Thursday, 22 July 2021

Aftermath......

I had my cataract surgery on Monday, as planned.  I have to say, although it was mostly painless (the THREE injections into my eye beforehand to paralyse it were 'uncomfortable' rather than painful) it most certainly wasn't my idea of fun.  I could 'see' the various instruments inside my eye as the surgeon was working, which was really disconcerting.  Thankfully it was over relatively quickly, and my eye was bandaged and covered with a rather fetching protective plastic guard.

After 4 hours I had to remove the eye guard and instill the steroid/antibiotic drops. The eye had been bleeding and was completely bloodshot on one side.... think zombie crossed with vampire.  Not a good look. 

I'm now three days on and slowly coming to terms with my new visual landscape.  Initially, my vision in the operated eye was very cloudy, but it's clearing now, and sure enough, for the first time in my life, I can see things in the distance without my glasses.  However, as predicted, if I wear my glasses I can't see with the new eye, and if I don't, I can't see with my old eye, although it's good for close distance.

This visual mismatch is making me feel dizzy, queasy and disorientated, and I'm alternately covering one eye or the other, depending on what I need to see.  My depth perception is all skew-whiff and flat surfaces look alternately concave or wavy/wiggly.  The surgeon had said that my brain might compensate in time, but I don't think it's got that message yet.  I suppose you need to have a reasonable degree of brain 'plasticity' to overwrite neural pathways, and knit two such different visual fields together.

The operated eye is extremely light sensitive, so I've been lurking in the twilight of darkened rooms, away from the blinding sunshine, donning sunglasses when I have to step outside into the unaccustomed heat, now that summer has finally decided to put in an appearance.

Work isn't on the agenda this week.  I was hoping to get back to it today, but after 30 minutes trying to thread a needle using only my good close vision eye I abandoned the attempt as I obviously need both eyes to work in harmony.  There are myriad other things I could be getting on with, but the heat is both searing and energy-sapping so I'm going to call it a day and retreat to the coolest spot I can find.

Thankfully the temperature is forecast to start dropping tomorrow, so I might get out of sloth mode over the weekend. 

Stay cool if you can....... 





Wednesday, 14 July 2021

The eyes have it.....

I'm going to be working like a demon this week, clearing my desk of all outstanding orders and one interesting commission, which is very nearly finished.

Yes, yes...... I know I said I wasn't taking any more commissions, but this one was serendipitous and interesting and, for once, I actually knew where to find all the bits I needed for it.

The reason for all this activity is that next Monday I'm having surgery to remove cataracts from my left eye.  My vision has been getting increasingly blurred and hazy over recent months and after tests and scans, I was approved for the surgery, which has been scheduled really quickly, considering the current situation.  It helps that it will be done in a dedicated specialist opthalmic department in a small local day hospital, relatively isolated and insulated from the chaos wreaked by Covid.

I've been told that it will take a few days, perhaps longer, until my vision in that eye settles down.  Having been shortsighted since childhood and having had to wear glasses since I was 5, I was amazed when told that I would likely no longer need glasses for distance, although, perversely, I would need them for reading/close work.  Four weeks post-surgery I will see an opthalmic optician, to asses the other eye and test my vision in the 'new' eye.

In recent years, as my near vision has deteriorated, I've worn varifocal lenses, with zones for far, middle and near distance.  I'm confused that post surgery, the distance vision in my left eye should be perfect, but I will still have to wear glasses for my right eye.  And my current pair won't be correct for the operated eye, so I'll be in the weird position of not being able to see properly with my glasses through the left lens.  But if I take them off, then I won't be able to see properly with my right eye.   Plus I'm also going to have to wear reading glasses for my left eye.

Nightmare! 

Hopefully,  at the subsequent optician appointment, I will be assessed as needing to have the other eye done too, despite the cataracts not being so bad, purely to balance out my vision.

Inevitably this will have a knock-on impact on my work in the intervening period, as I need good close vision.  With that in mind I may be unable to do some of the more intricate stuff... I'll just have to wait and see..... no pun intended.

Also this.....





Monday, 21 June 2021

History in print.....

As a result of my recent excavations in the workroom, I've unearthed a treasure trove of historical documents, stretching back several decades to the late 1980s.

I've always produced and printed all my own materials, from catalogues to workshop programmes and instruction booklets

Before the internet and email, I had to print my catalogues and send them in the post to customers.  These are just a few of the ones I produced over the past 30+ years.  Back in the day I made a huge variety of 1/12th dolls and kits, each one of which was described in my catalogues. 

In 208 I was accepted to teach workshops over two days at the prestigious Kensington Dollshouse Festival.  I still have the little doll I designed.... she's currently in La Migonette.


A selection of newsletter from past years. This was the only way to keep my students and customers informed about new classes, workshops and dolls.


