Sunday, December 29, 2013

Experimenting Milk Paint

I'm so excited to blog about my experience with milk paint! I chanced this while I was surfing the web and was just dying to play with it. My first experience with milk paint was many years ago. The first milk paint I had was in liquid form. Even now, I think they are relatively unknown (at least in my part of the world), except for those who are probably DIY enthusiasts who love doing furniture makeovers. Traditionally milk paint are used on wooden furniture and other textured surfaces to create an antique look, which is why it is quite popular with people who love that style.

These are not sold locally, so I ordered mine overseas. While doing my research on milk paint, I became fascinated with it even though I don't have any antique furniture to try it with. So while others will use it with furniture, I will use it for my dollhouse miniatures.

What is milk paint?
There are many types and brands of milk paint out in the market, some are in liquid paint form which is ready to be used, and some are in powder form. Today I'm going to try out the milk paint powder which requires mixing with water.

Milk paint is an eco-friendly, all-natural paint which contains milk protein (casein), chalk, clay, natural pigments.

Suitable for both interior and exterior painting and is mold resistant.

It is ideal to paint on various types of surfaces, including wood, plaster, drywall etc.

It is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and does not give off noxious vapors (often called VOCs)

How is the texture different from acrylic paint
I can only speak from my own painting experience, but the milk paint offers a very smooth, even painting finish that I can't get from acrylic paints. Sometimes acrylic paints that are kept too long ends up being lumpy, but so far my liquid milk paint doesn't end up like that.

Ways to use milk paint
Simply paint on porous surfaces to create a finish that doesn't chip or flake with time (which is perfect if you make your own dollhouse miniature furniture).

You can add more water if you want to create a "colored stain" or "faded wash" look.

If you paint directly over painted surfaces, allow the paint to "self-distress" and chip away randomly for an authentically aged look. (I haven't tried this yet, but will do so soon!)

Preparing for my experimentation!

So I got my stuff ready, the usual - paint brush, a little container to hold the paint, and a small scoop container to efficiently measure powder and water. You can use a spoon if you have, but I didn't have a deep craft spoon. You can use a small cap or container as well.

For this experimentation, I must tell you that the colour I was going to try out was a light mint blue/green colour. But please note that the colour of the milk powder is almost cream. See below photo. So please do not be alarmed!

The milk paint is ready to be mixed with water.

As soon as I added in 1 scoop of water and started stirring, the colour changes!

Stir well, until the lumps disappear. This was stirred halfway, as you can see there are still some lumps.

The ratio of powder and water is 1:1 But there are no hard rules to this, you can add more water if you like, which I did.

You can start painting immediately after the milk powder is dissolved.

The outcome of the colour reminds me of a discontinued FolkArt colour - Mint Green. Many of my students can't find this colour at the craft store anymore, so this will be the replacement for that colour.

I painted 3 coats over my furniture and it covers well. 

End result colour

It was a fun experiment. I hope you enjoyed my little review of the milk paint! Once I tried the other experiment, I will blog about it!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Visit to Gardens By The Bay

A little while back, I went to Gardens By The Bay for the very first time. It had always been one of my wish to visit ever since it was opened, but I just never had the time to do so. But I was glad to visit during this time of the year as they had christmas decorations in the garden ^^

There are several options which one could pick. I only visited 2 domes, as I didn't want to rush through my visit. I'm glad I did that, as I took my time to admire the indoor and outdoor gardens. By the way, the outdoor gardens are free of charge, and one can reach there by crossing the linkway bridge at Marina Bay Sands Hotel. I didn't know about this until I ventured on this trip.

The 2 domes were air-conditioned (what a blessing!) and I enjoyed the cool air. The first dome had lots of flowers, cactus plants, succulent plants, and christmas plants as well.

A point to note, most plants are actually displayed above ground level and I wonder if the reason for that is so that people won't be able to touch them easily.

I enjoyed admiring the various succulent plants up close.

This looks like a gigantic ginger plant.

After going through the succulent plants area, I looked at flowers and leafy plants, but I only took a few photos.

