Saturday, 20 December 2014

What the duck.....?

OK.....I'm officially worried.

Usually at this point in the run up to Christmas I'm in a state of controlled panic. 
Presents to buy, the house in complete disarray,  preparations woefully inadequate.

But not this year.

No by no nonny no.

THIS year, all my ducks are not only in a row, they're doing a perfectly synchronised tap dance whilst playing a not entirely untuneful rendition of Colonel Bogey on kazoos.

I'm THAT well organised.

OK, so my Secret Santa gift, ordered in plenty of time several weeks ago still hasn't arrived, but I'm sure it will be here before Christmas......

And we still have two guest bedrooms to set up.....

And all the festive food shopping to do......

But apart from that everything's tickety boo.

Which means I can turn my thoughts to some strategic business planning for 2015.  I normally set aside the 'Twixmas' period for that, but this year I'm SO WELL ORGANISED that I've made a start on it already.

I know.

I can't believe it either!

What could possibly go wrong..... ?

Friday, 12 December 2014

AIM Advent Calendar Tutorial......

This year, once again, the Artisans in Miniature (AIM) group has produced a wonderful online advent calendar, with a different miniature tutorial behind each of 24 doors on the lead up to Christmas Eve.

My own tutorial is behind Door 11 

Complete kits are available for this little doll, or alternatively you can buy a ready to dress ballerina, as described in the tutorial.  Please contact me for further details or to purchase.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Happy Birthday Blog......!

This blog is 8 years old today.


Doesn't time fly.......  it seems like only yesterday I took my first tentative steps into the blogosphere, with this brief post.

And now, here we are, almost 1400 posts later, still going strong.  

Well, strong-ish.  

My posting frequency has dropped significantly since the heady years of 2009-2012, and this will be the first year since 2007 that I've posted fewer than 100 times.

I blame Facebook.

I keep hearing that blogging has had its day, and that we should all be, like, down with the new kids on the block of 'soshal meejah'.

I don't agree.  This blog was my first love and as such I won't abandon it in favour of younger, trendier upstarts, with their inane tweeting and poking.  

FB and Twitter are the fast food dives of social media.. the McDonald's or Burger King.
Blogs are much more like a fine dining establishment, with a la carte menus and silver service, where you can pull up a chair, relax and enjoy the experience.

So, Happy Birthday blog!  Here's to your continued good health, and I'll try be a more consistent blogger in the coming year.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

And the winner is........


A few weeks ago I decided that instead of starting a major new project I would upcycle an existing one.... I blogged about it HERE.

I had 10 entries, all of which were put into the metaphorical hat in front of Small Dog.

She had one job.

Pick a slip.

We had to wake her up from one of her many naps and explain to her what she had to do, ie pick up one of the folded slips from the floor in front of her. 

She can't claim ignorance of the rules, as she's drawn prize winners loads of times. 
However, she was grumpy.....
Perhaps as a result of being wrested from the arms of Morpheus.
Or perhaps because it's so cold and gloomy.
Or perhaps she got out of the wrong side of her basket this morning.

Anyway..... she sat and looked at the paper slips.  
Then she looked at us.
Then she promptly turned on her furry little heels and went straight back to her bed.

On the second attempt she looked even more disgruntled.  Never have I seen a look more obviously declare "Oh for Dog's sake.... WHY have you dragged me out of my lovely snuggly bed AGAIN, to look at a pile of paper?!"

In an effort to engage her interest, we stirred the slips, inviting her to pick one.

I should have known her mood was not conducive to cooperation but we persisted, until she suddenly dashed forward, grabbed one, and made off with it back to her basket.

She had THAT look on her face.  The 'Don't Mess With Me!' look that never bodes well.  
We could see the winning slip poking out of her mouth but apparently the rules of the game had changed.

SD: "Well?  What?  You wanted me to pick one so I did.   This one.  It's mine now".

Me:  "Well done.... that's brilliant.  Can I just have a look at it for minute please.  You can have it back when I'm finished with it".

SD:  Lying down and proceeding to chew the slip, like a small hairy spy eating a secret code.  "No.  It's mine.  I picked it, now I want it.  It's mine.

