Friday, 31 July 2015

Everything Alice! - One Day Workshop

Bookings are now open for our first one day workshop session on Saturday 26 September!



In the 150th anniversary year of the publication of Lewis Carroll's famous book, this workshop is, quite literally, Everything Alice and students will be making ALL of the miniatures shown, including the shop window display.













So, in detail, here's what's included......



Alice shop window display


Students can personalise their shop window....


Choice of tile panels



Customise the interior as you wish



Tiny 1/24th scale porcelain Alice doll, 
complete with a little arch decorated with red and white roses and playing cards.




Alice in Wonderland toy theatre in a choice of styles.  
The theatre has movable characters and is illuminated.




Set of porcelain toy characters, which you will paint in the colours of your choice.  
The set includes the Mad Hatter, March Hare and White Rabbit Messenger.
(Tea set is available as an optional extra)






Pull along cart, decorated inside and out with Alice illustrations


Play set with changeable scenery and characters.


Full set of double sided characters which can be used with the theatre and play set.
The illustrated storage box is also included.


Boxed set of 6 Alice nursery blocks



Set of Alice character masks for 1/12th children



Tiny illustrated Alice in Wonderland book



Lots of additional items will be available to decorate your shop window.

As this is our first workshop of this kind, there will also be a few surprises.... of the Alice variety!

This is a humdinger of a workshop(!) and students will certainly not be able to complete everything in the time available.  During the session we will concentrate on the more complex items.... toy theatre, pull along cart and Alice doll, which we hope will be finished on the day.  

Full workshop notes will be available so that students will be able to complete any unfinished items at home.

The cost of this workshop is £100 and includes the complete workshop pack as shown, plus tuition and hot/cold drinks throughout the day.

A booking deposit of £25 is required (cheque or PayPal) with the balance payable on the day of the class.

In order to run this class, I need a minimum of 3 students. 

Classes will be held at my home in St. Leonards on Sea, East Sussex and run from 10.30am - 5.30 pm.

Full road/rail travel details and information on accommodation locally are available on request, if required.

Spaces are limited, so to book a place please contact me to check availability.

Please note that although a few of the elements of this project will be available to purchase as kits on the website at a later date, due to the complex nature of this project, complete home workshop packs as detailed above will not be available. 

Hopefully we will see some of you on 26 September.  Small Dog is looking forward to it!







Friday, 17 July 2015

RIP Good Printer.....

I suppose it had to happen someday.  After all, machines in general, and printers in particular have a limited lifespan.  There would never be a good time for my best, most favourite printer to give up the ghost, but why did it have to happen today when I have a barrowload of printing to do?

Long-time readers of this blog will know that printers and I have a chequered past.  For example, almost exactly three years ago I posted THIS, and a search for printer based posts reveals a staggering catalogue of invective-filled grief.

The 'bad', multifunction printer has been on borrowed time for longer than I can remember.  It's only because we have two that it hasn't been relegated to the great cartridge shuffler in the sky years ago.  In computer years it's very ancient and has been on death row for ages. It's bad-tempered, contrary and bears a grudge.  Not to mention it doesn't print, scan or copy without a hugely dramatic diva-like performance.  It's like the Sarah Bernhardt of the printer world

By comparison, the 'good', print-only machine has been relatively trouble-free, only occasionally coming under the malign influence of the bad printer, and even then it always apologised profusely and worked doubly hard to make up for any indiscretions.

There had been no indication that it was ailing.  Only the other day it turned out a batch of 12 page, double-sided, full colour instruction booklets without a murmur.  Which was why what happened this morning was so shockingly unexpected.

I needed to print out an invoice.  Single page.  Standard quality.  No colour.  Simple.
Everything seemed fine.  It switched on, shuffled its cartridges (as they do) and waited to print.  Drew down the paper, all as normal, then an odd error message appeared on my screen and the printer's lights started flashing all at once and then...... and then *sob*....

It died.

There was a sort of muffled bang, and a bit of a fizzle, and when I checked the power cord there were a few sparks.

I think it was a heart attack.  Or possibly a stroke. We tried to give it life-saving treatment... checked the diagnostics, fuse, plug, socket, leads....turned it upside down and gave it a bit of a shake.... all to no avail.  

It had gone.

I am bereft.

