Sunday, August 10, 2014

Doll Workshop

I am quite the fan of taking doll workshops and of learning new things.  I am particularly excited about taking the workshop in Durham, N.C. in October hosted by Bradley Justice of the Swell Doll Shop.  (  Alice Leverett will be teaching one of her exquisite fashions for the Ultimate Fashion Doll.  ( If you do not have one of her 12” French Fashion dolls, bring your own.  I have a friend who brought her antique to dress her, and many of 12” French Fashion Dolls of their own.    

I do have one of the Ultimate Fashion Dolls as my personal toy.  She is in a state of undress quite often as she is constantly in the fitting room for something new.  You might remember seeing her in The Creative Doll earlier,, and with the Three Friends.  My particular UFD is the Lady Jumeau, Zezette.  I change her wigs but you usually see her with a blonde hair fashion to match her current fashion.  She has green eyes.  Atypical I know, but I wanted her that way. 

The workshop this year will begin on October 1.  This is earlier than last year and I think I like the new time and am excited about attending.  Alice has a beautiful touch and talent with these French Fashion dolls, as all of her creations.  I do learn something NEW every class I take.  This year I AM taking my featherweight sewing machine as I have sometimes have trouble completing the project.  The trouble with an incomplete project is it will sit for quite some time until I can get back to it.  Once I return home, the routine of daily life prevent me from sewing as much.  I like having the committed time of a workshop.  I also know there is another kit from a workshop I could not get to this year waiting for me to work it as well.  Maybe we will have a cool winter this year, too!  These Fashion Dolls have needs and make no bones about demanding new dresses, wigs, shoes, and assorted accessories. 

Each workshop is different.  The presenters and planners sometimes have themes, and we make and trade additional items.  Each person attending has a talent and share as they can.  I am looking forward to having a theme this year as it inspires me to create a gift or trade that suits the theme.  Anything can be fun!  I hope I have time to make something fun!  I like the gift sharing, or auctions or pulling names or numbers for presents.  Each day after the workshop and supper we have spontaneous parties or we continue to sew into the night.  We have a great time.  These extras are great additions after a full day of sewing.  There is always something going on. 

If you are sewing for French Fashions of the 12” size, I hope you will take the time to wend your way to Durham, N.C.  If you need more information contact Bradley, he will fill you in.  Click on the Swell Doll Shop, Contact at the lower right corner. We will be looking forward to seeing you. 

As always, have fun!  Kathi

Sunday, July 6, 2014

New Kit - Yummy Downton Inspiration and Oh That Hat!

As the popularity of “Downton Abbey” continues, the desire for Edwardian (Titanic) Dresses, post war and now Deco dresses are in demand. “Titanic” dresses are in constant demand for me so we are getting a bit of a wardrobe of them. I think it is time to pack a Steamer trunk. Inspired by a collection in Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the dress, hat, and bag is our newest pattern to La Petite Belle Patterns. The sample is dated 1910. This dress and all the wonderful and historical wardrobe items are incredible. What an exhilarating place it is! The original dress belonged to Miss Heather Firbank (1888-1954) I have taken some license and actually combined two dresses of similar line and era and added a slight train to make it a little more interesting. My goal was to make the hat filled with Sweet Peas as this one was, but the challenge was great. I have opted to cover the hat with small punched flowers of multi colors and get us really close to the original. Of course, with any pattern, the creativity is yours; the pattern is the springboard for your own ideas. The handbag is not new, but it goes together a little differently, so I hope you like the style. It is made of leather- like fabric so take your time and do your best work. Diagramming is not my strongest suit, but I did do some systematic drawings and hope it is not too difficult. I do hope you enjoy making this dress. With quality supplies in an exclusive and limited kit from Doll Artist’s Workshop, you can have this vignette complete in a weekend. Take your time, it is much easier than you think, and it has some new techniques you might enjoy.  Find the kit and pattern here:Kit
Have Fun
Kathi Mendenhall

