Z: Eyes on the Prize


Z is for eyezzz on the prizzze.

You can take a hundred pictures of the same thing, as I do, and five of them might be true. Living on the edge of a continent facing due west, with a view of the horizon, I find joy in this vista every single day. This is the prize.

This also concludes my ABChallenge, with a final nod to Dr Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra —one of the most personally influential books I’ve ever read. (I wrote about it here.)



Speaking of prizes, here is the official, distinguished Certificate of Distinction for you poets to download and laminate and proudly display. Fond regards for all who haiku’d their X hip hardware puzzle answers.

This is meaningful
Hope I spelled all the words right
And that you like fish


Keli sent these giant pill capsule highlighters, which still make me laugh. The only thing better than miniatures are giant things.


Scarlett finds it comfortably convenient that we got a new 3-inch thick memory foam topper for the downstairs guest bed, which is where I’ll be recuperating for the next few weeks after tomorrow’s surgery. I am so ready to do this thing.

Looking forward to seeing you all on the other side.




Rousseau, Painted Paper, Collage


A few weeks ago I came across this spread in the April 2017 issue of House Beautiful. It’s a wall mural inspired by the imaginary jungle paintings of Henri Rousseau. Designed by Laurel Canyon homeowner Molly Luetkemyer, it was painted by LA artist Jeff Robinson.

I was instantly smitten, and thought a miniature version could be the perfect third wall for the MMS+S set. Since I am currently very keen on repurposing and/or drawing from my considerable hoard stockpile of materials and supplies, I grabbed a peaked MDF wall from — um, actually I no longer remember what build it was from.

Years ago, I dabbled in some cut painted paper collage paintings, inspired by Eric Carle. I love this method of illustration. For this 1:12 wall, I plan on using hand- and machine-cut painted papers augmented with markers.


Here is the wall (MDF, 12 x 17 inches) with the preliminary foundation background painted in acrylics. I’ve been studying Rousseau’s jungle paintings, and making note of elements I want to include: light to dark background gradations; sky, moon/sun, jungle; exaggerated plant details; simple two-tone object shading. In Luetkemyer’s inspiration mural, she says the plants are based on California’s landscape, and I plan to do the same. What an awesome opportunity to draw all my favorite plants and flowers: yucca, ficus, succulents, sansevieria; gorgeous orange and red mystery fruit; outrageous florid orange and yellow flowers.


Using 14 x 11-inch medium-weight drawing paper and acrylic paint, I’ve begun making my papers, starting with the greens.



And then some warms:



It’s getting late, and I’ve run out of room on my drying rack, so my helper cat and I are calling it a night.


Nancyland’s August (or Fogust, as we say here in the Bay Area) home page splash image is made from two of the above painted papers, layered using the magical “Lighten” blending mode in Photoshop.
The lyric snippet is from Grouplove’s “Colours”, a song Maddie and I both enjoy singing along to when it comes on the radio :)
Lyric snippet update: The National’s “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”. Listening to on repeat.


Finished Sketchbooks


For the first time, I am making finished sketchbooks.


Featuring a bookmarked center spread with an original watercolor sketch, there are bits and bobs peeking out, much like our own 1:1 sketchbooks. The inspiration for the bits and bobs is Keli’s clever receipt notebook.


The covers have a snippet or collage of other original art, meaning that each sketchbook will be one-of-a-kind.


Here are the first four center spreads. Each will be bound into the classic sketchbook cover, then individually bitted and bobbed.


In addition to sketches I’m doing some abstract expression-y explorations.


What doesn’t make the design cut to center spread will be used for the bits and bobs, and cover illustrations. The books are finished to be relatively flat, measuring 1.625 x 1.125 inches (4.13 x 2.86 cm). This is the real deal — original art made 1:12 scale — for the love of miniatures and color and drawing and watercolor markers. And bits and bobs :)

Sensational Travel Journals

Oscar Wilde wrote, “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”


In that spirit, the OE Travel Journals kits are available over at MMS+S. There are two kit options listed, and one secret option at hand. The two listed options are for three blank journals, or one road atlas and two blank journals. I’ve made a video of the secret option:

YES. It is a secret gatefold pages option for both the sketchbooks and the travel journals. They work well with the single pages and maps, and are fun besides. Just add a note when ordering and I’ll include as many as you like with your kit/s, until I’m able to list them properly. Though they won’t be secret anymore, they’ll still be fun.

