Thursday, 6 December 2012

What an idiot!

I am so cross with myself ... why can't I leave well alone?

I have just been looking through the posts in Bentley and am horrified to see how many photos are missing thanks to my recent recent computer re-organisation.  In fact almost all of them.  Huge apologies to you.  I will be working at restoring them (one by one) for however long it takes.  I think that may be some time.  When I started to think about it today I realised it is exceedingly difficult to remember the photo that should be there.  The accompanying text doesn't always give enough clues as, of course, it was depending on the photo to do half the job.  Ill start from where we are and work backwards and I will announce when the job is completed but, as I said, it may well be a while.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Bit dainty for the chaps?

I have been fussing around with finding a sofa for the shop that I like and which goes with the rest of the place.  I spotted this on EBay and got it for less than half of what two of them are currently selling for, so well-timed.

It is very dainty and the wicker work is very fine and I am thrilled.  I can't wait to get it home at Christmas and put it in Bentleys.

This is the place to park the chap who would be paying for your purchases back in 1911.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

All change!

(Apologies to anyone who reads all my blogs as this appears (with minor changes) in them all)

I have just spent the best part of today re-jigging all my photo albums for my Blogs .  It was prompted by Google telling me I was running out of room.  This led to having a grand sort out.  On the one hand it was great to have all the new (purchased!) room, on the other hand it was a load of work re-assembling various folders to share with you.  Whatever web album storage I look at, it never seems to do what I want it to do, which is simply to replicate my photo collection as it is in my computer.  The major problem is (with Google web albums and others) that I can't nest folders within folders as I would like to and I end up with a bunch of small folders all jostling for position.  I then have to rename them all so that they will clump together in some logical way.  For example all the albums to do with any of my miniatures need to start with the same word, so they've become  - yup! - Minis.  This doesn't make files particularly simple to construct and probably not that easy to find.  I promise I have done my best with a duff system.

The re-jig means that any blog prior to this date which has a link to an album will be defunct.  I am sorry for that but it would have always been so at some stage.  I was already having to remove the older albums to make room for the new ones.  Hopefully, with all the extra space I now have, the future links will last a lot longer.  

On the whole it will be fine.  When I write a post and create a new album or add photos to an existing one I will give you the link.  You won't have to go hunting and searching for it.  Additionally, if at any time you are visiting  the blog and just want to find something not being written about you can click on the link in the right-hand column labelled  All albums  and that's where you will end up.  When you get there if you click on the drop down arrow of the 'Sort By' option where it says Album Date you can select Album Title instead.  That puts them all in alphabetical order (obviously!) and should make it much easier to find what you want.  The first clump of albums is Clavering then a bunch of Garden albums then a mass of Minis.

Happy wanderings.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

California dreamin'

I left you at the end of October bemoaning the fact I would have nothing to share for the next five months.  Not so it seems....

On the sixth we took off for a trip down the West Coast from San Francisco to San Diego.  This was a treat for my birthday organised by my other half.  If you are interested in the tour itself that will appear in Clavering.  There will also be a couple of small posts in Chocolat and Starfish Cottage as I bought a couple of things for them but the main chatter about the shops and museum we visited is here in Bentleys. 

Friday 9th November 
We arrived in Sacramento and visited a doll's house shop called The Elegant Dollhouse.  This was run by what I am finding is the usual lady of a certain age who has been there for years and is sharing her own passion for the hobby as much as running a business.  I  spent a reasonable amount of time in there and was reminded how much difference there can be between American and English dolls houses and their 'fillings'.  In her thousands of items I couldn't find anything on my list of Bentleys' needs. I only managed to spend twelve bucks and some change and nothing for Bentleys. 

I bought another paper project - roses - so I have something to do here, assuming we ever manage to settle back in this year.
The other couple of things were for the other two projects.

Saturday 10th November
We set off again on our lovely coastal drive towards Carmel stopping off in a great little town called Pacific Grove (Monterey Bay).  It was filled with lovely little artisan type shops.... Our destination... Number 213 Forest Avenue was what seemed like the only closed store on the street!!  We are pretty resigned to looking up dolls shops on the web then driving there only to discover they don't exist any more, so it wasn't a huge surprise. We really must try ringing them before setting off.  We keep saying that.

We got to the main event of the day -  Smallsea Museum but dangled the satisfaction a little longer by having lunch first in the adjacent restaurant (serendipity).  Smallsea is located in a great mall called The Barnyard in Carmel.  It is full of interesting small shops (and restaurants!) in a pretty layout of different Barn style buildings with not a generic store in sight.  The museum was just such a joy and was the highlight of this trip. the chocolate shop was pretty good too.

The collection is described as A Metropolis in Miniature and is the creation of Diane and Howard Birnberg.  They build the structures and collect fine miniatures from all over the world.

Diane Birnberg was utterly charming and spent a lot of time talking to us about her passion. For those of you who already know this gem of a museum, they are currently working on a couple of huge new projects.  They will also be moving the entire Metropolis to larger premises next year.

