Friday, 21 February 2014

Rya rug

Wikipedia is inconclusive in its coverage of rya rugs, or long-pile rugs, or floss rugs. According to Swedish sources, the technique was used already in Ancient Egypt. But it is true that they are popular in Sweden, and I have always wondered how they were made. Some days ago I decided to find out. I was inspired by a post in my dollhouse group that I couldn't find afterwards. I was a bit down in mood and thought that an elaborate piece of craft would do me good. It did. I went online to find descriptions and stumbled over this video (in Swedish), which struck me because it was done by a young man, and he was making his first ever rug. I felt I was in good company.

I had embroidery canvas that I had bought some years ago with vague intentions, which came handy. So I started, with a ball of yarn and a darning needle.

Rya technique is fascinating, and actually this is more or less how Oriental rugs are made, only the pile is of course much shorter. It took me three evenings to finish this small square. For a first try, I think it looks fine.

The other side gives a better idea of the technique:

You make a loop and then you make a knot, and another loop and another knot, until you have made a row. Then you cut through the loops. It takes a long time, but I wasn't in a hurry.

Apparently, these rugs were first used as blankets, imitating animal skins, with the pile down. Decorative rugs have the pile up, and you can make various patterns with yarn. I really enjoyed making this rug, so I will definitely make more. 

Here it is in its environment:

Saturday, 15 February 2014

More furniture renovation

I have bought a cheap bundle of furniture on ebay, advertised as "in need of repair". On closer inspection it was carelessly assembled and unfinished. In other words, a challenge.

I started with the clock, since it would fit nicely into my clockmaker's shop. This is what it looked like and what I did with it:

First of all, since it is kit furniture, it has ugly tabs which I learned how to deal with when I made half-scale kits. I cut off the tabs (picture in the middle) and sandpapered until the surface was smooth. I painted the inside of the clock dark brown, and I painted the pendulum gold. I then stained it with mahogny stain and gave it a coat of varnish. If I had made it from kit I would have glued in "glass" from the inside, but I couldn't do it now, so I cut a piece as neatly as possible. I glued on a face from another clock that I had remade - with this one, it didn't look bad at all. And I covered the places where the tabs were still visible with golden stickers. 

Here it is in the clockmaker's shop - which has developed a lot since I last showed it here: 


There are several new long-case, or grandfather clocks which I have improved. There are also several new mantel clocks that I have bought in a bundle from ebay (there are still more models I haven't got so I am hunting for bargains). But I am most proud of two recent additions:

I bought them on the same day from two different sellers. The one on the left is a pen sharpener of brass-like metal. The pendulum moves if you shake the clock, but at least it looks natural. The clock on the right is a collector's item from Durham Industries, of which I could not find much information except that there are lots of miniatures on ebay and elsewhere, and the marking says Durham Industries, New York, Made in Hong Kong 1972.  There is a knob on the back which makes the pendulum move. I think both are lovely and a very good complement to the clockmaker's stock. Items like these, put in the foreground, make a huge difference in a room box or any miniature environment.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Bottle house

I don't remember where I saw this idea, but it looked fun so I decided to try. It was fun to make, but I am not sure I am pleased with the result. I must admit I haven't put a lot of effort into it.

First, I cut out the window and the door. I painted the bottle on the inside and outside, then cut window and door frames from plain paper and glued on. I made a chimney breast and a fireplace. I assembled a rocking chair from a kit left over from an earlier project.

I don't feel it's worth keeping, but I thought I'd share the idea in case someone else wants to try.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Funkis kitchen cabinet

I wanted to make a cabinet for the funkis kitchen, because it would look more natural, and also to display some utensils. I had various ideas how to make the cabinet, including close or open, real or fake doors, and I finally decided on a compromise. I had some styrene sheets that I had bought long time ago in a hobby shop, for undefined purposes, possibly for furniture making, so it came handy. I used a candy box of a suitable size as a base and glued the white plastic sheet on it, which I think gave a nice effect. The handles are plastic beads.

The cabinet is very light, and I though it could be easily fixed with sticky dots, but it wouldn't cooperate. I tried double-sided tape, I tried this and that, and finally I made brackets from paper clips. You cannot even see them unless you look closely.

This is the new kitchen. By the way, I also have a new cooker that matched the rest better:

Funkis bedroom

Long before I put in new wallpaper in what was supposed to be the bedroom in the funkis house, I tested the size of the future bed by placing the bed from my retro house in it. This was a fatal mistake because it was exactly the right style.

Actually, my retro house has many features that would fit in a funkis house, but this bed was too good a match, so reluctantly I decided that it would have to move. Thereafter I decorated the room to match the bed. 

The curtains and the rug had to follow, as did the two bed stands. I made another window with a view over a funkis landscape. The table comes from the IKEA set and is completely wrong scale, but I don't think it matters. The colour is right. The Matisse picture is from the web.

Now of course you wonder what I made to replace the bed in the retro house. I will tell you soon.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Finding the right place, continued

See here for the beginning of this story.

When I had just started playing with miniatures, six years ago, I got terribly excited when I saw all the wonderful things you could buy on ebay. Although I from start was a maker more than a collector, I enthusiastically bought things that I later on would have made myself. Also, I didn't understand then that buying single objects was expensive. Since then I have learned to search for bundles, or mixed lots, or whatever the ebay sellers choose to label them. I guess that, unless selling on ebay is your full-time occupation, it's far too much trouble to set up the auction, administrate the purchases, pack, post, track. Therefore, I believe, people get rid of things they no longer want or things they have inherited, and sometimes they don't know what treasures they are selling and sometimes they do and hope to fetch a good price but have bad luck and have to sell cheap. I check for bundles regularly, and my most recent was this:

Now, in a bundle, there will always be things that you are not particularly interested in and wouldn't buy as a single object, but they almost always come handy. Here are some places where some of the things went:

A row of fake books obviously went into a book case in the Georgian house. They clearly add depth.

The raquets join other sports stuff in a corner of the modern drawing room. You can also see how nicely the dresser I bought in an antique shop last year fits into this interior.

The pair of shoes and the starbucks mug went to the modern bedroom.


The flashlight, the Primus and the big brown bags went into the utility room which is just a corner of the modern kitchen. They are joining tools, buckets, wellies and other useful things.

Finally, for this round, the plastic tray with glasses and a sweet little ice-cube form went into the funkis drawing room but it may eventually go somewhere else.

The other things will be useful as well. I am making a wall cabinet for the funkis kitchen, which will of course be filled with stuff. The frying pan can go in, and the kitchen utensils can hang on the wall. Plates are always useful. So do come back soon to see what I have done with the rest of this lot.

Finding the right place

I have several times promised to show what I do with large lots or bundles that I occasionally find on ebay. Such as:


It's very impressive when you see lots like these, but what happens is that they disperse into various projects, and after a while you don't remember where they come from, and some of them get lost - not literally, but lost among many other small objects. (Sometimes I ask myself how many miniatures I have in my different houses and room boxes: Five thousand? Ten thousand?)

I got a sweet Christmas gift from my daughter: 

I decided that I must take pictures of where these objects found their place. For instance, the tiny Chinese figurine and the sea shell went to the Victorian corridor and the decorative plate to the Victorian drawing room. (This is a good chance to display some details of the house).

I took this opportunity to rebuild the nursery that had become much too crowded to see the details. The new toys are foregrounded, and I am very proud of having made a Ludo board for the tiny dice.

To be continued.