Highlighted text

If you click on any of the highlighted text when you're reading the blog it will take you to the thing it is talking about. Usually in my blog it takes you to some of my photographs which illustrate what I'm saying. Sometimes it might be a link to a site which I think is worth checking out.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Pictures for the house

In all my passion for the new shop project I haven't forgotten that there are still things I need/want for Wentworth to complete it: amongst these were four pictures for various rooms.  When I was home in the Summer I found someone in the States, via E-Bay, who did very nice pictures.  She kindly agreed to search out specific ones that I wanted for the house.  This she did and by August was ready to make them.   I asked her to hold on for a while until I got to the States and I'd order them from there.  This was partly driven by my having had four orders not delivered in the last three months - here and in the UK - what is wrong with the postal services these days!

Jeanette has proven to be absolutely wonderful.  She describes herself as a perfectionist and she certainly is.  Firstly she had to source the paintings.  In the case of the Dreamers she even kept looking for better and better reproductions until she could find the one she was happy with.  She copied and cropped them sympathetically to fit the ratio of the frames.  She even retouched Liberty to improve some dark areas which were throwing up a peculiar result in the miniature.  We had some discussion about frames but my instruction to her was that I'd take the simplest gold frame for them all.  My only criteria would be that they were as thin as possible.  I have already bought and discarded a couple of paintings because of their clunky frames.  If they were scaled up they'd be something like six inches thick!  I have a couple of mirrors in Wentworth which will probably go the same way for the same reason.  The frames on these pictures are lovely and thin and look the part.

She does all this and you still only pay the regular E-Bay price, nothing extra for custom-made.  This is my second experience of having something made for me - remember the wonderful Amanda's food? Both times the process has been a delight, the product just as I imagined and the price the same as if I'd bought it off the shelf.  So (unlike me for ages) don't be bashful about asking.  It seems (some) sellers are happy to do commissions without that meaning the price will double.

The contact on E-Bay is An Elite Dollhouse Miniature Shoppe.    I'll add this to my side bar where I should have already started a list of favourite suppliers - very remiss of me.  

I am sorry about the awful photographs here - they do not do the pictures justice but I don't want to unpack them and repack them as they are nicely packaged for the trip home.

There is a reason for wanting particular pictures.  Wentworth is a sort of homage to my life with my children around 1990.  It isn't supposed to be any kind of replica; it is just a few nods here and there to things remembered.  I set off creating a home for a mom, dad and two children and found my choices were being prompted by things I recalled from my own children's life, so I thought it would be nice to relax into that and go where it led.  When it came to pictures nothing seemed to fit either my taste or those times.  I recalled three long-lasting pictures we had in our house and thought it would be nice to have those again.

The Dreamers was on the sitting room wall above the settee (because the colours went with the decor!!!).  I grew to love it inch by inch and came to remember that I had seen it (and other  Moore's) in Birmingham Art Gallery (I am a Brummie by birth and raising) so maybe that is why it chimed.

Liberty Blake in Kimono by Peter Blake (think Sergeant Pepper album cover) was the first proper priced and framed print my husband and I bought in the early 70's and lasted many years in our Dining Room.  We always said it was a (spooky) premonition of our daughter as she looked like the painting at the same age.

The Kiss by Klimt has become a very corny reproduction as it has been done to death since those times but it reminds me of how fresh and exciting his work was to me when I came across it back then.  This was actually a large birthday card which I had framed in the bedroom.  I do still love many of his paintings even if they have now been debased and border on kitsch.

I can't identify the fourth painting as I simply asked her for a Victorian seaside print and Jeanette offered this.  I liked its simplicity and it is perfect for the pseudo-Victorian bathroom in the house; not that the Victorians would have had a painting in the bathroom!!

So, all four will fly home with me at Christmas and be hung in their places.  Time permitting.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Couple of additions

I've added a third Blog to my list of blogs which I follow called Dollhouse Miniature Furniture Tutorials/1inch Minis.   It is crammed with much more than that and, even better, does have wonderful tutorials for all kinds of things, so you can make your own stuff.  The owner Kris has just been absolutely brilliant ...  I sent an email asking if she had any tutorial (which I couldn't find) about finishing wooden furniture and immediately she wrote me three lovely emails absolutely bursting with help.  I can't wait to follow her blog to see what comes up next. She has even promised me a (mock) iron bed tutorial next year. (Yes, she is that booked up!)

I want to say a big thank you to Linda for becoming a follower of Wentwoth - I am so flattered as she is the owner of  Une Petite Folie which has to be the epitome of doll housing and a dream to aim for.  

It would be lovely to see other followers and it won't leave Linda all lonely out there.  Please sign up if you are a regular visitor as it is lovely to see who is popping in now and then.  From the Stats I collect I know readers (or visits to the sites) are in the hundreds and I even get emails from a handful of you so I actually do have names/personalities here and there but more would be very welcome.  

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


This isn't a great photograph, the finished bag looks absolutely brilliant.  It really does look like animal skin (leopard?) and leather.  My mini-me in 38 Wentworth Court wouldn't have real leopard, of course, but she would have a jolly good fake and certainly leather.  

I hope it does show how fiddly it was to do.  The toothpick should give you some idea of scale and it is constructed like a real bag in several pieces, including the side gussets.  

