Monday, 20 April 2015

Out of the Garden and Into the Sweetshop........And Easter Comes Late.

What I had hoped would be a job for a week became a much greater project than anticipated but the garden is finally planted. In about five years it might actually look good!! So today I decided to rest my weary back and return to the workshop for some real fun.
One item I came across while foraging for plants and compost I came across these glass bunny ears......
......which belong to this quirky glass dome. With 75% off and an absolute steal at £7.50 I could not pass it by, I knew it would be perfect for a teeny, if late, Easter project.
 I saw this table on Ebay by Julie a seller I have not come across before and thought it would a perfect piece to showcase some special Easter food minis supplemented by my own minis as usual. 
It didn't come with a base but that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
 I have these wonderful pieces by my favourite food artists, Paris Miniatures and Petit D'Licious both on Etsy. I will add to the scene myself with Spring flowers and Easter Eggs, maybe a couple of chicks and some bunting too. You never know it might be finished by next Easter!
 I returned to my lollipops from previously and they really are a bit clumpy. With miniature food I have discovered that small never seems to be small enough but I am still on a massive learning curve with all things clay. The other problem with the lollipops is the size of florist wire I had bought, this is ok for the bigger lollies but is much too thick for the smaller ones.
 They were all matt after baking so I looked up what I should use to add a gloss glaze to the clay. I had some Sculpey varnish and some gloss medium so I have tried both of these, one coat has improved them slightly I will add another coat tomorrow.
 These lollies have had glitter or floss added, bit of a mistake, as now I can't gloss them, another thing to remember.
These are the products I have used to add gloss to the clay. Hopefully they are ok and will not effect the clay.
I have bought some more florist wire in smaller gauges, it took me a while to realise the higher the number the thinner the wire but I should have enough variations now surely! 
All things clay seem to be so time consuming and I don't seem to have much to show for my time today. Then if I make a mistake, mostly due to complete ignorance, it is like I have wasted a couple of hours. I am always in too much of a rush to finish all the small tasks which in most projects seem never ending. I need to remember that, "Tomorrow is another day."

Friday, 3 April 2015

It's Been Raining Lollipops Today.......

After a morning of digging with my youngest son in our very muddy garden I decided it was time to lock myself away in the workshop for a session of sweet making.
I want to have lots of sweeties on display in the dormer windows but because of the angle of the roof the shelf space is very narrow at the bottom of each window.
I think I will fill a couple of the windows with lollipops as they will give height without too much depth. So I got out the clay and started with some very basic round lollipops in a variety of sizes. As you can see from my desk I have used quite a few colours but they will be used all round Honeydukes. Once I decide to get the clay out I try to make as many as I can.
I picked up these nail de-cals in Poundland a few weeks ago as I thought they would be great for lollipops and sweeties.
 These are some of what I made using Fimo and then just playing around really. I have given them quite long sticks so I can cut them to size once I decide where they will be going.
 They still need to be varnished but the de-cals look quite effective on these liquorice lollies. 
 Strawberry Sherbert lollipops.
Not too sure about the orange ones with chocolate decorations but the twirly ones came out ok. I have used white sugar craft wire for the 'sticks' in a 20 gauge but I could probably do with one slightly thinner for the smaller lollies.
I also made some lemon sherbert lollies and some purple butterfly lollies. They all need a coat of varnish now but I have called it a day and come in for my dinner, cooked for me tonight, what a treat.
Have a lovely holiday weekend however you intend to celebrate. I have a couple of outings planned so my sweet making will be on hold for a couple of days. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Bricklaying Continues on Honeydukes....So Many Pitfalls.

