Sunday, June 9, 2019

New chest piece for the study

This one was so much fun to make, but very challenging too!  Here a picture speaks more than a thousand words:

I saw this original piece in Unique Miniatures' shop, and I wanted to make one as well.  Working with such tiny coins was difficult, but fun:

Now the piece is displayed on the cabinet in Kassandra's study:

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Display table with snuff boxes

As I mentioned in the previous entry, here is another mini directly from an episode of Downton Abbey:  a Queen Anne table showcasing a collection of snuff boxes.

Here are a couple of stills from the episode in which you can see the table in question, belonging to Lord Grantham:

Lord Grantham in front of the table

Several snuff boxes...

... but one is missing...
You can check out the episode 5 in season 1 to find out what happened to the lost box.  There is also a mention of snuff boxes in the movie Amadeus - a maid mentions that Mozart used to have 7 boxes but now he only has one left.  You can see the maid holding a box, but you cannot see it:

The maid showing the box to Salieri
The history behind snuff boxes is fascinating, so I encourage you to do a bit of reading on them.  

Let me talk about how I made the snuff boxes.  First, I looked for an appropiate table to display them, and found it in the shape of a mahogany Queen Anne table.  It even has a small drawer, but as of now, I have kept the drawer empty:

Picture courtesy of Beautifully Handmade
As always with miniatures, the most difficult part is: how do I make a box so tiny, and how to make it look good too?  The answer is Bindels Ornaments.  I perused their catalogue to see what I could use to make and decorate little boxes.  Do you know they have a workshop to teach you precisely that?  I purchased several kinds of findings, and my imagination took flight!

I made the boxes in several sizes, but mostly two shapes: round and square.  I found out that some snuff boxes had erotic art in them, so I tried and found several paintings that suited the purpose.  I scaled them down, printed them and glued them to the lids of several boxes.  Some others have metallic decorations and gems.  Here is the final collection already in the display table:

The silver box in the second line is actually a powder box from Aderon, made of sterling silver, and it even opens!  The rest are pieces from Bindels.  The painting in the smallest golden box is 6 mm!  I had to use a puncher to cut it.  The rest I cut by hand.

I am so happy with it!  It is already in its final place at Kassandra's parlor:

It's kind of big, but who cares?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Kassandra's portrait cabinet

Today I visited Kassandra, since it was so much time since last I saw her.  I found her very busy, cleaning up a nightstand in her bedroom.  It was full of tiny portraits of people.

"Friends of yours?", I asked.

"Oh, some of them were more than friends", answered her, with a wink.  "But yes, they are people close to my heart.  Let's see if you recognize any of them!"

"Well, let's start with the drawer on the left.  I recognize them all.  They are Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Thomas Jefferson and Edgar Allan Poe."

"Exactly right! All of them were very special to me at some point in my life.  What about the drawer on the right?"

"There you have me.  I recognize Elisabeth of Austria, and Lord Byron, of course.  But the other lady, I do not know who she is."

"Why, she is Mary Shelley, my dear!  Surely you have read Frankenstein?"

"Absolutely!  I did not know you knew any of them..."

"Oh, I was at the mansion by the lake in Geneva with them, Shelley and Dr. Polidori when the idea of the competition to write a horror story came up.  Who do you think proposed it?  Those were fun times.  You even recognized Elisabeth..."

"Of course.  Even though that portrait is not the most famous of her, I know Winterhalter's work."

"I was an asiduous visitor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Elisabeth was a delicious child, so unhappy all her life, poor thing!   I always said to her she spent too many hours doing her toilette, and she said, "Well, what would you have me do, my dear, go around with my hair to the wind?", and I said, "Sure, why not?"  And then I asked Winterhalter to do the painting of her with her hair down.  Then he later painted this small copy for my collection.  What about the third drawer?"

"Oh, the Romanov family is very famous, of course."

"Yes, I visited them often.  Alexandra and I were friends since before she married; her husband was very formal and gentlemanly with me.  I appreciated him.  What the mobs did to their kids in the revolution was unforgivable; even though I may understand the frustration of the Russian people, you do not execute children, ever."

