Saturday, 31 March 2012

Something for nothing

After being in this hobby for about eighteen months now and going to shows and fairs and trawling EBay and other sites I am, at last, getting a feel for the value of things.

When I buy on EBay I try to stick to a single rule...  not to pay more, including the postage, for an item than I would at a show. That price is arrived at by knowing the sort of prices for the ordinary stuff that's generally available.  If in doubt it is easy to check by doing a Google search and see what 'shops' are selling it for. The unusual pieces are more difficult and all I can do there is apply the same idea that if I was at a show what would I part with to own it.

The logic behind this is that I could buy the usual stuff at shows so there is no point in spending more.  The temptation pieces are the hardest things to rein in.

I just read some Etsy artisan talking about her stuff saying she doesn't sell on E-Bay because of the 'something for nothing mentality behind it'.  I sort of know what she meant but who doesn't love a bargain.  

During the last three months while I was away I bought quite a lot of EBay stuff to keep me happy as I couldn't actually work on anything for the house because I brought all my kit and tools and stuff back to the UK on our Christmas trip home.  I managed to snap up some real bargains.  I always love the 99p opening bid which I often do, in hopes no-one else makes an offer.  These have just got me my scales and my lovely binoculars.  Today's arrival was a brass record player.  I managed to snap the horn off within its first few seconds of its life with me - but a bit of epoxy resin should fix that.  Then I shall paint everything but the horn to make it look like wood etc.  I actually remember having one in the sixties.  It was all very Biba and Carnaby Street to own such a thing.  If you understand this you are English and a very particular age!  

Then I have a plethora of cheap but pleasant surprises like two very fine glass, screw top jars - the tops come off; they are in perfect scale and are a fine glass for £1.65. 

 I have a couple of signed wooden pieces which are truly beautifully made and under appreciated by their seller.  My photos do them as much service as did hers.  In life they are silky and finely detailed and lovely.  One is Palmer E Dougherty and the other just says EH 11 1977 (I assume is November 1977).  Even the signatures are finely worked.  They mean nothing to me and a Google search revealed a Palmer Dougherty piece being sold in an auction and was described as by 'the artist and miniaturist', so I am impressed by that.  No luck on the initialled one though.  if anyone knows anything, please share.  Not because I want to know they are worth more than I paid (well not entirely!) but because I would like to know the story of every item in my house if I could.

Just in case you think I am a total cheap skate I have paid real money for a couple of good things.  I have a collection of silks, leathers, feathers and trims to die for from Little Trimmings which set me back £24.37.  Her prices are excellent I just bought a lot.  The additional joy of these is that she kindly sorted out the leathers in my peacock colours and decided on which packet of mixed no-hole beads went best with the collection.  It is touches like that which makes a great seller.  She has a customer for life.  

Another expensive (for me) purchase arrived today and made smile from ear to ear.  They are three lovely (accurate to scale) pieces; a tea caddy, biscuit barrel and toast rack.  They are worth leaving the lids off and filling with black tea and ginger nuts. Worth every penny of their £11.03 cost.

In complete contrast to this I can show you the world's barmiest purchase.  We are great Dollar Shop customers in Naples - the logic being that if we are passing we may as well buy known brands from there for a buck than from somewhere else for more.  One of our regular buys are small packs of M & M's.  They have to be small packs because I have a brain which says if I have a pack of any given size it must be eaten in one sitting so jumbo (save money) type stuff just means I waddle.  Any way, these usually cost $1.24 from our grocery store and 74 cents from the dollar shop (yes, I know that's not a dollar - their name means 'nothing over a dollar').  Honestly we do get other stuff too.  So here's the mini purchase.....  I bought a huge purple basket (for collecting your candy eggs in when hunting at Easter) because it had this pretty trim on its tulle frill!  No idea what I want it for, but there you go.  The basket went on (complete with tulle) to a charity shop - so win-win all round.

Now I've finished crowing about how smart I am I will confess to succumbing to the 'something for nothing' mentality and say I may well have wasted thirty pounds!!!!! on wood trims.  Someone was offering dado rails, skirting board and picture rails for a quarter of the usual price - averaging out at around £0.40 pence per piece versus £1.20. I bought 20 skirting, 10 dado and 10 picture rails.  Thank heavens he was out of cornice or I would have bought those too.  I was bright enough to think they may not be the best quality but dumb enough not to know what this means in wood!  They are cheap, coarse wood which doesn't take kindly to being routed in mini-world scale.  My husband says the skirting boards may sand down well enough to be OK when painted but I am pretty sure I won't be struggling with the finer picture and dado rails.  I can't sell them on as I don't want anyone else to be unhappy with them, so it is a case of chalk this one up to experience and just punishment for being greedy and wanting 'something for nothing'.