A few of the leaflets advertising my very first workshops after moving from Tower House. Relocating the business and getting it going again was a very stressful time, but fortunately many of my students followed me from Kent to East Sussex.


Over time, my workshop projects became more and more ambitious.  This one, to make a Victorian Toy Shop was particularly elaborate and featured a wooden box which opened to reveal a toy shop setting full of toys and dolls. 


I generally taught one or two workshop sessions a month, and produced bi-annual programmes with details of the dolls and projects.



Another programme featuring a particularly ambitious doll which students completed in one day!  The amount of preparation involved was intense.... from cutting out costume pattern pieces in advance, to hand pleating miles of ribbons and lace.  Although she looked daunting to achieve in one day, I carefully worked out all the timings in advance and every student took home a finished doll!  

Latterly, my website has served as a catalogue, and I haven't produced a printed version for many years.  Similarly, workshops, projects etc have all been announced online, which has been so much easier, quicker and cheaper.

I must admit though, when looking through all the many leaflets and booklets from over so many years, I do feel nostalgic.

Looking back, I also feel very proud of my small business, which has endured for over 30 years, and which I've enjoyed enormously, despite all the hard work and occasional stress and worry involved. 

As I head towards my retirement I have so many happy memories of working in a field which I love.... from the scores of shows I've attended, to the hundreds of workshops I've taught, both in person and virtually, over three decades.  I've met lovely people, who share my passion for miniatures, and some have become firm friends over the years.  Similarly, I have known other artisans, well-known in their own fields, and collaborated in projects with several.

Quite what the lasting effect of the Covid pandemic will have on miniatures generally, remains to be seen.  In recent years, the hobby has contracted significantly.... specialist 'bricks and mortar' shops have closed in favour of selling online, shows and fairs have been badly hit, having been in decline.  Many of my artisan colleagues, of a similar vintage, have already retired, or will be retiring in the near future, and there don't seem to be enough new artisans coming in to take their place.

Ever smaller scales are becoming increasingly popular, and although I class my little dolls as 1/24th, it is incredibly difficult to scale porcelain dolls down to 1/48th or smaller.

For the remainder of my miniatures career, I plan to concentrate on dolls and projects which particularly inspire me and over the next few months I will be working on a few interesting projects, which will be hopefully be available as workshop packs later in the year. 

I also need to get back to my Mignonette Doll Club project, which has been languishing for way too long.  So I need to get out of Memory Lane and back into the present!





Saturday, 19 June 2021

What a difference a few days make.....!

Happily, the shelf support plug thingys finally arrived, so I was able to re-install all the shelves after working out the exact configuration for maximising space for all the storage boxes, which flank the bureau on both sides.  

If I take all the boxes out of the bureau drawers, and put them into the bookshelves, where they fit absolutely perfectly and are immediately accessible, that will help clear a lot of the stuff which came out of the wall and base cabinets, which were sold last week. 

However, the resultant mess was a sight to behold.....



Having reached peak chaos, there was nothing else to do except work through it all and do the 'keep, recycle, sell'  thing with each item.  This starts off being difficult, and as the hours tick by, and decision fatigue sets in, it becomes much, much easier.  Lots of stuff in that pile is now in the dining room, awaiting collection by buyers and/or freecyclers.

With the space cleared, I was able to set about restoring the room to a workable state.

First we moved my cabinet bureau to the wall by the window, between the freshly painted bookshelves...


I've moved stuff into these boxes from the drawers in the base of the bureau, which are relatively inaccessible when the desk is open. 

I have installed a strip of LED lights inside the desk unit, which are powered by a USB plug and throw a lovely, bright, white light all over my working area


I treated myself to a new magnetic cutting mat, specially for the bureau desk. It will hopefully make it quicker and easier to clear off the drop-down desk by doubling as a tray! 

Elsewhere in the room, I've moved the shelves which were on the worktops into the space vacated by the cabinet, and relocated the chair.


My day nursery room box now resides on the worktop and is much easier to get to.

I've moved my table centrally between the south-facing windows, where I will get good light but not full, blinding, direct sunlight.

There are still things to sort though, and a few areas to tidy, but overall, considering how it looked a few days ago, the transformation is almost complete and I can now get back to work.

Happy days.....! 

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Little by little......

I've finally managed to get the base and wall unit combo out of the workroom.  In the end, PP decided that they would take up too much room in the shed so with that, I hoiked them out and they're currently in the dining room, pending their sale or eventual 'freecycling'. 

Yesterday I emptied and cleaned the two bookshelves and gave them a coat of Ultra Grip, which claims to prepare melamine surfaces to accept mineral paint.  It went on milky and dried clear.

Before: the horrible orangey melamine

Today I've completed two coats of the mineral paint, including all 8 shelves.

After:the altogether more pleasing pale blue


Although they look the same colour as the walls, they're a subtly different shade of blue.  I've ordered new white shelf support plug thingys, as the originals were dark brown.  I'm hoping they'll arrive tomorrow so that I can put all the shelves back and start to refill them.  

