Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Busy Doing Nothing.......

The summer has definitely arrived for most of us and like many mums I have been busy doing nothing because it is the school holidays.....But the thing is my babies are 21, 19 and 17! Why then do they manage to completely disrupt the pattern of my life?
I have not done a huge amount of mini-ing lately so I thought I would introduce my Design Emporium which was my third project and the one where I became a little more ambitious and tried to be more creative.

The idea for this shop stemmed from my finding a set of modern classic chairs on Ebay which were from Hong Kong. I absolutely fell in love with them as I have an inner yearning to live in a white, minimalist house with scattered pieces of iconic furniture. At the same time this DHE kit appeared on Ebay too, I think it was an old design called the Marshall & Snellgrove kit. You can see two of the chairs I bought in the windows.

These photographs show the inside of the front and are an example of how I started thinking a little more independently. I know this is a long way from the truly talented of Blogland but thinking of a design, finding the card and putting it all together was a big step for me! I also new that I wanted a very definite colour scheme to go with the classical furniture designs and began collecting all the black, red and white pieces I could find.

Here are my first steps into mini plant making. No doubt when all my projects are finished I will come back to these and start again but I do still like them for all their faults. I couldn't find polystyrene balls so I used cotton balls from HobbyCraft not the best for fixing sticks into but they held the glue very well.
The slate roof has been laid with Peter Clarke's fabulous hand painted cards which come marked ready to be cut out. As you can see I still have the lead flashing to affix, which I have bought but haven't got round to yet. Actually I have bought the flashing twice because I lost the first somehow!
And on discovering the scatter stuff you can buy for railways I added moss for texture and realism. That stuff is great. Which reminds me my local Hobbyland/HobbyCraft have quite a few types of this scatter for sale at the moment for about 80p I think plus quite a few other bargains too if you have one near you.
One or rather two of the reasons I have also been 'busy' the last couple of weeks are the football and the tennis, great passions of mine. So when not watching some obscure team play badly against another obscure team I can be found cheering on Rafa Nadal! Sad old lady that I am!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Found a Moment.......

Have not managed to do much on my projects lately, the real world has had to take priority but I have been shopping during half-time! I bought this on Ebay, built and primed. Now I know I said I would not go for a built house again but this has just been built and primed, so all the good stuff is left to do. It is my first Diagon Alley shop. This will be quite an expensive project so I am taking my time looking for bargains like this on Ebay. They will all be two storey shop buildings and as much as I like the Sid Cooke range I would prefer to spend most of the budget on the insides of my shop. So would love to find six bargains like this one.

I was also lucky enough to win one of Kate's Ebay lots. all shop furniture ready to be part of my new Diagon Alley stash. Kate also sent me a whole package of 'stuff' for my many on-going projects, I love surprise goodie bags like this, they remind me of the jamboree bags I used to buy as a kid, full of hidden treasure and promise. Thank you Kate and I hope you are some way nearer your next treasure!
  What a fab jamboree bag, I love the insects in the glass beads.
Then I received another package from Lorraine of DFly Creations who has a Etsy shop full of interesting item covering all sorts of collectables for the dolls house.
 Lovely accessories all very well made with prompt delivery, just how we all like our purchases to be. The melted candles are super.
And of course I had to buy a couple of these.....
I am an absolute sucker for Nikki's work and was lucky enough to purchase a couple of these brooms, again for my Diagon Alley stash. It took me two years to get everything together for my witch house and Witch E.T.Grubb's Emporium and I have still had to source a lot more so I know I am in for a long haul!
I have also been able to start work on the distressed furniture in the toyshop. I am quite pleased with the overall result. I think the bears look as if they belong and I will have fun looking for lots of little teddies as the years moves on. I have also ordered a bench to sit under the front window but inside. I hope this will give the impression of a square shop floor. I am waiting for other pieces of unfinished furniture to arrive for the top floors, painting these is something I can do at odd times which is all I am getting at the moment!
Still one day they will all be gone........and I'll be looking after my parents! Apparently I am one of the 'sandwich' generation!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Toy Shop Interior................

