Saturday 19 March 2016

Gamages Doll Shop.....All Things Tiny and Dolly.

The window is still a work in progress so as I acquire more dolls this will probably change. At the moment it has a selection of dolls by a very talented Spanish artisan,  VICTORIA HEREDIA GUERBOS, who I have seen at the Kensington Dolls House Festival. Unfortunately she does not have a website but attends lots of shows worldwide and always has an amazing display of dolls in a variety of sizes.
The tiny dolls house is by Veronique Lux.
 I have started dressing the large back cabinet despite being more than a little annoyed at myself for not matching the paper design on the back board. I am hoping that when I finish the whole unit this bad seam will not be so visible. 
The tiny ballerina dolls, top left, are from Sally Reader Miniatures, and a whole range of teeny dolls are available on their website.
Underneath these are three pieces by Deb Jackson and I am seriously tempted by a number of gorgeous pieces she currently has on her Etsy site but I really mustn't!!
The tiny chairs are all Jane Harrop kits in 1/24th scale I think although she also does quite a few kits in 1/48th scale as well.
The three gorgeous dolls are by Tower House Dolls who are based in the UK. They have a whole range of dolls including some that are ready to dress. They also produce specials every so often and I was recently able to purchase the matching set with the toy pram and baby.
You can also see another tiny house by Veronique Lux.
Still quite a few gaps to fill!
 At the moment I have grouped all my printie dolls together just to fill a shelf but I do quite like them en masse.
I have also grouped dolls by the same makers together mainly because I am a bit anal about order but I will play around with the displays as I fill the shop. The three dollies at the front of the shelf are by Joy Cox and are very poseable, amazingly so for such tiny pieces. I love this little family and have added quite a few of Joy's 1/48th pieces to my collection lately. I may use them in Gamages or save them for other projects.
The three very French dolls are by Ananda Miniaturas who have a lovely shop on Etsy. These dolls are so sweet and beautifully dressed. They seem a bit tucked away here so I will have to find them a better place to perch.
 Two very lonely little dollies on these shelves by Ananda Miniaturas and Victoria. The tiny doll by Victoria is the smallest in her range and comes in a presentation box with minuscule accessories. 
The tiny doll by Victoria is the smallest in her range and comes in a presentation box with minuscule accessories.
I have had a go at dressing the tiny beds, all by Jane Harrop. They won't win any prizes but they will pass anything but a very close scrutiny. I haven't been very adventurous because I didn't have any materials in my stash that were very suitable for this smaller scale and making the pillows was a gluing nightmare! Hats off to anyone who works in this scale!
 This shows the wood work I have added to the front opening panel. I love Sid Cooke kits but you don't get any interior mouldings with them unlike the Dolls House Emporium kits so you have to make these up yourself. Plus the door hinges are always awful but they will have to do. 
I have a few extras that I would like to add: some bunting for the top of this window, it is quite a tall window and I am debating whether or not to add an extra shelf or maybe a plinth for the dolls at the back? Hmmm, not sure yet.
A very helpful lady on FB also mentioned a baby bath which is a great idea as I used to love bathing my dollies when I was a child.
Plus I think this display definitely needs a tea set or two and I think smaller scale sets will work.

Quite a few items still on the shopping list for my marathon of shows this Summer. I am so lucky as I will be going to the Chicago shows in April followed by the London show in May and to finish off the 1zu12 show in Rheda the first weekend in June. 
What a great way to see the world!!

Friday 18 March 2016

Gamages Doll Shop Is Open For Business.....

