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Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Since Steampunk means using Victorian steam engine machines in a futuristic setting, just about anything goes. I've seen lots of really great costumes, totally cool jewelry, very imaginative orreries ....those are the mechanical devices made using gears and cogs to show the planetary movements. But again how do you show steampunk when creating a very stationary roombox? That was my dilemma....

....and my solution:my Victorian era says gray stonework, dampness and a propensity for growing moss...while steampunk says watch gears and aging machinery the watching eye is just a bit of spoof...Steampunk can represent something totally different to each of you.

....that's the beauty of imagination! It means there's neither a right nor a wrong.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie with Marshmallows

I recently asked my friend, Frank about his favorite dessert and he promptly told me it was sweet potato pie topped with marshmallows. Apparently it's known as "Soul Food" in the Southern US and although Frank isn't black, he does hail from Missouri.

Here in Canada, yams aka sweet potatoes are just becoming popular mainly because of pre-packaged foods coming across the border. I can't ever remember having ever eaten one but I had heard they're very healthy. When I googled them, the first thing I learned is that yams and sweet potatoes are actually two different vegetables. Up here we call them yams but in much of the States they're known as sweet potato and surprisingly there are quite a few different types grown throughout the world; the yams sold in our grocery stores are the orange fleshed, reddish-brownish-orangish skinned sweet potatoes masquerading as yams. They’re even more common than the standard sweet potato, sweeter, and containing a healthy starch that's great for a diabetic diet.

Now you might be wondering what all this has to do with miniatures and dollhouses!

I've long been in the habit of buying a real life food to get my clay just the right color when miniaturizing and so having googled my fill of recipes (for the ingredients) and photos of sweet potato pies (so I'd know how they looked), I set off to the local store to buy a few yams.

Once you've figured out your clay, what then, do you do with whatever you've brought home? Last year I bought at least 8 different types of squash but never had the desire to taste any of them....mostly because I'm not a very experimental cook and luckily I have a large composite bin.

This time, however, I was determined to do better and since I had to roast at least one yam so I could see if the baked changed color from the raw, I decided to find out whether they tasted as good as everyone claimed. I mashed my roasted yams with some butter and maple syrup and served them that night for supper. My husband, who categorically hates all vegetables and especially those he's never tried, pulled a face but surprisingly ate the rest without another complaint. My first taste made me realize why: they taste really good! I've even bought some more to mash and take to a Christmas potluck dinner.

So Frank, thank you... for "forcing" me out of my comfort zone!
For anyone else out there, who's not quite sure this is the right type of dish for them. Try it out on your dollshouse people first:I have three more preps, available in my Etsy store.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


so what does the word steampunk really mean? Wikipedia tells us that...
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, and fantasy that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. It involves a setting where steam power is still widely used such as in Victorian era Britain or the "Wild West"-era of the United States. Works of steampunk often feature futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisioned them, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, or art as seen by a member of a rebellious counterculture group. The technology includes such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or the contemporary authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld and China Mieville.

So how would ...could you show it in a miniatures setting? What do you use? Do you create something that could conceivably be used by your miniature people?
Or would you make it so futuristic that it has no rhyme or reason for being?

....and while you puzzle it out. Steampunk is generally shown using watch gears, wheels etc. ....if that helps.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I LOVE it!

....with those words, my customer announced the arrival of her ruins and sent this photo to me:
As an artist, there is no greater praise than to see your creation enjoyed!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Less than 45 Days til Christmas!

I went to my first Christmas show this week. Decorated theme Christmas trees everywhere you looked, two string orchestras with a lady singing Christmas carols, a bit of wine and cheese, hot chocolate or coffee and the aisles overflowing with shopping carts loaded high with purchases. I read in the paper that this season will be the worst for retailers but at the show, you could have fooled me!

These are some photos of the Biltmore House in North Carolina, USA featuring Christmas traditions and folklore of France, Germany, India, Egypt and Italy with elements of the Vanderbilt family’s own Christmas traditions mixed in. On the front lawn, a 55-foot Norway spruce is lit by 45,000 tiny white lights.
Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, America’s largest home is a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, exhibiting the Vanderbilt family’s original collection of furnishings, art and antiques. The Biltmore estate encompasses more than 8,000 acres including renowned gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture.

The Biltmore modern-day Christmas celebration is modeled on the first 1895 Christmas, with an elaborately decorated, 34-foot tall Fraser Fir dominating the Banquet Hall.
How super would that be to miniaturize!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Endings and New Beginnings

My ruined castle is finally finished!

I hope I've given it enough of a damp and dank atmosphere to make Dracula feel at home.

....and the roombox give-away has closed as well. Congratulations go out to Aukje Tibbe in Holland who makes incredible needle point! We've talked about certain things for her roombox steampunk! I had secretly hoped she might go for it and she did.
I am totally excited to start! So stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A CSI Moment

This photo probably makes you think of Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffin show. What a nice old lady, you're thinking right?

