Friday, 10 March 2017


Last weekend, the Miniteers (minus our Linda), made a trek down to Seattle for the weekend to attend the Seattle Miniature Show.
Previously, Janine had convinced both Fatima and I that  we should enter a couple of our roombox displays, which would gain us free admission into the show 

MAYBE we'd
 win a ribbon.  

A ribbon award came with mini show dollars to spend,  so we took her advise and 
pre-registered our displays.
I entered 


"Gothica" was pretty dusty and as I began sweeping it out I decided to make a few minor adjustments here and there and eventually got it to the point where I felt I could take it to the show. 
Most of the adjustments consisted removing the Blu-Tak and glueing things down permanently, but I also added some new wild roses around the doorway, which softened the overall look and gave more depth perception. 
I gave it a light sweeping and checked the lighting-
but wouldn't you know, the lights were not working! 
I had a spare transformer which I swapped out then 
re-tested the connection, and the lights worked. 
So last Saturday, well before dawn, Janine, Fatima and I set out for the U.S. border, crossed it and continued on our way to Seattle,
*about Three and a half hours away by car *
The ride down went quickly with all of us chatting back and forth about life and minis,
and minis, 
and minis...
Once we'd arrived at our destination, both Fats and I set up our exhibits.  
Gothica was a quickie but GDS took more time. 
When everything was finally in place, I turned on the power and 
90% of my lights burned out! 
In my haste to get them operating, I neglected to inspect the output voltage of one of the replacement transformer, assuming that it was also a 12volt. 
 I had mistakenly connected a 20 volt transformer to a 
12 volt house! 
You live and learn. :(
Nothing I could do about it, but accept it- 

then drown my sorrows in the Sales Room
with some
YES, I Did some SERIOUS damage to my wallet but by the end of the day, I was pretty happy with my little bits and pieces. 

Later on the 3 of us did a bit of late night show and tell in our room, which was a fun way to end the day! 

The following morning I went back to the display area to check on my house lights again, and found that 

I had WON! 
Green Dolphin Street 
(with nearly all the lights burnt out) had received
had WON

 Almost the first thing I did with my show dollar winnings was to invested in a really lovely ornate chest of drawers from Julia Stewart of Aristocratic Attic which is pictured below.  I am looking forward to including this lovely chest SOMEWHERE inside Villa Leone! 
I know that the blue floral china tea service is very 
English Country and Not Italian, but I have a weakness for mini tea sets and this one needed to come home with me. ;P
Janine presented me with the tall green glass vase as a gift!

And although I went down with a shopping list, the only thing which really I didn't expect to find was the
Italian Coffee percolator, but I did!

the other 2 silver pots were an added bonus!

mini tea pots! 

 The china ducks were from a vintage dealer and the assorted glassware was from the vendor
 Country Store Miniatures

The plastic chest above is another vintage piece made by Ideal.
It was a bargain at 5 dollars
Most of what I bought was tiny and much of it found in the discount bins, but not the books.
The 2 antique books were bought because of the
beautiful illustrations and because they're of Italian origin and wonderfully aged.

Another bargain basement chest of drawers
@ $3.00
And for no particular reason, I bought a pair of worn red cowboy boots?
and also a SHOWER CAP
 made by a dear friend of mine named Dena, who 
2 years ago, gifted me with one for
  and is now making them for sale at
CJN Miniatures in Seattle.
This for sure, will be going into the bathroom of
Villa Leone! :D

I wanted a work table for the kitchen at Villa Leone so this one looked like it would fit the bill.
The drawers open and it is already distressed and 

well aged-

what more could a girl ask for?

another little gift from Janine
a vintage style kitchen flour sifter!  

here's A tiny potholder which I also couldn't resist

And I Found the perfect meat grinder for the table too! 
The mandarin oranges and the pears were treats I'd ordered from a vendor which I first saw on the blog of
The peeled oranges and sliced pears are from

 Yulia Yakobson, in Estonia.  
They are truly Marvelous, and I can't recommend her work highly enough!
Plate is from the Seattle Show
As a belated November birthday present, Fatima had previously given me a box of assorted tiny treasures.
Included inside was a Yummy Italian Panatone
complete with a paper wrapper! :D
Canned peaches from the Seattle Show as well as the glass bowl which I've filled with Yulia's oranges.

