Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Introducing some new little treasures

l-r: Patsi in Florida, Jenny, anniversary Patsi, Lexie, Patsi in California
 
The past 3 years have held their own emotional difficulties in my life, and apart from my immediate family and friends, my dolls have been a great comfort, a hobby I can retreat to and indulge in when other things become too much.  With a full time job, other commitments and of course my family, I don't have much time to indulge, but I have spent several hours in the past 2 years exploring and learning about dolls online and have discovered some beautiful (but completely unobtainable due to price) dolls out there.  However 3 small dolls caught my eye during this time, and last year I finally succumbed and bought my first Heidi Plusczok doll.  I spotted 8 1/2" Patsi (the 25th anniversary version - 2005 http://www.heidiplusczok.com/seiten/archive_2005_1.html) and kept going back to her.  Something about the delicate knitting of her hat and cardigan, gorgeous flower sprinkled dress and sweet pensive little face framed by soft red curls really got to me.  I managed to source one from a doll seller in the USA for a good price (I spent several evenings comparing prices) and bought her.

 l-r: Patsi in Florida, anniversary Patsi, Patsi in California

In the following months I also discovered that there were 2 other versions of Patsi, this time all vinyl bodies (anniversary Patsi has a cloth covered torso with vinyl limbs and head), and in due course I managed to purchase both Patsi in Florida (2006 http://www.heidiplusczok.com/seiten/archive_2006_1.html) and Patsi in California (2007 http://www.heidiplusczok.com/seiten/archive_2007_1.html), both for very reduced prices, from a doll seller in the USA.  Shipping them over to the UK obviously added to the cost and this did make me pause a bit.  There are slight differences in the way the dolls faces have been painted, the first 2 Patsi dolls have blue eyes (though painted differently) and Patsi in California has brown eyes, though all three have the red curls.  Each of them comes with a complete set of outfits and shoes in a special box).  They are very pretty, the outfits and shoes are Boneka.

 Whilst looking for Patsi dolls I came across the small dolls of Heather Maciak, and instantly fell for Lexie and Jenny.  However, like the Patsi girls, these 8" playmates are mainly available in the USA and Canada, the biggest market for dolls in the west.  On ebay I discovered a Lexie doll being sold by someone in Germany, and after carefully checking the feedback on the seller and the description and photos of the doll, I decided to buy her earlier this year.  Lexie is no disappointment, she is a love of a little doll, a real cheeky character and the red hair adds to this (well I live with a cheeky, strong willed red head and at least a small doll doesn't answer back!).  A few months later I found a Jenny doll on ebay, this time in the USA, she wasn't in her original outfit but did come with her original box (she should be elfin Jenny but came with the 'playtime' outfit with no shoes), whereas Lexie didn't have her original box (she is 'all dressed up Lexie').  Heather Maciak has now stopped producing Jenny and Lexie, and there is a Yahoo group which is dedicated to them.  They don't come up on ebay very often, so I feel lucky to have acquired them.  They are porcelain, so are heavier than the vinyl Patsi girls.

Jenny in Playtime outfit, Lexie 'All dressed up'

As I've mentioned before on this blog, I've been doing a photography course, and yesterday I felt ready to try some miniature doll portraits.  The photos shown here are the result and I'm pleased with them.  I lit them from both sides (one side was natural light from the window, with the curtains pulled across a bit, the other side was a piece of kitchen foil which reflected the natural light onto their other side to even out the shadows).  Jenny has borrowed a pair of shoes and a hat from one of the Patsi girls.  There are plenty of outfits to share between them all, though I have bought a couple of sewing and knitting books for dolls of this size (if I can ever allow myself the time for this!).

