Friday, December 25, 2015

A Christmas Greeting

Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas

The presents are wrapped.

The tree is decorated.

The fire burns brightly.


The Champagne has chilled.

In this quiet moment, join me. Take a seat beside the fire.

Keep an eye on the cat ... she loves to stalk the ribbons and has been known to tease them off parcels.

Should we reflect on Christmas's past, of the sorrow and joy that each year must bring?  Nostalgia is bitter sweet.  It is not always easy to accept the milestones we and those we love must pass.

But soon the house will fill with family and once again the clock will add these past moments to the treasure box of memories, a lasting gift.

Thank you my fellow bloggers, you are so supportive, kind and interesting. Such a nice meeting of minds from near and far. I wish you all the best.

regards Janine

Saturday, October 24, 2015

French House Salon

 French House: le salon

Greetings All. In my last post I talked about making climbing roses. I am sure you are all tired of seeing that photograph. I was on a push to complete the house to display it at the West Coast Miniature Show on June 7.  I seem to work best under pressure as after dithering for many months ... or was it years I hunkered down in my workroom, burned the midnight oil and met the deadline. Sighs of relief all round! "This must mean it is finished!" naively handy husband remarked.

To make a long story short - it sort of, kind of, almost felt finished!!! Well finished enough to enter it into the show, after all we do it for fun don't we?   I had not anticipated the fierce competitive spirit displayed by my besty friend and mini buddy Elizabeth. Thank goodness Fatima's house was not ready or we might have come to three-way blows!

No, just joking .... but we were neck in neck in the final count and then .... and then .... darn, you suspected it already  came in as Best in Show for Green Dolphin Street and I was a lowly first.    It was an exciting day though and the first time that anyone but the Miniteers or family had seen The French House.

I did show you my progress on the book case for the salon and now I want to share the end result of my work on the salon.  

 Maid in China print anchores the side table and brings attention to the blue ginger jar. The fireplace does work and throws quite a satisfactory glow in the evenings.

Chair and round table added to library area. 

Chinoiserie baby-cupboard.

Lattice rug, can you see through it? It is a stencil. I was thinking of painting the pattern on the floor but I liked it just the way it is.

Settee with same fabric cushions and book coffee table. Ceiling texture was made by painting over a plastic doily and then removing it as the paint solidified.

Chairs and settee Bespac.

Ginger jars on the mantle - two make reference to the colour of the reading chair.

Suitcases and magazines under the sideboard. Swan set of drawers on left by Bespac. Swans on furniture were a nod to Empress Josephine's interest in them.

Painting leaning against fireplace, more books.

More books and orchid on side board.  Napoleon on horseback under the glass dome.

 Table set for a visit from granddaughter who has bought finds from nature in her basket. French doll by Ethel Hicks.

Petit four on pedestal tray by StudioEMiniatures, Clarice Cliff style pottery vase by Margaret Crosswell of Tasmania. Cup and saucer by Monique, teapot Christopher Whitford.

We had a long and sunny summer in British Columbia this year. The humans appreciated it but with lack of rain and water restrictions our gardens suffered somewhat.

Now transitioning from Fall to winter. The days are growing shorter and great flocks of sea birds are migrating south.  What a good idea.

regards to all, Janine

Friday, July 3, 2015

Climbing Roses

Roses on the Wall:

You may recollect that I had been avoiding working on the climbing rose for my French House courtyard garden. I hope that a description of my solution will take you along the garden path to your own climbing roses.

At a Miniteers meet Fatima and Elizabeth decided we should make a quantity of crepe paper roses and buds for my project. They were trying to kick start me in the right direction but I think the roses languished for almost a year waiting for me to be inspired.

The technique for making roses is varied. Some were made using a heart-shaped punch and the petals placed individually on  a green wire - for others we used two tones of apricot crepe paper rolled and crimped. The calix is a star punch of green crepe paper threaded along the wire and glued to the bottom of the rose. I know there are quite a few tutorials online. It all depends on the species of the of rose you would like to replicate.

The climbing roses in my RL garden have a woody bare base. Climbing is a bit of a misnomer as the branches just grow, drape and rest and do not attach themselves as an ivy or hydrangea petiolaris does by an invasive air root system.

