Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Teapot for Jodi and Other Stories

Jodi Hipler at My Miniature Madness is building a dollhouse called Storybook Cottage. It's got a teatime theme and I'm enchanted with the house even if it's far from finished.
Ages ago I made a few mouse teapots following a Youtube tutorial by Christel Jensen. Christel is one of my long-time miniaturist heroes, and together with Angie Scarr probably the reason I started making polymer clay food. I see that Christel has taken the teapot video down, but there are still some delicious cupcake tutorials on her page.

Enough name dropping. Jodi, I'm sure I could do a better job if I tried making one of these teapots now and I would love to send you one to add to your cottage kitchen. If you would like a mouse teapot please let me know what colour you prefer and I will get onto it. You will most likely only receive it at Christmas for reasons below.


On to Other Stories.

You might have noticed that there have been no new posts on my blog for a while, that I've stopped commenting on the blogs I regularly follow and dropped off Facebook and Instagram.  I hope everyone haven't been having too much fun without me. As soon as I settle into my new routine, I will be back in full force.

What happened?  I GOT A NEW JOB!!! Yeah, I know. I already have several. But this one brings me closer to a dream I had almost given up on. I've always wanted to be able to say that I'm a writer. Real writers get paid for writing. Well, it's finally happening! In June I started working as a writer for a company that employs a whole team of writers. We even have editors who read the stuff we write and return it with lots of red marks. And then we get paid. I love it! (Ha ha, Emily and Sharon, I know you are reading this with your pencils tucked behind your ears). I'm not going to tell you who the company is or who our clients are, but I might talk in general terms of what I'm writing about in future.

For those of you enjoying summer in the northern hemisphere, I'm jealous as I sit at my computer under a blanket. If you are suffering from the heat wave in Europe, I hope it rains soon.

Writerly yours
Megan

P.S. One of my tarantulas is going to have babies at the end of August!









Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Hi Everyone

This is a quick update on the comment notification issues we are having in Blogger.
Yes, Blogger is aware of the problem.  It is not clear whether it has something to do with GDPR.  They just say that they are 'tweaking' the system and it should be back to normal soon.  They don't say when soon is, let's hope it's SOON!

Several people have suggested this workaround:
As soon as you post a new blog, leave a comment on it, and tick the 'Notify Me' box before you post it.  You will receive email notifications of any comment below yours.

If anyone is still battling with GDPR compliance, HERE's the best summary article I've found:

https://www.becomeablogger.com/26123/what-is-gdpr-how-it-affect-bloggers/





Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Plan A, B, C and D...

Ta-da!  The right hand wall of the Del Prado dollhouse hallway is finished. 
Here's the colour reveal you've been waiting for months to see.  I'm continuing with Chiffon Blue on the upper part of the walls, white above the picture rail and the dark blue on the bottom part is called Dutch Blue.  The hallway is going to look suitably formal, just the way the Victorians liked it.  The colours work well together.

I've been reading with amazement and admiration how some dollhouse builders make something, change their mind and do it over, then change their mind and do it over again.  The hallway is going a bit like that for me.  But I'm starting to realize that it's worth working one's way down the alphabet starting at Plan A, till you find that thing that works best.  Here's how the hallway developed so far:
You will remember that right in the beginning the walls were grey.  I hated it.  Looks like a prison corridor.

The first big change came with Plan B, when I switched to blue, which is a much softer colour.
I decided to divide the wall into panels.  But it looked incomplete.  It wanted something more, like a decoration inside each panel.
My first brilliant plan was to use my Cuttlebug (die cutting machine) to cut out medals to glue in place.  I even had a die that was the  perfect size and shape.
But I found the solid white centre part too overwhelming.  Then I had a not so brilliant plan - cutting out only the edges and the flower detail and sticking the pieces down individually.  After hours of untidy cutting and strips that broke and tore, I gave up on that plan, and all the bits of paper went sailing into the dustbin.  So much for Plan C.
Next, I rummaged in my costume jewelry stash and found this silver pendant.  I like the design and it has lots of texture, but it had some drawbacks.  I have only one, which would mean making a mould so that I could replicate it.  Even then, it's a little bit too small.  I would have to rethink the entire layout of the wall.  So I coshed that.  But I'm keeping the pendant in mind, it might feature somewhere else in the dollhouse later.
Finally, I found these pressed metal decorations in the bead drawer.  They fit perfectly!  And best of all, I have a whole handful of them.
Several layers of white paint later the wall is perfect.
Even with several coats of paint, there is lots of fine detail on the metal pressings. 

