Monday, July 14, 2014

Fairy Houses

I am desperately trying to buck-up and get some other projects done before the LoLa Art Crawl next month! Money is a little tight (because I am a broke-ass ho) so I'm just scrounging up found scrap materials, waiving my magic wand and praying for the best.  But fear not, I am the absolute High Priest of turning lemons into lemonade. BTW, thank you, Jesus, for giving me my unique ability to work miracles with nothing but Scotch Tape and sequins! Amen.

Here's my first fairy house, under construction. I'm going to have to break down and buy some snappy exterior-grade paint to finish the job.

Ages ago, I used to make similar-type bird houses and peddle them around town and beyond, and fairy houses seemed like a natural, no-brainer progression, right?  I'm going to whip up a whole mess of them and set them up around the little pond in the back yard.  That is --I mean-- where the 'new, improved' pond is going to be...

The beginnings of my waterfront fairy ghetto grotto
There is an ambitious, new project underway whereby the lovely, already-existing backyard pond is being expanded. Why settle for a perfectly adorable, little pond (with an attendant, amusing bronze frog that spits a delightful stream of water from its lips) when you can have two ponds separated by a sham waterfall? 

I fear if nobody buys the fairy houses, I could quite possibly end up homeless --but at least the damn fairies won't be! (P.S. Jesus: I know You were a carpenter, so please forgive me for providing housing to pagan woodland creatures. Amen).
A page from the Fall, 1998 Legacy catalog

Way back in the day, I ended up selling my birdhouses through a catalog, which meant that I had to sort of mass-produce the things. Ugh! I may as well been sentenced to hell because the only thing I like better than reproducing the same item over and over and over again is chewing on wads of tinfoil.

I still have the original prototype from --ahem-- 1997-98. OMG, how old is that? ...Well, you do the math.  Fast-forward to today and it looks rather spooky in all its forlorn decay. It's held together by a miraculous blend of squirrel poop and spiderwebs, a concoction that gives Krazy Glue a run for its money.  Still, I'm afraid to touch the thing, lest it completely fall to dust and ruin.

My vintage bird cabin --like its builder--has seen its better days
In other exciting news: I had a blogger friend from Spain drop by to see Merriman Park and share a spot of lunch last Saturday. Young Rosell from Madrid is here in town on a summer internship through the University of Minnesota, where I myself attended school as a mere young slip of a boy. We both simply gorged ourselves on chocolate-covered strawberries and other nibble-y things and talked smack about all yous other miniature bloggers.

Rosell & the Giant Floating Head of yours truly snap a selfie in front of Merriman Park
Rosell is a very talented miniaturist who doesn't have a blog per se but what she does have is a fabulous YouTube video, (featuring the splendid Georgian mansion and garden built by her and her father). It was very delightful to meet you, Rosell! I hope to see you again before your internship is over.

Enjoy Rosell's gorgeous dollhouse, coming up next!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Dollshouses and Miniature Scene Article

Today in the mail I received my copy of the August issue of Dollshouses and Miniature Scene, where my very own Merriman Park was featured on pages 50-52. I had to LOL when I read the article, which I pretty much wrote myself. It's a British publication, so they "corrected" my spelling of color to colour, etc: CLASS. I'm afraid in the article I sound rather scarily like Jacqueline Kennedy giving a tour of the White House.

Actually, I'm a little more like her cousin: famous recluse, Edith Bouvier Beale of Grey Gardens lore.

The magazine asked me to write some more articles, so stay tuned, darlings!  In the meantime, here's a music video starring Li'l Edie and Madge to entertain you whilst you peck out your comments:

White pumps are such a summer staple: girls, take note.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The LoLa Art Crawl

Has it really been that long since I've posted? Sorry for such a long absence!

Well, Spring has Sprung (finally)! and with the suddenly balmy temperatures comes a dizzying flurry of activity. The Minneapolis neighborhood that I live in (which is called Longfellow) is hosting their annual Art Crawl this summer. Artists of all kinds open up their homes or studios to display their work. I decided to join in the festivities and so I'm trying to get some new pieces ready, and fix up a few old pieces, as well.

Here's a blurb about the event from the LoLa website:

Look out! Here comes LoLa!

The biggest little neighborhood art crawl in Minnesota

LoLa (the League of Longfellow artists) is proud to announce the sixth annual LoLa art crawl. Smaller and more intimate than many art festivals, the LoLa art crawl will give you a glimpse into the creative workspaces of artisans working on jewelry, glasswork, painting, collage, photography, textiles, pottery, sculpture, and more.
The League of Longfellow artists is an artist-organized community dedicated to bringing attention to the treasures of artistic expression created by artists living/working in the greater Longfellow neighborhood of south Minneapolis.

