Friday, July 31, 2009

Just put that chair over here.......and the table goes there......

The moving men have finally left and I've been happily arranging and rearranging the new furniture in the Pierce. Lady Pierce and I are both so happy! Her new furniture is beautiful and it looks just as nice in the house as it did in our design book.

I heard recently that I talk a lot in my blog but I'm short on eye candy, so let's remedy that today and show some pictures of the Pierce with her new furniture. The redecorating isn't finished yet. I still need to redo the windows in every room with new drapes and the dining room isn't completed yet either so we'll consider this to be "in progress" and I'll update pictures when it's all done.

This is the exterior of the Pierce. The colors don't photograph true but her exterior is a soft, creamy ivory with slate green trim and mauve accents. Those are peacocks that you see perching on the roof. The landscaping includes a tree on the back side and flower borders around the front. There's a very pretty arrangement in a birdcage under the kitchen window.

This is the latest picture of the interior of the Pierce. Some things haven't changed at all. I'd finished the kitchen, bathroom and music room quite awhile back so there haven't been any changes to those rooms. They'll be getting new drapes but that's about the only change in store for them.

The attic had been kind of a hodge-podge of things that just hadn't found a home anywhere else. I'd planned on eventually turning it into some kind of logical space and still hadn't decided about it when I heard a voice coming from two doors down. It was Aunt Harriet (aka Jadis) who lives in the Beacon Hill. She'd seen all the activity going on down the street and as soon as she noticed that there was all that unused space in the attic.........well, she had her stuff packed quicker than you can say "frog in a basket"! Aunt Harriet brought along her sewing machines, fabric and baskets, her easel and painting supplies, her worktable with the dollhouse in progress, her finished dollhouse and her embroidery. She was delighted to find a quilting frame already in the attic and claimed it for her own. The picture doesn't include Aunt Harriet because she was off investigating the tower room and where she's going to put her rocking chair and a bookcase. We still need to arrange her studio a little better, but she's delighted to have such a large space for creating.

The bedroom has come along very nicely with the new bed and furniture. One of those little things that tickles me so much is finding a little calico cat figurine to sit on the floor beside the vanity. I'm still searching for a gingham dog to go with it.

You can see almost the whole room from this angle and I love looking at it. This was taken before I got the new pitcher and basin but it's still a pretty picture. Behind the armoire and in front of the window is a dress form with Lady Pierce's victorian wedding gown.

The dining room has just begun but I'm liking the way it's shaping up already. I need to get some pictures on the walls thru the whole house, but the dining room wall especially needs a large framed painting. I'll be adding swag drapes to the arched alcove and making a fringed scarf for the sideboard and matching linen for the table. I finally found the silver flatware but still haven't located the crystal stemware so the table setting isn't complete. I love the sideboard with the tea set and candles almost as much as the corner shelf that holds the serving dishes. The Normandy shelf on the side probably isn't intended to hold serving platters, but I like it that way.

The living room is my favorite room of all and for good reason. I searched and searched till I found matching lion leg furniture for the whole room. I LOVE ball and claw! My real life living room furniture is also lion leg and finding it in miniature delights me. Anyway, here we see the plant stand by the front door, the console and mirror and the secretary desk in the bay alcove. I'll be reupholstering the chair the same time I replace the drapes. I need to add a few more things to the desk but right now it has a letter holder, brass bookends and a favorite book, a lovely little lamp, stationery and a silver tray holding the calling cards of recent visitors. Just to the right of this picture is the new corner fireplace with a gothic clock and two urns on the mantle. I really like the corner fireplace as a space saver as well as the way it adds character to the room. It has a brass peacock fire screen too.

To the side you can see the brass birdcage and the grandfather clock by the front door. (the clock will be replaced too as soon as I find a working one that I like) The table arrangement here is one of my favorites. In additon to the lovely and delicate hurricane lamp, there's a delightful low flower arrangement and a stereoscope. The stereoscope is one of my favorite minis because it's so unique. I also got a gramaphone to sit on this table but it turned out to be just a little too large. That's a shame because it is *SO* cool! It's detailed to perfection! Since I'd just gotten a gorgeous cane and bentwood chaise lounge, I put the gramaphone next to it in the spare room in the Beacon Hill. Both will be moving to the Tennyson when I get it built.

