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

Monday, January 15, 2018

A New Year.....thinking of what comes next.

I don't know about you, but I don't do New Year Resolutions....far too depressing when they're broken almost immediately.  I have a kind of  'might do' list and a 'really should do' list....I'll just see how that goes then....

I would like to wish each and everyone of you a very Happy 2018 and hope all your 'might do' and 'should do' lists come to pass.

 Our Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise) burst into flower in time for the New Year and I'm really thrilled that there are five more buds coming along. Believe it or not it is around thirty years old, grown from a seed by my lovely Mum - until the autumn it was one of a pair, but our conservatory isn't made of elastic so that has gone to a new home.  I hope they have five buds too.

Looking around I'm reminded how many of my plants, or their offspring came from her and friends. Nice!

Top of my list after Christmas is MARMALADE.  This is an ancient family ritual originally vested in my Mum and before her, no doubt, her Mum. Now of course it is my turn and Granny's Marmalade needs to be made in sufficient quantity to supply family and special friends (and us) with a few jars 'in case'. Off and on it lasts about a week, the house smells lovely and I have an annual meltdown about having enough jars ......and I pop a few Seville oranges in the freezer in case we run out later in the year.

 So now I'm revisiting my 'might do' miniature list and looking at a 1/12th basic whitewood dresser I've had for ages and thinking it would make a nice old dark 'vintage' piece to display some of my vintage/antique odds and bits. Like all collectors I have lots of treasures squirrelled away and not a lot of room to display them.  Then again when I see Elisabeth Causeret's stand I just can't resist...Still thinking - I'll let you know.

Thanks for looking

Friday, December 22, 2017

Happy Christmas

In wishing you  a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, I hope that the next year will bring you all the things that you wish for yourselves and those you love.

Many of us will be thinking of those who are no longer with us, so there's always a moment or two of reflection I guess.

It is also time for a huge thank you to everyone who has taken the time to pop in to my blog over the last year, and the kind and encouraging comments. I've loved reading all your blogs, even if I don't always leave a comment, and really think it's a very special blogging community that encourages, inspires and values each and every one .  Thank you.

Thank you for looking.
Robin xx

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'.

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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