Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Goblin stone infestation

I was in the garden this morning, day dreaming as you do, when I heard a rustle and tittering coming from the shrubbery. I pushed aside the lower branches and found this gang of hooligans hiding in the mulch.

We've always had goblins, but never this close to the house and never so open about their presence.

Because they are stones of the goblin variety I am concerned that they are up-to-no-good... but I suspect they are just really excited about this years open house and curious about tea-parties.

I do hope they behave.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Preparing for faeries and a moony shrine

It's that time of year again when I venture into the heat and bugs, get covered in dirt, then complain about my sunburn. BUT it's all for a good cause... the faeries!

Preparing for faeries - Nichola Battilana

Little by little over the next few weeks we'll add a bit of pixie dust to the garden in preparation for our annual summer open house and the arrival of the summer wee folk that visit us. Above is a 'before' shot of one area of the garden, over-run with weeds, and below an in-progress picture after a bit of gumption and elbow grease.

Preparing for faeries - Nichola Battilana

There's loads to do, and this year will be a little different than our past fairy tours, but I think you'll like what we have planned.

Moon Shrine - Nichola Battilana

I also managed to finish up this little happy moon shrine that has been waiting patiently for attention for MONTHS.

Moon Shrine - Nichola Battilana

The moon is free sculpted from polymer clay, the toadstools handmade with Creative Paperclay. The interior was lined with vintage book pages then painted and glittered. The wee house was pit fired in our own back yard. The moss and bark collected from our garden. Phew!

Moon Shrine - Nichola Battilana

If you're interested in this fellow, he is listed HERE.

Hope your week is off to a great start! I'll have a new tutorial this Friday so be sure to pop in for another visit.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Toot toot! That's the sound of me tooting my own horn.

Ok, I know I mentioned this just a few days ago but today is new issue day and I have a proper cover image from Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine and I'm pretty excited about it. My 'Wandry Room' is smack dab on that cover AND there's even a wee tea cup garden tucked up in the corner too!

If you haven't seen the 'Wandry Room' you can hop over HERE to see the original blog post.

Other than that, it's been a load of cleaning, tinkering and packaging here. We're slowly, SLOWLY, starting to prep for the open house in July but I'm easily distracted by all the spring blooms in the garden.

White violets! We have a few little patches of growing next to their purple cousins.

The lilacs are starting to bloom. I adore lilacs. I do wish cuttings would last longer when I bring them inside, but they seem to wilt easily. At this very moment I can smell them, along with the apple blossoms, from indoors!

Hope your week is being kind to you. I seem to have lost all sense of time and have been playing catch-up for days.

Monday, May 23, 2016

I'm not quite famous and more lanterns

I did an interview on Friday with a fella from the local paper. We talked about how I'm a weirdo (although I think everyone is in their own way) and how my husband may be an ax murderer... at least the interviewer thought so because he used to be a butcher many moons ago.

Pixie Hill is also being featured in Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine! I'm sort of excited about that because they feature some amazing artists and it's excellent company to be in. So woo hoo!

ALSO in the good news department, my Youtube channel has reached over 1 million views! Can you believe it?! I can't even get my head around that number and I'm sure it's a mistake ;)

Not bad for a dorky hermit living in small town Ontario.

Finally, a fresh batch of lanterns is listed in the etsy shopThere probably won't be any listed in June because I'll be out of my head busy with visitors and preparing for our annual open house BUT if you want to make your own I've tossed up a handful of the laser cutouts. I know some international customers were having troubles getting their fingers on them, hopefully this helps spread the fairy love a bit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Looking Glass Mini-Shrine with Faux Plaster Tute

I've created two "Alice" projects for AlphaStamps.com this month. First there was Alice's Altoid Manor House and now a second little tin shrine inspired by the mirror that inspired Lewis Caroll to write "Through the Looking Glass". If you peek to that link, you'll see they look nothing alike, but it's that lovely old ornamentation I was after, not really replication.

