April 28, 2009
Check out this wonderful Starry Night miniature bed by Deb's Minis. (The description reads black and gold though the photos look navy blue.)
For a change of pace, how about a pattern to make a 5 X 7" cross-stitch picture of Starry Night and other masterpieces?
This gorgeous Kevin Chen enameled teapot is slightly larger than dollhouse scale at 5 3/4 w, but it's too pretty to pass up.
Chen also has a 3 x 4" enameled hinged box with a Starry Night picture on it.
April 24, 2009
It began when Frankie, a fun-loving, playful dog, jumped up onto a food container. It fell and so did she. The jump itself didn't cause the injury. Instead, Barbara learned that Frankie had Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD), a disorder common in Dachshunds.
After surgery, Frankie was given only a 10 to 30 percent chance of being able to walk again. Despite therapy, it wasn't to be. Frankie was paralyzed.
Once Frankie was fitted with a rolling cart (a dog wheelchair), Barbara decided to write about the experience. Her children's book, FRANKIE, THE WALK 'N ROLL DOG, (Joyful Paw Prints Publishing) shares the little Doxie's story of determination and spunk.
"I decided to write the book because I was so inspired by Frankie, watching her as she healed and then adjusted to her new way of getting around with wheels," says Barbara. "I also was inspired by children who were fascinated by Frankie as I started taking her out in public. They were curious about her and wanted to know why she was in a wheelchair."
Not long before Frankie's injury, Barbara was devastated by the loss of her Labrador, Cassie, to bone cancer. To cope, she began writing a monthly newspaper column about dogs. Losing Cassie, she says, "made me search for more in life and want to find a way to give back."
Then Frankie was injured. Despite the costs for surgery and the wheeled cart... despite the heartbreak... and despite the adjustments, Barbara knew she couldn't give up on Frankie.
"I was uneducated in Intervertebral Disk Disease," she says. "When Frankie suffered her injury I was very scared. I couldn't imagine what her life was going to be like if she didn't walk again. How would she get around? Would she be depressed? I also wondered how I would take care of a handicapped dog. I was told about the dog carts ('doggie' wheelchairs) by the surgeon and was assured if Frankie did not walk on her own, the cart would give her a quality life and help her get around.
"By writing her story I hope to educate others about this disease, while at the same time showing that animals with disabilities really can live a long, happy life if given a chance."
The Silver Lining
"There were many lessons I learned from Frankie," Barbara says. "The biggest one was about challenges and realizing I always have a choice when I am faced with a challenge. Frankie overcame adversity with dignity and grace. It made me realize I can always choose to be positive when facing tough things in my life. I decided I wanted to really teach that to other children and felt I could make a difference with Frankie's story."
And Frankie? The dog, whom Barbara calls her "tweenie weenie" since she surpassed the Miniature Dachshund size of 9-11 pounds but at 13 pounds is smaller than Standard size, laps up the attention.
"Frankie is a determined little dog," says Barbara. "She has a very sweet personality and is very good around children. This is my mission in life that I have been called to do. I consider it a great honor to be Frankie's mom and to share her message of hope and inspiration.
The book received the Merial Human-Animal Bond Award from the Dog Writer's Association of America. Frankie also was inducted into the 2009 Wisconsin Pet Hall of Fame.
But beyond the awards, the best part for Barbara is taking Frankie (who will be 10 in August) to visit local nursing homes and schools.
She'll share some of those adventures in the sequel, to be published next year. FRANKIE, THE WALK 'N ROLL THERAPY DOG VISITS LIBBY'S HOUSE will again be illustrated by fellow Wisconsinite Victoria Kay Lieffring.
"Frankie has inspired oodles of children around the world, some with physical challenges," Barbara says. "She forms a special connection with them. She gives kids hope that they can face their own challenges by having a positive attitude. I'd have to say that is a pretty wonderful silver lining."
** A portion of the book sale proceeds will be donated to the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Montana.
