Monday, January 21, 2013

Summer in the Courtyard:

 The large variety Clematis are on their second blush. It is August in the walled courtyard.  The sun has warmed the walls, even the bees are drunk on the softness of the air.

Well, back to reality  ..... another wall has its vine completed!

This is the corner where the steamer chair will recline. I bought an appropriate sized leaf  to replicate clematis foliage. I used portions of an ivy leaf vine that I also used for the hydrangea petiolaris on the utility wall. The stem and a base for applying foliage was glued into position and trimmed pieces of the foliage applied to that.  You can see pieces of foliage cut ready to be glued onto the base.

You can also see two yogurt container lids. I use my collection of lids to contain projects under way. The lids also serve as a convenient place to mix paints and put dots of glue. I usually wash the lids when I am finished and reuse them.

These plastic flowers were a good start for the clematis. To help them look more dimensional I filled the centres with puffy paint and tinted them yellow - also trimmed the plastic ends of each petal and cut little shapes into the centre crown before painting the markings on the petals.  This really helped make the flowers look more interesting.

Of course you need a few different sizes and buds so I painted watercolour paper pink, then used a star punch to make buds.

The large size clematis buds rise on longish stems before opening wide making the stem less noticeable. I put the buds on fine green wire and painted a little yellow onto the loop I formed at the top of the wire.
I cut each arm of the star almost to the centre where I had made a hole with a heavy needle.
I pressed each petal to create shape before manipulating it into a bud form.
The watercolour paint always shows darker when it is wet.

Below you can see I have applied the flowers and buds to the vine. In August the clematis has a second flush of flowers that do not cover the vine as it does earlier in the spring.

Roses Progress....none!

I imagined I would do the climbing rose on the house first but I still have not worked out how to do the foliage satisfactorily. I do not aim for a duplicate only a miniature representation of the "thing" but it will come to me soon I am sure.

In the meantime a trellis and planter box needed to be made for the rose bush. Here is the Versailles planter box. It is made with basswood, the little decorative balls are held in place with pins while the glue dries.

I also had to change the configuration of the gravel path to fit the box in properly beside the door.

While I continue to think about rose foliage I found some very nice textured beads, in my collection, of suitable size to add a bit of decoration to the walls.

I had only the amount I needed. They are now mounted on bass wood plinths and have yet to have the holes filled before being painted.  I never imagined that I could ever use these beads. Miniaturists - you must never throw anything away!!!

It was foggy today but earlier this week we had one perfect sunny day. The photo below was taken a few minutes before sunrise. You may notice the ice slush on the edge of the water.

 This was a few minutes later as the brightness of the rising sun washed out the colour in the sky.

I think we take a photo of of this view, in its many variations, almost every day.

Have a great week.

Regards Janine

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Distracting Projects


I admit it.  I'm easily distracted. In my defence - this is a hobby and I am supposed to be having fun!

To try and add character to this familiar plastic hour-glass dress form I cut tissue strips from the French language portion of an old pattern. I then decoupaged the tissue to the form and trimmed it with matching lace.

I've been considering planters for the courtyard. Over time I have picked up a few varieties of napkin holders from the Thrift Store.  These are a bargain at about .50 cents a box.  I like the shapes and would like to find some use for them.  The one in the foreground is my favourite.

I am enjoying rusting items so applied a little moss to the top of this teapot before I treated it.

Making roses..... still developing the best system for me.

Not quite right yet but I like the colour!

Where are your little projects taking you?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mini Gifts and Breakfast Trays

 Mini Gifts:

 This is my birthday gift from Elizabeth.  When I received it she had packaged it with cellophane and a red cookie star cookie cutter. The attached card had a picture of the items she had reproduced in miniature.

Recently she visited and while she and Bruce experimented with her little Elf camera I unpacked the little parcels she had bought for me.

A potted orange tree.

and a basket of breads...little Eiffel towers, buns, country breads and baguettes.

Elizabeth makes wonderful things in general. I think her breakfast trays are amazing. I own two that I am showing you once again.  I would love to collect more - but then I would be committed to doing a Bed and Breakfast Miniature House!

Note to self:  Finish one thing before beginning another.

So I show great restraint.

Did you notice the little chickadee bird under the flowers on the edge of the tray above?

If  you have enjoyed seeing some of her work, please link to her blog to see more of her trays, tutorials and other projects.