This is the top floor of my toy shop. I really like the raftered roof and fireplace. I think I will put a 144th house inside the fireplace and have side tables for the rest of the dolls houses. This is also where my toy maker will have his working bench. The walls are white which I won't change as the toys and dolls will provide lots of colour. The floors are paper wood effect and I will change or paint these.

The middle floor for the dolls and perhaps a couple of prams if I come across any I like. Again a lovely fireplace in which I would like to display something special. I am going to take my time filling this shop as I would like to collect pieces which are from my childhood, so a bit retro.
Lastly the ground floor with the shop windows. Under the windows I will put benches so they can be seen from the outside but will not crowd the smallest room. There is a mock slate floor in this room which I will keep as I like it.
I have chosen a rich red for the shop furniture which I will try and distress using the wax technique. As this is really a gown up's shop so I think it deserves a rich, grown up colour. I have stained the pieces I have with a light oak stain, marked the edges with a candle and then painted with red emulsion from a match pot I had amongst my paints. I will see what they look like in the morning. If they look too much all together I will mix the rooms with painted and stained units. will be good to see the furniture in place then I can get a better feel for the house.

And tomorrow I am going to bring my lovely girlie home for the summer. This is the big move as everything has to come home and I will be washing for a week! Or at least I would be if my husband hadn't booked our plumber/builder to come in and take down the ceiling of the utility room - years of leaking showers - and re-vamp the whole room. Definitely the wrong time but on the positive side if I can't do the washing and ironing I have more time to work on the toy shop!!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Time to Put Away Spooky Things.......For a While!

I have been working on the furniture for my witch's kitchen. Although my witch keeps a lovely house she is definitely not very organised when it comes to the washing up! I bought this cute sink at Miniatura from Apollo Miniatures I think and simply stained and painted the sink. I have used scenic water to fill the very full sink and add dipped green gloop. She has certainly been busy!
The dresser is more or less complete. I have left a space on top for a hanging plant and a compartment at the bottom for a sleeping cat in his bed. The cat nest idea was given to me by Julia of Bear Cabin Miniatures but we would both really like it to be a dragon hidey hole! I have also added some linen and serviettes for the drawer.
The table too is all finished and full of lovely witchy items. I will probably add a few more pieces to the chairs once I have a new range in place. I got out the Kitchener in order to make it but I didn't have the proper glue. They recommend a epoxy cement whatever that is will have to take advice in Hobbyland or somewhere.
So I have decided to take a break from all things witchy and begin putting together my toyshop.

Late last year I saw this house listed on Ebay but with the windows on the left. I thought it would make a great corner shop for my street so I contacted the person listing the house and asked if they could make me one the other way round. They agreed and built me this super corner shop. It has three rooms and I have decided it's going to be more of an adult collectors shop with teddies and gollies on the ground floor, dolls and characters on the second floor with the large top floor displaying 144th dolls houses along with a toymaker building a dolls house.
I was really pleased with the house it's beautifully made and fully lit but I have discovered that having the house arrive 'ready to go' I have not got the same feel for it. I know that sounds strange but we just have not bonded yet! Weird as that sounds. Of course there are still lots of things to do with the shop and I will be changing certain bits and painting and adding so I hope I will think of it more as mine as I bring my own ideas to the house.
Tomorrow I will start painting some of the shop furniture and if I have time begin one of the 144th houses I bought at KDF. That should be a challenge!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Something to Show......

I thought I would post these photographs from Star's blog My Own Wonderland. I came across them the other night and thought they were fab and Star has given me permission to show them here on my own blog.

Star says she has been inspired by bead bottles she has seen recently. I think these fish are really funky.
A creepy hand and the next group are my favourites.
 A group of otctupi -is that right? Aren't they fun. Lastly a more romantic group.

If you have the time pop over to Star's Blog and say hello. She is from Norway and makes lovely things and is very friendly.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Where Has the Week Gone?.........

