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Saturday, 31 October 2009

Gotz doll halloween

I've spent the past three evenings working against the clock to provide some Halloween costumes for the Gotz dolls.  Too much midnight oil but my girls seem pleased with the results.  Today I hadn't quite finished and we had a family day trip to London (Science Museum), so on the train my elder daughter and I did all the hand finishing work required, including sewing on press-studs.  I was really proud of her for being keen to do it (she isn't always into sewing) and for sewing dolls clothes on a moving train without dropping any press studs!  She had been experimenting with felt sewing this week, and made two items before today.  When we got home this evening I ironed all the outfits and we dressed the dolls for their Halloween photo shoot and tea party (in the tent my girls set up in one of their bedrooms for half term!)

The pumpkin face being hand stitched onto the costume 3days ago 

Samantha, Harriet and Jayne all dressed up for Halloween

Samantha in her witchy dress, hat and cape, Jayne in a cape
(with the green outfit made previously underneath)

Harriet in her Pumpkin outfit, with the felt trick or treat bag my elder daughter stitched,
and the choc pumpkins we picked up at the station on the way home

Peter in his ghost outfit hurriedly constructed
by my elder daughter when we got home

The whole scary lineup!

Halloween tea in the dome tent,
with Arctic Hare (bought today by elder daughter)
and his felt carrot she made 2 days ago

Samantha and Harriet - notice the scary touch to the tea pot! 
that gruesome finger came with the pumpkins

Arctic Hare, Jayne and Samantha

Younger daughter tucking into the chocolate pumpkins!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Reader's Award

Oh Rebecca, what have you started!  Thank you for thinking of me in your Reader's award.  I really enjoyed reading about all the different books that you could associate with people whom you've met in blogland, especially as several of the books are already familiar to me.  I love The Shield Ring by Rosemary Sutcliff - the Lake District area where it is set is a place I love, and grew up with the Laura Ingalls Little House books and have them all.  However what you chose for me was a book I had not encountered:  The Adventures of Galldora.  I discovered when searching on Amazon that a second book was also available about Galldora the rag doll, so I managed to buy both from the same seller, and they arrived today.  This evening my 5 year old daughter and I enjoyed the first chapter - Galldora and the small reward - at her bedtime, so thank you for introducing these stories to us.

I'm supposed to obey the rules and think of books that I associate with the various blogs I follow, however, like Rebecca I'm going to cheat. Instead of dedicating books to any particular person, I'm going to talk about books I own and love that I associate with dolls and miniatures, and dedicate them to everyone who reads my blog.

One of the books Rebecca listed is Miss Happiness and Miss Flower.  I adored this book as a child, and the sequel Little Plum, in fact they inspired me so much I made my own versions of Miss Happiness and Miss Flower.

Their heads, hands and feet are Fimo, and their bodies, arms and legs are stuffed cloth.  Their wigs are black cotton thread stitched into a cloth pad which is glued to the head and their faces are very roughly moulded - I'm terrible at working with modelling clay - I carve and sew better than this.  Although I tried to model their features, they were not very distinct so today when photographing them I re-drew their eyes, brows and nostrils with a black felt tip pen.

Miss Flower on the left and Miss Happiness
on the right before I re-drew their eyes

After their faces were re-drawn

I also made their clothes, though they are not authentic, and their sashes are made of tissue paper, one is a bit decayed now.

In the photo with them is a small box with a roll top lid.  In the book their cupboard is a similar box, and when I found this one on a market as a teenager I thought it was perfect for my Miss Happiness and Miss Flower.

Ursula Moray William's Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse is similar in a way to the concept of Galldora, in that the horse leaves home and goes on many adventures before finally managing to get back to his beloved master with his treasure.  I loved this book as a child, and was delighted when we went to Miniatura a couple of years ago to find a miniature horse very similar to this one, which is perfect for my elder daughter's miniature toy and cake shop.

Another book I love by the same author is Malkin's Mountain - all about toy makers, carving wood, families, love and community.  What more inspiration could a budding wood carver want than a story such as this.  I've recently acquired the two other books in the set.

The Ship that Flew was one of those books I only discovered when I went to High School, because a copy was available in my school library, it was one of the few books that wasn't a teen, adult or reference book in the secondary school library.  It is a magical story about 4 ordinary children who get a ship in a bottle that takes them on wonderful adventures, including back in time.  I was taken with the fact that the eldest boy found the ship in a strange antique shop filled with curious things, but that the ship was what attracted him and he loved it and gave all he had in his pocket for it.  Who doesn't like browsing in antique shops, even if you can't afford most of what is on offer!

