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Sunday, July 27, 2014

So just where the heck is the video this week???

So are you asking yourself why this first line of the blog post doesn't direct you to a video?? That's because this week I just don't have a video for you. I have hit that proverbial brick wall when it comes to my mini projects. I just can't come up with something this week.

I had every intention of getting the crib dressed that I made a couple of weeks ago but I just haven't been able to find fabric that I really like. That is not because of a lack of fabric shopping. I have walked around every fabric store in my area on multiple occasions. I even went to one that is 50 miles away hoping they would have something I would love. I have even brought a couple of pieces of fabric home with me thinking they were “the one” but no. Once I got them home and put them with the crib I just didn't like them. I don't think the problem is so much the fabric as it is me. I just don't have a clear vision for where the project is going. I mean I know the family that it is for because I have a rough idea of who they are and how they relate to the families in my other dollhouses. I know there is a mom, a dad, a little boy and his younger sister. It is the younger sister that this crib will belong to. I just can't figure out what direction I want to do with the crib.

On the last crib I dressed (the one in the Harrison) I not only knew all about the inhabitants of the house I had ordered the wall paper for the nursery at the same time I ordered the house kit. I had fallen in love with a Noah's Ark design dollhouse wallpaper that I knew I had to use in the house. So with that wallpaper in hand I could pick the fabrics and the story came together.

This time I just can't make a decision on what fabrics to use. I do have some flat eyelet trim that will be the skirt on the crib but that is as afar as I have gotten.

In the meantime I have been doing a lot of other projects. I re-organized (I use that term loosely) my craft-room/office. I have changed things around so that I have an “L” shaped work area. The area I have always used for my minis is pretty much the same but to my left as I sit at the table is a second table that I set up for paper crafting. Because of the way I work most projects end up on both areas but it is so nice to have the paper-crafting area set up. It used to be when I wanted to work on paper minis I ended up taking them and tools to my dining room table to work on. Then I would have supplies I needed for minis in the dining room when I needed them or else I would end up making dozens of trips from one area to the other looking for what I needed. Now I still can't find the stuff but the area I need to search is much smaller.

Lately I have gotten really into card making so on these days when I just can't seem to find my mojo for minis I have made some cards that I think came out really cute.

So I have some questions for all of you. Please chime in with your answers

1- I would assume that most of you want to see how I have arranged my work space so when I finish getting it set up (and cleaned up enough to let you see it) should I do a new updated craft-room/office tour?

2- How do you get past the slump when you hit the brick wall and can't come up with new ideas, or just simply hate everything you have made?

3- I am thinking about starting a new blog where I could feature the other non-dollhouse non doll related crafts I do. Would you be interested. I will say up front I would probably not be posting on it on a regular basis just when I have time and something to share. That being said I do craft or create almost every day in some way or another.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Paints I Use for Miniatures

It seems like I am getting more questions about the paints I use lately than about anything else. My feeling has always been that for every person that asks a question there are several more people with the same or a very similar question that don't ask it. So from time to time when I start to get a lot of questions on a given topic you will find a blog post and a video where I try to cover the things I have been asked.

The topic of paint is so wide that today I am basically just going to try to explain some of the basics about the three types I use the most.

Number one paint in my supplies has to be the basic craft paint. I love this stuff and use it in all kinds of crafting. It is cheap has easy clean-up (as long as you get to it while it is still wet) and comes in a multitude of colors. I like being able to know that when I use a specific color on a project I can use the very same color later. That is almost impossible when you are mixing colors for each project. I admit freely that my preferred brand of craft paint is Deco-Art Ceramcoat. I know it costs a few cents more but I find I can usually get by with only a coat or two of it as opposed to some of the other brands that require more coats. I also find the colors it comes in more attractive personally and therefore fit into my projects better. Now don't get me wrong I own a lot of brands of craft paint, I buy what I can when I can when I am need of different colors. I am also guilty of picking up interesting colors when I find them on sale (hence the fact that I have drawers of paint as opposed to a drawer of paint) Craft paint is really easy to find, at least here where I live it is. I can pick up more paint at almost any store that has even a small aisle of craft supplies. I do know some miniaturists that think that craft paint is beneath their abilities and insist on mixing a higher quality paint for every project. Personally I find a lot of inspiration in seeing all the colors in front of me and I love to look at the colors.

Next up in the video is glass stain paint. My favorite is still Gallery Glass, I know that in some places it is getting harder to come by but so far I have been lucky in that regard. Just keep in mind that the paint in the bottle really looks very little like it will when it dries. I always do a sample each time I am going to a project just to make sure how the color will look.