Despite many gaps on its shelves Gamages Doll Shop is practically finished for the moment.
I always find it quite difficult to leave a project unfinished when I could just fill gaps with instant buys. I am holding back though because I am attending quite a few fairs this summer and I am supposed to be saving the pennies for these events. Which is sensible if annoying!!
I thought quite hard about the roof of this shop box as I wanted it to have the look of a roof without having to do any serious building work. I ended up using some sticky backed flooring I bought so long ago it could no longer really be called 'sticky backed'! I then gave it a dark grey wash and finished it off with a narrow moulding from my stash.
I also added skirting board as a roof edge moulding to tidy up the look of the roof and side walls. 
This shop box will find a place in my real house so I am not going for a totally authentic building look, I just want it to have clean lines and look nice.
 I am getting better at filling and finishing projects with homemade items, especially for areas that are partly hidden. These two box drawers are made up from an Art of Mini kit and I have filled them with paper doll printies taken from images found on Google. 
I later used my new found de-cal skills to add lettering to the front of these boxes for an added detail.
 Many artisans use printies to finish all sorts of scenes so I hunted for girl images on Google that I could cut out and display as dolls. If it works this will be a very cheap way of filling up a shelf and small gaps. I have made them stand by simply gluing a small strip of wood behind each image.
 I am hoping that these prints will also fill some gaps and add a bit of variety to the shelves. I bought these frames in The Range in packs of three, I think they were about a pound in the card making section. I have just painted them up and added some dolly prints.
 More gap fillers that won't break the bank......dolly books. Images from Google glued onto the front of plain card books. I did add decal titles to the spines which worked for some of the books but not for others. I tried to be clever and add co-ordinating colours but I would have been better off just sticking to a black font. The idea did work though and I will definitely do it again as spines are quite difficult to nail on miniature books.
 I also decided to try out something else with the clear de-cal paper. Quite often shops had advertisements painted on the exterior brick work and I thought the clear de-cal paper would give the impression of the paintings as it would still be possible to see the brickwork beneath.
I have also added a road sign which is a little bit to bright at the moment but you get the idea.
 On the other side I have added a bucket down-pipe that I bought at a fair for Honeydukes and never used. I have painted and buffed all the components and it does add interest to the side wall. Obviously it is completely redundant as I haven't installed a top gutter but I like it. 
The de-cal is an original advertisement and I love that it is shillings and pence.
I have also changed my main shop sign as I made a terrible rookie error by using the possessive apostrophe: it should be Gamages and not Gamage's. Thankfully this was pointed out for me by a visitor to the Blog and I have been able to remove the offending de-cal from the front.
The de-cal was very easy to remove as I hadn't varnished over it, I simply lifted the edges with warm water and it came off like a dream without lifting any of the paint work.
I have lots more to show and tell of the inside and window when I will name all the wonderful artisans whose work is inside the shop but that will have to wait for the next post.

Saturday 12 March 2016

Making De-Cals.....Image Transfer The Very, Very Easy Way.

