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Sophie Sparks, a cousin of our friend Miss Minnie Sparks, always had a love of nature, and in her travels around the world made it a point to learn about the flora and fauna of each locale.

Now after many adventures in her personal and business life, Sophie has settled down in what she says is her final career, with her own little mail order business. When I decided to pay her a visit recently, the first clue about her latest venture came at the curb in front of her house.

Propped against this goshawful sofa on the curbside was a sign:

I walked past the sofa and was greeted by a bright figure next to the front door.

I had seen these front-door geese in costume before, but this was the first one I'd seen dressed as a ladybug! I wondered if it had come from Miss Minnie, recalling her telling me during one of our visits, "I should dress a goose for Sophie; what with her business and all. You know, since she sells ladybugs as a form of natural pest control. And I am running out of room for more geese myself."

Anyway, here I was finally at Miss Sophie's, ringing her doorbell and looking over my shoulder at the impressive sofa, which seemed to grow larger and brighter as I gazed at it, and on the other hand being greeted by a very colorful goose!

An older woman with an upswept hairdo and lots of eye makeup greeted me. "Oh, are you wanting the sofa? You can have it! Free! Just take it away."

"Um, no ma'am," I replied. "My name is Wanna and I'm a friend of Miss Minnie Sparks. She said you would be willing to talk to me about your ladybug business, and I called last week about coming over? And since I'm interested in all kinds of unusual ...."

She interrupted, motioning me through the doorway, "Oh, hello, dear. I had forgotten that you were coming today! Now I remember why that chocolate cake is in the refrigerator! Come on in," she said warmly, the sleeves of her diaphanous long red dress floating around her as she ushered me into her little house. "I guess I forgot about you because I am so anxious to get rid of that damn thing out front, and was just hoping you were someone wanting to take it away." She squinted at me, "I don't suppose you would want a sofa for free, Wanna?"

"No, thank you, Miss Sparks. I don't really have any place for such an interesting piece of furniture. But thank you for asking."

"Ha!" she said. "'Interesting,' indeed. Somebody taught you tact. That's the most obnoxious sofa I ever had. One of my ex-admirers painted it especially for me. Bet you didn't even know one could paint sofas! It was quite overwhelming in my living room, but oh, well; he was a sweetie, otherwise." Her eyes sparkled. "Ask me to tell you about Manuel sometime." She winked slyly.

"So, Minnie tells me you are interested in my ladybug business." She lowered herself to a comfortable sofa and patted the seat beside her. "Have a seat on my new sofa - quite plain you notice, dear. And call me Sophie."

As I sank into the soft cushions, she smiled. "I am known in the business world as The Ladybug Lady. Yes, my friend Howard and I (I'll tell you about Howard another time) ship all over the place. Honey, you wouldn't believe how satisfying it is to box up those little darlings and send them out to all the lovely rose gardens. Would you believe an adult ladybug can eat up to 75 aphids a day, and up to 5,000 in the course of its little life? See that carton over there which is about ready to go out? Now there's a customer who uses LOTS of ladybugs!" She pulled a packet from the open box.

"This little net bag holds a minimum of 1500 ladybugs. We put them in there with a wee bit of straw and ship overnight, so that the little fellows are not harmed."

I peered at the shipping label on the carton. "You sell to ....?"

"Oh, yes," she interrupted. "Martha does love our ladybugs. She's a big believer in organic everything, you know. I always hated what aphids did to my roses and it does my heart good, knowing that my little business helps get rid of those suckers! Not only for me, but for many other rose and flower lovers, like our famous friend there. Now that Al Gore has come out with his global warning movie, I'm thinking of giving him a call; bet he'd like organic pest control .... " she mused.

"That's also an interesting goose, or is it a duck, you have by your front door," I commented.

"Oh, it's one I got from my cousin Minnie. Her old friend Ed Handy carved the goose with his chain saw. and she made the costume. Far be it from me to say so, but frankly, I believe it's a little much. As soon as a decent amount of time has passed, I think that ladybug goose is going out to the back porch."

She sighed. "One result of my business is that it has greatly helped my friends and family when they have to decide on a gift. I now have every kind of ladybug gadget you can think of, unfortunately all over this house. I finally got so tired of it all that I had to fix up a little room away from my main living area, just to hold the ladybug overflow. Actually, I enjoy that room more than I thought I would. It's a nice place for quiet reading; no tv or anything like that, although frankly, sometimes it's too quiet. Why, there are times when it feels like something - one of those ladybugs probably - is looking over my shoulder while I read!"

