Saturday, January 21, 2017

Santa's Cottage

It is Christmas Morning (2am) and Santa is home from a busy night! What better way to unwind then watch TV with Mrs. Santa and eat cookies!  I will be adding to this cottage every December. :)
















The elves were told to only send cards, no presents because they don;t have the room. But one little elf was naughty and sent peppermint sticks!






I asked a non-miniaturist friend what Santa would be watching on TV and he answered, 
"Dancing with the Stars". We couldn't stop giggling thinking about it.



Sweet Bow got a pink teddy for Christmas.





No time to make the beds on such a busy day.




Monday, January 2, 2017

Miniature icicles for a 1:12 dollhouse


Recently I was trying to come up with a way to make miniature icicles. I found a website that showed a few step by step ideas using hot glue and cellophane/plexiglass. They only made a quick mention of plastic forks but they had no directions on how to do it.
So I decided to try and figure it out, and I think it did!
Here is how I did it.

First buy a box of clear plastic forks.

I first tried to melt the fork tips over a candle but as I predicted it left them black with wick soot. I didn’t have a lighter on hand so I sat there and kept repeating “clean fire”, “clean fire”. “How do I find clean fire?” Duh! Electric stove top.

Get your stove warmed up. I think I had mine on low. You don’t need red hot because you want to do this slowly until you get a feel for your fork and stove top.

Tape a piece of wax paper or freezer paper to the edge of a cutting board waxy side up. Have another small piece of wax paper handy.

Hold your fork over the heat about 1/2 - 1 inch away from the hot plate for about 30 seconds. Focus on one side for now.


When you think it is warm enough put the warmed up side facing down on the board and rub it with a piece of wax paper (with the wax side on the fork).


Then warm the other side of the fork tips and repeat above.

Once you are happy with the shape, lay your fork with the side you just warmed up, again, facing up. Run the tip of a knitting needle across the tips to make very subtle indents.
I say knitting needle because it has a rounded tip. If you look closely at icicle they have a slight indent as each layer of ice is formed from dripping. It is a soft line not a harsh cut. Honestly you could skip this step if you just want some quick icicles.


Consider that your first fork will be for experimenting with heat and the amount of time you hold your fork and the amount of pressure you use with your knitting needle.


Here is photo of what happened when pressing too hard with the wax paper when the fork was too hot.


You might have to keep warming the same fork over and over and then rubbing it to get it just right. I think I heated/rubbed one side of mine about three or four times each for each side.

Snip the tips with wire cutters at different lengths.


Dip the cut end into Tacky Glue and let it dry for half a minute then press up onto the surface you want them to hang from. Check in to be sure they are straight and don’t fall. Tacky Glue slowly moves when upside down.



Once they are dry use a little gloss varnish to make a frozen water line from melting on the surface where you think it would show. Mine is on a thatched roof so I would imagine that some of the dripping would be coming from under and inside the thatch as well as on the top.
Click on photo see it larger.


Have fun adding some magic to your winter wonderland!



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Printing a rug

How I printed the carpets in Ophelia’s house on fabric.

First, cut a piece of white cotton to 8 1/2” x 11”. Try to keep the thread grain straight. This is so you can create the fringe later.

Cut an 8 1/2” x 11” piece of freezer paper.



Iron your fabric and place it on top of the shiny side of the freezer paper. Now iron the fabric side of the two pieces. Once you are satisfied that they are stuck firmly together then let them cool. It doesn’t take that long if your iron is nice and hot.


Trim away any strands to get clean edges. (This is important because you don’t want the strings to get caught up in your printer.)

Spray a mist of Scotch-guard over the fabric side and let dry. Pay attention to where you decide to spray your fabric. Scotch-gard will leave a discoloration on the surrounding surface. Don’t spray it on your deck!


Place the piece in your printer so its prints on the fabric side.

I have never had a paper jam with this technique, but I have read that it can happen. Do what is best for your printer to make this work. Some printers have a setting for printing on something a bit thicker than regular paper. Do a little research to be sure.

Let the ink dry for about an hour and mist it again with Scotch-guard.

Peel the cotton away from the freezer paper.

Now you are ready to cut out your rug!

