Monday, April 16, 2018

Every Little Bit Counts....




Doing The Math.....

It Might not look like very much has been accomplished in my Mini Worlds this week Dear Readers, but I have been telling myself that every little bit Counts. And if there is anything that I have been doing a lot of lately, it is counting! The petit-point stitching requires very careful counting of nearly invisible threads.... to make sure the stitches are exactly where they need to be. I use a magnifier for this scale of stitching... it is 40 stitches to the inch and the finished stitching will be a little under 1.5 inches square, or 56 stitches by 58 stitches... a total of ....um....3248 stitches if I do it right and don't miss any! There are ten colors, and the vast majority of the threads are for the cream background.... because there is a lot of background needing to be filled in! I have made a start....

But it is really difficult to see!
It is the upper right hand corner.....

Here is a closer look.... maybe you can see now....
I have a long way to go.... 
but every stitch counts!
And Another project where it seems that not much
 has been done is the Lilac blossoms...
I left you last week with the first blossom still not quite finished... 
and I was counting the florets carefully
 so I would know how many were needed for each blossom....

Here is the first one finished!

And a closer view....
It has 48 florets, not counting the six "unopened" buds at the tip!
And I must admit that a RL lilac blossom
 probably has two or three times that amount.... 
but... I am willing to compromise!
And just to be sure I had counted correctly... 
and to continue on my self-appointed schedule
 of "one or two blossoms per weekend"..... 
I started right in on the next blossom!

Yes, this is 48 florets, most not yet painted, 
and the little unopened buds along the left hand edge of the baggie
 (it makes a great non-stick work surface
 when doing lots of tiny gluing and painting!)
I tried to time the process... 
and managed to make twelve florets in 30 minutes, roughly,
 not including the painting or assembling..... 
a much more time consuming part
 as it involves waiting for glue to dry!
(But who's counting, right?)
So while I was waiting for all that glue to dry,
 and not wanting to start another batch of florets
 because that might confuse my counting.... 
I decided to start the next step on the lilac shrubs instead.
 Which also involved a lot of gluing!
And counting.
 

You might remember me mentioning that each of the stems
 would need to have a "bud tip" added to the end of the stem....
 this is partly because the wire tips needed to be a bit camouflaged,
 and partly because the shrub needs to look like it has buds on the stems...
And it might have been easier to do this step
 before I attached all those branches to the stems! 
But I wasn't sure how many branches I would be needing
 or whether some of them would be cut back... 
and this is the Prototype shrub... I am learning as I go!
So Now I needed to add a blob of glue to the tip of all those stems.....
(which you can see in the above picture.)
Shall we count them? 
(So we can be sure we are getting it right on the Next one...
 and the next and the next one too?)
I counted.
There are for each "shrub" 6 main stems 
with a combined total of 29 secondary stems. 
And on those secondary stems there are
 a total of 48 "twigged branches"
which, once they are attached
 make a total of  96 twigged tips, 
for a total of 192 twigs....

Here is a close-up.... 
I know the blob doesn't really look much like a bud tip.... 
but I am going to add paint and "refine" them eventually! 
(The glue also serves to keep the wire covering from unraveling.)
It took a while... and I had to reach the glue in
 among all the stems which was awkward...
And no, I did not glue all the tips of the 192 twigs.... 
I decided to wait until after I had painted the shrub
 to determine if that was necessary!
What? You are going  to paint the shrub? I hear you say.
Yes, Dear Readers, that has been part of the plan all along,
 because as ideal as the texture of the paper stems appears to be...
 the green stems do not match and only the newest growth is green!

And to aid myself in determining the correct color
 I went out and pruned a couple of twigs from my own RL lilac bush.
 One is Old and nearly dead, and the other is a newer more vigorous twig...
 and here you can see them with a piece of the paper wire
 painted with a test color... yes it needs adjusting!
It is a very grayish brown, or brownish gray, 
with red overtones in the younger twig.
And it is really difficult to replicate....
 because it looks different in different light...

But you just have to jump in and see how it looks....
Here I have painted a part of the shrub, only the green stems so far....
and am trying to hold one of the twigs next to it for comparison...
 of course, it is a gloomy day and artificial light is not much help!

The RL twigs are on the left, in case you couldn't tell the difference!
And maybe we need to see how it looks in place...?
 
Only the branch on the left side has been painted.... 
and it reflects the light differently than the green cloth wire....

And with the two RL twigs next to it for comparison..... 
can you see the difference?
Well, I will probably paint and re-paint the stems
 every time I view them in a different light! 
But even this much painting took several hours....
 every side of every wire has to be covered!
(What was I thinking?)

