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

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
Robin

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
Robin

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 great...one 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
Robin



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
Robin

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 going.......you 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
Robin

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/sentimental...to 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.
Robin

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Glorious Summer!

Great - we've had some proper sun - doesn't it make everything seem brighter and more cheerful?
My Gloriosa Lily has been blooming gloriously after years of struggling to even survive and I'm back from a week in glorious Devon.

In this country the Gloriosa Lily is very definitely a conservatory climber - it must look amazing in its native setting, although I'm not quite sure where that is.  Anyway....after years of semi-defeat it has finally rewarded me with fabulous flowers and is still going strong.

I love the way the colour subtely changes as it opens fully
A week in Devon with lovely members of the family - assorted ages - was super, despite rather  typical British weather which saw sun and showers.  Not that a few showers is going to stop little people from building sandcastles and going in the sea!!
As well as wonderful safe beaches and beautiful varied countryside, there are exquisite and quirky villages to explore.
One of the most famous is Clovelly, a tiny old fishing village of mainly small cottages that cling to the sides of a cleft in the cliff with a steep and narrow winding cobbled street that drops 400ft to the habour. No cars! Everything has to be transported by wooden sledges.

Click on the pics. for a bigger version.


'Spectacular' and 'Beautiful' really don't do it justice and although we've visited a number of times, it never fails to delight.
Apparently Charles Kingsley lived there and was inspired to write 'Water Babies' and as you'd expect it has been painted many times.  As famous as the cobbled street are the donkeys which used to carry loads of herrings up from the beach - now they give children rides and have a much easier life.


Talking of children's book - didn't we all love the book and film of 'The Railway Children'? So did a lovely lady who recreated their cottage in 1/24th scale - and this is the family I made for her.

I hope you've all enjoyed some days in the sun too.
Thanks for looking
Robin







Monday, August 15, 2016

If It Doesn't Move...Paint It!

Along with 'I work in a muddle'.....'If it doesn't move, paint it'....has always stood me in good stead.
Back in the day, before miniatures absolutely took over, I was inclined to paint or paint on all kinds of things.
As a 'general' crafts person I painted everything from blown goose and ducks eggs to wooden boxes, furniture and proper pictures.
But I did always love painting on a BIG scale!


I do think that any kind of creative work informs and enhances whatever comes next, even if it's just the confidence to try something completely new.
I came in from hacking back my very overgrown shrubs to sort through old photos and found some more really old ones.

As a youngster I'd loved painting scenery for school productions of 'The Pirates of Penzance' and such, so later, with a young family and big blank walls to decorate in old houses I was in my element.
Does anyone remember 'Noggin the Nog'? I painted scenes from the popular children's cartoon on the hall wall.....'Rupert the Bear'...was on a bedroom along with a very bizarre aeroplane scene on another....but my little sons loved it.
We lived in an old house with a staircase that had been turned round - someone left the old blocked doorway behind on one side.  Yes that was odd!
.......that was clearly also my  macrami phase...

The Pied Piper of Hamelin was a favourite story and the door was a blank canvas. The little boy is now well into his 30s.....Whoops, where have the years gone?

The reflection from the paintwork made it difficult to photograph - but hopefully you get the picture and you can click to make them bigger.



Decades later I revisited the Pied Piper as a 1/12th scale miniature, and also added a few rats to the finished set piece.

The Pied Piper door was a great success and one day my brother-in-law turned up with his little daughter's bedroom door on the roof of his car. She loved the film '101 Dalmations'.............the door lived in the kitchen while I worked on it - not exactly convenient - but she loved it.

Thanks for looking
Robin

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Blowing The Cobwebs Away

Three of us decided to take a walk along the ancient Ridgeway -  a route for travellers since prehistoric times.
Actually it's about 80/90miles long but we are two different generations who grew up in different but nearby places just under the hills, so the bit we know best is between Wantage (Oxon), the White Horse Hill at Uffington and on past Wayland's Smithy to Foxhill (Wilts). We walked about 3 miles...phew...puff, puff .....



We were all in need of blowing a few cobwebs away - and we did -  nattering randomly along the way in that comfortable way of one conversation drifting into another. Nice!
Wayland's Smith was our objective, walking from the car park for White Horse Hill it's supposed to be roughly a three mile round trip - aching feet suggest a bit further, but I'm out of shape.....



There is something truly spiritual and unspoilt about this ancient pathway without any kind of twenty first century influence and it's easy to imagine ancient peoples walking the same chalk route along the crest of the downs.


The rolling hills and farmland stretch out on all sides and down to the villages in the Vale of the White Horse, the birds flit in and out of the wild hedges and there's a huge variety of native flowers and grasses.  Even a bank of thistles look magnificent in this setting.


Of  course history and archaeology define Wayland Smithy as a Neolithic long barrow but we know better....it is of course the home of the fairy smith Wayland (Wayland/Welund, being the Saxon god of metalworking).  In times long gone a traveller would leave a silver coin at the cave's entrance and tether his horse to be shod. He must go away for a while and never look, so no one ever saw the smith - when he returned the coin had gone and the horse had been shod. 
This is the local tale, but there are others, some gory and others that seem to have their origin in Nordic myths and legends.

Today it is a peaceful but magical place in a green copse and a favourite destination for walkers just off the main path.

Thank you for looking
Robin