Wednesday, 16 December 2015

A Land's End Christmas 2015... for Joyce

  Some of you may already know that my mother passed away after a very long illness, in November.  In May 2015, my brother Michael died of complications after cancer surgery, the year before my brother Gregory had died from cancer.  My mother had a difficult time reconciling the deaths of 2 of her sons within 2 years; and she died of heart failure.
This has been a blow to my family as well as to my other  brothers and sister's.  We have been taking care of the necessary arrangements and consequently, I have not felt like working on my HBS kit OR felt like blogging OR in visiting other blogs.   I've been struggling with grief and unexpected depression brought about by life's circumstances.  One minute I feel okay and then I'm depressed all over again. 

Up and down, up and down

 I really miss my mother and my brothers. 
Trying to get back into the holiday spirit has become something of a Challenge for me this year, to say the least.  I haven't even bothered to put up a Christmas tree in my Real House as it is hard to work up any enthusiasm. 
 My mom
and so in memory of her and because I think that it will be a good way to end this year,  I have put together the only 2 rooms that I have  almost 
finished, with a bit of a Christmas theme, and I decided to include a demonstration on how I made the fire in the fireplace which I originally showed several months ago.
So this post is dedicated to my beloved mother,
with all my love.


My fire began with a ring.

At the end of last summer,
I happened to be standing in line at a local Dollarama store and spotted a box of some most unusual looking items.   

To me they looked like a POWER RANGER HELMETS but they turned out to be a Very Large rubbery Bike rings.
The salesclerk showed me how they operated and I was excited to get them home and take them all apart because they seemed to be just the ticket for the fire that I had been trying to work out for the living room in Land's End. 

This is what the ring looks like when it is on your hand after the battery is activated.  I can see that it would be ideal for night time bike riders as it can also flash off and on.  

When I took it all apart this is how it broke down.   The housing for the LED LIGHTS was relatively flat with the bulbs on the narrow end of the unit which meant that it was going to be PERFECT for the rather shallow firebox opening in my doll's house. 

I reassembled the unit and snapped off the acrylic hook that had anchored the battery pack to the inside of the rubber ring. 

This is what I worked with.  The 2 LED bulbs are bright red and so I gave it a test to see how it would look once inside the firebox. 

Very VERY Bright! 

It looked like the house was on fire!!!! 
I had to douse the flames somewhat so I found some orange colored felt, cut out some faux flames and placed the felt against the lights to see if that would help.

It did.
However, I needed to refine it a bit more so I began to experiment with the fabric. 

I ran out of Quick Grip so I used this kind of glue to affix the felt to the acrylic. 

I glued the felt flames onto the plastic housing of the battery pack.  
I left the back of the unit free so that I could later replace the batteries when I needed to. 

This is what the profile of the fire looks like.
When the center of the battery pack is pushed the LED lights are activated.  
I painted the base of the felt with some very old and very thick
LIQUID LEAD acrylic paint for the "charcoal" look.

I teased out the orange felt a bit more to make it appear less rigid
and also added some sprinkles of red glitter to the flames.

A roaring fire! 

I propped the flames inside a fire basket and added some real ash and more red glitter below.
Then with a fire screen in front, it diffused the "heat" and gave it even more realism.
I was pretty happy with the results.  
When it came time to put up the tree, I was stumped because there was not a lot of room in the living room, so the tree had to be very narrow.  I finally found the perfect size and shape at a local Drugstore and after removing some of the snow from it, I loaded it up with vintage glass balls from top to bottom.  I found a lot of Christmas printies of gift boxes and Christmas cards saved for over 15 years in my file folders, which I then cut out, assembled and then placed the under the tree. 
I temporarily hooked up the lights, running the wires behind the sofa so that I could take the photos.  The lights on the right side of the living room work fine but....
 of course.... only ONE of the the wall sconces lights up! 
oh well, such is life,... I'll try and fix it later
Here is the mantle with the frosted branches in a vase.  They are dried plant roots painted with chalk paint, and the assorted mini Christmas cards were painted clear nail varnish and sprinkled with ultra fine glitter.
The peel and stick "Merry Christmas" lettering on the mirror is from the dollar store.
Some of the gift boxes are trimmed with ultra fine metallic
 nail tapes.

The writing table is littered with more tiny greeting cards yet to be mailed. And a large mini tree under a glass dome occupies a corner of the writing table. 

Iridescent filaments are stuffed up into the dome then the tree and more vintage ornaments are tucked inside.
It looks like a blizzard in there.

This blue chair use to be painted black, but I like it much better now. The tiny fire truck is a Hallmark mini Xmas ornament from years ago which is the PERFECT SCALE for this scene. 

Extra gifts and a box of ornaments and excess Christmas trims is on the floor under the writing table. 

A Christmas teddy bear for one of the grandchildren, is still waiting to be wrapped. 
Here's an overview of the living room just before I repainted the arm chair.

 and now for the kitchen.

Jennifer's (Plushpussycat) vanilla loaf cake sits waiting to be sliced along side my glazed tart decorated with fresh holly, a raspberry pie is under glass, and a basket of glazed Eiffel Tower cookies is ready for unexpected company.
After I took this photo, I realized that I should hook up the lamp that I have had sitting in the corner, and so I did and.... 
what a difference lighting makes
A wire basket of condiments sits on the far end of the kitchen counter.  Fatima's garlic and red pepper ropes hang just above it. 
The light fixture over the sink puts out a lot of light just on its own, and casts some interesting shadows as well.  At some point, I may try to make a cage to protect the bare bulb, but that will have to be for another time.

A cast iron collection of pots and pans hang above the vintage stove. 

 I had fun making this kitchen but this is as far as I have been able to get.  I plan to do more on this project perhaps by next spring, 
( God willing) but my ambitions for getting this project finished for the HBS deadline this month, went sideways a long time ago.  
I shall have to be satisfied with it the way that it is for now. 

 Here is the arm chair that's been repainted a deep navy blue.  I kept the upholstery the same red but changed the throw cushion for a bit more contrast.  The red and white garland was a gift from over 20 years ago, which I never got the opportunity to use it until now. 

One last look before I go. 


Merry Christmas to my precious mother

from her daughter