Friday, 25 November 2016

Time for a new challenge?

I love going to dollshouse fairs but it's not quite the same when your current projects (my house, pub and shop) are almost completed. Window shopping is all very well but if I don't come home clutching a tiny paper bag that cost me a fortune, I don't feel quite the same level of happiness.

With Kensington Dollshouse Festival fast approaching I've been wondering what to put on my shopping list. It's also that time of year when my husband is nagging me for Christmas present ideas and picking up a couple of things at the show has become tradition.

I joined a few dollshouse groups on Facebook recently, partly to nose around other people's houses and partly, I admit, to promote this blog. It's been really inspiring to see what everyone else is making and I've also spotted a lot of bargains in the 'For sale' sections, particularly for beginners.

So what's this got to do with my shopping list? Well something caught my eye in one of the groups that gave me an idea for a new project.

It was love at first sight
Isn't it lovely? You can see the full range from Susi's Miniatures on eBay. So all being well, I'm going to create a 1950s diner which combines my love of vintage and miniatures. I don't know why I haven't thought about it before!

There are two things that are making me slightly hesitant. Firstly, where on earth am I going to put it? I think I can get over this as Tim has the entire third floor of the house for his games room, meaning I should be entitled to a little space elsewhere in the house.

The second issue is much more problematic. Are there many products available that will suit my diner? To date, I haven't really purchased any miniatures that are post 1940s. I'm not pernickety about dates but I like things to look like they belong. I know it's easy to buy traditional miniatures and there are more and more sellers making modern pieces but what about that period in between?

And what kind of room box will I need? So far I've only found Victorian or Edwardian styles which don't really cut it. Obviously if I was talented I'd scratch build it but I want something that looks beautiful, not disastrous. I'm wondering if the option below might be my best bet as the big windows seem more appropriate than anything else I've seen.

Could this be a diner? 

I've also been wondering if I could find a small 'neon' sign. I know they exist for train sets so I suspect it's possible - I just need to find one.

Of course, the best place to look for new items - and to be inspired - is shows. So roll on Kensington, I'm ready!*

* I may not be quite so ready on the day as it's the day after the work Christmas do...

Monday, 21 November 2016

My latest Lego project

I can't tell you much about it yet but I've been playing with Lego again (as if the first time wasn't time consuming enough).

This is the state of our dining room after weeks of waking in the night with a new idea, immediate eBay searches and lots of late night bidding.

It's all for the work Christmas competition so I'll tell you more in December...

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Halloween Special: And now for something a little different...

These days it's possible to buy almost anything you can think of in miniature. There was a time when choice was limited to a Victorian or Georgian dollshouse so it wasn't too hard to pick a theme and get going. Not any more...

One of the ongoing projects in our house is my husband's castle. He had seen a kit for sale but my dad knew he could make something far superior so for Tim's 40th birthday, my parents gave him the three room building below.

Quite rightly, they didn't decorate it as that's such a personal choice they wanted Tim to decide how it should look. He was thrilled with it (still is) and it meant a lot to me that we could share the hobby. I was pretty lucky to marry a man who not only tolerates my miniature obsession but also joins in.

The problem is Tim's going to be 50 next month. Yep, that's 10 long years the poor castle has been nothing more than MDF.  

There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, we're perfectionists when it comes to our miniature projects but between us, we have very little skill. We know how good it could look but we're scared to start in case we get it wrong.

Secondly, Tim has changed his mind so many times over the years about the theme I've completely lost track of what it's going to be.

What started as a witch's home then became a Victorian Doctor Who themed castle. That turned into a monster's lair and for the moment, he seems to have settled on a magical superhero's headquarters.  

We haven't totally neglected the project though as every time I go to a show I pick up a little something that will, I hope, be on display one day. With Halloween upon us it seemed like a good time to share some of his treasures.

Anyone got a miniature feather duster?

The first piece I bought was this table and chair set (now complete with authentic dust), back when the theme was very definitely witch-related.

Handy for going into battle
At one point there was talk of wood panelling and a nod to medieval times which is probably why we ended up with the pieces above. Whatever the final theme, I still think they'll look pretty good on the walls.

Then there's one of my favourite pieces - a beautifully put together shelving unit complete with scrolls, books and maps. I suspect there are hundreds of spells and potion recipes in those books, just waiting to be discovered (by a witch, monster, Doctor Who, whoever). 

I tend not to buy this kind of thing, generally believing that half the fun is in finding the right miniatures and putting it all together yourself. However, when I saw this I knew Tim would love it and it was so nicely done - so into my tiny tote bag it went (after paying for it, obviously).

A selection of the 'horrifying' things that will find a home in the castle

In recent years there has definitely been more unusual miniatures at the exhibitions so it's getting easier to pick up a skull, a book of spells or even this amazing room divider.

