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?


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!

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


Tuesday, 2 June 2015


After her bravura performance yesterday, Small Dog is in the doghouse today.

The reason?

We treated her yesterday afternoon with Advocate.  It's a spot-on broad spectrum combination treatment, effective against fleas, flea larvae, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, heartworms and Sarcoptic mange, ear and Demodex mites.

You would think, wouldn't you, that she would be grateful for this care and concern for her health and wellbeing but no.  

She wasn't.

She expressed her displeasure by going straight up the garden and rolling in 'fockspoo'

Normally this would result in an immediate trip to the shower room and a liberal dousing in her special shampoo until the offending stench has been removed.  However, washing her so soon after the (expensive!) Advocate application would render it ineffective so apart from a brisk rubdown with a wet wipe we will have to live with it for another 24 hours.

If we can bear it that long.

Needless to say, she has been looking immensely pleased with herself, basking in one of her favourite scents......  Essence de Renard.

Sniggering Dog

Monday, 1 June 2015


As a fully fledged member of the Tower House Dolls management team, Small Dog now has a seat on the board.

Well..... I say board.  It's more of a comfy blankie in her basket, which is her designated work area as she's not into hot desking.

Here she is earlier preparing for our monthly management meeting.....

That disgruntled look is down to the fact that she'd just heard that the biscuits were restricted to Rich Tea.  Not, as she'd been hoping, Ginger Crunch Creams.

The following is a transcript of the meeting....

Minutes of  Monthly Meeting of Tower House Dolls Management Team
Monday 1 June at 11.00 am

Sandra Morris – Partner & Creative Director
Pam Shallcrass – Partner & Director of General and Website Administration
Small Dog – Sleeping Partner and Head of Marketing and Communication

SD was called upon to report on the first few weeks in her new role.

SD wishes to have recorded the fact that under her jurisdiction the THD Facebook page has now attained the giddy heights of a smidgen over 800 Likes.  She claims to have achieved this by linking from her own FB page and actively promoting THD at every opportunity.  
SD proposed an incentive bonius, consisting of 1 gravy bone for every additional Like she acquires.

Following an animated debate, during which SD only took the huff once, it was agreed that 1 gravy bone for every 10 Likes was a fair incentive.

Duly noted

We then moved onto the main business, an overview and discussion of the new One Day Workshop Programme, currently in preparation.

SD suggested that she be in sole charge of 'meet and greet' for each of the sessions.

SM opined that if by 'meet and greet' she meant jumping around like a mad thing, laddering people's tights, then the answer was no.

Unseemly (and frankly undignified) response from SD, which the bounds of decorum forbid me to repeat.

Short break for tea and biscuits.  SD wished it to be recorded that Rich Tea biscuits are hardly suitable fare for an up and coming executive of her calibre but nevertheless managed to choke down half of one, plus another bit which fell on the floor.

Meeting called to order and resumed at 11.25

Brief discussion of logistics of workshops and the need for a FAQ PDF for the website, which PS offered to undertake.

SD requested to know WTF a FAQ PDF is.  She was informed that as this is technically outside her remit and she needn't bother her furry little head with such things.

SM provided the team with details of the proposed workshops which provoked a lively debate on whether they might be too ambitious.

SD proposed that if students got stuck she could sit on their laps as the act of stroking her would undoubtedly unblock their creativity.

Lively discussion of whether the application of a small Cold, Wet Nose might be beneficial. 
PS suggested that we do some tests with willing volunteers to test the efficacy of SD's assertion.

SD offered to do some durability testing on the finished workshop samples.  Offer declined.

Any other business - Small Dog's request for an iBone denied.

Meeting adjourned at 11.45 am.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Breaking news......

It's been all go at the international headquarters of Tower House Dolls.

What with a brand new Head of Marketing and Communication now in post *ahem* and lots of plans afoot, it's an exciting time.

So here's a head up for a new enterprise starting in the autumn...... a programme of one day workshops which will be nothing short of A-Mazing.

The full detailed programme will be released in July, but we wanted to choose and save the dates, which are.....

Saturday 26 September
Saturday 24 October
Saturday 14 November
Saturday 5 December

I'm not at liberty to divulge details of the four different projects yet but rest assured you will LOVE them. 

I've been collaborating with the incredibly talented and helpful Nick Day of  Treacle Lane who has taken my outlandish, half-baked suggestions and 'back of an envelope' ideas and come up with some wonderful, exclusive kits which will form the basis of two of the classes.

So if you fancy having a go at something interesting and unusual, keep a look out for the grand reveal later in the summer.  If you're really keen and want to be sure you don't miss the programme when it's released, please contact me and ask to go on my mailing list.

It only remains to introduce the newest member of the revamped THD management team, whose idea this was.  As you see she has hit the ground (with all four paws) running.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Casting..... Day 3

Why is it, that no matter what time of year I'm casting, I always seem to be doing it on the coldest days of the month?

There's also something about handling slightly damp plaster moulds, in conjunction with porcelain slip which chills me to the marrow.

I'm completely convinced that slip has something in it, which is, on a molecular level, almost exactly the same composition as the active ingredient in Cold Wet Nose, as practised by Small  Dog.  Even on the hottest summer day, Small Dog's nose is unnaturally cold.  When she uses it to tap the back of my hand (which is her preferred method for requesting strokings) the cold, wetness of it lingers much longer than the actual nose/hand contact.

It's the same with porcelain slip.  Only as well as being both cold and wet, it is also slippy which is not a good combination.

I've completed a number of casting sessions over the past three days and I'm way beyond the first flush of enthusiasm, down the main road of meh and well along the tree-lined avenue of "shoot me now".

It's not that I dislike casting.  Well, not too much.  It's necessary and I've been doing it for so many years that I can put my brain in neutral and coast through it thinking of other things.
However, after all those years you'd think that I would have more a more realistic notion of how much I can achieve in a single session and plan accordingly.

But no.  I always hopelessly overestimate how much is doable in a given period of time before I lose the will to live.

No matter..... I'm reaching the halfway point now so it's all downhill from here on in.
*said more in hope than expectation*

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Casting caution to the winds.....

It's no good.

I can't put it off any longer.

I have to start a casting batch this week.


My last casting session was started last August, and took me absolute ages to complete but I need to be completely focused this time as I have some important commissions to do, as well as assorted dolls and toys for my forthcoming classes, not to mention other stuff which is a bit hush-hush and I shouldn't even be mentioning here as I'm under strict instructions from our newly appointed 'Hed of Markitten and Komewnicashun' to keep schtum.

So, all this week I shall be hard at it, up to my elbows in porcelain slip.  I'm planning two sessions per day, with a goodly stretch of time in the middle when I'll be working on La Belle Poupée workshop packs.

Speaking of which, if anyone wants to order one, please let me know by Thursday 30 April at the latest as I won't be taking orders after that time.

Anyway, earlier today (despite it still being nominally my birthday week AND a Sunday) I set up a casting area on PP's side of the desk, leaving my side free for workshop preparations.  

It might look like carnage but trust me, I'm a dollmaker, and this is all perfectly normal.
Those little moulds at the back, still wrapped in protective cardboard are some brand new moulds which I haven't even unbanded yet, let alone cast, so that's always exciting.

I'll also be channelling my inner Dr. Frankenstein this time, swapping heads with bodies and generally taking extreme dissection to a whole new maniacal level.

*cue diabolical laughter* Mwahahahaha!

It could all end in tears....