Llama rug

by brae  

I stitched another pattern from Exquisite Miniatures in Cross Stitch and Other Counted Thread Techniques by Brenda Keyes, the same book where I got the pattern for the orange tree tapestry.  Unlike the first project, I hadn't planned to change the material or stitch count.  I went to a local needlework shop and asked for 22 count needlepoint canvas the project called for, but once I started stitching I realized she had sold me 24 count canvas.  Not a big deal for this project, but I was glad I noticed before I used the canvas for anything that required an exact count.

Since this was my first project using canvas, I had to get something besides an embroidery hoop.  I tried to find a smaller needlepoint frame, but the local stores didn't carry the smaller sizes.  I could order online, but then again I wanted to be able to see what I was getting beforehand.  On a trip to Michael's, I found a 4" x 6" unfinished wood frame for less than $2.00.  It was perfect for miniature needlework and less expensive than the frame components.  Sold!

I stapled the canvas in place but have since acquired flat tacks that I plan to use in the future.

I substituted some of the colors listed in the pattern book for what I had on hand, using only embroidery floss not wool as indicated.  I also moved some colors around on the pattern to make the llamas stand out more against the background.  The rug measures approximately 3" x 5" (not including the fringe) and took about 24 hours of work time.

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And, of course, everyone always looks at the back!  :D

Though I am not planning a southwest-inspired room, I really liked the pattern of the rug.  It reminds me of a souvenir my mini inhabitants might have brought back from traveling to South America.  :D  The miniature trunk is carved wood and opens; it was a gift from a relative many years ago.  It's marked Made in Poland.  I made the plant from floral tape and wire.

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Fancy papers for printies

by brae  

I like to make a lot of my own artwork and design elements such as rugs for the Newport since it is so easy.  Printing on fabric is also something I've tried with good results overall.  I bought some specialty papers from The Crafty PC to try, and they ended up being great materials.

First is the Velour Card Stock.  I am trying my hand at needlepoint and punchneedle embroidery for rugs, but I also have found images that I want to reproduce as exact as possible.  Printing on paper creates a good look but the paper is often shiny.  Printing on fabric doesn't necessarily achieve the right texture for rugs, either.

Here's an example printed on fabric and then adhered to felt.  The rug is a print of JCPenney's Floral Vine Rug by Chris Madden.  I had to pump up the color in PhotoShop to make up for the color loss when printing on fabric.

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Here's the same image on the Velour Card Stock.  In this instance, I used the original (not color-corrected) image.  Much better texture and very close to the coloration of the actual rug (I have this rug in my real life house).

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Unlike fabric printing which requires ink jet printing for the best results, you can put these specialty papers through a laser printer.  The color isn't as vibrant when you use a laser printer, but that is easily remedied by pumping up the color in a photo editor before printing.  If you can, I would suggest using an ink jet printer because the color is just richer overall.

I also bought Fuzzy Paper and Adhesive-Backed Velour Paper.  They both have similar surface texture, though the Fuzzy Paper is slightly thinner than the Velour Card Stock.  I haven't printed on the latter two yet, but I am guessing they will have similar properties as the Velour Card Stock.

The other type of paper I bought really isn't a paper.  It's called Art Canvas.  It's a flimsy material that has a texture like canvas.  It was difficult to get this to load in the ink jet printer and the color streaked.  I had amazing results with the laser printer, though.  The artwork is Plum Tree Panel III by Rodolfo Jimenez.  The material is thin, so I've backed it with white paper to show off the colors.  I recommend sharpening the image in PhotoShop before printing since the canvas texture blurs it slightly.

It looks just like a painted canvas.

Scratch built coffee table

by brae  

I needed a modern coffee table to finish off the sitting area of the living room, but nothing on the market really seemed to work.  So, I built my own table from an acrylic oval, a carved wood bead and various Woodsies shapes.

I first glued four small round Woodsies onto the bottom of the large oval shape.  These would serve as the feet for the table, since my mockups didn't look right sitting flat on the floor.

I then glued the wood bead in the center of the large oval and topped it with another circle to cover the bead hole and to add some additional height.  I chose a carved wood bead to add some texture to the table.

I then painted the whole structure with Bittersweet Chocolate paint by Americana, followed by a coat of satin varnish by Delta Ceramcoat.

The acrylic oval came from a set by Tim Holtz called Fragments.  Unfortunately, most of the shapes are small pieces but there was one large oval and one large circle.  These acrylic sets also come in squares and rectangles.

The oval's edges had imperfections from the manufacturing process, so I used 1/8" wide peel and stick lead line material by Plaid (used for making simulated stained glass).  It looks like a wrought iron edge along the glass.

I used Aleene's clear gel adhesive to attach the acrylic top to the base.  It turned out exactly as I had hoped.  :D

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You can see the adhesive through the acrylic, but who ever has a coffee table without anything on it?  :D

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The table finishes off the space well but the acrylic top allows the beautiful rug to show through (currently a paper printout of Parasols by Thomas Paul).

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Conservatory progress and wall tapestry

by brae  

I cut the window and door openings in the new 3/8" plywood walls of the conservatory.  It was quite a workout since I didn't have power tools on hand to use.  The foam core rooftop is just for planning purposes.  I haven't decided on whether I want a glass (i.e., acrylic sheet) roof or a solid one.

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I'm rather excited about this room, mainly because it is turning out as I had hoped just like the garage.  Both the conservatory and the garage are partial scratch built rooms using the Foxhall Conservatory kit as the basis.

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After stitching the Mackintosh chair cushions, I got the bug.  :D  I checked out a bunch of books from the library and lined up a number of projects.  The first one I completed was from Exquisite Miniatures in Cross Stitch and Other Counted Thread Techniques by Brenda Keyes.  This book is not specifically for dollhouses but has smaller real life size projects that can be used in miniature settings both with and without minor modifications.

The art is called Orange Tree, so I thought it would look nice in the conservatory.

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I stitched it on 28 count evenweave fabric in mushroom color.  The book had called for it to be stitched on 22 count needlepoint canvas.  The color of the fabric saved my having to stitch the background, and the higher count made the project smaller in size.  The needlework is mounted on stiff felt on the back.

Conservatory planning

by brae  

The conservatory sits above the garage and is accessible from the master bedroom.  The double French doors came from the Foxhall Conservatory kit used to create the garage.

The stairs from the master bedroom are the original front door steps for the Newport kit.  I will leave the brick wall exposed, but I haven't decided on an exterior or interior finish for the conservatory walls.  The windows will obviously take up most of the surface area.

Before cutting the French door and window openings in the new conservatory walls, I did a little planning to figure out how the furniture would fit best.  The plaid sofa and chair shown below now reside in the study, but they're about the same size as what I have planned for this space.

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I made the elephant ear plant from floral tape and wire.  The rattan planter is by Concord Miniatures.

I'll have more plants, most of which I plan to make myself, including some hanging plants.  It looks a bit crowded from the perspective shown in the photo above, but the room is actually spacious.  The rug is a paper printout of the Piazza rug in brown by Dynamic Rugs, but I plan to recreate it in another material besides paper, such as punchneedle or needlepoint.

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The single French door opens to allow access to the outside of the conservatory where there will be a narrow walkway and room for outdoor plants.

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