Her name was Frances Glessner Lee and back during the 1940s she created a series of crime scene roomboxes for the Baltimore Maryland police force. They must have been extremely authentic because the dioramas were used to teach inexperienced police officers about different types of death scenes, as well as encourage them to use careful observation to spot "indirect" evidence for crime reconstruction.

You can read all about her amazing miniaturist career here

Friday, October 28, 2011

New time for Halloween and a Give-away Announcement

Some time ago I had a customer ask me to make a roombox for her 1:12 Dracula rising from his castle. She also wanted a graveyard to show off some additional ghosties & skeletons. I immediately thought about how perfect a ruined castle would be....
Although there's not much more to do, other than make the interior of the ruins look just that little bit more dark and dank & give the graveyard grounds a spookier look, I doubt I'll have it ready this month but....
.... since Halloween is almost upon us, I thought I'd show you some more Work In Progress photos:

I didn't want Dracula feeling lonely so I added 3 little friends flying close to the stone walls....

So now for my give-away news..... unfortunately this is for facebook followers only:
I intend having a give-away of a 7"x9" roombox when I reach 100 likes on my OrrLakeMiniatures facebook page (winner to pay shipping).
Every person following gets one entry so you'd have a 1in100 chance of winning.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

WIP #2 - Finished

At first glance, it seems fairly traditional, right?Well turn it around & look from the other side.... The doll that you see here wigged & dressed was done by my 11 year old granddaughter, Jade!
I'd taken her with me to attend 2 workshops in Quebec this summer. Being a very artistic person, I thought that not only would she enjoy them but we'd have great fun along the drive ...and we did!
Natalie came over from France ( and Helena from Belgium ( to lead the workshops. I didn't sit by Jade; in fact I left her on her own to do or not, or even how she wanted to work in the workshops.

So the doll and the Halloween goodies on the table inside the pumpkin are all her own doing! All I've done is put everything together and made the surround. Plexiglas cover and the wooden frame aren't shown as I just couldn't wait to show photos ...I am just so proud of my Jade!!!!

And here you can have a look inside the pumpkin where the Trick Or Treat table sits loaded down with goodies

(the white line in the photo is an edge of the glass cover)
Oh by all means, take a closer look at all the little fimo goodies that Jade made... there's a tea service, a haunted gingerbread house, decorated cupcakes in the 2 boxes at the back, a Halloween cake, a jack-o-lantern filled with treats; she made the jar lids and painted all the faces on the goodies.
The spoon in the bead jar and the Spooky Times newspaper sitting on the top step were a prezzie from Ketsia (another workshop participant) and the eyeballs (in the glass jar) were made by Louise Belair at whose house we stayed.The laughing pumpkin is another bead but Jade chose logo at the back and painted the table
Love you, Jade! So so proud!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WIP #1 - finished

well... finished except I still have to make a frame & build a plexiglass cover for it. But since Christel sent me that very nice comment I didn't want to keep her waiting.
May I present to you, Haggartha & her new home:

That's right Christel! Bet you never thought to see her ugly puss again did you?
You see everyone, I bought Haggartha from Cristel Hutson at least a year ago.
I can see having spent the past year in a dark cupboard has done nothing for her attitude (Haggartha's not Christel's LOL).Here she is offering up an lovely red apple but look closely at the firepit.... Our delightful hag uses bones to fuel her fire.and if you're really curious about where that bone supply comes from, just look at the other side of her house. Either big rats gnaw on bones or it's Hagartha's delivery boy.

My clay is still drying; I've no idea how long it will actually take and while it did crackle, I think I should have mixed it more and had it smoother.
Here you can see the steps leading down into Haggartha's basement abode. I think the clay could also have done with more acrylic paint to give it a deeper darker brown but live and learn!Since my gourd came with no attached stem I added my own. What you see here is a rubberized "plant stem" that was once part of a Halloween wreath. I added the spider (it's that dark blob). The snake is one of those soft squishy toys that one of the boys left for their Nana to use (they just don't remember it that way); I had my choice of the soft green one you see hanging, a bright pink one or a soft purple one.
I'm not sure if I'll keep the gecko at the base of the stem.

