Thursday, 11 February 2016

Industrial relations.......

Despite being a 'no show' at this month's Tower House Dolls management meeting, our erstwhile 'Hedd of Markitten and Komewnikashun' also known as Small Dog, is on the warpath and threatening industrial action.

The spurious reason for this?

It has come to Small Dog's attention that Felix, the station cat at Huddersfield has had a promotion to Senior Pest Controller, a position which comes with a uniform and name badge.

What follows is a rough transcript of our 'discussion' this morning.

SD: *belligerently* I will be goen on stryk unles mai deemands ar met.

Me: And good morning to you too.  What demands?

SD:  Ai deemand a speshul yewniform AND a naim baj.

Me:  Hmmm.  Duly noted.  Anyway, you're management.  Management can't go on strike.

SD:  Who sais?

Me:  It's obvious.  Managers can't join unions.  Only members of the work force.

SD: Thatts bolox.  Ai am entytld to withholed my labur if ai hav a ligitimitt greevans.

Me.  Hmmm.  I could take issue with the whole 'witholding of labour' thing, seeing as you don't actually do anything.

SD:  How VERI DAYR YUE!  Ai amm a wurkhors.  Evin when ai am haven a napp my brane is churnen with ideeyas.  Ai amm totallie a ideeyas dog.

Me: *sigh*  You'll be telling me next that you completely espouse the struggle of the proletarian working classes against their evil masters who strive to subjugate them through the attrition of endless labour.

SD. *emphatically* Ecksaktlie. 

*looking doubtful* Probablie.  
Eniwai, this isent abowt wurk, its abowt mai kondishuns of emploimint.  

Me:  I don't recall you signing a contract of employment, so in fact.....

SD: *interrupting, shoutily*  AI AMM HEDD OF MARKITTEN AND KOMEWNIKASHUN!!!! Ai deserv a yewniform AND a naim baj.

Me: Look.  I hear what you're saying.  You want recognition commensurate with your status within the management structure.  I totally get it.

SD: Ar yue taken the pis?

Me:  Heaven forbid.  No, I do agree with you.  In fact, I've had our Design Director draw up a sample of the style of uniform which we feel best suits your undoubted creative flair and chutzpah.

SD: *suspiciously*  Hootspa.  Is thatt gude?

Me: It's excellent.  Allow me to present.... your new uniform!

SD: *speechless*

Me: Look!  It's got a hat and everything!  Plus your name and job title initials embroidered onto the fabric.  Tassels.  Pom-poms. And the colours really suit you.  What's not to like?

SD: *defeated* Ai am kompleetlie waistid in this plais.  *muttr, laffen stok, grumbl, industryal trybewnul, growl, konstruktiv dismisil...... *

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Oh lordy......

It's happened again.

I was hoping I could hold out until the weekend but despite my best efforts I've had to give in and set to.

I don't even notice it happening until it reaches an event horizon and I threaten to fall into the black hole that is....... The Workroom. *cue dramatic 'da, da DUM! music*


Yes, I know.

I have nobody to blame but myself.

But in the throes of creative endeavour I simply forget about everything except what I'm working on, and as more and more boxes litter the floor, and bits and pieces colonise every inch of the worktops and desk I carry on until I can't.

As of 10 minutes ago the event horizon was breached.  There is now not a single scrap of free space anywhere.  Granted I have managed to leave a little winding path from the door, between all the boxes but I've run out of places to put anything.

Small Dog came wandering in earlier, looking for a place to sit and observe.  She walked through the path, piles of boxes towering over her on either side, failed to find a suitable spot then gave a 'huff' and hurried out, throwing me a pitying glance over her departing shoulder.

If you have the stomach for it, here's a guided tour.......

This is the view which greets you as you enter.  The worktop is completely covered and there are drifts of stuff lapping against the cupboards and bookshelf.

Moving on.....

On the floor, boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff.

More stuff climbs up the walls, threatening to engulf my little cabinet of toy animals.

The worktop area at the end of the room is where 'work in progress' is kept but as you can see, things have got rather out of hand........ *ahem*

And my desk......

What can I say?  This has got to be right up there as one of the top 10 worst messes EVER!  
If I wasn't so ashamed I might be feeling proud.  

So it's no good.  I simply can't continue in this unholy guddle so I'm going to roll up my sleeves and make a start on restoring order.  Who knows what I might find... Atlantis, the lost treasure of Sierra Madre, Shergar?

That's the rest of my working day spoken for then........ *sigh*

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

For sale on Etsy......

It's been AGES since I listed any of my miniatures on Etsy but this morning I received a promotional email from them,  giving me a gentle nudge.

I had a bit of a falling out with Etsy a while back, when they removed Doll's House Miniatures from their categories, forcing miniature artisans to use the Art & Collectibles category instead.   However, they seem to have seen sense as the miniatures category has been reinstated.

