Saturday, October 04, 2014


"I have to say: Stress is particularly mind-twisting for writers. (Which automatically makes it emotion-twisting, too, since our work is our minds, and our minds become mush, and there is NOTHING less emotionally-stable in this world than a writer who CAN’T WRITE.)"

Read the rest of the article here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fairy House

I've always had a soft spot for fairies. My first job was at a fairy shop, dressing up to run children's parties and writing a monthly newsletter. When I finished decorating my dollhouse (and I need to find another one - I'm jonesing!), I turned to fairy houses as a way to assuage my current obsession with miniatures. Craft stores sell these little cardboard houses in various sizes, so I went crazy with glue and miscellaneous bits and pieces from the floral craft section to create a tiny dwelling for a tiny winged person. 

I made the furniture pieces from a $5 flat-pack puzzle set.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Two steps forward, one step back.

I climbed out of the hole a little, then slipped back down for a few weeks.

Honestly, one of the events that triggered a darker episode recently is ongoing conflict with a once-close friend. I have never been very good at not taking things personally, and difficulties with someone who is meant to be an ally (not you, Ally), and with whom I have been vulnerable, plays into my existing difficulties with self-worth. I love wholeheartedly and want to show my affection in as many ways as I can. Friends become family. This can be too much for some people, and I understand that intellectually, but the little kid inside me who wants to hold hands with her friend in the playground finds it considerably more difficult. I tend to replay all the mistakes I've made over and over in my head and think about everything I handled badly. It's that perfectionism rearing its ugly-perfect head again.  Getting the silent treatment is particularly frustrating for me, as I want to Talk About All the Things All the Time, and not getting the opportunity to do that makes me feel powerless and invisible. So that has been going on, lately, and given my ferocious lack of emotional boundaries this drama has been trickling over into some of my work time and making me doubt myself there again as well.

To combat this, I have been making more miniatures. Many, many miniatures. Tiny pretty things. So many of the things that give me joy are 'frivolous,' and sometimes I struggle with that idea. I was the ugly, nerdy, serious and shy kid for so many years, always mistaken for a boy. When I was fifteen, I dyed my hair, started wearing contact lenses instead of my thick glasses and 'came out of my shell,' as the saying goes, although it felt more like stretching your cramped limbs after fourteen hours on a long-haul flight. From being plain and aggressively sexless I became a 'girly' girl. I always was, inside, of course, but I finally claimed it. I still have trouble accepting this about myself because for so long I believed that enjoying things like clothing meant a person was vain, silly or, worst of all, shallow. I know that's not true, but the guilt is still there. So thank you for letting me share my enthusiasms with you. I am building a fairy house at the moment, and will probably inflict that on you soon.

These past couple of years have not been much fun (inside my head - externally, they have been just fine), but I feel like I am pushing through to whatever is waiting for me. Hopefully that is increased creative freedom, vulnerability, honesty and self-acceptance. I'm hoping.

I so appreciate those of you who have sent me cheering messages. Thank you.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The dollhouse living room

I picture the homeowner as some kind of animal wearing clothes, a la the Sylvanians. I haven't quite figured out exactly what she is, yet - but, let's be honest, she'll probably end up being a giant owl. Or a cat. With a tiny pet cat. Because it's my dollhouse universe and it doesn't have to be logical. On that basis, the pictures in here may well be family portraits.
  • The 'paintings' on the walls are either greeting cards or pictures cut from magazines.
  • The cabinet is another Michael's $2 special. I painted it and added wallpaper at the back of the shelves and cut-out books in front of that.
  • The hat and coat rack was an Etsy purchase, and the little handbag is a papercraft charm from a craft store.
  • The chandelier and the two chairs against the wall are wood cut-outs from Michael's that I painted.
  • The wallpaper is craft paper, and the rug is felt.
  • The 'cowhide' rug layered over the chevron one is cut from an old suede elbow patch.
  • The little letter rack was a thrift find - I actually found two of them, so I combined the tiny letters from both and used the second one upstairs in the office. 

  • I made the coffee table out of various craft-wood bits. Since then, I have taken off the gold legs and given it a white base instead, because I thought it was too high.

  • The sofa is sawn down from an unpainted craft bench to get the right proportions, and then upholstered in foam and felt. The sheepskin rug is made from craft fur, and the cushions are cut-outs backed with card.
  • The chair was $2.47 from Mayberry Miniatures. I painted it yellow (although it has since become black, and I've added cushions to the sofa and the chair).
  • The books on the coffee table are jewellery charms, and the Ferris Bueller's Day Off board game is cut from a magazine.
  • The little stools are craft wood pieces painted and covered with felt.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The dollhouse bedroom

I keep adding more and more detail to each room - so much fun. 