"That sounds interesting," I said. "I would love to see your collections."

At this point, she arose from the sofa and started down the hallway. "Come, let's go see my little reading room."

 

One of the first things I noticed at the end of the hallway was this little ladybug figure. "Oh, that is so cute," I said. "It looks like it was made from an upside-down flowerpot."

"Yes; matter of fact, it was. One of my nephew Floyd's children made it for me." She laughed. "It's kind of unnerving, meeting up with that thing in the dark." She walked over to peer underneath a hall bench. "I thought there was something else from those kids, ...." She poked around in a basket. "Ah, here it is," she said, holding high another flowerpot creation, a strange contraption from which metal ladybugs were suspended. "I plan to hang this windchime out back. Floyd's kids got pretty creative with flower pots. Maybe when it tinkles too loudly it will scare away that goose! "

"Well," I said, "As a matter of fact, I have a little angel in my Christmas collection that is also made from a miniature flower pot."

She looked at me, frowning. "Honey, you are just as strange as Floyd and those kids. Where do you all get all those flower pots? Do you ever use them for REAL plants?" She smiled. "Well, Floyd does have some really creative children. His wife, though, doesn't have a creative bone in her body," she added as an afterthought.

As we walked through her house, I saw ladybug memorabilia everywhere.

 

I almost tripped over a riding toy. No wonder she's getting tired of all this, I thought; it's a danger to life and limb.

When we reached the sitting area, I stood in the doorway of a cosy little nook with a window seat looking out over a patio.

"Why, I like this place!" I said. "It's just right for a solitary reader." I pointed. "Looks like you've been reading!"

"Oh, I need to talk to those children! They always pull out the ladybug books when they visit."

(As you can tell if you've spent much time viewing my settings, I like to make books. If you are interested in purchasing any of my book covers in several different themes, including five of these ladybug books at quite a nominal price, go here.)

"I see a couple more over here," she said, pointing to the floor by the table. "I need to remind them to put things back, although now I am noticing that I've left some out, too! Oh, well, readers get so absorbed in what they're reading, you know. "

"I love that fan," I said. "Since I have a photo- and heat-sensitivity, I always carry a fan wherever I go. I don't have one, however, like that!"

"Oh, my good friend Chew Din gave me that fan. Did I mention him before? Ask me to tell you about him sometime."

"I used to read in a big old chair like that when I was a kid," I confided. "Actually, I lay crosswise in it, head on one arm and legs dangling over the other. Loved that chair, " I recalled fondly.

"That chair is quite old, but it's my favorite reading place, too," she said. "Used to belong to my father. When I was a child I loved to stretch out on the chair arm and lean on him while he worked his crossword puzzles. That's how I learned to read, you know. I knew what an emu was before I knew about Dick and Jane! Sit down, Wanna; put your feet up and try it out," she added.

I eased into the old leather chair and put my feet on the small hassock.

"Very comfortable," I said.

She perched on the window seat, her sleeves fluttering as she gestured. "Oh, I agree. I love being able to put my feet up!"

She surveyed the tiny reading room, shaking her head. "This is only the tip of the ladybug iceberg, so to speak. I have boxes of stuff up in the attic, along with lots of un-ladybug souvenirs from my earlier travels. Did Minnie tell you I loved to travel? You know, Cousin Minnie and I are very close, but we are about as different as night and day. She always loved staying at home while I always had a lust for adventure." She winked. "And I had some good ones. Adventures AND lusts! Remind me some time and I'll tell you about them."

"Well," I said, "Your collection does rival Miss Minnie's geese and ducks."

Sophie laughed. "Ah, yes, fhe Sparkses seem to have evolved into a line of collectors; not sure why. You should see our other cousin Elnora's rabbits!" She winked at me. "I think they indulged in a little hanky-panky and multiplied every time she turned her back. Ran her out of her own house. She moved into a little apartment and sold all her collection to a strange giant rabbit who says he's a relation of that invisible rabbit in the old Harvey movie from the late 40s or 50s. You know, the one with Jimmy Stewart?

