Happy Holidays!

I usually do a Christmas post, but got bogged down this year. Also didn’t do a real Christmas project this year–worked on finishing an older one. This is a tree scene I put together years ago, from odds and ends that had made its way into my closet over time.

Looking onward to 2023, I have already signed up for a virtual mini class, and I look forward to what mini-ing the year will bring!

What are your mini plans this year?

Mini Magazines

I have a dozen American Miniaturist magazines from the past couple of years that I am happy to give away, free, to a new home. I am trying to have a clear-out. I pulled issues I wanted to keep, but the rest are up for grabs. Any and all. They are random months. You can contact me through my writing site here: https://jenniferashley.com/contact/ Please put “Mini magazines” in the subject line.

I also have a ton of Miniature Collector, going back about 20 years. Again, I’m pulling issues I want to keep, but the rest will go (free). If you are looking for a specific issue, let me know. Or if you want any or all, let me know that too! (They are in fabulous condition–I kept them nicely).

Halloween House!

I finished up my Halloween House for this year! This quarter-inch project started as a bare-bones kit from Jill Castoral. She adds suggestions for finishing, some of which I did and some of which I went my own way on. Learned a lot about aging and creating siding and shingles from card stock. (See previous post for more about that, and scroll down for more about the landscaping.)

I added LEDs to the inside for some spooky lighting. Two in the fireplace and one in the fat candle by the books. Wires go out the back to a battery.

For the landscape: I used a round wooden base from Michaels, and then built up the hill from layers of styrofoam, which I painted black. I added soil and green clumpy stuff from Woodland Scenics. I also got the tree form from them (it’s a flat plastic thing but I painted and bent it into the shape I wanted.)

I got the tiny dead leaves from a model railroad site via Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Realistic-Miniature-Simulation-Architecture-Landscape/dp/B09JBXW8WW/, though there are less expensive versions.)

After I glued on all the landscaping materials, I gave it wash after wash of gray and black paints until I liked it.

I used leftover bits from kits (e.g., the headboard discarded in the yard) and my stash to grunge up the place.

I did a lot of experimentation on this project, which was fun!

Happy Halloween!!

New Projects: More for Halloween! (Quarter inch scale)

I really enjoy Halloween scenes. They’re so much fun.

I bought this 1/4″ scale kit from Jill Castoral at the Chicago show. She has a line of kits where you buy the shell (three walls, roof, floor, windows and door, fireplace and chimney), and then you kit bash it into whatever you want. She has instructions for turning the kit into anything (Halloween, Christmas, Spring, Elf, antique store), and you can go crazy on your own.

I like these because while I have the main pieces cut out for me, then I can do anything, using scraps I have lying around.

I am in my summer house, and my scrap stash is in my winter house, so I had to seriously improvise, but it made me more creative.

This is the basic structure put together, the chimney painted dark gray and aged with light gray, black, and dark green paint.

Siding is cut from card stock. Looks terrible here.

Painted the siding gray.

Also painted the interior dark gray.

The siding aged with washes of light grays.

One thing I did on the siding–I wasn’t satisfied with the way the paint blended the boards together, so I took a pencil (a thin-lead mechanical pencil, which I keep on my work table to make notes and mark stuff), and shaded the edges of each board, smearing with my finger as I went along. I like how it turned out.

The interior aged. The fireplace is included–I sanded it and dented it a little.

Fireplace finished and painted. The branch growing out of it is from a package of “deadfall” by Woodland Scenics (the model RR company). Floor is a printie.

I plan to put LED lights in the fireplace to make it glow. Working on that now.

Windows in, ready for the roof.

Inside, I messed up the floor a little and did wrecked curtains.

For this project, I learned to make my own shingle strips. Black card stock, cut into 3/8″ trips, then you make 1/4″ cuts every 1/4″ in the strip. (make any sense?) Anyway, you end up with strips of shingles ready to glue.

After gluing to fit, I lifted the bottoms of shingles, then painted with a wash of black, then gray, and dry-brushed with white. A few touches of brown and dark green help with aging.

I’m ready now for the landscaping. I bought this base at Michaels, painting and aging with black and a couple shades of purple (used the same shade of purple on the curtains–Folk Art French Lilac).

