Monday, 31 December 2018

End of Year Flash Sale....!

Our end of year Flash Sale is now on!

Discounts and reductions (up to 50% off!) across the website store in a range of categories.

In a Cinderella styley, all prices will revert to normal on the stroke of midnight tonight (GMT) so there's still time to bag a bargain 😊

Feel free to have a browse....   Tower House Dolls

Happy New Year!

Friday, 28 December 2018

.....And she's OFF!

Despite waking up this morning full of a chesty cold lurgy, I decided to hit the ground running, so I cleared a space on my desk in the workroom in order to familiarise myself with my new half scale kit.

I'm not overly familiar with 1/24th, having been loyally wedded to 1/12th for most of my working life.  Admittedly, my little wee toy doll's dolls definitely qualify as 1/24th but working with tiny dolls is very different from buildings, accessories, furnishings etc.  

I'm also painfully aware that my last go at 1/24th ended in ignominy (see previous post) and that the unassembled Willow Cottage kit is back in its box, awaiting its fate.  I'm consoling myself with the notion that it was simply the wrong kit at the wrong time.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it *ahem*

This new shop/house kit is a very different proposition.  It's rather more complex, and a cursory glance at the instructions has alerted me to the fact that I'm going to have to follow my own advice and read everything very carefully first, rather than going all 'gung ho' and forging ahead willy nilly. 

First rule of making anything from a kit.... familiarise yourself with all the bits.  As this Petite Properties kit is laser cut, the instructions contain vital 'parts identification' diagrams, so I've just spent the past hour carefully identifying and marking each part with its corresponding letter.   This proved to be somewhat easier said than done, as some of the parts are quite similar, but by a painstaking process of elimination all the bits are now marked up and accounted for.

I've also printed off a high quality image of the style I'm aiming for to refer to as I go along.  I'll be painting many of the components before assembly, so that's the next job on my list.

Otherwise, I've been researching distressed brickwork and Ashlar blocks... yes it's amazing the amount of work involved in making small buildings.  Also, I want to emulate the Blue Roof style of the antique doll's house in the reference photo so I'm hitting Pinterest big time.

I'd quite like to have a canopied porch with first floor railings along the front... I'll have to have a rake through my bits boxes to see if I have anything suitable which I can cannibalise.
I'll also be making pediments for the upstairs windows, and if humanly possibly, I want to decorate the sides of the building as well.  I might have a go at copying the windows by cutting out layers of card to build up the profile.... the upstairs windows are lovely, with intricate latticed panes, which might be a bit tricky to execute by hand, so I might try using my cutting machine. 

Also, in a move known as 'getting WAY ahead of myself', I've even found a lovely free font for the shop name.....

So far, (although possibly benefiting from being lulled into a false sense of security) so good....

Thursday, 27 December 2018



Having survived the whirlwind of activity that constitutes Christmas chez nous, I'm now basking in that fabled period, beloved of miniaturists the world over.... Twixmas.

Last Twixmas I was working on THIS but my heart really wasn't in it, so it never got further than having the dormers fitted and the roof tiled.  The house itself has remained in kit form, awaiting time and inspiration, both of which have been in very short supply this year.

But last spring, I discovered a new kit, which supplanted Willow Cottage in my (admittedly fickle) affections, and I've been coveting it ever since.

So, this, year, under the tree, there was a present with my name on it.  (Thanks PP!!!)

A gorgeous little half scale shop and house kit combined....

I love the frontage, and the interior is a glorious blank canvas, but predictably it's not going to look anything like the two images above.

I'd been thinking along the lines of trying to emulate a Bliss-style lithographed house from the late 1800s.  Something like these....

But during my Pinterest peregrinations I found this.....

..... which has the overall look of an antique house, with lithograph-style pretensions.

Putting them side by side I don't think it's too much of a stretch to transform one into a version of the other.  What do you think? 

Anyway..... over the course of the next few days I fully intend to roll up my sleeves, pull up my big girl pants and get stuck in.  
With the planning..... and such.
Never does to get ahead of oneself.... does it?

