Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Sneak preview.....

I'm sure some of you are thinking....

"Well, Sandra... it's all very well and good all this DIY and house stuff, but when are you actually going to do some REAL work?!?!?!"

Good question.
Very perceptive.
Gets right to the nub of the matter.

And my response would be ...

"WTF?  I only have one pair of hands and can only be in one place at any given time.  
Bunting don't make themselves you know!

However, in my defence, although I haven't been able to spend an entire day in the workroom since the whole shower room/bedrooms mallarkey makeover began, I have been sneaking in there for the odd hour or so in an attempt to hang on to what remains of my sanity.

I've been working on my swansong workshop pack.  Yes, you heard it here first folks.  I'm using the next 11 months to completely re-organise and gradually wind down Tower House Dolls. Thereafter it will cease to exist.

I will continue my creative life in some other form but next year THD will be 30 years old.


And next year I will be 60 years old.


And yes, there is a pleasing synchronicity to having lived half my life doing something I love so much.  But I feel it is time to move on.

So, over the coming year there will be a variety of swansong projects, all leading towards a grand finale, around the time of my birthday.

Anyways, this last ever workshop pack will be a doozer.  It will be ready for release this autumn and will be limited to just TEN packs.   I posted in February last year about my plans and my Rule of Ten for kits and I've stuck to it since.

So, just ten it shall be.

I can't reveal the whole thing, as it is still a work in progress, but here is a sneaky, sneak preview.....

L'atelier de la Poupée Vignette
Some time ago now, I commissioned this 1/12th vignette kit from Nick Day of Treacle Lane
(he also supplied kits for my Parisian Kiosk workshop at CMW last October, and the      
wonderful Travelling Toy Theatre Cart kits which I've used for Little Red Riding Hood)

It's been a l-o-n-g while in the planning, as I want it to be very special, but over time I've been 
gradually working on all the many, many elements which will will be included with it.

The laser cut wooden vignette can be decorated as you wish (lots of options will be available) 
and will be filled to overflowing with all manner of miniature delights to create a miniature 
dollmaker's workroom, including all furnishings and accessories... and dolls.  Lots of different 
tiny dolls.

I'm really quite excited about it, and will reveal more information as it develops so watch this

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Good for what ails me......

We all know the feeling.

Despite our best efforts, things keep getting out of hand.  Small, insignificant problems multiply and coalesce to form a seemingly insurmountable cat's cradle of 'buggrits'.  

Well, today that's me that is.

Can't progress with the nursing chair project until the upholstery tacks arrive.
Haven't got the energy to start painting the bedroom.
Feeling a bit meh and demotivated.

So, today I'm taking a sabbatical and shall be doing what restores my happy.



I'm going to make BUNTING!

I don't know why I didn't think of it before.  I've been scouring the internet trying to find a suitable wall frieze for Gigglefidget's room makeover.  I even resorted to messaging an Ebay seller in the US who has a roll of vintage wallpaper border for sale to see if they could see their way to sending it by ordinary airmail delivery, instead of having it hand delivered by a fairy riding a relay team of golden unicorns.  Or at least that's the mode of delivery which the completely extortionate cost of shipping suggested.  

They didn't respond.


BUNTING!  Yayyyy!!!

I have several large pieces of the wonderful fabric leftover from altering the curtains, which feature perfect, bunting-sized character illustrations.

I've blogged about my bunting obsession before (most notably HERE!)  I'm not talking about slipshod slapdash bunting, cut out of fabric using pinking shears.

Or even, perish the thought, cut from printed card and stapled onto a length of ribbon.

No by no nonny no!

The bunting of which I speak is carefully measured, lovingly cut, beautifully lined, meticulously turned and pressed, perfectly aligned then finally painstakingly stitched into cotton twill tape.  The entire process makes my heart sing.

So.... today I shall mostly be making bunting.

Monday, 22 May 2017


Actually.... in all honesty, buggrit doesn't even come close.  Neither does 'tired'.
It's now exactly two weeks since work started on our shower room and the house descended into complete chaos.  

There's good news and bad news.

The good news is that the dust has settled.
The bad news is that it's over every horizontal surface in the house.

As of Thursday last week, work on the shower room was finally finished, following the installation of a second shower unit after the first one didn't work.  It's really lovely.... all new and shiny and joy to behold.

However, the mess and upset throughout the rest of house has intensified tenfold, as we're going to tackle three of the bedrooms. 