Production notes: If you like quiet page-turning fx, turn your sound on. The alarming bandage: I bashed my poor knuckle on a boulder rock emptying a cement bird bath. I tried to keep it out of the frame, but it’s like it has a mind of its own.

Maps Variation


Like many others, I love pretty much everything about maps, for many reasons and in many ways. Soon after I finished the first round of sketchbooks, I thought about the iconic appeal of a road atlas, and built a few from an old spiral-bound Michelin North America volume I had on hand.

I experimented with covers and endpapers until arriving at this version of the classic sketchbook.


With a road map cover over mint green cardstock.


Graphically chosen road map endpapers bound to the blank cream pages.


And all those invitational blank pages, awaiting your expression.


I *wish* I had thought of this option before I listed the sketchbook kits over at MMS+S; I like it that much, and will be adding it to the shop. For those of you who have already ordered sketchbook kits — thank you! — please message me if maps appeal and I’ll send you the components to add to your kits. Then we’ll all be happy and mappy!


Decorations, Sketchbook


The latest issue of the newsletter Cut, Fold+Make is out. If you missed this month, the sign up is over on the right. It’s a short curated list of ideas and links that inspire and support creative practice.


There’s a fun suggestion for a miniature paper garland, and first looks at the new sketchbook kit.


Possibly what’s most adorable is the ephemera pocket on the inside back cover. They’re  available as kits now over at MMS+S in iconic black cover, kraft, as well as the Warm colorway (orange, yellow and gray) of the Office Essentials line of organizers.

It is spring!


Floors, Brickwork, Walls, Circus!


I use great books to weight the flooring as it dries flat. I like to think some of the principles and observations seep into the wood and inform the structure.


I filled the voids in the walls with foam core (smooshes into the corners nicely), thin kraft cardboard (looks like MDF, sandable) and wood glue (dries hard). One of the side walls has a large arch that used to open into another room; it’s since been bricked over.


The century-old oak beams are still visible on the interior walls. I whittle-aged them without stabbing myself. Oak is way denser than basswood :)


Oopsie! I mis-measured the height of the arch :/ The century-old oak beam supporting this wall is/was/will be, um, custom fitted.

Then I spent a lot of time staining and sanding. The weather today was mild enough —and not raining! —that I could do it outside. That was nice.

The exterior walls are clad in vertical board-and-batten, stained daffodil Keli yellow and classic gray.


Looks like the circus came to town!

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
—Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus



Some of us are serial monagamists, sometimes some of us eat cereal and beer for dinner, and more than a few things have serial numbers as well as serial ports. I am a serial artist. Or as Emilie Wapnick terms it, a “multipotentialite”. I suspect most miniaturists are.

At the 1975 GRAMMY Awards, when the impossibly fabulous David Bowie addressed the audience, “Ladies and gentlemen… and others…” something zigged and integrated in my awareness about all the way things could be. I remembered his words when I recently came across Jessica Peill-Meininghaus’ The Gnome Project, an engaging book chronicling “one woman’s wild and woolly adventure” making a needle felted gnome every day, for a year.

For a year!?…

Of course I had to see what this was about. I had a bunch of wool roving, chenille stems and felting needles on hand from other (abandoned) attempts — I wasn’t instantly as good as Victor Dubrovsky, for instance — and Jessica’s gnomes looked doable-enough.

I learned a lot from making the first one, dubbed Gnome001. Like needle felting is very, very repetitive and stabby.


And even more on the second one, Gnome002. Needle felting can be very, very painful, stabby sharp and barbed. And as Keli added: bleedy.


These two took me what seems like a disproportionally looong time to make over the course of two days. How a woman with four children at home made one gnome every day for a year is beyond me.

