Thursday, 21 May 2015

Days of Tiling Ahead......Honeydukes Roof

I have began the time consuming task of tiling the roof of Honeydukes. I normally find tasks like this quite restful once I get in a rhythm but the fitting of the windows means a lot more cutting than usual and of course the lines of tiles highlight the erratic nature of my dormer windows. I keep telling myself that straight lines are not imperative with a wizarding roof but....
I finally chose real slate tiles by Richard Stacey a product I have used before and like a lot. They are quite thin which makes cutting easier. I score them with a Stanley knife and then use a tile cutter to snap usually but this time I have used my Proxxon table saw for cutting which is a lot quicker and easier.
 I have also decided to use Aleene's tacky glue to fix the tiles in place. I find that this glue holds the tiles in place much better than a normal PVA preventing too much slippage. 
I think the slate roof will match up ok with the coarser stone of the bottom half of the shop although I am not convinced even now. At the moment I just want to get it done, this roof has been hanging over my head for too long now. 
Definitely going to put a shift in over the next couple of days and hopefully get the main tiling finished. 
How on earth do people cope when they build a real house?

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Onwards and Upwards......The Honeydukes Roof Gets its Windows.

Having spent what seems an age topping up my sweet stash and making lollipops I am now ready to tackle the roof of  Honeydukes. After a false start the dormer windows were ready to be distressed and filled before being attached.
 I have dirtied them up using and acrylic wash and the dust I collected from sanding and cutting the brick slips. The fine grey powder from the bricks is perfect for dust and grime. 
 The windows are in place on the front........
 .........and back. Luckily I remembered that all the sweet jars in the front windows had to be very firmly glued in place as this part of the roof lifts up.
In preparing for this project I looked a lots of ways to display sweets and came across these very useful little display cases. They are meant for coins and come in a whole variety of sizes. I bought mine on Ebay and they are perfect for displaying sweets. They are not very deep so they wouldn't be any good for cakes but would be fine for biscuits or chocolates. They have a recessed edge that can be decorated with a ribbon very easily.
One small window with tall thin sweet jars.....
One long window with a pyramid of sweets.......
One very big window full of jars and globes full of all things nice, unfortunately the window cleaners haven't reached the top floor for many a year! These very large jars seemed to swallow up the sweets I had set aside which means I will be back to the clay soon!
 A medium sized window with bouquets of lollipops
 Cane pops and acid drops in this window. I also decided to try and light up the windows at the front by putting in an LED strip into each window. I am hoping to power them up with a battery connector. I have seen these at shows but can't for the life of me remember who sells them, so any help would be much appreciated. I will then be able to turn them on and off easily. The battery connectors can be hidden in false packing cases or such like.
 When we went to the US last year I picked up a whole variety of Aleene's glues that I had not seen here in the UK. This Clear Gel Tacky Glue has been perfect for topping off the sweet jars that don't have lids. I have now seen it on Amazon UK which is great as I will definitely be using it again.
I have spent today trying to cut the pieces for the roofs on the windows. All I can say is I am never going to tackle the building works of a project like this ever again unless I qualify a fully fledged carpenter. I have made a real dogs dinner of the cutting due to the angle of the roof line but I am hoping that the tiling will hide all the gaps! 
I hope you all managed to stay dry today, I seemed to get soaked every time I put my head out of the door!

Monday, 18 May 2015

A Visit to the Kensington Dolls House Festival......A Place for New Treasures and Mini Friends.