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Cutting edge.....

Every craftsperson has a favourite tool, related to their particular craft.

As I work in a variety of materials, from porcelain to silk, I have several favourite tools, and dread the day they either break or get irretrievably lost.

Which explains why I've been in a bit of a tizz this week.  I've lost my old, most favourite craft knife.  Granted it wasn't a thing of beauty.  It had a crack running along the top and was spattered with paint and bits of glue.  The lid/safety guard had bits broken off it too.

But I can't find it and I'm bereft.

I had it a few weeks back when I put up the Christmas decorations, and I have a clear memory of seeing it on the table in the sitting room.  I can't remember putting it back into the workroom, but I'm sure I would have done, as it's a dangerous thing to leave lying around.

It's possible that it fell into one of the empty festive decoration boxes, which have now been stowed back in the loft, but I'm sure I checked each of them carefully.

I've been trying to compensate by using a different style of craft knife, the one with snap-off/push-up blades, but it's nowhere near as precise or accurate as my old one.  To add to my chagrin, I'd only just replaced the blade with a new, super-sharp one (No 11, obviously) so that's gone as well. *sigh*

So today I've been trying to find a suitable replacement, with a view to treating myself to a new craft knife.  Who knew that there were so many different types???!  I've spend quite a while researching different styles and finally decided on a similar style to my lost one, but with a soft-grip handle.  

The storage case also holds blades, which is useful as I'm forever forgetting where my spares are.

Of course, almost inevitably, my trusty old knife will now resurface... perhaps I should have ordered a new one sooner.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018


As the year draws to a close, it's traditional to look back at what has been achieved, as well as forward to what the New Year will bring.

I do it every year. Some years are more successful than others.  Although, of course, *success* is always relative.

This year has been momentous in personal terms.  In professional terms.....not so much.  Some ongoing projects have languished for lack of time and/or enthusiasm so I'll start 2019 in my usual default position of playing catch up.

However, before then, comes the enchantment of the Twixmas period.  Next to Christmas Eve, Twixmas is my favourite time of the festive season.  Christmas Day and Boxing Day always go by in a blur of activity, but the following days, before New Year are generally a little oasis of calm, where time feels elastic and I traditionally like to start a new project, just for my own enjoyment.

This year will be no different, and I'm already looking forward to getting my present from PP, something which I've been coveting for over a year. 

I can't reveal what it is, as it would spoil the surprise, despite the fact I already know what it is.  However, it will be wrapped up and put under the tree for me to open on Christmas Day, and I will then have to curb my enthusiasm till 27th December, at which point I can get stuck in.

I'll give you a clue.....  it will be sheer bliss *wink*

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Colour blind....


I've finally finished the dining room makeover.  I've even made a new tablecloth as I couldn't find one in the exact colour I wanted.  I've also blinged up a candelabra and a chandelier canvas which previously echoed the old black chandelier prior to it's reincarnation as a thing of beauty.

I don't usually decorate the dining room for Christmas, other than laying a festive table, but I'm breaking with tradition this year and have added a small kitsch tree, covered in a flock of birds, which echo the birds in the wallpaper.

Granted the room is probably not to everyone's taste but I LOVE it.  The previously bland, boring and frankly underwhelmingly uninspiring room has been transformed into a colourful cornucopia which lifts my spirits every time walk in.

My recent dalliance with COLOUR has inspired me to look at other areas of the house which are currently tastefully neutral.   I do have to restrain myself though, as in the next few years we'll likely be selling up and downsizing, and I don't want prospective buyers to be blinded by my experimental colour choices.

Today we've been reorganising what was previously the Blue Room, but has just this year been painted Antique White.  It has been designated The Room Of Last Resort... ie the repository of all the stuff we don't know what to do with.  However, with ALL of our spare bedrooms having to be available over the festive period, we had no choice but to clear out all the extraneous stuff.

I have a zero tolerance policy to stuff.

Well, I say 'zero tolerance'..... it does depend on the stuff.  But honestly, stuff that's been under the bed for years without seeing the light of day is surely surplus to requirements.