Me: *sigh*  Trying to entice her to drop the slip in exchange for one of the others

SD: Raising her eyebrows and clenching her teeth on the slip "Grrrrroffff.... s'mine!"

At this point I decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and sat down at my desk, feigning disinterest in the whole issue of ownership of the slip.  At which point SD promptly spat out the slip and lay down to resume her nap with a loud harrumph.

So, finally,  here we have it.

A bit chewed and damp round the edges but thankfully still legible..... the winning name for my Alice shop window. Congratulations Josie!

However, as it is the season of giving and goodwill to all, and as I enjoyed ALL of the suggestions, if all of the other entrants could email me their contact details, I will send them a consolation prize as a thank you for taking the time and trouble to enter the competition.

And as for Small Dog.....let's just say her bid for the December Employee of the Month is a lost cause.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The clock is ticking.....

Every year, at about this time, I solemnly swear that next year, about this time, I will NOT be doing all my work in a deadline-induced panic.


November is like Groundhog Day.

To be fair, the deadline I'm referring to is the last posting dates for Christmas delivery, which, in theory, are immutable.  In practice of course, they are ever so slightly flexible, especially on international routes which are well served.  For example, the last recommended posting date for airmail delivery to the USA is 12 December.  For Australia it's 4 December.

I am currently working on commission orders for both of those destinations and my self-imposed deadline for completion is 30 November so that they can be packaged and ready for delivery on Monday 1 December.

Just 5 days away.

But I also have commission orders to complete for delivery to three European destinations, as well as several for here in the UK.

In total, 15 dressed toy dolls, plus assorted toys and pullalong animals.

5 days.

*contemplative silence*

As always, it will go right down to the wire......

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Angel: 1 - Devil: 0

I posted recently about my dilemma over whether to start a major new project and since then I have given it a great deal of thought.

Weighed up all the pros and cons.....
The advantages and disadvantages....
Thoroughly examined all the supporting and opposing arguments.....
Debated the potential positive and negative consequences.....

And I've come up with a cunning plan.
A plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a fox.

I am NOT going to succumb to a new shop.  Instead I am going to upcycle an existing one.
Or rather part of one.

To wit....

This is the illuminated display window which I made in order to take to fairs to showcase a selection of my little dolls and toys.  It's travelled hundreds of miles over recent years and been packed and unpacked many times, so it's a bit 'in need of'.

I've decided to give it a complete makeover and use it for my winter project, which is to be an Alice in Wonderland themed shop window.  I've been collecting and making things for it for some time already and have loads of ideas for decorating the window and display.  

As it already sits neatly on a wall shelf above my desk in the workroom, it won't take up any more space, and its size means that it shouldn't take months to complete, unlike the daunting prospect of a whole shop.

So, here's a little competition for my blog readers and Facebook followers.

I need a name for the shop window.  I'm thinking something quirky, unusual and Alice in Wonderland-ish.

Post your suggestions either as a comment on this post, or as a comment on the Tower House Dolls Facebook page.

I'll choose the one I like best and if more than one person has suggested it, I'll enlist Small Dog's help to draw the winning name from a hat.

And the prize.....?

As I said, I've been making things for the shop already, including this set of miniature masks, which even have eye holes!  They come in a box with illustrated lid.  As I've made two of these, one of them will be going in my shop window and the other will be presented to the winner.

You have until the end of this month to submit your suggestion(s).

Good luck!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Curtain UP.......!

I've been busy the past few days, working on a new range of illuminated toy theatres.
After weeks of handling porcelain it makes a pleasant change to be working with wood, which also means I get to run amok work carefully with my miniature power tools, creating no end of sawdust in the process.


As the deadline looms for sending out Christmas orders (my last posting date for UK orders is 15 December, for international orders it is 30th November) I've been making Victorian Christmas theatres and Nativity theatres as well as some new fairy tale theatres, including Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel & Gretel.

To light the theatres, I use tiny 12V grain of rice bulbs, which can be plugged directly into any doll's house lighting circuit creating a lovely warm glow.

An illuminated Little Red Riding Hood toy theatre in my day nursery!

Perfectly scaled for 1/12th doll's house children

These theatres are available to purchase now, from the Tower House Dolls website.