I have no idea where this week has gone. I seem to have wandered around worrying about exams and pirates. Nothing to do with my own life, my two youngest have had their last exams and my oldest son is on a sail boat travelling between the islands of Indonesia.
Are they at all concerned? of course not they are already moving on to the next party or the next adventure!! I am supposed to part of a generation of parents who live vicariously through the lives of their children, I just seem to have taken on all the concern without any of the adventures!!!!
I have managed to concentrate enough to start on the kitchen furniture. None of it is stuck down yet I am still playing with it but what do you think? I have a few gaps and some jars have yet to be labelled any ideas about what else I can add? I am thinking of making some linen for one of the drawers, plates and things under the dresser and more fresh veg under the table.

The dresser is from Rob Lucas I think and is simply stained and then treated with linseed oil. The potions are a mixture of my own and bought ones. The lovely crochet baskets are from Nikki as are the fab trio of flasks. the wooden bowls are part of a set from AJ Miniatures on Ebay. My books are from Treefeathers and the little silver charms are from Ebay I think. I want to tarnish the charms but have not worked out how to do that yet.
Two chairs waiting to be further dressed but the rocking chair is for the owner of the house so I won't do much more with that. The owl cushions are from Julia and are perfect for my kitchen setting. I think all the furniture is from Rob Lucas who sells through mail order and shows. I really like his pieces not only because they are beautifully made but they are scaled so perfectly.
Again I an still paying with these pieces so nothing has been stuck down yet. Nikki's pieces are scattered and include the mushroom board, the bead bottles, the toffee jar and the dragon skin. The fab basket of vegetables underneath the table is from Mouse House Miniatures.
The super self pouring cauldron I bought from Ebay ages ago and have had it packed away in cotton wool afraid I would break it before even putting it in place.


These shelves are for over the sink and under the stairs and I have been brave and stuck these pieces down!
I love the brown and cream pottery from Grandads's Miniatures and went through my usual angst of - you have these beautiful pieces why mess them up by adding stuff too them? But they are supposed to be part of a working kitchen so they should look as if someone is using them, shouldn't they? Says she who has a whole dresser full of china that only gets used when it it gets dusty enough to need washing. But you know what I mean!
The tins of pumpkin soup were a bit of an extravagance from My Tiny World but I had to have them. 

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Playing With Fimo and More Potions......

I decided to have a play with Fimo this week and try to make some ingredients and lids for my potion jars. So I practised twisting, rolling, warming and mixing. Nothing particularly adventurous but a bit tricky for me. I made a few lids and simply baked them together with the jars on a very low heat, 100 degrees and they stuck quite nicely. Perhaps a bit pretty for a witch but they can always go in the shop.

Here are the lids I made. I am quite pleased with the cream and brown ones at the back that I have tried to make look like material. The two tall ones with green and red lids exploded in the oven. This was due, either to the glitter getting too hot or because I had used their original stoppers to give shape. I will glue the tops back on and hide the cracks! The things I have learnt about fimo today are: even when you think you have rolled it out thin enough it is still too thick...... even when you believe the item is exactly the right size it is still too big.....and even when you think you have all the colours you need you are missing the one you definitely need!

I am supposed to be finishing my witch's kitchen this week but when I started sorting through my stash I realised all my jars were too big for the top shelf of the dresser. The dresser I had planned to be full of jars of yummy things and fresh produce. So I had to order some really tiny ones from My Tiny World and today I filled them with lots of fimo cane slices and scenic water.
Scenic water is my new best friend by the way I love the way it makes contents glow with colour. But it is messy, or I am messy, cos it seems to squirt in all sorts of directions. At the moment I am still playing with colours using the ones from De-Luxe Materials but I think you can use food colouring as well, is that right?
I do seem to either put too much or too little at the moment but I am getting there.
I have also finally got a sofa table for the living room which I have crackled. This was a dining table which I cut down and then stuck some beads to the legs to make it the right height and a little more interesting. I have started distressing my witch's rocking chair and I have tried to make a bead bottle which is a bit clumsy but it does look slightly like Nikki's and Debbie's. Oh well back to the drawing board.
All in all it's been a 'Bitsa Week'.....a bit of this and a bit of that which is not my best way to work as you can see
Total chaos and absolutely nowhere to work, looks like I will be tidying up again!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Nearly there....Finishing Touches and Window Displays.