Postscript:  two of these girls feature in some photos I've sent to Papillon Bleu for her fairground themed birthday party - you'll have to wait until she publishes them on her blog in January to see what they are doing.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Welcome to Mrs Harvey's

At long last, a promise I made on this blog several months ago has finally come to pass!  As explained in my previous posting, I'm busy doing a photography course at the moment (in between everything else!) in the hope that my doll photography will improve. Today I felt suitably confident to try photographing my elder daughter's dollshouse and contents, which I've been wanting to do for ages, but after taking some really awful photos of my Triang last year, I was very aware of my shortcomings with a camera and miniatures.

Welcome to every child's dream shop - Mrs Harvey's cakes and toys.  Mrs Harvey lives above the shop, and does a lot of her own baking.  She has two grandchildren who often come to visit her (hence the train set in her sitting/bedroom), and today they are downstairs watching two other children choose some cakes.


My husband built this house from a kit soon after our younger daughter was born, for our elder girl, who was 7 1/2 when her sister arrived.  He did a beautiful job of hiding the lighting wiring in grooves, so there are no ridges in the wall or ceiling papers, the switches are on the back of the house behind the staircase.  I did the painting and decorating and painstakingly sanded and laid the floor tiles in the shop (next time it will be squared paper, not real tiles!).  I also rebuilt the shelving unit in the shop which was bought ready built but needed to be adjusted to fit the space under the stairs, and I'm quite pleased with the result.

My daughter and I had great fun finding miniature toys at various fairs we attended, and we made most of the cakes from fimo including the hot cross buns which have real poppy seeds for the raisins.  Mrs Harvey and her grandchildren are all Heidi Ott dolls, which came without clothes, and I dressed them (even doing smocking on the little girl's dress, and knitting the jumper worn by the boy).  The two visiting children were gifts from my godmother and I haven't changed their clothes, even though they seem a little old fashioned in their attire compared to the others (the kitchen is fairly modern, so we think this shop is probably quite recent, despite some old fashioned toys).

 Mrs Harvey's bed sitting room in the attic


The gaily woven rug which my daughter made on a toy loom

 The kitchen area

 Baking

 Mrs's Harvey has 2 dogs
The dresser, including the mini tea set
with mouse on the teapot made by Fay of Cape Town

 The middle floor
The cake and toy shop
Mrs Harvey's Grandchildren

 Dog on the stairs

 Customers for cakes

Toys

 Cake Shop window from inside

 Toy shop window

 Shop windows from outside

Mrs Harvey's grandchildren outside the shop

They have now all been packed away carefully in a plastic box, as we are hoping that we'll be moving house soon (though you never can tell with these things).  It is quite sad seeing the dolls house empty and knowing that it is likely to stay that way for the next couple of months while we move and get settled in our new home before we can bring all the dolls houses out and set them up again.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Welcome, and doll photography

A belated welcome to Julieta who started to follow my (recently rather quiet) doll blog a couple of weeks ago.  You can find her blog at http://lamunecajuanita.blogspot.com/.  Julieta, who is from Mexico and blogs in Spanish, lives in Holland and has some wonderful costume dolls pictured on her blog.

I have been quiet on this blog recently because I've started a digital photography course, in the hope that I can increase my understanding of the technical side of photography, so that I'll improve the photos I take.  Up until now I've been using the scene settings on my Nikon camera, and have been too uncertain about the array of other settings available to get adventurous, but with guidance am starting to make a little progress in the manual settings.  I want to be able to photograph miniatures and dolls with greater clarity, and get the light balance right in dolls house photos, which can be a tricky challenge.

The other day I was alerted, via my Flickr contacts, that some of my Gotz doll photos I'd taken had appeared on a Russian Doll forum.  The person who had borrowed them was genuinely interested in them and wanted to share them with other doll enthusiasts, but didn't say where she had found them.  I requested that she acknowledge their source and she has updated the forum with the dollmum blogspot URL, however it has made me realise that I ought to watermark my doll photos that I post up on the blog and on flickr, so that people know their source.  I don't have a problem with people sharing photos, I just prefer them acknowledged.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Childs play

Yesterday we had some friends come to visit us for the first time.  We hadn't seen them for a while and it was good to get to know the children a little as the dads talked about their musical common interest and I chatted with their mum.

