The New Crabapple Marketplace

The village of Crabapple Crossings continues to grow in leaps and bounds. And several of the town’s smaller shops are settling into their new home – The Crabapple Marketplace.

This new structure, a project created and funded by the Crabapple Crossings Chamber of Commerce is a new concept for small businesses in the village.

“Most of the retail space up to now has been larger, purpose-built buildings,” says Mr. Owen Otter, president of the Chamber of Commerce. “Not everyone who runs a shop needs so much space to peddle their wares. So we came up with a ‘marketplace’ of petite booths for smaller-scale retailers. We decided to begin with just four store fronts, but if it proves successful, we can certainly add more,” he says.

The first two retailers have set up shop in the new Crabapple Marketplace. Gail Goat, of Goat’s Greengrocery was the first to jump at a chance for a permanent store location. “I was becoming so exhausted setting up and taking down my grocery every day,” she explains. “When the Chamber of Commerce offered one of the booths to me, I said ‘yes’ right away!”

Goat's Grocery

The next tenant to set up shop in the Crabapple Marketplace is Charles Cheddar of Cheddar’s Cheese.

Crabapple Marketplace 2“Opening Cheddar’s Cheese has been a dream I’ve had for years” he says. “And the Crabapple Marketplace has truly made that dream a reality. I’ve always felt my shop would be a curated collection of cheeses – I never really needed a huge storefront for my morsels. The booths here at Crabapple Marketplace are just the perfect size for my needs.”Cheddar's Cheese 1Mr. Cheddar sources his cheeses from all over the world and only sells cheeses that reach his high standards. “I am, of course, a cheese connoisseur,” he explains. “There is an amazing variety of cheese from all corners of the earth. I love to find small-scale, traditional cheese-makers that bring something unique and delicious to the table.”

Although two store fronts remain empty at this time, Owen Otter gave many assurances that the spaces would soon be filled. “My wife, Octavia, will soon be opening her fishmonger’s in the Marketplace, and I have received word that a spice shop is looking to move into the remaining vacancy. I am certain that the Crabapple Marketplace will be a popular and vibrant addition to our village community.”

 

★★★★★

Finally, my inspiration for miniature crafting has returned! I guess I just needed the right push! 

My lack of inspiration has meant that I have not been participating in my own Creative Crafting Challenges. And imagine my surprise when I went to log in one day onto the Sylvanian Families forum and found it gone! I was in shock! All of the messages in regards to it had apparently gone into my spam folder and I was caught completely unawares. My relief when I found it revived as the Sylvanian Families Collector Forum was intense! I have enjoyed interacting with and sharing with other collectors of these adorable toys and I am so glad the community lives on.

Maybe my panic at seeing a community I enjoy missing (albeit temporarily) gave me the boost I needed to get crafting again.

This challenge was #20, entitled “Let’s Go Shopping” – all about stores and shopping.

I have been planning a cheese shop for quite some time, but I just couldn’t imagine building and furnishing an entire shop solely devoted to cheese. The idea honestly felt overwhelming – to make it full and vibrant, I would need to make so much cheese! And I’ve found that I really hate creating doors and windows when I make my own buildings. It’s just so tedious. But then I had an idea…why not create a series of small, connected stalls instead? Then I could move forward on several of the stores I envisioned without dedicating countless hours and possibly running out of steam midway through (like the cursed Porker House, which still sits unfinished.)

I also have been a bit unhappy with my greengrocer display. It just felt like it was taking up a lot of room on my display shelves and wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing as I wanted. But the size of the display tables were so unwieldy to me, I couldn’t envision how to place them in an enclosed space. So when I had the idea to leave one end of the stall unit open to allow the tables to be at a right angle to one another, I was so excited!

Crabapple Marketplace 1

Creating the four-unit structure wasn’t terribly difficult. It’s made with my usual foam core. Probably the most challenging was choosing the wallpapers for the different shops. I agonized over it for 24 hours! 

Once that was figured out, it was mostly clear sailing for me. The greengrocery didn’t need much, just a couple of chalkboard signs. I also recently found some cute minis at thrift shops – big and small pumpkins, baskets of apples, and a basket of squash. The pile of pumpkins definitely helps fill the space and disguise the unattractive meeting of the two tables at the corner.

