Friday, May 30, 2008

My Favortie Things

I look back on my loonngggg career with dolls and find it hard to believe all what I have been able to accomplish. Dolls have given me the chance to go to England more than 5 or 6 times. It really is kind of cool when you forget how many time you have actually gone. I love they country side in England and miss my travels. Since I have moved on to motherhood I don't get to travel much and do shows. I fell in love with England before I even got there. I used to collect Marty Bell paintings of wonderful thatched English cottages. I would imagine I would be in those colorful gardens. On my very first trip to England with my dolls I got to tour the countryside for 16 days ending my trip with a showing at The Birmingham Miniatura Show. That is were I met a man that made the most WONDERFUL thatched cottages in miniature. Daydream Dwellings from the Isle of Skye in Scotland(the link is my cottage, the Rose Cottage). I feel in love with them. The detail was EXTRAORDINARY. I did not have room for a full 1:12 scale, nor could I afford it, so after much hemming and hawing... I ordered a 1:24 scale. Needless to say it is one of my most favorite things I own, I cherish it. I have taken my time collecting only the best of the best to fill its rooms, all made by myself or other artist's. It is not finished yet...but another time. These little girls I had made for the upstairs bedroom. The are playing with there own little doll house. They are made my English artist Penny Thompson. They are made out of paper!...Keep in mind that they are 1:24 scale. The doll house they are playing with is no more than 3/4" tall. I can't imagine how she made that cats tail! I luv them!! Michelle

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Displaying Your Special Things

As you climb the stairs to the guess bedroom you hit a landing on what we call a catwalk. That area at the top of the stairs where one can see over railings into the front and the back of the house's first floor rooms. The landing is just large enough for a chair and ottoman and this glass étagère. If you are thinking of where to put some special things, this might be a solution for you. I have 4 inside sections and a top to the case. On the top and not seen is a class case with a bridal doll in it. On the top shelf coming down is the Jackie Kennedy Bridal Doll and below her are some very special items to me. Among them are My first communion veil, some crocheted gloves worn on a special occasion, a beaded bag given to me as the captain of my drill team in high school. There is a jade tree purchased while stationed overseas and a name card for me sitting at a General's guest at his table. (My husband is a retired Marine.) There are two gifts you have to look to see, a crystal clock given as a thank you for making a Christening Gown and fragrant candle. Finally, my first doll completed start to finish. I took a Seeley's apprentice course and Elsbeth remains very dear. I completed a dress from a Mamie Didlake pattern before attending the class just so she could come home all dressed up. Isn't she sweet. Don't hesitate to get all your special things together. Believe it or not, it doesn't take up much space. The bottom shelves are special, too. But you have to wait to see those. Kathi

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day

This weekend in the US is solemn time that commemorates the men and women who perish while in military service to the Country. The Federal Holiday was first enacted to honor Union soldiers of the Civil War in the United States. (Also known as the War of Northern Aggression, or the War between the States.) Since WWI, the memorial has been for all military personnel who die in any war.

This weekend we honor the war dead. We take the time to say thank you for those who serve, and to remember our own family members who have also died. We lay wreaths on graves, we visit with others. AND we have family picnics, go to the beach. The end of Memorial Day is the official start of summer, of vacations and parties and a fun life. And we celebrate this on a somber occasion because the men and women who died, and those who survive think we should. They fought for the life we enjoy today.

So, Michelle and I, offer our commemoration to all the men and women of the uniformed services, those passed and those still with us. Thank you. Kathi and Michelle

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Former Life

In my former life...around 10 years ago(could it have really been that long?). Before was my "full-time" life. I was the Product Development Manager for Franklin Heirloom Dolls. When the powers that be decided to close down the design studio in Los Angeles and we were all layed-off. BUT, I was given the opportunity to design some dolls for them. This is one of my most favorite dolls that I have ever made(dusty lavender-Violette). I still love her to this day and and am most proud of her design. I have a factory copy of this doll here at home and I marvel at the work it took to make this design. In fact I sometimes think "did I really make this?" HOW??? The pattern is so complicated. But I know I did. I drafted that pattern! I think my pattern making skills are a bit rusty now, I would hate to have to do it over. Michelle

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fantasy Film Fairy Wings

This tutorial was generously provided by:
Deb Wood of Enchanted Hearts


Pattern (shown below)

Colored wire-- 24 ga. (or plain wire)----- (I use Fun Wire, it is plastic coated and works so well for this- as the glue really grabs onto it. I highly recommend it. I did some checking online for it-
On this link it was inexpensive:
and it is also available from:
1 piece of heavy stem wire, preferably plain, 16ga or 18ga - available in the floral department of your craft store.

