Finally - An Update!

I do hope everyone had a very happy Christmas! Ours was very nice, but I have to say that having another week off after this one is very welcome.

I have found some time to work on Rosehill Cottage, although since it's been three and a half months since I last posted about it I am sure it doesn't look like I've accomplished much. I've been working on the bay window in the back of the living room, and trying to figure out how to do windows with mullions. I would love to use individual panes of glass, but just don't have the skill for it. This example is plastic with the mullions painted on - cream on the inside and green on the outside. This was just my prototype, and my final ones will be much neater.

Here's a view through the bay window to the front door.

The item I am most excited about is the blue velvet ottoman I made. Actual velvet or velveteen would be too much texture for the scale, so I used some dark blue quilting cotton and "colorized" it with Prisma pencils. I was going for the shade of aqua blue on the one from the film, so I used a combination of turquoise, royal blue, aqua green and white to give it the uneven texture of velvet. The cushion itself is made from balsa wood covered in thin batting. After covering the base with the blue cotton I pushed tiny steel pins with painted heads to match the fabric through the cushion to resemble buttons, and clipped off the excess with a wire cutter. The underside was then covered with a thin panel of stained balsa wood. The legs on the film version were turned wood, but after an attempt to carve a dowel with my Dremel (and a small flesh wound) I resorted to black glass beads glued onto a pin and pushed into the balsa center of the cushion. I think they do a good job posing as ebonized wood!

It is apparent to me that I enjoy making accessories much more than the actual structure, and you can tell from the patchy look of the unfinished sections that I have no idea what I am doing. Thank goodness for balsa wood - so easy to cut through and fix. You will never know when I am done and the surfaces are covered in Paperclay how spotty my construction is.

Here's to a very wonderful 2012 for all of you!

Update coming...

Hello friends! I know I am the worst blogger ever. But - I do have an update on the Holiday cottage coming later today. (There we go - a self-imposed deadline!)


Bring back Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion magazine!

Visit Mary Engelbreit's blog and post a comment if you want to see Home Companion magazine come back. I loved the magazine and was really bummed out when it ended. Mary is considering publishing the magazine again and needs our support to convince her publisher.


Rosehill progress

 I killed the carpet. I attempted to re-color it to more closely match the one in the movie, and in the process I ruined it. I also realized that it was way too small for the room. From what I can see in the photos of the set, the life size rug would have been about 10x14 feet, which almost fills the room. I have searched in vain for an image off the net that I could use to re-create it, but have found nothing. So I decided to make one from scratch. The goal is to approximate the colors and visual texture of the rug in the movie. The thread is Appleton crewel wool on a linen background.

These photos are of my mock up of the first floor. It's probably hard to see in these photos, but I've drawn some measurements in the kitchen for the placement of counters and the stove and refrigerator. The living room shows the drawing I made for the rug measurements, so you can get a sense of how big it will be.

Dealing with the proportions on this project has been rather challenging. I keep finding mistakes, and find myself wondering how it escaped my notice before. It doesn't help that I am working from my best guesses based on the set photos. Now that I have the shell mocked up, I can better see if the space is working.


U of M School of Art + Design Alumni Show

Sorry for the lack of updates on Rosehill Cottage... I've been swamped with home-repair projects lately. Pulling down wallpaper, stripping wood, painting and all of that. Not unlike making miniatures, really, but much less fun. I'll get back to that project soon.

The piece I did for my alumni show is going to be on display soon. The show opens on Monday, July 18 and the opening reception is Friday, July 22 from 6-8pm. I'll let you know if anything exciting happens, like a sale or a People's Choice Award.

Here's a link to the A+D website which has an online gallery of this year's entries. Looks like a good turnout!



Yes, I am in love with yet another British import. If you haven't seen Sherlock, the modernized  version of Sherlock Holmes, you NEED to. (Watch the trailer here). Unless, of course, you're a purist who doesn't go for change, then you might want to pass. But still, you NEED to at least try it. Benedict Cumberbatch is the perfect Sherlock Holmes for the 21st century. I've only seen him in The Other Boleyn Girl, but I think this is his first starring role. Watson is played by Martin Freeman, of The Office UK and the upcoming version of The Hobbit. My favorite role for him was the movie stand-in the Love, Actually; there he was so sweet. In Sherlock he is a worn-down doctor and veteran of the war in Afghanistan, who ends up rooming with Holmes and dealing with his excessive quirks. Oh, and the guy cast as Moriarty is deliciously creepy. There are only three episodes in the first season and you can stream it on Netflix for free if you're a subscriber.


Belated Father's Day post

With all the excitement of my Mackinac weekend, I forgot to give a shout out to my dad for Father's Day, and I wanted to share a bit of him with you all...