And in case you (or I) need reminding.... 
there are three more shrubs in the wings....

They have all their main stems and
 almost all of their secondary stems...
 but none of their branches or twigs so far!

And as for the blossoms...
 did I finish the second blossom, I hear you ask?

Yes, I did!
 48 florets and six unopened bud tips.....!
Two blossoms in Two weeks!
And how many will I need.....?
Well, as I am sure some of you are aware, 
Lilacs bloom only for a blissful 10 or fifteen days every year.... 
so only One of the shrubs will require blossoms!
 (This fact is what got me started on the changeable garden plan...)
Even so, There are 29 secondary stems on the shrub.... 
and stems often have a pair of blossoms.... 
and  even if I argue that it is an old and sparsely flowering shrub.....
I don't imagine I will be happy with fewer than 29 blossoms....
Let's see... that is about 1392 florets!
Well, that's about the same number as the tiles I made
 for my Castle Great Hall Floor....!
(each one cut, baked painted, glazed, and aged before installing!)
 And that only took me a year or two 
(or was it three....?) But I got it done!
And we won't mention the possibility 
that more than twice that number
 will be needed in the end....
(Because, who's counting?)

So, you can see It really doesn't Look like
 much progress has been made Dear Readers, 
but I can assure you,
 I have been doing the Math, 
and Every little bit Counts!


Monday, April 9, 2018

Blossoms......




All Over Again.....

The mistake in the stitching, Dear Readers, was even farther back than I had thought! I unpicked the stitching all the way back to the spot where it branches off for a little bud, where I was absolutely Certain the count was correct and started over again. Yes it is amazing the difference one tiny stitch can make in the entire pattern! It was not difficult to re-do the vine to the correct position for the blossom. This time I had got it right!


You can see how the curve of the vines run much closer
 to each other and have a more harmonious feel to them...
 (go ahead and look at the picture from my last post....)

Here I have begun the blue blossom over again 
and this time it is centered right in the vine....

Here you can see I have completed all the blossoms
 on this piece and now all I have left to do
 are the leaves on the lower vines and then the background.
I am sort of dreading working the background
 as it is cream colored which is difficult to sew on a white mesh....
 but I will persevere!

And the Other blossoms that I have been dreading for a while, 
Dear Readers, are the Lilac blossoms for my Lilac shrub!
Some of you might remember that it was several years ago
 that I first started to work on my lilac shrubs for The Folly Garden.
 I had started with making the blossoms partly because 
it was Lilac season and I wanted to see if I Could make them... 
and partly because I had not yet figured out 
how I was going to make the shrub part.
(You can read about those first blossoms HERE)
 
 
Here you can see an example of one of the blossoms I made.
 At first I thought the blossoms were wonderful..... 
but the longer I worked at them the less I liked 
the way the florets were joined to the stem...
and I realized I should have been using green thread instead of white....
and while I pondered this stem problem.... several years went by!

But now that I was finally working on the Shrub part of the Lilacs, 
I decided it was Time to revisit the problem of the blossoms... 
to see whether I could make them a little more realistic.
And so I started a whole new "batch" of blossoms...

The florets are made from paper... 
each punched circle cut into thirds....

And then the edges of each section cut into four petals.....
(You might have to poke the pictures to see the details.....)

Each "floret" is then cupped and glued to a thread (green this time!)

After the stem is firmly attached, another drop of glue is added
 and the "floret" is curled around the thread,
 making sure the petals open flat.....

It just takes a very deft twist of the thumb and forefinger....
(practice makes perfect!)
 and the tweezers to make sure the petals don't get glued closed.....!

And then the florets each get a coat of paint! 
Lilac, of course!
And in case anyone wonders why I don't start with colored paper... 
there are two reasons...
Colored paper is too uniform in color, 
while paint can be varied a bit as it is in nature... 
and also the cut edges of the paper remain white... 
and are often a noticeable distraction!
So paint it is! (Besides, I love to paint!)
So now the really challenging part begins, Dear Readers.....
discovering whether a different method
 of "assembling" the florets will work!
Way back in my initial efforts, 
when I was examining the lone blossom cluster on my RL shrub... 
I noticed that the florets made clusters before joining the main stem... 
sort of "sub sets" of blossoms.... and they tended to cluster in fours....
So I decided to see whether that would work in mini....

So I began by gluing some of the stems together....
and then trimmed off the extra threads, 
leaving only one long "stem" thread....

Here they have had the threads trimmed.....

And making more clusters......
(There is a lot of waiting for glue to dry in this stage....)

