Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Pier pressure......

Another piece of Hastings history unfolded this morning with the re-opening of our iconic pier.  With the official opening a month away, it's still a work in progress, and the main Visitor Centre and several of the kiosks will be opening over the next few weeks.

PP and I were down there before the early, as we had special access in order to install our display shelf in the newly opened Hastings Handicraft kiosk, on the west side of the pier.
It was the culmination of a fairly frantic few days, trying to design and build an easily removable perspex front to deter small, sticky fingers and protect the miniatures from being scattered to the four winds by any strong gusts, as the kiosk front is open to the elements.

Who knew there were so many different types/grades/specifications of clear plastic sheeting?  Not to mention fixtures and fittings for attaching it to things.  Then of course it had to be painted then prettified.  It went right to the wire last night in advance of the opening this morning, and we heaved a huge sigh of relief when our protective front fitted perfectly into the shelf opening with micro-millimetres to spare.  It shouldn't blow over and will hopefully provide protection whilst allowing easy access.

I'll be refreshing and updating our display each week and completely changing it every month, so if you're in Hastings over the summer do pop along to the pier and have a look.

Tower House Dolls display of diminutive dolls and tiny toys

From the west side of the pier towards St. Leonards

Reclaimed wood from the old pier has been used to clad the Visitor Centre

BBC film crew and interviewer

Rickshaw rides round the pier and along the promenade

Saturday, 2 April 2016

This may take some time...... *sigh*

Try to think of the most soul-destroying task in the entirety of the multiverse.

The one thing that you would rather walk over hot coals whilst juggling an anvil, a goat and a ninja death star to avoid.

It's obvious isn't it?

Changing your primary personal email account has to be The. Worst. Thing. EVER!

I've had the same personal account for forever.  It's a account from way back in the day when the ONLY choice for landline/internet access was the monolithic British Telecom company.

Over the years a plethora of alternative providers have sprung up, and a few years ago we moved from BT to Plusnet.

So far so straightforward.

At the time, BT, in its munificence, allowed departing customers to retain their btinternet email addresses, which was fine and dandy.  After all they'd been fleecing us royally for all the years of their monopoly and we felt we were owed at least to continue using the email addresses we'd had since time immemorial.

Then a few years ago, they instituted a monthly charge of £1.50 in order to keep a BT email account if you weren't a boney fido BT customer. This was a bit galling, but faced with the prospect of having to change to a new email account most of us bit the bullet and kowtowed.

However, last month, I received an email informing me that the monthly fee was rising from £1.50 to £5.



This was the final straw.  A blatant attempt to blackmail us to change back to BT and a step too far.  As a result, from next month, we are cancelling our BT email accounts and will never darken their door again.



I've set up a new Gmail account and am in the process of changing my email address.

Have you any idea just how many online accounts and subscriptions you have?  
How many newsletters and email updates from individuals and companies?
How many online groups and forums you're a member of?
Ditto official bodies and agencies, banks, financial institutions, insurances, healthcare providers etc etc etc.... all of whom contact you via your email address.

It's mind boggling.

I have spent the best part of TWO WHOLE DAYS moving accounts, changing email preferences, going through the ridiculous rigmarole of having pin numbers sent to my mobile phone in order to access and change account details....

It's driving me mad.

MAD I tell you!

The progress I've made so far is the tip of the iceberg.   I'm trying to do it logically and I'm making careful notes of what I've done so far.  But I'm sure to miss a really important notification and Bad Things Will Happen.

Also, for the next month I'll be running both the old and new email accounts side by side, which is a recipe for chaos and confusion if ever I saw one.

So, here's the thing.

I will be emailing all my personal contacts to let them know of the change.  If YOU regularly contact me via email and haven't heard from me in the next few weeks please contact me to request my new email address.

My business email will remain unchanged, and if push comes to shove, and you need to contact me, use that.