Anyway, stuff aside, Antique White is all very well and good, but it's a bit.....well...  monochrome, and I feel that the room could do with a bit of added zing.  There's a whole wall with nothing on it which is just begging for something rather less white.

*watch this space....* 

Friday, 7 December 2018

Dry cleaning......

It cannot have escaped eagle-eyed readers that I haven't yet mentioned the C-word.

You know..... that thing.

I'll give you a clue.....

Yes Christmas.  Here we are a full week into December and I haven't referenced the impending season.

Well, buckle up buttercups as I'm about to go full on festive.  I'll gloss over the fact that I put our tree and decorations up on 1st December, purely for health reasons, as I suffer from SAD and need as much light at this gloomy, light-starved time of year as is humanly possible. 

I'm now fully immersed in Christmas preparations, aided by volumes of lists (including the grandiosely named 'December Master List'.

Looming large on my list(s) is preparing a doll's house for our little granddaughter (aka Gigglefidget).   She's two and a half and the time has come for her to have a doll's house here, at Nanny and RaRa's house.  So I'm doing a makeover on a children's Chad Valley house, which we picked up for a song on FB Marketplace.  I'm completely redecorating it, and customising wooden furniture sets.

I've decided to populate it with Sylvanian animals, rather than people, who will be engaged in a variety of different comedic scenarios each time Gigglefidget visits.  So I bought a job lot of them from Ebay, complete with loads of costumes etc.  However as they've been pre-loved they need a good spruce up to clean and disinfect them.

Now I have to hold my hands up here and admit I'm a Sylvanian virgin.  I don't think my daughter ever had any, so I'm not au fait with their foibles.

Obviously I've Googled how to clean the little buggers but advice is mixed.  Some sites say they should be dry-cleaned (ie carefully brushed and wiped with a dry cloth).....other suggest the Sylvanian equivalent of a wire brush and dettol, immersing them in hot water for 30 minutes and giving a gentle scrub with an old toothbrush.

Having ascertained that the dry-cleaning route wasn't going to remove some over-enthusiastic 'colouring-in', I decided I had no choice but to resort to a more 'invasive' method.

And right there was a dilemma.  I had to choose one of the many animals to 'volunteer' as a guinea pig, to undergo experimental cleaning.

I won't go into detail about the selection process..... I'm still traumatised by it.  But in the end a daredevil pup with fanciful green and purple 'tattoos' was chosen for the trial.


First try..... baby shampoo in lukewarm water.  Soaked for 10 minutes.  Wiped with soft cloth.  Rinsed.

Result - No effect.

Second go..... mild detergent in hand-hot water.  Soaked for 30 minutes.  Gentle scrub with sponge. Rinsed.

Result - No effect.

Third go..... biological clothes washing liquid in HOT water.  Soaked for 1 hour.  Good going over with an old toothbrush.  Rinsed.

Result - Small improvement.


The pup is still soaking in the last solution (4 hours and counting) but I'm not hopeful that the remaining felt tip marker/crayon will ever surrender.

On the plus side, all the flocking is still there, so they're obviously more resilient than I was led to believe.  Thankfully, I have a lot to choose from, so the merely grubby ones should brush up just fine and the tattooed ones will just have to be 'modified' in some way.

Obviously, if any of you have experience in deep cleaning Sylvanians then step up and share your wisdom.  I really don't want to have to subject any more of them to spurious experimentation.

And NO.... I won't be replicating any of the above scenarios in Gigglefidget's doll's house but the 'forest fr1ends' Twitter account is VERY funny, if completely unsuitable for children (and possibly some adults!) 

Forest Fr1ends on Twitter

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Happy Birthday Blog...!

12 years ago today, I wrote my very first blog post.  It was brief and to the point (you can read it here) and I thought it would last for the duration of the project I intended to document.

However, several major miniature projects later, it's still going.  Honestly, nobody's more surprised than me!

It's seen me though a multitude of ups and downs, trials and tribulations, high points and successes.  I've enjoyed writing every single one of the 1600+ posts and responding to comments by my lovely followers.