Another story series that is closely associated with miniatures is Mary Norton's The Borrowers.  I have collected all the books in the set over the years, and even have managed to buy Poor Stainless, an additional borrower story.  Not only were these stories a great introduction for a non UK child to various aspects of English culture, it was also a lovely way to get to know more about the English countryside, when Pod, Homily and Arriety venture out of the safety of the big old house in Buckinghamshire to find a new home, after their under floorboard sanctury is discovered by the humans.  One day I plan to explore that area of Buckinghamshire (Mary Norton lived near Leighton Buzzard) because it is not too far from where I live now.

Although the Family from One End Street stories by Eve Garnett don't mention dollshouses, the detailing of the the lives of the Ruggles Children is fascinating social history source material for anyone building dollshouses based in 1930s/1940s England.  Once again, these books were a good way for me to learn about a country I only visited once every 4 years during my childhood.  There are three books, and my all time favourite is the third when Kate Ruggles enjoys a glorious summer holiday at the Dew Drop Inn in her beloved countryside, a far cry from her urban home.

I have so many children's books - I spent many happy hours browsing various second hand book shops when I was a teenager, and discovered several delights, including the Eve Garnet books.  Our house probably contains at least 2,000 books (not all for children), but my children's book collection is very treasured, and I am especially pleased when my daughters discover kinship with books in the shelves, my library is meant to be used and enjoyed.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

My doll cabinet - top shelf part 3

The final two residents of my doll cabinet are two little fay dolls from Cape Town.  They are very small, being only about an inch tall.  Their heads are made of wooden beads, their hair looks like bright mohair and they are beautifully painted.  They match the little jug and bowl sets in my Triang Dollshouse.

The distinctive fay marking - fay is still trading
and sells miniature items in the
Craft Market at The Waterfront, Cape Town

I hope you have enjoyed exploring my Doll Cabinet shelves and meeting the residents.  Now I shall have to blog about my daughter's dollshouse, as mine is still in storage.  I'm hoping to get it out before Christmas, as we've temporarily taken our house off the market, so have no need to be living in a show home!

Monday, 19 October 2009

More followers

Welcome to my latest followers:

Firstly Synnøve who lives in Norway and is doing beautiful things to her dollshouse

Anama lives in Argentina, her blog is all in Spanish so I can't read it, she makes lovely little outfits for miniature dolls

Lize is in Saudi Arabia and does some amazing minis

Debbie probably needs no introduction to many miniature enthusiasts and I am very pleased that she is on the mend after scary surgery and is blogging again

Eva writes her blog in English and Spanish, she has been having fun with nautical scenes and building a tree out of clay

Moti is in Spain and does one of a kind miniatures at and

Welcome everyone - thank you for following my blog and making comments.

My doll cabinet - top shelf part 2

The second set of dolls on the top shelf are a little smaller than the 5 Hong Kong dolls from my previous post about my doll cabinet.

These three little treasures are identical.  They were made in Italy.  The two in homemade costumes were part of the chorus line for the doll theatre, and I made their little outfits out of scraps of slightly stretchy material, their boots and bonnets are felt.  Their elastic bands are perished, so their arms fall off, but they really are very cute all the same, with wonderfully natural moulded bodies for dolls so small.  I have some even smaller baby doll versions with bent legs, but those are in storage at present.  The doll in the centre is partly clothed in some national costume which had been glued onto the doll.

The arms on these three identical dolls are so detailed

On their backs is 'Made in Italy' with a logo showing a stork holding a baby.  I don't know which Italian factory made them, and would like to find out.

The next two dolls are unidentical plastic dolls, both Made in Italy, but by different companies.  The taller one has CS very clearly on its back and the other has a symbol/logo of some kind which looks like it could say FOLO, but I'm really not sure, as it could say FDLO.  I would like to know which Italian doll factories made these dolls.  They were picked up in my 20s from a table top sale somewhere.

The two Italian dolls of different makes

Markings on the shorter doll

Markings on the taller doll

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Panda and friends

My Panda bear was given to me for my first Christmas.  He was very smart when new, and sported a lovely red bow tie and a growl box that really worked when tipped forward.  Panda joined in with lots of games and teddy bear picnics on the back lawn which resulted in him slowly becoming quite grubby and worn, so unfortunately he is no longer in pristine condition.  The picnics on the back lawn usually included all our dolls and teddies, and were held on my mother's travel rug, which had been on her bed when she worked in London during the 1960s.  I still have this rug which is well travelled but still in usable good condition, and it was given back to me by my step mother recently. 