Here's a picture of the whole living room. Isn't it great! I'm really proud of the way this room has come together and whenever I have some time to relax, I find myself sitting on my real life loveseat where I have the perfect view of this room. It makes me happy just to look at it.

There are more pictures of the Pierce in the 1:12 scale dollhouse gallery on my website, that were taken before the redecorating began. I won't update the pictures there until I've finished the redecorating completely.
I just realized how long it's been since I posted here. I've been working on two custom is building a house and the other is custom furniture and window dressings for another house. They are two totally different styles so it's fun to exercise my diversity between old world Italian and provencial French. I've had my embroidery needles out and just got some new silk ribbons and some gorgeous silk fabrics that I'm using in the dressings. I'll show pictures of those when they're completed but I have to say that I'm very happy with the French bed and crib I'm working on.
I'm babysitting my husband this afternoon so it seemed a good time to catch up while I watch him sleep in his recliner. He had an endoscopy this morning and they really knocked him out for it. Napoleon is concerned about Dad and he's hovering close by to keep an eye on him too.
There will be lots more eye candy coming soon as well as me talking a lot. LOL! Seems like I have lots to catch up on when it comes to sharing like some new releases of laser cut kits from Greenleaf (the Beaumont is back and better than ever!!!!!) and some interesing ideas about miniature interior design........and maybe a rant or two about a copycat who is not only using my dressed bed designs but is also copying my text descriptions from Etsy and my website almost to the letter. I know that one of the pitfalls artisans face is having their creative ideas stolen by lesser life forms but that doesn't mean that I have to like it.
I'm off to go embroider some tiny little silk butterflies onto a baby blanket now. Hope everyone is having a fabulous mini day!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Happy Mini-Moment

I think I could sit and look at this picture all day long. I get so enamoured of the little things in life!

Yesterday I got minis in the mail (Yay!) and one of them was the little pitcher and basin on the dresser. Isn't it gorgeous! It didn't cost much.......I couldn't have bought a fast food lunch for the price of it.........but it's so pretty that it made my day. In fact, I think it made my week. It's just so little and pretty and perfect.

So today I restaged the dresser in the Pierce bedroom to include it. I swapped the flower arrangement that was on the dresser with this one that had been living in the Beacon Hill because this one goes better with the room. After I staged it and oohed and aahed over it for a little while I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures. Those of you who know me know that "a few" means around 50. I play the odds when it comes to pictures. If I take a thousand, I'll get a couple of good ones.

In this case, playing the odds paid off. I think this may be one of the best pictures I've taken so far. I love playing with images in mirrors when it comes to taking pictures and this one is a double thrill.

Look in the armoire mirror on the left and you can see the pitcher and basin reflected, and just behind them you can see the lamp, clock and glass sitting on the nightstand. In the dresser mirror, way back in the distance, is a reflection of the Pierce music room bay window and the harp that resides there.

Isn't it pretty! It shows so many little details all at once and that's one of the things I love best about minis. It's all those little details that are such a delight.

Time for me to head back to the studio and get some real work done. I just had to share a happy mini-moment!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lady Pierce Redecorates