I'm lucky that there wasn't many people in the gardens on the day I visited, so walking in the domes were really nice.
 People admiring christmas plants on the lower deck

Poinsettia Christmas Tree

Assorted plants tucked in a little corner

After lunch, I went to the 2nd dome which is called Cloud Forest. I didn't take lots of pictures here because it was more wet and slippery, so I was more careful with my camera. But I enjoyed walking on the high pathway which overlooks the city.

I hope you enjoyed the short little trail with me. This is definitely a place I would visit again just because it's so fun. Smelling the plants and flowers makes me happy!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My paint collection

While doing my cleaning routine, I decided to clean up the drawer that holds my paint collection as well. I usually don't clean this every week, but perhaps once in a while since they are all kept in a drawer. This is still not my complete collection of all the paints I own :D For those that I use on a very regular basis, they are taken out and placed on my desk.

I have a great amount of pink, greens, browns and whites in my collection. The colour that I re-purchase over and over again is white. Some of the colours are over 6 years old, and are discontinued colours.

The folkart ones are great when it comes to house keeping because they come with a colour tag on the top of the bottle which makes it easy to identify the colours. For the other brands, I have to write the names of the colour on the top of the bottle cap just so that I know what it is. Sometimes I also flip it over when I keep it, so I can see the colour from the bottom of the bottle.

I don't have the most perfect storage solution, but I make do with what I have.

I keep those colours that I seldom use at the back of the drawer usually. And for those that I use regularly will be pushed to the front so it's easily within reach. Simple enough for me.

Hope you enjoyed this little tour of my paint collection!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Making Miniature Little Gifts

I've been busy making some miniature little gifts lately. I plan to give it to my students who are here for classes in the month of Dec. 

It has been fun to put this together. The side decorations were so much fun, I actually love them lots!

It also makes a perfect little gift. I have this available in my shop here.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dollhouse Miniature Full Cream Milk

Just a really quick update! Some of you may have seen this in my shops, but I've been really slow in updating this in my blog. I made this 1:12 scale dollhouse miniature full cream milk a little while ago. I designed this from scratch and it took me a while to get it altogether, but I am really pleased with the effect.

There are some days where I'm just more keen to work on the computer than playing with clay, so those are the times I'll get to design stuff. I get excited seeing the little project come to life on the computer screen. I must say sometimes it's a little addictive doing research.

I even wrote a little story about Pei's Fresh Milk, at the side of the packaging, although you can't really read all the words as this is a one inch scale miniature. But I like making all the little details.

On a random note, for some reason, a lot of people are craving for fake macarons at the end of the year, so I've been busy working on these special orders. I hope to take a few photos of them before I mail them out by next week! We have been having more wet weather days here for the past few days. In fact it's a little chilly at night, and that also means my macaron shells are taking a little longer to dry. But I'm still cranking them out as fast as I can possibly and just let them dry naturally.

I can't believe tomorrow's already Friday... Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Creating Dollhouse Miniature Rose

Recently, I tried my hand at creating a new dollhouse miniature rose type. It has been on my mind to research a little bit more on this particular type as I'm fascinated with the petals. The center, inner petals are  busy and packed. Though I have tried experimenting it on and off, I still have not grasped the proper way to handle it. But in the midst of both failed and successful attempts of these, I'm getting there.

I love looking through my Rose Bible. There are just so many rose variations in my book and I constantly reach out to this whenever I need new colour or type ideas.

I tried to find a name for the particular one I made. And I think I found it. It's called Temari.

I don't necessarily stare at the picture while I sculpt, but usually I try to absorb all the details when I look at the picture. Then the sculpting begins.

The making of this rose type is totally different from the other roses - mainly due to the busy inner petals. Maybe it will frustrate a lot of people that you cannot get the same looking inner petals everytime, but hey, no roses are completely the same.

Well, I hope I can keep up with the stamina to make more of these for a slightly bigger project. :)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dollhouse Gerbera Daisies Going To New Homes

I made these dollhouse miniature gerbera daisies over a span of more than 6 months...I know it isn't really much from how it looks, but I think my first batch is done for now. When I decided that I wanted to donate something to Dollhouses For Kids Battling Cancer, I made my mind to make a bunch of gerbera daisies.

