Month: March 2016

End-of-Season Sales

With winter finally coming to an end, the warmer temperatures and longer light mean that winter necessities, like stoves are available for best “deal of the year” prices.

“Now is the best time to purchase a new stove for next winter’s long nights,” says Herman Hopper, whose years of experience in trade have given him lots of economic know-how. “Many manufacturers are looking to sell off this year’s remaining stock so that they’ll have space in their warehouses for next year’s newest models. So if you aren’t too set on getting the newest and fanciest, you can get a great deal.”

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He, himself has decided to partake in the wonderful discount. “This little beauty cost me 40% of its retail price, and it’ll keep my cottage warm and bright for years to come.”

Citizens interested in discounted stoves or other winter gear can look to our pages for all the latest ads and sales.

 

This round of Iron Craft was an especially fun assignment: Hometown History. This year I moved back to my hometown, so I was especially excited to celebrate its history with a mini project.

I live in a small town in Michigan called Chelsea, which nowadays is known primarily as the home of Jiffy Mix. We also have an amazing library (best small library in the U.S. in 2008) wonderful local theater (The Purple Rose) and a downtown that is pure Americana. Chelsea’s community calendar was just recently featured on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It’s really a great town, and I can’t help but be a cheerleader for it. 

But looking to the town’s history, I had to go with it’s manufacturing past for my inspiration. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Chelsea was pretty much a company town for the Glazier Stove Company. So I decided to make a miniature version of one of Glazier’s “Brightest and Best” stoves. The best images of these stoves are from one of our local photographers. 

I took a little bit of inspiration from several of the stoves featured. My mini stove is made almost entirely out of cardstock paper. I punched circles of various sizes, then stacked them and glued them together. Then each layered unit received a very thin strip to cover the edge. Some silver foil paper details made my stacks of circles more stove-like. Painted beads for the feet and a tiny Styrofoam ball cut in half, painted, and glued to the top completed the project.  

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Is this project the most realistic miniature stove? Certainly not. But I think it looks really cute in the corner of the cottage and helps give it an old-time cozy look. And it was so fun to make a miniature homage to the history of my little hometown. 

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Students Say: Wood Shop Wonderful

A small group of students from Crabapple Crossings public school have opted to take a very special elective class – wood shop. The class is taught by local builder Mr. Bertram Beaver.

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“It’s so important to get children interested in skills and hobbies like wood working,” he says. “And wood working truly nurtures so many important life skills. I think it is especially great for teaching children how to problem solve and tackle difficult tasks. They have to design, plan, and follow through on those plans. As well as deal with realistic solutions to any hiccups they may encounter along the way.”

This year, three children signed up for the class: Patrick Porker, Caleb Cuddle-Bear, and Sally Squirrel.

“My favorite part was getting to use the neat tools. The saw is my favorite,” says Caleb Cuddle-Bear.

“I liked making the plans,” says Patrick Porker. “Figuring out what steps to take and when is quite the brain workout!”

“Painting the project was the best part,” says Sally Squirrel. “It’s kind of fun to be allowed to make a mess.”

The project the children made is a doll house.

“We brainstormed lots of ideas,” says Patrick Porker. “But Mr. Beaver really encouraged us to do the dollhouse. He said that it would help us build our skills and give us lots of opportunities to problem solve.”

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The children are quite proud of their project, but could not decide who should get to keep it.

“We all worked on it equally – it wouldn’t be fair for just one of us to get to have it,” says Caleb Cuddle-Bear.

“So we agreed that we should raffle it off,” says Sally Squirrel.

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Raffle tickets can be purchased exclusively at the grocery store. All proceeds will be used for next year’s wood shop students. All three students agree that taking the class has been a lot of fun and that they would encourage their friends to give it a try.

Says Patrick Porker, “It feels so good to be able to say ‘I made this!'”

 

I was so honored when I saw that this round of Iron Craft was at least partially inspired by my tiny projects! It makes me so happy to know that people enjoy my silly little things. With the theme being “Teeny Tiny” I didn’t want to totally rest on my laurels, as it were. I’m planning on making all of my Iron Craft projects teeny tiny, so doing just any mini didn’t seem to be keeping with the spirit of the challenges. So I decided to embrace the challenge – and make something tiny for my tinies. And really, the only tiny thing I could think of was a dollhouse. 

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I doubt I’ll ever make a dollhouse for a dollhouse again. The process was really quite difficult and frustrating. For context, the dollhouse is just under 1-1/2″ tall at the apex of the roof and 1″ across. I used 1/16″ thick bass wood for the project. With all minis, measuring and cutting correctly is very important, but with things this small, it has to be just right or it won’t work. Because the wood is so thin, I found it difficult to get good adhesion with my glue. And painting on the details was a true exercise in frustration. I’m really not all that happy with how it came out. The roof doesn’t fit quite right, as I couldn’t figure out how to cut the thin edges of the bass wood to the correct angle. The painting is amateur at best. My consolation is that at least for the story, I can say the kids made it.

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I continued with my folly by doing a bit of decorating on the inside. The bottom floor has a stove and cabinet (you can’t see it, but there are drawn-on details on the front of the stove and the cabinet) and the top floor has a bed with painted pillows and a paper comforter. 

