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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring Cleaning

I can see the cobwebs, but the sun is shining so I'm going outside for a spot of spring-cleaning....

My diddy little pond created from a huge old wash pan has been a great success since it went in a few years ago and attracts frogs, toads, dragonflies and the like, and the local blackbirds perch there for a drink.  However as it is so small it does need a bit of a clean out once a year and the reed clump reduced in size if the tiny waterlily has a chance of flowering - I did that on Friday.

I upset the two big frogs sitting in the mud at the bottom and disturbed a couple of amorous toads nearby, but pressed on.
Obviously I didn't upset the frogs too much because this morning the pond is full of frogspawn!! Exciting!

It's remarkable how much difference a tiny amount of water can make to the wildlife in our gardens - most of whom will (hopefully) eat the slugs that also thrive. I made a huge mistake a couple of years ago when we had frogspawn, topping up the pond during a particularly warm spring with tap water, instead of rainwater. Killed all the frogspawn - I won't make that mistake again.

Wild flowers also happily do their own thing as you can see - these lovely violets colonising  a crack in the paving beneath the back door.

In my wild patch the fritillaries, anenomies, primrose and cowslips are spreading well and I'm very happy.  I'd be even happier if squirrels hadn't dug up and eaten all the extra fritillary corms I planted in the autumn, but at least they left the snowdrops alone and we enjoyed them for the first time.

For the gardeners among you I wonder if you've discovered spent coffee grounds to deter the slugs and snails? Our local coffee shop gives away bags of the stuff and as far as I'm concerned it works like a miracle!! Worth a try if you haven't.

Thank you for looking

Monday, March 20, 2017

Jolly Boys Outing

Random days out, often involving long treks up and down hills or jaunts to strange places, have for decades been deemed 'jolly boys outings' in our family.  The name borrowed from the 1980s T.V. sitcom 'Only Fools and Horses' was adopted because I was outnumbered 5 to 1 by one husband and four sons...and occasional (usually male) hangers on.  These days the 'boys' are adults with families but outings are still 'jolly boys outings' even if there are only two or three of us!!

Today is the first day of spring and I had visions of taking snaps of the lovely spring flowers out in my garden....but it's chucking it down with rain........ instead I'll take you on our outing to Wittenham Clumps.

The Clumps are two hills topped with Beech trees in an ancient landscape rising above the village of Little Wittenham in Oxfordshire, not too far from us - The Round Hill and  Castle Hill, which is an iron age fort.  Both I believe have been excavated by archaeologists.  Anyway - the walk itself is just lovely and we plan to go back during the summer when the surroundings,  which along with the clumps are maintained by Earth Trust, should be a wild flower paradise.

The Round Hill
Castle Hill
Back in the 'old days' the clumps were variously named 'Berkshire Bumps' (boundary changes moved the area to Oxfordshire) and 'Mother Dunch's Buttocks' after the local Lady of the Manor - Hmmm! The clumps are also notable because apparently they were the first  beech trees to be recorded as having been deliberately planted to create a 'feature' in the landscape, around 300 years ago.  One huge ancient tree on the Round hill had a long poem carved into its trunk around 1845 - still visible we saw this a few years ago - sadly it has now succumbed to age and fallen down.

Blackthorn in full bloom
The Thames
Didcot Power Station
As you can see, there are wonderful views from the top, of the Thames valley, the Thames and Days Lock, Dorchester Abbey and the rather more modern Didcot Power Station - and the brisk breeze blows away all your cares of the day!!

Thank you for looking

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Old Barn - Finished and Ready to Frame

If you saw the last blog you'll know that I've been working on a 3D 1/24th scale (more or less) picture of an old barn in the town that has since been demolished and replaced by a group of new houses. Anyway my affectionate representation means that in my house, at least, it won't be forgotten.

Using simple brown card and mountboard the barn was built up - now it's time to get landscaping.  You wouldn't expect such a utilitarian building to warrant landscaping, but the land behind and to the sides was a haven for buddleia and elder as well as sycamore sapplings, and the debris at the side of the road as walls collapsed encouraged wild flower growth.

I wish I had the patience to cut hundreds and hundreds of 1/24th scale leaves for the trees - but I don't, so hope you think this ubiquitous 'moss' works as folliage.

Nothing very fancy has been used for the planting - a bit of paper, some dyed hemp and a little preserved natural plant material and of course a paint brush.....  Probably too small to see, but there are tiny butterflies up on the blossoms.

This may not be the final framing - and of course the glazing isn't in place, to enable better photos to be taken - but really that's it!  I'm hoping to learn a little more about the history of the barn, so near the centre of town.  I know it was an agricultural store and maybe a creamery once in its life. Perhaps it was originally part of a farm before the town grew up.

Thank you for looking

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Old Barn - more pizza packaging......

Not far from me - just off the centre of our small market town was a crumbling old barn which fascinated me.  So old that the aging and weathering rendered it almost monochrome, even the old bricks, stone walls and wood had faded one into another.  It was relieved in summer when the buddleia and elder burst into flower and draped over it and the debris at its foot allowed wild flowers/weeds to flourish.  Then it was knocked down!! Now we have a close of 'posh' redbrick houses in  its place.

I took masses of photos thinking that one day I just might be able to recreate it in miniature. Of course the whole thing was enormous so scale was a problem  - I only have so much room in my house! I finally decided to curb my wilder aspirations and use the pictures as inspiration for a 'more or less' 1/24th scale 3D picture.

In the absence of a deep picture frame/shadow box I deconstructed a redundant artists materials box and used half.  I'll need to properly frame and glaze but that's a long way down the road so I'm not thinking about that yet.  Inconveniently it's a bit bigger than A4. Loads of rough sketches, and the SO useful styrofoam packaging that comes with pizzas meant I could start to create the form of the old barn on mountboard.

At this point I need to acknowledge a HUGE thank-you to Drora -
I've experimented in the past with 'sculpting' styrofoam, but seeing just what she had achieved really encouraged me to have a go on a bigger project and I'm thrilled with the results on the old walls.

Out came my hoard of brown card envelopes for the planking, which is so easy to turn into old wood with some dry-brush paint effects and the good old sandpaper and scalpel for texture.

Next up is to spend more time with the paint brush, dig out some 'trees', get some clouds in that flat sky and find some weeds.  More next time.

Thank you for looking