Work has continued on Gamage's Doll Shop and I have been busy making up these doll size kits by Jane Harrop. They are in fact 1/24th and 1/48th scale kits, which are the perfect size for 1/12th scale childrens' toys.
I have painted them in a mixture of vintage colours and now have the tiny beds to dress. 
I have also lined the counter and shelf unit with matching wallpaper. I didn't use the insets that came with the kits as they were not a matching shade and I wanted the furniture to blend into the room as there will be so much going on with all the dolls. I have also put up a few wall shelves using some fretwork I discovered in my stash.
I have quite a few shops in my collection and one of the problems I have come across is creating the necessary signs and lettering. This led me to investigate all sorts of methods involving transferring images. I collected a lot of tutorials that can be found on my Pinterest board and have tried many of them but found I couldn't really get the colouring of depth quite right. 
I then began looking at work by various artisans and realised that not only were their methods much crisper than mine they also seemed able to image transfer quite complicated custom patterns and designs.
This led me to discover de-cals and even better than de-cals to buy, de-cal paper for ink jet printers. I found a site called Crafty Computer Paper that sold ten sheets for £6.99, which is not cheap but seemed to be the right product. The lovely Julie of Little Bits and Pieces very kindly confirmed that this was the de-cal paper she used on her furniture so I bought a pack of white and a pack of clear.
The instructions are incredibly straight forward and I have been playing this week.
I have produced both signage and images to decorate the tiny furniture and am so impressed with the results. Try not to spray your sheets and then leave them on the floor to dry when you have dogs with muddy paws though!! 
As the paper works out at 69p a sheet I did my best to fill a whole page to its limit by adjusting all the margin widths. I also ran a test page to make sure all my lettering was the right sizes before finally using the de-cal paper. You also have to seal your images with an acrylic spray to make sure the ink doesn't run when you dunk your images in water. I bought the Keen Spray from the same site as I am a lazy shopper but I am sure there are lots of other products that would do the same job.
Adding the images to the furniture was a piece of cake although I did leave my sheets to dry overnight just to make sure they dried thoroughly. I also have to admit to a complete mess up with my first attempt.
There are two types of paper, clear and white, the clear paper is what you need for lettering as the de-cal once removed from its backing is....clear. Whereas the white paper is designed for full images like pictures because when the decal is removed from its backing any blank spaces will show through....white.
I of course used white on my first print out which meant all of the lettering couldn't be used and some of the images were impossible to cut out intricately enough to avoid the white edges showing.  
So, second attempt and a day later I have been able to test out the clear sheets for the lettering. This phrase was painted over the door of the original Gamage's department store so it had to find a place in my shop. 
This is the lower section of the large shop unit and this decal has been applied to the back wall. You do not have to glue them on, they slide off the backing, once soaked in water for about 20 seconds. and then all you have to do is place them where you want.
Once I was in the swing I began applying them to the front of the shop.
I have used as many details as I could find linking back to this favourite childhood shop.
Lastly I applied the name which was the biggest of the de-cal strips and breathed a sigh of relief as it went on perfectly. Phew!! To make sure the de-cal doesn't stick too quickly and to allow you to adjust its position it is recommended that you wet the surface of the object you want the de-cal to stick to. This means it will slide into place and can be moved around with ease.
Easy peasey, lemon squeezey!!
You do of course get a slightly glossy finish from the de-cal and if you look very carefully there is a very fine line around the lettering which is why it is important to cut as close as possible to the lettering or image. I will add an extra coat of varnish once the shop is finished anyway for extra protection so this doesn't cause too much of a problem. I might even go for a satin finish to see if this dulls down the gloss.
I would definitely recommend this product it is a super way to personalise our miniature scenes. I understand that this de-cal technique has been used for years by train and model enthusiasts and of course you can buy tons of water slide nail decals on Ebay already printed and ready to use.
The best thing about this paper though is that it allows for the printing of whatever design you choose which is perfect for miniature shops.
Happy printing!!

Sunday 28 February 2016

Spring Cleaning in the Tudor Witch House.........

I was forced to stay in my real life house today and make an effort to be semi sociable so I took the opportunity to have a Spring clean and tidy up, in my Tudor Witch House!
I am great at starting projects but terrible at finishing them and this house needs so little done to it really but I have never quite got around to the last bits and pieces.
It is a huge house from Maple Street and is a beast to move so it has stayed in the garden room where it looks at me reproachfully most days.
Using a shaving brush I have carefully dusted each room and window removing the non-witchy grime and cobwebs. 
Having been moved a number of times I also replaced fallen items and picked up all the witchy mess.
 I have never fixed any of the furniture in place as I have never believed this project to be 'done' but there are some areas that I have now decided can be ticked off so glue and tacky wax were added to my spring clean bucket.
It was lovely to see all the items I had gathered from so many talented artisans, some who have now retired and others who are not with us any longer.
 I had forgotten just how many pieces this monster house had devoured and each shelf revealed many favourites.
 My wonderful dragon by Feyth Crafts has finally been fixed in place for all to see and admire.
The kitchen is still not finished. It looks much too tidy for a start and needs a bit more clutter. The oven range still needs dressing, there is a shelf to be fixed to the wall at the bottom of the stairs and a spillage definitely needs to be created but it does at least look presentable for visitors.
The home stall is also open for business and full of witchy goodness. Of course the planting is awaiting a return of the gardener and the herbs still need to be hung but I now know what needs doing and can make a list. Which everyone knows is the first step in every job!!
I have even made a note of how many crates need to be filled so I am ready when all the spring and summer fairs start and I can go shopping for all the fill ins.
 The window of the kitchen has never had any attention so I attacked my stash hoping to find all I needed and began with all sorts of witchy bits. 
This mix of food and odds and sods just didn't do it for me though, there was not any flow to the staging so off it all came.
I then decided that any witchy kitchen would have to have herbs and plants. This window could be filled with lots of natural remedy ingredients ready to be added to the brews and potions.
Back to my stash I found a few plants and a lovely candle display that I think will fit perfectly.
I have a lot of plants ready for a future project so I had to be sensible and not raid indiscriminately but now I have a plan I can make a couple up every now and again, from left over Alice plants, for the window sill......oh I must add plants to my list!!
There are so many artists to name for this project and I have highlighted them many times in this blog on various posts so you must forgive me for not going through them all over again but I am sure many of you will recognise all the usual suspects.
My Gamages doll shop is not forgotten but I have been painting, painting and painting this last week or so which is very unexciting and tedious but I will have some progress to share tomorrow hopefully.
Right time to make that list!!

