Saturday, 31 December 2011

Just around the corner ..........

A new year and a new start, firstly let me apologise for not being around at least one of my new years resolutions is to keep the Blog updated its been a whole month and its not as if I haven't been busy, its just not really been with minis.

 Its certainly a time of year for celebration with family or quietly on our own, thinking back on the past year, what has been achieved and wondering what the New Year will bring.

I have a  new toy to play with, a lightweight camera, a mini in its own right with a more powerful zoom, a great Santa gift, and when I learn how to use it should make for some better quality pictures of both nature and minis.

These pictures are of one of the lovely visitors to the garden and the feeders during this time of year. I'm afraid I leave my plants to have their seedpods so not the tidiest of gardens but the wildlife love it as this pretty goldfinch proves as it feeds on the delphinium seeds.

So may tonight bring that wonderful magical feeling as once more the year turns. May 2012 bring you health, happiness and love.

**HAPPY NEW YEAR**
To Everyone

mini hugs
Pauline
xx

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Ivy leaves and batteries

Well I knew there would be a lot of leaves for the first part of the ivy ......... but over 350 and each one individually punched in dark green and then coloured to give different tones.

The two lights are in the pumpkin and the wires are hidden behind masking tape painted to match pumpkin and then the ivy covers the bumps and lumps.

The switch, wires and battery (just seen at the bottom of the picture are all in place and yeah they work.
 Once the outshed is in place the switch and battery are hidden away.

I think I may use other lights but will put these on cell batteries and make them part of the furniture inside if need.

The bottom picture shows an upclose picture of some of the ivy with the colours showing in more detail.



I also got the swaps posted so achieve much over the weekend.

Now need to think about the other plants and some other minis, this may take some time as still have ivy to do.

Mini hugs.


Saturday, 26 November 2011

Chinese Lanterns

Just a quick update have finished the Chinese lanterns and they have turned out much better than I expected, surprising myself, don't you just love playing around and finding sometimes it works.

I'm thinking on how to make these smaller for a quarter scale garden without loosing the effect these have with the leaves able to wiggle in the breeze.

The picture above has a real life lantern in the corner, to give an idea of what I was aiming for.
The second picture shows some planted in the landscaping in amongst the ferns. I'm hopeful no more ferns will be required they take forever to snip along the edges and it gets a slightly boring, not to say fingers getting sore holding scissors.

This weekend must finish some swaps for posting on Monday and with luck a quarter scale turkey too. Oh and the LEDs have arrived so maybe finish off the lighting inside.

Well one can but live in hope!!!! :o)


And Fingal, well as you can see still putting his orders in, I think he's after some flowers, and some mumbling about watering cans and tools, well sorry little one but you will just have to wait. Personally I thought he'd be after the furniture but just doesn't seem bothered which is just fine with me.

So mini hugs until the next time.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Ferns in the landscape


Landscaping around the outshed started

Yesterday turned into an interesting day, one of those oops moments, having put all the scenic material on the pumpkin landscape which had been left to dry, it was now time to brush off excess. The dumb moment came when I realised that having stood the outhouse on the paving to check where scenic bits were going and to take a photograph, it was still there ..... to late. Lifted the pumpkin and turned upside-down, one very smashed outhouse when it crash landed on floor. Well I know I wanted old and decrepid but this was going too far, so a night of glue and bandaged together to wait for the morning with fingers crossed. Yeah, this morning glued together and though not as well looking as the original I think I can manage to cover the yuk bits later.

