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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

An Early 1900s German-style Haberdashery Shop

In the early part of last year my friend and erstwhile partner in crime Celia Thomas and I completed our final workshop before closing the miniature doors on Nostalgia in Miniatures Workshops for the last time.  So the final project had to be very special.  In both 1/12th and 1/24th scales this little German-style early 1900s shop was, we hoped, just that and would be very versatile.

All our participants were able to make adjustments and variations as they went along, depending also just how they were going to stock their little shops.  Everyone enjoyed themselves and did brilliantly - and so many different contents were being planned from haberdashery to apothecary.
 I get to keep the 1/24th prototype and Celia the 1/ I've had the time to turn mine into a haberdashery and ladies' outfitters,  somewhat faded and struggling into the new century but elegant still.
Click on the pics. for bigger versions 

It was too pristine and I prefer a little 'tatty'! We had aged the larger scale prototype but left this to allow our workshop ladies to see how both effects would look, so the first job was take it back to 'faded' with washes of burnt umber and lots of sandpaper.  The mirrored door was given a curtain of antique lace and I decided to shift the display cabinets and add a work table and chair so the sewing machine could be included - I'm sure 'Arbery and Golding' would have done alterations for their best customers.

I've always enjoyed making tiny accessories for my dolls so I indulged myself in creating a collection of posh hats with blowsy paper roses and feather trimmings and dainty handbags. Those of you who've done this all before will know how long it took to fill the shelves with fabrics, laces and ribbons and wind fine wool into skeins. Celia's faux glass doors really add to the authenticity and the finest fabrics are kept here. I spent ages making a rather classy mannequin and then promptly covered it up with the frock.....still, I know it's there.

We had supplied instructions and materials for a variety of packaging for the workshop so I was ahead here, adding a few extra, filled jars with micro beads and a basket with feathers until I was satisfied that it looked nicely cluttered. The shop till (saved from our Coombe Crafts stock along with the table, chair and broom) sits on the counter where clearly the assistant is busy with a customer. I could still fill all those enticing little drawers at the back...maybe another day.

Celia and I had a lovely time creating this room box and it's been such fun to be able to bring it to life. 
Although I've retired and can now please myself and 'play' in miniature, she is of course still working happily as KT Miniatures with a wealth of wonderful vintage and antique items for sale on her website, along with her very special handmade 'vintage' creations that work so well in houses and room boxes alongside the authentic.
 KT Miniatures will again have a stand at the prestigious Thame Fair on Saturday February 18th at Thame Leisure Centre, Thame, Oxon - come along if you can, it's a terrific day.

By the way, we'd both love to see pictures of other little shops from the workshop ladies.

Thank you for looking

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Framing the Orchids

I'm slowly thinking through my 'wish to do' list - e.g. those packets of lovely paper flower kits that have been languishing for a few years...the bookcase I was going to fill with beautiful books....the little shop that has no stock... I've started with the orchids.

It's no secret that I love flowers and plants,  also collected many beautiful miniature creations by some stunning artisans and made a fair few of my own from scratch for a variety of projects over the years - which in no way compare.  For years I've been a fan of Georgie Steeds's brilliant paper flower kits 
Her eye for detail is superb and she has a really good range in both 1/12th and 1/24th scales,  supplied with excellent instructions. I love working with paper and card so I dug out those lovely little packets and made up my orchids.

As I grow orchids I have some real life ones to study which helps with colouring petals and adding a few extra details like aerial roots where appropriate. I was SO happy with the way they turned out.

I had already decided which aged terracotta pots I needed for them and was properly stumped when I couldn't get hold of any.  After a lot of hunting and research I gave up, dug out the paper and decided to give it a go and make my own - this would be an all paper project after all!  Actually I think they turned out pretty well and decided to use them so the orchids were planted and the pots topped up with tea leaves and moss which looks quite authentic.

All I needed now was a deep box frame to display them in. Out came the cardboard to work out dimensions as usual, a cheap, cheap gold-coloured photo frame which I pulled apart and a  willing husband who braved freezing conditions in the shed (sorry - workshop...) to actually make my box. I painted it with emulsion paint, sponged with different tones and replaced the original flimsy glazing with thicker acrylic 'glass'.

And this is the result. Difficult to get a good picture now the plants are in the box, and I've left out the glazing as the glare made it impossible to photograph, but I'm happy with the finished project.

Thank you for looking

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Welcome to A New Year !

I'm very happy to welcome 2017 and hope it will be lovely year for us all.  May I wish you all you would wish for yourselves in the coming months.