On of the projects is to put (I think she said) three of their smaller shops into a large store setting.  The other big project which has been in the pipeline for some years is a two-wing museum (for English readers this means Art Gallery).  Diane said she has been collecting hand painted miniatures (and a piece of sculpture) for five years ready to begin.  I hope I will be able to return to Carmel some time, maybe when this is finished, to see this all again.

I have more than a hundred photographs from Smallsea and that's after editing out as much as I could bear to part with. This has led me to realise I really do have to do something about getting Cloud storage for my computer.  I hope to sort that in the next week or so and I'll let you know where you will be able to find these pictures and all the rest of my mini stuff albums.  It has proved nigh on impossible to choose examples to post here.  Just to give you an idea of the scale of this museum they have over a thousand figures in their various settings.  The figures are all just wonderful in themselves but the quality of the buildings and settings and the care which has gone into the selection of the thousands of items which make up Smallsea is just mind-blowing.  This is more than a full-time job, it is a life.

Monday 12th November 

We had a bit of a panic moment this morning when we realised Monday was part of the Veterans Day weekend which is a holiday for a lot of people.  We wondered if the two shops Ken had planned for today would be open.  (Always assuming they were still there)  Luckily the gods were smiling on me on my birthday.  Our first port of call on a blue sun-shiny day was Lariann'es Small Wonders in Ventura.  

This was such an incredible dolls house shop.  There were so many beautiful things to look at it was exactly the equivalent of going to a major doll's house and miniatures show.  I spent over two hours in there and could, in all seriousness, have spent the whole day.  Much of their stuff is beyond my budget but it was a joy to look at it all and dream and get ideas and find the occasional item to buy.  My daughter had sent me dollars for minis for my birthday so it was even better!  I ended up with several bits and pieces for sixty bucks.  The joy of having gift money is that it allows me to buy something like Dale R Kendall's lovely laser cut doilies which the rest of the time I just tell myself is frivolous.  I have wanted them since I started this game and now I own some. (a picture of these will be in Chocolat as they are for that project).  

For Bentleys I bought a lovely Bespaq book holder which I will be using for a potted plant stand.  It looks very clunky in this photo - no idea why - I promise you it is very fine in an Arts and Crafts way.  The hot water bottle and probably the basket are also for Bentleys.  The lock and hasp are for Starfish cottage.

The staff were incredibly helpful and nice.  Even kinder, when I got back to Naples I discovered I had been charged the full price for my book holder.  It was from a 50% off shelf and marked accordingly on the bottom which obviously the lady hadn't noticed.  I emailed them and they immediately emailed me to say they would send a cheque for the difference.  This is a shop worth travelling half way across the planet for.  Certainly one to go to if you are anywhere within range at any time.

Back in the car and we were off to My Doll's House in Torrance.  This was another really interesting shop.  It was very much a family business staffed by mother and son when we were in there, both of whom had a real love of dolls houses.  

The son kindly gave us a lot of his time and was really interesting to talk to.  He showed us several absolutely wonderful houses made by various people and their equally lovely contents.  

My particular passion was for a room box made (I think) by his grandfather.  It was fashioned from a leaf of their dining table and was  breathtaking in its simplicity and beauty.  The wood was perfectly cut and polished. A really, really beautiful piece of work.  I so hope that it will go on and on being loved and cared for.

I also hope this birthday doll housing becomes an annual event!

If this post has whet your appetite  for more pictures don't forget to come back next week by which time I hope to have sorted out a place to store all my dolls house photos. 

Saturday, 3 November 2012


Would you believe this is me in my Florida clothes?
Hiatus as in pause not as in hernia;  though right now it feels like the latter.

I am now ensconced in Florida for the winter, with the exception of a small break back in the UK for Christmas.  I have been parted from Bentleys; it really was too large for the suitcase.  I have brought some small paper and Fimo projects to have a go at some time over here, but right now (day two) I can't imagine ever getting round to them.  It is strange being removed from my desk and stuff and, of course, Bentleys itself.  I will do my best to escape the lack-of-a-doll- house doldrums soon and have a go at something so that I can keep in touch via the this Blog.

Basically this post is to say that posts may be a bit thin on the ground for the next few months but I will do my very best to find things to share to keep us ticking over until I can return to the mini fray next April. So, please stick with me, I will be back.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Identity theft

Poor old Ellen has become Molly and Molly (this picture) is now Ellen.  No good asking me why they just seemed to be the wrong characters for the characters, if you see what I mean. 

Any way - here's (the new) Ellen going through her accounts in the workroom.  Molly is now stuck in the shop with Mrs Singer .

Anyone who is as cracked as me and wants to know the story of Bentleys can find it in the links at the top of the Blog.  There is all kinds of stuff there including what is happening (in each room) on this day - Wednesday 11th October 1911.  For anyone who has already been there - you might want to take another dip as I keep messing around with it.... the latest body swap being a good example.

Light box

My camera is a very basic Sony point and shoot and needs all the help it can get.  I promise you it isn't me - I can take photos OK given the right tools.

