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?

Monday, 17 September 2012

Shop shelves

The shop shelves aren't in any way outstanding but they are sort of filled and that will do for now.  I am sure things will get replaced and added to as I live with Bentleys and find little gems to buy for it.  I just didn't want them standing semi-empty waiting for future treasures.

The corner shelf has a little favourite of mine that was almost the first thing I bought when I was dreaming of Le Tout Paris.  It is a fox fur complete with beady little eyes and fuzzy ears.

The glove box beside it contains a lovely pair of kid gloves - what a shame only I know they are there!

You might recognise the glove display below them  as one of the recent Craft-pack items I made up.  I have taken apart five of the six I made and re-jigged them for various places.  Handy tip - try to figure out precisely what you want to do with something before you glue it together.  I am nothing if not awkward. Happily they have all re-assembled quite nicely thanks to using the tiniest spots of glue in the first place. I am always frugal with the glue.

The double shelf has very few things that will remain as time goes on.  

For example, I am not too sure about costume jewellery being sold this way in 1911.  I need to look again at Selfridge's which, along with Everywoman's Encyclopaedia, is my model for the shop.

Similarly with the single shelf.  

As I keep saying all the shelves need thinking about, but for now they'll do.

 If I can subsume all my historical doubts, this display shelf at the back of  the shop (left side) can stay as it is.  I know that I need to persuade myself that I am not making an historically accurate 1/12th model.  Even though Bentleys isn't literally a doll's house for a child to play with, it isn't a museum piece either.  If I can just stop being so pernickety about every detail, I shall be able to bowl along happily with it - warts and all.

This particular piece of furniture is very nicely made.  It has nicely decorated mirrored doors at the back which open to allow you to fill the shelves.  In reality it would have to be in a place where you could have access all round.  I couldn't make that happen in my layout so here is a prime example of my simply ignoring one/one reality.  I wouldn't want to have to drag this away from the wall every five minutes to get into it if I was working there.  I could add castors (?) or just pretend the sides open!

 The counter has silk ribbons on the top which the customer has been ordering.  The top glass shelf is completely empty because I want to fill it with fabric and lace which would be sold for trimming hats.

I am unsure about a cash till. I think I might have one of those wooden box types they had.  This shop doesn't really depend on a drop in cash sort of trade. It is more about ordering, delivering and running accounts.

The bottom shelf has a bundle of boxes which contain all sorts of bits and bobs for hats such as silk roses, buckles, beads etc.

It was commonplace for (not so well off) ladies to have a couple of basic hats which they re-trimmed according to the season or the occasion.  

I have a lovely print of a poster from 1911 advertising 'The New Velvet Hat - The Shirley' and showing ten different ways to trim it for all occasions.  Magazines and the encyclopaedia I mentioned were always full of pictures and instructions for trimming your hat.

All the boxes used throughout the displays, I am pretty sure, are totally wrong.  I was born thirty odd years after 1911 and I don't remember items being sold in fancy printed boxes in shops in my childhood. They would be a basic, usually brown, cardboard box.  They might have some names or numbers on to identify the contents and maybe some sort of picture or logo in black print.  Like most people doing this hobby I am reluctant to stock my shop with these things because I also want the end result to be pretty.  Yet another mini dilemma.  To be thought about another day....

Window Displays

I have no idea why I kept putting off doing the various displays for the shop but I did.  I convinced myself I hadn't got enough, or the proper, stuff to do it.  Finally I got cheesed off looking at the box of bits and pieces sitting on my work table and thought - I'll just see how far they go towards the job.  I have pretty much finished most of the displays!

The right hand window display was assembled on my nifty removable shelf which I made a while ago and then, when everything was tacky waxed down, it was slid into the window space. 

The tacky wax may have to be replaced with glue at some stage, I hope not.  I'm not sure how robust it will be at withstanding the continual opening and closing of the front of Bentleys.

