Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top Posts of 2010

Happy New Year! 2010 was an amazing and productive year for me. In March, I stumbled upon the miniatures blogging community, of which I am grateful to have found. Since then, I have made many new friends, became inspired to create more miniatures, and overcame new technical and creative challenges.

In the spirit of auld lang syne, here is another chance to read the 5 most popular posts on this blog from 2010 (according to Blogger statistics):
  1. Printable Book "Livre de Fleurs" from 1620
  2. Photoshop Tutorial: Aging Paper
  3. Vintage Printables 
  4. Source for Printable American Newspapers
  5. Birthday GIVEAWAY!
I know that I've missed some great posts on your blog. Perhaps you would like to share your blog's most popular posts with your readers? You may use the graphic above.

Thanks for a year of friendship, inspiration and fun!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Swap

These are the beautiful gifts that Lara made for me. They will fit perfectly into my Victorian house. Aren't the childrens' toys amazing? The tiny flowers and berries will compliment a Thanksgiving table so nicely. And the ornaments have hooks! Everything is so detailed and well made. Thank you, Lara!

Here is the gift I made for Anna. Peggy was originally my partner, but was unable to participate for health reasons. Best wishes to Peggy for a quick recovery! And a big thank you to Caterina for organizing the swap!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Traditions

I have enjoyed learning how other bloggers are celebrating their Christmases. I think that no matter what part of the world you live in, the central part of the celebration is always the meal.

Rolled oplatky and honey in Slovakia, 1998
My husband is from Slovakia (the eastern part of former Czechoslovakia), so we celebrate a traditional Slovak Christmas Eve. The meal is typically started with a prayer or good wishes said while a family member makes the sign of a cross (made with honey) on your forehead. Crispy wafers (oplatky) with Christmas scenes are distributed with honey and fresh garlic cloves. I know that it sounds awful, but the garlic and honey are a wonderful combination!

Next comes the soup. My husband's family (in Slovakia) always makes sauerkraut soup (kapustnica), made with pork sausage, pork roast, sauerkraut, dried mushrooms and garlic. My husband makes our sauerkraut soup ahead of time so that the flavors have time to marinate. It also makes a rather pungent smell in the kitchen :)

Dinner in Slovakia (we named her Miroslavka), 1998
The next part of the meal is fried fish. In Slovakia, the fish used is carp. Americans have an aversion to this type of fish, so my husband makes cod or trout. At this time of year, many Slovaks visit the fish vendors and take home live fish. When they arrive home, the carp goes into the bathtub to live out the last day or so of his life. This ensures that the carp is fresh for the dinner.  :) The fish is accompanied by potato salad and of course, plenty of liquor (another Slovak tradition).

Wherever you live and whatever your holiday traditions are, I wish you the happiest of holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Holidays and a Gift for You!

Happy Holidays to everyone! I hope that you are enjoying a beautiful season with family and friends.

I just finished designing these mini boxes as a gift to you. Perhaps you will find them useful for your miniature treats and gifts. Happy holidays!

Download the pdf of the box designs. 


Friday, December 17, 2010

Should She Bake a Pie or Make Pasta?

I just received this resin doll designed by Marcia Backstrom. When I saw the doll in Carol's Etsy shop, I knew that she would be perfect in either of two projects that I am making slow progress on. Maybe you can help me decide which project? Should the doll go into the summer kitchen scene (America 1900) and bake a pie? OR should she go into the Tuscan kitchen scene and make pasta fresca? What do you think?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Delicious Miniatures from Oiseau deNim

This is how my French table would look, if I lived in France. All of these beautiful miniatures were created by Peiwen from Oiseau deNim.

She has sent me a some of her new savory items – a French Terrine (in back with the knife) and Red Fruits Gratin – yum! And, something I have always wanted to try to make in real life: a Creme Brulee. Although I could never make the top turn out so nicely has Peiwein has done. My Creme Brulee would end as a torched piece of coal! The chocolates in the shape of seashells are amazing! They remind me of the Guylain seashells that are so yummy. Peiwen has even dusted the chocolates with a shimmer of gold! And aren't her macaroons to die for? They are simply perfect! The baker has developed a new recipe that gives them pretty, pearlescent colors. The snowflake on top of the macaroon charlotte is a pretty detail. And the box is perfect for a collection of mini ornaments.

I am so delighted to have these beautiful miniatures. Thank you, Peiwen!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Scottish Tenement Kits

I don't know the scale of these architectural model kits, but they are full of detail. The "tinyment" is sophisticated enough to display on your bookshelf when your friends who don't create miniatures come over for martinis. They're made by Glasgow-based Finch & Fouracre, designers and architectual modelmakers.

photos: Finch & Fouracre

Monday, December 13, 2010

Adobe Photoshop Elements Links

If you're a Photoshop Elements user, you may appreciate these free tutorials. If you're thinking about purchasing the graphics editing software, Adobe is currently offering $40 USD off in rebates, which brings the cost down to $59.99 USD for Photoshop Elements version 9.