I grew up listening to jazz every day thanks to my dad, Doug Collar, who has been collecting records since he was a little kid. He had everything; Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, the Dorsey brothers, Stan Kenton, Joe Venuti, the list goes on. He took me to see Dizzy Gillespie perform when I was about 9, then Benny Goodman a few years later. We even went to a frame store once to make a frame for his Charlie Parker print.

When I was in high school, we would have "music duels", with him playing Art Blakey to my Billy Squier. Needless to say, I tended to lose. We used to sit around on weekends catching old movies on AMC that involved jazz, such as A Song is Born with Danny Kaye, Sun Valley Serenade with John Payne, or The Benny Goodman Story with Steve Allen.

In 1980, the local public radio station had a slot open, and my dad pitched an idea for a half-hour jazz program. He got it, and has had a jazz show in one form or another ever since. He has been the host of a four-hour program for quite a while, and it currently runs as Jazz Til Midnight on Saturdays from 8-midnight on WKAR public radio in East Lansing, MI. You can stream it live on Saturdays if you feel so inclined.

Oh, and I should mention he did all of this while being first a high school English teacher and now a college professor. And getting his PhD. And coaching softball. And being a parent.

Here's a virtual secret handshake, dad, for doing such a good job. Happy Father's Day!


It was a lovely weekend.

Hahn Cottage

I had the best weekend! I went with my knitting group up to Mackinac Island and stayed at a gorgeous, historic home called Hahn Cottage, with views of Lake Huron and the Mackinac bridge. (If you've never been to the island, just watch Somewhere In Time, which was filmed there.)

 Our "cottage" was located past the Grand Hotel in a beautiful wooded setting, but in between the house and the hotel is an amazing row of mansions along the bluff. The island is also celebrating Lilac Festival, so there were a profusion of blooming bushes, as well as flowers galore that have already gone out of season down here in southeast Michigan.
Our view from the back porch.
The Grand Hotel
The hotel porch where Christopher Reeve slept in Somewhere In Time.

Another "cottage".

The poppies by the tree were extraordinary.
A charming scene along the bluff.

The getaway was exactly what I needed, and I am so grateful to the Hahn's for allowing us to have such a lovely experience.


Older artwork - with original subject photos.

 Just wanted to share... This image is of a piece I did for my alumni show two years ago. It incorporates vintage silk embroidery floss in the water. It was called "By The Lake Side".

This piece was called "The Summer We Were Sisters", for my alumni show three years ago. It got a people's choice award, and it sold and went to New York!


I'm done. And so over it.

I finished my artwork for the alumni show at 2:00 am this morning. I could keep on tweaking it, but really I am so over it. I like it, but I am also sick of it, if that makes any sense. I have to drop it off at the art school today between 12 and 4, so it will be quickly out of my hair. The size is 24"x30", and the fabric wraps around the sides of the frame. When the show is up I will take some photos at the reception and post them.

Now it's back to miniatures, woohoo!!!


Deadlines bite.

Hi there... If you've been waiting for another post on Rosehill Cottage I wanted to tell you why it's been so long. I committed myself to making something for my alumni show at the University of Michigan School of Art + Design. Of course I waited until the last minute (it's due by Saturday) and every spare moment is going into cranking it out. Sounds pretty inspired, doesn't it?

I've done a few of these fabric collage/illustration pieces before, and they have actually sold! I find a candid vintage snapshot with a composition that I like, and re-interpret it in fabric and colored pencil. Sometimes I use embroidery as well, but I probably won't have time on this one. The yellow background will be filled in with other stuff - it was the largest piece of scrap fabric I had. I am determined to finish this without buying anything for it.

 I also wanted to share my fabulous new-to-me wooden desk that replaced
my old computer table. My neighbors are moving and had a yard sale, and this desk belonged to the husband's grandfather. It has a huge surface and really deep drawers. It also matches the old swivel chair I use. I can display all my vintage bric-a-brac really nicely now. (Be thankful I edited out the mess on the floor!)

Another new acquisition is this sweet little footwarmer named Lucy. She is 6 months old and truly is the best dog I've ever had.


Holiday cottage progress

I've been tweaking the cottage proportions again. It's amazing how much I realize I've missed in terms of measurements, and I don't know if the fact that it is half-inch scale is causing it. I've re-watched the movie for the millionth time, and found some more tiny details that would never be noticed if I didn't change them, but I would know they are there. I added another inch to the left of the fireplace, and added a half-inch between the right of the fireplace and the little window. I re-made the bookshelf under the window to be wider. Where the staircase stone wall meets the plastered wall on its left, I jogged the wall back a bit to give the stone a wider edge. Also, the white pedestal to the right of the stairs has an angled side that I hadn't noticed previously. You can see the white areas where I am patching my fixes.