My younger daughter brought out the marble run and a biscuit tin filled with glass marbles and in no time at all the two boys (aged 9 and 8) and their little sister (aged 4) were rolling marbles around our rug, creating pictures with them and inventing games.  My 14 year old girl was very happy to get involved in this creative play (it made a nice change from GCSE homework!).

After a while I brought down the Triang dollshouse for the 4 year old and my 6 year old to play with (she was shown the 1/12th scale houses but was told they were for looking at) and they had great fun rearranging furniture and making up stories with the motley collection of dolls (old and new) which inhabit the house.

As they were leaving the 3 elder children rearranged our fridge poetry magnets and laughed as the silly sentences they made up from the collection of kitchen and garden words.

During the two hours they were with us, there was never a cross word, no arguments or fighting, just happy enjoyment.  I'm under no illusions, I know there could easily have been disagreements, it was just a pleasure to see them talking and getting to know each other whilst they played with some old fashioned toys.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Gotz dolls in Scotland

Since we returned from Scotland 3 weeks ago, life has been too busy for blogging, apart from my short tribute to Sarah Price.  However 5 of the Gotz dolls did come caravanning with us, 3 of whom you've not met before in this blog!

About a week or so before our holiday I surprised my girls by bringing out from their year-long hiding place the three Gotz Harry Potter dolls I had bought via ebay during 2009.  I had purchased Harry, Hermione and Ron dolls from the same seller at about half the RRP than if I had bought them new (they were complete with boxes but used), and had been upset by the fact they all arrived smelling distinctly of cigarette smoke (which is bad for vinyl dolls).  I had tried the remedy I had discovered on the internet - a couple of concentrated washing powder tablets were placed with each of the dolls in their closed boxes for over a month in a cupboard where there was little ventillation, and when I removed them from their boxes, they smelled much fresher - the washing tablets had absorbed the smells and I didn't even have to wash their clothes.  But for quite a long time I wasn't sure if I had been stupid to buy the dolls without querying whether they came from a smoke free environment or not, so consequently kept them a secret from the family.  I also wasn't sure if my elder girl would appreciate or revile them, she is a Harry Potter fan (books and movies) but the dolls faces are character faces, they were designed before the movies came out based on the descriptions in the books, and it was just possible they would not meet her image of the characters.  I need not have worried - my daughters were both astonished and delighted and immediately embraced them into the doll family.  They decided to bring them caravanning, along with Samantha and Harriet.

Harry, Ron and Hermione in our caravan

As it turned out, a fair bit of scenario building and pretend play went on during the course of the 2 weeks with the dolls, with Harriet's red hair making her the perfect choice to be Ginny Weasley.  Samantha went on a few outings with us during the first half of the holiday, including to the St Andrews Aquarium (where she enjoyed the fish, and was almost eaten by a crocodile), a restaurant in St Andrews called 'The Dolls House Restaurant' which doesn't have a dolls house on display but was given the name because the building reminded the owners of a dolls house (the food was delicious and the prices reasonable) and to a model railway exhibition.  However the 3 Harry Potter dolls came with us on the highlight of our trip - the Fort William to Mallaig (& return) railway journey that includes the famous Glenfinnian viaduct, which featured in several Harry Potter films.  We travelled on the Jacobite Steam train, there were a few carriages like the ones used in the films, but our seats were in a standard carriage.  The trip was well worth the journey (we drove across the highlands to catch the train) and I did manage to get a few photos of Harry, Ron and Hermione on the train.

Harriet tries on Harry's glasses

Harry flirts with Samantha ...

... before deciding to give Harriet (Ginny) a cuddle!

Samantha enjoys the fish as St Andrews Aquarium ...

... but nearly gets eaten by a crocodile!