I am very pleased with myself because I seem to be acquiring the biggest skill of all - patience.  I am the world's worst for chucking something which frustrates me for more than a couple of minutes.  I stuck this one out even though it took tweezers and good glasses to construct.

The two challenges were threading the 'leather' strap through the buckle; whoever made the one for the sample picture in the pack didn't bother!  That done the worst was to come.  I needed to add the tiniest (no-hole) beads I have ever seen as metal fasteners for the strap and one for the tongue on the buckle - again this was my invention.  The kit actually said the beads were for marking the holes in the shoulder strap, as the three straps I had bore no resemblance to what was going on in the instructions I just decided to make the bag myself - I know what a handbag looks like!

That said I'd still recommend the kits as they are beautifully laser cut and on great textured paper. I bought them at a show in the UK from an English stall holder who gave the distinct impression they were 'hers'.  She had a fantastic range made up in all kinds of fabrics and finishes and some kits which matched several of hem - I bought the kit (nearer to my budget).  Before starting to write this I thought I'd better find out who she was.  It appears these kits are actually made in America by Tiny Tailor who, for all my web trawling, I've been unable to find.  When I googled the kit itself I found a  handful of people who sell them - this is one of them:  Mini Doll Kits.  If you are not in the market for a handbag you might like to check them out any way as they have some other nice stuff.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Fans and fan boxes

Today's playtime was filled with making two little fans and their fan boxes.  It is hard to honestly assess the difficulty level for this one.  I skip read through stuff at great speed and then give it another cursory glance and think I know what I've read (a bad habit of a fast reader - useful sometimes!).  Any way, I did that with the instructions accompanying this kit and decided they were rubbish and it was best to go it alone. I then complained how useless the printing was because various bits and pieces didn't fit together and there were no tabs for gluing pieces together, etc. etc. etc.  When I re-read the instructions after the make I spotted a couple of things I hadn't really taken notice of some things then made more sense.  To be fair to me, I still think the instructions could be greatly improved and the notion that you can successfully join two pieces of cardboard without any tabs seems overly optimistic to me - although I haven't actually tried it.  All that said, this is a lovely little kit; the only thing you won't get in it is the embellishment I did on the right hand fan.  I have several of the tiny no-hole beads left over from the handbag kit so I thought I'd add them to the ribbon trim on the box and fan - waste not, want not.  The fan on the left actually folds up and will go in its box.  A nice idea would be to cut a split down the centre of the bottom edge of the bottom  of the box so you could pull the tassel through to the outside.  I think it might be a bit of a challenge to get it in the box with the fan.  The tassel is too chunky for my taste so I may return to this some time and change it for something else.  

They came from a glorious site which you really must visit called The Craft Pack Company.  I have an endless list of things I want from them.

I'm not sure where these will take up residence.  They were bought last year to finish Sally's fan collection in 38 Wentworth Court but they would be nice for a shop display in Le Tout Paris - first, of course, I have to find out if a fashionable shop would be selling fans in 1912 - I think perhaps not?  
NB: (This post is in Wentworth and LTP)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The addition of Pages and a magazine piece

I've added Pages to the right hand column.  The first contribution is the piece I've just written for an on-line magazine called Dolls Houses Past and Present 

I was asked to write about building the ELF kitchen.  The published piece will probably bear no resemblance to this - we shall see.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

A bit of something...

I have found it impossible to get two chairs to match the four dining chairs I already have so I have finally given up and settled for two which nearly match.  Technically, right now, they are just pieces of wood as I have to make them.  Construction and upholstery is a doddle for me but I am a bit twitchy about the staining and polishing of the wood to get a good finish.  If anyone has any tips please email me or post a comment here.  I am keen for any and all information I can get from a 'real' person - I have done all the web trawling I want to do on the subject I just need the confidence shove.  Since buying these I have gone on to buy a load more stuff in white wood that I need to finish in various ways.  So keep your eyes open for the extended cursing here and in Le Tout Paris.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

How to get perfect 1/12th

Take five minutes to have a look at this.  Now I  know what I want for Christmas.  The Shrink Ray

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Wonderful stuff

These are the only two things I bought for Wentworth Court at Miniatura on 25th September.  That said, the prawn salad is just perfect.  It is a lovely piece of work by Amanda Speak made just for me!  The boot scraper is to add a little more authenticity to the outside of the house.  This might be a bit of a challenge for something that small.  If you want to read more about Amanda and see what else she made me and the other things I bought from the show please visit Le Tout Paris blog.  

