Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Curiouser and curiouser.....

I've blogged recently about taking a new direction workwise next year, and although I'm still uncertain about which path to take, thoughts and ideas are swirling around and gradually coalescing into a nebulous plan.

The problem is, I have loads of ideas for 'stuff to do' all the time... it's sorting the wheat from the chaff which is the hard part.  Nevertheless, the more I think about things, the more certain I am that it's all worth a go.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and all that.


For the foreseeable future I'm going to have plans for two 'projects' running side by side, while I engage in one of my favourite work-related tasks.... research and development.

Or Pinterest as it is sometimes known.

I'm also toying with the idea of forsaking my beloved 1/12th scale, and taking the plunge into 1/24th.  Yes I know it's no longer the new best thing.... the even smaller, and frankly impossible 1/48th scale has stolen that crown, but I've never been an early adopter.

As a result I'm in the market for a very specific half scale house.  There are lots around but none which tick all my specification boxes.  So whichever one I decide upon I'm going to have to do some serious kit-bashing.

That's my autumn/winter free time taken care of then........

Friday, 14 July 2017

Sewing bee.....


I've been playing this week.... first with the creation of a new little book

Book comes complete with three separate colour plates
Written instructions and patterns for all of the illustrated costumes

And as these things are wont to do, one thing led to another....

Children's Sewing Set

I've again signed up as a dealer for the August Mini Miniature Show, and have been trying to come up with a new, exclusive kit to offer as a workshop at the show.  It was while I was making the Dolly's Dressmaking book that I remembered I had a few half scale sewing machines which would be just perfect for a child's boxed sewing kit.

Et voila!  Over the weekend I'll be refining the kit, adding some other sewing accoutrements and designing a bespoke box for the entire set.

With luck and a following wind my new Doll's Dressmaking Set workshop will be advertised on the Mini Miniature Show website next week 😊

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Vintage doll's sewing books.....

Buoyed by my success with the sewing machine kit for my L'atelier de Poupée workshop pack, I've been busy again today making two very special miniature book kits, also destined for inclusion.

Both are facsimiles of original books written specially for children, to help them make clothing for their dolls. Like doll's houses, which were originally used as a teaching aid for girls to help them gain skills in domestic housekeeping, these books instilled the basics of needlework, at a time when most clothing was handmade, before the age of mass production.

The text is rather patronising....

..... but I have no doubt that if the instructions were followed to the letter, young girls would have been able to create beautiful costumes for their dolls.

I do wonder though how present-day children would react to being given a non-digital book (with precious few illustrations) some fabric and sewing equipment and left to get on with it.

The instructions for the Mantle, in particular, combine elements of arithmetic and geometry in a form which don't even make much sense to me and I do this stuff every day! 😲

Monday, 10 July 2017

A stitch in time......

A few weeks ago I blogged about the preparations for my swansong workshop pack, which are going rather well, if I do say so myself.

I have 10 boxes, each gradually filling with all manner of mini kits which together will make up my L'atelier de la Poupée Vignette..

This morning I've just finished this.....

..... which will also be included.

It's all coming together very nicely 😊

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Box of Delights.....!

Regular readers will know that I absolutely love tiny things in boxes.  There is something about a boxed miniature - whether it's a little porcelain toy doll, or a vintage litho board game - that makes my heart sing.

In pursuit of my workroom downsizing exercise I've come across several boxes of full size vintage boxed games, some dating from the 1890s.  All have been serendipitous finds on Ebay over the years, and most are in a parlous state.... creased, marked and dog-eared, with busted boxes and some playing pieces missing etc.  

However, using the miracle of Photoshop, it is possible to painstakingly restore them to their original glory, at least in 1/12th scale.  The process is extremely time-consuming, nit-picking work but I think it's worth it to recreate a much-loved vintage game in miniature.

I've already miniaturised several vintage litho toys and games over the years, some of which were also available as kits, so I've set up a new category on the website titled 'Box of Delights' in which I will list each new vintage game as I complete it.... hopefully one a month.... although they do take a very long time to restore.

