Friday, 24 May 2013

Fame for The Rachel's Return!

Today my latest miniature project appears in the local paper the Kent & Sussex Courier - The Rachel's Return is famous! You can read the full article here.

My little pub and my huge head in the Kent & Sussex Courier

Hopefully a few readers may be visiting Miniatures make me happy after reading the article so I thought it was a good time to post pictures of some of the things mentioned. Firstly, if you'd like to see more pictures of the pub, you can find them here.

I mentioned that collecting miniatures isn't about creating a perfect world, far from it. I love the fact that you can buy broken eggs, spilled jam and half eaten food - it all adds to the realism. 

Spillages on the kitchen floor

I'm terrified of most creepy crawlies but when I saw a spider trapped in an upturned glass from Mouse House Miniatures, I thought it would be perfect for one of the maid's rooms. I suspect she's scared too and now that she's trapped it she's not sure what to do with it.


There are many more pictures of my beautiful Tudor dollshouse over on Facebook which you are welcome to take a look at. There's also a post here with more details on my first dollshouse.

The dollshouse that my dad built for me from scratch

I am extremely proud that my dad built the house from scratch. Every beam, staircase, wall and door is hand crafted. He installed all the electrics, including the flickering lights in the fires. The fire grates are made from a pineapple tin and the 'logs' they hold are twigs from the local woods.

The master bedroom - one of the many rooms to feature a fireplace

So, thank you to the Courier for making more people aware that dollshouses are not just for children. It's a thriving hobby that provides pleasure for millions of people worldwide.

And thanks for taking the time to visit Miniatures make me happy - I hope you'll drop by again soon.   

Sunday, 12 May 2013

A trip to Kensington Dollshouse Festival

The Kensington Dollshouse Festival is one of my favourite days of the year - an opportunity to shop (and window shop) for some of the best miniatures around.

Yesterday my mum and I met as usual outside Kensington Town Hall; she had quite a list whereas I was sure I didn't really want anything. Famous last words. Four hours later and with purses a little lighter, we'd had to buy a couple of the lovely new bags to make sure our purchases didn't get squashed on the way home.

The new bags will come in very useful for future shows

The format had changed slightly with the summer show being run over two days instead of three. I think this meant it was slightly busier than usual but with a little patience, we still got to see almost every exhibitor there. There are many that we simply admire; I'll never be at the stage where I can justify spending £780 on a 1:12 scale piano but it was beautiful.

Unfortunately my camera decided not to work on the day so photos have been taken with a mobile phone - not quite the same but I did my best. Many thanks to the festival organisers and the exhibitors for allowing me to take pictures - that's not always the case. Perhaps unnecessarily, but just for my own pleasure, I'd had some business cards printed so I could show people where the photos will appear and will hopefully reassure them that I'm not going to rush home and try to copy their products.

One of our first stops is always Pride of Plaice. They make the most amazing food including fish, hence the name, cakes and the best fruit and veg I've ever seen. Unfortunately they don't have a website I can direct you to as like so many miniaturists, they rely on shows to sell their wares.

The huge selection of veg on sale at Pride of Plaice - the tweezers give an idea of scale

Pride of Plaice's wonderful food
They used to do a lot more fish, most of which my mum has bought in the past for her fish stall, but they seem to be branching out these days. There were still plenty of lobsters, prawns, crabs, eels and much more but I suppose there is a limited market for fishy products.

I'm particularly fond of the chopping boards that contain food being prepared. I love the 'half finished' items because they add life and realism to a miniature scene. I'm sure more work must go into a half baked cake than a completed one.

We've bought so many wonderful products from Pride of Plaice at previous shows we couldn't find anything to purchase, although I was very tempted by some muddy wellies - I think I might create an outdoor scene in the future that they would be perfect for.

Although I like my scenes to be realistic, my husband Tim is a big fan of fantasy worlds which is why the castle he is collecting bits and pieces for is full of witches, wizards, swords and sorcery. I hope he'll make it to the festival one day as he would adore everything on the Kastle Kelm Miniatures stall.

Some of the characters available at Kastle Kelm Miniatures

This scene makes me smile and I was very drawn to the 'magic' jars pouring an unknown liquid into a cauldron.