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Stafford Show 11th September 2011

Nothing much to write here I'm afraid.  If you want to know how the whole weekend went you'll need my Clavering Blog.  In short the Stafford Show lasted me about six hours and I could probably have done another hour!  I was pleasantly surprised as on the way there I was (mis)remembering it from last year and saying to Ken I'd be done in a couple of hours at the outside as I didn't remember it as being all that interesting.  How wrong I was.  There were over 90 stalls I think and many of them were various original crafts people so plenty to look at even if I couldn't afford to buy their pieces.  Then there was what I think of as the middling ground which is where I consider my self to be - something a bit better than Chinese imports but not museum quality - and there was certainly enough to go at there.  I came away with a few things for Wentworth Court even though I have a two page A4 list of things I still need/want to get.  I'm not sure if this was because I was too much focussed on the new baby (Le Tout Paris)!  If you go to look at the photos in my albums (link on the right) you'll see some wonderful salads and a piece of roast beef.  The detail in these is excellent and the colours are really accurate.  Generally the people who make these things use bright (unblended?) colours which makes them look like toys not miniatures.  This lady makes superb stuff and I shall be going back for more.  If you want to check out her items go to Amanspeak Miniatures.  She also had a very nice carving knife and fork which I bought.  So along with a tube of toothpaste, staffy dogs for the mantelpiece, a roasting tin and cat food dish, that was it for Wentworth.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Links to photos

 I recently decided in all my blogs to add links to individual photo albums in the left hand column.  In a short space of time I've come to realise that's going to be a bit unwieldy as there will be a ridiculously long list very soon; so I've put individual links back into the text of the post.  Don't forget to click on the highlighted text to look at the pictures.  As soon as I can I will remove the links I have on the left and attach them to the appropriate places in the blogs.  I'll just put a link to my main site (containing the individual albums) there instead.  Apologies in advance if that doesn't happen immediately - too many things to do and too little time right now.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Crazy Lady

OK, before making the announcement, let me establish that (a) starting the dolls house craving at 65 is probably a bit loopy any way and (b) I really can't afford it.  So...........

Next weekend we are off on a four hour drive (Bury to Bracknell) to pick up my second doll's house project - a shop.  En route we will be collecting a table to put it on.  Both courtesy of EBay.  If you have the slightest interest in any of this I will be starting yet another Blog to follow its progress.

I am having a big mental debate as to whether to just have a single dolls house blog and run both projects alongside each other.  As I do this more for myself than for others I decided that it would be a bit muddled for me if I wanted to go back and look at stuff about one of the projects in particular: so I'm off to create a new place ready for the birth of La Belle Epoque - an Edwardian, c1900, art nouveau style ladies' dress/hat shop with a ladies' café upstairs.

Word of warning

I am probably stating the obvious here but if, like me, you decide to try to find doll’s house shops on your travels – ring them before you bother to go to them.  We've just been in Cumbria for a week (Alston) and I decided to scout any shops I could find in a twenty mile area around where we were staying.  I found nine and visited three of them before I cottoned on to the notion that maybe ringing them first would have been a good idea.  One had been a carpet shop for eight years; another which would have been the size of three shops (40-44 Cecil Street, Penrith) is now three totally different shops; the third simply wasn't there and someone thought they remembered it being there ‘years ago’.  The internet is totally unreliable for this sort of information as people rarely bother to remove their details when they decamp.

We did however go to the Dolls House Emporium's ‘other site’ at Houghton Hall Garden Centre.  This proved to be a good rainy day venue as we managed to occupy ourselves there for a few hours.  It is a huge building and loads to mooch around.  The DHE section is very small and would only be useful for anyone just starting out but for everyone else there is a terrific little Doll’s House Museum.  You have to pay to go in (£2.99 for wrinklies) but it is worth it.  It is a real mixture of nice but amateur stuff through to entrancing museum pieces so there should be something for everyone.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Haydock 10th July

Off to the Haydock Show on 10th July and for the first time it didn't beat its predecessor.

Compared to York it was quite a small show and even in the short time I have been doing this I am beginning to realise I keep seeing pretty much the same things at each show I go to.  That said I don't see an alternative to going to the ones you can get to easily as it is the best (only?) way to shop hands on.

Buying from E Bay and from the web generally leaves a lot to be desired.  Postage is killing when you are buying a small inexpensive item and is hugely disproportionate and when added up across a dozen items it would have bought you tons more goodies for your collection if you've been able to purchase them directly from a shop.  

The other problem is that you really don't always get what you are expecting.  Things being perfectly in scale is the biggest issue for me.  I appreciate that colours are notoriously difficult when buying this way.  Between the quality of the camera (and photographer!!!), the downloading of the picture to E-Bay and finally the screen you are viewing it on you don't really have a great deal of chance of colour being very accurate: so I don't expect much as far as that goes and I try to resist buying where colour is critical.  Being out of scale is really irritating though.  Claiming 1/12th for just about everything 'dolls house' is a fairly loose guide.  I now usually email and ask for the exact size and often cut a piece of paper to the dimensions given and put this in place where the object is going.  Sometimes even things in scale such as the dressing table I mentioned before can 'look wrong'.

So the Haydock show was a mix of disappointment in that I had a hard time finding anything I wanted and pleasure because the handful of things I did buy I was pleased with.  

Also, I am at the stage now where the backbone of the work is done and I need more particular bits and bobs which won't always be there. If you are looking for flooring for example it is pretty likely you'll have a choice of stuff and can get what you want.  If you decide you want a bowl of cornflakes (like me) then it gets a bit tougher.

My saint of a husband did the drive there and back and the sit in the car park with a book without complaint as usual.  I did buy him a totally rubbish Italian meal in the evening as a reward!