I decided to start with the smallest one first, which will be our little granddaughter's room when she comes to stay.  It's very small, tiny really, but I've spent most of the past 6 days failing to get it finished.  

I'll gloss over the half a day I struggled to get my overlocking machine to play ball in order to cut down a spare single duvet and alter a duvet cover to make a cot-sized duvet and pillowcase set.  

Similarly, I'll sidestep the issues around re-upholstering the little nursing chair, which seemed like a good idea at the time.  I've stopped swearing at it for the time being but only while I wait for a pack of upholstery tacks to arrive through the post.

Altering a pair of curtains to fit took the best part of a whole day as I had to deconstruct then re-construct them, hand sew then carefully press and hang them, although they do now look absolutely lovely.

Making my own chalk paint seemed like a good idea at the time too, but I wish I'd stuck to Annie Sloan's as the organgey pine dressing table and EIGHT drawers *sigh* took four coats of paint instead of just two, so that was another two whole days.

It just seems that EVERY task I tackle, no matter how small, ends up taking loads more time than I anticipate, or something goes badly wrong, which further saps my flagging energy and enthusiasm.

Anyways.... I'll probably manage to get the chair finished on Thursday when the tacks arrive. Plus tomorrow I'll make some cushions.... love a bit of cushion making.  

However as next weekend is a Bank Holiday I'm intending Doing. Absolutely. Nothing.

No painting
No sewing
No upholstering
No cleaning

No matter the weather it will be a supremely LAZY weekend.  I can hardly wait.....

In the meantime I'm going to revisit my To Do list....

Monday, 15 May 2017

Tether. End of.....

Day 8 in the Robsack Avenue house and things are going from bad to worse. 

This may be primarily because we're flagging physically, mentally and emotionally, after over a week of moving stuff from A to B, then to D, then back to B, then to C......  yes it really has been that tortuous.

The good news is that the big futon/bunk high sleeper bed sold on Saturday when a very nice chap came along, saw it, bought it, dismantled it, loaded it onto the roof of his car and took it away.   Which then left space to move my lovely desk from the smallest spare bedroom, into the second smallest spare bedroom, freeing up the smallest spare bedroom to be transformed into a lovely room for our little granddaughter, aka Gigglefidget.

An 'orange' pine dressing table from the second smallest spare room has been moved into the smallest spare room, in preparation for a chalk paint makeover, along with a lovely little antique nursing chair, the ornate back of which I've repaired, and removed the tattered upholstery.  It too will be upcycled and I have some lovely fabric with which to re-upholster the seat.

So far, so exhausting.

The plumbers left on Friday afternoon, having installed the shower and toilet, leaving just the extractor fan, wash basin and illuminated mirror to finish off today.  Along with any snagging we discovered over the weekend.

We then had to paint one and a half walls, which PP carried out over Saturday and Sunday, as well as attempting to cover up the water stains on the sitting room ceiling.

We had been so looking forward to trying out the shower on Saturday morning, in our gleaming shower room, all shiny and new.


For some reason the water pressure was so low that only a trickle emerged from the shiny new shower head, so showering was next to impossible.  Similarly, on close inspection there were several other things which weren't quite right (16 to be exact!)  including a squeaky loo seat, some gaps in the grouting, and a patch of clear silicone mastic on the bedroom carpet, in plain view right inside the door, despite their use of dust sheets.

He's back again today, huffing slightly at the length of the snagging list.  Although when we demonstrated the trickle from the shower he readily agreed it was pathetic and after lengthy investigations he's decided to replace the shower valve completely.

Other excitement today arrived in the form of next door's extremely lively beagle puppy who managed to somehow get into our 'dogproof' garden, presumably by scaling the fence. When we spotted him he was frantically running round and round the garden, jumping off walls and over shrubs and plants, trying to get home.  I tried to catch him but he was having none of it, so we had to call in his owner to retrieve him.  He's a big, strong dog for an 8 month old puppy, and I've seen her running along behind him while 'walking him' down the road. Small Dog, who regularly 'talks' to him through the hedge quickly made herself scarce when she realised he was bounding around the garden, and when he was led through the house she bravely remained in her basket in the office as he bounced off the walls on his way out.

In other news, I've cleared off the dining room table to make room for my sewing machine as over the next few days I'll be altering an amazing pair of curtains for Gigglefidget's room, as well as making a duvet cover, cushion covers and cot bumper.