So there you have it!
One less WIP, approximately 3 million left to do!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WIP #1

Both Jade and I participated in the MSAT Dollvention this summer so in other words we made the same items to place on our Halloween goodies table. Not only that but I promised to make roomboxes for both of us.
I just couldn't see making both roomboxes alike so while I decided Jade's would be shown inside a pumpkin, I also decided that mine would show the darker side of Samhain.
At this summer's arts festival, I found a pumpkin shaped gourd that looked for all the world like it was moldy. Unfortunately it's much too small for my table.
Originally I had thought to enlarge the inside by carving into the base and have most of it seem underground. I even thought about using a smaller table. But finally I opted against having anything inside.
The next problem was how to attach a rounded door. In the end, only having the door ajar meant that I didn't need hinges and with the floor painted black, no one can see inside the gourd house.I used Magic Sculpt to secure the gourd to its base. Since I really hate to waste material, I epoxied the stairs and the firepit stones to the base.
Some time ago I stumbled across a website for taxidermists that contained a great tutorial for making dried and cracked riverbed mud. I knew that's what I had to have for my base but no way was I going out to find mud, and then sieve it to a fine powder. Instead I bought a package of natural air-dry clay from the Dollar Store. I'd used it once before and swore never again but for this project it seemed perfect.
I added a bottle of cheap white glue and some Burnt Umber paint and proceeded to mix the three ....and mix ....and mix ...and add more glue ...and mix ....add more paint ....and mix until I thought my arm would drop off.
It was still slightly lumpy but I troweled it onto the base anyway.and then I added a few sprigs of dried moss and a well-weathered log.

All that glue is supposed to make the clay crack as it dries. So keep your fingers crossed and while my mud is drying, I started on Jade's roombox

Monday, August 29, 2011


Do you ever wonder about things happening for a reason?

I went shopping with a friend last week & we talked about spending a weekend in St Jacob which has a big Mennonite community so she could buy a quilt. Two weeks ago another friend and I drove to a barbecue in my car and afterwards we realized that she had left her chair in my car.
Saturday, Ken and I decided to attend an auction where a bunch of radios were advertised. The auction turned out to be filled with junk and of the radios there was no sign. We left but because we were so near by, we decided to return the chair that had remained in my car all this time. When our friends mentioned about the Creemore Copper Kettle Festival being held that same day, we all thought it'd be a fun outing.

Creemore is one of those tiny towns common all around here; its only distinction is the micro brewery located in the middle of town ...that still uses a copper kettle, hence the name of the festival.
The entire main street had vintage cars parked on either side. Just amazing to see some of the cars from the 50s and 60s!You'd need a double parking spot for them in today's parking lots and the insides, OMG!Some have back seats larger than single beds today! It's always great fun talking to some of the owners too. I have so little interest in cars that I can't tell one model from another, but I do love looking at yesteryear's cars!
We stopped for lunch in a lovely little pub in the middle of town; the fact that we first had to wait for a table to become free and then "for the chef to catch the chicken" for our gobbler salads, hardly mattered. It gave us all the more time to enjoy a taste of the new Creemore Springs beer making its debut.
Eventually tho, we continued on down the street, stopping to sample honey ginger elixir and watch a demonstration of how honey is extracted from the combs. Then we took a brewery tour led by one of its founders and had another small sample of beer. We finally left with a ball cap for Ken and a T-shirt for me (both with the Creemore Springs logo) and a 6-pack sampler of beer. Guess that free sip of beer wasn't that free afterall. LOL

Just before heading into the beer tent to listen to some great entertainment, we toured the quilt area and the quilters hard at work
Quite a wide variety of quilts were shown

In a lot of these little farm towns this is still a viable occupation. Along with the lovely demonstrations was the requisite quilt raffle to raise money and I thought of my friend who so badly wants one.

Even I would have loved to have any one of these fine examples:
A pictorial quilt
This pattern is "Court House Steps"... the quilt was made from old clothing by a 16 year old, "great, great aunt Jane", in approximately 1880; the lady died in her 80s and upon her death, the quilt was given to her brother who then used it until his death at age 87. From there another relative who inherited it, placed it, washed and wrapped, into a cedar chest where it remained for an additional 46 years. What an amazing story!
I don't know what most of the quilt pattern names are but that certainly didn't stop me admiring the wonderful colorsWhen I saw this "chicken coop" quilt, I had to restrain myself from reaching out to make sure there was no real wire on it.Even the strips of cloth so accurately resembled feathers.
Then there were the stitches to admireI got tired just thinking about doing them.

This quilt has been in the same family, since it was won 85 years ago; made by the ladies of the town's Baptist church who each paid 10 cents to have their name put on it. Then it was raffled off. Tickets apparently were sold for an additional 10 cents or 3 for a quarter. When you consider the hundreds of dollars ...and in some case thousands of dollars that a quilt costs now, it was quite a bargain for 20cents!!

...and then came an even older hobby demonstration:
a walking wheel:a wool windersome tools of the trade and a few finished productsand the lady whose hobby it is When I admired the lace on her blouse, she admitted to having owned it for 50 years!

After a fantastic time at the beer tent listening to the band and watching an amazing demonstration of how one gentleman drank a stein of beer while doing a hand stand (without touching the stein with his hands!), we left Creemore and ended our day with a huge steak supper. Even Luna, my furbaby, who received the remnants of my incredibly sized steak in a "doggie" bag when we arrived home, spent a long time devouring it.