Monday, 22 August 2016

How to make a FRENCH PRESS for your doll's house.

One day last week, I was wandering aimlessly through the land of  Pinterest, looking for items for my future Italian Kitchen and happened upon this Japanese tutorial on how to make a miniature
coffee pot.  
Actually I was specifically looking for a tutorial on how to make an Italian Moka coffee pot when I came across this Pinterest site, even so, I decided to have a go at making the FRENCH PRESS instead.  I thought it would be quick and easy; and, as usual, I was WRONG!  

The first pot took me HOURS to do and undo.  In the process, I got glue all over my hands and all over the pot and had paper towel stuck to everything everywhere else. After I had wasted an entire day I gave up and went to bed.  I was back at it again early the next morning.  However, not much noticable progress or improvement so I tried making the FRENCH PRESS again for the 3rd time.... and then again.... and finally by day FOUR, after my 6th attempt, a pot turned out to be acceptable. 
Here is the French Press which originally inspired me:

This Japanese site used a glass pitcher as the base for the coffee pot.  Since I didn't have one, I substituted a pencil cap from a Chanel lip liner, which had been gathering dust inside an old forgotten makeup bag.  I used the clear plastic end caps because they not only appeared to be the right circumference for this project, but also they were very easy to cut with a razor saw, and each pencil cap was long enough to produce coffee pots. 

I cut the pencil cap into 3 sections and saved the center section for a different project.  
side note:  I have since found that irrespective of the price of the pencils, most pencils are of about the same diameter so check your dollars stores if you are looking for pencils with clear caps as well as inside your makeup bag. 
I sanded the raw edges with a metal file and then smoothed with an emery board.

The container on the left slightly tapers towards the base, but the tube on the right is the same width from top to bottom and is the easier one to construct.  So I will be demonstrating this tutorial using the tube on the right. 

I used a slightly different construction for each coffee pot so you may see some variations as you go through the photos but what I have written is how I made my 
Please feel free to modify any of these instructions to suit yourself.  
 I glued a small clear piece of plastic cut from a
"Pringles potato chip" lid, to the base using
I had also tried E6000 and CRAZY GLUE but the
Quick Grip was
the easiest (for me) to use on this project.

After the glue has set,  
trim away the excess plastic from the tube and sand the edges smooth.

Initially, I tried to make a spout for the coffee pot by cutting one out and gluing it onto the surface.  

I made the first 3 pots that way
  I found the tutorial listed below through
Pinterest,  and I scrapped what I had been doing in favor of this new procedure-
Much easier!!!! 

So as per the video; I heated up my glue gun WITHOUT the GLUE STICK, and using the hot nozzle, I lightly applied even pressure to the rim  of the plastic tube, drawing it upwards.
I removed the gun, then quickly shaped the spout with my fingers. 

TA DA!!!...
This is the result
 For my 1st, and 2nd French Press, I used the tea light
metal to construct the outside cage for the coffee pot.   

I smoothed it out using a large ball stylus, and then cut thin strips using the longest, sharpest scissors I own.
For the 3rd and 4th French Press pots, I substituted the metal wrap saved from a wine bottle.  It was heavier than the candle aluminum and I liked the results much better.

I applied the metal strips starting directly under the spout, guiding it across the bottom, then up to the opposite side of the tube.  I used the Quick Grip sparingly,
(or as "sparingly" as I was able considering how this product

 gushes like a garden hose! )
However, the excess glue can be picked off with tweezers after the metal has been positioned.

(needless to say, I spent a lot of time picking off the excess glue from every single pot I made.) 

above and below shows the wine bottle metal as strapping and also the angled tweezers I used to remove the overflow of  rubbery glue. 

I added a long cross-strip of metal to the side, underside and up to the opposite side of the container.
A top band was glued horizontally to overlap the top ends of the side bands, then I trimmed the excess metal using a straight edge razor blade.
I lightly burnished the metal with a ball stylus to ensure that the bands were affixed to the "glass".