Just over 2 weeks left in this month and we'd recklessly assumed that most of the refurb/makeover works would be done and dusted by the end of May.  However I don't think that will happen.   Almost all of my 'get up and go' has got up and left so I'll have to carefully ration my remaining, rapidly diminishing energy reserves in order to avoid an MS flare up, which could take months to recover from.

So at the moment I'm just gritting my teeth and repeating the following mantra:

It will all be lovely when it's finished.  
It WILL all be lovely when it's finished. 
It will ALL be lovely when it's finished.
It will all be LOVELY when it's finished.
It will all be lovely WHEN it's finished.
It will all be lovely when it's FINISHED!!!!!

Now where did I put that corkscrew.........

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Can't see the wood for the trees......

Day 3 in the Robsack Avenue house.

Small Dog, Sandra and PP are holed up in the office, while work continues on the shower room.  

Small Dog is unused to the house resounding to the noise of heavy duty power tools, hammers and burly men barreling up and down the stairs.  Not to mention their dubious tasted in music.  

PP was fortunate to be out of the house all day yesterday, while the tilers were doing their stuff.  Between the teeth-jangling noise of electric tile cutting machines, and the 'nails down a blackboard' screeching of the manual one, plus the incessant thumping of some form of mashed up heavy metal/house/garage/shed music blaring from a tiny, tinny little radio, SD and I were reduced to cowering downstairs trying to block out the din.  SD was somewhat more successful than me, burying herself under her duvet and blankie in the office, while I took refuge in the workroom, with Radio 4 for company.

There was no respite in the garden either, as our neighbours are having their patio done and the builders next door were using a power jack hammer and slab thunker plus a vibrating plate type thingy which sent pulses of energy thrumming through the house.

So all in all, not a relaxing day.

That said, I did manage to complete the following trio....

1/12th Red Riding Hood, 1/24th Red Riding Hood and Pullalong Toy Wolf

The wolf got a bit antsy when he discovered that he was going to have a bell around his neck. But that was as nothing compared to his face when he saw what he would be wearing.

Wolf: *incredulously* Whoa!!! What. Is. THAT?
Me: *soothingly* It's a lovely silk cloak.  Now you won't be cold in the woods.
Wolf: *scathingly* I have a thick fur coat.  I NEVER get cold in the woods.  Plus it's bright red!  I'll never live it down.  How can I hold up my proud and noble head in wolf society if I go out wearing that?
Me: It's just a bit of fun.  You know.... dressing up.  Like a game.
Wolf: The only type of game I like has feathers or fur.  Do I look like a cross dresser to you?
Me: Well.... that's not the point is it.  Just work with me on this.  It'll all be fine, I promise.
Wolf: *mutter, mumble*  Someone will pay for this, so help me Wolf.

Eventually he agreed to play along, although he categorically refused to allow me to tuck in his ears, arguing, quite reasonably I thought, that if he had to do the "What big ears you have" thing it wouldn't work if his ears were tucked under his hood.
By the end of his makeover he was twirling and pirouetting, admiring himself in the mirror, and totally rocking his new look.

He even agreed to a photoshoot with the little girl in Red Riding Hood fancy dress costume, and her tiny wee toy doll.  🙂

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

If it's good enough for Einstein......

I had to be up in the middle of the night at the crack of dawn this morning.  It's not often I see the wrong side of 6am but it's PP's baby-minding day and I was terrified I'd go back to sleep after she left.

I'm definitely not a morning person, but on the odd occasion I'm up and about really early, I have to guard against filling those extra hours with flimflam and taradiddle.

Or Facebook.

However, this morning, having allocated myself a perfectly achievable 30 minutes for checking emails etc I turned to FB and found one of those 'memories' posts from three years ago had turned up in my newsfeed.

In it I had bemoaned the state of my desk in the office.  To be fair, it can look much, MUCH worse than that.  I'd rate that as a 5 on a scale where 1 is the tidiest it's ever been (ie straight after it was first installed) and 10 is 'no space for even the thinnest of waffer thin mints'.

By comparison, this is what it looks like this morning...

Perhaps I should run another 'Spot The Difference' competition
I blitzed it on Monday, and while it wasn't cleared, at least things were in tidy piles.  I've had much bigger desks in the past and found that, as with space anywhere, stuff expands to fill the available amount of it.  I naively thought that it would be easier to maintain order on a smaller desk.

Obviously not.

Of course my inability to keep any horizontal space clear of stuff reaches impressive heights in the workroom, which I'm aiming to tackle shortly as I have some pullalong wolves to deal with and there's nary a few square inches of free space.

