My reviews are based on my personal experience with a product or event. I am not a professional product tester nor do I get paid for any of my blog posts.

The items that I post reviews on, have either been purchased on the internet or through a local vendor. Additionally I will review items that I got on sale, as a gift or as a sample from either the manufacurer or some other source.

Note: always read the manufacturers directions on how to properly use a product and craft carefully. Additionally, I am an Amazon Associate and may earn a few cents (literally) from your clicking on my Amazon links. Since they raised the minimum payout from earnings to $10 I haven't seen a credit for a while but eventually I will get one.

Every penny counts when trying to set a budget to get supplies to use for my reviews, tutorials and hauls. However, you do not have to use my links. You can use your favorite search engine to find the best price for your budget.

Review of "Mixed Media Dollhouses" by Tally Oliveau and Julie Molina

Mixed Media Dollhouses by Tally Oliveau and Julie Molina
There are so many good selections of craft books this year and one of the newest books that I have picked up is a cool book published by Quarry Books called Mixed-Media Dollhouses.  The book is written by Tally Oliveau and Julie Molina.  You may be familiar with both of these designers from their articles and/or projects that have been published in Somerset Studio magazine, 1000 Artist Journal Pages, Etsy, and more.  Below in a close up photo of one of the assemblage dollhouse rooms featured in the book, you can see that the authors combined paper, fabric, photos and other ephemera into creating this mixed media this room box.
Mixed Media Dollhouses by Tally Oliveau and Julie Molina

Mixed-Media Dollhouses  focuses on both mixed media and assemblage techniques.  In the next close up of another one of the rooms featured in this book, the room box has a fun french Marie Antoinette theme.  If you look closely at the photo you can pick out some fun elements that they have put into this room (like the frog prince on the chair).
Mixed Media Dollhouses by Tally Oliveau and Julie Molina
One of the reasons this book caught my eye is that it is making miniature rooms out of non-traditional materials.  My daughter loves miniatures and I thought that she would benefit from some of the techniques taught in this book.
Here is a list of only some of the topics covered in this book:
  • materials for room bases (including non-traditional shapes)
  • choosing a theme
  • finding inspiration
  • organizing supplies
  • tools for special effects (like cut outs)
  • how to work in layers
  • decorating boxes using paint, paper, etc
  • collage techniques
  • adhesives
  • cold joins
  • special effects (like movable parts)
  • emblishments
  • found objects and more.
   Additionally, the authors provide some great templates and images to use in creating your own project.

There are so many cute details in this book, that my daughter was very excited to try her hand at making a room.   This book is written so straight forward that it held her attention and inspired her to try her hand at assemblage.  We decided to start simply with some things she could find around the house, as well as  some fun items she had left over from the holidays.

This project inspired by some Ikea paper doll tags that have a cute Christmas theme.  My daughter wanted to use her fun little christmas trees she had bought at the dollar store, along with these fun paper dolls that she picked up at our local Ikea store.

Supplies used:

  • recycled box
  • asst scrapbook paper
  • card stock (for the chimney and christmas gifts)
  • rhinestones
  • Martha Stewart Glitter
  • Plastic Sequins
  • holiday die cut paper dolls (IKEA's Christmas tag collection)
  • air dry clay (for stands)
  • and various plastic toys
We started with an empty box.

Then cut some scrapbook paper to fit inside of the box.

Glue the paper onto the box to create faux wall paper in the room box.  Once the glued pieces have dried, use a Letraset AquaMarker to create floor trim.  Then line the bottom of the box with an embossed piece of card stock to create the flooring.

The chimney is made from the bottom of an old jewelry gift box that has been decorated with assorted trim to look like a chimney.

Using an inch square die cutter, cut out 7 squares in various colors to make each little christmas gift.  Then using a bone folder, fold the paper to make the different size gift boxes.  Once the boxes have been folded and glued, decorate the boxes with thread and sequins. 

