Tuesday, 30 September 2008


Bit of a professional coup this month.......... Doll's House & Miniature Scene Magazine (November issue) has published a glowing review of our vintage toy doll kits.

Not only that, today they've granted permission for me to put the review on our website!

With pictures and everything.

I am soooooo pleased.

You can read the review here! Please be patient as the file may take up to a minute to download.

Deadlines looming..........

As we nose into October, and with just 67 days till Kensington, I am reminded that the deadline for our ad in the show catalogue is at the end of this week. So, after a peremptory business breakfast meeting this morning, Perfectionist Partner drew the short straw and has spent many hours today designing and executing the ad.

Not only that, she presented me with a variety of options, in different colours, in a range of formats, from which to choose.

Hope I've made the right decision.............

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Geocaching virgins...........

It was Perfectionist Partner's birthday a week or so back, so in the pursuit of the Perfect Present I bought a selection of geocaching gadgets and a book.

In the intervening time, PP has been perusing the instructional book "Geocaching For Dummies", practicing with the waypoint finder GPS thingy and looking on the geocaching site for details of caches in our area.

We were astounded to discover that within just a 3 mile diameter of our house, there are 39 caches! So off we set today, small dog in tow, to try to find our first ever cache.

After scrambling around in the undergrowth on the cliff top for 40 minutes we did eventually find it, hidden in the fork of a tree, so after completing the log, swapping some geoswag and flushed with success set of to find a second, only a mile or so away down the coast. This proved more difficult to locate, as the cache was contained in a very small film canister (microcache). The second location was also much busier and we attracted quite a bit of bemused attention from passers-by as we surreptitiously tried to poke about in the undergrowth, trying to look as little like potential terrorists as possible. Even small dog eventually tried to disassociate herself from us by hiding behind our backpack on the ground.

Eventually though, after a further 30 minutes, PP found the tiny, camouflaged canister, which we took down onto the beach to investigate further, log the details, then carefully return to its hiding place.

For those of you who have absolutely no idea what geocaching is (which is probably most, if not all), the easiest thing for me to do by way of explanation, is to point you here.

So, great fun in the great outdoors. The thrill of the chase, the satisfaction of the find, and views to die for...............

The view from the cliff top near our very first geocache find!

Going Global................

Regular readers of this blog will remember my penchant for maps (Wagons roll......post on 1 April 2008). It's probably a bit nerdy but give me an atlas, or a map, the more detailed the better, and I'm happy for hours..... days even.

Since adding the nifty little gizmo which shows on a map where my blog readers reside, I've been following the progress of the rash of little red dots with growing amazement.

Apparently people have been logging on to read this tosh literary offering *ahem* from some of the most unusual and exotic places on the planet.

Such as the shores of Hudson Bay, the foothills of both the Andes and the Himalayas respectively, the red centre of Australia, the desert heart of Saudi Arabia, the forests of Malaysia, the southernmost tip of South Africa (hello Margaret!), Russia, China and Japan, not to mention the mid-Pacific island of Hawaii!

So, in order to satisfy my cartographic curiosity, I'd be grateful if some of my further-flung readers would post the occasional comment to let me know where they're from so I can plot them more accurately on my wall map.

Note to self - as the new 'work regime' officially starts tomorrow, this does NOT count as displacement activity.
Addendum to note to self - even Mon-Fri this could legitimately count as 'research'


PS.... while engaged in perfectly legitimate research to find a suitable map to illustrate this post I found one which superbly demonstrates my fascination with maps, even fanciful ones.....
I particularly like the 'Here Be Anthropomorphic Dragons"

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Countdown to Kensington...........

The friendly countdown timer on my laptop screen now informs me that there are 70 days remaining till the Kensington Fair.

For some reason best known to itself, it has also added the time remaining in hours, minutes and seconds. Hence at time of writing I have exactly 1662 hours, 24 minutes and 59 seconds...no 53, erm 44..........well you get the gist.

I am not sure whether I find this comforting or worrying.

70 days is, after all, 10 weeks. So plenty of time to finish the dozen or so projects coming through the 'research and development' stage. To say nothing of the gargantuan list of new ideas I'm trying to work my way through.

Then there's the small business of actually earning a living in the midst of all the fair preparations. So what it all boils down to is having to initiate a new regime, starting Monday.

