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Monday, February 25, 2013


This is the 2012 NAME DAY Roombox kit from Quarter Connection.
Roombox size: 4 3/8 x 2 1/2 x 2 3/4.
I made mine into the deluxe bathroom suite I would have in my dreams.
The bath tub, sink, and toilet are BPF that I repainted white.

The bathrobe was a gift from Jene Bondi.
The chandelier I received from the 2011 Quarter Connect online Convention swap.
The vanity mirror is a Karen Cary kit. The vanity table, stool and accessories on table I made.
The shelf contents are mostly beads.

Left side view.

 If you are new to quarter scale (QS) miniatures, Quarter Connection is a great online group to join and learn about QS. They have a nice NAME DAY roombox or project yearly, an online convention every other (odd) yr, various contests throughout the yr to encourage you to finish a project(s). Sharing pictures of your finished projects (limit to quarter scale) is highly encouraged and you often get some nice feedback from other members. You can ask questions, get tips and advice from other members about making minis. It's a fun group.

You can check them out here

Friday, February 22, 2013


This was a kit from Suzanne Larson-Tamburo. She had a limited number of kits, but I was fortunate to get one in Charlotte even though I missed the opportunity to take the wkshop class. Took me about 2-3 days to complete. A clever kit. The frame and shelf contents graphics are from an ME notecard. You apply a stylus to the plates and bowls graphics to give a 3D appearance.

I added hinges and acrylic from a notecard box to the frame opening because I'm paranoid about getting dust into my minis.

The dog is by Gayle Clausen and a gift from Sandy Davis. The food mixer, blender and cutting board was a roundtable kit from Portland Small Scale Houseparty. It was a challenge making or finding accessories for the counters. I ended up using more graphics from the ME book "Life is a Bowl of Cherries" and used a stylus to make a 2D picture look like 3D.

See the outlet graphic I added?

The FRAME is 3 7/8 x 3 3/8. The ROOMBOX is 3 1/4 x 2 3/4 x 1".

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


This is a cute kit from Tower House Dolls. A lot of fun to make. Looks complicated, but actually very easy. If you have never "woven", don't be intimidated---it's easy. Once you complete one project, you'll want to make all sorts of woven/wicker furniture.

It took me about 8 hrs to complete this kit. All the hard stuff has been done for you. The instruction booklet is well written and easy to follow. She also emails you a video on how to "weave wicker".

Finished size of pram--1 5/8 L x 1 w x 2 3/4 h.

The hardest part about this kit was getting the trim to "stick" to the top portion of the pram. If you mess up weaving, no problem---you remove the cord and redo.

The baby is 1 1/4 long. Dressing the baby is easy. I recommend you use a #12 sharp sewing needle and FabriTac when handling the silk. The instructions make no mention of which needle or type of glue to use, a glaring omission in my opinion. You can tear the silk and have ugly glue stains if you don't use the right kind of needle or glue. All the bows have been made for you, so you just glue in place. That is very nice, because making bows is a fiddly and time consuming affair.

The baby dolls come pre-painted and they are jointed. Her dolls are very nice quality.

You also make the mattress, which is 1 5/8 L x 3/4 w.

Now that I measured everything, this kit would be suitable for half scale projects. You should have no trouble fitting in this baby and pram in any 1" scale dollhouse.

You can check out Sandra Morris' website here

Monday, February 18, 2013


This is a kit/wkshop from Judi Hamilton of Colorado. It was a lot of fun and easy to complete. Took me about one day to complete. Everything you see was included except for the flowers you see (the blue flowers on the potting bench was made by Judi---I just had to glue in place).

Left side of box. The hanging flower bouquets are PRESERVED German Statice that I preserved myself. The planter of flowers I bought yrs ago. I added the watering can from my stash. The sunflowers and poppies I made.

I "painted" the birdhouse with Sharpie pens. I painted the teacup with a toothpick.

You can also "age" paper with print using a wood stain. It gives a similar effect to soaking the paper in tea, without the mess of making tea. I was surprised that the stain did not wipe of the print.

