Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Work continues apace.....

In response to all those of you who have badgered asked me for information on the lack of progress on the toy shop, here is a brief anguished cry update on what I have achieved thus far.

Actually I spent ages and ages this past weekend secreted away in my little hobby room, finally going from dry build to glued build, with only a few panics in between. I have finished building the bay windows, installed wooden floors (until I ran out of wood), painted ceilings, and installed the initial runs of copper tape for lighting.

I have proof of all of this industry in the form of photographs, carefully documenting my meticulous and painstaking efforts to achieve perfection in minature form.

Sadly, however, my camera connection lead has gone mysteriously astray and I will have to interrogate the usual suspect (ie small dog) to ascertain its whereabouts. As soon as I lay my hands on
the little beggar the missing cable, I will upload all manner of photographic wonders to delight the eye. Ahem.

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Law of irrevocability

This will surely hit a chord with many miniaturists who experiment with 'kit bashing'.

I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to turn the ground floor flat windows into large, square bay windows, in order to add interest to the front of the shop and more importantly to give me large areas of window display space.

I bought two extra windows, identical to those included with the shop kit, and set about cannibalising the spare windows to make side windows for the bay. The top and bottom of each bay will be solid wood.

So far so good.

I am sure you are all familar with the old adage.

"Measure twice
Cut once"

Sage advice I'm sure you'll agree. And advice which I take very, very seriously. You see I have nigh on 20 years experience of doll's house building, from kits and from scratch, and over the years I have made every mistake in the book, and even more which aren't. In fact, if I were ever to publish a book of my own mistakes, it would run to several volumes. I say this merely to illustrate the point that many years of miniature experience does not confer invulnerability when it comes to getting things wrong.

Not only do I measure twice.... I usually measure at least half a dozen times.
Then I make a cup of tea and gaze out of the window at the fence panel which blew down in the gales a few weeks ago and ponder on whether the neighbours will fix it (it is their boundary) or whether we will have to "get a man in"...........

But I digress. I think that is called displacement activity and it is something to be guarded against *cough*


I have two windows. One will be the front of the bay, and the other will be cut and cunningly fashioned to form the two sides.


Easy peasy.


I will gloss over my FIRST mistake, which was very minor and which anybody could make.
In my defence, I am absolutely 100% positive that my craft saw is ever so slightly bent. Extraordinarily useful for cutting curves but not so hot for straight lines.

No matter.

Back to the job in hand, and bringing side A to front B reveals yet another minor, but unforseen and therefore extremely irritating hitch. The edges won't butt neatly together as I have omitted to take into account the 'framing' around the edges of the window, which would normally allow it to slide smoothly into the cut-out in the wall and stay there as if by magic.

"Easily done" I can hear you say.
"Something anyone could have overlooked" I expect you are thinking.

Plan B.

Wander forlornly downstairs with both pieces of window in order to seek advice from perfectionist partner, who, as I had secretly hoped, offered to perform a very nifty bit of excision so that the two parts miraculously come together perfectly. Even small dog is impressed enough to stop chewing some mdf offcuts in order to admire the now wonderful symmetry of the window.

Et voila.

The first window is very nearly ready to assemble, barring a few bits of sanding. I will also stain all the components before glueing, on order to avoid unsightly white patches, where the stain won't penetrate the glue. See, I sometimes do learn from my mistakes.

Just the other window to do now..............

Calm reflection......

Final DIY packages have now been delivered, unpacked and mused upon, then added to the growing pile of items in the optimistically named 'hobby room'. Should I suddenly be overtaken by the urge to swing a cat I would be severely hampered. The room is very small, and even with a single bed, work table, swivel chair and bookcase the only items of furniture, the floor space is negligible. I have resorted to putting everything on the bed, in neat piles......wooden mouldings, electrical gubbins, exterior finish materials, roofing materials etc, which leaves no room for small dog to snuggle down, much to her disgust.
Practically all of the table is taken up with the 'dry build' carcase of the shop, leaving me no flat surface to work on. As there is no room for another table I will have to be creative and have settled on the following solution.

Move the mattress off the bed, into one of the other spare bedrooms. Lug a piece of mdf down from the shed at the top of the garden to cover the bed base and serve as a stable platform to take the shop, neatly freeing up the table for working on. Problem solved.


I now have to move all the stuff off the bed to get to the mattress.

And even worse....
Then brave the hordes of enormous garden spiders who have taken winter sanctuary in the shed and probably have woven gigantic webs right under the bit of mdf I need to get at, each web containing millions of tiny spiderlets, primed to scatter and attack with lightning speed.

Actually, on reflection, I may leave that till another day. I still have soooo much planning to do, marking out the brickwork sections on the shop fronts etc.

Which of course would be so much easier if I had a clear workspace.


PS - thinking I needed a suitable graphic to enliven this post, I idly Googled 'spiders' in Google Images.