I wanted the bedroom to be fun and very feminine, again with a mix of new furniture and 'old' pieces that my homeowner has painted and updated.
  • I purchased an unpainted wooden cabinet and chest from Michael's (a couple of dollars each) and decorated them. I imagined the chest was her old toy chest from childhood that she painted and updated so that she could have it as a blanket box in her adult bedroom.
  • The bed is a block of wood that I covered with white felt to act as a 'mattress.' The sheets are fabric offcuts from Jo-Ann's Fabrics, again just a couple of dollars each, and the blankets are squares of craft felt. The pillows are felt and stuffing, glued together at the edges and decorated with Washi tape. I used the same tape as a stair runner.
  • The bedside table is an egg-cup turned upside down. I have since added a puffy sticker that acts as a mini iPhone.


  • The area rug is craft felt, and I made the two little sheepskin rugs out of craft fur. The fur was way too long, so I trimmed it down.
  • The mirror is from Michael's, as are the frames, which I painted. The pictures inside are cut from a magazine. I used another piece of scrapbook paper for the 'blinds.'
  • The vanity table was an Etsy purchase. The accessories on top are all buttons, except for the sunglasses - that's a vintage brooch!
  • The little books are jewellery charms.
  • The hat boxes were purchased, uncovered, from a craft store, and I covered them all in different scrapbook papers.
  • The suitcases now stacked next to the bed are actually a dimensional sticker.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The dollhouse kitchen

This has been my first attempt at decorating a dollhouse and working with miniatures, and so I am a complete newbie with a lot to learn.

I imagined that my homeowner inherited the house mortgage-free from a beloved aunt (which explains how she can afford such an enormous place on a freelancer's wage), and, because strapped for cash, has decorated the place with odds and ends from her student days, flea-market and thrift-store finds, and DIY projects (there might be a little bit of projection there, because that's a pretty accurate description of my real-life house's decor style). She makes her money as a designer, but wants to paint full-time and so has converted one room into an attic studio.

So, the kitchen. She couldn't afford to renovate it, so the appliances and the linoleum floor are original to the house. Since some of the food is wildly out of scale, I justified it by saying she buys in bulk to save money - enormous bags of coffee, a tub of margarine large enough to feed an entire school camp, and so on.
  • I bought a dollhouse kitchen set from Mayberry Miniatures - the only 'real' furniture set I purchased for the whole house. It came with a table and two chairs, a sink, a stove and a fridge. I only used the chairs, stove and fridge in here - the other items ended up in different rooms. I gave the chairs paper 'cushions.'
  • The kitchen sink and the brown wooden table were both thrift-store finds, and the rug is from Terra Toys. 
  • The linoleum and wallpaper are scrapbook papers cut to fit. 
  • Some of the accessories are Mayberry Miniatures - such as the clock, the plants, and the sacks - and some are buttons I found at craft and fabric stores. I filed off the actual button part at the back. 
  • The cabinets are ready-made craft supplies from Michael's. They cost about $2, and they come unpainted.
  • The fruit in the fruit bowl is actually a pair of vintage earrings, and the bowl itself is from a thrift store.
  • Most of the food items are New World miniatures from New Zealand - the supermarket released a line of collectibles for its customers. The breakfast items are buttons.
  • I made the plates on the wall from chequers painted white and covered with paper.
  • The little recycling station in the corner is pictures from a magazine pasted on the wall.
  • The tiny posters were also cut from a magazine - I thought she might have bought them on holiday in Scandinavia and moved them from house to house in her student days, so they have sentimental value.
  • The kitten was Not Helpful to the process.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My dollhouse project - kitchen, living room, bedroom overview

I have been obsessively working on decorating a dollhouse for a couple of weeks now, and it has been SO much fun. Ridiculous amounts of fun. I love tiny things. 

The dollhouse itself was a thrift-store find. I think someone had made it from a bookshelf - there are three floors and six rooms. I spray-painted the whole thing in Ivory and then set to work with a lot of glue to decorate the interiors. I wasn't going for super-realism, but wanted the dollhouse to be fun and colourful, with lots of DIY and found objects. And not so precious that it wouldn't be playable-with by small visiting friends.

My wonderful husband took these pictures for me. We had a lot of fun positioning the light in all the rooms to make it look semi-realistic. I'll go through room by room over the next few days and talk about where I found, or how I made, everything, but I wanted to share these photos first because I love them.