The tree is decorated with plastic sequins and rhinestones.   Then use the air dry clay to create stands to hold the little paper die cut tag people (from IKEA).  The mirror is aluminum foil which is framed by an oval die cut.

To finish off the box, decorate the outside of the box.  Add a bow to make it look like a holiday gift box.  Above is a closer view of the finished box.

If you want to light the box up, punch a few wholes and put a battery operated LED lights inside the holes. If you have access to some of the new LED mini light kits, then you can create lamps or other types of lighting for the room box.  Since the LED battery operated lights are the safer alternative, I would be wary of using any other types of lighting in or on the box.   To be safe, the lights are only turned on when the box is being played with.

As you can see,  Mixed Media Dollhouses doll is not just written for adults.  It can be used to inspire kids to create their own dream rooms.  I loved that my daughter could use it for her crafting needs.  The project also inspired her to write a story to go with the Christmas dollhouse room box.  That alone was worth the price of the book (which is listed at $24.99).   This is one of those fun inspiration books that is filled with so many good pictures that you just want to make something.  After she finished this project, we started looking around the house to find different types of containers to house more room ideas.

Speaking of paper crafts, if you are new to paper crafting or just want to see one of many different types of fun paper projects you can make using some of the cool papers available on the market today, check out some of Lisa Kettell's books and videos.  She is the author of  Altered Art Circus
and is well known paper artist, writer and designer.  Below is one of her video projects called "How to Make a Marie Antoinette Paper Doll."


50 Years of Renaissance Faire History on Display

This year the 50th year that the Southern California Renaissance Faire has been open.  The faire began in 1963 as a result of the efforts of Ron and Phyllis Patterson.
Renaissance Faire History
It honor of its 50th actual year in the business of entertaining the public and providing information on the Renaissance period,  the owners of the faire set up a museum at the Renaissance Faire
site this year. The Museum  had a greeter at the door, to entertain and delight the guests as they came in.  There was also a series of entertainers throughout the day.

There was a miniature wooden reproduction of the  Mayflower Stage (photo below).  The Mayflower Stage was the central stage for the Renaissance Faire (held at the Paramount Ranch in Aguora, California) in the sixties and seventies.  While the faire is no longer held at the Paramount Ranch location, its does still exist, thanks to many individuals who worked to have it declared a California State Park.

The Mayflower Stage was the central entertainment center for the Renaissance Faire and could be seen from anywhere on the faire site. It was a tall wooden two story stage.  The open hexagon shape was designed like the the famous Shakespeare Globe Theater in England.   
You can see the stage clearly depicted on the map of the Paramount Ranch faire site below.

The display of various costumes worn by previous actresses depicting Queen Elizabeth I,

was interesting to see in person.
There was so much beading detail in each piece.
Some of the jewelry worn by the actresses throughout the years, were also on display.
They also had pictures of past "Royal Queens Court" depictions.

One could see the work of over 100 talented and skilled artists who had displayed and sold their artwork throughout the years at the local Renaissance Faire (some still do).
Wardell's Pottery Green Man
Skull Plate - Wardell's Pottery

Potters to the People
Wheat Goddess by Cora Hendershot

Spirit of the Forest Leather Masks by Mitchell Walker

Wooden Miniature Tudor Village
Pewter Dragon

The pillory below has been on display and available for photo opportunities for guest and participants alike throughout the years.  It is maintained by the construction crew of the "Friends of Faire" organization.
A Pillory that has been maintained by the Friends of Faire
The museum also displayed props and other ephemeral that celebrated the anniversary of the faire. The Giant below is made of paper mache and has been in service throughout the years as a prop for use during the "Morning Opening Parade" and various other parades throughout the day.
Kristina Iodice (far left) and Sarah Shaw (far right)

The Renaissance Faire Museum also had some dioramas on display that depicted different scenes from the Renaissance Faire during the early sixties.  Artist Julie Meredith, who was a vendor during the sixties, made these amazingly detailed paper mache Renaissance Faire dioramas. In the photo below
Renaissance Faire Entrance Diorama

you can also see a depiction of the original entrance of the Renaissance Faire. FOF members have also added a display of the membership FOF (Friends of Faire) medals from various years for all to view.

