Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Witch E.T. Grubb's Emporium Part 6 ..........

Following all the great advice I have been given by lots of talented bloggers I have begun to prepare the top flooring. I am using very thin sheets of balsa which I have cut to size. On the left is a sheet I have scored into floor boards, aged with tweezers and added worm holes. The right hand sheet has been prepared in the same way but the floor boards have been scored using a soft black pencil. I have then painted with a wash of soft grey. I will now leave them to dry over night before adding a second wash of burnt umber. I actually quite like this grey wash but I will play around tomorrow with a top wash.
 My extra floor tiles arrived this morning and I was still one short! I had to be a little creative with the cutting and have hidden the end cuts in the space that will eventually be under the stairs. It looks a little yellow in this light but it is grey.
I have also been playing with the front display windows. I got rid of the zebra striped steel grey that was a horrible mistake and have simply painted the main unit with a slight texture. My stone planter has been glued into place ready for planting and I have added the main architraves I really like the purple against the grey.
This is how the front should eventually look when all the jobs are finished. I have found some lead strips for the bay window roofs which I am looking forward to trying, it is a new product to me.
The roof is definitely looking ignored so I must think about setting about the task sooner rather than later. I would have liked the Sid Cooke tiles but have opted for the range by Minaco
The tiles are actually darker than the photo shows and I must admit are a little rougher than I had expected. I can see a lot of rubbing and sanding being required but I am sure they will stick and shape up fine. They are a lot cheaper than Sid Cooke so maybe I expected too much.
I know the purists will tell me that I should have gone with clay tiles but this roof is quite large and although I like building houses they are always a means to an end because it is the filling of them I enjoy the most!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Witch E.T. Grubb's Emporium Part 5 ..........

The bottom front of the shop has this very elegant window front and I had originally had the idea of lots of layers of greys which would be dry brushed.

As you can see I have ended up with this awful zebra effect.
Worse than that the greys are all the wrong shade for the marl stone work, much too steel/blue grey which clashes horribly......This meant more mixing and I decided to go with a lighter grey finish. The top bay windows do not come with the kit, I bought them from Minimum World and have adapted them to fit. I also have one for the side wall too. I think they have added a bit of extra shape to the house and provide extra display space. 
I am going to paint all the outside woodwork this deep purple oh and the shop doors too. Not sure if I will follow this colour into the shop because of all the internal colour of the hats, dresses etc. I can decide that later once I play with my inside toys. 

 This is one of the planters I made from balsa and paper clay. Still needs another dry brushing of the darker grey but they too are coming along now I have got the right grey base colour.
I must also thank all of you who have offered me so much good advice concerning making a wooden floor and colour washing and staining. Absolutely invaluable!
Today I have been practising scoring and staining the false floor boards. I will let these dry over night and then add another coat, and then make the final choice I hope!
I also laid the flagstones on the ground floor. Love them but none of the doors will open now so they will need to be cut to size. I remember reading this on another blog, I think it was Michelle's, and I have to say the external door design is pretty ridiculous as all flooring except a thin paper will cause this. 
Bit silly really as is the not supplying any acetate for the windows, or door mouldings, or arched window architraves or.........hmmm I could go on are you listening Sid Cooke!!! 
Six goals for the Arsenal yesterday, lovely day out with my daughter before her return to Sheffield Uni. Gosh the summer has flown by and I will miss her lovely cheery smile and common sense until we see her at Christmas.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Witch E.T. Grubb's Emporium Part 4..........

Just to prove I really have been doing more than shop this summer here is the work so far. Plus what is planned for the Emporium. I cannot believe what trouble I have had matching greys, who would have believed there could be so many different shades of grey......I have finally found the right shade for the top part of the exterior which I am not bothering to show because the light is so bad it still looks white and it most definitely is not!
Attic floor......for shoes and bags......
Middle floor.......for hats and broomsticks.......
Ground floor........for designer gowns..........
The downstairs walls have been wallpapered in Ashlar Stone Block from Richard Stacey which is a close match to the marl stone on the exterior while in the attic I am trying for a more unfinished look.

This is the marl stone I am putting on the ground floor also by Richard Stacey. I do find his materials extremely easy to use but they do make houses a lot heavier. These flagstones are gorgeous but I have decided to use craft sticks to make wooden floors upstairs purely due to budget if I could I would have gone for the marlike tiles from Dolls House Tiles. Maybe next time.

These are the craft sticks I am going to use anyone had any experience with them? I understand I should glue them to card rather than straight to the floors to prevent warping? I will age them and roughen them up before staining and try to get the 'worm holes' and wood marks darkened before adding the stain wash. I wasn't too successful at this on my test sticks but hopefully the proper cut and roughened floor boards will be better. 