Ranch owners Steve Smith and Alayne Marker left careers as attorneys to "follow their dream" and care for animals with disabilities. The 160-acre nonprofit ranch, begun in 2000, is now home to dozens of disabled animals including 20 blind horses, dogs who are blind, disabled Dachshunds, and 10 cats.
"I chose Rolling Dog Ranch because they followed their hearts," says Barbara. "Both Steve Smith and Alayne Marker left great paying corporate jobs to follow their hearts and take care of animals with disabilities. I think the work they do for physically challenged animals is so remarkable." **
** Buy from Amazon
** Visit the FRANKIE, THE WALK 'N ROLL DOG blog
** See Frankie's video.
April 23, 2009
Come meet Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog and author Barbara Techel right here tomorrow!
April 22, 2009
While vampire stories used to be strictly considered horror, lines between genres seem to be blurring. But Stephenie Meyer's Twilight still didn't make the top 25 with fantasy readers. (It came in at #31.)
According to this list of the Top 100 Fantasy books, the real favorite was -
Ta da! The Lord of the Rings, which ranked at #1.
I admit, I didn't read many from the list either. How many did you read? (Well, seeing the movie counts for something, right?)
Here's the top 10 Fantasies with older and some new authors:
1 Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkein
2 Harry Potter series, JK Rowling
3 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkein
4 Wheel of Time series - Robert Jordan
5 A Song of Ice and Fire - George RR Martin
6 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
7 The Belgariad Series - David Eddings
8 Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind
9 Magician - Raymond E. Feist
10 His Dark Materials Trilogy - Philip Pullman
** Your turn: What's your favorite fantasy book? (Or movie?)
April 21, 2009
Follow along to get an idea of how to pose the miniature dolls and plan your own miniature scene.
1. Choose doll faces that resemble your photo or painting as close as possible. (These doll heads are porcelain, 1/12th scale (1 inch=1 foot)
2. Pose and position the dolls so you know how they will look.
3. Fashion stockings and shoes using natural fabrics like silks and cottons that will glue.
4. Begin fashioning clothing by shaping fabric around the doll. The girl's skirt is formed and glued.
5. Drape, glue and sew pieces of cloth where applicable to form the boy's costume.
6. The boy's costume completed, hair is applied for his wig and his hat attached. The girl's hair is applied, and the dolls posed in final positions. Add props.
Thanks to Christa for sharing her fantastic project!
* Visit Christa's blog.
April 20, 2009
Remember the mystery painting I featured previously?
That charming painting, which she calls "Snotnose," was the basis for a scene that Christa created using her skills in making and dressing miniature dolls.
Christa says she had always admired the painting and was fortunate to receive it after the owner passed away. As a child, she could look at it for hours - "I was a bit of a dreamer," she says and laughs.
Years later, the painting again caught her imagination as she started to wonder how it would look in miniature. So, she set to work and recreated the scene in 1/12th scale (1 inch = 1 foot) using porcelain dolls. She dressed the dolls and constructed the scene.
Here is the painting in its original format.
Christa chose to use the same tones when replicating the scene in miniature below. Cute, isn't it?
** Be sure to come back tomorrow to see how Christa made and assembled the dolls for her miniature scene.
Real Life in Miniature
If you think that can't be surpassed, take a look at a project Christa recently completed. This time, she duplicated a real-life scene featuring the stunning actress Nicole Kidman from the 2001 film, Moulin Rouge.
Like the beautiful costumes from the award-winning movie Titanic, Moulin Rouge's range of Victorian costumes are indeed a miniaturists' and costume maker's dream come true.
Take a look at this picture from the movie, then check out Christa's version.
She got the elements of the beautiful costume and the setting down to the smallest detail. All that's missing is the wall behind her to make it seem even more real.
You can view that scene and other costumes in the YouTube video below.
** See part 2 of the YouTube costume video.
April 17, 2009
Being a good writer means being observant. An idea can start with something as simple as a headline, a news story, or a photo.
How about your neighbors or neighborhood? Or those around you? One story I wrote started with a memory of an old, stooped woman usually dressed in black who lived in a creepy stone building. As cruel as kids are, the little old lady was known as the neighborhood witch and no one wanted to go near her house.