Welcome to Susana

If you follow my other dolls house Blog (Wentworth Court) you will know that I have already thanked Susana for 'enrolling' but, I am happy to do so again here as it is a different place.

Thank you Susana.  Even though I write my Blogs primarily for myself and for my pleasure in being able to go back to them to remember things I did or thought, it would be untrue to say that is the only reason I write them.  If that were the case I would be keeping journals and wouldn't be broadcasting them.  I get an element of added pleasure when I write anything if I know someone else is reading and enjoying it too.  The strangeness of today's electronic chatter is that you send it out on the ether to (potentially) more or less everyone.  [On reflection, whilst writing that, I suppose the end result is the same as having something published in good old fashioned paper and print]  This pleasure is again increased when the reader also has a name and face.  So many thanks to Susana for being a follower.  I hope I can keep finding enough to say to bring you back.

I have four Blogs on the go, so sometimes some are thin while one is fat depending on what is demanding my attention.  Right now, having got back yesterday from our six month stint in America, I am writing lists and lists of things I want to get done and scaring myself by the amount I want to cover in our six months here.  It also seems that everything demands my attention at once.  The garden (Blog 1) is screaming for weeding and and planting. The Wentworth (Blog 2) needs work as I shall be writing about it for Dolls House and Miniatures magazine and I am just itching to crack on with my latest love - Le Tout Paris (Blog 3).  In my ordinary life (Blog 4) I have projects I want to do on the real house and friends and family to catch up with.  So, if you don't find me here I will be in one of my other rambling spots.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Bonjour Lyddington

Just to keep you posted (a pun!) - I think I am abandoning the Honeychurch which is the very thing which started me off on Le Tout Paris and I will be buying a Lyddington shop.  

The reasoning behind this is that I have to practically remake the Honeychurch before I can do what I want to do with it.  This means a lot of hard work, which I'd rather avoid.  Also it is too small to accommodate all the ideas and wishes I've got and it would lend itself to something which would suit it better.  (yes, I have a cunning plan....)

So I intend to order it tomorrow from here so I can get my sticky paws on it as soon as I get home.  

At some time I will EBay the Honeychurch but, for once, I intend to get back what I paid for it - i.e. 
£75.  It also cost petrol from North to South and a hotel stay and a £10 table from the Midlands on the way down, so I have a husband who is slightly miffed with my new 'good idea'.  If I can't sell it I will just keep it in case I have an urge to do a third (!) project.  This is already forming up nicely into watching 'Chocolat' a few times and replicating that as nearly as I can.  It might have to become Chocolate and be set in the UK as the building isn't very French looking(?) but I like the idea of a tiny cramped place and a fifties setting.

So, six more days here and I will be home.  All I have to do before I start on my houses is find, buy, build, paint some sort of large garden store/shed.  Move all the garden stuff in the Summerhouse to that.  Clean and repaint the summer house inside and out; then fit the whole place with desk/table, shelves storage etc etc etc; solve the problem of lighting/heating and away I go.

Watch this space

(I will also be writing all summer - see Wentworth Court Blog)

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Latest buys ....

I've sorted out the stuff to go home with me and did some very quick shots as I unpacked and repacked them  So here's eleven photos to share with you.

 Border Paper
Still a bit wavy from the postage tube as it only arrived today!  I have a couple of these sheets at home but I convinced myself I needed another.  Now, when I work it out again - I don't. Grrrr!  If you look closely you can see they are five different Art Nouveau (Willam Morris) borders which are repeated three times down the paper.  I love them and they will be great with some coordinating wallpaper which I already have and the plain, pale, greenery/yallery painted walls of the Salon and the kitchen.
This is such a sweet print - very dainty and on some sturdy paper.  I got it from Nancy's which is my 'just-around-the-corner' dolls-house shop, except that I bought it from Nancy's stall at the Sarasota Show.  I bought more stuff from her stall than any other - how crackpot is that.  This is probably going to end up in the Wentworth bathroom and not the bedroom in LTP as originally planned, so I hope there's enough.

I just love this one. It also only arrived today.  Not a great photo, but it is a lovely old-fashioned mossy green and yellowy cream kitchen tile colour but made to look like lino which is exactly what I wanted for my bang up to date 1911 kitchen floor.  Lino was the bee's knees and Ellen would definitely have had it. This is not easy to get but I found this at  The Robin's Nest for those of you in the States or those of you who don't mind paying overseas postage. I wonder how many of you remember lino floors..... I do.

