Archive for the ‘Miniatures’ Category

A Token of Affection

Monday, August 13th, 2012

On July 27th, after completing Braxton Payne’s  “Cruise Ship Cabin” ( ) and Ann Vanture’s Bookcase/Doll House ( , I rummaged  through my storage bins for my next project.  My  goal of spending at least a small portion of each day in my studio/workroom (OK – I do enjoy the studio appellation!)   is really beginning to pay off ;  less orphaned and ignored kits in my storage closet and more finished items to show in my display room.  I chose a big one this time – another of the Cynthia Howe (  one-twelfth scale kits; truly  a “youngster” in my stash, as I purchased it in January of this year. Maybe I am catching up?  Hm, unlikely!

 The “Token of Affection” hutch is a 1/12th scale kit (6 1/2 inches tall) and, as you can see, loaded with details.  I spent several hours on July 27th and more on the 28th, simply sorting all of the parts needed for the hutch (42 separate pieces) and the wonderful items to fill it.  There are 7 old-fashioned, multi-layer valentines included in the kit – that’s approximately 63 pieces of very intricate artwork to cut out!  There are also porcelain blanks and decals for plates, a decorated tray, gift boxes, perfume bottles, a romantic fan,  valentine candy boxes & a hat box, standing figures, a candy jar, floral gift basket . . . . . . altogether,  24 small tins (excluding the hutch pieces) and approximately 160 tiny parts to be sanded and painted, trimmed and applied or cut out snip-by-tiny-snip and assembled, plus minuscule decals, metal findings and rhinestone embellishments. All sorted, lined up, ready to start; this was my “What have I gotten myself into” moment!

It took a few days to build the hutch; there’s that ‘waiting for the glue to dry’ factor again.  Slowly, my tins filled with completed candy boxes, perfume bottles and valentines, instead of just holding their components. I am convinced I could have constructed a full-size fan in less time than it took for me to precisely cut the six blades/vanes, string them together, create a tiny tassel for the end of the hanging cord, arrange them carefully into an open-fan display and glue them in that configuration, but the end result looks lovely and it was worth every moment!  Making the gift boxes (bottom shelf) was easy – making the very small bows to adorn them was a real challenge :)

 I added a dressing table tray of cosmetics and a pink hydrangea from my stash and made several extra perfume bottles from beads and findings  – finished the hutch and all of its goodies in time to show it off to my family when they arrived at home. The unanimous vote: the hutch is lovely, and they now have all the proof necessary to have me certified as insane!  Since they do not seem to be in any hurry to have me committed, I shall go to my studio and search for the next project – more proof for them and hours of enjoyment for me!



Especially for fans of “short stories”

Friday, July 27th, 2012


I have been collecting miniature (1/12th scale – 1″ = 1′)  books and book kits for several years, many of them from Ann Vanture at . When she offerred the kit shown above, the McLaughlin Brothers Bookshelf,  I ordered it immediately.  It sat in a bin for several months, patiently waiting for me to take it from kit state to completion. (Storage bins feature heavily in this blog ~ have you noticed?)

I started this project  in early July, just after completion of the quarter-scale green house. There were three major steps: Build the basic bookcase; install  the  ceiling and wallpapers, glue down the rugs & flooring paper; glue the outside graphics in place on the exterior back of the unit. The back of the bookcase suddenly becomes a very decorative dollhouse and it’s interior is ready to be furnished with 1/144th scale furniture.  Still,  its intended use is as a bookcase.  As I blogged earlier this month, all went well until I carefully glued the wonderfully detailed “front facade” paper on Upside Down!  I set the shelves aside, contacted the creator of the kit for replacement artwork and began sorting the pieces of my next

I am so grateful to Ann; she quickly mailed a replacement of her original art work (for a very low fee), and I was able to complete my bookshelf today!

Here is a view of the interior, before I packed it full of tiny books (i.e. “short stories”)








And here it is, holding a portion of my collected books (almost all of them with readable pages!)



Welcome to my cruise ship cabin!

Friday, July 27th, 2012

I completed another UFO [Un-Finished Object] today!  This one-quarter scale (1/4th inch = 1 foot) kit is still offered on the creator’s website, , but mine was produced in 1986.  It spent many years in the “Round Tuit” stash of a fellow miniaturist and several years in my own stash before I decided to brave another smaller-scale project (my hands really are more comfortable working in one-twelfth scale)!

