Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Another Year, Another Adventure......

Ok so I am not a redhead and I am not a size 10 but I am off to the beach the day after Boxing Day!
We are going to Koh Samui for sand and winter sunshine. 
A whole ten days with my three 'children' and the husband, then five days with just the husband as the 'children' will be returning to Uni and exams.
Strangely for a non-traveller I am really looking forward to it. We haven't had a family holiday for a few years since my eldest started university so it will be fun to spend this time all together.
Of course I am hoping to discover lots of interesting items for my mini projects as I am told Thai night markets abound with lots of interesting things.
So I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2012.
All things being equal my next blog will be written a long way from chilly England and I certainly won't be drinking hot chocolate!!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

New Residents for Diagon Alley........

Of course I could not go to KDF and not visit the stand of my favourite doll makers Julie Campbell and Jain Squires.
 They did not disappoint and I was drawn immediately to Julie's absolutely fantastic flying witch.
 The photographs have come out appallingly but I am sure you can see what a original piece she is and perfect for Diagon Alley.
 The dress flows beautifully and she looks like she has had a very successful visit to the Alley.
 I love all the little details like the cameo.....
 .......and fingerless gloves. I can't wait to display her on the roof of one of my finished shops. One day!
 On Jain's stand I noticed this little character straight away. I have quite a few witches now so I knew this little chap was a must buy.
 Jain's people always have so much character. This goblin just ooozes naughtiness...
 Perhaps he lost that eye when Harry freed the dragon in Gringott's Bank?
I adore his star buttons and cheeky feather in his hat.
Both Jain and Julie are putting a few of their pieces into their Etsy shops over the next few weeks so do have a look at more of their wonderful work.
Last, but certainly not least, my next stop was to see Sarah Hendry of Pocket People whose cats I adore. This time I went for a Persian for my collection. He is looking very happy in his new home outside the Apothecary.
Such treasures will need a perfect back drop, so on with the building and construction work!

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Apothecary Just Needs a Bit More Tweaking.......

No photographs of my new dolls I am afraid as the light has been awful here this afternoon. Instead here is the Apothecary with most of the hard work done.
 The front of the shop has all been assembled, glued, grouted and  art mached.
 All the wood work has had layers of cream, gold and brown acrylic paint. They have been crackled and sanded for a distressed worn look. I do love these bay windows.
 The shop door is made from MDF which is not the easiest of materials to paint and sand but I am quite pleased with the finish. Usual story with these Sid Cooke kits, there is so little room for manoeuvre, any paint added to the door surround and door means the door simply will not fit. I can't understand why they make them to fit so tight. So quite a bit of post paint, cross sanding went on here!
 I have given this shop a 'lead' roof as the design seemed to call for it. I have bashed it around a bit and I will age it a bit more and then hope for it to tarnish naturally.
 I wanted the windows to look aged so I laid the acetate on the cushioned pad I use for my flowers making and with a fine ball stylus punched in some old glass blemishes. It almost looks like the bulls eyes you see on really old windows. 
I have also painted the acetate with a khaki porcelain/ceramic paint which also adds a slightly dusty and aged effect.
 The interior shelving are two really cheap pieces I bought on Ebay and they are the perfect size for what I wanted in the main shop. Quite tall shelves and a deeper shelf at the bottom.
 I will be using LED lights within the shelving to ghost through all the potion jars that will eventually line the shelves. The middle will have a very special opening door that will be surrounded by hanging herbs and barrels.
 This counter has also been painted and will need a bit more sanding before restoring the 'glass' and drawers. I think this piece is ideal as a counter as you can add so many things to it, all of which can be seen either through the counter top or front.
Unfortunately I cannot remember where I bought it!
 A close up of the paint work. This effect has come through a mix of sanding and crackle glaze over many days and layers
 It just needs a tiny bit more work and then I will add some Rub'n'Buff in gold to a few of the edges.
The inside roof wall has been bricked and grouted too. I was initially going to ridge tile the edges but when I had a little play with a few I had they just did not look right, a bit clumpy, so I went with ArtMache rendering instead.
I have nearly achieved my goal of finishing two carcasses by Christmas. I will now start ageing the ArtMache and pavement paviors a layer at a time. I can't do the bottom bricks because I am waiting for some more to arrive to finish off the right hand side wall. It doesn't matter how many I order I never seem to have enough.
I tried to get some at KDF but they had sold out of the type I wanted. I hope they arrive this week because once the cast comes off on Friday, I will have to lay down tools and begin the great Christmas rush before my children come home from Uni and my family arrive to eat me out of house and home!!!
Plus I really will have to dust those skirting boards!   