Poor photo - sorry - I just rushed them and I never knew what I'd got until I sat down to do this. I have packed the stuff away now and can't bear the prospect of digging it all out again.  Any way, this is the rug to co-ordinate with the wallpapers.  Not mad keen.  I am just hoping it works better in situ (covered in furniture!) as it cost me eight pounds.

I have a pair of these Bespaq chairs.  I managed to snag them for much less than half price on EBay and I am determined to make them work in the Salon even though they are way off the mark for Art Nouveau.  Hey Ho - we'll see.

 Pretty sure these were mad moment buys from Sarasota.  I was grabbed by the $4 price tag for each one as opposed to a rational decision on whether I wanted them or not.  By the time the hat stand is smothered with hats, parasols etc as a display stand in the shop it might be doable.  As for the bird cage complete with bird.... mmmmmmmmmmm?
 You probably need to click on this to enlarge it so you can see what's what.  The sweet little lamp came from another place who came up trumps for me today - Earth and Tree Miniatures and Dollhouses.  Impeccable service, nice products at a good price and fast delivery.  I had several things from them like the plastic for my windows and a couple of glue spreaders which you won't see here as it is boring work stuff.  The wood won't make any sense but it is a bathroom shelf unit DIY kit I got at Sarasota.  I like it because the wood is so thin (and already finished!).  The teeny real copper coal scuttle - nicely aged was a couple of dollars off EBay.  It is small, but bedroom ones were.  Not used much and had to be lugged upstairs.  Similarly with the terrific Warwick Miniature kettle which I got for $3.01 including postage!  This is normally a ten dollar piece. It does have a lid in its bag.  It will look great when I have dirtied it up a little.  There's a couple of doorknobs - don't know how they made it to the picture show? The fly swatter is nicely modelled too - these are usually very clunky or silly expensive.  As for the bag of bottles- I must have had a mini brainstorm as I paid $7.25 for these at the show.  The reasoning was they are all different shapes and sizes (like real life) and I can fill and label as I like.  So maybe OK then?

Another EBay find for a couple of bucks.  I've been looking for a nice mannequin and so far the best price has been $8.50 plus postage.  I decided to try and get one at the next show I go to to avoid the mailing costs.  Meanwhile this came up for a couple of bucks and I like the shape so I thought with a bit of ingenuity I could cover it with the dress I want to make.  If it doesn't work well enough for the shop I'll just throw fabric over it and put it in the loft with the sewing machine.  Either way it will get a life.  My rotary tool which I ordered today should sand the bow off the belt quite nicely!  More about that when it arrives.... and no, it isn't a Dremmel.

 This is another image where the things shown are ten times better in reality.  The perfume bottles are Swarovski beads and are lovely.  Also, they aren't all wonky as they appear here.  I didn't get the tacky wax off them and they are just plonked down.  They are also a reminder of the exquisite work this man does.  Miniatures Limited  He actually makes furniture but nothing I can afford and I was totally fixated on the Rennie Mackintosh pieces - just beautiful, so I bought these as the next best thing.  I haven't a clue what to do with the little stuffed bag of wrapping paper etc - maybe in Wentworth as Granny's birthday gifts have just been wrapped?  I love the little cherub soap dish (a couple of dollars)  It will be great as a display piece in the shop or a zillion other uses.  I wish I'd bought more.

Oooohh eeerr!  A tad out of focus!  Sorry.  This is the pesky little calender I wanted enough to allow it to screw down my LTP to a definitive date.  You might just be able to see it says October 1911.  It is a good deal tinier than this - hence the poor focus I guess - and the detail is lovely. $2.50 didn't hurt too much.

This is mostly a collection of ribbons and straw and stuff which I got at Sarasota to make hats .  The orange feather fell of an Irish piper's hat at a concert we went to!  The big bag of lavender feathers were plucked from a Florida Flamingo Biro from the dollar shop and the bits of 'marble' and other finishes are colour sample cards from Lowes.  We are nothing if not opportunists us one-twelfthers!

So that's it - a trawl through bits and bobs collected over the past couple of months here.  It is unlikely I will be adding to this.... (a) all spent out and (b) how do I get it home?  We have too much stuff for two cases already.  My husband won't go for the ... but it is all so tiny ..... argument any more.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Thinking out loud - a plea for historical accuracy and a warning to hold on to your purse strings.

Somewhere in these ramblings I mentioned that I am spending January through March just 'finding out' stuff ('research' sounds a bit glorified) as I have taken all my kit back to the UK.  Admittedly this hasn't stopped me buying things though and, when a couple more orders come through, I intend to gather them up to show you.