The Cruise Ship Cabin kit included printed paper for the rug, wallpaper, port-hole drapes and bedspread, plus wood-grained paper to cover the visible portions of the furniture. (The latter had changed its hue over the years of storage and was now a rather alarming shade of orange.)  I did use the wallpaper, but opted for a bit of short-napped velour paper to give the carpet some visual depth. The draperies were a lucky find; a short bit of tightly pleated ribbon from my stash.  Another lucky find was the very thin, nautical-striped fabric which I used for the bedspread and a chair cushion.  The furniture and the exterior of the vignette were stained with a Min-Wax stain pen.  I located a very small print of steep, snow-capped mountains and placed it behind the plastic cover of the port-holes; the scene is very similar to the view we enjoyed from our cabin on our two Alaskan cruises.

(This project was started on July 19th, but did not get worked on every day.)



Three Strikes and . . . . .?

Friday, July 20th, 2012

I may need a padded cell – very, very soon!

My miniaturing woes started on Tuesday, July 17th. I had finished the interior (papering the walls, ceilings and floors) of a wonderful 1/144th scale bookcase kit by Ann Vanture ( . If you have looked at her site, it is the McLoughlin Bros. Book-of-the-Month Dollhouse Bookcase. Although the inside is meant to hold her wonderful books, the interior is fully finished as a three-story dollhouse. The exterior is a gorgeous, crystal clear print of a house with wrap-around porch and balconies ~ the shading and detail are so well done that it truly looks 3-dimensional ! (Can you tell I love this kit? LOL!) Well – it was late in the evening (apparently way too late), but I carefully aligned and glued the front facade print onto the bookcase and placed weights on it to ward off wrinkles and bubbles while it dried. Then I actually left it alone, instead of trying to rush the drying process and mucking up everything! (There is a good reason why many miniaturists sign  their messages with “Waiting for the glue to dry”!)

Wednesday, July 18th. . . . went through the now-traditional, post-surgical morning bickering with my intestinal tract, watered all of the drought-stressed outdoor plants and then rushed to my studio to glue the sides and top/bottom flaps into place. Picked it up, flipped it over to admire the inside, and. . . . . yep – I had glued the façade on Upside-Down!! Major upset! I managed to remove the print and sand off the remaining paper & glue   residue and sent a panicked e-mail to Sooooo, Smaller Scales Project #4 is now carefully boxed and set aside, awaiting the replacement print from Ann (which she is providing at no charge other than postage).

Rooting around in my bins, I found “Dolly & Her Trunk” (my mystery kit) , which includes one photo and absolutely no other information.  Yikes!  Not only are the parts list and directions totally missing, but no maker’s name or contact information is contained in the kit!  I sent the cover photo to all of my on-line miniatures groups to see if anyone recognizes it; meanwhile, Smaller Scales  Project  #5  is set aside, waiting for possible help of any sort.

 Thursday, July 19th. . . . Returning to my stash, I pulled out Smaller Scales Project # 6 – The 1996 version of Braxton Payne’s quarter-scale “Cruise Ship Stateroom”.  It is still available from him (,and hopefully the modern kits include a  photograph of the completed vignette,  as well as a thorough set of instructions !  Some Internet searching   produced a couple of  rather small photos; I am working from them and a very sketchy, abbreviated set of destructions.   (There are several small bags of tiny parts, each bag carefully numbered. Wonderful, but those numbers do not appear anywhere in the instructions!) This evening, while cutting a replacement  back wall  (a piece which went missing from my kit), I failed to notice the small piece of clear plastic with the printed portholes which was lurking underneath the piece of cardboard I was cutting!  I didn’t cut clear through the plastic, but there is a quite unseaworthy line scored  across one porthole.  I’ve been muddling through on instinct and the somewhat helpful photos. . . . .so far, so good.  Right now, I’m “waiting for glue (and paint) to dry”.  Still,  I am beginning to believe Fate is strongly suggesting that I stick to 1/12th scale!

Happy miniature adventures, everyone!



“Pixie Dust”, Studio Time & Horses, Oh My!