Next time you don't feel like writing or are a little "dry" on ideas, try people watching. Sit in the library, bookstore or café a while (it's okay it's research, ha!) and chances are, you'll see someone interesting that will fit into your book or story.
A character chart can be used as an idea file for characters. Jot down (or draw if you're talented) the characteristics of people you see as you're sipping your tea or coffee. Use the ideas to build characters. See sample character list below:
Character Ideas List
Height, body size:
Facial Hair, style, color?
Skin tone, marks:
Hair color, style:
Characteristics: (Quirks, actions, etc.)
Distinguishing or other marks: (tattoos, scars, etc.)
Speech: Inflection, pitch, patterns
** YOUR TURN: What are some of your favorite idea generating spots? How do you develop your characters?
April 16, 2009
I'll share details related to the painting later, but I wanted to see if anyone knew anything about the art as neither I, nor the owner, know anything about it.
It's a charming painting, showing two young children in costumes, the little girl wiping the boy's nose. I've included the actual painting (cropped down) and a darkened version to show the details. I have something special I want to share with readers once I find out more about the painting. Thank you!
April 14, 2009
Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog has arrived at the White House!
April 13, 2009
While she's built her share of roomboxes, she's not afraid to go "outside the box." She prefers using boxes and containers that some of us might throw away or usually have entirely different uses in the beginning.
That's the fun of miniatures, says Fern: "I like to put my minis in roomboxes that are unique, like ice cream shops in sundae cups, etc. I love working on miniatures. I love creating new things and new scenes."
And yes, she did use an ice cream tub to make an ice cream scene. (Pictured: Ice cream shop in Baskin Robbins container.)
Or how about that miniature picnic - set in a KFC bucket? Of course, the miniature version has its own bucket of KFC chicken, too. (Pictured: KFC bucket interior.)
The amusing thing is that Fern's "taste" for unusual miniature settings does have its advantages. (Pictured: Sweet Shop in cookie container.)
"I made the chocolate scene because I am a chocoholic and it was an excuse to eat chocolate," she says and laughs.
"The same for the KFC... I was really in the mood for chicken that day. I made the Baskin Robbins scene and didn't have the top of the sundae cup so I went to Baskin Robbins with the scene to show them so I could get a top. This was right after the CSI show about the miniature killer and the people working at Baskin Robbins really looked at me weirdly!"
** See more of Fern's miniatures at her website.
** See photos of the CSI miniature killer rooms.
April 12, 2009
April 11, 2009
Well my friend Katie at Katie's Clay Corner is giving away a ton of cool stuff for her birthday! (Happy Birthday too!)
She's got miniatures, clay bowls and other items, her great art, fabric and more. All you need to do is comment at her blog message here. Have fun and wish her Happy Birthday!
April 10, 2009
"Sam, here. Me and my bff Lita, sorry, I mean my bff Lita and I, wanted to talk about clothes and stuff.
"Gee, I don't know much about fashion. Lita's the one who knows what looks good. I think that's because she likes to look nice for our friend JJ. (He likes her!)"
"He does not," Lita insisted. "I just like to look nice."
Sam shrugged and continued. "I don't have time for dressing up. Most of our time's been taken up trying to find that miniature Starry Night painting, (the one the book's named for), before my Mom really flips out.
"I'm not into that fashion stuff. Jeans, shorts, that's 'fashiony' enough for going fishing. Not that we had the chance to do much of that! Not with Lita being so chicken and all. She's still spooked after touching that creepy old folder that Petey dug up. (It's all in the book.) She sure won't touch some slimy old worm!
"Okay, I admit Lita scared me. She's so dramatic... I felt terrible about her being so upset about finding that folder. We've been friends since we were little and we both hoped we'd always be bff's, you know?"
"Maybe," Lita said. "But I keep tellin' you to ditch the T-shirts."
"Why? They're comfortable. I like this shirt. The dog's cute, don't you think?"
