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Monday, 30 November 2009

Painting the teddy

It has been such a busy week since my previous update, and I've had little time for miniatures (though have been reading other blogs late at night when I should really go to bed!).  However I had left the paints out from last weekend's efforts because there was one white metal miniature from the toy set that needed some additional preparation work before I could paint it.  The jointed teddy came with only 3 of his 4 pins as one had broken off, and I wasn't willing to trust white metal cast pins anyway.  So my husband chopped them off and drilled holes through his body and suggested fuse wire would be the best material for adding on his jointed legs so they can still move.  He found an ancient card of three different thicknesses of fuse wire, and I chose the middle thickness, so he drilled the holes accordingly.  I am a dab hand with the pillar drill, but as he was available, I asked him to do the drilling.

To paint the bear I threaded the four limbs onto a bent out paperclip I had been using to stir the Humbrol paint, and threaded the body onto the fuse wire.  This way I didn't have the problem of trying to hold a tiny bear and paint him, so my fingers didn't get quite so messy, and it also meant he could dry without touching anything and smearing the paint.

The photos show that the bear is still work in progress, as I've really only given him 2 coats of yellow paint, and want to follow this up with brown detail for the fur and his features, but have had such a busy weekend with church fundraising activities and taking the girls skating, so teddy has to wait until I can spare a little time one weekday evening.

Teddy's painted body on the fuse wire (still on its card) so he could dry

Teddy's limbs on the paperclip propped up by a screwdriver resting on the tin

Monday, 23 November 2009

Results from a weekend of miniatures

It was lovely making miniatures again this weekend. Sunday afternoon my daughter and I dashed into Hobbycraft (always a risky business going in there because there is so much variety of craftware to buy) and bought some Humbrol Enamel paints.

My girl wanted to paint the figures as well, so I gave her the challenge of the little doll's dress whilst I continued working on the Cuckoo clock. In my previous posting I uploaded a photo of the work in progress - the clock needed more colour but not too much as I didn't want it to look too bright or tacky. I printed out photos from the web of 6 different but colourful clocks to give me a guide on colour balance. None of them were anything like the same design, but they did help.

I made a start on the clown in between coats of paint drying on the clock and cooking Roast Lamb for dinner. My daughter did a pretty good job of the doll's dress and her face skin painting but then had other things to do (like getting ready for school for Monday). So I eventually finished the girl, including painting her features which I did at the same time as the clown's face.

Front view of the doll (white metal Phoenix Model)

Back view of the painted doll 

The finished clown 

I also glued the fire iron stand base and top to the upright, touched up paint a bit and the set was complete.

The fire iron set

This evening, after work and choir practice I have fitted the weights, chain and pendulum on the clock, so my daughter will get a surprise in the morning.

The finished clown and Cuckoo Clock 

Close up of the Clock

Saturday, 21 November 2009

An afternoon of miniatures

It is a long time since I've been able to create anything really miniatures-related, as so much of my creative time recently has been concentrated on making clothes for play dolls and a baby's quilt.  Additionally, since July my Westville Greenleaf dollshouse has been in storage while we had our house on the market for a while, so my miniatures are out of reach.  Fortunately however my elder daughter's 3 storey shop is still very much accessible at home and today I got a chance to play with it!

We collected a few things from storage this morning, including a few of my tools (just in case), though in fact so far I haven't needed to use them.  More about what we collected in another posting this week.  After lunch we cleared the kitchen table (actually a breakfast bar, a good height for working at because you can stand or sit without breaking your back) and got the much used cutting mat out.  At Miniatura about 18 months ago we had bought some cut-out your own board games and my daughter set to work with a scalpel and ruler after I showed her what to do.  She got a bit confused at one point with the folding and gluing corner tabs instructions (the diagram was good for someone who had done these things before, but not so clear for a beginner) but ultimately did a very good job of the two boxes.

 My daughter cutting out miniature boxes

Miniature Snakes & Ladders

Her two boxes of games, with a 50 pence piece

Whilst she was cutting and gluing, I borrowed my husband's humbrol enamel paints and painted the fire iron set and the cuckoo clock white metal kits from Phoenix Models.  I had made up one of their cooking range kits in the past, so it was familiar territory for me.  This was a cheap way of providing her with a set of fireplace accessories which, if made by a professional miniaturist using the proper materials, would have been 10 times as expensive, so although the bronze paint isn't really like the real thing, it is okay.  We had looked at cheap ready made sets, but none of them looked authentic enough, whereas the Phoenix Models look right if painted correctly.

I needed my set of needle files to tidy up the metal on the clock before painting, but fortunately these were easily to hand in my husband's small workshop.  The cuckoo clock is still work in progress, my husband's collection of paints are for his aeroplane models, and I need some brigher colours to finish it off, especially as we've got a Phoenix Model set of toys to paint, so I think a trip to Hobbycraft tomorrow is a must.

Work in progress on the fire iron set

Painting work in progress on the cuckoo clock

For a while this evening we dusted and tidied the dollshouse starting with the attic bedroom, working down to the kitchen followed by the shop on the ground floor.  However the shop part isn't yet completely tidy, as we want to make some Christmas boxes and bags from the latest issue of Dollshouse and Miniature Scene, and a container is required for those skittles...

Hopefully we'll get some more mini making done tomorrow.  The weather is awful at the moment, so spending time indoors making things is one good way to pass the weekend.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Welcome, and look forward to the weekend

I'm looking forward to this weekend because it will be:

a) A lot less hectic than last weekend, when we had 3 different events on one day and two the next!
b) My elder daughter and I are spending tomorrow afternoon making miniatures!

