Saturday, May 29, 2010

Giveaway Winner!

Thank you for participating in the giveaway. The number was chosen using

The winner is...    
Caterina (cockerina) Congratulations!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Printable Bread Pan

Enamelware, graniteware, stoneware or tin... embellish this bread pan with your choice of finish. Please share what you come up with!

For the best print quality, download the pdf.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gifts for Sonya and Printable Books

I love the inspirational photos that Sonya posted of her new project, an American Country House.

I have a few things in my stash that are collecting dust as they wait for me to finish the settings that they will go into (and that's not happening any time soon)! Hopefully Sonya can use some of these items in her house. If not, perhaps they can find another home across the ocean.

Every American country house needs a rocking chair. This kit is from Chrysnbon (open but intact). I was surprised to find out that these detailed, plastic furniture kits aren't sold in every country! They are ubiquitous in the U.S. Does anyone know of website or shop in Europe that sells Chrysnbon?

The hutch and plates were not made by me. The hutch is painted an unusual shade of green. I always intended to paint it a different color. I'm sure that if Sonya chooses to repaint it, she will choose the perfect color for her decorating scheme.

Sitting on the hutch are more things that I didn't make: a 2-tiered plate that matches the fruit plates on the shelves and a brown ceramic platter. An old-fashioned milk can sits in front. At one time, these were used for transporting milk to the processing facility, but now they are often painted with flowers or scenes and used in country decorating.

Sonya asked me about printable books. I quickly put a one together in Photoshop. This is copyright-free.

Click on the image to download a print quality picture.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

100 Followers Giveaway!

In honor of the followers who read my musings and occasionally indulge me by leaving their thoughtful comments, I am giving away the wicker shopping trolley (imperfectly handmade by me) from a previous post. Several grocery items of local origin are included.

The giveaway is open to the first 103 followers of my blog. If you are interested in taking part in the giveaway, please leave a comment. I will draw a random name on Saturday, May 29. I'll ship internationally.

Here is the fun part: If you can correctly guess where I live, based on the items in the shopping trolley, your name will be entered twice in the drawing! Take a look at the items below.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Source for Printable Tiles, Signs, Murals, Rugs, You Name It...

I stumbled upon this fantastic website today: It is a miniaturist's haven, chock full of printable stuff and reference photos! Check out the "fabric" folder for carpets and patterns. The "manmade" folder has gauges, buttons, coins and all sorts of reference. The "paper" folder contains books, wallpaper, etc. And the "tile" and "marble" folders contain so many patterns to choose from! For a walk on the macabre side, take a peak in the "bones" folder! The photos on the site are also a great reference for plaster, concrete, brick, roofing, architectural ornaments, murals, rust, windows, doors, you name it... and did I mention that they are high resolution and free? Have fun!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Free Graphic: Plant Labels

The planting that I've been doing in real life has inspired me to design some miniature plant labels.  Download the pdf of the label fronts and backs and enjoy! Please don't forget to share your creation.

These are provided for personal use only.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Free Graphic: Gift Box

Here's a chance to put your design hat on and come up with some graphics for this box. Or, if you prefer, the interesting shape may lend itself to printing out onto a plain color paper or paper with a tiny pattern.

The downloadable pdf is ready for your 1:12 setting. The inclining sides give it an unusual shape – perfect for a candy box, fancy soap box, or a box to hold stationery, perfumes, wands, medallions or any sort of special item for your setting. Have fun and don't forget to share your creation!

This is a copyright-free template.

For the Christmas Market Stall

Although my Christmas market stall is still a dream far from reality, that hasn't stopped me from purchasing things for it. These little items were kits that I bought from Volker Arnold at the Chicago International Show. He makes the most amazing scroll saw patterns and has reduced them to miniature.

To give you an idea of the size of these items, the cart is 0,8 cm tall. It was a bit of a struggle to put the copper wire through the wheels, but well worth it. They actually turn!

My market stall will have a red and white stripe awning, dark stained wood and a cobblestone finish on the base. It will be modeled after the stalls that I've seen at the Vianocne Trhy in Slovakia. The mini stall (in the pic on the left) will look similar, but decorated with tiny paper shapes painted to look like gingerbread. I plan to add a tiny tree (made from a single stem of trimmed chenille) to the little counter top, and decorate it with more gingerbread items.

I also purchased a larger pyramid with a base and some lanterns that I intend to light. The pyramid will go on one of the shelves in the back of the stall. The lanterns, that have been laser cut with Christmas scenes, will also be lit and hang from the roof or sit on the shelves in back.

Photo by glasses.glasses via Flickr

I purchased a small tree kit with very nicely spaced branches that will sit on the counter top and display woven wheat ornaments and tiny red bows. I just have to figure out how to make the woven wheat ornaments. Hmmm.... I haven't seen any tutorials on that anywhere yet.

