Sunday, September 13, 2009


The last time I wrote on my blog I mentioned an old, forgotten project I had unearthed from under the bed. It is a half inch scale project and I have only done one other 1/2" roombox. Several ideas have come to mind about the decorating of this three room villa (for lack of a better name for the project). One thing I definitely wanted was lighting so I ordered several lights from Hobby Builders Supply and what a surprise the lights were!! Tom and I have wired a lot of dollhouses, but neither of us was prepared for the 1/2" scale wiring. The lights are tiny of course and we were suprised to find tiny packages which contained the bulbs. Our first order of business was to test the lights and to our surprise, none would light on our test board. We found a grain of wheat bulb which tested lit up like it is supposed to do. Now we started to wonder what we were doing wrong. I picked up one of the lights and said to Tom, "This doesn't appear to have a bulb!" Then we decided to take a second look at the 'extra' bulbs. They were in fact supposed to be inserted into the 1/2" lights and we were astonished at how that was to be accomplishsed. The bulbs had two tiny prongs or legs at the bottom and those were to be installed in a tiny circle with two very tiny dots located on each light. If you know how tiny 1/2" can be, then you can imagine how very tiny the lights are. This procedure is tedious and difficult. Don't try it without a large lighted, magnifier on your work desk. I did the first bulb and it worked, but the second was not so easy. Tom said to let him try and I happily did that. He finished the others, but lost one bulb which we could not find. I had to call HBS to order a replacement. We also discovered that the bulbs are different....two different sizes and with different tops; one with a flame top and the other squared off. To me, there seems to be no sense in having the bulbs so different. Houseworks makes the lights we are using so perhaps I should write a complaint letter. What do you think?

I started this post with a picture of my little villa. The furniture needs to be painted or stained and covers will be made for the upholstered pieces. Most of what I am using is part of a set that HBS sells. It is a kit that one puts together and so far I have found most of it to be satisfactory. I guess I will reserve total judgement until I am farther along with the decorating. I have a lot left to do after I finish the wiring. One other thing I have discovered concerning the lights...If I solder the connections as I have always done on lighting, then it will be totally impossible to replace a light bulb because one could never get to the lights unless the tiny plugs are used for installation. I hope I have made this clear. If anyone reading this has experience with 1/2" scale wiring, I would love to hear some suggestions; am sure we are missing a lot of valuable information. My email is available so let me know what you think.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


I mentioned last time that I need to make a lot of hydrangeas to 'plant' in front of my Thornhill. Well, I haven't yet done those, but I have been using a bit of time for a few more plants and to do some work on a new project. First of all, I am adding two pictures of fern plants because I use those so much. They can be purchased of course, but a DIY miniaturist can make them. They look at home in most any setting and if you check out my interior pictures, you will see a fern in almost any setting. I just love them. They can be made from paper that you have painted or from florist tape. In both cases you will want various shades of green to show up in the leaves of the plant. When I paint paper for leaves, I almost always paint one side a different shade, perhaps a lighter shade than on the front side. Plants look more realistic if different shades of color show up. You can draw a pattern for the leaf, making it large or small depending on your preference. Then you use some floral wire, cut a piece about 2 1/2 or 3" long and glue that to the underside of the leaf. The you make slanted cuts along the leaf on both sides of the glued wire. You can use from 10 to 20 leaves, depending on how large you want your fern to be. Arrange them in a pot or basket, remembering to fluff and curl the leaves so that the fern will look natural. They really add life to a setting.

I also took a picture of a couple of small geraniums which have not yet been arranged in a pot. The method for making those is almost the same as for the hydrangeas, but the geraniums are generally a bit smaller. You can buy leaves or you can cut out your own and one nice trick that I learned from one of the flower makers is to use a bit of stampers chalk. Touch the leaves with a bit and you will have a more realistic look to your plant.
There are so many wonderful flowers to make in miniature and many can be done without buying a lot of supplies. Some people enjoy making plants from fimo or sculpy. Try a few and see how much fun they can be.

I mentioned earlier that I am working on another project. It is one that I have had for a while; had it buried under the bed and had forgotten all about it. I don't even remember what it was called, but it looks like a small villa, more or less. It is 1/2" so it will take some work to get it going. There are three rooms and I am now deciding just how I want them decorated. I will share some pictures as I get farther along.

