Monday, August 31, 2009

Minis are like a box of chocolates.......

You really just never know what you're going to get. LOL Now that I've done my movie quote for the day, I'll get make my actual point. Minis *are* like a box of chocolates because we can get so many sweet varieties into a small container. It's never boring! There's always something new and different that we can do or see. I spent a few days last week working on my website and created a virtual box of chocolates. I started by going thru my files looking for pictures to present a nice assortment of my minis. (turns out I have over 7000 files on my domain server!! That's a lot of minis!!) I narrowed it down to about 270 pictures, dumped them on a webpage and converted them to thumbnails. Thumbnails are cool because when you click on them, they open a new page with a big picture. It's simple techno magic, but I like it. It's amazing what entertains me. LOL!!

(I'm going to apologize to y'all about the watermark on some of the pictures. That's coz thumbnails show up in image searches and, well, you know what happens if you don't brand your work and establish a copyright.) Anyway, the end result is a fun page on my website with random and assorted minis.............everything from dollhouses to really weird things to go in them. My main galleries are still on the website but sometimes it's fun to get a quick fix instead of sitting down to do some serious surfing. As long as I'm in chocolate box mode, I'll share a few here. The first one is Aunt Harriet. She tends to enjoy her wine just a little bit too much but she doesn't want the family to know about it so she drinks in the closet. Aunt Harriet was one of my tutorials for the Greenleaf Gazette. I think I ran that one last year around Halloween. Anyway, wave hello to Aunt Harriet and then we'll move on.

This is the plant room in my Beacon Hill. The top floor of the BH also has a meditation room with a temple size prayer wheel. It's very serene and one of my favorite mini rooms. I put the plant room with the statue of Shiva next to the meditation room because they go together so well.

I was messing around with the Greenleaf die cut furniture kits one day and decided to do an art deco bathroom. The sides of the tub are mother-of-pearl inlay pieces scavanged from old jewelry kits.

I never thought much about floating staircases till I wanted to put one in the Magnolia. I googled some images and then decided that I don't have to understand the mechanics behind a cantilevered staircase, I just have to make it look like one! So I did. Nope, there's no handrail and it would scare the hell out of me to try to go up or down this thing in real life. However, the Magnolia is home to my bachelor (who has a bar, a pool table and a juke box instead of a kitchen) so I figured that he'd be drunk enough to handle the staircase with no trouble.

Wise Ways Emporium needed lots of books before the grand opening. A LOT of books. I think I made around 350 of these to stock the shelves. As long as I was at it, I did a tutorial for them and ran it in the Greenleaf Gazette.

I decided that my bachelor needed a pet because all my houses have some kind of pet living in them. But he's a playboy and you can't count on him to take care of a dog or cat so I gave him goldfish. I knew there was a reason I never throw away those Ruetters boxes!

I love landscaping! This is part of the formal garden around the Samurai Summer House. I made a "planter" for the tree with real stones and put the mudmen under it. I love the way they're in such intense conversation. There's a tut for the planter in an issue of the Gazette somewhere.

This is Herbie!!! I loooooooooooooooove him so much! Isn't he adorable? Herbie tends to turn up in gardens and lawns around all my dollhouses. As a mole, he tunnels easily and really gets around. In this picture, he had popped up in the Willowcrest yard for some lemonade.

Speaking of all the books I made for Wise Ways Emporium, here's what part of the store looks like. The shoppers are Percutio (the wizard) and Maharet (the witch). That's my great-grandmother Sarah Anne behind the counter. Seriously. I had a custom doll made of my great-grandmother.

Meet Phil O'Dendron! He's a delightful creation of Blue Kitty Miniatures. (look her up on Etsy.........she's a fabulous artisan) As soon as I saw Phil, I knew he was destined to live with me. He's kinda like Herbie and gets shared around between Maharet, Percutio and Sarah Anne. He gets a little nervous around their familiars tho. Mahret and Sarah Anne have cats and Percutio has a dragon named Phideau. I'm not sure if the mouse is an ingredient for a spell or the result of one but Phill seems a bit nervous about him too. I'm going to have to find a mini pot of valerian to keep next to Phil to calm his nerves.

