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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Farewell to Nova Scotia

These are the silver weapons that I made in class:...and the goodies I came home with:
My workshop was over all too quickly. Since I'd flown in from St John, New Brunswick with limited flights to Toronto, I needed to stay overnight. I'd booked a motel sight unseen on the recommendation of it being a fairly new hotel, reasonably priced and well situated to the airport. Did I mention "reasonably" priced?
What I hadn't expected was a suite consisting of a living room with fireplace and wall mounted TV, a kitchenette with fridge and microwave, a jacuzzi tub as well as a bathroom with shower, a table & chairs as well as a desk. There was even a duvet on the queen sized bed where normally all you'd get are blankets.
I almost didn't make it home on the next morning. The fog was extremely thick with less than 1/2km visibility; the pilot actually flew 1000 meters higher to get above the cloud cover. Ken met me carrying a single red rose.
Today was just another day with loads of laundry to do.

Promise that the next post will be about castle building and not about kelp harvesting:

Nova Scotia Workshop Fun Time...

I think I briefly mentioned all the goodies we received at lunches and dinners. Well in addition to those, we had an auction with the most incredible things: a blue 4-story lighted castle built to be a dragon repository that came complete with dragons; a set of 1:24th Henry Tudor & Ann Bolyne dolls as well as the item I wanted to bid on: a gorgeous needlepoint wall hanging stitched on 44ct silk gauze. It wasn't quite finished in time for the auction so was to be mailed, blocked and backed, to the winning bidder.
This is Ceridwen holding her masterpiece. Can you imagine she was actually able to stitch in the car with her mum driving to camp! What a pleasure it was to meet her & her sister and sit next to her mum during the workshop.
The wall hanging went for $250 ....unfortunately very much above my budget. But what a wonderful thing to be able to hang in your castle!!!
This photo collage was taken during bidding on a commode chair. The auctioneer and his lovely assistant "Vanna" who really should have been wearing a platinum blond wig since she played her role so well as someone dense as a post. Both Susan (auctioneer) and Kelly (Vanna) kept us all in stitches during the entire auction.
In addition to this auction there was a silent auction as well. Between both auctions, more than $2,000 was raised to defer the costs of next years workshop.

The dress up dinner was on Monday. Theme obviously was medieval with sandals & socks as the mandatory dress items. However it was never specified where they had to be worn; so if they didn't show up on our feet, they were worn as earrings, on a hat, on a dress as well as a dress:
There were several geishas, one knight dressed in chain mail and another in white battle regalia, a devil (guess they had them back them too LOL), Maid Marian ...there was even a duck, which apparently is Janie's modem of attire every year. I came as an Sherwood Forest oak tree with a crown of leaves, leaf bracelets and necklace. I never know what to wear on those kind of occasions.

In addition to our castle workshop, a number of us also signed up for the silversmith class where we made axes and pikes as well as silver shields.Here's Pam showing what her castle character, Axel the chief executioner, would do with his ax. I managed to make an extra ax and pike out of the scraps of my silver but forgot to have the silver Hallmark stamped into any of them.


I see that I am up to 241 followers so whenever I reach 250, I will have another giveaway. Not sure what it could comprise of....
I'm open to suggestions. What have I made in the past that you would like to try to win?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nova Scotia Workshop Day 3, & 4

There is obviously no way to finish this project while we're here so I'll just show work in progress.