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Big Grin – If my poor neglected blog had any readers, that title might catch their attention! LOL!

Somehow, there truly does seem to be “pixie dust” or some other magic element in the air!  I place in evidence the quarter-scale (1/4″ = 1′) New Orleans/French Quarter Balcony Vignette  at right; a kit created by Braxton Payne which had been languishing in my “Smaller Scales” storage bin for ages.  My RA damaged hands usually confine me to  larger (one-twelfth scale) projects, where 1″ = 1′; even then, some of the pieces are quite small and have a frustrating habit of  launching out of my tweezers into thin air! This was completed on July 5th, 2012 and is now on display. . . . . Finally!  Actually, it is my  third small-scale success within the past 30 days; the only plausible explanation is that I have lost my few remaining marbles!


Tiny Paper Village

This paper village is one of the projects I packed in my ” recovery busy box”  just before my surgery on March 29th. Please don’t ask me how I planned to get all of the tiny pieces cut,  assembled and mounted on the base while confined to bed ~ I obviously wasn’t thinking too clearly!  However, when I began to feel better (and mobile enough to venture upstairs to my studio/disaster area), I determined that A) It is ridiculously small, and 2) It was going to be completed somehow.  Not sure of the scale, but the US dime at the right of the village will give you an idea of just how nutty I am 😀   Work was started on this in mid-June and finished in early July 2012.  This was adventure #1. (Yes, the church bell tower is leaning rather precariously, isn’t it?!)





After completing the village, I took a deep breath and delved deeper into the Smaller Scales bin and unearthed  this 144th” scale Japanese Tea House. It is a beautifully compiled kit by Susan Karatjas    Most of the components are 1/16th” or 1/32nd”  stock. . .if they are pinched too firmly with tweezers, they either  snap in two or disappear entirely! There are several flaws in the construction of my Tea House, but I am quite proud of it. Completed July 2nd, 2012.


The mysterious powers of pixie dust still seem to be active; my current project is an English Span Green House (kit by  The scale? Quarter-scale, again! The structure has been fully glazed(“glassed”) and constructed, but I won’t post pictures until it is properly landscaped and the plant trays have seedlings in them. BTW – the small plant trays measure 5/16″ x 1/4″ and the large plant trays measure 1/2′ x 3/8″ !

Horses? Oh, yes, I did mention horses, didn’t I? In my preteen and teen years, I loved horseback riding. At every opportunity, I would exercise a friend’s horse or resort to a young rent-a-horse with some spunk still left in it. Young and still feeling invulnerable, I rode alone, jumped fences (sometimes clearing the fence while the horse stayed behind!), rode full-out when prudence would have suggested a canter, and enjoyed every minute
of it! Marriage, multiple moves, children and careers shifted any indulgence in that pastime into the “Yeah, someday” category. . . . . and then
Rheumatoid Arthritis moved the wish into the category of fond dreams. Or did it? I have wistfully mentioned wanting to ride – – – sometimes (as a gesture of defiance against the RA, most likely, I have threatened to “go find ahorse to ride”. Well, it’s going to happen!! For our 45th wedding
anniversary, my husband has made reservations for a two-hour trail ride in Bandera, Texas on July 22nd! This is incredibly sweet of him on so many
different levels. He has ridden horses before, but I seriously doubt that he misses a repeat of the experience. He knows he’s going to be sore as hell
afterwards. He also knows that this is probably the most foolish activity I could undertake and that every part of my body will be extract a fee afterwards (making me rather poorcompany for awhile) . . . but he knows how much I want to try! Oh wow!

A Princess No More :(

Monday, June 25th, 2012

But then, I never truly was one , was I?

Still, when a huge part of my on-line life was suddenly stripped away ; when my contact with  people who are loving and supportive as well as creative ,imaginative,  playful  and encouraging abruptly disappeared, it left an aching hole in my heart!  These are people I may/may not have ever met in person, but I know their likes & dislikes, the names of their children and pets and what troubles them and pleases them.  They have unique personalities (some are chatty, others prefer to sit quietly and observe), and all of us have felt we were part of a very special, cohesive  group.  We Were!  We loved each other and cared about each other, understood when one of us was feeling lonely and ignored by RL (Real Life) loved ones or overwhelmed by RL problems!

