Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Sneak preview.....

I'm sure some of you are thinking....

"Well, Sandra... it's all very well and good all this DIY and house stuff, but when are you actually going to do some REAL work?!?!?!"

Good question.
Very perceptive.
Gets right to the nub of the matter.

And my response would be ...

"WTF?  I only have one pair of hands and can only be in one place at any given time.  
Bunting don't make themselves you know!

However, in my defence, although I haven't been able to spend an entire day in the workroom since the whole shower room/bedrooms mallarkey makeover began, I have been sneaking in there for the odd hour or so in an attempt to hang on to what remains of my sanity.

I've been working on my swansong workshop pack.  Yes, you heard it here first folks.  I'm using the next 11 months to completely re-organise and gradually wind down Tower House Dolls. Thereafter it will cease to exist.

I will continue my creative life in some other form but next year THD will be 30 years old.


And next year I will be 60 years old.


And yes, there is a pleasing synchronicity to having lived half my life doing something I love so much.  But I feel it is time to move on.

So, over the coming year there will be a variety of swansong projects, all leading towards a grand finale, around the time of my birthday.

Anyways, this last ever workshop pack will be a doozer.  It will be ready for release this autumn and will be limited to just TEN packs.   I posted in February last year about my plans and my Rule of Ten for kits and I've stuck to it since.

So, just ten it shall be.

I can't reveal the whole thing, as it is still a work in progress, but here is a sneaky, sneak preview.....

L'atelier de la Poupée Vignette
Some time ago now, I commissioned this 1/12th vignette kit from Nick Day of Treacle Lane
(he also supplied kits for my Parisian Kiosk workshop at CMW last October, and the      
wonderful Travelling Toy Theatre Cart kits which I've used for Little Red Riding Hood)

It's been a l-o-n-g while in the planning, as I want it to be very special, but over time I've been 
gradually working on all the many, many elements which will will be included with it.

The laser cut wooden vignette can be decorated as you wish (lots of options will be available) 
and will be filled to overflowing with all manner of miniature delights to create a miniature 
dollmaker's workroom, including all furnishings and accessories... and dolls.  Lots of different 
tiny dolls.

I'm really quite excited about it, and will reveal more information as it develops so watch this

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Good for what ails me......

We all know the feeling.

Despite our best efforts, things keep getting out of hand.  Small, insignificant problems multiply and coalesce to form a seemingly insurmountable cat's cradle of 'buggrits'.  

Well, today that's me that is.

Can't progress with the nursing chair project until the upholstery tacks arrive.
Haven't got the energy to start painting the bedroom.
Feeling a bit meh and demotivated.

So, today I'm taking a sabbatical and shall be doing what restores my happy.



I'm going to make BUNTING!

I don't know why I didn't think of it before.  I've been scouring the internet trying to find a suitable wall frieze for Gigglefidget's room makeover.  I even resorted to messaging an Ebay seller in the US who has a roll of vintage wallpaper border for sale to see if they could see their way to sending it by ordinary airmail delivery, instead of having it hand delivered by a fairy riding a relay team of golden unicorns.  Or at least that's the mode of delivery which the completely extortionate cost of shipping suggested.  

They didn't respond.


BUNTING!  Yayyyy!!!

I have several large pieces of the wonderful fabric leftover from altering the curtains, which feature perfect, bunting-sized character illustrations.

I've blogged about my bunting obsession before (most notably HERE!)  I'm not talking about slipshod slapdash bunting, cut out of fabric using pinking shears.

Or even, perish the thought, cut from printed card and stapled onto a length of ribbon.

No by no nonny no!

The bunting of which I speak is carefully measured, lovingly cut, beautifully lined, meticulously turned and pressed, perfectly aligned then finally painstakingly stitched into cotton twill tape.  The entire process makes my heart sing.

So.... today I shall mostly be making bunting.