Alternatively, you can reach me via the Tower House Dolls Facebook page if you're not on my personal FB 'friends' list.  Or via the Tower House Dolls website where there's a Contact Us form on the home page.

From now on I'll be using my new email, although I will continue to check the old one until it's deleted.  


Let us never speak of this again.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

March Mini Miniature Show......

The March online Mini Miniature Show is now open, with over 50 international artisans showcasing their work.

You can visit our dealer page HERE!  We have some new circus and carnival-themed miniature toys, as well as special offers on discontinued kits.

We have also just sent out our March Newsletter...... if you wish to subscribe just let me know, or alternatively you can register on the website HERE.  When registering scroll down to the bottom of page and tick Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Monday, 14 March 2016

That's The Way To Do It.....!

I must admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Punch & Judy.  I can still remember, as a child, sitting huddled on a windswept beach, at the height of a Scottish 'summer', watching the story unfold, hoping that Mr Punch would get his come-uppance and howling with laughter when Toby Dog stole his sausages and bit him on the nose.

This will be my final Punch & Judy kit collection so I'm going out with a bang..... a complete set of kits to make up this shop window display with contents.

There are eight different elements to the kit, including the wooden window, with its 'That's The Way To Do It!' backdrop and festoons of Union Jack Bunting.  

Inside the window is a selection of Punch & Judy themed toys

Wooden toy theatre complete with a set of 6 puppets

The theatre is a traditional toy version of the famous Punch & Judy theatres so popular at British seaside resorts since the early 1900s.  Made of wood, the theatre has a colourful proscenium and traditional red and white striped exterior, which is decorated with flags and bunting.  On each side there is a vintage illustration.

 The six detailed metal puppets come with a painting guide and can be used either in the theatre or on the shop window shelf.

Pugnacious Mr Punch and his long-suffering wife Judy along with Toby Dog

Judy with her equally long-suffering Baby!

Mr. Punch's adversaries.... the Policeman and the Crocodile.

Boxed games with contents

One of the games features a set of precision cut, double-sided paper dolls. 
 The other contains a vintage card game.

Paper toy theatre

Selection of toys, puppets, boxed games and miniature book

Pair of porcelain puppets on decorated wooden blocks

As with all my kits, this complete pack contains everything needed (apart from glue and basic tools) to make the illustrated toys, including full step-by-step illustrated instructions.
In line with my new Rule of Ten, only ten packs will be available and they are now available to order on the website, HERE!

Monday, 29 February 2016

Forward planning.....

With another birthday looming on the horizon, and the prospect of being able to semi-retire in the next few years, I've been giving some thought to what remains of my working life.

I've been making dolls and miniatures since 1989... that's 27 years, and I'd like to complete at least 30 years before I hang up my dollmaking apron.  So, while Tower House Dolls won't be closing its doors just yet, I certainly feel as though I'm on the home straight.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you will know that nothing galvanises me quite like a deadline.  I still have lots of things I want to do, but I'll have to prioritise if I'm to have any chance of completing my work-related bucket list.

To this end, I've decided to stop taking commissions, as of now.  I will, of course complete all outstanding commissions, which will probably take me through to the summer.

Then there's my 'work bucket list'.  I have entire notebooks full of random ideas, cuttings and illustrations from books and magazines, collected over the past 27 odd years and that's before considering my many, many Pinterest boards.  There's no way I can ever hope to make all of them but I'm going to select my very favourites and work towards making them a reality.  

Finally, I'm going to implement a Rule of Ten in relation to kits.  I really enjoy devising and designing them and I've calculated that over the years I've created well over 200 different kits.

Yes, I'm amazed too!

Some of my 'bucket list' miniatures will be available as kits, but I'm only ever going to make just ten of each.  It's a nice round number and is eminently manageable without my losing the will to live.  I want to begin downsizing my copious toymaking supplies and my lovely collection of fabrics and trimmings and producing a limited number of different kits seems like the way to go.