At my recent trip to the Three Blind Mice miniatures show I found a Persian-style rug that does an ok job of mimicking what is in the living room, but the colors aren't perfect. Would I be nuts to paint on it to make it more similar? My other option is to print out something on fabric using my inkjet, but so far I haven't come up with an image of a similar-enough rug. Can I possibly obsess more?

These images show a couple of tiny paintings from GigiNStudio. I think this structure will really come to life with accessories, and I want to incorporate some of her paintings into the mix.


A very talented miniaturist...

I had a great time at the Three Blind Mice show in Ann Arbor. The first vendor I met happened to be someone I was following on Etsy - the very talented Gigi Gretchen Walker from GigiNStudio. She makes some really cool modern minis - things you might look for in IKEA, as well as French inspired items. I bought a few of her mini paintings, but I could have gone crazy with an unlimited budget. Gigi has a great eye for detail, fabric choice, and craft. Check her shop out soon!


Three Blind Mice miniatures show in Ann Arbor

Friday and Saturday is the Three Blind Mice miniatures show in Ann Arbor. I plan to go, but have only heard of one vendor - Greenhouse Miniatures. Have you ever heard of any of the other vendors? I am going to go treasure hunting, but I'm not sure what I will find. I am hoping to find some half-scale stuff, particularly lighting for the cottage.

Here's a few of the attending vendor's websites:

Suphattra's Clay Flowers
Green Gables Dollhouses
Goliath Miniatures
Creative Reproductions 2 Scale


Finishing my Fairfield

The weather has been so dark and gloomy, I haven't wanted to be stuck in my basement studio to work on my cottage. All the stuff for working on it is spread all over my studio table. So I pulled out my unfinished Fairfield and its box of components, wallpaper, etc, and took over the dining room table to try and get it finished. I was inspired to work on it by two talented miniaturists whose blogs I have been following: Jennifer at Looking Glass Miniatures, and Sharon of A Greenleaf Fairfield for Miss Lydia Pickett. It occurred to me that I haven't touched this project in TEN YEARS. Isn't that pathetic? I put it aside when I was going to have my first daughter, and she will be ten in July.

I had a Fairfield when I was in high school, back in the eighties. It was also unfinished, and I pitched it when I went to college. I have never stopped regretting that, so I was determined to hang on to this one. There is no reason not to be able to finish it, as I have everything I need; wallpaper, trim, siding... I see all of you creative bloggers pushing forward on your projects, and it encourages me to pick up the pace.

The photos are of the bathroom, which I am really happy with. It needs a bit more trim, but I love how the colors turned out. Again, I used my iPhone camera, so it isn't as sharp as it could be, but maybe you can see how the white tile with tan grout works well with the Tapioca paint on the wainscotting. The last photo is peeking through the bathroom door from the hallway, where the black walnut flooring has been lacquered and has a really soft sheen. The hallway wallpaper is a sort of soft greenish blue with a stylized vine pattern from Brodnax prints called "Tanglewood".

My next post will be of my progress on the Holiday cottage, I promise!


Downton Abbey

Being a huge fan of anything British, it was no surprise that when I discovered Downton Abbey I was hooked. I burned through all seven episodes on Netflix in two days, and am glad to hear that the next season is being filmed right now. This show far surpasses anything on television (yes, even Mad Men!) with quality of writing and production. Even if you are usually bored by the whole "upstairs downstairs" genre, this series will alter your opinion. Please check it out, and if you already love it let me know. If I had the ability to time travel, with money being no object, 1912-era upper-crusty Britain would be my first destination, either upstairs or down.


Stair Runner Mach 2

I took a trip to Ikea today for the express purpose of acquiring a decent desk lamp for my studio. With better lighting and using my digital camera, I present you with a new and improved photo of the stair runner. The macro camera setting helps, but also makes obvious all the flaws. This is actually a bonus, as it shows clearly what needs mending or changing (like the color of the wood, for example).Enjoy!


Stair runner...

I haven't had a lot of time to work on the cottage lately, but I did manage to make the stair runner. I used a wallpaper sample I had, which has a sort of fiber-like texture (the sample is what the piece is resting on). I painted the stripes with a tiny brush along the grain of the fiber, then carefully glued it down to the stairs.

I apologize for the poor photo quality - I was using my iPhone in low light.

Awesome Score on Etsy!

I wanted to give some free advertising to a talented miniature artist on Etsy. LDelaney makes some wonderful and unique items that really add depth to a miniature world. I purchased some neat items, including a framed butterfly collection, an antique photograph in a cardboard cover with a pressed lavender blossom inside of it, WW2 soldier's letters, and Victorian hair art in a metal frame. She has graciously given me permission to use some of her photographs.