Saturday, April 30, 2011


Ever sigh with relief and revel in proud accomplishment when you tidy up your work and creative space? I know a lot of my blogger and collector friends find this a necessary, albeit challenging step in being able to continue to set up scenes and play with their collections.

In my case, I have accumulated a great deal of fabric and paper and I couldn't use them effectively because I couldn't FIND them! They were buried under each other and entwined in a mess of pattern and texture (and not in a good way). Also, because this mess had propagated throughout my work surfaces, I had no place to craft, cut, etc., and had to migrate to our dining room table, an impractical solution.

With the excuse of my birthday being a few days away, I decided to kick my childish habits and get organized in a smart way. I reused an old kitchen table and covered it in a durable, silver ironing board cover material for a multi-use surface. I actually wanted to find some neat oilcloth, but the Marimekko ones were a bit too pricey (for now). After cleaning up some clutter in our laundry room, I decided to fit my table in and have that be my fabric/work space:

Artwork by my daughter inspires me

Given this is in our laundry room, I am trying to convince myself that the environment is industrial chic, but I think I need to try a bit harder.

With my work table set up, I then organized all my scrapbook papers, longer sheets of more delicate papers, and wallpaper rolls in my work room, home to my houses in "rehab": the Citadel and my VERO.

I felt much more organized, and decided to turn my attention to a soap dish that I recently purchased at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $5.99:

I definitely saw potential for a room divider (I got two) or a headboard. I chose to pursue the latter, but not before I looked at the plastic card and saw a mate for one of the two Lundby tabletops I received from Julie of Vintage Lundby (check out her blog -- it's filled with Lundby inspiration, and she is an incredible resource on all things Lundby):


(My other vintage Lundby tabletop now lives in Australia with The Shopping Sherpa, as it was one of the parts of our swap; you can see it in the Day Seven picture here.) All I needed was a little glue for the tabletop to work as a canvas, and I put it aside for an evening to set.

My last burst of craftiness was the large pendant lamp in this tidy little scene in the Citadel. It is made from the top of a discarded lava lamp given to one of my kids three years ago and never used. The gooey, yucky lamp matter in the bottle went out, but I decided to keep the top. I poked a hole in the top and strung some leftover wire through. I'd prefer it if it were a bit smaller, but decided to forge ahead.

I'm pooped!

Credits: Bed consists of a soap dish for a headboard and another marble one for the hidden base, in addition to a dollhouse mattress; coverlet, matching pillows, and green filing box on desk are handmade by The Shopping Sherpa; red pillow is minimodernistas; pendant light is made of a lava lamp top and steel wire; side tables are planters from a dollhouse store turned upside down; artwork is a vintage Lundby tabletop with a graphic from the soap dish packaging; plant and purse are AG Minis; desk is by ELF Miniatures; chair is Reac; shoes are Barbie; garbage pail is Re-ment; lamp is vintage German; cowhide rug is handmade by Oese. Accessories are Re-ment, ELF Miniatures, beads, handmade by me, and dollhouse store and eBay finds.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Scaled Smaller

When I started collecting, I was pretty rigid on scale. I thought, "I will only collect 1:12!" That quickly changed once I discovered smaller vintage gems from TOMY, Lundby, Brio, Jean of West Germany, and other manufacturers. Furnishings were first, and houses next, and my collection expanded across scales, from 1:10 down to 1:24.

If you haven't noticed, I like to use my stuff, and I try to alternate where I use them. Of course there is never enough space in my houses to show everything, but it is nice to bring things out of their boxes and give them some "face time."

In addition to welcoming the 1:24 scale Japanese Room-in-Miniature set into my collection, I recently acquired a Paul MacAlister patio set, also 1/2" scale--you can read a round-up of the smaller-scaled MacAlisters on Megan's blog, Modern Mini Houses, here and here--and even some new Playmobil (MUCH more affordable). I gave some new pieces a whirl in my diminutive TOMY Sylvanian; a kid's room most immediately came to mind...