The regime, will work like this.

In theory.
  • Mon-Fri - be at work desk by 8am each morning, following brief breakfast appraisal of what has to be achieved each day.
  • No time wasting messing about on the internet, except for research purposes *ahem*
  • All tea breaks limited to 10 minutes max. However chocolate biscuits will be deemed compulsory to combat potential dangerously low blood sugar levels.
  • I will, absolutely, categorically, definitely and without fail, TIDY MY WORK AREA at the end of EVERY day. Admittedly, I do see the point of this, as it will save me much valuable time looking for stuff which is always hidden at the bottom of the pile. Yes, it goes against my whole creative chaos grain, but needs must.
  • Consorting with small dog must be kept to a minimum during working hours. Any attempt by her to engage me non-work related shenanigans must be ignored.
  • Set a list of achievable work targets week-by-week. This is of course easier said than done.
Well that's enough to be going on with, for the time being. Time now for a glass of something chilled methinks..............

Kent Miniaturists 20th Anniversary............

I have just returned for a rather fine lunch to celebrate Kent Miniaturists 20th Anniversary.

As founder member of the club way back in 1988, I was awarded the status of Honorary Guest today and had the opportunity to meet members new and old, many of whom I haven't seen for several years.

I am both pleased and proud that since I handed over the reins, the club has continued to build on its reputation for excellence and the quality of their workshop programme. From its earliest days, I was determined that we would rise above the more usual club endeavours, and have nothing to do with toothpaste caps, plastic spoons or sticky backed plastic.

Over the years we made some truly wonderful miniatures at club sessions, ranging from a fully fitted gent's mahogany dressing case, with sub-microscopic hinges, to a 1/12th scale fibre-optic birthday cake, on which the candles really did light up! We also tackled a 1/144th scale doll's house for a doll's house, a proper leather bound photo album, and a working crystal chandelier amongst many other miniature projects.

So thanks to all of you who were kind enough to invite me to attend today. I hope the club continues to thrive and look forward to joining the celebrations in another 10 years!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Corpus Canis...........

One of the miniature artisan forums to which I contribute regularly, has had an interesting thread recently based on what we all do, or rather the individual components which make up our daily working lives.

These ranged from the artistic to technical and the sublime to the ridiculous. One of the more erudite members of the group appended Corpus Canis to his list, which really tickled me. I want a T-shirt with that printed on!

Anyhoo, it got me thinking, the whole self-employed job specifications thing, and I spent a few minutes over breakfast this morning idly compiling a list of jobs I've undertaken over the past few months, over and above making miniature dolls and toys.

Some I perform daily, others less regularly, but they can ALL be legitimately added to my CV, and that of Perfectionist Partner, who could probably add several more of her own. I haven't been able to ask Small Dog as she's currently having an extended nap.

So, here, in no particular order, is what I do..................

Craft Artisan - self employed.
List of job responsibilities and transferable skills:
  • Designer
  • Researcher
  • Graphic Designer
  • Website Administrator
  • Marketing Director
  • Accountant
  • Financial Director
  • Press & Communications Officer
  • Copy Writer/Proof Reader
  • Print Operator
  • Advertising Director
  • Customer Services Officer
  • Buyer/Purchasing Clerk
  • Negotiator
  • Mechanical/Electrical Technician
  • Computer Operator
  • Typist
  • Invoice Clerk
  • PR Consultant
  • Photographer
  • Teacher
  • Video Operator/Editor
  • Packaging Clerk
  • Health & Safety Officer
  • Events Organiser/Coordinator
  • Manager
  • Catalogue Designer
  • Blog Editor
  • Quality Control Officer
And there's probably a few more I haven't thought of.

And yes, I do do ALL of the above.

Yes really.

For example, a relatively unlikely title from the list is Mechanical/Electrical Technician, but since we carry out all our own routine maintenance on the kiln, including programming the computer-controlled regulator, calibrating and checking firing temperatures and replacing worn out kiln elements, then it most certainly qualifies.

So you see, when someone says "...and what do YOU do?" I can now present them with a definitive list.

NEW Online Class

I've just managed to snuck this in before the end of the month so am feeling rather virtuous.

Our latest online class is now available for registration. For full details click on the picture, which says it all really................

And yes.

Yes, the rubber chicken IS included. Now that's not an offer you get every day........