Samantha at The Dolls House Restaurant in St Andrews

Samantha watches the trains

Ron, Hermione and Harry look at the view from
The Jacobite steam train - are we getting near to Hogwarts yet?


Hermione and Harry look at a loch from the train

Hermioine, Harry and Ron in their Hogwarts clothes on The Jacobite train

Harry Rocks!

Harriet (Ginny) and Harry do the Wizard rock

Hermione tries the golden ice skating dress for size
(she is slightly slimmer than the Hannah/Sarah Gotz dolls)

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Sarah Price and St Hils

It is a strange place this blogging world.  We 'meet' people via the internet whom it is unlikely we'd encounter in everyday life because we're scattered all around the world.  I've discussed dolls and miniatures through blogging and flickr for over a year now with people as far afield as Australia, USA, Brazil, Russia and South Africa, as well as the UK.  During the past 3 months I've not been in a position to keep up to date with other doll blogs and have only periodically updated the DollMum blog.  I've been so busy at work and at home with various other matters.  So I wasn't really aware that Sarah Price who created St Hilary's Miniature church had been unwell, and was diagnosed with stomach cancer.  It was only when in WHSmith in Glenrothes last week whilst on a 2 week caravan holiday in Scotland with my husband and daughters that I picked up a copy of The Dolls House magazine (September issue) and discovered to my great sadness and dismay that Sarah died on the 18th June 2010 after a short battle with the terrible disease.

Sarah was kind enough to comment on some of the posts in my blog, and I occasionally commented on her blog which was full of interest surrounding the little world of St Hils, which she had created as a way of dealing with the loss of her beloved mother Hilary, who also loved miniatures.  Sarah was inspirational, there are so many miniature houses, but very few miniature churches populated with loving attention to detail and enjoyable story lines connected with the Christian calendar which was Sarah's speciality.  She was one of the miniaturists whom I hoped to one day meet at a fair, but that will never happen now.

Rest in Peace Sarah, and may St Hilary's miniature Church be a lasting memorial to a fine, gentle and special person with a great sense of humour (and of course to her mother).

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Rockstar dress pattern

I have traced out the pattern and my husband has scanned it into a pdf for the Rockstar outfit for 18"-19.5" play dolls.  I have also typed out the instructions and put them into a separate pdf.  If you would like a copy, please email me at:
dollmum at yahoo dot co dot uk
(I've written it like that to prevent spamming) and I'll send it to you.

Below are the progress photos of the second dress being made.  These might help alongside the written instructions pdf.
The two halves of the dress with the yoke pieces pinned ready for sewing

Front yoke with the outside and inside pieces sewn on their top edge,
before turning right side out

Back yoke pieces after turning, before pressing and hand stitching

Sleeves pinned in place ready for stitching

Sleeves stitched in place, side seams sewn


Close up of sleeve before it was turned right side out

Headband, ends folded over and long seam stitched


Headband being turned right side out
Samantha and Harriet

To get a guitar you need to search ebay for 'miniature guitar' and buy one which is about 25 cm long.  There is a whole range of them at this size, they are made for collectors who love different styles of guitars and display them as ornaments.  They range in price from £4.99 to £19.99, and I've checked overseas ebay as well, so know they can be obtained in the US and Australia etc.  Sometimes you can find them in their own case, but mostly they come with a display stand.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Rock group grows

This evening I finally finished Samantha's rockstar outfit.  I bought more shoes from releaserain on ebay (all the way from Hong Kong), and had previously bought the glittery tights (which are for American Girl) from a US seller based in London.  The tights are a little short for Samantha but the dress and shoes hide that minor issue.

Here she is wearing her new rockstar outfit, and posing with the flying V 'Jimmy Hendrix' guitar which my elder daughter bought on her music trip recently.  I have taken some photos of the progress of the dress to show how it is constructed, and will post those up tomorrow.
Samantha and Harriet rock!