Sunday, 4 December 2011

I Went, I Saw, I Shopped!!

I had an absolutely fabulous day out yesterday at the Kensington Dolls House Festival in London. This is their one day Christmas show to compliment the 3 day show in May. 
The exhibitors come from all over the world with a huge variety of miniatures. So much talent on show.
The day started really well as I met up with the extremely talented Nikki Rowe of Witch and Wizard Miniatures. Nikki had my parcel of minis with her including some really tiny, cute acorn fairy baskets.
We had a good chat in the queue about all things mini and it was so interesting to talk to someone so talented about their work.
We split up inside as Nikki had lots of exhibitor friends to see but arranged to meet for lunch after some shopping!
I have to hold my hand up and say I did a lot of shopping at this fair. Having not really done very much since breaking my wrist and having not been to the autumn Miniatura, I feel slightly less guilty. Hey someone has to keep the economy going!
Here are a couple of my favourite things. I have not quite dared to unpack everything while the husband is home!
These lidded barrels are destined for the Apothecary. They are beautifully made in rustic oak with proper steel rings around them just like real barrels.
 They are made by S and S Eismont whose work is really well scaled and crafted. I always buy something from them as they have a very good range of small wooden items as well as furniture.
I also bought three tiny wooden scoops for each barrel.
 My first port of call was to the stand of Annie Willis of Fine Design. Annie does not have a web shop so her work is only available at Kensington and Miniatura I think. This means her stand is very popular and you need to be there early as she has lots of fans.
 I went to see her intending on buying another of her fabulous owls but when I saw this hawk I had to have him.  He is quite stunning and I am sure any pure-blood wizarding family would love to have him. So he will have a place in my Magical Menagerie.
 Next I went to see Linda Cummings of Lins Minis. Her food pieces are highly sought after in her Ebay shop and I have never been lucky to win any of her stunning pieces. Lin only shows once a year at Kensington so a visit to her stand was a must.
 I was not disappointed. Her stand was full of the most gorgeous cakes, cheeses, meats and platters. With my glasses firmly attached I spent a long time looking at everything, so much choice!
Then I spied this wonderful piece which had my name written all over it, how could I resist this marvellous teapot and cupcakes? 
 Lin was so friendly and helpful too. Packing my items, yes I did mean items, with great care.
 I did buy another piece but that is still to be unpacked.
 I am sure one of my shop keepers needs a little tray of pumpkin tea to keep them going or it might find its way into my witch house drawing room.
The show seemed absolutely packed to me this year. Last year attendance suffered badly due to all that early snow we had. I am sure the exhibitors were much happier this year with so many potential shoppers coming through the door but it was much too busy for me.
Plus it was sooooo hot in the halls which made it seem even more crowded. After a couple of hours I was wilting badly!
Nikki and I headed off for a reviving latte and sandwich in the fresh air which rejuvenated me enough to head back into the crowd for another hour or so. 
I did have a marvellous time and will show a few more pieces tomorrow. As it was so busy, I couldn't get photos of individual stands unfortunately, there did not seem to be any quiet moments even later in the day. 
Hopefully the crowds have meant good business for all the exhibitors!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Woo Hoo!! A Whole Day For Me.......

Kensington Dollshouse Festival

3rd December 2011 . Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX

......at this fabulous show.
Really looking forward to a day of shopping and inspiration.
Loads of fabulous artisans attend this festival. Top of my list are Julie and Jain of course to see all their fantastic new dolls and characters. Anne Fine and Sarah Hendry for their marvellous animals.
A very good look at all the building supplies, especially doors this visit, as all my projects need false interior doors.
Plus I hope to meet with the wonderfully talented Lory whose work I have been buying for a long time. Lory is attending this show for the first time so it will be really nice to say hello.
Rosanna will also be there for the first time and I know she is bringing me something gorgeous that I can't wait to see.
I am also meeting up with the ever so lovely Nikki who it will be a real pleasure to have a wander and lots of mini chat with.
Will try and get the courage up to take a few photographs this time as I know everyone likes to see all the different stands. 
Soooo excited!!! I have a huge jar that I save all my coins in for the whole year for this show. They have all been bagged and banked ready so I can treat myself without too much of a guilt trip.
Early train and I am off to Wonderland 

Friday, 25 November 2011

Bricks Galore! Mr Mulpepper's Apothecary......