Furnishing Cheddar’s Cheese was quite fun. I designed the display table and shelf out of foamcore. I also used a really neat woven material for the horizontal surfaces. I think it is a sample of wallpaper or something that I bought at a thrift shop. 

I truly enjoyed making the variety of cheeses for the shop. I spent a dedicated afternoon and evening looking at photographs of real cheese shops and trying to replicated the cheeses in the pictures. Once I got going, it was hard to stop!

Cheddar's Cheese 2

Cheddar's Cheese 3

I think I’m especially proud of my caciocavallo on the top of the shelf – I tied small pieces of embroidery floss around them to make them more realistic. Truly, making the cheeses was great fun! 

The last addition to the project so far were the signs in Cheddar’s Cheese. The one poster of French cheeses is from Cavallini & Co. – I know it’s a copyright violation, but it is for my own use. The other side of the shop is difficult to see, but it also has a chalkboard with a list of the available cheeses. 

True to the story above, I plan to furnish the remaining two shops with a spice shop and a fishmonger. The fishmonger has been on my “to-make list” forever, and I think I’m finally ready to get to work on it. I’ve found some really awesome resources – I can’t wait to try the one at this link: making tiny fish by painting grains of rice silver! This creator is absolutely full of amazing ideas. I’ve done some preliminary testing on her way of making shrimp and have found it quite successful. 

The spice shop will be more of a challenge. But hopefully my crafting inspiration will continue and I will keep improving and expanding Crabapple Crossings.

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Bedroom Re-Do

For this round of the Year of Creative Crafting Challenge the theme was “Night Time – it’s all about the hours after the sun has gone down. You could make something for bedtime or sleeping, or maybe something for a late-night gathering spot.”

Strangely, this was a more challenging topic for me than I anticipated. Inspiration was absolutely not coming to me. I know that I should continue to work on the Porker home – and the bedrooms (3 of them) are my next assignment, but I just didn’t have the spark to work on it. Instead, I returned to my favorite – and most complete – residence, the Mouse house. Even though it is the most finished of the homes I’ve built, I often find myself finding things to tweak here and there. And one area of the house that has been bothering me for a while is the bunk beds in the children’s bedroom.

mouse house kids room

This is a picture of it as it was…and maybe you can see my problem. The blankets. I definitely took the easy route and simply cut some felt to size and placed it on top of the mattresses. I have never been a fan of the bedding that comes with the set (see here) but my felt solution was not much better. It looks neither good, nor does it look realistic.

In improving the bedding situation, I found myself in a bit of a pickle – I really wanted the bedding to drape down off the bed, not be all tucked around the mattress. But then I came to my next problem: the mattresses seemed too thin.

bunk original mattress

If I made blankets that draped down, then the blankets would be sitting on the rails, rather than on the sleeping surface. Well, I couldn’t let that stand, so making new mattresses was in order.

bunk new mattress

I cut pieces of foam core to size, then added several layers of felt on top to give it squishiness (I could have used batting, but didn’t have any on-hand.) I then basically “wrapped” the foam core/felt structure with fabric, like wrapping a present. I used tacky glue to adhere the fabric to the bottom and sides of the structure. These mattresses turned out awesome, in my opinion!

Then I made new blankets with pieces of cotton fabric that I hand hemmed. I ended up using the original pillows, as they looked nice enough.

bunk new bedding

I am overall quite happy with my night time project. It is a definite improvement over the previous blankets and adds more color and personality to the Mouse kids’ bedroom.

bunk new bedroom

Catching Up

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I haven’t been feeling super passionate about making minis lately. But for the most part, I have been trying to keep up with the Year of Creative Crafting challenges I’ve been posting on the Sylvanian Families forum. But I’ve only been posting in the thread there, not on the blog. So to catch up, here are the projects I’ve made:

Challenge: ABC – Letters and Text

magazines

I made little magazines. The magazines are “Nosh: for those who love to eat”, “Confectionery Quarterly”, and “Mountain Living”. I used my own photos to create the magazine covers.

Challenge: Ultra-Violet, Color of the Year – Use purple, violet, or lavender color

pansies

I made a pot of purple pansies. The pansies are made of floral wire, a bit of paint, mulberry paper, and a tiny touch of alcohol ink. The leaves are trimmed off an artificial plant, the pot was purchased, and the soil is brown air dry clay.

