Saturday, 19 June 2021

What a difference a few days make.....!

Happily, the shelf support plug thingys finally arrived, so I was able to re-install all the shelves after working out the exact configuration for maximising space for all the storage boxes, which flank the bureau on both sides.  

If I take all the boxes out of the bureau drawers, and put them into the bookshelves, where they fit absolutely perfectly and are immediately accessible, that will help clear a lot of the stuff which came out of the wall and base cabinets, which were sold last week. 

However, the resultant mess was a sight to behold.....

Having reached peak chaos, there was nothing else to do except work through it all and do the 'keep, recycle, sell'  thing with each item.  This starts off being difficult, and as the hours tick by, and decision fatigue sets in, it becomes much, much easier.  Lots of stuff in that pile is now in the dining room, awaiting collection by buyers and/or freecyclers.

With the space cleared, I was able to set about restoring the room to a workable state.

First we moved my cabinet bureau to the wall by the window, between the freshly painted bookshelves...

I've moved stuff into these boxes from the drawers in the base of the bureau, which are relatively inaccessible when the desk is open. 

I have installed a strip of LED lights inside the desk unit, which are powered by a USB plug and throw a lovely, bright, white light all over my working area

I treated myself to a new magnetic cutting mat, specially for the bureau desk. It will hopefully make it quicker and easier to clear off the drop-down desk by doubling as a tray! 

Elsewhere in the room, I've moved the shelves which were on the worktops into the space vacated by the cabinet, and relocated the chair.

My day nursery room box now resides on the worktop and is much easier to get to.

I've moved my table centrally between the south-facing windows, where I will get good light but not full, blinding, direct sunlight.

There are still things to sort though, and a few areas to tidy, but overall, considering how it looked a few days ago, the transformation is almost complete and I can now get back to work.

Happy days.....! 

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Little by little......

I've finally managed to get the base and wall unit combo out of the workroom.  In the end, PP decided that they would take up too much room in the shed so with that, I hoiked them out and they're currently in the dining room, pending their sale or eventual 'freecycling'. 

Yesterday I emptied and cleaned the two bookshelves and gave them a coat of Ultra Grip, which claims to prepare melamine surfaces to accept mineral paint.  It went on milky and dried clear.

Before: the horrible orangey melamine

Today I've completed two coats of the mineral paint, including all 8 shelves.

After:the altogether more pleasing pale blue

Although they look the same colour as the walls, they're a subtly different shade of blue.  I've ordered new white shelf support plug thingys, as the originals were dark brown.  I'm hoping they'll arrive tomorrow so that I can put all the shelves back and start to refill them.  

I've also had a rethink about some of the stuff I have stored in my bureau cabinet drawers, which is annoyingly inaccessible when the desk top is down, which is 95% of the time. 

My eventual aim is to get everything work related into these two bookshelves plus my bureau cabinet.  Just how realistic that is, remains to be seen. 

In the meantime I'm gradually chipping away at selling my books and surplus to requirements fabrics and trimmings.   If you'd like an updated sale list please let me know.  

So, at the moment the workroom is chock-a-block with stuff from the bookshelves and I'm looking forward to getting it all moved round, reorganised and ship-shape again.

To be continued.......

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Workroom, shirk room.....

Whilst progress on the patio has been stymied, due to the continuing inclement weather, I've been chipping away at clearing out the workroom.  I'm aiming to get to the point where all that's left is what I actually REALLY need to continue making my little dolls.

I recently got rid of one big wall cupboard, which leaves its accompanying base unit.  PP thinks she might be able to use one, or both, in the shed, but to do that we'll need to clear out the shed completely, get rid of all the accumulated junk, old tins of paint etc etc etc, and we simply haven't had a full day with no rain or wind in which to make a start.

So in the meantime I've been gradually sorting through all my remaining fabrics, trimmings etc and reorganising them to fit into smaller boxes, which stack neatly in my two remaining bookshelves....

I had been considering getting some new white bookshelves, as the ones I currently have are a horrid orangey-coloured melamine, but they are an absolutely perfect fit for my storage boxes and I doubt I'd find anything else exactly the same width as they're several decades old. 

 Then I remembered that I still have a full pot of the paint I used to upcycle my bureau cabinet.  Trouble is, painting over melamine is a nightmare.... I've done it before and the paint has a tendency to chip and flake off.  However, a quick Google revealed this...

