Category: "Greenleaf 2010 Spring Fling - Baslow Ranch"

Whooooo's a cutie?!

by brae  

One of my favorite animals is the owl, and I especially love the Burrowing Owl.  I have a printout of an image of a Burrowing Owl chick on my wall at work.  It makes me smile.  :D

I've been so inspired by the work of Anya Stone and Kerri Pajutee, two amazing artisans who make the most realistic miniature animals I've ever seen.  I've wanted to make a Burrowing Owl for some time now, so I decided to just hop to it!  Kerri has two great tutorials on CDHM: one for sculpting a bird and another on flocking and feathering.  I used those as a basis to start my mini owl.

I decided to make an adult Burrowing Owl.

image by Nature's Pic's Online

I was lucky to find a good photo of the back of the owl, too (see photos by Ecobirder).

I sculpted my bird using white polymer clay, though it got fairly dirty as I worked with black wire to make the legs and feet.  The feet look a bit big, but it was the only wire I had and the flocking and feathering will add weight once applied.  To get the bird to stand while baking, I tied some wire around the ceramic tile I use for baking clay.

After baking and cooling, I painted the whole piece with light tan acrylic paint.  I also painted the eyes and beak before feathering.  Caution: naked birdie below...

I bought two types of feathers, using the darker ones for the tail feathers and back and using the lighter ones for the breast.  I used embroidery floss to make the flocking.  I cut all but the spotted and striped portions from the feathers.  I followed Kerri Pajutee's tutorial for placement for the most part but tried to use the natural patterns of my feathers to mimic those of the Burrowing Owl.

Here are some photos of my owl as the feathering progressed...

And, finished!  :D

I love him!!!!!  I don't think I did half bad my first time around if I do say so myself.

And, he looks right at home on Baslow Ranch!  :D

Cross stitch rug update and thank you!

by brae  

I have been painting trims, windows, doors, railings, etc. with white paint for the past few days since I last posted.  It's time consuming work, but it is worth it in the end.  I am awaiting a few supplies as well, so it's also kept me busy.

The other project keeping me busy is the custom Janet Granger rug.  I've finished with the red border!  :D  At 97 hours (29 hours for filling in the red border alone), the rug is really taking shape.  The interior color will take a good deal longer and I imagine working in a very light color will be challenging in its own way.

I received word yesterday that Baslow Ranch won top prize in the Facebook Contest - the piggy-back contest to the Greenleaf Spring Fling.  I don't have a facebook account, but I want to express my gratitude to those who voted for me and left such wonderful comments on my project.  I am thrilled that so many found inspiration in my work.  :D  Thank you!

When I got home yesterday, my prize for the Greenleaf contest had arrived as well.  In addition to a trophy version of the full sized kit, there was a quarter scale version of Baslow Ranch.  :]

It's so tiny!  In the photo, my thumb is resting on the porch floor.  I'm going to hold off on building it for now.  I'd like to try another kit in this scale first since the mini Baslow Ranch is a one-shot deal.  I also have a hard time seeing the kit as anything but the old ghost town ranch I built...and I'm not sure I want to build the same thing in mini, though it would be a fun challenge!

Baslow Ranch - Mattress construction

by brae  

My mattress tutorial was featured in the June edition of the Greenleaf Gazette!  :D  There is a wealth of information in their newsletter so be sure to check out the archive as well.


For my Greenleaf 2010 Spring Fling entry Baslow Ranch, I made a mattress to fit the House of Miniatures single bed.  I started with calico cotton fabric that had an old, stained look to it but this method can be used with newer looking fabric as well.

The inner measurements of the bed frame were approximately 3 1/4" x 6 3/8" so I cut two pieces of fabric measuring 3 1/2" x 6 3/4" (figuring in a 1/4" seam allowance).   I also cut a 19" long strip of fabric 3/4" wide; this gave me a mattress about 1/4" thick.

For a different sized bed, I am afraid to say there will be math involved.  :D  If you want to cover the mattress with thick bedding, you will need to make your mattress smaller than the bed frame.  You’ll also need a longer strip of fabric to make it all the way around a larger mattress.  If you want a thicker (taller) mattress, you will need to cut a wider strip of fabric.