There's a couple of photos in the album in the left column if you want to see what I bought.  Meanwhile bits and bobs via E-Bay are accumulating and I'm set for shuffling things around (again!) soon when I can find time to settle them in.  My days are being given over to the garden when I can - that said rain has stopped play for the last three days but that just means I have 'paperwork' to catch up with.  Wentworth Court is singing to me like a siren right now and I'm itching to get back to it.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Update on all the rooms

I've just added an album (in the left hand column) to show where I am up to at the beginning of July.  The house must be about 90% done now.  It actually makes me feel a little sad as I can't imagine how I can keep collecting things for and doing things to the house when it reaches the finished point.  I am beginning to understand all those people I thought were very odd who decorate their houses for each and every holiday - St Pat's, Valentine's Day, Easter, Christmas etc.  Perhaps that's only in the States (?) as they do that in their 1:1 homes.  Any way I don't know how to make the hobby  last four or five years which is what I thought it would take when I began.  Basically most of it has been done in three months!

Back to the album and some explanation of the photos in it ....

The Family Room has mom thinking about marking a pile of school books and the kids killing time.  It is Sunday and they are waiting for lunch to finish cooking and Nan to arrive.

I've included some close ups of bits of the room to show some details.  If you look on the desk for example you can see the tiny little pencil pot I made.  Terrible fiddle sticking the bottom on to it.  I made a brave attempt to carve a red Biro from a toothpick and made a white ruler from cardboard (yes, the marks are scaled down 1/2th) which I then coated with nail polish and all the pen ran!!  They will all do the job until I come across something better.
I have the fabric for the curtains and blinds so that needs to be done.  the delay on that is that I want some tiny grommets for the pole to go through the curtains.  Trust me to want to do it the hard way.  There is a picture winging its way to me for the 'dining room' wall. [it winged the day after I typed this and it doesn't look right so I'll frame it and use it on the staircase wall]  I made the rugs incidentally from a place-mat.  A lamp for the desk would also be nice.  After that I don't think there is anything else I need but I just might find something I hadn't thought of..... oh yes, a phone might be useful.

I haven't added photos of the whole kitchen as not much has changed since the last ones I did but I have put in photos of all the wonderful Miele machines.  I've opened them to show the insides.  The oven even has an oven light which comes on when the door opens.

Each one of the machines can be turned on and they make the appropriate sound.  The washing machine sounds like it is washing and beeps when it is done.  The dishwasher does the same.  The cooker makes a frying noise (!) and the hobs lights up.  The fridge has removable shelves and boxes like a real fridge.  Apologies here for the sausages flung on the shelves - that's the way it arrived - I don't actually keep my food that way.  I think the microwave just opens; it doesn't do anything else.

In this picture you can see a tea and a coffee cannister that I made out of silver card - again they will do until I find something better.  Like the pencil pot, all the tea caddies I've seen are so out of scale; the smallest is about an inch tall  - who has a one foot tea caddy?  Even mine are a little large but they are still better than the ones I've seen so far commercially.  If I don't find any I may have a go at making better ones from Fimo.

There is masses of stuff I want to buy to finish dressing the kitchen - too long to list.  it (like the rest of the house) will still be pristine and anal retention tidy as that is how I live and even at this scale I can't just leave stuff around.  The glass of milk and bottle of milk left out of the fridge annoys me when I see it and I want to nag the kid who left it out!

The formal Dining Room is pretty much there.  I would like two chairs to stand in the corners of the room at the back for when we need to seat six.  Unfortunately I couldn't get two to match from Dee-Daw who sold me the rest of the set.

I'm not mad keen on the sideboard it is too hefty for the other furniture and wrong legs, so that may go if I see a better one.

I also need bits and bobs for the mantelpiece and different stuff for the sideboard.  The basket of logs beside the (log) fire with a bundle of kindling on the top is incredible.  The scale and detail is just perfect right down to the odd bit of dirty looking moss attached to a couple of the logs.  The kindling is quite separate and again such perfection of scale.  I just love it.  Rycote Miniatures if you want to take a look at their stuff.  I'm not over fond of the rug but it cost me £9 plus postage and was bought for the Sitting Room where I liked it even less.  I can not find rugs for any where in the house (other than the bathroom) that I like.  Sylvia-Rose Dolls House Furnishings (sells on E-Bay) does the best I can find but she only does bits and bobs occasionally and you have to keep your eyes open.  The two little rugs in the Bathroom which I love are hers.

The Formal Sitting Room has quite a way to go.  I gave up searching for some dainty Sheraton style seating and ended up buying the leather settee and two chairs which I'm not fond of.  they are beautifully made but such a dull colour and not at all the dainty Regency sitting room I would have liked.  I am hoping a magic rug (not found as yet) will do the trick and pull it all together.  So far I have rejected two and tried a third which I sent back and I am awaiting the fourth - so wish me luck. [fourth has arrived and it is in there for now but it isn't right!]

The three tables and mantelpiece need dressing.  I'm not fond of the mirror so that's another long term temporary.  The books in the bookcase don't really show up enough so they may get changed for some nice porcelain or glass.  As I said, I've a long way to go on this room.

