Wednesday, January 26, 2011

All Tied Up!

Chris From Canada wrote:

Don't pitch broken shoelaces from until you have:
  • cut the ends off about 2/3" down the lace from where the plastic or metal thing-a-ma-jig ends, assuming they're still there and aren't the reason for changing the laces. Coat the thing-a-ma-jig with paint or nail enamel in the desired colour, and shred the shoelace stump with a pin right up to the thing-a-ma-jig. Trim the threads evenly to between 1/3" and 1/2", and you have an old-fashioned duster. AND
  • examined the lace to determine whether it is a hollow knit tube or is joined together. If it is a tube, you can make use of the good parts from the wider ones for small knit items like a baby/child's hat, undershirts, panties, and adult socks, leggings, and long sleeves. Dye or decorate (if desired) with food colouring and water, water colours or marker, then measure, mark, cut, treat edges with glue or Fray Stop and hem (or not) as desired.
The round laces for dress shoes, although usually hollow, are generally too tiny for clothing except maybe as an evening gown in 144th, but could possibly work as a body for a snake in a 1:12 museum or zoo scene with the aid of some marker or paint and some stiff reddened thread for the tongue. I can't think of much the flat joined laces could be turned into except perhaps a 1:12 scarf, or a QS doormat, but I am sure someone can come up with something else.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Those clear little bumper stickers used to cushion doors or prevent ornaments scratching furniture can be turned into a paperweight. Find a seed catalogue or use any tiny picture. Attach the dome to the picture, and the picture is magnified. Trim the bottom of the dome, and there you go!


Got a plug that looks like this? Turn it into a drill for your mini handyman.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mould-y Things

Chris from Canada writes:
I am sure many of us have used part of a tube of sealer, closed and sealed it carefully before storing it for the next project, only to find a year or so later that it has hardened into a useless lump. Knowing realistically that you probably won't need it before it becomes useless, use it to replace those pricey commercial moulding products like Mold'n Pour or Fimo Flex. Here's the recipe:

1 part silicone sealer
1 part corn starch
Mineral spirits/paint thinner-enough to thin the mixture so it is thick like muffin or nut-loaf batter.

Work in a well-ventilated area, i.e. outside, in a garage with the door open a bit, under the stove vent with the fan running etc.... Put sealer and corn starch in roughly equal amounts into a disposable container (I used a disposable plastic cup) and then add a small amount of the liquid. Stir vigourously with a popsicle stick, or an old spoon or fork, adding more liquid gradually until it is the consistency of a smooth, very thick batter. It should be pourable with a bit of help from the mixing tool. If you add to much thinner by accident, just add more silicone and cornstarch (equal amounts) and stir again until smooth. And that's it.

If you've never made a mold before, check online as there are countless tuts out there, and the instructions are the same whether you are making a mold of a mosquito or a mastadon molar.

I used vaseline as my release agent for the original, and everything popped out like a dream. I didn't need anything for the copies because the mold is flexible. I experimented with just a tablespoon each of sealer and corn starch and about 1/2-3/4 tsp. of mineral spirits and ended up with enough to make a 1.5" square mold of a fancy button that I want to use to make ceiling medallions (or whatever you call the carved plaster circles that chandeliers used to be hung from). I cast one in plaster which looked great until I dropped it into the drain of the sink :-( and also tried it with air-dry clay and Fimo. These came out nicely too with very clear detail. The worst part is the vinegary smell while the stuff is being mixed and is curing, but once it is finished, there is little or no odour.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Chris in Canada wrote
To make very realistic mini stonework in any scale without messy moulds, multiple colour washes, egg cartons or (yuck) settling for printies, why not use the real thing? The coarse sand/gravel mix used in parks and school playgrounds is a terrific source of lovely mini stones of all varieties suitable for pathways, fireplaces, walls, house foundations etc... Is everything frozen solid and covered in snow? No problem. Many cities leave out the same sand mix in bins located near stop signs where the road is sloped. It's free, and they usually have a scoop or shovel head inside to use to fill your bucket. If you have no other need for traction aids, just return the unwanted material to where you found it, and if anyone asks what you are doing, just say you have finished building your and didn't need all of it.
After choosing and washing off the stones you want, simply paint the surface you are "stoning" a light grey or off-white to resemble mortar for Justin Case, then glue the stones in place with a clear-drying glue. I use WeldBond as it seems to hold the stones in place better than most of the others. When the glue has dried, mix up some cellulose filler or spackle tinted with a few drops of craft paint and add "mortar" to the spaces between the stones using a finger, coffee stir stick or toothpick, depending on the scale you are working in. HINT: Only do small sections at a time as this stuff dries very quickly, and wipe off any extra mortar from the stones with a damp cloth.
If you want a finished-off look, use something with a rounded end (crochet hook or paintbrush handle, small stylus, dried-out marker) to go around each stone to smooth the mortar. Otherwise you can leave it as sloppy as you want, especially for garden walls. When was the last time YOU saw a cleanly mortared natural stone wall in RL scale?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Yule Tide Shop