For those among us who have to fly home, all parts have to be folded down flat again. We will, however be leaving with enough knowledge to finish. What you're seeing here is our painting tutorial. I was so amazed at the wide variety of ideas. There is an incredible amount of talent here.
I took some time out to go beach combing & found an amazing number of shells as well as broken ones with still enough of that lovely spiral showing; they're are giving me a great vignette idea if I didn't have enough WIPs.
Meals are held in the mess hall which must obviously have been the officers mess because it looks just like an old fashioned restaurant to me. At lunch we received "tidbits", one from each person (36 in total) and then again after dinner, names would be drawn out of a hat so that you'd receive a larger item. These are some of my tidbits.What an incredible amount of loot we're all going home with. An auction as well as a silent auction is held so some of us will be leaving with even more stuff!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nova Scotia Workshop Day 2

.....errrrr, ummmm that should actually read Day 1 since I arrived a day early.
What a great day for beachcombing! Our mess hall is just steps away from the Bay of Fundy. If you're like me, a bay is a bay is a bay. But here people are very definite in telling you that this is a part of the Atlantic Ocean.And if that isn't enough, our barracks are next to a seaweed processing plant so the tang of ocean & salt water is always in the air.
Because camp hadn't officially started, it was up to us to scrunge around for our meals. Several of us went into nearby Digby for a lovely seafood dinner.First time that I've ever seen a lobster dinner looking back the diner.I also learned what a "Guy's Frenchys" is. Apparently when the fishing industry declined and fishermen became unemployed, these stores stepped in with sales of used clothing. Now after approximately 20 years, they've become an institution. I found a number of silk blouses and some great buttons to use in my miniatures. I even found a kid leather jacket.
Once people started rolling in bringing their displays, the eye candy kept us busy.

Nova Scotia Workshop Day 2 (the actual! Day 2)

Boy does that one hour difference ever matter in the morning! I was sure that everyone started wandering the halls at what I considered the middle of the night. After a more than adequate breakfast (with one week of these meals, it won't only be my baggage that'll register as overweight with the airlines), we started class.
The bits and pieces were designed and cut by Samm Brockhurst and then techniques are by Adrien Cooper.
As soon as we were let loose, the different ideas started appearing. I doubt if there will be any two castles that'll be very alike.

This is mine. Along the right hand side, will be a minstral gallery.

Take a close look. This was the last time that you could actually see my work area.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Castle Roombox

I'm writing this from Cornwallis in the beautiful province of Nova Scotia... tomorrow we start on the castle roombox but today is still a free day.
My flight yesterday left at 7 in the morning; which meant getting up at 4. I guess we can be forgiven the comedy of errors:
First airport drive round: because we went to arrivals instead of departures.
Second airport drive round: because we went to terminal 1 instead of 3.
Third airport drive round: woohoo made it! (we've only been to the airport 8 times this year, so it's not that we had an excuse other than lack of sleep.) Luckily my flight was reasonably empty so I got to stretch out across 3 seats & sleep during the 1-1/2 hour flight.
One of my classmates, Sharon picked me up & off we went on the 6 hour drive to get to our workshop. This part of Canada is one of the oldest settlement areas so buildings such as these are common:
Don't you just love old doorways? There always seems to be a hint of mystery as to what's on the other side of the door.
The stone that you're seeing on the church is the actually color of the riverbank clay around here.
Nova Scotia is also renown for its artistic communities. Take a look at these gorgeous hooked rugs that I saw at the Fitzpatrick studio. Apparently her work hangs in the National Museum in Ottawa
....not what I thought of as rug hooking! I would so dearly have loved to have bought one but the several thousand dollar cost per rug was quite a ways out of my league.

Every one seems really friendly. I'm reliant on the other ladies with cars to get any where otherwise you'd be inundated with touristy photos. I'm also limited to WiFi access in the mess hall only. Oh did I mention that my workshop is happening on an old military training base? My first time for sleeping in "barracks"!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thoughts on Blogging....

When I started this blog, it was just a place to set out some random thoughts and a written record of this "new" hobby of mine: miniatures. I never dreamed that anyone would actually be interested in what I had to say.
Then I got my first follower, Jean Day and it was: WOW! How'd she find me? And then later, I'd follow some really cool blog so I guess they felt obligated to do the same with mine. But somewhere along the line people started following because of something that I was doing that was actually interesting to read about. Right now my follower list stands at 235 ....another 15 & it'll be time to do a giveaway to show my appreciation to you all.