Challenge: For the Kids – Make something for children or babies

blocks together small

A set of building blocks. Caleb Cuddle-Bear was building a tower with his blocks. Until his little brother Calvin knocked it down. At first Caleb was mad at his baby brother. But then he found that it’s fun to build towers together…and knock them down together!

Challenge: Tradition – Make something traditional, like a local tradition, a family tradition, or even a crafting technique that was “passed down”

quilt1   quilt2

My project was a family tradition – I made a miniature quilt. For this project I used the “paper-piecing” technique where a pattern is printed onto special paper that you sew on. It’s a rather odd technique, but it is very accurate, especially for small pieces. I found a pattern for free online and printed it at a much-reduced size. After the patch was done, I quilted around the star, and added a hand-sewn binding. This was the trickiest part, and I am sad that one of the seams popped.

Challenge: It’s Too Hot! – Make something refreshing for when it’s just too hot

ice cream

I made polymer clay ice creams to enjoy on a hot day.

Now I’m all caught up!

U.F.O. – Un-Finished Object

I’m so sad to admit it, but making minis hasn’t been my most passionate activity lately. In general, my passion and creativity ebb and flow. I’ve never been one to find a single thing and want to work on it all the time for months and years on end. I’m more cyclical with my interests. Right now, I’m in a bit of a low-passion time for minis. But that doesn’t mean I’m still not thinking about them or working on smaller projects, it’s just not my #1 priority right now.

What I guess I am trying to say is that making projects for the Creative Crafting Challenges has been a bit of a struggle lately – I just haven’t been feeling the creative “flow” of excitement and energy to work on my projects. But I am still trying to make it happen!

This round was “U.F.O. – Un-finished objects.” Take an unfinished project and get it done.

The big unfinished object that’s been bothering me is the Porker House. The shell of the house has been finished for over a year (seeing it has been well over a year since I built the house makes me really angry at myself, actually) and I have been making small items for it here and there, but for the most part it’s been languishing empty.

So I decided that it was time to at least get the main room, the kitchen/dining room put together. So for this challenge, it was really a matter of assembly more than actual crafting, but I think it counts!

Porker Kitchen

Here is the overview of the kitchen and dining area. The floor and wallpaper was already done, as I make those decisions during the building process. The room has five large windows, which I decorated with lace curtains and floral valances. The valances aren’t sewn, they are “fray checked” on the edges to prevent raveling and the hems are glued. On the left you can see the table, benches, and flower box that I featured in my works in progress post. The only brand new crafting I did for the challenge was the wall plates on back wall. I used this tutorial, but didn’t have clear nail polish on-hand so I used matte medium. It definitely isn’t as thick as the nail polish would have been, so they are a bit flatter. I would definitely try to use nail polish next time for the hardness and shininess.

Porker Kitchen 2

In between the two back windows I added a faux chalkboard that features Mrs. Porker’s dinner menu, Poppy Porker’s doodles, and some new chalk scribbles from Percy Porker. This was a very simple project using black card stock, colored pencils, and some scrap wood to make the frame.

Porker Kitchen 3

The part of the room I am most proud of is the kitchen area. I featured all the parts of it in the works in progress post, but I finally glued all the bits into place. I used my trusty tacky glue for the stove and lower cabinets and super sticky double-stick tape for the upper cabinets. I also finished the braided rug for this challenge. It is braided embroidery floss glued onto a felt oval. The rug was incomplete for a while, as I needed more floss to give it a finished edge. It looks much better now. I was also very happy to realize I had already made a polymer clay chocolate cake quite some time ago, as that is written on Mrs. Porker’s menu for dessert. Primrose Porker doesn’t want to wait until after supper for her slice.

So although the Porker house still isn’t done (still have 3 bedrooms to decorate) it feels really good to at least get the main floor to a state at which I can be mostly satisfied. The only issue I still have is the back right corner, sort of behind Mrs. Porker in the above pictures. There is a strange space in the corner between the two windows that seems to need something to fill it, but I am at a loss as to what should go there. I’m definitely open to ideas!

Feeling Pretty

I guess I don’t have a good story to introduce this project, so I’ll get right into it. The theme for this round of the Year of Creative Crafting Challenge was “Feeling Pretty: make something that is pretty, dainty, maybe a bit “girly.” Think delicate lace, soft florals, pastel colors, lovely dresses, or anything else that “feels pretty.” I think there is lots of inspiration to be found in the aesthetics of the new town series!”

