Thursday, 17 November 2016

Tap dancing's out then.....?

I am currently hobbling around like an old granny, courtesy of slipping down the stairs  and badly spraining my foot.

Or to be more precise, my big toe.

Ouch doesn't even BEGIN to cover it!

I blame it on my new glasses, combined with general crappy balance.  I was coming downstairs yesterday morning when I misjudged where my feet were and my right foot slipped off one of the stairs.

My entire weight came crashing down on my right toe and as I grabbed for the handrail, I pivoted round, still on my toe, like a tragically inept and ungainly ballet dancer.

The nearest way to describe the sensation is A WHOLE WORLD OF PAIN!!!

It all happened so quickly, and I was so relieved not to have stacked it down the entire flight of stairs that I dismissed the pain and throbbing.  I could still wiggle my toes and flex my foot so I was reasonably confident that I hadn't broken anything.

However, as the day wore one, I experienced pins and needles, and spikes of pain, radiating up my leg.  Overnight the pain woke me up, and this morning I couldn't move my toes without excruciating pain, so we judged that a trip to A&E was probably in order...

In my slippers as I couldn't get my foot into a shoe.

Fast forward several hours and two X-rays later and happily there is no fracture.  Merely a bad sprain.

I have to try to stay off the foot and keep it raised.... as if THAT'S going to happen. 
Especially as every time I position the pouffe in front of my chair, Small Dog immediately jumps up and settles down on it, daring me to move her or try to perch my foot on one tiny corner of it.

I will likely be in 'hobble mode' for the next few days.... a cross between Mrs Overall and Baba Yaga.

Friday, 11 November 2016

What big ears you have......!

My latest kit has been a long time in the making.  I first started thinking about it 18 months ago, after discovering the image of a vintage travelling theatre cart, which was pulled by a goat.

Red Riding Hood Travelling Theatre Cart
I worked extensively with the lovely Nick Day of Treacle Lane who transformed my ideas into a perfect little 1/12th scale toy theatre cart which is exclusive to us and forms the basis of the kit.

The cart is made of wood, lavishly decorated with vintage illustrations both inside and out.

Two doors open to reveal the interior, with panelled walls and wooden floor.

The kit comes complete with a full cast of precision cut characters, including several variations of Red Riding Hood and the wolf.  Movable scenery adds a 3-dimensional effect. Scenery and characters have clever magnetic bases so that they can easily be moved around but will stay in place without falling over!

Red Riding Hood's mother talks to the woodcutter

"Walk with me....."

Grandmother's cottage.... enter the wolf!

"Oh Grandmama... what big teeth you have!"


All of the precision cut characters and scenery pieces are double sided and can be stored in a pretty box....

Just a few of the character and scenery pieces.....

Externally, the cart is decorated with vintage illustrations on all sides.....

The roof is removable to allow easy access to the interior

 Last but by no means least, the cart is pulled along by a remarkably amenable wolf! 

He wears a lavishly decorated leather saddle and jewelled harness, while around his neck hangs a little golden bell on a silk ribbon.

"What big ears you have.....!"
It turns out that this particular wolf is an endangered species.  No sooner had I identified him as the perfect wolf than he was discontinued, and I had to spend several months tracking down the last of his kind on the internet in order to gather enough to produce this kit.

For this reason, this is a one-off, limited edition kit and cannot be repeated.  Available in a very limited quantity, they are now listed on the website in the new Red Riding Hood category HERE.

Also coming soon..... Little Red Riding Hood toy doll, plus vintage games and books.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Website update.....

I've been really busy over the past few days, photographing and uploading new toys and kits to the website.

Here's a sneak preview of what's available.... click on the links under the photos to go to the website listings.

Complete Kit for Parisian Toy Kiosk
Complete Kit for Toy Doll in Trunk with Accessories

Personal Accessories with Boxes (1/24th scale)

1890s Dress Up Animals Kit

Vintage Litho Pullalong Toys Kit

Set of 6 vintage litho rocking toys kit
Fairy Tale Toy Theatre Kit 

Jumeau style dressed doll's dolls

Shabby Chic doll's dolls
More to follow over the coming weeks when we re-open the Miniature Christmas shop.
Happy browsing..... 

Friday, 28 October 2016

Better late than never.... CMW debrief!

I've been very remiss in posting about the CMW event last week.  Having been working on the planning and preparation for the past 18 months, then the inevitable frantic flurry of activity in the days leading up to it, I don't really feel my feet have touched the ground since we got home.

Well... what can I say? 

The organisation, by Pat, Sue and Louise, both before and during the event was nothing short of perfect.  The new venue in the village of Eye was warm and welcoming, with plenty of space for tutors, students and their assorted paraphernalia.  

Parking was free and plentiful. 

Chairs were padded and comfortable.

The lovely ladies of Eye WI produced delicious lunches on Saturday and Sunday and there was as much tea and coffee as anyone could wish for. 

We three arrived in Cambridgeshire a day early and headed for Ferry Meadows Caravan Club Site which is probably the best campsite we've ever visited as it's sited within a large country park, with more walks than you can shake a stick at.  Small Dog gave it a firm paws up and thoroughly enjoyed a different lakeside walk every day, even spotting a heron to cross off her twitching list.

My Friday evening workshop was attended by five lovely ladies.... and one very intrepid gent.  Who only happened to be the editor of Doll's House & Miniature Scene magazine, Carl Golder.

No pressure there then! 

He happily admitted to being a complete beginner and threw himself into the class with great enthusiasm.... although his plans to 'live tweet' the session were abandoned due to glue.