The base of this piece uses one half of a Small Hinged Tin and one panel of this Small Altoids Tins Triptych FrameIt's quite small, with the base tin measuring just 2-1/2" tall.

Inside is filled with moss and Mini Rose Buds with some sweet Flower Soft blossoms.

While I am usually all about tiny floral elements, it's the fake plaster details that are my favourite this time around. Can you guess what they are made from? Hot glue!

Normally I'd make these elements with Creative Paperclay but I was feeling impatient. Some leafy silicone molds, hot glue, layers of gesso and white paint, and voila! Held side by side with resin, you can't tell the difference, and adding additional layers of gesso and paint softens the details and makes it look quite like plaster.

AND because I love you (and Leslie asked so nicely) I've made a video of that technique HERE.

Just look at this plastic frame with 'faux plaster' leaf embellishments! I can't wait to see what you make with them :)

Supply round up:
Small Hinged Tin
Small Altoids Tins Triptych Frame
Large Leaves Silicone Mold*
Multi-Sizes Leaves Silicone Mold*
Flower Soft - Sweet Pea
Mini Rose Buds - Red*
Pink Rose Garland* (leaves)
Small Round Silver-Plated Pendants (not shown, applied to back of shrine for hanging)
Hot glue!
Gesso and white acrylic craft paint

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Another garden walk

I'm working away here and my space filled with shipping boxes so there's nothing grand to see indoors. Instead I'll share cheery pics from the garden this morning.

You know I'll never understand why some people can't stand to see dandelions on their lawn. I love the yellow things and think they look so happy and lively. AND they turn into wishes! 

Everyone is looking toward the sunshine this morning: the dandelions, the robins, and me.

This picture isn't the great but I thought I'd include it because it gave me a laugh that even animal mums look frazzled and grumpy in the morning without a cup of coffee.

Hope you're having a great day and looking toward the sunshine too.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Fairy blessings after a very bad week

This past week has been a shit show. (Pardon my french.)

News of heart attacks, cancer, deaths, the Fort Mac fire, then amoral asshats, contemptible copycats, and a million little things, like a million little stinging pin pricks, taking their toll. There's only so much 'chin up and stiff upper lip' or 'count to ten and breathe' a girl can endure.

At one point I considered taking everything I've built, and taking it down. All the posts, all the projects... poof! But then what?

I thought of the people who tell me my work inspires them in some small way, the sweet stories, encouraging words and the thanks. All of those kindnesses that make this the very best job in the world... and it made me even more irate to know that some think so little of it.

So, I went to the garden in search of a bit happiness.

Pixie Hill Garden Faerie - Nichola Battilana

I chanced upon a blue fairy sitting in the forget-me-nots. There were few words exchanged, but she was kind and sympathetic. "Just a little longer, and all will be right as rain." she said. I felt a little better.

Pixie Hill Garden Faerie - Nichola Battilana

Continuing on my walk, I encountered a tiny scouting pixie in one of the mossy old stumps on our hill. She said she was keeping an eye out for any trouble or foreseeable mischief. She assured me that although she looked quite young, I would be safe under her watch. And immediately, I felt more secure.

Pixie Hill Garden Faerie Fairy - Nichola Battilana

The next little fairy didn't say anything at all, but was so sweet that I could feel my heart lighten after watching her beneath the dandelions for just a few moments.

Pixie Hill Garden Faerie Fairy - Nichola Battilana

This fairy didn't speak either, but motioned me to follow her to the back garden, through the moss and clover. I'm fairly certain she was some sort of fairy godmother because her frock was impractical and she gifted me with pockets of glitter. She handed me a dandelion puff and encouraged me to make a wish.

Pixie Hill Garden Faerie Fairy - Nichola Battilana

After making my wish, I opened my eyes and saw this fellow leaning against some fresh yellow dandelion heads. "Did you wish for more wishes? Because these ones won't be ready for another week." I sat next to him on the grass and we talked for a very long while. We looked at the blue sky and watched the clouds. The little fellow winked at me, and I found a bit of happiness.

