Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tom Bishop Miniatures Show

My inbox has been positively inundated with inquiries regarding the Chicago Miniatures Show, where yours truly recently spent a rollicking, eye-opening weekend.  Not at all quite sure what to expect from the gala affair, this first-time, mini-show virgin heeded the sage advice of my more veteran colleagues and walked into the event with an open mind (and a wallet stuffed with cash)!  

Many of the crowned-heads of the Miniatures World were in attendance, showing off their latest and greatest. The three Marriott Hotel ballrooms pulsed with the excited energy of both the highly-exalted exhibitors, and also the clamoring throngs of spectators.  Of all, no one could possibly have been more enthused than your intrepid reporter!

As I strolled the aisles, taking in the sheer enormity of all the fascinating, miniature object d'art, my head was absolutely spinning in circles, a la Linda Blair in The Exorcist. 

But I digress.

At one point in the show, my eye was drawn to the exquisite creations of one vendor, only to be over-glamored by the artisan next door.  I was virtually pulled in two divergent directions!  My whip-lash reaction was noticed and commended on by the artist, who laughed at me and said she had never before seen a customer perform a double-take over her wares!

My excursion took a brilliant, new twist when I spied the staircase of fellow-blogger, Sophia, from Small Talk  Sophia has been blogging about her fab, new, curved staircase for her French house and it was being shown off in the entrance hall of the show itself.  "Hey, I know that staircase!'  I gushed as I immediately hatched a plan to find its owner.  Sophia had her own booth, Small Treasures Miniatures, filled with an amazing array of GLT (gorgeous, little things). Upon introducing myself, Sophia took the time to introduce me around to several of her fave co-exhibitors!  I felt like I had made it 'in!'  Thanks, Sophia!

I also ran into the incomparable Erik Goddard, who lives in my hometown of Minneapolis. Erik and I were introduced a few weeks ago by the owner of the local dollhouse store, Little Enchantments, and we had a great chat in front of his table of spectacular room boxes and models of divers architectural styles.  Erik's work inspired me to look beyond my 18th and early 19th-century penchant, but more about that, anon...

The highlight of my trip was spending a delightful Sunday morning with Scott Burgess of Whitledge-Burgess. Of course I have admired their work a la distance for ages, so it was a dream come true to at last meet up close and personal one half of this talented duo. (Maybe next year, Ray)?  I have to admit I was a little intimidated approaching miniature royalty, but Scott was so affable, we were chatting like old friends within seconds. 

I met so many incredibly talented artists at this event and left giddy as a schoolgirl with all sorts of new inspiration and ideas!  Oh, of course that's not the only thing I left with...

Here's my new chandelier from Lumenations.  I turned it off so you can see it without the glare of the lights. I also ordered matching sconces, made with the same Swarovski crystals.  They should be here in a week or two.

I also picked up this table and buffet/sideboard from Masters Miniatures.The rug is a new Ebay find. The colors, I think, are perfect!

These are the Hepplewhite chairs I am ordering from Masters.  They are going make arm-less side chairs for me too and are going to upholster them in my silk. They were so friendly and helpful.  OMG ALERT!  I just received an email that my back-ordered Pretty Pleater is now on the way!

I bought this blown glass decanter and glasses from Gerd Felka.  I thought the gentlemen of Merriman Park would much rather have a refreshing cocktail than a cuppa tea!   I was coerced to buy a new statue to fit the corner niche you see in the background, though I felt deep-down it wouldn't fit.  And guess what?  I was correct.  (Sometimes you just have to let your better half have their way, once in a while, just so they can realize that you're always right)! LOL!

While in Chicago I also subscribed to a few miniature magazines that were exhibiting. How thrilling to finally get to see the splashy lay-out of the Library of fellow-blogger Giac from Late Victorian English Manor Dollhouse, all included in the latest edition of Miniaturas!  This publication is noteworthy for its glorious, full-page spreads of gorgeous miniatures with very few advertisements. Simply stunning!  And great job, Giac!

All and all, the trip was a brilliant success on so many levels.  I left the show with a sack of gorgeous swag, completely inspired by the sheer volume of talent I encountered, and with a new-found resolve to step-up my game.

--And this former, mini-show virgin can't wait til next year!  

Saturday, April 7, 2012


               Happy Easter, Everyone!

Whilst hiding chocolate eggs and marshmallow chicks around the house for Glen to find tomorrow, I also had the chance to stain the dining room floor...

