Friday, August 1, 2014

Chalk Painting Tutorial for Miniatures

Chalk paint has a velvety, dull finish that gives the appearance of old, painted furniture. You may have seen chalk paint used on full size furniture found on Pinterest and on blogs. Here is a tutorial for mixing your own chalk paint and adding a finish to create that perfect, vintage look!

This is a great way to enhance the look of manufactured dollhouse furniture!

Tools and supplies
  • sifter
  • various grits of sandpaper
  • small whisk to use in paint
  • stain in your choice of colors
  • X-ACTO knife with extra blades
  • airtight plastic container for paint
  • soft rags for wiping stain and buffing wax
  • paintbrushes: 3/4” wide flat brush, approx. 1/4” wide flat brush, small detail brushes
  • paints: off-white latex/household emulsion; acrylic colors of your choice to tint the off-white paint
  • calcium carbonate (available in small quantities from wine making shops)
  • paste wax (I like the American Paint Company brand because it is not harmful to breathe or to work with)
Mix 2 parts latex/household emulsion paint and 1 part sifted calcium carbonate into a small, airtight container. Whisk together until the paint is completely smooth (this takes a while).

Add a VERY TINY amount of the acrylic paint to the latex mixture and whisk. Keep adding acrylic paint and mixing until the desired color is achieved. Remember: the paint will dry darker than the color of the wet paint.

Creating samples
Make sample chips using scrap pieces. This is a great time to learn about chalk paint and using it with stain and wax finishes, so don’t skip this step! You may wish to try various combinations of finishes, for example:
  • stain, paint, wax
  • paint, sand some areas bare, stain bare areas, wax
  • paint, wax
  • how about stain, paint, gold marker, wax?
Have fun and be creative! Don’t forget to write your recipes on the back of your sample chips!

Applying finishes
When you’ve chosen a look that you like and the color, proceed to sanding your piece and applying the finishes. Sand between each coat of stain/paint.

Finish the piece with several coats of wax, buffing between coats (following instructions on the container). 

Used in the photos 
BLUE CABINET: A tiny amount of green and yellow acrylic paints were mixed into the off-white latex paint (mixed with calcium carbonate) to achieve the color of this cabinet. The cabinet was sanded between coats of paint. Clear and dark wax was applied. Pink Chintz and Blue Chintz Decals and Dish Blanks are available from Doll by Marcella Cupello, Cutie Mini Dolls.

WHITE CABINET: This cabinet was painted with the off-white latex/household emulsion paint mixed with calcium carbonate, sanded, stained in the bare wood areas with dark walnut, and waxed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Making of a Logo

Curious about what goes into designing a logo? Here is how the logo for the the NAME National Convention in St. Louis was created.

Step 1
In 2012, I gathered information from the Steering Committee of the event. The committee requested that the theme of the convention, "Rollin' on the River" be used in the text, along with a strong visual.

Step 2 
I find that brainstorming visuals and writing down words helps to put me in the right frame of mind for creating logos. I brainstormed word associations: boat, river, Mississippi, Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, steamboat, riverboat, fishing, woodtype ornamentation, and many more! Time: approx. 1.5 hours 

Step 3 
I began sketches based upon the words that had strong visuals. Time: approx. 3 hours 

Step 4
The design process moved to the computer, where I came up with several iterations of the logo until I was happy with the final. Here are 2 earlier iterations:
I had settled on the visual of a steamboat; representing the Mississippi River, the connection between all of the states in the region that is hosting the NAME event. But I struggled with the amount of text; it was just too many words to use with a graphic.

As you can see in the second version (above), I was starting to play with the shape of a boat - stacking words on top of a woodtype ornament to suggest the bottom of a boat. I decided to simplify the design further, and make the text into the shape of a steamboat. The "LL" in "Rollin" was extended to appear like smokestacks, and a flourish was added to give the impression of steam as well as balance the graphic ornament on the bottom of the logo. Time: approx. 5.5 hours 

It was such a fun project, that I even designed an additional graphic to go on t-shirts, tote bags and aprons:

Hope to see you in St. Louis!

Monday, May 19, 2014

What Did Georgia O'Keeffe Read?

On a recent trip to Santa Fe, I enjoyed a visit to the O'Keeffe museum and a tour of her home and studio in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Many of her possessions have been preserved and are available for public viewing, including a bookcase which houses books on gardening, cooking, nutrition and exercise. The bookcase, a sensible construction of vegetable and fruit crates, includes some interesting titles!