First in the series is a rather lovely version of one of my favourite childhood card games, Old Maid.  It was produced by the famous McLoughlin Brothers in 1892 and includes 44 cards featuring illustrations of well-loved nursery rhymes.  

Boxed Set of Old Maid Game Cards

The game is available either as a completed set, or as a limited number of kits HERE

Future games and toys include my version of a vintage Peter Rabbit board game, a rather lovely toy doll's house, and a boxed set of gorgeous vintage paper dolls... to name but a few! 

For anyone who wants to display their collection, either in a miniature toy shop or nursery setting, I am also designing a special piece of furniture, which will be available as a kit around Christmas time.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

14 day deadline....!

As part of my last full year of trading, I've been conducting a thorough stock check of dressed dolls, ready to dress dolls, and kits, all of which are getting low.

I'm currently working on a megabatch of casting in order to restock porcelain toys and dolls, which will take several months.  After that's completed, early next year, I will be selling off my molds and kiln, along with all of my dollmaking tools and equipment, so all the dolls and toys I cast over the next few months will then have to last me for the remainder of my miniature making career, whichever form that takes.

Prices of my dressed and ready to dress dolls have remained static for over 12 years and during that I've absorbed all the rising costs of raw materials.  However, at the end of this month (that's 14 days time) we will be updating our prices across the website.

For my range of ready to dress dolls that means a 25% increase.

Sounds a lot doesn't it?  But it takes the cost of a handmade, jointed, china-painted, four-times fired, porcelain doll from just £12 to £15.  Prices of kits and dressed dolls will also rise accordingly.

The price changes across the website will take effect on 1 July.  So there is a two week window of opportunity to take advantage of the current ridiculously low prices!

See our ready to dress dolls HERE

A selection of jointed, ready to dress, porcelain dolls.... from 1" to 1  3/4" tall!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

End of an era.....

Although I'm feeling eleventy million times better than I did on Tuesday, I'm still a bit 'meh' so today the limit of my ambition has been pottering about, ostensibly tidying up, as the house is a complete tip.

We're still trying to sort through no end of 'stuff' which came downstairs prior to the shower room refurb and most of it has ended up in the dining room, pending sale, recycling or charity donation.  The dining room also performed as my temporary sewing room last week so my machine and all the gubbins are still set up in there.  

Not so much dining room as warehouse holding facility.

My depleted energy levels haven't permitted me to do much in the way of sorting through the mess today, although I did drag out our old fair stand sign, which had been carefully bubble-wrapped and stored in what is now Gigglefidget's new room.

We made it specially for the 50th  Miniatura doll's house fair back in 2009, and used it subsequently at various Kensington Dollshouse Festival fairs, as well as many others at which we exhibited during the past 8 years, replacing a motley collection of display equipment which had graced my stand at fairs during the previous 22 years.

As it was for Miniatura's Golden Anniversary we decided on a black and gold colour scheme. It's difficult to see from the photo but all around the sides are little golden fairy lights, embellished with sprays of little iridescent gold beads.  PP cut the lettering for the sign and the whole thing bolted onto the back of a horizontal display shelf.  We used gold lame fabric over a black tablecloth to cover the stand and all of the modular display units were either gold or black.

Those were the days.....

I do have photos of it at that Miniatura show but they're saved somewhere in the bowels of our old portable hard drive, so here's a more recent one from the Thame Fair a few years ago.

Anyways.... as we're not going to be exhibiting at any more fairs, there's no need to keep it so earlier on I dismantled it. The lights will be used somewhere in the house and we'll cut up the wood to use for a garden project.

While I was taking it apart in the garden, Small Dog decided to take on a supervisory role....

As I've been under the weather the past few days, I've had some downtime to ponder on what direction I'll be taking next year.  Tentative ideas and plans have gradually been coalescing and taking shape so I've got a lot to think about.

However, in the meantime I'm going to have some fun and work on projects for miniatures which I've always had in mind to make, but have simply never got round to doing.
Also, over the coming months I'll be listing loads of minis, kits, tools and materials for sale from my workroom, as I systematically clear through all the cupboards, shelves and boxes.

Onwards and upwards.....