"Yeah, looks like Petey. But you said my new shirt was cute. I told you to try it on in blue. It'd look good with your red hair."
"Auburn," Sam said and smirked, "not red, never red. I said I'd think about it but... it's too girly for me. That kind of stuff looks good on you. Not me."
"You too scared to try it on?" Lita asked. "Admit it."
"Scared? Look who's talking. She-who-won't-go-fishing."
"Aww, c'mon, Sam. I told ya, I didn't want to ruin my new shirt. My mom would kill me."
"See? Who needs fashion?" Sam said. "You won't do anything cuz you're afraid of messing up your clothes!"
Lita sighed. "Okay, you win. Now, can we go get some ice cream?"
Sam smiled. "You bet. Hey, you sure you want to? Last time you dripped ice cream all over the front of your shirt!"
"You ever goin' to let me forget that?"
Sam smiled. "Never. Isn't that what friends are for?"
** Read more about Sam and Lita (and Petey, too!) in Searching For A Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery from QUAKE. Get it on Kindle, too.
April 08, 2009
I don't mean fun "reality" shows like "Dancing With the Stars." (Love it!) I mean shows like Law & Order," "NCIS" and other cop/crime shows where the realistic or "reality based" stories seem to be getting, well, too real.
I can't remember who it was, but I thought I'd heard that one star had quit Law & Order because the crimes were getting "too" real. I was a L&O fan, watching most of the spin-off's until the five-day-a-week shows got to be too much. And the one thing that I've noticed from not watching it regularly now is the increasing amount of gore.
The old TV news adage, "if it bleeds, it leads," seems to have become the byword for all the crime shows. L&O has its bloody closeups, or worse, it seems to have crossed into an almost perverse delight in re-enacting a crime. One show I watched had me thinking how attractive the killers could look to someone who was off-balanced or mentally unstable. Not a good thing. It creeped me out.
That show, of course, isn't the only one guilty of overdoing the blood. Other shows I liked like "Criminal Minds" or NCIS with its gruesome autopsies (and never mind CSI's scenes as well) have me cringing, looking away, closing my eyes, or sometimes just switching channels. Not what the stations wanted, is it? And I admit being a horror and Stephen King fan.
As I enjoy writing mysteries, I like crime shows. I like the twists and turns as the case is solved. But I guess I'd prefer a little more Agatha Christie instead of "Nightmare on Elm Street."
The other side effect, I fear, is that all that blood day and night, has desensitized a lot of people to the true horrors of crime, or made it seem "not real." (Like kids who think they can fly because they saw Superman or whoever do it?) Or is that the intention?
** Your Turn: Is TV becoming too gory? Is the constant stream of crime and murder on TV shows and the news desensitizing?
April 06, 2009
Today, I thought I'd share a few of the little "lady" items I finished in the "Shop 'Til You Drop" class Thursday at the Tom Bishop International Dollhouse Show in Chicago.
There were so many items to finish that I am still working on the trim on the chaise and decorating the clothing boxes. There's also a bra and panties set to make, a lace-front shirt and a pillow. I have a couple things to do to the folding screen also. I will post more photos when I finish.
(The shoes were fun and easy to do, made with suede paper. The shoe base is a "sandwich" of a leather bottom, index card and a suede inside. The bows are teensy fingernail decorations. The shoes even had little Fimo clay heels! Neat, huh?)
I love the tower of boxes! And the suitcase was easy but effective - simply gluing straw over a wood block, then add a suede strip handle and tiny gold sticker pieces for hardware. (The stickers look like tiny rectangles and come in strips.) The bag is vellum with the teacher Cindy Crane's own art reduced and printed on it. I'm gong to try that with the vellum I had (and didn't know why I bought!)
Unfortunately, I didn't get back to the show itself, but I am going to contact a couple vendors to buy some things since I've now got a bug about making some more items like the mini purses and shoes!
I will say one thing - recession? You wouldn't know it!
