Thursday, 31 January 2013

Miniature Woodwork

Here is an amazing miniature woodwork piece by William R. Robertson.

I can't get over how intricate this is. Look at the tiny, tiny compartments in the toolbox! If anyone else can find more miniatures from this guy, please share as they are astounding,

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Please give blood.

This post is nothing to do with miniatures, but is very dear to my heart nonetheless. Just a friendly reminder to all those fit and well people out there, to please, if you're able, give blood.

If you've never done it before, I promise you, it's not scary. And the feeling you get from knowing you have possibly helped a stranger on to the road to better health is amazing. For more information on how, where and why to give blood in the UK, check our this site. Thanks to all those who make the time to give blood!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Breakfast in bed

Who wouldn't want breakfast in bed? Especially if it looked as tasty as this?
But I wouldn't say no to this... 
And I might even stretch to this...
Of course I've never eaten a reheated slice of this for breakfast, of course not...

Sunday, 27 January 2013

A-Z of Miniature Food Making

Here is an A-Z list of what is involved in my miniature food making. Clearly I've been watching too much Sesame Street of late. I even did Q and Z!

A is for art. I wouldn't describe myself as an artist, but whenever I make something I'm really please with, I think, 'wouldn't my GCSE art teacher be proud'.
B is for blades. One of my most important tools is a sharp blade for cutting both raw and baked polymer clay. My preference is a tissue blade because it's both very sharp and very thin. But sometimes I use refills for stanley knives for projects that don't require such a high level of precision, as these are much cheaper and you can pick them up at any DIY shop. Just watch your fingertips!
Examples of tomato, cucumber and red onion canes.

C is for cane. Lots of miniature food involves making canes. My first canes were things like lemon and lime slices. My more complicated ones include cucumber, tomato and rare beef which also includes the skinner technique. I’d like to make a good strawberry cane in the near future.

D is for dollhouse, the reason I make my miniature food. No-one wants an empty pantry, not even dolls!

E is for experimentation. The only way to learn new techniques (or even invent them!) is to experiment. And more often than not, my first attempts are fairly disastrous. But there's always room for improvement, and one of the reasons I love making dollhouse miniatures is if you get bored of making one particular thing, there are always other techniques and processes to experiment with.
F is for fimo, my favourite brand of polymer clay and most used material. I use it because it is the most readily available in Europe. I prefer Fimo Soft over Fimo classis because I am lazy when it comes to conditioning my clay, but I use a mix of both depending on what colour I need.

G is for grit. Blasted, evil grit. Or fluff, or muck, or whatever you want to call it. I'm always getting mysterious specks in my polymer clay. I think everyone must do, unless you're lucky enough to have an actual scientific clean room as your craft space.

H is for hot, hot, hot. Polymer clay miniatures are hot when they come out of the oven. Who knew? Aparently not me, judging by the number of times I've burnt myself on freshly baked miniature food. I'm just so keen to get a good look at it once it's ready!
I is for inspiration. I get my inspiration from looking at real food and food photography, and wondering if I could do that in miniature. It's fairly common that I'll stop outside a particularly beautiful bakery and start photographing the cupcakes. That can attract strange looks for some reason.
There you go, k is for kiwi.
J is for jewellery, because not everyone has a dollhouse, but everyone deserves an excuse to indulge in miniature food.
K is for kiwi. Can your think of anything better?
L is for liquid translucent  fimo. All sorts of cool results can be found using liquid translucent fimo, from jelly to coffee to icing cupcakes. You can achieve almost any consistency if you have the patience to experiment with it.
M is for miniatures – obviously!
N is for never say never. I'm never making miniature peas again. I made enough for 4 plates of sunday dinner and a side dish, and it took hours and hours and drove me barmy. So that's me sworn off miniature peas. Until the next time I make a miniature that would look really cool with some peas in it. Oh go on then...
O is for oven. Polymer clay doesn't require much in the way of specialist equipment, but you've got to have an oven. And take my advice, don't ever try to save electricity by baking your polymer clay at the same time as you food. It will end badly.

