Sunday, 29 December 2013

A new miniature hobby

It seems we have accidentally acquired a new miniature hobby over the Christmas period. Next December we will be assembling - somewhere in the house - a very small Christmas village made up of a few buildings, a pond and a tree. Wandering around in the snow will be Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, as well as Mr Scrooge.

For some reason it is a tradition in our family to visit a garden centre or two after Boxing Day - you never know what bargains you might be able to grab. While my mum was sorting through the reduced rolls of wrapping paper, my husband was eyeing up the half price model houses as he has done for several years now. 

The trouble with being accustomed to 1:12 scale hand crafted miniatures is that some of these looked rather crass to me. I am fully aware that an LED lit village with moving parts could be seen as a little (a lot?) tacky but as we throw ourselves into Christmas anyway, why not?

The beginnings of our Christmas village

The idea is that we'll buy a new building each year to slowly build our little village - always after Christmas though as I don't think I could bring myself to pay full price for them.

Having now done a little research, there seem to be several makes of models and scenery available and some people have achieved some amazing scenes. The films below should give you an idea of what we're aiming for (eventually!).

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A miniature Christmas

After our successful trip to the Christmas Kensington Dollshouse Festival recently, I was determined to clear out our spare room so I could decorate my house for the festive season.

After a few days of very hard work, the room is looking an awful lot better and tonight I was able to deck the halls, as they say. Much like in real life, I'd forgotten quite how many decorations I have...

The first job is to get the tree in position although to be honest, it doesn't matter where it goes these days as I don't use the lights. When my dad first built my dollshouse I, for some unknown reason, felt the Christmas tree should have coloured flashing lights - so that's exactly what it has.

The socket that connects to the plug on the tree

Next year I am hoping to swap the bright lights (although you can actually adjust the brilliance on them as well) for more delicate white bulbs, though I'm not sure quite how easy this will be.

I got over excited and put the fairy on first

Decorating a 1:12 scale tree when you have massive hands is no mean feat, trust me. It's worth persevering though as it does look beautiful when complete. I struggled to know whether or not to use the flash in these photos as although I want to show the detail, I also want to capture some of the cosy atmosphere.

The tree is up! 

And here it is in context (after a slight disaster with the draughts board but we won't go into that).

Ready for Christmas

I love that there are lots of details to spot in this room and am particularly fond of the sliced Christmas cake ready to eat.

Good enough to eat

It took me a while to work out where to put Father Christmas's plate of treats and then I realised this must be the fireplace he would come from so he could have easy access to the tree (where the presents would be left, obviously).

Ready for his visit

Obviously my family need an advent calendar to countdown to Christmas (cue cries from husband: "You bought them an advent calendar and not me?!) but I think the children have got over excited when opening the doors - it looks like number 24 is already open.

The countdown begins!

Down in the kitchen cook has everything under control. The turkey is ready to go in the oven (although this one was just in case of extra guests and won't be cooked) and the sprouts are ready for boiling.


In the dining room the table is laid with the new centre piece taking pride of place.

Can you spot the Christmas teapot?

And again, in the context of the room.

Turkey and pudding at the same time? Why not! 

Before I turn the lights off, I always put the fronts back on the rooms so I can step back and admire it. I love peeking through the windows and imagining what's going on inside.

Who wouldn't want to go inside?
A very inviting scene

And of course, no house would be complete without a holly wreath on the front door.

Looks like it's been snowing

Merry miniature Christmas, everyone! 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Christmas at Kensington

Yesterday my mum and I made our annual trip to the Christmas Kensington Dollshouse Festival which turned out to be a very successful shopping spree for us both. Unlike the previous exhibition, the Christmas show is held on just one day and we immediately noticed it was a lot busier.

I saw a couple of friends on the way to the show who both suggested I was heading out to consume a glass or two of wine. Little did they know I was off to enjoy one of the most sedate hobbies around, mainly taken up by middle aged women. That said, when I was being elbowed out the way by an elderly lady struggling to see some tiny vegetables a couple of hours later, I wasn't thinking of it as a 'sedate hobby'.

