Sharing a love of Dolls House Miniatures - and making time for other creative crafts and the garden.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Let it snow...let it snow....let it snow...

It snowed overnight so today it looks like a proper winter!!  I don't have to leave my snug home or travel on our snowbound roads so I can enjoy the beautiful transformation  - lucky me.

Somehow a winter without a decent snowfall leaves me feeling somewhat cheated so I'm very happy to see it.  I totally appreciate that if you are living in North America, for instance, where three or four inches is a mere trifle and you manage easily with feet of snow on a regular basis and nothing stops working, you may be having a chuckle....


Our sons grew up at the foot of the Wiltshire Downs and the hills and valleys were their winter playground, along with all their friends.  Of course the biggest bonus was when the school bus couldn't make it down into the village, sometimes for days, and they had an extended winter holiday. At the foot of the hill, our house was always full of steaming wet gloves and boots, hot chocolate and toast and a back yard full of assorted sledges.  Happy days.


Indoctrinated by their fathers from an early age, the grandchildren are equally excited by any chance of playing in the snow. A very large (over 6ft) grandson bounded through the door this morning asking 'Have you taken photos yet Granny?' ( how well he knows me).....before racing through the virgin snow in our back garden to make snow angels.  He did also kindly dig out my poor owl that had toppled into a 'drift'.

Kholeria
Chirita
In the conservatory a couple of my favourite plants are blooming beautifully - a Chirita and a Kholeria both distant relatives of African Violets and very easy to grow.

Thanks for looking
Robin

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Little Greenhouse Is Finished

Now that all the plants have been shoehorned in and fixed down I can call the little greenhouse complete.

I had intended to permanently fix the structure to the back wall - I've changed my mind on that idea so that it can easily be removed to see the detail of the plants on the shelves.  I've just got to sort out the fixing, but at least for now a couple of pieces of velcro at the apex of the roof work just fine.

Click on the pics. for bigger versions.


It was a bit of a problem squeezing in the main plants and a few pots etc. so that it looked 'lived in'. Not much room to waggle as my aunt would say......


Finally I got some in from the front, and some in from the back.


Anyway, they're in.

This is just a reminder of the back wall - then everything in place.


Finished. It's approx. 9" high, 6" wide and 4" deep.


Thank you for looking
Robin

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Strelitzia...and finally filling the shelves...

Challenging and fun are the two words that spring to mind regarding my plantathon for the tiny greenhouse.
The Strelizia - the fabulous Bird of Paradise plant has been to say the least, challenging!!


 Herewith the Bird of Paradise, which is in its third incarnation and been repainted twice, cut down and dragged out of its very lovely but too small pot and another crafted out of card to accommodate it! The huge and very upright plant has rather glaucous leaves and I promise the actual miniature has rather better colour than the photograph suggests.....weirdly, apart from the central vein the others are prominant  on the front of the leaves not the back as with most plants.
I was backwards and forward studying the real one until I nearly drove myself mad!
Together with the cheese plant, it and a few others will stand in the main body of the greenhouse if I can fit them in - soon.


I spent many, many happy days crafting the variety of smaller plants for the three shelves on the back wall and I'm quite pleased with the crowded result and not worried that they're not perfect.  There are a few which probably don't feature in any plant catalogue - call it artist's licence!


In the end there are only a couple that I haven't made from scratch: the lovely pink cyclamen is a kit from The Miniature Garden Centre and the super pink geranium is by The Flower Lady. The tumbling ivies took my entire stock of natural 'leaf' scatter which was all dyed then varnished when in position, and where I did use a paper punch I only had a choice of two, so a lot of pieces were hand cut or 'created' from bits of natural material. Some of the leaves are scanned and scaled down from real ones and the Iron Cross Begonia was a useful printie find that I played about with.

Pots are cheapies, my own recipe air dry clay and odds and sods:there's an antique brass perfume bottle lid, a small brass cartridge as well as a toggle from a someone's sweat shirt and an old bead.

Yes, I admit I do still work in a muddle!

I've really appreciated the encouraging comments so hope you'll enjoy installment.  Next step is to get the plants in position on the floor in front of the wall......hmmm!