Right side view. I "painted" the handles of the gardening tools with Sharpie pens.

To "age" the furniture, I wiped on gel wood stain and lightly wiped off the excess. After painting the wood furniture, I sanded with 400 grit sandpaper. Sanding blends the paint surface, smooths the wood, and lightly takes off the paint on edges and surfaces that gives the effect of worn, aged furniture. It also saves a lot of time painting multiple coats.

Best part of this project--it closes up and prevents dust! I added a grosgrain ribbon so I could hang the box. The holes were made with a hand held push drill. Being cardboard, the push drill had no problem making a smooth clean hole. You thread the ribbon through the hole and make a knot at the end and repeat for the second hole.

This was originally a decorative box that held notecards and envelopes. Makes for a great smaller 1" scale roombox with some creativity. Size of box---5 3/4 square, 2 1/4 deep.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bunka Rug kits from Linda Raih

Kit #150, $10. Finished size 3.5 inch

Kit #176, $14. Finished size 4 9/16 x 3 1/2". This one was tedious to finish as it has frequent color changes and lots of small areas.

Kit #184, $10. Finished size 3 1/8 x 4 1/2

I bought these kits from Linda Raih at the NAME National Convention in Charlotte 2012. These are my 1st bunka rugs. They are easy and fast to finish. I finished the Poinsettia rug in 3-4 hrs, the oval Aubusson-like rug in 5-6 hrs, and the flower rug with checkered border in 8-10 hrs. She doen't have names for the kits, just a numbering system.

Written instructions are very good, and she has specific pointers about what to do and  what not to do. You just basically unravel the bunka so it gets crinkly and start gluing. You only need 3 items---a good pair of sharp scissors, good tweezers, and a glue bottle with a needle tip. She has a B&W chart with written instructions about which color to begin with, next etc, but referral to the full color finished item is what I mostly referred to. The color scheme is pretty simple.

The kit came with color photo of finished item, the bunka, pre-printed rug pattern, and written instructions. You should have left over bunka, which you can save for other mini projects.

She has over 50 bunka rug kits, but I picked the smaller ones to try out. You can contact her at

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Janet Granger Shell Pink Handbag kit

I finished this in one day. Simple pattern. 32 count silk gauze, 2 strands needed for coverage. Finished size 1" wide, 5/8" high (not including handle).
The background color looks white in the picture, but it's actually a very pale pink. I was concerned that the background pink would not provide enough contrast to the other 2 pink colors, but it finished exactly as pictured.
Sewing together the front and back was a challenge, especially the "handle" which was as tricky and slippery as an eel. Otherwise, a very nice kit that will provide you that satisfied feeling of completing a mini in half a day.
Janet's kit include a COLOR chart, cotton floss, gauze, needle, and written instructions for completion. This particular kit also included a beading needle, which you will need in order to sew on the handbag "clasp" (a tiny gold bead). I had some left over floss, but not enough to make another handbag.
It's worthwhile to sign up for her newsletters. She has one newsletter per month and you get 1st notice of any sales, specials, and news related to her website. You can check out her website here.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Williamsburg Guild School 2013

This was my sole mini purchase in Williamsburg. It was made by Deborah Mackie of Alaska and sold by Bill Studebaker as an accompaniment to the rifle he taught in his class. See how the leather bag and horn for holding gun powder matches the one in the picture (which comes from the Williamsburg collection)? I bought the last one Bill had. I didn't take Bill's class, but Cheryl Kerfoot told me about the bag, so I snagged Bill during one of the class breaks and was able to buy it.

So how was Williamsburg? Great! I would come back in a heart beat. Classes and lodging are at the Williamsburg Lodge, which normally runs $200/nt, but the Guild School is able to work out a special price of over 50% off, so it is a great value.

If you decide to do the Williamsburg Guild School, you might consider reading my experience below and learn from my mistakes.

