I have a photosensitivity, and always feel as if I truly come alive in the fall. The sun is not so intense, the hot weather is past, the skies are beautiful and clear, and, within limits, I can finally emerge from my exile indoors and see the world again.
And I always enjoy decorating for the season, as well, anticipating the holidays to come.
It is very satisfying to clean the house, get out the cozy throws, and change the summery pillows on the sofas for warm jewel tones.
And, of course, I love making new fall arrangements. Well, actually, I USED to make them, going for long walks with my garden gloves and shears and a large totebag to fill with dried grasses, berry branches and colorful leaves. Nowadays I mostly make mini arrangements and keep my favorite real life arrangements of mostly fakes and use them season to season, just adding some new fresh things occasionally.
As the days grow cooler and shorter, energy is restored, my pace quickens and my pulse races, because I know this year our son and his family will be joining us and our daughter and her family for Thanksgiving. All our children and grandchildren together; hurrah!
I buy holiday paper plates and napkins for snacks and desserts, but get out the china and cloth napkins for holiday gatherings. My dear late sister Ann once asked, "Why do people have nice china and never use it? Who are they waiting for? Who's more important than family?"
"Well," I replied at the time, "I guess I'm not waiting for the governor to call. And you're right; who's more important than family?" And so, for each holiday or family get-together ever since, I have gotten out the special china and glassware from the china cabinet.
The glass cake plate on the hutch shelf in our kitchen that was a gift from my son one Christmas long ago will soon hold a chocolate or pumpkin pie.
The large floor arrangement with the cattails in the background could actually remain year round.
The hutch top arrangement of pumpkins, apples, oranges, pomegranates and lemons, with the addition of a small ghost, witch or a couple of bats, works for Halloween. Remove them, and there's a decoration for Thanksgiving.
Soon the decorative cornucopia will be replaced with the turkey, which my husband prepares, and all the go-withs that our children provide.
And even though we are now the older generation, those loved ones who are no longer with us will be represented through treasured recipes: DD Dana's potato salad with the boiled egg daisy on top is made like her Granny made it; DIL Bonnie's green bean casserole is her mother Elvina's recipe; and I make the cornbread dressing and giblet gravy as my mother made hers. We enjoy our versions of Aunt Ann's mashed potatoes and Aunt Kay's fruit salad in the special Depression Glass compote that my husband once bought for me at a yard sale. And the desserts are Memaw's banana pudding, Bonnie's "Good Chocolate Stuff," pumpkin and chocolate pies made like Granny's, etc.
Even though we miss Granny and Memaw, Elvina and Rex, Kay and Ann, we will smile and tell the old stories and remember them, and truly our cup runneth over as we give thanks for family, friends and all the good times we've shared.
It's ALMOST Thanksgiving!
National NAME Day was October 2, 2010. Its goal was to unite and involve all members of the National Assocation of Miniature Enthusiasts (of which I have been a member since 1984) by doing the same project, a hutch in three different scales, on the same day at different locations throughout the US and internationally.
I was fortunate enough to participate online in two of these projects to make a hutch in quarter scale and one in twelfth.
The Quarter Connection, an online group for miniaturists working in 1/48 scale, offered a kit for 100 lucky people so that they could make not only the hutch, but also kits for other furniture, wallpaper, curtains, accessories and the roombox to put it all in. I was fortunate enough to purchase one of those kits.
I read the instructions for all the kits in advance, as well as the instructions given in the Miniature GAZETTE, and gathered materials for each project. I also prepared for the day by staining all the parts for my quarter scale kits in advance.
On October 2, I moved aside the mail and other stuff at my computer desk so that I could work on my projects while participating in the chat and other online activities with both the QC group and those participating in the NAME N-1 project designed by Cynthia Howe, a Noah's Ark hutch.
I began by making the box frame.
And then I worked on the hutch.
It was such fun chatting while working, especially since I don't really have anyone to work with me on quarter scale in El Paso. People shared lots of good ideas and techniques, as well.
I managed to get the hutch completely finished that morning and had to leave the chat in order to participate in the other group's project, so I didn't get to share in the QC contests and drawings, but I did with the later group and won two prizes!
Since I have this long streak of not finishing things, I was DETERMINED to fill my hutch before I did anything else. It took a lot of digging and contriving before I had the contents for the shelves.
I found some ready-made glasses from Linden Swiss, and some 1/48 cups that I purchased long ago from the late Joe Hermes. The cups are a bit clunky, but better than I could make that day. After trying to make some I know now why most quarter scalers don't bother with cups! I am going to experiment in future ....
