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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Bargain Cabinet And A Lost Village Hall Now Up For Sale

My house is just not big enough......the walls are picture filled....the bookcases/cupboards stuffed....shelves are home to our (well, alright, mostly my) collections, miniature projects and interesting/attractive 'objet d'art'. The conservatory overflows and the garden is bursting.  So I bought another cupboard!

We took our weekly wander through our local market to buy fresh eggs, tempted as ever by plants from local nurseries and the offerings on the antique/bric-a-brac stall. There it was - cheap as chips - a repro vintage glass-fronted cabinet only about 26" high that would hold mini-projects and stop them being dust-collectors!
Would it fit? Where would it go? 'Take a chance', my blessed other half encouraged.

At home, walking about with a tape-measure it turned out that there was only one place in the entire house that it would fit. Phew!
So here it is sitting beautifully on our arts and crafts desk.



In the process of deciding what to put in it I pulled out more projects that Celia Thomas (KT Miniatures) and I created over the years for our Nostalgia In Miniature Workshops that had been hidden away in boxes. Then I found The Little Vintage Hall (1/24th scale).  That was a surprise as we thought we'd sold it along with others we just didn't have space to keep.
Celia kept the 1/12th versions (well her house is bigger...) and I kept the 1/24th.


SO...this gently shabby little village hall, together with 'the other room' which was a second project and sits alongside, are now up for sale at the greatly reduced price of £29 plus postage. The little room sits inside the hall just for the purposes of transportation but could be pemanently joined, left free-standing or turned into a different small room box.


We decided the hall was probably built in the early 1930s but by now it is the 1940s and war time so the posters on the board reflect this, but could, of course, be changed. The local school needed extra space so also used the hall, and their posters are on the wall in the other room. Sliding doors connect the two rooms and the small one would make a splendid kitchen.
The workshops were a great success and the various halls ended up hosting Girl Guides and Brownies, Whist Drives, Jumble Sales, a W.I Christmas bazaar and a scene from 'Dad's Army' - so the possibilities are endless

The Hall measures 8" long and the Other Room 3 1/2".  Together the overall length is approx 11 1/2" and it measures 5" high and 4" deep. The 3D window is glazed and has a handpainted scene behind and the floor is tiled, the Hall is panelled and with suitably aged 'distempered' walls. The Gardening Society's Annual Cup has pride of place in the corner and we'll give you some bunting to hang up for celebrations.
This is our last project to sell, so if you are interested in purchasing and creating your own very special scene in unique room boxes  please email me - contact details are on the side bar.

Thank you for looking
Robin

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Bit More Of The Same....

This is a bit of a catch-up blog - catching up with the spring 'wild meadow' under my fruit trees, and finally filling my very last type-setting tray - the little terracotta pot the inspiration to do that. As promised a picture of the delightful little Koala Bear I purchased a week or two ago.

 
Isn't he just gorgeous!! My little Koala by the brilliant Shoebutton Bears is a happy addition to my small collection of their delightful animals. I especially love the quirky characters and the perfect detail.


My chum Celia aka KT Miniatures gave me this super hand-thrown terracotta pot - sorry I don't know the maker, but it looks perfect on my shelves and spurred me on to fill up the last one.  I'm sure she'll spot a few items that came from her....


This poor old case languished in the shed for several years, and then took a couple more to refurbish, and yet another to actually hang up and start to fill. Not everything on here 'special' so I can replace individual items when I find a piece that is. I had to wobble about on a bed to get this shot of it, so apologies for less than perfect pictures.....


There's the pot at the bottom - alongside one of our 1/48th scale Coombe Crafts rocking horses  - and a 'Celia' stripey vintage glass vase.


There are lots of special items on this section.....my Victorian china  doll, an old photo of my Mum as a young woman, nappy pins from my 'boys' (practically antique now!), a tiny broken carved wooden angel, vintage brooch, a lovely pair of wired vintage dolls - poor little girl hasn't photographed well - and she's lost her feet.  I had to rescue them for 50p.


Last one. More broken angels, a wonderful doll by my chum Sandra Morris aka Tower House Dolls, wonderful antique lustre glass teaset (yep that's Celia again), ancient (maybe 100 years old) Indian match boxes given to me by an Uncle and a younger couple to remind me of special holidays a long time ago. The bagpipes are another of my efforts and the 1/24th rocking horse is ours too.  Other items remind me of special artisan friends and colleagues. This is my last case  - no more wall space!!