EDIT: Thanks for all the kind words. I wasn't fishing for pity, but you guys totally made my day. Sometimes things just pile up so high it's hard to see the point of continuing the climb. It happens to everyone in some way or another. I'm extremely fortunate to have so many people cheering me on. I hope you know that I'm rooting for you too. Don't worry about me, I'll keep tinkering.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A lady-like tablet holder

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but while I'm working I like to have something playing, a movie, or tv show, you know what I mean. Lately, I've been watching Netflix with my tablet propped up against a ratty old paint can. It slips and falls all over the place. So when Gypsy Soul sent me this Business Card Holder I asked if they could hook me up with something for my tablet. And they did!

Tablet holder w/ gslcuts.com and Graphic45 - Nichola Battilana

I've embellished mine with Graphic 45's Artisan Style "Decorative Flourish" and added chopped up Ornate Metal Keys, Stamped Metal Brads and Stamped Metal Tag. There's also an elegant strip of Mini Floral Dresden Border. I loves it to bits!

Tablet holder w/ gslcuts.com and Graphic45 - Nichola Battilana
A historic moment, no fingerprints on my screen!

I feel like a lady! Watching lady shows, whilst making lady-like things. 

Lah-dee-dah, darlings!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Alice's Altoid Manor House

This month's Alpha Stamps kit is *drumroll* Alice in an Altoids Tin!

I'm really excited to share this particular tin, which I've named Alice's Altoid Manor House, because it's actually quite simple to put together.

I simply applied the Altoids Tin Book Covers to the front and back of the tin. I didn't even bother with the book spine (though I'm sure it'll come in handy for something). Then a Window Pediment - Federal was added to the front top edge and the Window Pediment - Yorktown to the bottom front edge. A snip of Thin Fleur Dresden Border is applied under the top pediment, then whole shebang is painted grey.

The windows are just little paper frames I cut out. I placed some Alice charaters from the Wonderland Rabbits and Hares Collage Sheet in the squares and added a layer of Diamond Glaze to make the 'windows' glossy. The door is framed with some snippets of wood and topped with little bit of filagree that broke off something-or-other that I kept for just such an occasion. Finally I finished the exterior with a Bronze Stopwatch Clock Charm and some Flower Soft.

I've kept the inside fairly simple too.

On the shallow tin lid I just placed an image from the Alice Covers Collage Sheet adjusting the size to fit. Tip: If you want your book/house/tin to close tightly, you'll want to avoid adding much thickness to this part of the tin, especially around the edges.

Finally, the fat portion of the tin. I've taken an image from the Alice Herself Collage Sheet (printed slightly larger to fit the tin) and cut out each of the elements, layering them in a simple paper tole style. The last touch, a little cake made of paper clay and a glass bead 'drink me' bottle.

So now it looks as though I've written a darned novel, but I promise, this was a practically painless project! Sure the sides aren't covered... but the tin opens and I didn't have a meltdown attempting to apply hinges. (I often have hinge related meltdowns.)

Here is your supply round up:
Altoids Tin Book Covers
Blank Altoids Tins
Window Pediment - Federal
Window Pediment - Yorktown
Bronze Stopwatch Clock Charm
Mini Silicone Cake Mold Set
Thin Fleur Dresden Borders - Turquoise
Flower Soft - Peony Pink
Flower Soft - Meadow Green
Creative Paperclay*

An Impatient Matchbox

A wee project to show off today. An altered match box, made while impatiently waiting for paint to dry.

Matchbox Shrine - Nichola Battilana

There's a program on Netflix called Raiders of the Lost Art. It's all about missing or stolen art and touches on the history of the works too. One episode was about Faberge Eggs. I love that those eggs held a secret surprise inside and I especially like that the most elaborate surprises were held within the simplest exteriors.

Matchbox Shrine - Nichola Battilana

The whole idea of a bright surprise inside of an unassuming box is delightful. This little matchbox sort of plays with that concept. A regular old matchbox, a distressed exterior, hiding a colourful story within. People are a lot like this too. Unassuming frumpy grumps hide the best fairy tales.