I get fed up with its inability to deal with uneven light levels and camera wobble - all of which its advertising bumf claims it does brilliantly. Maybe I am pickier than their average customer.  Any way I decided a small tripod (borrowed from him indoors) and a light box might help.

This is an obvious bit of construction if you want to try it and costs next to nothing.  Take one cardboard box: cut out the  top and two sides, leaving roughly an inch frame all round each hole, cover the holes with baking parchment to filter the light a little.  This particular parchment may be too dense.  White tissue paper would probably do better.  I now need three lamps all exactly the same.  I tried jiggling around with two lamps but their lights are totally different and they keep fighting with each other and producing masses of shadows.  I did end up using the best light as a single spotlight.  It is standing on a couple of boxes to gain enough height behind the light box.  Even as basic a set up as that gave better results than just taking photographs of stuff balanced on desks, windowsills and beds trying to catch the best light in the room.

I did have 37 to do as I am taking bits and bobs to EBay in America so I really noticed the difference.  I might just invest in three lamps if I can find some really, really cheap ones.  

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Workroom boxes

It seems the main characters in my projects are, somehow, my alter ego.  A bit worrying?  Ellen, therefore, is super-organised. Not for her a chaotic workroom..... a place for everything and everything in its place.

Here's the wood I bought on Sunday converted into boxes on Monday.

This is the old counter which she uses in the workroom for all sorts of things and it needs to be kept as clutter free as possible.

The boxes in the counter were simply made by cutting five pieces of wood and gluing them together.  At this thinness they can be easily cut with a craft knife.

I rounded off the edges with 200 grade sandpaper and gave them a couple of coats of the 'shed' paint and a final rub down with wire wool. You might know the top row of cubby holes in the counter were slightly larger than the bottom ones, so I had to figure out two sets of dimensions.  The labels were just printed on my computer using a small setting.   Ellen had to make them using cardboard and a steady hand with pen and Indian Ink.

The box beside the counter with the rolls of fabric was made in the same way.  This time I painted it with one coat of a mix of green acrylic paint and water-based matt varnish.  I then added a bit of brown and went over it again while it was still wet.  I wanted it to end up looking like mucky old wood.  Looks OK to me.

The rolls of fabric are made from chopped up bamboo BBQ skewers and strips of three inch (36 inch wide dressmaker's) fabric.  I put small spots of glue here and there as I rolled them up to keep them in place.  I am sure you could do it by pre-soaking in spray starch or hair spray, but this was easier, dries faster and doesn't show.  I gently coated the tops of the fabric edges with a little glue so no stray threads give the game away.  The top edges look like proper selvedges.

The wall unit above the counter was originally in my Wentworth bathroom.  I had already added a towel rail under it that I had to pry off.  Super-glue works really well sometimes!  I then made four cardboard rolls to go on the rail.  These are a straightforward construction of rolled paper for the tube centre and two discs with a hole in the centre for each end.  Sounds easy,  but they were very fiddly.  If you were making these in any number, or if you are already a crafter with paper tools, any cutter which would do the two circles would be a joy.  I bodged away with embroidery scissors.  I then rolled on dental floss (!) for string, half of some white bias binding for some broad bias fabric which would be used in all kinds of ways when making hats and in dressmaking and two stiff tapes that I have that look a bit like buckram.  Again, all these were rolled on using spots of glue to keep them in place.  

The storage boxes on the shelves are made from a small basket printie.  I made them in paper and painted them with matt varnish to strengthen and finish them.  I added labels like before.  The shelves also have a basket of leather strips used for belts and trimming.  Yes, they are real leather.  There are some squares which look like felt made out of a glass cleaning cloth.  I attached a hook and scissors for good measure and  I will add a couple of tins or boxes or glass jars to fill the odd spaces at some time.

Another reason for having this storage was so that I didn't have to buy masses and masses of haberdashery stuff.  I might buy a few things and pad out the boxes in some way and add a couple of things to the top of them so they look as though they contain what they should.  I don't know how you can tell they are empty, but I think you can.  It is slightly less obvious now they are in situ at the back of the room.

This photo was taken in my half-finished light box.... that's a post for another time.

PMP Fair, 14th October, Pinewood Hotel.

On Sunday we went to a dolls house fair in Manchester (Handforth), which was a great location for us as it was only about forty minutes away.  

It was a fairly small fair, but all the stalls were good ones and there was something to look at on each of them.  Admittedly I only spent about an hour there: I am so picky now about what I do and don't want that I am not a good example of how much most people could get out of it.

I bought a handful of things and spent under a tenner in total.  It cost us more in petrol and the £2.80 a cup hotel coffee than I spent at the show.  Incidentally - for future reference - there was free tea and coffee at the fair.  As my other half reminded me - it isn't about balancing the books it is for the pleasure of  'mooching' around little things.  Also, I really like the few things I bought, so I came home a happy bunny.

I even managed to remember to get a business card with each purchase, so I would know what I bought from where.

