect for years now, I have a really hard time seeing anything craftsman about this kit. Don’t get me wrong, Fran at miniatures.com did an amazing job on her build. It looks very craftsman. However, this just screams mid century to me. Let me give you some examples…

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…this is the house we almost bought when we first moved to the area…

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…this is the local fresh seafood market…

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…then 2 doors down from the seafood market…

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…and our neighbors house. These are the ones within just a 1 mile radius of my house. As you can see , I’m surrounded by buildings that rock the asymmetrical peaked roof/flat roof combo built in the mid 1950’s-60’s. That was a really long way to justify why I’ll be going with a more mid century design aesthetic than craftsman. I love mid century design, so it will be a real hardship for me.

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This is where I am so far in the design process. You can see exactly where I’m going, right? I can tell you it won’t be a house. For some reason I have a hard time doing traditional houses. Right now I’m oscillating between 2 ideas that are similar, but have 2 very different uses. When I nail it down I’ll share more. I’m trying to wait until my Hufflepuff embroidery is done. It helps that some of my supplies that I will need to use to get started haven’t arrived yet. They are scheduled to arrive this week though, so I need to get the badger done!

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This is where I left it last night. I learned yesterday that my satin stitch needs a lot of practice. I’m beyond thrilled with how the badger turned out. So, hopefully the person I send it to is too distracted by him to notice the messy satin stitch. Plus, I’ll be framing it,  so it will be harder to see the mistakes *insert evil laugh here*. Well, I’m off to do some more stitching. Have a great day!

 

Potpourri 

Hello! It’s been too long. Sorry. Life doesn’t seem to want to slow down. This will be a quick update about the past month or so. 


First, which some of you probably know, my little tent won 3rd place in the Creatin Contest! You guys, I about died. There is so much amazing talent represented in the entries. I would hate to be a judge. Congratulations to everyone who entered! So much time and love were poured into their projects and it shows.


The 2017 kit is still sitting and waiting for some love. I think I’ve finally hit on the idea that I want to go with, but that’s for another time. 

I’ve been keeping myself busy with little embroidery and sewing projects. 


I tried paper pieced quilting. I made the fox for my grandmother and Twilight Sparkle was for my sister. I prefer paper piecing to traditional quilting. It is finicky, but I don’t have the patience for the precision of traditional quilts. 


I’ve signed up for a Labyrinth “quilt-a-long”. Each week there is an option for a paper pieced quilt block or an embroidery one. I’ve been doing the embroidered choice. I’m not sure how many blocks have been released so far, but I know it’s more than the 2 that I’ve gotten done.


This is a cross stitch of the Anchorman cast I made for my husband. It’s done and framed now. It was my first counted cross stitch. I’m glad I started with something simple. It’s amazing how one miscount can throw off everything. 

I also signed up for a Valentine card exchange and a craft exchange. 


My Valentine card was distinctly geeky. I loved K-2SO from Rogue One. 


This is for the craft exchange. It’s a version of the Hufflepuff house crest from Harry Potter. Yes, I also like Harry Potter. I’m a bit of a geek. This has to be done and mailed before the 23rd. It’s coming along quickly, as long as I can devote hours to it. It will end up being framed. I figured if it’s behind glass it will be harder to see my mistakes (I’m just kind of making things up as I go along). 


My middle child turned 11. He didn’t know what theme he wanted for his cake. So, I got to choose. My two youngest love listening to crazy songs that get stuck in your head for years. One of those songs is called Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows. Being the awesome mom that I am, I knew that had to be the theme. He loved it!

So, as you can see I’ve just been doing what ever peaks my interest. It’s been my way of recovering from dollhouse burnout. However, I’m starting to get the mini-itch again. Now that my idea is taking root, I’m wanting to get started. 

Oh, also, we have a new family member.


His name is Bill Furry and is a ball of energy. The only way I can get a picture of him is if he is sleeping. 


He’s so very helpful in making sure my trash can in the art room is empty. And he’s decided to help relocate some of my supplies. Thankfully, he’s not very good at hiding them yet. Emptying trash cans is tiring work. 