Sandra from Sydney wrote:
Our son Nathan gave me the Petite Properties Yule Tide shop for Christmas.
I painted the walls and completed the floors with strips of paper for floorboards as instructed in the Petite Properties for the first two kits by Petite Properties.
Corner Shop and Washtub Cottage.
This is the link to Sandra's blog -
To see the corner shop and washtub cottage, scroll to the very bottom.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Hole in the Wall Pub

Tanya has done it again!
Check out her fabulous pub....

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Epiphany in Spain

Liz, in Staffordshire wrote:
In Spain, each town or area of a city has it's own "Belem" or Nativity scene. El Masnou, near Barcelona, has a "live" one in the streets every night which has to be seen to be believed. For some reason they always include rabbits, a "naughty" boy and a sort of harvest festival stall with fruit. I can't remember seeing the naughty boy at this one as he's usually doing what should be very private LOL! Some of the model ones are in Churches, others in public buildings and some are huge, with a story of Christ from Christmas to Easter in mini scenes. Most shops also have mini nativities, often handmade, sometimes reflecting the type of shop, in their windows.

You can see a few pictures of Belems and Sagrada Santa (Easter models) here:
Miniatures from Around the World

People order their cake for Epiphany ("King Cake" in English) then queue down the street, so you can tell which is the best baker! It's a bit like tea bread with cream, and inside you find lottle charms and figures, including the King charm. Whoever gets that must be king for the day... and buy the cake next year! We usually buy one and share it round the campsite where we are staying, along with our own Christmas cake, which all the non-British campers find very odd.

As for coal (and we have a family tradition that one of my uncles had just that one year!) you can buy little sacks of "coal" before Epiphany, rather like the "Reindeer Droppings" we see. You also see Three Kings climbing ladders up houses (or blocks of flats!) like the Father Christmases we see here.

The best is in the afternoon or early evening. On our first trip, not knowing anything about it, we saw lots of processions on TV but now we always go out to find it. The Kings are splendidly dressed and might be on one or three floats or even on individual horses. In Cadiz their arrival by boat is heralded by canon fire! The parade can take ages and includes lots of decorated floats with people throwing sweets and/or plastic flowers to all and sundry. It starts off very sedately but they end up "lobbing" them at their friends, who might even "chuck" them back! Everyone is dressed in their best clothes and often all the children in a family are identically dressed - boys in shorts and tights the same as their sisters' skirts and tights, and all ages too. They must cost families a fortune, but it is a frequent sight. All generations are out together and it's one of the few days that most of the men are not in the bar for long as it really is a family occasion. The grandads are the funniest, elbowing everyone else out of the way while they fill carrier bags full of sweets, supposedly for their grandchildren. The teenagers dive for them in a dangerous manner or congregate together shouting for Balthazar.

Balthazar always seems to be the most popular King, and is usually blacked up. They end up with one pink cheek as all the children are held up to kiss them and the make-up gets rubbed off. In Fortuna, in the South East of Spain, we saw a queue form long before the town band could be heard at the front of the Kings' procession. It weaved to and fro filling the square and big children looked after younger ones; it was very rare to see even a very little child being chaperoned by a parent. They must have queued patiently for an hour or more, to be presented with a gift which they acknowledged with a kiss on each "King's" cheek. This wouldn't be seen to be at all odd in Spain or Portugal, where children are treated very differently from here and family values / local friendship groups still seem very strong.
The Spanish know how to party and we are usually ready to stagger off at this point, but I doubt very much if anyone else gets to bed before the 7th!