Some people thought it was funny that the AM magazine article quoted my husband as saying, "If you get a dollhouse, you'll never have to rearrange the furniture again". He really did say that and it was while he was holding his back after shifting my huge ball-and-claw foot victorian sofa from one side of the living room to the other........and back again. Men can drive their wives crazy in a lot of ways, but one sure way wives have of making their husbands crazy is by rearranging the furniture. If you have a husband who complains about your miniature habit, point this out to him. If you have a dollhouse, you can play "furniture-go-round" all by yourself and he can stay in front of the tv watching a ball game. That alone should justify the cost of a whole new mini living room set! Trust me on this! I have 16 dollhouses full of furniture and my hubby has never once complained about the cost of any of it.........but he has often commented about how nice it is that he's never had to move that damned sofa again.
I used to play furniture-go-round a lot before I discovered miniatures. I'd not only move furniture around one room, but I'd switch entires rooms full of furniture back and forth. I know some of you are nodding when you read this. You did it too! But with the arrival of the first dollhouse, the urge to rearrange the real house just disappeared. I still get the urge to rearrange and redecorate, but now I do it on the miniature scale and it's sooooooo much easier and sooooooo much more fun!
So the latest urge to redecorate has been with my Pierce. The Pierce is my baby. She's the first dollhouse kit that I bought and the second house that I built. I should 'splain that. I searched and searched for a couple of months before I decided on what I intended to be my *one* dollhouse. Yep, innocent little thing that I was, I really thought that all I wanted was one dollhouse. So I spent a lot of time looking around and researching before I decided that the Pierce was my idea of dollhouse perfection. After I ordered the kit I had a little panic about being able to build a house that big with no prior experience so I ordered an Orchid as an experimental torture house. That's my witch's house and it turned out so well that by the time I finished it and was ready to start on the Pierce, I'd ordered three more kits. One thing I can say for myself, when I embrace a new passion, I *really* embrace it!
Anyway, the Pierce is still my baby even after some 30 other houses. I think she always will be. I spoil her a little bit from time to time and buy something new for her but overall, her furnishings are still a collection of the first miniatures I ever bought. Not that they aren't pretty, but they're a little rough. We all know how our taste in miniatures evolves and the Pierce hasn't made that evolution with me. Don't take that wrong! I'm not a miniature snob! I don't give a rat's butt about labels. Yes, I have Bespaq and I love it, but I love it because it's so delicate and in perfect scale not for its name. I like what I like and that means that the Bespaq might be happily sharing space with a $2 mini from Hobby Lobby. If I like it, I don't care what it's name is. I call them all Bob anyway.
But when I bought some of my first miniatures, I wasn't that aware of scale and balance. I've learned a lot about that and that's what I mean about my taste evolving. I've learned more about staging realistic miniature scenes and that's why a lot of my mini redecorating occurs.
Well, besides all that, it's just fun!
The Pierce has been very quiet and ladylike as she persuades me to redecorate some of her rooms. I've been happy with the kitchen and the music room and I upgraded the bathroom last year. The living room and bedroom were still rather primative tho and that's what Lady Pierce has been discussing with me.
We decided to work on the bedroom first. I found the perfect Bespaq armoire and bed for the room, then added a bombe dresser and mirror, nightstand and vanity. I mixed and matched pieces till I found the ones that pulled it all together with "the look". I hadn't dressed the bed yet because I just hadn't had time. (It's like the shoemaker's kids going barefoot........I spend so much time making beds for other people that I never get around to doing my own) But I've had a couple of days while I wait for some supplies to arrive for a couple of upcoming orders and I decided to dress the bed.
I really thought that it was going to be done in emerald green satin. That was my original plan and I could see the rich colors in my head. But when I started to actually audition the fabrics on the bed, nothing worked. The green satin was way out of scale (yes, color has scale). It just overwhelmed the room and was too masculine for the bed.
That's the point in the creative process when I start flinging fabrics around the studio and it looks like a textile factory exploded. I kept coming back to a lovely piece of cream silk but it seemed so bland that I would toss it back in the pile and then find it in my hand again a few minutes later. I finally gave into the fact that it was "the one" and started considering how to un-bland it.
It's been awhile since I've done the kind of embroidery that I ended up using. As a textile artist, I love silk ribbon embroidery and the way I can create a delicate flower with just a stitch or two. I also love hand dying my ribbons to get the perfect shades. So I dusted off my textile skills and jumped right in. Happily, I wasn't as rusty as I thought I'd be. I gave the bedspread a bit of loft with some thin batting and hand appliqued the lace on in layers to get it to "drip" just right. The embroidery came out nicely with teeny little rose buds with delicately turned petals. I even got the lace fitted around the corners of the mattress. As long as I was on a roll, I dressed the vanity bench as well. I don't normally do frilly, but Lady Pierce is happy with the way her bed came out and that's what matters.
There are more pictures of the bed here. I'll get it into the Pierce tomorrow and update some pictures of the bedroom with it's new look.
I'm so excited! I finally got a new dressed bed for the Pierce! It's going to look beautiful reflected in the mirrored doors of the armoire. And best of all, I got to redecorate a room without giving anyone else a hernia!
Yet one more reason why I love miniatures!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who left comments about my last post. I was just kind of rambling about things (as I'm prone to do) so it's good to know that others might find some inspiration in it. Keeping a sense of humor saves my sanity so if I can share the laughter then something good has come of it. And Kathy, it's been a delight to work on your Poinsettia House. The beauty of the designs you selected took me into a world of grace and elegance.