There's a close up below (because I think some of these pieces are just lovely).

One day I imagine there'll be a lot of shelving in the castle full of potions, which is why we ended up with jars of dragons' blood, eyeballs and tapeworms...

Everything you need to conjure up... who knows what? 

Of course, even the most accomplished witch/wizard/superhero can't remember everything so they're going to need a few books - and what better place to store them than an old coffin?

One day I hope to post pictures of the finished castle - or at least a work in progress - and hopefully we won't be waiting another decade.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Tiny toys - a tour of my miniature nursery

Continuing the tour of my 1:12 scale Tudor dollshouse that I started some years ago, the nursery is another of my favourite rooms.

The nursery in 1:12 scale

I could have filled this room many times over because tiny toys are so very beautiful. I'm particularly fond of Humpty Dumpty and Paddington Bear - in fact, I would love to own the entire range from Sally Reader Miniatures but these two are my favourites.

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall

There's a lot going on in this room - all on top of the rug my nan made more than 20 years ago. Right at the back of the nursery is a toy garage that I'm also rather fond of - complete with cars.

Spot the garage. Look out for the kite and skipping rope too - both have lovely details

I'm always in two minds about whether or not to add people to a room. There's no doubt it takes away from the realism and, particularly in photos, the vague doubt over whether or not you're looking at a miniature scene or a full size room. However, sometimes I come across people that I feel I have to have, or I just think they'll fit well in a room.

It wouldn't really be right to have a nursery without children playing

When I first saw these two laying on their stomachs, I knew they'd be perfect for the nursery. They were in the library for a little while but I actually love that room too much to add people.

Hmmm, where to start?

It's worth taking a closer look at what they're doing as the detail in that plane kit is astounding. It feels like real balsa wood but I have to admit, I've never got it out the box and explored properly as it's just so delicate.

Perhaps one day when I'm fast asleep the children will build it themselves :-)

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Mixing Lego and collectable miniatures

I'm very lucky because I like my job - a bit of a rarity these days. Sometimes, I absolutely love my job. Recently I was able to get a bit creative and came up with something for the company website I'm rather proud of.

I work for PR agency Maxim and am always trying to think of new ways to get different messages across. Photographs are really important when trying to gain media coverage but some of the images we're sent for issuing to the media are truly terrible.

Obviously we can't share these pictures so I decided to recreate some of the issues we have to help explain to people how to take a good photo for the media. And that's where my love of miniatures came in...

My first job was to beg, borrow and steal until I had a team of Lego figures ready to help out.

Lego people - ASSEMBLE! 

I turned our dining room into a makeshift photo studio using an old cardboard box, my mum brought some of her miniatures round and I raided my own collection.

It was like a Blue Peter challenge
A behind-the-scenes shot - amazing what you can do with a box (and a very expensive 1:12 scale plant)

The scene above eventually turned into the shot below - the lesson being you always need to keep an eye on what's going on in the background of your photo.

Watch the background

My mum has a seaside stall where she sells deckchairs so obviously I had to use them. This photo is actually based on one we created on Brighton beach some years ago.

Ice cream, anyone?

You might recognise the props below from my nursery but again, this photo is based on one we created in real life. An oversized prop can go a long way!

Lego + miniatures = smiles

It's also really important to remove anything from a photo that might date it, assuming you'll want to use it again at some point. I remembered I sell poppies in my shop so it seemed only right to use them.

Don't worry - I didn't cut the stalks - that's down to Photoshop
 To see the full article (and lots more pictures) take a look here

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Back to blogging?

It turns out I'm not good at regular blogging, pretty terrible actually. It's been so long I can hardly remember how Blogger works... I'm not going to make any promises about being better but when I want to blog, I will.

A couple of things have inspired me recently. I've been 'playing' with Lego for work and managed to incorporate some mini props into pictures I took that turned out to be rather popular. I loved doing it and it reminded me that miniatures really do make me happy so perhaps I should be spending a little more time with them.

Secondly, my friend and colleague Erica Jones was on Saturday Live on Radio 4 yesterday, all because of her blog The bookshop around the corner. She is extremely dedicated to her love of bookshops and to her blog (she's been known to leave the pub early so she can meet her self-imposed publishing deadlines) and she generally makes me think 'must try harder' on a regular basis.

Of course, I also married a prolific blogger but I know I have no chance of keeping up with Tim and HeroPress's success. That's not to say he doesn't inspire me though.

Finally, it has always bothered me that I promised to give readers, who I suspect have long since given up on me, a tour of my dollshouse. I wanted to spread the posts out, which to be fair, I have managed rather well - three and a half years and counting....

So here goes, no promises, but let's see what happens.