It's a well known fact that creative people tend to be messy.  One of Einstein's most famous quotes reinforces this....

I wonder whether, in lapses during conceiving E = mc2  he might have devised the optimum state of messiness which still allows work to take place, before the tipping point (quite literally) when the assorted piles of stuff start to slide and collapse, rendering further work impossible.

There's probably a formula for it.

Anyway... I've decided that rather than endlessly struggle to maintain a clear and tidy desk, I should instead embrace the messiness and simply work with it.

This is a fairly accurate representation of my office desk, although the areas for odds, ends and doodles is much larger.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

A modern day parable.....

For came to pass that yesterday The Work commenced on our shower room.  Three wise men arrived from the East (Bexhill actually) and there was much banging and thumping, and running up and down of the stairs.

And for a short while it was good.

But then it was not so good.

For they began with all the power tools and it did sound as though the Horsemen of the Apocalypse did ride, iron shod, throughout all of the upstairs.

With trumpets.

And then, as if all that were not bad enough, a great mystical sign did appear upon the sitting room ceiling.  And they did look upon it with great sadness.

For lo... water had escaped mightily beneath the floor, and it forthwith soaked through the ceiling boards and formed damp, arcane shapes.

And there was wailing and gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments when they said

"Oh, that will dry out no bother"

Thenceforth the day, it passed slowly, with the noise, and the dust, and the running up and down of the stairs, till eventually the skip ranneth over, and they declared that all was good.

Except for the marks on the ceiling, which had been multiplying and begetting more damp patches all day.

And so, they layeth down their tools and went home.

Later in the evening, feeling cold, and being desirous of hot water, we tried to use the central heating.

But central heating was there none.  Likewise hot water.  For the boiler was buggered, leading to more of the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Yea, heeding our plaintive cries, one of the Wise Men returned, having had not even his dinner, and commenced with more of the running up and down the stairs, and the ritual bleeding of the radiators, and the having to go back home to retrieve the mystical water sucking machine.

And as the darkness fell, he yet declared that all was well, although, verily, he was sweating buckets and declared that he had divined "the mother and father of all air locks" the likes of which he had never before seen.

He did again look at the ceiling, and a great sadness descended upon him, for he knew it would need a complete new coat of paint.

Here endeth the lesson......

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Tipping point......

Tomorrow, the common or garden chaos currently enveloping the house will reach tipping point and metamorphose into full-blown apocalyptic 'end of days' mayhem.

It's bad enough that the dining room is FULL. OF. STUFF.

It's bad enough that two of the bedrooms scheduled for a makeover are chock full of boxes and bags awaiting dispersal/disposal to charity shops/recycling.

It's bad enough that I've done no real work for several weeks and the wolf is creeping ever closer to the door.

But tomorrow the bathroom chap and his crew are coming at the crack of dawn very early to start ripping out our shower room, heralding a whole new level of crazy.

I'm debating whether to simply bunker down in the workroom for the duration and try to block out the noise and dust, or add to the mayhem by continuing the clearout.

The jury is still out on that one, although last week, during brief gaps in the house work saga I did manage to take some 'sanity time' out and continue work on La Mignonette.

Yes, that is a new addition to the family and you can read more about him HERE.

I have the feeling it's going to be a l-o-n-g week.....  *sigh*

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Chaos reigns.....

D'you remember those infuriating sliding tile puzzles which were what passed for children's entertainment before electronic games were invented?

I never had the knack of moving all the little tiles around, this way and that until they formed a complete picture.  I'd get almost there but inevitably there would be at least one little square miles away from where it should be.

And THAT, dear reader, is the story of my life at the moment.

With work on our shower room due to start in less than a fortnight, and associated decorating and remodelling overlapping with the plumbing work, the house is gradually descending into looking more like a furniture storage warehouse than a calm and restful home.

Various pieces of furniture have to be moved around, from upstairs to downstairs and vice versa.  Some large pieces are to be sold and moved out, others are coming downstairs temporarily while I paint and upcycle them.  Then they can be relocated in their new spaces in different rooms.

Several hundred books are being boxed up to donate to our local hospice charity retail outlet.  Wardrobe edits are in progress and the resultant fallout is being bagged up, again destined for charity donation.

It comes to something when my workroom, which is normally the most chaotic, messy space in the entire house, feels like a relative oasis of calm.

I'm fully expecting ALL of May to be similarly chaotic, with work of one kind or another ongoing in various rooms.  The dining room is already ahead of the posse... the tables are pushed right back against the wall and it's gradually filling with displaced furniture, boxes of books, bags of stuff and therefore it is firmly out of commission for the duration.