Thank you to Casey for giving me the Bella Sinclair award. The background of the award is this:

"This award was designed by Ces for her friend Bella. Ces wrote:- I designed this award to celebrate art in the blogs and to honour the value of friendship, sisterhood, sharing and caring. It is to be awarded to the gifted, accomplished, eloquent and talented blogger, whose friendship and influence inspire us to do our best. That I named it after Bella Sinclair is because she epitomises all of these things. "

I'm humbled and honored to receive such an award. Thank you Casey. I'm passing the award on to two people. One is Tracy Topps, ( ) who in addition to being a very talented miniaturist is also a fantastic mother, wife, and a good friend......and she does it all while waging her own battle with Graves Disease. The other is Teresa ( ), a wonderful miniaturist who is a ray of sunshine on even the most dreary days. Teresa is one of those genuinely *good* people. She has a sweet heart and a pure soul.......a rare treasure in a harsh world.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

They Said It Couldn't Be Done........

A Poem by Edgar A Guest:

It Couldn't Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn't be done,

But he with a chuckle replied

That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one

Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin

On his face. If he worried he hid it.

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

That couldn't be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;

At least no one ever has done it";

But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,

And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,

Without any doubting or quiddit,

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,

There are thousands to prophesy failure;

There are thousands to point out to you,

one by one, the dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,

Just take off your coat and go to it;

Just start to sing as you tackle the thing

That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.

That poem has been a favorite of mine since I was in grade school and heard it for the first time. I think there's something about beating the odds that has always appealed to me. That and I'm just plain old mule-ass stubborn. The fastest way to get me to do something is to tell me that I can't do it. The fastest way to get me to never do something is by saying that I have to. See? I'm a mule with a bad attitude.

But in this case the cause is worth fighting for. I'll make a long story short: My auto-immune system is a psychotic over-acheiver. Instead of simply fighting off infections, my a-i system perceives healthy tissue as an intruder and tries to kill it. Like most people with a-i diseases, I have clusters of diagnosed illnesses and syndromes. Lemme think.........arthritis, bone spurs, degenerative disc disease, Graves disease, MNG (14 nodules and counting!), fibromyalgia, chronic myofascia pain syndrome, fibrosystic breast disease.........those are the current ones. In the past there have been polyovarian cysts, endomitriosis and early onset menopause (which started at 27). For the last three a simple hysterectomy did the trick and I was thrilled to have it done. In fact, I think the deciding factor for my surgeon was my telling him that if he didn't take it all out I was going to sharpen a butter knife and do it myself. He knew me well enough to know that wasn't an idle threat. I felt better the day after the surgery and consider it one of the best things that ever happened to me.

So when it comes to surgery I don't have any qualms if it needs to be done. In fact, I'll race the surgeon to the operating room if it's something that will make me feel better. But I will NOT go thru surgery if there are other options!