As you’ve probably heard, Toys R Us is going out of business. It had been announced that my local store was going out of business prior to the full company liquidation, so there have been sales for the last month or so. The Calico Critters section was pretty well emptied. But there was one last Doughnut Store on the shelf. And I didn’t own it yet. And the bears are my favorite family. And I kind of wanted a bear to represent myself in the village. So I bought the set, even though I really don’t need any more bakery-centric things in Crabapple Crossings.

And though Ms. Bear’s outfit is cute, I wanted to make something different. So I guess I took several of my own suggestions and made a pretty floral dress with lace accents.

dress1

I used my go-to patterns to make this dress from this website in Japanese. I used the fancy dress pattern.

The dress is all hand stitched. I used some pink and purple fabric in a tiny floral I had in my stash. Whenever I am at a fabric store, I buy bits of small-scale fabrics. I have definitely amassed quite a collection. And this fabric was perfect for this pretty-themed challenge.

I wanted the dress to have a more girly look, so I drafted a peter-pan collar. The pieces were really tiny. Each side of the collar is two pieces stitched together and then turned inside-out so the edges are finished. You can see I had a bit of trouble with the one side – it doesn’t lay very flat. Also, where the two sides of the collar meet, there was a rather ugly, unfinished look. So at the store, I found a package of teeny tiny metal bead caps that looked like little flowers. I sewed this to the center of the collar, which hid the ugly part and makes it look like the dress features an attractive brooch.

For some reason, this dress ended up being a bit on the short side. Ms. Bear up there is an adult-sized critter, and her dress just seemed a bit child-like when completed. Luckily, I had a small roll of little lace on-hand, so I stitched it to the hem, adding another quarter inch to the length of the skirt and giving it a more mature look – and also adding to the feminine aesthetics. It was a happy solution.

Another thing I like about this dress is that I finally have a way to close the dress while making sure all the edges are finished and leaving space for the tail! I hemmed and finished the edges of the dress, then sewed the bottom of the skirt closed, up to the tail. Then, I added a small piece of grosgrain ribbon (edges folded down and finished) and attached it to one side of the dress bodice. This added a nice amount of overlap to attach one side of a snap. The other side goes onto the inside of the dress.

dress2

This worked incredibly well and I will use it for all the clothes I make in the future.

dress 3

I think Ms. Bear looks very pretty in her new dress!

Lucky Otter Sushi

It has been a year and a half since local resident Owen Otter opened his sushi eatery in the former Seaside Restaurant. Although that location was quite successful, Mr. Otter decided that it was time for a change.

“I loved running my own restaurant in Crabapple Crossings, but I found that such a large restaurant space wasn’t the best fit for me. Making sushi is my true passion, but I was  expanding my menu more and more and spending a lot more time cooking other things. I decided it was time to return to sushi as my focus.”

Selling the Seaside Restaurant building allowed for Mr. Otter to downsize his operation. The new restaurant “Lucky Otter Sushi” is much smaller, featuring only a few counter seats and carry-out business. “Our new location is right across from Center Park. On nice days, sushi makes for a wonderful picnic.”

Lucky Otter Sushi 1

We stopped in at noon on a recent weekday and found it to be a local lunchtime hot spot. Although most business was for take-out, we spotted Mayor Carl Cuddle-Bear enjoying his sushi lunch at the counter.

Lucky Otter Sushi 4

“You cannot find fresher sushi anywhere,” said Mayor Cuddle-Bear, tucking into a plate of tuna rolls and nigiri. “I am here for lunch almost every day. The menu changes on a daily basis, as the offerings are dependent on the fresh catches of the day. It’s just wonderful.”

Lucky Otter Sushi 2

“It’s true,” Mr. Otter explained. “Whatever tasty fish my wife, Octavia has available that day becomes the sushi for lunch or dinner.”

Lucky Otter Sushi 3

Unsurprisingly, Octavia Otter was also at the restaurant enjoying a sushi lunch. “I’m so happy that my husband is following his dream. I couldn’t be prouder of all the hard work he puts in every day and I hope that everyone who visits the restaurant can taste the passion that he puts into every piece of sushi he serves.”