The main hall - which is one of many - at the Kensington Dollshouse Festival

I didn't really have a shopping list on this occasion but knew I wanted to get a few Christmas themed pieces. This is partly motivation to sort out the room where my dollshouses live so I can decorate for the festive season. It has got to the stage where I can't get to my house, shop or pub at all because of the boxes stacked up in front of them. This week, I'm hoping to at least make a start on the room so I can put some of my purchases in their new homes.

Ready to begin the Christmas dinner (five pence piece for scale)

As usual we started on the ground floor and one of our first stops was Pride of Plaice. We have already bought most of the beautiful things on the stall but I couldn't resist a few additions to my kitchen. The turkey and sprouts above are all ready for Christmas dinner, and although I already have a couple of puddings, I really like the texture on this one.

Better get writing!

I also picked up a pack of 10 shaped Christmas cards which will look great on my mantelpieces, or possibly in the bar.

All ready for Crimbo!

I'm very pleased with my beautiful fairy from Sally Reader Miniatures who will sit on top of the Christmas tree in my house. Her site is well worth a look - even if it's just to see the tray of tiny Basil Brushes. I'm lucky enough to own Sally's Humpty and Paddington already but suspect I'll be adding to my collection at some point.

The plate will, of course, be left out for Father Christmas. He'll need a mince pie and a little tipple to keep him going and I'm sure Rudolph will appreciate the carrot. Thanks to the very helpful chaps at House of Mindy, where the plate is from, who spent a long time digging around behind the stall to find the shelves that my mum wanted to buy.

The very detailed table arrangement is from The Flower Lady - can't wait to place it on the miniature dining room table.

As well as shopping, there were plenty of amazing things to look at.

The very talented Julien Martinez made the model on the left. To be honest, I'm not quite sure what it is but it reminded me of the kind of thing that Tim (my husband) likes which is why I took a picture.

Julien also had a house of horrors fairground ride on display which was very impressive. I didn't quite manage to capture it on film unfortunately and photos just didn't do it justice - not least because of the flashing lights!

There are plenty of traditional displays on show but I was a little more reluctant to ask for permission to photograph them this time around, partly because I'd forgotten my cards and couldn't always find the energy to explain that I wasn't going to rush home and copy the designs, I just wanted to say nice things about them on my blog.

We also hovered around the huge house below for some time, hoping to get a clear view. It wasn't to be though, there was always a queue of people waiting to get a closer look. Can't really say I blame them!

We were also very impressed with the unusual miniatures created by Dee-Daw Designs. There were some great characters on the stall but I think I was most taken with the scene below - it's not often you see a 1:12 scale cow!

A scene created by Dee-Daw Designs

It's well worth having a look at Dee-Daw Designs' Featherstone Hall Hotel project which was created for the 200th issue of Dolls House & Miniature Scene magazine. It includes great photos of some fantastic scenes.

A few bits for my shop

Back to the shopping. My store is almost full but I'm hoping I can find space on the walls for a few signs and a chewing gum machine, all courtesy of Platts Mini Packages, which is also where the fantastic paper chains (pictured earlier) came from.

A pair of leather gloves for the lady of the house

At this point of the day I still didn't have a 'lady of the manor' for my Tudor house - but I figured that once I found her she'd need a pair of leather gloves. I love The Luggage Lady's miniatures but already have a suitcase and a bag - there's only so much I can fit in.

And so on to my final purchase. I was doing reasonably well on the spending front (I'd managed to tear myself away from the amazing bathrooms at Hearth and Home Miniatures) but we popped back to the ground floor and I had a second look at Crumpled and Rumpled's stand.

We'd spotted the lady we called 'Nanny Doris' earlier as she bears an uncanny likeness to my late grandmother - an incredibly lovely lady who was very talented with her hands: knitting, tapestries and sewing were all part of her repertoire so it seems only right that this Doris is sat at a sewing machine.

'Nanny Doris' from Crumpled and Rumpled

There were a couple of other figures that I was debating between which lead to the stallholder commenting on what vivid imaginations we all have. You always have to think about their back story - will they fit in, is she the right age for the man of the house, is she too modern or too old-fashioned? But no, I think she's just perfect which is why she now has a new home with me.