Fantasy Film Gertrude's gifts sells it on ebay:

I suggest you buy the assortment pack as this will give you 5 or 6 colors to play with and not have 10 feet of just one color. There is enough of each color to make one pair of wings in the size I am doing in this tutorial.

3D Lacquer in clear or Clear Gallery Glass

3D Lacquer I buy here:

And Gallery Glass is available at the craft stores. Each product has it's pros and cons.

I use Gallery Glass if drying time is not an issue.

Gem Tac Glue or Ultimate Glue by Crafter's Pick or a similar type white glue that is thick- not runny

Aleene's Tacky would work fine too)

Art Glitter or Prisma Glitter (optional)

Delta Ceramcoat Varnish- matte or satin (optional)

Votive candle

Tools: Wire cutters, medium paint brush, tape, scissors, tweezers.

Ready? Here we go!

You see the products I use laid out here...

Copy to your computer, (right click, save image) then print out in any size you need.
Begin by cutting the heavy wire, bend it to follow the pattern's main stem. Step 1. This is the part of the wing that will go into the fairy's back. It gives good support and superior strength. Continue cutting the other wires, bending them to follow the curved lines in the pattern. It's important to make sure the wires lay flat. I cut the wires for both wings at one time and lay them out in order, as you see in step 3.
Cut two pieces of the Fantasy Film and tape them down on top of your pattern. (I used Spring Morning Fantasy Film here- although you wouldn't know it by the colors my camera picked up.) Holding the wires with a tweezers, apply glue to the underside of each wire. Step 5.

Carefully place the wire with the glue onto the film, following the pattern. This can be a bit touchy, you don't want to get excess glue on the film if you can help it. Try to butt the cut ends up against one another. It will give the wings a more finished look. As the glue is setting up, press down on the wires to make sure they have adhered.One side is done! Now repeat those steps for the other wing. Add an extra bead of glue where all the wires come together with the main stem of the frame. This will help strengthen and reinforce this area. Step 9.Allow the glue to dry thoroughly. This will take a couple hours at least. Once the glue is completely dry, cut around the pattern, leaving about 1/4" extra film around the edges. Step 11.

Now here comes the fun part! Fantasy Film will shrink and strengthen with heat. The more heat it is exposed to- the more the color comes alive- but you must be careful because too much heat will melt it away, or remove the color, leaving a haze of white. Hold your hand over the flame to see how high your hand has to be before you feel the heat. Judging by that distance, hold your wing over the flame, about 6 or more inches above it. Holding the wing flat, Step 12, move the wing around quickly, and watch the film tighten against the wires! Raise and lower the wing to see the colors explode! You will also be able to see where a hole is going to form, first the color becomes very intense, then the hole forms. As I was holding this wing with one hand and trying to take a photo with the other, two large holes appeared, just that quick! Oh well, I'll have to try to match them on the other wing! We must be creative! NOTE: Shut the windows so you don't have any breeze on the candle flame. You want to control this process as much as possible. Also trim the wick on the candle so it's not too large a flame.
To sear the edges along the wires, you can go very close to the flame- drawing the edge of the wing along the flame. Step 15.
Be careful not to scorch the wires, however. Go over it twice, rather than too much the first time. To shape the outer jagged edge of the wings, hold them upright and perpendicular to the flame. Step 16. Raise the wings up and down to form the jagged edges. Again, go over it twice rather than melt too much the first time.
Lay the wings out and check for symmetry. They don't have to be exact, but close is good! See the holes? I tried to match them as much as I dared! if you melt away too much- it does affect the look of the wings.
I try not to do that. You might have to start be careful...
I did a little more melting of the edges to make them more uniform.

