Sylvanian Updates

I finally got around to making an inventory of Sylvanians I acquired over the past year. I made new files for organization in my computer and took new pictures. Having the files around made picture-taking a breeze as I only needed to update the whole list.

I made a chart which indicates the figures I have for each family. One can use Excel or Word to make a table like this.

SF Inventory 3

With the table, it was easy to insert information on new figures I got, like these Champagne Rabbits that just arived from the SSK in London. (Thank you, A♥! You always surprise me with the sweetest gifts!)

SF Inventory

And because all the information were at my fingertips, I could take pictures only of the ones I have to update- no need to re-do the whole thing! This background, housed in an old box, makes for an easy set-up. It is portable and easy to clean; I just close it again when I don’t need it anymore.

SF Inventory 2

With a flip of a picture (the background comes from an old Canon calendar) and some minor setting up, I went from a nice spring picture with the Seadogs

Dogs- Seadogs

to a chilly Arctic evening with the JP Polar Bears.

Bear- Polar JP

I love getting organized! It makes everything easy peasy!


New pictures in the Sylvanian section coming up! Please check them ou!


The Suitcase Dollhouse Project

When I was a child, I had a Fisher Price dollhouse that I played with for hours. We had the whole village, actually- with the house, the farmhouse and granary, parking garage, the hospital and ambulance, airport and jumbo jet, village shops, boathouse, ferris wheel, castle, and school and schoolbus- and all five of us, from eldest to the littlest squirt, would commandeer one or two buildings and their occupants. The boys always got the garage, airport, vehicles, and castle- predictable! My younger sister would choose the village shops and hospital; she would diagnose patients in the hospital and then require them to buy their scripts at the village stores (today, she is a doctor, haha). The youngest, ever imperious and demanding, would always pick up the school, shove all our little kids inside it, and hold them hostage till the bell rang (or till she rang the bell, which sometimes took forever). I would only choose one building- and that was the house. As you can see, I’ve been in love with dollhouses for forever.

The toys eventually gave in to much wear and tear. Between that and splitting the sets among five of us, we had to say goodbye to them and give them their rest. I sometimes wonder if my siblings took care of their share better than I did because I literally loved mine to bits. I will always have great memories of that bright yellow house.

I suppose it’s easy enough to understand how I developed my fascination for Sylvanian Families. A part of me will always be that little girl holding on to her first dollhouse, transporting it everywhere (once, even to the bath, where I pretended it was raining!) by its yellow handle.

This was where the inspiration took root- the idea that I can bring along a house and carry it by a handle, instead of transporting it in a box. Of course, there are ready-to-buy alternatives in the SF/CC world. Calico Critters has a carry case made entirely of laminated cardboard, but at USD25, I’d rather spend my money on figures. Add to that that this has gone on sale a few times already (once as low as USD10), you’d wonder why they don’t sell it any cheaper. The only other real option is the Sylvanian Families Carry Cottage, currently retailing at £19.95, and this, I am seriously thinking of buying (I’ve already asked a good friend to look into this for me).

It was a ligthbulb moment, to say the least, to decide to create a dollhouse suitcase from something I had lying around in the house. I’ve had the cardboard suitcase for a couple of years, stashed away in the piles of unsorted Hello Kitty collectibles I still had. And with more decorating stuff on hand, just collecting, dust, it was time to get down and dirty and transform the suitcase into something…ehrm… functional (to justify the makeover) and playable (real reason, ahhh).

Here are photos I took of the process of transformation, some taken by phone camera (Instagram”s artsy shots) and others by my digicam.

This is what the cardboard suitcase looks like from the outside. It is made of  a sturdy  laminated board on the outside. (The shape of Kitty’s head will give me a heaadache in the process.)

I started out with patterns for the head using manila paper. I did the same for the other side, doing measurements for width, length, and depth.

Using a cold-pressed illustration board (stiffer than regular illustration board, more expensive, harder to cut, but less likely to warp). I measured and cut rectangular boards which would serve as floors.

And then I wrapped the whole thing in self-adhesive, matte contact paper. I made a few mistakes in this part which I had to redo and correct. It’s best to put in the sides first before the back walls are covered, I learned the hard way. A few dabs of hot glue and small, discreet pieces of masking tape secured the covered floors into place.

The second-storey floor turned out to be a little wobbly. I feared it would sag when I add the furniture so I made a horizontal wall to buttress the top floor. The first floor is also held up by two short pieces of board attached securely by hot glue.

I took a shot to preview the house on one side. Hmmm…. not bad, especially with furniture! I don’t even mind too much the clumsiness evident in some areas. 🙂

On the other side, the side that lays face down, I created two spaces, an indoor space and an outdoor space. I wrapped the sides with themed paper to unite the spaces. Then I laid down felt cloth to mark off the areas.