The last paint in the video was the Scribbles fabric paint. This is a 3-D fabric paint and again it comes in many colors. I use it a lot for sauces on my mini polymer clay foods. I love that it dries with a bit of shine so it looks like a sauce without having to be coated with a finish.

I have been using all three of these products with baked polymer clay for many years and have never had a problem. That being said if the polymer clay companies re-formulate their clays again you never know. For this reason I do recommend testing any products you plan to use together before you tackle a large project.

All of these paints that I talked about today are soap and water clean up while they are still wet. Once they dry it is a totally different matter especially with the craft paint and the Scribbles, those will pretty much bond permanently to whatever they are painted on once dry and will be next to impossible to remove. Be sure to immediately wash out any brushes you use and clean up any spills too. 


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dollhouse Miniature Nursery Lamp

I am still in search of some fabric for the crib project, I just can't find anything I really like for the main fabric. I guess I am going to have to break down and go to the huge fabric store in Portland next week.

In the meantime I decided to show you one way to make a working (yes, I said working) lamp for the nursery. This can easily be changed to make a lamp for just about any room of the dollhouse by simply changing the decoration on the base.

I am using one of the little rocking horses from the baby shower decoration department of the dollar store. For that reason I have been sitting on this project for a while because I was debating if I should use it as a Trash to Treasure (it really could fit there because of the materials) but in the end I decided it was probably better suited to the main video of the week because it is not really a simple beginner project.

For the upright portion of the lamp I used one of the cocktail straws I have on hand. I left mine white but you could also paint the straw to match your decor.

As for the base I had found these little bottle caps at the Joan's a while back in the dollar bin areas. I initially got them for a project for the 18” dolls but I haven't gotten to it yet. There are also pink and blue ones in the package. I liked that there was a hole on the side of the caps (so they could be attached to a piece of jewelry) I just really wish there was only one hole and not 2. If there had been only one it would have been easier to hide the unneeded hole. It would be simple to change out this base with something else. Just look at what you have and with some thinking you will figure it out. I think if these were painted other colors though they could be used in a lot of rooms.

The addition of the pony beads was a last moment idea that I literally came up with as I was gluing the project together. I am glad I did I think the lamp is much sturdier this way. I just wish I would have had a better color bead. A white one or a clear one (or even a metal color) would have probably been better but I still like how the lamp came out.

The bulb I used is I believe what is called a “grain of wheat” bulb. I get mine from but by all means if you can buy them locally do so. I no longer have a convenient mini store so I mainly rely on online stores. I wish I had my transformer handy so I could have shown it lit up hopefully I can find one soon and maybe when I finally get the crib finished I can set up a room scene for you with all the nursery projects we have been working on lately. That way you can see how they look together.

The glue I used for the project is one from the line of Amazing Goop. I prefer to purchase this type of glue in the small assortment tubes. There is usually 4 or 5 tubes in the package and they are really small. The glue does cost more if you look at the by the ounce price but I don't use this type of glue very often and the tube usually goes bad for me between uses and I end up throwing away most of the regular size tubes. With the tiny sample size ones I can usually use up the amount before it goes bad and if not I am not throwing away a huge tube. For the projects where I do need it though it is a great glue. It just happened that I had to open the tube I was using in the video earlier in the day to fix something in the house so I wanted to use it up.

When choosing a glue for this project just keep in mind the different materials you adhering. We used plastic, metal and paper. Just read the labels of the glues you have to pick what you want to use.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dollhouse Miniature (or Barbie) Bowls/Casserole Dish

This week for Trash to Treasure I decided to share an object I found at the hardware store. These little cup pulls are just the perfect size to make either casserole dishes, pet dishes, or even cake pans for our dolls.

Painting them is totally optional since they are just a plain brass color. I would recommend using a primer of some type if you are going to be handling them after painting and then follow up with a sealer if you feel it is needed. These could paint up really cute.

The ideas I came up with were:
pet dishes
casserole dishes
cake pan

what can you think of? If you get some of these and use them in with your dolls I would love to see a picture of it.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Packaging Minis to Mail

I am so sorry I didn't get any more done on the crib project. My week was interrupted by real life when we had somewhat of a household emergency. That took up two complete days of my week to get cleaned up and partly fixed. Hopefully the remaining fix will not be too disruptive.

Since I didn't have a project to share with you I decided to answer a question I get asked a lot. That is how to safely mail you minis once you have made them.

I used to do lots of swaps and if you have the time it takes to do them and want to grow as a miniaturist I do recommend trying them. You will get to practice making items and in return get some wonderful minis (and a few duds) that you can use In your projects. Swaps are a great place to get new ideas, learn new ways to make things and just to have fun. Also if you think you might want to try your hand at selling minis I do recommend trying swaps first because this is a great place to learn to make multiples of the same item. You may find you love making 10 or more of the same thing or you may discover that after the second or third one you never want to see the project again. It is better to learn this on a swap than after you have set up a business. Also most swap groups are very helpful when it comes to helping each other out on ideas and how to make things.