Friday 19 February 2016

A New Project Full of Nostalgia.....Gamages Doll Department.

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.

Monday 8 February 2016

Faffing Around With the Hatter's Table.....

These last couple of days I have been playing around with the tea table. I have stuck two tables together and after removing the middle legs it has been possible to fit three chairs along two sides.
I am using vintage handkerchiefs for the tablecloths that I purchased off Ebay for 99p.
Vintage hankies are great for linens in dolls houses because the materials used are quite fine, especially the older ones, and they usually have some embroidery or lace.
I have used hankies before on beds and they work really well. Plus they are so cheap and come in all colours.
 No Victorian tea table would be perfect without something lacy so I have added two beautiful table runners by an Etsy seller from Canada who I recently came across after recommendations by a very talented miniaturist, Lyn Jowers.
I contacted Frieda after looking in her Etsy shop, Black Leopard Dollshouse Creation, to see if she would make me a few pieces in the size and colours I wanted. 
There are quite a few crochet artisans so it was nice to be able to deal with someone I knew had made items for a quality artisan.
Freida, who lives in Canada, was so helpful and friendly readily agreeing to both sizes and colours.
 These are the beautiful table runners Frieda made in an antique white,
 I also ordered three throws for other projects in white, lemon and
 a pale grey. I am so pleased with them, they are so fine and delicate. Freida went out of her way to get the right colours despite Canadian winter weather and a house move!! 
I looked at the sold items in her Etsy shop and then chose the items I wanted in the colours and sizes I wanted which meant I got exactly what I wanted.
The post between us was amazing too, each parcel took three days to arrive! My UK post takes longer at Christmas time.
After messing around with the handkerchiefs and cutting two to size as I can't decide which one to use yet I have a play with some water based wood dyes I bought off Amazon. They are all in a tester set by Littlefair, perfect sizes for miniaturists and really good value. The pots aren't huge, they sell them individually on Ebay, but it does mean you can have a play with the colours and choose before investing in a larger pot. 
I have stained some lollysticks for reference in both single and double coats and you can see the nice variety of colours.
 I used six different stains on the chairs for the tea table. These chairs are from a variety of sellers: Jane Harrop, Julie Warren and Rob Lucas and once fully stained I will paint and distress them.
Once I have done with the chairs I am putting Alice aside until I go to the Summer shows and finally make a decision regarding the china.
Thank you to everyone who offered advice about my mini dilemma.
I really think I might go the de-cal route, at the moment I am veering towards the sets from True2Scale. After all the main pieces on the table will be all the gorgeous food.
Anyway I have had enough of thinking about it now and ready to move on to my next project something I have been planning for over a year now.
Can't wait to get started, it been a long time since I tackled a kit!!