Lucky Otter Sushi is open six days a week, Monday through Saturday; 11AM to 10PM Monday through Thursday and 11AM to midnight Friday and Saturday.

★★★★★

The theme for this round of Year of Creative Crafting was “Yum!: All about food! You can make anything relating to kitchens, cooking, restaurants, food, or eating.”

I admit I went a bit over-the-top this and was up late last night trying to finish the sushi restaurant to my satisfaction. I mentioned a while back in my works in progress post that I made quite a few miniature plates of sushi. Well, those mini sushi plates have been sort of floating around my craft room without a more permanent location because I had never been happy with the Seaside Restaurant as a sushi place. It was just too cute as a seaside grill, and the decor really didn’t match what I was wanting to create. So for this challenge I decided to finally make the sushi restaurant I had been envisioning for a year or more.

Lucky Otter Sushi 5

As with all my building projects, the sushi bar started with pieces of foam core board. I have blogged about my process at least a couple times in the past, so I won’t get into that too much here.

My main materials for the build were the foam core, card stock, and balsa wood. 

My big challenge with this build was the shoji screens I wanted to feature as a decorative element. These are made of balsa wood, vellum paper, and a little bit of woodgrain-printed paper. I drew the lines with a thin Sharpie marker. They look like they could open and close, but they are purely decorative, as I could not figure out a sliding track. 

I tried to make the floors look like Japanese tatami mats – they are a slightly textured card stock that I rubber stamped with a burlap design. I then colored two edges with a Sharpie marker. 

The wall art is some thin card stock with a ginkgo leaf print. I really wanted some foiled washi paper or origami paper to use for the wall decor, but I went to every shop I could think of, and didn’t find what I wanted. I wasn’t sure about the ginkgo print, but I think I am growing more fond of it.

Lucky Otter Sushi 7

The base of the bar itself is made of foam core covered with woodgrain print paper. The staggered counter is balsa wood.

The waving cat figure I bought several years ago as a souvenir at the Japan pavilion in Disney’s Epcot Center. I think it is the perfect decor for the sushi restaurant.

From the picture above, you can see a bit of the food preparation area of the restaurant. Starting from the back, I made a little hangiri bowl out of wood grain paper and a touch of silver Sharpie to make the bands. I didn’t get a good picture, but it does have polymer clay rice in it. A small piece of scored green paper made a sushi rolling mat. The cutting board and knife are from a Calico Critters set, I don’t recall which one(s). The pieces of nori seaweed are squares of black crepe paper.

Lucky Otter Sushi 8

 

In my original sushi case post, I made a quarter-round case with clear plastic sheeting, card stock, and thin foam core. Although I liked the look of the case, I found it a bit too tall and wide for my more petite sushi restaurant. Coming up with a new case turned out to be quite the challenge. I attempted a couple of ideas, but nothing was working quite right, and I was running out of time for the challenge…I didn’t have the time to design and troubleshoot. Well, inspiration unexpectedly struck yesterday afternoon when I spied a plastic insert on my craft table. It was the plastic packaging from the Calico Critters Children’s Bedroom Set that I received as a gift. For some reason I kept the molded plastic insert, thinking I may want some part of it someday for a project, nothing really in my mind. Well, imagine my surprise when I discovered a section of it was the perfect height and width for my new sushi cooler! I carefully cut it out with sharp scissors. I guess being a bit of a pack-rat turned out to be a good thing for once!

Lucky Otter Sushi 6

For the dining side of the bar, I made chopsticks out of cut toothpicks and made little paper sleeves for them out of copy paper. I also designed and printed miniature menus for the restaurant. They carry over the ginkgo leaf design from the wall art on the cover and are actually printed inside with the sushi that are on the plates (This is a bit visible in the menu at the back.)

The restaurant stools are simply 3/4″ wood cubes. To my surprise, critters can actually sit on them without too much coaxing!

I think that pretty much covers my sushi restaurant project top to bottom. I think it is really cute and I can’t believe I finished before my deadline!

 

 

Around Town: Wash Day

laundry tub 1

For a bit of “slice of life” we spotted local resident Mrs. Jennifer Janis both getting some housework done and enjoying some warm weather by doing her laundry outdoors.