The ripe Fimo pears were made by me.  

Bottles, jar and the scoop from the Show
Canning by Janet Brownhill- U.K.
I simply Love her work! 

The bread and knife are by Pat___? from California, I lost her card and her last name, but hopefully Janine will have that information when she posts about the 
Seattle Show on her blog 
Pat makes many incredible things, but she specializes in orchids and fresh vegetables which are all sliceable and peel-able! 

The basket was another bargain from the show, but the breads I made myself with air dry clay. 

I have always been hesitant about working with Fimo or Sculpey but if your making cheese then air dry clay just doesn't cut it.
I made the assorted cheeses using polymer clay. 

Speaking of Polymer Clay...

Fatima made the wine jug out of polymer clay; part of my birthday gift and
I think it's Marvelous!
It, along with the braided garlic and the onions pictured below, are ALL destined for Villa Leone
and all by the Amazing Fatima!

I was told by both Miniteers that
Salted Cod was a MUST HAVE
for my Italian Kitchen

The oversized cutting board was another lucky find at the Seattle Show along with the ceramic asparagus.

Stoneware jug another show gift from Fats

I made the sausage varieties from Fimo following this youtube video.
I think that I am becoming obsessed with making mini food.
I've made tons of it and although 
most of it is pretty awful, there are usually a few items from the pile which are worth keeping.

After Day# 1 at the show, we made a short visit to the
Value Village thrift store which was located right next door to our hotel.  
I found this HofM table kit hanging on the rack, but 


And inside is where
I FINALLY found my inspiration kitchen!!!

  Hopefully, if I plan it right I will have enough room to  display some of my

as well as the wonderful Kitchen Minis which I have been collecting which will include many of the 
 the cherished gifts from all of my friends.
Thank You 
Janine and Fatima, for a VERY Memorable Seattle Show weekend! 
Here's to the GOOD LIFE! :D


Friday, 17 February 2017

before and After... and After... and After..

Ever since I began building my 
Greenleaf WILLOWCREST  Kit 
a.k.a "VILLA LEONE", 
I have been trying to settle on a local identity for it.  
You may find that strange, when you recall that my idea was that this house would be situated in the city of Venice, which should have firmly settled the matter. 
Yet despite all of my efforts at establishing it there, it wasn't looking TO ME, like it actually lived there.   

 The exterior has been a challenge, of searching for
"the secret formula" of how to make the outside look more "Villa" and less "Chalet", which was why I decided towards the end of last year, to leave it alone for a while, as I began working on the interior. 

With the hall staircase kinda resolved and the interior wallpaper panels PERMANENTLY GLUED into place,  (which was in itself, another giant commitment for me )  
I decided to revisit the exterior of the villa and deal with some of the identity crisis issues which I was still struggling with.

 my main concern were

 Paint Colors
because these just weren't working for me.

below is the orange/ off-white paint color BEFORE
  It took me a LONG TIME to settle on this custom mixed orange, however it ended up taking all the blame once I decided to change the color of the house.  
I made it WORSE, 
MUCH Worse 
 ah me-
and there was no going back either since I was all out of that orange paint.
below is a photo of the HORRIBLE AFTER
AND there were at least 15 MORE HORRIBLY UGLY AFTERS 
which followed 
one right after the other.

The color in the photo is a taupe-green
  Boo! Hiss! 
I re-painted the 2nd and 3rd floors over and over again, using every warm and/or neutral color I had on hand.  When they didn't work, I sanded down the walls and custom mixed my own paint hoping to hit on that elusive "magic color combination", but it was all time wasted because everything I did looked awful and had to be undone. 