As always, Photoshop tutorials for making minis are still accessible on my blog. The link "Photoshop Tutorial" is permanently located below the header.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Embarking on a New Journey: Facebook

Please join me! Click on the "Like" button to the right, or search Facebook for: True2Scale Dollhouse Miniatures. I look forward to seeing you on FB!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Another Basket

I've been trying a few new techniques and materials for making baskets. The possibilities of design and decoration using different weaving techniques greatly interests me. Here is one of my results of adapting some real life techniques to miniature.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Favorite Removable Glue

I change my mind a lot. For example, I painted my garage door with 5 shades of taupe before I was happy with the way it looked. The last shade I created by slowly dumping black acrylic paint into the gallon of latex paint to achieve the perfect gray tint to the taupe. Perhaps my artistic friends in blogland may relate to my quirkiness?

My point is that I hate to glue things down permanently. To be able to change things in my mini rooms, I like to use a removable adhesive called Glue Dots®. They are acid-free and archival safe so they don't discolor papers or eat away at finishes. You may be familiar with them from their industrial application – direct mail. Often they hold fake credit cards onto the annoying credit card offers. If you peel the glue off of the paper, it stretches and is fun to pick at. They are also popular for scrapbooking. If you can't find them at your local craft store, try ordering them online.

Some dollhouse uses:
  • hanging wall art
  • hanging shelves
  • attaching seasonal decorations
  • sticking furniture and rugs to floors
  • holding accessories in place
  • sticking templates to pieces before cutting
  • adhering items to the inside of containers for protection from shipping
Do you have a favorite removable adhesive?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Giveaway Winners and a Discount!

Thank you to all who entered my birthday giveaway and left kind comments. Because of your many greetings these past weeks, I enjoyed a very long celebration!

As a thank you to all of the giveaway participants, please use this discount code at my Etsy shop to receive 20% off the laser cut glitter house kits: GIVEAWAY4U. This discount is valid until December 15.

The winners of the glitter house kits are:

Linda (Linda's Miniature Musings)
Alma e Lia (Vilia Miniature)

I hope that you will enjoy assembling and decorating your kits!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Giveaway Ends Tomorrow

Just a reminder: if you haven't signed up for my birthday giveaway, please do so today by leaving a comment below. I will be choosing 2 winners tomorrow. Don't forget to let me know which house you prefer. Good luck!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Treasures from Oiseau deNim

Look what I have received from Oiseau deNim's Etsy shop! A Treasury of goodies. A Salami Set (to go in my Tuscan kitchen), Raspberry and Caramel St. Honore (her French pastries are to die for), and, speaking of death, her spooky bottles would be a must-have drink at every skeleton's cocktail party.

It gives me much pleasure to own such beautiful work. I wish that my photography could accurately depict just how detailed these items are. Thank you, Peiwen!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Birthday GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate my birthday with my blog friends, I'm giving away some of my new glitter house kits. Two winners will be drawn randomly. Winners may choose one of the five styles of glitter house kits.

If you are interested in taking part in the giveaway, please leave a comment and let me know which house you would like to win. A link on your blog would be appreciated. The giveaway is open to followers of my blog only. I will draw two random names on Wednesday, December 1. I ship internationally.

Thank you for participating in my birthday giveaway!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tuscan Treats from After Dark

I returned from vacation to find a package from Eve at After Dark. I mentioned to her that I have a Tuscan kitchen in the planning stage, and she has supplied me with a fantastic assortment of Italian goodies. They are lovely. The tiny little nuts amaze me. I especially love the apples! Perhaps they will find a home on the window sill of the kitchen. Thank you Eve!

Below the photos is a quick video that I shot while on vacation. I thought that you might enjoy seeing some of the unusual foods available at the night market in Beijing; including snake's skin, squid, octopus, scorpion, silk worm larvae, etc. I wasn't brave enough to try any of them. However Hubby said that the scorpion and silk worm larvae were delicious! 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Printable Book "Botanique de la Jeunesse 1812"

Another printable book for your collection. You may wish to create a cover for this one. Thank you to Caterina for finding these beautiful graphics!

For the best print quality, download the pdf.