P is for polymer clay. Pretty much the basis for all my miniature food.
Q is for quiet. Unlike many people, I like to work in the quiet. I might be in the mood for some background music occasionally, but often I am concentrating so hard I just find it distracting. I also cannot hold a conversation and make intricate miniatures at the same time, so please don't be ofended when I ignore you. When making miniature food, I become decidedly antisocial.
R is for realism. I like my dollhouse miniature food to look as realistic as possible. I'm not quite so fussy when it comes to jewellery, because realistic often means fragile and it's important jewellery be practical as well as aesthetically appealing. But for my dollhouse minatures I strive for a high level of detail and spend a lot of time looking at food photography.
S is for scale. Scale is important and I didn't fully appreciate that when I first started making miniatures. As long as it was small and cute, I was happy. Nowadays I mostly stick to 12th scale (one inch scale) as this is the most common dollhouse scale. As a result, I can be found obsessively measuring various vegetables from the bottom of my fridge to be sure I've got the scale right!

T is for translucent polymer clay. This non-colour is the secret to realistic looking miniature dollhouse food. I use it in almost everything, even though most of the time you can't tell. It stops your dollhouse food's colour being too bright and artificial looking.
Mmmm lovely miniature potatoes
U is for UFO, which stands for UnFinished Object to the uninitiated. Every crafter, unless you are the most disciplined person in the world, has unfinished objects littering their crafting space, or even beyond. I am no exception. There are cupcakes that need icing, plates of sunday dinner that require gravy, and various pieces of jewellery with no findings because I've run out of glue!
V is for vegetables. Vegetables were some of the first miniatures I ever made and I still enjoy making them now. Especially potatoes! I find them oddly satisfying.
W is for whoops. I create a lot of whoops. Being the wonderful material polymer clay is, a lot of my gone-wrong experiments can be salvaged into something else. Unfortunately not if I already baked them. A lot of tomato canes ended up in the bin before I finally produced an acceptable one.
X is for eXciting (please forgive me!) which is the feeling you get when you've spent ages making a huge cane, and you cut into the middle for the first time, with no idea how it will look, but plenty of hope and eXpectation (sorry I did it again). It's great when something recognisable appears from within a cane.
Zzzzzzz, I can make these green beans in my sleep!
Y is for yes I can, in reply to the question, can you make that? Well maybe not right this minute, but I can learn how to. I taught myself how to make miniature food from scratch by practicing a lot. I used to think I would never be able to make anything that looked half decent, but after lots of trying, it gradually got better. So now when I think, there's no way I could manage that, I am making more of an effort to push myself and try. Thus my New Year's Resolution to try to make at least one new and different thing each month.

Z is for zoning out, which I often do when making something repetitive such as squillions of tomato stalks, beans or peas. It's a great way to relax when you've had a busy day and your head won't stop buzzing.


Friday, 25 January 2013

Amazing Snail Dollhouse

I came across this amazing snail dollhouse online a while ago. I can't tell you much about it because it's all in a language I'm not familiar with, but a pictures speaks a thousand words. Just look at it!
I love the combination of a snail, something I usually associate with slime and general grossness, and chintz. She's a very elegant snail indeed!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

February Workshop

For anyone in the Sheffield area, I will be teaching a workshop at Jam Jar Beads on Leopold street on Februray 23rd.

We will be learning how to make miniature jars of liquorice and heart candy, which you can make into pendants, charms or earrings, whatever you like. For more information, go to Jam Jar Beads or call the lovely Yvonne and she can book you a slot.

We'll be making heart candy like the middle jar here.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Time for Tea

I love a dollhouse miniature tea set. Here are a few of my latest teatime creations. And don't forget the cupcakes (that's the best bit in my view).

And finally a new jewellery design from me, in case you need your miniature tea and cake while on the go.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Can you spot me?

They Roared Vintage has featured a lovely set of dollhouse miniatures on their blog. Can you spot mine? I'll give you a clue, there are three and they're all food.

Not strictly a miniature, but still my favourite!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Dollshouse and Miniature Scene Feature

I'm featured in the next email newsletter Dollshouse and Miniature Scene this month. Hurrah! The theme is farmhouse breakfasts. With that in mind, I've made a tutorial on how to make 1/12th scale egg and soldiers.

I'm also supplying the following prize for a competition giveaway.
It's a subscriber email, which you can sign up to here.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Technological wizardy!

The more astute among you may notice the appearance of a horizontal navigation bar on my blog. It's not much to look at right now, but this stretched my technological capabilities as far as they've ever been stretched! What on earth is html? My brother is a computer programmer and will laugh if he ever reads this. But my academic qualifications lie in language and linguistics of the European variety, not programming, and for me this was a learning experience.

I plan on adding more interesting and useful miniature related links in the near future, and one day I may even learn how to make them pretty. That's pushing it a little right now though.

