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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Money Tree

Day 1:
What do you give someone for Christmas who is 35, owns 5 houses, loves plants, was a former financial advisor, and now earns his living as a mortgage broker working from home???
At four years of age, he filled a 4 quart basket with potatoes left in the fields after the pickers finished, came home & showed them to his mom, then proceeded to peddle them door to door.
At seven, he sold the unwanted items from his mom's kitchen at his own garage sale.
At thirteen, he got his first job.
At sixteen he opened his pension plan comprised entirely of stocks and bonds.

Why, what else....he needs a money tree!

New Baby

I had to take Luna to the vet's the other day to get some allergy medication. Hairless Chinese Cresteds are prone to skin problems....especially in the cold weather.
Well you know, how they tell you to be careful in hospitals because you could pick up a disease....the same thing can apply in a veterinary office except there it's not so much a disease you could come home with.
We came home with a Yuki

Little Miss Yuki (Japanese for happiness) or alternatively known as the Furball when she gets too rambunctious is a 6 week old orphan who was looking for a new home. Our vet takes in strays and unwanted animals & tries to find homes for them. He succeeded with us!
Miss Yuki spent her first day with us making all babies. Luna would have liked her as a new playmate except Miss Yuki is smaller than most of Luna's toys especially when the little Furball kept jumping in and out of Luna's toy basket, scattering toys everywhere and making a general pest of herself.
The only one not impressed with Miss Yuki is our existing kitty. Kitkat is still having hissy fits about the adoption.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy American Thanksgiving

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

"Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is no coincidence."
-Erma Bombeck

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas Prep Boards

Thought I'd show you what I made for the Miniature Collectors swap....baking and decorating prep boards:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Alls Well that Ends Well

I finally remembered where the inspiration for my mouse
came from
One of the blogs that I read is about scrapbooking cards, written by Jak Heath, who a truly delightful artisan when it comes to card design.
Since one of my pet peeves has to do with plagerism, which I detest with a passion, I wrote to Jak in the hopes that she wouldn't mind my having usurped her design...even if it is in a totally different medium.
Less than 1/2 an hour later, she wrote back full of praise & saying that she wished she could have one just like it.
Well long story short, within the week my mousie will be on his way to his new home in the UK where Jak lives.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect....

On one of the blogs that I read, Kathi complained that as a clay newbie, the items she was trying to make for a swap weren't coming out right and she was giving up.
Reading that reminded me of one of the first things I made: apples.
Apples should be easy but look at my mess. Back when they were made, I wasn't sure about baking time, about whether I should use my kitchen oven and even whether I dared to bake clay indoors. That white stuff on the apples is talc; I'd read that if you baked directly on a tile, your clay would get shiny. (couldn't have made them look worse LOL)
Take another look at what I called apples then: the colors are all wrong; the texture looks off. Those apples look exactly like what they are: dead clay!

Take a look at my apples today: The one on the extreme left is still not quite right but you've gotta agree it's quite an improvement!

So if you're a clay newbie, allow me to pass on what I've learned....
....and let's stay with apples for now.
Every teacher I've learned from, starts off with "it may sound stupid" and continues with "but". So I'm going to say it as well:
It may sound stupid, but.... pretend you're an apple & think about how you look. Go out and buy whatever it is that you're trying to portray & really take a look at it.
The apples that you're looking at are about 4 inches in size so make your miniatures approx. a 1/4 inch but don't be too precise about it. All apples are not alike.
Look at the shapes, and the colors...sorry no Macintosh or Red Delicious; Ken ate them before I got around to photographing....look at the size of stem in comparison to the apple. Too often the stem is shown as a giant stake bisecting a miniature apple. Try using thin wire. If you're making toffee apples, try using the bristles of an unused broom.
Take a look at the apple bottom. If I had my Red Delicious, you'd be able to see 5 little humps at the flower end. Take a look at a banana; it has 5 sides. Nature seems to like 5s.
Next let's talk tools. If you put the tips of your thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand together, you'll be looking at your best clay shaping tool.
Baking time: did you know that under-baked clay is brittle and that when clay is baked for the proper length of time it's actually slightly bendable.
And here's another thing that no one tells you. Because clay is porous, acrylic paint will not adhere permanently. You can "paint" unbaked clay with colored chalk and as the clay bakes, the chalk will adhere to it. But if you want to paint baked clay with craft paints, you have to seal it first otherwise the paint will wipe off.
If you're worried about getting shiny spots on your finished clay, then lay a paper towel on your tile before your clay. You might even use fiberfill.
And for goodness sake, tent it! By that I mean take some tin foil and cover your clay with it like a tent. Light colored clay darkens and browns easily. Look at this poor little had an accident & had to be glued and then rebaked. Unfortunately I forgot to tent it. Can you see how his head & feet are slightly browner than his body?
And that brings me to mention clay "glue". There is really only one type of glue that will hold baked or unbaked clay together permanently: TLS (translucent Liquid Sculpy) or liquid fimo. If you're adding unbaked clay to clay that's already been baked, use either of them. If you want to ensure that your one clay section holds together with the next, use them. If you want to remove fingerprints, you can actually brush it over your item.....(of course you could also use a tiny bit of alcohol too).
Next on to finishes: I rubbed my apples with waxed paper. Gives just enough shine to make them look right. So take a look at the object you're trying to miniaturize and ask yourself whether it looks shiny, glossy or has a matte finish.

