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

Sunday, July 18, 2021

It's Been Ages.....

.....since my last blog, but I see I'm in good company because it does seem that many of us have been taking a mini break.  So I don't know about everyone else but I've been gardening - for weeks - avidly watching Wimbledon tennis and the wonderful England fotball squad....and.... well just messing about I suppose!

With nothing vaguely interesting to report - covid has meant we're all missing family and friends and trips to the cinemas and theatres, I shall fall back on the flowers that always lift my spirits. The following pictures are of the garden over the last few weeks.


 
 









And finally - Mother Nature does do it best! Hollyhocks have escaped from a nearby garden and wonderful wild Willowherb make such a beautiful combination at the back of a car park.

 Thank you for looking. Stay safe in these difficult days.

Robin 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Squirrels Are Out To Get Me!

I do enjoy seeing the cheeky little squirrels running around, scrambling along the fences and tight-rope walking the telephone wires.....but....I wish they'd stay out of my garden.

Early in the year we spotted, to our great surprise, three very healthy broad bean plants coming up in the front garden. It didn't take much working out to figure the squirrels had buried them as they do nuts - and forgotten them.
So I dug them up and replanted them in the back garden where we planned to plant a row, and they are thriving. In a rare moment of assisting the vegetable chief (husband) I actually planted the bean seeds alongside for him.  Eventually up popped three shoots.  They didn't appear to grow - someone - which had to be a pesky squirrel, had dug up the beans and left the now wilting shoots.
No more shoots appeared....because the little blighter had dug them all up!!!  We've planted some spare ones in pots to plant out when they are actual plants - we'll beat them yet!

I don't have a nice patch of newly planted daffodils....or tulips either!  Two years ago they robbed me of 25 new frilliary bulbs!  Every time we dig we find lots and lots of walnuts, and conkers (horse chestnuts) neither of which we  have in our garden.  We do have little hazel nut trees - but never can never find a nut on our own tree (and small walnut and conker trees) and we have to be really quick to grab our almonds before they do. I'm told that scattering polo mints deters them - I'm not convinced.

As I say, they're fun little animals to watch but I wish they'd stay out of my garden.


They didn't spoil Mum's basket though and once the crocus had faded, up came these lovely miniature 'Tete a tete' daffodils. Thankfully the frillaries already established in the wild patch are spreading naturally and they obviously don't like bluebells.



At least there is one garden that the little pests can't get to - the 1/24th Herb Garden Celia Thomas and I created as one of our workshop projects a few years ago.


Stay safe, and thank you for looking.
Robin
 
 





Thursday, April 1, 2021

HAPPY EASTER

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter - wherever you are and however you are spending the weekend.

Stay safe - take care.

Robin x
 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Unconscious Gardener

It occurred to me when I was planting up my Mum's old basket, pictured below, then again when the first crocus began to bloom that I don't ever remember learning about gardening...somehow or other it led me to being a really keen gardener.  It got me thinking...



Back in the day when I was a girl in the 1950s/60s - SO many years ago now!!! - most families had a garden and gardened - fruit, veg and flowers...the old cottage garden principle.  A little of what you fancy does you good! As a product of wartime austerity and make do and mend principles, as well as her own upbringing it was second nature to my Mother to plant seeds, take cuttings and split plants - garden centres didn't exist until well into the 1960s, although specialist nurseries did exist, and I learned grafting from my rose grower Uncle.
As soon we were judged safe in charge of an old kitchen fork we would be pricking out seedlings and planting them into wooden trays cadged from the greengrocer or market and lined with newspaper (plastic mushroom boxes are a wonderful modern equivalent). When they became too ancient they went on the compost heap or provided kindling for the fire. I suppose we must have just been talked through the names of the plants, and wild ones when we went for walks, and it has stayed with me.

I have to say I am amused to be 'lectured' on recycling, upcycling etc.....it's second nature and I'd hazard a guess our generation have probably always done it quite automatically. Plastic pots were 'new' - then we used and still use clay pots, some of mine must be 90 years old - because we were making our own from old tin cans, cut down plastic bottles and newspaper twisted round a wooden block. It would also have been a heinous crime to throw a sweet paper onto the street!

So - from an 'unconscious gardener' to a full time miniaturist - but we are all doing the same aren't we?  Thinking 'outside the box'...how can I turn this into that? How can I make a chair/bed/washbasin out of....all these bits and pieces?
 