Standard matchbox
Prima Cigar Box Secrets scrapbook paper
Antique 3D Gold Crowns 
1 Inch Mini Tassel - Gold 
Narrow Gold Fleur Dresden Borders*

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Cure for Monday Blahs

A very short while ago I posted about the Pixie Hill fairies writing to a kindergarten class who were learning about the little people. Yesterday I was delighted to discover some replies from the class.

One of the fairies who wrote to the class lamented about his lost button. It was a favourite button, so his distress was quite understandable. The class very thoughtfully sent replacement buttons.

There were some fine portraits too! Those wings and wands are practically perfect. There were also some very good pictures of jam. And if you're curious, it seems strawberry is the preferred jammy flavour.

I was quite the grump yesterday and it seemed as though the whole day was one disaster after another, but these papery bits of thoughtfulness totally brightened my day (as well as the Pixie Hill fairies!) and I'm certain they've brought a bit of luck with them too.

Thank you Mrs. Butcher and to all the children of your kindergarten class for curing the Monday blahs!

(& thanks to your helpers too!)

Monday, May 09, 2016

Butterfly Meadow Altoid Tin

It's been a long while since I played with an Altoid Tin. I've got heaps of ideas sketched in my notebooks. I even have a prototype of a rather elaborate design... but today I'm sharing this sweet and simple tin.

Butterfly Meadow Altoid tin - Nichola Battilana

I've used Prima's Tales of You & Me-Contes de Toi et Moi for the exterior and flowers. A few of the the flowers and the blue background are from Cigar Box Secrets - Corona.

Butterfly Meadow Altoid tin - Nichola Battilana

The little sentiment "The butterflies danced in the summer meadow." is made up of words cut from a vintage children's book.

I've said it before, if you're looking to add cut phrases to your work, pick up an old damaged kids book. The typeface is usually quite large and they include the nicest words,

Butterfly Meadow Altoid tin - Nichola Battilana

I hope you're having a great day. I'm ready to crawl back under the covers and hide for a while... hopefully it's just a case of the Monday's and the rest of the week behaves.

P.S. If you live near Toronto check out THIS POST and you could win a pair of tickets to Medieval Times.

Prima's Design Team Call 2016 -2017

Seeing loads of entries for the Prima Marketing design team call from fellow crafters I adore, I thought 'What the heck!' and decided to show off some of my projects made with Prima pretties.

Paper Caravan

Happy papercrafting!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

The Pixies Go to Medieval Times & Ticket Giveaway!

A few weeks ago I received an invite to visit Medieval Times, Toronto Dinner and Tournament.

Now, I had never been to Medieval Times, and I am a complete and utter dork for renaissance fairs and fairy tale stuff, so I was beyond thrilled. Seriously, I drove my kid and husband bonkers. "Are you excited?!? I'm excited! How can you not be excited?" It wasn't that they weren't excited... it was that they weren't middle-aged-woman-who-never-gets-out-of-the-house-and-can't-wait-to-eat-with-her-hands-and-a-wear-a-crown excited.

Medieval Times, Toronto Dinner and Tournament didn't just pay for my dinner, they said I can give away a pair of tickets on my little old blog too! So get ready for me to blab endlessly, and then see how you can enter for your chance to win tickets to this jousty dinner and show.

First, we pulled up to the lot and scrounged the $11 for parking. We should have known better since this is Toronto and *I think* paying for parking is pretty much a given. (FYI Toronto is the only Medieval Times that charges for parking.)

Inside there was a long line up for tickets, but we were ushered in right away.

We were given coloured crowns, then had our pictures taken with the Princess. The picture was terrible but that was totally our fault. Me looking like a demented housewife. The kid with a scowl and eyes half closed. The man trying to look manly next to the princess. We were a hot mess.

Next, we were ushered into a large hall where you can buy beer and wine, souvenirs, and everything from pink fuzzy unicorns to swords, crowns and dragon hats. I don't really go in for gift store stuff so didn't buy anything. Although... I was tempted to bring this giant dragon skull home.