"Oh, that must be Hiram, " I said. "He rented my McKinley house for a while. Yep, quite a collection all right. Bears in there, too, for a while, and you can imagine the commotion. He's moved out of my house, finally, and I am so relieved. He's in his own little shop now, called Hare It Is. You ought to visit it some time. "

"Well, frankly, I kind of admire Elnora for having the sense to get rid of all that stuff. She was like me with the ladybugs and Minnie with the geese and ducks. Oh, and of course, there's Floyd and his stuff, too. Wait'll you see his place! People keep giving us things, even when we tell them politely - and not so politely in my case - to stop, and frankly I'm just getting pretty sick of it. Some days I think I'll just put it all out on the curb like I did with that blasted sofa, or call Goodwill and tell them to take it all, and then I'll start all over with shabby chic or something. But, the Sparkses are not ones to throw anything away, though, generally. "

I was curious about how Sophie had gotten into the ladybug business.

"Well, in my friskier days I used to be quite athletic. One winter I was hiking in the mountains with my friend Hans (ask me about him some time!) and we came upon this red-orange-y mass of what I thought were wildflowers. Imagine! Flowers growing in winter! But it wasn't flowers at all, it was ladybugs, millions of them, clustered together in one vast little orgy there in the crevices and under logs and rocks - all over the place! Amazing! I had thought they were kind of like cicadas. You know - seventeen years in the ground and then one little season of mating, and you're dead? But, it turns out they hibernate in these clusters; don't eat or drink. Remarkable! When you think about the fact that you can fit 80,000 ladybugs in a one gallon ice cream bucket, imagine how many that must have been. Even billions, maybe."

"Fortunately," she said. "I had one picture left on the roll, so I did manage to snap one cluster. See it there?" She handed me a framed photo.

"Wow!" I said. "And they were all over like that?"

"All over the place! I was just so intrigued that I came down off that mountain and called a biologist friend of mine and …. well, the rest is history, as they say." She winked slyly again. "Ask me to tell you about Dr. Loggia some time, too, by the way." She got a faraway look in her eyes. "For a scientist, he was pretty emotional."

I noticed several items in a nearby basket. "May I look at these?" I asked. "Oh, sure," she said. "Be my guest."

She laughed as I pulled out a drawing tucked beside a roll of ladybug wrapping paper. "I think that's my great-nephew's version of an aphid. Ever since Floyd dressed them for Halloween, he tends to think the aphids are larger than the ladybugs! "

I laughed when I saw the umbrella drawing on a greeting card. She winced. "It's a picture of a birthday present that's coming from Elnora. You can imagine the looks I'll get when I carry that thing! So I figure I'lI have to use it for at least one rain a summer; the rest of the time I'll hide it!"

"It looks like something has rolled out of the basket and curled up on itself over there," I noticed.

She picked it up and unrolled it. "Oh, that's another gift from Cousin Minnie. She found this ladybug border when she was out shopping and thought it would work in my bathroom. Good grief! I have tried and tried to tell Minnie I don't want any more ladybug stuff in my bathroom. But you know her; she is very persistent." She sighed. "And it does match the bathmat she gave me last year for my birthday."

"Well, actually, it's kind of neat," I said, recalling a glimpse of the rug as we passed her guest bathroom..

"Honey, you want it? Take it! Be my guest! And while you're at it, how about taking this, too? Came from Floyd." She handed me a little poster.

"I don't know what it is, maybe Chinese? Anyway, it supposedly says Double Happiness and of course it has ladybugs perched on it. Now where would I put that? I refuse to put any more ladybug stuff in my living room."

"That plant came from Flora, Floyd's wife, now that I think about it. Guess one of the kids decorated the pot; don't think she could hold a brush straight to paint those ladybugs on the rim."

"Hmm," I said, peering at the plant. "It actually looks pretty healthy. What's it called?"

"Honey, I don't know what that is. I keep figuring it will die, but it just hangs on. One of those low-light-can't-kill-it-off plants that people who like plants give to people who have brown thumbs. I like my plants outside, not inside, particularly. I have too many things to do to be watering plants, although I do keep a watering can in the bottom of the hutch there."

The old-fashioned graniteware watering can sat next to a rather strange decorative metal ladybug.

She saw me looking at it. "You know, Floyd gave me that, too. It's from Japan or somewhere like that, I think, and it's supposed to represent good luck or something. He's a collector, too, but all those strange things he has give me the willies; just like that thing. But it was a gift from one of my favorite nephews, so I keep it. When it comes to decorating, Flora's apparently content to let his hobbies take over their house. " She shook her head. "Dumb as a bag of hammers, that Flora.

