Monday, March 14, 2011

Top o' the Mornin' Final, Part 3



D. R. McAnally in his 1888 book Irish Wonders describes a Leprechaun:  ‘He is a diminutive of size, about three feet high, and dressed in a little red jacket or roundabout, with red breaches buckled at the knee, grey or black stockings, and a hat cocked in a style of a century ago, over a little old withered face.  Round his neck is an Elizabethan ruff, and frills of lace are at his wrists.’ 
The Leprechaun we often see depicted now is a bit different; he is dressed mostly in green with a bowler style hat of the same color and has a red beard.  All seem to agree that he is a shoemaker and when working wears a leather apron.
So we do have some leeway with our choice of Leprechauns and their clothing.  
Years ago I “fell in love with” a strange little pose-able Mattel figure from the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone series…Griphook, The Gringotts Goblin.  I have used him several times in different miniature settings.  His face is so like the 1892 Leprechaun illustration by British illustrator John D. Batten (1860-1932) that I knew I would be using him for my shoemaker…even knowing it meant that those of you who chose to do the same would have a hunt on your hands.  Griphook’s are out there, quite often on eBay, still in their original boxes.


For the transformation I first antiqued the skin with a half and half mixture of Delta Gel Medium and Dark Brown Acrylic, using brushes and QTips to remove the medium until the desired aging was reached.  Next I applied pink and red Pastel Chalks with a soft brush to the nose, cheeks, ears, forehead, lips, chin and tops o hands, slightly blending into the surrounding skin.  The coat & tie were painted green; the pants a flat black; buckles and all buttons, a metallic silver.  A red-orange bunka-type cording was pulled until it frizzed and.  It was glue in small segments to cover the painted hair and to form side burns.  If desired a beard of the same material would be an appropriate addition.

 An apron was cut of soft cotton material that had been tinted with a watered down version of the brown antiquing mixture used above. Fine leather cording was used for the neck side straps.  You may choose to make your apron of fine glove leather.  Cut your chosen material on the fold.  With a tacky glue, turn back a 1/16” or so hem all around, clipping the corners as you go.  Do the same with the pocket. Glue the pocket to the apron, bottom and side edges even.  Use a pointed toothpick  to run a thin line of glue down the center of the backside of the pocket and press to apron; do the same with the side pockets.  Cut apron ties, longer than you think you will need from thin leather cording or ribbon and glue to apron for neck ties and for waist ties.  After the apron is tied on your Leprechaun you can cut off excess lengths of ties.  The apron patter is simple and can be adjusted for any size Leprechaun.    Make an extra apron to hang on the wall.

Click on pattern to enlarge.  Copy and paste to your computer.  Set printer to print at actual/exact size or 2.73"w x 2.28"h


Of course you will need a pot of gold in your scene because this is where the Leprechaun stores the coins he earns from cobbling for the fairies.   The gold is said to be found at the end of a rainbow and, if certain criteria is meant, one may steal the pot…but the Leprechaun is wily and will try to prevent this….and who can blame him as he is very industrious and works hard to fill his pots of gold. 

The pot I used here came in the package with my Leprechaun but just about any large pot or cauldron will work here.  I aged mine a bit by dry brushing first with matt black acrylic and then lightly with a rust color.  The pot was filled with crumpled aluminum foil wrapped in thinner gold foil.  Then I punched various sizes of rounds from solid gold cardstock and used these to top the gold foil(using glue) and to sprinkle around the base of the pot.

  Click on rainbows; copy and paste to your computer.  Print to size desired.

 If you would like a rainbow make copies of the rainbow printies; cut out and glue together, back to back, trimming for a perfect match if necessary.  Use quality glue stick for adhering.  When glue has set, lightly curve the rainbow so that it flows out and away from the pot of gold and the end touches on itself.


Of course you need a way to get up to the Pot of Gold.
Of course to get to his pot of gold our Leprechaun needs a ladder.  I used 3/32” thick  bamboo skewers because of its strength but ordinary dowel will work fine.  Cut two rails 6” long and 10 rungs 1 5/8” long.  Paint and stain all pieces for a dark wood look. Working a on piece of waxed paper tape the two rungs down 1-5/8” apart from each other, ends flush.  Measure and mark 10 lines on the rails ½” apart, starting ½ up from their bottom.  Glue the rungs between the rails, each centered on a marked line.  For added strength ad just a tiny drop of Krazy glue to each join. When glues are set carefully pull ladder from paper. 