Blogging has opened the door to such a fantastic community worldwide. Not only do I read your blogs to find out what you're doing within this hobby, but along the way, I find out what's happening in your lives, your health, how the kids are doing, what's important to you. It's like having penpals worldwide ...except you guys are more than penpals. The closest I can equate blogging with would be having a coffee klatch with a dear friend the way people of our parents and grandparents generation did when the world spun a little slower.

So if you're wondering where all this is leading.... When I got home tonight, I discovered an email from a person I consider a friend even though I've never met her in real life, telling me that she had decided to start her own blog.
I first met Chelle, maybe a year ago on a UK forum. Something about her personality, the way she expressed her opinions etc, made me think she & I are probably a lot alike. We've had our differences ...mainly my fault; the forum that we met on is long gone but we've kept in touch. She was the one who sent me the 3 little crabs that she'd made. And now she writes that she's started blogging. I think it'll be a great site to follow! I hope you'll think so too:

Castle Roombox

Here he finally is! I know that I was supposed to be making Amarus Beatrix Matilda, Grand Duchesse de Sainte Claire but somehow in amongst the feet dragging & all the procrastinations that I could think of, this is who emerged:
Amarus' father, the last of the Cathar priests or wizard depending on how you feel about Cathars.....

I have a brand new appreciation of what it means to wig & dress a doll. I can't even begin to imagine having to make Victorian clothing! He looks slightly windblown & if I had had time, I would have re-done his robes.

I'd still like to sculpt my own people. Anatomy classes are full for this year. (I figure I need all the help I can get. LOL)
Let's just say he'd good enough to take a photo of; let's just say I've learned a few things that I'd do differently next time; I'm sure there'll be a next time now that I've gotten my feet wet! Let's just say that I still hate to sew. But.....
1. I did try something new.
2. I think I did OK for a first time.
3. I'm sure there'll be a second time.

Even though my guy is going to be filed under "A" for attempt in my bottom drawer, I'm glad to have made him. I'm sure when I go through that bottom drawer at this time next year, I'll laugh at my amateurish attempts but I'm rather proud that I not only finished him but also finished by the Sept 31st deadline.

If you take anything away from reading this post, then I hope it'll be a feeling of "well, if she can do it, so can I"! It doesn't have to be a doll. Just try something you've never done before! I promise you won't regret it!

Friday, September 17, 2010

CDHM Contest Entry & Qualifications

Doc Patty (MiniaturesFromClay) & I have been having a conversation about using my CDHM entry in my tutorial. It took another member on the list to point out that by showing my creation, I was in effect disqualifying myself.
I re-read the rules & sure enough that's what I'd done. I've written to CDHM to take my entry out of the running. Here in part is their response to me:
Thank you for letting us know. Yes that would disqualify you for participating with that entry. You still have time to submit another though.

que sera sera! I neither have time nor inclination to make another. I doubt that I even made the tub for them. It had been something I wanted to make; their contest just came along at the same time.

Here's a link to an article that I recently read:

When you read it, you'll know why I'm not that upset about being disqualified. Kathleen wrote about making your work personal. She ends by saying:
I'm actually feeling right now like all those years of making "stuff" in the end is just that - "stuff". I'm feeling like king Solomon right now when he said in Ecclesiastes, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity and chasing after the wind". I want to still make stuff, but is it just a job to make money? Who cares in the end? I want to still make my work personal, but am struggling with how to do that right now. I am feeling the meaninglessness of worldly striving.

Getting lauded by people is mere vanity. I much prefer the personal satisfaction from seeing something I made & being proud of it ...sanctimonious twit that I am LOL

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Look what came in the mail:
Thank you Chelle!
I just love prezzies! Especially when I'm not expecting anything. Chelle sent them for my fishing hut. I have only one question: why are those crabs looking at each other like that?