Ferns beginning to soften the outline

Well I made 10 fern bundles into plants, twisting the legs together and wrapping with small piece of the brown floral tape, now time to put them into the scene. The paper mache with the floral foam underneath is ideal for making a hole, filling with glue and sticking the stem in. Its working well but not enough ferns so will have to make more, rather time consuming but I think it will be worth it. Today have put in pictures showing how far I have got with the landscaping.
Down the front steps
I'm also going to try and do some chinese lantern plants (Physalis alkekengi), they are in my real life garden so its definately the right time of year for them. Having started with the leaves and using cotton thread for leaf stems, will see where this idea leads, before posting the results.
Waiting on the LED lights for the interior, before making the ivy to cover the wires, but again will try and get as many leaves cut out as possible before hand. Wondering if I'd dried some of the early spring real-life ivy leaves would have been more realistic, another job for the new year me thinks.  
Round the back
Hope you enjoy the pictures, it may be a few days before I can continue with the pumpkin, the landscaping will take time, and I must decide on the style of furniture for poor old Fingal. Maybe if he has a bed and a nice nap he won't be pointing his finger so much.


Take care and mini hugs.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Ferns for the pumpkin a tutorial

Today I thought it might be nice to show how I am making the ferns for the pumpkin landscape, I've used two methods almost identical and they produce a similar fern.

3 different shades of floral tape and 1 reel of masking tape.

The first method uses floral tape, the stems are paper covered wire ..... in this case 30 gauge although 28 can also be used. Both of these can be found at garden centres, cake decorating shops, florists and craft shops.

The wire was cut to about 1 1/2 inches in length and pieces of floral tape were cut between 1 1/2 inches and 2 inches in length.

I found that the tape didn't stay together, so used white glue (wood glue, Aylenes, tacky glue all suitable).

Adding stem and glue
 Not alot of glue is required and only on one half of the tape, although I would suggest a bit more down the middle where the stem goes.

Folded and cut shape
The top part to the tape is folded down and pressed together.

Leave to dry and then cut the leaf shape out.

Then spend a lovely time with a sharp pair of scissors snipping down both sides almost to the stem of the leaves to form the fern looking leaf.

Fern leaves made with 3 different coloured tapes
On the left are some of the leaves snipped and shaped.
Working with masking tape
The second method of making leaves is to use masking tape.
As it is wider than the floral tape the tape was cut approximately 1 inch in length ...... the length can be varied to create different length leaves.
The paper covered wire is then laid as shown in the picture and the tape is folded from the side to create a shape like the green floral tape above.

Shaped and coloured leaves
Unlike the floral tape you do not have to wait for glue to dry and the leaf shape can be cut out.

Now for the fun part colouring the leaves, watercolours or acrylic paints or watercolour pencils. I use the pencils I have greater control of where the colour goes and when happy I use clean water to blend the colours together.
Fronds coloured and drying
Both sides need doing and stand them in foam to dry, once dry snip along the edges to make the fronds.


On the left masking tape leaves on the right floral tape
The picture on the left shows leaves on the left made from masking tape, the ones on the right are made from the three colours of floral tape.

Quite a few more to make for the garden.  The leaves will be grouped together to make individual plants and of course you know who is checking  all going to plan.
Remember by clicking on pictures can see closer.
Fingal inspecting the work
 Mini hugs till next time

Friday, 18 November 2011

Table gifts and yeah back to Pumpkin

Well one more day and the convention will be finished, it has been a great experience and many big thank yous to all those who made it possible, it certainly would have been an awful lot of hard work.

The other day I showed of the table gift of a spooky Halloween tree, but the table also had exchanges, and I must admit these were astounding and very well made from my table mates. The theme for us was Shop for the Holidays and each team member chose their theme and Laura designed a shop (which we still have to make) with an outside area too.
So our exchanges on the whole were geared to each persons theme I chose to do little revolving display units and gave myself the extra challenge of making them actually revolve and decorated each one for weddings, birthdays, 4th July, Christmas, Mardi Gras,  oh and of course Halloween.

If I do them again, would like to try them in plain wood or just painted but they were fun  and  maybe I'd also slightly alter how the revolving mechanism works.

In the meantime I've managed to step back into the studio and continue with a bit of landscaping on the pumpkin. This is going to take some time to do and wait for glue to dry so annoying that LOL.

