Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Time to Start Dressing the Witch House.......

I have spent the last five months building my witch house, definitely the most ambitious of all my projects, so I can put it off no longer, I have to start dressing the interior. The whole witchy theme has been on going for about 18 months. Really since I bought this fireplace and discovered Witch and Wizard Miniatures the home of the very talented Nikki Rowe. I have collected a whole range of items ready and waiting to find their home. I collected soooo much that my initial plan of using Sid Cooke's Empire Store as a witch emporium and home for my witch had to expand. So I bought a tudor house kit from Maple Street Miniatures for a house and have still to build the Sid Cooke kit for my Emporium.
I find, however, that as I get close to finishing the building I get the 'yips'when it comes to adding all the accessories. It's really strange as I will quite happily fill it with all the empty furniture but I can't quite bring myself to add all the bits and pieces. I get worried about spoiling the images I have had in my mind and of not being able to create the right atmosphere. Most of all I seem to live in fear of disappointment...
Anyway today I have bit the bullet and started to fill my house rather than keep sorting and tidying all my lovely pieces.

Like all my houses there is a theme for the furniture, all the upstair rooms are crackled black and gold edged with the wonderful Rub 'n Buff in gold. I love this paint it is so easy to use and extremely effective. I wanted to get the cluttered feel but in a fresh sort of way, she is not an ugly, wicked witch but friendly, wise and a little house proud. I am a little too anal to do dirty and grimy. Although you would laugh at that if you knew how much I hate housework!
As you can see she loves her ornaments and does not mind the visits from mice, rats annd spiders.
The fireplace is one of my Ebay purchases from Dollshouse Delights, I don't know if she still sells on Ebay. The tall, faced candelabra are from Jenny of Kastle Kelm, the lovely little house scene at the back is from Betty's Love, the scrolls were given to me by Nikki and the teapots come from J.Dunn and Sarah Brown both Ebay sellers who I have mentioned before.
I have put the crate of pumpkins in the grate because I have not got a fire yet and can't decide what to do about the lighting. Does anyone recognise this crate as their work? I was lucky enough to win a whole job lot of witchy items on Ebay and this crate was one of  many pieces.
The sweet pumpkin teddy was another an Ebay win from TJMiniatures who now also sells on Etsy. The other pieces were bought at Minatura and Kensington.
I have topped the whole lot with some 'cobwebs' from a Halloween decoration which are actually better than I thought they would be.
I have glued everything in place to stop me from picking at it all and changing bits that are perfectly happy where they are!
Oh I forgot to mention the bat who you might be able to spot on the top edge of the chimney from NickyCC who also makes wonderful birds. I don't know where I will go for birds now, as I believe she is having a rest from miniatures.
Tonight I will go to bed and think about the two bookcases that are demanding that it's their turn tomorrow, I will make a decision, I will.......or maybe I need a couple of bits from Hobbyland first.....
PS. The crate may be by Kat the Hat Lady, thanks Debbie

Monday, 26 April 2010

And The Winners Are......

My first give away draw has been done by my very able assistant and the winners are - Carmen L. and Minimami from Spain and Helsinki respectively.
I will pack up all your goodies tomorrow. Enjoy them with my very best wishes. Please send me your address details via this post - I will not publish them on my blog of course- and hopefully your parcel will arrive in a few days.
Plus a warm welcome to my new followers.
Nikki of Witch and Wizard Miniatures is setting up a new blog which will be of invaluable assistance to us all. It's called Miniature Questions & Answers and this week's topic is polymer clay. The post comments have already answered one of my questions so do head over there and take part.

Friday, 23 April 2010

50 Follower Give Away Draw on Monday Night......

Thank you all for signing up for my first give away. I will do the draw on Monday night to allow for weekend browsers. All you have to do is sign up as a follower and add your comment to any post before Monday. If you want to tell your own followers on your own blogs that's fine with me. This is my first try so I'm not quite sure of the form but the more the merrier!
Here is a picture of my second project 'Truly Scrumptious' a bakery and roof top cafe. I bought it as an unfinished kit from  lovely lady in Scotland who packed it beautifully despite its size and weight. I decided on a yellow and blue colour scheme with pine shop fittings. It is not quite finished, I have still to finish off the cakes but like many others before me, the next project always seems more alluring!

I will give a better view of the interior over the next couple of weeks which might get me off mini gardening and back into cake making!
On a totally different subject, watching 'Lost' at the moment and yes I am absolutely lost......if it finishes with '.......and it was only a dream' I think I will sue!  