The closest airport to Williamsburg is Newport News, which is 20 min away. I chose to fly into NORFOLK Airport, which is 43 mi to Williamsburg. I rented a car, which was surprisingly inexpensive. I made a car reservation the wk before arrival, and the going rate for 3 days rental was as low as $35, including taxes. The drive from Norfolk to Williamsburg is easy. It's all highway driving, no toll roads. Definitely bring your own GPS unit, use your smartphone, or print out the directions from Mapquest. I brought my Garmin GPS unit, but it took an hour for the Garmin to acquire my satellite location, and by then I was in Williamsburg. Good thing I had my Mapquest directions to refer to.

When you arrive in Williamsburg, it's like stepping into another time and place. Everything is orderly, clean, and old fashioned. It has all the modern amenities, but it retains the charm of the past. It really is a village feel, and having a car seems like an intrusion because the roads are narrower, the buildings are smaller, the sidewalks have cobblestones not concrete. The College of William and Mary is in Williamsburg, so if you wander 6 blocks from the Lodge, you will see students ambling the campus.

Parking is free at the Lodge. They give you a tag to hang on your windshield. The website says they have covered parking, but I didn't see any. When I checked in at the Lodge, I was given a manila envelope, which contained my name tags for the Guild School, the essential guide to Williamsburg (a book that sums up the history and development of Williamsburg, the history of all the buildings in Williamsburg, all the restaurants and hotels/inns in Williamsburg and their amenities; the book retails for $11 so it is not a freebie for Lodge occupants), a coupon that gave me 15% discount at all Williamsburg shops and the Lodge spa, and the Guild School schedule.

The Lodge only has two floors, and there are no elevators. The Lodge rooms are in the main building or smaller buildings connected to the main building by a small courtyard.

The workshop classes begin 8.30 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday, 8 am to noon Monday, so 18 hours in all. They have 2 breaks each class day. The morning break is at 10 am and they provide coffee and water, except the water is in a glass tank with chunks of fruit (strawberries, orange slices, pineapple) visible. Even so, it tasted like water. The afternoon break is 3 pm, and they provide sodas and water.

Food at the Lodge is EXCELLENT. Pretty reasonable priced too. I ate at the Traditions restaurant for lunch Saturday and had their buffet, which included artisanal cheeses with crackers and fresh fruits, a sandwich bar, hot dishes like shrimp fettucine or sliced beef tips, soup of the day (sweet potato bisque), and at least 4 desserts. I had their shrimp fettucine, which was excellent. The shrimp were large, succulent, and plentiful. Dessert bar was FANTASTIC. I tried their green tea cheesecake (delicious), chocolate cake pop (MOIST fruitcake infused with liquer), and chocolate iced chocolate cake (pretty good, but not the best I've ever had). Buffet lunch includes a drink---I had the raspberry iced tea, which was unsweetened, but you could taste the raspberry flavor. All for $16, which I thought was very reasonable given the quality of the food.

Saturday evening includes dinner, which was preceded by a cocktail hour in which you could have one alcoholic beverage free of charge. I asked for champagne, but it was not available (free that is), so I settled on a glass of Chardonnay. For dinner, you had a choice of vegetarian, beef, or fish. I had their beef, which arrived looking black, but the meat was TENDER and just flaked off as you cut into it. Good flavor too. The beef sat on top a bed of scalloped potatoes and spinach. Prior to the main entree, we were served salad and rolls. Dessert was cheesecake with chocolate icing---delicious, served with tea or coffee. Then we saw a slide show of Williamsburg in the spring and summer when flowers are abloom. The slide show presenter gave all of us 2 notecards with his pictures of Williamsburg, tied up with a red grosgrain ribbon and in a paper folder made of nice textured cardstock , as gifts.

Sunday lunch was at the Lodge again. I tried the Virginian sandwich, which I can highly recommend. It's a pork sandwich, but the meat is white and resembles chicken or turkey. French fries were crispy and good flavor. One of the ladies tried their flatbread drizzled with cheese and chunks of chicken--it came on a PLATTER, so not an appetizer sized type of dish. I tried some of it---it was good.

Sunday dinner I ate with Cheryl Kerfoot and her roommate at Cracker Barrel, which is about 3 miles from Williamsburg. If you like such kind of chain store restaurants, it's not too far from Williamsburg by car.