Monday, 22 May 2017


Actually.... in all honesty, buggrit doesn't even come close.  Neither does 'tired'.
It's now exactly two weeks since work started on our shower room and the house descended into complete chaos.  

There's good news and bad news.

The good news is that the dust has settled.
The bad news is that it's over every horizontal surface in the house.

As of Thursday last week, work on the shower room was finally finished, following the installation of a second shower unit after the first one didn't work.  It's really lovely.... all new and shiny and joy to behold.

However, the mess and upset throughout the rest of house has intensified tenfold, as we're going to tackle three of the bedrooms. 

I decided to start with the smallest one first, which will be our little granddaughter's room when she comes to stay.  It's very small, tiny really, but I've spent most of the past 6 days failing to get it finished.  

I'll gloss over the half a day I struggled to get my overlocking machine to play ball in order to cut down a spare single duvet and alter a duvet cover to make a cot-sized duvet and pillowcase set.  

Similarly, I'll sidestep the issues around re-upholstering the little nursing chair, which seemed like a good idea at the time.  I've stopped swearing at it for the time being but only while I wait for a pack of upholstery tacks to arrive through the post.

Altering a pair of curtains to fit took the best part of a whole day as I had to deconstruct then re-construct them, hand sew then carefully press and hang them, although they do now look absolutely lovely.

Making my own chalk paint seemed like a good idea at the time too, but I wish I'd stuck to Annie Sloan's as the organgey pine dressing table and EIGHT drawers *sigh* took four coats of paint instead of just two, so that was another two whole days.

It just seems that EVERY task I tackle, no matter how small, ends up taking loads more time than I anticipate, or something goes badly wrong, which further saps my flagging energy and enthusiasm.

Anyways.... I'll probably manage to get the chair finished on Thursday when the tacks arrive. Plus tomorrow I'll make some cushions.... love a bit of cushion making.  

However as next weekend is a Bank Holiday I'm intending Doing. Absolutely. Nothing.

No painting
No sewing
No upholstering
No cleaning

No matter the weather it will be a supremely LAZY weekend.  I can hardly wait.....

In the meantime I'm going to revisit my To Do list....

Monday, 15 May 2017

Tether. End of.....

Day 8 in the Robsack Avenue house and things are going from bad to worse. 

This may be primarily because we're flagging physically, mentally and emotionally, after over a week of moving stuff from A to B, then to D, then back to B, then to C......  yes it really has been that tortuous.

The good news is that the big futon/bunk high sleeper bed sold on Saturday when a very nice chap came along, saw it, bought it, dismantled it, loaded it onto the roof of his car and took it away.   Which then left space to move my lovely desk from the smallest spare bedroom, into the second smallest spare bedroom, freeing up the smallest spare bedroom to be transformed into a lovely room for our little granddaughter, aka Gigglefidget.

An 'orange' pine dressing table from the second smallest spare room has been moved into the smallest spare room, in preparation for a chalk paint makeover, along with a lovely little antique nursing chair, the ornate back of which I've repaired, and removed the tattered upholstery.  It too will be upcycled and I have some lovely fabric with which to re-upholster the seat.

So far, so exhausting.

The plumbers left on Friday afternoon, having installed the shower and toilet, leaving just the extractor fan, wash basin and illuminated mirror to finish off today.  Along with any snagging we discovered over the weekend.

We then had to paint one and a half walls, which PP carried out over Saturday and Sunday, as well as attempting to cover up the water stains on the sitting room ceiling.

We had been so looking forward to trying out the shower on Saturday morning, in our gleaming shower room, all shiny and new.


For some reason the water pressure was so low that only a trickle emerged from the shiny new shower head, so showering was next to impossible.  Similarly, on close inspection there were several other things which weren't quite right (16 to be exact!)  including a squeaky loo seat, some gaps in the grouting, and a patch of clear silicone mastic on the bedroom carpet, in plain view right inside the door, despite their use of dust sheets.