"Remember how I said the chair belonged to my father? Well, believe it or not, those textiles next to the watering can were my mother's. I couldn't believe it when I was looking through some old things in the attic, and discovered they had ladybugs on them. So I figured, shoot, the whole place is full of ladybugs, anyway, so I took them out of the trunk so I could enjoy them. Actually, I think my mother made that quilt from pieced flour sacks. People used those a lot during the Depression, you know."

She smiled affectionately and pointed to another small picture tucked in the basket. "That baby is Floyd's youngest. My nephew is quite the kidder. I took that picture when he brought the children by last Halloween so I could see their costumes. His oldest son was dressed as an aphid and was pretending he was being chased by the baby!!" She laughed. "Floyd said he figured my business could use some free publicity!"

"Your hutch reminds me of my china cabinet." I commented. "I also have several colorful items that have been given me by family and friends. Love those plates with the reading ladybugs! How appropriate for you, in your little reading room." I looked more closely. "May I ask what that is?" I asked, pointing toward some colorful objects in a green leaf dish.

"Oh, those," she said. "That's chocolate, covered with marzipan. Now you talk about rich! I only eat one a day. They were made by my friend Howard, who works in the business with me. He used to be a chef. Ask me to tell you about Howard some time. You want one, Wanna?"

"Oh, no," I said. "Perhaps another time, but thank you."

I noticed an apron hanging on the side of the hutch. "Are you a cook, or is that just another present from somebody?"

"Am I a cook!" she said emphatically. "Do you like Chinese food? I make wonderful fried rice with pork. An old friend taught me." She smiled, eyes sparkling. "Remind me some time, honey, and I'll tell you about my adventures with Chew Din. Oh my, I could just write a book!" Pause. "I could call it Paroxyzms of Lust!"

And before I could say no, she had tied on the apron and ushered me to her kitchen where she proceeded to heat up a quick meal that she had prepared previously. She was right, too; her fried rice with pork was terrific!

Before we returned to her little sitting area, she opened the refrigerator and brought out a cake. "I hope you saved room for dessert. We have a ladybug cake." At my expression, she said, "No, not REAL ones, of course, Wanna. It's made with dark chocolate and raspberries. My specialty. I did kind of mess up with the ladybug decoration in a place or two. Oh well, what the heck. Still tastes just as good. I'm not too picky about appearances; flavor's what counts, I say.

Back in the sitting area, she set the cake on her lamp table, along with dessert plates and colorful napkins. She served us and we chatted for quite some time. As she talked, she waved her arms expressively, plate in one hand and fork in the other. I felt almost hypnotized as her filmy sleeves floated back and forth with every gesture.

Boy, that cake was good, although I must admit I still hesitated as I bit into a piece with the ladybug's eyes on it!

She was telling me about one of her past loves Hans when I realized it was growing dark. "I hate to interrupt your story, Miss Sophie. That ride on the tramway in the Alps must've been quite an experience, but it's getting late and I must go," I said, rising. "I certainly have enjoyed myself. It was such fun seeing your collection and learning about your business and listening to your stories. You are a superb cook and hostess."

"Well, I've enjoyed your visit, too, Wanna. It's nice to have company, besides just customers. My family have heard all my stories, they say. They try to be polite, but their eyes just glaze over! If they only knew ...! I hope you'll come back; you seem like the sort who would appreciate some of my more risque adventures!"

Suddenly, I got a tingling down my spine. You know, the feeling that someone is watching you? I could have sworn somebody was peeping through the window!

I turned to look behind me. "Do you ever have prowlers around here?" I asked nervously, peering toward the window.

"Nah; very quiet neighborhood," she said, waving her hand dismissively as we walked down the hallway "Now you come back real soon for another visit, you hear?" she called from the doorway as I hurried to my car. I assured her I would and drove quickly away.

 

Now that some time has passed since my memorable visit with the Ladybug Lady, I figure that feeling of being spied on was all just my imagination.

Sophie called me recently, and I am looking forward to another visit, where I hope to learn more about that tramway ride with Hans, and find out about Manuel, and Dr. Loggia, and all those delicious boyfriends.

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NOTES:

The Ladybug Lady scene began when I found a ladybug rug at a miniature show in Lubbock, Texas. It was made by Ruth Branch, a friend of Sadie Ludecke, who has made the wonderful braided rugs in my collections.

That rug just called out to me, even though I had no clear idea as to how I would use it. However, I had been collecting all kinds of whimsical critters as I planned some Mother Goose and Fairyland scenes, so it seemed fortuitous that it appeared when it did.

