All posts by 3smilingdogs

Creating and collecting miniatures have long been a part of my life. They bring me inner squeals of joy when I make an individual piece or finishing up a setting that looks like I could walk on in if I was resized to that scale. Hopefully, they will bring you a little smile to cheer your day.

Cottage Comfort

Miniatures can literally take you way from the cares of the world to a place time has slowed down.

Shrink down and come inside!

This morning’s weather has changed to a damp rain.

A pair of wellies by the door , the watercolor palette on the chair with binoculars are from this morning outing that ended when the damp rain began.

wellies-2
Wellies by the door
timid-mouse-2
A timid mouse is checking out the activities
chair
Chair with this morning’s paraphernalia

With the cold and damp setting in outside…

Hot tea, fresh bread and rustic cheeses more than make up for the dash inside.

tea-kettle-main
Ready to pour a cup
freah-bread
This morning’s bread
cheeses
A wonderful assortment of cheese to go with the bread and hot tea.

A lazy cat enjoys the warmth of the fire besides the favorite rocking chair.

hearth-1
Best spot in the cottage on a cold day!

Upstairs is a sled bed with lots of warm blankets to snuggle under.  I imagine the cat abandons the hearth with bedtime comes.

bed
Simple but elegant

The bed warmer is a recent find from a lot of copper things on ebay.  It added to the mood.  Imagine snuggling down is a toasty warm bed on a cold night after its use!

bedwarmer
Makes for an inviting bed when the weather is cold

The kitchen counter….

This turned out so good!  I do love aging and adding character to pieces.  Going from a blank canvas to this …. is a total artistic escape for me.

bare-sink
Bare beginnings
sink-2
A well loved sink with lots of use

If I could give you a step by step instructions of the transformation I would, but it is like asking Grandma how she does a recipe that she doesn’t measure — just makes it!  It leaves me perplexed by the inner workings of the mind that control the hands.  How does that happen?

My treasures collected over time have pulled together to breathe life into this cottage and given it a story!

The coolest butter mold with an imprint is from a box of junk.  No idea who made it but it is a cherished find. It sits on the counter by the fresh bread and butter dish.

A spot for the spice drawers – all which open.  I know it is silly but I love knowing that.  A wonderful rustic chicken print  from Dominque Autin. Every one of her pieces are simple but done so well they delight me each time I look at them.  The shelf sports a bottle of wine and special canned goods to be used for the arrival of someone special.

shelf-above-sink
Warm glow of candlelight
shelf-above-sink-2
Always ready for the unexpected guest
chicken-print
Rustic chicken print

The china in the shelves by the door are from my faux china painting days.  This cabinet and dishes was a class I taught long ago with a few added pieces to round it out by Vince Stapleton and Valeria Casson.

Oh the table! It is by Bradley Meinke.   If you get a chance to take one of his wood finishing classes — do it!  He is very sharing of his techniques.

The chairs are odd ducks picked up at the Denver show.  I love the faux bamboo look.  Quirky but adds to the cottage character.

tea-kettle-w-cheeses
Faux china in the corner and Bradley’s table

I had a friend over and she was checking out the cottage interior.  She said that one thing seemed out of place — the pipe on the mantle.  Obviously, its a woman’s cottage — so why the pipe?

Its a remembrance of a friend now gone.  A reminder of many an evening shared by the hearth and the stories shared but not forgotten.

hearth-closeup
A pipe to remember many a shared evening by the fire

For a bit of amusement — note the transformation of the skull candle into a normal warm candle.  Another one of Dominque’s pictures hides the wiring.

Now for the total view of the interior………

main-room-2
Kitchen area
total-view
The entire interior of the cottage

All in all … I can imagining walking through the cottage door and feeling instantly at home.

I hope you are feeling the same!

Transformation…

I had bought a half done project at a miniature show auction some time ago. It was a cottage from a Rik Pierce class. They are a lot of work but so beautiful when done. The structure was glorious but the exterior landscape had a swampy wetland with all kinds of creatures.

The beginning cottage

The previous owner’s intent was for a witch’s cottage. That was not an interest of mine. What to do with the poured resin swamp had me stumped. So it sat all this time waiting.