I thought all these three from Matlock Miniatures were really finely made and fantastic value.  The stools were £1.50 each and the (milk) jug was £1.25.  The jug is already nestled nicely in Bentleys.  It is on my food cupboard's marble top and is covered with a crocheted (beaded) food cover.

The stools could be used in Bentleys but they are being saved for Chocolat or even Starfish.

This was a truly fortuitous find.  There weren't any stalls selling 'construction' stuff.   One or two had a few bits and pieces of trim.  Luckily one stall - Loverseeds - had a few pieces of wood.  

I had started making some boxes for the shop on Saturday and had run out of wood and was hoping I could get some at the fair.  Hey Presto, just what I wanted and at a good price (?).

These two pieces are 1/16th thick, 3''wide x 18''long.  I'll show you the boxes I made from them in my next post.

Another example of my magpie trait is my inability to resist ribbons and fabric.  I easily convince myself they will prove really useful.  We'll see.  

Why bother to wrestle your conscience when they come at these prices.  The ribbons were 3 bags for 50p and the bag of two kinds of fabric and lace and ribbon was £1.25.

These were from Pan Miniatures.

Last, but not least, I bought a really tiny magnifying glass.  They are usually way out of proportion, even allowing for people having large  magnifiers, so I was pleased to see this one for £1.49.

I didn't buy it broken, I managed to do that myself!  Using the micrometer bit of my brain I decided it was just a smidgen bent so I thought I'd just straighten it....  mmm....

Luckily - using a magnifying glass! - I super-glued it back together successfully and I will have a word with the residents of Starfish to treat it gently.

This came from Platts Mini Packages.  If you don't get to any fairs you may not know them.  They have literally thousands of all sorts of packages covering a wide span of history.  Certainly enough choice to go at for stocking a kitchen or a shop.  You can find them on-line.

EBay finds

I thought I would share some of my latest EBay snares with you.  I don't always remember to photograph them or share them.

The first one here shows an unfinished pedestal.  When I have buffed it up it will be used for display, like this, at the foot of the stairs (maybe?).  I actually bought it for one of my plants but the plant is a bit too large and top-heavy to look right on it.  I could make a smaller plant.  Two thoughts on it being at the foot of the stairs - it is seen as soon as you walk into the shop which is good, but it would be a pain for Ellen to have to move it any time she wanted to go upstairs.  It would be silly for her to have to go outside and round to the back to get up there.  The back entrance into the kitchen is really for Daisy and Tradesmen. 

I am pleased with the three dishes for 99p.  I needed an oval dish for the dresser shelf.  I have a paper one in place at the moment waiting for a replacement, so one of these will do nicely and the other two will find a home in this or another project.

The two bags of findings were a single purchase.  I think I am a magpie and just got caught by shiny things because I have no idea what to do with them... but they were a bargain!

My method with EBay is to lob my bid on many 99p starting prices of things I could use.  Sometimes, if there is no other interest, I get lucky.  Then there are occasions when I see something a bit more unusual that I want.  I work out my maximum bid and enter that and then never go back to it.  I either get a - sorry you were outbid note or occasionally it becomes mine.  My general rule is that the object and its postage shouldn't cost me any more than it would to buy from a show/shop.  This doesn't always work as a guide in the case of one-off pieces and I suppose in all honesty the only true guide then is how much I want it and am prepared to pay for it - an auctioneer's dream.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Bit of a catch up

I am pleased with a little working hat-box I made and will make some more like it when I get a chance.  I will use cord rather than ribbon though next time.  You may be wondering what a working hat box might be?

Proper (travelling) hat boxes have a cord threaded through them so that you can lift the lid to put in and take out your hat but then when you've replaced the lid you pull the cord and it ties down the lid and gives you a handle to carry it with.  Only hat boxes used for storage (often leather) didn't have this.

Box open waiting for hat - and tissue paper!!

Lid replaced and waiting for a gentle tug on the handle.

Et voila!  One hat box ready to carry away.

Just in case you think it isn't a 1/12th - here it is with a full size hat box of mine.

I will post some more tomorrow.  There's other bits and bobs to share but it late and time for a cuppa.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Last plant (for now!)

This is the last plant for a while.  It is about five inches tall and is for the salon.  

The metallic looking pot is made of leftover 'anaglypta' paper that I used in the stairwell.  I made two hexagons for the base and then made a one inch wide strip, marked into six sides, with tabs for gluing along the bottom edge and a small piece to fold over on the top edge to get rid of the cut paper look.  I then creased and folded it, stuck the tabs on top of one of the hexagons, taking care to make sure everything was neatly edge to edge.  I then glued the second hexagon inside at the bottom of the pot to cover the tabs.