Monday, February 10, 2014

Country Armoire, Part Four

Before teaching my part of the birdhouse and bird’s nest, I took some inspiration from magazines.  One nest is from Victoria Magazine, the other is from Williams- Sonoma.  (Yes, those are chocolate eggs!  Yummy!) My turn came to teach the birdhouse and the nest, the inset shows the basic items.  Each person decorated to her own design. 
Birds Nest from Victoria Magazine
I used cardstock to make the bolts and cut tiny print cottons for the fabric to match my color scheme.  Marla Gilbert made the bunny; the metal etched glasses are a purchased item.  I made a little pin cushion with some wire with the ends dipped in paint.  I cannot remember but I believe the little yellow rubber glass was from a grab bag (?), and the flowers are centers of silk flowers.  They, too, are plastic.

You can see that I have moved on to add other items per the picture.  The little dress I taught at club, as was the heart vine topiary.  Cute, huh? The topiary was not complete at the picture taking.  My little white kitty (representing my late cat, Jack) sits curled up on the quilt.  

Finally, I used the samples I created for the La Petite Belle Pattern 1022, a shopping bag and hat, to fill out the corner next to the chair and to hang on the door.  (I was absent from the meeting when the hat was taught.)

Country Armoire, Part Five (Final)

This final post regarding the project shows more filling out of the armoire.  I have added lace to the shelves, and a knitting basket.  The basket is a purchase from Al Chandronait and a gift of knitting from Michelle Mahler of The Creative Doll; however, Michelle did not do the knitting.  The middle has a pot of plastic flowers. 

You can see from the pictures that I keep changing things.  I move them around a lot, and you will too when you create a vignette project such as this.  I have plates printed onto photo paper to stash, as needed, some ribbons, baskets, other porcelain china, as well as some Chrysnbon purchases with which to work.  Many items, like the copper kettle, did not make it into the final cut.  I found a tea set and knew I had the right thing for the top shelf.  The pitcher and bowl made it to the floor, and the excess china into the basket under the armoire.  Another china vase that Marla made shown next to the topiary is waiting for some additional something to add, and I snuck in a little Kewpie next to the chair. 

The next picture shows a Country Angel on top of the armoire made in a class at Suzanne Andrews Miniature Shop and a purchased country crock.  Kewpie is now gone and another bird’s nest placed in its space, while a mouse rests under the nose of kitty.  Another bag takes space behind the right armoire door.  More of the printed plates attached to the wall next to the chair.  Another bunny takes pride of place on the top shelf, and books complete the bottom shelf.   No doubt, you can see many things you would do, and I do too.  For example, I have a small china lamp to hang from the ceiling on the left to above the painting, but it is not there, yet.  For me, until I do that, this is a completed project.

I do hope you find a wonderfully inspiration picture and can turn it into a little memory box for yourself. 

Have Fun! 

Kathi Mendenhall

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Day of Dolls

I had the luxury of sneaking away from the office to visit one of my favorite dolly friends. Elise lives in a turn of the century house brimming full of antiques and delights. The best part of her glorious collection is of course her dolls. She had done some shopping with me earlier this year and was very excited to show me what she had created for her some of her beauties. I was gleeful to visit and play dolls for the day. I really LOVE to see what my customers create using my fabrics and trims. Elise's enjoys is combining modern textiles with vintage and antique fabrics and trims. She is always inspired by my classically designed fabrics and says they combine naturally with old world laces and trims.  I hope you enjoy the visit as much as I did.  Michelle
French Fashion Lady 1870
(forgive her fastenings they have not been completed yet)
 Antique Dollhouse Dolls
Cabinet Size Steiner
More of her various collections to be found in all corners of her home.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Country Armoire , Part Three

I wanted to catch up, and finally, I am. We continue to build on the Armoire Vignette.