Changing the landscape

Finally, I started to play house inside the structure this summer and ignored the exterior. A plan of action developed. The fantasy of a place away from the busy world tucked away in a woods emerged. The cottage began to have a personality – I pulled out the barren tree (so much easier in miniature than real life!) and covered the swamp with paper clay to get a landscape to support flower beds. This then sat for several months without any further work. The reality of how many plants this involved overwhelmed me.

The dead tree is gone!

 

Not today – another day – was my response each time I started to think about it UNTIL an unexpected Christmas package arrived! My friend, Loretta Kasza had been talking about creating and making plants this fall but I hadn’t seen them. She sent me a batch of them!

I think my cottage had simply been waiting for them! They were just perfect! I wish had had photographed before planting but didn’t plan that far ahead. So here is a peak of them in the ground so to speak.

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Flower beds emerged! Combined with my stash of plants collected over time, Loretta’s foliage plants and filler materials it became a lush cottage garden that I could envision enjoying living there in the cottage.

A fimo butterfly from Lola’s Originals (in a drawer far too long) now rests on a hydrangea flower. Two of Loretta’s spectacular variegated plants show off the hydrangea bush.  Then for fun, I added the dandelion growing in the rocks, it seems the gardener missed that one.  The dandelion is by my friend, Twilla McKee.  The corner became a composition with all the elements working together. I was thrilled!

corner-composition
A perfect corner!

Another butterfly sits on my prize rose bush ( I can grow them in miniature it seems versus reality it is not so pretty. Kansas weather is rather harsh on them here). Another plant from the drawer stash. Along with a cadmium made ages ago.  

rose-bush
Rose bush in full bloom

I even had some creatures to add to the garden. The path around the corner has a toad and a snail peaking out from the greenery. The lovely hosta is another of Loretta’s treasures.  Can you see the ladybugs added to the plant to keep the aphids away? They were another forgotten treasure from the drawer stash.

Loretta's hosta
the eye catch corner of the path as you approach the door

A pot of lavender on the bench by the door has a few more butterflies. Sitting beside it are a few vegetables harvested from the garden to add to the stew for supper tonight. The lavender is by Maryvonne Herholz. The bench is by R-stuff.

lavender-and-bench
the comforts of home
lavendar-closeup
a gathering of butterflies on a pot of lavender

No garden is complete without birds. A bird’s nest is tucked in on the porch roof and a chickadee is resting on a shutter momentarily add to the scene.

It all pulled together and became a magical place to wander off to when I need time away from dirty dishes, laundry, etc. . Don’t get me wrong, reality is fine  but an occasional daydream wandering about in a FINISHED setting gives me a perk of energy to return to the mundane chores of daily life.

Now for the tour of the garden that I have been hinting about….

side of the cottage
flowers and ferns abound in the side bed
the front of the cottage
a view of the garden in front of the cottage
a view of the front entrance
a resting spot in the garden
close up of the plantings
close up of the flower bed
door
you are invited to step inside…..

with the next posting….

 

A good night’s sleep

bed-alone
Cozy bed for my cottage.

I’ve been working on a cottage that needed a bed that made you want to crawl in and snuggle down.  It needed that cozy and warm look of a thick coverlet and extra blankets tucked at the bottom if more were necessary.  Ok, you have to shrink down first to fit but miniaturists have very active imaginations!

It turned out pretty good and fit the spot.

It was easier that I thought, so I thought I would roll back the blankets and share some tips if dressing a bed or working with fabric draping is in your future.

pulling-back
Rolling back the blankets for a closer look at construction.

I will admit that most of my success was the fabrics themselves but this gives you some ideas to keep in mind when picking fabric or thinking about bedding.

THE MATTRESS

I simply cut 3 pieces of foam and loosely sewing them together for a mattress.  It could be more or less foam depending on the foam thickness and your bed. Some people use a ceiling tile cut to size as a mattress for the ease of pinning the fabric draping.  For me the foam was handy and not so messy to cut.

mattress-foam-base
The foam mattress beginnings.

I covered the foam form with white cloth and sewing it shut.  It doesn’t have to be fancy– generally no one is inspecting underneath the covers in a dollhouse bed.