I painted it with green paint and then gold acrylic paint while it was still wet so I could get an aged looking copper pot.  I didn't want it to be bright gold.  I think it is OK but maybe it needs some more leaves added?  As I said I will be leaving it for a while and, somewhere further down the line if I don't buy better ones, I will look at all these plants again and see if I can improve on them or just make them again with more precision.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Another approach to plants

You'll need to do a click on the picture to get a better look at what's going on here.  I can't really tell you how to do these as the instructions came from someone who sells them - The Miniature Garden - so that would be a bit naughty.  I can, however tell you they are made from masking tape, florist wire, some glue and acrylic paint.  I also glossed my leaves with nail polish.  I was making a mother-in-laws tongue plant and people used to wipe all their glossy leaved plants with a little milk (or cream!) to make them shine, so they needed a bit of a boost from the matt acrylic finish I had given them.

Now I've got the bit between my teeth I might have a go at making better ones than the two I have done so far.  They just need a bit more care and detail.  I may not have to buy my house plants after all.  Let's see how I do when I make the very tall parlour palm I want for the salon. 

This second attempt came in with a couple of improvements.  Firstly, I filled the bottom of the pot with a little black Fimo.  I wanted the extra weight but mostly I wanted to be able to push in the leaves and have them stay in place.  When I made the areca the stems were a bit twirly in the sand until the glue hardened up and that took too long to hang on to them, so some aren't quite as I would want.  This way the 'tongues' stayed where I wanted them to go; I topped up the pot with my Marilyn created dirt and here they are.

I wanted this plant to replace the vase of red roses which I have always thought looks out of place in a 1911 parlour over a shop in October, when roses would have been a very expensive purchase.  It will look even better when I find a mirror for this space.

The pot again is made from the wooden floor paper and this time I left it just with a glue wash for a bit of a shine.  I think it looks a bit like a bamboo cache pot.  Bamboo was all the rage in 1911 and Ellen (so far) only has two small mirrors in bamboo.... she and I need to go shopping.

No trowel required

I've been waiting to find/afford three largish plant pots for a parlour palm, an areca and a mother-in-laws tongue.  I intended to make some temporary plants to go in them to tide me over until I see some nice ones I can afford. I have seen plenty of really lovely ones but twenty pounds upwards is a bit daunting.

Having made the little pot I decided larger versions of that would do until something else came along. This one was made with the left over border paper from the salon, cut into three strips to get the right width and the pot was made the same way as the one in the kitchen only slightly bigger.  This one is an inch across the top.  

I made the areca palm with some green almost plasticy,  stripy fabric I bought for 25p somewhere.  I thought it might make plants.  They are fairly obviously constructed.  I worked out their size, cut out some oval shaped leaves and stuck a piece of green florists wire down the back of them.  Luckily this was before bedtime so they had tons of chance to dry before I got to them again.  I am dreadful at not letting paint or glue dry properly.  I then hacked all along the leaves, roughed the edges up with my fingers, bent them a little and sat down to figure out how to make dirt.  I wonder if God had this problem.

My solution was just brilliant.  Some white florists sand which seems to come in handy for all kinds of things.  I just used it to fill the handbags I made to give them some stability, for example.  Any way in that went into the mixing pot along with black acrylic paint and brown acrylic paint and some glue.  Again, I can't give you any quantities, it was just a case of getting the colour I wanted and mixing it all with a toothpick until there was enough glue and sand in it to make it all come up looking like dirt.  The white bits you can see here do get mixed in properly.

Handy tip, you only need a tiny bit of all of them to do the job, you are not making an allotment.  Into the plant pot it went, in went the palm leaves and the following day it had all set rock hard and stands up well under its own weight with no tacky wax needed.

This is the equivalent of a three foot tall plant.  It is to go on the floor in the shop near the gentlemen's seats.  I need a couple of comfy seats, a small table, some newspapers and a hall stand for their hats, gloves, walking canes and brollies.

Quilling or something like.

I wanted a dish/pot for the eggs on the food dresser as the dish they were in took up too much room.  I suddenly had this brain wave.

I had some floor paper which I had rejected early in Wentworth's life which I cut into strips using my cutting mat to mark the pieces as I went along -  no fussy measuring and marking.  I glued a few together and wound them round into a tight circle.  Think of liquorice wheels.  You need it to be as wide as the size of the top of the pot that you want to make.  I think this one was just over half an inch.  Stick down the last bit of the strip and wait for it to hold.  Then I stuck the end of a medium wide felt tip pen on it to hold the bottom down and then gently pulled up the sides until I got the shape and size I wanted.  If you are careful you can shove it all back down again and keep going until you get it how you want it.

I ended up with this.  (Sorry about the photo)  I then mixed some water with the usual every day Aleene's glue that seems to do just about everything.  There was no particular ratio of water to glue; basically I just added enough from my brush to make the glue flow more easily.  I then painted the pot inside and out and, being the usual impatient me, dried it with the hair-dryer.  

I ended up with a slightly shiny very solid pot. The picture is before the glue.  It looked even better after 'glazing'.

Finally I mixed some green acrylic paint into the bit of water/glue mix that I had left and painted over the outside of the pot and just inside the rim.  This gave me a cheap rough glazed plant pot that Ellen uses to keep her eggs in.  

I love instant gratification - the pot I wanted  pretty much for free and with no having to hunt around for it.

A stitch in time...