Thanks for looking
Robin

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Working on New Plants for the Greenhouse

It's been a real struggle this week to concentrate on basic housekeeping jobs - who wants to iron and hoover when there are miniature plants just crying out to be created?? In an effort to find exactly the right piece of saved dried plant material, I was forced to empty and thus reorganise a BIG cupboard.....so I did actually move out, move on and dump some bits and pieces and felt quite smug.


The rather weird seed heads pictured came from a flowering plant I grew a few years  in the garden - the trouble is I can't for the life of me remember what it was. Does anyone out there recognise it? It wouldn't have been anything rare or exotic.
I've kept three or four because they fascinated me and finally found a use for one as a rather interesting mossy support for the Cheese Plant I've just made for the greenhouse.  I need a couple of large plants in the place to balance the heavily planted shelves on the back wall.


I had to rely on memory and Internet images for the cheese plant, but fortunately I have a Clivia, just flowering, so I could study that before embarking on what I hope is a passable miniature. The tiny buds are dried plant material but the flowers and leaves - as in most of my plants- are paper.


I've been working on enough different plants to fill three shelves on the back wall and apart from some titivating I'm almost there. 'Titivating'!! I love that word - reminds me of my elderly aunts titivating their summer hats with new ribbons.
My second large plant, a Strelitzia, is proving to be VERY challenging, despite the fact that I have one three feet away from me I study every day!

More next time, hopefully.
Thanks for looking
Robin

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Autumn Inspires a New Miniature Houseplant

It has certainly been chilly the last couple of weeks and damp and misty, but autumn has given us some spectacular sunsets, bright frosty mornings and wonderful autumn colour in our gardens and countryside. I've been working on my little greenhouse, and it's also given me  fabulous miniature plants.

Although we live in a fairly built-up area we are still able to appreciate some lovely sunsets, and some bright frosty mornings when the sky sparkles with tracer trails from aeroplanes.


While I know we can't compete with the glory of the N.American fall, our trees, hedgerows and garden shrubs give us enormous pleasure at this time of year.


Just outside our back door we have a Cotinus bush that gives us pleasure all year long, from the early purple foliage, through smokey flowers, to chocolate-coloured leaves and amazing auumn colour as the leaves change and fall.
I spent days looking at the gorgeous changes as the leaves coloured, then had a light-bulb moment!!!

As you know I'm quietly plant-making for my mini greenhouse, and I am so enjoying myself - proper playtime!!
It dawned on me that the Cotinus leaves resembled any number of exotic house plants....I was out there collecting leaves!!!  Scanned, reduced in scale, I had miniature exotic houseplants!


I've used real leaves in this way many times before and have always been pleased with the result...if you haven't tried, have a go.

Thanks for looking
Robin

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Indoor Gardening - the miniature greenhouse

The weather has turned decidedly chilly and damp and now our clocks have changed so that Autumn has really arrived - and maybe winter. It's curtailing outside gardening so it's time to move inside and pick up my miniatures again and make a start on the little greenhouse I mentioned before.

The fact that it has been abandoned in garages and sheds for the last couple of decades means, to my delight, that it has acquired a genuine patina of age so a minimum of 'distressing' will be necessary I think.
I've glazed the windows using acrylic packaging material and hung the doors.


We used a little old glass and brass terrarium for the inspiration and measurements and this had a mirrored back wall, which obviously won't work now. Back in the day I had different plans and my clever other half who built it for me also cut a mirror for the back.....I can't decide if I can use it for something else, or if I should just bin it.....

Anyway the lean-to greenhouse needs an old stone wall so I cut pieces of mountboard and polystyrene pizza packaging to shape and glued them together. Using a paper shaping tool it's quick and easy to 'sculpt' a stone wall which will take acrylic paint really well. I gave it a light stone base colour then gradually built up paint layers in various tones - it might get another tweaking later.
I would really have liked to cut and glue card to the wooden floor for flagstones, but there's just not enough clearance on the doors and there was no way I was going to mess with them! I think the painted flags look O.K.ish, but again nothing is finished until it's finished!!


So there we go...I've made a start. Although I've got shelf supports and shelves I'm avoiding doing anything with them until I have enough plants to go on them and I can see where to fix them to the wall  - this may take a while.
Actually this will take ages I expect!! I am determined to make a good number of plants of my own from scratch, although I'll no doubt be tempted by Georgie Steeds's (The Miniature Garden Centre) great paper kits and have once again already succumbed to another fabulous plant from Jan Southerton, The Flower Lady.


