Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Miniature and Make Believe

Small, tiny, little, and wee. We are making miniatures. Maria and I have become so enamored of the hobby that I decided to add a new label to our side bar. Miniatures will include our Make Believe play with small dolls, tiny figures, little dishes, and wee projects. The label is new to Chickenblog, but the obsession with small things has been with me since I was Maria's age. I still have the tiny dishes, pottery, a knife, scissors, some dolls, even an iron, from visits to Olvera Street, the mercados in Guadalajara, Esquintla, Puebla. Small toys were not only affordable, but easy to keep while traveling, moving, living in small homes. Miniatures are adorable, and have always captivated my imagination. I like them for the challenges in imagination... how to make something small and realistic? I like them for the make-believe appeal... a manageable space, where we can enjoy enacting a story, creating a world all our own. I am feeling a contentment and delight about finally unleashing my mini-obsession!

Last month I saw a picture on Pinterest of a tiny door set near the floor of a home, and it was arranged to look as though a Borrower, or maybe Stuart Little, might at any time come out, grab the morning paper, and greet the new day with a friendly, good morning! Kate's Creative Space calls them Fairy Doors. I didn't want this to be another cute thing to Pin. I wanted to jump in and play! Ironically, I haven't actually added a fairy door to our home, but Maria has had two mini making classes, and she and I have combed our home and craft stores for 1/12 scale delights! And we've been making. We love to tinker, play, and make... and miniatures have inspired all kinds of rethinking, and imagination in our making skills. We are using paper clay, and making breads, rolls, cupcakes, and vegetables. I've made a mop, a feather duster, a pencil set, and chalk, with wood and paints. It's a lot of fun seeing what can be made from a toothpick, or a bit of fabric and thread. We splurged on some little dish sets, and an ironing board, sewing machine, and gardening tools, and fortunately many of these minis can be found second-hand.

As we collected, made, and found objects we added them to a pretty box. And as the box began to fill, we realized that as much fun as it was to bring out our toys and play with them, we were really looking forward to furnishing a little home. Maria and I found a tall book case, with six shelves... or, floors. Each floor will be a room in the house, including two for the barn and stable. For weeks we've had our dishes, animals, crates, books, and ironing board sorted on the shelfs. It looked like moving-in day! We chose our Penny Wooden Doll, to be the home's primary resident. And Maria named her Katherine, Kit. We rounded up farm animals, and Maria brought out a pencil and paper, and gave everyone names... like Radagast, the friendly billy goat, and his companion Gandalf the Grey bunny. Maria likes to have Kit check all the animals before bedtime, she goes down two floors, with her St Bernard, Lucerne, to make sure her little farm is safe for the night. Then Kit is tucked into her doll quilt bed, with her knitting on her nightstand, and Sherlock Holmes to read before she sleeps.

This weekend Maria and I found some long abandoned, old wood furniture pieces. Some were broken, at the bottom of a very deep box of wood blocks, another was in the garage, in a heap of sawdust. They were in pretty sorry shape, but we were instantly sure of one thing: These could be perfect for Kit's home! William gave me a sandpaper lesson. To clean and smooth the pine pieces we started with a 120 grit... a bit rough, good for evening out the surfaces, and clearing out splinters. Next we applied a 150 grit, and this helped to smooth the wood. The next sanding phase we went at with 400 grit, and this one was especially good at getting the wood as polished as possible, so that we can try a painting technique that will make the wood pass for steel. We will try making the oven and stove look like an old powered coated steel, white with red trim, I think. Wish me luck! We spent a long while sanding, scrubbing, and dusting. Cotton swabs make great dusters, and toothpicks were great for detailing. We felt so excited about our find, especially seeing them look better and better.