When the bottom band was on, then it is time to make the handle.
I used two different methods.  
The first three pots have handles made of sections of plastic sock "thingamabobs",
 which I cut down to size and glued onto the coffee pots. 

Since I know that "thingamabobs" might not be readily available in your area, I found an alternate solution.  I doubled up some plastic stitch count markers,
(dollar store)
glued 2 plastic circles together and then cut the rings in half and trimmed them down again to fit the contours of the pot. 

I found 2 tiny gold seed beads that were of equal size and glued them to the plastic handle then onto the pot. 
 I glued 4 gold beads onto the bottom of the container for the feet.  
This was a whole lot easier than making the strip metal feet which I'd done with my first 2 attempts.
Later, I touched up the handle with black nail polish, followed by a finish coat of clear matte nail varnish.

Once the body of the FRENCH PRESS had been completed, then it is onto the making of the lid and the mechanical plunge filter.
For the filter, I used 2 small metal snaps which were able to slide inside the interior of the coffee pot without getting stuck!

 I need to mention this too, 
that when making the plunger for the tapered coffee pot, you will probably have to use a smaller set of snaps otherwise your filter will only go down part of the way before it gets stuck. So adjust the size of your snaps accordingly, so that the filer will slide all the way to the bottom of your tapered container.
I used both the top and the bottom of the small snaps as the filter.  

I clipped off a long length of a large silver paper clip 
or you could use a (section of florists wire) 
whatever will allow the wire to fit snug and secure inside the center depression of the press fastener.  I glued a small crimp bead to the end of the wire first and then I glued the snap fastener to the end of the wire. 

When it was dry, I picked off the excess glue which had of course, oozed out. 

Then I slid the length of the plunge filter into the coffee pot.

The elements for the lid of the French Press are pictured below.
I am showing an uncut Super-sized paper clip

only to illustrate the order of the beads 
as they are strung onto the plunger. 

The lid is assembled and glued together off of the wire, then it is slipped onto the plunger while it is standing upright inside the pot.  
This way you are able to gage the correct length for the plunger, before you cut off the excess 
Remember to leave enough wire at the top for the bead handle to be glued to.

Below is the combination of jewelery findings I used.   

 The large crimp bead is glued inside the larger hole of the bottom half of a large gold SNAP.  
The crimp bead keeps the plunger aligned and will allows the plunger to slide up and down inside the lid.  The snap forms the lip of the lid, a bell cap provides the dome.  A round bead becomes the knob handle.
 glue the lid components together,
the only portion that is glued directly onto the wire is the knob handle. 

I painted the knob with black nail polish and when it was dry, I used a clear MATT sealer coat on it.
I clear coated the exterior of the pot with clear nail varnish, which clarifies the plastic so it reads more like "glass".  

Then when it was completely dry, I used an eye dropper to squirt  real coffee into the FRENCH PRESS, and then into a tiny cup!

tastes like coffee but looks like tea 

time to eat! 

a line up of the usual suspects
My first attempt at a French Press, is on the far right and my last French Press is on the far left.
I made 6 pots altogether with a total of 4 survivors.  

I made plenty of mistakes on each coffee pot however, by the time I got to #4
I was finally satisfied enough to be able to call it quits so I could move on, 
I still want to make an
which I'd mentioned to you earlier. 
and So it's
 arrivederci FRENCH PRESS...
and it's 



ciao ciao


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Plants, Lamps, Iron and Stone.

The following post is a quick update on what I have been making for my Venetian doll's house -


It's July already and I have hardly spent any time in my Real Life garden. I have a BIG garden which regularly requires LOTS of my time and attention, however during the last 3 weeks of June, instead of being outside grooming it and pulling weeds, I was happily indoors making paper plants for Villa Leone.
Most of the plants were made with kits which I already had
 on hand.
In the photo above I made the orange geraniums for the wall planters, using  the Fabulous kits from

 I underplanted the orange geraniums with ivy leaves from

The flower kits I bought were white but I painted them in  different shades and tints of orange,( after they'd been  assembled), using watercolors, inks and felt- tipped pens.  The printed leaves are already beautifully shaped and authentically colored, with a good supply of  materials in each kit. 