“It is definitely not my favorite chore, but I am so glad to finally get some sunshine and fresh air.” she said. “I’m sure we will have several more cold days, but today definitely had the promise of spring!”

laundry tub 2

Mrs. Janis was happy to show us her old-fashioned wash tub and wash board. “I know there are more modern ways to clean clothes,” she said. “But some things really need a good scrubbing by paw and serious elbow grease.”

★★★★★

I definitely ran out of time for this round of  2018: Year of Creative Crafting! The theme this time was “Gold, Silver, and Bronze: Since the Winter Olympics are going on now let’s get inspired by the gold, silver, and bronze medals (and metals.) This challenge is all about metal materials and metallic colors. Don’t feel limited to the three metals listed above – copper, rose gold, aluminum, and more are welcome, as are metallic paints of any color. Even metallic glitter counts! Your project doesn’t have to be entirely metal or metallic, but it should have at least one metal or metallic element”

I procrastinated so much on this one…my excuse is that I was watching the aforementioned Olympic Games! I suddenly realized this past weekend that I had no project to share and no “brilliant” ideas. But I had to make something!

Luckily, several weeks back I had grabbed a two clean 2 oz. condiment cups from a restaurant with the idea that they could be transformed into something for my village. With the deadline in my mind, I decided to give one of the cups a couple of coats of silver nail polish I had on-hand. Yes, I know the Scrubby Dubby challenge already passed…but it was metallic and fit the challenge.

But still, I wasn’t satisfied. No challenge project has to be large or over-the-top, but I just didn’t feel that I had authentically challenged myself with this craft. So I decided to make a complimentary item, also featuring the metallic theme. 

To go along with the wash tub, I made a miniature wash board. It is made out of balsa wood and a little bit of silver foil paper. I made this on Monday (yesterday) and it didn’t take terribly long from conceptualization to completed item.

laundry tub 3

Because I love to “talk” here is a bit about my process:

  1. I think of an idea – in this case, making a washboard. It will challenge me to make one and it will include a metallic element.
  2. I look up pictures of the item I want to make. Typically a google image search is adequate.
  3. I sketch the project on graph paper. I use paper with markings every 1/4-inch and draw it to scale based on the materials I plan to use. I have a small collection of balsa and bass wood of various sizes so I try to choose which pieces I will use at this point, so the scale is correct. I also like to grab a critter and hold it up to the scale drawing just to make sure I’m not making my item too big or too small.
  4. Using the scale drawing, I cut the wood pieces. I use a metal ruler, a self-healing cutting mat, and an exacto blade to do most of my cutting. Cutting errors are not uncommon for me! When working small scale, even 1/16th or 1/32 of an inch can make a huge difference. So while I am cutting, I am constantly “dry fitting” my pieces to make sure they are correct. The one positive in working in such a small scale is that if you mess it up at this point, just cut a new piece, and you’re only throwing away about an inch of the material…or you can save it for a future project.
  5. Work on the non-wood portions of the project. In this case, the “metal” scrub surface. This took some time to get right. My first inclination was to use some aluminum foil and give it pleats by scoring and folding it. I tried this technique but wasn’t pleased with how it looked. It was too flat and didn’t look right. Then I remembered I have a “paper crimper” (that I’ve never really used before.) First, I tried crimping some of the aluminum foil, and though it looked good, the foil was too soft and malleable – it distorted with even gentle handling and would be a bear to get glued down. Finally, I thought of using some paper-backed silver foil I had. I used the crimper on it – and it was perfect!
  6. Glue everything together. Glue the foil to the wooden base. Glue the washboard together. I really like to use Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue. It is super thick coming out of the bottle (I have to squeeze so hard!) but it really does stick quickly.

And that was my process for making the washboard. I really love how the washboard came out and that it added another metallic element for the challenge. The washboard took about an hour and a half or so, and that is including the conceptualizing, all the trial-and-error, and needing to re-cut some of the pieces. I’m so glad I challenged myself a bit more beyond the wash tub, because the washboard is one of my favorite things I’ve made!

laundry tub 4

Around Town: Cottage Embroidery

Local citizen Connie Cuddle-Bear shares with us her first place, blue ribbon winning embroidery project.

mini cross-stitch 1

“I submitted my cross stitch of a country cottage to the Sylvanian Stitchery Festival on a whim. I never thought it would win a first place ribbon!” she explained.