Keep water away from the finished fabric. Because it was made by an ink jet printer the colors may run or bleed even though you Scotch-garded it. The Scotch-gard keeps the ink from smearing while touching.


Create a fringe by pulling strands of thread away with a pin.


Find lot's of printables at Small Stuff's PrintMini site! Click here!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Opehlia Under the Day Moon dollhouse


This dollhouse is very different than any house I've ever done. This is because it is based on a story I wrote five years ago. I wrote a story that became three books and I also made mixed media illustrations for each one of them. In total I created around 66 mixed media pieces for “Ophelia Under the Day Moon”.
If you are curious about Ophelia here is the link to learn more auraleakrieger.com
Here are a few of my Ophelia mixed media collages.


For this post I'm going to focus on the dollhouse with touches on Ophelia's story. I wanted the dollhouse to be an interpretation of the story and have a close similarity to the house I pictured in my mind while writing. But it is still a dollhouse and I didn't want to lose that feeling.
For this house I tried to create an antique look like a dollhouse from the past. Ophelia's story takes place around 1900.
Five years ago I bought this house kit on sale for $60. It was assembled and then sat in my studio for four years. For those four years I left the miniature world and closed my graphic design business to be a full-time artist.
Then two years ago, after being offered the job as editor for Ashdown for American Miniaturist and then Dollhouse Miniatures magazine I decided to start the kit again and get back to my beloved miniature hobby.
I will admit after having stepped away for four years it was difficult at the very start to get back into the mini mindset. Since then I now have three other houses in the works! Perhaps I'm making up for lost time?
CLICK the photos to see them larger!


The exterior of the house is still waiting for it’s garden, but otherwise is complete. I had to do a lot of kit bashing for this build because it was very plain and I had a lot of trouble getting things to be square. Perhaps that's why it was on sale for such a low price or maybe it was just me being out of practice.
The small dog, as well as a few other items in this house ,were found just before I started writing this story. Please know that I honestly had no idea that I was going to create Ophelia it all happened randomly and I had never wrote a story before. I found him at a mini show and couldn't resist those bat-like ears so I named him Bat and he became Ophelia's loyal companion.



I added my own tower roof design and designed it to be removable. I also added architectural details over the top right windows. The shingles were crude wood shingles that were warped. I wanted them to look like slate so I cover them with wood filler and sanded then painted each one. I love how distressed and warped and crooked they turned out! I also added a small birds nest over her bedroom window.


Ophelia's house is a house that is very modest, sweet and full of love. It isn't meant to be pristine. This was such a fun mood to create because my past dollhouses were clean and perfect. I wanted it to mimic my artwork, which also has a dark feeling but is very heartfelt.


The chimney and brick work seemed like it took forever! I used Paperclay and then hand-painted each brick. My first attempt was not tall enough so I had to cut off the top and build it taller than put the top back on. The chimney pots are painted thread spools. As the clay dries it shrinks so there were cracks here and there,which, luckily for me, only added to the charm of this worn house.



The porch vents were strips of poster board cut with decorative scissors. Each strip was carefully placed side by side to make a pattern then framed out with mat board and painted.


The rails were a blessing. I ordered some for my Kinfeld house but they sent the wrong ones. The kind woman told me to keep these and she would send the correct ones. So they became Ophelia's porch banisters.



Foyer



I had very little money for this build and had to get creative on how to cut corners. Luckily I had a lot of furniture left over from a few houses I had sold. For the foyer I used a simple piece of scrap book paper. All of the molding and the stairs were in my extra-materials drawer. i added the wainscoting to the side of the steps.
I never liked that scalloped ceiling molding before because I always did modern houses, but it was perfect for this build. I printed the parquet floor out and sealed it with a satin varnish. The blue wall was spackled and sanded to look like plaster and then painted.




The lovely chair in the corner is a vintage piece as well as the cabinet by the door. I absolutely love finding simple vintage pieces.
I made the hat and the little coat hanger, which is a tutorial on this blogsite.
That lovely clock on the back wall was a gift given to me by my father when I was a teen. I have a few other miniatures that he gave me when I was very young and they always find themselves in my favorite dollhouse of the moment. The two metal chairs with red velvet cushions are my most favorite mini items that I've ever purchased. They are heavy and look very old. They used to be in my Mediterranean Villa. There really isn't a spot for them in this house so I tucked them up against the stairs. I think they fit the mood of this house wonderfully.



