Saturday, April 25, 2015

Briarwood: A Betterley Bunny Kit

I'm very happy to announce that I finally finished my Briarwood kit (which has now been retired or I would link to it) from Robin Betterley's Miniatures. I'm completely cracked up at the name Robin and Shawn chose for the bunny. Briarwood is "home of Professor Barnaby Warren the bibliophile bunny." Yes, he is quite the bibliophile. His kit came with a LOT of books:

The main part of the structure has three different parts: a base, a box, and a bunny front. You might recall the Green Paint Incident that delayed the beginning of this project for quite some time. That was my fault though. Professor Warren is off the hook for that one:

Here is a (really bad) photo of the fireplace and the table. I also put together the itty bitty books. The one in the front row center is my favorite because it's the art from the Teeny Weeny Birds Secret Book that I also have from the Betterleys:

Painting all of Barnaby's books took quite a long time and taught me many lessons on patience:

I got the art, bookshelves, and books in, and then I stalled for a long time:

I basically stalled because it was so fun to work on the kit that I didn't want the experience to be over. But all good things must come to an end. And I can just buy more Betterley kits.

*rubs hands together*
*cackles wildly*

The bunny art front blocks the view of the entire room, so I took some pictures before putting it all together:

Here you can see the wee candlesticks on the back shelves:

I love the adorable bunny art on the walls:

This is seriously the coolest kit I've worked on so far. I lurve it:

Here's an overhead shot before the acrylic top went on:

Ollie? Not impressed, as usual:

Last night, I finally put the whole shebang together. I put some more books outside along with the grass material that came with the kit:

You can still see inside the box if you turn it different ways to peek in there:

Can you see Professor Warren's gold reading glasses on the table? They're veeeeery tiny in Real Life:

The back of the bunny is painted white, so it looks nice from the flip side, too:

Here's an overhead shot with the acrylic in place:

And here's the bunny next to the TeenieTow to give you an idea of the scale. Eventually, I will move Briarwood into the glass case in my living room, but I left it here to dry out in the open:

Next up? Finishing Ollie's Luna Lair house.

I swear, Ollie. I swear!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2015 Chicago Miniatures Shows

Last weekend, I went to Chicago for the Tom Bishop Chicago International Show and the Three Blind Mice Show. It was FABOOSH! I saw Brae and April and Keli and Mini Dork and Mad for Mod and Greg and a bazillion vendors and other miniaturists and OH IT WAS HEAVEN!!!! It was a whirlwind of people and shopping and food and sleeping and amazing artisans from all over the world. But first I had to get there.

I went and got a last-minute (yay for someone else's cancellation) back epidural two days before I left. Without anesthesia. In my doctor's office. He's very professional and awesome and all, but BIG SHOT with NO DRUGS plus Anxiety Disorder. Hmmm. It wasn't fun. However, I survived, and I was able to go to Chicago BECAUSE of my back doctor, so I praise him. THANK YOU, BACK DOCTOR!

Then I was THISCLOSE to my destination when BAM, I blew a flat on I-88, which for those of you unfamiliar with the Chicagoland area, is a tollway right outside of the city proper. I was internally b*tching about the $3.60 (each) tolls UNTIL I blew this flat, and a nice man came and put on my spare for free:

It was a HUGE hole. Like the kind of hole that you can't patch. The guy changing the tire said he thought it was probably a screw. OH JOY. And yes, the tread on that tire looks great because it was less than a year old. Sigh. I drove on the original Corolla tires for TEN YEARS, bought all new tires finallllly, and then blow a flat like 10 months later:

So then I could only drive 55 mph with the spare because the #999 HELP guy -- who I didn't even have to call because he saw me on a camera somewhere and showed up in under 5 minutes (THANK YOU, CREEPY BIG BROTHER CAMERAS) -- told me I could blow a flat in the little fake tire if I drove too fast. He said, "They run HOT." Ever try driving really slowly in Chicago traffic? Yeah, it doesn't work so well.

Stupid things happen on or near me. A lot.

I wasn't ON Clark Street, but I was damn close. Just sayin.'

Anyway, after all of the chaos leading up to the trip, I was ecstatic when I finally met up with Brae at Three Blind Mice. And then the shopping began...

Um. I spent a lot of money. And it was totally worth it. I've been stuffing away dollars since last fall for this experience. No regrets!

Some highlights...

(No particular order, and these are from both of the shows.)