I’ll post more once I do the landscaping (which will be spooky), with doors, shutters, and more lights inside. I’m going to try a few things.

Happy mini-ing!

Chicago Show Treasures

I was so excited that the Chicago Show (https://www.bishopshow.com/blank-chv5) was held at the end of April this year! I’d signed up for a class with June Clinkscales so long ago, and we finally got to go!

Both my husband and I took classes (he’s very interested in the electrics side of things), and I of course shopped at the show. I’ll post more about the class–a beautiful room box–once I finish it!

For now, here’s pictures of my haul:

I stuck to small things this time, no large pieces of furniture or houses. But it’s easy to go a little nuts!
My big indulgence was this set (sofa and chair) by June Clinkscales. Her work is just beautiful.
Box made by Tom Walden
I decided I needed some wall art! I found these pieces from several different vendors.
More wall art plus a two-armed chandelier from Luminations by Mr. K.
I don’t remember who made this trunk, but it’s pretty!
Shells and minerals from Wendy Smale. The skull can go in my Halloween room box. The spyglass is by Nantasy Fantasy.
Little coffee grinder by ladies from Holland.
Love this folding chair!
It really folds.
They also had plenty of tools and supplies there. Got these squares from Smaller Than Life.
This was another big indulgence. Beautiful inlaid box by Chris Malcomson.
Interior of the box. The ceramic shoe was buy another Dutch artist. It was the only thing at his table I could afford. 🙂 The jewelry tray is by Laura Craine.
Don’t these look real? By a Hungarian artisan, Orsi’s Miniatures.
The cake, macarons, and Rocher chocolates were made by Betinha Murta. I took a class from her too, which I will show in another post. We made a shabby-chic chandelier that looks like a teapot and cups.
Betinha Murta also made this teeny house, the one from Up! 🙂 I loved that movie.
I loved this adorable little girl by Pat Melvin. I have another of hers. I don’t usually buy dolls, but hers I like. Chair is another piece by Laura Crain.
I was really pleased to find a table selling these metalwork pieces by Pierre Luigi, from Italy. He wasn’t there, but they were selling his stuff. I have some of his 1/4″ scale things, and I hadn’t realized he was still making things in 1″ scale. I bought a number of little pieces, this baker’s rack, trivets, eyeglasses, and a few others.
Some shabby chic wooden pieces from a German vendor, Puppenstuebchen.
Another indulgence, a lovely pot by Van T Potter.
I love turned wood. These are by Standing People Design. We ended up sitting next to them at breakfast at a diner across the street, so I went to their table that morning and found these lovely turned pots.
I can’t remember who made this little tiger. But I loved it! I have written books about tigers (ok, shapeshifter tigers), so it called to me!
The scale is by Puppenstuebchen, topped with a silver oil and vinegar set by Pete Aquisto.
I did not buy this finished piece, but I bought the kit. It’s by Jill Castoral. I did her wine cellar in a wine box a couple years ago.

This alarm clock is amazing. It’s by Ulus Miniatures, an artisan from Mexico. He does very cool metal minis, miniature tools and things that are super realistic. (The dust on the top is my own addition.) I discovered when I got it home that one of the legs had fallen off in transit, and I could’t find it. I put a wire in as filler, which is why it looks funky. When I can find a better substitute leg I’ll make a repair.

I did get a few more kits that I don’t have photos of, the Carpathian Mountain House by True 2 Scale, and a micro scale house and furniture.

I had such a blast. I almost didn’t go because I was so busy and travel is such a pain right now, but I took the chance, and I am so glad! It was wonderful. Weather in Chicago was very cool and windy, but that is Chicago in spring. We found some good restaurants to go to when we were tired of expensive, bland hotel food, met people, and just had great fun.

Me with the gorgeous June Clinkscales! (I’m such a fan girl.) I love her steampunk look.

Next I’ll post pics of things I *didn’t* buy, and talk about my classes once I finish the projects.

For Inspiration: San Francisco and Catalina

I recently took a cruise to SF with a stop at Catalina Island (near Los Angeles). I didn’t get to see the painted ladies of SF, sadly, but Catalina had some interesting architecture. Plus a mini find aboard the ship!