This is one view of the interior of my Samurai's Summer House. The shoji doors (rice paper) actually work. When they slide closed, the living space and the tea room become two separate spaces and you can see the bamboo front door behind them. I had a lot of fun with this house. I made the futon and the pillows in these rooms and upstairs are kimono chests, tatami mats and a kimono on a stand that I made as well.

This is another part of Wise Ways. I keep stones of all kinds and sometimes they get used in minis. This scene includes tiger's eye, lapis, flourite, amythest, quartz, jasper, onyx, peridot and emeralds.

I really like this zen moment. In fact, this mini sits on my desk beside me as a reminder to relax more. I took an online class with Tracy Topps for creating a mini vignette in a picture frame. The results were really awesome since Tracy asked each person to choose their own theme. Very cool!!

That's just a little sampler box of mini eye candy. If you want to get the full candy store, click here. All this talk about candy has given me a craving for chocolate. Time to go raid the cupboard and find that bag of M&M's!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

The lion might be sleeping, but as usual, I'm wide awake. Therefore, it's time for a virtual party. C'mon and join me!
~~ Ee-e-e-um-um-a-weh Wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh,
Wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh, Wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh.
Ee-e-e-um-um-a-weh Wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh,
Wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh, Wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh. ~~

If your family is sleeping, wake 'em up and they can sing along too! Dance around the living room a little bit and invite the neighbors in. We'll order some pizza and dance the night away. *pausing to look around* Uh, guys? Where is everyone? Oh well. It's not the first time I've danced around by myself in the middle of the night. The cat thinks it's normal. Shh. Don't tell him any different. I prefer that he live with these little delusions.
So, what do you think? Believe it or not, one of the most popular requests I get is for jungle print furniture. I'm developing a theory that there are some really wild dolls out there! LOL! Actually, I know there are. One of my jungle print beds lives on a shelf in an adult toy store on the East Coast. I only know that because the customer said that's where she was going to put it. I have such a weird sense of humor that I think it's really funny.
Anyway, I decided to do a modern look with the leopard print this time but it turned out to have a kind of timeless feel to it. It could be modern or it could step back into the 1940s. In fact, the whole time I was working on it I kept thinking about the movie "Bringing Up Baby" with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. (one of my very, very favorite movies) I think I managed to capture a combination of exotic and elegant in this set. I did matching drapes to go with it because I figured that whoever buys it would have a helluva time finding drapes to match it.
In the past few months I've done victorian, old world italian, french victorian and a few pieces of country living thrown in for good measure. So I have the urge to do a couple of modern pieces now. The leopard print is the first set and it's still within the fairly normal category. The set I have on the table now is, well, I wouldn't exactly call it normal. I look at it and it makes me think of my first apartment back in 1979. It involves yellow, pink and orange flowers and is NOT within the norm for me. What the hell. Everyone has flashbacks once in awhile. LOL!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thatching is quieter

I thatch a lot of roofs because I love the way it looks and I love how much fun it is. My Emerald Faerie Cottage and the Samurai's Summer House both have thatched roofs. So does the Wizard's house. I've done quite a few quarter scale fairy houses with thatched roofs too. There's something about combing hair on a dollhouse that appeals to my sense of humor. The end result always comes out looking perfect and I like it when that happens.
Today I discovered another perk to thatched roofs. They're a lot quieter than shingles.
My hubby works a late shift so we go to bed around 4am. This morning, at 7am, less than three hours after I'd gone to sleep, there was a horrendous banging and crashing on the roof and then a gawd awful screeching noise started. I looked at Bruce and we both said, "They're heeeeeere".
It had to be done. The hail storms this year were pretty bad and after the snow storms of winter before last, the roof really, really needed to be re-shingled. Unfortunately even if we could find roofers that worked from 3 to midnight it's doubtful the neighbors would appreciate it. (Probably about as much as I appreciate the sound of their tree trimmers at 8am) We knew that they were going to show up but being armed with that information didn't make it any easier to wake up to that racket in the middle of our night.
Poor Napoleon was traumatized. He refused to go upstairs at all. I had to bring his food down to the family room so he could eat today. He wasn't sure what was outside, but he was positive that it was deadly.
For a little while I was thinking the same thing. To an insomniac like me, getting woke up when I actually *am* sleeping is difficult enough but the noise of the scraping and pounding and thumping stretched my last nerve to the breaking point. For about two minutes, I seriously considered rounding up all the fake fur I have in the house, grabbing some varnish and a couple of combs and heading outside to show those guys how to thatch a roof. Seriously, they could wear fuzzy bunny slippers and walk on tip toes while they put soft and quiet fake fur on my roof.
Next time I'll suggest that and see what they think.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