I've been eyeballing this scythe from Sir Thomas Thumb for a really long time. It looks perfect propped up in the Beacon Hill Crime Museum, where it will live from now on:

I found this tiny painted metal owl cane in a bargain basket for $1.00. Ollie is SO HAPPY to have a cane, even though you can't tell with that grumpy, little face:

Pots from The Enchanted Garden. They're so purty:

This little duck is my favorite one. It has shiny, glittery glaze. I find it's hard to stop staring at it:

I got the strawberry plant pot above for the Jeanetta Kendall strawberry plant kit. I also got some flower kits from Mostly Paper Miniatures. There are wee toy kits from Volker Arnold who was SO nice and personable. I love a good German accent, so it was fun to chat with him while we shopped:

I also loved meeting Kathryn and Alan from Templewood Miniatures in person. I have many of their 1:144 kits that I need to actually put together/finish *cough* which I will do very soon. I got some 1:48 clock kits from them and a bunch of fun box kits from Lisa's Little Things:

I got this little petit point pig pillow kit (say that 5x fast) from Lucy Iducovich. Sadly, I forgot to take a photo of the real pillow in color to have something to work from since I'm so visual. If any of you have the finished pig pillow or know someone who does, I'd love a photo. I only have Lucy's snail mail address, so I might have to write to her for a picture in the future:

Jane Graber honey pot. Jane was also SO sweet and wonderful in person. I would have loved to talk with her, but instead I just handed her this pot with The Shakiest Hand Ever because I was so intimidated by all of her beautiful things, and she told me to reach into the pottery display to choose which one I wanted. It was quite funny because the more I thought about my hand shaking, the more it shook, of course. I found the perfect, little honey dipper for it at Hartland Miniatures:

I saw these scissors early on, but then two days later, I couldn't remember where I'd seen them. On our last go round, I found them again and was so happy! They're from Tiny Ter Miniatures. Wee scissors from Spain! WHEEEEE:

I saw this wasp nest when I went to the 2013 Quad Cities Mini Makers Show. It's from A Pocket Full of Wishes. I emailed them in advance to see if they still had the wasp nests I'd been thinking about for the last two whole years? Yes, yes they did! Lesson learned: If you really like something, buy it right then and there:

A kitty vase that reminded me of Webster (The Enchanted Garden) and a ridiculously adorable friend from 64tnt miniatures:

April and I had a fantastic conversation about Lutheran Fluff, which is what I call the wide variety of fluffs and jellos that can be found at Lutheran gatherings, so I HAD to have these jellos when I saw them -- and yes, they DO jiggle. The best part is that April had also spied them on her own and bought one, too. Lutheran Jello FOR ALL! OK, so it's probably not really Lutheran jello. Whatevs:

I got a bunch of half scale kits for Ollie and Svetlana from Tiny Textiles & More:

An itty bitty bright orange hand blown glass perfume bottle from Gerd Felka:

Pig toy from Taller Targioni and a Toblerone bar A FREAKIN' AWESOME TOBLERONE BAR from Franzy's Paradies:

April and I both went on quite the goose chase for those Toblerone bars. We both separately saw them on Friday and then spent some time hemming and hawing and realized we needed them and went on a hunt for them on Saturday and couldn't find them and WHERE ARE THEY?! and then PRESTO MAGIC! April found them again. Thank GAWDS because we really needed them. I see that Keli also needed one. I totally understand.

*huge smile*

I got this little drum-playing bunny from the talented and lovely Veronique Lux of France:

Some wonderful, little minis from Wright Guide Miniatures -- love these people. They're so nice and fun:

The very first table I went to was Miyuki Kobayashi from Japan. I'm obsessed with her fish bowls. I've been wanting one forEVER, so I was SO happy to find the perfect one. I want ALL of her bowls, but I settled for this one with three fishies inside. It's sitting on a penny, which tells you how teeeeeeny those fishies are. It's perfect. Miyuki was so sweet. I hope to see her again one day:

The necessities from T&D Miniatures, who always have everything you could possibly need at fantastic prices:

OMG I'm still dying of cute over my little platypus from Franzy's. Isn't she so adorable? Photos don't really do her justice. Her little beak is open. I want to pet her all day long. I see a theme here. I got a lot of toys. After you mini long enough, you learn that you can get plates and cups anywhere, but these little artisan beauties are the really special minis. Purr:

Tweezers and tapes from The Little Dollhouse Company. I saw these in Brae's post and had her take me directly to where she found them because I had a major jealous and needed them. Thank you, Brae! So itty bitty:

Whenever I see Barbara Meyer from mini-gems, I buy up some more birdies. Her birdies are the BEST:

Goodies from Patricia M. Wehmeier:

An itty bitty needlework from Moe Miniatures. Can you believe this only cost $4.50? Neither can I:

And then I got a HUGE surprise when Keli gave me a whole bunch of farmie goodies. Look at the details in these canned goods!! I love them. They're extra special to me because right now at this very moment in my basement is a whole closet filled with my grandmother's canning supplies. I love knowing they're down there because it makes me have fond memories of Grandma canning applesauce each summer when I was a kid:

Keli made goodies for me, April, and Brae, and you can see them all here. I'm so blessed to have such thoughtful, generous friends. THANK YOU, KELI!!!!!

And then I drove home in a Wrath of God thunderstorm that would NOT let up for almost three hours. Good times. At least the new tire worked just fine.