Ann assembles the dollhouses from her home, and dispatches them to the little ones. There are also others who help to deliver these dollhouses to kids who live in different parts of the country. From the pictures, I saw that the dollhouses were being decorated, and I thought, how wonderful it would be if I can add a little dash of colour to the decorations as well :) Gerbera daisies would be ideal, so that's how the whole idea came about. I wanted to accumulate enough before I mail it out, but of course I also know it would take me a while to get there. Fast forward to more than 6 months, and this is my result.

I will continue to accumulate them as I go along...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dollhouse Flowers - Peonies Bouquet

After making many dollhouse peonies over the last year, I must say that it does get easier after practicing over and over again. When I first started, it took me a very long time just to make a few stalks. It was only with this recent batch that I suddenly felt that it didn't take as long as it used to. I'm sure it was partly due to the modification of steps. I also keep changing recipes for it. Nothing is always quite the same way each time I make them.

This batch of peonies was a special request by one of my customers, who wanted the same complementing flowers used in an earlier red peonies bouquet. But she wanted her peonies to be peach instead.

It actually gave me an idea to try out another colour, so do look out for it!

Peonies in varying stages of blooming adds a dash of realism.

Holding the colourful bouquet of peonies

Thursday, November 7, 2013

It ain't christmas yet

I've been working on this dollhouse miniature pennies flower arrangement just a few days ago.  Peach colour is something I adore.  If you've been following my blog, you'll realize I made several flower arrangements featuring peach colour.   There are several colour schemes that include peach, which I've been thinking of.  I was glad to sit down and work on this new flower arrangement.

Along with the peach, I worked on 2 shades of hot pink. A burst of colour like this makes me really happy. It reminds me of spring time, although for many of you, it's almost winter.

Did you also notice the tuberose buds I've made to go along with this bouquet? The real ones come in a few different colours, which I thought was really interesting. I think it has to do with the various ripen stages.

Funny how I'm working on colour schemes like this in the month of November. Usually I prefer to work on something I feel passionately about, regardless of seasonality.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Grace Whip Cream Clay Discovery

There are so many different clay products out there to explore. I love playing, and discovering, the wonders of each. Today, I'll be writing more about the Grace Whip Cream Clay.

This is definitely not a new product. The one that I'm currently using has been with me for years - and I am not surprised if it's 2 years or more. I only use a bit each time, so one tube of this lasts a very long time.

It's not difficult to guess what this clay is used for, as the picture on the box would have given you an idea. Basically this has a whip cream texture, so you can use it to create highly realistic fake whip cream effect for cakes, desserts, ice cream, etc.

You can mix acrylic paints or oil paints into it to create different whip cream "flavors". It air dries naturally and no baking is required.

This clay is extremely sticky to touch when it is just freshly opened. To use this, simply prepare a ziplock bag, or piping cream bag, or your self made piping bag ready when you are about to open a fresh tube. Once you cut open the tube, simply squeeze the cream into your piping bag. It is ready to use!

Once the tube is opened, use a firm paper clip like below to secure the package opening. Then, put it in a ziplock bag, and store into an air tight container.

I will say this though: The above way described to store the clay will prevent it from drying out, but it doesn't mean it won't dry out forever. It will still dry up, just more slowly. 

So what happens when it dries up?

From its fresh sticky state to drying up does take a long while. My 2 year old or more whip cream clay is possibly a good example. The current state is soft but non-sticky - AND definitely still usable. Think hearty, but a bit more elastic. :)

This is how my 2 year old whip cream clay feels like and looks like now. I purposely pull and stretch the clay a bit more just so that you can observe its texture. The fresh clay out from the tube obviously doesn't look like this - it's way more sticky and wispy when you try to pull the tails of the whip cream clay.

I just have to use it differently now which I am totally fine with.

I also tried to re-warm or re-heat the clay just to see if it can go back to its original texture.

I put some whipped cream clay into a ziplock bag. Meanwhile, I boiled some hot water. When the water is boiled, I pour some into a container and put that ziplock bag into it. Please note that due to the hot water, your ziplock bag may melt a little. After a few minutes you may check the texture of the whipped clay.

So, below is the comparison of the re-heated whipped cream and the old whip cream clay. On the left is the re-heated whip cream clay, and on the right is the older whip cream clay.