Though I know a few people who are holding their wallets a little tighter (myself included), you would think that nothing had changed judging from the number of people who were taking classes. There were at least 10 small workrooms (maybe more as I didn't count them all) filled with at least 10 students each on Thursday, though the more expensive house/roombox classes did have fewer students.
But still - even the pricier classes had at least six students. And there were more people coming in for the Thursday evening classes. Given that most classes were more than $100 (with the house/room classes in the $400-$800 range) - plus many of those people and teachers were staying at the hotel, a good deal of money was being spent. It will be interesting to hear from the dealers if they saw any difference in spending and if the crowds seemed to be smaller compared to previous years or the same. Anyone want to share their views?
April 02, 2009
(Be sure to read to the end to see her amazing excerpts and get some neat great suggestions for activities to do with the kids. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the rest of her blog tour! )
Talk about a cool book! The pages of THROUGH ENDANGERED EYES (Windward Press, Finney Co.) take readers, both young and young-at-heart, on a fascinating journey into the animal world via Rachel's original art and poetry.
But instead of the typical real-life portraiture or photos featured in most animal-related books, Rachel's animal art has a mosaic-like quality. She paints in dots, reminiscent of the Pointillist style of classic artists like Georges Seurat, and Henri-Edmond Cross.
While artists doing Pointillism mostly worked in primary colors, Rachel's paintings have a modern twist - her dots are bolder and mimic the colors of the represented animals. No "dainty" dots here. Rachel's paintings are bold and invite you to come closer, get to know the animals.
She also invites readers to learn more. Most of the 21 species featured in the book are endangered or threatened due to situations including, loss of habitat; poaching; hunting; accidental deaths while hunting for other species; poison; problems in producing more young; or pollution. All of these animals are in need of help in order to survive.
She says, "I believe all creatures in the animal kingdom serve a purpose and play a role that keeps the planet balanced. Although extinction is a natural process, the current rate of species going extinct is unnatural. Our children need to understand the importance each species plays to the survival of all things. They will inherit an earth that needs habitat rebuilding and scientific intervention to maintain biodiversity. Your job not only is to make your own changes to help the planet, but more importantly, to guide your children and cherish their natural desire to make the world a better place."
** See information on some of the featured animals, plus sample art and poems, below.
Rachel developed her love of animals as a young artist, her favorite being horses. "As I got into middle school and high school, I drew quietly in my room at night trying to perfect the horse," she says.
Her love of art continued to grow well into high school. After recovering from a bout of pneumonia, Rachel began taking art classes in college and knew that she'd found her life's work. "I was hooked," she says.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in art, with an emphasis on graphic design ("I already had in mind about the starving artist thing," she jokes.)
While she was drawn to mosaics, especially those found in the ruins of Pompeii, Rachel discovered a new world of creativity following a trip to Australia in 1992.
There, she discovered Aboriginal Acrylic Dot painting, a style used by native Aborigines.
"The colors, patterns and textures inspired me," Rachel says. "When I returned home and started one of my art classes, I just had to try out the dot painting method."
Unfortunately, Rachel soon learned that there wasn't much information on the technique available. "I couldn't figure out how they made dots so perfectly round, until I saw a picture of an Aboriginal man sitting under a tree, dipping a stick into paint," she explains. "I flipped my paintbrush around and used the other end to create the dots I was looking for. The dots are raised and create a braille-like texture to the paintings."
How It's Done:
Rachel uses acrylics in her art, with the paintings for the book done on 9" x 12"
canvas board. The paintings took from 8 to 12 hours to complete. An exception was the Mexican Spotted Oil, which took about 20 hours. "I used very small dots in the face to get additional texture and detail," she says.
If she had to choose one, Rachel's favorite has to be the Chinese Alligator: "I had never painted a reptile before. Their skin is perfect for dots. The book doesn't do that painting justice, there is almost a leather quality to the skin in the actual painting."
ANIMALS IN ART AND POETRY:
Excerpts from THROUGH ENDANGERED EYES - A POETIC JOURNEY INTO THE WILD by Rachel Allen Dillon
Species: AFRICAN ELEPHANT
My ears are shaped like Africa,
my trunk is very strong,
my key to life is family,
that is where I belong.