Finally, I am adding a couple of picture of a furniture piece that I bought at Ron's Miniatures some time ago. It is a chest that is all hand painted by Natasha and it is a beautiful piece. I saw it and just knew I had to have it. However, I have never decided just how to show it off so I am asking any of you who read this to give me your suggestions. If you had this hand painted piece by a noted artisan, what would you do with it? I look forward to your ideas and am hoping that you can suggest the perfect decor in a room for this chest.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Making Miniature Flowers

This past week I put away the needlework projects in order to spend a bit of time making some miniature flowers. I have always enjoyed landscaping and making vases or pots of mini flowers as along with pictures, I think that flowers belong in every mini setting and they can be so much fun to make.

I will start with a few comments about the picture of the supplies that I have used to create some plants and flowers. The large piece of wood contains a jig that was made for me by my husband, Tom. It is basically just two lines of drilled holes with cut pieces of toothpicks in each hole. The idea is to wrap covered floral wire around the toothpicks and pulling the piece out at the end. There is a piece of the covered wire sitting on the wood board. Hopefully, it is visible. The jig has been very helpful to me because it can be used to do the stems of hanging plants. Once the covered wire is removed from the jig, the wire can be cut into various lengths to form the plant.

There is one flower punch shown in the picture of supplies. It happens to be one of the more expensive punches, but there are some inexpensive ones available at Michaels and other craft supply stores. The better punches are available at various sources....Hanky Panky Crafts is one source and others are available. Also some of the artisan plant and flower makers sell supplies.

There are two types of glue in the supply picture, a piece of art foam (used for bending the punched out shapes with a ball stylus). As for the paper, you can use various card envelopes or colored sheets of stationery or you can use the paper that is sold by many of the artisan flower makers...the Japanese silk paper. The Japanese paper is wonderful to use and is easy to paint with acrylic paint in any color that is needed.

One thing that is very hard to see in the supply picture is the foil with the Fimo balls. I use fimo shaped into balls and with a covered wire inserted in the end as the basis for many of the flowers. Plastic or wooden beads can be used as the base for the flowers, but fimo works well, the only drawback being that it does need to be baked in a toaster-oven before the flower parts are attached. One flower that I made this week is the hydrangea and I will add a picture of that, hopefully at the end of this note. One note of caution... there are two types of glue shown in my supply picture and they are both necessary and to be used carefully. I have to say that I am the world's worst at proper glue application so do be careful... A little goes a long way. The tacky glue is used first and is followed by a touch of the Zap A Gap. One might say that the Zap A Gap is the magic ingredient in any flower making because that is what makes the flowers or leaves stay on the plant.

One note to all reading this...if you click on the supply picture, everything is much easier to see. You can actually read the names on the glue bottles and see the covered wire after it has been removed from the jig. I have had fun making these flowers and plants this week and I hope that many of you will join in the fun, too. I love hydrangeas, probably because they are not grown in south Florida. However, I am planning to use many of them on the front of my Thornhill so I need to get busy. Those flowers take a lot of time, but they are worth it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


It has been a long time since I last posted on my blog, mainly because I have been looking over various projects in order to discover one that would peak my interest for some time. Like most miniaturists, I have a number of houses and shops in boxes, waiting for attention, but choosing the right one is not always easy. I have been using up some of the time working on various accessory items and also working on a new rug which is done with French knots. I thought I might post a few of the needlework pieces in the hope that one or another might spark a bit of interest for those looking for interesting accessory ideas for their houses. I hope to complete the French knot rug that I mentioned above. At the moment I am on the time taker part of the rug, the filling in part around the major pattern design. I have also added a few other pictures of needlework ideas which can add much to the dollhouse decor. Perhaps when I have finished with the latest rug, I will have decided on which shop or house has peaked my interest. Now for a few pictures. One of the rugs is a bunka rug done by Debbe Bloom (the second picture) who does the best bunka rugs that I have ever seen. Then there is a French knot rug, a crocheted afghan, some cross stitch pillows and chair seats and finally, the rug I am currently working up. All of these projects are fun to make and can add another dmension to your accessories.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


The two pictures above are the last classes that Tom and I took at Williamsburg; the last Guild Study Program that we have attended and it was a little more than six years ago. We are big lovers of those study programs and I am trying to figure out a way to get back in the groove. I was told that Peter Kendall started the programs when he was President of the Guild. He has taken classes and taught others and the Study Programs rate highly in mine and Tom's opinions. We have never attended the Guild School which is held in Maine each June, but I have heard great reviews on that program and can only say that my experience with Guild programs has been very positive. Hopefully, one day we will attend another in Williamsburg or in one of the other cites where the Study Programs are held.

