Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Lighting Dilemma...

I have this ongoing problem with the lighting in my workroom (a.k.a. dining room though it hasn't been used for that purpose in nearly three years). I need bright white LED bulbs in my fixture to provide good lighting for minis, but it casts a weird tone in a lot of my photos. Often, my iPhone camera gets confused by it, causing the display to brighten then dim. Sometimes I can diffuse the light a bit with a sheet of polystyrene dollhouse flooring and that helps. But try to hold the camera steady, hold the diffuser steadily to cast just the right shadow over the subject and push the button simultaneously . It must be absolutely ridiculous to watch! I am trying a few apps that supposedly snap the photo for you on voice command, but so far, the results are sketchy.

I am calling the above photo the "in my underwear" shot, because in order to show you the light fixture I have to show you what my work space looks like when I am in the middle of a project. I do clean up and put stuff away in-between tasks because I don't function well in messy spaces. But there it is - it's okay if you judge me! :o)
A couple years back HBS sent an email flash sale. They were offering a Houseworks Side By Side Duplex kit for (if I remember correctly) $9.99. It's been in that stack of "future dreams" ever since. Lately, I've been thinking I could turn it into a photo box of sorts. When constructed I could replace the plywood roof with a plexi one, then set a diffuser on that to take photos.

Look ma! No hands! :o)

If I used neutral finishes for the interior, I could photograph almost everything in it. The size is 24" wide by 10" deep, so I can easily tuck it up on my shelf when not in use!

So last Saturday, I started the kit. It comes with 6 pieces of luan plywood and 5 pieces of trim for the edges. There are no tabs, slots or grooves, so tape, glue and weights saved the day! The plywood is thin and slivery - I still have 3 of them I can't quite dig out, so if you get one of these kits be aware.

My floor piece was pretty warped, but using the weights made it behave while the glue set. I knew going in it would be challenging thanks to following Kat's posts when she put hers together. I went back to her blog for a refresher before I started. Hers came out awesome and really shows how neat this kit can be with a little imagination!

Each of the three shorter walls are interchangeable, which makes it nice because you can set it up for your specific purposes. The back wall has the windows centered vertically, so you can change the orientation of them, as well. I wanted each space to be separate (think two different business sharing a common wall) so I have the doors on each of the end walls. I cheated the center wall to the right so that the left "shop" had just a bit more space.

For the interior of shop 1, I wanted a rustic but neutral feel. I was thinking of a Pottery Barn or Ballard Designs kind of feel. I had an abundance of 1/8" x 3/4" basswood on hand, so decided to clad the walls in "reclaimed barn wood". I made up a few test pieces with a Real Brown wash (3 parts water to 1 part paint) then set to painting a whole lot of sticks and scrap pieces!

After some drying time, I coated over the brown with a 2 to 1 wash of Warm White. 2 coats, then after they had dried, I sanded to achieve a nice worn and pickled whitewash.

During all that drying time, I painted an undercoating in the room, just in case any cracks should show peeks of the wall. The doors and windows were treated to the same process.

I installed vertical "beams" in the corners and around the door, then began to clad the walls. I am still considering my options for crown molding, so I am leaving the top row off for now.

I decided to go with some Houseworks flooring for this project. I like it's ease of use, it looks really nice no matter what kind of finish you're going for, and it's paper backed - a real plus when gluing onto thin plywood. The less chance for warping, the better! After making the paper template of the room, I just tape the pattern to the edge of the flooring sheet and cut with an xacto knife. Easy peasy!

In keeping with the neutral and rustic theme, I gave the floor two coats of the white wash, letting them dry in between, then sanding at the end. The wood sheet tends to curl during this process but not to worry - it lays right back down as it dries! I installed with Gorilla Wood Glue - same glue I've used for everything so far. While all of this was drying, I settled on the material to use for the baseboards and got them painted. Installing them is the next step!

I'll also be creating a solution for those unsightly and trip hazardly door thresholds. Stay tuned for that in my next post!

Until then my friends, I hope the holiday season is filling your heart with joy and excitement!

xo xo,

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Elf Has Left The Building...

A very big and very heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway, and also to those of you who take moments out of your busy life to visit and comment. I treasure the learning and supporting that happens in our community almost as much as I do having minis in my life. You are all so awesome in so many wonderful ways!

There were a total of 27 mini enthusiasts who participated in the giveaway drawing from 10 different US cities and 9 countries! Miniatures really do make the world a smaller place! :O)

Enough with the small talk (lol). A very helpful little elf came by this morning. He reached his little hand into the stocking where all the entrants names had been placed. He swished and stirred them until he was satisfied that they were mixed thoroughly. And then, he withdrew a name. And the winner is...

Congratulations Irina!!! I hope you'll share what you make with us on your creative and inspiring blog, and I hope Lily Luna is a happy winner too!

