I had a lovely day at Miniatura on Saturday looking at all the wonderful items on show. It did not seem as busy as previous fairs and there appeared to be fewer stands. Certainly there were far fewer European sellers and many of the UK artisans that I spoke to felt that the credit crunch was continuing to affect their sales.
I am certainly a different shopper than I was a few years ago but in a good way I hope! Not so many impulse buys that I regret as soon as I get home and a lot more thought and research.
There were lots of people with note books, also making sure they were buying exactly what they needed.
For all the artisans sake I hope all this thought leads to lots of post show sales.
One of the things I was determined to look at were spiral staircases. I had seen a few on line but as these were not cheap I had decided that I wanted to talk to whoever was prepared to make me one.
I knew I wanted a metal staircase and had looked at various kits on line for around £50 but most reviews seemed to imply that they were a nightmare to put together.
I talked to a few of the sellers about my staircase and got a couple of estimates but in the end I could not bring myself to invest the sort of money a handmade one would have cost.
.........I came home and ordered a kit recommended by the ever helpful Michelle from Minimum World and it arrived this morning. When I opened the box I was quite heartened by how few pieces there seemed to be. It looked quite a simple procedure. The instructions were clear and the stages were few.
I drilled the holes for the central pole and first step to give the staircase a stable base. The first step slipped on easily and each step has pre-drilled holes for the next one.
The first couple went on without a problem and I used a little bit of super glue to hold each one in place.
Now doesn't that all sound simple, and in reality it should have been but as I added more steps it became apparent that not all the pre-drilled holes matched the tabs on the bottom of each step. Plus if I wiggled them too much the tab would break off completely. This meant removing the step completely and rubbing down the sheared off metal. Hmmmm, a nuisance but still moving on nicely.
The stairs are simply slid onto a metal tube one at a time and even without the railing look pretty good.
The kit comes with 24 railings that slot into the two pre-drilled holes on each step. Having had a few problems with the other holes I took the time to rub down the tabs on each railing to make sure they would fit into the holes easily.
The additional weight of the railings meant that my wooden stand could no longer hold the staircase straight and I became a little concerned that the whole piece would topple of my table and explode into a hundred pieces!
Once I started to try and glue the railing to the bannister it became obvious that falling off the table was the least of its problems. I was more likely to be thrown through the window and into next door's garden!!!!
This is a really fiddly stage and took simply ages. I could not work out the best way to do it. The bannister is in four pieces and I could not get them to line up properly and at the same time you have to make sure the railings stay in their groove.
Twice I walked away from it because of a very frayed temper and fingers covered in super glue.
Oh my goodness it has been a very long day.
This is the finished, unfinished, staircase. Apart from the curly bit that goes at the bottom of the bannister but I didn't want to mess with it at this moment because I was waiting for the last of the glues to dry.
It is far from perfect. The bannister joins are pretty awful and the sweep of the rail is not very clean. Some of the railing tabs snapped off as I was trying to fit the bannister rail so they are hanging rather than fixed but I have a spiral staircase.
Hopefully once it is painted, crackled and dressed with characters and books, all its many flaws will not be so visible.
I just hope it stays in one piece long enough for me to fix it in place!!!
The kit has cost a third of what I would have had to pay for a hand made piece with the extra step and postage. It has taken me almost eight hours and a tube of super glue. It still has to be painted and it's not perfect by any means.
Do I feel a sense of achievement? Am I pleased to have saved the cash?
Ask me tomorrow, or next week.
Or better still ask my husband when the credit card bill arrives this month!!