The on-going saga of the roof of Honeydukes continues. This project is really testing my patience and definitely showcasing my lack of general building skills.
The two tall, skinny chimneys that I cobbled together from balsa have now been covered in brickslips. I am done with worrying about shades of grey and have gone with weathered slips from Minaco miniature brick suppliers. I like their products as they are very easy to work with.
 The brick slips are very easy to cut and although they sometimes need sanding off they are light and reasonably priced. The last two factors are very important when putting together a large house or shop.
 I had to remove the false dormers from the rear roof because I need to add the brick slips and dress the windows. These tasks will be much easier to do before gluing them in place. I have painted all the walls of the dormers a dark grey because I decided not to grout either the windows or the chimneys.
 The areas I have added the bricks to, on the dormers are fiddly shapes and to be honest I just couldn't face more grouting. 
 The edges of the chimneys and windows have been sanded, these bricks sand off very easily, which worked really well and meant I did not have to worry about all the angles.
 My first sanding off led to my loosing a few bricks or they chipped. Not too much of a problem as the broken slips could be easily replaced. The next batch I sealed first with a strong PVA/water mix, this bound the slips together and my next batch of sanding led to far fewer casualties. 
The sealing has, however, made the bricks look a lot more slate-like and less weathered. They have also darkened off a bit.......but, they are going with a slate roof so I am not going to look for problems, onwards and upwards!
With all the brickwork laid, sanded and sealed I can now move on to dressing the windows with all things nice, sprinkled with a layer of dust. If this horrible weather persists there will be no gardening going on for a while. Yippee!

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Spring Trip to Miniatura......Are Fairs in Decline?

As part of the deal for having my workshop installed I agreed to give the garden a bit of a makeover following the building work. So for the last couple of weeks I have been taking advantage of some glorious Spring weather in order to dig, scatter and plant. I am not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination so it has been a really hard work and lots of trips to the garden centres. Having completed about half of the planned changes the weather has changed so I am back to working in a much smaller scale thank goodness!
As a reward for all my hard work I headed off to Spring Miniatura at the NEC this weekend with a small list of necessary supplies and hopefully a chance for inspiration. 
 My first stop was at the stand of doll artist, Julie Campbell, as I knew she has been working on lots of new characters for the show. I couldn't resist the glint in the eye of this saucy witch.
 Such a friendly and welcoming witch will be perfect for my Roots and Shoots wizarding plant shop.
 This young Weasley was a definite for Flourish and Blotts.
 Very studious like her Aunt Hermione I think. Julie's dolls are among my favourites and it was lovely to meet her and her daughter again.
I have decided to go with the staff nook in the upper floor of Honeydukes and I want it to have the feel of my childhood with a mix of '50's and '60's furniture and a bit of kitsch. This Sally Meekins  tea set seemed to fit the bill. I remember my mum had a whole collection of vegetable related kitchen pieces. They will find a place on a utility tea trolley. 
 I also spent a lot of time with Jane Harrop's kit display and came away with quite a haul.
 These pieces will either find a place in the staff sitting area or be saved for other projects. Jane and her husband are real enthusiasts, offering tips and advice to all visitors. Their website is a fantastic source for miniature kits in all scales.
For a little while now I have been conscious of the declining number of stands at both Miniatura and Kensington as many real miniature craftsman are retiring or simply moving away from miniatures altogether. This can be seen in the increasing number of general sellers especially in Birmingham. 
With this in mind I had decided before the show to buy a few pieces by Danny Shotton who produces the most fabulous pieces of hand crafted ironmongery.
I have the intention of having a garden shed showcasing his work. When I eventually get close to Danny's stand, it is always mobbed, I overhear him telling someone that this will be his last show if not for ever then for a good while. This leads to a bit of unexpected and panic buying by yours truly as you can see by these two little bags of goodies!!
Danny will still be selling by mail, there is not a web site, for a while at least but I would suggest that if you are collecting his pieces you don't delay.
His pieces are for sale on a couple of collector's websites but they are a lot cheaper if you buy directly from him.
I had a lovely day out, met up with some other mini enthusiasts and shopped far more than I ought but I must admit to being slightly disappointed in the drop in the number of stands. I do like to buy on the Internet but I love being able to see pieces too, especially if they are at the top of my price band. I am not sure Miniatura is offering this type of miniature at the moment. It is a great show for supplies, especially dolls houses and shop boxes but for me it may have become a once a year trip rather than twice. Saying that there are so few quality fairs even marginally south of the country I will probably still visit in the autumn!!
Hope your roofs are firmly nailed down wherever the wind is blowing tonight!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Mrs Flume, the Owner of Honeydukes Has Arrived.....Roof Windows in Place!

