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

Monday, September 10, 2018

Wine, An Autumn Harvest And A Load of Old Shoes

I've been quiet on the blogging front because late summer is a busy time in the garden and kitchen and it's been lovely to have time out with family and friends - still no more excuses! I hope you'll like my old shoes and you're welcome to chuckle at the wine!

First I'd like to show you my glorious 'Constant Nymph' Streptocarpus - she deserves a photo - so many flowers, too many to count. She's my favourite!

We've been busy harvesting a great crop of fruit and vegetables for weeks, freezing some, giving some away and turning some into jam, pies and chutney.  The kitchen has smelt incredible - positively heady at times - and I'm running out of jars.

 This year our black grape vine has done well for once (we usually leave the grapes for the birds) so as they're somewhat 'pippy' for eating we're experimenting with a little wine.........No, I'm not at all confident, but I won't know for a year....

Back in the day, or as my grandkids say, the olden times, my Mum and Aunt were great hedgerow winemakers.  You name it - they made it; I remember best the elderflower, elderberry, dandelion and sloe wines and spending hours in bright yellow fields of dandelions getting stained in sticky brown sap as we picked the heads and being pricked as we strained to gather the elderflower heads and berries from the hedges around our home.  Happy days.
Still - as I I'm not at all sure about this grape wine. However, I've made some blackberry Gin and I know that will be great!!

I've always been a lover of shoes, although these days the biggest concern sadly, is all about comfort.  Small shoes don't have to be comfortable just beautiful or interesting and I have a few.

 This little broken wooden shoe is very precious and was brought back from Germany by my Dad after his release as a POW after the war.

My family were bakers and confectioners and my aunt who not only made the wine, decorated all the cakes - this little silver cardboard shoe came from a family wedding cake about 50 years ago - the tiny metal shoes, linked by a rusty couple of links and thread have been with me 'forever'. Both sit on my printers shelves.

Different friends gave me the little leather shoes - all seem to have been brooches at one time.  The wonderful lady's heeled boot is old and a lovely fine china - it sat on my Granny's shelf and I love it now it is mine.  It's the largest shoe, but still only about 4 inches tall.

Car boots sales can yield some treasures and the last three shoes came from there.  I particularly love the handcarved wooden shoe - it reminds me so much of th‏e first one - and looks as if it has some age to it.  The green ones - not that old - do have a vintage look, and I like them both and love green china. These shoes are all about 4 inches long.

Now we're all recovering from the heatwave in this part of the world, I hope you're also enjoying a lovely autumn.

Thanks for looking

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Pied Piper Toy Cupboard

It has taken a while...faffing about mostly, looking through my collection of toys and getting distracted by the gorgeous weather and having to water all my pots. Still I've had lots of fun deciding which to use and spent ages filling the shelves - 'tis done!

The finished toy cupboard again....and as it opens reveal the toys.
Actually it opens slowly, because I haven't yet worked out a way to keep it properly be solved anon....

The collection is a mixture of a few we've made ourselves, the odd ordinary 'filler' and some wonderful items created by friends and colleagues, acknowledged artisans in our miniature world, collected and hoarded over the years. I'm sorry not to have identified individual makers but as I can't be sure about them all, I don't want to miss someone and they're all special.

The little ship is just made of cardboard and beads and the couple at the back is a brooch
The little dolls house once hung on the Christmas tree
I just love baby tucked into Mummy elephant's back pack

There are still a few mini projects I'd like to have a go at, but for now I'm embracing this wonderful, but challenging summer.

Thank you for looking

Monday, July 16, 2018

I Bought A Fishing Net For The Butterflies

Our lovely conservatory - full of plants and flowers and comfy seating also attracts far too many butterflies.  The doors are wide open in the heatwave so they flutter from the nearest flowers outside to the ones inside - not being quite as agile as we were once, they're pretty hard to catch - and mostly die.  So I've bought a child's fishing net - and I have to say, I'm pretty good with it!!!  Nearly all trapped butterflies now released daily in the 'wild'. Yes it is a comical sight!

I ran out of space for flowers in the last couple of blogs so as I look at my wilting/scorching garden, I am reminded that the lawn will always survive, topping up the tiny ponds matters the most or the frogs will fry, watering the pots and tomatoes matters a lot - and the rest will probably take care of itself in due course and look great again (I HOPE). The passageway between our neighbour's fence and our conservatory is  almost a greenhouse, full of tomatoes and flowers and indoor plants having a holiday outside and does get watered everyday so is thriving.

The Passionflower seems quite happy in the heat, but has well shaded roots.  Meanwhile, I've just realised why my tiny ponds need topping up such a lot every day - the local birds are all coming in droves to bathe and drink.  Another good reason for looking after them!