Thursday, 22 April 2010

50 Follower Give Away and My Mandrake Experiment.....

This collection of plants are some of the outcome of my green fingery of the last couple of months. They will be the present for the winner of my first give away when/if I reach 50 followers. All you have to do is leave a message with this post to be included in the draw.
So if you think these plants could fill a few gaps in your own mini world please leave a comment, remembering that I am just an enthusiastic beginner and do not have the refined skills of many of the artisans in Blogland. I will also include a couple of extras as a suprise for the lucky blogger.
Talking of suprises here are my first mandrakes made with the dreaded fimo and much research.
Sorry the photos are a bit blurry, not sure why.
I chose a champagne fimo made a few different shapes and then twisted the clay to try and create the wrinkled effect. When baked I added a wash of brown acrylic to dirty them up and highlight the wrinkles. A dab of black paint for the eyes and mouths. I decided to vary the leaves as if they are different mandrake species plus my fimo leaves were a bit of a disaster.
These two fellas are desperately trying to escape! I tried to make some fimo leaves for their 'hair' topping but could not glue them on after baking. Can you put fimo back in the oven after you have added an acrylic wash? The baked clay did not like any of my glues at all, plus I find fimo is not at all maleable after baking so I could not get the leaves to sit properly even if I had been able to glue them. 
Still not too bad for a first effort I thought and they made my son laugh, or I did....not sure about that!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

More Teapot Photographs

For those of you who enjoyed looking at these teapots I have added a couple of extra photographs which show them a little better. Now I have finished this part of the project I am going to miss getting these gorgeous items in the post!
I did get out the dreaded fimo today and had quite a happy time making potted mandrakes, not quite in the league of what I have seen in Blogland but better than I expected. The light was too bad by the time I had finished so I will post tomorrow.
We have had another lovely sunny day today, doesn't it make a difference to your day....

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A Few Jobs Done......

I have had a very happy time making up this display table for my florist/gift shop. I still have a couple of pots to add but they have not arrived yet. I wanted an extra large table and finally found one from Rob Lucas Miniatures at Miniatura which I have painted in the shop's theme colours. The teapot collection is all purchases made on Ebay from the very talented Sarah Brown and J.Dunn. It was Sarah's pieces that made me decide to turn the second floor into a gift area because I loved her teapots so much.
I have also added some of the plant kits I have made lately and the beautiful Siamese cat by Sarah at Pocket People. I just adore him and am hoping to buy another of her cats at Kensington in May.  

Underneath the table I have placed painted pots, vases and bowls mostly from Braxton Payne a US company who sell a huge range of clay pottery in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I usually try to avoid buying items from the US because of the customs lottery having been twice charged £8 by Royal Mail for 'processing'. These items had a value of less than £10 and were as you would expect very tiny, not quite sure what Royal Mail do to earn this £8. Any ideas?
Well anyway, the pottery from Braxton Payne is of such quality that I am prepared to take the risk of the extra charge.
Can you see the cute bird boxes? There is a super company Matlock Miniatures who supply all sorts of whitewood furniture for both houses and shops that I have used on a number of projects. Their shelving units are brilliant for anyone in the process of shop fitting.   

I have also put together the first support of my witch house, remember I made the paper clay frames? Here are three of them in place plus I have planted one of the beds. Now I know it does not look very witchy but my witch is of the wise old woman kind not the Wicked Witch of the West kind. She grows herbs and flowers for her spells and potions, more of a Nanny Ogg for any Terry Pratchett fans, friendly and knowing.
The flower bed looks quite jolly I think. A bright mix of different types. I am especially pleased with the daffodils from Templewood Miniatures.
I do want to try and make some mandrakes both with fimo and paperclay cos they are such fun. My tiles are all in the garage at the moment and I am not sure I can dig them out. Or am I only making excuses so that I can avoid the fimo? No I will give it a go before Kensington so if they are a disaster I can look for some there. 

Monday, 19 April 2010

Thanks For Joining Me......

I have recieved this award from Michelle of Mini Things, thank you very much. When I first started with this Blog I thought it would be for me as much as anything, a way of storing information on my houses. Now, however, I am enjoying the fact that others have looked at my work and have liked it too. Like most hobbies they really only interest the interested, Blogland allows me to 'meet' lots of other interested people and my family and friends are excused duty! Much to their relief. I knew I was becoming slightly unbearable when my oldest son called me from uni and said I should lay off my youngest, who is now an only, because poor Lloyd was running out of encouraging things to say to this slightly obsessive mummy who was either covered in paint, clay or sawdust.
As part of this award I think I have to list ten things that make me happy, here goes:

  1. Sitting tucked up on the sofa with all my kids, popcorn and a silly film.

  2. Eating the great meals my husband cooks.

  3. Spending time making little things

  4. Spending time buying mini things!

  5. Going to the Arsenal every week with my youngest son, even if they lose!

  6. Playing tennis with my girlfriends

  7. Having a good gossip accompanied by lots of chilled wine

  8. Going to the theatre.

  9. Spontaneous weekends away to stay at a nice hotel in a lovely place by the sea

  10. Watching all three of my children sitting together chatting, laughing and enjoying each others company.
I would like to say a very big HELLO to my 41 followers, how nice of you to join me from all over the world, really how amazing is the internet?! We almost take it for granted now but 'in the old days.....' I could never have imagined anything so clever that allowed you to be in such easy contact with people so far away.
As you know I have been plant making this last couple of weeks so I am going to have a 50 Follower Giveaway, with some of my potted plants as a thank you for my followers who have made me feel included.

What a lovely week-end...

There are some weekends that just work out lovely. You ignore all the chores, you don't have to take anyone anywhere, you don't have to collect anyone from the depths of the country cos their car has broken down and you don't have to attend any gatherings that bore you silly.
This type of weekend does not happen often but when it does I embrace the feeling and leave the washing machine well and truly shut.
As well as minitures I have another hobby which I love - I play tennis and this weekend our summer season of matches began. I started playing quite late, I was a very unsporty 37 year old, joined a local club and decided to get involved. Being of a slightly addictive disposition one lesson a week was not enough and gradually I joined teams to play competitively.
This weekend I played for our ladies team in the first of our league matches and we won which was brilliant and then on Sunday I played a mixed match with my youngest son. Like all family partnerships these events can sometimes be very fraught and I am always a little tense when we play together but it was a delight. The sun shone, had lots of quality time with my son and the opposition were friendly and fair.
With so much tennis my husband took over cooking duties so I was able to collapse onto the sofa last night. So no mini time but a lovely weekend none the less
I found the tennis graphic on a site that has lots of vintage images which are useful for all types of scenes and projects The Graphics Fairy if you don't know of it it's certainly worth a browse.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Still in gardening mode...

At the moment I am experimenting with paperclay in order to add plants and foilage to the witch house, one of my current projects.  This is what became of the frames I made a couple of days ago. I am quite pleased with the results although I am not sure if I will use all of them. I have learnt that the thinner the 'branch' the more fragile it becomes and I have had to make running repairs.
The next batch I make I will strengthen the frames with wire under pinning and a paper mache before adding the paper clay. I think I read a tutorial using this method once. Anyway I will give it a go. It might also be time to approach the dreaded fimo again in order to make fruits and flowers for embellishments of a witchy sort.
These pots are for my florist/garden centre and have mostly come from the Bonnie Lavish kits supplied by Templewood Miniatures. I thnk the irises have come out really nicely despite being a little fiddly. The good thing about miniature gardening I find is that you seem to be able to achieve quite a lot in one work session which is certainly not true of real world gardening!
This is my lovely chimney from Little Homes of England that I purchased at Miniatura. I have given it a wash in a slurry green to age the clay and then glued on some greenery for the birds. I am really pleased with the birds made by Nicky's Dolls & Critters, they are absolutely superb and really give that witchy feeling to the chimney pot. It is so nice when you put a little scene together and it looks exactly like what you were hoping for, even a simple tableau like this one. I have more of Nicky's birds and can't wait to find the right homes for them.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

What is the correct form? Copying vs Inspiration

I was feeling a little low today as the house seemed very empty with both of my eldest children back at uni and my youngest off coaching tennis at our local club.
Then I looked up and saw this sign hanging on the wall of my work room and I had to smile. My 'baby', he's 17, bought me this as a mother's day present and it is the best present I have recieved for many a year. Not just for the fun - my birthday is actually Halloween - but the fact that he had tracked it down on Ebay, ordered it himself and paid for it himself!! Which I have to say is a pretty big step for a boy who has bought me the same toiletries, from the same shop for the last ten years and never goes shopping unless under threat of death from his elder sister at Christmas time!
My low spirits were cleared away and I set about doing my chores in a much happier frame of mind.

On another point I was reading a blog that was dealing with the subject of the copying of work and ideas. Can someone tell me what the form is regarding the publishing of work that has been inspired by other artists. For example I have built a florist shop, within that project I have put together a potting table which is an amalgamation of ideas from lots different items seen in Blogland and at fairs. Is it ok to show this piece in my Blog as my own work?

Monday, 12 April 2010

Spring Planting.....

With all this wonderful spring weather I have been put in the mood for planting and flower making over the last few days. I have used a mixture of kits from Kathryn at Templewood Miniatures http://www.fineflowersinminiature.co.uk/ and my own efforts with paper and punches.