If you don't have much of a garden how about making your own miniature version (it will never need weeding) or a greehouse or a conservatory?
With a little imagination and practice, super flowers and plants can be made from paper or the many great kits available and it is surprising how much dried real plant material can be used. Of course as we all know, tea leaves and coffee grounds make great soil and cardboard, paving stones  - polystyrene packaging can be carved or indented for walls and all sorts of small containers covered in glue and sand to make authentic looking planters.

 The following pic. is part of  the back wall of my mini conservatory.  The wall itself is simply polystyrene indented to make 'stone' and liberally painted.  Most of the plants are paper, some  printed and some real leaves copied and reduced. There is some dried plant material in there too...and the pots are purchased, home-made from paper and clay, as well as beads and even a cartridge case.  Following is the conservatory itself.  Everything is possible!



This year for the first time in ages I've been planting flower seeds and having been given lovely flowers for Mothering Sunday, carefully removed side shoots from the carnation stems which I've planted as cuttings.  It's been successful in the past and as my Mum would say, 'they've got two chances!'

Stay safe, and thank you for looking.
Robin
 



Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Spring Is On The Way!

At last I feel that Spring is coming - the garden, emerging from its frozen weeks, is waking up at last and it's a delight to walk up there each morning and see what else is flowering.  It has even been possible to start a little proper gardening again - although it remains very soggy.

The miniature iris (Katherine's Gold) are just lovely as are the purple Reticulata just beginning to emerge in another pan, alongside is a pot of tiny hoop daffodils which I've planted in with Ophiopogon (Black Lily Grass) which still looks good with tiny purple flowers and then black berries, when the daffodils die back.



In the wild patch snowdrops are finally flowering and more primroses are out.  The little 'wild' crocus are spreading all over the garden which is wonderful. Some plants are naturally promiscuous, seed and spread like mad  - miniature cyclamen are another also hellebores which, when they eventually flower are full of surprises as the colours and markings vary so much.



When I retired from full-time making miniatures I finally found time to create a few projects for myself that first spring, inspired by the primroses, I created 'Alice Down the Rabbit Hole' and it is still a favourite.  The idea had been in my head for years and when Sandra Morris of Towerhouse Dolls created 'Alice' it was just a question of 'when'.  I found the perfect plastic rabbit, which afer several coats of paint, some clothes, spectacles and watch became my White Rabbit.



The Primroses, ferns and ivy are all made from paper and of course I'd lots of bits and pieces to make the bank and hole.


I hope you'll enjoy seeing it again - or perhaps for the first time.  After a lifetime of creating and making I confess my mojo has waned somewhat and my passion for gardening, which had had to take a back seat, is my current obsession.....there again, the ideas don't just go...and I do stll have lots of bits and pieces.....but not much shelf space left.

Stay safe, and thank you for looking.
Robin
 







Friday, February 12, 2021

What a Picture...What a Photograph!

Does anybody else remember Tommy Steele in Half a Sixpence....or am I just the oldest?  Anyway, that phrase from the song in the musical of the same name, came to mind at crack of sparrow when my lovely other half woke me up to see the most stunning sunrise!  It was worth it!!

 




Moving on....sad I know, but I don't feel I've had a winter until I've seen a proper bit of snow. Here in Thame we've had the odd flurry...not a lot.  I appreciate that elsewhere you've probably had too much and are heartily sick of it.
Illona has posted some lovely pics of hers in the Netherlands.

https://minimumloon.blogspot.com/2021/02/sneeuwwit-en-bloedrood-snow-white-and.html

This is my offering - pretty though. Poor old owl is beginning to look quite vintage, although he isn't, as his paint gives way to rust. I like it!



In my very frozen garden the helibores are slow to come into flower, but I do love them and I'm indebted to the lovely blogger who, a couple of years ago told me how to ensure they lasted in water.  I'm so sorry that I've forgotten who that was, but I thank you once again.  So, pick the flowers and split the stems longways from just below the first bud. They last for ages.  Before that wonderful tip I'd snipped off individual flowers and floated them on a shallow dish of water - and they do look lovely.  I had to stop that as my daft cat assumed I'd decorated a water bowl just for him and drank the water!



If you read Celia's story of the miniaturists Ralph and Bertha Wright Part One you'll be happy to know that Part Two is up on her blog now, and it's just as fascinating.

http://ktminiatures.blogspot.com/2021/02/part-two-story-of-bertha-ralph-wright.html.


Stay safe, and thank you for looking.
Robin
 
 





Monday, February 1, 2021

The Story of Bertha and Ralph Wright - their miniatures revealed.

 Every  once in a while, something truly exceptional comes along.  This story is just such a one and has been researched and written by Celia Thomas who we all know as both a talented miniaturist and expert in vintage and antique dolls houses and artefacts, with the unique help and co-operation of Bertha and Ralph's familes. Enjoy!