He's back again today, huffing slightly at the length of the snagging list.  Although when we demonstrated the trickle from the shower he readily agreed it was pathetic and after lengthy investigations he's decided to replace the shower valve completely.

Other excitement today arrived in the form of next door's extremely lively beagle puppy who managed to somehow get into our 'dogproof' garden, presumably by scaling the fence. When we spotted him he was frantically running round and round the garden, jumping off walls and over shrubs and plants, trying to get home.  I tried to catch him but he was having none of it, so we had to call in his owner to retrieve him.  He's a big, strong dog for an 8 month old puppy, and I've seen her running along behind him while 'walking him' down the road. Small Dog, who regularly 'talks' to him through the hedge quickly made herself scarce when she realised he was bounding around the garden, and when he was led through the house she bravely remained in her basket in the office as he bounced off the walls on his way out.

In other news, I've cleared off the dining room table to make room for my sewing machine as over the next few days I'll be altering an amazing pair of curtains for Gigglefidget's room, as well as making a duvet cover, cushion covers and cot bumper.


Just over 2 weeks left in this month and we'd recklessly assumed that most of the refurb/makeover works would be done and dusted by the end of May.  However I don't think that will happen.   Almost all of my 'get up and go' has got up and left so I'll have to carefully ration my remaining, rapidly diminishing energy reserves in order to avoid an MS flare up, which could take months to recover from.

So at the moment I'm just gritting my teeth and repeating the following mantra:

It will all be lovely when it's finished.  
It WILL all be lovely when it's finished. 
It will ALL be lovely when it's finished.
It will all be LOVELY when it's finished.
It will all be lovely WHEN it's finished.
It will all be lovely when it's FINISHED!!!!!

Now where did I put that corkscrew.........

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Can't see the wood for the trees......

Day 3 in the Robsack Avenue house.

Small Dog, Sandra and PP are holed up in the office, while work continues on the shower room.  

Small Dog is unused to the house resounding to the noise of heavy duty power tools, hammers and burly men barreling up and down the stairs.  Not to mention their dubious tasted in music.  

PP was fortunate to be out of the house all day yesterday, while the tilers were doing their stuff.  Between the teeth-jangling noise of electric tile cutting machines, and the 'nails down a blackboard' screeching of the manual one, plus the incessant thumping of some form of mashed up heavy metal/house/garage/shed music blaring from a tiny, tinny little radio, SD and I were reduced to cowering downstairs trying to block out the din.  SD was somewhat more successful than me, burying herself under her duvet and blankie in the office, while I took refuge in the workroom, with Radio 4 for company.

There was no respite in the garden either, as our neighbours are having their patio done and the builders next door were using a power jack hammer and slab thunker plus a vibrating plate type thingy which sent pulses of energy thrumming through the house.

So all in all, not a relaxing day.

That said, I did manage to complete the following trio....

1/12th Red Riding Hood, 1/24th Red Riding Hood and Pullalong Toy Wolf

The wolf got a bit antsy when he discovered that he was going to have a bell around his neck. But that was as nothing compared to his face when he saw what he would be wearing.

Wolf: *incredulously* Whoa!!! What. Is. THAT?
Me: *soothingly* It's a lovely silk cloak.  Now you won't be cold in the woods.
Wolf: *scathingly* I have a thick fur coat.  I NEVER get cold in the woods.  Plus it's bright red!  I'll never live it down.  How can I hold up my proud and noble head in wolf society if I go out wearing that?
Me: It's just a bit of fun.  You know.... dressing up.  Like a game.
Wolf: The only type of game I like has feathers or fur.  Do I look like a cross dresser to you?
Me: Well.... that's not the point is it.  Just work with me on this.  It'll all be fine, I promise.
Wolf: *mutter, mumble*  Someone will pay for this, so help me Wolf.

Eventually he agreed to play along, although he categorically refused to allow me to tuck in his ears, arguing, quite reasonably I thought, that if he had to do the "What big ears you have" thing it wouldn't work if his ears were tucked under his hood.
By the end of his makeover he was twirling and pirouetting, admiring himself in the mirror, and totally rocking his new look.