"Lee's Journey"


I've been doing some silk ribbon embroidery again lately and it's made me nostalgic for the textile arts. The picture above is an extreme closeup of some roses I embroidered in the center of a dollhouse bed. The whole sensory experience of using silk ribbon, silk embroidery floss and silk fabric is like an addiction to me. I love the way it feels and the way it looks, even the soft whisper as I draw the silk ribbon thru the fabric. Yep, I'm a textile junkie. I've been embroidering since I was 4 years old. My mother had to thread my needles for me.

I started back on the textile path recently by doing the Lady Pierce bed as a prototype and then did the Chateau bed and crib. I have a few more custom orders for dressed beds using silk ribbon embroidery and have put out the word that I'm accepting more custom orders for these types of beds specifically. (Want one? Visit my website, and click on the link to email me. ) There are lots of other things on the table like some wild jungle prints and some 1800s repro styles and some delightful white wicker patio furniture, but the ones I'm looking forward to the most are the embroidered beds. I'm combining hand appliqued lace with the embroidery so it's twice as much fun. Oooh! And there's another new line that I'm getting ready to launch. I'd love to tell you what it is, but there's a nasty little person who keeps stealing my designs and, well, let's just say that I'll keep it a surprise til I release the new stuff. LOL!

It's hard to describe what it feels like to combine my passions for miniatures with textile arts. I was talking to my dear friend and lil' sister, Tracy Topps, today about how much of ourselves we put into our art. Our creations are heart and soul to us. Tracy brought up the concept of how much of our emotions physically show in each piece we do and it really got me to thinking about how my art has changed and grown with me over the years. So I dug out some of my old pictures from the years when I was heavily involved in the art quilt community and looked thru them to see how they charted my personal growth during that time. There were quite a few pieces that were entered in art shows and to be honest, I never entered a piece that didn't take Best of Show. The ribbons and awards are stuck in a drawer somewhere. They didn't mean nearly as much to me as being able to create. I can't even count how many art quilts I did during those years and like my miniatures, they were extremely diverse. That hasn't changed! I get bored easily and was always trying something new.

My art quilts showed a lot more of my emotions than my miniatures do. Part of it is because I was coming out of a very emotional time back then and I'm a much happier person now. Most of my art quilts were happy pieces that I created just for the joy of creating but others were a way of working thru things.

I thought I'd share some of the pictures with you of a few of the art quilts. These are old pictures so the resolution isn't very good, but they're still good eye candy.

This one is almost 5 feet tall and took almost six months to complete.

There are twelve individual panels and each one is hand embroidered. Most of the embroidery is free hand, as is all my work. There's a ton of beads on this wall hanging too. If you look closely at the geisha's fan and the samurai's sword, they're completely made of beads.

This piece is titled, "Till Death Do Us Part". It's mixed media with a huge variety of fibers, beads, applique, and embellishments. There's a white silk rose with a single drop of blood, roses twined around barbed wire and even a padlock tied up in a red ribbon. Not a very pretty piece, is it? I was asked to allow this and it's partner piece, "Learning to Fly" to be placed on display in the governor's mansion in Kentucky for a year during the governor's campaign to stop domestic violence.

I was reeeeeeeeally into beading when I did this series. This one is titled "A Mid-Winter Night's Dream" and it won best of show at the KFWC's show, I think. The tree is hand embroidered using six different shades of silver and grey thread. I didn't even try to keep track of the number of beads. The art quilt is 24x24 which gives you an idea of how many there might be. Each branch has layers of crystal beaded fringes that swing freely. This piece was so popular that I did a series, one for each season.

Here's the fall tree. I think it was my favorite. Spring and Summer got put in a closet until recently and I think they're still available on my Etsy store.