Monday lunch was the graduation meal. We were in our own room. Each table had a large lazy Susan, which had servings of salad, the main entree (beef and fish), vegetables sides, mash potatoes (best I've ever had), and rolls. Dessert was a slice of chocolate iced chocolate cake. It was all good. They had tables set up to display students' finished items in class. Susan Sirkis, who oversees the Williamsburg Guild School, then thanked us for coming to Williamsburg and thanked all the people who make the Guild School possible. Traditionally Susan announces the Guild School classes for next yr, but one of the instructors had not yet responded, so she said she would email all of us next yr's class selections (before it is officially unveiled to rest of the world).

Flying to Williamsburg was painless, as I only had one connecting flight. Flying home was a nightmare for me. I had two connecting flights to make, which I didn't realize until I was in the process. I gave myself 2 hrs from the time Guild School officially ends (1 pm) to flight departure. Sounds reasonable, except it was terribly hectic. I checked my luggage before I left the Lodge and realized I was missing items and my classmate I sat next to told me I had left items behind in class. So I ran back to class and saw I had left behind the wallpaper flooring for the roombox and tools I bought from the Boorums. I re-shuffled my luggage, then hurriedly left. I got some directions from the front desk for Norfolk Airport, but made several wrong turns, so I had to do a U-turn.

If you ever have a rental car, fill up your tank in Williamsburg. There's a Valero gas station just as you leave Williamsburg, and it's cheaper than the gas station one block away from the Norfolk Airport. Also less crowded. The Shell gas station closest to the Norfolk airport was FULL as everyone filled up before they turned in their cars. I don't know why I had not programmed my GPS unit the night before, cuz it would have saved me at least 30 minutes from not getting lost. I made it to the airport with about 30 minutes to spare before actual take-off. Fortunately, the Norfolk Airport is not too big, so navigating it is easy.

During check-in at Norfolk, they confiscated my Easy Miter Cutter scissors. It was over 7" long, so I couldn't take it in my carry-on. The guy asked me what I wanted to do with it. I told him, "Keep it." He said, "I can't keep it. It's going in the trash." As if that was supposed to make me feel better that he wasn't benefitting from this. He may have been doing his job, but he wasn't saving the country from a terrorist by taking away my miter cutter scissors.

I made my first connecting flight with a minor hitch. I had to board two buses to switch from the US Airway to American hub, but then managed some down time watching the inaugural festivities on TV.

The 2nd connecting flight was at O'Hare, which you should avoid if you can. I had to walk a mile to get to my gate, and when I got to the gate I was informed I had just missed the LAST American flight to Wichita KS. There were 2 other guys in the same boat as me. The service desk person put us on STANDBY for a United plane flying to Wichita. Another mile walk to that gate. I couldn't even get on one of those vehicles they have in airports that zip around. I don't know what criteria they used for getting on those vehicles, but being a small woman carrying a bag half her size didn't qualify.

At the United gate, I was told the plane could only hold 50 passengers, and everyone was confirmed for the flight. And it was the LAST flight they had flying to Wichita. They flashed the names of 3 passengers on standby for the flight, not including the 4 of us waiting at the gate to get on. I wanted to cry. I called American's toll free # and the person told me I was scheduled for the 8am flight next morning on American if I couldn't fly that evening, except that would do me no good because I had to work the next day. The person at the United desk told me I had "Very little" chance of getting on the flight---I was the last person in line on standby. I called American again about maybe getting a hotel paid for me to stay in if I could not get on the plane that evening. Nope, I was told I had to go to an American desk at the airport to get the hotel, they couldn't do it over the phone. I didn't feel like walking another mile to get to the American hub, so I bothered the United desk person again. "What's the difference between very little chance vs zero chance of getting on? Why wouldn't he just say I had zero chance (because I felt I had zero chance)?" He said he couldn't say "zero chance" until he called everyone on board and see who showed up and who didn't. As far as he knew, his computer system indicated everyone was confirmed for the flight. So I waited.

