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August 25, 2014

Remember the roombox?  Probably not, because I tacked it at the end of a long post about my craft room.  Here's the pictures again!

It was randomness I threw together from my collection so I could have some minis on display somewhere.  A bit vague, there's not much of a story, until you realize one of the photos is a collection of native americans in full regalia, and the chest under the birdcage is full of treasure . . .  and then it's STILL vague.

I'd completely forgotten that I'd planned to do a tea room, so I dug out the tea related items I'd bought and put in another box because it was more recent than the packed minis.  I had plenty of teacups and sets, and even a table and chairs.  But . . . what about the food?

I was introduced to High Tea by my husband and mother-in-law, and we'd go to the British Pantry near Middleburg, VA and have a very nice time and eat way too much.  I'm all about finger and party food, and cucumber sandwiches are my new favorite lunchtime staple.  Unfortunately, they're hard to find in one inch scale!  Most tea sets are dessert teas.  I wanted the savories and the sandwiches and whatever other tempting pick-me-up bite sizes I could find.  

Most of the one-inch scale items I could find were REALLY pricy, and made by English artisans, which meant higher shipping, as well.  The one on the left is by The English Kitchen, and currently for sale at Jeepers Miniatures.  Probably not for long!   Personally I think it's worth every penny, but I can't justify the cost.  But I do have plenty of clay, and I do have internet tutorials, so naturally, I talked myself into doing it myself.  I dislike the messy clay process so it took me a while to talk myself into it, and then I figured that I might as well go all out, because I'm not going to like everything I make.

The advil tablet is for scale.  I couldn't find a penny.  

I found a tutorial by Akameru Kawaii on Youtube, and simplified it for my purposes.  I'd already bought a cucumber cane, but that probably wasn't necessary, given that all you can see of it is the green edge.  I didn't have a toothbrush to spare, but I DID have one of those little Colgate Wisp toothbrushes that you can find in packs at the Dollar Tree.  They're meant to store in your purse for tooth brushing emergencies, and even has a pointy end for some carving detail or, I suppose, to use as a toothpick.  I used them on the scones, but not the sandwiches, and I can see a huge difference in the two.  I may have to make MORE bread because I like the other effect better.

I'm a little disappointed.  Some of the pictures above are before I put them in the oven, and apparently I either left them in too long or misjudged a color, because all my eggs and a large portion of my sandwiches turned a translucenty brown.  That's another reason I made so many in different styles and clays.  I never know what's going to happen, and I never understand the cooking instructions.  Fortunately, some of them came out just fine, or at least passable.

The eggs were sort of an experiment, I thought I'd include deviled eggs, but didn't have the right color for the yolk mixture and couldn't get a good half-egg shape.  I'll cut the full eggs in half and try later.  I've also seen quite a few plates of deviled eggs for sale that were in my price range, so I may break down and buy those.  And desserts, too.  You can find mini desserts EVERYWHERE.  

I admit this is far from my best work, and nowhere near as good as the English Kitchen tray above.  But I never found a happy medium, and since I had all the materials on hand, it was worth trying.  Given how tiny these are, I don't think I even made a dent in my polymer clay stash!  Also given how tiny these are, the camera blows them up quite a bit.  They won't look so garish once they're behind glass in a scene.

I know the "1 Inch Minis By Kris" blog has a tutorial for a tiered dessert tray, so that will probably be my next project. 

After that I need to either redo this roombox or unpack the other one. It'll be pretty simple, only one table and a set of chairs and a buffet table of some sort, and probably the back wall will mostly be windows.  The best part about a theme this particular setting is that I can change it for various holidays.  Stick a tree in the corner for Christmas (future project!)  A jack-o-lantern for Halloween!  (future project!)  Chocolates and hearts everywhere for Valentine's Day!  Easter egg dyeing!   And flowers.  

I'm kind of liking this one room thing.  I'm nearly done and I've barely gotten started!

August 20, 2014

For the costume making extravaganza, I ended up moving everything downstairs to the living/dining room side of the house.  It was hot and stuffy upstairs, and I didn't have enough room in the craft room to really spread out my cutting board, and I was already taking up two rooms.  Because of this I realized that the layout of my craft room just wasn't working, and I made a few changes.

Phase Two: 'After'.  I'm just now realizing that the wig stand
floating above Jenny the Dress Form is a little creepy.

Previously, the banquet table that you can BARELY see at the bottom of the picture had jutted out into the center of the room, in the hopes that the ceiling light above me and the light from the bay window would help light up what I was doing.  It didn't.  It just took up floor space.  So I turned it so it would be against the wall.  
Phase One, 'Before.'That banquet table is
pretty good at staying out of the picture.
Then I added lots of wall shelves. I'd done Phase One of the shelves back in March and loved the amount of space it gave me.  I broke it up into phases because these shelves end up being pricy, especially if you attack the whole wall.  I LOVE this type of shelving unit.   Look at all the space I have!  And I can rearrange it if it's not working!  Each shelf can hold up to 80 pounds, I believe.  I don't bother to screw the shelves to the brackets, but I've always been very careful about balancing weight properly and moving things, and have never had a problem.  This is actually the third wall-o-shelves I've done.  I believe my mother still uses the shelves I left in the bedrooms at home.  