Here are a couple more things from the brilliant Valerie Claire .  These are various cards for silk ribbons and lace etc which you 'fill' yourself.

Here are some cards with embroidery thread on and some cards with lingerie lace added to them in white cream and pale blue.  They aren't overloaded with lace as I want to make a box for them to go in and I don't want them being too bulky.

They are for the counter in the shop which I will show you when it is finally finished being dressed.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Food cupboard

I assembled the nice little set of three shelves I bought at Miniatura.  They are precisely the right size for what I wanted and very plain which I also wanted.  I painted them with left-over Country Cream Cuprinol shed paint (!); let them dry and rubbed them down with wire wool - hoping to dirty them a little.  It was only a little.  I repeated the process once more and settled for this, though they are not as scruffy as I would have liked.  I wanted them to match the dresser I bought ages ago which is very 'distressed'.  They pretty much do that.  

My brainwave, shown here, was to make shelf paper and glue the food on to that and then load the shelves.  I had spent ages fiddling around with tweezers trying to set things on the shelves but something was always throwing a wobbler.  This was the solution; it was easy to position the items on the paper, easy to load them paper and all onto the shelves and it will also be easy to re-do them somewhere down the line if I want to.  

Don't worry about it all looking a bit rough and ready - honestly it was the look I wanted to achieve.  These would have just been some shelves from the draper's shop workroom which Ellen would have painted to match the dresser.  There was a great fashion for light coloured painted furniture so I expect a lot of Ellen's stuff to be rehashed pieces from Summerlee House.  I made the shelf paper out of some wallpaper that I had.  I just cut off the part where there was a border and cut roughly round the border to give it a more interesting edge.  They are supposed to look like the shelf paper you used to be able to get quite cheaply.  It could be replaced fairly often when it got grubby with food bits and bobs.  It looks as though Daisy has only just changed it!

This is the equivalent of Ellen's pantry.  She doesn't need much as there isn't a lot of food preparation done in the apartment.  There is enough stuff between here and the food safe for breakfast and suppers and the occasional piece of dripping on toast or a jam butty.  You will notice there isn't a bowl of fruit in sight.  Even by 1911 they weren't that great at eating fruit and vegetables.  Five-a-day was unheard of.  Also food was seasonal so, by October, there would pretty much only be apples, pears and plums easily available.  Even those might have been scarce in October 1911 as it they had just had the summer which broke all records for heat and longevity, ending on 13th September.  I suspect the fruit harvest had arrived early that year.

These are the shelves in the context of the kitchen.  I am very pleased as it looks just how I wanted it to look.  A modern young lady's 1911 kitchen.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Some more dressed pieces

After my Miniatura shopping expedition I have managed to add bits and pieces all through Bentleys and have finished dressing (for now!) three pieces of furniture .

The shelf over the sink is in place and has cooking sort of stuff on it.  There are three enamel tins for roasting and a pie maybe.  It is a useful place to keep the mincer - they are always too big to go in a drawer without being a nuisance.  The frying pan lives there along with a grater and colander so they are handy when needed.  The jug has various spoons and forks and other cooking implements. There are a couple of spare hooks waiting for the tea towels.  Sadly the broom and the carpet beater get lost up the corner but that's where they would live, so that's where they'll stay.  Daisy has washed the oven racks as she hasn't needed to use the oven today.  They are draining in the sink because they are a bit big for the draining board.  All she has to do is remember to put them back before she leaves.

The dresser has been re-dressed.  I think this will happen a few more times yet.  I've added two jugs since taking this photo yesterday!

The top shelf has four glass dishes for cold puddings.  There is a basic white set of dishes for four people.  These are for Ellen, Daisy and sometimes, Molly's meals. Daisy doesn't cook very much.  Living near her own home her mother tends to do any meals the girls might need and Daisy just nips home to pick them up, warms them up and dishes them out.  This means a few more pennies for the Dallow household and less work for Daisy.  Ellen is happy with the arrangement because she doesn't really want the smell of dinners wafting through the shop and salon.

The next shelf has a fine tea-for-two set in case Ellen has an important visitor.  There is also a useful large jug and a silver tea caddy.

The bread bin stands by the biscuit tin (also silver) and a silver tea service.  An oil lamp and a box of matches are at the ready for trips outside in the dark or upstairs instead of using a candle.  There is a candle box on the side of the dresser as candle sticks are dotted around the house upstairs to save lighting the gas when it isn't needed.  

The bottom shelves have a cake tin for a large cake - a must for any afternoon visitor's cup of tea or glass of sherry.  There is a  toast rack, which Ellen does like to have her toast in at breakfast .  There are large containers of tea and coffee and sugar ready to refill anything needed for drinks.  The bottom shelves are a place to store large things like a stone jug, a glass jug, a casserole and a bowl.  These are all useful occasionally.