I was really into fringe for awhile and somewhere I have pictures of my Salute to Tiffany series.........five needle turned applique lamps, each with hand beaded fringes on the lamp shades. Those were really cool.
The art quilt at the very top is titled "Lee's Journey". It's done in needle turn applique and hand beaded. I made that one for our adopted son when he was struggling thru the last stages of AIDS.
There are tons more art quilts and some of them were landscapes, some were seascapes (I can make really cool free hand fish with silk ribbons), some were abstract and some were still life. All of them had a little part of me in every stitch.
As much as I loved the art quilts, I love combining textiles with miniatures even more. I seem to have moved out of the phase in my life where my art was trying to say something or work thru issues. Now it's just for the pure, sheer joy of the creation process. I like that better. Tracy, you're right. As I looked thru my albums today, I followed the path of my life over the past 20 years and the emotions that show in my work are a lot happier now.
**pondering** Of course, there is that "Death Takes a Holiday" houseboat with the Grim Reaper partying with a bunch of skeletons, a bunch of tipsy mice and a drunk skunk. **cackle** I don't think I want to know what that one says about me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

One of *those* conversations

We all have them even when we don't want them. Sometimes they can sneak up on you and you don't realize you're in the middle of one till it's too late to run. Sometimes you can spot it right away and make your escape by mumbling something about needing to go home and slam your fingers in the door. Given a choice, most of us would rather slam our fingers in the door than have a conversation with one of those "Hi, I'm your new best friend" total strangers.

Grocery stores seem to be a favorite hangout for the IYNBFs. If you're lucky they'll be within your line of vision and you can see them taking a deep breath, putting on that slightly creepy smile, and heading toward you as if they're on a mission from god. I'm not even polite anymore. If I see them first, I will drop whatever I have in my hands and run. I don't need corn flakes that bad!

The last one caught me in the produce section. I was trying to find a decent tomato and never saw her coming. I'm gonna blame this one on the grocery store chains who seem to be confused about the definition of "tomato". Red, squishy and wet does not a tomato make. It needs to have tomato flavor too. Lately they've even been hedging on the red part. Anemic Pink is more popular and sometimes even Sickly Yellow. Nope, those are not going in my grocery cart. I don't expect to have the tomato experience of picking one straight off the vine, sprinkling a little salt on it and standing there with my toes dug into the dirt eating a tomato still warm from the sun anymore, but I'd like something that tastes a little more like a tomato and a little less like wet sawdust.

So while searching thru the piles of tomatoes for one that might even slightly come close to being good enough for a BLT, an IYNBF snuck up on me. I cringed and became even more focused on the tomatoes. Oh hell, lets face it. I was concentrating so hard on those 'maters that the casual observer would think I was hot on the trail of the holy grail!

It's a known fact that IYNBFs do not understand the body language that most of us recognize as saying "I don't want to talk to you right now". Avoiding eye contact does no good. They'll be happy to talk to the back of your head. Moving away slightly doesn't help either. They'll follow you. IYNBFs do not recognize the laws of personal space and will snuggle right up under your armpit if you're not careful. You can even walk away and they'll just follow right along, oblivious to the fact that you're leaving. Not only do they not handle rejection, they don't even acknowledge it.

I looked to my hubby for help. He kind of snickered and busily inspected this year's crop of cucumbers. I mumbled something under my breath about him being a bastard and he stifled a laugh. No help there.

It would have been best if I had just cut and run right then, but she had me. I made the mistake of glancing around wildly, looking for an escape route and when I raised my head, she made eye contact.

Her opening line was "My goodness, but you have very long hair".

Oh goodie. Not only is she an IYNBF, but she's one of those people who state the obvious. I'm aware that I have long hair. It's hard to miss it when I keep sitting on it. Not only do I have long hair, I have about several feet of long hair. When it's not braided, it touches the backs of my knees and I'm almost 5'7". So telling me that I have long hair isn't exactly a news flash.

Her next line was worse. "How did your hair get so long?"

I couldn't resist. I replied, "I don't cut it". I figured that if she was going to play "state the obvious", I'd get into the spirit of things.

She started babbling about how she'd heard that hair would grow faster if you trimmed the ends once in awhile. I told her that I did, but only during the new moon. As soon as it left my lips, I knew I never should have said that. She asked if I learned that be reading the Farmer's Almanac. "No, my grandmother taught me that".