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Earlybird Specials............

Far be it from me to raise the spectre of Christmas Future in the dying days of September, but Perfectionist Partner, Small Dog and I had a breakfast business meeting on Monday to ruminate on preparations for the festive season.

As always, (aside from an unseemly fracas over a toasted bacon sandwich) some good ideas were forthcoming from at least two thirds of the directors. Foremost of which was the suggestion of a selection of Christmas Earlybird Specials which will be changed on a weekly basis between now and the end of November.

So if you need a good reason to partake of a spot of early Christmas shopping, there you have it!

Incidentally, for the record, Small Dog did succeed in wrestling her share of the sandwich from our collective grasp. After which she reverted to her usual position of sleeping partner.
She's going to have to pull her furry little socks up pretty sharpish businesswise, or as my grannie would have said, her jacket is on a slack nail.

Breaking News............

Small dog foils midget dalek attack................

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Messing about on boats.............

Returned yesterday, after 4 days on the Oxford canal. The trip was best summed up by one of the 'crew' who described it as extended periods of calm and tranquility, interspersed with moments of fear and sheer panic.

The calm and tranquil bits saw us gliding smoothly along the canal, listening to the birds, watching for fish jumping, catching sight of the occasional kingfisher skimming across the water and generally enjoying a slower pace of life.

The sheer panic bits saw us heading for the canal banks and other boats, with at least four of the six of us shouting 'REVERSE!' at whoever was unlucky enough to be the helmswoman at the time. We all had our 'moments' of this.

We unlocked the mysteries of locks and despite the sheer physical hard work of winding paddles up and down, heaving heavy lock gates open and closed and trying not to look down into the stygian depths of some of the deeper locks, we did get the hang of it.


Small dog was in her element. Whether sat in the bow, sniffing the breeze, watching for oncoming boats (which almost always had another dog on board), 'helping' with the locks, or striding out along the towpath, she had a fabulous time, and ended each day absolutely exhausted and stretched out in the galley, while the 'crew' celebrated yet another day of avoiding watery disaster by eating in style and drinking gallons of chilled white wine.

The trip took us all out of our comfort zone which in my opinion is a very Good Thing. As it was my idea, and everyone seems still to be talking to me, I would judge it to be a success.

So here for your delectation and delight are some of our best bits..............

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Eponymous hero..........

I've finally found a photograph of Montmorency, which was intended to accompany my last post.

Anyway, better late than never, so here he is, with Jerome.

Small Dog's alter ego

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with small dog. Even as I write this I can hear the patter of tiny feet as she busily goes about her business of checking the perimeter of the house and garden, ever alert for intruders, but equally vigilant about seeking out any patches of sunlight in which she might bask.
Regular readers will also be aware that some time back, there was talk of a boating holiday, and photographs of small dog in her flotation jacket were duly posted.
Our short boating trip begins soon, and aside from all the preparations, packing and general panicking about the advisability or otherwise of 6 women, (to say nothing of the two dogs) taking charge of a 70 foot narrow boat, I have been taking the opportunity to re-read one of my very favourite books, Three Men In A Boat (to say nothing of the dog) by Jerome K Jerome.
The dog in question is Montmorency, a small fox-terrier owned by the narrator. I would urge anyone who hasn't read the book to get hold of a copy immediately, but to whet the appetite, here is a short excerpt describing Montmorency. The 'three men' have been discussing sleeping arrangements for the boating trip............

