Saturday, 4 July 2015

Dressing a Scene........The Staff Nook of Honeydukes

My idea for the top floor of Honeydukes was always going to be a grimy store room after I decided that sweet making was going to be a step too far if I wanted to ever finish the project. After some thought I came up with the staff nook idea and I am very happy with the scene I showed in my last post.
 The cheerful witches of Honeydukes are now to be surrounded with crates of stock and these are what I have come up with.
 I bought most of these crates from various sellers over the years at Miniatura and they have been sitting in my stash waiting to see the light of day. I have stained them with a regular wood stain in Light Oak, two coats, and then stuck on Harry Potter sweet printies gleaned from the Internet. Originally I had planned to fill them all with the appropriate sweets before piling them up but I am beginning to understand that sometimes less is more. So I cute lids for them all and sealed them up. Much quicker and equally effective.
 I have had a little play with all the crates I have finished so far and spread them around the top floor.
 I have also filled some large jars for storage and dirtied up some pre-printed sacks that I bought at Miniatura a while ago.
I also had a few wooden basket crates in my stash kindly given to me by Nikki Rowe. I have paint-washed these and will probably fill them with with sweeties and place them on top of a pile of crates.
 These trays were originally going to be stacked high and filled with different types of sweets but I have had a change of heart having seen how the whole room is coming together.
This is how the room currently looks and I really like the way the Staff Nook with all its colours seem to pop out of the shadows of the wooden crates. So I have made lids for the shallow crates as well and am going to avoid adding too many brightly coloured piles of sweets. All the interest will be drawn to the central nook I hope. 
This has meant making more crates......but I think it will be worth it. I am learning not to over fill a room which is something I find really hard, keeping it simple so you can enjoy the premier pieces in the room. In this room the Nook needs not to be smothered and I hope I will get the right balance.
I had a lovely day a Wimbledon yesterday with my daughter can't believe it is my 40th year, things have certainly changed.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Honeydukes Nook is Open For Staff......

It must be time for a Honeydukes update and a lot has changed. I have had an unexpected break from Blogland as my father unexpectedly passed just over a month ago and I have been very busy with all the arrangements and dealing with my elderly mother. This has meant a lot less time in the workshop but I am now getting back to my usual routines and enjoying playing with my toys.
The staff nook has finally taken shape as you can see where two wonderful characters by Jain Squires of The Giddy Kipper can relax surrounded by all the things witches love to eat.
 All the furniture has been made from kits by Jane Harrop. These kits are fantastic, very well made and easy to assemble. They come with full instructions and lots of tips for finishing. The chairs have been covered with a fabric I picked up at a fair and I have attached a little bit of lace to the tea trolley. I am not sure about the tall candelabra as I really want a standard lamp with a frilly shade but I haven't managed to find one yet.
This is a great candle stand by Lory that will stay as I think it looks great against this character, very disapproving indeed!
I wanted the nook to have the general feeling of the kitchens I remember as a child and this iconic larder unit was a must. I have stained and painted with acrylics and then given it a light rubbing for age. It is filled with various tins and boxes from Shepherd Miniatures who specialise in products from all eras. There are also items from some of my favourite miniaturists. The wonderful radio is by Truly Scrumptious and is a perfect Muggle artifact alongside pieces by Sally Meekin and are part of her cabbage ware range. There are also pieces by Tiny Ter, Mouse House Miniatures, Nikki Rowe and a new foodie I have just discovered Bel's Mini World whose bread and fruit minis are just wonderful.
 The Cabbage ware tea set sits proudly on the trolley alongside Nikki Rowe's Monster Meringue. I have so far decided not to fill the milk jug and sugar bowl as I don't want to damage the ceramics but I might change my mind. I hope you can also see the wonderful bowl of cherries by Tiny Ter, she makes the best cherries I have seen and as they are my favourite fruit I had to include them. 
This little side table is covered with a small lace runner and showcases cupcakes by Lory and a pumpkin basket by Paris Miniatures. The milk jug and tray was bought on Ebay a long, long time ago and has finally found a place. I am glad I remembered where I had put it!
There is still a bit of dressing and finishing touches to add. The witches need plates and tea cups, books for relaxation and maybe a coffee table. I know I have a tendency to over dress my scenes so I am going to wait until the whole room is done before deciding on the coffee table. 
And........
......the roof is done!! Well nearly, I ran out of ridge tiles so I am waiting for their arrival for the final finish but to all intents and purposes it is finished.
 There are mistakes and I will get away with the wonkiness of some of the windows and dormers because it is a wizard project. Will I ever design my own house again? Hmmmmm, not sure about that.
Hope you are all enjoying this wonderful weather in the UK I am off to Wimbledon tomorrow with my lovely daughter for Pimms and tennis, should be a fun day.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

One Row at a Time.....Plus the piece of Furniture Every Home Miniaturist Should Have.

I managed to get into the workshop today after the bank holiday weekend to begin the roof. I have encountered a few problems as I expected but the front is very nearly completed. I decided to glue the roof panels in place on the smallest window to see how easy or hard it was to fit the tiling with the roof in place. It wasn't too difficult but it was fiddly and did take some time so I decided not to stick down the other roofs.
 I marked off the roof line in pencil and have tiled just over the lines. Much quicker and the edge should look just as good.
 I even remembered to fix the tall front chimney in place, before tiling! I was a little bit worried about the weight of this chimney and whether it would just slide down the roof taking all the tiles with it but luckily my son called home just as I had applied the glue so I chatted to him while waiting for the glue to bond, which it did.......eventually. I have got to finish off the bottom as you can see and add the lead edging.
 After gluing the chimney in place I noticed I had forgotten to tidy up the brick edging with grouting after sanding the chimneys down. I am not sure what to do now, I can still grout although it will be fiddly, or I might just leave it as a worn look.
 This is how I have left it this evening. As you can see my lines are not quite straight, by the top edge, but I don't mind that, there are so many mis-judgements on this roof I think straight lines would highlight them even more.
I am very lucky to have a wonderful space to hide away but whatever your hobby space I would really recommend this fabulous unit from Ikea. It is the Alex 6-drawer on casters and I have the white one but it also comes in grey.
It fits under a desk or table but I have mine out as it enables me to put my current project on top, leaving my desk top free. I can then twirl the unit around into whatever position I need. It is very sturdy and has 6 very useful shallow drawers, what more can we ask for. If you are looking for a unit I would certainly recommend this little beauty and at £95 it won't break the bank leaving more pennies for minis!
Hope you all had a fun weekend wherever the bank holiday weekend sent you.

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!!