First, the minis. I was on a Holland America ship and in their “Grand Dutch Cafe” (coffee and pastries, yum), they have these little porcelain windmills. They’re displayed inside a table, with mirrors so you can see all sides. I was sipping tea, looked down into my table, and cried, “Minis!!” (Well, I yelled it to myself.)

You can see my tea mug above on the table–the windmills are about that size.

Now, on to buildings:

In San Francisco, we took a bay cruise from the Golden Gate to the Oakland Bay Bridge. We passed close around Alcatraz. It’s derelict, but maybe some inspiration for weathered minis.

Iconic San Francisco (click photos for larger versions). The last photo is a seal statue done with succulent plants on the waterfront.

On to Catalina! I had never been to Santa Catalina before. The little town (which is about two square miles) is called Avalon. It’s an interesting, and quiet little beach town–tourists stay in the marina, and the back streets were almost silent and traffic free. People tool around the town in golf carts (gas-driven ones).

The round building is the Casino–but not a gambling one. They’re using the word “Casino” in the sense of “Gathering Place.” The Art Nouveau entrance (first row of pics) is under the arched portico. They do a film festival and other events there.

As you can see, the architecture goes from cute beach style houses to mansions up the hill. I will have to go back and explore this island!

Mountain Retreat: Roof and Finishing

Between this post and the last one I finished the Mountain Retreat (mostly), then got caught in a lot of work, and then went on a cruise! (The last one was the most fun).

My least favorite task in dollhouse building is the roof and shingles, but this kit makes it fairly simple.

The roof goes on in several pieces. All are scored to show where the shingles should be laid.

Shingles come in long strips, already staggered for a realistic look. They’re cedar shakes, no need for staining.

The shingling starts on the long piece of the front roof, in the valleys between the gables.

Next, I shingled all the gables.

The kit includes narrow strips of shingles to finish off the top edges.

Back roof shingling done.

Shingling done.

Now for the outside and inside finishing details.

Stairs in place. There were two stair support “legs” in the kit, but these broke off. I realized that once the staircase was glued in place, I had no need for them.

The interior railings (including stair railing), stained and ready to be installed.

The floor has holes where the railings are to be inserted. The stairs do not–I glued the railing directly to the steps.

The indoor railings in place.

Once the shingles were done, I glued on the chimney, which fits in a niche in the roof. The porch and balcony railings are painted and ready to be installed.

As with the indoor railings, handy notches in the floor help install the porch and balcony railings. The instructions say to paint the balcony and porch floor white, but I liked it stained, so kept it that way.

Final finishing is to install the kitchen cabinets and finish the cornice and baseboards here. I first put in the upper cabinets against the ceiling as instructed, but realized the ceiling was too high for that to be realistic. A scale-sized person would never be able to reach them! I took them out and lowered the cabinets to a more realistic spacing.

Upstairs the cornices fit against the gabled ceiling.

Adding the gingerbread finishes the outside.

The finished inside.

I have chosen to stop here. The kit includes a base and landscaping, but I probably won’t do that until I take the house back to my mountain house, where it will stay.

I’m not yet sure what I’ll do with the interior. It could be a regular house, or I might make it a ski lodge with snuggy places to sit and a restaurant / bar, with guest rooms upstairs. Not sure yet. When I return to the mountains I’ll visit a ski lodge and make notes. It would also make a cozy B&B.

So that’s it!

I enjoyed this kit. It’s fairly easy to put together–the real work is simply painting and prepping all the many pieces of windows, doors, railings, stairs, etc.

This kit is called Elena’s Mountain House by Hart’s Desire Miniatures. She has a shop on Etsy, plus her kits are sold through Hobby Builder’s Supply:

Hart’s Desire: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HartsDesireMinis

HBS: https://www.miniatures.com/148-Scale-Dollhouses-C329.aspx

I’ve also purchased her Tudor “Harper Grace” kit, and I look forward to building it!

PS: On my cruise I went to San Francisco and also Santa Catalina Island and drooled at the houses. I’ll post some pics of that next.

Mountain Retreat: Second Floor

The second floor slid into slots in the walls, Interior walls glued in place.

The second floor slides through the doors on the second floor to create small balconies. Holes will receive the railings later.