I asked Jo Medvenics of Pocket Pygmies to create a character for my current Honeydukes project. I wanted Mrs Flume to embody the sugar and spice of the 1950's with a witchy twist.
 As you can see Jo has excelled herself with this wonderful character who will eventually welcome all the students of Hogwarts into her sweet shop.
 She certainly has the shape of every 1950's movie star with the cutsie motherly look I so wanted.
 Her skirt has a haunted house pattern that will work perfectly with the interior colours of Honeydukes.
The welcoming smile will ensure all her customers enjoy their visit.
Jo's dolls are such a pleasure to own as each one is completely unique. Jo takes such care with each individual component of their costume which makes each one a treasure. 
The false dormer windows are on the back of the roof at last. I have fitted these first as if I have any problems these won't be on show and they will be good practice for the front windows which are essentially the ones that are seen all the time. I have also left space for the tall chimney stack. 
Two mistakes I have definitely made in my eagerness to see if they worked are: I forgot to stick in the glazing so now I have to add the 'glass' in situ and all these windows are to be filled with sweets and lollipops........the windows would have been much easier to dress before gluing to roof.
So now I can get on with the chimney stacks. I am going to glue on the brick slips before I attach the stacks to the roof as I think this will be easier to do on the worktop because of the steep angle of the roof. 
I have also decided to go with the slate for the roof, no more procrastinating onwards and definitely upwards!!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Honeydukes Building Continues....I Think I Have Hit the Wall!

Or at least I would really like to at the moment as I am definitely having a crisis of confidence with the exterior of Honeydukes at the moment. I don't like the match up of these bricks against the coarse stone of the bottom section. I have tried paint washing them but they came out too dark. I am now in the process of scrubbing and sanding them in order to lighten them up again. Hmmmm, then I have to decide what to do, keep them or take them all off. That will be a horrible job so I really want to avoid that if I can. 
I still haven't decided on the roof tiles either. I have slate, which I love but it is quite dark, and grey composite tiles by Minaco. Once I have scrubbed back the walls I will have to make a decision. I had wanted all my Hogsmeade shops to have a similar grey look but I am dithering now. Oh well, more scrubbing tomorrow....
 I am getting somewhere with the dormer windows now though. All the frames are painted and varnished, various shapes and sizes which has meant lots of different wood and gable shapes.
The sheer building mechanics has been a bit beyond my skills to be honest and they will require a fair bit of tweaking and bodging once they go onto the steeped pitch roof but I think the worst is behind me. Famous last words!
 The dormer pieces still have to be aged and sealed but I can see how they will fit together now. The tall, thin chimney stacks have also been put together ready for their bricks. So much wood has meant a lot of sealing in a desperate attempt to prevent warping once I start piling on the brick work. 
 I'm not sure what these parts are, gable ends? They are not perfectly cut but I can get away with slight deviations as wizards are well known bodgers! 
I can't begin assembling the windows on the roof until I have sorted out the exterior side walls. This has to be top of my list tomorrow then next week I can fit the front roof panel which has also been a right royal pain in the backside.
I designed this building and had my own plans cut out rather than try a kit bash. I have certainly made a lot of mistakes with my measurements, especially with the roof mechanics and size. Not sure I would go this route again. 
I am going to get this exterior done one way or the other next week or have a break from it altogether and have go back to the happy task of lollipop making.
Have a sunny Sunday!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Supplies for Minis That May Actually Do The Job!

I spend quite a lot of time browsing through items on Etsy and Ebay at jewellery findings, bezels, beads and all sorts of pendant glass. These items are used by lots of miniature artisans in many different ways so every so often I order a few bits and bobs.
Usually these orders end in disaster. The items are too big, too small or quite simply not what I was expecting at all.
So I go to Miniatura and look carefully at the stands which sell these sort of things or when in Hobbycraft I carefully study the many packets. Both of these sources seem to work out quite expensive and my success rate is no better.
 Today I received a package from an Etsy supplier that might change my success rate in a good way. I have been looking for tall glassware for Honeydukes and came across these in two sizes, 15mm and 20mm by 40mm, the 20mm size is perfect for Honeydukes but might be too large for other projects and........ 
 ......they even have lids. I wanted them for lollipops and cake pops as well as sweets, they might do the job quite nicely.
 These globes will certainly find a place in one or two of my projects. I ordered the 30mm and 20mm sizes. Perhaps the 30mm is a little too large but still of use.
These domes are gorgeous, they are not teeny tiny but as a lot of my projects are fantasy I am sure they will fit in. 
Although the findings are distressed bronze I will be able to paint them and match whatever setting they eventually find a home in.
Building a stash of items for any hobby is both time consuming and expensive so mistakes are really annoying, luckily these items were all winners.