"Vlad Tepes is infamous, as well.  Were you two related?"

"Oh yes.  He was a cousin, from the not-so down-to-Earth part of the family; but he knew how to get the work done.  Erzsébeth Báthory was not.  She was a friend of the family, but she so wanted to be one of our own!  She did some really stupid things, no wonder she was imprisoned when they found out!  All she had to do was ask, and I would not have said no, you know?  But her maid filled her head with fantasies, and it did not end up well for them, I am afraid."


Fantasy apart, I saw this fantastic cabinet from Unique Miniatures, and I thought it was genius!  The creator mentions that she saw something similar in the Pride and Prejudice TV series with Colin Firth, so I went to investigate that.  And sure enough, in chapter 4 we have a showcase table full of little portraits:

The lady calls over Elizabeth Bennet to check out the table
The portraits showcased in the table
I have been trying to find out if this way to keep portraits was something common in the 19 century, but could not find anything on it.  From what I can see, I would say they are small portraits that used to hang in the house (they all have hangers, or bails) and are now gathered all together for some reason - maybe for renovations, or to preserve them better?  Some are small enough to be considered jewelry.  In any case, the idea for a miniature was lovely!

But I wanted to make my own; not only because it would be fun, but because every portrait that exists in my dollhouse has a meaning: a real person behind them, like my mom's or grandma's pictures, or someone Kassandra may have known - there is no strange people hanging about. 

The first thing I did was trying to figure out what would I use as frames for the portraits.  If I could not find any that were suitable, the whole project was moot.  I had perused many Etsy shops for mini findings before, but never found any that were so small.  But then who could came to mind other than Bindels Ornaments?  I have bought from them a couple of times at the Tom Bishop Show, and they have amazing components to work with.  So, I went to their website and spent some time going about their catalogue to find the perfect settings for the portraits.  I even made patterns of some of them to try them out in the drawers:

They will be perfect!
 So, I ordered them, and while they came, I took an ordinary and plain nightstand that I had in the dollhouse bedroom and the work began.  First, I lined the drawers with the same fabric paper I used on the Natural History cabinet:

Trying on the pattern

Three drawers covered with paper

Looking good!
Still waiting for the settings, I gathered the portraits of the people that were going to be in them - I used Google, of course.  That was fun, thinking about how Kassandra may have known them - some were going to be in undoubtedly, as they already appear in some of my novels.  And she being a vampire, some simply HAD to be in it.  When the settings arrived, I measured them, and using Photoshop, I made the portraits as small as required.  Printed them out 3 times for trial and error and voilà!  It took little effort to glue the paper to the settings.

Then I simply attached the settings to the drawers with a tiny bit of double-sided tape.  I have so enjoyed the process! Specially because I do not need any extra room to put the nightsatand, since it was already there.  I simply dressed it up a bit!

I am already planning a new cabinet, this time from an episode of Downton Abbey.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

One-hour project and free printable

Sometimes one just wants a simple and quick project that will give one a much faster gratification, instead of having to spend hours crafting with different media and then putting everything together.  I am happy to provide you with one of such projects!

Here is something fun that will look awesome in any modern setting, and that you can even customize if you wish: miniature notepads!  I have put these in my soap shop as home accessories.

They are very easy to do, and I am sharing with you the file with the sheets I used to create mine. I added some empty pages, so you can customize them to your heart's content - with your pet, your kids, a family photograph, pics of nature... The possibilities are endless!  And it can be an easy to do mini gift for a miniature collector friend, or family member :)

Here are the very simple instructions:

Download and print the free template.

Cut the little pages out.

Line them up and use a couple of clamps to hold them together.

Apply tiny amounts of PVC glue, or white glue, to the top of the pages.  This will make them hold together neatly.  Let them dry, and then apply a couple of more layers of glue, letting each one to get dry before applying the next one.

Close a ribbon clamp on the top as ornament - or you can skip this step, and they will look equally great!