I built a wall with a door to put up between the areas from a second illustration board. The wall is removable, held upright by two very small board pieces on each side. The wall that faces outdoors has a fake fence made of cupboard/dresser dividers..

And this is the indoors area, with “wall to wall carpeting.”

Seen from another angle, the front part of the suitcase completes the house.

So what do you think, folks? I still have to finish the house and smoothen the edges so they don’t peel out. I’ll post finished and furnished pictures as soon as I am done.

I think it’s always a great idea to make over and re-purpose old, unused things in our lives. Why don’t you try it?

Wasteless Wednesday

Waste not, want not.

At the height of the national campaign and elections season this year, one of the many concerns that seemed to have simply disappeared post-election was the fate of the millions of banners, tarpaulins, and plastic posters that vying political candidates flooded the whole country with. During the three-month campaign period directly preceding the May 2010 National Elections, this was a sight one would normally see: huge tarpaulins blotting the sun and sky, plastic banners hitched dangerously to electric wires and cables, and self-promoting posters strung from one end of the street to the other.

With our unnatural obsession for plastic and its ilk (frugal Filipinos love the idea of a thing that lasts forever), we have veered away from traditional recycled paper and cardboard posters and moved to more durable and more weather-resistant materials. This thing that lasts forever does indeed last forever, making it a problem of significant magnitude. Now, add to this unusually large volume the seasonal, thematic advertising signs of business companies and you have a potential for another Smokey Mountain of nonbiodegradeable, plastic garbage.

Miraculously, after the elections, many of these simply disappeared. Their fate remains unknown. I suppose many of them were simply thrown in the trash, awaiting their day of resurrection when another Typhoon Ondoy would dredge them up from the netherworld of refuse and garbage that block our sewers and waterways. But is there another way to salvage these plastic tarpaulins and posters?

There have been initiatives to make them into eco- bags and shopping totes, though I have yet to see a tote bearing politicians’ images (perhaps these will not sell so well, heehee). Tarpaulins can be sewn together to make tents or emergency shelters for calamities, or even canopies and marquees to cover just about anything- from people to cars to gardens. They can be made into water-resistant aprons kids can use for painting, high school students can use in their biology laboratory, or even adults in their kitchens. The list is only as long as one’s ingenuity.

I was reminded of all these other uses when my husband came home from a recent MAP (Management Association of the Philippines) conference bearing a  flexible, white plastic envelope. I usually go through his conference materials, sorting them out according to importance, recycling paper and cardboard as necessary, filing cards, and cleaning out pens and bits and pieces of promotional items. But of all the things he brought bome that day, I fell in love with the envelope. 

It’s nothing extraordinary, just a simple envelope, really. This is what it looks like on the outside:

and on the inside:

But I fell in love with the idea of this envelope

and how corporate social responsibility, for all the big words corporations like to use to describe this advocacy, simply boils down to such a simple idea of people, planet, and profit. What is good for the environment is good for man and good for business. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Way to go, MAP, ECHOstore and Globe! Here’s to more Wasteless Wednesdays!


Dollhouse Dreams

While I am waiting to save enough money for more Sylvanian Families authentic furniture, I am busy at work modifying cheap plastic doll furniture to add to my remodels. The work has been derailed temporarily because of the flu (the coughing strains my neck, stiffens it more, and makes it #$%@ painful) so in the meantime, I busy myself with papering the houses or making small accessories.

I love that cheap plastic furniture, or those that go for PhP50 or about US$1 per set, can become quite chic when repainted. Since I’ve been accumulating houses left and right, I’ve been hard pressed to furnish them all with appropriate pieces. Unfortunately, original SF furniture cost an arm and a leg and can create quite a hole in the pocket when purchased in bulk. Moreover, Ban Kee Trading, the country’s current SF distributor, has such a limited line of furniture available that  it becomes hard to keep each house unique and distinctive, what with the same things cropping up over and over again in different houses.

Of course, nothing beats the satisfaction of owning the real thing, but the truth is, when it comes to playing, as long as the pieces are there, the fun goes on. 

dollhouse project 01 copyThis is the kitchen sink and stove with oven. I hated the fake colors and the stickers so I opted for a pale shade of green to complement the wallpaper I used in the area. I also repainted the tiles with mixtures of white, yellow, and green to make it more interesting.

dollhouse project 02 copyThe refrigerator, in the same hideous color as the sink and stove, was repainted to match. I flipped the picture so you can see the before and after shots more clearly.

dollhouse project 03 copyI am very proud of this bed. On the left is its original state, which is not quite as bad as the colors of the other plastic pieces. I repainted it a wooden brown and added gold accents for that English Victorian era feel. I made the mattress out of an old, unused maternity napkin (heehee). The cloth for the bed cover came from old pillow cases. The ruffles were added to make the bed more elegant. I still have to finish sewing the pillow shams.