So now you have your swaps all made, you know where to send them but how do you make sure they are going to arrive intact? I know I have received many swaps that were broken in transit some I could fix some there was no way to salvage (so sad when you think about the person that spent time and money making the item)

Today I am giving you some tips on how to package those minis so they are more apt to arrive looking just like they did when you mailed them.

One thing I forgot to mention in the video -and it is really important- is make sure any glue or paint is completely dry before you package!!!! I know that seems on the surface to be obvious but apparently it isn't from the number of items I have received over the years with the wrapping stuck to them.

If your item is flat and not particularly fragile a plastic zipper bag should be fine.

On those not flat and more fragile items I like to use the plastic eggs that are available around Easter. If you have kids you may have some in the back of the closet already. They come in at least 3 sizes I use mostly the regular size ones but I like to have the smaller ones and the jumbo ones on hand too. You might look at garage sales and such over the summer for them too. These eggs are cheap even before they come on sale and after the holiday they are really cheap. I usually buy a couple hundred of them every few years.

First step (after you have picked a plastic egg that is a good size) is to carefully wrap your mini item to give it some padding. I use either tissue paper or bubble wrap depending on what I am wrapping and what I have on hand. Make sure to minimize the amount that your mini can move around inside the egg. After putting the item in the egg I use either tape or a small address label to help seal the egg shut. This way it can't pop open inside the shipping box. The labels are nice because you can fill in needed information on them before attaching them to the eggs.

If you are in a swap group be sure you understand the rules for mailing. Most swap groups want each swap (for each member) individually wrapped and then grouped in some way by swap. So say you are in a kitchen swap with 10 other people you would put your individual swap items into 10 plastic eggs (being sure to pad them well) and label with your name and the name of the swap – and any other info required. Then all 10 of these eggs could go into a large plastic zipper bag that is also labeled with your name and the name of the swap. This bag (and any other bags for other swaps that are running at the same time) goes into a box usually with the money for the return postage and gets mailed to the swap hostess. Here is where you need to check the rules for the group you are in to make sure you have everything in the box that is required.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dollhouse Miniature Flowers

This week I am showing you a really easy way to make some cute flowers for your dollhouse. I did make some of these several years ago and had forgotten all about them until they were discussed on one of the online mini groups I belong to. I do love that ideas flow so easily on the online groups, some ideas that have been around forever get brought up every once in a while and that really helps all of us. For those of us that have been doing minis for a long time we get reminded of things we once did and had long forgotten. And just (if not more) importantly it lets those that are newer to the hobby in on some of these forgotten tricks. That is kind of what I hope these Thursday videos do too. Remind some of my counterparts of some of the fun projects we once did and to let these tricks be out there for all to enjoy.

I am so glad that I was reminded of this trick while the seeds are still on sale for this year it makes for a really inexpensive little project. I would love to see what you do with this.

Are you going to put your flowers in a vase or in the garden? Will you add some leaves or not??? Maybe you could come up with a pattern for a flower box from the florist and you could add these flowers to that. The possibilities are endless, you are only limited by your own imagination.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Another Dollhouse Miniature Bowl

This week I have been really busy but I did take a couple of minutes to film a really quick Trash to Treasure. I do apologize for not posting for a couple of weeks, I have been super busy. I decided to do some re-organizing of my craft-room/office. And then last week I went out and bought myself a new sewing machine and I have been really busy learning all the tricks it can do. I will probably write a bog post over on the 18” doll blog about it when I get more comfortable with it. Currently I am still very much in the learning phase since my old machine was about 20 years old and this new one is one of the embroidery ones. Lots of new features to get a handle on.

Now back to the project for today. There really isn't much I can say about it truthfully. It is simply a matter of using you imagination when you are out shopping and seeing things with a “mini eye” These little bead caps are perfect for small dishes in the dollhouse they look really cute with some slices of mini fruit for a fruit salad or with some mini ice cream for dessert (wow, ice cream sounds really good right now- it is really hot here this week)

Since the bead caps I got are made of metal I would feel safe baking polymer clay right in them. Just keep an eye on things and be extremely careful when they first come out of the oven. The metal will stay hot a bit longer than the clay would normally.

The bead caps come in many styles and sizes, some are definitely big enough to use with Barbie and the other dolls of that scale. I am not sure if any come big enough to use with the 18” dolls or not. I didn't think to look but there may be some that would work as a small candy dish or something for your 18” friends too.