I think that about sums up the past month or so. Now that mini-ideas are starting to percolate again, I’ll be posting more often. Until then, hope you are having a fantastic March. 

So, I Caved

The kit looked so lonely waiting to be played with. I couldn’t just leave it lying there all alone. There’s no harm in just doing a dry fit. 



It’s much bigger than I was anticipating and has nice bones. I have 3 ideas circulating through my head. I need to spend some time just taking it in before I make any final decisions. I’m hoping to have my final idea flushed out by the end of the month. 

On a side note, I’ve been commissioned to make some customer furniture! My 8 year old has decided he likes stop motion animation. He’s used birthday money to buy Stickbots, downloaded a free stop motion animation app on the iPad, set up a green screen studio, and ordered some furniture for a video he wants to make. He was very specific. He wanted a black sofa, a crimson red desk, and a mug for the desk. 


Turns out he saw a similar setup in a YouTube video and wants to do something similar. I’m just excited he wanted me to make him miniature furniture. He thinks he needs a larger green screen area and I tend to agree. 

As for my to do list, I was able to get quite a bit done. Sadly, it wasn’t stuff that was on the list initially. I added it on the list so I could cross it off. And to add to the fun, this week our home became ground zero for a chest cold that won’t let go. I’m hoping tomorrow I can get a few things done and start to feel productive again.

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It’s here. I’m not allowing myself to play yet. Booo! 


This list is my priority right now. The things I’ve been putting off, that need to get done, if I want to get paid. Darn real life. 

In real life I refinish mid century furniture. I currently have 2 dressers, 5 chairs, and 2 dining room tables that are in various states of disrepair. My goal is to get at least the dressers, 1 dining table and 2 of the chairs done this week. Ambitious considering the kids don’t have school tomorrow and I’m traveling on Friday. I like to aim big or set myself up for failure, however you want to look at it. 

I’ll be back once I’ve completed my “adulting” quota for the month. 

Butterfly Chairs

I was flipping through the pictures I have stored on my phone and came across some that I had taken while making the butterfly chairs for the tent. I’m not sure I’d write a very good tutorial on how to make them. Especially since most of my technique is just eyeballing what looks right. I thought I would share them anyways, just in case someone might find some part of it helpful. 

First: lots and lots of image research. Trying to find ones that were the right era was easy. Finding links that had measurements was not that easy. 

Next: I used the thinnest dowels that came in a package at the craft store. I created the “x” in the front and back first. I had drawn out a rough sketch to act as a template so that all the angles were the same for both chairs. I used a clear plastic transparency over top of the template so that I could glue and tape the pieces down while they dried. The glue didn’t really stick to the plastic. It also made it so I could use the template again quickly.  Adding the side bars was a bit trickier. Glue, tape, and vertical surfaces to prop the chair against were essential. 

Originally I had planned on using this woven fabric, but decided it was too see through. That’s when I started working out how to make the vinyl thinner. It took a couple pattern adjustments to get the seat to sit right. 

After the chair had dried for a few days (yes, I wanted to make sure nothing was going to move), I painted it to give it a look of a warm walnut. I made the fittings and hardware from black card stock that I burnished with silver crayon.

And the first one being modeled with its inspiration. Not exactly the same and The seat could use a few more pattern tweaks, but overall I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. 

Happy New Year

Happy 2017!

After the deaths of Carrie Fisher and her mom (and don’t even get me started on all those who passed away in the weeks and months before that) I wasn’t really all that sad to say goodbye to 2016. I’m not really big on making resolutions. I always aim way too high and then feel a bit like a failure. So, every year I try to just be better. Help make the world better by being a better human.

For Christmas I received a gift certificate for the exact amount of the 2017 Creatin’ Contest kit. And my gears have been turning. However, I wanted to finish sharing all the inside details of the tent before I move on to the next build.

So, back to Africa.