Not long after we returned from Lubbock I was in the dollar store and found some plastic frames with ladybugs on them. Aha! A ladybug setting! I thought. Remembering a Joann Swanson technique of making roomboxes with pictures frames, I bought four smaller frames to form the box and one larger to serve as the top.

I traced the interior of the box and cut a piece of cardboard to fit, then cut a floor from thin foam packing material. After trimming the foam, I gued the cardboard to the bottom. That way, whatever moisture I applied to the top with glue, paint, etc., could be offset by also applying a spray or brushing of water on the bottom; avoiding warping, I thought.

Even so, the wood strip floor, made from stained coffee stirrers, showed some warping when it dried. I just took it in my hands and sort of cracked it into shape again.

Here are the walls and floor, temporarily held in place with Scotch tape.

And here I am experimenting with wallpaper. Kind of bold, but this is not your ordinary room, either!

Hmmn. Which one shall I use? Do I have anything else?

Yep; I think I'll go with this.

This is one of those little tables from pizza boxes, painted in brown iron oxide.

I made the rather over-the-top lamp from beads and findings; its shade was one of several inexpensive metal pins, including a honeybee and dragonflies, that I used to wear on my sun hats. By the way, that longish black bead is a dogbone bead, very difficult to find, at least in my area. If you find any, get them; they are always good for making lamps and useful for longer stems or stands for various accessories. The clock has a printed face which was coated with sealer; it sits on a red eyelet. I didn't think about the fact that the plain gold back of the clock would be facing outward when I glued the table in place. If I were to do it again, I would probably angle it more.

The jar is a bead; its cap is a tiny leaf pierced earring. Later, I decided to put the jar in the hutch when I realized I had no place for Sophie to set the cake!

This Take-A-Seat Chair by Raine is the Veridian. Slightly smaller than twelfth scale, it was perfect for this little setting. Its well-used green blends perfectly with the red, green, gold and black color scheme. I had originally planned to add a ladybug applique to that pillow; don't recall now why I didn't.

I didn't like that throw, however; too dull. So I looked through my stash again.

Ah yes, this polka dot throw is much better. Believe it or not, that fabric covered a little girl's headband that had a stuffed ladybug face on top! Its smiling face was too big to use in this setting, but I'm saving it, just in case ....

Here I've added another pillow. This one is made of paper stuffed with cotton.

The footstool, another example of adding a touch of green, is a wooden magnet.

Although you can't see them here, the pot's paper rim has ladybugs painted around it. The plant is made of painted paper. The black plant stand originally was inexpensive brass. I had to cut off that odd upper rim; it took up too much space in my very small setting.

I bought this sunflower birdbath (or bird feeder) at Michaels. Its glass top is a piece of plastic from some kind of packaging. I thought I would use it as a table, but there was no room, so it is back in the stash for some later project.

Having several Michaels wood hutches on hand, there was no question as to what I would use to showcase some of my ladybug collector's things. I had to cut this one down to fit and used an oaktone acrylic craft paint, which came out almost exactly the same color as the frame. After sanding all the surfaces pretty briskly with fine sandpaper, I brushed on a clear coat of Deft sealer. I began trying things in it; not too great, but a start. It definitely needs more variety

I didn't think the objects placed on the shelves showed up well against the golden color, so for the background I used paper that had pastel butterflies. They were so pale, however, that I was not satisfied with the look at all. Cutout pieces of paper doily lined the shelves.

The flower plates were gold findings from a hair clip that I painted. The little cups are metal eyelets. There are a couple of butterfly plaques leaning against the back, but they don't show up very well.

The ladybug platter standing against the back of the hutch was made with a flat oval of red plastic and black tape. The leaf dish was from dollar store earrings; also painted green.

Another painted leaf finding makes a bowl. Rubbing away some of the green paint allows a bit of the gold to show through; a nice effect.

Ultimately, this is what I came up with. I made the reading-ladybug dishes using Paint Shop Pro and printed them out on heavy glossy paper. I also dug into my Chrysnbon stash for the white cups, but kept the green pepper teapot.

I moved the red jar from the table, and kept the smaller metal leaf dish. The plates are actually more richly colored and shiny than they show here. The lighting was not appropriate, or maybe it's because I was focused on the jar.

I also added the Chrysnbon pitcher and glasses. I kept the flower plates, but moved them to the back of this shelf.

Here's a clearer picture of the big leaf dish with the chocolate-marzipan goodies. I made the napkin holder and napkins. The shelf liners on the upper shelf are made from paper. I discovered that fabric from paper looks more realistic if a tiny edge is turned under; gives it more of a dimensional rounded hem look.