I either aged or painted the pots first and filled them with air-drying clay and ground tea leaves mixed with pva glue. I found using the clay gave me a good base for the flower wire and added a little bit of weight to the pot. Once the clay has dried I remove the whole plant from the pot and place it back with a little bit of pva. I think my favourite is the orchid stem on the left.

The holly bush at the back is my first attempt of making my own wire frame, adding puched leaves and bunches of berries made from tiny red beads. The lavender plants were made with florist wire simply dipped in pva and then dipped in flower soft ( I think that's what its called ). With the success of these plants going to my head I decided to try and make a wall plant for the pillars of my witch's house.

I began with air drying clay which I tried to mix with paint for colour. This did not turn out well because of the mess I got myself into hand rolling the clay and paint together. So rolled lengths of the clay and made a shape the size needed for the pillar. While it was drying I found the yellow beads and made small clumps.

Once the frame was dry I gave it a wash with acrylic paint, and began sticking on the leaves I had punched along with my berries. I was really chuffed by the result and it has even stayed in one piece. This has prompted me to make a few more clay wall frames although I fear I may have been bouyed along by beginner's luck.
So here they are, very Dr Suess inspired and I am already worried that i will not be able to move them from the craft mat....No I am going to leave them to dry completely and stop prodding them every five minutes! I always forget that it doesn't matter if an idea doesn't work you can scrap it, learn from it and try again.
I think in this instance I might be trying again!

Friday, 9 April 2010

The Ones We Love.....

When I came home from the dreaded weekly Sainbury's run this afternoon my poor florist shop had been attacked by a giant cat!!  This is my much loved moggie 'the one with a stripe', he has got a name but I have never learnt if he is Dandy or Felix. As you might have guessed his brother is 'the one without the stripe'. Such eccentricities further convince my children that their mother is going round the twist. Hey ho, what can I say.
He certainly looked very comfortable amongst the debris of my roof top garden centre and the trouble was I couldn't do anything rash because I needed him to stay really calm to avoid too much wreckage. In the end I just left him to nap and he climbed out very daintily all on his own. Hmmmm....I was once told that orange peel would stop unwanted cats making themselves at home in your flowerbeds, perhaps I need to find lots of half peeled mini oranges to scatter amongst the potted plants!

Both of my big children have returned to their respective unis this week. Can anyone explain to me how the return of two 'independent' and potty trained young adults can cause so much upheaval? It also amazes me how clothes that have not seen an iron in three months now have to be fit to worn at a passing out parade! So between washing, ironing, feeding, listening and laughing I have not had a lot of mini time but I wouldn't swop any of this time I have with these fun youngsters. Two down, one to go and then it will be me and the hubbie - thank the lord for minis!!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Don't You Just Love Getting Post....

I love Bank Holidays for the simple reason that the post is always delayed in my area and then it all arrives at once and it feels like an un-birthday when lots of packages arrive at once. It was like that this morning plus the sun was shining what more could a woman ask for....
My first package contained these great bottles. I am always wary of new buys on the internet as you never really know what you are getting - I have a whole drawer full of impulse buys that will end up on Ebay one day!
I am, however, really please with these tiny bottles which I will use for potions and lotions. They are sold as little spell vials by The Gem Tree a UK site at http://www.thegemtree.com/. The longer ones at the top are bottle pendants and the lids have little hooks for hanging on a chain. I am thinking of hanging them from invisible thread to make them look as if they are flying. The star ones are a fab shape even if the glass is a little chunky and they will need a little help to stand up. The square ones are chunky too but will look suitably hand blown and rustic I think both in the kitchen and in my potion shop. All in all I think they will turn out to be a good buy at a very friendly price.
My next parcel contained this fantastic orrery by Mike Kelm of Kastle Kelm miniatures http://www.kastlekelm.webs.com/. I had meant to buy one from their stand a Miniatura but forgot so Mike made one up for me over Easter which was very kind of him. It is to go in my witch's study on the window shelf.Next came this little cutie. A winged elvin mouse by Ann Galvin. Just under one inch high I just had to bid for him on Ebay and was the very lucky winner. I am not sure whether he will go in my witch house because of all the cats, perhaps he will torment them from the rafters! I am just getting into 'furry' creatures rather than plain clay or fimo. I used to think they were a bit creepy but they have grown on me recently.
My last parcel was from Kathryn at Templewood Miniatures http://www.fineflowersinminiature.co.uk/ and contained two items I am very keen to try out as I am in a flower making phase at the moment. The box contains various pots of a substance that will cover and cling to wires, branches and leaves a bit like flowersoft and the veiner should help me avoid slicing all my leaves to pieces. I will try them both out and let you know how I get on.