Here is a glimpse into a few of Georgia O'Keeffe's domiciliary interests...

The work table from O'Keeffe's studio contains some of her art materials.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Kits for Spring!

Last Winter, we were busy designing new kits for the following Spring. It was not an easy task to think "Spring" when we were under a record amount of snow and cold! At long last, the warm temperatures are here and the kits are ready!

The Marigolds in a Milk Carton Kit has been reintroduced, and with it, the Wooden Crate with 6 Marigolds Kit. The 1:12 scale flowers may be painted any color you like, and are just the perfect thing to sit in a window sill, in a potting shed or a gardening scene. I think that they would be so cute with a trowel and a pair of gardening gloves! 

The 1:12 scale Wooden Crate with 6 Marigolds Kit.

For quarter scale devotees, we've created incredibly realistic garden structure kits. An Arch Top Arbor Kit is the perfect entryway or a focal point for a garden. 

The 1:48 scale Arch Top Arbor Kit

The Arbor with Swing Kit is delightful and yes, the swing actually moves! 

The 1:48 scale Arbor with Swing Kit

The Pergola Kit is the perfect setting for an outdoor tea party. 

The 1:48 scale Pergola Kit and Table and Chairs Kit

A very tiny, quarter scale kit that includes a table with a "tile" top and chairs with fancy backs (the motif is included) fits into any garden decor.

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Janice Crawley and a Mini Trip to Asia

While at the Sarasota Show, I stumbled upon an artisan's work that I was not familiar with. Her name is Janice Crawley, from Winnipeg, Canada. Janice is a Fellow of IGMA and works in porcelain. I am particularly fond of her whimsical teapots (if you read between the lines, it means I'm starting a new collection - oh dear)!

Teapots by Janice Crawley.

The elephant has a place for a warmer.

Friday, September 20, 2013

100 Dollhouse Miniature Halloween and Fall Tutorials

Enjoy these links to dollhouse miniature tutorials for Halloween and Fall while sipping a mug of hot apple cider! These are a followup to the 50 tutorials that I posted in 2012 (below). If you would like to share a link to a Halloween or Fall theme tutorial, please leave a comment below. Suggestions are always welcome!