The walls of the attic have been covered in layers of tissue and PVA courtesy of a tutorial by Nikki which I will eventually paint grey once I am happy with the layering. I am also going to put rafters and struts - Tudor style - in this attic to make it all look a little unfinished. My last touch will be to line parts of the walls with vintage Halloween posters as if the room is constantly under going repairs.
This is the only room where I will accent with the lavender stain - well if I can bear to abandon all the pots of greys that have taken days to mix and get right!
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now although many of the jobs left are quite time consuming, I have a huge pile of slate tiles to glue for example, then I can get to the really good bit of placing my hoarded stash into the shop. 
I am also planning to attempt something very adventurous for the arched windows on the left-hand side of the shop........
Off to the Arsenal tomorrow for our first home game!! I can safely say there will not be a single mini conversation to be had, well excluding Andre Arshavin that is.
Have a great weekend whatever you are planning.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

My Diagon Alley Stash Grows......

My next project will be my interpretation of Diagon Alley with a little help from JK and Warner Bros! I have learnt during my short mini life that sourcing the right materials and pieces is not only crucial but extremely time consuming! Completing my first witch project was a real eye-opener. I thought I had tons of pieces in my stash but the house just ate them up and I still have pieces to complete!

So I am starting early with my alley as it will be a very large project with six or seven shops. Here are a few pieces I have been lucky enough to acquire lately. Ira sent me a beautifully coloured open book which will look fab displayed in 'Flourish and Blotts'. Along with this fantastic selection of books from Pear Tree Miniatures both for display and shelves. This is a super site for all sorts of miniatures, I bought a couple of gorgeous 144th houses from them a little while ago.
Then today I received this cute little parcel in the post which when unwrapped contained........
 ...... a creepy, carnivorous plant from Ginko a brand new seller on Etsy who is selling a wide range of miniatures. I was her first buyer and will definitely be checking back.
I have also been buying items from Miss Sally recently who I think has stopped making miniatures while studying and is selling off her final pieces. I just love them they have such expressive faces and although I am not a dog person I could not resist this little chap for my 'Magical Menagerie'.
How cute is he!?
I have also been working on my Witch E.T. Grubb's Emporium when I have had a chance. The trouble is I am not good at choosing the odd hour or two. I like to settle down for a few hours and get stuck in otherwise I find that by the time I have sorted myself out I have used up half and hour. Beginning is not my strong point! I will take some pictures tomorrow to show where I have got to in my battle with grey paint!

Monday, 16 August 2010

So How Did We All Do?..........

Like many of us I sat by my computer waiting to see how lucky I would be when Nikki's
new batch of wonderful miniatures appeared on Etsy last week. I had looked longingly at the toadstools and the cute pots and the unicorn horns and......and......and.......
As usual items disappeared sooo quickly, my slow old laptop could not keep up as I shouted 'Buy! Buy! Buy!' No stock market floor could be more frantic!
Well my goodies arrived safe and beautifully packaged as usual and made a grey looking day feel much more full of promise! Nikki with her usual generosity also added some very appropriate extras to go with my current projects and the 'Big One' looming. So thoughtful of you Nikki, many thanks.
Here are the potion bottles and unicorn horns I managed to buy. The clear jars have the most delicate specimens inside - wings and a butterfly. Fab! Love the new material Nikki is using to top her jars, all perfectly frayed as usual.
This table I bought a little while ago but I thought I would put it in with this post. I think this will go in my 'Roots and Shoots' shop in Diagon Alley.
More views with the glow in the dark broom, which has the most luxurious brush, some toadstools and extra bottles. The toadstools are definitely destined for Witch E.T.Grubb's window boxes.
These are the really useful pieces Nikki put in my package to help me a long with my shops. She knew I had been looking for scissors, they had sold out at KDF, and now I have a pair for my Toy Maker and my Hat Department. Plus I have some really professional looking potion labels for my Apothecary Shop and a colander to go with my cauldrons in the Cauldron Shoppe......Hmmm I feel a very busy winter coming on!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Where Has The Summer Gone?.......