After re-heating, I touched and feel the texture with my fingers. It feels 90% similar to its original texture. Also, please note that the reason why the re-heated whip cream clay looks "ugly" is because, it was so sticky and stuck to my fingers a lot. Removing it from my fingers was a bit of work. If one wants to do any piping work, they should work immediately right after the whip cream clay is re-heated, as that is the best time to do it. 

To summarize this though, although the whip cream clay may dry out during your time of owning it, knowing its different texture change during its "life span" does help you to decide how best to use it during its different drying stage. Re-heating it will help to soften its texture significantly, if you wish to do piping work, but reheating won't bring it back to its original texture a hundred percent.

On the other hand, one may never even encounter such issues, because it all depends on how large your projects are. If you are purely making life size items, then you should be using the clay more quicker than those who are making purely dollhouse miniatures.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Flower Power: Upping the Challenge for Miniature Workshops

Over the years, one thing stood out prominently as I asked for feedback from my students, and that is - they find that flowers are the most difficult thing to make in dollhouse miniature scale. Not only does it take twice or thrice much more time, one has to stay very focused during the whole entire task. One is actually training the mind, really.

For a change from my traditional course offerings, I would like to introduce a flower/garden theme piece.   It was made slowly, bit by bit over the past year or more, and I am working hard to make it available by next year. The flower/garden theme piece will be targeted for intermediate to advanced students.

Although flowers are difficult to make, and I'm sure this will only appeal to those who really have a lot of patience and love flowers, I believe it is the way to go.
I firmly believe in the healing power that flowers and plants have.  Looking at the beauty of well-crafted dollhouse miniature flowers, even for that slightest moment – relieves stress right away.  Enabling students to create a magical flower/garden miniature scene that they can hold onto forever and have that little world to escape from their day-to-day stress means a lot to me.   I know it helps for myself, and hope it will do so for others!
So please stay tuned and look out for it. 

Before I end my blog post, I just want to say that I'll be extending 2 more weekday slots to my workshop teaching schedule for the remaining year of 2013.  Available weekdays are Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, from 1:30pm to 4pm if anyone is interested to come take a workshop sometime this year. It will be based on first come first serve basis, so just email me to confirm your slots. If you have not noticed, I've included a Workshops/Craft Classes tab to this blog on the top for easy access to my offerings. 

That's all, now I'm going back to work!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Experimenting with light teal color

I love playing around with colors. In fact I find great joy in painting my dollhouse miniatures with different types of paints, colors, whatever I can get my hands on and seeing the effect.

I remembered trying out the teal color for the first time a few months ago, and boy I hated it. It was very pigmented, heavy and sort of dark. I usually fall for teal/turquoise, but this was a teal that I didn't like. At that moment, I lost interest in it totally and kept it aside.

I found a picture in one of my favorite japanese decor magazine which inspired me and I whipped up a dollhouse miniature screen. I've not finished making it into a folding screen yet, but will soon continue with it. As I worked on it, I decided on how I would utilize the light teal color. With the help of a lot of water, I  dilute the color, and I was immensely pleased to see this. 

The screen on the bottom is the result of the heavily diluted teal colour without any texturing. You cannot imagine how heavy the original teal color was. The screen on the top was further textured.

This light teal color just pops! 

I'm happy I got these colors to work now. Today I'm going to do more work on these....

Friday, October 11, 2013

Clay Miniatures Workshop - Let's Bake Macarons!

I'm pleased to present my newest clay miniatures workshop entitled “Let’s Bake Macarons”.   Its inspiration is an imaginary vision of a baking table scene filled with all things related to macarons. 
For years I’ve held onto a baking table in my collection stash.  I’ve had many small ideas over time for how I wanted to use it, and finally nailed down a completed vision for it 2 months ago.
I painted the table white, and did not want to change the color scheme.   Because of my love for colourful macarons, I decided to do a macaron baking scene. 

I estimate that this 1:12 scale dollhouse miniatures workshop will take a minimum of 10 hours to complete. The macaron tower itself, will take 2 hours or more.  Some wood work, along with sculpting work will be taught in this workshop. 
Because of all the details included in this miniature baking scene, I am confident that this will be something that you can enjoy holding onto and looking at for the longest time when it is completed.

More details of the "Let's Bake Macarons" workshop can be found here.