  1. How to find spooky bits Cauldron Craft Miniatures
  2. Pumpkin fairy house Cauldron Craft Miniatures
  3. Make Your Own Spooky Dollhouse Cauldron Craft Miniatures
  4. Spooky shutters The Addams Family
  5. The Witch's Kitchen Joann Swanson DIY Miniatures
  6. Mossy steps and fall leaves otterine
  7. The Consummate Bibliophile Joann Swanson DIY Miniatures
  8. Halloween lollipops agdollcrafts
  9. Halloween cake AkameruKawaii via Youtube
  10. Witch Hat Gina Bellous Dolls
  11. Thanksgiving postcard printables
  12. Paper mache decorations The Paper Mache Resource
  13. Leaves Tweety Petie Products
  14. Acorn nut pie for woodland miniatures  Julie Old Crow
  15. Mayflower boat from a walnut shell
  16. Corn husk doll Julie Old Crow
  17. Fairy mushrooms Julie Old Crow
  18. Potion bottles MiniMaker via squidoo
  19. Witch hat Wee Little Delights
  20. Felt hats Tony Barton via
  21. Pumpkin on a vine minttumeirami
  22. Rag rug minttumeirami
  23. Pumpkin lamp (in French) Creamalice
  24. Candelabra (in Spanish) Sole Garcia Zamora
  25. Mince pies Lisitza's Mini Kawaii
  26. Apple pie momyrun via
  27. Fantasy trees 2paintminiatures via youtube
  28. Apple pie and Apples SugarCharmShop via youtube
  29. Lemon Heads candy jisfruit via youtube
  30. Pumpkin pie Garden of Imagination via youtube
  31. Halloween garden miniaturegardenshopp via youtube
  32. Spider cake collbn via youtube
  33. Pumpkin teapot Garden of Imagination via youtube
  34. Pumpkin Garden of Imagination via youtube
  35. Phantom of the Opera mask Garden of Imagination via youtube
  36. Ghost animals Garden of Imagination via youtube
  37. Face jars Garden of Imagination via youtube
  38. Melted candles Garden of Imagination via youtube
  39. Caramel apples joannesminis via youtube
  40. Pears joannesminis via youtube
  41. Wood stove
  42. Country style buffet from matboard 1 inch minis by Kris
  43. Cattails
  44. Quarter scale pumpkin house
  45. Scary trees
  46. Quarter scale candy corn house
  47. Jack o Lanterns lit with LEDs
  48. Masks
  49. Skeletons - bending plastic figures Maple Leaf Miniatures
  50. Dragon skin Maple Leaf Miniatures
Tutorials posted in 2012:
  1. Tree stump house Laura Miller
  2. Apples Barbara Dezza via CDHM
  3. Candy apples GardenofImagination via YouTube
  4. Halloween candles collbn via YouTube 
  5. Jack-o'-lantern collbn via YouTube
  6. Candy corn collbn via YouTube
  7. Chocolate candy bars GardenofImagination via YouTube
  8. Halloween candy joannesminis via YouTube
  9. Halloween flowers (black roses) collbn via YouTube
  10. Grinning pumpkin cauldron Pixie Dust Miniatures
  11. Witch's brew Mary Eccher
  12. Spider chrysanthemums
  13. Fall decoration (bucket planter and pumpkin) joannesminis via YouTube
  14. Bonsia/spooky tree technique
  15. Braided mat
  16. Bushel basket joannesminis via YouTube
  17. Ghost joannesminis via YouTube
  18. Potion bottles MiniMaker via Squidoo
  19. Harry Potter Jawbind Potion Toni Ellison via YouTube
  20. Harry Potter Mandrake Restorative Draught Toni Ellison via YouTube
  21. Harry Potter Drink of Despair Toni Ellison via YouTube
  22. Harry Potter Skele-Gro Potion Toni Ellison via YouTube
  23. Cider and cinnamon donuts Mary Eccher
  24. Canning vegetables Mary Eccher
  25. Canning pot 1 inch minis by Kris
  26. Wine rack 1 inch minis by Kris
  27. Witch's broom Jody Raines via CDHM
  28. Ladies boots
  29. Corn stalks
  30. Dried Corn
  31. Needlefelted cat
  32. Kitten made from wool lapappadolce (in Italian)
  33. Flying bats
  34. 1:48 Scale Moonshines smallpackages via webshots
  35. 1:48 scale lilies/fall arrangement Wanna in El Paso
  36. 1:48 scale Laura's roadhouse Wanna in El Paso
  37. Skeleton joannesminis via YouTube
  38. Fixing up a cheap skeleton Wanna in El Paso
  39. Rat Alice Zinn via webshots
  40. Wizard's set Collector's Club
  41. A Halloween peddler's cart Joann Swanson
  42. A bit of Autumn Joann Swanson
  43. Potatoes Barbara Dezza via CDHM
  44. Pumpkins Sandra Keller Palesch via CDHM
  45. Pumpkin needlework design
  46. Pilgrim's hats
  47. Simmering stews Mary Eccher
  48. Thanksgiving dinner GardenofImagination via YouTube and My Small Obsession
  49. Thanksgiving printables Sherree via Picasa
  50. Pumpkin pie Mary Eccher
Additional tutorials suggested by readers:

Monday, July 1, 2013

Preparations are Underway for Tucson

Are you packing your toolkits for Tucson? Hopefully, you can join us for the NAME National Convention starting next week! We are introducing many new kits (the most we've ever brought to a show)! If traveling to Tucson isn't in your schedule, no worries... these kits will be available on our website in late July. I'll send out a newsletter announcement when they are ready, so you may wish to sign up for the newsletter.

Hope to see you in Tucson or another upcoming show!

Creepy Coffin Kit may be decorated with 5 new Halloween glitter houses and blue LEDs.

Scream and shOuthouse with blue LED.; 1 of 5 new Halloween glitter houses for the Creepy Coffin Kit.

Quarter scale, vintage style stove kit.

Quarter scale Pyramid Kit, in conjunction with Stewart Dollhouse Creations.

Quarter scale party scene for mummies; kit by Stewart Dollhouse Creations

2 quarter scale kits: fireplace with icicles and glitter houses.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Inspiration from Giverny

On our recent trip to Giverny, it was easy to see how Claude Monet drew inspiration from his amazing gardens and the surroundings of this quaint village. Now a home to the Giverny Museum of Impressionism, gift shops, and restaurants, Giverny is abloom with enchanting fragrances and colors!