It doesn't help that the bad printer is now looking unbearably smug.  Although, to be fair, perhaps in deference to my grief it has stepped up to the mark and deigned to print a few sheets without throwing a hissy fit like it usually does.  

However, with no less than four workshops to prepare for I must have a reliable, good quality printer, so having done some quick research, we've ordered a replacement, which we'll pick up on Sunday.

I'm thinking of having a Viking funeral for my loyal Canon..... it's the least it deserves.


Wednesday, 15 July 2015

In other news.....

I had an exciting parcel delivery today.....




Yayyy..... the wonderful kits for my 'Atelier des Poupées' workshop have arrived!

When assembled, they look like this, ready to be transformed into a dollmaker's workshop, filled with all manner of lovely dollmaking themed miniatures.

I'd originally intended to schedule this workshop for the autumn, but as the list of included miniatures keeps growing, and with three other sessions to prepare, I've decided to run it early in the New Year instead.

This will be a challenging session and requires careful planning with military precision.  I was just thinking that I could do with some help when who should appear to offer her services as Project Manager....?


None other than Smallest Small Dog and her faithful sidekick, Archimedes

Before I could gather my wits to say "Thanks, but no thanks" they were already checking out the vignette with a view to taking up the position.


SSD even had the foresight to bring her dish and lunch with her, although predictably things began to go downhill fairly swiftly when Archimedes stole her gravy bone and scampered up onto a shelf.

*sigh* 

Their antics as erstwhile 'helpers' when I was building La Mignonette were anything but helpful but SSD is difficult to dissuade and I left her measuring up and muttering about rag-rolled vermilion walls teamed with eau-de-nil curtains.  I'm not sure where she got her interior decor qualifications but the term 'lucky bag' springs to mind.

I can foresee insurmountable artistic differences ahead........

Exciting times......

It usually takes a few days to get back into the swing of things following a two-week holiday.
There's all the general household 'stuff' to catch up on and the prospect of getting back in the work saddle is rarely appealing after time off.

However, (and I can hardly believe this myself) I've hit the ground, if not exactly running, at least at a gentle trot.

I've spent time in the workroom already this week, working on my August workshop kit which will be featured at the Mini Miniature Show, as well as making inroads into preparation for my three one day workshops which will be held this autumn.

Also, as someone renowned for procrastination on a grand scale, I've even begun planning a very special workshop which will be showcased at next year's Cotswold Miniatures Weekend.

Yes, you read that right.  NEXT YEAR! 

October 2016 to be precise.  I'm delighted to have been invited to teach at this prestigious event and my recent French holiday provided the inspiration for a rather wonderful project, for which Nick Day of Treacle Lane is once again designing and producing the kit.  We're still working through the design elements but trust me, it will be A. Mazing.

As will my autumn one day workshops which are scheduled for the following dates:

Saturday 26th September - Everything Alice!                                                             
In this 150th anniversary year of the publication of Alice in Wonderland our first workshop will feature a variety of Alice -themed miniatures, including a range of toys, dolls, boxed games, new toy theatre, pullalong toy cart, playset, illustrated book, shop window display and lots more! 

Saturday 24 October - Toy Theatre Cart                                                                       
The theme for this session is taken from one of my favourite fairy tales..... Little Red Riding Hood.  Students will make a beautifully decorated theatre cart on wheels. Double doors open to reveal the interior, complete with moveable scenery and characters.  As this is a working toy cart, there will be a (hopefully) compliant wolf to pull it along.  Also included in this session are a little toy Red Riding Hood doll, vintage boxed game and tiny book.

Saturday 14 November - Mignonette Toy Doll Presentation Box                         
I just love things in boxes, and especially miniature things in boxes!                                 
This project harks back to the heyday of French dollmaking and the beautiful presentation boxes of the 1890s.  It features a wooden box which will be decorated inside and out with vintage style papers.  Students will then dress a porcelain Jumeau-inspired toy doll and then make a variety of items for her, including costumes, hats, flower posy, fan, a selection of tiny personal accessories, book, toiletries. 
The doll and all of her costumes and accessories can be pinned onto two silk covered pads which can themselves be removed from the box base and lid.                                    
This project is a one-of-a-kind heirloom piece.
We are currently finalising details so full information and photos of all the projects will be available next month, when bookings will open.  Workshops are limited to a maximum of 5 students and will be held in St. Leonards on Sea, East Sussex.  Sessions will run from 10.30am till 5.00pm.  