Ultra Grip claims to be a bonding agent specifically for melamine, and even better, it's made by the same company that produced my paint, so the two should work perfectly together.      PP then came up with the excellent suggestion of moving my cabinet to the space between the two re-painted bookshelves as they will all match.  

I can't empty the bookshelves though, until the base cabinet has been removed, which in turn requires clearing out the shed, which in turn requires at least 2 days without rain.  It would be even better if I could do the painting of the bookshelves outside too. 

I have to touch up a few dinks and chips on my bureau, which I'll do at the same time, and I'm considering changing some of the decorative papers in the glass doors, so that they all match the drawers in the base.  I still have a few pieces of the paper left so fingers crossed there will be enough to do the 16 small glass panels.  I will have to make templates and do some very judicious matching and patching... it will be a close run thing! 

So, when the cabinet is moved, I will have liberated a whole wall, and opened up the room.

Do you remember when I got this....

At the time I fondly imagined sitting on it.... making notes in my 'ideas notebook', reading, or simply relaxing while listening to the radio.  Needless to say, I could count the number of times I've done any of those things on the fingers of half a hand.  In fact, our lovely little Lucy sat in it far more than I've ever done.....

Awwwww..... 😢

Well, when I move the cabinet I'm going to relocate this chair to the empty wall, where I will then have a view out of the windows.   I might also get a soft rug, to make my new seating area more 'kumphie', as Small Dog would no doubt have suggested.

So, a tentative plan is coming together. But until I can crack on with it, I'll get back to sorting through yet more boxes, organising and consolidating.  

Monday, 24 May 2021

May....or May not!

 At the beginning of April we made a start on our side patio makeover... it was very hard work and took several weeks.  I wrote about it at the time.... HERE.

Throughout April we toiled daily, while imagining the lovely balmy days to come, during which we would enjoy and make the most of our lovely new outdoor lounging area.

I would post photos, except EVERYTHING is covered over to protect from the relentless wind and rain which has characterised most of May.  I can count on the fingers of half a hand the days on which it hasn't rained.

Or blown a gale.

On those few days it's been so cold that we've had to resort to keeping the heating on AND topping up with the fire lit!

We've had an awful spring, and although the weather is forecast to turn warmer over the coming weekend, it's put a real dampener on my patio plans.   

I have made some lovely outdoor bunting but haven't put it out for fear of it blowing away, or at the very least becoming mildewed in the wet conditions.

Ditto all the lovely finishing touches, which are currently being stored in the dining room, until such time as the weather gets it act together.

We know that we need something to cover the whole new seating area.... not for shade from the blistering sun (I wish!) but for protection from rain.  It's a difficult space which has a lot of challenges so we've been considering various options.... from a simple gazebo, to a more eclectic waterproof shade sail arrangement.  However, the recent gales have meant that plans for that too have had to be put on hold. 

I do hope summer arrives soon.  Spring has been a cold, grey washout and I'm longing for some consistently warm, sunny weather in which to complete the project.... and, more importantly, get out there and enjoy it! 

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Mignonette Doll Club Project - Part 2

Back in February I wrote about the Mignonette Doll Club project for this year.  Since then I've been remiss in posting an update, despite making reasonable progress, so here's what I've achieved so far.

I searched far and wide for decorative papers for the inside and outside, but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, so I decided to make my own.  I tiled a repeating pattern on my laptop, then printed the resulting A4 images on high quality matte coated photo paper.

Inkjet inks are prone to fading in UV light, so I sprayed each sheet liberally with a UV protective spray designed specially for fixing inkjet prints. 

After leaving all the sheets to dry thoroughly, I set about applying them to my box.  I cut each exterior piece slightly larger than the surface they were attaching to.... you'll see why in a minute.

I didn't want to risk using a wet adhesive in case it seeped through the paper and caused the inks to dissolve and run.  Also, making the paper damp would cause it to swell and ripple.... like wallpaper.  So instead I used an adhesive film applicator, which applies a thin layer of dry adhesive film. 

As the adhesive is dry, it's not possible to slide the paper around when applying it to the box, hence cutting each piece slightly larger for the outside. 

Once the paper was applied and smoothed down, I used a craft knife (with new, super-sharp blade!) to trim away the excess on all sides. 

Box exterior.... neatly covered

Interior....a bit more tricky!