Wondering about that building on the table, made with those teeny tiny LEGO-like blocks? Well, a recent trip to my local toy store, Jazams, resulted in a new find: NanoBlocks. I bought the giraffe set and my eight year old put it together for me, but not without some struggles and block-dropping. I used some of the extra blocks for my mock-architectural creation. Here's the finished giraffe, just under four inches high:

In case you were interested in a closer look at some of the MacAlister patio pieces, here you go:

As with the 1:12 MacAlisters, the quality is pretty great. I was able to acquire a 1:24 chair and also snagged a 1:12 daybed in the last of the MacAlister eBay auctions, and I will try to share them soon.

By the way, thanks for sharing your love with me on Facebook. I launched a Call of the Small page last month, and I appreciate my new "likes!" The page is an easy way to keep connected in between my posts, especially when I see something great and mini and want to share it right away. Thanks for tuning in!

UPDATE, 4/28/11: Beth Lemon asked for a visual aid to help see the smaller scale better, and I am happy to oblige! See the Reac egg chair swallow the room and the MacAlister chair!!

Credits: Table and chairs, side table and low long table are all handcrafted by Paul MacAlister; chair is Barton; stroller and cat are Playmobil; light is a floor lamp by Re-ment, flipped; rug, pillow, and wall art are by The Shopping Sherpa; keyboard is Nodamegakki; record player is a Japanese magnet. Accessories are AG Minis, Re-ment, NanoBlocks, and dollhouse store finds.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Toy and Miniature Museum in Kansas City

Acrylic and nut turnings by Marais Amshoff at the Toy & Miniature Museum in Kansas City
We just got back from Kansas City, and had a great time visiting with my brother and his family. We all had a ball on our little excursions around town, and our kids had some phenomenal moments with their two sweet cousins and some extended family (including the family dogs).

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Toy & Miniature Museum of Kansas City. Jamie Berry, the Director, graciously allowed me and my brother in early for a tour and the opportunity to take photos and learn more about this truly amazing collection from her dedicated and enthusiastic staff. This place is a gem, and I have a feeling that many folks do not even know the treasures that exist in this museum, which is situated in a lovely house on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. Founded in 1982 by two collectors, the Mary Harris Francis and Barbara Marshall, the museum is a testament to their love of collecting, and also highlights the talent of today's miniature artisans, as many of the works on display are custom pieces that date from the last 50 years. The collection is displayed in 33,000 square feet of gallery space and is installed in some thematic groupings, but is mainly laid out for maximum enjoyment, meandering, and of course, long, open-mouthed gazing.

I was in awe of the works and houses...I could not believe the quality and level of craftsmanship. Fair warning: my photos are not that great and they do not do the museum nor the collections justice! Many of the dramatically-lit displays are recessed in the walls behind plexi, so this does not make for great beauty shots. Please go visit the museum yourself if you can; it is definitely worth a few hours (or more) of your time.

I share some photos here, and created a Flickr album with many more -- check it out.

While there were not a lot of modern or midcentury miniatures on display, there were many things that caught my eye:

Some Vitra chairs near the front entrance


Lovely modern seating

One of my favorite rooms - a Deco delight!
Look at the gorgeous bath off the living area
An Art Nouveau-style vanity to die for...

A Macintosh chair and custom vases

Fifties kitchen furnishings

A violin in the making by Ken Manning

A dramatic "how-to" by miniaturist Bob Robertson

Working clock and tea set by Frank Matter:

Rows and rows of wood turnings and vessel creations in glass, ebony, and other materials:

A Frank Lloyd Wright interior, modeled on an actual private residence

Smaller scale wonders:

And a lovely silhouette picture

This does not even scratch the surface of the museum, which, you may have noticed, has "Toy" in its name. If I haven't tempted you to go already, upstairs from the miniatures one of the world's largest collection of marbles awaits, as well as an extensive selection of vintage and more contemporary toys and special exhibits, from Barbie to Star Wars:

Should you go to the museum in the future, please share your impressions. I hope to get back there myself soon!