  This painting and repainting fiasco went on throughout the month of January.  

I was in deep despair.

It must have been the last week of January when I stumbled upon a PINTEREST photo of a popular craft called "Tejas"; which are painted Spanish roof tiles which are made to resemble Mediterranean house facades as well as other imaginative scenes.  
What interested me most about the "Tejas" was that within a very limited space, the artists were effectually able to convey an atmosphere of hot, ancient stone dwellings.  3-D renderings complete with with all the door and window fittings, balconies, roofs, plants, awnings, shutters etc., which gave the clay tile houses, both a sense of location as well as a long history. 

so Why, I wondered, wasn't I able to achieve this kind of effect with My dollhouse?

Since this craft was new to me, I watched a demonstration on youtube which I found fascinating Especially the way one artist base painted her entire tile in BLACK prior to adding detail colors which gave the final finish a visual depth. 
And so with nothing left to loose, I re-painted my villa 
BLACK too! 
The next step was to dry brush the black with thin layers of shading and highlight colors to achieve dimension on the flat surface, which brings me to another issue I was having which was the

Wall Texture

I didn't like the texture of my exterior walls.  There was either too much of it or not enough and I couldn't seem to get the balance right.
So prior to painting the house black, as per the Tejas tutorial, I opted to add MORE texture by glueing on a few paper bricks, then feathering the edges with wall patch. When that was cured I applied a heap of glue and pressed bird gravel onto the wall over the plaster to give it a rough, aged texture as well as some extra character.

below is the base coat of black paint with the bricks glued on and painted. 
the photos below and above are reversed.  The bricks below are Before painting and the picture above is After 
they were painted. 

above is another AFTER. 
Over the black, I dry brushed a mix of gray, white, brown, black and cream, to build up the look of a concrete wall.  I actually liked it and was on the verge of keeping it this way, however it still didn't look Italian enough to me-
So I FINALLY gave up trying to think of something myself and used a picture as a color reference. 

*Something I should have done in the first place!*
My inspiration photo
and below is another AFTER with the new color
At last I felt I was making some real progress!
I painted both the ground and second floor a custom mixed golden tan and deepened the red doors with a brown antique stain.  Staining the french doors had me looking twice at the main entry door again.
I chose to change that too.

below is the Red Door
*I actually didn't have an 'issue' with the red door until I started messing around with the others. Nevertheless, it seems that I can't help 
but meddle.* 

My thought was to make the front door look "Heftier"
(whatever that meant )
After searching through Pinterest I saw a door that seemed to fit the description.
It required decorative nail heads
By cutting off the tails of a number of teeny tiny paper brads and gluing them to the surface of the door, I got the "HEFTIER" look which I was after.
I added some more metal findings to the raised panels and changed the door handle as well as its position.
Then everything was re-painted and re-stained and re-aged, to achieve the AFTER Door as shown below

I'm calling this door DONE!
I'll take time here to mention the structural changes which I made to the 3rd floor attic windows which are on either side of the Willowcrest kit.  After due consideration, I felt that they could be enlarged by removing the existing dormers and replacing the windows with larger ones using the original kit windows from the main floors as substitutes.  

Below is the BEFORE size of the attic dormer windows

the larger Attic windows AFTER!
Having changed them to a bigger size, will no doubt change the roofline once it is actually installed. 
However, I'll stress out about that problem later, since I can only be stressed with
one problem at a time! 

But Hey! let's talk about wasted building materials!
I wasted a perfectly good french door to make this solid panel of two small stationary kitchen windows???

Mamma Mia!- What was I thinking???
(head slap)
To see what the panel looked like BEFORE, refer to photo 2 at the top of this post. 

and Before I forget,
 here is the AFTER results of all of my wall texturing project.

more Texture was added to the right side of the villa, too.
These green doors came about right after I'd finished painting them red, which meant that since I immediatley regretted the green, I had to re-paint them red brown AGAIN! 
will I EVER learn to leave things well enough alone? 
ANYWAY.... that's not why I included the photo.  Rather it is to show the infill of the roof overhang directly above it.
I removed the half circle from over the door to fill in that wide disconnect between the two sides of the dollhouse and have a continuous line spanning the entire front section as it does on either side. 

