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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A can of Danish Christmas cookies illustrated with works by the Dutch artist Rien Portvliet was the inspiration for this project. My family comes from Lithuania, and log homes were a tradition there, as in other northern European lands. My mother was actually born in a log cottage.
Vilija (pronounced vil-ee-ya), the happy gnome sits on her front steps. As you can probably tell, she’s an avid gardener.

Here we have a view of her garden.

I decided to make a separate platform for the garden. This made the project easier to work on and transport. Getting dollhouses through doorways can be a delicate job. Here you see a picture of Vilija’s friend Gulbe (Gul-beh) with her baby boy Gintaras (Gin-tarus), and how the garden is split.

Below is an “aerial view”. When the two bases come together the groundcover overlaps and you can’t see the seam.

Here’s Gunther (Gun-ter) at the fence. I think he and his brother Gustaf are both rather sweet on Vilija. Gunther always makes sure she has plenty of firewood.

Below you see the garden gate and a flagstone path to the back door and the shed. These paving stones were cut from thin sheets of basswood, and the plants were made from assorted artificial flowers and reindeer moss.

I wanted the gate to swing open and shut, and I remembered that I had some lead tape handy. The tape is metallic, and I “engraved” a design onto it with a pencil. Lead tape is also handy to give a bit of weight to miniature fabric projects to get them to lay down better. I found mine in the tennis department of a sporting goods store.

I found a deep little shadow or display box at a craftstore and immediately thought it would save me a bit of work in the making of a well. I covered it with cardboard egg carton “stones”. It was the first time I had used the method and it worked out quite well. The handle on the crank turns to bring the bucket up and down. I was rather perplexed as to what to use for the crank. I haven’t done any metal working and I don’t have a lathe. I suddenly remembered some plastic suction cups that had little hooks on them. Sure enough, as I played with the hook on the cup I realized this would work. I did think a bit about the incongruity of a plastic piece on the well, but I figured that was what the gnomes would do if they saw it, so I did too.

Here’s the inside of the cottage, a cozy place, just big enough. Some may ask, “where’s the ladder to get to the loft?” It’s on the other wall, the one that you can’t see, that’s where. It would just get in the way otherwise. Up in the loft you’ll see sacks of food stores. I experimented with dryer lint, marbles, pebbles and little plastic filler balls to see how they worked in the sacks. The plastic filler balls are often used to make soap bubbles in mini bathtub scenes. I believe they’re often used to fill those “draft stoppers” they sell to put at the bottoms of doors. Each sack filler gave a slightly different result, so if you’re ever in the need of them, try a little experimentation. The wooden “crocks” and bottle seen in the loft were made from a small broken artist’s mannikin.I never throw out anything that looks like it might be used for a miniature “something”.

I found some very nice moldings at a craft store, in this case it was Michael’s. The acorn carving on the corner cabinet was cut from a piece of molding, The back of the bench was from another of those moldings I bought.The doors to the cabinets don’t open, I have no urge to work on opening drawers and doors I don’t think I need them.

Now here’s a piece that I felt did need to open and close. The bed/settle. I saw a couple of pictures of similar beds in a 1930’s national Geographic article about Sweden, and I had a desire to make one. The back of the settle is made from the molding I bought at Michael’s. You can see the acorns in the center. I had no knobs handy for the drawer pulls, so I used dimensional fabric paint to make some.

Here’s the open bed. The quilt is a piece of printed fabric with tiny dots that simulate stiching. I confess, the coverlet and pillow won’t fit in the drawer when it’s shut, but the little mattress does. The gnomes have such short legs, and I didn’t want to make the seat too high for them. The pillow and coverlet are stored in the painted trunk.

I had some straw type coasters I found at a Dollar Tree discount store. I cut one to form a mat, applying glue to the underside so it wouldn’t unravel. I used some of the straws to make a broom.

The space on the gable looked so bare, so I thought a flowered wreath would be a nice touch.

While browsing a local gift shop one day I spotted a cute tole painted bowl. Of course, it wound up being bigger than I thought when I got it home and put it with other mini finds. I did like the look of it, however, so I copied the design onto a small wooden plate. It’s up on the shelf shown here. The shelf is made from the top half of a Michael’s hutch.

Later, I felt the table needed a plate too, so I painted another plate.
This is one of my favorite pictures.

And here’s another nice one of the hearth.

Here’s a picture of the friends gathered around the table. Agnetha (Agneta) came with a housewarming gift of a new lantern, Marta brought a basket of fruits and veggies, Gustave brought flowers and Gunther brought…more wood.
Where’s Vilija?’s a surprise party.


Tiffany said...

WOW - you did such a phenomenal job! The detail just amazes me.

Marta said...

Absolutely delightful. I enjoyed every photo. You are so creative, great work! Oh, and I'm so glad that there was a Marta there to enjoy the surprise party!


milo said...

Grazhina, I had been eager to see the cottage finished since the first pics you posted on flickr. You did such a fantastic job on the garden but also the inside is so beautiful, all warm and cozy. As I said commenting one of the pics on flickr, I want to spend here all my weekends...
Great job indeed, congrats! I hope you don't mind if I link you.
milo - minicaretti

Anne said...

Clearly a labor of love, Grazhina! Your creative process seems very similar to mine, actually. Love what you have done here. Reminds me of my Mossy Manor fairy house, a little.

Anne Gerdes
Small Stuff

Boxoftrix said...

What a wonderful display I love the carvings and the little details and the painted plates....they are fun to do and yours are beautiful!

smehreen said...

As always, this is an amazing! I love the acorn molding, and the entire house is delightfully creative!

info said...

Grazhina, Both a great job with the cottage and the photographing - I love the pictures toward the end. You may find some the plants you've used will grow too fast to stay in scale - like the rosemary and the polka-dot plant. Get in touch with me or check out my website for more info on living plants that will grow slow and stay miniature for longer lengths of time. Keep up the good work - you must be pleased! Best, Janit Calvo

grazhina said...

To avoid a little confusion, the plants used in the garden are all artificial.

jay-reg said...

Love this house and want to move in and live with your gnomes. Thank you for sharing.

Brooke said...

This is so wonderful. I have bookmarked your page so that I can come back and look at your creations again and again!

Anonymous said...

Grazhina, Valio, Valio, labai ispudingas, idomus ir grazus.
Received your site from my cousn Joanne in Urbana, Il. Awesome!!


Eva said...

My name is Eva and I am writting this e-mailfrom Spain, from a city very close to Barcelona.
Just few words to say you that you have a very beautiful blog and I have enjoyed very much visiting it, specially the this gnome's cottage but also the other posts.
I hope that you don't mind that I have linked your blog to mine.
If there is a problem, please tell me.


Anonymous said...

The gnomes cottage if fabulous.

Nanny Anny said...

Just discovered your blog. Your work is exquisite! Such wonderful attention to even the smallest detail! I am amazed! From NannyAnny in Canada

grazhina said...

Thank you!