I have mended the study window at last. It was the first one I made and it is not quite as well designed as the others bit I have managed to fit it which has allowed me to dress the ledge. I placed one of Kat's wonderful steam punk creations in the window alongside Kate's lovely pile of books that she made me as a gift when we met at KDF. There are also a couple of spell jars and a book on frogs that I purchased on Ebay. This photo also shows one of Julia's Bear Cabin Miniatures smiley pumpkin cushions looking very welcoming to a hard working witch! 
Next I added a few extra items to the sitting room window including some scrolls, spell bottles and one of Nikki's beautiful bead bottles which really catches the light in its window position.
The second window has had a spider, potion jars and spell jars added. Which means I only have to complete the kitchen, the potting area and all the climbers to decorate the outside. Not much then......!!
I seem to be delaying the kitchen, today it was tennis and gardening leading to a sense of complete exhaustion and tomorrow it will be a tennis match....I seem determined not to tackle it, I need a bit of inspiration at the moment, there are lots of pieces of furniture plus a collection of plates, jars, bowls and food that keep looking at me!
Monday, I will definitely get going with it. Oh I did have a small piece of luck though. A few weeks ago I managed to smash to pieces my gorgeous range. Then while I was sorting through a drawer I found a Warwick Miniatures range kit that I had bought on Ebay for about £6 months ago and forgotten about. With any luck I will be able to put it together and then paint. Which will mean not having to buy another. I have never bought anything from the Warwick miniatures collection so I hope it's not too difficult.

Friday, 4 June 2010

I Love Swapsies......and Bats!!!!

I have recently been involved in two swapsies which have been a lot of fun. It seems a great way to share goodies around and I have had lots of kind comments from both of my swapees. My first swap has been with Julia of Bear Cabin Minatures who wanted to swop one of her lovely hand stitched frames. I have quite a few pieces of Julia's beautiful work so I was very pleased that she agreed to swop with me. Then today my cute owl some super extras which will certainly find a home in one of my current projects.
My second swap was with the very talented Kat the Hat Lady and here is my super red toadstall hat plus a couple of extras I could not resist in Kat's Etsy shop. I had to have some more of the shoes and I cannot resist buying a hat every time Kat brings out a new range. One pair of the shoes found their way straight into my witch house.
Thank you ladies for making my first swop so enjoyable. If anybody sees anything I have made on my Blog and would like to organise a swop please ask. At the moment I am doing lots of end jobs in my witch house so I don't think I will be making anything for a while but it is definitely something I would like to do again.
The last couple of days my mini time has been a little limited so I have been finishing off left over jobs in the completed rooms. Here are my furry bats from Nicky hanging from the bedroom rafters. I did try to get them to hang using invisible thread but the whole thing was too tricky and I simply could not manoeuvre my fingers or see well enough to tie knots in the right places. Next time I will attach before fitting the rafters in place!

I did manage to get my wrapped vampire bats to hang although I have just noticed the end one looks like a hanging cheeky bottom......hmmmm I think I need to turn him round! I purchased the bats from Jenny Kelm of Kastle Kelm Miniatures and they are wrapped in leathery wings.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

A 'What do you think?' and a 'Do you know?'

My witch emporium is going to be grey stone and grey slate. Very much inspired by the houses I have passed taking my son backwards and forwards from Cheltenham. I want to avoid the inside from looking too flat and bland so I have experimented with this....I started with the stairs, which will be more or less completely hidden at the back.

I really like the granular texture and it adhered excellently, but I had primed the stairs first. I wish, maybe, that I had gone for the lighter can but the other materials are very light so I think this will be a good contrast. Then I decided to try and get a brick effect for the walls I am going to encase the stairs in ( I am doing everything to avoid having to put together banisters!! ).
I created the grid with very thin strips of masking tape, and then sprayed. I left it for about 15 minutes and then pulled off the masking tape. I had primed the MDF with grey so it looks like grey grout. Now if I can do the back without ruining the front I will be really happy with it.
The can of spray is from Homebase or Hobbyland, I think you can get it in both stores.
So what do you think?
Moving on I have a question... Does anyone know of a sign writer for 1.12 shops? I need to get the signs done for my shops. I have had a go but have failed miserably and it seems silly to mess up the whole project with a rubbish sign. Any ideas who to go to please.....