My wild 'meadow' is so tiny it's a bit of a joke really, but we love it and it does show that even the tiniest scrap of grass can be encouraged to go wild! It's about seven years old now and gets better every year providing we cut back and mow it off in September after seeds have dropped, to reduce the vigour of the grass.

This cowslip is for Illona - they are seeding happily just like the primroses.


I think this is an oxlip - a natural cross between a cowslip and primrose, and the first time we've seen it.  Lovely!
Oh this is my gorgeous double cowslip....it isn't fertile so I am safe to plant it in the wild garden, as I wouldn't want it to cross with  the wild plants....but I love it.  No cuckoo pint flowers so far this year, I hope they haven't disappeared for ever.

Elsewhere.....Imperial Fritillary which I've waited FOR EVER to flower, and fabulous Japonica, a lovely double version.

Thank you for looking
Robin,

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Blue Skies...what to do next?

It stopped raining at last - the snow missed us again - and we managed to get outside to do some very necessary and thoroughly satisfying pruning.  Underfoot it's pretty soggy, but it does look as if Spring might be here to stay.




Our lovely Almond tree is reaching for a blue sky and in my 'wild patch' under the fruit trees Spring has properly sprung with anenome, primrose and fritillaries, with cowslip and bluebells to come before the summer rush of colour.



Elsewhere the Jerusalem Cowslip (Lungwort) is a pretty picture with pale blue flowers that will turn a gentle pink in the coming days.


The Ipheon struggles a little as the bulbs are probably over-crowded now, but still puts on a dainty show. Elsewhere, in the borders bluebells are in bud, fighting everything else and will look wonderful - the celandines too with their shiny yellow faces. 
I've spent many years trying to restrain the bluebells and celandines as they are very beautiful thugs which take over. They do disappear back underground in due course so finally I've mostly given up.  I'm told that centuries ago this was a wooded area so I suppose they were here first!

I've been given a super hand-thrown terracotta pot for my type-setting shelves as I'm filling my newest at the moment.
I must stop....no more wall space! Shoebutton Bears -  a delightful miniaturist - were in Thame at a Makers and Artisan Fair today so I purchased a cute little Koala who may go there too. I'll show you both next time.

So now I'm in a miniature quandry regarding another project.....lots of 1/12th scale tiny toys that need a permanent home and/or children to play with them and a vintage barrel organ that has been looking for someone to turn the handle for several years.....my mojo isn't working at the moment.

Thanks for looking
Robin

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

I Dusted Off Another .....

I dusted off another typecase - actually I dusted two so I hope you'll enjoy a few more pictures of my little treasures.
Then there's a thank-you.

 

Firstly, I would like to say a huge thank you to Illona who kindly answered my plea in the last blog about drooping helebore!  These glorious winter and spring flowers, often called Christmas or Easter roses droop very quickly when picked on the stem for a vase indoors and having (I thought) read and tried all the tips to prevent this over the years, had given up and displayed the heads floating in a bowl very prettily. (See pic. in last blog)

To my rescue came Illona who tracked down the definitive remedy, first suggested by Margery Fish in 1956.  Margery Fish was a well known and much loved English gardener and writer and her books are still collected and read in U.K.
Margery said the stems should be cut through right up to the first pair of leaves and that the flowers would then stay perky and fresh for a long time. So I dashed out, picked a couple of stems, slit them through as directed and YES I had perfect blooms for over a week and the buds opened too - which all goes to prove there's nothing new in the garden, it's just a case of finding it.

If you haven't already found Illona's blog do hop over and take a look - she is also the perfect gardener, only this time in miniature. Her latest blog features wonderful tiny buttercups and a selection of exquisite daffodils - as a bonus there are photographs of the lovely countryside around her home.
http://minimumloon.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/geen-zorg-die-lust-ze-echt-niet-no.html



 So here is my oldest type case and the smallest, containing a mixture of very old tiny things and some beautiful miniatures by the very best of U.K. artisans I have collected in recent years. I use fabulous buttons, pretty shells and things to fill gaps when I 'rob' a box for a project, or until I find something more interesting.

