Sunday, 13 April 2014

Breakfast Room teaser, Montreal miniature show and our trip.

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the end of the winter. I want to apologize for not commenting on your posts since we got back from holiday. I came back to month end and migrating to a new system at work so it has been a really hectic time for me...again. I will start catching up this week so comments are on their way.

The breakfast room will not be finished for a few more weeks and I did not want to go that long between posts so here I am with a little teaser.

Test fit of the wall elements and window walls

Drawings I made on the boat for the window wall...

... and drawings of the paneled walls

This weekend I started painting all the components of the room

Next post I will explain step by step as I usually do. Sorry for the long wait, but planning and building some of the room elements has been a long process and I had to order a lot of lumber.

Aside from the breakfast room last weekend was the Montreal Miniature show. My good friend Julie and her husband Brian came over for a lovely visit and I made some terrific purchases at the show from 2 of my wonderful friends.

Martha was not able to bring her wonderful flower arrangements, but I have a weakness for silver and went crazy at her table...

...and I purchased some wonderful pieces from Julie. She hand painted the glass decanter and glasses, and the sewing item kit is exactly what I needed to fill my sewing room

I think the candlesticks and the fruit stand turned my dining table from beautiful to exquisite.

Our trip was just wonderful. We cruised the Mediterranean and we all had a good time. It rained one or 2 days, lightly, but overall we had great weather and the sea was calm. I do not buy many souvenirs but always look for something that is right for the Manor. I found a mini version of one of my favorite sculptures, the rape of the Sabine women.

I looked everywhere, but the only other souvenir sculptures I saw were those I purchased on past trips, but I was thrilled to find this one.

And that is all for this time my patient friends. I hope to unveil my Breakfast room very soon. Until then I will be enjoying your posts and here are a few pictures from our trip to inspire you. We visited 10 cities in 11 days. Some we had been to and were thrilled to visit again (we love Florence and Barcelona is our favorite city in Europe) and many new interesting places (Naples and Cagliari were in credible, and even Tunis which was not our favorite stop was fun to see).

a prehistoric castle in Cagliari was a highlight, but as you can see in the next picture not made for big guys like me


Cagliari from the boat

my favorite building in Monte Carlo

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence

Palazzo Vecchio

View of Florence from the top of the Palazzo Vecchio tower



a room in the Mosaic Museum in Tunis

a modern area of Valencia

I hope these pictures will inspire some ideas. and now back to painting mini lumber...

Thank you all once again for your wonderful comments. I appreciate them and your visit very much. I wish you all the best and send you all a great big hug,


Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Art gallery and the Hell Ceiling

Hello my friends!

Welcome faithful followers and new followers. I hope you are all doing well. Today I finished the Art Gallery and the Hell Ceiling...

Art gallery

I thought the room was finished a while ago, then I got a new DVD and discovered the hell ceiling at Burghley House  by Antonio Verrio. I do not enjoy painting very much and I am not particularly gifted at it, but I did want to try and do something interesting with the ceiling over the Grand staircase. If I had failed miserably, I would have just put up a white and gold dome.

Before renovations

I took out my Dremel and cut out an opening (you saw this before). I find it difficult to get perfectly straight lines with the Dremel so I needed to cover up the edges I just cut

This shot of the staircase is from the back of the house which no one can see...that is why the steps are not perfect

I used a baseboard molding, mitered the corners and glued it onto the ceiling paper. In this picture you see it from above. The dome sits on these molding strips. The next step was creating the dome. I looked for months for anything that would do...plastic bowls, glass pot lids, butter dishes...nothing was the right size or shape and then I decided to make it from scratch.

I took a cardboard tube and cut it into 4 equal strips lengthwise

The tube came from Les Chinoiserie when they shipped one of my wallpaper orders. Martha, the square is the best tool I have

I then measured and cut them to the sizes I needed and glued them together to shape the sides of the dome

Cutting the pieces was just slow trial and error

It took a while to cut the pieces to fit. I just eyed it and slowly took off a bit at a time with a sharp craft knife. I glued them together and used illustration board for the top part. To make sure it was solid I glued on wood strips over the joints between the pieces. The dome is at the back of the room which is 12 inches wide, 12 inches high, and 33 inches deep. I could of spent a lot of time filling in gaps and crack, but since you really could not see imperfection I just used spray gesso and put on 3 good coats.

When the spray gesso was dry I penciled it guide lines for the elements I wanted and then I used regular gesso and a small brush to build up the design.