For added interest I used very thin coils snipped from a full sized grapevine wreath to wrap around the rails.  Soaking the coils a bit beforehand helps with the process.  You could also use a thing twist of floral tape.  The top tips of the rails were adorned with a tiny pinecone of sorts (another “bottom of the potpourri” find).



The shoes are made from Plaster of Paris using a push mold (available at craft stores and ).  Follow the directions on the Plaster of Paris box for working with molds and pour the 4 feet only.  Stir the plaster and water slowly to prevent bubbles and if they form blow on them to remove.  Fill the molds just a bit over the top and when the plaster has set a bit use a something rigid like a credit card to scrape across top of mold to removed excess plaster. When plaster has cured (it doesn’t take long) push feet out of mold.  If you would like higher shoes drop on a bit of the prepared plaster on the ankle of the foot, or for a turned up toe to the end of the top of the foot.…see picture.  When the plaster has dried completely use knifes, files, sandpaper, a Dremel Tool, and what have you to carve out the inside of the shoe, shape the outside to a pointed toe, add a cuff and otherwise play cobbler. 

When all is as you want paint the shoe with acrylics or water colors…plain colors for most elves & anything goes for the fairies… a top coat of metallic or pearlized or glitter nail polish (there are so many wild colors to choose from...check $stores for good values) adds fun.  Get out your finest glitter, tiniest no-hole beads, paper punches, metallic papers, sequins, etc. and have fun…decorating the shoes is like they say about peanuts “you can’t stop at one”.   And speaking of just one…the great part is you don’t need (unless you choose to) to make a matching pair of shoes because, as everyone knows,  Leprechauns only make one shoe of a kind at a time because fairies just wear out one at a time and the left and right shoes are the same.



The shoe form consists of 4 parts:  a ½” punched round of black cardstock topped & centered by a piece from a pocket sized chess set (one can often find these at 2nd hand stores and them have many mini uses), with a plaster foot on top ( made from the mold as described above and shaped as seen).  This assembly is painted a flat black and when dry lightly dry-brushed with rust colored acrylic.  This assembly is glued, centered on a ¾” square piece of ¼” thick balsa (or other scrap wood) wood which has been stained a medium brown.  On the exposed edge of the paper circle four evenly spaced holes, were poked thru the paper and into the wood.  Tiny (3/32”) nails/brads were poked into the holes with a bit of glue.

The Left Wall

Hanging on the left wall is an extra cobbler's apron.  Under is a redo of a purchased barrel filled with rolls of leather.  Next to it is a simple box made from rectangle Woodsies with paper lace hardware; more leather rolls are on and next to it.  I kept this space simple but there are certainly more fun items that could be placed here, for instance a jug of poteen, a hat, & leather pouches.

The End

I had hoped to get this third part of the project up sooner but you know how real life  tends to interfere, esp when you are deep into a project, and it seems like this last week was a good example of this for for me...but I guess we all have to take time out to "de-cobweb" now and then ...and I did, in both my home and my mind.
If you make this project in whole or part do let me know...and I love photos, they energize me.

I am now engrossed in dreaming up an Easter vignette for you which I hope will turn my mind to spring rather than this eternal rain and wind that will just not stop....everyone knows that PNW natives have webbed feet but I feel like I may be growing gills too.  My new mantra is "Rain, rain go away, (not so little) Joann wants to play".

So, I do hope your mornings are the "tops", as well as the rest of your days. Have a fun St. Pat' Day, and if you forget to wear green, feel yourself pinched!!!


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Top o' the Mornin' Part 2



   1.  Cut all pieces A-J from acid-free matboard.  Cut piece K from thin cardstock.
     2.  Glue back edge of bottom B to face of back A, bottom edges flush.
     3.  Glue right hand door sides C&D to the AB assembly, placed as shown in diagram.
     4.  Glue left hand door front and backs E&F to the AB assembly, placed as shown. 
          Note that these two pieces are set back 1/16” from front edge the bottom.
     5.  Check to see if the door piece G fits exactly between your D&C pieces and if necessary  make adjustments.  Use a craft knife to score in the drawer divider lines.  This piece may be left as is for a complete faux front or you may choose to cut one of the drawers free as seen.  If you choose not to have an open drawer, after scoring in the divider lines, glue G between D&C and to bottom, front edges flush.  If you choose to have an open drawer, cut the middle drawer free and set aside.  Glue the top and bottom drawer/divider sections in place between D& C, front edges flush, the bottom drawer glued to bottom B and the top drawer flush with the top of D&C.  For the open drawer use cardstock to create a simple box that is slightly smaller all around than the drawer front and depth of C/D opening.  Set aside.
6.  Glue door side H , to fronts of E&F and to bottom, all edges flush.
7.  Glue top piece I evenly to top edges of C/D/E/F/G/H and to face of back A.  This will leave a 1/8” ledge along the back.