He even agreed to a photoshoot with the little girl in Red Riding Hood fancy dress costume, and her tiny wee toy doll.  🙂

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

If it's good enough for Einstein......

I had to be up in the middle of the night at the crack of dawn this morning.  It's not often I see the wrong side of 6am but it's PP's baby-minding day and I was terrified I'd go back to sleep after she left.

I'm definitely not a morning person, but on the odd occasion I'm up and about really early, I have to guard against filling those extra hours with flimflam and taradiddle.

Or Facebook.

However, this morning, having allocated myself a perfectly achievable 30 minutes for checking emails etc I turned to FB and found one of those 'memories' posts from three years ago had turned up in my newsfeed.

In it I had bemoaned the state of my desk in the office.  To be fair, it can look much, MUCH worse than that.  I'd rate that as a 5 on a scale where 1 is the tidiest it's ever been (ie straight after it was first installed) and 10 is 'no space for even the thinnest of waffer thin mints'.

By comparison, this is what it looks like this morning...

Perhaps I should run another 'Spot The Difference' competition
I blitzed it on Monday, and while it wasn't cleared, at least things were in tidy piles.  I've had much bigger desks in the past and found that, as with space anywhere, stuff expands to fill the available amount of it.  I naively thought that it would be easier to maintain order on a smaller desk.

Obviously not.

Of course my inability to keep any horizontal space clear of stuff reaches impressive heights in the workroom, which I'm aiming to tackle shortly as I have some pullalong wolves to deal with and there's nary a few square inches of free space.

It's a well known fact that creative people tend to be messy.  One of Einstein's most famous quotes reinforces this....

I wonder whether, in lapses during conceiving E = mc2  he might have devised the optimum state of messiness which still allows work to take place, before the tipping point (quite literally) when the assorted piles of stuff start to slide and collapse, rendering further work impossible.

There's probably a formula for it.

Anyway... I've decided that rather than endlessly struggle to maintain a clear and tidy desk, I should instead embrace the messiness and simply work with it.

This is a fairly accurate representation of my office desk, although the areas for odds, ends and doodles is much larger.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

A modern day parable.....

For came to pass that yesterday The Work commenced on our shower room.  Three wise men arrived from the East (Bexhill actually) and there was much banging and thumping, and running up and down of the stairs.

And for a short while it was good.

But then it was not so good.

For they began with all the power tools and it did sound as though the Horsemen of the Apocalypse did ride, iron shod, throughout all of the upstairs.

With trumpets.

And then, as if all that were not bad enough, a great mystical sign did appear upon the sitting room ceiling.  And they did look upon it with great sadness.

For lo... water had escaped mightily beneath the floor, and it forthwith soaked through the ceiling boards and formed damp, arcane shapes.

And there was wailing and gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments when they said

"Oh, that will dry out no bother"

Thenceforth the day, it passed slowly, with the noise, and the dust, and the running up and down of the stairs, till eventually the skip ranneth over, and they declared that all was good.

Except for the marks on the ceiling, which had been multiplying and begetting more damp patches all day.

And so, they layeth down their tools and went home.

Later in the evening, feeling cold, and being desirous of hot water, we tried to use the central heating.

But central heating was there none.  Likewise hot water.  For the boiler was buggered, leading to more of the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Yea, heeding our plaintive cries, one of the Wise Men returned, having had not even his dinner, and commenced with more of the running up and down the stairs, and the ritual bleeding of the radiators, and the having to go back home to retrieve the mystical water sucking machine.

And as the darkness fell, he yet declared that all was well, although, verily, he was sweating buckets and declared that he had divined "the mother and father of all air locks" the likes of which he had never before seen.

He did again look at the ceiling, and a great sadness descended upon him, for he knew it would need a complete new coat of paint.

Here endeth the lesson......