Here are the steps I used to put the mattress together.  Use a small stitch so it will look more in scale when complete.  With right sides together, pin the two ends of the fabric strip together and sew a 1/4" seam.  This will give you a loop of fabric.  Pin one edge of this loop to the edge of one of the base pieces, clipping at the corners.

Sew all the way around using a 1/4" seam and then clip the excess fabric across the corners.  This will cut down on the bulk in the corners when the mattress is turned right side out.

Pin and sew the second base piece to the remaining edge of the long loop of fabric (again clipping at the corners), leaving about two to three inches open in the seam for stuffing the mattress.

Turn the mattress right side out.  Use a pointy (but not sharp) object to make sure the corners are squared and open completely.

For the stuffing, I used thin batting that is meant for millinery (I had some left over from previous projects).  It’s similar to felt and can usually be found in fabric stores.  Felt would work just as well, though you may need more or less depending on the thickness of the material.  I cut four pieces measuring 3" x 5 3/4" of the millinery batting for my mattress.  I rolled them all together into a tube shape, inserted the tube into the opening and then flattened the batting out inside the mattress cover.  It will take a bit of effort to get them straight and flat inside, but you won’t get the right look without it.

Once stuffed, I blind stitched the opening to close up the mattress.

I marked a grid of one inch squares on the mattress and used thread knots through all thicknesses to quilt the mattress.  You can make the grid smaller or larger to suit your tastes.

Here’s the completed mattress on the bed.  Though it doesn't translate in photos, this really feels like an old, lumpy mattress.  But, I bet it would feel perfect after a hard day’s work at the ranch!  :D

Greenleaf Baslow Ranch – A memorial

by brae  

click image to enlarge

Wednesday, June 16, 2010:
After much anticipation on the Greenleaf forum, we got word from Dean at Greenleaf Dollhouses about the contest results.  He said they had chosen the winners, but the announcement would have to wait until Friday or possibly the following week – though the winner would be contacted that day so he or she could choose the new name for the garage kit.  Of course, this note sent us all flying into a frenzy on the forum!  :D

That was around 3PM, and by the time I got home and settled into a chat session with a friend, it was nearly 5:30PM.  I told her I didn't think they had chosen me since it was close to 6:30PM their time and it had been a few hours since the notice.  But, I had fun building the project and there were so many great designs turned in for the contest that I was perfectly fine with not being the winner.  I even had my picks of who I thought would be tops, and I was hopeful that I might have made second or third place.

Just as I signed off the chat session with her, an e-mail notification popped up…a message from Greenleaf Prize Patrol titled: Psst…can you keep a secret? My heart just leapt!  I thought, No way!!!!

But, it was true – my Baslow Ranch had been selected as the 1st place winner.  I was thrilled, elated and just at a loss for words!  Dean told me I had to keep it a secret, though, until the official announcement.  Very hard to keep good news like this to myself…so I called mom to share the news and, of course, swore her to secrecy!  Haha.  :D

Baslow Ranch is my first officially finished build, and I am truly honored to be chosen from amongst the most amazing projects.  Greenleaf has posted a gallery of all the entries.  You must check out the fantastic and creative work people have done.  I've thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie on the forum throughout the entire Spring Fling.

Congratulations to the other winners and all the entrants for creating such marvelous works of art, and of course, a great big THANK YOU to Dean and Company for everything!

I am also elated that the kit will now be called Baslow Ranch on the Greenleaf site.  The name Baslow is a melding of names of beloved departed pets: Basil (pronounced bazzill like an Englishman's name), my beloved cat who passed away in September 2009; Clover, a sleek and beautiful Chinese dwarf hamster; and Willow, a Russian dwarf hamster who went through a lot in his long life and held on tenaciously until the very end.  These three are the pets who have lived with me at my most recent home, though I am dedicating the build to all my animal companions, past and present.  It makes me so happy knowing they will be memorialized in the Greenleaf product line.


click image to enlarge

I've had hamsters off and on (usually on) since I was a kid.  Many people think hamsters are all the same, but after you've had a few, you see that they each have their own personality as well as likes and dislikes.  I always use the same brand of food, for instance, but each of my hamsters would leave a different seed or pellet in the bowl that they refused to eat.  Some would run in circles in the cage and never touch the wheel.  Some would chew the wood houses I provided and others never gnawed on anything but metal.