The girl's room is pretty much done.  I had a plain desk and chair in here until I bought the dressing table and stool for the master bedroom.  I then had a change of plan in the master bedroom to a modern Victorian mahogany style and so the girl's room acquired this duo and the desk went to the bathroom.  I find it too large and fussy for this room but I am doing my best to settle it in as I don't want to have to shift all sorts of stuff around again to accommodate this and that.  If you measure it the scale is actually OK but, as in real life, some pieces of furniture dominate a room and look over large.

Other than another fan to add to the collection on the back wall and some 'dressing' for the side table I think this room is done.  There is a nod to all sorts of things from my daughter's real teenage life/room.  The collection of fans and postcards, ballet shoes and dress, books (Anne of Green Gables on the rocker) a cactus she had from an aunt (I think it still lives on in her flat) and a suitcase for her itchy feet personality and her extended trail round Europe.  The wardrobe has clothes hanging in it.  Her toy box represents an American G.I. footlocker she had (and still has) from my time working on base long before she was born.  This will eventually be filled with other things which remind me of her.

The boy's room is looking like a teenage boy's room - something of a tip!  The shelves of the wardrobe need filling with boy junk.  I need bits and pieces for the desk and a pin board for the wall.  The major job waiting for me is the bunk beds.  I  just haven't quite decided what I want to do with those yet.  Like the girl's room the things in this room are nods to my son's life.  He was always something of a computer fan; had a keyboard and skateboard briefly in his teenage history and still likes kites.  I made the one here as I couldn't find one any where - and, no, he certainly wouldn't have had 'bows' on the tails of his kite!

The bathroom is getting there.  Unfortunately the wallpaper for the back wall arrived today and it was printed the wrong way round.  An 11 x 8 inch sheet works along the back wall as long as the 11 inches is the horizontal measurement.  Sadly-the roses went the other way.  I really can't settle on any mirror I've seen so far for over the dressing table and I'm wondering if that is because I'm not entirely sure about that arrangement.  I don't like the light shade or picture either - all in all I am fidgeting with this room and feel I need a major item to help me anchor it in some way so that the rest falls into place.

Much the same seems to be going on with the master bedroom; it has had numerous incarnations right now it is Kath Kidston and modern Victorian.  The only thing I really like in this room is the light.  It is probably not too clear in this photo but it is sort of cream flower shapes. Again the finishing touches of a mirror, rug, bedside lamp and other bits of dressing might bring it all together.

There seems to be much complaining going on  here but taking the photos and writing this has allowed me to see where I am up to and to give me a chance to step back and assess overall instead of being bogged down in detail - just in time for the Dolls House Fair on Sunday in Haydock!!!!!  Spend, spend, spend.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Made by me

I am finding that the things I've made for myself but changed my mind about have all sold easily on E-Bay so maybe other people want them?  If anyone would like any of the stuff in my Made by Me album drop me a line; I could probably make it for you.

Photo Albums

I have added a couple of links in the left column to my web albums which I've condensed into just two for now.  I'll say when I add any photos to these albums in case you want to have a look and when I get a chance I'll add in the couple of older other albums to do with 'the mania' which are on my photo album site.

Meanwhile the passion continues and I keep buying bits and bobs from E-Bay and selling some of the same bits and bobs (at a loss!) five minutes later when I change my mind.  So far the master bedroom alone has gone through three 'styles: at the moment it is mahogany Victorian furniture and Kath Kidston prints.  It has passed through shabby chic closely followed by glam white satin to arrive at this place.

I am finding that doing something which is alien to my own way of living is difficult and unsatisfying so the house is becoming more and more an idealised version of my life about twenty years ago.  It is all getting a tad spooky.  Indeed I have just had to resist buying a 1/12th grandma as she was the actual spitting image of my mom and that did seem a step too far.

All the soft furnishings I am making I have pretty much made in my full-size existence and it is an interesting challenge to be doing it on this scale. 

There are many things I would like which just don't seem to exist or they are too expensive but that will probably be the ongoing hobby - trying to locate bits and bobs when the main stuff is sorted.  It seems to be close to finished right now except for these odds and ends of room dressings.  One example is tea and coffee cannisters in stainless steel or white - I have a Brabantia set in each of my real kitchens and would love the same for my house.  I had a go at making them in cardboard today and they'll do for the time being.  If anyone knows where I can get a pair of properly scaled half-inch cannisters (they are usually too big) please let me know.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

My Other Blogs

I've added links to my other two blogs - right hand panel - for anyone who wants them.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Bed number four and windows...

I am in the process of making the fourth set of bedding which means the two beds I am working on will have had two sets of bedding each!!  I liked the quilt set for the master bedroom except that I was fidgety about the colour as it wasn't quite right for the room; then a new piece of furniture arrived (for the bathroom) which has settled nicely into the corner of the bedroom so now it is out with the shabby chic and in with a more glam style.  I'll show the end result when I get there.

Meanwhile, never one to work on one thing at a time,  I am attacking the windows.  All eight on the front of the house have roller blinds - such a doddle to make; though when you find me ironing one inch pieces of thread it is probably reasonable to suggest I've lost the plot.

I then went on to make some simple cotton curtains for the girls room.  I am reasonably pleased with them for a first attempt.  That's the downside of this miniature business you make something for the first time and you could see a few ways of making it better but you won't be making another doll's house so all the learning goes to waste (pretty much).  I am giving some thought to making bits and bobs to sell on E-Bay.  Stuff that I have changed my mind about has gone all right so far and a few bits I've made have also sold.  I do have visions of the process I am now engaged in being finite and then what?

