Happy Thanksgiving!

The kitchen from The Holiday set.
Greetings! In case you thought I quit miniatures, or something equally dire, I wanted to update you and say thank you for being so patient. I've been scratch-building a corner kitchen counter and sink for the Holiday cottage out of mat board. Kris Compas, who most of you probably also follow, makes amazing minis from mat board and card stock and I've been wanting to try it. During a trip to the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop I found a large stash of mat board for 25 cents per board! I've got enough material to fill a mini mansion. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it is actually easier than using balsa wood, glues quickly and paints up well.

Before painting. The knobs are cut from Q-Tips.

The section in place in the kitchen.

Painting in progress.
For those of you celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope that you are with the favorite people in your lives making lovely memories. For the rest of you, I hope that you have a wonderful day!


The Chaperone

My book club is meeting this month to discuss The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty. I read the book in one sitting, staying up until 4am when I really needed my sleep! It is the fictional story of a woman who chaperones a 15 year old Louise Brooks to New York in 1922, and how it alters the course of her life. I found the narrative compelling, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good story set within the context of real events. The book also made me interested in learning more about Louise Brooks, a complex and difficult silent film star who became a film writer in later life. I highly recommend giving this one a try!


Still missing you.

Florence on her porch in 1957.

With all of the hubbub of August - my brother's wedding, a quick trip to Chicago with my mom and older daughter, getting the kids ready for school - an anniversary came and went almost unnoticed. My grandmother, Florence Collar, died in 2005 in August, a month after learning that she had lung cancer. This morning I was sitting here in my living room with my tea, relishing the quiet of the house, with no work commitments, and I realized that it's been seven years since she left.

1930's portrait.
Grief is a funny thing. You would think that after losing someone special, each year would get easier. That has not been true for me. I cried buckets when she died, and for days afterwards. But a year later, then two, I would still get these intense pangs of sadness where I would just sob. I am sure that the mourning hasn't just been for missing her, but also saying goodbye to my childhood and all the good memories I could still kind of revel in when I went to visit. Her house, which stayed pretty much the same until I was 35, was a refuge that I always thought of as my second home. The smell of the place, the sounds it made, were so comforting and safe. I miss all of it along with her. So it caught me by surprise that it has been seven years.

Here are a few happy memories so this post isn't all about sadness:

- Making "magic potions" in the tub with remnants of shampoo, lotions, perfume and dish soap. (Smart lady - having me help her clean out her cupboards!)

- Taking afternoon walks down the street to collect acorns and see the "Jesus church" (a church that has a giant, bas-relief carving of Jesus in the front of the building. Can't remember the denomination, it is still called the "Jesus church").

- Getting into her amazing collection of costume jewelry and hats and becoming "Mrs. Gottrocks".

Christmas 1978 with me and my brother.
- Playing house on her front porch.

- Reading magazines in the waiting area while she had her hair appointment every Friday. (The pungent odor of Aqua Net takes me right back!)

- Visits to Bollinger's Toy Store to pick out paint-by-number sets.

- Having lunch with her garden club in the barn at Hedges Boyer Park.

- Asking her to tell me what things were like when she was a little girl.

All of those memories were about simple things, which was one of her gifts. Making something out of nothing, being creative, having patience, including me in her daily activities. Even though my grandparents were always generous and I know bought me lots of things, good memories aren't about things, but about relationships. My grandmother made great memories.

Playing school with my daughter in 2004.

I still miss you, Nanny! I will always cherish what you gave me and will try to be more mindful of making memories with my own family now.


Vintage Dress...

I promised a photo of the dress and shoes. So far this is what I've got.


The party's over...

My brother's wedding was yesterday, and I didn't make a fool of myself. I fit into the dress with a little foundation garment help. I didn't break my neck or my ankles in the platform shoes. I didn't get drunk. All in all, it was a beautiful day and a fun wedding. My grandfather, my last remaining grandparent, was able to attend after being in the hospital a couple of weeks ago. My girls were a junior bridesmaid and flower girl, and didn't melt down. Everyone got along.

When I get some pictures back I will post some with me in the dress. For now you can enjoy one of me scaring my dog with the shoes.


Turning a corner

Rosehill Cottage has gotten some updates! You can tell by the first photo that it's been a while - I had to evict the poor spider. But doesn't she look like the perfect scale for the cottage?

