Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Material Mouse

Oo, oo! Li-ving in a material world, and I am a material mouse!

Today, after fidgeting and fussing and trying to figure out how I was going to find the perfect silk for Bebe's second dress and bonnet, I decided that I would finally make the journey to Grass Valley to visit Fabrics on Mill Street. I've been told time and again that Fabrics on Mill Street was the store I would find what I was looking for, but taking that long drive down Highway 49 was not something I was looking forward to.

Earlier I'd learned that the one good quilting store in our area was closing due the owner's retirement, and as the ladies and I were discussing fabrics, the subject of this store once again came up. So I broke down and took a little drive. Incredibly I found a parking space right in front of the store, and this was a good thing since a mouse crossing a busy street can prove hazardous. I was skeptical that I would find what I was looking for, which turned out to be white silk Dupioni Shantung, and I feel smart just saying that name. I was looking for a variety of fabrics for several projects and this wonderful lady, Susan, finally came to my assistance and taught me so much about fabrics in the brief forty-five minutes I was in her store.

For a long time I would search Internet stores looking for material, and while swatches looked pretty, I had no idea what I would be buying because I wasn't familiar with the terms. Radiance is a cotton/silk blend that is so beautiful, and next to Ultra Sateen, which is also a cotton, the richness and "glow" of the fabrics are undeniable. I also am now able to identify Dimity, Pima Pique, and Voile, all of which are cottons. Natural fabrics are the only ones suitable to miniature dressing, but little does the public know that I'm also planning on sewing doll clothing for a Daisyette, which is a Daisy only Bleuette sized.

Another wonderful thing is that now I have the fabric to send to my seamstress (no I won't sew this time) to make a dress for the 7" Claire Jolie (Wendy Lawton), who will become my Marcella for the Raggedy Ann and Andy miniature marionette theatre I have long wanted to make. How tall will the theatre be? About 7 or 8" tall. The marionettes will be 2 3/4" tall. If you'd like to see what I've done with miniature marionette theatres, do visit my website at www.zhibit.org/houseofmissymouse

And, the happiest news is with the perfect silk in paw, Bebe Balancoire's trousseau, and treasures in her presentation trunk, will be well on their way to completion.

...and I am a material mouse!

Miss E. Mouse

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Dream Come True

Oh how spring calls to me! My whiskers twitch and my paws long to scamper among the cool blades of damp grass in the sun-filled morning! What a joy to be a mouse!

Yesterday I finished the Mini Bleuette and Her Cracker Barrel Trunk set. This little accomplishment has me giddy with delight. This is solidly one of the very best pieces I've ever made. And, it should be. I've always held that your latest work should always be your best or you aren't growing as an artist. This is not to say that art of the past isn't notable, but we gain so many new skills and confidence with our abilities with each piece we finish. And, so it is with the Mini Bleuette and Her Cracker Barrel Trunk.

From the curved drawer in the vanity, to the quilting on the stool and bedding of the fold up Murphy bed...from the tiny 1 1/2" dresses to the three little wood hanger, its a mini masterpiece. There's a baby blue silk party dress with lace and rose bud embroidery, a rose and pink striped day dress with a rose silk sash, and the mini Bleuette wears a lovely jardin tablier dress over her eyelet onsie under things. Her Jumeau style shoes are brown leather and she wears them over lace socks. Her auburn curls come to her shoulders so you can change her dresses without mussing her hair. I honestly could have continued to make yet a couple of more dresses, but it comes now time to work once again on Bebe Balancoire. She's been awfully patient while I worked on the CB trunk.

I also finished the three mini wooden jigsaw puzzles and chose The Doctor to share with you. Each little puzzle was completed with a cardboard box authentic with paper tape corners, and the lids were finished with a high gloss paint and photo of the puzzle. These puzzles have to be one of my favorite Etrennes since all the puzzle pieces fit together so nicely. I love toys we can actually play with!

With no further ado, I will scurry back to my table and get back to work. Then again, I'm certain you have guessed that I will be enjoying the 77 degree weather we are having throughout the day to take those much needed breaks.


Miss E. Mouse

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Coming Together

Today I'm taking the day off to see the new Tim Burton Alice film. I recall a friend of mine telling me about the movie earlier in the year and we were both excited over the costuming and novelty of the piece. When I go to see a movie like this, it is because of the pure entertainment value of it and also the inspiration of another artist's work of art. It need not be good per se, but just snuggling into a stadium seat in a dark theatre can take me away like no other venue. Speaking of which, I just gave a huge membership donation to our local PBS station to get one ticket to see Celtic Woman Songs From the Heart. I adore Chloe. That woman can sing!