The teapot was a show purchase at the Lubbock Miniature Show a few years ago, intended for my Honey Shop, but I needed another teapot for this setting, and there is a pale ladybug on the lid, so I used it.

Hmmn. That's the first time I've noticed that gouge! How the heck did that happen? Looks like it either had something hot against it, or ... surely it wasn't there when I bought it!? Anyway, If I get a better teapot to replace it, I will add it to the Honey Shop stash - and turn it at an angle.

Here's the bottom shelf as I had it originally. Didn't like that at all. What possessed me to use that paper? No good, no good.

The red and black pot on the bottom shelf is contrived with parts from a little girl's hair ornament. The plant is dried greenery. I decided to keep it, since the plant's shape echoes the shape of the ladybugs.

I also kept the strange cloisonne bead-like metal ladybug, as well as the butterfly on the back wall; it originally was in an upper shelf. The watering can was added for another touch of green.

All the textiles here are made of paper.

The ladybug apron was a gift a long time ago and was really neat. However, it was made of quite thick fabric that resisted any kind of natural draping. I decided to try to make it a bit more realistic as a hanging apron, so here it is, pinned to form, ready to spray with Stiffen Stuff. Notice I used paint brush handles to help form natural looking folds. It was still pretty resistant, but looks much better now hanging at the end of the hutch.

The window seat was a strip of fabric-covered balsa that wedged nicely into the groove of the picture frame. For some reason, the cushion looks blue here, but is actually the same dark green as the curtains. Good grief, there goes another ladybug, trying to crawl underneath it!

Here I was working on a ladybug flowerpot project. I cut the design from a piece of notepaper and glued it to the pot.

... and realized it was going to be upside down if I used it as a flower pot! I think it got put aside somewhere to dry and then conveniently disappeared under my work table. lol

I did another one, right-side up this time, but didn't have room for it in the roombox anyway.

This is the frame that was to form the top of the box, but its inner rim wouldn't permit it to lie flat.

Something needed to be done ....

And, sure enough, dear husband obligingly used the Dremel cutting blade to remove it for me, and that took care of the problem. (After all that work, I remembered that Joann doesn't use a frame for the top; she usually has a piece of glass cut to fit. Oh well.)

My grandson Joseph, who was here for a summer visit, looked at the removed portion and said, "That looks like it could be used for something." Then he picked it up and turned it around and said, "Like a doorway for a cave." Spoken like a true miniaturist!

I made several books for this setting with my Paint Shop Pro graphics program, including these, using images I'd saved or drawn. I added all the titles and authors.

As I was looking around, I spotted a funny little snap on bracelet made of foam which had been in my Cheap Thrills stuff. Sure enough, the foam was just the right thickness for making the books' pages. I peeled away the green backing and cut the foam pieces to fit. (See WANNA BOOK? Book Covers here and a mini tutorial where my granddaughters make up these books here.)

Here's a basic cake, ready for decorating.

I experimented making ladybugs for the cake top with tiny drops of paint on waxed paper. Naturally, I got ahead of myself and added the black before the red was dry! So much for hurrying!

The rug needed a bit of tweaking, since at certain angles parts of its white backing were visible. Here I've found a close paint match for the red.

Ah, this is better, with both the red and black inner edges coated.

The curtains, which look almost black here, are dark green; the remains of a frustrating effort to pleat synthetic fabric. I originally planned to make the wallhangings for my Wife of Bath scene using that fabric, but despite my best efforts, the pleats kept kind of sproinging out of the pleater.

Even though I didn't use them for the Wife's setting, I kept the misshapen pleated sections anyway, figuring I had put too much work in them to throw them away. Sure enough, when I realized I needed simple curtains in this setting, I retrieved them. With a lot of glue and cursing I managed to use sections that had at least three good pleats which was all I needed for this very small scene. The rest of the window treatment was contrived as I tried to figure out how to conceal the tops of the frames. I covered a narrow strip of balsa to make the cornice, then realized the corners needed to be finished some way, so I made the swags by tying knots in a strip of fabric and gluing them over the corners.

As I experimented with furniture placement, I noticed that the floor looked like it hadn't been waxed in ages, and although Cousin Sophie might not care, I do. So I gave it a coat of acrylic finish; not really glossy, but looks better to my taste. Although with the rug and everything else in, it hardly shows anyway.

Oh, by the way, you can see the process of creating the ladybug goose costume here.

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