Tuesday, 14 July 2015

August Mini Miniature Show August Workshop

With just over a month till the start of the August Mini Miniature Show, it's time to reveal my workshop offering..... 



My recent holiday in France, home of the wonderful dolls by Emile Jumeau, inspired this little boxed toy doll’s doll, dressed in ivory and sepia silk and lace.  She is china-painted porcelain, has jointed arms and legs and measures a smidgen under 1  3/4” tall.
 
As always, the workshop kit will contain everything you need to make this special little doll, including her bespoke box.



The doll has silk underwear, socks and silk shoes with ankle straps.  Her long-sleeved dress is made from silk and lace and has a ruched silk panel decorated with tiny silk bows.



A chestnut brown ringlet curl wig falls from beneath a dainty silk bonnet.  






Around her wrist is a vintage Paris display card.


She nestles in her made to measure box which has a clear acetate window.


 
The kit includes fully illustrated step-by-step instructions.  Students will be able to attend a video link session with me, at a time to suit them.
 
Kits cost $39 (£25  35Euro) plus international shipping  $8 (7Euro,  P&P within the UK £3)
 
To book a place, or for further information, please contact me,  sandra(at)towerhousedolls.co.uk    
Please include your country of residence so that I can add the correct shipping.
Payment is by PayPal and kits will be sent out during the first week of August.



 
 
 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

One Day Workshops - update

Preparations continue apace for our autumn one day workshops.  

Having finalised the dates, we are now hard at work on the myriad details of each session, which we are determined will be A. MAZING!  Our inaugural sessions will feature a selection of unique miniatures, giving students the opportunity to try their hand at a variety of different skills and techniques.

Over the past 28 years I've taught many dozens of classes and I'm really looking forward to our exciting new programme and getting 'hands on' with students again.  

As is Small Dog, although in her case it will be 'paws on'.

She is also insistent that I mention 'Yorkshier Terriors' are hypo-allergenic, so our workshops are completely suitable for people with allergies.  Although whether that applies to Yorkshier Terriors with a penchant for rolling in 'fockspoo' is another matter altogether.

Moving swiftly on...... here is sneak preview of just one of the elements of one workshop.

Miniature travelling toy theatre cart

 Yes.... that's Small Dog on the advertising poster on the side..... *sigh*


The doors open to reveal..... a secret surprise!

Another session will feature this rather wonderful vignette....



..... which will be transformed into L'atelier de la Poupée!

Full details will be available during the summer so watch this space.....

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Buggrit..... and then some!

I'd been feeling so pleased with myself too.

Nailed the annual accounts in just two days.  Also did a complete financial review and everything's ship shape ready to submit my personal and business tax returns next week.

So while I was in finance mode, I thought I'd get ahead of myself for a change and make a start on the spreadsheets for this current financial year, and do April and May.

It's a good job I did.

Hidden away in April's business bank statement was a transaction I didn't recognise.  A payment for a substantial sum which I'd certainly have remembered.

I hunted through all the receipts and invoices, checked my online transactions but couldn't find anything relating to it.

What particularly concerned me though, was that the payment was made to towerhousedolls.  Cue checking everything AGAIN.  Still no clue.

So I rang the bank.  It took a while to explain that while, yes, I am Tower House Dolls, no I didn't make that payment to myself.

So I was transferred to the bank's fraud department, where again there was puzzlement.  It appeared to have gone to somewhere in the US, they thought it might be Massachusetts. Had I bought anything from a company called Tower House Dolls in the US?

NO.

They admitted it would be an almighty coincidence and I was transferred to a higher level fraud department where I was subjected to a barrage of security and personal questions, which eventually seemed to convince them that I, or rather 'Tower House Dolls', was the innocent victim of online fraud.

So, all our business credit/debit cards were cancelled on the spot and I'm awaiting a number of forms and declarations through the post which I have to submit asap.

Will we get the money back?

Perhaps.  Pending 'enquiries'

*fingers crossed*
Buggrit  Buggrit  Buggrit!

UPDATE
Earlier this evening I received notification that the stolen money had been reinstated to the account.  

WOOHOOOOO!!!!!