Everything Alice workshop - boxed picture blocks, playset with scenery and characters and boxed paper dolls 

My group on Friday evening.... getting stuck in!
On Saturday, my most ambitious workshop, the Parisian Toy Kiosk, which had been designed in collaboration with the very personable Nick Day, of Treacle Lane.  As he was also teaching two days of workshops it was lovely to finally meet him in person, having been in email contact for almost two years.  

Four determined students arrived bright and early to make a start and worked right through the day, all completing the construction before heading home with a variety of toy kits to fill their kiosks.

Toy Kiosk kit complete will a variety of toys and games

Sunday, and the final session..... a Jumeau style toy doll in wooden trunk with accessories. So many different techniques and skills, from micro wigmaking to mini rosemaking, and all were tackled with passion and humour.  Again, everyone finished their project and a good time was had by all.

Jumeau style toy doll's doll in wooden trunk

Accessories include silk dress on hanger, silk rose posy, silk and lace hat and illustrated fan

I will admit that by the time PP collected me on Sunday afternoon I was flagging.  Back at the caravan the table was set with candles and wine and I had a lovely meal cooked for me while I put my feet up and recounted tales from the day.

It was good to see some old friends over the course of the weekend.  

I've known Janet Harmsworth, a fellow dollmaker and MS sufferer, for close to 20 years. She was attending a doll dressing workshop and we caught up on each other's news.

Sue Newstead is another friend I haven't seen for some time.  Her two Wire Haired Fox Terriers, Delphi Dog and Samos are also great friends of Small Dog, and we exchanged doggy tales over the course of her workshop session on Saturday.

Likewise, Sue Reeve, who I met online via Sue N. She also has two lovely dogs, Bosun and Blaze, whose exploits Small Dog follows on Facebook. 

So, all in all, a very enjoyable (if exhausting!) weekend, which I would strongly recommend to any miniatures enthusiast.

A few kits for all of the workshops are available now on the website!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Conundrum of the day......

OK... here's a mathematical conundrum for you.


x = amount of work to do
y = effort required
z = available time remaining
q = deadline

When will the work be complete?

You can show your working but do not write on both sides of the paper simultaneously.


You can use a slide rule or calculator if you need to.

Ready now?

Well, the answer is, of course, NEVER.

I fall into the group of clearly insane task orientated people who will fill ALL of the available time, right up to the deadline and beyond.

For the past z weeks I've been head down, working steadily towards my CMW workshops which start next Friday (14 October).  The main prep for each of my sessions was mostly completed during the summer, leaving only a few bits and pieces to finish off, as and when.

But then, because I appeared to have time in hand, I decided to embark on some new kits to launch at CMW.  It started out with just one or two, but like Topsy, the task 'just growed'.  

And growed.

And growed some more.

I think I may have gone a little overboard........  

Friday, 30 September 2016

We're hiring......!


Here at the international HQ of Tower House Dolls (Unlimited, Amalgamated, Consolidated) we've been conducting interviews for a new apprentice position in our operations department. 

We're looking for young, enthusiastic, free-thinkers, with energy and flair.

Small Dog declined to apply, citing the fact that she already held a 'manijmint possishun' and was of more use in the 'strategy and planning' department.  

I ventured to observe that if we had a 'snoozing and napping' department she'd be a definite boon, but it fell on deaf ears.

No matter.

We did have an application from an outstanding new talent though, and she agreed to undergo a gruelling series of selection tasks yesterday afternoon.

Thoughtfully responding to probing questions

Practical test involving natural history recognition
Subject areas covered included Geography, History, English literature, Natural History, Languages, Art & Design and Numeracy and we're pleased to report that she passed with flying colours.  

We look forward to welcoming our new staff member very soon! 

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Saviour of the left(y).....

Today's Google Doodle celebrates what would have been the 117th birthday of a man who transformed the life of left-handers everywhere.

Ladislao José Biro invented the eponymous writing instrument which has rightfully earned the undying gratitude of millions of sinister people.
As a lefty, I am used to coping with all the challenges that a predominantly right-handed world throws at me... from doors that open on the 'wrong' side, to mastering the use of scissors.  Things which the majority right-handed take for granted.

However, I know of no lefty who can write consistently well with a fountain pen which isn't expressly intended for our sinister ways.

At primary school, back in the early 1960s, I loathed and detested 'writing lessons' which were carried out with a proper old-fashioned fountain pen.  The teacher would write a series of sentences, or a poem, or piece of prose on the blackboard, which we had to laboriously transcribe into our special 'ink jotters' using joined up writing.  

The pens were italic, and ALL of them were right-handed.  No matter how I tried, or what contorted writing position I adopted, inevitably the points of the nib would cross and a huge inkblot would spread over the page, usually diluted with tears of frustration.

Eventually, my father, who was also left-handed, made representation to the school and in the fullness of time, a left-handed italic pen was provided, which transformed my writing. As an added bonus, I also got to keep it in my desk, so it wouldn't get mixed up with all the other fountain pens, which were collected in at the end of each writing lesson.  I used to lift the lid of my wooden desk just to gaze at it, nestled in its little box.

However, fountain pens, although elegant and covetable, are not entirely practical for common or garden everyday writing, so the invention of the Biro was ground breaking.
We take it completely for granted these days and it has spawned an entire panoply of pens which work on the same rollerball principle.

So, Ladislao José Biro, we salute you!  Your simple invention has definitely made the world a better place.

.... Although I do take issue with this vintage advertisement, which places women in a subservient business role, merely taking shorthand notes!