I punched out plates, made a teapot with a tiny bead and snakes of clay, and found other bits and pieces to suggest serving dishes. What looks like a green two-sided blob here is actually a nice-looking leaf-shaped serving plate!
I used the tiniest of eyelets and a piece of white wire to make a couple of candlesticks which I at first used atop the hutch, but then only used one on the shelf next to the cake plate. I stored the second one but now I have no idea where it is!
And then I made a pumpkin arrangement to go atop the hutch. The fruits and vegetables for the most part are made from tiny foam balls from a floral stem that I punched and textured with my pick.
Since I have always enjoyed making arrangements in real life, that interest transfers down to my mini creations, as well. I got down box after box of artificial and dried flowers to find bits and pieces of this and that which I thought might be useful.
The flowers shown here are real dried blooms - actually the tiny individual clusters that make up larger clusters that make up the full-size blooms. I used my pick and needlenose tweezers to pluck apart the clusters until I found the tiniest invididual blooms. In addition I cut apart tiny leaves to make even tinier ones, found some of the most miniscule blooms in my statice collection, and looked through my foam stem clusters.
Although I have a work area, I worked on this project at our kitchen table because my husband was out and about, enjoying his volunteer activities at the Franklin Mountains State Park, and who really cared about the mess? That blue you see is placemats!
And I surely can't seem to do anything without making big messes - even with tiny things like these. (I did try to tidy up occasionally!)
Notice the paint - I used brown and green to make the dried stems more realistic.
This is the top of a salmon can that I placed on the table which helps bring the arrangement closer to eye level while I work on it. The brass container is held firmly in place by a piece cut from a foam mounting dot used in scrapbooking. I like to use Elmer's Glue when I make these arrangements; it dries quickly and is not as flexible as Tacky glue.
Notice that pick? That is my most valuable tool. I use it to apply glue, push things into place, move things about, pick up things, indent, poke holes, etc.
Well, as it turned out, it was a great arrangement, and the cattails I made showed up nicely, but it was a bit too big for use on the buffet, so I put it aside for another project and started over.
I like the look of copper with fall colors, so decided to use this small squat metal bead as my vase. Here you can see the foam dot more clearly.
I tested it atop the buffet, and it was a better fit. At this point I decided to use tiny copper no hole beads to make the drawer pulls on both the buffet and hutch, since I had unfortunately lost the tiny black ones that came with the kit - I must've breathed on them!
Look at the contrast between the buffet and the twelfth scale hutch base in progress! That's my cornucopia on the right, waiting to be used as the centerpiece on the dining table. At first I planned to put an entire Thanksgiving dinner on the table, but I knew it would take me too long to do that, so that's when I decided it was ALMOST Thanksgiving!
Besides, I worked so hard on that pretty table designed by Karen Cary (who designed all these furniture kits) that I wanted more of it to show, too.
And taking pictures in progress helps me notice things that escape the naked eye sometimes; for intance, the spot on the buffet where it was attached to the laser frame thingy. I actually used a felt marker to dye the spot and then put an additional coat of stain over the entire piece.
I used Paula Isaacs' suggestion about painting the chair seats black and wanted to add another touch of black in the room, so decided to use a tall black clock that I had ordered from Bonnie Soucek. However, this required something on the other side of the hutch for balance.
Last year I saw a striking arrangement in a tall urn against an ornate Mexican carved screen at a local decorators' warehouse and was just blown away. I decided to try something like that in this roombox, so I made cattails and a couple of stargazer lilies to go with the contrived flowers.
For the screen, I cut a section of laser cut paper from some tiny ring boxes that I found at a stationery store (and haven't been able to find any since!). I just painted both sides and used my pick and a straight edge to indent the center fold while it was still slightly dampish.
Here I am testing the urn with the screen to see how it would work. (This was a dry run, before the box sides were glued in place.) So far, so good.
I decided I wouldn't be using that braided rug; its colors are wrong!
I wanted to use this little pumpkin pot to make another arrangement, but managed to restrain myself when I realized there was no place in this setting for it. So, I will use it another time.
I had planned to use the wallpaper that came with the kit, but its floral design and wainscoting made the room look too busy with my clock and the tall floor arrangement, so I started digging through my stash to see what would work. I didn't find anything I liked, and in frustration decided to quit working on things for a while and make myself a snack.
My eye fell on the magnetized notepad that hangs on the refrigerator door. (Sorry for the color; my DH put in one of those newfangled lightbulbs that looks yellow!)