You can see the girl's curtains and the ones I made for the bathroom in my Made by Me album.  I am pretty sure the bathroom nets will go on to be sold as they are a bit over the top for my taste.

The other photos I've posted are of the kitchen.  It looks much as it did before but I have added the stuff I got in York and some gingham check blinds which I made so it is getting a more lived in look.  I was joking about that yesterday as my real house never has a lived in look.  K and I are obsessively tidy and it always looks as though we are expecting an estate agent to call - which is pretty much the truth of it if you live with me!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Soft Furnishings

I've finally finished all the floors and (probably!) all the lighting and fireplaces thanks to the York Show purchases.  The family room in the basement and children's rooms have radiators; all the other rooms have fireplaces with fires which light up when the lights are on - the poor people don't get any fires in the daytime then!!!

I still have bits and pieces of furniture to get so there is still quite a lot of teeny things living on floors that don't have a place to go yet. 

Now on to the fun stuff - dressing the house.  Just eight months since I bought it and the construction and fitting out has finally finished - a bit like real life I suppose.  To be fair six of the eight months I have been in the States and my arms aren't that long. So, as with everything with me, my planned long-term hobby has turned into an obsession and a therefore I am in a galloping rush to get it finished.  Hey ho!

In the last two days (spare time here and there) I have just made three sets of bedding. 

It started with finding a site called Burchell Miniatures  which offers several downloadable books of quilt patterns for about three pounds each book. She also does sets of books for rugs  and for wallpaper and fabric.  There is a free book in each section - truly no strings attached - this is where I started so I have tried the freebies.

You then need to buy fabric for printing on your computer; again she recommends a site which has turned out to have the best fabric/paper price I can find on the web.  What I really want is a shop I can get it from so I don't have to pay the post and packing. 

Printing the fabric is as simple as clicking on the page you want to print, putting in the paper-backed fabric (I chose cotton lawn) and pressing print.  The site also does a free quilt making instruction book which is very detailed so you can't go wrong if you follow all her steps.  This is what I did for the first pink set I made.

As instructed I used a very thin batting (miniature quilt batting from a hobby shop) and chenille covered wires (pipe cleaners to us oldies) inserted through binding in the back of the quilt to shape the quilt to the bed.  When I'd finished I found the wires didn't do that great a job at holding the quilt neatly in place and the batting isn't thick enough to give a puffy finish to the quilted area.

When I made the second set (master bedroom bed) I put the batting through the whole quilt (not just the the patterned area as suggested) and then put a second layer over the patterned area.  This turned out very well.  I left out the wires.  I have sewn most of the parts of both sets of bedding but have 'cheated' with glue for the lace trims and bits of finishing off.  I have also used spots of glue to hold the bedding in place on the bed - nothing so hefty that it can't all come apart if/when I want it to.  I think it is no more cheating to do that than it is to use tacky wax for holding tiny objects in place in your house and for hanging stuff on the walls etc.  

Another discovery is a great stuffing for pillows and cushions - tiny micro-beads.  Anyone who remembers bean bags - the seats, not the things you lobbed round in the school gym - will remember polystyrene beads.  There is a really teeny version in all those neck pillows and soft toys you see around.  I bought a cushion filled with them from Target for a couple of dollars and gutted it.  That was a joy to see!!!  I admit they are bordering on uncontrollable when you are using them but they make the pillows lovely and soft and it also makes them sit nicely as you can plump them and move them around.  

The white set I made doesn't have them and the pillows are filled with batting so it looks a bit concrete.  By the time I got to the master bedroom set I'd figured out how to make actual pillows with glued edges (using a syringe-type glue dispenser for a very thin line) which go inside the pillow cases I made.  I filled them quite easily using a small teaspoon.

My next challenge is a duvet and pillow set for the boys bunk bed.  As one of the bunks is a 'spare bed for mates' I think I might make the top or bottom bunk into a 'sitting' place and only make up one of the beds. The spare duvet and pillow will go in the linen cupboard!!!

After that I'll be on to blinds and curtains throughout the house - only ten windows to do.  That might slow me down a little.

Monday, 6 June 2011

York Dolls House and Miniatures Fair

It seems as if every show I go to I claim it is the biggest and the best; and so it is again...

I went to the York Show in Sunday (5th June) and it was huge.  There were over 160 stands and most of them were pretty large.  It was held at the race course which was nice and easy to find and parking was just about OK.  There were 3 halls over two floors of a very large building being utilised by the stalls and a third floor being used for drop-in workshops.  Food at these things has been rubbish so far but this had a decentish cafe for lunch/tea etc if you reeled in your foodie ambitions before looking.  It was roomy enough to get round comfortably even when you arrive with the door opening crush at 10am which is what I did.  Our plan was to arrive when it opened and I would spend a couple of hours there and we would go on to Beningbrough (NT property) for lunch and a pootle round in the sunshine.  I did at least four hours at the show and we took a short break mid-way through for lunch.

I can't praise the organisers enough.  I can't think of a thing they could have done any better.