Speaking of singing, I'm doing my own little song and dance after braving the latching and hinging of the tiny Cracker Barrel trunk. I also finished the bedding, bolster pillow, stool and cover. Often times I simply ride with my vision having no idea how I'm accomplishing something - I just do it.

I also attached a photo of the "real" trunk so you could see the comparison of the two. The tiny one needs a handle atop, some hangers and of course the tiny doll and her wardrobe. How tempting it is just to sit and home and keep working, but my mind needs a rest today...at least for a few hours.


Miss E. Mouse

Monday, March 8, 2010

Something Good's A-foot!

Easter is coming! I was reading the newspaper this morning and found out that Jan Brett has a new book out. Its called The Easter Egg. Jan has been one of my favorite illustrators and story tellers since the early '80's. Her charming stories and delightful paintings have always brought a smile to my heart. I was reminded this morning of a childhood memory when my mother would troop us down to Sees Candies every Easter to choose a panoramic sugar egg to find in our Easter basket Sunday morning. The tiny sugar and paper images would delight me for months. I don't think I ever braved eating the egg, but would save them in a box somewhere for another time. What happened to them? Who's to say. Maybe a little mouse came along and nibbled on them.

For the last week I've been slaving over creating a miniature version of the elusive and quite collectible Cracker Barrel doll trunk that became the item for Bleuette some years ago when Agnes Sura, one of the founders of bringing Bleuette to the States, posted a photo of her dressed dolls in front of one. Recently, on ebay, they've been selling for as high as $245! A twenty-five dollar toy found in the South's gift shop of the Cracker Barrel restaurant has become a true treasure. I have four of them. Well, come on! All my dolls must be spoiled.

I have long wanted to miniaturize one and finally found the nerve to do so. This is it. This is the only one I'll make because it was and still is, the challenge beyond Bebe Balancoire's miniaturization. (Yes, I'm still working on her, but she had to be put aside while I drove myself nuts doing this!)

The trunk comes in three sections, a place for a Murphy bed (a bed that folds up into the wall), a section for hanging clothing and a drawer for storing shoes, a space for the doll to be stored and a curved drawer dresser and stool. The stool is being made today. The stool is covered, and the bed has a coverlet and bolster pillow. To this I will add a 2 1/2" porcelain mini Bleuette, dressed, and maybe two extra dresses. I like things in threes. So before I hinge and latch this little Etrenne, I wanted to share this small triumph with you. I also photographed it with a penny for sizing.

I wanted to thank the new members for joining my blog. And, I want to wish you happy dreams as we waltz into spring!

Miss E. Mouse

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Its a Puzzlement!

The king sat on his cushion questioning all the world around him, and claimed, "Is a puzzlement!" Rogers and Hammerstein's The King and I is one of my very favorite musicals of all time. And, today, I whistle a happy tune! For two reasons. One is that, as you can see, I got my cast off. Now my paw is bruised and hurts from disuse, but I'll be scurrying around in no time at all.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a doll show and found the most amazing childrens' wooden puzzles from the 1930's. The colors were bright, all the pieces were there, and all of the four sets, but one, had the colorful cheat sheet to build the puzzle by. I didn't think twice and handed over all my dolly dollars. For a very long time, practically since I began making Etrennes, I've wanted to make miniature wooden puzzles. This was the time and now I had the perfect pieces to work with.

It took me three tries to make one, but I finally had great success with this darling one of children playing school. These puzzles are so charming and colorful that I'll be making two more to sell once I make little boxes for them. Now how did I do it? I'm not telling. But, I did use my miniature scroll saw and tugged at my tail a few times in frustration. They are so cute! Only 2 3/4" x 2 1/4". Here are two pictures to show you. One was put together by me, and you can see Bleuette giving it a try. She gave me two thumbs up and on we go!

I've enjoyed putting together jigsaw puzzles since I was a little mouse. My first one with more than twelve pieces was a Mary Poppins puzzle and by the time I was ready to put it away, I could put it together in half an hour! It was of Mary and drifting down with her parrot handled umbrella and the other nannies being blown away to the clouds. I've always loved umbrellas, too, but that's another tail to tell.

I have not forgotten Bebe! She's been very patient as I continue to make her little accessories and is delighted to sit and swing for hours. More of her soon!

Miss E. Mouse