I've also had a rethink about some of the stuff I have stored in my bureau cabinet drawers, which is annoyingly inaccessible when the desk top is down, which is 95% of the time. 

My eventual aim is to get everything work related into these two bookshelves plus my bureau cabinet.  Just how realistic that is, remains to be seen. 

In the meantime I'm gradually chipping away at selling my books and surplus to requirements fabrics and trimmings.   If you'd like an updated sale list please let me know.  

So, at the moment the workroom is chock-a-block with stuff from the bookshelves and I'm looking forward to getting it all moved round, reorganised and ship-shape again.

To be continued.......



Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Workroom, shirk room.....

Whilst progress on the patio has been stymied, due to the continuing inclement weather, I've been chipping away at clearing out the workroom.  I'm aiming to get to the point where all that's left is what I actually REALLY need to continue making my little dolls.

I recently got rid of one big wall cupboard, which leaves its accompanying base unit.  PP thinks she might be able to use one, or both, in the shed, but to do that we'll need to clear out the shed completely, get rid of all the accumulated junk, old tins of paint etc etc etc, and we simply haven't had a full day with no rain or wind in which to make a start.

So in the meantime I've been gradually sorting through all my remaining fabrics, trimmings etc and reorganising them to fit into smaller boxes, which stack neatly in my two remaining bookshelves....

I had been considering getting some new white bookshelves, as the ones I currently have are a horrid orangey-coloured melamine, but they are an absolutely perfect fit for my storage boxes and I doubt I'd find anything else exactly the same width as they're several decades old. 



 Then I remembered that I still have a full pot of the paint I used to upcycle my bureau cabinet.  Trouble is, painting over melamine is a nightmare.... I've done it before and the paint has a tendency to chip and flake off.  However, a quick Google revealed this...


Ultra Grip claims to be a bonding agent specifically for melamine, and even better, it's made by the same company that produced my paint, so the two should work perfectly together.      PP then came up with the excellent suggestion of moving my cabinet to the space between the two re-painted bookshelves as they will all match.  

I can't empty the bookshelves though, until the base cabinet has been removed, which in turn requires clearing out the shed, which in turn requires at least 2 days without rain.  It would be even better if I could do the painting of the bookshelves outside too. 

I have to touch up a few dinks and chips on my bureau, which I'll do at the same time, and I'm considering changing some of the decorative papers in the glass doors, so that they all match the drawers in the base.  I still have a few pieces of the paper left so fingers crossed there will be enough to do the 16 small glass panels.  I will have to make templates and do some very judicious matching and patching... it will be a close run thing! 



So, when the cabinet is moved, I will have liberated a whole wall, and opened up the room.

Do you remember when I got this....


At the time I fondly imagined sitting on it.... making notes in my 'ideas notebook', reading, or simply relaxing while listening to the radio.  Needless to say, I could count the number of times I've done any of those things on the fingers of half a hand.  In fact, our lovely little Lucy sat in it far more than I've ever done.....

Awwwww..... 😢

Well, when I move the cabinet I'm going to relocate this chair to the empty wall, where I will then have a view out of the windows.   I might also get a soft rug, to make my new seating area more 'kumphie', as Small Dog would no doubt have suggested.

So, a tentative plan is coming together. But until I can crack on with it, I'll get back to sorting through yet more boxes, organising and consolidating.  




Monday, 24 May 2021

May....or May not!

 At the beginning of April we made a start on our side patio makeover... it was very hard work and took several weeks.  I wrote about it at the time.... HERE.

Throughout April we toiled daily, while imagining the lovely balmy days to come, during which we would enjoy and make the most of our lovely new outdoor lounging area.

I would post photos, except EVERYTHING is covered over to protect from the relentless wind and rain which has characterised most of May.  I can count on the fingers of half a hand the days on which it hasn't rained.

Or blown a gale.

On those few days it's been so cold that we've had to resort to keeping the heating on AND topping up with the fire lit!

We've had an awful spring, and although the weather is forecast to turn warmer over the coming weekend, it's put a real dampener on my patio plans.   

I have made some lovely outdoor bunting but haven't put it out for fear of it blowing away, or at the very least becoming mildewed in the wet conditions.

Ditto all the lovely finishing touches, which are currently being stored in the dining room, until such time as the weather gets it act together.

We know that we need something to cover the whole new seating area.... not for shade from the blistering sun (I wish!) but for protection from rain.  It's a difficult space which has a lot of challenges so we've been considering various options.... from a simple gazebo, to a more eclectic waterproof shade sail arrangement.  However, the recent gales have meant that plans for that too have had to be put on hold. 

I do hope summer arrives soon.  Spring has been a cold, grey washout and I'm longing for some consistently warm, sunny weather in which to complete the project.... and, more importantly, get out there and enjoy it!