Finally, it was boarding call and I was amazed that one by one, the 3 guys in the same boat as me were able to get on the plane. I went up to the United desk as the boarding area was EMPTY except for me. The United people were typing furiously, and YES, they had one last seat available! I couldn't believe it. I gave the lady at the desk a hug. She seemed genuinely happy for me, and the guy who I was a curmudgeon to was also relieved to see me get on, too.

Bottom line---if you happen to be placed on standby status for a flight, don't give up until everyone has boarded the plane. 2- Try to avoid two connecting flights if you can. 3- Fly in the morning, so if you happen to miss your flight you have a better chance of getting on the next flight out.

If I had to do over again, I would have flown into Williamsburg on Thursday morning, so I could take in some of the Williamsburg sights Thursday afternoon and Friday, when they traditionally have dinner at Sue Rountree's. You can also pay to go on the tours they have of the Williamsburg museum collection. Then I would have flown out in the morning Tuesday.

The weather, being in January, can be unpredictable depending on your region. They had predicted a blizzard for the Williamsburg area as I was about to depart Friday afternoon, but it never materialized (thank goodness). However, some of the people coming from places like Connecticut had to deal with ice, which delayed her from driving her car for several hours. The weather was sunny and beautiful while I was in Williamsburg, staying in the 40-50s F, but flying into Chicago, the weather had dipped below zero (but no snow or ice). Bottom line---you need to account for possible inclement weather coming and going to Williamsburg and schedule extra time to get back and forth. Once you are at the Lodge, it really is nice to take in the beautiful surroundings, have fun acquiring new skills and knowledge in mini making, eating great food, and meeting miniaturists around the country. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Preac Table Saw and "The Chopper"

One of the interesting aspects for me of taking any workshop is seeing the tools that other artisans use or find helpful. Taking the class with Pete Kendall was no different, and everyone in the class (9 of us) had the opportunity to sit in front of the Preac table saw and "The Chopper."

This is the famed Preac table saw, which is no longer made. I was surprised by how small the saw was (similar to the Proxxon KS115). However, the saw is all metal construction unlike the Proxxon and Microlux, which has a plastic shell. Pete had 4 Preac table saws set up for use. What I REALLY liked about the Preac table saw, was the all metal cross cut sled the company made for the saw (pictured above). If you happen to come across a Preac saw at an estate sale, I would recommend buying it. It's an easy saw to use, especially if you have the cross cut sled, which makes simple straight cuts a breeze. I myself have the Proxxon KS115, which cuts similar to the Preac, except the rip fence that comes with the saw isn't particularly good and the miter gauge that comes with the saw is plastic and hard to read the numbers.