dollhouse project 04 copyRepainting the television and component set matte black and silver made it look more real. I have a few glossy cut-outs of old movies I got from magazines and I can simply stick one on the screen to make it seem as if there’s a movie showing.     

dollhouse project 05 copyThis is part of the Oakwood Manor remodel and papering. I made an oriental screen (from illustration board and tracing paper) to separate the bath from the rest of the second floor, but I accidentally destroyed it while coloring in the design. I then opted for curtains that open in the middle, held up by a barbecue stick painted the same color as the walls. The bathroom furniture used to be in a sickeningly purple color so I made it pristine white with paint. I used gold paint as accents for the pieces. While I try to resolve the problem of creating mirrors (suggestions, anyone?), I used foil to make a temporary one. I also made the toilet seat cover and the small rug.

I’m quite happy with the results of my “experiments” on colors and paper. On the days when I am unable to do much of anything at all, I simply look at my dollhouses and let my imagination play.  It’s enough to drive all the blues away.

My First Sylvanian families Post

To A, who has gifted me with more love than anyone can imagine, I hope I am always worthy of your love.

To my sisters Jas and Joee, who have patiently dug inside our family’s old “baul” to look for stuff I can recycle, thanks for putting up with your eccentric older sister.

And to Cynthia and Nancy, thank you for keeping my spirits up and encouraging me during this weird but exciting time.

For over a month now, I have lived and breathed miniatures. My Sylvanian Families collection, which started with one single family on September 15, has grown to include 80 individuals, four Sylvanian houses, two bootleg houses, a hospital, scores of stores and mini-stands, and all the authentic accessories that come with them.

On a daily basis, I spend an hour or two setting them up, making my scripts, playing with them, and taking photographs. When I do get tired (which is quite often these days), I review my photographs and look at the pictures until my Sylvanian appetite is satiated.

My greatest joy, however, comes from making and customizing my own furniture and accessories. Since authentic Sylvanian accessories sets are quite expensive (a sofa, a potted plant, and one character, for example, retails for PhP700 or around US$15), I have taken to filling my homes with homemade furniture or customized pieces.

I am very proud of my handmade creations, prouder still that despite the persistent pain in my hands, I am able to create something functional (that is, “playable”)  and pleasing to the eye.

And so I unveil my first few creations- the living room sofa. Of six houses in my SF village, two have official SF living room sets, but four needed furnishing. I have done three and is in the process of making the fourth sofa and matching armchairs for all sofas. It’s good therapy. 🙂

SF sofas 01

Here is Mama Margaret proudly showing off the scale of two new sofas, one in solid purple and another in red checks. Hmmm… seems she can’t decide which she likes best. 

SF sofas 02

This is a floral print sofa which I made from a maternity blouse I had when I was pregnant with Alphonse.  The blouse was a gift from my mom. 🙂 I like that the fabric reminds me of happy times (I was quite pretty during my second pregnancy, unlike the first which had me bloated and splotchy) and I can keep it as a souvenir even if I can no longer wear it. I experimented with curved backrests on this one and it came out rather well. This was a real sacrifice though, because I needed to do sewing for this (ouch!).

If you happen to notice the scrawny plant beside it, well, it’s homemade and recycled too. I used the cover of an empty gel tube in the recycling bin, covered it with moss, and used a glue gun to “plant” the plastic leaves decor from Alphonse’s second birthday cake. (As you can see, I hardly throw anything away, heehee.)

SF sofas 03

And this is Granny Clementine checking out her newly wallpapered digs (this is the bootleg house). I made the curtains from leftover lace. Baby Kit is on the  jewelry box-turned-bed which I had dismantled and  stained (I still have leftover wood to make a table). I made the cushions and pillow from the same fabric as the sofa to keep the theme.

I have a step-by-step guide to make the sofa which I will post at a later date. I hope you enjoyed my pictures. Come and play with me sometime soon. 🙂

Eco-Friendly Hello Kitty

500px-Recycling_symbol_svgYou have got to love this– Hello Kitty with a conscience! Not only are they really cute (and quite inexpensive), they give recycling a kitty-rific edge.

Handmade from the recycled aluminum of soda cans, these Hello Kitty pendants are funky and hip,  perfect fashion statements for the environment. Aluminum recycling, for one, saves 95% of the energy cost in processing virgin aluminum and the recycled product is virtually indistinguishable from newly extracted aluminum. I give two thumbs up for products like these. Finding other uses for what are considered throw-aways or junk reduces the need for and consumption of  raw materials, prevents waste,  and decreases the demand on our environment.  If you really have to have bling, why not get one with a social conscience?

 Coke vs. Pepsi- it’s your choice !

These wonderful prodcuts can be found at Etsy (Funky Recycling) .