Georgie and Jan can be confident that I'm NO competition.
Jan was at a new fair in Burford last weekend organised by Little Priory Fairs. They are also hosting The Thame Dolls House and Miniature Fair on February 17th 2018  - I wish them well.

Thank you for looking
Robin

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Treasures from Miniatura

Visiting a Dolls House and Miniatures Fair is always exciting isn't?  It's the thought of the as yet unseen treaures and the inspiration provided by exceptional artists ....and a little retail therapy is always fun!

Miniatura at Birmingham NEC a couple of weekends ago did all of the above.  In the last blog I featured the lovely Begonia Rex plant created by Jan Southerton, The Flower Lady and now I'll show you the other little treasures I purchased.  All the items are 1/12th scale.

Karen Cunningham's stand was a feast and it was difficult to choose just a few toys I suddenly decided I needed for for a project that has been only an idea up to now...... the little vehicles are by Klaas Schultz.


I actually went to the show with only two small purchases planned - some shelf  brackets for the greenhouse and a beautiful stoneware bottle from Elisabeth Causeret I'd seen at KDF but stupidly didn't buy. I was SO pleased to see her there and chose a splendid lidded cook pot to go with the bottle which has a wonderful textured glaze just like the full size version in my home. Both will be for an aged old dresser when I get around to it.



Victoria Fasken's work enchants me every time I see it and I'm completely blown away by her exquisite and delicate painting.
The decorated 'china' looks completely authentic, the detail she achieves is unsurpassed - the longer we looked and chatted the more I was drawn to this perfect little bowl - no I don't need it. But I just have to have it!!!
 

It's the unexpected treasure or the light bulb moment inspired by the artistry of top miniaturists that makes such shows special and hopefully encourages new miniature makers to be the very best they can and not settle for O.K.

Thank you for looking
Robin

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Back in the Workshop

As I've mentioned before we've been having a clear up, and miniature items and supplies that are longer needed now that we've retired have been found new homes, or put to one side for 'another day'.
Buried in the workshop was the beginnings of the small greenhouse that my clever other half made many years ago.


It doesn't look very exciting at the moment, but there are doors somewhere which is something and I'm planning....
It also has a mirrored back which doesn't work for my ideas now - but I won't throw it away - you never know!


Last weekend a friend and I headed for Miniatura and I definitely had the greenhouse in mind so bought rather nice Victorian-style shelf supports and a simply gorgeous Begonia Rex from Jan, The Flower Lady to start me off.

+

That wasn't the limit of my spending and I'll take some pictures and show you another time. It was a lovely outing - such fun to have time to catch up with old friends and admire their wonderful work.  It was, I must say, made more exciting by news of the arrival of my friend Celia's new Grandson - much happiness all round.

My clever other half has in fact been back in the workshop restoring a full-size chair.  We love chairs...have restored lots...have toooooo many...and still can't resist them. We don't need ANY more.

Long story....short version....
Local pub is closing down and changing hands.......and chucking out 'stuff'.... old, old pub chair.


How can he resist????

And here it is. Isn't it lovely??
Needless to say it has swiftly found a new home with a member of the family.

Thank you for looking
Robin

Monday, September 25, 2017

Thinking Ahead......Miniatures and Workshops...

Autumn has definitely arrived....we've picked the almonds (the squirrels have had the hazels), the borders are looking a little tired and we're into a big tidy up.  But looking ahead is exciting and apart from looking at spring bulb buying, this week I 'found' a half built tiny greenhouse, so that's my winter project, and my chum Celia of KT Miniatures is planning a Spring Workshop. Yay!!

The greenhouse  needs a wall behind it, glazing, doors fixed, flagstones laid - OH yes, plants. I'm at the thinking stage...you know how it goes. So I'll tell you what Celia has been up to instead!

The summer of 2016 saw me (and Coombe Crafts) retire after around thirty years of very happy miniature trading, it was also the saddest time as our dear friend Dave, Celia's lovely husband, passed.  It was therefore the right time for us to close the doors on our joint Nostalgia in Miniature Workshops after many happy years of working together.

I always hoped that when the time was right she would pick up the baton and continue with workshops, as she has so much to offer as an inspirational teacher with a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share in friendly workshop setting. I'm sure if you attended any of our workshops you will agree and I know many were hoping she would carry on.
I'm just so delighted that she has decided to continue under her own KT Miniatures Workshop banner and am excited to see what she is planning and very happy to share some of the details with you.