My rhuematologist has said that my carpal tunnel syndrome is only partially caused by repetitive strain. (after decades of textile arts and computer keyboarding this would only be news if I *didn't* have some signs of CTS.) But the main contibuting factor to the CTS is that chronic myofascia pain syndrome causes "trigger points" in the muscles. Actually, these trigger points are cyst-type growths buried deep in the muscles caused by that psychotic auto-immune system deciding that parts of my muscles need to be killed off. (Like I needed more cysts! I had a doctor tell me once that I'm just lumpy. Great. Makes me sound like the 8th dwarf! I don't think that has nearly the prestige of being the 5th Beatle)

We established that there's quite a bit of nerve damage in my hands by way of a nerve conduction test---something akin to a Nazi torture device run by a neurologist that I dubbed "Redi Kilowatt". He said "The jolts will feel a little bit like the shock you get when you touch a doorknob after walking across carpet". Bullshit. It's not like it's unbearable or anything but when you have Graves disease or a neurological disease like fibromyalgia that makes all sensory input feel like you've been hit by a truck, getting jolted with electricity isn't as much fun as, oh say, dropping a sledge hammer on your big toe.

Redi's diagnosis of nerve damage certainly explained why my hands keep going numb and why I keep dropping things. Both are extremely annoying and sometimes dangerous. (and you thought the sledge hammer reference was just coincidence!!) I've been wearing splints at night for over a year and have even gotten used to them. You learn within the first week not to get enthusiastic about scratching your nose in your sleep when you have hardware on your hands! The splints help a little but lately things have progressed quite a lot. My hands are numb most of the time and we're rapidly advancing into the realm of serious pain.

Getting in to see the rhuematologist isn't easy since she books out two months in advance, so I settled for seeing her nurse practitioner. That was a waste of time. The NP apparently didn't read the notes in my file and blithely suggested that I start physical therapy for my back and see a surgeon for my hands.

I resisted the urge to slap her. It wouldn't have done much good since I can't straighten out my hands enough to get a good slap. Flopping them around in her face might have proved my point about them not working but it wouldn't have accomplished my goal of knocking her into next week for being a fool.

If she'd read the notes she would have seen that the Doc has already put me thru physical therapy for my back. That's when we found out that I have a MPS trigger point in right hip and the PT actually caused more damage. Since I'm not a fool, I'm not going to agree to causing even more damage. When she said that she'd have to refer me to a surgeon for my hands, I didn't even try to talk to her anymore. I've always felt that there is no point in teaching a pig how to sing. It wastes my time and annoys the pig.

What she would have seen if she read the notes was that the next step in treatment is to start cortizone shots or dry needle manipulation on the MPS trigger points to break them up. I was hoping that she would order an ultrasound to locate them so that the next time I see the doctor all she'll have to do is load up the needles. That didn't happen so when I see the doctor later this month, we won't have made much progress. Oh well. The point is that I'm not going to agree to surgery for carpal tunnel when it won't make much difference. Until those trigger points are broken up nothing is going to get any better for my hands or back. Besides that, the recovery time for CTS surgery is up to three months! OMG!! If I had to sit around not using my hands for three months, I'd go completely crazy. Think about building, no mini-making, no sewing, no creating at all! And no computer. And no holding a book. They expect me to sit with my hands in my lap and watch tv. Are they kidding? I don't watch tv when I'm well, why would I want to watch it when I'm sick? Believe me, after a week of that I'd be up on top of the capitol building with a sniper rifle and you'd all be reading about me in the papers instead of a blog. Nope, surgery is not an option.

If you've read thru this much, you're probably wondering what I'm rambling on about and how this rant has anything to do with "They said it couldn't be done".

*pointing to the picture at the top of the page*

They said that couldn't be done. In fact, they said that I can't do anything with my hands, but in the past 5 weeks, I've built a custom dollhouse, dressed a bed for it, dressed parlor furniture for it, and made custom drapes and window seat dressing for it. Not bad for an old lady with "dead" hands, huh. And not to blow my own horn or anything, but the quality meets my normal "Virgo" standards. (that means that when I go over every inch of it with a magnifying glass, it all looks perfect) If you want to see more of the house and furnishings, you can check my website here and here and here or see the video on You Tube here.

So they can take the "it can't be done" and shove it. When the day comes that I can't create they might as well wind me in a shroud and light the pyre. For some of us, creating is the same thing as breathing and not doing either one isn't really an option. So for those that say it can't be done, they've obviously never met a determined artist. We will *always* tackle the thing that cannot be done and we'll do it.