I filled this large planter with approximately 21 orange geraniums including leaf stems and a magenta concoction of my own as a trailing filler for color contrast.
A closer look at the plants. 
I included 3 of my own fading blooms into the mix using the Marigold Flower Soft material.
I LOVED assembling these flower kits and I especially like the look of the leaves, as well as the ease of removing both blossoms and foliage from the laser cut master sheet. 
The fern kit came from
 I enjoyed constructing this delicate fern even though I mangled it somewhat through constantly changing my mind about which container it would finally occupy.
In memory of my mother, I decided to try  to make a nasturtium plant using circle paper punches for the leaves and crepe paper for the blossoms.  Although I think that it looks close enough to a  nasturtium, I am going to give it second try in an attempt to get a a more detailed blossom, and hopefully the next one will look better.
The blue trailing plant was originally supposed to be a lobelia but the blossoms are too big.  So now I'm calling it
"a mystery plant"

For the "mother-in-law's tongue/snake plant", I followed the video tutorial on
I used the twist ties just as Joanne instructed, but rather than cut out each leaf before painting, I found it easier to base paint the entire block of  plastic ties first and then separate them, shape them and detail them.  

I'm quite pleased with the results! 

Having already made a whole bunch of roses last January, (none of which were the right color), I decided to make even MORE this time using orange oragami paper.  My idea was to try my hand at making a rose tree to sit on the front balcony.  I was able to use up all of the "homeless" rose leaf stems I had stockpiled, and managed to fill up the top of the tree in a believable way.
If only the foliage on my Real Life roses looked this healthy!
After I made the orange rose tree, I decided to make another shorter one and try and use up as many of the pink roses I'd made earlier this year.  The photo below shows the base beginnings of the shorter rose tree.
The base is formed from dried lichen from railroad landscaping material hot glued onto a stem.  For the support above I used a dried stick, but I used a paper covered wire for the orange topiary pictured below.

A Group Shot.

The wall planter and the tall rose tree positioned on the front balcony. 
I also made some additional plants for the patio.  The herb plant 
(basil?)below started life as a micro hosta plant kit intended for model railroad landscaping.    

The bottle of Chianti is a necklace bead, which was already covered with twine.  I inserted a clear push-pin into the top, and painted it with green glass paint.  I glued another bead to the top of the push-pin and painted it with brick red acrylic paint and sealed it with Revlon Matte nail varnish which dulled it down enough to look waxy.   I glued on a flat spacer to the bottom of the bottle so that it would stand upright, then painted it to tie into the "straw".
Now all that's missing is my glass

Salute!  :D

I needed at least 3 matching exterior lamps for the outside of VILLA LEONE
2 for the front and 1 for the side, 

and as usual, everything that I LIKED on line, was way out of my budget.
I had tried earlier in June to make some lamps but I didn't like the results and so I brooded and continued to scour the internet hoping to find something suitable which I could afford:
I didn't- 

so I had to come up with a solution of how to make the 3 exterior lights myself.
I started with the necklace bead that you see in the photo above.
 The necklace was purchased at the thrift store several years ago and I remember how excited I was because not only were the beads of various sizes but they also easily separated into 2 halves! 

I began searching through my bead boxes for additional materials  to build up the shade to form the light fixture.
Below are some of the components I used for it. 

I glued the shade to a plastic bit from the hardware store, and then to a 3rd bead at the top of the shade. I used Quick Grip glue to attach each bead to the next.  The toothpick was placed through the holes to keep them aligned and to keep the glue from clogging up the opening. 

I glued in a brass eyelet into the center of the shade.