The picture of a firestand was done by Tom in a Mark Murphy class. It is supposed to hold the other needlepoint that I have started, but not finished. One day that will hopefully adorn a fireplace in the Thornhill or some other house.

The pictured project was a class I took from Peter Kendall in which we built a reproduction of the parlour in the Peyton Randolph House at Williamsburg. Peter had everything cut out for us so there was not much saw work and when the wall panels had to be trimmed, I enlisted Tom to handle that and make sure that the trims were done correctly. We did have some minor saw work to do and also some mitering of trim.When the room was completed, I had a good time furnishing it. Tom and I were married in France and in 2003 we made a return trip...a trip down memory lane, if you will. When in the city of Chateauroux where we had lived, we went into a gift shop and Tom saw an interesting desk. He took a picture of that piece and when we got home he made a miniature version. That desk sits on the right side of the Peyton Randolph parlour. Tom did not make the small, round table to the right of the fireplace, and the firescreen stand was made by Roger Gutheil and it holds the not too perfect needlepoint that I did in Annelle Ferguson's class a few years earlier. The small table on the left side of the room was made by Tom and it has two of the Ference Albert shrub glassses sitting on the top. Mr. Albert's glass work is superb. The table in the middle of the room is a variation of one of the tables that Tom made in a Carol Hardy class in VT. The chairs in the room are of course, House of Miniatures kits. Last, the andirons in the fireplace were purchased by me at Poupee Tendress in Paris and I understand that the shop is closed now....a shame as there were some wonderful miniatures there. One final note, the tulips on the table were made one fine afternoon when my friend, Debbe was visiting. She and I made the tulips and my closing thought is to say that mini time with Debbe or with Study Program classes is fun time. I hope to repeat those activities soon!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


The same year that we built the Dubois Grocer we discovered that there would be another Guild Study Progam in the fall of that year and it would be at the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT. Tom had heard of Carol Hardy and the wonderful furniture that she made and she would be one of the teachers at Shelburne, teaching a butterfly table circa 1750-1780. At the same time I found a class taught by Allison Ashby and Steve Jedd in which the foyer of the Stencil House would be recreated. A miniature class with a group of Guild members is always a wonderful experience and the one that year at Shelburne was almost over the top. The location proved to be a very appealing one in that Miami summers are not always pleasant and September in New England seemed far more appealing. As it turned out, that particular Study Program was one of our all time favorites for the classes, the company and the extrcurricular activities. Saturday night on a Guild weekend is always special, but that year, we were taken to the Trapp Family Lodge, yes Trapp as in the Sound Of Music family Trapp. One of Maria's granddaughters treated us to a songfest after dinner and it was absolutely wonderful. It seems that she was the only one in the family to carry on the tradition. Back to the projects, a few pictures first before I comment.

Tom's butterfly table is lovely. I can't even imagine trying to make one. It has the tiniest hinges installed on something called a 'Rule Joint' and a swing out leg for the full table top to be open. Most of what I just wrote is Greek to me, but the table is wonderful.

The class that I took from Ashby and Jedd was one of my all time favorite classes...did I say that already? I learned so many things in that class and so enjoyed making the roombox. The first thing that I will comment on is the furniture in the room.....I used two pieces made by Tom in previous Guild Study Program classes. The table on the left side was done in his class with George and Sally Hoffman. The double child's chair on the right was done in a Mark Murphy class. The fireplace was part of the learning in my class at Shelburne and I should state that there was a lot to do in the class; so much so that most of the work was completed after we got home. We learned the techniques for the fireplace while in class, but did not actually do the construction until later. The bricks were cut to form the walls and after that was done the fireplace was weathered with oil paints. It was a fun project and we learned a lot for future use.

I also loved doing the stencil work. I had never thought that I could do a stencil, but this class taught me how to do a proper stenciling job. I should point out that there are 15 different designs and a total of 27 different stencils. I cannot imagine the amount of work that was done by the teachers in order to prepare for this class. It is safe to say the the class was wonderful!! When all the walls were completed, there was more distressing and then stain was applied to the case which houses the foyer project. The Shelburne Museum was terrific and it is safe to say that I would hope to journey there again one day, perhaps to another Guild Program.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