On my meanderings I gathered dried branches of a huckleberry bush that looked a bit like my rose stem. This became the base. Once I had the framework of "old wood" glued to floral foam in the planter I added fronds of  plastic foliage to duplicate the "new wood" growth.

Now the bush was ready for the roses to be attached.  I tried to distribute them as naturally as they would appear on a climbing rose. There are a lot of illustrations available online - many are heavy with flowers others not.  I prefer the look of the roses on their own stems - not just the flowers placed as they seem to all end up on one angle. When you try and place the stems into the foliage they take on a life of their own and will drape quite naturally or sometimes almost disappear.

This photo shows the base of the rose woody and bare,  green plastic foliage simulating the new growth and roses attached with their own stems in different lengths.  (This is the photo that made me realize I needed to fill the upper left side of the trellis where there appears to be a white patch.)

The planter is attached to the wall and the garden slides under it so it sits on the gravel. You can see the pullout metal slides that extend to support the walled garden. It is a large house and the garden and the roof can be detached to make it easier to move.

Now for the leaves. I have a punch to make the leaves and tried to make them out of green crepe paper. I felt they did not have enough body. I painted thin water-colour paper with various tones of green. Failure!  I had tried to match the colour of leaves from roses in my garden but the colours became muddy as I kept adding paint from a brush and dotting with yellow and black spot.  I am not good at this!

My breakthrough came when I decided to use a manila brown envelope as the paper. The weight is good and the manila colour became the underpainting for an almost-dry-sponged layering of green colours. The underside being sponged in slightly lighter greens than the upper side.  I liked it. In some areas the colour showed through and as I had painted a large area of the envelope and punched many leaves I had quite a variety of colours in the leaves available to use.

I showed this picture of my desk when I was working on the wisteria. I thought I would show it again so you could see the manila envelope leaves in progress.

I ran my needle tool down the centre of each leaf to give them shape and I was ready to glue. I used a product called Flora Bond to attach every section. It is similar to Quick Grip glue but not so quick to dry and allows for a bit of flex.

My goal was to place the leaves on to the rose stems that were exposed and through the existing foliage until my eye was satisfied that it was indeed a representation of a rose bush.

Elizabeth of Studio E.  always advocates taking photos to help clarify the image you have created. I did find it helpful (thank goodness for digital cameras), and noticed the bush needed more foliage  on the left side. I had not been able to let go of the idea that the vine should only cascade right, over the French door. I thought that could be an appealing shape and it did double duty to cover the electrical wiring that supplies power to the light above the door.  I ended up making more roses to help fill the area to create more balance in the bush.

Now I look at the many photos I have taken for this post perhaps I should add even more!

Above you can see the coffee/tea soil covering the floral foam in the planter. A few leaves and petals have fallen .

Early morning, the sun highlights the courtyard.

The gardener in the house knows it is the best time to pick the roses. Once again a photo is helpful as I see the leaves are quite flat but to the eye they seem quite natural. Back to the drawing board for those leaves!

The dog waits longingly for her morning walk.

Not all is tranquil in the French House.

Number 1 Granddaughter decides her LaLa Loopsy dolls fit perfectly in the Empire room bed.

A rearrangement is underway. The living room becomes a store, the dining room a party room and the tiny Star War troopers do battle with the robot if they can find him. I know he is hiding in the toilet with the yellow duckie from the bath.

I'm sitting nearby pretending to read my book. I do not interfere but become invisible to them as I listen to all the happenings in my mini house.  How wonderful and lucky I am.

Take care.

regards Janine

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Australian Visitor - bearing gifts!

Dear All,
How time gets away from us.

In May Elizabeth and I enjoyed a visit from Linda of who splits her time between Sydney Australia and Whistler Canada. We had met Linda last year here in Canada and had planned a mini day on her return. Unfortunately Fatima was unable to attend. Linda came for lunch and was able to stay with us overnight.

She kindly carried gifts from Norma ,which was a lovely surprise.
Thank you Norma.

Norma knew I was working to fill the book shelves of the book cases in the Salon of my French House.

This is how I used her gifts:

The books and cushion found their home on the window seat.

I was not successful at downloading book covers so as an alternate I made a collection of books including sketch books, diaries and old ribbon closed papers. On the top shelf I covered books from a picture of the battles of Napoleon and Wellington.

That was fun and conceals the lights that are recessed above the window seat.