Most of the work was the Hell mouth because that was what I most wanted to show, and it was easier then teeny tiny people

I could have just painted, but since I am not that terrific with a paint brush I figured the 3 d effect would be a bit more forgiving. In the above picture you see the design covered with a yellow base coat. I only use Delta Ceramcoat because they cover really well and are not too watered down. Next I used a sponge to paint the sky and clouds, then I used a brush to paint any areas I wanted to give the illusion of fire

I tried to look at pictures online and in art books, but for the life of me I have no idea how one paints fire. The only tutorials I found online were using spray guns, but I did my best

I then painted the Hell mouth. the idea was to have it look like clouds of smoke. I used charcoal paint which I mixed with white to create different grays clouds.

I also spent a while trying to get the eyes just looks like a great big cat but that was not the original just went that way and I followed

In the picture above you can see some red lines on the Hell Mouth. I was fixing the red areas and when the brush was almost dry I just went over the face and realized it highlighted the detai8l in the gesso and I liked the effect.  Next I painted the people and demons. I had pictures of Burghley house for the general look of the ceiling, but the demon figures were details I remembered from Dante's Inferno.

I tried to detail the figures, but I know when to stop...not perfect, but it gave the impression I was going for

Originally I had planned on doing a lot more figures but later in this post I will show you that only about half of the dome was visible when looking at the dollhouse. Had I loved painting I would have done more, but be it as it is this was more then enough. The main figures I worked on were Cerberus the 3 headed hound and Death which was a caped skeleton with black wings.

And here is a close up of the hell Mouth. I tried to add detail to the people with colored pencils, but I did a test and they kept ruining the paint. I was happy with the overall illusion with the naïve figures so I decided to stop here rather then ruin my work.

When it was all dry I fitted it into the opening of the ceiling and decided where the chandelier would go

I love this chandelier but it is just a bit too small for the space. I relocated it to the Walnut Library and will order a Sonata chandelier from the Getzans. I already have that chandelier for the entrance of the Manor, but the chain was too short for the staircase so I used this one to give an idea of the final effect.

With the hell Ceiling done I made the curtains for the bay window and then started to hang artwork in the room. I made paper templates of each wall section in the room and drew out the furniture that would be in front of it. this way I could figure out how to hang the art and properly fill the walls on a flat surface.

When all the sections were to my liking I glued the artwork into place. And here is the Art gallery of Dewell Manor

The statues are souvenirs I have purchased on holidays. The chess set was a present from one of my dearest friends. The mantel is from Jim Coates.

South wall

south wall close up

North Wall

North Wall Close up. The figure on the desk is from Randall Zadar, the painting over the fireplace is a postcard I purchased at the Louvre.

I mentioned before that the Hell Ceiling was only partly visible. This next shot is the most you can see if you bend down a bit and look up into the room

My next project would have been the Loggia, but plans have changed. At first the loggia was going to be simple brick and wood beam ceilings, after I saw the Alhambra it was going to be carved stone, after I saw the mansions in Newport is was going to be many i9deas but nothing really stuck....then this week I had an idea and for the first time I could see exactly what I wanted and I loved it

Future Breakfast Room

Since the Loggia was right off the Dining room, I decided I will close of the arched openings with huge windows, add a fireplace and it will become the breakfast room. I know exactly what I want it to look like and am very excited about it. There is another room in the Manor that has a similar design, but I am not above using the same trick twice when I like it.

As for the Loggia furniture, I will use it on the balcony above

New balcony...I think I will lose the plant

This balcony is right outside the Earl and the countess's bedrooms.

That is all for now my friends. It was slow going because we have been really busy the past month and I have had little time to work on miniatures. Before I go I just wanted to let you know I will not be commenting on your blogs for a few weeks because Jo and I are going on holiday. I will be back mid march and will catch up with all your great projects done. I will take the time on the boat to work on the breakfast room design.

Thank you all, older friends and new followers. your encouragement means so very much  to me. I try to follow everyone who follows me, but there are many new followers who do not seam to have a blog or at least it does not show up when I click on your icons. If you have a blog and I am not following please let me know. 

I wish you all the very best and I look forward to catching up with your blogs in a  few weeks.

A big hug to all,


Sunday, 19 January 2014

Countess's Bedroom, holiday projects and Christmas presents

Hello my dear friends!

I hope everyone had happy holidays and that 2014 is off to a new start. After a year of stress and worry, my motto for 2014 is if no one else will laugh with me, then I will laugh alone!