Willow was the one who transitioned with me from my parents' home into a place of our own.  He resided in my room at the new place since he was unusually quiet at night for being a nocturnal soul.  It also kept the peace since Basil came to live with us a few months after we moved in.  Basil quickly learned that Willow was not meant for him, and he eventually ignored Willow altogether.

Willow was fearless and loved to be picked up.  My friend who gave me Basil noted that Willow seemed to recognize my whereabouts since he would follow me as I walked back and forth past his cage.  I don't know if he could, but I liked the idea of it.  :]

Dwarf hamsters live about two years – unfortunately sometimes much less, but Willow lived three.  Early in his last year, he got a terrible case of mites and had to be taken to the vet.  The doctor had to do some math for the medication dosage since the weight chart he had was in ounces and Willow had to be weighed in grams!  :D  He got better quickly, though all the fur he scratched off during the infestation never grew back.  He had fur on the top half of his body and on his feet.  He looked like a little old man wearing only a sweater and fuzzy slippers!  When he passed later that year, he did so with food in his mouth, his paws clutched around the morsel.  What a life!


Clover came to live with me a few months after Willow passed.  I always like having a hamster around, though it took me a bit longer to feel right about bringing another home after Willow.  After an initial curiosity, Basil mostly left Clover alone, too.

She was a different variety than I had ever had – sleek and beautiful instead of short and round.  Very skittish though.  She would shake and freeze if you picked her up, so she ended up being more of the admire-from-a-distance type of gal.  :D  She was an avid wheel-runner – up to speeds I thought should require a helmet – so it was terribly quiet in the house after she passed.


click image to enlarge

Basil came to live with me in 2004 after living with a friend and former coworker.  She had three other cats and after a year, Basil decided he had had it with cats!  He was the type to let you rub his stomach with your feet and generally took any attention as worth having, even if you rubbed him the "wrong way."  He'd also greet anyone coming in at the door, so I secretly thought he saw himself as a dog.

He didn't really have a meow, either.  He would just cock his head back, his whole body lifting in the process, and no sound would come out.  It was the cutest damn thing!  :D  Of course, he could make noise – most notably in the middle of the night when the food bowl was empty.

In the above photo, he's made a makeshift kitty bed from my box of fabric.  I was sewing one day, and he would always sit by me at the sewing machine.  When I didn't see him for a bit, I went to look for him and found him "helping" by furrying up the nicely washed fabrics in my storage box.  :D  It was so cute I had to take a picture before shooing him out.

Poor dear had been on a diet the entire time he lived with me.  He had been a competitive eater at my friend's place, so the vet wanted me to slim him down.  This turned him into an insatiable beggar…his favorite being bacon.  He would lose his mind when I made bacon.

In the summer of 2009, he developed an impacted bowel and then deteriorated within months from kidney disease, though he was only about eight and a half years old.  It got bad toward the end, and I had to make the agonizing decision to have him put to sleep.  He had stopped walking and eating…it was time.  But, it was one of the worst things I've ever been through.  I miss him very much.  He was a remarkable little soul who left this world much too young.

click image to enlarge

Baslow Ranch - Contest on Facebook

by brae  

In addition to the Greenleaf Dollhouses contest I've entered, is holding a "piggyback" contest where you can vote for your favorite.

Click HERE to view the entries.  Baslow Ranch is Entry #6.  If you want vote for me, click on each of my three entry photos on the facebook page and then click the LIKE button under each of the photos.  You need to actually click the individual photos before clicking LIKE, otherwise you are voting for the album and those won't count for me.  :]

Some people have had trouble with finding the LIKE link to click.  You have to be a fan/friend of on facebook to be able to vote.

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