The interior was slightly more difficult, as I couldn't trim the edges on my cutting mat, so I had to cut each piece to the exact size.  I made paper templates of each surface and used them to cut the interior papers.  I placed the base and lid bottoms first, then each side, lining up the paper along the top edges.

So far so good.  Now to plan and fit out the interior.

Friday, 14 May 2021

KDF Online Showcase - May 2021

EDIT - Since the showcase opened this morning, several dolls listed on the website have now been sold. If you want a similar doll to one that has sold please feel free to contact me.

Visit my page here....

The renowned Kensington Dollshouse Festival is hoping to return to live shows later this year, so this will likely be the final online showcase.  As a previous KDF exhibitor, and workshop tutor, I know just how much work goes into preparing for the Festival, so it's lovely to have this opportunity to showcase my little dolls for dolls.

I've been making tiny dolls for over 30 years and am as much in love with them now as I was way back then.  As a collector of miniatures, diminutive dolls tick many boxes, as they can exist in the most doll-phobic doll's house, portraying as they do, children's playthings rather than people.

My dolls are completely handmade, beginning life as a few thimblefuls of porcelain slip, then undergoing up to 6 kiln firings to transform them from fragile greenware to impermeable porcelain, complete with multiple china paint firings.

They have jointed arms and legs, which allow for movement....

Costumes are created using sumptuous silk fabrics, many of which I design myself and are professionally printed.  Similarly, to achieve just the right shade I often hand dye silk ribbons, trimmings and lace to complement specific outfits.

Dolls have silk underwear, dainty leather-soled shoes and lace petticoats, while dresses and jackets are carefully fitted onto the tiny dolls.

Finally, I use delicate ringlets and curls to create elaborate coiffeurs,  often finished off with be-ribboned and feathered hats and bonnets.

Once complete, I make a colour-coordinated box with illustrated lid, which is lined with tissue paper and the doll is nestled inside.  Each doll  also comes with its own signed and dated Certificate of Authenticity.

Dolls come with a lovely, bespoke box to match their costume.

I often make little dolls based on wonderful original dolls discovered on Pinterest, using the photos as inspiration.....

Images of original costumes form inspiration for tiny dolls

Vintage Mourning Doll!

Prices for dressed dolls range from £35-£60 and I am happy to offer layaway payments for up to 3 months.

Here is a selection of the dolls newly listed on my website, specially for the show.....

EDIT - Since the showcase opened this morning, several dolls listed on my website have now been sold. If you want a similar doll to one that has sold (bearing in mind that I never repeat exactly the same doll) please feel free to contact me.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Firsts and lasts.....

2021 is a year of firsts and lasts.... some heartbreakingly sad and emotional, others exciting but still slightly worrisome.

This week I will be completing my last commissions, for some lovely, long-term customers. Over the past 30+ years I've lost count of the many, many miniatures I've made to commission.  It must run into several hundreds.  It pleases me enormously that my tiny creations can be found in doll's houses all around the world.

From now on I will still be making tiny dolls for sale, and possibly the occasional more elaborate project piece, but I am no longer accepting customer commissions.

Over the decades I have also designed and produced many dozens of kits.... some quick and easy, others devilishly difficult and time consuming.  I have in mind to create just a few more kits this year, one in particular to commemorate the contribution made by Small Dog, who was a key member of the THD team for many years.

Similarly, the KDF online showcase, which begins on 14th May, will be my last.  I first exhibited at the Kensington Dollshouse Festival many years ago, and also taught workshops. During the past year their world-famous shows have moved online, and I have participated in all three of them.  Later in the year, Covid permitting, they will return to live shows, which I won't be attending.  

This is also the last year for our current Tower House Dolls website.... I'm currently investigating other avenues for sales which are less costly and onerous.

Hopefully, by the end of this year, the business in its final slimmed-down form will be ready to move forward.

Until then I'll be continuing to clear out and reorganise my workroom.  Having recently removed a large storage cabinet, I still have another cabinet to go in order to liberate one end of the room.  I have amassed a large pile of books which I'll be compiling into a Book Sale List, which should be ready to release by the end of this month.  As with my fabrics and trimmings list (which is currently being updated) it will be available as a PDF file on request, so if you would like to receive a copy just let me know and I'll add you to the mailing list.

Having taken the decision to downsize the business in preparation for my eventual full retirement it feels as though the wheels are now in motion and picking up momentum. 

Onwards and upwards......