Please send an email with your mailing address to me at:

If I hear back before the weekend ends, I'll mail it out on Monday!

xo xo,

Friday, December 1, 2017

Get Creative Holiday Giveaway!

It's that time of year when I start feeling super crafty. The problem is, there are so many ideas and so little time! Fortunately, I started the Sweet Christmas Cottage back in July, so I had a lot of time to make the many little things I dreamed would go into it. There is truly nothing better than seeing your ideas come to life!

But what about those of you who didn't have four months, and still want to do something creative for the holidays? Well, I might be able to help with...

A Get Creative Holiday Giveaway!

I made up some extra minis, and along with an old Michael's Hutch, you may just be able to pull together a nice vignette!

The Giveaway items include:

Gingerbread House on Landscaped Board &
Christmas Stocking (not pictured)

Apron and several Rugs

Gifts, Wrapping Paper Rolls, Gingerbread Cookies, Candy Canes, Christmas Cards, Clock and Art Prints

Old Michael's Hutch

All the items are in 1/12th scale.

The rules to enter are:

  1. Follow my blog.
  2. Leave a comment on this blog post with your idea for a holiday scene.
  3. Live somewhere on planet Earth.
A Christmas Elf will come by on Friday, December 8th to draw a name from the entrants. The winner's name will be posted right here, so check back quick! I'll need to mail this stuff to you pronto!

And if you need some inspiration, get your Google on! There are a million ideas out there so enter, and best of all, let that creativity flow!

Big Mushy Christmastime Hugs,

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sweet Christmas Cottage - Last Room Completed

I surprised myself and whipped through the bedroom in record time! It was a fairly simple room to do, because I only had to make up a couple things. The rest were made ahead while working on other similar things, purchased, or made for me by talented mini friends!

I began last weekend making up a spray paint booth from an Amazon box, scrap of stair stringer and some wire. I needed to paint the pot metal bed frame from Phoenix Models. I'd show you photos, but after installing an iPhone update, five of my photos just disappeared. I'm grateful that was all I lost.

I sprayed several coats of black, then several more of ivory. Then sanded a few worn spots. Then I carefully painted the tiny wheels and castors. You could really do a lot of fancy detailing on this frame if you want to spend the time.

Next, I covered the frame board in fabric just in case you ever need to look under the bed. Then a made a dust ruffle and attached it.

Then I made a mattress out of foam board and batting, covering it in an off-white "fitted sheet"

I made all of the rest of the bedding from cotton fabric. All glue and no sewing, including the bed pillows. I didn't even have to pull out my machine! I left rubber bands on it overnight to help shape the sheet and comforter to the mattress.

I would love to shrink myself down and take a nap here for a while. I think it would be a good long time before anyone in our house discovered me here!

Did you notice the gorgeous hand embroidered pillows? They are the handy work of Kat from Kitty and Kat Miniatures! Aren't they wonderful! And they go so perfectly with the bedding fabric!

All of the little things on Jim & Ellie's nightstands were purchases, including the nightstands. There are some good Christmastime reads, alarm clock and pocket watch, glasses, hand lotion and some festive snowpeople.

The bathrobes are ready to wrap themselves into after a nice hot bath. Jim really gets into the season, and looks forward to wearing his Santa robe.

 and more Christmas gifts are waiting on the chair to be placed under the tree. The chair is a good old quick and easy Chrysnbon kit.

For now, Ellie and Jim have all they need to celebrate Christmas in their Sweet Christmas Cottage. Although middle of the night trips to the bathroom could be a little dangerous, Jim is an adventurous man and doesn't mind for now. A hinged stairway floor door is on his To-Do list for the future, along with a small dresser to store clothing.

You'll get to meet Jim and see Ellie again enjoying the season sometime during December. Speaking of December - be sure to stop by sometime December 1st. I have a few little Christmas goodies to give away to someone who needs a little challenge and a little love!

Back soon,
xo xo,

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sweet Christmas Cottage - Gingerbread Exterior

It has been such fun to watch the exterior evolve. Each layer getting closer to the sweet vision I imagined.

When It was time to click the lights on, I held my breath. Then, seeing each one glowing, I squealed with delight!

I made the post and porch lights by drilling out clear resin gumdrops for globes and candy cane pieces for poles. The little peppermints made perfect spacers!

For the porch posts, I drilled holes into candy canes and gum drops bases, then used resin to anchor the pins to make them sturdy.

I couldn't resist making a cookie cutter wind chime for the front porch!

The chimney is removable for access in case of wiring issues. Let's hope I never have to remove it though.

The other side was calling for some Tudor style frosting covered timbers.

I just love how the interior lights shine through the candy windows!

As usual, when viewing the photos I see opportunities to add more things. I recon I will, but the main focus will be to get the bedroom finished up in time for Christmas.

Wishing each and every one of you a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of everything to be thankful for!

xo xo,