I'll add red candles to the pyramid in the photo above. It will probably sit on the counter at the front of the stall along with glass ornaments (beads), decorated beeswax candles, gingerbread (if I can make friends with Fimo), embroidered items, wooden toys and other assorted traditional folk items.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Inspiration for a Mosaic Floor

As you may have noticed from my latest posts, I've been going through the "inspiration" photos on my iphone. I am happy to see that along with the many blurry photos that my 2-year old niece snapped of table legs and walls, I also have a few inspirational shots that I took on vacation last fall. Take this pic for example: I loved the marble mosaic floor in the bed and breakfast we stayed in while in Rome (click on the pic to make it larger). However I have enough inspiration to keep me working on miniature projects for a lifetime, so perhaps someone else will find it useful? And of course, I had to share the tourist photo below. That's me in a not-so-flattering pose (as my mother pointed out). It seems as though I can't get enough of small things!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Inspiration for a Potting Shed

I hope to use these photos of my aunt's "potting shed" and garden as inspiration for a future miniature project (add it to my growing list of ideas - ha!).

My aunt, an artist, designed the shed and gardens located in her backyard in suburban Detroit. Behind the structure is a walking path. Unfortunately, I didn't take photos of the inside of the shed. It is decorated so beautifully. The back room is the potting area. The room in front contains a few pieces of lovely furniture with whimsical antiques sprinkled throughout.

I could imagine myself spending hours upon hours in this little retreat working on my miniatures. But that's one of the reasons I like to create miniatures; so that I can have a replica of what I can't have in real life!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Photoshop Tutorial: Aging Paper

This is a fun process, as it involves using paintbrushes in Photoshop and is a bit more "hands-on". Once you've learned how to do it, you may never want to deal with messy teas, inks, or lighters to age your paper again!

The inspiration for this tutorial came from Nikki's blog, Miniature Question and Answer. In her post on paper, Nikki mentioned that she would like to know how to age paper in Photoshop. I figured that there may be other miniaturists out there who would be interested in a tutorial as well.

I did this example quickly, but a much more realistic look can be created if you take your time. The process has been broken down into 2 steps: creating a sepia toned image and burning the edges. If you don't want to make your image sepia toned, you may wish to skip to step 2.

Open your image that you'd like to age in Adobe Photoshop Elements. For the example, I am using The New York Times newspaper from the Titanic sinking. You may download it here.

Note: If you'd like to use your own image, make sure that you have sized it to 300 dpi at the actual size you will be printing it out BEFORE you proceed with the next steps. For a tutorial on how to resize your image, see my previous post.

Step 1: Creating a Sepia Tone Image
Make your image grayscale. Go to the menu at the top and choose Image > Mode > Grayscale.

Click on the "New Layer" button located in the bottom left corner of the layers panel. It looks like a square with the corner peeled back. A new layer called "Layer 1" will be created.

Next to the "New Layer" button at the bottom of the Layers panel, there is a half black/white circle. Click on this and choose "Hue/Saturation" from the dropdown menu. A Hue and Saturation panel will open below the Layers panel.

In the Hue and Saturation panel, click on the "Colorize" box in the bottom right corner.
Play around with the Hue, Saturation and Lightness settings until you are satisfied with the results. For the example, the Hue has been changed to 40.

Merge the two layers into a new layer by going to the Layers panel, and clicking on the small icon on the top right corner of the panel (the icon looks like 4 horizontal bars with a little arrow next to it). Click and choose "Merge Visible" from the dropdown. All of your layers will be merged into a layer called "Background".

  • You may wish to make your image slightly soft and blurry. To do this, go to the menu at the top of your screen and choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the radius for the blur to whatever looks good to you.
  • Add noise to the image by going to the "Filter" menu and clicking on "Add Noise." Tick the "Monochromatic" and "Gaussian" boxes. Change the amount value to your liking.

Step 2: Adding Burnt Edges
With the Lasso Tool (6th tool from the top of the toolbox on the left side of your screen) make an odd-shaped cut selection. Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard, and go around your image and draw odd-shaped selections wherever you want the edges torn, crumbled or burned away. You can see the marching ants on the example below:

Press delete on your keyboard.

From the menu at the top of your screen, choose Select > Inverse. The marching ants will now select the middle section of your image (the area that has not been torn off). Important: Make sure that the marching ants are visible during the next steps. If they disappear, go back in your History panel (Window > Undo History) and click on the different history states until the ants appear again. This will ensure that the colors that you brush on your image to create the aged appearance stay on your image and do not make a mess outside of the selected area.

Create a new layer in the Layers panel (using the same icon as before) and get the Brush Tool (7th tool from the bottom of your toolbox). On the bottom of the toolbox, you'll notice 2 colored squares. The top square (foreground color) is the color that will be in your brush. Click on the foreground color square. A new dialog box will appear. Choose a yellowish color. For the example, I used d99e37. This number can be typed into the box at the bottom. Click OK.

From the toolbox at the top, change the brush size to approximately 20 px and make sure that it has a soft edge. You may wish to change the opacity to 15%. "Paint" around the edges of your image. See the sample below.

Now we'll add a little black around the edges. Go to the Layers panel and make a new layer.  Using the brush tool, brush a few soft spots with black (000000) using the same method as you did with the yellowish color.

Keep adding black, brown or other colors until you are happy with the results. If you put each color on a new layer, you can change the opacity of the layers to create more subtle effects. The dropdown box that reads "Normal" can be changed to "Multiply", "Overlay", etc. for even more effects. See below:

Browns are a difficult color for printers to match. You may have to tinker with your print settings and colors a bit to get your desired results.

That's it! If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment.

If you use this tutorial in your project, please post it. I would love to see what you come up with!