The gold painted shelf in the centre was a bit of inspiration on my part.  I bought a kitchen dresser months ago at a show and when I came to use it I realised it had a badly fitted shelf top which made it curve away from the wall. It looked dire as it had to go on the side wall where it just screamed ''wobbly'' at me every time I looked at it.  Also, it had been bought for the original, tiny, Le Tout Paris (remember that?) and was too small for Bentley's kitchen and so it got replaced by a much nicer, larger piece.  

I sawed the top from the bottom as I thought the table part of the dresser might come in handy and stuck both the pieces in a 'projects' drawer.  Mooching around for something else whilst thinking about making some display shelves for the window, I came across the dresser shelves.  I turned them upside down, painted them with gold acrylic paint and they were just what I needed.  My favourite craftpack kit just fitted the top shelf - no adjustments needed and in it went.

The handbag, pinned to the wall in this photo, was to test an idea.  At some stage I am going to make curtains to go two thirds up at the back of the window displays.  Ellen has taken her cue from Selfridge's and has removed the old wooden backboards that closed in the windows and used to be crammed with as much stuff as possible and has gone very modern in her style of window dressing.  Quite a shocker in sleepy little Erdington.  Hence her increasing success.... Back to reality?.... I thought I might hang a couple of handbags from the brass rail when it goes in place and I wanted to see if that would work visually.  

The handbag, therefore, isn't in the window because the curtain isn't there yet.  That aside, one window display is pretty nearly done.

The left window will be more of a challenge.  I am going to be draping some silks and lace for display, dressing a mannequin and making a couple of collars and stands to display them.  I may even save this window as a project to do while I am in Naples (Florida) this winter. I hate the thought of just abandoning my hobby for six months.  I can see it might be a pain to do that because I'll have to transport so much stuff to do even the simplest of jobs.  Hey ho.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

A little how to... a cushion

I thought I might add a little one to my 'How to make it' list.  I haven't done anything on things like the Valerie Claire and the Craftpack stuff that I just made up, as they come with instructions and are pretty straightforward.  I did think you might be interested in how I make cushions and pillows.

The printed silk cushion pieces are from another favourite supplier - Sylvia Rose.  She is the lady who made my beautiful rugs (see 8 June post).  She sent it as a freebie with another order for some pale blue cushions. They might turn up in Chocolat in the future.  I thought I would make up this one as it would be useful in the workroom for the chair (not even made yet) which will be near the desk.  Check out her site as she has beautiful rugs, curtains as well as these cushions and will make to order.

Fold over the edges on each of the two little squares.  I am too lazy to get out the iron and I find that pressing silk with my fingers does the job OK.  The back square is folded down just a fraction smaller than the front so that the seam edges are behind the cushion when it is finished, rather than right on the edge where they can be seen.  I put the smallest amount of glue possible just under the fold on the creases on the back of the cushion and press the edges down.  Trim as near as you like up to the line when it is dry.  I actually don't take a lot off as it doesn't show and silk doesn't make up too thickly.

I don't stick down the edges on the front of the cushion as I don't want any stiffness there.  I then make an envelope by sticking the back piece to the front piece along three edges.  Just be very tidy with the glue and use as little as possible but get it right on the very edge of the crease or it won't look like a stitched seam.

I (under)fill the cushion with micro polystyrene beads.  These were bought from a dollar shop in a one dollar neck pillow. You'll find the beads in soft toys and all sorts of stuff - just get the cheapest/smallest you can get your hands on.  This is a largish coffee jar full of them which will last me several life times and I have about three times more than this left in the original cushion.  I have struggled with all sorts of ways of trying to fill cushions/pillows.  I have used small teaspoons with and without tin foil funnels etc., but, as usual, the most obvious is the easiest.... wait for the glue to dry and scoop up what you need from the pot using the cushion itself!

Tuck in and glue the fourth side and Bob's your Uncle!

You have a cushion or pillow that will tuck nicely into the corners of a seat and mold pretty much to any shape you want.  For example you can sit something or someone on them and actually make a realistic 'dent' in them.  You can't do this with the normal polyester filling.

