Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lemony Snicket!

Some of you may recall that I'm in the process of renovating/redecorating a rather larger dollhouse.  The only room which could even come close to being called "finished" is the kitchen.  I was somewhat inspirated by the color scheme of Monet's kitchen/dining room in Giverny.

I had collected most of the furniture but I wanted a hutch so took some time to make one ( an initial disaster and the subject of an "Ask Tabitha" post, I think...)  and I am now pleased to say that all the pieces are completed. 

I wanted them "dressed", as if someone was actually using the kitchen so I prevailed on my dear friend, Kim Saulter, from Kim's Minis to provide the magic.  Real life had been taking over Kim's mini life of late and she needed that extra incentive to entice the Muse to return. 

As you will see, the results are breathtaking!!  Kim is back in her mini kitchen and all is right with the world!!

This first piece is the sink.  I no longer have any idea where I got it from or who the manufacturer is but it is metal and very substantial.  The cut lemons are by Amanda Speakman, Amanspeak Miniatures.

The stove is by Bodo Henning ... another substantial metal piece.  And just LOOK at the amazing sweets Kim has made!!  I think the blueberry cobbler looks good enough to eat....

This little dining table and chairs (2) is by M&R Miniatures out of Rochester, NY.  He doesn't have a website, sells only at shows.  There is a work table in the same colors also.

Ann Ceasar made the lemon meringue pie, which I've had for YEARS and am only just now using. 
If you look closely, you can see some of Kim's AMAZING lemon bars!
Don't they look real??!!

Here is the companion worktable with more of Kim's goodies!

Just look at the attention to detail!  Some cupcakes finished...some just started...some waiting their turn...

This glazed Lemon pound cake is to DIE for!!

Ta Da!
This is the hutch that drove me crazy. I painted, stripped, re-painted, hated the color, re-painted, sanded....  on and on...   But that is a topic for another time.

Right now, feast your eyes on Kim's splendid sweets!

This lemon trifle was made by my friend Lisa McQuaid from the Every Day Gourmet.   She has an Esty shop and makes a variety of foods that one would use "everyday".  But I really love her trifles.

All the rest was made by Kim.  What wonderful confections!  I am over the moon with the results!

In addition to all the scrumptious goodies you see here, Kim included some chocolate chip and lemon cookies.  She was one busy lady.  I cannot thank her enough for all the time and effort put into this.

But more than that, I am really proud of her and glad she is my friend (though we have never met...).  She took all those lemons life was lobbing her way, chopped them up and made the most beautiful things from them.  I am very happy for her ... and for me, too!

She can make any sort of confection you can dream up so if you are in the market for something sweet or just want to see what Kim is up to in the mini kitchen, visit her Etsy shop.  You won't be disappointed.


Sunday, May 29, 2011


...on my best mini ever.  Though you can see he is not so mini anymore!

It seems like it's been a crazy ride since way before opening night of Godspell in April.
Matt had a major role as The Baptist in this production.
That's him in the red/black stripes at Dress Rehearsal.

 He's always done Tech since he was a Freshman.  Lighting, sound, stage manager and Tech Director.
He's had several minor roles in the recent past but even then he still functioned as Stage Manager.
This time, he relinguished that to an underclassman and threw himself into singing, acting and dancing!
He had a blast!

He graduated from HS last weekend
and my 90 y/o mother made a plane trip here for it.

We are all so proud of him! 
 The white hood is for National Honor Society
and the gold/black braid is for graduating magna cum laude.

He also recieved a special award for achievement in the Arts.

Matt and his two bestest buddies
(who will miss him terribly when he is away at school!)

He's just returned from a Carnival Cruise with 8 of his good friends
(and 3 very brave parents!)

I am hoping that I will now be able to get back to "mini-ing" (and blogging about it!) but the Summer seems like it will be crazy, too.  Althought the Fall term at University of Florida doesn't start until the end of August, Matt's enrolled for a Summer B session and that starts the end of June.  We all need to be up there for a preview next weekend and there are several other "events" parents are expected to attend before the Fall term.

I also have a mini show the end of July to prepare for.  I'd better get cracking....

Love to you all!  Thanks for reading my blog.  I promise to get that Conservatory finished and photographed.  Hester has been mostly useless of late...



Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Some friends are finding they cannot sign in and make a post on their own blogs lately so this to see if I can...


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Conservatory Floor - Using DAS Air Dry Clay

I needed to wait for the spackle on the walls to thoroughly dry before I “washed” them so I decided to go ahead and plan out the floor. The kit came with a 12x12 piece of 3/8 inch thick MDF meant to be used for the floor. I will be making a base for this so I can meld it to the house but for now, I wanted to plan and layout something for the inside of the Conservatory.

I really dislike MDF…I’d rather use Gator board or even the paper-covered foamcore from the Dollar Store than deal with MDF. But since it was the material included, I bit the bullet and forged on.

There are two reasons why I hate MDF. First, it is heavy. Second, it warps…badly. It just sucks up any available moisture if not sealed. I used a coat of white glue to seal the little bit of MDF used on the walls but this was a large piece and I was looking for quick and easy.

I did have some spray sealer by Deft that I’ve used before but I didn’t want to set up the spray booth in the garage. I also happened upon some acrylic matte medium so I decided to see what happened if I brushed that on.

I slathered a light coat of it on both sides and all four edges and let it dry. I dried really quickly and left a slightly rough texture on the board. .. and no warping noted! I thought the “tooth” left from the matte medium might help whatever I used for flooring stick better.

I set the dry fitted Conservatory walls on the base and penciled in the interior. I only wanted the inside done; I was planning something else for the exterior. I was looking through my stash of faux marble tiles and brick stenciling kits when I heard a “tsk….”