Aha! Its pale toile pattern should work perfectly as wallpaper in my roombox! It is so subtle a pattern that it adds texture without being obtrusive. So, I cut a template and placed it on the most appropriate segments of the toile design, then glued the paper to cardstock, then glued that into the box. I thought about adding a chair rail but decided I wanted the illusion of a taller wall.
I don't remember where I got the paper I used for my flooring, and I only had a very small scrap, so had to use it with the boards going vertically. I glued it to cardstock and used the smallest stylus tip and a straight edge to pull along and delineate the individual boards.
Fortunately, I was able to cut two single plank strips to form molding for the ceiling and floor, using a black felt marker to darken the cut white edges.
I was so excited to find my wallpaper that I forgot about my snack, but fortunately, my husband brought lunch!
Here I have clamped the floor to hold it while the glue dries. Unfortunately, the clamp was too tight and left a dent! Fortunately, the other rug in the kit worked perfectly to hide it.
Somewhere in this process I painted the top white, for the ceiling. So at this stage all I needed to do was glue the frame on the front and then drop the top into place.
In my own house, I hang my curtains so when they are open they leave as much of the window free as possible. Because of my photosensitivity, I am stuck indoors much of the time, but I can't stand to be closed in, and want as much light as I can get when it isn't direct sunlight. I did the same thing here.
(I don't know why the bunka trim shows as beige; it's actually not that dark in real life.)
Well, the windows filled the entire wall, and left no room for the screen, so I just kept the flowers in the tall urn. And I will use those two pumpkins in another setting, too.
The urn now shows up nicely against the pale wallpaper.
I had already decided against the braided rug. This one, also included in the kit, is much better with the rectangular table, and goes well with the colors in the fall arrangements and the dark body of the clock.
Just noticed something, though ....
I forgot the runner under the cornucopia! And what's with that painting? Oh, no! Way too low.
I was tempted to leave it, but knew I would never be satisfied. So, out comes the painting. And sure enough, somewhere in this process of removing the glued painting I lost the tiny candlestick off the hutch!
I tore the wallpaper where the back of the floral arrangement had been glued to the wall and pulling up the glued paper would do worse damage, so I knew I needed to replace the entire wall. Darn!
Well, I glued a new piece of wallpaper to cardstock ...
And cut two new strips of molding from the remnant of flooring paper. (Now that I think about it, I must've cut a circular piece for a dome floor perhaps.)
The black marker conceals the white cut edges, giving a shadow effect which makes the paper appear to have more depth.
I bought these cocktail napkins for Christmas one year, but noticed some of the designs in the patchwork were very tiny. I am going to try that red toile for a bedspread and curtains one day - maybe in a Christmas setting!
With points cut at either end, one of the narrow strips with a very subtle pale gold design yielded a suitable runner for the buffet. I cut a second strip, except slightly larger, to go under the cornucopia.
At this point, the new wall is in place and the painting has been reglued so that there is a wider space above the table top. The shape of that frame - which I picked up in the scrapbooking department one time - matches the shape of the table and buffet tops. Who knew?
Here is where I've cut the strip for the runner. I removed an inner layer of paper and used only one thickness. I like the flower arrangement better on one end and am now thinking of what to use with it. Perhaps a plate of goodies, candlesticks?
Well, it was worth all the extra work. Now the flower arrangement does not obscure the painting, and moving it to the left allows for one candlestick and a special turned wood jar.
And the runner is now in place underneath the cornucopia.
By the way, the wood jar on the buffet, the tall jug, and large bowl on the hutch shelf, as well as the smaller bowl on top of the hutch, were gifts from the late Jane Markstrom. We first became friends at a NAME House Party in Minneapolis in the late 80s when we shared a table for three meals. We saw each other at later conventions and kept in contact over the years. When I bought some of her quarter scale kits in 2005 she told me she was venturing into turnings and sent me those pieces, which are real treasures because of their connection with NAME and a lovely person no longer with us.
Oh, and notice the glass covered cake plate? That actually is the broken-off stem of a twelfth scale wineglass (see, I save everything lol), sitting atop a sequin. Oh, and there's the candlestick that I lost at some point, probably when I turned the box on its side while I was redoing the wall. It was so tiny it will probably never be seen again, although I am going to look carefully in the dust pan when I finally get around to sweeping the floor in my kitchen.
Thanks, NAME, and Quarter Connection, for helping me break through my hang-ups about quarter scale and actually complete an entire setting. I plan to hang this little box on my kitchen wall near my twelfth scale Granny's Kitchen, and will enjoy it many times a day from now on.