I'm trying to do a 'French polish' finish with some hysterical results.  I've never done such a finish before so don't judge me!  The stain went down nice enough --better than I thought it would.  So the next day I put on the first coat of shellac and when it was dry, sanded with fine paper. I guess there wasn't enough shellac on the surface so I ended up sanding big, unsightly streaks into my newly-stained floor.  Oooops!  Pardon my blooper!  So I ended up having to sand everything down to bare wood and start a-fresh.

In the pics above, I now have four thin coats of shellac on the floor over the stain.  I assume that's enough to start sanding, but you know what happens when you make assumptions!

Maybe I'll slap on a few more coats first, just to be safe...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dining Room Progress

While not-so-patiently waiting for back-ordered accessories to arrive to complete the Drawing Room, I have busied myself with the Dining Room.

I have decided that I really, really like using illustration board as a backer for all the flooring, wallpaper and wall moldings, and even the ceiling ornamentation.  It's so much easier working on the boards flat on my table as opposed to trying to stick my enormous, lummox head and ham-fists into the little box of a room!  BONUS:  The illustration board hides all the wires!  So I first cut illustration board to fit the floor, then the ceiling, then the back wall and then the two side walls.  It's very important to get a snug, accurate fit at this stage so I took my time and made several dry fits as I moved around the room.

Then, with all the pieces of illustration board cut perfectly and in place, I traced the window and door openings and cut them out.

The floor came next:  Merriman Park is my first dollhouse, but I have learned lots of clever tricks from all my fellow bloggers!  So instead of using an expensive, commercial floor (as I had originally planned) I made my own with iron-on, wood edging tape.  

I won't spend too much time explaining how to do it, since this seems to be a fairly standard practice among the miniaturatti.  You just cut the strips to the desired length and press them down with a hot iron.  And voila!  My only tip would be to mark on your illustration board where the floor joists lie and have all your 'plank joints' end on these marks.

We mustn't have willy-nilly joints!

I'm debating on whether to put wooden 'peg marks' where all the planks butt together because I guess that's how they would have attached the flooring down to the floor joists, right?  I mean they would not have simply nailed the floor boards down in a fancy house.  I haven't applied a stain or anything to the floor, yet...because of this dilemma plus I'm a little anxious about mucking it up!  Whatevs, I'll figure it out...After all, I am both pretty AND smart! the meantime I slipped the floor in place and went on to the walls...

I chose a period, circa 1804 wallpaper from Chinioserie.  I am very impressed with the high-quality of their papers.  I really like the pattern of unusual, stylized flowers arranged in stripes.

Next, I started on the back wall and after lots of stewing and dry-runs, I nervously started cutting up my paper...This step caused a considerable amount of anxiety as the pattern has since been discontinued so NO screwing up!

I know that some people simply abhor spray adhesives (Honey Badger)? but I have great luck with the stuff.  It seems to bond perfectly on illustration board.  My trick is to spray lightly on both surfaces, wait a few seconds, apply and burnish with a credit card.  Instead of trimming the excess wallpaper, I fold the paper around the back of the illustration board and adhere in place with white glue.  Ain't gonna go no place, children!

Then I went on to the other two walls: first the outside wall with the fireplace chase...

And then the opposite wall.  This one has an alcove where I plan on fitting a sideboard or buffet.  The interior of the alcove I upholstered in a contrasting silk stripe, which I plan on using for the draperies, too.  OMG!  That reminds me: My Pretty Pleater should be arriving any day now!  Pretty Pleater!  LOL! I LOVE that name!

After this I fit everything in place and started on the moldings.  I bought all my moldings from the Lawbre company.  They have an amazing catalog of stock, and they are so helpful...(hi, Teri!) I decided to try making my own door surrounds using stock moldings.  This is what I came up with:

I still have gluing, filling and painting to do, but you get the idea.

I then went on to the ceiling...unfortunately my camera's battery died and I can't find the charger at the moment.  But here is everything, so far...

The mantle is from Braxton Payne Miniatures.  His fireplaces are so superbly wrought. And what a nice guy!

This is not the chandelier I'm using for this space.  I'm actually considering installing a 'shoo-fly' or 'punkah' over the dining table.  This was a large fan, usually elaborately carved or upholstered that swung from pulleys by servants slaves.  (This is the South --don't judge me)! The only thing that's keeping me from this idea is that I think it would look weird that this room would be the only one without a glamorous chandelier --and it's the dining room, for crying out loud!  So I thought maybe I could have two smaller chandeliers flanking the shoo-fly, but there is no historical reference for that.  So I don't know...what do you think?

 The dining room of Melrose in Natchez, Mississippi with its slave-powered 'shoo-fly.'

CONFIDENTIAL TO HONEY BADGER:  I still feel bad about your spray-adhesive nightmare!
But I still LOVES me your aw-sum YouTube video!