I decided that this Diagon Alley shop would be half and half. The top half exterior is cladded in Art Mache and waiting to be aged.
The bottom/ground floor is to be all brick. I had used Richard Stacey's brickslips on the exterior of The Leaky Cauldron so decided to stick with these to provide the link between the shops.
I like this product as they are reasonably light, which means the finished shop will not way a ton, plus they are very easy to cut, sand and glue.  
 I started with the side of the shop as I wanted to get into a rhythm before attempting the front which needed a bit of a think. I always apply the brickslips from the bottom up as I use the edge as my guide. A good layering of glue and you can slide the 'slips into place very easily. I pair of tweezers or a long darning needle are useful for this. 
I don't paint the carcass as I always grout after washing with a 50/50 mix of PVA and water. This washing is very important if you intend to grout.  
 I have learnt that a it is also best to use a very thin PVA glue, I use Elmer's Glue All, as the tiles/'slips will slide into place much more easily.
This not a quick job but I think the results are worth it. I even got a bit artistic and added a little pattern! Quite daring for a Boring Betty like me!
 I had to have a think about the front because of the window and door. I decided to add all the 'slips beneath the bottom window ledge first because I thought grouting these might be a bit too fiddly once the whole bay window was glued in place.
I have also decided to add all the wooden mouldings after gluing and grouting as I did not fancy trying to cut really small pieces of brick around the door way columns.
So now lots of grouting to do but nearly half finished, whoo hoo!!
By the by, anyone know of a UK stockist of Elmer's Glue All who do not want to charge 4 times its US price tag? 
Have a great weekend wherever you may be. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Cauldron Shop Roof.......The PaperClay Experiment Part 2

The roof has now dried out completely. The shrinkage has come to an end and I have covered the caps with slipped tiles. 
 The chimney stacks have had additional layers glued on and need to be undercoated/sealed before I start applying the Art Mache. I think I have probably over worked the roof tiles. Looking back at Rik Pierce's  roof work it is much less fussy. I should have left it alone a bot more and not tried to do something with every tile.
 I have also sanded down the Art Mache on the main stack. Very, very dusty work but is has smoothed down perfectly.
 These are all the extra tiles I added to cover the shrinkage.
 I have now begun to paint the roof with the main terracotta  acrylic mix/wash. I was pleasantly surprised by how hardy the clay tiles were. I started off very tentatively as I was dreading the clay cracking but they seem to withstand more than I expected.
 I have given it a thorough wash bit tried not to get too neurotic about painting every nook and cranny as I will be giving the whole thing a number of different paint washes. This is just the main base.
This seemed to take forever though! The chimney stacks are definitely going to be a pain! Another note to self: next time mark where you want the chimneys sit and then make them up, Art Mache them, paint them and then glue them to the roof!
If I can I am going to prise off the quirky stacks and add them after I have worked on them. 
For the first time ever I have managed to mitre the corner of a cornice! Well actually my ever patient husband did all the angles and sawing for me. I have to tell you this broken wrist of mine has had all sorts of unexpected benefits!
This fabulous cornice fitted perfectly and I have brushed it with my favourite gold Rub 'n' Buff.
Oh, and if you want to see how a chimney stack really should be made have a look at Brae's Blog, wow! Absolutely stunning. I must start saving egg boxes!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Mr Mulpepper's Apothecary All Stacks Up!!

This is the main carcass of Mr Mulpepper's Apothecary all stacked up. It is the Regency shop kit by Sid Cooke and comes in two pieces which is very handy as it makes the kit much easier to move and lift.
I have painted all round the window edges in brown an gold so the wooden and window fixtures will blend in properly (fingers crossed!)
 The front door panel has now had the brick paviors laid and grouted. I remembered to make sure I glued the steps the right way round this time which made the job much easier. 
 The key to grouting I have found, is the sealing coat of a PVA/water wash. A thorough coat, allowed to dry overnight means that washing off the excess grout is so much easier.
 Just peeking out of the roof you can see the pewter sheets I have used to cover the roofing panels.
I have bashed the sheets a little but they still need to be roughed up a little more. I also want to add some batons and a couple of repair panels.
 I had bought these floor tiles for the Magical Menagerie but I have played with one adding a bit of brown and gold, I quite liked the effect so I have laid them on the top floor.
This will be the potion and ingredients room so tiles seemed appropriate because of all the spillages!
 They are much more golden than this photograph shows but they do lay and clean up beautifully. My next task will be to add the paint colours and dirty them up.
 The front panel has a ledge for the steps and to allow for the bay windows. This means you have to edge the bottom of the kit too which gives you two rows of brick work. You can also just see the edge of the interior floor boards but I can accept that in the whole scheme of things.
 This is the interior ledge with the floor board continuation. I have grouted the gap and it looks ok. I will darken it up a little to blend in.
Tomorrow I hope to move on to the exterior walls. Lots and lots of tiny bricks for the lower shop and art mache for the top floor.
I am definitely making the most of my sabbatical from housework and all the chores!!