However, Phase One just wasn't enough.  Everything in the bottom half of that storage area was stuff I didn't actually use.  It needed to be put elsewhere, out of the way.  Most of the stuff got moved to the upper shelves or on the far left.  I'll be doing quite a bit of shuffling and organizing on those shelves for a while.  

On the other side of the room, I had several bookshelves and two Sterilite carts that had served me well.  The big bookshelf is an unusual width that proved to be absolutely perfect for holding two of those Michael's plastic scrapbook containers.  I store all kinds of randomness in those!  One of them holds small wood scraps, one has beads, one has polymer clay, one has *gasp* scrapbook paper, and one is full of ribbon and lace.  You can store the smaller rolls of trim upright inside, or just reroll them onto strips of cardboard.  I even had B. cut me an extra shelf to size in order to take advantage of every inch of space possible.  The smaller bookshelf, which isn't filled yet in that picture, which means I took it right after we moved in, was an awesome deal I found online some time back, and fit perfectly in the space restricted townhouse.  

Phase One: 'Before'

The carts, again, weren't actually in regular use.  One of them mostly held office supplies and old electronics.  There was ribbon cable in there.  RIBBON CABLE.  Do they still use that in computers?  I haven't gotten to play with computer innards in ages since I got my first laptop.

Oh yeah, back to the topic!  I emptied out one of the carts completely, and pushed the other into the 'other' room, along with the file cabinet.  I stuck the empty cart in the craft room closet and filled it up with my miniatures, which had been living, neatly packed, in plastic shoe boxes that liked to topple over.  

Phase Two: 'After.' I suddenly have a hat collection.
 Then I shoved the bigger bookshelf over, and brought up the huge full length mirror B. had bought recently so we could see ourselves head to toe.  (not that we really want to, but it's helpful when sewing.)  You can see my other storage containers on there.  I love those half width canvas bins, too!  I have spray paint cans and really tall paint bottles in there.  Keeps them neat and upright without having to look at them or be overwhelmed by the smell by closing it up.

So now I have plenty of space to lay out the cutting board, and I can set up my ironing board in a spot that ISN'T over the squeaky floorboard.  You just don't realize how much you move around while ironing until you iron while standing over a squeaky floorboard.  Urgh.

Yes, I know, I should show you a picture of the entire room, but I was moving stuff around just so I could take a picture, and the dollhouse table in front of the window is pure chaos.   Someday I will. For now, I'll show you one more detail.

When moving my minis around, I realized with horror that I didn't have any minis on display.  None.  At all.  And it would be a very long time before I finished renovating either of my dollhouses.  Fortunately, I did have two roombox kits I'd purchased ages ago but never displayed.  So I decided I'd quickly make up a scene in one of them.

This was a lot harder than I expected.  I could only fit a few small pieces of furniture in, and I had a hard time finding little items to display, because they were all so carefully wrapped up and thoughtlessly not labeled on the outside.

Then, of course, I had to test the new layout a little bit.  So I made a skirt.  Simplicity pattern 2609, to be exact.

I didn't have enough challis to make a longer skirt (this takes an amazing amount of fabric) but it turned out ok enough.  I'm not too pleased with how hippy it makes me look (I have another skirt just like this that isn't that bad) so I am definitely making future skirts longer.  It was an easy enough pattern (yay!  I had a PATTERN!) but I need to find an easier way to sew down gathered fabric so the gathers are all even.  What a pain!

I'd cut out the skirt a while ago, so I couldn't tell you if cutting was feasible in the room.  I did borrow B.'s fluorescent task lamp that bends in all sorts of directions, and was able to get a good strong light on what I was doing.  I think the new layout will be just fine, especially with the ceiling light now to one side and over one shoulder.

You know, I probably could have gotten three or four posts out of this . . .

August 10, 2014

The moment you didn't know you were waiting for!

We spent the weekend at Myths and Legends Con, in Northglenn, CO.  This particular convention tries to cover all the non-comic/anime favorites.  Emphasis was given on The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, Firefly, Game of Thrones, My Little Pony, and Harry Potter.  It's a very small con just for all you introverts out there who feel overwhelmed just by the thought of 2000 people in a single building.  This event was small enough to feel homey, and we actually got to interact with lots of other people!

Friday we did Firefly.  B. went as Captain Malcolm Reynolds.  I didn't feel like copying any particular character, so I just tried to keep in the neutral/dark color theme of the show.  They asked that we not bring weapons, real or fake, so we stuck some flowers in the homemade holster.  I guess I should get a close up of that!  We made it out of an oversized leather purse I found at a thrift shop.