As promised in my last post, I am now going to post pictures and write about our attempt to do a 1/12th scale model of the Dubois Grocer's shop. It is a real shop and can be found on the Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg. The facade was completed in Peter Kendall's class so our first chore was to create the bare shelves and counters in the shop. Once those were done, we began to create the items that would fill the shop. Tom did so much lathe work creating items for the shelves. Many things which appear to be ceramic or glass are really wood which were then painted by me and often completed with labels from my computer searches. The internet was an invaluable source for me in doing this project because I found so many appropriate labels to use. Early on in this project, I saw Jane Graber at a Tom Bishop show in Ft. Lauderdale. I purchased a number of pieces from her incredible selection of pottery and ordered more. Her bird bottles are a familiar sight in Williamsburg and they are seen in most of the real shops in the town. Tom later tried his luck at making a bird bottle on the lathe and it turned out quite well. We used some of his lathe bottles to fill up a shelf or two. However, whenever we put a bird bottle, front and center, we used one of Jane's authentic ones. Some of Jane's Colonial mugs are shown in the first picture...the mugs are sitting of the floor awaiting a postion on a shelf. Many of the bottles in the shop are done on the lathe with labels from the computer. I have a number of catalogs from Colonial Williamsburg and that gave me more ideas of things to put on the shelves. I ordered blown glass Shrub glasses from Ferenc Albert. He calls his glasses 18th Century glasses and I suspect that is to ensure that he does not infringe on the actual terminology used by Williamsburg. The Colonial lady who runs our shop was made by the London Company and was purchased for me by my daughter at a shop in New York. This was a fun project. I was indebted to Peter Kendall for the class in which the idea was born and also for his help when I aked him for additional bricks to finish the bottom of the shop. Peter had used bricks from a source in England and I needed additional ones so that all along the bottom of the shop were the same. A few words about the pictures which I will add shortly: We tried as much as possible to keep everything as it was in the original shop and some details were available to us because of the pictures we took in Williamburg. The door to the shop was done with wood placed diagonally and we did the same with our door. We took a picture of the window display from outside the shop and duplicated the display in our shop. Tom made the chandelier as a copy of the original. Once again the lathe came in handy as he used it to do the wooden bulb at the bottom of the fixture. Now for some pictures.

As a final thought on this project, in retrospect, I wish we had checked to see what was behind the curtain in the shop. That is, what was upstairs, downstairs and in the back room? I think I would have liked to do an accurate duplication of the shop, not just the shop itself,but all of the building. There is a lovely old chimney that would have been interesting to recreate, but alas, we didn't do that so the shop is not a true duplication.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


When at Williamsburg that fourth time, Tom and I visited the Dubois Grocer before our classes had started. We were fascinated by the interior of the shop and decided that when we got back to Miami, we would reconstruct the interior and that is what we did. It was such a fun project; it took a lot of time, but we love the results and have never regretted the decison to take on the extra work. Tom and I enjoy joint projects as I am sure is no surpriseto anyone reading this, and often he is more eager than I to move on to bigger and more difficult things. On our visits to the shop we took dimensions, checked out the stock, took pictures from all angles, talked with the shop keeper, who had worked in that shop for ten years, and took all of the information home with us to begin the project. The first step was building all of the shelves and counters and that was accomplished with the aid of the dimensions we had taken inside the shop. Once the shelves were all assembled and in place we started to add the items for sale. I had questioned the shop keeper about the many items which were not known in Colonial times. She told me that all food items had to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the Health Department so that is why canned goods were available for sale. When we stocked our shop, no canned goods were included because we wanted all items to be ones that would have been available in 18th Century America. I have now added some pictures of the shop, one exterior and several of the interior. My next article will deal with how we did the interior of our Dubois Grocer shop.


On our third trip to Williamsburg I took a class from Annelle Ferguson and the project was to do a miniature firestand in 48 square silk gauze. I was not the best student in the class, by far and even though I switched to 40 count gauze, I still did not have sufficient magnification to do a proper job on the needlepoint. Annelle was a most patient teacher, but my old eyes just could not succeed on this project in class. However, as I have been determined to finish all projects, I did get the needepoint finished at home when I had better magnification. My project has never been seen by Annelle except perhaps in a photo. It does have mistakes, but it is finished and although it is not perfect, I do display it in another room done at a later time in Williamsburg. I was resolved to make another needlepoint and make sure there were no mistakes, but sadly, time has not permitted that as yet, but the desire to accomplish it is always on my mind. I should add that the stand was made by Roger Gutheil.

Tom, per his usual, took a class in furniture making, with Mark Murphy. He did a lovely tea table which I am proud to display. In our fourth trip to Colonial Williamsburg, Tom took another class from Mark in which he made a child's double high chair. It is quite intricate and another lovely piece.