Sooooo...... throughout the dreary, dismal month of February I will be listing a different item each week (or until they have sold) at a 25% discount.

First up is this little cutie.......

I made her only recently, using the last tiny piece of a beautiful burgundy and green shot silk for her bustled jacket, so she can't be repeated.

She comes in a bespoke box with illustrated lid

She measures a diminutive 1  3/4" tall

She is also supplied with a signed certificate of authenticity.

For full details, or to buy, please visit my Etsy Shop.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

March Online Show Workshop.........

This year's March Mini Miniature Show will take place from 17-20th March, and as before I am offering a workshop pack.

I'm currently working on a new series of circus-themed toy dolls, games and pullalong toys so my workshop this time is a set of four vintage lithograph style pullalong toys.

The invention of chromolithography (colour printing on paper) in the 19th century, opened up a whole world of possibilities and heralded a new way to produce children’s toys and games.  The undisputed ‘Kings of Chromolithography’ were the McLoughlin Brothers of New York, whose beautiful games, books and toys were a joy to behold.
My set of circus pullalongs is inspired by the wonderful lithograph printed toys of the late 19th century and features four precision cut, double-sided animals - elephant, zebra, giraffe and camel, each standing on a colourfully decorated wooden base with fixed wheels and silk cord pull.

Perfect for a 1/12th scale nursery, playroom or toy shop

Evocative of the lithographed toys of the late 19th century

The giraffe is 1  1/12" tall

Only slightly taller than a thimble!

The workshop pack contains all the materials you need to complete these toys, including a step-by-step fully illustrated instruction booklet.  You only need scissors and glue!
US $15 plus international shipping $6.50
Euro €13 plus international shipping 5.00
UK£10 plus P&P £2.50
Payment by PayPal.

To order, or for further information please email me and don’t forget to let me know your country of residence so that I can add the correct shipping cost 

Friday, 22 January 2016

Silver Screen.......

By and large, getting older doesn't have much to recommend it.

I'm approaching 60 (no, I can't believe it either) and already bits are dropping off, or not working properly (or even at all!) and gravity is exerting its inexorable toll.

I should be looking forward to retirement in two year's time but that dubious achievement has now been put back till I'm 66.  

Another 8 years!

Buggrit doesn't even come close.

So I have to content myself with the small concessions available to over 55s.  Such as the Silver Cinema scheme currently run by the Odeon chain.

If you're a regular cinema-goer, you'll be aware of the frankly outrageous prices charged in order to sit in a darkened room with people who have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how to behave.

They chat continuously, usually loudly, play with their mobile phones, rustle bags, slurp drinks and generally carry on as though they're at home in their sitting rooms.  

I don't know if there are documented incidences of cinema rage, but I've come close a few times.  Especially if I'm positioned in front of a seat kicker.

But I digress.

So.... Silver Cinema.  If you're over 55 you can go to selected viewings of current releases for the princely sum of just £3.  Plus, you get tea, coffee and biscuits beforehand too.

What's not to like?

But the best thing.  The very best thing, is that as soon as the film started, there was complete and utter silence.

No chattering.
No rustling.
No slurping.
No texting.
No seat kicking.

Just the occasional sigh, or cough.  People laughed in all the right places.  Nobody brayed like a donkey.  As a cinema-going group our etiquette was exemplary.

Granted, the queue for the toilets afterwards was somewhat longer than usual.  And it took us a bit more time to negotiate the stairs.  But we all emerged blinking into the light with a shared warm glow of camaraderie.

I suppose it helped that we saw The Lady in the Van, which caused a general feeling of gratitude that at least we weren't in such a parlous state as poor Maggie Smith.

We will most definitely go again, although next time we'll get there a bit earlier as all the best biscuits had gone by the time we got to the front of the queue.

Useful tip there by the way.

As an aside, we were telling PP's nephew about it, and he asked if they were modern films, as though, given our advancing years we'd be offered a selection of old black and white movies!

Laugh?  I nearly started......

Thursday, 14 January 2016

CMW Workshops......

If you're likely to be at a loose end in mid October, you could do worse than book a workshop session at the newly relocated CMW event which will run from 14-16 October 2016.

For those not in the know, CMW stands for Cotswolds Miniatures Weekend, which has, for the past 5 years, been held in Eastington, Gloucestershire.  However this year the event is moving to Cambridgeshire.... the village of Eye to be more precise.  Eye is close to Peterborough, with its wide range of accommodation and is easily accessible by road and rail.  

CMW has gained a well-deserved reputation, offering a range of high quality workshops for miniatures enthusiasts.  In recent years tutors have included Jamie Carrington, Ann High, Hazel Dowd and Geoff Lewis, to name but a few.  This year I'm delighted to have been invited to teach, and I'm offering three different sessions over the weekend.