When I was invited into GSOLFOT  (“Green Sock on Left Foot on Tuesday”. . . . . .it’s a long story!), there were “too many royal titles already granted”, so I adopted the title of  “GSOLFOT Contessa of Useful Bits, Bobs & Specks & Protector of the Roof Runners #%Z P.I., Office # 17″.  (Dashing my hopes of being a princess, but sounding rather lady-like.) Some members had much grander,more  elaborate titles and others had simpler ones, but we all had a wonderful time in our fantasy world (we adopted Neuschwanstein Castle as our ‘virtual clubhouse’!)  We shared miniatures we were creating , construction obstacles we encountered, workshops/studios we were attempting to carve out space for in our real homes,  and supported each other through serious illnesses, surgeries, chemo, loss of pets and deaths of spouses.  We also found time to see to the proper training of our pet dragons, made sure the various cats, raccoons & parrots (including my”Chunk”, aptly named after he took a good-sized bite out of a roving intruder) were well fed and cared for.  We had fun,  teased each other unmercifully, and were saddened when any one of us was sad.

There has been an ominous, troubling silence from the leader of this madcap Yahoo group (and owner of our web site “home”) for several months now, but none of us expected what we read when we turned on our computers this morning.  Just a tersely worded message saying “All over – all done.” No goodbye to those of us who thought we were her friends, no explanation – nothing. The web site is gone.  Suddenly, we are  adrift and alone, our titles stripped and the castle gate barred against us :(





A Tuscan View

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Class taught by Vikki MeekerA few days ago, several members of the Inching Along Club of San Antonio, TX were privileged to have artisan Vikki Meeker as our instructor for a one-day class. I am still in the early stages of recovering from my recent gastrointestinal surgery, but so very glad I hauled myself out of bed for this!

The theme was “A Tuscan Still Life” (my finished vignette is pictured here), and we had a wonderful time creating our project and learning new techniques under Vikki’s helpful guidance!  She showed us how to build the shadow box and bench seat and create an aged-plaster look to the interior surfaces.  Then we made our choices of drapery material and color of velvet, labeled  and placed our wine bottles, and arranged our fruit & cheese platters. We antiqued our frames, and one of the  prints Vikki provided for the frame looked very much like a photo my husband took while he was traveling through Europe!  I added a turned malachite candle stick (created by Gerda van Dijk) with a real wax candle and a rather battered/well used pitcher to my vignette. Great fun – thank you again, Vikki!

P.S.  Comments welcome – I don’t think anyone is reading!

Confessions of a Miniaturist (aka Organized Chaos)

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Um . . . . . How and when did I manage to accumulate eight  X-Acto (craft) knives?  Oops, recount; I just opened another drawer – eleven X-Acto knives!  Yes, I have been involved in the wondrous world of scale miniatures (usually 1″ = 1′) since 1978, but. . . . .eleven knives?  Truth be told, I have a couple of project boxes downstairs (things to do while watching movies – cannot bear simply sitting idle and watching) and two. . .OK, three. . .workshop tool boxes here in my studio. I haven’t inventoried them in awhile, so it is likely that the count is actually higher – glurk!

I have a multitude of storage bins, several rolling drawer units and lots of under-counter cupboards, not to mention the closet, in the “studio” (my grandiose name for my workroom), but they seem to only somewhat contain the chaos. My discovery of the embarrassing knife collection was made during an in-depth search for one small nugget of copper ore to mount in a miniature (3″ x  1  5/8″) shadow box of rock & mineral specimens.  It is a very small piece of copper ore – 26 different specimens are going to be mounted in this limited space, each in its own compartment. I know it is tucked safely away somewhere ~ I even have a photo of it, taken when I catalogued my purchases after a WWW-T (Wonderful Workshop Weekend – Temple, TX).  Never did find it, but I definitely know I won’t need a new craft knife for at least two or three. . . . decades!  Now – does anyone know where I might have stored the #11 blades?  No?  Ah well, it was worth a try.

*****   “Inspector Cat” (aka Diva) knows where it is. She watches my every move in the studio, sometimes so closely that a bit of wood or a tiny paper flower petal destined for a new creation becomes glued to her whiskers, much to our shared consternation. She knows, but staying true to the Cat Code of Ethics, she will never tell.  Sigh – there’s never any pixie dust around when you need it!