Bertha Wright was an accomplished artist and sculptor on the fringes of the Bloomsbury Group and, it seems, an extraordinary lady who together with her husband Ralph led a most interesting life so their story brings annecdotes and memories from 1918 onwards.  Clearly their work as miniaturists was well regarded; most fascinating of all perhaps are the most unusual and detailed picture boxes which were exhibited as well as being commissioned from 1930s.

The story for Celia began back in 2016 when she acquired some unusual miniature dolls and furniture which set her off on her quest to learn more.  Her research over the years has, with the generous help of Bertha and Ralph's families and others, drawn many strands together and provided a wonderful readable story about the life and times of 'Bad Aunt Bertha' and fantastic details and pictures which have never been seen before, of the exciting miniature treasures.
I've been lucky enough to hear snippets of the story while Celia has been researching so I was over the moon to see it finally published on her latest blog.
 
http://ktminiatures.blogspot.com/2021/01/part-onethe-story-of-bertha-ralph.html

So if you're looking for a lovely distraction from the covid pandemic or the miserable weather - put the kettle on, make a cuppa, settle down and enjoy!

Thank you for looking  - Stay safe
Robin x

Friday, January 22, 2021

I was just wondering......

.....what little thing can start the day well.  In these rather difficult and sad times it is hard to avoid the latest news but often something quite small can banish gloomy thoughts and just start the day well.

I must admit my best start to the day is throwing open the back door taking a gulp of fresh air (or rain) and deciding how soon I can have a wander round the garden, seeing how many primroses and snowdrops are out and check out the bulbs popping through.


This morning, catching sight of a another orchid in full bloom in front of a backdrop of a picture that reminds me of Cornwall and a vintage tin advertising stand above which the coloured glass and bits and pieces were caught by the early morning sun made me smile.
To top it all our Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise) is out and this year reaching for the sky with an indoor climber scrambling up it.


Out in the garden I'm thrilled that a lovely double Helebore is blooming because with some trepidation I had moved it in the autumn and they hate being moved.



Of course a phone call from family or friend is a super start to any day - or a letter.  We write and receive so few these days don't we?  Maybe it's just that it's stopped raining......or someone brings you a cup of tea....or has baked you a cake (I love cake)?

Sadly, as we're mostly at home and not shopping, managing to get an online grocery delivery slot is a GREAT start to my day.  Yes that is truly pathetic I know!

Reading your blogs would be a good start to the day, but I try to leave that till later, or the washing up and ironing would never get done. So Blogger friends - what are some of yours?
 
Thank you for looking - Happy New Year.
Robin x

 




Thursday, December 31, 2020

HERE'S HOPING FOR A GREAT NEW YEAR!

The New Year is coming in, filled with hope for us all, after perhaps the most difficult and saddest year we can remember.
May we wish that all your hopes and wishes, dreams and ambitions are fulfilled and that you and those you love have a Happy New Year.

Well, to say that Christmas was 'different' is probably the understatement of the decade - having said that, I hope there were times of joy, and friendship and perhaps some moments of fun for you too. Most of our family were separated from each other so we were fortunate to be able to share the day with one son, and see another and his family for a short time. Thank heavens for modern connectivity so that we can all remain in touch to some degree.
 
So......I forgot the crackers (next year then), and forgot to switch on the Christmas tree lights until Boxing Day. Our very large chicken tasted great, and is now casserole, soup or frozen. The wine held up.......still not had the Christmas pud....The chocolates will last a long time, and Santa brought us Christmas stockings for the first time in living memory.... we did at least cut the Christmas cake.

In our house all Christmas trappings are removed on New Year's Eve so that the next year starts anew - the law according to my Granny. I suspect that with a large family she was just desperate to have a clear up, but it works for me.

Today's modern miracles are being achieved by scientists, medical researchers, amazing volunteers, medics and nurses, ancilliary workers and the frontline workers, be they in an ambulance or a supermarket.  Thank you.

Thank you for looking - Happy New Year.
Robin x

 


Sunday, December 20, 2020

HAPPY CHRISTMAS

 It's that time of year again.....and what a strange, difficult and often sad year it has been.
However, let's look forward if we can with optimism.



We should like to wish you all a VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS and BRIGHT NEW YEAR!! May all your wishes for 2021 come true, and you and your families stay safe.




Two Christmas cards  for you this year, especially commissioned from our youngest granddaughters. Hmmm, yes we think it's Christmas pussy cat too - hope it gives you a smile.
Thank you all for lots of lovely blogs to read and a real spirit of friendship.


Thank you for looking.
Robin x