If you want to add a horizontal navigation bar to your blog, just google 'how to add...' and there are plenty of helpful tutorials. They all seem to work slightly differently, but I was able to follow this one without tearing my hair out too much.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

5 a day

Here are some of the first fruit and vegetables I ever made.
I am pleased with the leeks as this was my first attempt at a leek.

The little stalks on the tomatoes took AGES. Each one has five little green bits.

The grapes were also extremely slow!

My favourite ones are the peppers because I love the bright colours.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

January Babies!

It was my birthday this month. January is not the most brilliant time of year to celebrate another complete revolution on the planet if you happen to live in England. It is without fail cold and the light only lasts 6 hours. And more often than not it's grey and miserable too! Everybody ate and drank too much over Christmas. So nobody wants to go out and have a party because they're all too busy detoxing from a mince pie and mulled wine overdose.

Never mind, it's never the wrong time of year for birthday cake. Here's to all us January babies! I might have to try making a miniature version of this, it looks divine!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Clearing out my garden

Despite how cold it was, I spent last weekend clearing out my garden of dead and dying plants to make way for the new growth. And new growth there already was! With that in mind, here are a few gardening inspired miniatures to drool over.

by Dollhouse Ara
by Joann Swanson
by Kris Compas

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Miniature Food Jewellery

Here are a few miniature food jewellery pieces I've been working on recently.

I made a new watermelon cane. I love making a new cane, especially the part when you first cut into the middle of it, and hope to high heaven there's something recognisable in there! The seeds came out nice and even. The outer stripes are thicker than the last watermelon cane I made, but I think this works okay for jewellery as it will be more visible when worn.

Watermelon earrings
I also made a few miniature hotdogs, which I converted into a necklace and dangle earrings. The most fiddly part was the mustard. I became obsessed with the 'perfect' number of squiggles, as though there was such a thing.

Hotdog necklace
Hotdog earrings
Finally I've been making lots of cupcake earrings. This rainbow heart only pair is the only set I still have.

Rainbow cupcake earrings
The rest of them went to Yvonne at Jam Jar Beads (on Leopold Street in Sheffield city centre if you're local and curious). For some reason they sell a lot better in real life as opposed to online. I'm not sure why as they are more or less identical to what's in my shop. I haven't quite sussed getting perfect photos of them, perhaps that is the cause. Anyway, the rainbow heart cupcakes were my favourite!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Miniature Paintings

Very, very occasionally, I like to make miniature reproduction paintings. I painted these a couple of years ago using a combination of watercolours and acrylics. They are all either 12th or 24th scale, depending on the size of the original.

I think there's something so much nicer about having an actual painting in your dollhouse, rather than a photocopy of a masterpiece. Mine might not quite live up to the originals, but they have a miniature charm of their own (I think so at least).

Water Lily Pond by Monet
Mona Lisa by Da Vinci
And with a ruler so you get an idea of the size.
Whistler's Mother
The Scream by Edvard Munch
The frames where made by the lovely MiniBuilder who has a beautiful Etsy shop full of handmade wooden dollhouse furniture.

The joys of online marketing!

As you may have guessed from my recent opening of a Folksy shop (the British version of Etsy apparently), I've recently begun to wonder if perhaps I wouldn't sell more miniatures simply by having more of an internet presence. You get out what you put in when it comes to online selling, but apart from the miniature making part (or the fun part as I call it) I can't honestly say I put a whole lot in. So what to do, what to do? It's a big, wide, online world out there but I've got limited resources, and even more limited time. I can't simply hit everything and hope something sticks or I'll forever be spinning plates and never have time to make a new miniature ever again!

So for my own benefit - and perhaps yours if you're trying to get your head round all this stuff too -  here is a list of the online resources I currently use, followed by some potentials.

Etsy - My main online selling venue. This is where I first started and although I feel like an extremely small fish in a very large ocean, I do get slow if regular sales. The monthly bill is affordable as I do not regularly re-list, but views seem slow and there is a lot of stuff on there to get hidden behind.

This blog - I like to use this blog for sharing my latest creations, drooling over other people's offerings, or simply rambling about life. I've read on various business advice blogs that I should use every opportunity to sell my goods, and that means listing the price and availability etc. each and every time, even if it's just on my blog. I'm not so sure. I do link back to my Etsy shop whenever I post about something that's also for sale, but I appreciate a lot of people simply read blogs for enjoyment or curiousity. If you really wanted to buy something, it's one click away and the price is clear enough in my shop. Does anyone else use their blog as a means to sell, or is it just a way of sharing and updating? I prefer it as the latter.