My stats reveal that there have been over 260,000 page views which is nothing short of unbelievable, considering that a very high proportion of posts involve Small Dog's ramblings insightful prose, interspersed with flights of fancy and feats of procrastination.  

So Happy Birthday Blog..... I hope we enjoy many more years together! 

Predictably, Small Dog is entering into the spirit of the thing and has suggested that we have a cake to celebrate.  She has even been Googling what she considers to be the most suitable cake design although she did express some reservations that my cake-baking skills might not be up to the mark.

Hmmmm..... definitely not SD! My efforts would probably result in something more akin to this.....


Thursday, 29 November 2018

Let there be LIGHT!!!

My marathon dining room makeover is finally coming to an end.  There are still some bits and pieces to finish off, followed by putting everything back in place, but all the heavy duty 'up-the-ladder' stuff is complete.

I can't do a reveal for the whole room yet, but I can show off the result of almost 4 weeks of hard work, transforming the chandelier.

Before I started it looked like this....

I had to strip all of the strings of crystals off, along with the only other bits which I could remove.

Candle cup holders, washed and drying.

Which left this.... horribly reminiscent of a large, black spider, especially when viewed from below! 

I had to carefully clean every part of it with a solution of Isopropyl Alcohol to remove 12 years of dust and grime, before giving it two coats of Gesso.

It took three weeks to string each individual crystal and prism onto silver connector rings....

.... a finger-numbing task which I only completed this week.

In the meantime I'd been painting the chandelier, with 2 coats of 9 different colours of pearlised paint.

If you ever feel the yen to do something similar, I have some really good advice for you.

Just. Don't.

Trust me, it's a nightmare.  There are close to 800 crystals, each of which has had two connecting rings painstakingly threaded through the holes to make individual strings.  The initial novelty of working with the lovely coloured glass crystals quickly wore off, as each jump ring connector had to be prised open with a blunt knife, to allow the end to slip into the holes.  This was, as our little Gigglefidget would say "a little bit tricky" and I endured many puncture wounds on various fingers in the process.

Of course, the inevitable mistakes of occasionally getting a colour out of sequence meant unstringing the incorrect crystals, which was even more difficult than stringing them.

Between spells of crystal stringing, painting the chandelier in situ entailed hours up a ladder, wielding a tiny paintbrush to pick out details.

So, take my advice and shell out for a new one.  You'll thank me in the long run.

Except of course, an off-the-shelf chandelier, at a cost of several hundred pounds, would not be completely unique.  So I can confidently assert that we have the only one in the world which looks like this.....

So despite all the blood, sweat and tears, I'm deliriously pleased with it and our previously bland, boring, uninspiring dining room is becoming a space which makes my heart sing.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

I've got a little list.....

Once again I fall foul of an otherwise damn fine plan.

For some insane reason, I seem to think that I can do all the stuff I used to be able to do, pre-MS, in the same amount of time.

Back in my heyday I could tackle re-decorating a room completely on my own, and have it done and dusted in a few days, working 8 hours at a stretch with little or no ill effects other than the odd achey muscles.

These days it's a completely different story.  I'm allowing a full 10 days to redecorate our small dining room and even then it will be a close run thing.  However deadlines are there for a reason, and without a looming one I may possibly procrastinate (perish the thought!) and the job will spread out like a miasma.

Mind you, it already has.  I've had to empty loads of stuff out of the room and because I can't put much in the workroom, a lot of it is currently cluttering up the sitting room instead.

This is A Bad Thing, inasmuch as it is no longer possible to relax in a room which looks like one of the worse episodes of The Hoarder Next Door.

However, it is also A Good Thing, in that I'm motivated to get on with the job in hand with absolutely no not much shilly-shallying.

The chandelier makeover I posted about recently is well in hand, and just needs a few sessions of paint touch ups.  I've spent many, many hours over recent weeks, painstakingly stringing over 600 individual crystals onto silver connecting rings with the aid of a blunt knife.  I have the blisters to prove it.  Suffice to say, I won't ever be doing THAT again!

