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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.

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 cafĂ© (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.