Well it has felt like Autumn here in Hertfordshire today, leaves are falling and nothing but grey skies. I feel as if the Summer is drawing to a close especially as we begin preparing for a return to uni and school. Lots of shopping for suits and shirts for my two boys and plenty of blankets for my girlie who is moving into her first student house.
Student housing is a bit of a dirty phrase in this house as I have two children at uni for whom I pay extortionate rents for homes that are little above squat level as far as I am concerned. The whole business just seems like a licence to make money but greedy and unscrupulous landlords and letting agents. Yes I know you are going to tell me that there are lots of very nice landlords and it is the students who are the problem.....but, sorry I have not come across any of that sort.
As you can tell by my rant I have been busy writing cheques lately!!!!
Anyway enough of that I have managed to do a little retail therapy of my own. Firstly my gorgeous houses from the lovely Veronique Lux
How fabulous is this trio. Have a look at the site the photos show most of Veronique's selection of items which are quite eclectic. You can order via email directly and Veronique is extremely helpful and kind. We managed with a mix of school girl French on my side and much better school girl English on hers!
These houses are made of card, paper and trimmings and finally hand painted ranging from 1 inch to 31/2 inches for the tallest. I adore them I think they are the prettiest things I have ever bought.
I was also lucky enough to win this cute dragon by Nicky who also sent a beautifully painted chair for him to perch
He will be a fine addition to my mini menagerie or witch house I haven't decided yet. His wings are very delicately made and fit perfectly.
While browsing Ebay and thinking the quality of OOAK items seems to be falling dramatically where have all the most talented gone? I came across this little basket by Ella Rose
which I received yesterday and am really pleased with. It is very well crafted and has lovely detail. 
I am finding that Ebay is getting more and more difficult to use as there is so much obvious sniping going on especially with the more sought after buyers. Give me a Buy It Now anytime. I prefer etsy but can never find what I want from either UK or Euro buyers, plus the site is very cumbersome to use.
Oh my goodness I am grumpy today! I need a some me time badly!!!!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Fantastic Giveaway.......at Piskies and Poppets

Debie Lyons
The extremely talented Debie Lyons of Piskies and Poppets is having a surprise giveaway on her blog to mark her 200th follower. Debie's work is amazing and if you haven't visited her blog pop over and have a look.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Emporium's Exterior Part 3 ....and a local fair.

I have completed a little more on the exterior today working with balsa and Creative Paperclay. The shop has a clear definition between the bottom two floors and the attic floor. Instead of using the molding that came with the kit I have decided to make some long 'stone troughs'. I made a basic box like structure from long pieces of balsa with built in gaps for flowers, vines and the odd animal maybe. Very basic I know and my initial idea was to spray them with stone effect paint.
I changed my mind, however, and decided to cover them with clay 'pebbles'. I am not sure if I did this right as I stuck the 'pebbles' to the balsa using PVA glue. It seems to have worked ok.
I started with 'pebbles' that were too large but gradually got into the swing and made them less uniform. I textured them with a nail brush and will paint them in various shades of grey. Other bloggers have had a problem with the clay shrinking, this will not be too big a problem I hope as I can feel the gaps with moss etc.
At first I was a little concerned by the weight of these troughs but as the clay has dried they have lightened up quite a lot.
On Sunday morning I went to the only fair that is local to me. It was arranged by Dolly Daydreams in a village hall. I went along as I knew two of the stands were being manned by Mouse House Miniatures and Terence Stringer. Above you can see all the lovely food items I bought from Mouse House. I have long come to the conclusion that miniature food is way beyond my competence with fimo or clay and I will gladly leave it in the hands of artisans who know what they are doing.
I have a number of pieces from Mouse House from various shows and I love them. These are all for my witch's kitchen or potting area. The cabbages are simply superb.
I also bought this tiny little hand-painted cottage from Terence. It is a hand turned wooden 'box', the roof can be removed, with an elderly couple who live in the cottage. This is for my toy shop.
I couldn't resist these bits and pieces from another seller whose name I didn't catch at the time. The paint and glue will find a home in my toy shop, while all the ribbons, wool and cotton reels will be great in my emporium and Diagon Alley.
Not a bad haul for a local fair and only a 20 minute journey!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Witch E.T.Grubb's Emporium Part 2......

The Emporium is going to be all shades of grey so I want to introduce a lot of different materials and textures to the building in order to create interest. With this in mind I have used this product on the upper part of the shop. I bought two colours, white and natural, for 99p in the Hobbyland sale and I really like the soft texture it has produced. I imagine it is much like paper mache with all the mixing done.
I had to apply PVA glue and then I used a stencil brush to apply the Paper Perfect. It went on very easily and has taken about 24 hours to dry completely.
The effect reminds me of the soft white icing you get on Christmas cakes.
I have left the shapes for the moulding and window turret on the side wall.
And the same for the front and right side. At the moment it looks very white and a little out of place but I will be painting it in various grey washes to fit in with the lovely brickwork colours. The gap between brick and Paper Perfect I intend to bridge with 'stone troughs' instead of the molding supplied with the kit. I hope to make these with balsa and then cover with air drying clay stones.
I still haven't decided what to do about the main window display and front shop door. I had initially thought I would paint it all purple and distressed orange, but I have been leaning towards the spray stone stuff with maybe an under coat of purple. Mmmmmm.........lots to do before I have to really decide, any ideas?