All that said - and I am sure I am speaking only for me - I actually found it too much.  Even after going round and round for four hours I didn't feel I'd seen everything and eventually I  left reluctantly because I was shattered and broke!  This seems like a bit of a daft moan but I am sure some of you understand what I mean - some things can just be too overwhelming.  It might have been better as a two-day even rather than just the one and some buyers could go twice!

I bought quite a bit of stuff.  I would advise anyone who can get to a show to do so as you can (obviously) save an arm and a leg on postage on items.  Generally the actual price of the items remains the same, but there is the occasional bargain such as someone who was selling curtain pleaters for £1.45!!!   Grrrr just a couple of days before I'd snapped up one up off EBay at the bargain price of five pounds something plus post and packing and was feeling very smug about it.  I've always found quite a lot of the prices on doll's house miniatures wildly variable between retailers.  You can quite literally see the same piece of furniture priced around three pounds with one seller and up to two or three times that with someone else.  I've no idea why this is but this is a hobby where it does pay to shop around.  Thank heaven's for Google.

Ken and I try to pick fairs at places we want to go to for another reason so that we don't feel the petrol costs and meals out make it an expensive way to buy things.  Also, of course, Ken doesn't have the slightest interest in the teeny collecting mania and spends his time sitting in the sun (successful every time so far) reading and listening to music.  He is bordering on being a Saint to do this for our hours without complaint.  This time he had the benefit of my I-pad2 and a movie to watch.  As  I said we planned to build in Beningbrough but managed to get there too late for lunch and too stuffed to enjoy cakes and tea.  It was even more irritating to discover as we drove up to the house that we remembered being there a couple of years ago and not finding it all that interesting.  Well laid plans and all that.  He gave the new car a good run and we enjoyed the scenic route home.  All in all Sunday was a day well spent.

Friday, 3 June 2011

E-Bay, Pay-Pal and all that jazz.....

I've just finished three days of selling stuff on E-Bay.  My doll's House has undergone several metamorphoses since it began.  

My original intention was to create one of Jane Austin's homes.  When I realised that this meant buying artisan items and having things made and making things so that they would be absolutely correct to the house and the period I pretty much gave up on that idea.  I also realised that my doll's house from DHE is precisely that and isn't really a miniature Georgian House so it would all be a bit pointless.  

It then morphed into a Georgian period house.  It would have to be late Georgian to account for all the disparate pieces from furniture from several periods between George I and George III and again I began to get picky about authenticity and scale and finish.

As a side trip to all this when we were in Naples last winter I decided I would start a project over there too.  I intended to buy a double shop front with a home above and create an Edwardian Ladies café (upstairs) and a hat shop downstairs.  this entailed buying some bits and bobs including three dressed figures!  Needless to say the idea cooled as the ultimate cost of two houses sunk in and what would I do with it when we leave the States?

Back to the UK and my Wentworth....   my final decision was that it would be a Georgian House in somewhere like Cheltenham being inhabited by a family of (more or less) now.

All this has led to 44 unwanted items of doll's house 'stuff'.  I had already donated some to the charity table at the Pudsey Fair but after reminding myself of just how much money I'd wasted on these things I thought I'd have a go at selling them on E-Bay.  In two days I have sold 37 out of 44 so not a bad result.  This became a test of my grey cells as I was up to my ears in emails of all sorts.  Seventeen parcels later and it was all over I am about seventy squid (net) better off.  In truth I am a few hundred pounds down but at least the things have gone on to new owners who might enjoy them and I'd rather have seventy pounds and the cupboard space.

I confess to having moments of 'the game isn't worth the candle' but as Ken reminded me I didn't want the stuff and it was cluttering up my room; not to mention it was also wagging a finger at me for rushing at things.

So - yes - in conclusion I'd recommend offloading your bits and bobs this way though, perhaps, do it in three or four sales a day spread out over a few weeks so you don't go completely batty.  How anyone runs this sort of petty-ante business as a living (and they do!!)  I have no idea.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Great Free Magazine

Today I added a link in the left-hand column to a great free on-line magazine.

AIM stands for Artisans in Miniature which is pretty self explanatory and they produce this massive and beautifully presented magazine each month.  Good amount of interesting reading, all kinds of links to things you'll want to follow up and often complete articles I copy and file for when I'm ready to do the particular project.

Check it out.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Building the Kitchen

Before we left for Florida last October I'd bought some wonderful Miele appliances for my future kitchen from ELF miniatures.  Take a minute to check out this site, especially if you need anything modern, it has wonderfully different stuff and the most helpful person running it.

I had also designed and drawn up a plan for fitting a very large kitchen diner.  At that stage I was using the double size room in the basement as a kitchen diner and the small room with the door as a mud room. This would have given me loads of scope for designing a super-dooper kitchen which is what I was hooked on doing.  Six months away and spending a lot of thinking time on the house as I couldn't actually DO anything and I decided as a nod to modern living there was no way I could exclude a TV watching area from the home and nothing I'd planned so far allowed for that so I decided to use the two room knock-through as a family room and the small room with the back door as the kitchen.  The challenge now became how to get a quart into a pint pot.