I was lucky enough to attend the Kensington Dolls House Festival this weekend and spent a lovely day gathering inspiration and some fabulous new pieces for my collection. 
 My first stop was at the stand of Jain Squires, The Giddy Kipper, whose work I have been collecting for a number of years now.
 I could not resist this wonderful Humpty Dumpty who will become part of my Mad Hatter project. 
 He really has all the grumpy personality of the worst kind of tea party guest so I feel sure he will be perfect for my scene.
 I have always admired the work of Colin Bird but with so many projects I have never been able to purchase any of his pieces.
With most of my houses with most of their contents collected I felt I could finally add one of his beautiful chairs. It seems that I have chosen just in time as this was Colin's last show for the time being. Every time I attend a show at the moment another craftsman seems to be leaving the miniature world. We can only hope that others will take their places.
 Lidi Stroud of Basketcase Miniatures returned to Kensington this year all the way from Australia with a wide selection of the most beautifully weaved baskets. 
 The detail of Lidi's work is really hard to show in my photographs but each piece is a teeny tiny work of art and perfectly scaled.
Lidi is also such a friendly and enthusiastic artisan, you know each piece of her work comes to you with friendship and generosity. I could not resist having a little splurge as it may be a couple of years before I have the pleasure of meeting up with Lidi again.
 I could not resist this birdcage by Le Mini di Pierluigi from Italy. Again a beautifully crafted item that must find a place in one of my houses surely.
 These pieces by Tiny Ter Miniatures are all for my vintage style staff nook in the roof of Honeydukes. They will go well with the 1940's furniture kits I have set aside by Jane Harrop
I love the eclectic yester-year miniatures by Truly Scrumptious and when I saw this radio, so reminiscent of winter evenings at my nan's, I knew I had to have one. This too will find a place in Honeydukes. I think it has a definite wizarding look so will fit in quite nicely as a muggle artefact.
I also met up with lots of mini friends from Blogland and FB from all corners of the globe, which was great fun. It was especially lovely to finally meet Jayne of Tallulah Belle Miniatures, whose fantasy plants are second to none. 
As you can see I am becoming much more selective in my shopping, maybe spending a little more on individual items rather than buying all and everything that takes my fancy and then discovering I have no place in any of my projects for that item.
Kensington has a wide range of items with pieces from £1 to many thousands of pounds, definitely something for every miniature budget I would have thought. Of course you will find it very hard to find what I call fillers or the mass produced pieces I like to mess around with but I do find it strange when I hear people complaining about the price of hand made, beautifully crafted pieces. I know that many artisans work for little more than minimum wage if they were to add up how much time one item may take to produce. Just because an item is out of my budget I don't then think it is a waste of money or that the maker is taking the pee. 
It is funny that the hours miniature artists spend making say, an exquisite bedspread, are viewed as less worthy than the inadequate £150 a day tradesmen that seem to be prevalent these days. 
Oh well that's my two penn'orth  with my thanks to everyone who made my visit special.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Even More Lollipops Mixed in With Family Hellos and Bon Voyages......

It has been a very busy time in my real life the last few weeks as I welcomed home my daughter from her year of working abroad and got my youngest son packed off for his four month trip to Indo-China, Australia and New Zealand. My children are trying to pack everything in before they have to settle down and be a proper grown up.
In the mean time this proper grown up has taken every opportunity to escape to her wonderful workshop and make lollipops!! Honeydukes is a big project and is taking a lot longer to bring together than I expected but slowly I am filling the shelves with all things sweet.
I have to fill the false dormer windows with goodies so I decided to dedicate myself to making batch upon batch of lollipops and sweets this last month for two reasons: firstly I have learnt that no matter how much you think you have made this shop is a sweetie pit, it all seems to disappear very quickly, and one of the main lessons I have learnt about working with polymer clay is the more you play the easier it becomes.
All my days seem to have started with very thin lines of various shades of Fimo. I use Fimo because it seems to be the easiest polymer to buy around where I live but I am sure all the other brands behave in much the same way. `I have also learnt that 'warming' up your clay before using is very important if you don't want to spend ages getting it ready to use. I keep small pieces 'warm' by wrapping it in clingfilm and tucking them into my underwear. Works for me!
The lines are then twirled together and can either be left knobbly or rolled and twirled into a smooth roll. 
I have used the smoothed out rolls to make old fashioned lollipops by creating simple swirls and adding white sugarcraft wire that I bought on Ebay. The sugarcraft wire is just the same a floral wire and is measured using a gauge system, the smaller the gauge the thicker the wire. After many different packages arrived through my letter box I have finally worked out that the best gauges for my needs are 30 (very thin), 28 and 26.
When will I learn that with miniatures small never seems to be small enough!!
The smoothed out rolls can also be baked as a very simple cane and then sliced to make sweeties. These triangular trays, also from Ebay, are my new best friend. They are bead trays I think but absolutely perfect for sorting small items, glitters and powders that you need to pour into bags or jars.
 The twisted rolls can also be baked as a cane and then sliced for sweets or cake toppings whatever takes your fancy. This was a mellow yellow day!
Two canes made one tiny bag of sweets which should fill two sweet jars......Only another 50 bags to go!
At the end of a day I hope to have a couple of full tiles. This one has the canes, some tiny pops and some rocket pops.
This one has a variety of lollipops. I bake them all at about 120 degrees for 30 minutes. Once they are cooled I try and slice the canes as they are a little easier to slice when ever so slightly warm. The next day I pack away or add gloss ready for a new day and a new colour.
This was my pink day......
........and this was my yellow day.
Tomorrow is my Kensington day. The Kensington Dolls House Festival starts tomorrow for their two day Spring Exhibition and I am going into London bright and early. For the first time I have joined their annual loyalty scheme which allows for an earlier entry so I am interested to see if that is a worthwhile investment.
The line up looks very exciting and I will take my usual list full of good intentions and then ignore it probably!! I am desperately trying to find china teapots and plates for my Mad Hatter project but because I need quite a few I need them to be slightly reasonably priced. 
I had hoped to see Old Bell Pottery in the exhibitor's list but they are not showing at the moment it seems. Oh well I am sure there will be lots of other wonderful things to see and admire.
Mostly I would like to take my time for a good browse something I never seem to do.
Then back to lollipops!!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Out of the Garden and Into the Sweetshop........And Easter Comes Late.