Happy 4th of July Weekend!

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

This year (after an embarrassing number of years of planning, collecting and creating stock), I am proudly displaying “1776 – Fireworks Stand and Americana Souvenirs”.

I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday:)

My "1776" Fireworks standAmericana Souvenirs

Americana Souvenirs

Sometimes, you have to brag!

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

Following up on yesterday’s triumphs, I was determined to complete at least one more task-in-waiting today. I had decided that task  would be applying the wood stain to the exterior of my Cypress & Fog room box (created in a workshop taught by the Guys From Texas), so that I could actually begin to furnish it with the goodies I’ve been collecting.  Before I could haul myself upstairs to accomplish that, DD and DG-daughter arrived. I enjoy their company, and watching Sara’s ever maturing ” take” on the world around her, but I Really wanted to get that room box off my list!   No problem – the rest of the family kept Miss Sara happy and entertained while I did my thing up in my Tower. Tomorrow, it will be ready to move downstairs (with help – this beast weighs a ton, probably because of all the field-stone castings that I [and the other members of the class] painstakingly detailed with multiple color washes to achieve a realistic effect)!  The Guys had mentioned that Minwax Provincial Pecan would be a good color choice for the box exterior;  as usual, they were right on target! It calls forth the Craftsman style of the room beautifully.  But that’s not what I’m bragging about – that’s just my “report card” :)

Nope, bragging rights go entirely to 3.5 year old Sara Elise (aka DGD)!  She has been looking at Grandma’s miniatures since she learned to crawl; Doc Dickory’s Hickory Clock Shop (housed in the base of our grandfather clock, safely below the sweep of the pendulum), the lower shelf of my antique mercantile showcase (housing as-yet-unhomed miniature treasures) and Noel 365  (my year-round Christmas shop, which occupies the lower level of the barrister’s bookshelves in the entryway) were her first introduction to grandma’s obsession. . . . . er, hobby.  When she mastered walking, many more scenes came into view and she realized there were even more which were either hanging on walls or sitting high above her head on shelves,, and she began to request “Up” so that she could inspect them.  Santa’s Teddy Bear Workshop – North Pole hangs on my kitchen wall and hasn’t been fitted with a protective Plexiglas cover yet. She’s always been very attentive to “just look, don’t touch” and very gentle when allowed to hold and examine any of my miniatures.

Today, when I needed to go back up to my Tower briefly, Sara asked permission to go with me.  Since I had already cleaned off the seat of the recliner, I said “sure” and off we went.  (The recliner seat issue is important; I have a bad habit of stacking tool-containers, magazines, file folders I’ve pulled out and  printies I haven’t filed yet on the chair. Naturally, Sara doesn’t see them as “research” or “future minis” – she sees them as an impediment to sitting down comfortably. Her youthful and direct approach is to get her little hands under as much as possible and sweep it to the floor. . .repeat as necessary. My fault for leaving it there – LOL!)  Once seated in the recliner, my multi-drawer organizer full of props for my “Door for All Season” shadow box is a slight glance to her right and within reaching distance.  She wanted to see what was in each drawer, and was extremely gentle in the handling of the contents of each  as she explored. When she removed the October/Halloween drawer, I realized it was time to dress the Door shadow box for Halloween! With some trepidation (hey, she’s only 3 1/2!), I brought the shadow box upstairs and opened it to remove the prior decorations.  She clambered up on my work stool, ready to go to work!   Yes, I was nervous, but the opportunity was just too perfect!  Propping the shadow box where she could reach it, I encouraged her choose a wreath and hang it on the door, pick from the items in the drawer and place them where she wished on the front stoop and the “ground” outside the door; the only help I offered was applying temporary adhesive here and there  and nudging the yard flag a bit as she tried to slip it onto to the hanger.  Throughout, she kept repeating “I’m being careful, Grandma” and she truly was.  At 3.5 years of age, Sara has decorated her first miniature scene – to me, that’s VERY impressive! I am so proud of her carefulness, reasoned choices and patience!  Bravo, Sara – you did a great job, and Grandma is hoping to play with miniatures with you a lot more as you grow up!