Full details of the new venue, workshop programme and all supporting information will be available on the CMW website in early February, but in the meantime I've been given the go-ahead to advertise my classes in advance of the official launch, so here goes.......

 Friday Evening 14 October 2016   7.00pm - 9.30pm

Workshop Title – Everything Alice! 

In this relaxed evening session, make a set of three Alice in Wonderland themed toys for your 1/12th scale doll’s house nursery or toy shop.

Wonderland Play Set – This magnetic playset features a mahogany chessboard base to showcase a selection of changeable scenery and Alice in Wonderland characters.
There are three sets of scenery and 20 precision cut characters, which are double-sided and can easily be moved around on the base without falling over!
Also supplied is an illustrated storage box for the scenery and characters.
Base measures 1  1/4" square

"OFF with her head!"

20 different double sided characters and 3 scenery backdrops
store neatly in the illustrated box
Boxed Nursery Blocks – A set of 6 wooden nursery blocks in a made-to-measure box with illustrated lid. The blocks feature vintage Alice illustrations.

Blocks fit in the bespoke box with illustrated lid
Each block has 6 different vintage illustrations
Boxed Paper Dolls - A complete set of wonderful vintage paper dolls from 1933. The characters are precision cut and fit into a bespoke box with illustrated lid.

Class limit – 10 students 
Cost £25

 Saturday  15th October 2016  - 9.00am – 5.30pm

Workshop Title -  1/12th Parisian-Style Toy Kiosk

This exclusive kit has been designed specially for me for CMW by Nick Day of Treacle Lane, who will also be teaching a workshop this year.  

Students will assemble and decorate an authentic wooden Parisian-style toy kiosk on a flagstone baseboard, complete with lighting, landscaping, bunting and signs.  
The kiosk features an opening stable door and removable roof to allow easy access to the interior which has adjustable shelves on the back wall.

Tiny plants growing at the base of the kiosk and moss between the flagstones.... 

Advertising signs adorn the sides
Also included is a variety of kits to make vintage ‘lithograph’ paper toys, books and games, including wheeled animal toys, toy theatres (one with changeable scenery and movable characters) rocking toys, boxed paper dolls, board games, puzzles, Jumping Jack/marionette puppets, nursery blocks and more……!

Lithograph style vintage menagerie pullalong toys

Fairytale theatre with changeable scenery and movable characters depicting 4 well-loved tales
Punch & Judy toy theatre
This is a full day session and students should aim to complete the kiosk in the time available.  Students can work on the toy kits while waiting for glue/paint to dry but the main emphasis will be on the kiosk construction, landscaping and lighting. 

In order to assure completion of the kiosks, kits will be pre-painted in a neutral colour. If you wish a specific colour please contact me in advance and I’ll do my best to comply.

Dimensions – Baseboard measures 11” wide by 7 ½” deep.  Kiosk is 10 ½” high.
Class limit – 10 students
Cost - £100  
Sunday 16 October 2016 -  9.00am – 5.00pm

Workshop title – Jumeau-style Toy Doll’s Doll and Accessories in Trunk

Trunk measures 2  1/4" high, 1  1/4" wide and 1  1/4" deep

Dress a 1 ¾” tall, porcelain doll, with jointed arms and legs.  She will have silk underwear, socks, leather-soled shoes, pleated silk dress, ringlet curls wig and elaborate bonnet.

The wooden trunk will be painted and decorated inside and out with vintage Jumeau doll illustrations and pretty mini  print papers and have a removable doll stand, shelf and hanging hook.

Her accessories include a silk dress on hanger, matching bonnet, fan and posy of silk flowers.

Doll stands can be removed from the trunk

Additional accessory kits will also be available on the day.

For early bookers only, this workshop is available in your choice of colour(s).  Please contact me for details.  Trunk papers and accessories will be coordinated with your colour choice.

Wide range of colours available, from soft pastels to dramatic darks!

Just a few examples of the range of colours and styles

Class limit – 10 students 
Cost £60

All workshops will be supported by fully illustrated, step-by-step instruction booklets.

Bookings must be made via the CMW website, where a booking form will be available to download as soon as the workshop programme is announced.  Information is also available on the new CMW Workshops FB page.

However if you need any further information do feel free to contact me and I'll do my best to help.

Looking forward to it already........

Friday, 8 January 2016

Squirrel obesity.....

Over 7 years ago, I wrote a post about an unnaturally fat squirrel in our garden.  You can read about it, and Small Dog's reaction HERE.

Turns out, that along with the rest of us, squirrels are actually getting fatter.

Fat squirrels are a thing.

No, really.

It must be true because even the Daily Mail is on it.

Whatever next......?