I'm hoping against hope that the workroom, which can vacillate from tidy to messy in the space of a few hours, will act as my sanctuary of sanity, as I will be having to keep working throughout. Similarly, I'm hoping that as the sitting room isn't involved in the madness, it will remain uncluttered.

Whether any of these hopes will turn out to be founded, remains to be seen.  But for the moment I'm recklessly cautiously optimistic...

Monday, 24 April 2017

Back to work......

Back to work today following a week off work between Easter and my birthday. I've had a really enjoyable time... an extended visit from my daughter, another from our little granddaughter and her mum, all culminating in my 59th birthday yesterday.

However, all good things must come to an end (WHY though?!) and so today I'm tentatively back at work in my unbelievably messy workroom, putting the finishing touches to one of my Mignonette Doll Boxes, for a very patient Canadian customer *waving... "Hi Lucille"!*

It's been a while since I last made one, and over the past few weeks I've enjoyed rediscovering the joy of starting off with a plain wooden box and finishing up with a French-inspired doll box.

Inside the box, two silk pads which display a tiny porcelain doll, a selection of three different silk and lace dresses, with matching bonnets, plus various personal accessories, including jewellery, tiny posy of silk roses, fan, framed sepia photo, brush, mirror and comb.

This box has now been carefully packaged and tomorrow will start winging its way to its new home in Alberta, Canada.

My current clearout has revealed several different wooden boxes, in a variety of shapes and sizes, so I'm looking forward to creating more Mignonette Boxes over the coming weeks and months.

However, for the rest of this week I'll mostly be attempting to restore order to the universal chaos currently reigning in the workroom.

Monday, 17 April 2017

To destiny... and beyond.

And so... here we are again.

Another birthday looms large on the horizon next week and it's one of the crappier ones.  
Not a happy, clappy, milestone birthday with all the celebratory hoo-hah that accompanies one with a zero on the end.  I'm not a fan of odd years either, especially when the number involved ends in a nine.

Fifty nine. *sigh*  Doesn't even roll off the tongue.  It's a number with no panache.  No chutzpah. No finesse.

Of course, reaching 59 means that technically, I'll be in the final year of my sixth decade. Which means that next year I'll be entering my seventh decade.  Put like that it's a bit scary.
A few years ago, a fellow Blogger had a big birthday and a friend sent him a card which read "Hey! It's Your Birthday!!!!.... Another Year Closer To The Nameless Terrors Of the Grave!"
At the time I thought that was hilariously funny, as it appealed to my dark sense of humour.
I'm not finding it quite so funny now though.

If successive governments hadn't shafted us 1950's women I'd have been looking forward to retiring next year, the worry, stress and uncertainties of self-employment no longer an issue. As it stands, when I reach my 60th birthday next year I'll still have another SIX FULL YEARS of work, before I can hang up my dollmaking apron.

Still.... it's not all bad.  I do mostly love what I do.  It would just be nice to have less financial uncertainty, and spend a few years completely enjoying my craft, rather than constantly worrying about it.

So... anyway.   You might remember last Christmas I posted about my plans for this year

Periodically I check the countdown timer on my laptop, which ticks down the days, minutes and seconds till my 60th.  It's currently showing 370 days.  Which is the length of time I've allotted to take control of my working destiny.

So... Sandra, how's it going?

Well.... to be honest, slowly.  Plans are gradually forming and coalescing, morphing and taking shape.  Aside from work, other things are happening... long overdue works in the house, a gradual, inexorable de-cluttering, re-organising and downsizing.

I'm making lists.

And lists of lists.

And.... Stuff. Is. Getting. Done.

So.... Fifty Nine?  Bring it on.  

Monday, 3 April 2017

Stuff To Do.....

So.... here we are then. 

April already and we're now quarter of the way through the year.  Predictably, my list of Stuff To Do remains as long as ever, and with the end of the tax year this week it will get even longer as I will be adding the annual accounts and tax return to my burgeoning list.


However, today I have worked hard to clear at least some of my outstanding tasks and ticked off the following things...