My garden is looking brown and withered until the frost each morning recently lights it up and the sun catches branches and seed heads. This winter-flowering Viburnum is a positive treasure - prettily pink with a delicious almond scent.

In the conservatory the orchids are coming into bud and beginning to flower - and inspiring me to get out my miniature orchid flower kits that have been waiting to be made up for so.o.o.o long.  I'll let you know how I get on.......

In a P.S. to my Christmas blog, I thought you might enjoy seeing how the Father Christmas scene turned out after two little girls had worked their magic and finished it off to make it their very own. They were very excited to open the box of 'bits' and read the instructions - didn't they do well?

Thank you for looking

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


I would like you wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and thank you for continuing to pop in and for leaving such lovely,  friendly messages.
This year will not have been a happy one for everyone of course and sadly there isn't always hope and cheer just around the corner.
I hope and pray life will be better in the coming months for those of you who are having tough times.

Robin xx

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Having Fun With Miniatures

Many moons ago, while a member of the local DH club I painted and distressed a 1/12th scale whitewood dresser.
I had plans to use it simply to display some of the wonderful artisan pieces I've collected  but cast it aside - now it's been repainted and filled.

It was pretty dreadful when I looked at it again - a sludgy green over a  brown base which seemed appealing at the time.  Several coats of a pale primrose colour and LOTS of rubbing down rendered it acceptable.

Then lots of fun,  digging out the little treasures and arranging them. I felt it needed a basket or two for some contrast so scored a 'first' for me and made two or three which I doubt would be approved by the experts  and knitted a couple of small pieces to put in one of them with odd balls of wool.  I expect Sus  would have a fit if she could see those up close!

Click on the pics. to see larger versions.

Anyway - 'tis done! I'm a very happy bunny and it's now in pride of place with other treasures.

It's important to acknowledge the work of talented miniaturists whose work I so admire, so in no particular order, they are:
Elisabeth Causeret, Sally Meekins, KTMiniatures, Al'turnative, Glasscraft, Janice Crawley, The Flower Lady, Victoria Heredia, Tony Knott and Teeny Weeny Teddies.  I've had the little china cat for years so I'm afraid I can't remember who made her and the tiny figure of a famer's wife is a vintage painted lead piece.

Thank you for looking

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pizza With a Christmas Topping

Well I finished the bits and pieces for our grandchildren's Christmas scene and was in need of a snowy background - which is where the pizza came in.
Over the years I've found the polystyrene packaging that  sits under supermarket pizzas to be absolutely invaluable for such a lot of crafty projects.  It makes great light packing for fragile parcels, useful for painting and gluing things on, and can be cut, scored and painted for any manner of elements.

Anyway I needed a snowy path for the sleigh to ride along and a hill in the background just to finish it off. It took moments to slice a piece of the polystyrene, and top it with expanded polythene packaging which has a slight 'glitter' about it in a certain light and bingo!  I glued the hill to navy blue cardboard and added a run of little houses which I've left for the children to colour in - and they can add stars or snowflakes, whatever takes their fancy, to the sky as well - we want it to be their scene.

Rudolf and his chum have been in a box for a couple of years waiting to take Father Christmas out, and it won't be too long before he gets on his way.  It's not exactly an expertly crafted sleigh but hopefully it'll carry him around the globe.

I promised a picture or two of 1/48th characters - individually sculpted and fully pose-able like their bigger friends.

Thank you for looking

Monday, November 14, 2016

Getting Back to Some Doll-making

When I decided to retire it was largely because I wanted time to spend on my own miniatures and other interests and say 'goodbye' to working to deadlines.
After many happy and energetic weeks out in the garden bringing it to back to some kind of order, the weather is pretty much dictating things now.  That being so, it's been nice to get back to some doll-making and planning (only in my head) what I might do next.

I promised a friend to make her a little group of 1/24th dolls to complete some scenes - so I've finished them.  Sorry, photo quality isn't of those days...
Looking forward to summer, which isn't any time soon here in U.K.,  a couple of spritely pensioners are taking a trip to the seaside - sweet- I think he's giving the wife a lick of his icecream!

Summer is gardening time, and chats across the hedge with neighbours.  Madge is clearly a keen gardener - maybe she's giving Florrie tips on planting up her summer pots.

Christmas is only just around the corner of course so I thought I'd make a little Father Christmas for the youngest grandchildren...and maybe a sleigh and a sack of toys.....
Amid the muddle on the workbench, Santa is waiting for some shiny buttons on his jacket and not too thrilled about the cardboard affair next to him. He's hoping for something a little more impressive - I'll let you know how we get on.