So I guess this was a good experience in that I learned that I never want to do it again. I will definitely leave the 1:144 scale and micro minis to the professionals. I just don’t have the skills or the patience for it. 

Miniature Cookbook Tutorial and Printie

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Creating Grandma Hopper’s cookbook collection was a bit of an in-depth process. I wanted the books to look classic and colorful (and be copyright free!) I used archive.org, especially the Cornell University Library collection to create the book images. I imported each book cover into Photoshop, re-sized it, removed any stray bits I didn’t want (such as library bar code stickers) and added a spine to give the books some thickness.

Click on the following image for the downloadable PDFcookbooks small

The image is sized to print on 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper. I honestly don’t know how it would print on A4 sized paper. Give it a try and let me know? Anyway, make sure that you print on nice cardstock (I used 65 lb. weight, bright white. I think a linen-textured paper could also be lovely.) And print using your printer’s highest settings. My printer is a total crap basic inkjet that I believe we got for free bundled with a desktop computer we don’t even have anymore. It’s probably nearly 10 years old at this point. Anyway, even on my cheapo printer, it printed pretty well at high quality.

Before I get to the actual tutorial, I’d like to mention something I didn’t do when I made my books but should probably do in the future. It is recommended that you should spray your printed image with an acrylic spray fixative before cutting or handling it. I don’t know much about the various types available, but after having done this project, I would definitely add this step in the future. Each time I’ve handled my books, both while making them, and after, they have left ink smudges on my fingers. So far I have not noticed any additional ink transfer between books or from my hands to other surfaces, but that may happen over time. I may be able to spray the completed projects, but I think doing so earlier in the process would be much easier.

Onto the tutorial!

  1. Print out the image on high quality cardstock using the best setting on your printer.
  2. Roughly cut out the book image(s) cookbooktuto1
  3. With sharp, small scissors, carefully cut around the image, as close to the images as possible. cookbooktuto2
  4. Run a marker with similar colors to your cover along the cut edges of the book. It’s a minor thing, but making the white edges a matching color really increases the realism of your books.
  5. Using a colored pencil, color the reverse side of the book with the color of your choice. This creates an effective endpaper look and also helps to disguise that it’s just plain cardstock. cookbooktuto3
  6. With the printed side up, use a ruler and a narrow tool to create tiny parallel creases at each side of the book’s spine. I used a piercing tool for this step. I found that even the blunt side of an Xacto blade cut into the cardstock too much. A ball stylus may also be a good solution. Some of the book printies have very narrow spines. I recommend still making two parallel creases to help reduce the cardstock cracking when you fold it.cookbooktuto3-2
  7. Carefully fold your book on the crease lines. Try to fold the creases to 90 degrees, not fully in half. If you fold fully in half, your cardstock will crack. cookbooktuto4
  8. Cut several pieces of cardstock or other paper into pieces slightly smaller than your book cover. Cut enough so that they will “fill” the space created by the book’s spine.cookbooktuto5
  9. Glue the filler pieces together. I use a liquid glue for paper, but glue stick would probably also be okay.
  10. Open up your book. Apply glue to the back cover. (I use this Tombow liquid glue. It dries quickly and I like the precision tip.) Place your filler paper unit into the cover, making sure to leave the spine free so that the book can be closed. cookbooktuto6cookbooktuto7
  11. Place some glue on top of the filler paper, then close and hold the book until the glue engages. If your glue takes a long time to dry, you may be able to keep it closed with a binder clip. But the Tombow takes only about 10 seconds to bond. cookbooktuto8
  12. Your book is now done. Repeat 49 more times for the complete 50-book collection. 🙂cookbooktuto9

Around Town: Cookbook Collection

Local resident Helen Hopper has a useful and unique collection: cookbooks. “Many of my favorite recipes come from the pages of these books,” she says. “It’s been a lifetime collecting these tomes.”

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Mrs. Hopper’s collection numbers fifty unique cookbooks. “It’s getting to be a bit much!” she admits. “I’ve read them all several times over the years and have copied down all my favorite recipes.”

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Mrs. Hopper’s collection will soon be available to check out from the Crabapple Crossings public library. “I’ve gotten such wonderful use out of these books and I think it would be nice to share their wisdom with the other townsfolk.”

For this round of Iron Craft, the theme was “In the Kitchen.” We were to make something to be used in a kitchen, make something with items found in a kitchen, or use a kitchen appliance as a tool to make something.

I was actually at a bit of a loss for this project. I know that I should keep practicing with polymer clay, but after last round’s vegetable stand, I wasn’t really feeling up to making tiny food. But I had been mulling over the idea of tiny books for a while. So little cookbooks it was!

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Since I’m working in miniature, I seem unable to focus on making just one single project – nope it has to be multiples of whatever I’m working on. In all, I ended up making 50 miniature cookbooks.

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The largest book is just 7/8″ tall. Each cookbook was created using scans of antique cookbooks from archive.org, most from the Cornell University Library collection, so all should be free of copyright restrictions. I will post a tutorial including the printable file later this week.

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