My chum Celia aka KT Miniatures has acquired a wonderful dolls house and contents that are probably 100 years old - she's fallen in love with the house but individual items are for sale on her brilliant website - and she gave me a present because I fell in love with it. It is a patchwork 'ball' - unbelievably, 20 sided and minutely hand-stitched from 1/2" triangles of the finest silk and silk brocade on templates of thin card or paper. Only approx 1" across, it wasn't until I photograhed it that I noticed teeny weeny pins in the corners - I'm guessing it was made for the miniature nursery, although I suppose it could be a pin cushon. Some other fascinating items are up for sale -  take a look at KT  

We're both keen on hunting for bargains at the car boot sale and have lots of fun - this week I bought a tiny little ceramic fairy carrying a daisy - pre-war I think and made in Germany.  I'm pretty sure she was a cake decoration, perhaps for a Christening and fancy there's a bit of ancient icing sugar still stuck underneath! She's just over 2" tall.  At first I thought a petal was broken from the flower, but of course the naughty little fairy has pulled one off and that's what she's waving.

Before the heatwave really got going Rob and I took a favourite wander along the canal tow path in nearby Oxford.  The canal passes through the old boat yard at Jericho which is part of the waterfront area  due to be redeveloped.......
I shudder a bit at the thought, but for now the traditonal, colourful and sometimes shabby barges are still moored and the little streets of Jericho with Victorian workers' cottages, are famous for many fictional murders in 'Morse', Lewis and 'Endeavour' and still reach down to the waterfront.
We walk back to the centre of the city through ancient and very familiar streets where we once lived and worked.  It's a very special historic suburb  and worth a visit or Google, if you're a fan of the books or T.V. series.

In between being distracted by the garden, little visitors, football and tennis....I did finally manage to paint the doors of my new toy cupboard. I settled on a favourite folklore theme and chose the very famous Pied Piper of Hamelin luring the children of the town away. It isn't the first time - many decades ago I painted a full sized mural of the scene on a real door for my children and much later recreated him (with rats this time) as a 1/12th scale character doll.

Approx 6" tall
Created in 2008....with 40 rats!!

Still have shelves to fit and toys to collect up and arrange on them - hopefully next blog. 

Thank you for looking

Monday, July 2, 2018

I Do Love Car Boot Sales

Apart from good weather, lots of time spent in my garden and the opportunity to have some lovely summertime walks in our countryside - car boot sales are top of my list.  Fortunately I have a friend who loves them just as much and we have a really good one that attracts great stalls, very close to our town so we can wander off for a happy couple of hours at the weekend.
We have similar tastes....miniatures, art deco, quirky, would be fair to say that our nearest and dearest don't necessarily love what we purchase, but we're good at haggling and rarely spent very much.

Up first - a totally over the top - damaged (lots of ancient glue) vase. I love it - my nearest and dearest think it's hideous. O.K. - I can live with that! It's 'quirky'. And I've found a really super place for it....

A week or two back I bought this rather nice lustre jug which did meet with approval.

A stunning ceramic brooch - I so wish I knew who the maker was! I know brooches are out of favour but I do love them.

......and this mad necklace - broken - which we all agreed had 'possibilities'.  Various attempts to mend it failed so it was back to plan 'A' and use it for something entirely different. An old dilapidated frame with tatty velvet background seems to work so now it's about to hang on our picture wall.

If by any remote chance you have wondered how the toy cupboard is progressing.....I tried the 'picture book' style animals - hated them - painted them out.....onward and upward. I'm going for folklore/fairy tales instead - I'll let you know.

A few garden pictures - there are lots more so I will do another blog  very soon - hopefully that will please Donna!! The first two are from our veggie plot - the blazing sun is almost cooking the strawberries, which isn't great. Lots of gardening the last week or two - not through the heat of the day - and some lovely visits and visitors.

The Viechenblau rose is a favourite - taking over the garden - and climbing high  into the cedar tree.

Thank you for looking

Monday, June 4, 2018

On the one hand the cupboard....on the other, the garden.....

It's that time of year when despite the fact that there is a mini-project sitting on my work-top, and beads to restring....the call of the garden (rain or shine) is just that bit stronger.

I feel duty-bound to demonstrate that miniatures have not been entirely abandoned. This rather ordinary cupboard knocked together from scraps of mountboard and wood is one day going to be the toy cupboard - hence a box of toys sitting there to inspire me.  The plan (such as it is) is to paint it all over with 'picture book' style characters, animals or fairies maybe, so that it will look like a toy cupboard instead of a tatty wardrobe.

Back in the garden, everything is coming up roses - except in the wild garden where everything is coming up pink campion and foxgloves...and moon daisies, poppies and yellow rattle.  I love it.

I'll just show you the pictures..........

There are more pictures of course - I'll keep those till next time, just in case the toy cupboard is not further forward....

Thank you for looking

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

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 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 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