As you can see the start of the landscaping has already softened the outline of the rocks and pathway, melding them into the ground and softening the edges. I'm keeping to the more autumnal colour palette which is giving a brownish tinge to the ground cover. As much as I would like to put in daffadils and spring plants, I don't believe they would work.

I have started on the leaves for the first plants, a nice job to do indoors in the warm and thinking about whether or not to have toadstools and if so how many and what kind (another reason not to have spring flowers no toadstools).

So I'm off now to work on these tiny plants, so until the next time take care and hugs.




Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Online convention and swaps

I've had a great weekend and still on-going with the Quarter Connection online convention, "Home for the Holiday" being the theme. There has been so many enjoyable moments from opening the box - oh I signed up for the full thing - with the souvenir, totes, a bag, tools and minis definately a most wonderful unbirthday. There has been classes, chatting and games in the chat rooms and an exchange table with some really smashing people to talk to, this is one very happy bunny.

Earlier on in the year I did the 53 totes for the convention and as I thought of summer holidays and children I made 53 1/4" little sand boxes.  These were made from cocktail sticks cut and glued to a hexangonal card base with all the sticks being cut at
an angle to lock together. (see the template below if you wish to try this). Little sticks were added in the 'corners' and then when dry use a stain pen to  lightly go over the sticks inside and out.
On one side of the hexagonal the top row had the middle section removed and card put in to create the step where children jump in and out. The base of the pit has very fine sand - I used the sand from the pet shop for hermit crabs, it comes in many colours. I also added a sandcastle which is made from the end of a price tag  as is the bucket. The sand castle was glued to the base of the box, covered in glue and then sand, the centre was left hollow so a flag could be put in, the bucket was painted with a
metallic blue acrylic paint. The bucket and the spade handle are made from red wire cut and looped, the spade itself is made from paper folded over the wire, glued and then cut and shaped when dry, then painted red and varnished to give strength. The sandpit cover is a blue piece of plastic (from a shopping bag), cut twice the width of one of the sides, then the two sides were folded in and glued into the middle and rolled up to create the cover  and heavy duty cotton thread (or fine crochet thread) was used to create the rope ties.


The picture is of some of the 53 all ready for bagging and posting.

Why 53? Fifty of these go into a swap and you never get your own one back, so all 50 are brand new to you minis,  the remaining three are used in raffle prizes and auctions (big mixed bag of up to 200 swaps) to raise money pay for the hidden costs of the convention and any extra money goes to charity.


So I received 50 different totes back ... now that was amazing and the swaps were really brilliant, so many talented people out there. Do remember to poke the picture to see these wonderful swaps more clearly.

Mini hugs till next time.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Swaps and items for convention

At last I can show some of the pieces I've been working on over the past few months, proving not  been lazy.

First the Make for the Gsolfot group, we were tasked with doing a pot-bellied stove in 1-12 scale and then to personalise it for the person we were sending to. There was some fantastic ones made and a click on the badge on the right will link you to the website where so many talented people put their minds to creating some wonderfully funny, great and whimiscal pot bellied stoves...... certainly not the usual run of the mill stove. The lady I was making the stove for had the word crow in her name, and she is the watcher of the towers, what better place to do that than the crows nest and an idea was born. Air dry clay, paint and bits and bobs from the usual stash that miniaturist have and the stove was born. The door opens and a pair of eyes shine out looking at you and a flickering red LED simulates the burning coals of the fire.

It has also been the time to make items for the Quarter Connection online convention and I sent a lovely spooky Halloween tree as my table gift for one of the members, who like me was basing the "Holiday at Home" theme on the spooky time of the 31st October.
It was an idea that came as dropping off to the land of nod, and luckily for me remembered in the morning and I loved the tree so much I made one for me too (the picture shown is of the second one made). The tree is made from Fimo, there is no deadwood or carving done, just a lot of time and patience and it was great fun to do and I loved every minute of it. The tree is lit with a LED and shows the friendly or not so friendly inhabitants of the tree, with its orange glow it looks much better in real life.

