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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Planes and boats for Chat n Snap

I have been very busy with my day job and with a big voluntary project this year, so time for making things has been severely restricted.  However when Dee of Sasha Village sent out invitations for her Chat 'n Snap I booked a sales table.  I like a deadline and this gave me a target date to produce a few toys for Sasha/Gregor.  Dee had put enticing colour wheels of items that others would be selling on the day on her blog this week in the run up to the event and I was finally ready to send her a couple of (poor quality) photos the night before the CnS which she has added to her blog in a post called Planes and Boats.

Miniature sailing boats (photo taken in poor light on an ipad) 
Miniature Spitfire aeroplanes (photo taken in poor light on an ipad)
I have designed and made some miniature toy sailing boats and Spitfire aeroplanes.  I made them from wood offcuts in our workshop, so got to use my favourite machine tool (the pillar drill - for mast holes) again, as well as a razer saw, chisel, rotating sanding machine, table top vibrating jigsaw, sanding block and hammer.  10 boats and 5 planes are the result.

The boats were made first, the planes I only started with a week to go (eek) and were much more fiddly, with more processes than the boats.  They were also more complex to paint and 2 nights before the event my elder daughter, who is very artistic, helpfully painted one of the planes its camouflage colours while I painted the others (she asked to paint one) and did a great job.  The propellers on the planes rotate (carved matchsticks fitted with pins). My husband is an aeroplane enthusiast and he was impressed with the planes, so I am really pleased as his praise for creative work is hard won (his motto is "it's got to be right").

We also made some felt glove puppets for Sasha/Gregor (both daughters helped a bit), however I'll write about them in another post.  I will also take better photos of the planes and boats as these are really grainy.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

August outings for Laura

Laura had two outings during the first half of August - I didn't have time to blog about them at the time, so am catching up now.

The first outing was to London to see/listen to two BBC proms in one day - in the afternoon we were lucky enough to attend the War Horse Prom with the wonderful horse puppets designed and made by the Handspring Puppet Co. of Cape Town.  It was filmed and will be broadcast on BBC TV in November and is a must watch.  Between proms we went to Giraffe for dinner, then enjoyed the Mozart Requiem prom.

Reading the tube map on the train 
Laura with the War Horse Prom programme
Awaiting the start of the War Horse prom
Keeping occupied in Giraffe, waiting for food (we didn't have to wait long)
Laura with her new Giraffe
Laura in her doll bag outside the
Royal Albert Hall ahead of the Mozart Requiem prom
Watching the orchestra get ready just before the Mozart Requiem prom
The second outing was to Lincoln Steam Rally to see some fairground organs.  We also enjoyed the model display - people have such amazing collections, some assembled over many years, others painstakingly built by the owner for enjoyment.

An 87 key Gavioli organ over 100 years old with beautiful
bell ringer figures and a 1970s monkey collecting for charity
An 89 key organ (built in 1992), with a new figure
replacing the 3 wooden originals
(which were Scottish - a bandmaster, a seated figure
and two bell ringers all wearing kilts)
Laura is curious and goes to see this fair organ
Laura meets the new bandmaster who is not carved of wood,
but is a fibreglass copy of a wooden figure
Laura and the new bandmaster
For a video of the organ with its original figures see
Some figures for sale in front of another old organ.
The two small figures are modern.
Laura has a ride on the Gallopers in the fair on Rosie the horse
The organ on the gallopers which was steam driven
(this is why some people here mistakenly called
fairground organs 'steam organ's -
true steam organs are calliopes with
steam blown through the pipes)
Laura took this photo of Henry the horse especially for her friend Henry
A very old bell ringer on a vintage Fair organ (another Gavioli built in Paris)
A gorgeous Ruth organ (built in Waldkirch)
which we last saw at the Waldkirch festival in June
(it made the journey all the way from England)
An amazing layout of a miniature circus, it extended over a very large table
 A model showman's caravan in the model area
I think the Showman's wagon was about 1/12th scale, the detail inside was lovely
Inside the miniature showman's wagon
Laura met a friendly bear and they had a good chat
(he was automated and moved his head by radio control)
At one of the model area was this amazing road
layout for radio controlled vehicles
A large Meccano train
This brilliant little moving dinner table
complete with candles on the table was making its way around the rally
It is specially built for 4 OAPS to enjoy their dinner on the move
This organ has a bandmaster I've always considered has a rakish look in his eye -
I wonder if it has anything to do with the bevy of beauties around him
Laura really enjoyed these outings which happened in the first 2 weeks of August (before her friend Henry came to ride horses with her).

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Tepee for Sasha dolls

I made two tepees for Sasha dolls this week - one for Lorraine's Henry and one for our dolls.

The tepee pattern was based on a pattern in a book I've had since my early teens, it is called 'The Reader's Digest family book of Things to Make and Do'.  It is a firm favourite of mine and I spent many teenage hours being inspired by some of the projects in its pages.

My much loved copy of the Reader's Digest book 'Things to make and do'
For the tepee I scaled the pattern to suit a 16" doll.  I used a fine firm weave cotton canvas from the upholstery section (rather than the dress fabric section) of John Lewis as the fabric needed to have some weight and stiffness to work well.  I didn't need to have seams in the pattern (unlike the Reader's Digest original which was designed as a child's play tepee).  I was careful to make full use of the selvedges of the fabric for the front flaps so the only seam was for the hem, though I used the sewing machine and a zig zag stitch for sewing on the ties.

I used fabric paints and a brush to decorate the plain fabric.  7 bamboo canes cut to length for each tepee was one fewer than in the book pattern, such a small scale tepee didn't need 8 canes to hold it up.

