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:

Friday, October 18, 2013

New Project: A Room Box

I started a new project --a room box.  Sorry about the rough, cell phone photos...but I'm working with what I got, so don't judge me!  It's all pretty rough-hewn, right now but I guess this is how it all starts, right?
The room is based off one from 18th-century South Carolina from the Period Room collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts that I have long admired. At the museum, you can walk between the doors that flank the fireplace and they have the two adjoining spaces decorated as a dining room on one side and a drawing room on the other. They're so incredibly beautiful! Years ago I used to live across the street from the museum and so I practically lived there --in fact I often used to stroll through these rooms pretending I  lived there --I know...silly, dorky me...
At Christmastime, they decorate the rooms for the holidays and costumed docents give you guided tours. I memorized their spiel in like, five minutes and I SO wanted to be a guide.

"Hello! Welcome to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts Holiday Tours through the Historic Period Rooms! My name is Mrs. Betty Beaverhausen and I am wearing a period costume in the romantic, Regency style from the world-acclaimed Guthrie Theater! (Twirls to appreciative murmurs). This is my tussie-mussie! (presents silk flower bouquet and brings it to her nose, inhaling deeply) Mmmmm! There were often rather --shall we say?-- odious aromas back in The Olden Days, so ladies of the period often carried a fragrant tussie-mussie to disguise these --shall we say?-- not very pleasant smells! (takes another deep whiff) Mmmmmm! Let's continue on to our first room, shall we?..."

OMG, I could SO do the tour in my SLEEP!
Here's some lovely music for you while you type your comment.  MAJOR attitude at 1:59! Do NOT EVER disrespect a castrato with your rattling tea cup while he is onstage serving Baroque realness. As my BFF, RuPaul says, "Oh NO, she better DIDN'T!"

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Party Pics

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OK they're not from the actual party, they're from The Day After.  My camera is still down (hence, the aforementioned sucky blogging) so these murky shots of the flower displays are from the cellphone.
This arrangement was on the mantle, next to my grandmother's mirror.
The floral theme for the evening was 'white with touches of fall' and I had a blast making these arrangements. In a former life, I was a florist so it's fun to play with flowers, now that it's not my job, anymore!
This was my favorite arrangement. I love the cast-iron urn.
The party, celebrating my Miniaturas magazine debut, was an enormous success!  I haven't had a big party in ages and I think I need to remedy that.  It really was a blast!  I thought I preferred small-scale entertaining, but you get so much more bang for the buck, large-scale!  Plus --it's not even that much extra work, (unless you make it so).  For example: I made two batches of my award-winning  pâté, when one would have perfectly sufficed --but leftover pâté for breakfast and lunch --OK, dinner, too, isn't so bad, right?
Roses, dahlias, lisianthus, stock, snapdragons, larkspur, viburnum, bells of Ireland, zinnias, waxflower, magnolia, orange berries and a big ol' side of candy corn!
 The only downside is that you, gentle Reader, was not there!  Now that would have been awesome!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sucky Blogging Ahead...

Sorry my blogging has been so sporadic, of late.  My camera is down and I'm not sure where to take it as there does not seem to be such a thing as a "camera shop' anymore. Or should I say 'Ye Olde Camera Shoppe?' Oh wells... Here are a few shots of Merriman Park, opened up. 
It's kind of weird seeing it all together, isn't it?  I mean, you get used to seeing the rooms individually and so it's a little surreal viewed as a whole.  Even when I look at Merriman Park, myself, it is seldom from afar --I usually pull a chair up close and stick my head right into the particular room I'm focusing on at the moment.

I did spend a considerable amount of time making sure all the colors, the architecture and to a lesser degree, the decor, flowed from room to room. I really like how the arch in the Entrance Hall (ground floor, center) echoes the arches in the niches in the Drawing Room above it.  Because every room has touches of the same colors --in this case: black, white and gold-- it helps to 'unify' the separate compartments of the house.
Some people have asked why I did not 'finish' the inside swinging door/wall panels to the house. Here's my answer: When I started Merriman Park I was a complete newbie. All I had in my repertoire was my fond memories of The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago and the book Magnificent Miniatures, by Mulvany and Rogers. I noted that M & R did not 'decorate' the front, swinging panels of their houses. So I simply assumed that, that is that! Three, four years later, I have discovered many, many gorgeous dollhouses with fully decorated front, interior panels. So it was a large conundrum for me --should I go back and try and 'finish' my 'bare' front panels?  It was only after the house was completed when I realized that I like how the 'doors' receed into the background and so your focus is on the rooms, themselves.  And not on the doors. 

There is no 'right' or 'wrong' way --it's just a matter of personal preference.

What do you prefer?

In other news, I recently joined a local miniatures club!  It's been around for like, thirty years but I  had no idea it even existed. My new BFF, Brad, from Leroi's Lifelikes, a blogger buddy who, I find  out --lives a mere ten minutes from me-- turned me on to it. The club was awesome --treated me like Royalty --and they even want li'l ol' me to teach a class, next meeting!  (which is kind of surreal). But anyway, go on over to Brad's blog because he is awesome --and tell him I sent ya!

I'm having a little soiree to celebrate the Miniaturas magazine article this Saturday, so if you're in the neighborhood, do drop by! 


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Little Free Library Movement

Have you noticed these cute, little mini-libraries popping up in your neighborhood?  I have counted three so far in mine.
Some of them match the architecture of the homes they stand in front of, others are more fanciful. I think they are adorable!
It's all part of the Little Free Library movement. It was started by Todd Bol in Hudson, Wisconsin and has quickly spread across the United States and beyond.
Visitors to the Little Free Libraries can borrow a book, bring it back, and sometimes even add a book of their own!  Isn't that a great idea?  I am in the process of making one, myself.  I have WAY too many books, most languishing in my basement...why not share them with my neighbors?

For more information on Little Free Libraries click here. or visit Maybe you will want one, too?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Merriman Park in Miniaturas Magazine!

This is a four-page centerfold!
This just landed in my mailbox, today!  I can't believe they threw it together so fast --in July they asked if they could do a story on Merriman Park for next September but who'da thunk it would be this September? Many of the photos are even ones I took, myself --taken right from the blog!  I guess maybe I'm not such a hack photographer, after all?  (The best ones were taken by my friend, Eric Lindahl --thanks, Eric)!

The best part?  I AM A CENTERFOLD!!!

Sorry for gushing, you guys, but this is, like, MAJOR! Eight pages, no ads! SWEET!

OK, I'll stop, now.  Sorry. How utterly RUDE of me, especially since I've been on hiatus all summer and have so terribly neglected everyone.  ...Well, I look forward to 'catching up' and will be back real soon to let you know what I did on my 'summer blog-cation.'