The second-floor rooms wallpapered.

Upstairs front window in place. One reason I liked the look of this house is the picture windows on the second floor. The mini people can look out at their beautiful view.

Doors to the balconies are also done.

Side windows (same on both sides). These were tricky–each has three interior and three exterior sashes and three window panes. The overlaying frames, fortunately, were all one piece.

Baseboards in place in the three rooms.

The rooms also have corner moldings between wallpaper and wood wall.

Next–back to the first floor to add ceiling cornices. Then on goes the roof!

Mountain Retreat: Walls and Base, First floor Wallpaper and Windows

Once I had the stonework (scribed wood sheets) on the walls I was ready to glue the walls together. Handy slots in the first floor position the exterior walls, starting with the front.

I continued adding walls all the way around until the house’s shell was put together.

The interior walls in place, plus I have stained the plank walls. The kitchen cabinets set in to make sure the interior wall is positioned correctly.

Next I added the foundation.

Now for the fun. Painting the stonework!

I did not have access to all the recommended paints and wax for the stonework (supply chain issue rears its ugly head). I used Deco Art clear Creme Wax as an undercoat and then spice brown and light ivory craft paints.

Basically, you paint everything with a coat of ivory, then when that’s dry add a coat of cream wax and let dry. Then a thin coat of brown, which you wipe off (highlights the mortar lines). Then you dry-brush dab dab dab on ivory and brown with a sponge brush. I went back and forth between colors until I liked it. I thought at one point to add some light gray, but it looked muddy so I went back to white and brown.

This photo shows how the stonework turned out. Then I masked it with masking tape and painted the siding Evergreen.

After that it was time for wallpaper and windows.

This kit comes with plenty of wallpaper, so if you don’t want the board walls, there’s enough to cover the whole room. You can always use your own wallpaper for a different look. The short sheets of wallpaper in the kit are for the first floor and the larger sheets for the second floor.

The first floor windows and door that I had painted and stained before I left my real-sized mountain house.

Each window has two casings that fit into the window openings, with thin plexiglass between them (the blue squares are the top left are the plexiglass with protective plastic). Then a frame for the outside and a frame for the interior wall.

The large downstairs window finished and framed. (I will be touching up paint later!)

Small downstairs window. This is the kitchen window from the outside.

Downstairs room finished with interior window frame and baseboards.

Kitchen with window frame. No baseboards here because the cabinets will cover the walls.

Entrance with fireplace glued in, baseboards and front door installed.

Onward to the second floor!

Mountain Retreat: Kitchen Cabinets and Starting the Exterior Structure

I haven’t posted in a while, but I’ve made strides forward on my Mountain Retreat project.

This kit is Eliana’s Vacation House by Hart’s Desire Miniatures, available from Hobby Builders Supply: https://www.miniatures.com/148-Scale-Eliana-Vacation-Home-Kit-P30164.aspx or from the Hart’s Desire Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/listing/896485138/148-complete-kit-quarter-inch-scale

First steps are to pre-assemble the stairs and the kitchen cabinets. The stairs are rustic and open, so easy to fit the steps to the stringers. I stained the staircase before glueing it.

A square is best to assemble the cabinet shell. I wanted to paint my cabinets, so I did not stain the before assembling.

The shell of the bottom cabinets assembled with the drawers and doors matched to each one.

The lower and upper cabinets roughed together and painted.

I wanted a granite-looking counter so I painted the countertops gray and then spattered ivory, black, darker gray, and metallic silver over them using a toothbrush (my thumb got very messy). I like how they turned out. Bigger blobs I carefully painted over but a few I left.

The kitchen cabinets and appliances ready and waiting for knobs and to be installed in the house. You can see where I did my spattering!

Next, the walls.

The kit’s instructions have you gluing the walls to the first floor (the stained piece in the picture) and then using contact cement to put on the stonework and siding. I don’t like contact cement (toxic, stinky, and if you don’t get it right the first time there’s no give), so I used wood glue.

That meant I had to apply the stonework and siding, plus the wood plank interior walls before I put the house together. The siding etc is very thin, so will warp. I used many clamps and weights to make sure there was no warpage, and it turned out fine.

Next post–the walls go up!