The instructions for the Indian tepee in the Reader's Digest book
The meaning of symbols on tepees
according to the Reader's Digest book
I also referred to a more modern book about American Indians for inspiration.
My other source book for the tepee project
We did have some trouble getting the tepees to stand up on a gusty day in the garden as the canvas has a tendency to slide down the canes a little when it is breezy.  However I've modified the way the canes fix slightly to make it easier to set up the tepee (though it won't withstand a high wind!).  I did a better job of the painting on the tepee which Henry took home as I got the bison and the zig zag mountains lined up better on his tepee.

My tepee after minor modifications to the way the canes are fixed - standing up much better.
the tepee with the flaps open.  The circle means unity of the tribe.
Back view.  I painted the rainbow, the sun,
the world quarters and the quarters of the earth symbols in addition to the bison and circle.
side view showing the rainbow more clearly
the top of the tepee
To take these side and back photos I picked up the tepee, turned it and set it up again so that the sun and long shadows (late afternoon) would work for the camera - it didn't take long (certainly not the struggle we had the other day!)

Friday, 22 August 2014

Cowboys, country girls and Indians

A few months ago our friend Henry was trying out his Cowboy outfit and asking his mum for more horses so he could play Cowboys and Indians with his friends.  This gave Henry's mum Lorraine and I an idea for some summer fun.  While Henry was visiting the USA for the 2014 Sasha festival he went to the Grand Canyon and saw an Indian tepee and this gave me a further idea for our summer fun day.  A date was set and Henry, Molly, Stevie, Peggy Sue and Kayla brought Stratford the horse with them to visit Laura, Reuben, Miranda, Florence, Nicholas James, the babies, Emily the white horse & the Gotz pony yesterday.  In the days before their visit, I worked to grant Henry his tepee wish...

A certain little bear called Clemence (a cousin of Mossy from Sasha Village) decided to get involved.  These are some of his observations:

In the Indian village Miranda was visiting the babies in one of the tepees.  
Clemence wandered up to Miranda to ask "where is Laura".
"I don't know, you will have to go and look for her" said Miranda
Florence was pretending to be an Indian woman
looking after the babies Leo and Mabel in a tepee
Clemence spotted Peggy Sue and asked her "have you seen Laura".
Peggy Sue replied that she didn't know.
Leo and Mabel caught sight of Clemence and wanted a cuddle.
Clemence gave Mabel a great big cuddle
Peggy Sue realised that there were some babies in the tepee
but at least there weren't as many as at the Sasha Festival earlier this year!
Leo and Mabel came out to see Peggy Sue
Leo babbled to Peggy Sue...
...while Mabel held up her arms for a cuddle!
Peggy Sue sat down on the grass with the babies and Clemence the bear.
She felt slightly less overwhelmed by babies than at the festival!
For anyone who doesn't understand why Peggy Sue (a very old wooden Shoenhut doll) went to the 2014 Sasha festival you need to visit Lorraine's blog and what happened to her when she got there!

Kayla the American Indian girl was sitting enjoying the sunshine in front of her tepee.
She could see the beautiful horse called Stratford grazing nearby.
Molly came to visit Kayla and asked all about what it was like living in a tepee.
Kayla decided to show Molly some of her treasures,
such as her bow and arrow, papoose, little drum
and her new friend the Canadian Indian boy (from my doll cabinet).
She explained that the Bison painted
on her tepee meant courage and honour.
Other symbols on her tepee also have meanings.
In the meantime Henry the Cowboy mounted his horse
Clemence the bear climbed onto Stratford to ask Henry "have you seen Laura?".  
"No, I haven't seen her yet" said Henry,
who was really pleased to see Mossy's cousin and gave him a great big hug.
Laura was riding Emily, her beautiful white horse
Stevie came to admire Emily
Laura told Stevie how wonderful her horse was to ride
Clemence approached Stevie and asked "Have you seen Laura?"
"Yes, I have" said Stevie, "She is riding her horse".
Clemence was so pleased he gave Stevie a cuddle
"Laura!" cried Clemence "I've found you at last"
Henry and Stratford trotted round to Laura and Stevie came to greet Stratford
Stevie stroked Stratford on the nose as Henry and Laura chatted
Meanwhile Reuben was stroking the pony which Nicholas James was trying to ride
"You know Reuben, I wish I could ride Stratford,
I feel a bit silly riding this little pony" said Nicholas James
Lorraine and I had a lot of fun and laughs trying to get the two tepees to stand on a windy afternoon in my back garden.  They stood fine on the dining room table, but proved a bit fiddly in the garden so I'm experimenting with a solution to make them really easy to put up (and stay up!).  Henry has taken his tepee home with him.  More about the tepees in another post.
Florence and the Navajo mat from Lorraine
Florence sitting in our tepee with the lovely woven mat which Lorraine brought for my daughter all the way from the Navajo Indians near the Grand Canyon.  The Navajo traditional house is a hogan (made of wood and mud) rather than a tepee.  Lorraine also gave my daughter a beautiful silver bracelet from the Navajo.

We tried to dress all the girls as if they were from the time of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie), though Laura is wearing more modern cowgirl clothes (part of the 2012 Festival raffle doll ensemble won by Laura H).  I know that Nicholas James would love a cowboy outfit especially after seeing Henry's clothes, so I'll need to try making something.  Reuben quite fancies a Native American costume, though he knows that wearing a full feather headdress is something only the revered elders of a tribe are allowed to wear, so he is asking for a couple of feathers in a headband instead.