My holidays were lovely. I got to spend a lot of time with family and friends. We were busier then expected, but I did manage to work on the Manor. I still had a few big construction projects to tackle, but since we were busy I spent my Christmas vacation working on projects that were not so dusty. Today I share the countess's bedroom which I finished today.

I made the curtains and the bedding for the room thinking they would be short projects...HA! You saw the chandelier in my last post in the Dining Room. After I looked at the pictures I decided it was too small for that room, but perfect for the bedroom. The longest project was the bedding.

Here is a picture of the bed without any bedding I posted before Christmas:

My main tool was an article in a magazine I purchased years ago written by Williamson Walton Marble. I studied their instruction many times before I finally decided to give it a try.

The first step was making the pattern for the quilt that would fit the bed. In the next picture you can see the pattern on a piece of graph paper which shows where every stitch will go. I put the mattress on the graph paper and then calculated how low I wanted the sides to hang

In the above picture you see the paper pattern  on the bottom left, the back cotton fabric on the bottom right with the stitches marked in pen, the piece of foam I used for the stuffing of the quilt on the top left, and at the top right is a piece of raw silk I used for the top of the quilt.

I layered the pieces to make the quilt: cotton fabric on the bottom with the pen marks side down, then the foam and finally the silk fabric right side up. I then made a simple basting stich with black thread on the main lines just to keep the pieces from moving:

back of the quilt.

I then hand sewed all of the dotted lines. I pulled the thread through the 3 layers, made a very, very small stitch on the silk fabric, then came back through the 3 layers.

back of the quilt. The important thing is to push the needle through the center of each dot.

top of the quilt: I chose a thread that matched the silk. If you look closer you will see the stitches on the top are very, very small to create the quilt effect.
This took quite a while to do. When it was over I sewed the edges of the bed with a sewing machine following the pattern on the back side of the quilt. I then cut about 1/4 of an in around the edge.

The 1/4 inch extra is there for the lace to be glued on. The next step was to gather the lace. I cut a piece of lace twice the length of the 3 sides of the bed (no lace against the headboard. I only had nylon lace so I could not pull on a thread to gather it. I hand sewed a 1/8 in stitch the entire length and then gathered it gently.

Once it was gathered to the right length I pined it down on some foamcore board with silk pins. To make the lace hang realistically I had to also pin the bottom of the lace into proper folds, then I hair sprayed it to death and let it dry.

The next step was to pin the quilt down on some foamcore, right side up, and using tacky glue and silk pins I put the lace into place

When the glue was dry I hand sewed the lace over the glue line. I did this for 2 reasons: 1- the glue had not taken perfectly in some areas and I was worried I might accidentally pull it off. 2- the gathered lace was not lying flat on the quilt and it did not look realistic. I thought of covering the edge with ribbon, but I thought it was busy enough and that would be overkill.

When the quilt construction was done I hand sewed the pillows the same way.

I used the same 1/8 inch foam I used for the quilt to make the decorative pillows and a 1/2 inch foam for the big pillow. The bolster is a plastic tube covered with fabric. Again I measured lace for each pillow twice as long as the 4 sides of the pillows, gathered it, pined it down, sprayed it, glued it, and finally sewed it.

I wanted to add a little detail to the bedding with French knots in lilac colored embroidery cotton string. I grouped the knots in 3 so it looked like little bunches of roses. At first I wanted red string to match the curtains, but the silk for the quilt was so pale I thought a softer color would look more elegant.

 There is no way I can explain a French knot. I learned how to make them watching youtube videos. This was the most helpful: . For my embroidery "roses" I wrapped the thread around my needle 2 times. The thread I used was made of 6 thick cotton strings. It was very difficult to get it through the needle head but well worth the effort.

 Each rose was knotted in the back of the quilt but I noticed the knots kept coming undone so I covered each one with tacky glue. The 3 accent pillows looked a bit flat, so I tufted them with smaller French knots made with a thread that matched the silk.

With the top elements done I worked on the skirt. It is made using the same fabric as the back of the quilt with lace sewed on. First I machine sewed the lace to the bottom of the fabric wich was twice as long as the three sides of the bed base. I then hand sewed another gathering stitch to the top of the fabric, gathered it, pined it down, pined down the folds, and hair sprayed. Yes, a very repetitive demented process. I glued it using tacky glue to the underside of the bed

Because I had a very little height to glue the fabric to the bed base I put another line of glue on the skirt and added a strip of wood which was also glued to the cross beams of the bed to make sure the skirt did not come undone. I hope that is clear? You can see it in the above picture.