I finished the floor, but will probably continue to tweak the color. In good lighting it looks correct, but really gets dark when the lights are dim. Most of it will be covered up with area rugs as well, so I'm not stressing over it.

This photo shows the base I've put together for the kitchen fireplace. The back wall will have a small window on the right next to the fireplace, and a short section of wall, then a door on the left which goes into the book room in back.

Back of kitchen with fireplace.

Yes, I am going to make the library! I'm not sure yet if it will match what you see in the film or the way the exterior was built (the door leading outside is on the opposite wall from one to the other). Probably I will go with what made it into the film, but I prefer the way it looks from the outside on the exterior set. In any case I am going to have to fudge the measurements since movie sets and exteriors don't match.

Exterior of cottage - no door on this side of library addition.
Same side of library on set, as seen in film.

Here is a view of the other side, with the exterior door on the opposite side.

I am getting excited about the possibility of finishing this project! Amazing what spending some quality time in the studio does to my psyche.


Vintage dress from denisebrain

You may have noticed that I've added a little badge on my sidebar from MyFitnessPal. I have needed/wanted to lose some weight for a while, and keeping a food diary is helping me to stay on track. The site is free, and makes it really easy to figure out where you stand in terms of nutrition, exercise, etc...

Now I have a more pressing need to lose extra inches. I am going to be in my brother's wedding in August, and everyone is wearing vintage. Ever try to find cool vintage clothes when you are a large? Really difficult, let me tell you. I am sure there were "stout" girls back in the day, but they must have worn their clothes to death because finding larger sizes in vintage is darn near impossible!

Anyway, I happened upon an AWESOME Etsy store that carries many larger sizes and I want to give the owner a shout-out. The store is called denisebrain and is run by the lovely and personable Maggie. She allowed me to put this beautiful pink dress on layaway, and was incredibly swift and friendly in her communications. I plan on many more shopping excursions at Maggie's store, and hope that you give it a look.

So, the dress JUST fits me, but unless I manage to lose a bit more weight I may have to resort to some sort of corset-y undergarment, which the original owner probably wore anyway. It's very Mad Men, and I have to remind myself that Joan Holloway Harris gets away with being a big girl, so why not me? I suppose it just doesn't mesh with the image I have of myself on the inside, which I need to get over.


The floor is going in...

Hello there! I have made some progress on Rosehill Cottage, thanks to my handyman neighbor who cut a board to size for the base. Two of the walls are now affixed and I have been working on the tile flooring. I have been cutting pieces of cardstock 1/4" by 1/2", and gluing them in a two horizontal, two vertical pattern. I'm not done with the painting, grouting and sealing part, but I am happy enough with how it is coming along to share it. Hope that you all are doing well!


I won!

I was excited to win something awesome in LDelaney's miniature raffle!

It's an old book with a secret compartment that holds a key. Isn't she creative? Please check out her Etsy shop for more amazing miniature accessories.


Exciting raffle at LDelaney on Etsy!

Miniature library of forgotten books
Instant library collection
Apothecary cabinet
I've shared LDelaney miniatures in the past, and still think her Etsy shop is one of the go-to places for unique and esoteric dollhouse accessories. During April she is having a raffle; for every $20 you purchase, you get an entry to win a prize of her amazing book collections! She has also been adding other prizes as more entries are made, so why not head over to her Etsy shop and check out her stuff?

(All images are by LDelaney and are used with permission).


Guess who I get to see in concert tomorrow night?

The man is 62 and plays a 3 hour concert. Enough said.


No more word verification - AGAIN!

Ok - I have removed word verification, and am just putting up with spam that you will never see. I get how this works now!

Hi there! I have been following along with some of you who disabled comment moderation because the word verification thing is a pain. I agree, so I disabled word verification on my blog and immediately got three spam comments in a row. Therefore, I am re-enabling word verification, despite it being a challenge and hope you will continue to post your nice comments here. I really appreciate when you have gone through the trouble to leave your remarks. Cheers!


Look at what I made!