When the glue had set, I threaded a light bulb through the shade.  In the photo below, later, I decided to paint the interior of the shade with silver nail polish and then I reinserted the light bulb.  

To make the frame I used a heavy gauge wire which I shaped over a dowel.   Once that was done I inserted one end into the  hole at the top of the shade and secured with a drop of Super Glue.

I wrapped the wires around the metal frame and squished a crimp bead under the wires and secured it with liquid Super Glue. 

To increase the size of the light bulb, I used the smaller portion of a gel capsule and after cutting a couple of half circles out of the top edge so that the heat could escape, I adhered it to the shade right over the light bulb. 

The base of the light fixture is composed of 2 bead caps  glued together.  Because of the imbalance of the light I needed to make sure that the wire frame would remain secure. 
I saw this GREAT TECHNIQUE on Christine Sutcliffe's blog:
Christine makes custom model horses and their tack and she passed along her method of using liquid SUPER GLUE combined with BAKING SODA as a SUPER STRONG BONDING METHOD.
I decided to give it a try. 

I insetted the wire frame into the base of the light fixture.
I added a drop liquid( not gel) Super Glue and then while it was still wet, I sprinkled on some Baking Soda and then added one more drop of the liquid super glue and
 blew off the excess power.
A solid bond that would take the weight without sagging. 

Christine uses this method to "solder" her plastic horse models together when changing their poses.  It can be sanded and stained and is as hard as rock!   LOVE IT!!! 
I painted over the entire unit with a bronze nail polish and left it to dry overnight.
Later, I overpainted the lights with a variety of acrylic paints, and  when they were dry, I tested them out to make sure that they still worked. 

I positioned them on the wall of the upper balcony and drilled a hole for the wires to pass through.  I added another eyelet into the feed hole in the wall.  The bases are currently held to the wall with blue tack.  I needed to establish their location so that I can plan for the wiring once I start working on the inside of the house.
As I was telling Janine on the phone today, I don't think that these fixtures are finished yet since they look to me to be a bit raw.  Perhaps, if I leave them alone and focus on something else, the solution as how to finish them will eventually present itself. 

Meanwhile, I was able to construct the 3 exterior lamps that I needed for a fraction of the cost, by using up the materials I already had on hand!

and I'm quite HAPPY ABOUT THAT! :D


I ordered these chipboard gates from 
the kit contained 2 sets of gates both large and small.  Eventually  the large ones will be the gates for the garden entrance but the smaller pair were for the security bars on the main floor windows. 
I began by painting them black and then overpainted them with a textured acrylic paint.  The gate on the right has the textured paint.
When they were both done, I gave them a sealer coat of matte MOD PODGE and then a thin wash of a brown.
They are the perfect width for the windows, however I eventually intend to have them attached to stand out from the frame. So these too, are still unfinished. 

This gives you an idea of the effect.
I also added a carved motif to this section of the house, which matches the one above the front balcony. 

And finally the amendments to the front door, which I felt was not visually hefty enough to counterbalance the weight of the balcony.  To fix this, I added strips of egg carton to frame out the door and glued on some addition wood trims to act as carved detail to the stone. 

There is now an additional 1/2 inch on either side of the original door frame which graduates down to the exterior wall.
This was an easy fix with the most challenging aspect being in trying to match the new paint to the old.
The end results are as seen below. 
Well, that's all for now.  
I hope that you enjoyed seeing the work in progress on
Villa Leone, which has been frustrating yet fun.
my Real life garden has been sacrificed for time spent on my miniature plants.
I kinda feel bad about that but it HAS been raining so I do have an excuse. 
Hopefully, I'll begin work on the inside of the villa next week, although I am still in the mood to make more plants for the balcony.  Janine suggested a vining geranium which sounds like a good idea to me.  I do believe that a plant spilling over the balcony between the balustrades would look quite appealing.  
I wonder what the weather forecast is for the second week of July?

More Rain!?!
sweeeeeet :D