When that was dry it was time to assemble. The quilt sides must be glued to the sides of the bed to hang properly.  I did not want to glue the quilt directly to the satin fabric that came on the mattress or onto the sides of the bed. I was afraid I might decided to remove it one day and damage the mahogany finish . I covered the mattress in the same fabric as the skirt and the back of the bed and I added would strips on the side of the mattress to which I glued the quilt

I added the wood strips because if I glued the quilt to the sides of the mattress it would not lie flat because the sides of the bed. The wood strips are the same width as the bed sides so the quilt could hang correctly. After all that down went the quilt

I just put a line of tacky glue and a few dots of super glue onto the wood strips and glued the quilt down. After that was dry I put the pillows in place...just put, not glued

And back the bed went into the bedroom. I think the countess will approve. I hope she does because the bedding took just under 30 hours to make.

The other finishing project for this room was the curtains over the windows. Here is what it looked like in a past post

Being a bear for punishment I decided I wanted Austrian shades for this room. I could not find any instructions on how to make them in miniature so I had to figure it out myself. I think I spent about 8 hours of trial time before I finally got to work on them.

In the above picture on the left you can see I pleated the red fabric with the Pretty Pleater and as per usual I cut and glued an illustration board backing for each pane to keep the folds perfectly in place. On the right side of the picture you see the start of the Austrian shade. I machine sewed a zigzag stich on the edges of the sheer fabric because the threads kept coming undone and caught in the gathering stitches. I then machine sewed 3 simple stitches for gathering the pane. I set my machine for a 1/8 inch stitch and lowered the tension.

In the above picture you see the gathered piece. I pulled on the 3 threads very gently. When they were the right length I knotted the ends of the strings and cut them off. I then took the red curtains, put them upside down on my work table and glued the Austrian shade down:

I was so careful gathering them, but one of the strings broke. That is why one is longer then the other. At this point I decided to live with it . I tried several alternatives, but in the end having the gathered line in the middle of the window is what looked best because I could shape the folds and glue them into place behind the red panels. I then took some illustration board and cut out boxes to go over the top of the curtains which I covered in fabric and gold trim.

 I had some applique's from Unique Miniatures I painted white and gold which I wanted to glue over the tops of the window dressing. I used them to help shape the tops of the window boxes. And here they are installed

I also added some applique's to the over mantel to make the room look a bit more feminine. The original over mantel was too square and boxy.

And voila, my ladies bedroom is ready

Here is a close up of the amazing Delicate Daisy dresser set I commissioned from Julie dewar in place. I just love it

As always both families got together and bought me miniatures for Christmas. This year I got 2 Metropolitan chandeliers in antique bronze finish from the Getzan's to go in the Great Room

I think they are just perfect for the room. I mentioned that over the holidays I worked on smaller projects. Another one was the curtains for the Great Room.

The curtains for the nook went very well, except that the upholstery fabric I used was not natural fibers and fought me every step of the way. It did not stay down in the pleater, the glue did not stick on easily...but finally I got it done.

The curtains over the back door went the same, however I had one small obstacle to conquer. When they were in place I noticed the back structure showing on the side

I did not want to do anything fancy with the difficult fabric so I just built a simple box to cover it with faux finished lumber and molding trim

I made sure it just covered the exposed area. Thank you all so much for your great compliments on my last post. The dining room was indeed the Manor's dining room, not my real life one.

A while ago I talked about the pictures I cut out of books and covered with mod Podge to simulate real paintings. I wanted to make more frames over the holidays but I realized cutting the picture frame molding and getting perfect corners takes longer then I expected. I posted this picture of the dining room because you can see the detail created by the mod podge where the light is reflected ont he paintings. Soooo many more to do! As I mentioned this chandelier is now in the countess's bedroom where it is much better scaled for the room.

I just wanted to mention a good friend of mine and a wonderful artist has finally started her own blog. It is the one and only Julie Dewar who made the Delicate Daisy dresser set for the countess's bedroom, the Imperial Cherry Blossom dinner set for my Chinese Tea Room and several other sets I have. You can see her blog at . She only has 2 posts, but believe me her artwork will amaze you!

And that is all for now my friends. I am not sure what I will tackle next...though work on the hell Ceiling will commence shortly. I hope you all have a wonderful week and I look forward to seeing all of your future posts. you are always such an amazing source of ideas, inspiration and kindness.

A big hug to all,