A couple of plans later and a couple of emails to Elizabeth (the ELF!) and my  flat pack kitchen arrived.  As someone who has lived in something like 13 homes in three countries and has  totally gutted and refurbished one of them, a full size flat-pack kitchen holds no terrors for me.... but this teeny tiny one was a whole new learning experience.  Mostly a learning experience in patience.  There was no way it could be rushed.  I had to wait for glue to dry and (three) coats of paint to dry at each step of the way.  That said, it was a totally enjoyable experience.  The only sad part is that I learned such a lot about building models and probably won't get to use it again.

I am thrilled with the result and can't wait to dress it with all sorts of bits and bobs.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Lights and Floors

Up until now the work has been pretty haphazard; I've just done things as I've bought them.  This usually entails moving stuff in and out every time I want to do something.  I've finally realised I need to buckle down and finish the build.  The rooms need flooring and to do this they need the lights putting in first as the wires run along grooves in the floor above's ceiling.  I can't even put the last of the roofing paper on until I get the top floor lit as the the wiring for their lights run down a groove in the roof.  I made it my mission to buy lights and floors (only!!) from the first UK show I went to.  This was the Leeds show on the 16th April.  I did manage to get real wood floors for three rooms and tiles for the kitchen floor.  I bought lights for three rooms too.  Sadly I managed to buy a chandelier for the girl's bedroom which I already had at home.  This is the penalty for buying six months before and not keeping proper lists. Another lesson learned.  So, in the main, the house is now lit and floored on three floors and shouldn't need to be shoved around hither and yon to complete the top floor (purchases at the next show?)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Leeds Doll's House & Miniatures Fair

On 16th April we went to Pudsey, Leeds for a Doll's House Fair.  Again a lot of the stuff was pretty much as usual.  There were two or three stalls which I hadn't seen before but were way out of my price range - sadly.  

I've made a note of a couple of them just in case I ever win the Lottery.

Hearth and Home - kitchen ranges, sinks and for me the most wonderful fireplaces - I still need three and can't fins any I like within my budget.

Stokesay Ware - just the very best in ceramics.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Burghley Renovation

When we got back to the UK I decided the house and basement were far too big to live with comfortably; also I found the basement particularly irritating for several reasons.  It is excellent in that it gives you another floor to play with but the huge frontage is pretty much totally useless, a nuisance to open as it requires some dexterity and a large space to do it in, the plastic railings drop off if you just look at them and it doesn't really work in terms of its design.  If it is a set of steps from a pavement level to provide access to a terraced Georgian house how come there are windows and a door at the ends of the basement rooms?  They would have to be on a street level and can't exist in a terrace!  The bulk of the basement front can't be used for storage or another entrance or anything which made any sense.  Hence the Burghley Renovation.

I hacked it to bits and started again.  It cost me two sheets of paper from DHE to match the house and cover the grooves in the doors, wood filler to fill in the grooves, paint for the steps to make the additional step blend in and some trim for round the front space.  Other than that it was a case of re-using the bits I'd hacked apart to rebuild a more logical and smaller basement front.  The photos pretty much explain how I did it.  

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Boca Raton Dollhouse Miniatures Show and Sale

12th March and we were off on day trip to Boca Raton over on the East Coast for a show.  This was a very small gathering in a Community Centre. It clearly wasn’t stand-out in any way as I really can’t recall the place, a meal or anything else!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Orlando Miniatures and Ron's

By the 11th March along with two friends we had decamped to Orlando for a week.  The next day I got to do a morning at a fair sized Miniatures show at the Radisson Orlando Resort, Kissimmee while the others entertained themselves elsewhere and collected me for lunch.  

This show, as is the way in America, was super-promoted as a huge event.  I think it was a fair size but not as big as the Stafford show.  Again it is interesting to see what's on offer but already I am beginning to see the same things over and over again and mostly the sort of made in China items or the extreme end of artisan work which is more expensive than real life items.  As an Ikea/BQ house shopper I'm not inclined to pay $1,000 for a piece of furniture for real let alone 1/12th.  By the same token I don't want clunky over-varnished mahogany stuff either.  Something about champagne taste and beer pocket springs to mind.

On the 18th we left Orlando having decided to go home via Tarpon Springs.  This was a bit of a detour but so worth it.  Before that Ken took me to the best miniatures shop in the world – I am sure it really is.  Ron’s Miniatures.  A sweet, smallish sort of add on to what I assume is his home.  Ken sat on the porch in the sun with his book and I lost the morning in there looking at thousands of tiny perfect things – all of which I wanted, few of which I could afford.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Daytona & Port Orange

By October 1st I had to part with my house for the next six months.  We spend the winter in our other home on the West Coast of Florida and, sadly, Wentworth Court won't exactly go in the case.

Luckily we live just round the corner from one of the very few doll's house shops in the whole of Florida - Nancy's - so that got a few visits and a few spends from me.  I'd also trawled the web to find any Fairs we could do.  On the 7th January we took off for Daytona Beach for an overnighter to visit a Dollhouse Fair in Port Orange the following day.  Note the American/English difference – dollhouse in America, doll’s house in the UK.  It was a small but interesting group of mostly fairly amateur makers of stuff.  I got a few bits and bobs but it didn't take very long to get round.

We didn't see it as a wasted trip as we got a couple of days seeing somewhere else.