The wedding shoe once graced a family wedding cake, made and decorated by my aunt - it must be more than 50 years old now.
As a member of the family bakery business she continued to do this for family and friends long after her retirement, and the last she did, well into her eighties, was for a 60th wedding anniversary - and she'd done the original wedding cake!
The lovely snowdrops are of course by Jan Southerton, The Flower Lady and were my Granny's favourite flowers.

As a child I loved the book, Anne Of Green Gables,(still do) so here is Anne and the book as well. I played with the wobbly bug  on row three as a child and the french coin turned into a brooch  next to the vintage butterfly brooch was made for me by someone special. These super vintage books are by my friend Celia Thomas of KT Miniatures who borrowed the real ones from us to make authentic replicas.  This is my favourite collection.

This case is also an old one and was mostly filled a few decades ago, although again I occasionally 'rob' it and pop in a shell; it holds mostly special tiny bits and pieces that are  about family or special people, rather than true miniatures.


The three tiny bisque nursery rhyme figures were brought home by my Dad when he was repatriated after three years as a P.O.W during W.W.2 and were given to him by a German family who were very kind to him. The bug brooch is actually also a Victorian  needle holder. The badge at the bottom is from Birmingham War Weapons week in 1940 and presumably raised funds.
All over this tray are nods to the Canadian branch of the family including this and other gorgeous hand painted pebble brooches.


That's a very youthful father in uniform in the photograph and a tiny portion of beadwork and a velvet leaf to remind me of my beadworker Granny, who in the early years of C20th not only created exquisite beadwork that was sent off to London to be incorporated into frocks and accessories for grand Edwardian ladies but managed to cope with seven children and be involved in the family bakery and confectionery business as well.  Interestingly three of her four daughters loved beads and my Mum, the youngest had a lifelong phobia which she attributed to them having to count and sort millions of seeds beads as children.
Clearly it was my Aunts who I followed not Mum, and all my old jewellery and beads have come from them.


The last panel features a photo in a lovely micro-mosaic frame of Auntie Edie - of wedding cake fame - and my first born.
That was a long time ago...... and then there are football reminders; all the 'boys' played. I remember those days with a car crammed full of little boys, then up to our neck in freezing mud every weekend and probably the youngest (or a friend's youngest) shoved in a push chair  under layers of discarded sweaters. Hey ho!
Now our grandson is a centre forward and his Dad  a coach.

One more picture.  This antique wooden egg opens to hold the tiniest imaginable jointed wooden doll. How about that!


If you wonder what some of the odd items are here and there...they're probably vintage brooches!

Finally, but not least, I wish you all a VERY Happy Easter and hope that you and yours will enjoy a happy and peaceful weekend.

Thanks for looking
Robin

Monday, March 19, 2018

So I Got That Wrong!

Well the wintry weather hadn't finished with us and the snow came back - again we were luckier than many and only had a very pretty but not too deep fall.  The sun came out brilliantly, not only melting the snow but showing up dust and cobwebs indoors.  Time to get dusting......

One of the blackbirds that visits regularly was a little put out to find his food under a chilly blanket.


The day before the snow came down I popped out to pick a selection of helebore flowers - we have so many and as it's a deliciously promiscuous plant,  seedlings pop up everywhere and the flowers all vary just a bit. I love them, but if I pick them on the stem they always droop so I find this the best way to show them off. If anyone knows how to stop the droop in a vase, I'd love to know.


I've been displaying my little things on these type-setting trays for decades, long before I got hooked on miniatures. Back in the day....I learned to typeset when I worked in publishing, so they are quite special as well as fabulous display cases and I have several.  As I said, the sun shone and highlighted the dust, so I got out my soft old paintbrush and set to work before I dared take out the camera.
Click on the pics. to get bigger versions.


This one is in a narrow hallway so I had to perch on the stairs and squeeze the camera through the banisters to photograph it in its entirety.  On the top is an ancient little pottery cat, an old Corgie AA van, a couple of vintage pencil sharpeners and a rather nice antique enamelled match box cover - the hanging cord doesn't show as a rule thankfully.