Sitting room


As we go into the sitting room the first piece by the door is actually an antique pencil sharpener with a horoscope on the back. It was given to me while on a first date visiting an antique store. He may not have been “the one” but that little sharpener was made for this house. :)



The couch and chairs were inexpensive furniture that I reworked with red velvet and paint. The wallpaper was printed from my computer as well as the border. The curtains were pleated using fabric stiffener. And the floors were actually old bamboo window blinds that I took apart and pieced together.
I couldn't afford to get a gorgeous rug, because I have very expensive taste, but I came across computer mouse pads that looked like Victorian rugs. These are very thick so I had to build the floor around them so they sits inside a hole in the floor. I have another in the bedroom.




The piano was painted after I added some little metal ornaments to it and I revamped the piano stool as well.


The fireplace you may recognize from a tutorial on this blog site. Sitting on top of the fireplace is the most beautiful miniature metal ship. I discovered this in my father's room after he passed away. I immediately knew it would always have a place in my tiny houses.
The small crystal ball is a pendant from a vintage necklace that my mother gave me. She cleared out a lot of her jewelry and threw it all in a box and mailed it to me and I have used many pieces for my miniatures.



Throughout the house you will notice small watercolor paintings, these are all art that I imagine Ophelia has created and her parents, being very proud, display them around their home.


Ophelia and her family spend cozy evenings in this room playing the piano, sewing, sharing stories and reading.
The beautiful candy on the coffee table was made by TheSweetBaker on Etsy.. The art over the couch is a scaled down sketch by Hubert Lengdorfer.



I must say after seeing this house close to finished now I am happy I started it after stepping away from miniatures for four years. I think I brought more of my mixed media techniques that I had developed into it and I also like that I wasn't afraid to give it a more gritty feel. 
While doing this house I learned that a dollhouse doesn’t have to be perfect, clean and pristine it just has to be made with love and devotion. 
Sometimes as I look upon it and all is quiet I swear I can hear an antique clock ticking in the background.

Kitchen


The kitchen was the last room “finished”. I've never had a close connection with making kitchens. But I will say making a kitchen in the 1900s was so much fun! I have never enjoyed creating this part of the house before. It's close to how I pictured it in her real house with the exception of having a butcher block island area and a larger space.
The table and chairs were from the second dollhouse I had ever made. After repainting them and adding the table cloths and cushions they found a space in this room.
The strawberry strudel was made by Kelly Murdie.


The floor was printed out and embossed with a ball stylus in the grout areas and sealed with matt varnish.
The sink has a fun story. For three years every time I would go to a small town in Maryland called Ellicott City, which is about 40 minutes from where I live, I would always stop in one particular antique store that had a miniatures section.
The items were always overpriced so I only admired them. But the sink was there every year. I think it was about $26 and I thought that was too high because it was used and is a popular mass produced item.
So while working on this house I went to visit the shop again. That time I was with a friend who told me I should ask if they will lower the price. For whatever reason I never thought of that before and they did! I got it for $11 and was very excited. You would think I was a girl who just bought a diamond ring! Haha So I adjusted it a bit, painted it and added it to the space.
The little rug in front of the sink was printed from my computer onto cotton which I first ironed onto freezer paper and sprayed with Scotchgard. You can't get deep rich colors with this technique but I think the muted colors work well for this room. To get the edges you just pull the threads away with the tip of a pin until they are the thickness you want.






The little spice rack over the sink was such fun to make. All it is is a block of wood glued to a mat board back, covered with strips of  card stock and then painted. Tiny seed beads were added for the drawer pulls. (Don't paint the sides too perfectly or it won't look streaked like wood grain.)



I made the shelf on the back wall with the apron and pot holder using mat board, a floral print out, and hooks from an eye and hook set. I like the charm that adds. Again, I am not going for realism in miniature with this house. I am trying to create the magic of a true dollhouse. 
The apron and pot holder were also handmade. The lovely little icebox was custom made by a miniature friend of mine, Hubert Lengdorfer.