Another view of the Preac saw minus the cross cut sled.
Pete calls this "The Chopper", except the guy who makes this particular model passed away and so it is no longer made. He couldn't remember the guy's name, just that he bought all the available Choppers from Betty Dann after the guy died. I love this contraption. It's about 10 x 12" and makes simple straight and 45 degree angles a breeze for wood pieces up to 1/4" thick. Unlike the Easy Miter Cutter scissors made by Midwest, "The Chopper" makes a SMOOTH EVEN cut, without the crush artifact you get using the scissor-style cutter.  
This is the Chopper made by Northwest Scale lumber click here. It's smaller at 7x7 and uses the inexpensive and readily available razor blades. It has a self-healing cutting board which will wear out over time, but easily replaceable. The Chopper Pete owns has a laminate tile over masonite. I don't know how old Pete's Chopper is, but I imagine he's had them for years and I don't think he's ever replaced the tile. There was a lady who brought the NWSL Chopper to class and she loved hers. It will make a clean cut for wood up to 1/8" thick.
This is the ruler that Pete uses to measure. Great ruler. It has 32nd and 64th increments etched for the entire length of the ruler and numbered in sequence so it is easy to read. No more guessing. Stainless steel. 1/2" wide. You need this type of ruler if you are serious about being a woodworker or just for minis in general.
The opposite side of the ruler is in millimeter with 10th and 100th increments etched the entire length of the ruler. The rulers are available in 6" and 12". Pete sells them for $6 and $12 respectively.
Bucket of 50 Mini Clamps
These are MINI CLAMPS from Micromark (#82979, 50 clamps for $19.95). These are SMALL, but strong. I found them really helpful for clamping together wood pieces after gluing to keep them flush as they dry. They don't take up too much room, don't mar the wood, and have a good grip. Definitely buy the bucket of 50 so you never run out of clamps for your mini projects.
Other tips I picked up from taking Pete's class:
1- Always sand your wood pieces before you paint. It makes for a better looking finished product. He also recommends using a TACKY CLOTH after you sand the pieces. He gave us each our own tacky cloth, but I found that the cloth leaves a slightly sticky touch to the wood.
2- Pete likes to use SHELLAC after you stain wood pieces. It takes about 30 minutes for the shellac to dry completely. You use STEEL WOOL to buff after the shellac. Then you run a MAGNET across the wood after using the steel wool, and you'll be amazed by the steel lint debris the magnet will pick up.
3- MDO stands for medium density OVERLAY vs MDF, which stands for medium density FIBERBOARD. MDO has a PAPER overlay whereas MDF doesn't. Regardless, if you plan to paint over MDO or MDF, you need to use PRIMER before you paint the color you want, or you'll be painting 10 or more coats for coverage.
4- You can get away with SPRAY PAINTING INDOORS if you have a large mouth garbage can with plastic liner. Have a nose/mouth shield and latex gloves on, and you can hold the piece inside the garbage can while you spray paint the piece, and it doesn't create a mess. It sounds easy enough, except I never thought about doing it that way before.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Front entry of Governor's Palace Williamsburg

This is what my Pete Kendall's class at Williamsburg is based on---the entry of the Governor's Palace. I am under the impression that classes offered at the IGMA Williamsburg Guild School has to be based on actual items found at/in Williamsburg.

This is Pete Kendall's prototype/miniature replica of the Governor Palace's front entry.

This was an 18-hour class. We got the paneled door, dados, mopboard and chair railing done. Probably if it had been a one-week class, we would have had a good chance of completing or close to completing.

If you ever decide to take one of Pete Kendall's class, here is what you can expect:

1- You will likely not complete the project. He told us that when we started the class. Compressing an 18-DAY project into an 18-HOUR class just is not possible. The only way to finish one of his class is if every wood piece had been pre-cut, and all you would do is assemble, glue, and paint.

2- In his class you will route some wood moldings and cut to size on a table saw. He sets up the table saws and router, but you get the feel of routing and cutting on a table saw. He uses the Preac table saw and Anker router/shaper.

3- He emails you a list of supplies to bring to class, but if you are crunched for space because you are flying I wouldn't worry about getting every single item on the list. He has multiples of everything on the list (cutting boards, sand paper, emery boards, Exacto knives, paint brushes, masking tape).

4- The items you REALLY NEED in his class are:
    PENCIL& PEN to take notes and label wood pieces
     24-36" MAILING TUBE to store the wood moldings received in class to take home and         protect,    
    PRE-LABELED NAME/ADDRESS LABELS to stick on your belongings and to keep from mixing up with other people's stuff
   6" and 12" MEASURING RULERS (he sells these for $6 and $12 respectively). These are indispensable for any respectable woodworker or miniaturist. They are stainless steel, and have 1/16, 1/32, 1/64 increments labeled for easy reading and measuring on one side, and on the other side it's metric with 1/10 and 1/100 increments. They are the best rulers I have seen for measuring and marking.

5- The instructions for the wkshop is a small book in itself, but it's all double spaced on single sided pages. He includes oversized pics of certain architectural elements in the project for reference. However, it's not written in a way that you could pick up and start building on your own. You need to be in class so he can demonstrate certain techniques and placement of items.

One lady in class cheerfully admitted, "I never read instructions." I was right behind her. Pictures and demos say a thousand words.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Williamsburg Style Part 2

More pictures from the Williamsburg Lodge interior.

Courtyard outside my room
Railings found in the courtyard