Kastle Kelm Miniatures is known for making something a little different 

We were also very excited by the glowing jars below. I knew Tim's castle had to have some so I bought a few and the bulb that will be used to make them glow - a very clever effect.

Jar of moonlight, anyone?

So everything I bought from the very friendly people at Kastle Kelm was for Tim but you have to start spending somewhere!

My purchases from Kastle Kelm Miniatures - all for Tim!

Miniaturists come from far and wide to exhibit at Kensington. I was very taken with the scenes created by Italians Cinen, especially as I have a pub and a shop that I can always squeeze a little something extra into.

Cinen had some beautiful and unusual products for shops

If my pub was bigger, and probably a little more modern, I'm fairly sure I would have bought a foosball table.

So very tempting...

As I have an empty shelf in my pub, I thought the two boxes below would be perfect to fill it. Cinen had many more but they were probably a little modern for my setting.

A few items for The Rachel's Return

When I originally posted the pictures of The Rachel's Return on Twitter, @cathdiscoversee, a Real Ale fan, asked if she could have a tankard on the bar. When I saw the one above I thought it would be perfect so now she will always be welcome in my little pub.

A scene from Phoenix Models

The tankard was purchased from Phoenix Models who make medieval armour, weapons and household goods. This is another stall where I could buy everything and know that Tim would love it. He has one or two of the items in the picture above already so I resisted buying anything else.

Part of the main hall 

After a short rest (spending money is quite exhausting) we moved on to a couple of our favourites. Last year when we visited Glasscraft, the lovely Phil had a call of nature so we minded his stall for a couple of minutes - the perils of exhibiting alone, I suppose. When I explained that I'd lost the ladle for the punch bowl I'd bought a couple of years ago in the hope that I could purchase one individually, he presented me with one for free in payment for last year's favour - how kind.

My punch bowl is complete again

Glasscraft's products are so beautiful and incredibly reasonable. My mum was very pleased to see some new ice cream sundaes for sale so quickly snapped them up for her seaside cafe.

Some of the glassware on sale at Glasscraft

Next door was the familiar Shepherd Miniatures, another stall that we can never resist. As you can see from the picture below, a lot of people had the same idea!


Eventually we did make it to the front and I picked up a bit of stock for my general store, as well as a 'wet' sponge that I thought would be useful to wipe up the spilled jam in my kitchen.

Tins for my general store from Shepherd Miniatures

I also bought an amazing cake from Mouse House Miniatures, known for the detail and humour they put into their products. I hadn't realised quite how many of their items I already own (a broken egg, half peeled banana and fish and chips in paper to name but a few) but I couldn't resist a couple more. I don't think this photo does the Victoria Sponge justice as you can actually see the crumbs! The vegetable peelings are also from Mouse House and will be squeezed into my kitchen. I just couldn't leave them behind.

Items for my Tudor house

Obviously we had to visit Bags of Character to see Eadie's friends. For those who haven't read the post about The Rachel's Return, Eadie is my favourite character in my pub. Her doppelganger is second from left in the picture below.

Eadie and her friends in a brilliant pub scene from Bags of Character

The very talented Carol Bull had also made a few more familiar scenes. The front room from Only Fools and Horses was instantly recognisable.

Alright, Del Boy? 

We've visited the Dolls House Mall stand several times before but had never spoken to them. As well as many shop items, they also make brass signs. I've been looking for a 'staff only' sign for the back door of my shop for years and it turns out they had one all along - and now so do I!

A very detailed laboratory scene from The Dolls House Mall

Finding the 'right' dolls for a scene can be a challenge but you generally know when you see them. World of My Own has some amazing characters but I couldn't find a wife for the man I bought there previously. There was quite a crowd though! I'm very fond of the man polishing silver in the centre of the picture but I just couldn't squeeze him in anywhere.

Quite a crowd at World of my own

I could write an awful lot more about the amazing miniatures on show at Kensington but I've probably said enough. You can check the list of exhibitors with links to their websites where applicable but the best thing to do is go and see them for yourself. The next show is 30 November so put it in your diary now!

And finally, because there always has to be an 'and finally', this little chap caught my eye. I'm tempted to replace the toilet I already have...