The African elephant is the world's largest land animal. A male elephant could weigh as much as 16,500 pounds.
Where they live: Africa - Status: Threatened
• World Wildlife Foundation, http://www.wwf.org/
• Google: African Elephant Specialist Group
Species: CHINESE ALLIGATOR
I am small but
my teeth are strong,
I dig dark tunnels
deep and long.
Chinese Alligators are smaller then their American cousins. Young Chinese alligators are black and bright yellow.
Where they live: Lower Yangtze River Valley, China - Status: Endangered
Species: CORROBOREE FROG
The Corroboree Frog lives in one of the coldest parts of the Australian mainland. It does not have webbed feet and is about the size of an adult pinkie finger.
Where they live: Fiery and Brindabella and the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales and Victoria, Australia - Status: Critically Endangered
HELPING MAKE A DIFFERENCE
While Rachel has a soft heart for animals, she also believes in helping children develop a concern for animals and their environment. Poetry and art became the perfect vehicle to do that.
"I decided to write a book on endangered animals for kids because I wanted to highlight the importance of vanishing animals to kids," she says. "I didn't see any great kids' books devoted to endangered animals, so I decided to write one.
"...For the younger ones the rhyming is fun to listen to," she continues. "For the seven to nine-year-old kids, poetry becomes a puzzle, a way to communicate something they have to look harder to figure out. That is where the factual information in the back of the book comes in handy. The facts really tell the kids the answers to the questions the poems cause. The four to six-year-olds, whose parents are still reading with them, ask the questions and the parents need to look at the facts to decipher an answer - so the parents are learning too."
CLASS AND HOME ACTIVITIES for Kids:
Following are some things that teachers and parents can do to help children develop an appreciation for animals and their preservation.
1) MAKE A LIST
Look at the animal information plaques at the zoo or aquarium for a Vanishing Wildlife Symbol or statement about the status of the species. Create a list and photos, if possible, of endangered and threatened species.
2) DONATE A DOLLAR
Teaching children at a young age about giving and sharing is a lesson that will stay with them for a lifetime. Choose a foundation or cause to donate a dollar. A dollar may seem small, but to a child it can feel like they are really making a difference.
3) ADOPT AN ANIMAL
Most zoos, aquariums, and wildlife conservation groups have an Adopt, Sponsor or Befriend an Animal program. Most adoptions include a photo, certificate and information about the animal being adopted. Frame the photo and certificate, encourage your child to celebrate their animal's birthday each year by sending a donation. Give animal adoptions as gifts to family and friends.
4) SCRAPBOOK IT!
Children of all ages may enjoy creating a scrapbook about vanishing and threatened creatures.
You don't have to take the pictures, although it adds a personal element if the youngsters are able to take their own photos at the zoo, game park or aquarium. center piece of the book. Information about the animals can be found online or at the library. Check the status of an animal at Earth's Endangered.com to see if they are threatened or endangered.
FOLLOW THE REST OF THE BLOG TOUR:
April 1 - The Muffin, Women on Writing
April 2 - Candid Canine
April 3 - Fatal Foodies
April 7 - My Readable Feast
April 9 - Sharing with Writers
April 10 - Day by Day Writer
April 14 - Whole Latte Life, Joanne Demaio
April 17 - Book Talk Corner Today
April 20 - Margo Dill
* Want to win a copy of THROUGH ENDANGERED EYES? Leave a comment about your favorite endangered or threatened animal. Share any conservation activities that you have done. Leave an email or blog address to be contacted.
April 01, 2009
The story, set in medieval Belgium, focuses on a mother's struggles with her too imaginative son. Or is he?
* See book details
** Buy at Amazon.com
** Also: My spring Author Snapshot column at MYSTERICAL-E focuses on mystery and suspense authors sharing the first lines of their books and the stories behind them. Click Author Snapshot under columns on table of contents page.