Blog break
I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone's blogs when I return from vacation!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Free Photos for Your Blog and Copyright Info

There are many reasons to use pictures on your blogs. First, it draws attention to your post. Second, it may add to your blog's search engine visibility. But what if you don't have a picture? Do you do a quick Google image search and hope that the author of that pic doesn't mind that you're using their image? If you blog is for personal use only (in other words, you are not helping to promote your business with it), the authors of the photographs or illustrations may not mind. But why take the chance that you are violating the copyright by using protected images?

Copyright and fair use
This has always been an important subject for me because I deal with it in my career as a graphic designer. Generally, I assume that everything on the web is copyright protected, unless it states otherwise. If no copyright or trademark information is given, it is still protected. You may wish to check out this easy explanation of copyright and fair use.

Where can you find copyright-free pictures?
Some websites offer inexpensive royalty free stock photography and illustrations. These can be purchased for a couple of dollars. But if you're cheap like me, you may prefer these free alternatives:
  • morgueFile
  • Stock.XCHNG
  • Google Images Didn't I just mention not to go there? However, Google Images provides an option to filter for image type. If you click on the "Advanced Image Search" link, you can do a search for different image rights. Try searching for images "labeled for reuse" or "labeled for commercial reuse with modification".
Who is using your images?
If you're wondering if anyone on the web is using your personal images, there are a couple of tools that can help you find them:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Fire for the Fireplace

I have been a terrible blogger lately. With so many things going on, it's been difficult to keep up with posting and reading blogs. However, I have made a bit of progress on my 1:24 scale Art Deco library. I've finally completed the fire!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Printable Book "Livre de Fleurs" from 1620

Here's a book ready for you to print out and put together. The gorgeous graphics are from Vintage Printable and are copyright free. Download the pdf.

If you'd like the book to look more authentic for the time period, you may wish to create your own cover from leather, polymer clay, etc. The cover in the pdf can then be moved to page 1 to become the title page.

I recently came across a tutorial on creating miniature books that you may find interesting.

Thanks to Caterina for finding these beautiful graphics!

For the best print quality, download the pdf.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Vintage Printables

Free, beautiful, vintage images from Vintage Printable that are in the public domain (no copyright issues). Click on "disable slideshow" if you want to download an image. The samples below were taken from the Printed Material, Ephemera and Typography section.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gift from Eve (After Dark)

Charlotte cakes! I confess my ignorance - until reading everyone's posts on them, I had never heard of a charlotte cake before. But now I have two from Eve at After Dark. And such lovelies! The fruit makes my mouth water. Eve, thank you very much!

Eve has some gorgeous charlotte cakes and other items available in her Etsy shop.

Gifts from Caterina and a Light Tent

Caterina was so kind to make these items for my Victorian house. A pair of men's slippers, books with pages, an envelope of tiny postcards and crocheted potholders which will be the perfect colors for the kitchen. I am in awe of her tiny crochet! Thank you, Caterina!

With the darker months of the year quickly approaching, I decided that I should no longer rely on my bay window as my photo studio. For the cost of some foam core and full spectrum light bulbs, here is my economical solution - a homemade light tent. I can't wait to hear Hubby's reaction when he goes downstairs to the bar in the "man cave" and sees my new studio sitting on top!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

2011 Chicago International Workshops

I thought that you might enjoy viewing a sample of the upcoming workshops to be offered at the 2011 Chicago International Show. The prototypes for the workshops were unveiled this weekend at the Chicago Fall Show (where I also found several things which I will post about at a later time).

Sorry for the bad pictures, they were taken with my camera phone.

No. 11 Bond Street, Whitledge-Burgess

Little Girl's Bed, Judee Williamson

Fun with Faux Finishes, Carol Sherry

Vintage Feather Tree, Laura Montgomery

Versailles, Jo Bevilacqua

Vintage Wine Rack, Andy Bevilacqua

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Making High Quality Printables

Some tips to prevent your printables from being fuzzy:

Image quality
There are 2 main reasons why pictures turn out fuzzy: 1) printer and paper quality and 2) resolution. Resolution is the easiest (and least expensive!) of those things to change. This is done in your photo editing software (Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, GIMP, etc.).

If you want to figure out why the pictures you print from the web always turn out blurry, it probably has to do with resolution.
What is resolution?
Resolution is the number of pixels (dots of color) in your picture. Think of resolution like the thread count in sheets. A higher thread count means that the fibers are closer together, resulting in a smoother surface and better quality sheets. Resolution works in a similar manner: a higher pixel count means that the dots of color are closer together, resulting in a clearer image.

For making printables, you want a minimum resolution of 300 pixels per inch (118 pixels per centimeter). Fewer pixels will result in a blurry printout. More than 300 or 118 pixels will not be perceptible to the human eye due to the limitations of typical desktop printers.