I also said early on that I need a sort of narrative behind the project or else I wander off in too many directions and buy loads of stuff which I later have to sell on for a pittance.  Lesson learned.  So, I decided I must stop collecting all and sundry for the shop without having any firm idea of what would go where and what the shop should look like.  I want all the rooms to be harmonious to some degree and have learned that the decorating style for this period was described as 'greenery/yallery'.  This should be the feel of each room.  Mmmmm, already I have wallpaper and carpets not fitting that outline.

Then I began to think about the details in the Salon and fitting room which, so far,  has passed through elegant 18th century French château, all the way to Rennie Mackintosh (seriously!).  I suppose it really should be sort of William Morris (in line with the rest of the rooms) but that leaves me with a particularly dainty pair of white, floral decorated Bespaq chairs bought at a bargain price, but still costly. See what I mean.  I can now either sell them at a (most likely) loss or remodel them which adds more cost to their original price and is pretty criminal really. 

Right now I am determined to hold on to everything for as long as my throw away nature will allow as I have already sold on at least a dozen bits and bobs I could be using on this project such as a lovely expensive washbasin, spot on in period fireplace, three great dolls etc etc.  These were bought while I was doing the Wentworth and thinking about an Edwardian shop as a second project.  I then decided I couldn't afford to do two and, any way, where would it go.... and here I am .... Le Tout Paris.  (I even have a third project mentally stewing!)

My current buying frenzy, even as I type, has extended to bidding on a (naked) Heidi Ott doll - why?  I have no idea, other than she looked lovely and I had a mad idea that I would be able to dress her beautifully.  Had this come to fruition I would have been fifty plus dollars lighter, a naked doll in hand demanding to be 'dressed beautifully' and two, already purchased, resin figure surplus to requirements.  Luckily my i-Pad pinged a couple of seconds ago to tell me I had been outbid.  There is a 1/12th God!

At this moment I have a bid in for a nice pair of binoculars because I like them and they are a bargain!  (my downfall)  They now need a story to account for their presence in a small town ladies shop. I decided (like the pewter tankard I bought!) they would be another of Albert's things which Ellen had hung on to.  My husband told me they were prism binoculars and maybe I should check if they existed then.  Phew!  I found several references and pictures of prism binoculars being used in the Boer war.  It seems the army issue were lightweight fold up types which was all very sensible except the enemy were using much better prism binoculars. (4)

Albert had taken his own with him as they had been his birthday gift from Ellen shortly before he left. So there you are, if you want something badly enough you can wheedle it in somehow as long as it pre-dates your chosen moment in time.

Another purchase has firmly fixed my 'moment in time' for my shop as October 1911.  

The year had already been decided because the dress I was going to make for the window display is part of Hazel Dowd's tutorial.  I dated the dress to 1911.  The actual month of October has been arrived at because I have a calender (on the way) which shows that particular month and year.  In a way buying something even as insignificant as this has sort of scuppered me.  I had visualised all the displays and stock being, pretty much, sugared almond sort of shades.  This went beautifully with the original French creamy château look I had planned.  Clearly this wouldn't be right for an Autumn display.  

I was now compelled to abandon pastels and spend a lot of time trawling libraries and googling in an attempt to determine what colours were being worn in France in October 1911.  There really didn't seem to be anything definitive.  I then came across a cover of a November (American) Vogue.  I am hoping even in those days you got your next month's magazine in advance as we do now.  Luckily Ellen has friends who like to travel and she always has access to such goodies as this. 

She loved(es!) Art Nouveau from her time in France and the peacock was an iconic bird for that movement.  Her October displays are all peacock colours and the person she is copying in design right now is Paul Poiret. He was causing all sorts of sensations in the fashion world in 1911 with his harem pants and the first photography fashion  shoot in April's Art et Decoration.  (3)  (bit of plagiarism here from Vogue?)  I am sure I will be writing screeds more in the narrative (link at the top of the Blog) should you be interested in the inner working of my imagination.  All of this chatter has been to serve two purposes....

If you aren't made of money you really need to have a plan..... and do your best to stick to it.  It is the only way not to waste money on things you won't ever use.

The second finger wagging about historical accuracy is probably a bit pointless.  If you aren't interested in who did what, when and why and you simply want to collect and display things you like in your dolls house then it is irrelevant and if you are concerned about 'getting it right', then you know this already. I just thought my thinking out loud about these things might help someone who hasn't actually considered which way they might want to go.  For me, a huge part of the pleasure I am getting from this hobby is all the peripheral stuff I am learning along the way.

(Just a reminder... the red numbers refer to the reference page, link at the top of the Blog)