Maria and I decided on a blue kitchen, and mixed our own paint to get Beloved Blue. We combined a grey and a bright blue satin finish acrylics from the craft store. We both enjoyed painting the pieces, while discussing details we might add, and how soon before we could put things away in the little house. Maria gets these sweet ideas... like having a pastry bag with icing in it for the cupcakes I made, or making cotton candy! We are starting to talk about lighting options, making circuits, using LEDs. William wants to help us plan other furniture and cut forms with our small mill. Maria has already sketched some good ideas for a hutch. She is learning about scale. Our little make believe place is one inch high for every twelve inches in our everyday lives. She pointed out that this makes Kit a very tall woman, at six inches high! We agreed to not get too fastidious about the scale, or too strictly adhere to historic continuity... a make believe world should be enjoyable, after all. We are inspired by many things, like Tasha Tudor, Stuart Little, The Borrowers, and The Secret World of Arrietty. Even our own Candle Light tradition has been a source of inspiration.

Would you like to see our make believe home, and some things we've been making?

Baked and decorated, mini cupcakes... they're small even on a small scale! These are just paper clay, paint, and tiny pieces of glitter. Did you notice the pastry bag, for decorating? This was Maria's idea. It's waxed paper with an extrusion of paper clay, painted to match the cupcakes.

A bamboo skewer cut to 4", sanded to make the end rounded. I painted it. I cut cotton string, sewed the strands to a piece of muslin then glued that around the end of the mop handle!

The very appetizing caramel apples Maria made! Her teacher taught the class how to use Fimo clay. We still don't know what material they used for the nuts! It looks so good... it's making me nuts trying to figure it out!

I cut a corner of white paper and rolled it into a small cone, and then I pulled a bit of wool roving into a puff of cotton candy. Using just a dab of white glue, I wrapped the fairy floss around the paper cone. {Fairy floss... Is that the most romantic name for spun sugar??}

These were made with paper clay... then dusted with pastel chalks, and finally sealed in gloss. I made the bread knife, too! The blade is cut from the serrated strip of an empty aluminum foil box. I cut and painted a small piece of balsa wood, and made a space in one end to slide the blade into. I secured the blade with both a drop of glue, and a strip of aluminum backed duct tape.

Hamburgers and hot dogs... more experimenting with the paper clay.

Radagast, who is a "very friendly and kindly goat," and his dearest companion, Gandalf the Grey.

Lettuce and carrots, like the bread and hamburger, made of paper clay, then painted with acrylics.

Kit with Lucerne, writing letters, before she reads.

Like Maria, Kit has Sir Conan Doyle's works at her bedside.

The pencils might be one of our favorite effects... they're toothpicks, cut to size, sanded a bit, then painted. Maria became quite masterful at making these.

{A funny thing... I made a some pencils before sharing the project with Maria, but then I lost them. I had them wrapped in a small cloth, and I found the empty cloth on my desk. Max walked by and exclaimed! "That's where those came from??! At school I found little pencils in my briefcase, and I had no idea where they came from, then I started writing with one, and it worked, too." Just enough of the paint at the tip was able to make a few marks on the paper.}

We love the Make in Make-Believe~


Sylvia said...

Utterly charming!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you! It's been fun sharing this with Maria. Last night she was planing wood, and I made my first mitered cuts. It's exciting that we can learn new skills... small scale, and confidence building for bigger things to come, maybe...

Janece said...

So, so wonderful! Seriously, you and Maria are making the BEST things! I love all of it! And three cheers for new skills... I love when doing something fun naturally takes us to new experiences and learning.

I can't wait to show Amira when she gets home from school.

Tanya said...

Oh, how amazing! I'm hoping to make a dollhouse with all the accessories for my little girls this Christmas and you have given me so much inspiration! How fun it would be for us to do some of it together. I think this is the first time I've commented here.... Hello!! :)

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Earlier, I wrote detailed repipes to these comments, and they disappeared. So frustrating!
I'll be back, soon, and try again...

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

"Repipes" is the archaic spelling of "replies." Yup.

Janece said...

You are so smart like that! ;)

Anonymous said...

So so so sweeeet! And such fun. Not hard to see how you can't resist recreating life in 1/12 scale :-)