You can see the brown wood infill in the BEFORE photo above.
The AFTER is shown in the photo below.
The lower left side of the wall will eventually have small window cut and installed, AFTER I get the kitchen floor plan worked out on the inside, so the photo above is both an AFTER as well as a BEFORE 

if that makes any sense to you? 
Decorative columns were added to the front corners of the villa, using wide dollhouse baseboard trims.
Another AFTER is the repainting of the exterior light fixtures and beefing up the wall ornamentations.  

On the right side of the house, I framed in the round plaster carving over the window for no good reason, other than I thought I might try it. And since it looked horrid after my first attempt, it was reworked repeatedly. 
Rarely do things go smoothly for me the first time around.
In the photo above you can see all of the extra age and decay on the right wall.  FYI- the temporary roof over the dining room windows is only a stand-in. This is another roof which I'm not yet ready to deal with yet. 

The photo below shows what the window wall will look like
AFTER the planter is re-installed.
What about...? 
Should I add some ivy trailing down the front of the planter...? .
given my history-

do I dare? 

Just for FUN, I taped a tear sheet which Janine had given me, to the wall to give me the feeling of a house in Venice, however I'm still not convinced that this villa lives there, 
nevertheless- I love the perspective!
And I love those blue shutters! 

So I made two sets of simple shutters for the front of my Villa.

they were supposed to be "SIMPLE", however not only did the wood warp as it dried, but the glue wouldn't stick! AND even after they were wrestled into submission, the shutters proved to be difficult to install and fought me all the way.
The results shown below, are AFTER 3 DAYS of
fiddling around flattening, gluing, painting, staining, drilling and installing them, 

and although
they still require a latch- they don't close. 
Which brings me to another consideration. 

Should I bother installing the window glass?

something else for me to stress out about. 

  The Cat appears to have found the purr-fect place on the 
window ledge, to sun himself.
"Do not disturb" is plainly written in those half-closed eyes.
hello kitty

here is my last
an awning over the balcony. 

Although, I've only just started on The Awning, it has already been made over several times and no doubt the process will continue on until I have resolved all of my current difficulties with it.

 "There got to be an Awning AFter" 

In the photo above you can see the faded paint on the concrete facade.   I have left the 3rd floor front wall more raw than the rest of the house, because currently I like the effect.  
However, it does seems to need "something extra" up there.  
I've already attempted 3 different minor alterations and all 3 of them went BUST, 
so I'm leaving it alone- 
for now. 

When my daughter was over last week, she told me that if my villa was going to be located in Venice, 
then it needed MORE ALGE and more DIRT!
I thought that I already had LOTS, 

but she said I needed more, so after a few tentative dabs here and there, I threw myself into it, and GRIME flew from my brush and was deposited all over the entire house.
In hind sight, I feel I may have gone a bit overboard, so I've been sanding down the grime a little bit here, and a little bit there... 
ah me...
around and around I go

 salt water stains on the base of the front door, dirt on the walls, slime on the stone, exposed bricks, peeling paint etc. etc. and I still don't know if I want this house in Venice! 

and I'm tired
so its time for the 

After all that has been said and done,
I think I FINALLY have a Mediterranean house. 

Maybe it's in Venice?
  or maybe not,
either way-  
I am going to have to be content to just go with the flow and let Villa Leone decide where it wants to live. 
the stress of constantly changing things to make the dollhouse adjust to My ever-changing ideas is 

  I am as wound up as tight as an old pocket watch.

I think I'm needing a break, so that I can get
outside of my own head!

Perhaps a mini vacation in a warm, dry spot, where I won't have to think about ANYTHING  except relaxing for a while. 

and I know Exactly where I can go! 

move over cat