"We therefore decided that we would sleep out on fine nights; and hotel it, and inn it, and pub. it, like respectable folks, when it was wet, or when we felt inclined for a change.
Montmorency hailed this compromise with much approval. He does not revel in romantic solitude. Give him something noisy; and if a trifle low, so much the jollier. To look at Montmorency you would imagine that he was an angel sent upon the earth, for some reason withheld from mankind, in the shape of a small fox-terrier. There is a sort of Oh-what-a-wicked- world-this-is-and-how-I-wish-I-could-do-something-to-make-it-better-and- nobler expression about Montmorency that has been known to bring the tears into the eyes of pious old ladies and gentlemen.
When first he came to live at my expense, I never thought I should be able to get him to stop long. I used to sit down and look at him, as he sat on the rug and looked up at me, and think: "Oh, that dog will never live. He will be snatched up to the bright skies in a chariot, that is what will happen to him."
But, when I had paid for about a dozen chickens that he had killed; and had dragged him, growling and kicking, by the scruff of his neck, out of a hundred and fourteen street fights; and had had a dead cat brought round for my inspection by an irate female, who called me a murderer; and had been summoned by the man next door but one for having a ferocious dog at large, that had kept him pinned up in his own tool-shed, afraid to venture his nose outside the door for over two hours on a cold night; and had learned that the gardener, unknown to myself, had won thirty shillings by backing him to kill rats against time, then I began to think that maybe they'd let him remain on earth for a bit longer, after all.
To hang about a stable, and collect a gang of the most disreputable dogs to be found in the town, and lead them out to march round the slums to fight other disreputable dogs, is Montmorency's idea of "life;" and so, as I before observed, he gave to the suggestion of inns, and pubs and hotels his most emphatic approbation."
Not for a moment do I wish to give the impression that Small Dog is in any way disreputable. She does however enjoy seeing a bit of 'life' and if there is the potential for mischief in whatever form, she will give it a firm 'paws up'. Needless to say she is looking forward to the trip immensely, and keeps checking on her 'packing pile' to see that her life jacket, pyjamas and warm jumper are still there.

More anon.................

Monday, 8 September 2008

Toy Shop News.........

Yes, the toy shop is finally finished, and I'm straining at the leash to make a start on the basement, which is currently in kit form.

Some new toys are finally off the drawing board now too, including a very exotic pullalong zebra!


Saturday, 6 September 2008

NEW! On Diminutive Dolls

As we enter autumn,with the advent of shorter evenings, chillier weather and, if the last two days are anything to go by, torrential rain .......... miniaturists thoughts will increasingly turn towards languishing projects, or making plans for new projects.........or both.

With this in mind, we are launching a series of online classes on our Diminutive Dolls website. Our first class will be limited to just 5 students, and takes the season as its inspiration.

September Online Class
Dress a vintage toy doll in autumnal colours

Hopefully, we will have a new project each month from now till Christmas. And exciting plans are afoot for a very special ongoing project starting in January 2009, details of which will be available in December to coincide with the Kensington Christmas Festival.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Cutting edge journalism...........

Couldn't resist sharing this little gem.

And me an arachnophobe too!

An interesting side note here. As I was researching spider fear (yes.....I do actually research stuff for this blog!) I came across this.......


Professor Martin Antony of the University of Toronto Psychiatry Department classifies arachnophobics in two categories: "monitors" and "blunters". When a "monitor" enters a room, he searches the entire room for a spider. When he finds one, he not only makes sure he knows where it is but he continues to follow or monitor it. A "blunter" does the exact opposite: he does everything in his power to keep from seeing a spider in a room. He will distract himself, even talking to himself to avoid seeing the spider.

I am most definitely a 'monitor' I don't go as far as searching every room I enter for spiders, but if I do catch sight of one, I like to know its whereabouts thereafter. This links with another of my phobias, which is having a spider go up my trouser leg. I have been known to tuck my trouser legs INSIDE my socks to avoid such an eventuality, when a previously monitored spider goes AWOL.

I toyed with the idea of putting a spider photo in this post, but having just browsed Google Images for suitable candidates, I'm now in such a state that I'm going to have to have a cup of tea and a Kit Kat to calm me down. *shudder*

Also, just a thought, but going back to the original news story, how exactly do you put a spider down??

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Autumn beckons...........


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

Or more accurately, season of monsoons and cloudbursts.

Today the rain has vacillated between steady drizzle, heavy showers and downright downpours.

Small dog's occasional forays out into the garden have resulted in her returning soaked to the skin and resembling nothing so much as a drowned rat. Also, she insists of jumping up on my lap to demonstrate just how wet her paws really are, abandoning me for the dry warmth of her basket only after my trousers have soaked up all the water from her feet and legs. So I perform the duty of a sort of human towel.

I am not a great fan of autumn, heralding as it does, the advent of shorter, colder, greyer days. The garden transforms practically overnight into a sodden mess, covered in fallen leaves which quickly become slippery and treacherous.

However, hopefully, for a few brief weeks, there will be a break in the rainclouds and the sun will shine, highlighting some wonderful autumnal colour..........

Fingers crossed!