I have had this odd fabric (a polyester blend of some sort but has a very soft drape to it) for a long time.  Generally, cottons, silks, and other natural fabric are the best for mini work but there are exceptions.   A couple stripes of this fabric became the bed skirt (and no gathering needed!).  I glued the stripes to the mattress.  I folded the raw edges of the ends to the back at the foot and head of the bed.

draping-qualities
The bed skirt material.

I used the fabric fusion glue.  It is a clear gel like substance.  I am not sure I like it but it worked.  It left spots but it could have been me, it was white on white and I didn’t spread the glue out well.

fabric-glue
Fabric glue I used.

THE COVERLET

This fabric just looked right!  I draped one piece on the bed and decided to double it so it could be turned down and inviting to climb in for the night.

bed-skirt-and-coverlet
My fabrics for the bed.

I loosely folded under the sides to the back of the 2 pieces and sewed them together. I had only used ironing and steaming at this point.  The base is tucked in so no messing with that side.  The top is stitched down after the turned down part is in place.  This may seem odd but I think it allowed a better draping this way than sewing the two pieces entirely together, turning it right side out and then trying to get it to lay naturally.  It gets bulky and boxy.  This way the top and bottom pieces can move and set in position without being bound until it is laying on the bed the way you envisioned (or hoped) and then connected together.

Now that I have size and positioning figured out, I put the piece in a plastic bag with fabric stiffen liquid.  Dampen the piece until completely covered.  Remove it and drape it on the bed.  I used pins as needed but not too many (the pin holes will show when pins are removed later) to get the natural draped look of the coverlet.  Now is the hardest part for me.  To walk away and let it dry!  I kept wanting to adjust something but just have to give it time to dry.  So I worked on a matching pillow to keep my hands away from the drying fabrics.  Added a little touch of lace to the end to finish it off.  It looks comfort.

fabric-stiffening
The necessary magic for great draping of fabrics!

The fabric will be stiff as a board as the saying goes when it is completely dry.  Here is the photo to prove it!

stif-as-a-board
Stiff as a board!  Finished but not glued to bed yet.

I used more of the stiffening liquid for the blanket and throw at the base of the bed.  I did add a 2nd layer of white batiste to the cut up doily for a more solid look to it.  It needed to be delicate but still warm as a cover.

blanket-and-throw-beginnings
Materials for the blanket and coverlet.

Now the bed is complete and moved into the cottage.  No matter the weather, this bed has the look of a perfect place for a good night’s rest.

bed-in-place-closeup
Warm and inviting bed for the night!

bed-in-place
It is a snug little place but homey!

 

 

 

 

My China Overflows…..

Pretty dishes are the start of a great meal.  It announces that it is an occasion with good food and conversation to follow.  My love of beautiful dishes overflow from the dining table to the walls and shelves of my home. I enjoy the artwork of these treasures so it is no surprise that it spills over into my miniature world.

I actually painted and sold sets of Chrysnbon dishes many, many years ago before I discovered the laser.  So following a miniature whim this year, the dishes were calling. My goal this year is to explore and actual DO some of the things I have bookmarked on the web.

One pin of bunny plates had caught my eye many times while I was browsing on Pinterest.  They were actual tags that someone created for embellishing packages.  I reduced them to mini size and printed them.

Unfortunately, they were not that great in mini size.  When reduced the colors became muddy.  So I had to tweak them to bring the colors and graphics out.

comparsion-shot
Comparison of the graphic tweaking of the image

Oooh — that worked! I was excited and combined a bunny postcard graphic with the plate rim pattern for another style.   Another success!

bunny-love

Then the hunt was on for more dish images to shrink down for my mini china obsession.

worktable-of-dishes
A sampling of china ….the garden hose rubber washer, metal washer and button are my dish shaper from found objects at home.

china-sampling-3
I liked the red and blue combinations together.

I decided to make some cardstock dishes forms (these are a little larger than the Chrysbon sets) so they could be punched out with a paper punch for a perfect circle cut.  I used a 1 inch and a 3/4 in circle sizes due to the ease of available punches.

The cardstock blanks need to be shaped to look like a plate otherwise it doesn’t look real. My shaper isn’t fancy or perfect but I was experimenting with what I had laying around. It is in the bottom of the sampling photo.  The basics requirements of the shaper is to have some way to hold the cut out circle over a center hump to shape the paper so there is a rim.