Panda today on my mother's travel rug

Some years ago I unstitched his back and repaired his growl box which had got filled with stuffing, but it isn't working again, so I think some surgery is required once more.  His label was removed when I was a baby so I don't know what make of bear he is and haven't gone in search of his maker identity yet.

Me with Panda when we were both new!

My mother had two teddy bears when she was a child.  One she gave to my sister and I as small children, he was called Bruno and we loved him loads, and were able to share him quite happily.  Unfortunately about 10 years ago one of my sister's dogs got hold of him and he was very badly mauled, so although she patched him up, he is in very bad shape.  However my mother's first teddy was not one we played with, because even when we visited her parents on those trips to the UK, and were allowed to play with the contents of her toy trunk, the bear was always removed first.  On her lone visit to the UK in 1981 my mother returned with the bear, as her parents were moving house, and she did not want to get rid of Bruin, he was clearly very cherished.  As a child she had made him a smart grey blanket coat and red hat, which was a master stroke for preservation of his body, because he has been protected from the worst excesses of child play and is in very good condition for a bear in his 60s.

Bruin in his coat and hat

After my mother died, my sister inherited Bruno and I inherited Bruin.  He has always been kept on display since then, not locked away in a trunk or a cupboard, so needs dusting occasionally.  He doesn't have a label anymore.  Some years ago I did a bit of searching around, and finally concluded that he is probably a JK Farnell bear, and will have been made in 1943/1944.  Bruno was about a year younger, but was from a different English maker.

Bruin without his clothes, showing how good his fur is despite a long life

When I was about 4 I was given a soft toy Poodle dog which I adored.  Poodle has character.  He originally had no clothes, but his body got worn pretty quickly, so my mother gave him a 'dog tooth' coat.  His paws are of the same felt like material as his original torso, and unfortunately have suffered too, and at least two paws are safety pinned on! (sorry Poodle).  I did some awkward repairs when much younger (not a very good job), hence the safety pins.  I also re-sewed on one of his ears, which gives him a lopsided look from face on.

Poodle prefers to sit, though he can stand up -
probably hurts to stand up with those safety pins!

Poodle is all the more precious because I lost him once within the first year of having him.  We were visiting a garden centre one day, and somehow he got dropped and we went home without him.  I was distraught.  I can clearly remember that someone had put on the single record of 'Downtown' sung by Petula Clark and I sat miserably in an armchair listening, that song is now always associated with Poodle.  I can recall that at first my mother was cross with me for being careless, then when she realised how truly distressed I was, she phoned up the garden centre and by some miracle someone had found him and handed him in.  So while one parent rushed back to the garden centre to collect him the other stayed at home with us and soon I had Poodle again and was VERY careful after that with my toys when we took them on outings.  Even now if my younger daughter takes a toy away from the house I remind her not to loose it or any of its attachments! 

Panda, Poodle and Bruin as they are today,
sitting on my mother's vintage travel rug,
which she had in a bedsit in London,
brought on her travels, was used for family picnics
and now has a quiet retirement (still in very good condition)
as a display seat for my teddies.

So Panda needs surgery to repair his voice, Poodle needs foot and ear surgery and Panda needs a gentle surface wash to remove stains and a brand new red bow tie.

My doll cabinet - top shelf part 1

The top shelf of my doll cabinet is the home for a collection of small plastic dolls, plus the two handmade jointed wooden dolls that I created myself.  There are several of particular types on the shelf.  Because of the way I've arranged the dolls, I don't want to work from left to right this time, but will talk about the dolls in categories, starting with the biggest.

The top shelf of My doll cabinet

Hong Kong dolls

These five plastic dolls have Made in Hong Kong on their backs, and came with outfits glued on.  However as you will see from the photo, I made dresses for some of them and embroidered initials on the dresses, as each doll had a name.  Some still have their names sellotaped on the top of their heads.  I bought them all as a teen from one of those shops that was small but seemed to sell everything, including a nice selection of pocket money dolls.  I had so many because I needed them for the chorus in theatrical productions!  During our early teens my sister and I built a miniature theatre out of wood, wire rods, fabric and paint.  It was rudimentary, but had rows of real side curtains like a proper stage and the main front curtains opened and shut when we pulled a cord.  We spent hours devising a show to all the music of the famous Musicals, so the dolls had changes of costumes and were positioned differently for each scene.  Sadly I never thought to take any photographs and after one season the theatre was abandoned and eventually broken up.  But these dolls are survivors from that time.  Their elastic bands holding their limbs to their torsos are perishing, so they are very wobbly now.  Some of them have their original plastic shoes, two have knitted boots that I made for them.  One of them had her eyes fall into her head, so I had to glue them in place, which means they no longer open and close.  If you know which factory made these dolls, please let me know.