My 4th class was taught by Peter Kendall and it was more construction than I had previously attempted in classes. We were given the materials and instructions to construct the facade of one of the buildings in Williamsburg, the Dubois Grocer. The finished facade was designed to hang on the wall, however there is a rather interesting Part II to the Dubois Grocer project which I will discuss a bit later. For now some pictures of the previously discussed projects.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


For a number of years our January had a Williamsburg Study Program on the schedule. For the second program that we attended, I took another class from Therese Bahl and Tom took a class from Bill Robertson. A study program usually begins on Saturday morning and ends about noon on Monday. The two and a half days are spent in class with other miniaturists working on the class project. Sometimes the project is more involved and does not get completed until one is at home. I am pleased to state that both Tom and I have finished every one of our projects and are proud to have been involved with such talented teachers. My painting class with Therese involved the painting of a small scene on a fireplace as well as completing a fireboard known as the Sutton Fireboard which came from the Phelps house in MA and is now housed in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. The roombox was made by Roger Gutheil. Most miniaturists know that Bill Robertson is affiliated with the Kansas City Toy and Miniature Museum where much of his work is on display. He is a genius and what he achieves is amazing. One can only marvel at his talent. Tom built a miniature version of a spice chest, a piece also in the Williamsburg collection. There are 15 drawers in the tiny chest and every one of them opens. Some of you may know that Bill Robertson uses a jewelers saw to cut the dovetails in the sides of his pieces. Thus a student must learn to use the jewelers saw as well....not always easy!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009


All miniaturists owe themselves the chance to attend a few miniature shows and visits to miniature shops. Mail order is wonderful, but going into a shop geared just for the hobby or attending a show where artisans display and sell their work is a real treat. I also want to point out that many miniature shows are preceeded by a day of workshops and there are usually many talented people to teach classes in many areas of interest. Tom loves to make furniture so in all the classes that we have attended, he has taken some type of furniture construction. I tend to choose the prettier side of the hobby so my choices for classes are painting, flower making, some needlework and some construction projects. There is such a wealth of learning available so I hope that all who enjoy this hobby will avail themselves of a class or more because the information gained is often priceless. As usual, I have a few pictures to show some of the projects that Tom and I have done. In the last picture is a table that Tom did in a Tom Bishop workshop and on the table are two projects that I did at two Bishop show workshops with Mary McGrath. The furniture pictures are ones that Tom has done in classes taught by Pam and Pete Boorum. The flower pictures are ones that I have done; the first one is a window box done in a class with Marie Petrik and the next two are flowers from classes with Sandra Wall Rubin. All of the above named are wonderful artisans (and some fellows) and it was our pleasure to take classes from them.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Some years ago, probably at least 20,I met a mini friend on the computer. In those days we were on Prodigy....does anyone remember that? I discovered that Debbe was very much into miniatures and we became very good friends on the computer. Later we actually met and that became almost a yearly ritual. We managed two delightful trips to Maine when Debbe moved there and she was always anxious to get out of the snow in winter so Florida was her retreat in the bad weather. Debbe was very much into the Guild (IGMA) and she told us about the Guild Study Programs, especially those in Colonial Williamsburg. Tom and I decided to try a Study Program and the first class we took was in Williamsburg. The winter programs are held over theML King holiday in January so it makes a nice break for us as we might even see a bit of snow while away from Miami. The programs run over a weekend and there is plenty to do when one is not in class. Usually, a student will not finish the project, but one will have all that is required to finish the project at home. The first year I took a class from Therese Bahl, a remarkable artist whose work I much admire. My project that first time was to reproduce a picture of George and Martha Washington. All projects are copies of a piece or work which exists in the Williamsburg collection. The picture of George and Martha was actually finished in class so in the extra time, Therese had frames for us to paint and she showed us various techniques for antiquing and distressing the frames.

Tom's class that year was with George and Sally Hoffman and he constructed a small table. The Guild programs were great at encouraging Tom's love of furniture building as that was what he took in all of the programs that we attended. Tom learned that first year that he was not as adept at staining/finishing furniture so he concetrated on that when he returned home from class. We found that taking classes was a marvellous way to enhance our knowledge in our hobby and wondered why we had not pursued classes earlier.


A few weeks ago Tom and I collaborated on a roombox....although I would have to give most of the credit to Tom because he built all of the furniture. My contribution was the flooring, the painting, stucco, trim, wallpaper, and pictures. I suppose my most important contibution was that I asked Tom to build me a hutch and the one in this roombox was the result of that request. Then we filled up the room and we call it our 'Country Room'.