From now on, I plan to concentrate on fulfilling some of my work ambitions.... time is running out so it's now or never.  In a way it will be like reclaiming my love of the hobby, which is where it started all those years ago.  Anyone who turns their hobby into a business will identify with the adage that when your hobby becomes your job, it stops being your hobby.  Time and space to work on your own projects simply evaporates in the face of the constant pressures of earning a living from a small business.

It feels as if I'm coming full circle......  

Sunday, 21 February 2016

CMW Workshop bookings now LIVE!

Bookings for the CMW Workshop event in October have gone live this weekend.

Details of my workshops can be found HERE, and for further information and photos, please visit my blog post HERE.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Puppy love.........

Scene: Early morning. Daylight, but only just.  My slumbers are interrupted by the sudden arrival of four small, pointy feet, planted firmly on my chest.

Me: *blearily* Urghblergh.... whatshappnin?

Small Dog: *brightly* Happi Vallintyns Dai!!!!!

Me: *sleepily* Oh for dog's sake!  What time is it?........errmm, happy Valentine's Day Small Dog.

A pause, during which I feel her stare boring into me.

Me: *cautiously opening one eye*  Yes?

SD: *flirtatiously*  Kissy kiss?

Me: *involuntarily recoiling from the onslaught of dog breath*  Errm. No, you're alright.

SD moves her paws so that they're strategically placed on points of maximum pain.

Me: If you could see your way clear to removing your stiletto heels from my solar plexus I'd be much obliged.

SD settles down beside me and I slip back to sleep. After a few minutes she puts her Cold Wet Nose on my shoulder, jerking me into wakefulness.

Me: *testily* What?

SD: *oblivious* So, whott ar we doen todai?  Wokk along the seefrunt.  Gude sniffens?

Me: *vainly attempting to reset my snooze button*  Hmm... yes.  Probably.

SD: *settling herself comfortably into the hollow of my arm*  Ai eckspekt weer haven a speshul dinnur tonite.  Whott with itt beein Vallintyns Dai and evrithing.

Me: *non committally*  Mmmmmm.

SD:  *hopefully* Stake.  Ar wee haven stake?

Me: *barely conscious* Mmmmmm.

Deft application of Cold Wet Nose shocks me into wakefulness.

Me: Wossat?

SD:*ponderously*  Stake.  Ar. Wee. Haven. Stake?

Me: *resignedly* Yes.  Yes we're having steak.

SD: *warming to her theme*  Ah... ai thott so.   Shattowbreeyond?  Pheelaymeengnong?

Me:  Sirloin

SD: *taken aback*  Sirrloyn?  Knott evin fillit?  Sirrloyn?

Me: It was on special in Tesco.

SD: *witheringly* On speshul in Teskoe?  Hardlie Foretnum and Maisun is itt?

Me: Beggars can't be choosers.  The trouble with you Small Dog, is that you have champagne tastes on an Irn-Bru budget.

Silence...... during which I slip back to sleep.

SD: *hopefully*  Soss?

Me: *sigh* Pardon?

SD: *doggedly* Soss.  Ar wee haven soss with the stake?  As yue kno ai amm a bitt of a goormond and ai do liek a nise soss.  

Me: *wide awake now*  Is that right?

SD: *elaborating* Ho yuss.  Ai am a dogg of dissernen taist.  So this soss..... Dyeanne?  Bernyais?  Bloo Cheez?  Redd wyn?  Joo?

Me: *yawning* Peppercorn actually.

SD: *dubiously* Peppurkorn?  Duz it hav bitts in itt?

Me: I'll give you three guesses.

SD: Yore knott taken this seeryuslie ar yue?

Me: *bowing to the inevitable* Well, thank you Small Dog.  I am now wide awake at not quite stupid o'clock.  I suppose I might as well get up.

SD: *settling down in my warm spot in the bed.... yawning* mite hav a littul nap.  Waik me upp when itts tym fore brekkfast.