This is the bottom half of the food storage area.  I am in the process of making the shelves to go above this cupboard.  As I said there isn't a lot of meal making done here but they do like to have the basics.  Today there are vegetables.  Tomorrow is Thursday - half day closing - and it is the day that Daisy's mom does Ellen's laundry along with her normal bits and bobs for her own family.  She and Daisy reverse the meal process on Thursday and Daisy cooks a hearty stew for everyone.  The box has King Edward potatoes, carrots, parsnips and cabbage.  I have forgotten the onions (!) I hope Mrs Dallow has got some.  The shin of beef is outside on the landing in the meat safe which is where the potted meat should go.  No doubt Daisy will put it back as she leaves. The eggs are fine on the marble top of this cupboard in a cool terracotta bowl ready for breakfast.  Also on top is a fly swatter and a beaded jug cover waiting for me to buy a milk jug.  The saucepans had to go in here as they were too heavy for the shelf by the cooker.  A mixing bowl and rolling pin and a lemon squeezer complete the area.  As I said, the tinned, bottled, packet food will live on the shelves above when they are made.  

Does this help?

When you are brand new to something everything you 'invent' seems like a brilliant idea.  After you have been going for a while, in my case a couple of years, they just seem plain obvious.  Just in case there are very new people reading this maybe these will help?

I am making a simple set of shelves at the moment.  I discovered early on last year when I made the kitchen for the Wentworth that it was important to have something to make sure your joins were accurate and to support an item while it dried.  I got my other half to make a jig for me out of bits found in the garage.

The top and left side pieces of wood are (wood glue) glued to the baseboard at a perfect right angle - just check it with a set square (or a CD case!) and gently lower a heavy book onto to the wood while it dries.  Be really well behaved and leave it alone, preferably overnight.  Bob's your uncle you now have a starting point for all and sundry.  That said, today my shelf pieces sort of stuck to it.  They came off OK with a nudge but it did remind me that perhaps I ought to wax the wood to stop this happening.

The bottom parallel strip of wood (under the clamp) has a good ninety degree cut across each end.  I have a couple of these in different lengths to use to butt up against stuff like this to allow me to glue a few pieces at the same time.  So, here, I have two sides, one bottom and two shelves all in place, all square to each other and all being gently pressed in place while they dry.  A couple of hours later I stuck on the top shelf and the job was done.  The top shelf was slightly wider to give it a bit of an overhang that's why it hasn't joined the rest of the crew here.

Don't be envious of the posh pale blue Xacto clamps they were a cheap EBay buy.  I got four of them and some other stuff!  The other one on the left was a dollar shop find as usual.  I got four this size and four small ones - they are useful for all kinds of stuff.

Apologies if this next tip is stating the glaringly obvious.

I have seen all kinds of glue stands - commercial and home made but this is great, cheap and no trouble.  Again buy the cheapest bathroom 'mug' you can find.  Cheap, chunky, heavy, chipped and fifty cents.  It holds every size glue pot I use from the large wood glue, through the most used Aleene's tacky glue (the one in the photo) down to my tiny fine nozzle one. Never falls over and I can pick off or wash out any leaked glue easily.

This is this week's discovery and is what set me off doing this.  If you are a good girl or a good boy and you clean out the lids of all your glues before you put them away you need read no further.  As for the rest of us....  doesn't it drive you crackers that they sometimes get  bunged up while they are resting and the first thing you have to do when you get them out is sort them out.  Here's the perfect kit.  The black thing is the lid of my wood glue.  It has four very small holes around a central blob which occasionally need a clean.  You can pick at them with all and sundry for ages but this method is so simple.  Warm water in your washbasin, drop in the lid - leave it if you can and go and find something else to do, like lunch!  After that it is a simple wash and brush up with interdental brushes.  Second-hand (or second-mouthed) if you don't mind that, so therefore free!  Failing that buy them, guess where - the dollar shop

Shopping tip

I might have mentioned this in passing but certainly haven't shown you a picture (or four!) of it.  When I go on a serious shopping trip for miniatures I take this with me.  It is one of those very cheap (dollar shop) - that also makes it very light - photo albums.  It is about 6 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches (12cms x 16 cms).

Front and back covers show the before and after.  This is the 'after' just in case you are confused.  I had an amusing moment at Miniatura last Sunday.  I was standing in front of the Barbara's Mouldings stand coveting the new French looking one (Everdene?)  and I was talking to the son of the chap who makes them.  He spotted this and asked if he could show a lady who was considering a Lyddington.  He said "This lady has done the Lyddington.  Here it is all finished with bricks and slates".  I waited for the oohs and ahhs - there was a slight pause and she said (to me) "I like it better just painted".  That put me in my place!

First page of the book is my shopping list.  I just updated it today ready to go.  A list does me very little good as I tend to buy very little off it and I buy a heck of a lot of other stuff.  It is the comfort of knowing it is there if I want it I suppose.  Frees up the remembering-what-I-came-for area of my brain for other things.

Here's the really useful part.  I have a picture, preferably the latest, of each room and on the opposite page I have paint and paper samples.  I painted a post card with the actual paints I used in the house and stuck on any paper samples for the room.  I really did use this twice last weekend as I bought fabric for the bedroom and the parlour curtains.  I don't know how you do this if you don't take samples of stuff with you.  I 'carry' colours well but can't always get it right just by guessing.  This is so much easier.

