Wednesday, September 30, 2009

100 Days: Got It All Sewn Up

NO, THIS prop is my favorite for the film so far! It was an intense process but richly satisfying to finally complete. On the arm of her overstuffed comfy chair, next to her baskets of thread and yarn spools, is Rana's seashell sewing box.

The clam shell box (with working miniature copper latch!) opens to show the pin cushion on one side, filled with fancy decorative pins, and a little pocket pouch with more pins and spools of thread on the other.

The white shells were painted to match the cottage decor and rimmed in metallic antique gold paint as if metal-worked. The latch and working hinge were attached and finished with the heads of pins as nails. The pin cushion is filled with sand and holds the pins well. The pins themselves are the smallest made, only 1/2" long, used for sequins. I had a blast searching my bead stash for the smallest vintage German glass pearls, mother of pearl, and cut glass crystal to top them with.

But I didn't stop there. I remembered I also had real ladybug wings saved and thought it might be fun to have an insect theme for the kit. I already had made a pair of embroidery scissors for Rana with a bee on them. If I added little lady bug pins, that would make the Time Fly being there make more sense, if such a thing could. And when the ladies looked like the other little jewels being used, it gave me the idea to have the Fly also be a decorative pin rather than being pinned himself.

I think this little element will add a great deal of detail and texture to the cottage set, making it all the more genuine that Rana really lives there.


  1. from star fish to pin cushions. Beautiful work as always. really impressed with your faux finishes, always my favorite part of your process.

  2. Thank you, Rich! So kind of you to say! Anytime I can make patina recipe suggestions for anything you are working on it would be my great pleasure!

  3. Oh, beyond charming, into exquisitely charming...

  4. Thanks, Esther! Did you see the post about how I'm using the chandelier crystals you gave me in Halfland! I love them! Thank you again!

  5. Grandma used to have one of those....and Id play with it for hours.

    another fine addition to the world you are creating.


  6. Seriously, Justin? Justin Rasch, athlete, animator, superhero used to spend a lot of time poking around in a sewing box? Dag, surprises!

  7. That pin cusion looks great, I really love how you added the lady bug wings.

    great work as always!

  8. For a while now, I've been watching all the beautiful things you (& others!) have been making. This pin cushion makes me come out of my shell to post, ha! It's beautiful, as is the sewing basket.

    I wish I could sneak into Halfland unseen & play with all of your puppets & props! I promise, I would be the kindest gentlest gremlin ever :-)

  9. Thanks, Mark! xoxox

    A big welcome to you, henniemavis! You are most welcome in Halfland.

    I understand Rana leaves the cottage open for anyone who might wander by. I'm sure she'd invite you in for whatever was hot in the kettle.

    You might be able spend the afternoon there by yourself, if she happens to be out on an errand....

  10. Oh cripes, I LOVE this!! Those pins are perfection. And the Time Fly! And those little hinges! swoon....

  11. Thanks, Peggy! I brought out the sewing box prop to day to check the size of the fly & ended up touching up the paint job on the shells. Now it's done done.

    I have to admit that seeing again after it's been stored in a box for a day, it really looked like a tiny work of art. I'm very pleased with it.

    I've been thinking of you today. I may have to wander over to your Etsy shop to buy pone of your fab felt minibooks, if there are any left!

  12. Shelley, can I copy your idea here...?? I LOVE this piece. I want to make one for myself. Pick a big seashell and make a seashell sewing box for my own use.

    Beyond the great idea of turning a seashell into a sewing box, it is really a great piece with the fly and the wings of a real ladybug.

  13. Holy moly... I was talking to Marc Spess about how great artists can sometimes motivate people and sometimes intimidate people. This is stepping into the latter... keep on rockin' Shuper Shelley!

  14. Thanks Yaz! I'd be thrilled if you made a seashell pincushion! Vaowow! Find a shell, fill some fabric with sand, works great! If you do it, a couple things: I first made a plain "inner" bag of simple cloth to keep the sand in before closing it up tightly to slip inside the velvet top layer. This way the sand stays in.

    And you know what I made but didn't use? smaller seashells on the top of a few decorative pins! I'll send you some!

    Hi Tony, Incredibly kind of you to say that. I feel that way all the time. I just keep telling myself that everything is completely relative to something else. Everything is great compared to one thing and rubbish when put up against something better. Relativity in all things.

    At this point, I shake it off and get on with what I want to do, how I want to do it, on my terms only.

    Some people will appreciate it, some won't. And that is totally fine with me. I'm glad you do!

  15. Shelley, thank you for the explanation about making of seashell box and willing to send me the one you did not use :) Thanks!

  16. wow shelley!

    so glad i stopped much exciting BEAUTIFUL inspiring progress!

  17. Girl, whos going gaga here??? I LOVE the little sewing kit with ladybugs and fly!!! You used real wings??? and here I thought I was the only so macabre to peel wings off old flys! This is such an amazing little treasure, I can see how you would want to display it under glass...

  18. Sure thing Yazzy, pins for your cushion going in the pack!

    Hi Shel! Thanks so much!