Since you know that I got myself involved in 5 swaps, I guess you can tell that most of my items have been made of clay. This last photo shows an item that I worked on for almost 2 weeks before I finally set it aside. I may finish it one day but only when I have more time and less deadlines. They were going to be Christmas lights made of clay and wire.
A hole made in unbaked Sculpy keeps it's size. That same hole in Fimo shrinks. I was used to working with Sculpy but having just gotten a deal on a "truck load" of fimo made me switch. So my last advice to you is: try out the different clays and see if you like one better than the others.

Just to update you: I've mailed out 3 of my swaps and expect to get the first swap items back soon. I've got 2 to go: my dressed bed and Rosanna's circle swap or in other words 3 pillows and a possible 2 items that are neither red nor green and are wrapped in an unusual container.
The pillows left to complete the bed are easy ones. The hard ones are done. I know exactly what I'm going to make for the circle swap; both the items and the container are easy. I'm in the home stretch so why do I feel like I'm going to wake up to Groundhog Day all over again.....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Hol....err....ahhhh....Christmas

Doreen just sent me this YouTube video. She must have noticed my rant about having to be politically correct especially at this time of year. Since she's too nice to be anything but correct, political or otherwise.....unlike me LOL, and also too busy taking photos of her adorable little fur baby, let me be the one to show you:

Thanks Doreen! I'll be humming that catchy tune for a while.....maybe for the next two months even.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wish me luck.....

Random thoughts:
In amongs all the swaps I signed up for, comes my first mini show. I spent all yesterday pricing. Today I'll spend some time on last minute details. Although I'm an old hand selling at shows and most of my things remain the same from show to cash box; tables & tablecloths etc., it's a novelty to sell at a miniature show. For one thing, everything fits into 2 bins instead of 20 like when I sell antiques.

I grew up in Brampton but I'll still need my GPS. It's amazing! You move away for a few years...or ten...or twenty & the city fathers go and change everything on you. Of course when I lived there, the population was several hundred thousands less.

Not sure how bargain my prices are. Every show I've participated in mentions the same thing: "bargain prices". Do they hope to entice people to shop by mentioning it?

I get so tired of people wanting a deal. I pay good money to buy they miniatures or antiques. I believe my prices are reasonable. I do like to make a profit rather than just giving things away. And I have expenses just like every seller: rent, commission etc. So why do people insist on trying to dicker?
At my last show, I had two mirrors made from horse collars. A couple stopped to look and obviously couldn't make up their minds which they liked better. I mentioned that what my husband & I do in those cases is just buy both, if we can afford it. I offered to give them a two for one deal.
The lady hummed and hawed a while then asked what price I would charge if they bought only the one. My response was: the price on the sales ticket.
She hummed and hawed some more. Then she mentioned a price that she would agree to pay. When I didn't go along with that, she hummed & hawed some more.
After numerous minutes of this, she pulled out the amount of money she decided she would pay in the first place. I said no. Her husband pulled out a hand full of coins because according to her, she had no more money. I added enough of his change to make up the difference.
She looked at the mirror then at her hand full of money and calmly told me that having once made up her mind, she never spends more. With that I put the mirrors back and they walked away.
I hope that in their family, the husband does the shopping or I'm afraid they'd go hungry a lot!

I usually spend almost as much at a show as I make. Dealers set up & then prior to the show start, walk around looking at what everyone else has. Generally you spot a bargain that you can't pass up.....forgetting totally why the seller is selling at the show to begin with....which is usually because they can't sell it at their store.
Some things I've made money from; some things I've sat on. (The longer your money is tied up in an item, the less profit there is when it does finally sell.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Fun

Remember back in grade school...
First day back after summer vacation...
There you are in new clothes excitedly telling all your friends what you did all summer.
Then the bell rang. You'd hurry in. Find a desk next to your best friend....but not too near the front. Those seats were reserved for the brown nosers.
Finally after looking all around to see where everyone else was seated, you'd look at the blackboard at the front and..... Oh no! :

Write an essay about "What I did on my summer vacation"!

Your mind immediately goes blank!
Too bad they didn't let you do a pict-o-gram back then.

Here's how I spent my Halloween:

may I present: Countess Lunula

I sat next to the mad ballooner who just had too much time errr make that balloons on his hands..
here's the Old Radio Guy himself. Not bad even if he did go as himself:
In case you're wondering: the blue balloon in front of Ken is supposed to be a mic. (The clown strikes again!!!)

....and then there's me! Wearing a face only a mother could love!!!!

........and to think this is how I opened the door to all those innocent little trick or treaters.

scary scary.......