As my friends know, I can't resist a bargain, especially in the plant department so this is my latest - a Streptocarpus or Cape Primrose that was only 25% of the marked price.  Oh Yes!!  I love these plants and used to grow lots some years ago, but was down to my last ancient one.  I bought two - both half dead and with no flowers - and only one was labelled as  'Ruby' which I knew to be a lovely cerise. Both recovered so well and are flowering their socks off. I was thrilled with the one pictured which I believe is called 'Harlequin Lace'.

I'll let you know how the Christmas scene turns out.

Thank you for looking

Friday, October 28, 2016

Nearly A Bit Spooky....

I thought I should make an effort to blog with a nod to Halloween and the darker autumn evenings - so here goes!

Apologies to those of you who have been popping in for a while because you'll have seen my wonderful Clematis seedheads in previous autumn blogs.  They never fail to enchant me - an ethereal slightly spooky tracery that looks even more fairy-like when the early morning dew is on it.  Soon they will fluff up into feathery puff balls and look even more beautiful.  I've just cut and brought some in to watch them expand, and dry to keep for natural decorations.

Wizards and witches come in different sizes - and no doubt bring out all their most fun and cheery spells at this time of year.
Here are a few from my the Coombe Crafts archives.....

1/24th scale funky witches

1/12th scale wizard

Tiny 1/48th scale witch

So - I was sitting in my conservatory having a phone chat with a friend when there was an almight thump above me head.
It took a few minutes to realise that 'something' had landed, 'dumped' by one of the beautiful Red Kites who regularly put on amazing aerial displays just above our garden. I wasn't so thrilled to find a cooked chicken/turkey leg and chunk of backbone sitting on the glass roof in the most inaccessible position (yes, a neighbour does feed them).
It sat there, threatening to fall into the rainwater gulley for a couple of days and then, thankfully, it was retrieved.
I wish I'd seen the kite that collected it, up close - they're the most fabulous birds with up to 5ft wing spans and are on the increase in the Chilterns.

Thank you for looking

Saturday, October 8, 2016

On The Horns Of A Miniatura Dilemma!

We've all been there haven't we - be it Miniatura or KDF or another super show......
You start with a plan and/or a budget, or both........then it all goes out the window!!

So - 'best mate' and I went to Miniatura last weekend, by a series of trains and a bus, with a bus driver who wasn't sure where he was don't want to know!  Neither of us needed ANYTHING - but went with open minds to be tempted, as you do.

In the very back of my mind, bearing in that mind that my focus in these last few weeks of good weather is hacking back the garden and not miniatures, was a 1/12th dresser I'd painted and distressed several years ago. I would like to finish it with lovely pieces....sometime.

Going with 'best mate' is probably not a good idea, as despite determination to stick to the premise that we don't need ANYTHING and have fixed budgets - we are inclined to lead each other astray!

It's two or three years since I last went to the Birmingham show and it did seem smaller, but it was good to see some top class artisans whose work is a joy.  All the following are in 1/12th scale.

I treated myself to another couple of pieces of cabbage ware by Sally Meakin which are destined for the aforesaid dresser. Fabulous!

I can't pass Elisabeth Causeret's stand,  and spend so much time looking, drooling and deciding. I chose a lovely pot and an exquisite shallow dish with beautiful tracery, which the photo doesn't do justice to.

Al'turnative have such a range of turnings and lamps now it is always a difficult choice.  The burl wood shallow dish was an instant 'must have'.  I look forward to seeing them again at The Thame Dolls House and Miniature Fair in February next year.

Jan Southerton, The Flower Lady will be at Thame as well so I can have another look at the delightful pot of mixed cacti I wish I'd bought......I bought a little one though, isn't it brilliant? Sorry the photo isn't as brilliant as her work.

With so many wonderful artisans leaving the 'business' for a variety of reasons I feel it's important to indulge while I can.

Thank you for looking

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Trawling Through The 1/12th Scale Archives

As I've told you before, these summer weeks have been in the garden - and you really don't want to see pictures of the rather necessary but brutal pruning that has taken place. So let's get back to miniatures.

When you've been creating character dolls as long as me, it's fun/instructive/ go back over the old picture files.  I've been fortunate in having many, many super commissions over the years which have stretched me and enabled me to not only create a raft of characters but indulge my love of historical costuming.
Some of the following are more than a decade old so the quality of the pictures does vary.
Fag Ash Lil'  - my favourite character
A beautiful gipsy lady
One of those old ladies who fits so beautifully into many scenes, wearing and antique lace shawl
One of my Scots - with his bagpipes
A couple of 'posh' 18th Century gents

Georgian lady

The old pregnant lady I've made. She now lives down under with Sus and her family.
Thank you for looking.