Now to seal the wings.
This step serves two purposes. Most importantly, it bonds the wires to the film and it adds strength to the overall structure of the wings. In this step I used clear Gallery Glass, but you can also use 3D Lacquer. You want to be sure to use a product that will stick to the film. Some varnishes won't. Do a test if you are using something other than what is suggested here. Brush the product on the wired side of the wings. Be sure to have a good deal of the product along the wires. Let it pool there. Step 21. This will hold the wires securely. *The advantage of using the 3D Lacquer is it dries much more quickly than the Gallery Glass. *Clean your brush immediately in soapy water. Rinse well.

To speed up the drying time of the Gallery Glass, I placed the wings on a ceramic tile and then suspended a reflector light and 100W bulb over them. There is about 8" of space above the wings. Step 22. They dried in about three hours. The ceramic tile helps to distribute and hold the heat. Drying without the light can take 12
hours or more.
PLEASE NOTE: If you are using 3D Lacquer, don't put it under a light- it will bubble and cause the lacquer to become cloudy. (I learned this the hard way)
On these wings I didn't add an overall glitter, but you can do that now, or in Step 22. To do it in Step 22, simply sprinkle glitter into the wet sealer. You'll want to be careful though- as the glitter is hard to control. A light application looks best. I prefer to add the glitter after the wings are thoroughly dry- and I apply it using the Ceramcoat Matte or Satin varnish. Quickly brush on a light coat to one side of the wing- sprinkle the glitter sparingly and then repeat to the other three sides, one side at a time. A transparent glitter looks best, as an opaque glitter will hide the iridescence of the film. Allow to dry (in an upright position) completely before moving onto Step 23-25. The varnish will dry in less than an hour, usually. Clean your brushes immediately in soapy water.

Finishing touches:
Apply a heavy bead of glue along the main wire. Place glue on both sides to cover completely. Quickly
sprinkle glitter or microbeads on the glue. You can add glitter to some or all of the other wires if you wish. Tap off excess, and place upright to dry. I stick the wires into a piece of styrofoam and set aside.
You can also add marabou feathers at the base where the wings will go into the fairy's back- or embellish as you wish! Do this after you apply the glitter--Such fun.... **In the "Nearly Finished" photo below, you can see there is still some Gallery Glass that has not dried completely. It was set up enough for me to handle the wings, and they will be allowed to dry overnight now so that will all be dried clear in a few more hours.

This photo was taken before the gloss glaze was completely dry- and the photo was taken in indoor lighting

This photo was taken when the wings were completely dry- in natural daytime lighting. See the
color explode? Now you can see why we love that Fantasy Film!! The deeper colors are achieved with more intense heat- Steps 12-16

One final Note.
If you use Gallery Glass to seal your wings, be careful how you pack your fairy for shipping. Customers have told me that they have received fairies from other artists with all kinds of poly batting fuzz stuck to the wings. I usually don't permanently attach the wings to my sculptures, so I am able to wrap the wings separately in tissue before packing. However, I think that parchment paper, then tissue might help this issue, particularly in the summer heat. Something to keep in mind.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

All Eyes Turned To Him

I have no idea but so many things fascinate me. I am truly an Austenite, authentic and inauthentic. I love Regency Romances, oh, heck I love romance novels of all kinds. I had been fascinated with the cover fashion plate on a Dover book for quite some time and wanted to make the 1822 Court gown in miniature. (So, far I have not published this pattern, but probably should.) It is not that hard, but there are a lot of parts. I loved this doll when I made her, when she won 100 points and Best in Category at a Seeley's convention and I love her today as one of my favorites. I think it is in the eyes. They just speak volumes. Do they not appear as she has just notice "The One" entering the room. A prince, an earl, her knight in shining armor? Well, for this particular figure the eyes have it. I hope you enjoy seeing her, too! Kathi

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Georgian Period of Fashion 1714-1811