The weather has been beautiful here today a real Spring day. It made me realise how much I have missed the sunshine. I hope the sun has shone on you too.
By the way do other people get comments on their posts which are almost like spam. I have had a message in bad English asking me to check out a blog to earn money for work done in the home....Is this usual? I get these in my email but didn't expect them in Blogland too. Can I delete unwanted comments and/or requests?

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

One down, five to go....

Following my very first trip to Miniatura I realised that there was much more fun to be had collecting pieces from real artists rather than rely on the standard catalogues. I also wanted to have a go at making some of my own pieces.
Thus I was re-introduced to all those lovely items I had long forgotten about both as a child and when being creative with my own children. I hunted for clay, paints,glitters and glues like a woman possessed by a rather greedy eight year old!
So The Manor House shows my first attempts at trying for that ever so casual approach to room dressing that is difficult to define really but so apparent in the really talented dolls house builders. I know I cheated with the Reutter pieces which come beautifully dressed but they did give me confidence that I could quite easily produce furniture pieces of my own.
For a newbie I was really pleased with the results of the teenager's room as I felt it had that scattered feeling but now I know it's all too 'clean' and reads the edges smoothing. Ah one day!Again in the dining room you can see my attempts at providing the room with ambiance are a little too clinical. In my enthusiasm for my new hobby I bought too many things that seemed good value rather than what was really needed. A habit my wardrobe also shows signs of! But I was at least trying to experiment now and had made good inroads into my second project - Truly Scrumptious - a bakery and cake shop with a roof garden cafe.
Like many before me I had discovered that Ebay was a great place for unfinished and unwanted dolls houses. Having built a DHE house already I was a little blinkered in my searching but eventually purchased a part built 3-storey house with a roof terrace. I think it was called Dr Watson's house, something like that. It came all the way from Scotland with lots of goodies as extras so I began playing with fimo in earnest attempting to fill the bakery with tasty treats.
I will share the results of this new avenue of creativity tomorrow if the light improves, so grey and wet today!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

More from Miniatura

At the top of my Miniatura list this year was the purchase of a witch from Julie Campbell of Bellabelle Dolls http://bellabelledolls.co.uk/myth_and_magic.htm. I particularly wanted the friendly, rosy cheeked variety and not the wicked, ugly type for my current project. It was lovely to meet her and chat about the commission she has agreed to undertake. I look forward to bringing my new witch to her house later this year.
These fantastic flower kits are made by Bonnie Lavish and available in England from Kathryn at Templewood Miniatures http://www.fineflowersinminiature.co.uk/. They are very easy to put together and look beautiful. I was very reluctant to buy flower kits having had a number of disappointing attempts but even I can follow these instructions and handle the tiny pieces without turning the air blue!
These great pieces were from Little Homes of England, but I can't find a web site for them. This company hand build the most gorgeous Tudor style homes and cottages which are pure inspiration. They also have smaller pieces like this great pump with running water and the very detailed chimney pot. I have learned that it is all these individual pieces that really make a project come alive and that no project is ever finished!!
Here is the collection of tiny animals I managed to find. As you can see rats and mice were also on my list! I couldn't resist the frogs and hedgehogs from Pride of Plaice http://www.prideofplaice.com/. I usually only have cats in my houses but have recently come around to using other animals. While I was looking at the larger rats from Pear Tree Miniatures http://www.peartree-miniatures.co.uk/ a lady went past and said to her companion, ' Eurk! Animals, I could never have an animal in my house. Too creepy!' accompanied by a huge shiver of revulsion. I know what she means I feel this about some of the dolls and my witch from Bellabelle will be my first 'person'.
And lastly, some more fab potion jars, unfortunately I am not sure which stand I purchased these from, so if you recognise them please let me know. I was becoming slightly cross-eyed by the time I bought these! Luckily I now know which seller, thanks Ros, these really detailed jars come from. They were hand made by Helena of http://www.solwayminiatures.webs.com/ which I have just looked at, have a peek too there are some lovely pieces.
We left Miniatura earlier than I would have liked but hubbie was desperate to get home for the football and as he had been generous with his time and wallet I was inclined to let him have his way. Time now to save up for Kensington in May where a visit to Nikki Rowe's stand, of Witch & Wizard Miniatures, is exhibiting for the first time. It was this blog http://nikkinikkinikki72.blogspot.com/ that first introduced me to Blogland and her work is superb.
Sometimes I can understand when my husband complains that life was much simpler when all I bought were shoes!