This year’s art crawl will take place from 10 am to 5 pm on August 23 and 24, 2014.

The following was posted today on the LoLa Blog:

Monday, June 9, 2014

John Elsner’s Marvelous Miniatures

It is one of my delights as a volunteer publicist for the LoLa art crawl to discover the wonders of artistic creation and talent right here in Longfellow, Minneapolis; sometimes very close to home, even.
John Elsner's house, where he'll be showing for LoLa

I have often walked to the mailbox on 42nd Avenue and 44th Street, and when I do, I make a point of walking back by way of 42nd Avenue to admire this beautiful garden and charming house near that corner, with its pensive gargoyle perched on the porch steps. How delightful to learn that this is the home of an amazingly talented miniaturist, John Elsner, who will be joining the LoLa art crawl this year for the first time, to showcase his historical dollhouse creations.

The images shown here are from a signature house named Merriman Park, which is also the name of his blog (click here for that), where you can see and read about some of his houses as they have unfolded.
Merriman Park façade, by John Elsner

Where will you be showing for LoLa?
At “The Lilacs,” my vintage 1908 bungalow, located at 4405 42nd Avenue South.
What media do you work in?
I am a miniaturist and create historic period room settings in mostly  1:12 scale. Wood, paint, fabric, resin, plaster and metal are some of the media I work with to produce a complete vignette.

Merriman Park music room, by John Elsner
What inspires/informs your art?
History and art history; period architecture and interior design. Old and new movies; vintage books and novels; plays and TV shows set in the antique past. Magazines of my genre (in fact I have been the subject of some of these publications) and, of course, the internet: the blogs and websites of my peers.

Merriman Park bedroom

What do you like about LoLa? Why did you join?
I was out walking my dog one fine summer’s day, when I happened upon a sign that directed me to an art showing right here in my own neighborhood—literally a block away from my house. I thought, “How cool is this? And right in my own backyard!”
It is truly inspiring to know that there are so many talented, creative people here in my neighborhood of Longfellow. I am thrilled to be a part of this diverse, eclectic group.
Merriman Park drawing room

Are you planning to do anything special during LoLa?
I thought I'd have iced tea or lemonade and maybe cookies or, better yet --bars! (The Midwest in me coming out, I guess). I'll probably have whatever project I'm working on on display.
Merriman Park library

Is there any other news you’d like to share?
I'm being featured in the upcoming August issue of the British publication, Dollhouses and Miniature Scene. I should have copies of it in time for the event.  I'm debating whether to enter my latest project in the Minnesota State Fair, but I would really like to show it at LoLa.

We encouraged him to go ahead and enter the project in the State Fair, with our best wishes. We were sure he could have pictures of it on display for Lola.

Merriman Park dining room

Friday, December 20, 2013

Karin Corbin's Mini Glitter Houses

As luck would have it, I won not one, but two of Karin Corbin's Glitter Village kits!  Karin designed the most adorable little houses which you can buy at her Etsy shop. They are beautifully assembled into kits and when they arrived in the mail a few weeks ago, I couldn't help tearing into them and I put them all together in the course of a few hours!

I was hoping to get my camera fixed by now but I'm still relying on the phone --sorry!  

I set up the village around a little square, just like 'Who-ville.'
They are extremely tiny --this whole village square is just a few inches across. Karin designed them so that the first few houses are simple to put together --but they get increasingly harder as you continue through the was like doing a puzzle --highly entertaining!  Thank you so much, Karin!

After I had all the buildings assembled, I had to apply the glitter --they are 'glitter houses,' after all! I even used micro-glitter which is as fine as pixie dust  --and I'm afraid I got it absolutely everywhere-- all over the kitchen table...tracked all over the house...all over myself...I can't look in the mirror without finding a minute sparkle somewhere on my face.  I'm still cleaning up the mess and expect I'll be finding sparkles til next July.

There are more buildings being planned for next year and you can get a sneak peek at Karin's blog. I can't wait to get the next set! 

The little village looks perfect with all my other decorations. Karin wanted to see photos's a peek:
My favorite Christmas book: 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'
My little village sits on the cabinet in the dining room where Merriman Park usually goes. The dollhouse is currently at a holiday show at the Waseka County Historical Society.  

I got to attend the grand opening weekend of the show and met the absolute nicest people down in Waseka --both at the show and in the darling, little town itself. Here's the house set up at the museum:
I sort of decorated the rooms for Christmas though they didn't do much 'decking the halls' during the early 19th-century time frame: no trees, for example. But most of the fireplace mantles have magnolia and boxwood greens on them. And I placed garlands on the outdoor railings and wreaths on all the windows.
Look! The sign on top of the glass vitrine says that I'm 'internationally recognized!' Well, how about that? 