Mini hugs and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Washes on the Clay

Coming home tonight, I do wish I could have stopped the car and watched the geese flying in to roost along the coast, I don't think I've ever seen so many. Squadron after squadron and where is the camera .... at home ... one day I might just be in the right place, at the right time and the camera handy.

Getting home managed a few moments in the studio to finish the washes on the pavements and stones, some of the clay was still dampish, so I think it might take some time for it to dry completely. This is handy, with all I have on over the next few days means I won't be getting frustrated with the drying out of the clay and paints.
First picture is the  paving and stones round the outhouse, the second shows the pathway to the pumpkin and the last is an overview,  the landscaping materials will soon soften the harsh outlines along with the plants, flowers and other garden pieces.

Take care and mini hugs until next time.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Pumpkin landscaping getting details

 Now that the brown paint is dry, I wanted to define some of the rocks, pathways and steps having decided not to use the pieces of wood for stepping 'stones'.

It looks a mess at the moment as the air dry clay dries out; was hoping to wouldn't take long, but as usual the ideas of mice and men.

Did start the washes tonight in part, but think it will be a day or two to do properly.  Did have to smile at the photo, Fingal (yep gnome has a name, suggested by friends) looks totally shocked at the steps ....

The outhouse has aged beautifully with the acrylic paints, and the rusty hinges and door pull make it seem really old, might just tweak later on if necessary, but for a first attempt with this technique I am pleased.

I've a lot on over the next few days so may not be posting any progress.

What with challenges, the Quarter Connection online convention, wedding aniversary, birthdays, work and RL I am putting in for a longer day and more energy :o)

Take care and hugs.



Monday, 7 November 2011

Pumpkin landscaping continues

Back again with sporadic posting, sorry but life seems to get in the way at the moment.

Well it took 3 days for the paper mache to dry completely round the pumpkin, which was rather surprising as it was sitting nice and warm indoors and not out in the studio. The next stage was to give it a nice earth brown undercoat before landscaping, so with brush in hand and a big tube of acrylic burnt umber the paint went on. There is that horrid moment when you wonder if you are doing the right thing ..... of course I am, I'm sure it will be alright ..... well the proof will be when its finished.

While waiting for the paint to dry the outhouse was started. I would have preferred to use coffee stirrers but didn't have any, did have a large packet of lolly sticks and cut them in half lengthwise and sort of beat them about a bit and started to arrange them into the sides, back and door of the outshed. I wanted a really worn wood effect, to give the impression it has been around for some time. The outhouse will house the battery when finished for the lighting in the pumpkin.

For some reason the lolly sticks are not a happy crew with gluing and in the end had to use a mixture of wood glue and super glue gel to get a solid joint which didn't come apart. There is a way of aging the wood with steel wool and white vinegar About.com has the recipe for doing this (click here), but being impatient and shops shut and having to wait a day or two to create the aging mix I decided washes of acrylic paint would do the job just as nicely. The washes are put on gradually and built up, thinking about where green wood (algae), whitened wood, sunlight and just old wood occur. It was fun to do and I'm quite pleased with the effect it has created. 

The roof is a piece of card with black wet & dry sandpaper on top and folded round the sides. A bit more work on aging and the roof, add some hinges hopefully that will be tomorrow. Also need to put in steps and pathway and start planning where the major parts of the landscaping will go.

Until then take care and mini hugs.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Pumpkin landscaping

Just a quick post tonight, just washed all the glue of my fingers had a marvellous time doing paper mache on the landscape.

Needed tissue or very lightweight paper I've used a mixture of both to cover the oasis so as not to lose too much definition. Just realised that oasis is the stuff for real flowers and absorbs water the stuff I used is the floral foam, brown in colour and usually sold at the same place and doesn't absorb water.

Looks rather like a snow scene at the moment .... now that has given me a few ideas. Well its nice to know that the floral foam worked and its not too expensive either. One word of warning it creates a lot of dust and I have been reliably informed that spraying with anti-static would help the 'I'm going to cling to everything in sight' and that includes the tools.

Now need to make the outside toilet and wood stack for the landscaping and get the rest of the lighting in, and I think I'm going to need a lot of leaves and bits punched out too.

Until the next time take care, mini hugs

Monday, 31 October 2011

Landscaping started

Last of the half term for me, tomorrow is back to school ... I'm so glad only do 4 days a week but somehow dream of it being none. So the next few days may be a bit sporadic in posts or minis or even both LOL.

Straight into the workroom this morning to see if the floor had dried out okay on the pumpkin, all was well so a coat of satin varnish and left to dry. I then decided time to think about landscaping, I couldn't find any builders foam round here unless brought whole sheet, rather expensive and rather large, so this is something must source in the future. A visit to the garden centre and some oasis for dried flowers is sure going to work (said with fingers crossed), its very crumply and the dust from it goes everywhere and clings. But there is something rather cathatic about moulding it with knife and fingers.

I've glued the pumpkin to some foam board - just under 12" square and built up the oasis around the pumpkin to give what will hopefully be a landscaped garden. The little steps are made from a broom handle cut diagonally, and the pots are just an idea at this moment in time. I really am winging this, never having used half the items before and just hoping that they work. A real learning curve!!!!

 
I think the oasis will need to be cover either with paper mache or similar to counteract the dust, will have to see what works when it is all dried and glued together. The tube was there to remind me that this area needs to be flat to house a battery. My thinking on this at the moment is an outside loo with a wood store backed onto it, the battery going in the little room.

The final picture is of the little guy giving me a list of what is required, don't you just think I might be getting some grief here, he seems to know what he wants.

Well it might not be finished for Halloween this year but I wish you all a haunting evening.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Pumpkin floor and a possible owner

Well I tried putting the individual sticks into the pumpkin and glue them in, oh boy what a mess, not only me but everywhere else covered in glue, them there sticks were not all straight and they had a mind of their own.

Thinking cap on new method required, lets glue shorter lengths of sticks to ordinary note paper in sets of 5 can squeeze them together without getting glue on me and everything else, whoopie that has worked and lots of sections drying off before being cut.

So whilst waiting for them to dry sorted through some old stash and car boot finds to give me an idea of placement, along with a few cut up bits of card in scale to lay out in the pumpkin, maybe a bed there or a hutch/dresser there and I found him. You know one of those eureka moments, is he gnome or elf or a mixture but I just love the way he wags his finger telling me exactly what he wants. The right size, right colours, sometimes things just fall into place. It will make it so much easier to have a character to work around and personally I think he is better than a witch or mouse. A home for a garden gnome/elf just right.
The sticks on the paper finally dried and I cut around them to create shapes for the floor, somehow I knew this wasn't going to be one of those instant jobs. So let the fun begin.

5 hours later all the flooring done, will now need to leave to dry before a quick sand and varnish to seal it, that will be tomorrow. The finished floor picture below shows why it took so long all the ins and out of a pumpkin wall, I'll be seeing sticks in my sleep.

In the meantime can start planning the landscaping and a place for the hidden battery and light switch.

If you wish to see a close up of the pictures just click on anyone and it will open to a larger image.

I wonder if the little gnome has a name? Well just thinking out loud.

Till the next time take care and be happy.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A walk in the woods

Today no minis, just thought about them, but I did get to go for a walk in the woodland and was really hoping the autumn colours would be there but the colours are late this year as it has been so unseasonably warm.

 The holly trees are covered in berries almost drooping with the weight of them.



The walk however was brilliant, the breeze was coming in from the sea and so fresh and clean, and it stirred the pine trees to give that wonderful scent from the pines, not too strong just a gentle suggestion, oh so relaxing.

So todays post is just a few pictures of woodland.