The Sylvanian Stitchery Festival is a competition and show held once a year. They accept submissions from all over Sylvania in a wide variety of categories. Mrs. Cuddle-Bear’s entry in the “cross-stitch: country life: houses” category nabbed her the win.

“It’s such a lovely honor to show my work to all of Sylvania and get to see all of the wonderful embroidery,” she says. “I think I may need to start planning for next year’s project as soon as possible!”

★★★★★

The challenge for this round of 2018: Year of Creative Crafting on the Sylvanian Families Forum was “Hanging by a Thread: This is a materials challenge – yarn, string, floss, twine – you can use anything cord-like in your project. It doesn’t necessarily need to be the main material of your project, but your project must use at least one of these materials.”

I really try to keep the challenges fair, in that I do not plan ahead for the projects I make for the challenges. Yes, I write the challenges ahead of time, but I try really hard not to think about what I am going to make until the challenge is posted. I don’t crochet or knit – techniques that are wonderfully useful for critter crafting. But I do enjoy cross-stitching. So it was a matter of finding the right project to make.

In my frequent thrift store visits, I often find cross stitching magazines. And imagine my excitement when I found an older issue of Cross Stitch Gold (Issue 28 from 2005) that featured some very cute cottages by designer Lesley Teare.

mini cross-stitch 3

The cross-stitch pattern called for 14-count Aida, but of course it wouldn’t be a mini if it were 6″ square! So I decided to make it very difficult on myself and try to stitch the design on 32-count linen.

I used a single strand of embroidery floss and a quilting needle (smaller eye and pointier in order to get through the tiny holes) to stitch the design. It took me three evenings to stitch – probably more time than it would have taken to stitch it in full size. 

mini cross-stitch 4

It’s definitely not perfect (please ignore the mediocre frame) and definitely wouldn’t be a real blue-ribbon winner, but I think it’s quite charming. And I’ll probably never do such tiny embroidery again – give me regular-scale cross-stitching over this micro-stitching any day!

Various Works in Progress and Finds

I always seem to find myself in a place where I have a lot of different projects at various points of completion; yet normally I don’t share my projects until they are more or less “complete.” While I love sharing my finished projects, it makes for quite sporadic posting! So today I’ll show off a bunch of things I have worked on or purchased over the past few months. Of course, most of these things will show up again when the overall projects are completed, but I’m ready to give some sneak-peeks!

One of my biggest projects on and off over the past few months has been the Porker house. You may remember almost a year ago (!!!) I posted my progress on the house I was building for above the Porkers’ grocery store. I have slowly (oh, so slowly) been working on getting the house furnished. My main focus so far has been on the kitchen/dining area.

kitchen wip

The first area I created is the compact kitchen. The cabinets are made of white-painted balsa for the bases and unfinished balsa for the counters. The “curtains” are made of fabric applied to aluminum foil and then “scrunched” and glued to give realistic folds. The drawer pulls are small beads.

kitchen wip 2

I loved making the stove. It is roughly based on three different vintage stoves. (Door configuration and clock) I so wish the pink stoves of the 1950s would come back into vogue! If I can’t have one for my house, I can enjoy making one for my mini village.  The stove is made of balsa wood, pink nail polish, silver Sharpie paint pen, black paper, silver paper, small adhesive rhinestones, a tiny printie, and a dimensional lacquer. I might do a tutorial on the stove at some point.

dining wip

Since the Porker family is rather large (mother, father, three girls, and two boys!) I needed a large dining table. It is made of balsa wood painted white. The room is intended to have a country farmhouse look, so just one coat of white paint was adequate. I made two low benches of balsa that I painted blue. The table runner is a strip of ribbon, and I made a balsa wood box (painted red) and some pretty pink paper roses.

flowers wip

Unlike my other paper flowers which have been made of tissue paper, these are made of handmade paper – maybe mulberry paper? From afar, they look really nice, but up close, they have a bit of fuzziness to them. There are definitely pros and cons to both papers.

mini pyrex wip

In my real life, I collect vintage Pyrex glassware. Like a lot of collectors, I am partial to designs in pink and turquoise. These “pyrex” dishes are made from some packaging plastic from the Li’l Woodzeez flower shop. I carefully cut out the pieces (adding the little handles as seen on the pink pieces.) I painted the insides with white acrylic paint (it’s a bit more streaky than I’d prefer) and the outsides with nail polish. I’d love to add white decals on the outsides to make them look more like real Pyrex, but I have not figured out how to achieve that yet.

