Before I return to either Wonderland or Diagon Alley I have decided to delve into my childhood memories with a doll shop. Every Christmas when I was a young child my mother and grand mother would take me to Gamages Department Store in High Holborn, London and I would be allowed to choose a doll.
Then when I was about nine years old my father decided I was too old for dolls and my choice would have to be something more educational, so my dolly days were over.
I am not one of those people who have numerous memories of their childhoods but I do have very fond memories of Gamages and its wondrous doll selection, many of which were housed in gleaming glass cabinets.
So I decided that I would have a very small dolls' shop amongst my collection.
My planning began with a small Sid Cooke shop that I bought from another collector who had decided to sell. Nice and small so perfect for a quick fix and compact enough that I will be able to find room for it in my real life house.
It has been a long time since I started a 'house' project from scratch so I did spend quite a lot of time on the first day working out the order of things to be done.
I have learnt from experience that giving an order to the jobs means less disasters as the build progresses.
The first stage for me is always the sealing of the main carcass.....
.........and any mouldings. I do this to avoid warping and to provide a good clean base for any gluing. I must have read about this step many years ago and it works for me. I removed the mouldings quite easily by placing the front piece in a warm oven, this softens up any glue and allows the pieces to be removed cleanly with a craft knife.
Then I made up two kits I had in my stash by The Art of Mini, Janny's kits are brilliant with a whole range of counters perfect for the mini shop. They have a slightly European vintage feel, not very 1960's English department store, but why have a stash and not use it?
I decided on a dark green undercoat as I intended to distress all the mouldings and woodwork, as usual I needed two coats for the base.
The top coat is a chalky teal, which I think will fit in with my real life house. Like many of us I have lots of leftovers and cheap buys stashed away that I need to use or lose so a small project is perfect for using these up.
The flooring are my usual reclaimed oak floorboards from my favourite dolls house wood supplier, Wood Supplies, I always have some of these to hand and top up my supply at KDF.
The paving stones are a heavily textured fibre-glass paper that I bought years ago from Maple Street I think. I quite like it although I would probably only use it on smaller pieces.
All of Janny's kits come with paper inserts for the backs and shelves, I decided to use this wallpaper as it matched the backing paper of the units. I have no idea when I bought this wallpaper it has been hidden away for many a year but it fits the bill.
I usually use ready made wallpaper paste but when I got out my tub it had gone very icky and horribly smelly so for the first time I used craft PVA glue for wallpapering. Although this method doesn't give you the slide of proper wallpaper paste it was fine for such a small area.
I wanted to try something a little different for the outside of this shop. When I went to the SIMP show in Paris last summer I spent some time examining the brickwork of the buildings, the finish was very smooth and lightly textured. Then I came across the work of Handmade by Alma on FaceBook in which she used cork bricks to create a feature wall. These seemed to provide the type of finish I wanted so I bought a roll of cork in Hobbycraft and cut out three sizes of bricks.
I always try and stick on my materials before attaching any moulding as I find the cutting and finishing much more difficult if the mouldings are already in place.
Certainly the cork was very easily cut around these windows and then gently sanded to match the shape.
One of the problems though was the edges. It's always the edges. These will need some careful painting. I also decided not to grout as Alma had done. Mainly because the brick work I saw in Paris appeared to be grout free but also because I hate grouting and really wanted to avoid it if at all possible.
I have also finished the interior walls with cornice and skirtings which finish off the room edges perfectly and used up more leftovers!
I will finish by sharing this little treasure I had made specially for my shop by Wickerville. It is in 1/24th scale which is perfect for a child's pram in a 1/12th scene.
The workmanship is amazing, especially when you think how small it actually is. I have yet to find a dolly for it yet. I think she will have to be equally gorgeous.
A busy weekend will probably keep me out of the workshop for a couple of days which I always find a nuisance when I am on a roll with a project but real life has to be rejoined every so often.