I've sold the last of my 1/12th doll moulds. They're all boxed up and ready to be collected.
This marks a huge turning point careerwise, as up till now I retained a foot in both camps, miniature toymaking and miniature dollmaking and could have back retreated from my either position at any point.
However I've now completely burnt my boats so going back is no longer an option. This is both liberating and scary at the same time. I've been dollmaking for almost 25 years so it's a big proportion of my working life and to cut the final ropes anchoring me to my past is not a decision which has been taken lightly.
That said, I have been working in my new metier for some time now, and am confident that it is the right decision to go with my heart rather than my head.
I've been working on a new batch of toys today, in my suddenly relatively pristine workroom, now that so much stuff has been cleared out. Of course I will still be creating very, very small porcelain dolls, as toy dolls for doll's house children, so the years of honing my skills will not be wasted.
However I can now also work with many other materials..... wood, metals, fabrics other than silk and various others, as the fancy takes me.
I now have a new conundrum to ponder though. Should I downsize my kiln now that I no longer need to fire 1/12 sized pieces. The tiny dolls and toys are 1/24 scale, and very, very small. It could take me months to cast enough to even remotely fill the kiln, whereas before, a week or so of casting would fill it to capacity.
Kilns are very expensive beasts, and are built to last. So they do retain their value and I'm sure I would have no problem selling mine. However to buy a smaller, front opening table top kiln, capable of firing up to 1230 degrees celcius is even more expensive than a bigger, top opening one.
I've been doing some research and there are some lovely small kilns available which will do everything I need, some of which even have electronic controllers. My very first kiln was a manual model and depended on small pyrotechnic bars which bent when the correct temperature was reached and switched off the kiln. It required a lot of experience and technical know-how to get the best results.
When I moved to a computer controlled kiln, at first I rather resented the fact that I was taken out of the equation, apart from deciding on the temperature, ramp times and soak periods and programming them into the controller. I wouldn't be without the electronic controller now though as it does take all the guesswork out of firings and I've never had one less than perfect bisque firing while using one.
So should my downsizing efforts also extend to the kiln? I don't have long to decide as there is due to be a big price hike, plus the delayed VAT rise next Monday. Plus I'd have to raid my piggy bank.