In other projects, I’ve been working on some bits for an upcoming sushi restaurant I’ve been planning. Back in 2016, I made a sushi cooler and had planned to convert the Seaside Restaurant into a sushi joint. But since then I decided I liked the restaurant as-is and wanted the sushi shop to be its own thing.

sushi wip

I added shine to the sushi fish with the floor finish I mentioned in my post about the greengrocer’s. I made new trays for the sushi fish out of toothpicks and permanently glued the “scallops” into a miniature wooden bowl I had on-hand.

sushi wip 2

My sushi-making mood continued with making plates full of nigiri and rolls with wasabi and ginger.

sushi wip 3

The seaweed is made from black crepe paper streamers and the roe is made from translucent microbeads – the same as the raspberries in my greengrocer stand. I love how my sushi turned out!

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While my crafting time is often dedicated to various projects, in real life I can’t be cooped up in my craft room all the time. I love going to local thrift stores to look for inexpensive clothes, vintage glassware (especially Pyrex!), and of course, Calico Critters!

thrift house 2

A couple of weeks ago I had an especially good “Critter Day.” As soon as I saw the Cozy Cottage, I snapped it up. It might be missing its second floor, but I don’t think I’ll have any trouble making a new one out of foam core. Once I saw the cottage in the store, I thought there may be other Critter items to be found. At this thrift shop, all small toys are placed in bags and priced as a “lot.” One bag I found had the bed and drawers. And when I saw the unclothed tiny kitty in the bottom of another bag, I knew I had to “rescue” it, even though I don’t collect cats or dogs.

Thrift tiny kitty

Maybe the tiny kitty (probably to be named Tiny Kitty) will become my travel Critter. I have ideas regarding giving it at least one new outfit, and maybe a cozy bed in an Altoids tin.

thrift misc

In the bags with the furniture and kitty were a bunch of other fun mini things. Some are Playmobil, some are erasers, and others are a bit random. I am especially partial to the pink suitcase, green and white carriage, and the little deer figurine. Not a bad haul for $3.71!

And of course, I am working on my project for the current challenge of 2018: Year of Creative Crafting Challenge. This round is “Hanging by a Thread.” As a sneak peek, let me tell you I am doing some cross-stitch…much smaller than I’ve ever attempted before. I hope it comes out!

 

Around Town: Spring Cleaning Supplies

In our neck of the woods, spring seems like it is just around the corner. And with spring comes the tradition of a thorough cleaning of the home. Paul Porker of Porker’s Grocery Store is eager to remind readers that his shop carries a wide range of cleaning supplies to make your home fresh and clean for those sunnier and warmer days ahead.

store

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Oh my! Even though I, myself chose the theme for the second round of 2018: Year of Creative Crafting Challenge, it was a tough one! The theme I created was “Scrubby Dubby: For this challenge, think “clean and tidy.” Maybe it’s time for laundry, for washing up dishes, or even taking a bath. Make something that relates to cleaning or getting clean.”

cleaning1

It took me quite some time to decide what I was going to make. I finally settled on  making some miniature boxes of cleaning supplies. I did a good amount of searching online for printables and eventually found some images I liked. I wanted packages that looked more timeless than from a certain era, so I did a lot of picking-and-choosing.

cleaning3

I did most of my searching on Pinterest, so I don’t have a proper attribution for every box. But here are a few that I could properly source:

As I received a new printer for Christmas, I was excited to give it a spin printing minis. I printed on a “65 lb.” cardstock and sprayed it with a flexible fixative. Once it was dry, but before cutting out the boxes, I carefully scored all of the fold lines with the back (non-sharp side) of an craft knife. I did this on an old mousepad, so the score lines would be deeper. I found using a metal ruler helped keep my lines straight. I then carefully cut out the boxes, folded them, and “dry fit” them in order to understand how they should be put together and to trim any excess paper that was in the way. Then I used some fast grab PVA glue and carefully applied to the glue to the various flaps and tabs using a toothpick.

 

cleaning2

As you can see, not every box is perfect, but all except the very narrow Oxydol box can stand on its own. I think they are quite fun and will add a touch of realism to the village.