  • Completed and submitted my monthly kit review for Doll's House & Miniature Scene magazine.  Yayyyy!
  • Stock checked all my kits and updated the stocklist spreadsheet.
  • Did some reorganisation on the Tower House Dolls website and added new items including more animal 'Frankendolls' and new Red Riding Hood toys.
  • Started to fill the display cabinets and shelves in La Mignonette with items of clothing, doll's accessories and wigs which I've made over the past few weeks
  • Finished going through my boxes and bags of fabric scraps, cutting off the really scrappy bits, carefully ironing them, then organising them all into clear plastic bags for painfree retreaval.
This last task has taken quite a while, as I've had bags and boxes of bits of fabrics squirreled away in no end of hidey-holes throughout the workroom.  I had no idea how many lovely pieces of long discontinued fabrics I've accumulated over the years. 

This is just one of the boxes, and as you can see it is full of tantalising snippets of gorgeousness in a mouthwatering array of colours.... including beautifully fine shot silks and tafetta, wonderful silk brocades, tissue-thin hairstripe silks, long since discontinued, and baby soft cotton lawns in the finest stripes you've ever seen.

There isn't a great quantity of any of them, maybe enough to create costumes for just a few dolls, but I'm feeling inspired to get going.

I even managed a few minutes 'me time', looking for inspiration on Pinterest, and came across this.....

Isn't she lovely......?

My hoard fabric sortout revealed a small piece of fabric which looks almost exactly like this, so it's definitely destined for a tiny doll's costume as close as I can get to this one.

And I also came across these....

I still have to make some teeny tiny doll's shoes for my doll shop, and feel inspired to try to recreate these.

Let's hope the rest of this week continues in the same productive vein......

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Countdown to chaos......

It's been a fairly hectic few weeks.  

Mainly we've been girding our loins to start the 'upstairs makeover' which is now three years overdue, starting with our tired, outdated shower room.  It's taken since the beginning of this year to get some quotes.  Some plumbers simply didn't even respond to our request for an estimate, others came and measured up but then didn't actually provide one.  In the end it came down to two, both of whom were very personable, but one quote was better (not necessarily cheaper) and we were impressed by his manner, so Friday morning he called round to firm up the details and he'll be making a start at the beginning of May.


So we now have a deadline to work to, and as regular readers will know, nothing else galvanises me into action quite like a deadline.

Over the next (quick calculation.... add ten, carry the one, deduct the number you first thought of)....errrmmm.... 7 weeks, we aim to de-clutter like de-cluttering ninjas.  PP is going to work through her TWO wardrobes of clothes, and I'm going to work through my SEVERAL bookcases of double-stacked books and we're going to be #RUTHLESS.  

All those clothes that haven't fitted for 10 years but have been kept in the vain hope that they might one day fit again.....

All those books that are stacked two deep on bookshelves, some of which remain unread.

All those boxes of random 'stuff' which we can't quite bring ourselves to get rid off.

All those bits of computer equipment (including two desktop pc towers long defunct) which have been kept 'just in case'.

All that paperwork from the year dot.... old insurance policies long expired, bank statements for 10 years ago, guarantees and instruction manuals for items which we no longer have.

All those arcane widgets, reciprocating flange sockets and odd bits of things, about which we have no clue where they came from, let alone what they're for.

7 weeks to de-clutter and regain lost space.... can it be done?


Friday, 10 March 2017

Mini Miniature Show....!

The online March Mini Miniature Show is now live and open for business.  This time there are 50 international artisans showcasing their miniature wares, as well as several workshop offerings, including one from yours truly.

Fairyland Toy Theatre Kit...

.... complete with full cast of characters!
All of my new Red Riding Hood kits are featured on my dealer page, which can be found HERE!

Show orders over £20 (excluding shipping) will qualify for a free gift and for the duration of the show we are happy to combine shipping on orders from the show and website.

FREE Dress Up Kitty Kit with orders over £20!
Meanwhile, on my desk, a small pack of wolves is milling around while I complete the last of the travelling toy theatre kits.  I didn't notice at the time but one of their number seems a bit out of place.

Smallest Small Dog: *whispering*  Pssstt!  Mumm!
Me: *engrossed in work* Hmmmm?
SSD: *slightly panicky* Eckskews me...  helllow.  I'm down here!  *frantically waves a paw*
Me:  Blimey.... what are you doing there?
SSD:  Tryen knott to get ett.  Kan yue koll them off plees?
Me:  *reassuringly* You'll be fine SSD.  They are very amenable wolves.  I wouldn't be using them in my kits otherwise.
SSD: Butt thay ar starten to sirckle and surownd me.....
Me: I thought you were descended from wolves and that they held no fear for a dog of your calibre.
SSD: *blustering* Wel yes.... of korse.  Wolfs ar mai bretheren.  Mai woolf naim is "Smorl Dogg Who Runs Reelie Fast"
Me: Is it.  Is it indeed.  Hmmm.  