I did come up with some improvements of this and have two shapers for 1 inch and 3/4 in circles available at my website (www.lisaslittlethings.com) but this can be done by other means as you can see.

shapers-both
Dish shapers for 1 inch and 3/4 inch cardstock circles

I shaped two cardstock blanks and glue them together so my dishes have a bit of body to them.  I then glued a dish image to this form.  I used a piece of parchment paper to protect the image as I rubbed the image down.  You don’t have to use parchment paper but if you have on hand it is helpful

Use a strip of double stick tape on a piece of mat board to hold the dishes stationary for the next couple of steps.  Color the rim edge with a color from the dish or get fancy with a gold edge.  Now the dish is ready for a coat of glossy varnish to get that that china look.  Apply the varnish with broad strokes with a very loaded brush so it is a thick coat but avoid the temptation to repeatedly go over the plate to smooth it out. You will work in air bubbles in your strokes doing this and makes it even messier than what you started with. If you have a few air bubbles – touch the bubble with a wet brush tip of water,  The water dissolves the bubble.  Allow the dish to dry and apply a second coat —now it looking like china!

 

gathering
An overflow of china……

Now comes the really fun part!!!!

 

Check out my youtube video for a visual tutorial and more in depth details on creating some wonderful china……….

an easy way to create dollhouse dishes

Here is the pdf file of dishes sized for Chrysnbon dish forms.

chrysnbon bunny plates GIVE away

Here are dishes for 1 inch and some for some 3/4 inch circles.

dishes for 1 inch circles give away 3

dishes for 75 in dishes give away

The original creator of the bunny plates/tags was gracious to allow me to share these with you…..here is her blog if you wish to visit her site also……….

original bunny tags

more pretty plates/tags

Here is another blog posting that will give you more china facts and her tutorial of miniature dish make too….

wonderful china info and mini tutorial too

Hopefully you will find this as fun as I did  and create some cherished china for your mini home.

 

Kid’s Play

It’s January and for the most of the United States it is really, really cold and misery outside.  Time to stay inside and find some place warm, for me that’s my workroom.

I’ve been tinkering again and cleaning out some bins of bits and pieces that time forgot. This year I am trying to make time to do some of the pins from Pinterest that I am always adding to.  I will never get to all of them but love the creative mood it creates for me as I am scrolling through the pictures.

Miniaturists do have a hard time tossing things.  I kept saving the candy/cough drop tins over time.  Now is the time to transform them into something.  One pin that catch my eye was the stovetop transformation.

So I decided to make some for grand kids and recycle some minis that were tired of being in a forgotten drawer. So the fun began!

Its a small surprise to send in the mail when the live far away.  A reminder that Grandma was thinking about them. I like to imagine their faces when it is opened. It is always a treat to have something come just for you in the mail, especially for kids!

Here is the pictures of one of them.

completed-project
Spaghetti and meatballs is what’s cooking!

Here is the graphics for the stove top that I mentioned in the video below.

Here is a video for further explanation. Hope you find this as entertaining as I did.

Playtime is always good for lifting your spirits on cold, cloudy winter days.

Building a Library

As I mentioned in the last post, I have found it enjoyable to search for beautiful books to fill my library.   There are many sources and the internet is a helpful aid in pulling it all within reach.

Pinterest again was a great help in finding sources.  There are so many! Some are already reduced and ready for printing to use for mini shelves. This one is such a link–    Herbie’s Collection of Printables

Graphic designers love to pin the book covers for design inspirations.  One such board lead to the library collections of several universities with wonderful sources.  You can spend hours enjoying the visual glory of time honored works of printers in the past.   Here are few of my favorites from following Pinterest board leads.

Publishers’ Bindings Online, 1815–1930: The Art of the Book. University of Wisconsin–Madison. A great collection, a little hard to search at first but wonderful covers and spines. Try searching  keyword “art nouveau” to get started and then clicking various highlighted items to browse deeper.  Plan to get lost in this library!

Here is a board of book covers to start with Beautiful Antique Books.  After that just keep looking and pinning covers that appeal to you.

