Category: "Books, films, and other media"

Needlepoint in miniature and my first book

by brae  

Since I started the Newport, I've been checking out books from the library to find ideas for projects and to generally drool over all of the beautiful minis out there.  One of the better books I found was Embroidered Projects by Sue Hawkins.

It has rugs, screens and pillows in a nice array of styles.  There were a few lovely items worth spending the time stitching, but there was one in particular that caught my eye: the Mackintosh chair cover.  I already had the chairs...and the design in the book fit perfectly with my modern living room.

In the past, I've done quite a bit of counted cross-stitch but very little needlepoint.  However, needlepoint on 32-count linen is pretty close to counted cross-stitch.  The project called for 32-count silk gauze but I had a hard time locating it.  I also changed the colors from what was listed in the book because the pinks were just too bright for my tastes.

My eyesight has always been good, but wow were these tiny stitches!

The first one took a little over five and a half hours of work, and I did it without the aid of a magnifier.  For the second one, I flipped the design to have a mirror of the first and bought a magnifier with two LEDs.  The second one (at the bottom of the photo below) took about the same amount of time but it was much cleaner since I could actually see what I was doing.  :D  Since I already had enough fabric in the hoop, I decided to make another like the first one; it turned out much better the second time around.

I had to remove the glued-on chair pads, which was a scary task since the chairs were expensive.  I popped them into the microwave to loosen the glue, but it still wasn't easy removing them.  While the cushions were off, I gave the chairs a couple of coats of Bittersweet Chocolate paint by Americana.  The original finish was uneven and a bit too red for my taste.  I then sealed them with satin varnish.

I removed the original fabric from the chair pads and used the needlework to upholster the chairs.  I finished the edges with twisted embroidery floss.  I think they turned out pretty well for my first attempt at miniature needlework and fit in rather well with the modern style and colors in the living room.

Another project I worked on this week was creating a miniature book from my own photographs.  I did the basic layout in Word, including a UPC and some lorem ipsum text on the back (it's so small you wouldn't be able to read it anyway).  Once printed, I glued the cover to some heavier paper.

I cut the book out using the crop marks and scored the paper to form the spine.

I used a piece of balsa wood for the pages, scoring the edges to look like individual pages and painting them white.

This one was created just using what I had on hand at the time, but I really like the way it turned out.  Creating it was a lot of fun and I have some ideas for more books.

Good read before the build

by brae  

I've spent a lot of time online looking at what other miniaturists have done and have read quite a few tutorials on everything from making my own furniture to basic building and decorating techniques.  After a quick search on, I quickly discovered just how many books there are on the subject.  Since I really don't know what books I'll want to add to my collection permanently, I finally got around to signing up for a library card.  :]  My local library has a drive-up window and a bookmobile that stops right by my house once a week.  The library has certainly changed since the last time I visited!

I checked out five books that seemed promising, though only one was devoted exclusively to building and decorating techniques.  She used a number of houses with different features to illustrate her points, so it has universal application.  This is a "must read" for any dollhouse builder, but in my opinion you have to get to it before you do anything.

The ABC's of Dollhouse Finishing by Barbara Warner

One thing I especially liked was her commentary on windows in brick houses, that they are recessed into the brick and not installed on top the way windows are on a sided house.  Of course, then I found myself eyeing all the brick houses on the way to work and found she was right.  But, I also saw windows with cast stone surrounds that mimic the look of a 'regular' window.

I want a more realistic look to my dollhouse, but since the Newport is prefinished, there really isn't a way for me to recess the windows in the typical fashion and be able to match the exterior around the edges of the window.  I thought about installing the windows in reverse, making them flush with the outer wall, with the pediment and sill as finishing (this would have the decorative trim on the interior, which didn't look bad at all).

But, I like the decorative trim on the outside, so we'll just say they're cast stone.  ;]

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