In deference to fellow arachnophobe's nervous dispositions, I chose the least offensive image from the dozens of frankly terrifying photographs which suddenly appeared on my computer screen. I urge you UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES to repeat my experiment.

You have been warned!

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Displacement activity.....

More exciting packages arrived today, but I haven't had time to explore the contents properly. However a cursory glance and rummage revealed more DIY items, tiny spotlights, roof stay so that the attic roof doesn't constantly clatter down on my fingers (voice of experience there! ) special adhesives and wood stains. Just a few more deliveries and I'll be all set to make a proper start at last.

Incidentally, I have inadvertently acquired a young assistant, who is very enthusiastic and keen, especially where wood is involved.

Perhaps I should introduce her properly.........

Monday, 8 January 2007

Decisions, decisions.....

Whilst nominally at work today, I have been musing over the adaptations I will make to the shop kit.

Firstly the stairs will have to go.
The kit has three floors and two long straight flights of stairs, which take up a lot of wall space on the ground and first floors which I desperately need for display space. As a concession to reality I will have a dummy door with trompe l'oiel 'corridor' beyond, leading to stairs in an unseen part of the building. I had wondered about a spiral staircase leading up to the attic workrooms from the first floor, but even that would take up too much precious space, so I will have another door, marked Staff Only, and under lock and key to prevent curious children taking a peek.
The downside of this is having to cut out two infill pieces to fill the holes in the floors where the stairs would have emerged. Luckily, the packing pieces with the kit included 4 long pieces of MDF, which will be cut to fill the holes, and also provide a pavement area to run the length of the shop frontage. Excellent.

Secondly, I am going to make the windows, which should fit flush with the wall, into large, square, bay windows, which will give me useful additional display space to create tempting window displays. This means buying another two windows to cannibalise for the sides of the bays. Still not decided how to finish the bay window roofs yet but that will be easier to do when the bays are in place.

Thirdly, no ceiling lights. With a ceiling height of just 8 1/2 inches (which incidentally is just perfect for the Tudor oak beamed period of the building) ceiling lights would hang dangerously close to the shoppers, and detract from the look I'm trying to achieve. Instead I have opted for concealed lighting on the first and second floors, hidden behind beams and inside the top of the display shelving. Since they will be hidden, I only need bulbs and not complete light fittings, neatly saving £££'s.
Having originally planned to intall a wired lighting system, I have now reconsidered, and will use copper tape instead. Almost all of the wall space on the first two floors will be taken up with display cases, so a myriad of connections running to and from the copper tape will not be seen, and I can solder the wires from the bulb fittings directly onto the copper tape, doing away with the need for plugs. With foresight born of experience (!) I will be using screw in bulbs with simple holders, so that I can easily change blown bulbs.
So far so good.

Exciting deliveries......

Got up especially early this morning for two reasons...

Firstly, back to work today after a lengthy rest. Shouldn't complain really as the commute takes a mere 10 seconds from breakfast table to workroom.
Secondly, to take delivery of several boxes ofDIY building supplies related to the toy shop.

Very exciting time opening the boxes and rifling through the contents. Naturally I just had to try out some of the things for size which could be described as displacement activity by those who think I am just trying to avoid starting work.

One rather baffling item which came with lots of wires, battery holder, switch, electric motor etc, BUT NO INSTRUCTIONS. I know what it is for, but not how to put it together or make it work.
So I put that aside for later perusal. I'm a bit worried that with all the electrical gubbins I'm planning on using, that the back of the toy shop will look a bit like this

Hm, might need a bit more thought on this, but I am confident that it will all be fine in the end.

Also aware that blogging is prime displacement activity and I really should be working.
You haven't seen me......right?!
*glances guiltily over shoulder and scurries back to workroom*

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Planning & Prep - Check

So the festive season (why is it called festive when it is so often far from it?!) has drawn to a close and it's back to work properly on Monday. The dull, grey days of January and February lie bleakly ahead forming the perfect backdrop to an engrossing project, which is all laid out in my newly acquired 'hobby room'.

Just a few last minute checks to perform then I can begin in earnest.

  • Small work table snaffled from caravan - Check
  • Extremely uncomfortable swivel chair snaffled from workroom - Check *mental note to self - look out for a better one in the January sales*
  • Selection of spotlights as the room gets no sunlight - Check
  • Assorted tool boxes, mini drill, mitre cutters, glueing jigs etc - Check
  • Radio so I can have my daily fix of Radio 4, especially The Archers (don't you just want to give David a good talking to?) - Check
  • Huge motley collection of DIY odds and ends collected over 15 years, including little bits of skirting boards, cornicing, oak beams, electrical gubbins etc, all of which will take many hours to sort through - Check
  • Barricade to prevent small dog from 'helping' by sorting through wooden mouldings with her teeth. - Check
  • Camera on tripod to record progress of the build - Check
  • Huge notebook to record sizes, sketches, ideas etc - Check
  • Toy shop kit, in 'dry build' form on the table - Check
Well so far so good.