If you like children’s literature –  the Baldwin Collection of the University of Florida is a good place.  Again, it takes some time to figure out the system enough to search but well worth it.

Here is another place to browse and gain some insight into some lovely rare books.   Pirages Fine Books and Manuscripts  It also has pdf catalogues of their books.

Making miniature versions it is not simply finding a complete book cover and shrinking it down in a smaller copy.  Sometimes it is possible but generally there is tweaking of colors, lettering, or a need to create a back cover in a similar style to match the front. At times some of the detail has to be eliminated so it doesn’t because a blob when sized down.  It is not possible to show a step by step process to do this because the steps would change with which graphic program using, what version and even what kind of computer.  There are too many variables to nail down to be helpful.  Don’t let that stop you.  Experiment in a graphic program without a time deadline to build some skills if you are craving to do it.  Remember to be child like and just try things to see what happens. Patience and accepting that it is not an instant gained skill will help.

I  realized my book making skills have grown over time when I compare my current books to earlier ones created years ago.  All that tinkering added up over time! So hang in there if you give it a go.

So to celebrate the love of books…….

I am sharing a file of book covers – Mini Books from Miniature Whims

Here is the wood and inner cover patterns for them – Sizing for Mini Books

I like the book covers to be backed with a solid color cardstock before wrapping them around a wooden book form.  The inner cover hides the white backside of the graphic covers and adds some sturdiness to the mini book.  If the white backside of the individual books shows the realism fades and it quickly looks like paper wrapped chunks of wood.  So for me the added step creates a better book. For the best results use good paper (presentation paper is good choice) and set the printing to high quality(300 dpi) not speedy.

PS.  I do sell this as a kit on my website if you are not inclined to cutting out wood forms and cardstock covers.

Enjoy the books and add to your miniature library.

 

In Search of a Good Book….

thru-the-window

This little shop is an attempt to capture my love of books and the many happy times that I have spent browsing in bookstores.  There is always a thrill of finding the perfect book of the moment when scanning the shelves.  The rich layering of detail in this shop was very satisfying, to recreate my feelings associated with books in a miniature setting.

My bookseller is using his spare moments wisely between customers to read.  It always makes me smile thinking of all the times I’ve read a bit more while I waited for something to finish or start. There is that instant transportation from reality to a place described in the pages of a book when you start to read.  It’s a magic trick that doesn’t grow old.

front-1

The rich colors of blue and gold on the exterior front windows invites the casual stroller to come inside.  The warm glow of light shows the books within.

interior

The shelves are full of colorful books of all sizes with ornate covers that make your fingers itch to pull out the one that catches your eye, to browse the pages within. The artwork of past eras still work to draw the book to your attention.

full-shelves-2

It took a lot of books to fill this small book shop.  I am embarrassed to say how long this project has been around unfinished.  There has been many stops and starts over time  from various interruptions but I was determined to finish this time since there was only a few things left that it needed. So now I get to share it with you and invite you inside this tiny corner to book heaven!

I did at one time think there should be no repeated books but abandoned that idea due to the shear volume of books the shelving needed.

The paintings on the walls needed to reflect the love of reading.  I settle on these two to fit the bill.  The relaxed reader in a summer hammock and the thoughtful reflections of the serious reader were perfect.  They are now framed and have a home in the shop.

paintings

The outside cart stacked with a casual assortment of books was another detail I enjoyed adding.  How many times that has worked to stop someone passing by to look just for a moment and then get drawn into going inside for more?

bookseller-and-his-wares

The snail light is a favorite piece.  It is an unique and quaint light source.  I like to think it reflects my bookseller’s taste for detail that spills over into the book choices on his shelves. My photography skills don’t allow me to show how beautiful it is lit (just a glowing blob in the photos) so here is a photo of it unlit to see the detail.

lamp-closeup

Books abound in the shop and there is even have a place below the elevated floor to display more.

cubby-hole-closeup

This project is completed but started another journey of discovery, finding book covers to use to build miniature books to fill the shelves. I have gotten drawn into recreating book covers just for the shear pleasure of it, even though these shelves are full.

As things go with books, there is never a clear stopping point of how many you can have. More about this new exploration in the next post.