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Best laid plans.........

Buggrit, buggrit, BUGGRIT!

This weekend I was all set to get ahead of the posse and finalise my new kits for the Mini Miniature Show.  Everything was going swimmingly yesterday and I had just started to print off all the new sets of instructions when my printer, which had been behaving in an exemplary fashion all morning, decided to take a turravee and suddenly stopped working part way through a page.

The LCD screen then showed an error I'd never seen before, saying that the machine had developed a serious fault and would need to be returned to a service centre for repair.

Undaunted, we set about trying everything we could think of, from simply switching it off and on again (always worth a try), through to doing a full factory reset, courtesy of a helpful You Tube video. However, nothing worked and I couldn't carry out any routine maintenance as it wouldn't communicate with my laptop and we couldn't access any of the settings directly from the printer either

This morning I was cautiously optimistic that it might have repented its wicked ways, but sadly it was still possessed by techno gremlins. It's several years old, long out of warranty, and as it wasn't expensive to start with, we decided that it would be an uneconomic repair.

So, there was nothing else for it, but to do a quick online recce of similar printers and fortunately a newer, better model was available in our local computer superstore at a special offer half price deal!  As I was in desperate straits, we shot off to pick one up and within an hour of getting it home, it was unpacked, plugged in, set up and ready to go.

The transition wasn't entirely smooth though.  The old, broken down, decrepit printer didn't want to give up without a struggle, and seemed to be resolutely clinging to its shelf.  I had to forcibly wrench it off the painted surface before lugging it through to the dining room, where it is currently sitting on the floor, sulking.  

I'm sure some enterprising Freecycler will take it off our hands.... perhaps to tinker with, or for spares perhaps?

The shiny new printer is a bit intimidating.  It's got a posh touch screen panel and large, colourful buttons which flash on and off repeatedly.  It also does a lot of  busy, self-important cartridge shuffling for long periods, simultaneously flashing its buttons.

I had an inkling of its personality during the setup, when I had to follow the instructions on its posh touch screen.  I was being really careful to install the ink cartridges carefully and methodically and it basically told me to get a move on and close the cover.  I didn't like its manner at all, so continued to check and double check that I had the correct cartridge in the correct socket, keeping a wary eye on the screen to see what it would do.  It sort of sat there with it's metaphorical arms folded, rolling its eyes.  

The eye rolling wasn't metaphorical though, as after a few minutes it started scrolling through the onscreen instructions up to the point I'd reached, then stopping emphatically, flashing its buttons at me in a decidedly "hurry up" way.  No sooner had I installed the final cartridge than it whisked the carriage assembly away, nearly taking my fingers with it in the process.

Definitely an uppity, hoity-toity piece of equipment and no mistake.

So the battle lines have been drawn.  It's a 1-1 draw at the moment though, as it made a serious blunder during the first printing task.  I asked it to do an automatic double-sided A5 booklet and it printed it single sided.

HAH!  Not so la-dee-dah clever now... are you?!  

We seem to have a wary truce in place... I've finished the first batch of printing and it's been shuffling its cartridges and doing a bit of light flashing, but otherwise all's quiet on the printing front.

How things will develop remains to be seen.  Suffice to say I don't completely trust it yet, and will have to keep a wary eye on it to prevent it getting ideas above its station.  In my experience, you have to take a firm stance with office equipment generally, and printers in particular.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Once upon a time.....

The online Mini Miniature Show has crept up on me again, so today I've been busy designing two new 1/12th scale miniature toy kits which will be launched at the show on Wednesday 8th March.

Based on one of my very best favourite fairy tales, I'm delighted to present....

Tah Dah!!!!!!

The Game of Red Riding Hood
This kit contains everything you need to make this colourful 3-dimensional game, based on an 1895 original.  However, instead of wooden counters, I decided to have proper characters which can be moved around the board and won't fall over!

The colourful game board

Setting off from her mother's house, Little Red Riding Hood makes her way around the board, pausing to pick flowers for her grandmother (miss a turn!) stopping to have a chat with the woodcutters (and another), wending her way through the woods towards her fateful meeting with the wolf.

The precision cut, double-sided game characters include the young lady, as well as the wolf (dressed in a rather dapper yellow tailcoat) the woodcutter and Little Red's mother.

The kit also contains an illustrated storage box for the characters plus a teeny, tiny, wee dice!