I'd so love to go to the Dollshouse Festival at Kensington tomorrow, but for one thing my current bank balance just won't allow such indulgence (train fare and entrance fee before even buying a mini), and secondly I can't justify buying more minis when I haven't made up some kits we bought at Miniatura about 18 months ago.  So we are devoting the afternoon (and possibly the evening as well) to making up kits, doing cut outs from recently purchased miniature magazines and generally giving Mrs Harvey's toy and cake shop a proper clean up in preparation for all those parents coming to buy Christmas toys for their children.  I plan to take lots of photos this weekend of work in progress and I'm looking forward to sharing them with everyone who follows this blog.

With that in mind, I'd like to welcome six more people (wow, I can't believe I've got 37 people following my doll writings):

Mary in Italy specialises in crochet (something I can sort of do as I made a baby blanket once, but am not very good at, as I prefer to knit).  She makes the most amazing crochet flowers - see and

Lisette, who lives in the Netherlands, is already getting ready for Advent on her blog She, like me, has been passionate about dollshouses all her life.

Daisy, in Brazil, has great variety on her miniatures blog with lots of lovely 1/12th scale food, though she has several other blogs too.

Monica, like me, loves sewing, and has a collection of Sasha dolls  She isn't afraid to give them a repaint to great effect.

Roz & Aidy of Lilyelf miniatures create wonderful individual dolls which you can see at

NikNik lives in Russia and makes all sorts of interesting things including some incredible doll modelling She is the mother of Victoria who has been following my blog for a little while.

Welcome everyone, I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy yours.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Doll play - for teens

We took our girls to a local church quiz night recently.  My elder girl invited two of her friends to join us, and the other children on their team (the children insisted on a kids only team) were two nearly teen boys my girls know through church.  My younger daughter decided to take along two of the Gotz dolls, dressed up in their Bavarian outfits (well we had just been to see the Sound of Music!).  Funnily enough she actually took along the shared dolls, Jayne and Peter.  Samantha and Harriet, who were still dressed in Halloween outfits, had to stay at home (we knew those outfits wouldn't go down well at a church quiz!)

The two visiting girls arrived at our house and saw my little one playing with her dolls, and my elder daughter's soft toys all over her bedroom floor.  One admitted she loved her own soft toys, but my elder girl was careful not to admit that any of the dolls actually belonged to her.  We had discussed this beforehand, as quite often my girls use elder daughter's larger bedroom floor for doll play, and I was concerned that she would be teased by her friends for playing with dolls, aged 13.  When they all got into the car, one of the girls was very happy to play dolls with my little girl (they played 'hide and seek' would you believe!).  I think it was partly the novelty of having a little sister for the evening (this child has three younger brothers), but at the Quiz I noticed she was quite happy to have the two dolls on her lap for a while in full view of lots of adult strangers and the boys, and later was happy to resume the hide and seek game when we took them to their respective homes. 

I think it is sad that we expect our children to grow up so fast, and put away childish things.  There is so much pressure to conform to being a teen as soon as they start secondary school (if you don't like pop music you are 'so not cool').  My elder daughter's friends are not the types who go in for heavy makeup yet (and are despised by some of the really trendy girls for being just a little bit different from the average), though they all enjoy pop music and Nintendo DS, etc.  But still liking dolls isn't something they can readily admit even to their own peers, it would be social death in the dog-eat-dog school environment.  So observing the girls with the dolls at the quiz night gave me a quiet sense of pleasure, I felt as if, albeit briefly, I had scored a small point for the regaining of their fast disappearing childhood just by treating the taking of dolls to a public event as perfectly normal and not commenting on their play which would have made them self conscious.


Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Patchwork Quilt, and another welcome

I've spent the past 4 evenings sewing a patchwork quilt to welcome a friend's baby (due very soon).  Although I have done patchwork before (a log cabin pattern duvet cover for my elder daughter's bed, and a hexagonal pattern cushion cover to match), I've never actually quilted before.  I found the pattern in a book on patchwork projects, it is called a baby's quilt with matching dolls quilt (which I haven't made) and the instructions were straightforward, with clear photos illustrating what to do.

Because I don't know the gender of the soon to be born infant, the quilt had to be suitable for either boy or girl, so I settled on a rainbow colour combination.  I used a pressed wadding for the middle of the quilt, which made it manageable to sew the quilting on my sewing machine.  The quilt measures 34 inches x 31 inches.

I'm rather pleased with the results.

The quilt completed

Showing the back and front of the quilt

Close up

Close up

Whilst I've sewed, my blog has acquired two more followers:

Silken Purse who is an artist, has several blogs:

Dora is also an artist, her blogs are in Spanish, which I cannot read, but are still good to look at:

Welcome to my blog, I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Welcome and Jam

This evening I have made a batch of real, full size Quince Jam.  I've still got enough quinces for another batch, but one batch in an evening after a full day at work as well as feeding the family and listening to my elder daughter's violin practice is just about as much as I can manage in a day, so the last batch will have to wait (I made a previous batch about 2 weeks ago, and the quinces have been sitting on the table awaiting my time ever since).  Thankfully, it is a fruit that doesn't go off quickly, so I was able to sew those Halloween outfits for the dolls without feeling too guilty about wasted fruit.  I would like to make some jars of miniature quince jam one day for my daughter's dollshouse shop and my Westville house.

I've got four more people following this blog:

Suzan makes dolls from wire armature and papier mache.  Her blog is in Turkish, so I can't read it but the photos of her dolls are amazing.

Snowfern in Singapore creates wonderful miniatures, especially food, some of which is sold on Etsy, and also contributes to

Florine in the USA collects vintage minatures and houses, is very knowledgeable about them and like me browses eBay a lot ;-)

Debie is a doll artist who sells her wonderful original creations at fairs in the UK and on Etsy. Maybe one day I'll get to see her dolls and meet her at a fair.

Welcome everyone and thank you for following my blog.