Pictures on websites are typically 72 pixels per inch instead of the 300 pixels that you require for printing.

How to Change Resolution
This is done in a photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, GIMP, etc. This cannot be accomplished in Microsoft Word or other text editing software. If you don't have photo editing software, you may wish to download a free, 30 day trial. If you are using a Mac, you may download the trial here. GIMP is free without a trial.

Here are the directions to change resolution in Adobe Photoshop Elements (most photo editing software has a similar setup):
From the menu at the top of your screen, choose Image — Resize — Image Size. A window like this will appear:

Under "Document Size" You will change the "Resolution" to "300" pixels/inch or 118 pixels/cm.

The "Constrain Proportions" box should be checked by default.

For now, keep the "Resample Image" box unchecked.

You can see that when you type in a new number for the resolution, the width and height changes. If you type in a new width or height, the resolution will change.

Now, let's say that we have a picture that is 2 inches wide with a resolution of 300 pixels per inch. We want to make it 1 inch wide and keep the same resolution. Notice that if we try to change the resolution in the window, the width will change according to how many pixels are being spread out in those 2 inches (think about thread count in sheets). In order to make the change, we have to check the "Resample Image" box. Enter "1" in the "Width" box. Enter "300" pixels/inch or "118" pixels/cm in the "Resolution" box. Done!

You can always make it smaller, but you can't make it bigger.
This is a frustrating fact about pixels and an area of confusion to many people. I'll try to break this down into a more creative way of thinking about the process:

Imagine that pixels are little dots of watercolor paint on paper. If you stretch out the watercolor paint by adding water, you'll see a blurry area of paint because the pigments are now diluted over a larger area. This is similar to what happens when you add more resolution to a picture than it originally had.

For example, if you find a picture of a book cover on a website that you want to print out for your miniature setting, make sure that when you open it in your photo editing software, it has 1 of 2 things:
1) A resolution of 300 pixels/inch or 118 pixels/cm or more and is at least the size that you want your final print to be.

2) A width and height large enough so that when the picture is made to your desired size, the resolution will not go below 300 pixels per inch (remember resolution is proportionate to width and height).

Working with Pictures From the Web
First—I can't stress this enough — make sure that if you are using the pictures you find on the web for commercial purposes, the pictures are in the public domain.

Second, open up the picture in your photo editing software and check the resolution and the size using the guidelines above. If the picture is too small (and in most cases it is) just remember that the final result will be a bit blurry. The amount of blur will depend upon how few pixels it has. Typically graphics on websites are 72 pixels per inch. This is due to the resolution of a typical computer monitor. More than 72 pixels per inch is unnecessary because most computer monitors cannot show more than that.

Most printable websites that I have visited do not offer their graphics in a high resolution format. The authors may have put a lot of work into their beautiful designs, but the printables are blurry when printed. Hopefully, we can spread the word to our fellow miniaturists out there — 300 pixels per inch, please!

  • Resolution: 300 pixels/inch or 118 pixels/cm
  • You can always make it smaller, but you can never make it bigger
  • Don't use Microsoft Word or other text editing programs to change your photo sizes. Instead, download free photo editing software.
Read previous posts about Photoshop with tutorials to get you started.

If you have any questions, feel free to email or leave a comment.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Collaborating with Oiseau deNim

As many of you know from my profile, when I'm not creating miniatures, I am a freelance graphic designer. My specialty is packaging design (boxes, bags, cans, etc.).  When Peiwen of Oiseau deNim contacted me about doing box designs and a logo for her work with polymer clay foods, I readily accepted the invitation. Not only have we come up with some fun items, but we've developed a friendship as well.

Please take a look at what Peiwen has sent me. Her work is breathtaking. I feel honored to not only have her pieces in my collection, but to call her my friend.

I call this Breakfast with Peiwen. It makes me imagine that we are dining together al fresco in beautiful France! My camera cannot capture the detail in her work. These items are simply stunning! I think I will have to create a new garden room to accommodate them.

The logos and cake box are from our collaboration. Peiwen lives in France and much of her work is inspired by French cuisine. "Oiseau" in French means "bird". She wanted to capture the meaning of her business name and the whimsical, feminine appeal of her work in her logo. Many of her boxes have lace designs; therefore she wished to include lace in her logo as well.

This is the mouth-watering Passion Fruit Macaroon Charlotte. It fits nicely into the box that she requested from me. Notice how the handles form an "O" like "Oiseau". That is typical of Peiwen's attention to detail! She added the pretty floral motif to the box.

Thank you, Peiwen, for your beautiful gifts and for allowing me the opportunity to work and play with you!

The passion fruit macaroon charlottes are currently available for purchase from Oiseau deNim's Etsy shop.