 

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My tiny traveler has to use her limited storage space efficiently. While researching campaign furniture, I came across tent pole straps with hooks. The unusable space on the center pole suddenly becomes useful vertical storage. The strap is made from hooks I purchased from miniatures.com and leather fringe found in the jewelry department at JoAnn’s fabric. The boots were a splurge, but they are so darn cute (boots and binoculars also from miniatures.com).  The messenger bag is made with masking tape, the leather fringe, and paint. The butterfly net is a fancy toothpick, tulle, and some wire. I used super glue to make both of these items since I needed something that would grab quickly.

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The pictures were found on google. They were resized using photoshop and printed out. I put a layer of clear packing tape, gave the tape a light sanding to bring down the shime a little, and then cut them out.

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The basket was found on miniatures.com. The fabric is just scraps that were doused with a heavy amount of starch and then left to dry. The blue vase was picked up at my local dollhouse store. The brass urn was found at a thrift store.

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The canteen is air dry clay, wrapped in masking tape, painted, and then more of that leather fringe for the handle.

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Behind the bed is a brass lamp fitting that is being used as a sort of umbrella stand, except it holds spears and walking sticks. The spear is a bamboo skewer, aluminum foil, and some thread. the dark walking stick is carved out of a small dowel and painted. The one with the ball is a loose interpretation of a self defense weapon. Its a bead on the end of a skewer, coated in tissue paper and glue, then painted.

The shields were wood discs that were soaked in hot water until they were malleable, then tied onto a spoon to create a curve. I let them dry for a few days. Three of the shields were given texture with tissue paper and glue. The long skinny brown shield was given its woven texture with fabric from an old tie. All of the shields have edging made from waxed string.

The beaded Masai necklace is micro beads glued onto card stock and painted. It was a pain in the butt to make and I’m not 100% happy with it, but by gosh it was going in.

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The mud cloth tapestry was inspired by one that I found on Etsy. I printed it out in the size I wanted, used graphite to transfer the design to the fabric I wanted to use, then used super fine tipped pens to ink the design. My eyes were so angry at me after that. I may need to start thinking about glasses.

The little flashlight on the bed was a piece of a mechanical pencil. A little paint, some aluminum foil, and *bam* you have a flashlight.

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The trunks were made using wooden building blocks. The pencil is a toothpick that was sanded down and painted. The vase is the top of an acorn on a piece of Fimo clay. It was painted and then I added puka shells made out of Fimo. The giraffe statue (there is also a lion and elephant) were made by glueing tiny toy animals to a wooden base, coated them with spackling paste to make them look a little bit more carved, and then painted black.

The brass lamp was found on miniatures.com, but it didn’t light up. I wanted it to look like it had flame, so I decided I was going to make it light up. I soaked it in water to loosen the glue that held on the glass hurricane. After that was removed I used my handy dandy Dremel with a drill bit to drill down through the center of the brass base (I added a tiny drop of water in the cup that holds the hurricane to keep things cool- also, I’d recommend wearing safety glasses). I thread the wires of a tiny chip light that’s battery operated (found on miniatures.com) through the hole and glued it in place. The hurricane was glued back in place. The battery is hidden in the trunk that is under the cot.

  • bird cage was found at a thrift store
  • journals were purchased at my local miniatures store and altered

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The vase and magnifying glass were found on, you guessed it, miniatures.com. The gloriosa lilies were made by me. The jar for the butterfly was found at Michaels in their very limited miniatures section. The butterfly is a species found in Kenya. The pictures was found using google, resized using photoshop, and printed out. I used a ball stylus to give them a little bit of dimension. They were then glued to small sticks from my yard and then glued into the jars.

I think I’m going to stop there for tonight. I’ll post a little bit more about the details around the work table and then move on to fun new ideas!

I hope everyone had a safe and healthy holiday season. If this year is anything like last year, it will be 2018 in a blink.

 

A Porch with a View

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Welcome to my little slice of the Kenyan savanna. I’ll give as much detail as I can about where everything came from. If I leave anything out feel free to ask.

I wanted the tent to be lived in, but not too messy, warm, and welcoming. All of the rugs in the tent are from miniatures.com. They were each faded and worn using paint and the sanding bit on my Dremel.

