tiny art

Story Blocks

My Grammy…my dads mom, was a wonderful grandmother. She lived in a tiny town in the middle of the high desert of Nevada. Luning NV had a post office (where my grandmother worked) and two bars. There were rattlesnakes, tarantulas and scorpions…a strange and sometimes scary place full of adventure.

Grammy was fun, sometimes a bit crude and, what I remember most about her, a great story teller. She would mesmerize us with her stories. Our favorites were the ones that would scare the bejesus out of us.

My husband, John and I, stopped in Luning during a trip to Death Valley several years ago. I wanted to find her house and see the changes to the small town. It took a bit of effort, and a call to my sister to narrow it down, but we finally did find it. Like most of the town, it was abandoned. The stone wall my Papa built from the desert rocks was still mostly intact. I am a rock collector like he was, so I beat a few choice stones from the wall to take home. When we walked around the house, we noticed the door was open – so not only did I vandalize the rock wall…we trespassed 🙄. There were signs visible that it was being used by the homeless as a place to sleep and get out of the weather. The ceiling was collapsed in the living room and the house had been picked clean of most hardware. Despite all of that, when I stood in the middle of her family room, where we spent most of the time with her, I was overcome with a flood of emotion and memories. I cried. My memory was so vivid of gathering around her while she scared us to death with her stories of ghosts and haunted graveyards.

I loved her and treasured all of the time I had with her. I want to be that Grammy for my grandchildren. I want my home to be a place where their imaginations are sparked and they build memories that last until they are 60! I also want to be a story teller. I don’t think it comes to me as naturally as it did to her, but I am sure it can be learned.

This is the inspiration for October’s Date to Create….Tell Me a Story.

I loved the idea of Story Stones after seeing several examples on Pintrest. The idea is to paint objects, places, people on small stones, then put them in a bag to draw out randomly. You then tell a story based on the pictures you choose. Not only could this be very interactive, it also promotes creative thinking and imagination. I thought it may be fun to use blocks instead of stones….Tumbling them out of a can and then telling a story based on the pictures facing up. I purchased some wooden blocks and decided to paint them myself. I just couldn’t seem to keep it simple. Each 1.5” side had to be a perfect little work of art. I tried to keep a theme for each block, i.e. weather, location, transportation, structures, villains, etc… I have 10 blocks in all (so 60 little paintings). Now that they are almost complete, I am going to practice….practice….practice. Maybe I will be able to story tell like my Grammy 😍. I also can’t wait to see the stories that Helen and Margo come up with on their turn. I know when they take them home, their dad is going to make them come alive. I think he inherited that story telling gene from my grandmother.

Finished Dollhouse

The doll house is done and decorated….for the most part. It’s in it’s final resting place and ready for play anyway. There are, and probably always will be, things to add or make better….or repair😂. I also need to start on Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations.

I want this post to be mostly about the pictures. But as a reminder, this house is completely constructed (except for the refurbished base), completely of cardboard and paper mache. Everything in this doll house was made or repurposed by me with a few exceptions. I purchased wooden stir sticks for the floors, lights, and a set of dishes and pots and pans, for a total cost of around $30. The food and animals were made from polymer clay that I bought as a beginner set for $15. All of the cardboard, glue, paint, dyes, fabric etc., were already in my studio from many other projects. I also pulled from a stash of items I had saved for one reason or another (like napkin rings for lights, jewelry findings, the old book cover I used as paneling, etc) It truly is a recycle project. I think it may take up only a little less room as a whole than the pile of stuff that went into it, but it is much more pleasant to look at!

So, here it is before Helen and Margo show up for their play date today and totally redecorate….

Moving Day

John and I loaded the doll house onto the garden cart and moved it from the studio to the granddaughters bedroom in the house.

Cora was the first to have a play date with the dolls in the new location. She really enjoyed having it all to herself, and looking for all of the critters hiding in the rocks and tree. Cora especially liked the bunnies and the guinea pig. At one point she hid them all under the bed. Her mom figured it was because of the “dust bunnies” hiding under her bed 😂. Not sure why she put the rug in the tree…..

Her joy at playing with the house made all of the work worth it! I did have a whole new house to clean the next day, and cleaning a mini house is very hard with adult hands. From now on, we will have to to “cleanup, pickup put away” after each play date.

I did a few accessories for the house over the past week to finish it up. Here is a collage of the small projects.

The squirrel is made from polymer clay and then painted. The coffee table is a piece of driftwood and a slab of cherry wood from our orchard. The bathroom shelf is made from cardboard “plywood”, then painted. The cosmetic bottles are glass beads with polymer clay bases. Canisters are made from lipstick tube and buttons for lids. The fire is a flickering tea light, twigs and sparkly paper. I made the books by cutting down the spine of a small paperback book and I then added covers of various kinds. The painting….well, is a painting 😁.

I will post final pictures of the entire house, decorated, in the next couple of days and then move on to a new project. This was too much fun to have it end!