Wednesday, April 17, 2019

F: Frogs and Fountains

These little frogs are so tiny that my camera squints when I try to photograph them. Only about 5mm long, they're perfect for a 1/12 scale dollhouse garden. I'll be making a fresh batch soon, and I'll show you process photos and some ideas on how to use them in and around your dollhouse.
Rainbow with the first rain - August 2013

In our real-life garden, there are several ponds and a fountain. Needless to say, there are frogs and in summer they have very loud concerts at night. They're not the only noisy ones though. Just look at how the grey loeries enjoy the fountain. Their real name is Corythaixoides concolor, but colloquially we also call them kwêvoëls or go-away birds, for the sound they make.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

E is for Endurance

I've persevered with my resin experiments over the last few weeks. Also been exclaiming in exasperation quite often. I switched to white resin. It's great for hiding bubbles and imperfections, but it comes with a new set of challenges. Still, I managed to make quite a few embellishments and they're ready to be sanded and painted.

Here's a bit of biographical chat.

 Denoting or relating to a race or other sporting event that takes place over a long distance or otherwise demands great physical stamina.
2. The capacity of something to last or to withstand wear and tear.
Very often when we use the word endure, we mean that we're suffering. I know, because in pity-party conversations with myself I regularly ask why I'm forced to endure this or that. However, endurance also has powerful affirmative connotations.
There’s something about an item or activity which has stood the test of time that grounds us and helps to make sense of life. To me, it's ballet.
Geared up for class.
Ha, I bet you didn’t know that I’m a secret ballerina! This month marks my fourth anniversary at the Dance Hub adult ballet studio. I started dancing for the first time after a prolonged illness. My life was in tatters; my body was weak and scarred, and my mind dwelled in dark places.
When I enrolled in ballet classes, I promised myself that I would not give up until three months passed, no matter what. I hated the first weeks; I was excruciatingly self-conscious, I was so tired all the time, and I couldn’t do the simplest things such as balance on my toes. I endured those classes with a capital E.
My favourite ballet shirt.
Gradually, I started understanding ballet terminology, I learned which muscles to use, and I became a bit stronger. While I was doing battle with the physical aspects of mastering the most difficult form of dance, something else was happening in the background. Every slight conquest boosted my self-confidence and  I learned to relax. 
Our beautiful teacher, Louina.
That's me against the window on the left, balancing on my toes :-)

One day I burst out of class and exclaimed, I love ballet! I realized then that I’d found the other kind of endurance; the kind that lets you push your body until you become hot and sweaty and it feels great.
Practice, practice, practice.
Don’t imagine that I’m any good at it. No matter how much I practice, I will always be the clumsiest ballerina in class but ballet has become a part of my life, one of those enduring things that give meaning to everything else. There are such lovely people in the class, the teachers are fantastic, and working on my body, mind, and attitude has had a tremendous spill-over benefit to other areas of my life.
Jump for joy! That's me in the centre.
May you find joy in everything you do this week.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Buckets and Straws

Making enamel utensils for the dollhouse is on my to-do list for a long time. Miniaturists do it with so much realism, I thought it would be an intricate process.
Once I started, the only challenge was to stop adding rust stains and chips before the buckets became too damaged and grubby to use. This project was good fun, didn't require special tools or supplies, and it was quick to make. I used cardboard from cereal boxes which I 'rescued' from the dustbin in the interest of protecting the environment, so I feel extra happy with my buckets on that account. When I have a bit more time I will make a tutorial so that you can try it too.

Speaking of the environment - plastic drinking straws were banned in many countries at the beginning of 2019, and the rest of the world is soon to follow. Surveys show that people in affluent countries spend more money on take-out food than groceries. Most take-away food comes in plastic containers and straws are at the forefront of the movement to stop single-use plastic from overwhelming the planet.
I'm all in favour of cleaning up the oceans and reducing the size of landfills but my heart was heavy at the thought of losing drinking straws as a craft source. One can do so many things with them, from dollhouse drain pipes to pram wheel axles, the uses for straws are endless.

One morning last week, Siegfried and I sneaked out for a double thick milkshake (I'm an unadventurous vanilla person). Imagine my delight when I pulled the wrapper off the straw to discover a sturdy cardboard tube! You can see it at the top of this picture. The other straws are a bendy straw from a juice box, McDonald's milkshake straw, and an ordinary plastic drinking straw. While I will jealously guard my stash of plastic straws for future use around the dollhouse, I'm going to invent lots of excuses to go for a milkshake so I can collect paper straws. Just when you think something is taken away, a valuable new provision is added!

What do you use drinking straws for, and what other kinds of plastic or paper containers do you repurpose for your dollhouse?

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Short and Sweet

Hey, what's going on?
Nothing much or lots, depending on how you look at it.
February had a surprise in the form of a visit from my father in law, Siegfried, all the way from Germany. He will be with us for a few more weeks and while he's here, I'm cooking delicious food and making sure he gets enough rest and frequent short walks.
I'm busy with my various jobs, working on my long-term goal of achieving an organized life, and despite everything else going on in the past few weeks, I made great strides with miniatures.
I've set aside the clay and fabric for a while and started experimenting with resin. Anything sticky and messy is outside my comfort zone but I think I'm finally mastering the medium and loving the result.
If you're getting ready for spring and enjoying warmer days, make the most of it. Here in South Africa, we're bringing in the harvest and basking in mild end-of-summer days with glorious sunshine.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

How to Give Chocolate to a Miniaturist

Henning went overseas recently. When he came back, there was the usual ceremony of gifts from afar.
Henning: 'I brought you chocolate.'
Me: 'Wonderful!' Thinking: not. I'm not much of a chocolate eater and when I do, I prefer supermarket brands to the fancy-schmancy imported stuff.
Hmm. The tin is pretty. It would be ideal for keeping pencils.
Whoa! Look at those wrappers. Each one has a reproduction of a classic painting printed on glossy paper. I could frame them and hang them in my dollhouse.
And there's a pencil. Multicolor, no less! I haven't had one of those since I was a kid. Writing with it is going to be so much fun.

Me, holding out the tin to Henning: 'Would you like a chocolate? Mind you don't tear the wrapper or the foil.' Thinking: The gold foil is going to come in handy for making dollhouse Christmas decorations.

That my friends, is how you engineer a win-win situation when living with a miniaturist. All parts appreciated, except the chocolate, which was eagerly devoured by the man with a sweet tooth.

Mini-wise, I'm working on a village of tiny houses at present. They are cast in resin and hand painted. Initially, I had misgivings about my mini painting skills but as I go along, I'm becoming addicted to the process and loving how I can individualize every building.

I'm not only playing with miniatures. A large shipment of teddy bear making supplies arrived and I'm busy unpacking and adding new items to the website. Glass eyes and smaller sizes of safety eyes which were out of stock are available again.
These pretty colored safety eyes come in several sizes and have a glitter backing. Difficult to photograph, but stunning in real life. Velvet noses and other goodies are on the website already and the eyes should be on the site by Wednesday.

Wishing you a sweetly creative week.