What I had hoped would be a job for a week became a much greater project than anticipated but the garden is finally planted. In about five years it might actually look good!! So today I decided to rest my weary back and return to the workshop for some real fun.
One item I came across while foraging for plants and compost I came across these glass bunny ears......
......which belong to this quirky glass dome. With 75% off and an absolute steal at £7.50 I could not pass it by, I knew it would be perfect for a teeny, if late, Easter project.
 I saw this table on Ebay by Julie a seller I have not come across before and thought it would a perfect piece to showcase some special Easter food minis supplemented by my own minis as usual. 
It didn't come with a base but that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
 I have these wonderful pieces by my favourite food artists, Paris Miniatures and Petit D'Licious both on Etsy. I will add to the scene myself with Spring flowers and Easter Eggs, maybe a couple of chicks and some bunting too. You never know it might be finished by next Easter!
 I returned to my lollipops from previously and they really are a bit clumpy. With miniature food I have discovered that small never seems to be small enough but I am still on a massive learning curve with all things clay. The other problem with the lollipops is the size of florist wire I had bought, this is ok for the bigger lollies but is much too thick for the smaller ones.
 They were all matt after baking so I looked up what I should use to add a gloss glaze to the clay. I had some Sculpey varnish and some gloss medium so I have tried both of these, one coat has improved them slightly I will add another coat tomorrow.
 These lollies have had glitter or floss added, bit of a mistake, as now I can't gloss them, another thing to remember.
These are the products I have used to add gloss to the clay. Hopefully they are ok and will not effect the clay.
I have bought some more florist wire in smaller gauges, it took me a while to realise the higher the number the thinner the wire but I should have enough variations now surely! 
All things clay seem to be so time consuming and I don't seem to have much to show for my time today. Then if I make a mistake, mostly due to complete ignorance, it is like I have wasted a couple of hours. I am always in too much of a rush to finish all the small tasks which in most projects seem never ending. I need to remember that, "Tomorrow is another day."

Friday, 3 April 2015

It's Been Raining Lollipops Today.......

After a morning of digging with my youngest son in our very muddy garden I decided it was time to lock myself away in the workshop for a session of sweet making.
I want to have lots of sweeties on display in the dormer windows but because of the angle of the roof the shelf space is very narrow at the bottom of each window.
I think I will fill a couple of the windows with lollipops as they will give height without too much depth. So I got out the clay and started with some very basic round lollipops in a variety of sizes. As you can see from my desk I have used quite a few colours but they will be used all round Honeydukes. Once I decide to get the clay out I try to make as many as I can.
I picked up these nail de-cals in Poundland a few weeks ago as I thought they would be great for lollipops and sweeties.
 These are some of what I made using Fimo and then just playing around really. I have given them quite long sticks so I can cut them to size once I decide where they will be going.
 They still need to be varnished but the de-cals look quite effective on these liquorice lollies. 
 Strawberry Sherbert lollipops.
Not too sure about the orange ones with chocolate decorations but the twirly ones came out ok. I have used white sugar craft wire for the 'sticks' in a 20 gauge but I could probably do with one slightly thinner for the smaller lollies.
I also made some lemon sherbert lollies and some purple butterfly lollies. They all need a coat of varnish now but I have called it a day and come in for my dinner, cooked for me tonight, what a treat.
Have a lovely holiday weekend however you intend to celebrate. I have a couple of outings planned so my sweet making will be on hold for a couple of days.