Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Dolls House Fair, Mecure Hotel Bolton, 22nd July

This is the first fair I have found that is any where near where I live so it was a joy to just do a half hour journey to the next town for a 'bit of a shop'.  It was organised by the Brentwood Fair folk so was OK.  Not massive but enough to go at and a lot of very nicely made stuff at a range of price levels.

I didn't buy a huge amount but what I did buy are things I really wanted.

I have wittered on about using a glue gun in few posts a while ago and I spotted this fine nozzle one for just a fiver.  It seemed to be destiny!

I suppose this isn't strictly a Bentleys purchase; it is just a general tool for everything.  Now which blog does that go in?

You can read about the other stuff in this photo in Chocolat as it has been bought for that.  That blog will also explain project four ready for 2014!!!  This already has is own Blog and link in the right hand column here - Starfish Cottage.  I wonder of this obsession is now spinning out of control or am I just useless at saying no to something I want? 

This photo shows the things I got for Bentleys.

I bought the seat because it was only £1.95 and it might remake into something I want.  It looks a tad oversized for the figures but when it is cream and looking daintier it might sit OK in the shop as it it a large space.  The broom, knitting, kettle and desk items all came in at a fiver from someone's rummage basket.  I am very happy with the broom as they are usually clunky or expensive.  The knitting is lovely but needs the pins swapping to ones with beaded heads (which I have).  The desk items are very sweet and in good scale.  I will only use the blotter and the stamp and ink pad as we are a long way on from quill pens in 1911.  Happily with another couple of feathers stuck in the 'inkwell', it will be great for a display in the hat shop.  The little box of ribbons was only £1.20: there was no way I could even make it for that.  So I had an all round happy morning.

Last lap

I have posted some photos of the (almost) last part of the build for Bentleys.  I do still have the flat roof to do but that is waiting on being able to get a fine strip of wood which I want to edge the roof with and also the right gravel.  That might be a while, so we are moving in despite that!

The heat shrink tube arrived and proved OK for the job.  It adds to the bulk of the wires but anything would and I am sure this is the least worst of the other alternatives. It was easy to apply and I shrank it with a hair-dryer despite all the stuff on the web saying pretty much to use only a heat gun as that is easy and totally successful.  The hair dryer seemed to work just fine.

There are several photos to look at if you want to see this being done.  They show me joining the wires by twisting them together, having threaded a piece of the tubing on one of them first.  You then slip the tube over the join and heat it.  Do this for each of the two wires and you are good to go.

I also added lead to the dormer windows as I managed to get a good buy from EBay.  Initially I thought I was scuppered as the lead was all wrinkled when it was unrolled and just going at it with a rolling pin simply ironed the wrinkles in rather than out.  I then realised the paper at the back needed slitting behind each fold and it worked fine.

My inspirational bit of work on the last lap was making a couple of 'floors' for the window displays.  These are removable so I can do just that.  Slide them out, window dress them and slide them back in.  No-one in 1911 had shop window displays with items standing on the actual shop floor like we do nowadays.  This window shelf has its own name.... it is driving me potty trying to remember it from my teenage years (when I was at school) working in dress shops.  Circa 1960 not 1911!

The last of the glazing for three windows was put in and here we are ready to move in.  I have sorted out what goes in each room ready to start dressing the rooms properly.  I won't make a lot of headway with that as I still have a lot of furniture to buy and make and alter.  I will of course keep you posted as I go.  Meanwhile if you want to see the collection of stuff I already have you need to visit Bentleys - by room album.

Monday, 16 July 2012


This refers to a break in production not a hernia.  Mind you I probably wouldn't notice a 1/12th hernia.

This is my view of Bentleys now and for the  next few (hopefully) days.  With help from Mr Muscles we turned it round so I could attack the electrics.  I have four things which can plug straight in and five which need extending so they can be plugged in.  

I have sent for some heat shrink tubing to cover the joins.  I hope that is the least 'lumpy' way of doing it.  I realised that the two on the top of the house might create a problem as their wires will be under whatever surface I put on the roof and might not lie down flat enough if they were wrapped in normal insulating tape.  I won't blather on about it now as I am still awaiting its arrival.  I'll show you how it works out (having never used it and not having a clue!) when I do it.

I have now formally declared the only thing I hate in doll housing and would pay to have done if I were possible, is taking off and putting on the rotten little plugs.  I can honestly say it is the only time that I lose the plot and have mini tantrums.  They make me so cross and frustrate me at every turn.  In a way it is even more annoying that my husband, who has banana fingers when it comes to delicate stuff, can do these without a problem.  Admittedly there is a strength issue involved in shoving the pins in and sometimes getting them out so that may be a major part of it.  I have resorted to using a hammer to thwack the pins in place when I can actually locate them sufficiently well in their stupid little holes which are already full of wire.  Aaaaarrrgggh!  See, I am getting cross just typing it.  Four down and five to go.

I also added this to the top left corner at the back - don't really know why as the house is for me and I know it is set in October 1911.  I think I was just having a Lettraset attack.  I know I said before that it is dreadful stuff these days and sticks where you don't want it to and doesn't where you do.  It is such a pain it bears repeating.