I used this pre-show time to visit the ladies room. I'm a bit of connoisseur when it comes to the loo since I tinkle a zillion times a day. It was very clean, not fancy in the least, but served it's purpose well.

People entered the arena by the colour of their crown. These correspond to the seating sections and the knight you root for. We sat in the front row of the green section. You pay extra to sit in the front row, but in all honesty, with their staggered seating, I'm willing to bet you'd have a decent view no matter where you sat.

The show started and the feasting began!

Eats include tomato soup and garlic bread, huge portion of chicken, half cob of corn, half baked potato, two beverage servings of Pepsi or water, then coffee or tea, and a pastry.* Some of the chicken was quite dry and we all thought a little bowl of sauce/gravy would have been a great addition. That said, I totally get that this is not fine dining. They're trying to please 100's of people (including small children) with one set menu, serve it hot, and clear it efficiently. They do a pretty good job of it.

*There is a vegetarian meal alternative. If you have little ones you can ask for juice instead of Pepsi.

The show plays as food is served/eaten. It is largely horsemanship, skill with a little bit of jousting. There's a falconry element that is very cool. A bit of weaponry combat, some knightly chivalry, and that's it in a nutshell. It was highly choreographed, as it should be for the performers safety, but it was a lot of fun.

A few notes:

It did not smell like poo or horses. This is one question that kept running though my mind beforehand so there has to be some other weirdo wondering the same thing. My mother is a horse crazed lunatic and her vehicle always smells like horse. I was expecting that familiar odour in the arena. Not a whiff!

The bad guy. Even his horse looked leery of him.

If you aren't ok with kids, this is not the place for you. I sat beside a family with two little ones and almost got whacked on the head by flashing light up swords at least a dozen times. This wasn't misbehaving, it was kids doing what kids do in a confined space for 2+ hours when given a flashing light up sword. I'm ok with it. Others might not be.

By "sat beside" I mean literally touching the person beside you. Chairs are packed beside one another as tightly as possible. Your space is basically as wide as your place mat. Getting out to use the restroom is a nearly impossible ordeal (as demonstrated by the woman seated next to me climbing over the back of her chair). If you have personal space issues, you'll need to consider this.

I do have one last criticism: the timing of the food. I really wish that there were two serving wenches to dole out the nosh. It would have been nice to have entire courses served at the same time instead of waiting for bread or corn or potato to arrive, while the rest sat waiting on the plate. This is in no way a criticism of our server, Emma. She was an absolute delight and I should have tipped her twice as much as I did. It's simply a matter of needing a second pair of hands.

Where's ma tater and corn?

To be frank, one of the reasons I hadn't gone to Medieval Times before now was the price. Starting at $65.95 for adults and $45.95 for kids, it is not an inexpensive outing. BUT there are deals to be had, like mid week prices (Adults $40 & Kids $30) or their Victoria Day Long Weekend Offer (Adults $41.95 & Kids $29.95) Take advantage of their specials and the cost isn't too far off the price of dinner and movie/show. (i.e. I just checked the price of circus tickets and they run $30 - $50.)

Anywho, it's a fun option for a special occasion. I've included my criticisms here to provide a full honest review, but overall it was a great time. We really enjoyed ourselves and are totally grateful for the opportunity to visit, for the full bellies, and all the laughs.

Oh, for the love of biscuits Nichola!
Stop your yammering and nitpicking 
and get to the give away!!!!

Geesh! Hang on to your knickers!

For your chance to win a pair of tickets to
Medieval Times, Toronto Dinner and Tournament
comment below with the name of your favourite fairy tale.

One entry per person.
Please ensure that I can contact you via email if you win.
(ie. Don't comment anonymously.)
Deadline is 12:01 est a.m. on Sunday, May 15th, 2016
One entry will be selected at random.
Winner will be contacted Monday, May 16th, 2016
If there is no reply by Wednesday, May 18th, 2016, I will select an alternate winner.

Good luck!