Copy & paste to your computer.  Set printer to print at actual/exact size or to print at 
8.26"w x 6.67"h

8.  Glue side ledges J to top and back pieces, all edges flush.
9.  Cut a door face K from thin cardstock.  Glue it evenly over the face of faux door E.  Use a medium ball stylus to “draw” over the cut edges of the faux door front to soften them.
10.  Sand all edges soft with fine sandpaper.
11.  Using a 1/8” round paper punch, punch out 5 rounds from matboard.  Glue these door knobs to the door and drawers, placed as shown.
12.  After all glue is thoroughly set paint the whole piece, including the drawer if you have cut it out, with one or two coats of raw sienna acrylic paint.  Let paint dry thoroughly, not just dry to the touch…this is very important…if you are impatient; use a heat gun to speed up the drying.   Make an antiquing mixture of half and half Delta’s Gel Stain Medium & Burnt Umber Acrylic Paint.  Apply the mixture with a brush and let set for a minute or two; gently rub & blot off the still damp mixture with a soft cloth to achieve a very old and used wood look.  More age can be added by stippling on the antiquing mixture with a tiny segment of a sea sponge.  When everything is completely dry, buff to a sheen with a clean, soft cloth.
13.  Insert faux drawer with a bit of glue, letting it extend out as much as desired.
14.   Note:  If you are so inclined you could make the side door functioning too, adding shelves to hold supplies.


      The three bowls are acorn tops, sanded to lay flat and lightly glazed.

      One holds tiny brass escutcheon pins (ask at your miniature hardware supplier), another holds shoe buckles cut from gold paper lace doilies (see sample...look to party supply stores) (the contents of both these two bowls are held in place with a couple of drops of clear nail enamel dribbled over them), and spools of thread are in the one on the left hand corner (Tiny Turnings #2000…these are large and small segments that resemble wooden spools.  Wrap sewing thread around them and hold with a bit of glue; slice each spool free, arrange a few in a bowl and scatter the others about).

      The three glass bottles are from 7 Gypsies  and are filled with tiny no-hole beads.
      The candlestick is a metal miniature painted to resemble turned wood.  The candle is carved out from a yellow birthday candle.
      I will talk about the awl with the other tools in another segment.
      The diy for the metal shoe-form will be will be included with the shoe instructions. 
      Rolls of “leather” are made by cutting strips of scrapbook paper in desired color and then crumpling and rolling them  up until you can see the edges separating. Put on the separation for two thinner pieces, one side will be smooth (leather) and the other textured (suede).  Leave as is or paint the smooth side with a coat of clear nail enamel for a slight sheen…as seen one of the greens was painted to match the shoe on the table top.  Form into rolls and hold with thread or wire.  Leather scraps may be added to table top.


     Cut all pieces but legs from 1/16” matboard, tracing top curve patterns on top piece (A).
     Cut ¼” strips & cut these to size as shown for back, sides, partition, and dividers (B ,C’s, D, E, & F’s, gluing their 1/16” edges to face of top piece.     
     Cut leg supports G & H and glue to bottom of bench, marking leg positions.  With a pin vise drill a small hole in the center of the marked leg positions. 
      From 1/8” sq. stripwood cut four legs 7/8” long.  Whittle one end, approx.. ½ of the way up to taper the leg…this to be done in a rather primitive manner.  On the other end of the leg insert the point of a straight pin about a 1/8 of an inch and then nip it off so that 1/16” of the pin extends out.  With glue insert the pin head into your drilled holes until legs are snug against the supports. When all glues have set paint and antique as was done for the Cobbler’s Work Table.
      Using a ¾” round paper punch cut a round of either very thin leather or faux leather and glue to top of bench as shown for a seat.  You can age the leather if desired.  Faux tack heads may be indented around the seat with a small round stylus.

Click on pattern and copy and paste to your computer.
Set printer to print at actual/exact size or set to print at 
4.81"w x 5.21"h


      On the seat are a hammer and a curved knife.  In the large partition is a pot of glue (a small acorn painted black with a black seed bead glued opposite each other on the outside of the top of the pot.  A piece of fine black wire was shaped into a half circle large enough to span the pot and the ends were glued into the holes in the seed beads), two different colors of rolled pieces of faux leather, and a jar of black shoe stain (a wooden mason jar, craft store purchase, cut in half and painted black with a brass lid).  The small partitions hold spools of thread and tiny brads, and a knife.