I decided that was about as far as I wanted to go in the conversation and again turned my attention back to the tomatoes with an intensity never before seen in a produce department. I kept moving away and she kept following me. I realized that she was still babbling but she'd gone on to the topic of all the things she had learned by reading the Farmer's Almanac.

She showed no signs of ceasing her chatter anytime soon. In fact, she was leaning against the shelf and making herself comfortable among the grapefruit. That was when I started looking around for anything that might be used as a blunt instrument.

A bunch of bananas? Naw, they just don't have the mass to do much good. Obviously the small items like tomatoes, onions and grapes weren't going to be of any help. I frantically looked around, becoming more and more desperate. Watermelons??? No, not unless Galhager showed up with a sledgehammer. I was about to give up when I saw the pile of coconuts!

At that point, my husband realized two things. First he realized that I was reaching the end of my patience. Then he realized that coconuts were not on the grocery list. I'm sure that he thought it over and decided that the entertainment value probably wasn't equal to the cost of throwing my bail because he finally jumped in and said we had better get going before the ice cream melted. I jumped right on that and yelped out, "Gottagobye" and took off. Did you know that you can burn rubber with a grocery cart?

When last seen, the IYNBF was still standing there by the tomatoes talking away. I'm not sure she'd noticed that I'd left. For all I know, she's still standing there. I'm not going to take a chance to go back to that grocery store to find out!

I promised there would be some Italian eye candy this time and there is! Pop on over to MiniMadWoman's blog and see! Teresa has a new dollhouse and I'm proud to say that I was able to build it for her. It's home to one of Julie Campbell's dolls. Here's a bit of irony for you...........the French Chateau order that I just finished was for the home of a couple of Julie's dolls as well and I'll be building another house for yet another of Julie's dolls in the future. Apparently Julie's dolls are happy in my houses and neither one of us was aware of it! LOL! I'm a big fan of Julie's work as well and I think the coincidence of her dolls living in my houses is because her dolls are so very popular.

Anyway, drop into see Teresa and check out her new Italian Clock Shop. She has pictures of the shop and a link for a video too. I can't wait to see how Reginauld furnishes the shop and all the fantastic clocks he'll be adding to it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

French Eye Candy!

I promised eye candy and here it is! These are some of the things I've been working on for a custom order for a delightful French Chateau. Not only is it a beautiful dollhouse, but the owner is just the sweetest person and a joy to work with. I've had SO much fun with dressing this house because I got to work with some styles that I don't normally do. I love being diverse! Life is never boring when you get to try new things!

These are the living room drapes for the Chateau. That room has three single windows and I wanted to make the most of them without allowing them to over power the room. So I designed a harlequin style using blue gathered panels over ivory pleats and topping it with a pixie valance that gives the illusion the window is wider than it actually is.

The dining room has a double window on one side that was a lot of fun to play with. The walls in that room are done with a mural wallpaper in rich tones of blue, green and purple with touches of pink. The furniture is traditional victorian french in ivory with lots of gilt. The table is set with gorgeous pink china and pink napkins. I wanted to bring out the pink in the room, so I used semi-sheer pink silk panels in the middle of the drapes with heavier ivory silk panels pulled back on the sides. The valance is a combination of cascades and a turban wrap valance with a center jabot. I love the little gold tassels!

The dressing room is a small room just to the side of the bedroom and we wanted to make the most of that space. On the back wall, there's a window that takes up most of that wall space so I designed a faux closet door to go over it. From the outside, all you can see are pleated floral panels but from the inside it appears to be a doorway covered with drapes in the traditional victorian style. On the side of the room, there is a square entry cut frame in front of the bay alcove. The bay has one small window in the center. To create an optical illusion, I used pulled back drapes with a swag valance over the square entry and then made a small cascade curtain for the little window in the bay. It gives a telescoping effect to the space and makes it appear much larger than it actually is.

The bedroom has a large, open bay area with three windows in the bay and a fourth window just to the side. The bed will set inside the bay area so I wanted to make the curtains match the bed, yet not blend in too much. So each window received white silk panels trimmed in lace and tied back, topped with a lace valance that matches the lace on the bed. This arrangement allows the blue walls to peek thru between each window to make each window distinctive and allows a lot of light into the room. I used a very loose pleat on the silk panels to make them appear to be billowing in a slight breeze. Isn't it romantic looking?