Notice the window closure. More on that later.

The magazines were perfect on the steamer chair in the courtyard garden.  The garden boots have been kicked off and a glass of lemonade awaits.

At last I have been inspired to work on the garden. I added water lilies to the fountain and made pots of succulents for the hot spot under the clematis.

My impetus to complete my French House was the looming of the West Coast Miniature and Dollhouse Show held on the 7 June.  However, despite the fast approaching date I did not seem to be inspired.
The rose bush had been holding me back for so long was still not a reality. I kept avoiding it.

Over breakfast I would examine the climbing rose visible from the kitchen. Elizabeth of seemed to have no problems at all generating a fantastic English-style garden but I had mini gardeners block!

Watching the roses bloom in my RL garden:

Linda Park bought me a gift of a vase by Magaret Crosswell of Tasmania, that is finely painted with the image of a wisteria. I was inspired and decided I could make wisteria.

This is Margaret's vase and the finished wisteria.

 I could make wisteria! It was very easy once I found an appropriate floral pic with foliage similar to wisteria. I cut down the size of the foliage and made many florets using pale green embroidery floss dipped into white glue and then into lilac-coloured Flower Soft.

 This is my under control work table with several projects on the go. Please note that the space on the table will become smaller and smaller as the week goes on till I have an unbelievable mess. The manila envelope is in the process of being painted to replicate rose leaves.... more on that in a later post.  On the right on the blue pad are black bamboo sticks being made into French-style window openers. A finished example is shown in the picture of the salon window seat. They have a wrap of thin brass at the top and bottom, the handle is made with fimo baked and painted gold.
In the centre of the photo are the bits and pieces of wisteria foliage and the flower soft florets.

I decided I would add wisteria to the chimney as well. Still avoiding roses as you can tell.

In my RL garden when I move or dispose of unruly plants I check the roots to see if there is anything that may be suitable for miniature trees or vines. The above vine began as a section of dried root from a yew shrub. I sectioned the roots and glued them onto the chimney to create the vine.

Added the flowers

and the foliage, moss at the base of the chimney as well as the roof and chimney pots. I added a drain  under the downpipes with a smear of muddy gel candle under the drain to replicate water.

The little grotesque is waiting for the broken pot to bloom.

at which time he will offer her a flower.

More to come. Any questions happily answered.
regards Janine

Friday, March 27, 2015



I do have a habit of buying something and then not unwrapping it for some time. I usually feel that things have to make their way gently into their new space. Not this time. I arrived home from the Seattle Show and next morning my Granddaughter and I found places for all but one purchase.

Fatima bought me this delicate doll from Bobbi Johnson, she has a porcelain face and arms.  I thought she would go into the children's room but Granddaughter #1 correctly decided she should be in the Empire Room.

The fire has burned down to its embers. Cleo, the cat, is checking the remnants of a midnight picnic - did that naughty cat knock over the glass? The electricity magically began to work so I was able to put a fire into the fireplace. This was done by using the base of Orange TicTac's with a light bulb placed into a hole drilled into the back of the box. This was then painted and cellophane paper crushed to create more of a glow. Elizabeth at bought our attention to this technique when she created her fireplace in her living room.

Sometimes a small project takes more time than expected.  Does that sound familiar? It was not difficult to chop the wood for the basket but at each chop the piece would go flying off, never to be found again.  Wine glasses and decanter on tray by Janet Uyetake.

I did tell you about the single pea and other veggies that I bought from  TwinHeart minis. It is difficult to get a photo but I hope you can see the fully formed peas nestled inside the pod. The parsnip has gone missing.  I cannot remember if I put it somewhere to keep safe, obviously I will have to defer vacuuming until it is found.

The final photo is of a gift of a planter from Elizabeth.  Is it a hint to get on with my perimeter garden ... perhaps ...
A grotesque keeps vigil over a broken pot while the little plant bravely blooms on.  If you look closely at Elizabeth's current post you will see this very pot. The grotesque was found many years ago, a topper for a dollar store stamp.  It takes so long to go anywhere! I have to look closely at everything to see if there is any possibility of a miniature treasure.

All will be quiet on this blog for a while. Think of me as I spend long evenings hovering over the computer searching for specific book title covers to reduce for the salon library wall. Who knows when I may emerge.

regards Janine