And here you can see the clusters slowly being added to the main stem.....
Which I forgot to mention has a bunch of "unopened buds" at the tip...
 and several single florets surrounding them.... then the clustered florets....
The tail of the thread is trimmed close to the stem once the glue is dry.

Here you can see it is "growing" slowly!
But now I am running out of florets...
there are Thirty in this blossom so far.... 
perhaps it should be more like forty or fifty per blossom!

While we are still building the "prototype" 
I will add florets until it looks right....!

Here you can see the "old" blossom along side the "new" blossom.....

I really think I have managed to get that "lacier" feel I was looking for!

The blossom still needs a few more clusters
 of florets added to reach the ideal size...
But I think I have finally got it!
And if I can make one or two blossoms in a week-end.....
Making tiny florets Over and over again....
Who knows, Dear Readers, 
maybe by this time next year... 
the Lilac Shrub might be covered in blossoms!



Monday, April 2, 2018

Doing and Undoing.....




Picky Picky......

It was one of Those weekends, Dear Readers, when RL requirements overruled Mini World wishes and very very little was done on any of my many ongoing projects. The one thing I managed to find Time for was some stitching on the petit-point kit I have been working on. I thought I was making great progress, completing the golden blossoms on the lower right and beginning the blue blossom on the lower left. But for some reason, this last blossom was giving me a great deal of trouble! I had to unpick my stitches more than once and kept discovering another place where they were not lining up right! What was the matter, I wondered as I counted my stitches again and again.... how could they be ending up too close to the left hand vine when I had counted so carefully???? Well, I discovered that the starting point for the blossom was off because I had made a mistake in counting the stitches in the vine stem.... it was curled too close to the center and not close enough to the start of the vine!

There was no other option.... 
I was going to have to unpick all the blue stitching
 and a good part of the vine in that corner.

Here you can see the stitching next to the diagram....
This is stitched on 40 count silk gauze... 
the finished stitching area is less than one and 1/2 inches square!
(This is a kit by Janet Granger... I love her kits!)

Here you can see I have started to unpick the blue...
It is slow going because you have to unpick the stitches
 in the reverse order that you stitched them... 
and with the basket-weave stitch they jump around a bit!

The vine section is easier to unpick.... 
but I needed to be sure of where I had miscounted....
and had to leave enough of a tail of thread
 that I could tie it off and start again....!

I had only counted five stitches across
 the top of the swirled vine 
when I should have counted six!
At least I have undone it to where I need to start over.... 
I will leave the Doing over for another day!

The only other mini thing I managed to do
 was to add six more twigged branches to my Lilac shrub.....

Not that it is easy to tell which branches....
And I still think there are a few more branches needed...
but I am waiting for supplies...
And this is only the first "Version" of this bush....
(What was I thinking...???)

And I am pretty sure that few of you, Dear Readers, 
will know that I have been "pondering"
 the kitchen layout for Rose Thorne Cottage 
for hmmmm.... three or four years at least.... 
And I may have finally found the solution to my dilemma!
"What dilemma?" I hear you ask....
The one of "how can I possibly fit
 a kitchen hutch and a sink into this little cottage"?
 
This Cottage has sat pretty much like this for a long time.... 
so long that everything is dusty and in need of a good Spring Cleaning!
(I know.... it's really dark.....)

Some of you might recall that this is the Aster Cottage kit by Corona.... 
I have modified it a bit...
but it is basically one room in the downstairs, 
and I have tucked the bath into the rear corner.
The kitchen sink will go on the right hand wall
 under the window and next to the back door...
 a tiny amount of space!
But where oh where could a hutch fit?

I bought a tall narrow hutch from Minimum World recently...
 and wondered if it would possibly fit in here.....
It tucks under the ceiling beams with an eighth of an inch to spare.... 
 
 
and even though it is wider than the wall next to the bathroom door,
 it allows for access to the stairs which are tucked behind the hearth.... 
can you see them there...?
 (I shined a spotlight in there!)
I think that I could "extend" the bathroom wall out just a bit.... 
and the hutch would be up against that
 and the stairs would be tucked in behind....!
Maybe this will work!!!

So you can see, Dear Readers,
very very little got done
and half of that was undoing...!
But I might have finally picked the right hutch
 for Rose Thorne Cottage!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Branches....




Branching Out......