Folksy - One week old and two sales done! While I'm pleasantly surprised by this immediate small success, it's far too early to call whether or not this is the selling venue for me. I sold a couple of items that had been sat in my Etsy shop for months. Yet I can't help thinking I'm paying twice for the same service when I pay that listing insertion fee. It is a little more expensive to list and sell products on Folksy than on Etsy, but not prohibitively so. It's a much smaller site (you have to be UK based to sell there) so it's easier to find me, however it doesn't get as much traffic as Etsy, and the categories for dollhouse miniatures are very basic and don't differentiate between toys and collectibles.

Flickr - This is not a selling venue (in fact it's expressly forbidden!) however it's a great way to share photos of your work without being limited to a certain number. I think there is an upper limit on the basic account, but it's not one I'm likely to reach! You can join related groups to get your miniatures seen by people who might actually be interested and for a basic account it is free. I really should make more use of this, as although I'm on Flickr, there is more stuff absent than not.

Facebook - I have a Facebook page for Little Time Wasters, but I mainly registered it simply so that nobody else could. I don't actually understand how it works, what it's for, and how to make any use of it. It's such a global site, I feel like I must be missing a trick here!

Sites I do not use, but perhaps should think about.

Artfire - Another handmade, online selling venue. I did have an Artfire shop for a little while, but I couldn't make it add up. Rather than pay per listing/sale (as with Etsy and Folksy) you have to pay a set monthly fee. This is great if you have lots of listings and lots of sales, as there is no commission to be paid upon sale and your bill never goes up. But I never sold enough to cover the cost of running it. I even made it to the front page as a featured artisan, and this triggered not a single sale. I like to think it's not my product, since they had no trouble selling on Etsy at that very time. Perhaps Artfire just doesn't get enough traffic, or does not specialise enough in dollhouse miniatures to work for a crafter like me. Whatever the reason, I cut my losses and pulled the plug after a year. If Artfire's profile were to increase, I would consider re-opening as the actual site was a breeze to use.
CDHM (Custom Dolls, Houses and Miniatures) - This site is specially dedicated to miniaturists, so I would only be focusing on the dollhouse side of things on here. You can pay a subscription for varying amounts of promotion, and it enables collectors to contact miniaturists for custom pieces, as well letting miniaturists link to their own selling venue. I need to do more research into this to see whether or not it is something worthwhile for me. I don't often handle custom pieces, but perhaps it's something I could explore. As a miniature enthusiast, I know I can spend hours looking at all the eye candy CDHM and its members have to offer, so perhaps it could bring some of that enthusiasm my way.

My very own online shop - This is something I have been toying with for a while. Rather than use a host service such as Etsy or Folksy, why not start my own online shop, with my own layout and colour scheme as I see fit, complete with my own web address? There would be fees for the website itself, but no additional fees each time I sell. And I would have total stylistic control. I'm a little worried my technical abilities may let me down, however sites like make it pretty straight forward. Also, two out of three of my siblings have degrees in computer magic, so they ought to be able to write me some pretty code if asked nicely (and fed enough cake). My biggest question is if I made my own site, would anyone ever come and look at it? This would mean some serious studying of SEO and all that jazz. Eek!

Craft Juice - This is free to register to and allows handmade artisans to promote their wares via Craft Juice's newsletters, twitter feed and facebook page. In order to make it on to their list, your item must receive a certain number of votes. I'm not sure how this works, but since it's free, I may as well give it a go.

If all else fails, I could start doing craft fairs, but then I'd have to meet people IN REAL LIFE, and I don't know if the world is quite ready for that yet. You've been warned.

Do you have any other online venues you would recommend, or do you know anything about the ones mentioned that I should be aware of? Thanks for your help!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Fiddly Miniatures

I love just coming across something miniature, unique and cute. While messing around on Etsy, I came across this creation from BlueStarEmporium. I'm a sucker for a dollhouse not in a dollhouse and this is just adorable!

Look at that tiny little bed!
I have a couple of non-traditional dollhouse projects in the works at the moment. If I ever finish them, I will be sure to share. In the meantime, feel free to share links to any of your own unique projects.

Monday, 7 January 2013

January Miniatures

Here are some miniatures I made recently. As usual, I am completely out of whack with the seasons, so I've made salamai sandwich boards, salads and ice cream sundaes among other things. Come on summer!