The back is just as neat and not a single stitch in sight.  That's probably because it wasn't stitched.  Thank heavens for glue.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Valerie Claire Miniatures

I've just finished making some things  from another of my favourite suppliers - Valerie Claire Miniatures that you might like to see.

You will need to click on this image to actually see what's going on here.  I was keen to show you how teeny these items are.  The printed card has nine cards for silk ribbons.  It is a simple case of cutting out the cards and wrapping round some very narrow silk ribbon.  I only had eight colours so you'll see a repeat of the green.  They look terrific - very realistic and in excellent scale as is all her stuff.

I am in the throws of making four of her teeny handbags. She sells the findings and you sort out the fabric.  I'll share them with you when I've completed all four of them. This photo was to show you the difficult bit - opening the jump ring and fastening it through the handle and the bag clasp.  Do-able though and I think they will look lovely.  They might be hanging in my window displays somewhere.  I haven't decided yet.

As I said this is someone who's stuff I heartily recommend.  I originally bought from her at a show somewhere but have since ordered on line without any hitches.  She makes some really original things.  Check her out especially if you are working on a shop or anything Victorian/Edwardian.  That said there are other gems there too.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Last three craft packs

 I have finished my other three Craftpack company's kits and here they are.

The little blouse is really sweet and not too difficult to do if you turn off your dressmaking brain.  I spent ages trying to set the sleeves in the armholes properly as if I was making a real garment.  The blouse is actually cut out and constructed very much like the real thing but you have add in 1/12th skills and forget what you do in 1/1 dressmaking.  This is all about gluing and draping to make it look as realistic as possible.  I shall return to it when I decide where it is going and do some more pushing and poking to get it to lie realistically either over or in the box.

 I promise you that the long white gloves look better in real life than they do here.  I would like to have added some buttons at the wrist but I don't have any very, very teeny no-whole white beads.  I might see if I can snare some at the NEC for a few pennies to finish them off.

 Sorry this is a bit out of focus - I tried to get in too close, obviously.  It is a nice small piece of shelf dressing that will come in handy somewhere.
I thought I would show you my 1/12th suede gloves against a navy suede glove of my own to give you an idea of the scale.  Pretty impressive, hey?

....... such fun.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Mini nut returns

I am back from La Belle France, waddling from a surfeit of great food and chocolate and ready to crack on with Bentleys, but first I have a few domestic chores to conquer.

Fortunately these chores haven't got in the way of my moving my miniatures' workshop yet again!

You may remember that back in April I moved out of the spare room/my office and into the refurbished summer house.  It has taken me from April until now to decide it was a daft idea.  It seemed very logical to have a place where I could make a mess and leave it and not have to keep moving stuff off my one desk every time I switched tasks.  In this respect it was indeed fine, BUT I soon discovered the problem.  Because I didn't want to leave the dolls house in the 'shed' it meant that over the summer I walked a few hundred miles between the spare room, where Bentleys lived, and the bottom of the garden where I was working on something to go in it. This was even more challenging this summer as it often required being rescued by a husband bearing an umbrella; not to mention the difficulties presented when he delivered my tea and biccies in the rain!

Eventually I realised when I was working at my desk that I was still surrounded by miniature stuff. Bit by bit tools and kit had somehow found their way back to the house.

We rarely use the spare bedroom these days so it seemed more sensible to utilise it on a daily basis instead of preserving it for the very occasional sleep-over visitor.  We donated the posh futon to a charity and moved me and my stuff back in.  I now occupy a split personality room.

One corner is my writing and office area plus Bentleys.

The opposite corner is my new work area and the future Chocolaterie Maya. 

The white cupboard it is standing on was bought from Ikea on Sunday and is a great size for many dolls houses, being 31 x 15 1/2 inches.  It also offers loads of storage space.  At £20 I heartily recommend Epedit!  They also sell a set of castors for it, which might prove useful when I am doing the build next year.

The 'mess' you can see on the table is another of the Craftpack Company display kits that I was assembling before I went away.  I'll post pictures when I finish the other three.

Back soon....