An issue with Bentleys turning its back on me is that I can't do a couple of other little jobs, like touching up the ends of recently added skirting boards.  Fortunately I am also waiting for wood to make the raised floors in the shop windows and the lead for the dormer roofs, so the bigger jobs at the front can't be done yet either.  It is all on order so give me a week or so and hopefully the shop will be ready to move into.  Now, doesn't that sound just like a builder!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Stairs, roof and bumps a daisy

I finally got the stairs in and done.  Yippee!!  They have been my all-time worry on this project and I don't feel much better about it now they are done.  The only conclusion I can come to, even after the event, is that there is no easy way to make them or put them in place.

This was the first staircase of the four and I can assure you they are far from perfect.  I'm not going through all the grief here in detail but I did try all sorts of ways of going about it.  

Initially I drew a template and tried to glue everything in place by lying the stairs down against that.  Nope, that's not the way.  No glue seemed to do the job properly and I resorted to a hot glue gun.  This wasn't great either but it seemed the least worse choice between itself and wood glue and super-glue.

Trying to figure out what angle to cut the hand rails at was a complete nightmare and I did sort of use the template for that.  I then stuck the rail in place between the newels and threaded the spindles into it trying to space them out evenly. These needed a lot of cajoling and fiddling about with and they seemed miles too short.  I didn't glue these in place.  I then did a lot of wiggling and jiggling over the stair case itself to try and make the seven pieces line up properly.  Very fast blobs of hot glue were added under the newels and spindles, followed by much praying and even more cursing. 

I repeat they leave much to be desired but once in the building in the (unlit!) stair well they look fine.

If you want to see each floor in more detail have a look at the web album.  While you are there take a look at the roof tiles going on.

I was really pleased with these.  My worry here was that they would run out of line and I can honestly say only one tiny bit was a touch off.  I'm not telling you where because I think I've got away with it.  

The problem is that you start at the bottom of the roof - obviously - and work your way upwards overlapping by half a tile as you go.  This is relatively easy to keep straight as long as you keep checking until the work splits at the bottom of the dormers.  Now you are working on four  separate areas and there is no way to keep a single line check on what you are doing so by the time you get to the top of the dormers you want them all to come back together in a nice joined up precisely straight line. 

I kept the line by using a strip of wood about 1 cm wide which I carefully held at the bottom edge of the last row of tiles and then stuck the next row in place by butting them up against the top edge of the wood.  Three hands would have been useful.  I used a long piece (seen here) for the full rows and I cut a piece off for the shorter pieces between and beside the dormers.

You might also notice I had drawn evenly spaced lines on the roof as guide lines.  This is recommended by Richard Stacey on the tile packet but in all honesty it didn't make a lot of difference other than a visual nod now and again to roughly check how it was going.  There was never a moment when the tiles actually lined up with those lines.  You might be able to measure and mark up more accurately than me so don't let me put you off trying.  I had already discovered I couldn't make this work for me when I tried it when I was doing the brickwork.  As I said they are useful as a sort of double check insurance so I would still do it.

Just a reminder here for anyone about to do these roof slates - like the versi-bricks - make sure you have enough of them and tip them all out and mix them up.  I forgot this with these slates and I did have a slightly different colour and finish on my brand new ones on the top two rows. It looks OK but there was a panic moment.  That said I didn't manage to calculate any of the products accurately.  I ended up with too many bricks and too many slates and not enough extra long bricks which delayed me.  I might add I am good at the maths it is just that you don't really know which bricks you will want for which part of the build and I found I needed lots of the longer sort to get round all sorts of corners.  Again having patience would save you money.  Buy the least you think you can get away with and then see what you need if you don't mind waiting for the order in the middle of your build.

Also, do not make the mistake I made a long time back when I accidentally fixed the roof in place. It would have been such an easy task to put the hinges on two flat pieces of wood on the floor rather than on a built shop!  What a fiddle that was.  It also meant I had to stick the dormers in place, do the lead flashing and stick the tiles on when it was built as it would have been even more difficult to handle the roof flap with all that stuff on it when we were man/woman handling it into place, trying to align the hinges properly.  I am sure we would have wrecked something.

All in all I am very pleased with how it is all looking.  I need to touch up various bits of trims - change the white line under the roof to grey for example, add some skirting in the stair wells, and put 'floors' in the windows for displays and it will be ready to 'dress'.  

The only largish task is the flat roof.  As that should strictly speaking be gravelled (!) I am holding off on decision making for now.  Apparently (cheap) Edwardian flat roofs were five layers of bitumen and felt on the rafters topped off with gravel.  This shop certainly wouldn't have warranted a lead roof.

There is a sort of PS here - saying lead reminded me....  my lead flashing isn't really accurate I know but it was what I bought and it isn't cheap so I was determined to use it.  The flat dormer roofs will be leaded when I can spring the cash for the lead.  Could do with an Edwardian dodgy   tradesman here I think. 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Fame at last.....

Thought I'd do a bit of self-promotion and give you a heads up on the September issue of Dolls House and Miniatures Magazine (on sale 26th July) where there will be the first in a series of six pieces written by me about the Wentworth.  Here's their advert for it (and other things, of course!) in the back of this month's issue.