The second kit is a tiny boxed set of story cards.....

Story card game

There are 8 precision cut scenes from the fairy tale, which have to be put in order to complete the story.

The cards are supplied in a tiny box with illustrated lid.

Depending on how I'm fixed for time (or the lack of it) I'm also hoping to have a few Little Red Riding Hood toy doll kits....

This little wolf cub is destined for a new pullalong toy!

As well as a new Wolf pullalong toy, plus, *fingers crossed* the last ever few Toy Theatre Cart kits.

Travelling Toy Theatre kit

He's promised to be on his very best behaviour...!

The cart has a removable roof and two opening doors

Interior scenery, backdrops and characters are all included

With only four days remaining till the show opens it will go right to wire to get everything finished in time but as I relish a challenge I'll give it my best shot.

All of this LRRH stuff reminds me of a post I wrote a while back, while we were babysitting our little granddaughter (aka GiggleFidget) who does love a good story.....

Cast of characters

Me – The storyteller
Small Dog – The Wolf
GiggleFidget – Herself

Me:  Right… let’s have a story then.
GF: Mmmmwahaharr
Me: Little Red Riding Hood… a story about a little girl who unwisely lets a wolf know where she’s going and why.
SD: (opening one eye)  Thatts wolfist.
Me: Excuse me…. Did you say something?
SD: (sitting up to expand upon her theme) Thatts a vyle kalumnie on wolfs.  Ai maiself am dessended from wolfs so ai kno whairof ai speek.
Me: Hm.  Well, anyway, once up on a time….
SD: Ar we doin akshuns?
Me: *sigh* Actions?
SD: Like a plai…. Yue and me.  Ai kan be the Wolf.
Me:  Are you sure?
SD: Absewlootlie!  Ai wos born to plai the Wolf.
Me: (doubtfully) He is a very wicked wolf.  In fact if you deconstruct the narrative he is a seductive yet predatory antagonist who preys on vulnerable women.
SD: (fluttering her eyelashes and winking with both eyes) Ai kann do seduktiv.
GF:  Aaaaaaahhhhhhh   giggle
Me: Yes. Well.  We’ll see.

 SD: (incredulously) Caik?  And WYNE?  Fore a sik grandmuthr?  She neads auntie biotix.  Knott wyne and caik.
Me: (patiently) It's a fairy story.  Personally I totally approve.  What an excellent mummy!
SD: Humph.  When is it mai turnn?

SD: (seductively) Well helloo yung ladie.  Ar yue goen mai wai.  Wokk with me.
Me: Hmm...that's paraphrasing but we get the gist.
GF: Yaaaahhhhh
SD: When do ai get to gobbul hur orl up?  And the grandmuthr.  Althew she mite be a bitt tuff.
Me: *sigh*

SD: Wate a minit!!!.  WHOT IS IT WARING?  Pinck frillie nitekap.  With Lorra Ashlie spriggd kurtanes and yelloe bedspred?  No wai hoasay... ai am knott waren THAT!
Me: (exasperated) For goodness sake Small Dog... it's only a read through.  You don't have to get dressed up.  Don't be such a drama queen.
SD: (huffily) Dramar kween!.... *mumbl*muttr*grumbl*

SD: (excitedly) Oh, Oh, Oh... this is mai favoritt bit. Whott big things yue hav eckseterra.
GF: Ooooohhhh..... myahhhhh yeeeehah.

 Me: "You wicked creature!"  With one blow of his axe he killed the wolf and pulled him out of the bed....."
SD: (alarmed) Whooahh.... wateaminitt!  Whotts happnin?
Me: "Then Little Red Riding Hood's father cut open the wolf and out jumped Little Red Riding Hood.  He then helped the grandmother out.  She was still alive but very weak.
SD: (incredulous) STILL ALIVE!  Ai gobbuled her up.  WHOA!  Whott kind of storie is this fore children.  Itts unbeleevibl!
Me: (doggedly) "They put the grandmother into bed and gave her some cake and wine.  Soon she was sitting up and feeling much better.
SD: (incensed) Caik and wyne?  Mutsh bettr?  Whott abowt the poore wolf.  With its entrales spredd orl ovur the flore.  This is a stewpid storie and aim knott playen enimoar.
GF: Shhhhhssssskkksssss  *giggle*
Me: Right.... that's it.  Story time is over.  Let's have a walk up the garden.....
SD: (brightening) A wok?  Up the gardin?  Ai mite fined a skwirrl....!

The end.