I try and have her visit us as often as possible. Wouldn't you!

regards Janine

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Door to Outdoors

To door or not to door:

I tried to convince myself that it was too much trouble to remove the window. The windows gave symmetry to the wall, how could I balance a single door against the weight of  windows with shutters and how could I match the stucco if it was damaged.  I knew the electrical tape would have to be cut but after checking the original electrical plan realised it was the end of a run. Most importantly - I thought I was finished with that wall of the house!!

Whatever excuse I thought up it did not help. I really knew I had to take out the window and put in a door to access the walled courtyard.

This is how it all started.

So sad, removal of the louvres damaged the wall.

The floor is damaged too!

Mmmm starting to like that damaged stucco look!

I can tell already that the space is looking better!

Just add trim and the door... and door hardware, of course. Cute little lever on the inside and knob on the outside - both with a little escutchion made from a jewellery finding. Thanks Bruce.

Cleo, the cat, likes it and I do too!

The photographs make it look a simple project!

What do you think? Was it worth the effort?
Regards Janine

Monday, January 7, 2013

Garden Corner

At last! progress: Come with me for a short visit to the walled courtyard.
  Here we have the utility area, paved with limestone bedded on gravel. A little grotesque cheerfully 
guards the potting bench and shelters under the hygrangea petiolaris.
 He is sitting so quietly that moss is beginning to grow on his seat. 
 The gardener is trying to revive a little plant inherited from a friend. The pots await transplants while the birdcage,
 partially concealed, continues to rust away.

You can see one of the decorative garden balls placed in the old iron planters. 
These decorations divide the flower garden from the work area. 

On the architectural plinth is an old bee skep with a honey label. The bright colour of the everlasting flowers attract the bees. A little birdhouse is almost concealed in the growth of the climbing hydrangea. The mirror was crackled and the surround of the mirror is trimmed to compliment the windows of the house.

A closer look at the climbing vine. This was reconstructed from a small scale ornamental ivy
vine. Leaves were chosen for their smaller size and most repainted. The flowers were a brilliant find received from Elizabeth

I had been working my fingers to the bone punching out little circles in the attempt to make the flowers. The photo below shows the vine climbing over on to the other side of the wall.

Stepping back a little we can watch as a bird tries to find a mate in the crackled mirror. The pathway and decorative garden ball ornament is reflected as well.

A closer look at the bee skep - simply made by wrapping string around a clay pot and topping with a toggle button and label.

Above:  An overview of the flower garden - representations of agapanthus, hydrangea, chartruse green chrysanthemum, spires of bugbain and black mega-mondo grass contained by a finely trimmed boxwood hedge.
I purchased the agapanthus some years ago at the Seattle Miniature Show but made the other plants. The chrysanthemum leaves are made with an oak-leaf punch to cut painted water-colour paper.  Leaves were shaped and applied to paper-wrapped wire. The flowers are a little plastic daisy that you may find at a craft store like Michaels or Joannes in the U.S.

The daisies are trimmed to various sizes and painted. The black mondo was sea grass for an aquarium - painted and trimmed. The hydrangea - once again I used the ivy leaves painted a more consistent paler green, the flowers are from a floral pic. The bugbain (to attract bees) can be found at most craft places as well. The ornamental balls are from the dollar store - 12 for $1. The grotesque was the top of a stamp.

Below is another view that can only be seen when the garden is detached from the wall. Yes! I must paint the back of the architectural salvage. The soil was made from a mix of dried coffee grinds and tea bag leaves. I thinned white glue and mixed the "soil" then applied it around the plants that were each held in place by a small piece of foam. That was a messy idea. Wonder if any of you have found a better way? Fortunately the hedge held everything in place.

You can see that I have only worked on approximately a fifth of the garden space. When I started I felt it was not large enough to fit the things I had planned to put in it. I am happy now with its size and I know I still have a lot of challenges ahead - which of course is the pleasure in working on a project like this.

Below is a final look at this part of the courtyard garden, in place against the house.
It is great to be able to detach this area as it is much easier to work on it than it is to work inside rooms of the house.

I hope this look at the utility area is of interest to you and that some of the information may be helpful. If there is anything you would like to know don't hesitate to ask and I will try and help.

I had been doing a lot of thinking about this area and seemed to be dragging my feet in getting to the foliage. Once I began I was so inspired and enthusiastic I could hardly leave my work area to concentrate on real life. It made me feel very happy!

I hope it makes you happy too!

Regards Janine