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The chairs and the folding stool were designed by me using pictures from the internet as my models. I wasn’t happy with the “leather” seat on the stool, so I replaced it with a canvas one. The chairs are made using the thinnest dowels I could find at the craft store, glue, some black card stock, some paint, and faux leather vinyl. The vinyl had a fuzzy backing on it making it too thick. Using that handy sanding bit on the Dremel I was able to sand the fuzz of the back. That made it much thinner and it ended up looking like the back side of a hide. Win, win! After some paint, stain, and a few thin black lines, I ended up with a seat material that looked pretty convincing.

The little cup was a birthday present to myself. I bought it and the little journal at a local dollhouse store called The Toy Box. The journal was aged using sandpaper and given labels using tiny pieces of masking tape. For the papers, I found images of old antique naturalist journals on google, resized the images to be roughly 8×11, and then printed them using my computer. They were just crumpled a little to make them well used.

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The little black mamba started out life as a tiny bright orange snake with black stripes. It was surprisingly easy to paint him the right colors. He means no harm. He’s just looking for a snack.

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The Moroccan inspired lantern was made using a pair of earrings I had bought weeks before I even received my kit. I added some jewelry findings and beads, chain, paint and a tiny little LED light. The battery is hidden under the rain tarp and can be turned on by applying pressure in just the right spot.

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The bottles for the butterfly jars were purchased from the craft store or miniatures.com. The table was made from a slice of closet dowel. I had received the little Coleman lamp last year for my birthday. With a little thinking outside of the box, I was able to electrify it.

The flooring was made with placemats that were found at a local thrift store.

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The little black pot was another Toy Box purchase. The fire grate was made using toothpicks and pieces of wire. The basket is a piece of woven cotton webbing (used for belts) glued together in a tube and painted. It’s filled with tiny little pieces of wood from my yard.

The yellow grasses (there are 2 different textures) are from decorative brooms that I picked up at thrift stores. The yellow flowers and patches of greener short grass are also thrift store finds. The rocks around the fire pit are from my driveway. I also used very old potpourri, that was easy to crumble, as dirt and debris.

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I’ll give details about the inside when I share more pictures of the inside.

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I loved how this picture turned out, until I realized I had left the piece of card board that I was using as a reflector in the picture. Doh. Oh, well.

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The wood beams are dowels that I sanded with the Dremel, stained, and painted. The roping is jute string and the fabric is simple cotton muslin in 2 different colors that I sewed together in panels.

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Not a bad view.

Under African Skies

Amelia met her husband while studying anthropology in New York. They dreamt of a life of adventure and travel – exploring the dark corners of the world – but he enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor. When he died, Amelia was devastated but slowly she picked herself up and in the spring of 1949 – and against her family’s wishes – Amelia packed her clothes and her determination into a steamer trunk then headed across the Atlantic.

She spent a year living in Liberia among the Toma tribe and earned their friendship as well as an ornate horned mask – a token usually only earned by tribal boys who became of age. She recruited a group of locals to trek into the Belgian Congo. During the expedition across the continent, some encounters were peaceful like when she was bestowed a handsome wooden doll and a splendid woven shield from the Zande tribe in the Congo. Other adventures were harrowing – including the day she came face-to-face with cannibals but quick-witted Amelia tamed them by sharing her expansive collection of butterfly specimens.

Her experiences strengthen her childhood convictions that every corner of the world is beautiful and worth preserving. Now, living alongside the Massai in the grasslands in Kenya, Amelia studies the flora, fauna, and people of the region. The Massai have gifted her various weapons, and a large Korhogo mud cloth painting that she hangs over her bed. In the afternoons, she writes manuscripts and textbooks about the local culture and wildlife to tell the world about the vulnerability and majesty from deep within the African continent; and the evenings, she sips tea and watches a new family of Fennec foxes play and hunt around her tent.

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I have a ton of detail shots that I’ll be sharing in batches. I wish we could submit more than 4 pictures. There are so many pictures that capture the essence of the tent, but don’t show much of the detail. Oh, well. I’m proud of it.

Thank you everyone for all of your kind words and words of encouragement. It’s wonderful being part of such a supportive community. Thank you all!