I also try to keep up to date with any dressed pieces I have in case I want to add to them or even change them in some way because I've found something I've just got have.  I bet you know that feeling.  I spent ages at one stand looking at the most wonderful fountain pen for nine pounds.  You can imagine how tiny this was and how it would be lost on Ellen's desk at the back of the workroom.   I so much wanted it but knew it so daft at this stage of the game.  That said, I hope I see it again because I will buy it next time.  I shall talk myself up into a frivolous treat and I'll stomp on the guilt and enjoy it.

Any way, philosophy aside, I commend this photo-book method of shopping to you if you take lots of photos as you work.

Monday, 24 September 2012

My little gems

Don't forget, you can click on the photo to enlarge it.

These are the little gems I bought from Miniatura yesterday for Bentleys.  There isn't a thing here that wasn't a good deal for one reason or another.

The three wooden kits are from Model Village Miniatures.  You can only get to see these ladies at shows - they don't have any on-line presence but they will give you a catalogue of their stuff and they will make anything you want.  Their prices are excellent.  As you can see every one of these is under three pounds.  It isn't worth buying the wood and bits of hardware needed, not to mention the trouble of cutting them out accurately when someone has done all this for you for that price.  They do sell made up pieces, not just kits.  They are in excellent scale and finely made.

The thirty shelf fillers for the kitchen (I think) came from Shepherd Miniatures.  They are little bargain bags of six items in a bag for a pound.  They do wonderfully for stacking on shelves with your better stuff in front of them.

There are two fenders for the salon and workroom fireplaces and a spark screen for the salon to prevent any mishaps with customers' clothes.  I also bought a hod of coal for the bedroom I think.

The handbag and gloves are beautifully made and are real leather and I got both for four pounds fifty.  Another trader was selling the hats and parasols and dresses etc at such silly prices I couldn't resist.  The hat and matching parasol and hat stand was about three pounds and she even split those away from a dress they were made to go with as I didn't want the dress!  The parasols were one pound seventy-five each.  The detail on the little pink reticule is astonishing and again only a few pennies for this.  She really is underselling her hard work and materials.

The plain white dishes were difficult to find.  Plain white is as rare as hen's teeth.  Indeed these were the only ones in the entire show and the plates came from one trader and the cups and saucers from another.  There's some little glass dishes for desserts and a bonny little pot for storing sugar.  These usually come at a high price but  think I paid about three pounds for this one.

The rest of the things are self-explanatory, I'll leave you to enjoy them.

Practical Stuff

Here's the 'boring' practical stuff I bought at Miniatura yesterday for Bentleys.

The big black object on the right is a magnifying glass on a stand with a few LED lights.  I hope it helps when I am doing fiddly little things like trying to thread chain onto jump rings!  It came from S & M Tools.  This is a really great seller if you are looking for anything in the way of tools for your hobby.  The best prices I have seen anywhere.  I also got the double ended 'dental' pick from them for just a pound.

The paper is some instructions for making green plants from masking tape - that should make interesting reading when I come to do it.  I want a couple of parlour palms or something large for the corner of the Salon and sitting room and they are very expensive to buy.  This came from The Miniature Garden Centre. This lady does flower making kits of every kind. The other thing she has which are just beautiful are many, many plants pots.  Whatever you want I am sure she will have it and, even better, you will be able to buy it mossy and aged if you like.

In the fabrics line I got some lace, some silk for curtains probably, some Hessian because I thought I might have a go at making baskets with it and some furniture foam.  There are five nice thin pieces of foam in this (black) pack.

Under the stuff on the left is a piece of mirror card.  It is lovely quality but I am a bit concerned about it being so thick - will I be able to cut it neatly and will it sit properly in the projects I want it for?

Last but not least I bought the next instalment of gravel for the roof.  I have two bags already which I discovered will only cover a postage stamp - well about five by five inches.  They cost me about four pounds off EBay after I'd paid the postage.  These lovely little bags were only fifty pence each.  I have two regrets here and I could kick myself about both of them as I still have only about a quarter of what I need to cover the roof of Bentleys.  Firstly, it was my last purchase and I had literally run out of cash;  I had one pound twenty-five left when I bought these so I could only get two.  I met my husband just outside the hall to go home and he said go back in and get some more (he'd give me some cash) and I was just too tired at four o'clock to bother.  The second and really silly thing is I don't know who I bought it from - aarrggh!

Finished the handbags

I finished the Valerie Claire handbags on Saturday.  

I put a very small pencil sharpener in the photo to give you some idea of scale.  The bags look excellent in real life.  The little odd gold bit doesn't show very well here.  It is a teeny finding that you can use a 'tiara' sort of element for someone's hair or maybe for a wedding veil.  I just added a crystal when I was doing the ones on the bags.  It will find a place for it in the shop somewhere.

I bought a few more Valerie Claire bits at Miniatura yesterday.  How do you resist?