    HI Ullabenulla! Thanks! BUT NO WAY DID I DO THE PULLING!! No way. All wings used in Halfland were found LOOSE already.

    I found a dead fly today on my bathroom floor and even then I couldn't pull off the wings. Thought about it----couldn't do it.

    It's silly. I eat eat dead animals all the time but the meat comes in clean-looking plastic packages. If I had to dispatch the animals I'd raised myself, I think I'd have to go to Tofu or maybe fried grasshoppers.

  19. Nah - if you can't pull wings off an already deceased fly, I can't see you tossing a wok full of fresh grasshoppers with bok choy and soy sauce.... I figure it's gonna be the tofu.
    I'm the same - I have plans to build a chicken house and keep a few egg layers, but mine would probably have a better retirement plan than the usual one (chopping block).

    Amazing small details on that sewing stuff.

    I'm inspired by your faux metal finishes! I gotta attempt something similar on a "brass" genie lamp I just made out of mdf (main body), aluminium (handle), and plastic chess pieces (base and lid).

  20. I could learn! It's a tough adjustment but when you need meat, some bodies do, I think I could do it after a while, after a desensitizing to the fact of it.

    I read an essay the other day by a woman who has been living on her own farm and after trying hard to stay on a vegetarian diet she was becoming to ill without meat. She wrote so eloquently about how she made an adjustment to being able to give her animals the best care and then somehow be able to kill them with a sincere and grateful heart. I couldn't envision ever really doing it to a lamb or a cow but I admired the honesty of her actions at least. She didn't hide her distaste of what she feels she needs to do by using a butcher like I do. Way off topic, sorry to any vegetarian reading. No offense intended.

    I also read how laying chickens are on the rise again. It apparently is a human reaction to financial downturns. People go chicken crazy right about now!

    Go for it on the lamp--sounds fantastic! Do you have some metallic paint or rub n buff or something to put down first? My biggest trick is that umber chalk dust mixed into matte medium as aged patina as a last step.

  21. Never heard of chalk dust before - so, do you get a set of coloured chalk sticks and grind up the umber one a bit?
    I used to have some rub 'n buff, must look for some more. It did add a nice lustre. So far I've put a coat of shellac on the mdf to seal it, followed by some gold enamel (from a $2 spray can) but it's a very dull tarnished gold. I'll want some tarnishing and aging, but it also needs some shinier highlights from all that wishing and rubbing.

  22. ok-- I've got you covered!

    Firstly, the shellac is a brilliant idea. It probably gave a smooth finish needed to imitate metal work. Well done.

    Good job on the base coat of dull gold.

    For the bright spots: I don't know if you can wait for a patina package from me to arrive or find this material near you or order it faster if need be: But I'm recommending the technique I was surprised to find work well.

    I used This:Delta Renaissance Foil, Easy Gold Leafing System: (It is highly controllable as it only adheres to where you brushed on the sizing and it is MUCH brighter metal looking than real gold leaf!) to give bright metallic highlights over the metal plate paint (I used silver on the little scissors but same company also makes all of these Modern Options Metallic SurfacersEXCELLENT patina paints (the iron and rust solution is a must) with real metal in emulsion/suspension the effects of which are stunningly great, especially used in conjunction with add'l layering. And Nova (best quality/price acrylics in world!) has great prices on their gorgeous brass pearl golds, etc.)

    For the magic aging on metal finishes:
    I'm going to send you half of my own stick of this: RembrandtSoft Pastel Burnt Umber 409.3 Should last for plenty of films. (info given in case you can find it faster locally) THIS IS THE ONLY BRAND & COLOR of PIGMENT I can recommend for the really great aged patina effect. Although, I haven't tried any other chalk to be fair about it. It is entirely possible that any old chalk/pigment will work wonderfully too. Maybe even real dirt!

    The main thing to keep in mind is to mix a small amount of dust extracted from the chalk stick (I use a scrap of fine sand paper on the table as if I'm sanding the stick until I get a pinch of the dust) into a MATTE MEDIUM (I use Nova's click on mediums for listing in detail) Use anything you might have but it MUST BE MATTE vs. gloss.

    Once the dust is incorporated into the medium, you can apply it strategically to the lamp, concentrating on where tarnish would develop naturally. i.e.; in the crevices around the handle, anywhere there's a joining or nail/fastening, etc.

    Think as if you were time and where you would affect the piece. Wipe away where the lamp would be touched most, on it's rounded belly bump, etc.

    There's a photo of a metal plaque in Prague where everyone is traditionally meant to touch the queen in order to return to Prague. See how shiny the touched part is!(google dew: The plaque on the statue of John of Nepomuk had been polished to a shine by many people who had touched it over the centuries. Tradition says that if you rub the bronze plaque (the one depicting St John being thrown off the bridge), you will one day return to Prague.)

    I don't know how ancient a look you are aiming for with this lamp, but if you need to go way back with it we can talk about walnut ink stain, fire extinguisher dust and spider webbing fiber!

  23. Link to the Prague plaque, just for kicks. Thousands of hands keep only part untarnished:


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