Two of the girls, one with a dress over
her original outfit, the other with the original dress

Monday, 12 October 2009


Este blog é um sonho = This blog is a dream

This morning I got a nice surprise - thank you Victoria

Here are the award rules:
1. Post the picture of the award and publish the rules.
2. Post the links of the winners
3. Give the award to 10 other bloggers.
4. Notify the winners;-)

It is impossible to nominate a favourite blog out of all those I follow, but apparently I have to pick 10. So, reluctantly selective, here goes. I would like to pass this award to:

Ann at
Rebecca at
Sarah at
Mercedes at
Kathi at
Casey at
Lori at
Julie at
Sonia at
Papillon Bleu

(My Panda says 'Hi' to Papillon Bleu's new Panda Prince)

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Welcome and Thank you

I think it is high time I welcome and thank everyone who has found my blog so far, taken the trouble to comment and / or follow the blog using Google Friend connect.

The first people to find it are very far away from me in Australia:

Ann at who does wonderful knitting for play dolls - see also her photos on Flickr for more examples of her knitting for Australian Girl Dolls

and Rebecca at who collects vintage miniatures and is very knowledgeable about them

Sarah Price has a wonderful blog about her miniature church and its growing family of parishioners She doesn't have many followers yet though, so please pay her blog a visit.

Susan is new to miniatures and blogging but has already got 88 followers and collects vintage houses including some amazing finds from thrift shops

Sylvia has been building a lovely miniature candystore

Papillon Bleu does wonderful tea parties for her handmade dolls - she is brave enough to endure variable, grey English weather though she comes from France has created an incredible character filled doll called Kendo (see

Kathi is building a mini beach house and is new to miniatures

Katie creates amazing miniature punchneedle rugs

Sinem is Turkish and unfortunately I cannot read her blog which does not appear to be miniatures or doll related

Debbie at creates unique character dolls made with wooden clothes pins

Sonia is Spanish and writes her blog about her miniature creations in English and Spanish

Lori builds the most amazingly elegant Greenleaf kit houses into something special, I wish I had the space for several lovely houses too!

Marlene is working on an 1820s town house but is in the middle of moving house herself!

Julie creates yummy miniature food and also sews and carves

Victoria is tackling miniature wood turning to great effect as she is building a Russian village house

Jackie makes handmade cloth dolls with painted faces

Maite is Spanish and has an enormous dollshouse which looks like apartments

Minna is in Finland and has several houses, including vintage and one she and her husband built recently

Mercedes at is in New Zealand and has just had an article about her detailed miniature house and garden published in a Spanish Miniature magazine

Please visit these blogs if you haven't already - they are full of interesting surprises.

Unexpected identification of doll cabinet residents

I invested in a couple of doll identification books in the hope of finding the maker of my playdoll Susie, but still no luck. However I was able to identify the maker of the sadly worse for wear occupant of the bottom shelf - Joy the disco diva. She is in fact a Rock Flowers Heather doll, though of course is in anything but mint condition! 'The Collectors Guide to Dolls of the 1960s and 1970s volume II' on page 165 shows two super examples of this doll, and also shows outfit #4052 Jeans in Fringe which I remember my sister had for Joy as well. The mint version dolls are wearing the orange sunglasses which I do remember (long since lost).

I was very gratified to find my Jasmine Pippa doll featured in the other book I bought - 'British Teenage dolls 1956 - 1984' by Francis Baird. There is a nice section on the Pippa family in this book, with some wonderful colour photos, and I was able to work out which Pippa my sister was given for her birthday - it was the Bridesmaid Pippa Gail with shoulder length brown curled in hair, but my sister named her Laura, probably after Laura Ingalls Wilder, as we were reading the 'Little House on the Praire' books at the time. I have a yet to fulfil dream of visiting all the Laura houses but have not managed to visit the USA so far.

The British Teenage dolls book also has a sizable section on Sindy dolls which I have yet to pour over properly. Unfortunately the only Roddy dolls in the book are the teenage ones, which are nothing like my Susie. So I have ordered more books ('The Collector's Guide to British Dolls Since 1920' and 'British Dolls of the 1960s') which hopefully will have what I'm looking for, and may perhaps help me identify other dolls in my collection.