Saturday, November 27, 2010

Trim up the tree with Christmas stuff...

...Like bingle balls, and Whofoo fluff! No one sings Christmas like the Whos down in Whoville. Memories of watching this darling Dr. Suess cartoon when I was little bring back such bright times. Well, it is a bright time, and despite the cold, rainy day, my little paws are dancing around the tree as I've just finished my 2010 Becassine Toy of the Year. I cannot begin to tell you how difficult a task this was for me! Of course I'd had the 1" Becassine wood cuts painted and ready to mount since, well, November 7th, but when I went out to drill the holes in the little top and turn platform, the drill press was broken! Alas! Tools. Where is a mouse without her tools? So I trotted down to the local Home Depot and bought another one, then quickly went to work again. However, measuring little disks to find an exact center, measuring tiny areas where to drill the hole for the ribbon ties, and getting this thing all put together to function properly was quite the challenge.

As it turns out (that's a pun, hee-hee) it took a couple of tries and lots of wasted silk ribbon. The silk was too fine and hooks onto the pole no matter how much you sand to smooth it. But, I didn't give up. I never do. I found a different kind of 1/16" ribbon to use and in a sweep of looping it all together, it finally came to be! Yay!

You twist the platform around the pole then let it go. As it winds down, back up again, and winds back down, it spins the figures like a top! So cute. I often wonder if I'll ever run out of ideas for these toys and then something comes along and goes off like a light in my furry little head.

And, what am I working on now? Why a zither! The zither is an ancient instrument going back as far or beyond 433BC. It is played very much like a dulcimer, laid across your lap. And, why a zither? Well, the 10" French Fashion doll, Marie Terese, made by Alice Leverette, is being made into Annabelle, from the story A is For Annabelle, by Tasha Tudor. In this story, set in poetry, Annabelle has all the items a French Fashion doll should have A-Z. And, Z is for Zither. So yes, it will be a tiny one.

While I've bent wood on my own before, I may be looking into a wood bending tool soon. Micro-Mark has a miniature one and it bends the wood through a heated device much like an old fashioned washing machine clothes wringer. Indeed! I think the larger ones are used a bit differently, but for my purposes, a miniature one would come in handy. I have, my friend, Martha Nichols, and her wood working husband to thank for this information.

And, so we are on to yet another dear and wonderful project. The holiday season is upon us so trim up tree with Christmas stuff...then run out to get some more!

Miss E. Mouse

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Christmas Maypole

Is it already November? And, the 7th at that! Well this little mouse gathers no moss and with that, I'm rolling along. Ah! I finished the wee Pipos Kitty Trunk and she is with her little 7" mama and happy owner. I really love the way this came out, more so because in the course of finishing it, I found out that the artist who commissioned it, paints flowers. So, I added the little framed flower painting to the inside of the trunk to make it a wee painter's studio. A pink dress, a teeny pallette and brush, a wee wood framed canvas, and an easel that folds down completed this precious little set.

And now with Christmas upon us shortly, I am once again inspired by my muse, the French cartoon character, Becassine. As you may have noticed, I wear the Becassine costume proudly. It is around this time of year that I begin to ponder what cute little etrennes I might come up with to tickle the fancies of prospective patrons out there. While awaiting an appointment, I was playing with this darling little wooden, kitty "Maypole", for lack of a better description. You'd wind it up at the top, and the platform of kitties would go spinning down. I then thought, What would it look like in miniature with wee Becassines going around it? And, so I began to cut out the little Becassine figures, sand them, and paint them. They are 1 1/8" tall and painted all around. I fastened them onto straight pins at the bottom so that I could fit them into an old sanding block to dry in stages. No less than three coats of each color decorate the little wood figures. These were cut in 1/8" basswood, gessoed, sanded, then painted. At present, I am exhausted from finishing the paintwork on them, but had to share the work in progress. My guess is that the finished Maypole will be about 3 1/2" tall, a toy for the French doll, Bleuette.

Another folk toy I am considering is a Becassine jumping jack of wood. The kind with the strings you pull down so the legs and arms pop up! This, and several peg wooden paper dolls are being made, and it occurs to me that none may sell as prospectives are holding tight to their dolly dollars. I have often thought in slow times that I would simply stop creating these wonderful little heirlooms, but then inspiration hits, and I am back working my little paws in wood and paint again.

My friend in The Netherlands was celebrating Sinterklaas this past weekend, and then gets to celebrate the fun of Santa Claus for the rest of the year. We American mice must wait until after our Thanksgiving to begin. Well, some do. I like to have my tree up, undecorated a bit before Thanksgiving, and decorate it the day after. This rainy weather surely puts us in the mood for a little holiday cheer. A warm fire burns in the fireplace, the snow has begun to gather up in mountains, and I'll be busy with my muse for the next month or so.

Warmest wishes as the holidays approach!

Miss E. Mouse