I made the little vintage canisters, rolling pin, and the red plates along the shelf were made using water transfer film over white ceramic plates. 


The tiny silver goblets on the shelf were a present from my father while we were on summer vacation in Maine when I was a teen. He found the one miniature store in the town. 



Because I didn't continue wiring in the kitchen with electric I had to get two battery operated LED lights for this room. I am still waiting on the copper oil ceiling light. I will post that photo when it comes in.
I wanted the curtains to look like an antique dollhouse would look. So I died lace with tea bags and tied them to be just a bit bulky. I did the same treatment for the foyer door curtains.




I just love the clunky old iron stove surrounded with copper pots. The potatoes in the sack were the very first food I ever sculpted with polymer clay a few years ago. After sculpting them I covered them in brown pastel powder. 


I hand cut sticks for logs and made a little wood box out of mat board. I covered it with a print out of wood texture before assembling.



Hall



As we walk up the steps to the second floor we are greeted by an intricate Victorian wallpaper design and charming old wood floors. These floors were also made from pieces of my old window blinds just as the living room floors were. The little rug was printed on cotton from the computer just as I made the one in the kitchen. There are a few strands coming loose that I don't dare touch! I could snip them, as I would in any other dollhouse, but I don’t want things too perfect here.


I still need to tie various mini hair ribbons from the banisters. Ophelia has a curious habit of tying her hair ribbons to the stair rails to remind her of her fabulous dreams. Sometimes when she wakes her dreams seem so real that they can alter her entire day.
The small shelf in the corner holds tiny treasures and photos. The paintings on the wall may be portraits of Ophelia’s parents when they were young. 





The first door we come to is very important to Ophelia’s story. This is the dreaded attic door. The thought of what may be lurking up there sends shivers down her spine. You see she has been hearing a strange tapping sound coming from above her bedroom all summer and she is certain it’s coming from the attic.




I made the door by building a false wall and then building a winding wood staircase that goes up to the attic. The next door is a false door that I have had in my stash since my very first dollhouse at 16 years old! Finally it was put to use as the parents bedroom door. It is glued to the wall but still looks as if it would open. The exterior window for this fake room has a print of a bedroom inside it with real curtains.


The lovely bench was a wonderful find from a miniature show vendor who sold affordable vintage items. Unfortunately while doing this photoshoot it fell and one of the legs broke, I managed to glue it back together. The table with the vase will one day be replaced with just the right linen cabinet.





The next door is the bathroom door. I made that wall so that it can be removed for decorating and photographing the bathroom. The only issue is that there was no way to put the ceiling molding on the left wall and still remove the fake wall. The other door is the door to Ophelia’s bedroom.


Bathroom


The bathroom was such fun. What is usually the most boring room in the house for me turned out to be my favorite! Even while taking these photos I felt so attached to this little space and got a little sentimental. Perhaps because this is a house from a story that is close to my heart. 
The wallpaper is a William Morris design. Oh how I love his work! The floor was built in Adobe Photoshop, printed and varnished and the grout lines were scored with a ball stylus. 



The curtains are just wonderful and make me smile every time I see them. I used a stiff lace material and then added trimming to the center sides. The shelf in the corner is my own design from mat board. There is a tutorial for this piece on this blog site.


The tiny items on the shelf have been collected over many years and I made the book. I found vintage Ivory soap packaging online and made the soaps on the toilet. The photo above it has special meaning because of Ophelia’s relationship with rabbits.



The sink, toilet and tub were given to me by my mother at a young age. They work just perfectly in this room!
I discovered that vintage toothpaste was purchased in a container verses a tube so I made some for the sink. I also painted the toothbrushes because back then toothbrushes were made of wood and sometime with silver for the handles.



I made the towel rack by twisting wire. I also made the towels and the washcloth hanging over the side of the tub. The little wash cloth tub on the floor was bought at a craft store. I just rolled up the washcloths and tucked them inside.



I ran the electrical wiring behind the tub for the light over the sink as well as the hall light. This was a fun room to put together and I try to leave the removable wall off at time so I can enjoy it.