Saturday, I was the one doing a character, and B. was a random adult upper-class Slytherin wizard.  This of course was the costume I stressed and sweated and posted about so much over for the past several weeks. I'm hoping he never has to wear that tunic again.

Hard to see, but on his belt he has a wand holster, complete with handmade wand  previously purchased at AnomalyCon.

I was Mary Poppins.  She seemed to fit right in with the British heavy themes, and my argument that she can pretty much fit into ANY genre worked quite well.  I had several people refer to me as The Doctor, and of course I had to respond with the fact that I was actually a Ravenclaw.  (If this totally confuses you, I understand, so click here to TVTROPES for explanations.  Scroll down a little over halfway.)  I was amazed at the positive reaction by the other attendees.  I had several people THANK me for cosplaying her.  I've got big plans for cosplaying her in the future.

Naturally my bow chooses that moment to twist.
I can fix it!
 You know it's a good con when one of the performers starts playing songs from the movie whenever I walked by . . .

When I first left the hotel room dressed up, I paused to check that the door key card worked, and heard two little girls farther down the hall:  "Mary Poppins!  It's MARY POPPINS!"  It felt good, especially considering they were likely NOT attending the convention.    

The con was holding drawings for random prizes all over the place, and we awkwardly managed to win TWO of the three coveted crocheted dragon eggs.  I'm hoping to give back by volunteering.  Maybe I'll make crocheted dragons for them to hand out next year . . .

Sunday, we did The Hobbit, but our outfits were more English country themed instead.  I did not take pictures.  We were exhausted and, well, it wasn't anything we hadn't worn before.  Brian had his blue cap and brown vest from AnomalyCon, over a blue checked shirt, and I had on my light green skirt and pink/green corset.  

We met quite a few awesome people, and because it was such a small con, we got to interact with them quite a bit!  Lots of hugging and laughing occurred.  We look forward to going back next year.

August 6, 2014

I've been crazy busy all month.  The Myths and Legends Con had better be good, for all the work I've been doing for it!

Obviously I started with the bag and the hat, because I knew exactly what I wanted.  It took a little longer than I expected due to my difficulty in finding the right materials, but I'm satisfied with the results.  The bag took about 4 days, the hat 2.

yes, I AM going to use every excuse to repost this picture.

This was also my way of procrastinating from the costume requests of my husband, because I had NO idea how to make the items he wanted, namely a tunic and a wizard robe.  Yes, a basic rectangular tunic should be fairly simple, but my husband has HUGE shoulders due to his years of gymnastics, and, well, I have no idea how to work around them.  I'm too unhappy with the results of it to share here. Fortunately all you can see is about a foot of tunic down the middle.  

The robe was a challenge.  (It still IS a challenge, but I need a break from sewing, so I'm writing this.)  He had specific requests that made it different from a graduation gown and more complicated than the basic robe patterns I could find.  I did all kinds of different searches, even looking at 18th century banyans (men's at-home casual wear, kind of like a pre-Victorian smoking jacket) to try and get into his head and understand what he wanted.  Time was running short, and fortunately I found a useable Instructables pattern .  It's pretty basic, but the important part was it told you how to take body measurements and design the pattern around those for a proper fit.  I made my own changes, making the back one large bottom piece with a shortened top piece so I could add a pleat in the center of the shoulder blades.  Then I whipped up a sample out of a torn bedsheet so that I could be sure it worked before attempting the horror that was the collar.  

Oh, and you can see in the photo that we also abruptly added another project to the mix and made a B shaped duct tape dummy.  It's hard to find men's sewing dummies!  (He somewhat objects to it being called a dress form.  Shirt form, then?  I'm hoping it will help when I remake the tunic.)   We used cling wrap rather than a t-shirt, and I stuffed it with some of the paper I saved from the move.  I'm still stuffing the thing.  The hard part was keeping the tape from wrinkling - use shorter pieces!

The final product is made from black polyester peachskin fabric.  It has a nice drape and sheen to it, and was conveniently 40% off when we went searching.  The lapel and collar are made from a wool upholstery fabric I found on the remnant table at Hancock Fabrics.  I bought it with the thought of making B. a Victorian style vest, which he liked, but before I got to make it he decided he'd rather have it line this coat.  I think it looks rather nice, and ever so slightly snakeskin-like.

I had the worst time with the collar.  I've never done one before, didn't understand the few tutorials I found, and draping just confused me.  I finally just had to suck it up and make something, and that's what B. will be trying on later.  My collar ended up in a half circle shape rather than an arch, not sure why or if it will work.  I STILL don't understand what I did, or if it actually will work!

I hope to post finished photos of our costumes later.  Just need to remember to get them . . .