Inevitably, plans for the makeover have morphed from a simple paint job, with a series of simple wallpaper panels, to a rather more complex project, thanks to PP finding 3 rolls of a really lovely wallpaper on FB marketplace, just a 10 minute drive away.  From them appearing on FB to us going to collect them was around 30 minutes.. possibly the quickest completed Marketplace transaction in the history of ever.

So now we're doing a feature wall.  

But.  The wall in question has a slightly textured finish, so I'm having to use lining paper first, to provide a smooth surface for the lovely wallpaper, which will add another two full days to the task.... one to hang the paper, and a further 24 hours to allow it to dry thoroughly.

I've written myself a little schedule for the coming week.  Try not to laugh.

Sunday (tomorrow - Hang lining paper.  A professional could probably do it in a few hours, but I'll need frequent rest breaks.  The good news is it doesn't need matched up, and I can patch in the tricky bits (radiator, pipes, electric sockets etc)

Monday - While the lining paper is drying out, first coat of paint on three walls.  This shouldn't be too bad, one wall is mostly window, another is mostly double doors, and the third is mostly door/window.

Tuesday -  Hang lovely wallpaper.  This will take time as it has to be carefully matched, carefully handled, and I will have to take extra time to negotiate the aforementioned tricky bits.  I don't anticipate completing the wall in one day.

Wednesday - Complete hanging lovely wallpaper.  

Thursday - Second paint coat on three walls

Thereafter, it's finishing off the chandelier and installing the 24 strings of crystals, then replacing the furniture, hanging curtains, and adding the final decorative touches.

I'm tentatively hopeful that by the end of next weekend it will be finished and I can do the big reveal.

Anyway... here's the current state of play

What could possibly go wrong...?

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Mignonette Presentation Box - Complete Kit

Further rummaging in my workroom today has revealed a few wooden boxes and assorted elements remaining from this workshop pack, back in 2015.  I have enough to make up just 4 kits in shades of pink.

The workshop pack contains all the materials to make a Mignonette Doll Presentation Box, fully decorated and complete with contents.  This box harks back to the heyday of French dollmaking in the 1890s when beautifully decorated presentation boxes filled with a doll, costumes and accessories, were on the wish list of every little girl.

The box is wooden and will be finished with specially printed papers both inside and out, along with precision cut decorative paper strips. It also has decorative 'vintage angel' feet and box clasps.

Use small scale vintage-style papers and embellishments to decorate the box inside and out

Inside the box are two silk covered pads, which can easily be removed
 The jointed porcelain doll measures 1  3/4" tall and is dressed in an elaborately trimmed fitted silk costume in the Jumeau style.

Dressed in fine hairstripe silk, she has silk and lace underwear, and dainty silk shoes with leather soles.

Attached to her sleeve, a vintage Parisian doll label

Ringlet curls wig and silk toque bonnet

She also looks pretty from the back!

Her costumes and accessories include:
  • 3 different styles of silk dresses on hangers, each with matching bonnet
  • Set of tiny laser cut metal accessories in either gold or silver - jewellery (necklace, bracelet, brooch, tiny tiara, brush, comb, mirror, decorative hair combs, picture frame, all designed and created specially for this pack.
  • Tiny posy of silk flowers
  • Beautiful printed fan
  • Eiffel Tower silver charm

This heirloom box would make a wonderful gift (or self-gift!) for any miniaturist or small doll collector.

Everything is provided to complete the box and contents as shown, plus comprehensive illustrated step-by-step instructions supplied as a PDF file to cut down the cost of shipping. 

The cost of this Home Workshop Pack is £95 and includes the box and ALL the materials you need to complete this project as shown. Shipping is extra.

As I will be making the packs to order, a deposit of £25 is required, with the balance payable prior to dispatch of the pack.

Alternatively, I can offer a layaway option, with the balance split into two further monthly payments (deposit, plus two payments to include shipping)

To reserve your workshop pack, please visit the website HERE!

As always, if you have any questions, do please contact me and I'll do my best to help.