Sorry I have been so inactive, lately...between shlepping Merriman Park down to the Waseka County Historical Society, the holidays themselves, and general day-to-day drama, I just haven't had the time. But I look forward to catching up with all of you.

Growing up, this was one of my favorite Christmas songs in one of my favorite Christmas TV specials. We used to drive our parents completely crazy singing this song. I can't imagine why...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Playing with the Light

It's Autumn, and so my attention has been focused on putting away the garden hoses, cleaning leaves from gutters... you know the drill. But some new, LED lights arrived in the mail on Saturday and I couldn't resist having a go at playing with them in my new room box.

I have to admit that I have been leery of jumping on the LED bandwagon.  I find their light rather garish. But for 'outdoor light' streaming through windows, they can't be beat!

Can't you see the elegant, silk curtains at the window?  I know that I can!

The light from this doorway (above) is actually from an incandescent bulb and in real life reads much more amber than here --oh well-- I'm still using a phone for these pics, so what do you expect?
I'm enjoying the views with a smart. little cocktail and am inspired to get back to work! Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Champagne Taste -- Beer Budget

Now that there is a coat of gesso up, it's starting to look a little more like an 18th-century salon and a little less like a log cabin (Not that there is anything wrong with a log cabin)!  Gesso is a mixture of paint and glue and is what artists use to prime their canvases. I keep a large jug of the stuff to fill cracks and use a spray version of it to give the walls a nice, clean coat.
 The spray gesso is great because it goes on in thin coats so there are no brush strokes to sand down. It also dries really fast! It gives a nice 'tooth' for the paint to adhere to.
Here's a shot (above) of the 'hallway' which you will only get a glimpse of through the door. The 'frame' of the room box will cover the open space in front.  I am building a stair to fit toward the back of the hall, where an unseen light source will (hopefully) pour down the stair and illuminate the room through the doorways and of course through the windows, too.
Still a few gaps to fill here and there...The floors are mainly down, as well! 
Here we have a fresh coat of paint up!  It's a lovely cream color and I'm highlighting some of the moldings in white.  I'm trying to keep things a bit neutral because I would like to sell this piece on Etsy or Ebay, or something. I have bought, but never sold anything through these sites so if you have any tips for me, please let me know!  If you are reading this and might be interrested in purchasing the roombox --there's still time to 'customize' the space anyway you wish.  Nothing is glued down, yet, so I could even yank out the walls and paint them in any color you so desire!
This would be a gorgeous backdrop for your collection of beautiful furniture. The room could be set up as a drawing room, a dining room --anything your mini-loving heart desired!

I decided that my true love is in designing and making the backdrops. The furnishing/decorating is fun --but too expensive for me!  A room like this should have some artisan-quality furniture and accessories in it.  Of course, I would be more than happy to act as your decorator, too...
I've been adding little embellishments to the doorways in the form of masks and swags.
  Let me know if you  (or someone you know) is looking for some prime, 18th-century real estate!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Monday, October 21, 2013

Log Cabins & Tar-Paper Shacks

OMG, I just perused the photos in my last post and it looked like I was building a log cabin!  It's not!  Believe it or not, it is going to be an elegant, 18th-century drawing room --not Abraham Lincoln's birthplace!...I've added a few more moldings here and there and so it looks just slightly less rustic.

I've also started laying the floor boards.  Eventually, they will be French polished and won't look like the flooring of a tar-paper shack.  Cross your fingers.

But back to the walls: I am having so much fun with the paneling. It's all built up from stock widths of strip wood. The panels are 'framed' with a very small cove molding and then the chair rail and baseboard or skirting is applied.

I know it looks a little weird right now, but once it's all gessoed and painted --you'll see! Smoke and mirrors!

I'm planning to light the room indirectly from the windows and doors.  Hopefully it will look dramatic and not wack!  We'll just have to see (as I have never tried this before). I'm all about the dramatic lighting effects --just don't even try back-lighting me or you'll get slapped into next week, m'kay?

Em, from Chocolat asked if the hole in the ceiling is going to be a dome. Ding! Ding! Ding! You are correct, Em!  I learned a valuable lesson building Merriman Park --do NOT waste prime, attic real estate.  I can't tell you how much I've raked myself over the coals because I could have put a glamorous dome or barrel vault in MP's drawing room ceiling --if only I had planned better!

Oh well: Lesson Learned...and so this damn room box will have a damned, dramatic ceiling, dammit!
Pardon my French...

If only in time for Kate Winslet's turn on the spinet: