Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Links to Useful Sites

I've just added three links in the  left sidebar under Links to useful Sites.

The first is an absolutely fantastic seven volume encyclopaedia published c.1910/1912.  They collect together a (fortnightly?) magazine which was being sold around that time.  I find that what most magazines offer even now is the chance to get into the minutia of (perhaps) another woman's lifestyle.  Think Martha Stuart and (UK)Good Housekeeping - people actually live like that! To be able to step back in time too (for me) is just magical.  I have to do my best to leave them alone, otherwise whole chunks of my real day go missing.  So, if you are not too scared by this warning and you are interested in the ideal life of the UK middle class in 1912 there is nothing better out there than this.   Every Woman's Encyclopaedia   

My only criticism is that I struggle with archive.org itself and I've found the easiest way to look at all the books is to simply change the end of the URL.  For example the link i have attached takes you to volume 7, so if you want to start at volume 1 simply change 07londuoft to 01londuoft and so on, depending on the volume you want.  They can all be read on line or downloaded.  PDF download is fine but as my i-Pad doesn't like those I used ebook for that and some of the text in some of the volumes is a bit strange to say the least.

My other regular source of information is the Pat Cryer's fantastic site called Join me in the 1900s

In the main it is a collection of real people's memories of the early 1900's.  It would be best, if you are at all interested, to look at the site itself which explains it all.  It is of more value than the Every Woman's in a way, as it is the  real experience of ordinary folk.  I've found between the two I can answer all kinds of detailed questioned I have about the period I am doing - how did they decorate and furnish their rooms? how did someone in a small town get milk each day?  what sort of things did they put in a meat safe besides meat? and a million more.

I know she is looking for any anecdotes and even more importantly any photographs of the early 1900's and the war years; so if anyone can help please look at the site and get in touch with her.  I wish people valued ephemera more - it is the glue of a time period which always goes missing.

The third addition is a link to a Dolls House magazine which I've been asked to write a bit for.  You know I'm going to love that.  Dolls Houses Past and Present

The final addition is one I can't believe I haven't already put there.  It is a fantastic free on line magazine, AIM.  I think it knocks the published ones into a cocked hat - and aren't they expensive?

Monday, 24 October 2011

South Florida Dollhouse & Miniature Show

The South Florida Dollhouse & Miniatures Show and Sale
Clarion Inn
7859 Lake Worth Road

Friday 21 through Sunday 23 October 2011

This was a 275 mile round trip for us.  That said, don't try and compare it to to a 275 mile round trip in the UK; as I said to Ken when we set off across Alligator Alley with just two other cars in sight - ''It's not quite the same as the drive to Birmingham and the NEC" - the last show we went to.

Off we tootled to the Show....mmmm... it was more of a display really.  Twenty-four stalls which translated down into 15 stallholders as some of them had more than one table.  Bit of a contrast  to the nearly 200 I spent six hours with at Miniatura. As usual my saint of a husband found a comfy spot and settled down with his book ready for a long wait.  In this instance it was a bit different to his UK experience of car parks or rough grass as he managed to lollop by the pool in the shade.  Also he did nip in to the Perkins which was on site and have a coffee and key lime pie so, by the time I found him, he was perfectly happy.  I was less than an hour on my 'spree' and didn't feel at all guilty for once.  

Here's a photo of the items I bought. I spent something under $20.  They all came from - Cottage of Miniatures

The photo is Ellen's beau, Albert; if it fits the photo frame, which is in the UK!.  

There are three glass jars for the pantry.  A good 1912 kitchen had all the food removed from the paper bags and sacks they were bought in and transferred to glass jars, metal cannisters - any container which could be sealed and was bug and mouse-proof.  I clearly am Edwardian at heart as I do exactly the same.

Leaning against the jars is a tiny bag with half a dozen good looking spools of thread.  These are not easy to find.  They are either too large or, if small enough, they are badly made.  I have seen beautiful ones but, as always with these things, they cost an arm and a leg.  I don't remember the price of these but they could only be a couple of dollars or so.  Must make a note to look on their site and get some more.

I bought the tankard just because it looked good for the money.  I now need to find out if beer was still a commonplace drink (at home) in 1912 even for ladies.  If there's a record of that somewhere I am the one to rootle it out!  Failing that the tankard had belonged to her father or Edward and it is kept for that reason.  I know from my 1950's childhood it was still commonplace for men to take their favourite tankard to their local pub for their pints of ale.  If it was their regular drinking spot the tankard was often left there for them.  As late as the early 1960's when I worked part-time in a pub (as well as my full-time office job) I had a couple of tankards in The Smoke belonging to two of the ancient regulars.  

Again, the two pairs of scissors were bought because they were nicely made and scaled for a couple of dollars.  

The expensive purchase ($4)  was the stone 'jug'.  It could be for collecting the ale from the pub or for their home-made ginger beer.  Whatever it contains it will be keeping cool on the top shelf of the meat safe outside or the marble pantry shelf.  

Most of the stalls were the usual bits and bobs but there were three stand-outs.

Geoff Wonnacott's fantastic pieces.  His stuff is decidedly museum quality and some! The inlaid chess tables and chess sets are to die for. Give his site five minutes when you've time.

There were some lovely pieces of stained glass by Barbara Sabia, but again, for me, they were way beyond my budget. Hard to resist as she does some beautiful art nouveau dressing screens and lights and fire screens.  Take a look at her site.

I get very cross with myself because I don't get a really good look at stuff like this and I would love to. I am hopeless at looking at things that I can't afford.  I am always sure the vendor knows and my embarrassment wins out and I beat a swift retreat.  I've always been like it and I don't get any better.  I was raised on the notion that you couldn't go in this or that shop or restaurant or whatever because you can't afford it (and you'd stick out a mile!).

So a long drive there and back (via Ikea!) for very little actual gain but it was OK as it was 'a trip out' and another show under my belt.....   and you never know what you might miss if you don't go.

Friday, 21 October 2011

More goodies

 I did go back to Nancy's. I  bought four pieces of wall and floor paper at a dollar each to make a sort of room box to take photos in when I sell stuff on E-Bay.  I had a piece of foam board at home that I did jigsaws on.  The finished object says a lot about my building skills. I stuck the paper on without a thought and realised afterwards it should have been cut down a couple of inches.  I now have a dado border running around the walls at something like five feet from the floor.  I feel another Nancy trip coming on, followed by some redecorating before applying the skirting board.
My trip back was also to see if I could find another cup and saucer and another dish display stand - success on the latter as you can see.  I also found a sweet little plate. Ellen will have mismatched antique bits and pieces of porcelain on display in her parlour that she has collected.  Her every day stuff will be a set of dishes from that period; if I ever find any I like at a price I can afford.  I found a plastic coffee pot that I want to try to paint; better still I am looking at miniature decals on various sites that are interesting me.  The tool is the totally indispensable light bulb changer.

These little gems were from a dollar shop.  Can you see all the future vases, jars, perfume bottles and stuff that I can see in there?  Both my houses will be stuffed full of useless things as soon as I've got the glue out.
This is the risky buy from EBay.  As you can probably see it is a House of Miniatures finishing kit.  I've bought several of their pieces and had read somewhere they made a great kit to go with the build.  this is the only one I could find absolutely any where.  My husband, quite rightly suggested as they are all various chemicals they might be absolutely useless after twenty or thirty years hanging around waiting to be used.  He also suggested I might just like to keep them as a museum piece.   I know, but you've just got try, haven't you?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

One (re)made and a zillion to go

I had a go at repainting the paraffin heater I bought.  It had been badly painted in acrylic which was rubbing off at the slightest touch.  I scrubbed off most of the paint, highlighted the areas I wanted unfinished and went over the black paint.  Not exactly a work of art but it looks a bit better.

This is another EBay purchase.  It is a couple of pieces of the House of Miniatures stuff.  I only wanted the tilt-top table but when I searched around for it this was the best deal, even though it came with another piece - a lowboy.  There's nothing lost by this as I can build the lowboy first before I tackle my own stuff. 

 If I manage to succeed with the (I think I counted) 49 pieces of wood and 11 pieces of hardware and then the finishing of the piece, I am sure I can do anything.  It isn't just a case of gluing them together and then painting it brown.  Every piece has to be sanded a couple of times before starting.  The edges of the legs and the top piece have to be rounded off very carefully.  Gluing the joints and keeping the stuff square will be a challenge in this scale and the finishing is time consuming and complex and requires patience.  What do I lack?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Shopping in Nancy's rummage boxes, Naples, Florida

Apologies for the dreadful photo quality.  I thought I'd try and be clever and use my i-Pad instead of faffing around with the camera and then downloading etc etc etc.

 Any way, if you can make them out, there is a Reutter plant ($5) in a very nice  Victorian ceramic pot.  When I've repainted the terrible leaves it will be just dandy.  The little tray on the right is my first plastic item.  I succumbed because (a) it was $2 and (b) you get a nice thin finish in plastic - again I think a paint job on this will make it do very well.  I haven't seen a tray I like at any price as they would all be far too chunky scaled up into real life.  The little cup and saucer is nicer than it appears here.  Again a $2 bargain for something which is fine scale and sits nicely.  As I can't afford the lovely Stokesey ware which is the standard for 'dishes' I am having to keep my eyes open for anything which I can live with.  I am a bit cross as I didn't think to see if there were any more in the rummage box (lesson learned).  The odd-shaped object on the left had to be got because when would I ever see anther one.  No idea what it is called but it is a little stand to display a trio, or whatever a collection of four pieces of china is called.  There's a foot at the front to take the cup and then a support for the saucer, tea plate and dinner plate.  You see them in real life but I've never seen one in miniature.  Again - what a twerp - I'd like a couple more.  

These little treasures came from the most wonderful Doll's House Shop here in Naples.  Incredibly, of all the places we could have lived, we live about a mile from it.  Nancy, the owner, has terrific taste and sells some lovely pieces but she also has moderately priced items which are really nice and a fantastic amount of stuff so there is always something to treat yourself too when you go in.  She is also very nice about my mooching around for ages and only spending pennies.  I intend to treat myself to a couple of good pieces this trip but I need to try and pace myself - if I spend all my 'pocket money' in one go I'll have nothing to look forward to.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

New purchases and withdrawal symptoms

Before rattling on about my new treasures just want to say that I've re-written Ellen's narrative in the Pages section (tabs under the title area). 

I have also added another Page for a Timeline.  I keep finding bits and bobs of information that interest me and want to note somewhere and this is as good a place as any.  So on to the 'stuff'....

These are my best bargain buys over here so far.  They are in scale and came from  Michaels which is a huge hobby store like we now have in the UK.  They cost all of a dollar each.  My intention is to take them back home at Christmas and have a play around with them as to how they might be used.  I think they will both get chopped and painted and sorted into other things but it is still a very cheap way of buying wood and ready made trims and cupboard doors.  Right now the little one will have its bottom and top knocked off  and go in the back of the pantry (?)  The larger dresser might become a chest in the loft and half of it a food safe in the yard.  All to be decided.

This is my not so good buy.  I bought a pair of chairs at an exorbitant $19 each (with postage) from EBay.  I know they are Hansson and worth twice the price but, to be perfectly honest, I am not a fan of the expensive Bespaq/JiaYi/Reutter family of things to which these belong.  I understand why they are liked and why they do so well in that they are unusual designs and often quite they finely made (as in thin wood/slim legs)  but I find most of them fussy, overworked and I never like the OTT mahogany finishes - it always reminds me of toffee apples.  So why did I buy them?  They should fit the very small parlour.(I hope!)  As I've mentioned before the rooms in the new property are a bit of a challenge 20 cms wide doesn't give you much to go at!  It isn't 1/16th scale so I can't use that size furniture as then the rooms are way too tall and the windows and doors don't work in scale, so I need 1/12th things, but small designs.  The parlour certainly needs two armchairs or chairs of some sort, which look reasonably formal and comfortable.  I'm pretty sure the room won't take any kind of sofa even on its own and that would be a strange sort of seating arrangement for a young single women to entertain her guest!  So these chairs, after much measuring, seem to be the right size.  I am presently waiting for a tilt-top table and small dresser to arrive, which are in the raw state of  House of Miniatures.  I live in hopes that one or both will go in the parlour.  As for the not-as-I-would-like-them-chairs I am hoping that after six months here (before I can decide on) the pain of the purchase will have diminished and  I will be brave enough to refinish the wood and recover them!!!!!

 I love this little rug from my favourite rug lady - trudy-scrumptious - she makes lovely realistic fuzzy surfaced rugs and this one (almost) matched a mirror, I'd just bought from someone else.  It will probably be the hearthrug in front of the fire in Ellen's bedroom, rather than in the sitting room.  It depends on the final choice of wallpaper for each room!
 Here comes it's partner -  the peacock mirror.  
Last, but not least we have the headless customer.  Having worked in Wallis's many years ago I'd say these are the sort of customers to have.  Sadly, as you can see she arrived this way.  Happily she only cost 99p and £2.50 postage.  I stood the postage and the seller kindly refunded the 99p.  She may not suit me repaired as she didn't break her neck completely cleanly.  Very inconsiderate.  I left her in the drawer though as I might get clever enough to be able to fill in, sand down and repaint.  All a bit ambitious at this stage, but again, she'll be a useful learning piece.

I have two other items in  the UK (a matching mirror and necklace for display and a small upright dresser) that I haven't seen, as they got delivered after I left. I'll post pictures of those at Christmas when we're home for a couple of weeks.   I am also waiting, endlessly it seems, for a sewing machine from Japan.  Our good friends who look after our house while we are away are checking every five minutes in case it has arrived.  The deadline is the 18th October (24 days after it was mailed!!). The seller wasn't even prompt mailing it.  I won the bid on 15th September so I may just light a birthday candle for its one month anniversary today.  I don't know why I feel so frustrated about it when I won't even see it until December, always assuming it does arrive.

In the past couple of days I've had loads of fun buying all sorts of tools and bits and bobs which I suspect are just too boring for photos and writing about, but I can't wait to get stuck in with my little razor saw and mitre block.  Roll on April 2012.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The easy way to perfect 1/12th

Take five minutes to have a look at this.  Now I  know what I want for Christmas.  The Shrink Ray