This chaise lounge will also be in the bedroom. It's a Bespaq swan chaise and sooooooo delicate. The print in the upholstery fabric I used is a tiny lilac vine on white. I added a bolster pillow with a white tassel, a lace trimmed silk throw and a silk ribbon embroidered pillow that matches the bed. Every lady needs a fainting couch in her bedroom for napping during the day and this is so inviting that I had a hard time staying awake while I was making it! LOL

Here's the bed! I love doing silk ribbon embroidery on silk fabric! With just a teeny bit of a batt under the silk, the embroidery adds depth to the fabric. For this bed, I used lilac and mint ribbons and made pretty little lazy-daisy flower buds scattered over the bedspread. The same flowers are in full bloom on the lace edged pillow. The bedspread has layers of lace hand appliqued and fitted around the mattress so the corners don't stick out. It's funny to see these bedspreads before they get put on the mattress because the tucks and gathers in the lace makes them practically stand up on the ends!

Here's a close up of the pillows.

And a look at the lace on the sides as well as the silk throw draped over the footboard. The little bit of silk is arranged so one isn't quite sure if it's a nightgown, a shawl or a light throw.

I was having so much fun with the silk ribbon embroidery that I couldn't stop! The crib in the nursery has teeny little peach and green butterflies embroidered on the soft and fluffy silk blanket.

A peach silk blanket is draped over the side and matching silk ribbons accent the dust ruffle, the posts and the front and back of the crib.

The nursery has one teeny window in a gable almost at floor level so I gave it just a brush of the same lace and ribbons used on the crib.

I love the way this crib came out. It's just so sweet and demure. And soft! Oh my, it's so very, very soft!! The mattress is soft foam that sinks down about half an inch when you press on it with your finger and the batted blanket adds about another quarter inch of fluffiness to it. With silk sheets, pillows and blankets, it may be the ultimate in baby comfort. The best thing is that in our miniature world, babies can have cribs dressed like this because they never spit up or make other messes. LOL!

So that's the French side of my international mini journeys lately. I'll have Italian eye candy later this week so we'll go from bon-bons to tiramisu.

Wanna know what pisses me off?

Spammers who post comments on blogs and web albums. I don't moderate comments because I always hope for the best from people. But as for the jerk who felt a need to advertise his shit on my blog...........well, obviously his mama didn't teach him manners, bless his heart.

It's not like I can't ignore assholes like that, but I don't like to have trash laying around when visitors pop in. If you're reading this, I consider you to be a guest my little corner of the web and I certainly don't want you to have to walk around someone else's garbage while you're here. I feel the same way about my website which is why I have my own domain and there is not one single, solitary bit of advertising, tracking cookies, spyware or other internet nasties there. Personally, I like knowing that there are a few places on the web where people can be comfortable and not have to deal with annoyances. Part of the reason we love miniatures is because we have our own little world with none of the rude intrusions of the real world. I think our little on-line mini sanctuaries should be the same.

Well, that was quite the little rant wasn't it! LOL! Obviously this is something I feel strongly about. Unfortunately, now I'm going to have to moderate comments to my blog and I hate doing that. It makes me feel like I'm being controlling when I have to approve what is normally happy chit-chat. I like it much better when we can just talk about things without all this security.

Anyway, enough of that. I've emerged from the studio long enough to check email and as long as I'm here, I'll update a little bit about what I've been doing that kept me quiet for so long. The dressing for the French Chateau is on its way to its new home and it all came out really pretty. I dressed a bed, a crib and a chaise lounge and did drapes and curtains for 12 windows. I'll find the time to post eye candy here soon, but in the meantime, you can see pictures of it all here. The old world italian house is almost done too. In fact, I'm going to be starting on the landscaping tomorrow so we're in the home stretch on that one. I have one more custom order on the waiting list after the italian house is done, but it's a small one so it won't be long before I'm back here rambling on and on about nothing in particular.

Right now I need to get the paint out from under my fingernails and go get some sleep. I'll be back with lots of eye candy soon!