Below is a picture of a diorama that depicts some of the entertainment that was available at the time. This particular diorama shows figures dancing and musicians playing various instruments (also made from paper).
Figures Depicting The Dancers at Faire Diorama

    Over the years these dioramas have been displayed in various locations, including the Natural History Museum during the mid 1970s. Unfortantly, five years ago, the dioramas suffered extreme damage from a storm.  Being that the figures were made from paper mache,  some of the figures were permanently destroyed by the water damage from that storm.
      Below is what the musicians looked like before they were damaged.  We lost three figures. the original tree and some props from this diorama.  The other three dioramas lost some figures and props, however the loss from this particular diorama was much more significant.

The figures and decor pieces that survived were restored by Paper Artist, Maria Del Pinto, from the "Friends of Faire" organization.  Below is what the diorama looks like today.
Musician Diorama

Friends of Faire (FOF) is staffed by volunteers who donate their time and their talents to make the faire experience better for everyone.

Maria Del Pinto who restores and maintains the dioramas
Each one of these pieces has tremendous details, like in the photo below where the figure is

spinning.  The spindle is made of paper but the wool is actually wool.  You can see wooden knitting needles in the bottom center of the picture with a knitted project that is in progress (it takes a lot longer when working in this scale).  

In the photo above you can see that the bells, head wreaths, faux leather purses,

and faux Tudor plaques are all made from paper.  The workmanship by the original artist was amazing, especially considering the limited materials available to her at that time period.  They did not have the paper punches in the 60s that are readily available today.

 There was also a wide selection of pottery, jewelry, costuming, signage, and props on display in the museum. This included the fun gypsy cart below that was used for shows during the early years of the faire.

Over the years, the faire has been survived more than its share of challenges to survive and grow.  For past cast members and visitors, this was a glorious time to celebrate and share memories with each.  As for those who were new to the faire experience, they had a chance to learn about some of the history of the event and the general purpose of this particular event.


Easy Panel Privacy Screen Project for Outdoor Living Space

DIY Privacy Screen Project

Living in California, we usually have mild weather.  This year the weather has been a bit more extreme and very warm (over 90 degree days).  So I had a need to filter the afternoon sun from my front room to help keep the heat down.  Since putting a blanket over the window is unrealistic, I tried but it looked really tacky (see picture below).  I realized I needed to make a screen or panel that was removable and inexpensive.
The blanket looks too tacky.

Since I have to buy books for school, my budget indicated that I needed to make it for under $20.  So I decided to check out Ikea's clearance room and see if I could find something to make it with.  I found a wooden closet frame (Sniglar)  for $4.99 that would be fairly easy to convert into a panel to cover the window.

Then I went to the dollar store and purchased three straw beach mats for a total of $3.

Since I was changing the original design of the closet, I had to lay out the wood parts.  Then I marked and drilled some new holes.  Then I used the hardware included in the kit and put the frame together.  It took about 8 minutes to assemble.

I stapled the straw beach mats onto the wood base, so they would stay on even during one of our local Santa Ana Wind storms.
I attached all three straw beach mats and tied the bottoms to the wood frame for extra security.

Then I sprayed the finished frame piece with a protective finish to water proof it.

Here is the finished screen.  It cost me less than $20 and I was able to make it in under 20 minutes (not counting the time it takes for the water proofing spray to dry).  The added plus is that it looks a lot better than my original idea of just hanging a blanket over the window.  Plus I can still open the window and I get the evening breeze without the heavy sunlight flowing in.

Screen is behind the willow chairs that I made earlier this summer.