Bedroom


Remeber you can click on photos to make them larger. 

Now we will enter Ophelia’s bedroom. She is a young girl but not yet a woman. Perhaps by exploring her room you will get to know her without reading her stories. This is where I may share more of my “Ophelia Under the Day Moon” story with you so you will understand some of the pieces in this space.
As you may have noticed, purple is Ophelia’s favorite color. I used scrapbook paper on the walls and the curtains were fabric my mother mailed to me. The lace along the window was white lace that I painted purple. The rug was another computer mouse pad like the one in the living room. Again, I built the floor around it because it was 1/8” thick.




The bed was dressed with lace and cotton fabrics and a knit throw was draped across the foot of the bed. Her infamous red leather journal lays next to the, just as important, rabbit mask.
This is representative of the paper mâché rabbit mask that Nevel made for her upon their first encounter. 
I found this mask the same day I found little Bat (her dog), and the fairy bowl on her bedside table at a miniature show before I had even started to write my Ophelia’s story. In fact, I had no idea I would make the first art piece that would spin off into the stories at that moment. All I knew is that they were three wonderfully strange pieces that I had to have. Upon writing I wrote them into the story then four years later built this dollhouse. What a pleasure to put them in their places knowing the new meaning behind them.




The bedside table is one of my most favorite scenes in the house. The fairy bowl was given to her by her best friend Penance who claims she can see fairies. She gave Ophelia very detailed instructions on how to care for them. You see the fairies told Penance that they were having a horrible time with the neighborhood cat and were in fear for their lives. Pence took a few into her own care and gave the rest to Ophelia. Ophelia, not having seen any fairies, trusted her good friend and did as she asked.
The wonderful art above the table was found online and printed very small. It is a painting by Ilya Zomb. (http://www.zombart.com)




The black cat fortune telling game on the floor was made by LeClosDesLavandes on Etsy. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it! Such fun. I imagine Ophelia playing with it for hours. The chair holds a handmade pillow and a purchased teddy bear from years ago. The shoes were my first attempt at making tiny leather shoes. They fit a Heidi Ott doll but are not very feminine. I decided to display them anyway because they took a lot of patients.



I had ordered the vintage fireplace online and didn’t know it would be so small. But after I cleaned it up I was very happy with it. The grill is metal and I think it is one of those pieces that help make this feel more like an antique dollhouse. 
The lovely piece hanging over the mantle is by Dominique Autin. I purchased this during my first trip to Chicago while at The Miniature Show. I made the books on the mantle and floor. The flowers in a sugar bowl on the hearth were made years ago for another dollhouse, which I sold recently. 




The owl art on the mantle as well as the paintings by the wardrobe are Ophelia’s artwork and sketches. She has a passion for insects and loves to study their behaviors and paints them as well. Her dream is to one day become a famous entomologist and be able to paint all of her discoveries for future studies. Beetles are her favorite subject!


The little doll was based on a gorgeous doll’s doll I saw in Chicago. It was $600 and there was no way I could ever afford it. I tried my best to make one similar and after finishing I completely understood why the other doll was $600. After drawing her eyes perfectly, I brushed on varnish and the ink smeared so I had to go back and salvage what I could. I didn’t come close to the original but I like the little doll. Her arms were too long so I tried to cut the already baked polymer down, but it looked crude. Then I realized it looked as if her hand had been broken off. How wonderful! Any doll that has been cherished for many years will have a few dings. So that’s her story until I make another one.
This was before I had to cut her arms down. They don't look too long from this angle but they were.

The wardrobe was refurbished by printing butterflies on cotton and gluing it over some padding then framing it with thin braided rope. I also added an embellishment to the top before painting it. The doll’s doll in the crib was made years ago from polymer. 


The art table was a pleasure to make. Ophelia has a giant book on insects that she can barely carry so it stay on her art table and is used for reference. Her paints are a print out put into a box and then painted to look shiny. The little stool was a vintage pill box I found at an antique shop. I covered the lid to look like a cushion and it was perfect!




I think what I love most about this hobby is how you can find a tiny treasure in this big world and hold onto it knowing it will become something. Then that day when it does is just magic!