I usually get a snow globe when I travel, right? Well, I have a bazillion Chicago/Illinois snow globes from when I lived there already, so I picked up this little $2.99 ring holder at a gas station. It's to keep my jewelry safe from Gretchen. It's now high up on the bathroom wall, where she can't... um... stalk it...

I can't decide if I should send this to my back doctor as a thank you for helping me go to the shows or if I should selfishly hoard it. This might make him think I'm even weirder than he already thinks I am. Hmmm. I'll think on it:

Whew! That was a lot of links and minis. I'm exhausted. Are you?

And just like every BlogHer conference that I've been to, I was super anxious and nervous and worried ahead of time, and then I got there and remembered it's all about The People and The Friends, and everything was fine. I was fine. I was really, really happy. I had a great time. The memories of this weekend will sustain me for a long time to come. Thank you SO MUCH to all of my friends for helping to make it happen and to all of the vendors who came so far and worked so hard to bring childlike joy to all those miniaturists.

Thank you. A million times thank you.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blue Mars, Blue Blondie

A super long time ago, I started reading Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. It's part of the Mars Trilogy. I read the first two books on my Nook, but then it got too hard to read Blue Mars that way because I needed to be able to easily flip back and find pages to reread. It's a lot of story. I abandoned it at some point thinking I'd find it in true "old-school book" form at some point. Luckily, the library had it. Hooray! But then I had to start rereading it all over again. I'm getting closer and closer to "new story," which is exciting. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying rereading and reviewing the parts I already know about. Once again, I find myself thinking thinking thinking -- about life, politics, Earth, what's "good" vs. what's "bad." Robinson always leaves plenty of nuggets in his books for me to chew on.

There is a psychologist who went on the original trip to Mars with the First Hundred. He's still around, and his name is Michel. He's talking to Ann, who is a biologist obsessed with the "original Mars" -- the "red Mars" that will never be again because they've started terraforming. I don't think I'm really adding any spoilers here because, come on, the names of the books are Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars. It's kind of obvious, isn't it? Methinks so. I won't ruin the plot. I'll just talk about this one little part.

So Michel is talking to Ann. She's gotten severely depressed because she wanted Mars to remain in its original state -- the EXACT way they found it when they arrived. It's not possible. Too much has already changed. Time has passed. Just like in our own lives, you can't just stay in one place and time and have nothing change no matter how much you want that. Life goes on.

There are many different ways to deal with depression or other mental health issues, so I was rather surprised to find the kind that I practice right here in the book. This could have easily been a conversation between me and Shrinkydink back when I lived in Chicago.

  What is now lacking?
  The world.
  Every day you still walk out to see the sunset.
  You claim the destruction of the primal Mars is the source of your depression. I think the philosophical reasons cited by people suffering depression are masks protecting them from harder, more personal hurts.
  It can all be real.
  You mean all the reasons?

   ...There's usually a start to these things, among all the real reasons -- the first one that started you down your road. Often you have to go back to that point in your journey in order to start off in a new way.
  Time is not space. The metaphor of space lies about what is really possible in time. You can never go back.
  No no. You can go back, metaphorically. In your mental traveling you can journey back into the past, retrace your steps, see where you turned and why, then proceed onward in a direction that is different because it includes these loops of understanding. Increased understanding means increased meaning. 

  I think you're afraid. Afraid of attempting a transmutation -- a metamorphosis into something new. The alembic stands out there, all around you. The fire is hot. You'll be melted, you'll be reborn...

Yes, yes, you have to keep fighting and going back and melting yourself to figure things out. It makes total sense. This is why I try to have conversations with "young Blondie" -- to tell her it will be OK, to kill fears that still grip me in my middle age, to reframe the past and help make a better future.

I truly believe you can't just ignore your past, run away from it, or pretend it never happened. I find that if I push away my hurts, they build and build and build until I'm a volcano of 1,000 emotions. It's better to sit with the 1 or 5 current emotions and not let them stack up upon each other.

How do I feel?

It's the why that ends up helping me the most. I'm acting X because Y happened in the past that has created Z today. Can I think about X in a different way and act A today and end up at G tomorrow? It's entirely possible. I don't have to keep ending up at Z over and over and over. I can end up at G or L or S. If I work at it. The key is working at it.

My back has been hurting again lately. It's time for another epidural. I've been trying to ignore the physical pain and pretend it's not happening for a long time. My mind and my body are connected, however, so along with ignoring the physical pain, I've lost track of the mental pain. X and Y are getting pushed by the silliest of things, and now I'm back at Z. Depressed. Hard on myself. Miserable. Sad.

I need to fight. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!!!!! Veer away from Y -- look around for J. There's got to be another letter out there. Another way of thinking. Another response. I can create a new pathway in my brain. GO GO GO, SELF! YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!

Something like that. I'm trying. And in the meantime, I'll get my shot.