I thought I'd give you a closer look at some of my little 'treasures'.  As you can see they aren't all true miniatures. I love buttons and small toys, old brooches and badges and the bits and pieces that remind me of special places or people. Then of course there's the 'quirky' that's just fun.

Nothing here is very ancient, except the tiny wooden toys and those gorgeous buttons - the poppy is my favourite.

The butterfly and dragonfly are old brooches, the buttons are miltary, except the black Civil Defence one and the stylish ones from 1930s. I have friends who can knit....and have collected Victoria Fasken's exquisite painted ware (bottom right) for many years.

Lots more vintage buttons, some reminders of happy years living in Cornwall and a very early attempt at making paper tulips in a rather lovely vase which is probably Elisabeth Causeret.  I love my little angel that cost me 50p and a teeny weeny picture of two of my sons. The red kite flying above the agate slab is an RSPB badge  - these wonderful birds fly over our garden every day and we never get tired of watching them.



Thanks for looking
Robin

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

No More Snow!

Today is a bright sunny one, such a nice herald of spring after the snow of last week.  To be fair, here in Thame (Oxfordshire) we got away very lightly compared to other parts of the country, and were inconvenienced rather than anything else - and it was beautiful!
I was obliged to do the ironing and other such necessary but boring indoor jobs.....



First, as promised, out came the camera so that I could show you the fabulous Orchid by Jan Southerton - The Flower Lady - I purchased at The Thame Dolls House and Miniature Fair.

The bright blue sky lit up the shelf of bits and pieces and plants, of course, in the conservatory, including the dainty flowers of this begonia.



Just before it snowed I brought in some forsythia buds and catkins which cheered us up as the bright yellow flowers burst open and the catkins spread their yellow pollen over everything.



Outside the snow held back the Iris Reticulata in pans just outside the door.  I love these mini iris and think they look wonderful with the bright pink cyclamen.


Now we have a great show as they continue to come out and it's great to see the cyclamen are seeding like mad and making tiny corms  - soon the pans will be a mass of these special little flowers.  I have the more common white and pale pink all over the garden itself but they look best naturalised in the grass under the fruit trees.

The tiny round corms are on the right of the picture

I'm quite pleased with my 'pig pan'- I wasn't sure if it would look O.K. or if they would stand a frost outside. The super stoneware pigs have been with me for  many years and sadly I can no longer remember who crafted them.  All four grandchildren have loved them as they sat on the windowsill indoors and consequently they have lost an ear or two, and the odd foot. Alongside this chunk of flint rock they now look right at home I think.

We couldn't resist this striking primose in the market - I shall have to plant it outside soon - well away from the natives!
There are masses of helebores out, but it's a little soggy  at the moment - when it dries up a little I'll pick some to bring in.

Thanks for looking
Robin

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Filling Up The Little Shelves

I very nearly ditched a 1/24th,  not very exciting, glass-fronted set of shelving that I'd painted up a long time ago - couldn't decide if it should be an armoire or a bookcase.  Neither really appealed, but I dithered and shoved it in a box...as you do.

When I was working on the last 1/12th dresser I realised I probably had enough tiny pieces to actually make something of the discarded shelving after all instead of leaving it in a box and dither some more.



I'm sure you can spot more of Elisabeth Causeret's wonderful pottery and the little aqua painted kettle at the bottom is the exquisite work of Vicky Fasken.  I was happy with the little glass plate at the top which I painted with 'roses'.
Back in the day I'd hoard old watch glasses which are the perfect size and I enjoyed painting them, so it was fun to do that again.
Lots of different beads - so versatile for miniaturists - and some of my own polymer clay teapots, together with hoarded 'odds'n sods' soon filled the shelves and made something out of not very much.

Last Saturday I visited The Thame Fair, now in its 13th year and under new ownership. After 11 years behind one of the trader's stand it makes a change to be able to browse and treat myself.  I bought a gorgeous orchid from Jan Southerton (The Flower Lady) and met up with chums, but have to admit to being disappointed that there were far fewer of the finest artisan miniaturists that we had expected, and had seen in previous years. What a shame.

I'll take a photo of Jan's orchid for the next blog but meanwhile 'exotic' Kohleria is blooming its socks off in the conservatory.  This is another of those wonderful plants that are pretty boring until they burst into fabulous flower.  I love it.


Thanks for looking
Robin