Wished it were slow on my list (of ideas)! Here's what I've spent most of my morning on:
First I needed to google for Persian names ....the reason is really immaterial; I found a lovely site in Surrey UK. Apparently from the look of the small video that plays as the site opens, the shop is in a gorgeous old building covered by some sort of vine. I immediately fell in love. Inside the shop looks marvelous, just like what I remember of high end carpet shops in Turkey.
I wrote asking for permission to recreate his shop & also if it were possible to have jpgs of the first 3 images of the video.
Well, to my great surprise my email was returned.... Upon further investigation the owner died in 2008. Then when I read his obit, I discovered that he had spent the wartime years in Holland (his birth country) in similar conditions to Anne Frank. Now I've got my brain working overtime!
I've written to the site where I found his obit notice, asking if they could forward my email request to his family or perhaps send me photos.

We'll see what comes of it.......

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Turning Clay into Faux Wood

CDHM is having a Halloween contest:
→ Create a miniature that you feel represents Halloween.
→ It can be anything you want, as long as it relates to the Halloween theme in 1:12 scale or smaller.
→ Entries must be 3-dimensional and created for this challenge.

Remember those rotten apples that I made?
This is where I used them.I put them in a wash tub made of petrified wood with a snake aka garden hose filling the tub to overflowing and then some.
My entry is entitled: "Hello dearies. Have an apple"

I thought you might like to make your own faux wood; so here's how:
Normally you'd use equal amounts of polymer clay in 4 shades of browns, say: chocolate, caramel, ocher/beige and white (or off white). I'm going to use black, dark green, grey and white. Condition your clays. You can do this by running it through your pasta machine if working it by hand is too hard.
NOTE: always condition from lightest to darkest or clean your machine in between colors. And clean your hands between colors as well.
You want your machine set for the thickest level and stack them in the order showing in the first photo.
Cut your stack into a rectangle. Roll your off-cuts into a pencil thickness; you'll be using it to make knots in your wood.
From now on you'll use a roller to reduce your clay stack. (This tutorial will not work using a pasta machine!)
Roll to 2x the original length, then cut in half and restack...
....always keeping to the original order of colors.
Roll again until your "wood grain" is reasonably thin (no thinner than I'm showing or you'll lose the grain.
Slice the stack in half again; use a pen to make an indention near one end. You might need to place a piece of saran wrap (cling wrap, kitchen plastic wrap, etc) on top in case your clay sections stick together.
Remove the plastic wrap & the pen and place your cut-off roll into the indentation. Cover with the other half of your clay stack.
Now as you can see by my photo, there are small air gaps on either side of the cut-off roll. You need to roll your clay stack again to remove the gaps.
Slice your clay and voila!: faux wood.
Now that's really the end of the tutorial ...except I'm just going to mention a few ways to show water

For the water that's in the tub, I used Magic Water, a 2 part resin that remains clear, does not yellow and best of all, once it's hard, it will not soften again. The disadvantage: it takes 24 hours to harden; it is extremely hard to use it to show running water because it just runs off.
The water in the tub is 1/2" deep. My apples all sank in the first tub that I made. With this resin, timing is critical! I was not impressed having to wait longer than 12 hours and having to make sure that the resin is thin enough to insert my apples but thick enough for them to stay afloat! I finally filled the tub in 3 stages and only added the apples during the last filling.

Easy Cast epoxy is also clear but it can stay/become sticky in warm weather. It's what I used to show the water around my fishing hut.

E-6000 is actually a glue that remains clear, flexible & is paintable. If you want to show a drop of dew hanging off a leaf, this is the glue to use!
My running water started off as a piece of clear plastic string (fishing line). Run the E-6000 along the string and position where you want it.

Along the left hand side of the photo is a bottle of Liquitex. Liquitex is the brand name of an artists acrylic Matte Super Heavy Gel that's non-yellowing, remains flexible and can be mixed with additives such as sand, sawdust or acrylic paint. If you use it, paint the surface underneath before applying. Disadvantage is it dries opaque. You can use it to show choppy water/waves as you apply it and it holds its shape.