Last night, because of Hallowe’en champagne, they got braids :)


I have a Scandinavian tomten and nisse heritage, plus my elemental preference is more elven :) so I want to make these guys more my own “other”. Thinner, with ears, and boots.

Here’s the beginnings of GnomeOther003. Wish me inspiration, patience, an accelerated learning curve, and financially appropriate amounts of time?


Also: This year’s raccoons are total hooligans!


the great green room: bed

Beginning Bunny’s bed

Beginning Bunny’s bed

I love the simplicity of the bed in the great green room. I used 1/4 x 1/16-inch basswood for the sides, and 1/8-inch for the legs and headboard. I cut the base and the mattress of 3/16-inch foam core.

Once again, there are many options translating an illustration into a 3-D object, and my first instincts are not necessarily the best solutions. The mattress has a layer of Thermolam for loft, cut just to the size of top + sides and glued. This is covered by a layer of old fine cotton sheeting that I must have folded and mitered the corners of a dozen times each, trying to reduce bulk but still suggest comfy bed.

First coat of vermillion

First coat of vermillion

Sand, paint, wait to dry, sand; paint, wait. Sand. Fix broken glue joint. Wait. Paint. Learn that the tiny blotch of stain from the Sea House Pavilion that you thought was just a smudge or something will show through paint no matter what and of course it’s on the side facing out. Decide that you can live with that. Mostly.

The “dressed” bed and tiny placeholder Bunny frame

The “dressed” bed and tiny placeholder Bunny frame

I used green felt for the coverlet, again cutting and gluing to just cover the sides and barely wrap to the bottom of the mattress. The pink blanket looks deceptively simple, but I went through several iterations before arriving at a passable solution. The mattress assembly is still loose for now. It and the pillow will be mashed and glued into place once Bunny is complete.

Current thinking is to needlefelt Bunny’s head and paws. I got my new order of fabric for the curtains and jammies printed on cotton.

Next up is the dresser and table. Then curtains. Then… the one million other details.

the great green room: tiger skin rug

In the great green room is a tiger skin rug, but it is not said goodnight to

In the great green room is a tiger skin rug, but it is not said goodnight to. Discuss.

The tiger skin rug has deviled me from the start. First of all, the whole idea makes me very sad. Then there is the truncated illustration, and as always, ineffable questions of interpretation and medium.

My first solution is literal; my task is but to replicate. As with the fishing bunny picture frame, I fiddled with tracing it in Illustrator and Photoshop, but determined that a freehand interpretation was truer to the spirit of the great green room, and WCHWD.

I hated it. It’s black Sharpie on a yellow microfiber cleaning cloth. It may be too soon to depose it, before I’ve got the rest of the bedside pieces made, but when I look at it, I flinch. I put it on the backburner of things to consider.

Time is running short of the mid-March completion date. I thought, perhaps go literal a different way, and I bought a quarter-yard of a tiger skin print fabric.

Printed tiger skin?

Printed tiger skin?

I didn’t even have the heart to cut it out and ponder edge treatment.

I had always considered doing a needlepoint version of the rug because, hey, I love needlepoint, but I am also keenly aware of the time constraints. And also, WWCHD? There are a few miniature tiger skin rug charts out there, but when I happened across Susan McBaine’s Miniature Needlepoint Rugs for Dollhouses, something went, um,  something inside.


The design has an integrity seemingly missing from other charts I have seen. And if I’m going to depart from pure re-creation of Mr. Hurd’s illustration, there has to be a compelling — or whimsical — reason.

Trouble is, the charts are drawn by hand and smudgily printed in black-and-white (the book was published in 1976, a simpler time), and reading them is harder than stitching on the 49-count silk gauze I will use. My solution: photocopy and enlarge it, then color in with Prismacolor pencils. Very 8-bit :)

Bigger and more colorful!

Bigger and more colorful!

I think I’ll have an easier time stitching from this chart. It’s 150 stitches wide, which translates to 1.5 inches (38 mm) on 49-count, which is a bit wee. I need to order the two tiger-colored threads (I have the black and ecru) from Red Rock. What to do, what to do?