I hope it will not Bore you, Dear Readers, to return again to the project of making the Lilac bushes for the Folly Garden, because as I have mentioned, I am determined to make these bushes in all their glory... several times over! As with many things, it gets easier with the second and third versions... but the first one can prove to be very challenging, especially when it is something you have not done before, and you are not sure of the methods to use, or even whether the ones you want to use will be good enough. I am sure you have all experienced this in your own projects.... there is always a "learning curve"! I will confess that I have been unsure of the "proper" method for making and attaching all the smaller branches and twigs for my Lilac bushes.... and aware that each bush would need many many branches. Above you can see the main stems and the secondary smaller "branches" which established the basic skeleton of the bush. Clearly this was just the beginning!

I know it is difficult to see in these pictures....
 but the joins where the smaller branches attach
 to the larger ones needed to be "strengthened" 
by wrapping an extra layer of the paper around them.....
This picture is the "before" picture......

Here I am testing making the smaller branches with "twigs" ......
 by wrapping the thinnest wire around the slightly larger wire.... 
and covering the join with glue.
 
Here you can see some of the "joins" have been wrapped with extra paper....
 and I have added some twigs... 
(I have to prop the bush against my paint box while the stems are gluing...)
 Then I decided that "twigging" both ends of the branch first
and then wrapping the branch around the stems...
was twice as fast.....!
 
And I also decided that if I started with the "front row" of stems..... 
the ones that would be the most visible in the end.... 
it would be easier to tell where and how many branches
 were needed in the "back rows" of the bush!

So I started making "batches" of branches.... 
and kept count so I would know how many
 were needed on the next bush(es)...

Here you can see only a few of the small branches
 have been added at the front.... 
but I needed to test how they fit.....
And I needed to let the glue dry on the branches as I added them....
 to avoid knocking them askew as I added more...

And as the stems gradually filled with branches and twigs....
I could shape them more realistically... 
with bends and angles as though the branches are reaching for the light...

And I had to keep testing the bush in place
 to make sure the branches fit under and around the porch eaves,
 and could still be lifted in and out with out damage...!

And then More Branches.......
(thirty-six twigged branches... and counting...)

The smaller branches and twigs are very bendable.... 
the thicker stems are quite strong and stay as positioned.
It is starting to look more like I thought it should!

And I am sure you will not be surprised, 
Dear Readers, that while all that glue was drying, 
I was also working on a small stitching project....

This is another of the kits by Janet Granger 
that I bought a while ago.....
(quite a while ago!)
It is stitched on 40 count silk gauze
 and is meant to be a miniature "stitching project" 
for the mini people.... it comes with 
a lovely miniature needlework frame
 to attach it to when you are nearly done with the stitching...! 

Bit by bit I have been adding the details of the blossoms and stems.....
(yes, I use a magnifier for this!)

And as if that weren't enough of Branches, Dear Readers, 
I have also been making a few small adjustments
 to the Hardwick Hall Attic Spiral Stairs....!
 

The original plan for the cupola above the Attic
 relied on a framework of "joists" to support the floor of the cupola
 at the height of what would be the "ceiling" eight inches from the floor,
 but several inches below the peak of the roof.
(See the original structure in the above picture)
I had assumed I would just use the right number of steps
 on the spiral stair kit to reach that height. 
 But while I was actually assembling the stairs
 it became clear that I would need to use all the steps...
 because the railings came in "three-step" sections.
I would need to use all 12 steps.... which rose to nine and 1/4 inches 
instead of the eight I had planned on.
 
 
And another issue that had troubled me was the method
 of securing the stairs to the floor.... 
it would need to have a hole drilled to receive the "post"....
 and the floors on this kit are waaay too thin for that!
So I decided to add the "stone" base for the stairs...
 being the height of one step.
And maybe because I was thinking so much about branches and stems... 
and because trees are such a theme in this house... 
It occurred to me that maybe I could make a tree that would spiral up the stairs.... 
and the branches would support the floor above...
 and form a part of the cupola frame.....?

And with a tiny amount cut off the ceiling panels.....
 making the opening a tiny bit larger and lower.....

The top of the stairs now reach to the level of the roof!
Which just means the cupola will need to be a little bit wider and taller....

About like this.....
I think it will suit the proportions of the house
 much better than the first design.... 
 and I'm really glad I had not got very far in building it yet!

I have only just begun to build this tree, 
and I have no idea how I will make the branches or the trunk....
But I think I have to try....!
 
 
And then I remembered that I wanted to make "buds"
 on the ends of all the twigs for the Lilac bushes... 
using the "glue trick".....
 and maybe I should have added the glue to all those twigs
 before I attached all those branches......?
Ah yes, Dear Readers,
I am a long way from Done with all these branches...
somewhere on the Spiraling Learning Curve.....
Branching out....!