As promised, here is the template with the pages.  As always, feel free to share it and pass along to anyone (link backs are nice too!), but do not sell the download or your finished creation.

Enjoy your crafting!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Natural history cabinet project

Do you know the curiosities table Kassandra has in the drawing room?  I wanted to do a natural history cabinet after seeing this magnificient piece of furniture from The Miniature Maker:

I fell in love!  But I wanted to make my own, so I searched for an empty, unfinished cabinet to use.  I finally got one from Beautifully Handmade on eBay:

As you can see, it is a very modern style, but the antique looking ones were out of my desired price range.  So, I started by staining it with a Scalecolor ink (I used the Inktense Chestnut shade), and let it dry.  I love how intense and soft the color of this shade is; and then I replaced the wood knobs by brass handles, to give it a more antique look:

Finished this, my favorite part started: assigning a theme to each drawer and designing them.  Originally I wanted to divide the drawers with wood slots as the original one has, but I finally decided that that would rest space for the collection, as the drawers are not that big, so I decided against it; and instead, I was content to line the drawers with textile-textured scrapbook paper:

Trying out the pattern

Lined drawers

Pattern for the big drawers

Final look
So awesome!  Now the real fun begins: the collections for the drawers!  I started with some minerals and gems.  Some I had around; some others were kindly donated by a co-worker.  I wanted to do just one drawer, but I ended up doing two because I liked so many of them I could not fit them all in just one.  I organized them, and then I started making little labels to identify each of them.  The labels come from Vectoria Designs, simply reduced to the minimum expression.  Even though once printed the lettering was not readable, I assure you each of them has the name of the specimen, a date, and whether or not they are donated and by whom.

Trying out the labels

Aren't they amazingly pretty?
Two done, four to go!  The next one had to be, of course, marine specimens!  I used real tiny shells, and I glued a faux pearl to one of them to simulate an oyster.

Spell under the sea!
The next one came as a surprise.  I was talking to another co-worker about this project, saying I wanted to try and find real fossils for one of the drawers, and she was so generous to offer to donate a real fossil she found in a trip when she was cursing her biology degree.  Naturally, I accepted immediately!  It was a little big for a 1:12 scale standard, but there are big size fossils too in real life:

It fitted just well enough!
See the label attached to the back of the drawer?
On to the next one.  This time, butterflies!  I found a very pretty butterfly classification chart, and searched for suitable pictures of each one that I liked.  Then I made the labels with the common name, the scientific name, and the distribution of each species.  It was a challenge to cut and glue each one!  I even added little antennae using the bristles of a toothbrush, which I painted black:

And, there is one drawer left!  This one is going to have a collection of bird eggs.  But, since I have to sculpt and paint each egg by hand, I still haven't started with them, since it is going to be time consuming.  But I wanted to share what I have thus far.  

More pictures when I finish the last drawer!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Working in the soap shop

As I have said before, the work in this shop goes in batches!

For one reason or another, I always take up the work when I am on holidays.  This time was no exception, and so I started working on the little heart soaps:

Made of polymer clay and sitting in black-painted wood bowls.  The little basket has little shell soaps made with this mold.

I also printed (finally!) the designs of the towel boxes and the sheet boxes - they had been finished for ages, but I had never tried them out, to see if they fit into each other.  I had to fix the top of the towel box, but the rest was perfect!  I made the towels with printable cotton paper, rolled them and displayed them in the box - I even covered the window with a bit of plastic.  The little boxes have an Art Decó style design; I found them on Google - they are real vintage shell soap boxes, which could not be any more adecuate.  I simply cleaned the lines and reduced the size on Photoshop:

Then, more little bath bottles!  This time in green, and with a label for the Absinthe collection; and a couple of jars with bath salts (it is really salt, painted with a chalk); I love the little bows and the labels:

And here are images of everything in their final places:

I also made a little decoration for the round display, which I think gives it more character than just having it painted all white:

I do not have any decorative washi tape, so I made the decoration simply with Corel, and printed it.  I love that you cannot say it is just printed paper, even from a close distance!

The shop continues to grow, slowly but surely!