So this is where I'm at right now.  I really can't put off working on the staircase any longer.  That will have to be the next thing I do.

P.S.  Blogger is misbehaving when it comes to leaving comments on my blog.  For some reason I'm not receiving notification emails when there are new comments on my posts.  When Blogger ignored my request for help, I went into settings to try and fix it myself, and all of a sudden everything went G+.  When I finally got rid of that, a whole lot of comments that I had seen, but not replied to, just evaporated into thin air.  If you haven't been able to comment, or your comment disappeared, my sincere apologies!  I hope that the problem is resolved soon.  If anyone has had a similar problem, and know how to fix it, I would love to hear from you.












 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

It's always cocktail hour...

They say it's always cocktail hour somewhere in the world.  It's true for other activities too. 
I've been attending a series of lectures in San Francisco, which is why you didn't hear much from me in May.  The fact that I'm in South Africa no longer matters, one can virtually participate in virtually anything online these days.  My night-time campus home in San Fran is only a click of the mouse away. 
The snag is the time difference.  I've become used to setting my alarm for 3am so that I can stumble out of bed to watch students in strappy tops stroll into the auditorium at 7pm while I'm huddled at my computer under a blanket clutching a cup of cocoa. 
I've done it for so many days that I lost count.  By the time the sun comes up in the morning I'm not sure which hemisphere I'm in, never mind winter or summer, sunrise or sunset.  My circadian rhythms are confused. 
Yesterday I saw a large bird perched on the fountain.  It was the approximate size and colour of an ostrich, only with short legs.  When I blinked it disappeared.  The same has been happening with creatures scurrying across the floor, seen from the corner of my eye.  I realized that I'm exhausted and I need a break. 
Last night I slept for twelve hours. When I woke up this morning I knew that it's a sunrise I'm seeing out there. 
I've had a leisurely breakfast, dusted the Del Prado dollhouse and today I'm doing nothing but work on the hallway. 
If it's cocktail hour in your part of the world, have one on me!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Meet Gene

In an age where my contemporaries are writing letters to Santa about laser cutting machines and 3D printers, I'm dreaming of milling machines and a lathe.  I just can't conform.
These are the kind of toys one can't really afford to buy with one's pocket money.  It could also easily turn out to be that toy that one absolutely had to have, just to figure out it's not nearly as much fun as it promised to be.  So when Elga Koster invited me to spend some time playing in her workshop, I grabbed the opportunity without a moment's hesitation.  Not only does she have the coolest equipment, she's one of the world's foremost carpenters in miniature.  Learning from her is a privilege bestowed on very few.
Gene started out as a number of blocks of wood cut to length and prepared for the lathe.
After careful measuring, first cuts are made on the lathe to determine proportions and guide future shaping.  She looks like a little robot doesn't she?  At this point my head was spinning faster than the lathe.  So many calculations and adjustments, and does this thingy tighten clockwise, or the other way around?!
Some time later this...
... has become this.
A recognizable doll.  So thrilling!
The milling machine is used to create flat surfaces, drill slots and holes for the joints, and a groove where the nose will be attached later.
Robot girl no more.  I'm about to cut the doll free from the waste wood at the end of the limbs.
 A dry fit to make sure that everything is in the right place.
Then some fun painting her with enamel paints.
Inserting and cutting off the wooden dowels for the peg joints.
Meet Gene.  She's a fully posable 1/12 scale penny doll in the style of dolls made in Germany and the Netherlands in the late 19th century.  They are also sometimes called Dutch dolls.  I'm going to have lots of fun dressing her in future.  She will be Hitty's best friend (I'm going to introduce you to Hitty soon).  For now she sits on my desk and keeps me company.
Below are some examples of antique penny dolls I found on the Internet.
https://za.pinterest.com/pin/127367495685770678/ 
http://luminousvoyage.blogspot.co.za/search?updated-max=2012-10-12T16:34:00-07:00&max-results=7
Understanding how these dolls were made, I have lots of respect for them.  Even though they are called penny dolls and were meant to be inexpensive toys, hours of work goes into the making of such a doll. 
Would I make more of them if I had my own equipment?  Undoubtedly.  Smaller and smaller too!  Until then I will be happy to work with clay and fabric and do simple carpentry and dream of dolls.