From 1/16” thick  matboard or wood cut a top piece and a back piece 3 ¼” x ¾”.  From 13/16” colonial molding (Lowes) or similar molding (check your miniature supplier) cut two slices 3/16” thick for shelf supports.

      Glue the top piece to the back piece, back edges flush.  Glue the supports to the underside of the tip pieces and face of the back piece, set in ¼” from the edges.
      Cut 3/8” lengths from the turned end of turned toothpicks for pegs (or something similar).  Drill three holes in back piece of shelf, ¼” up from the bottom edge of a size to take the pegs.  The first will be centered side to side and the others spaced as desired.  Note: you can choose to make the pegs longer or shorter and spaced as desired, adding more if needed, all depending on what you choose to hang from them.  Glue the pegs into the drilled holes. When all glue is set paint and antique as was done for other furnishings.

      It is likely that your structure’s wall not be even but the shelf will touch it in at least two places so it is hang-able.  Use Crafter’s Pick Incredibly Tacky glue and brace the shelf from the bottom until the glue has set….this glue is strong and grips very fast.

      Now you have the furnishings for your wee cobbler's shoppe.  Next will come  Part 3 with all else you see.  If you are trying this project in part or whole let me know how it is going for you...  See you in a bit...  



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Top o' the Mornin' Part 1


There are many myths concerning the mischievous Leprechaun of Irish folklore but they all lead us to believe that this industrious, but rather grouchy little fellow, is a cobbler/shoemaker for the elves and fairies.  Interestingly, it is said he only makes one shoe, never a pair….why I am not sure, but I read somewhere that this is because the ever dancing faeries only wear out one shoe at a time.  These sprites are said to enjoy solitude &  a nip or two of a home –brew called poteen..  And of course we all know the legend of their well-earned pots of gold said to be found at the end of a rainbow.  Leprechauns have become the one of the most well-known symbols of St. Patrick’s Day….thus making him the perfect subject of a March miniature DIY vignette

Enjoy, & top o’ the mornin’ to you,


Leprechauns live solitary lives in hollowed-out logs in densely 
wooded areas of Ireland.

Instructions: In keeping with the basis of this series of miniature vignettes, the 
Leprechaun’s Shop is constructed on a 5” x 7” wooden picture frame.  Everything 
was removed from the frame and a piece of thick chipboard (.060-approx. 1/16” 
thick or .080-approx. 3/32” thick) was cut and glued into the frame from the back 
side.  The back side of the frame will be our working surface because it is larger
 than the front side.

For the tree trunk structure I used pieces of actual tree bark.  Where I live gives 
me access to this type of material so if you live in a woody or waterfront local you 
can hunt for slabs of bark that have come off of fallen trees.  You may also check 
with places that sell beauty bark or firewood.  Oft times floral suppliers will have
 slab bark. The highest wall of the structure is 10”.  

If you use “fresh” bark be sure and zap it to rid it of anything live.  A little story 
of before I was aware of this:  I was giving a newspaper interview on a project I had 
created which involved beams made from found wood.  As I was posing for a 
photo, which had me looking down into the structure, I noticed a little pile of 
sawdust just inside the door….hmmmmm, what could this be?  I sure didn't
remember it being there.  Although I had an aha moment I kept it to myself…
why spoil the illusion of my “professionalism”.  Needless to say the minute I was 
alone the whole large structure was tented and sprayed.  Animation has its place
in miniatures but not in the form of ultra-mini “lumberjacks”.

Use pliers to nip off the top ends of the bark for an irregular shape and keep
the overall height to approx. 10”.  Using glue or combinations’ of your choice of 
glues, adhere the pieces of bark to the bottom of the frame, inside its wooden 
edges, forming a slight semi-circle.  Don’t worry about gaps as they will be filled.

If you do not have access  to bark or would prefer not to use it cut and rip pieces 
of heavy cardboard (corrugated works well) and arrange as was done with the bark. 

Note:  You will see that two of the pieces of bark that I used had “windows” in them.  
If you are lucky enough to find something similar use them but otherwise you may 
choose to cut round windows into either your bark or cardboard because they do 
add interest.

Let the glue/s dry completely before continuing.  

When glue has set mix a batch of Instant Paper Mache (Celluclay brand used here). 