“The inside of the Titania’s Conservatory is flagstone…like she saw in old castles on her trip to England as a child. I thought you knew…..”

I turned with a question but Hester had flounced off… I meant to ask about color. I am sure she will advise me in time. Hopefully before I start painting.

So flagstone it is.

I didn’t have any Creative Paperclay and though it is readily available in the US, I didn’t want to make the trip into town to get some. I did have some white DAS air drying clay, however, which I bought at Michaels when my UK friends said Creative PaperClay was nearly impossible to get over there. I’d wanted to see if this stuff was comparable. It certainly is cheaper. It is made in Italy, which was all the information I could get off the package as it was all in languages other than English.

It comes in a 1 kilo (2.2 lb) package. I had the “white” , though I would have called it grey...also comes in terra cotta. It is much heavier and denser than Creative PaperClay but it is not as sticky. It has a more leathery feel.

I tried rolling it out as I do PaperClay but it took more elbow grease.

I think it would have run nicely through the pasta machine which I will do if I use it again. It also doesn’t “seam” as nicely as PaperClay does if you are piecing it…which I had to do for the floor.

Before I applied it, I brushed Elmer’s Glue All inside the pencil line.


A lot of people don’t glue their air dry clay to the substrate but that is how I was taught to do it. I think it helps with the shrinkage, though I didn’t notice much with this product. I rolled it out to 1/8 inch thick on my rolling board.

When it was all in place, I spritzed it lightly with water and covered it with a damp paper towel. As I worked, I folded the towel back, bit by bit. I didn’t notice much premature drying except at the very edges.

I used the same tools as I use for PaperClay. The DAS is a little stiffer so I had to press a little harder but otherwise they all worked fine.

It took a lot longer to totally dry than PaperClay. I can usually paint PaperClay within 12 hours but this is going to be a good 24 hrs before I can do that.

The only cracking was where I had to seam it and only slightly. I filled that in with some lightweight spackle. I don’t yet know if will be apparent when painted.

Like PaperClay, it will shrink away from a cut edge. See where I made the groove a little deeper than I should have…where I didn’t cut through, the edges of the “flagstone” are fine.

I used about ½ of the package for the floor and sealed the rest in aluminum foil and put it in a freezer grade ziplock bag. I can usually “freshen up” PaperClay “ that has gotten dry but I don’t know if that will work with this clay. The fact that it didn’t seam that well using water makes me think that it won’t. But sometime, I’ll try an experiment to see.

Overall, I like this product. Despite it’s odd smell when wet (I can only describe as the smell emitted by working machinery…like ozone..), it is a pretty good substitute for Creative PaperClay. It was much less drying to my hands and required little clean-up as it really didn’t stick to my tools as PaperClay usually does.

But I will still use PaperClay, depending on the project. PaperClay is much lighter when dry.

I should be ready to paint both the “stucco” wall and these flagstones by tonight but unless I get word from “herself”, I’m a little nervous about the color of the flagstone.

I’m sure I’ll get it wrong and never hear the end of it….



Thursday, March 17, 2011

Conservatory Walls

I was quite pleased with the windows so I put them aside to tackle the walls again.

According to Hester, Titania was an accomplished musician at an early age.  She played both the piano and violin.  The piano was kept in the ballroom (...really MUST find out where that ballroom is...) but she often practiced violin in the Conservatory amongst the ferns, orchids and other tropical plants, not to mention the odd parrot or two.  Her adoring father spent a fortune importing the exotic flora and fauna…. Strangely enough, most of them survived during the time the Conservatory was closed and are still flourishing.

Note to self: search Internet for miniature tropical plant kits; employ elves to make up kits.

Better yet, find plants already made…

Since this conservatory will be more “greenhouse” in flavor, I decided the exterior and interior lower walls would best be finished in the same way. The exterior would, of course, be more aged and dirtier than the interior.

After considering stone/brickwork, using either paperclay or egg cartons, I settled on a “stucco” look using light weight spackling compound.

 I used Patch ‘N Paint, which is the store brand for the local Ace Hardware store but I have used Fast ‘N Final by DAP which is exactly the same thing. I am sure other manufacturers have their own label. This can be found in the Paint aisle of any hardware store.

It has the consistency of buttercream frosting and is very easy to work with. If it gets a little dry, small amounts of water can be added to loosen it up. I used it white, straight out of the container but it can easily be colored with powdered tempra paint or even grated chalk. Using liquid paint to color it can  thin it out too much so be careful if you do this.

I wanted to seal the substrate (MDF) so it wouldn’t warp as the spackle dried. MDF has a tendency to absorb water so I first brushed on a light coat of full strength white glue (PVA) and let it dry.

I whipped up the spackle with a rubber kitchen spatula and applied it to the appropriate areas with a palette knife. I tried various means of texturing (small brush, etc.) but the tip of an old dull kitchen knife worked the best.

IMPORTANT: If you are NOT using disposable tools, be sure to wash up your tools before the spackle hardens.

First I coated all the exterior walls and then, when that was set, I turned them all over and coated the interior walls. I will wait a full 24 hours for this material to cure before I paint/age it.  I am sorry these photos are not rotated properly but I think you can still get the idea.

The magazine article I reference way back at the beginning also employed a stucco medium for the outside walls only. A combination of premixed grout and tub/tile caulk was used.  I cannot speak to how well the grout/caulk mixture worked or the ease of application but I’d guess it was fine. The pre-painted embellishments used on that project were applied right on top of the stucco.

I had some tub caulk but no premixed grout.  However,I did have the light weight spackle. Since I’d used it before, I felt comfortable with it in this application. I vowed to complete this project using only what I had/have on hand.