The richly decorated gowns worn by wealthy Georgian women were often adorned with an "eschelle stomacher" (a fancy corset designed to be worn in public and adorned with bows of decreasing size) above the waistline and an embroidered and trimmed petticoat below. Ladies' skirts were supported by wide hoops made of cane or rattan, and sometimes laid over quilted under-petticoats. Under the hoops and corset, ladies wore "shifts" (knee-length undergarments with elbow-length sleeves adorned with a froth of lace). Properly dressed ladies also wore stockings gathered at the knee and made from rich silk fabrics with woven patterns or embroidered motifs, and high-heeled shoes covered with silk to match the gown. Women's tresses of this period were gathered and piled high, with wildly enormous hairstyles emerging near the turn of the century. In addition, elaborate and often frivolous caps were fashionable.
Men of the period dressed plainly for sports and country life, but adorned themselves in high fashion at court. Their suits were made from rich velvets, silks and satins, and decorated with braid, embroidery, and buttons of gold, silver, and jewels.

A gentleman's suit consisted of a long and flared coat, sleeveless waistcoast, shirt adorned with lace ruffles at the wrists and neck, and knee breeches. Men also wore silk stockings with embroidered designs at the ankles and high-heeled shoes. A cravat made of soft fabric and tied at the neck or a stiff neckcloth buckled at the back completed a properly dressed gentleman's outfit. Men's hair of the period was worn shoulder-length and tied at the neck, or powdered with tight curls. Powdering hair consisted of applying a sticky substance and flour dyed in brown, gray, white, blue or pink! Men also wore wigs for formal occasions. In addition to powdering hair, fashionable men of the period applied makeup (pale powder, rouge, and lip color), as well as carried fans and embroidered silk handkerchiefs drenched with perfume. Michelle

Monday, May 12, 2008

Displaying your Treasures

One of the few projects I do have finished is a doll store in a dome. My small sample is called "Then...Again Clothing!" A dome is a wonderful way to show like or disparate items. My dome sits on a chest in my bedroom with a silver comb and brush set, a cut crystal ring holder shaped like an egg and my long strand of pearls. The original idea was not mine, and if I get the story straight it was done at NAME as a bird house maker, and then someone else ran with the idea and made a Santa in his workshop, and then someone else made a doll store out of it, and my take is an antique and vintage clothing store. As long as you are happy making it and sharing it, I think that is important. I surely would like to give credit to the originator of this idea. Until then, I hope you enjoy picking out some of my work and that of others in the dome. I have a pattern available for the 20's Flapper Dress and Shoes(pattern #2003). Maybe that will get you going toward you won little clothing store. All fabrics are from The Doll Artist's Workshop and readily available. Kathi

Friday, May 9, 2008

Take a Class!!

I urge everyone, no matter how good they are, to take classes from other people. I recently took this class at the Miniature Cottage in Nashville, TN given by Judy Liddington. ( Not only did I learn from Judy new methods of construction of a garment for a little doll, I learned more about altering patterns, china painting the porcelain, skin wigs and a host of other sharing from other students. We happily sat sewing her dresses, yes dresses, plural. I like to take classes from others, too, because I have a chance to be a student and actually finish a project. (Well, I definitely try to finish!)

Judy not only created the doll, but this wonderful room re-created from the antique. She provided the cut room walls, instructions and the paper on the walls. It fits into a commercially available wooden box and is ADORABLE. Thank you Judy for a great class and a wonderful project. Please feel free to contact Judy at her address above for any purchasing information.

The mignonette is approximately 4" tall. This is the perfect project for all of you cabinet doll makers out there, and miniaturists who like to sew. Kathi

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

New Items to

New finds from Bonnie Lavish in 1:12 scale. Buckles in several styles all laser cut and wonderfully precise. Just one style is pictured here.

Glasses in 3 styles, 2 styles of fans and wood purse handles in 3 styles (pictured above)

You an find these items on the Jewelry and Baubles page on

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Anything Is Possible in Miniature

These miniatures are historically correct and made to the best of my abilities. These early 20th century undergarments and shoes represent the undergarments of a really well dressed lady. The combination is made with the traditional open drawers. The corset actually works. The hooks are set so it can open and close, and the back is laced up.

Shoes are created in a traditional walking shoe style. These items would be worn under a linen suit with a pretty slip as well. Kathi

Sunday, May 4, 2008