Use the wet paper mache clay to fill in between your bark or cardboard pieces on the outside and inside of the structure; use it to make roots here and there from the structure and onto the frame; use it to fill in around the inside bottom edges.  If you are using cardboard use it to cover most of the outside surface in a bark-like design…the clay is thick and almost makes its own texture when applied but various tools can be used to add texture to the wet clay.  If you have cut windows add texture around them as seen in the photo.  Working with the paper mache is fun and fairly easy and the drying time gives you time to use your imagination and experiment

Let paper mache dry thoroughly…this process may be hastened, carefully, 
with a heat gun.

Once the clay is dry paint it with a coat or two of raw sienna acrylic, blending it 
into the surrounding wood.  Also touch up any other places that are not pleasing 
to you. Let dry thoroughly   Make two weathering mixtures, one of 1/3 Delta Gel 
Stain Medium and 2/3 Raw Umber acrylic and another of ½  Delta Stain Medium 
and ½ Burnt Umber .  Use these stains to weather and age the structure inside and 
out until it looks pleasing to you. 

If you are using cardboard you will be painting the whole structure, inside and out.  
When you stain the piece you will need to be a bit more creative with the process 
to get a natural wood look because you will not have the surrounding wood to help 
you.  Play with the process, mistakes are easy to cover.  Stand back from the 
project every once and awhile to get a better perspective…sometimes when we 
have our nose so close in a project it is hard to be objective.

Following package directions, mix a batch of Plaster of Paris.  Pour it into the 
inside of the structure making the floor level with the top edges of the frame and 
making all as smooth as possible.  Let dry thoroughly, not just to touch. 
Color with the weathering stains you mixed.  

To add a loft to the structure cut a piece of chipboard or heavy cardboard 
3 ¼ “x 2” (or to suit your needs).  Paint and weather it to match the inside of your 

Use brown floral tape to trim the front and right side of the loft.  To do this stretch 
and twist a length (approx. 6”) of the tape, continuing to add more lengths until 
the desired thickness is formed.  Lay the strip on a flat surface and slightly flatten 
it…it should be thick enough to cover the edges of the two sides.  Use glue to 
attach it.  If desired small pins may be pushed into the edging to look like 
nail heads.

Figure out where you which our loft to be and mark lines.  As seen it sits 5” up 
from the floor.   Of course because of the unevenness of the interior the loft piece 
will not fit flush on the walls, but by using Crafter’s Pick Incredibly Tacky glue it will 
hold to the walls; just hold it in place for a minute until the glue grabs and then brace
 it from below with a bamboo skewer or such until the glue is set.

You may fill in any gaps between loft sides and walls with paper mache which 
when dry will be painted to match the walls or a moss/glue mixture.

In the next step you will need artificial moss, preferably in sheet form.  I used a product that I now only see available thru Amazon UK ( but the price seems quite good.  It is a very real looking flock moss on a brillo-pad  type backing.  It can be pulled and stretched as desired and the brown stretchy backing adds realism.  Of course there are other sheet moss and loose moss that can be used...check floral departments of craft stores, floral shops, and of course your favorite miniature dealers to find what please you.  Glue the moss here and there around the perimeter of
the outside of the tree and up the sides for a natural deep-in the-forest look.

For the shamrocks a heart punch was used to cut 3 hearts for each of green 
cardstock.  Lay the hearts on the palm of your hand and "draw" down their
centers from point up with a pointed stylus giving them a vein and causing
them to cup up just a bit.  Cut short lengths of #24 gauge green, cloth 
covered wire.  Holding the end of one length of wire in fingertips of one
hand use the other hand to pick up a heart by the rounded end with tweezers.
Dip the pointed end of the heart into Crafter's Pick Incredibly Tacky glue,
picking up just a dab and put it just about centered on the end of the wire.
Repeat for the other two hearts, placing them evenly around the center of the 
wire.  Poke the shamrock into the moss with a bit of an uneven
number of shamrocks together. 

I grouped tiny mushrooms in and among the shamrocks.  I wish I could tell you
exactly what they are because they are darling but alas I don't know.  I found them
in the bottom of a basket of potpourri and I think they are the center of a dried
flower whose petal have fallen away. They are very fragile so I saturated them 
with a glue water solution before adding them.  If you can identify them do let
me know.  I thought of another easy way to make little mushrooms...Slice tiny
mushroom colored or hand tinted Styrofoam balls in half. Roll a slightly 
smaller ball in your fingertips to form a stem and glue the two together.  For
branches of Styrofoam balls check faux floral departments of craft stores.


So that is it for blog and my computer are arguing so it is time for a
break.  I will be back with you soon to tell you about the furnishings, the 
Leprechaun (in the mean time you might want to look around for a little 
guy of your own as this is the time of year they are fairly easy to find), the
accessories and of course the fairy shoes...which are really fun to make!