At this stage she is keen to hear from anyone who might be interested - no commitment. She is hoping for the same  Bicester, Oxfordshire venue and  plans on using the same ethos and basis as we did at the previous workshops ie. all are welcome, beginners and experienced miniaturists alike. Plus using ordinary everyday materials, as well as alternative techniques to create beautiful miniatures. 

She has a rather super project in mind of a freestanding antique German style kitchen. It would have two sides, a back and a base plus separate pieces of furniture - in 1/12th scale. (The base shape will not be too dissimilar to the project we made last year ie. The Early 1900s German Style Shop).   
The real antique miniature German kitchens and accompanying furniture cost hundreds of pounds these days, and are becoming as rare as hens teeth to get hold of! This particular project should be quite versatile and adaptable, and you will have plenty of scope to put your own imagination and as much creativity into it as you please so this particular project may appeal to both antique and vintage dolls house collectors, as well as miniaturists alike.

One of the German shops from 2016
For more information, contact Celia or receive KT Miniatures Newsletter go to www.ktminiatures.com
To whet your appetite you may like to look again at some of the projects from our Nostaglia in Miniature Workshops  - a  trip down memory lane for me. Go to KT Miniatures archive pages ktminiatures.com/miniature-workshop-gallery

I'll pop along on the day to hand out the paint and glue, and make encouraging noises......

Thank you for looking
Robin

Monday, September 11, 2017

In Praise of William Morris ...and a lovely outing.

My summer (varying between hot and soggy) has mostly been spent in my garden trying to restore some semblance of order - and very nice it's been too! Now and again we've trundled off for a visit to somewhere interesting and inspiring which I have to say does whet the 'miniature' appetite.  Kelmscott Manor  in the village of Kelmscott near Lechlade in West Oxfordshire was the country home of William Morris and is just such a place.
For anyone interested in the Arts and Crafts Movement it is definitely a 'go to'!


Kelmscott itself is a delightful little village off the beaten track close by the river Thames, with beautiful cottages, village hall and medieval church.  The Society of Antiquities of London acquired the Manor in 1960s and to their huge credit have restored and furnished the property in the most sympathetic and exemplary manner. So many of the furnishings, be they furniture or tapestries, embroideries, ceramics or printed works were collected and placed there by Morris's family so that there is an absolute sense of the man, his colleagues, family, friends and his times.


Very generously photography is allowed, although no flash. Regretfully I couldn't seem to get my camera to understand this flash thingy so I limited myself to outside pictures of the manor itself - which is a late C16th early C17th gem.  However if you love this period or are interested in William Morris, his family, friends and colleagues, do go to the website for a real treat and many pictures of his work and the interiors of the property.
https://www.sal.org.uk/kelmscott-manor/



We came away so inspired and also learnt so much of his versatility and that of his family. For instance, the wonderful Morris design for 'Honeysuckle' - used in wallpaper and fabrics surprised me that it was actually a design by his daughter May and we were all struck by the amount of design work carried out and inspired by him that was undertaken by his wife and daughters who were immensely talented ladies.  I do wish I'd taken a photo of the fantastic three-seater privy, outside which is a garden full of strawberries....there is a wonderful story that he sat there and watched a thrush stealing his strawberries, which inspired his 'Strawberry Thief' design!
I must ask Celia if she took one.

The road to the Manor is bordered by willow trees so it it easy to see where his inspiration for that design came from, and the short walk through the village from the car park is lovely.
A unique specially designed stone slab fence alongside fields is stunning.


He was a man who inspired and encouraged others, and was also influenced by them.  He and his family commissioned work  by other artists and artisans and were influential in setting up a number of important businesses, groups and organisations.  After his death his wife and family arranged for the building of the village hall and two cottages designed by Webb and Gimson to commemorate him.  The beautiful carved stone relief on a cottage is a tribute to the man himself.


The Morris family are buried in the village churchyard - commemorated by a beautifully designed tombstone by Philip Webb. The C11th Church of St George is itself very special and is justly proud of the restoration of the medieval wall paintings, and well worth a visit.


The three of us had a wonderful day - I hope you have had some good times lately as well, there is so much that others are having to endure on the other side of the world at this time.

Thank you for looking
Robin