The framed photograph on the back wall is a bunny and fox in Victorian clothing. Quirky art like that rings my bell and is a great fit for this little dollhouse.



My mixed media art is made from hand cut paper that is layered on top of each piece then detailed with paint and charcoals. This is Ophelia.


The attic


This part of the house is very important in my book series, “Ophelia Under the Day Moon”. As you have already read in the Hall section, she is terrified to go up those attic steps because of the strange tapping sounds coming from above her bedroom. The tapping sound even finds its way into a dream she has where she discovers three little hedgehogs having tea in the back of attic. One hedgehog who is wearing tiny spectacles is tapping his tiny silver spoon on his tea cup after stirring it. “Tap, tap, tap.” She woke and almost had the courage to go up those steps but didn't feel it was time.

At the end of the summer her new best friend Nevel has to leave. His family had plans for him to become an architect and sent him to Paris to complete his studies. They are both heart broken to be separated. Nevel, knowing about her fear of the attic, makes a wonderful surprise for her which she discovers the day after he has left the village. He secretly built a small loft up inside the tower of her eerie attic for her, with the permission of her parents. 





The dollhouse wasn’t able to truly show how the loft was designed in my story. The ladder would go up though a hole in the center of the tower from under the loft floor to the attic floor. So I just leaned a small ladder I already had to represent the story.
Anyway, Nevel built her a small nest, so to speak, where she can read and write letters to him while he is away. The small drawers in the dresser hold an object representing a special memory they shared that summer during the adventures they had with the other village children. The tiny dresser is made from mat board with nonworking drawers. My dream is to one day find one similar that actuarially opens.
He has also written the words in French that he would say to her whenever they would part on the wall going around the room. Translated it reads, “This is not goodbye”.
While spending time in her special little room she discovers what the mysterious tapping was. It turns out it was nothing to fear. You will have to read the books if you wish to know what it was, but she did discover, with the help of Nevel, there was nothing to fear. Not even a dusty eerie attic.
I painted fake steps for the stairs coming up to the attic and added a rail there. The entire attic was covered with wood planks, which I washed with paints and charcoals to give them a moody feeling. The peeling wallpaper is scrapbook paper that I soaked and manipulated. 
Nevel also hung empty frames in the tower for Ophelia to fill with her art. And the small clock was from his room while he stayed with his Uncle across the lane from Ophelia. His mother had given it to him while he was staying the village. He left it for Ophelia.


Many of the items in the attic are small things I have collected over time. The sewing machine was broken so I used it as-is and added some “rust” with paint. The carriage was the standard metal black one you can buy. I glued some type of wicker-like fabric and tea stained lace to it. There is a tutorial for it on this blog.


I brushed light grey paint over a lot of things to make the space look dusty. I made the “wood” crates from mat board.


As you can see the three adorable hedgehogs from Ophelia’s dream are having tea just like she imagined. A really big thank you to artist Fanni Sandor for these amazing pieces. She was kind enough to make a trade for Ophelia books and art prints. I thought I would have to try and make them and was so overwhelmed when I placed these perfect pieces in the scene. I had the tiny furniture since I was young and knew that is where they would sit. I sent her the measurements of the chair and table and she did the rest. She even made the biscuits, teacup, and the tiny silver spoon!






The mirror was aged (tutorial on this blog) and the rocking chair was aged and I tore a small hole in woven the seat. The table in the nook where the window is was found at an antique store and the wire bed was found in the fairy garden section at a plant nursery.



I plan to let the attic get dusty over time naturally. But I do have a clear cover for the hedgehogs that I remove to view or photograph. The rest of the dollhouse has plexiglass doors on hinges to keep dust out. But they are cracked and crooked so I hope to find a way to make wood framed plexiglass doors with better hinges one day.

So that is my Ophelia dollhouse! Of course I will continue to add tiny treasures to this dollhouse and I still have to make the garden in the front. If I can ever retire it would be fun to make Ophelia’s entire village with all of her friends! 

If you have any questions please feel free to leave comments! Mini hugs!


You can see more of my mixed media art at http://auraleakrieger.com/