I kit bashed an armoire I purchased as defective. The doors, completely removed and turned around, flipping the sides so it appears that they shut. I sanded and painted the armoire, as well as made shelves and glue them in. The lace covering the door is my attempt at reusing some old lace pieces as draperies. They cover all sorts of sins.
Add your large pieces at the beginning, as you will be working from the back forward now. The second largest piece is the purchased ladder back chair. The quilt taught at miniature club. I think it is darling. The process was simple and I feel like I could make many more. I had previously fit the quilt to the chair and sprayed it with water and steam to hold its shape. I borrowed some country signs from the internet and played with them as well. Notice the Antiques sign over the chair. In addition, I started working with the items I had on hand to fill the armoire.

I took a class on stained glass in Chattanooga with Penny Champion, IGMA Fellow. My first piece of stained glass rests on the wall above the armoire. To the right of the armoire is another picture of a picture behind a windowpane. I often use only some clear holding wax. I often use only some clear wax to adhere things to the walls.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Country Armoire Chapter Two

My New Year wish list consisted of doing a new blog every Tuesday.  I have already failed!  Sigh!  Last week was busy getting the painters in and out, pictures hung, and the furniture in two rooms switched.  That's right we flipped rooms.  I like it!  We painted the new dining room RED!  Ming Red.  It's beautiful.  Not at all "beachy" as I had thought I wanted.  I love the Shabby Chic look, but apparently it is not me!  Or I should say US!

So, here I am back, intent on catching up.  Hopefully the next chapter will be correctly posted on Thursday and I will be all caught up.  For now, I will tell you how I prepared the body or the background of the vignette or shadow box for the Country Armoire.

I printed a brick sheet of paper I created in MS Publisher by fitting together a picture of an old Brick wall.  My intent was to show this as an indoor sunroom.  Perhaps it is in a converted porch area of a home or even a small resell shop in the square of Anywhere USA.  The feel I am trying to achieve is that of comfort and home.  The picture printed on matte photo paper, cut to size for the shadow box and glued it into place.  What you do not see very well, is I did the same thing with the floor and the sides.  The sides are red painted wood planking, also printed on photo paper, cut, and glued into place.  I had some wood flooring, so installed it per the instructions.  I did use a little paste wax when it was completed.
The final picture is the shadow box prepared for furniture installation.

I hope to have more steps soon and you can create a vignette using your miscellaneous miniatures, too. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

NewYear, Sharing a Project

I find this picture seen on the internet most charming.  I would love to credit the artist, but so far have not found him/her.  I have had and saved this picture for years and years.  This picture inspired the project I am sharing.
Hating to dust, but having little time (or attention span) for a large dollhouse, I like to do little projects I can hang on the wall or set in a corner somewhere.  It is, more or less, how I save and display my collection of miniatures.  I am not great at it, but I love them just the same.   
To demonstrate how I do a project, which by many of you is overkill, I have heard it a thousand times; I like to draw it in a way that I think makes the most sense to me.  Then I can see what I have, what I have to make, or buy, and see what I have that is serendipity.  You know those wonderful little things we have taken as classes, or collected with no special idea where to put them, the pieces that are just fun!  (I have a shoebox full.)   
By first checking my supplies or the size of boxes available to me, I can see what will and will not fit my project.  In this case, I was able to use a trinket or shadow box from Hobby Lobby.  This particular box is a black metal one with a magnetic closure.  
As a special note, I took this picture to my miniature club in Nashville and suggested it for a yearlong project.  Each of us could select something in the cabinet to teach as a class each month when we met.  Yet each of could interpret the project any way we saw fit.  This drawing following is difficult to see, but you get the idea of how I work.  This is my working plan or idea.  Things do change; no design is set in stone.  (Also, my measurements are often off.)   
Before we get into the pictures and the steps for completing my project, I will also add, that now is the time to make things in pieces or search for special items.  Save them in a pretty shoebox (or an ugly one, I don’t discriminate over boxes and plastic containers), and collect up supplies you know you are going to need and get them in one place.  You will need rulers and cutting mats, glue and tape, perhaps a computer, some fabrics and patterns, whatever suits your goals.   For example I had to purchase the ladder back chair, and make the quilt.  Collect up our interesting things, you never know what will work.   
(I’ll be back with more steps and pictures soon.)