I stopped into the PTO Resale Shop in Ann Arbor recently, on the lookout for anything I could use for miniature making, and found a bag of tiny woven straw bells for 25 cents. They had jingle bells inside of them, so I suppose they were meant to be used as holiday wrapping decorations. I immediately thought of the fern planter my mom has, so I decided to try my hand at making a mini fern from the roll of floral tape I had in my stash at home. Basically you sandwich a length of wire (I used #28 copper wire which I painted) between two lengths of floral tape with tacky glue, let dry then cut out the desired leaf shape using the wire as the stem. I cut off the rounded end of the straw bell and glued a button in the opening for a flat bottom. I covered the base with thin felt and added a tiny silk ribbon around the base. I packed the inside of the basket with a glued wad of clipped cotton fabric to resemble soil, then glued each fern leaf into the substrate.

It came out looking very realistic (which you can't tell in my crappy PhotoBooth picture), and I'm thinking of making up a bunch of them and selling them on Etsy. I could also do half-inch scale, as well as other kinds of plants. Do you think there would be a market for them in the mini world? I have been trying to come up with mini things to make and sell on Etsy to augment our income, but I keep drawing blanks. This is the first time I feel like I might be onto something. What do you think?


Rosehill progress

I apologize for these low quality photos from my iPhone, but I can't find my digital camera. I've mocked up a corner of Rosehill Cottage with the rug I made, plus the blue bench and an armchair I made last night. (The Victorian sofa in the back won't stay, but I wanted to see how a sofa fit in the bay window space).

I've never made furniture from scratch, and I'm going to make another armchair as I think this one is too puffy, and the angles are wrong. Yes, I realize I am the only one who cares... The fabric is from Brodnax prints and is fairly close to the pattern on the chair in the film, but the silk is a bit shiny I think. I am very pleased with how the rug came out, but I may need to adhere it permanently to the floor if I can't get it to stop curling up - I have it pinned down at the corners here.

Anyway, huzzah for progress!

PS - I watched the first two episodes of the new season of Downton Abbey. Is anyone else as fascinated as I am?


Found a rug!

After many unsuccessful searches for a carpet design that closely resembles the one in the living room of Rosehill I finally found one! After tweaking the colors in Photoshop, this baby is ready to be printed out onto fabric. Carrie at A Lavender Dilly has a tutorial on how she's printed rugs, so I thought I would try it. Yes, I was going to make it by hand, but as I was working on it the scale just seemed too big. I'm going to use that one in my Glencroft. I think it will be fine in 1-inch scale.

Just a bit nervous about printing it on our new inkjet printer. We got a Kodak Hero 5.1 for Christmas and it has a bottom paper tray but not an opening in the back to run it through flat. My Canon had the paper positioned in the back, so it didn't have to go around a roller to print. Maybe one of you has successfully printed on fabric with this kind of printer, and could give me some tips? I've printed on silk and cotton with the Canon, and didn't have a problem as long as the fabric was adhered perfectly flat to the backing paper. I've also ironed fabric down to freezer paper and it has worked fine, but I'm wondering if the tension while it goes around the roller would pull it off.


I need to write this...

I need to step back from my normal art-related posts for a moment and vent about something that is happening as I type this. I apologize in advance if this bugs any of you, but I need to get it off my chest.

This blog is named Melmore Street Studio after the street my grandparents lived on in Tiffin, Ohio. I named is as a sort of homage because my grandfather taught me to draw in their breakfast nook and they both meant a great deal to me. I consider that I half grew up in Tiffin, and all of my best memories are from there.

My parents moved back to Tiffin, their hometown, about 15 years ago, so there is still a strong connection to the town. For the last 5 years or so, my dad has been a part of the Tiffin Historic Trust, which works to support preservation of local buildings, among other things. He has participated in a campaign to restore the historic Beaux-Arts courthouse, which was being slated for demolition. After a long fight, during which he and the Trust received much criticism from many Tiffinites who wanted to see the courthouse razed, the battle was lost. I am sure some of the blame falls on the economy, but I cannot help but feel that much of it should fall on a town that apparently does not value its heritage. Tiffin is the county seat, so a restored courthouse would have added great value to the town.

Needless to say, I am pretty discouraged right now. I am not sure I want to continue my "homage" to the place I loved as a child, as I now see its true colors. It is difficult to see this as progress, since whatever will go in the space being vacated will probably have all the charm of a Burger King. Tiffin has some wonderful people who care deeply about their town, but the prevailing winds just don't care. I may decide to rename my blog, and if I do I will certainly let you know in advance, though I will give it much thought first.

Here is a link to today's Toledo Blade article about the demolition.

Thank you very much for putting up with my thoughts on this matter. The next post will be on my Rosehill progress, I promise.