Wednesday, 17 September 2014

All Things Honeydukes......

Where has this year gone? Well for me it's been a year that has fully confirmed that I am a member of the "Sandwich Generation", I no sooner get one of the children sorted before an increasingly elderly parent demands my time, money or energy. There seems to have been very little time for me over the past few months further complicated by the addition of a new puppy who, while adorable, has proved as mad as a bucket of frogs!!
I have made very slow progress with Honeydukes but am getting there bit by bit. In fact I have made a resolution this week that if I am going to remain sane I have to allow myself the time to do what I really enjoy, which is playing with my toys ensconced at home with the phone off and the doors closed for at least a couple of hours a day.
So, where am I now......
 The outside brickwork has more or less been completed. The pavement has been laid, grouted and sealed.
 The brickwork on all three sides has been laid....
 grouted and washed within an inch of its life.
This was an incredibly time consuming process because of the rough facing stonework. I tore my fingertips to pieces doing this with a mixture of sponges and nail brushes. I am dreading doing the chimneys.
 It was also fiddly around the windows a door but I just couldn't see an easier way to accomplish the look.
 Once I was finally happy that all the excess grouting had been removed I tries to age the corners and edges with acrylic washes. This technique is not my strong point as I am so cowardly with the paint. Plus this is real stone so it should have its own definition. The last task was three layers of a PVA was to give it a shine and strengthen the whole structure.
 This whole building was designed from scratch as a 'copy' of the Honeydukes at Universal Studios so each stage has been a bit of a fingers crossed moment but the side/roof pieces fit into place quite nicely. They will be held in place by the back roof as well so they should stand up well.
 Then I began layering more stone slates but no grouting this time thank goodness. 
I have gone for an aged pink upper floor although not too dingy as I thought the contrast might be too great as the green shop floor has not been aged at all.
 The roof has lots of dormer windows including one very large window. All these have been painted and slightly aged. This seemed to take forever and I still have the dormers to make along with all the chimneys. I am quite looking forward to the challenge of these constructions as they will all be quite new experiences for me.
 The upper floor will essentially be a storage area for all the sweets with maybe a small area for sweet making. I have not really decided yet. I have built a panelled false wall to cover up a slight design fault and also the fill up the angled roof space. 
The flooring is oak floorboards and the cut out is for the pink spiral stair case. You can see the difference in the clean green of the lower floor against the dirty green of the storage room. I think the walls also need a dirty wash as they are a bit pristine at the moment. The flooring can be removed as for the first time I have routed channels for the lighting. This came about because I had to have brass ceiling lights in the shop area. I am not very competent with my Dremel and the routing is awful but it should do the job and can't be seen. 
So, still lots to do but I have broken the back of the main construction now. With a fair wind behind me and a period of good health for my oldies I should be able to crack on with it. 
I hope life has been treating you all well and maybe I will meet some of you at Miniatura this weekend my first show of the year and I can't wait!!

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Book for all Miniaturists and Anyone Who Admires Beautiful Things....The Big Book of a Miniature House by Christine-Lea Frisone

I have long been an admirer of the wonderful work of the French miniaturist Christine-Léa Frisoni and at last her book is available in English. This book is a beautifully presented and full of advice, tips and techniques perfect for all levels of miniaturists. It provides clear step by step instructions on how to build and decorate a beautiful twelfth scale house but is also a perfect reference book for anyone who wants to learn Lea's gorgeous methods of building, furniture making and decorating.

The book begins by making the plans for the house and clearly showing all the materials required for the project. The most interesting part about this process for me was how much Lea uses normal art products from Bristol board to plain strip wood. Her tools are not fancy power tools and I found it very helpful to be shown how beautiful houses could be built so simply. Once the main construction has been completed we are then shown how to build up each room by adding chimney stacks, panelling, cornices and eye-catching details. The main point that Lea makes is that you have to plan and take time with even the smallest details but if you measure and cut accurately you will be able to produce interesting rooms to decorate and fill with your own miniature pieces. It appears that anything can be achieved with card, paint and imagination.

This book is also very pleasant on the eye. It is extremely well photographed and would sit very comfortably on any coffee table alongside any real life book of interiors. Each process and room are clearly shown in full colour with every detail brought to life and designed to inspire both beginners and those of us who have been playing with miniatures for a while. All the interior rooms have different flooring and each technique is carefully photographed and explained at each stage. These careful and thorough explanations are perfect for someone like me who is not hugely confident with a paint brush or craft knife.  

I have not been able to put the book down yet, every time I open it I seem to learn something different. I can't wait to put the building techniques to good use, I will certainly be adding panelling to my rooms in the future following Lea's instructions. I want to try making the furniture and individual lights but most of all I want to learn Lea's art of 'less is more'. It is the layering of processes and materials that I will take away with me and return to time and again. This book inspires it has also taught me so much that I can take into my many projects I just love it, also it is a book to enjoy as well as to learn from.

Put it on your birthday wish and Christmas wish lists 'The Big Book of a Miniature House' by Christine-Lea Frisini or it is the perfect present for the friend who just doesn't understand the amount of time we spend playing with our 'toys'!!