Tuesday, 30 June 2015

EBay comes up trumps

Apologies if I keep saying how much I hate EBay.  I think it starts with the principle of getting something for nothing which, as a seller, is 'painful' and as a buyer, encourages the greed in us that we wish didn't have.  On a less moral high ground I just hate its systems, lack of help, paying through the nose in terms of their charges (taking a per cent on the postal costs as well as the item, being the most annoying) and then Paypal's charges and so on. 

Then, just like lots of others, I can't resist a trawl when bored or using them when I have no idea how to get rid of things I don't want.  Supping tea with the devil.

Here's my latest purchase for a couple of pounds plus postage.

by Headley Holgate and Pamela Ruddock

It is a terrific book for anyone with skills and tools and would be an excellent primer for someone setting out with the intention of being a 'serious' furniture maker.  I knew this before buying but hoped it would give me some pointers and even measurements and plans for bits and bobs like a kitchen table, a desk, some book shelves.

When you are someone who doesn't know her birch from her cherry, her veneer from her balsa I think a bit of night-time reading might be helpful.  So you know what I will be doing tonight.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Unique Miniatures

Just got the weeniest teeniest package from Unique Miniatures.  She might actually be called Val Harper Miniatures, whichever it is my link will take you there.

This is the lady who set me off on my path of inventing the Philips sisters (aka Philpots) and their curies by tempting me to madness with her bone collection in a table.  Having bought that and begun the narrative for my house I now need other 'fossils'.  

fish and reptile fossils

The larger one of the two is about three quarters of an inch by one inch so a decent size to display in the library without overwhelming the room.  I am going to make a couple of book stands for them ... probably.

I have written to a fossil company (without a response as yet) to ask them to send me ten or more (depending on price) very small fossils (under 25 cms/one inch) for other displays.  I am running out of hope.  I can get some nice pieces from Unique Miniatures but relish the notion of the fossils being real.  These, of course aren't but they are beautifully crafted 3D and wonderfully painted.  They look great.

Take a trip to her site.  It is not all about these sort of things.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Felicity Price

You may have been reading my 'glums' saga part of which was due to a lack of door hinges.  I ordered some at a very good price from Felicity Price.  Do go and check out her site.  She is heading towards retiring and is reducing her stock.  As I said I got hinges at a good price and, as I always do, if I am paying postage I added in to the order to make it worthwhile.  

Here's my cache......

Felicity Price

The candelabra are really nicely detailed and not at all clunky like some of the 'brass' ones are.  My date of 1830 doesn't really allow for brass - they are later and more Victorian.  I could use them as gilded ones but silver-gilt in this house would be unlikely, whereas they would have a few nice silver pieces 'from the big house'.  I am very pleased with these, wish I had bought a couple more small ones.  Hey ho, might have to go back for another look!

I have two of the domes.  You may remember I had just bought four and was offering two as freebies to anyone who wanted them... then I saw these.  They are glass, not plastic, and sit on a finely made metal base.  The little handle at the top comes separately so if you don't want a 'knob' on top you can just leave it off.  Lovely weight to them and good size at 3/4" across the base and an inch high.  I have two. She has several designs (fancy bases) and sizes.

In the background are the hinges!  I shall be rebating doors, painting them and fitting the hinges as my very next 'chore'.  

............  one happy dollhouser.........

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Recovery day

Throwing a wobbler yesterday did me a huge favour.  I have had a grand sort out..... I commend this to you.

If you think of your real life house and how many thousands of parts it is comprised of.  Even when hundreds of things have been used for the actual construction and decoration there are still hundreds more filling the spaces in the rooms.  This is what you are going to end up with in your project.  There is no way you can possibly remember what you have and haven't got.  I often hear ladies say how they have duplicated an item simply because they forgot they had it already.

My sort-out was driven by the need to order any basics that were necessary to let my build go forward but then it became a great opportunity to sort stuff into rooms and list everything I have before it becomes too big a task.

wallpaper box
I got out my two roll-under-the-bed boxes (they roll under my work table).  One contains wallpaper and the other .........

trims, doors, laminates
This stores trims and doors and any wood I might have (which isn't much).  The box that looks like a kit is one I made a couple of years ago (wish I still had it) and now it just stores little pieces of laminate (samples from Home Goods,USA).  They are useful for marble and for under fires.

I store my wooden floors and floor tiles all together on a shelf in a cupboard.  They came out too.  They were all then sorted into their rooms like this.

in process

I made a very rough kind of index in my favourite notebook, giving each room three pages and took my time emptying each one and writing down what I had and then gave it another  good dose of thinking about what else was needed and wrote this down.

At the end of that process I then went through every drawer and box I have things stored in an allocated each item to a room.  Not as difficult as you think.  Admittedly now and again you come across a small mirror or picture or vase and have no idea which room it will settle down in but it seemed sensible to plump for the most likely and add it to the list.

I could now see where the holes were and what I needed to order and set to ordering a few trims, some fires to finish off the eight needed in this house, some wallpaper where I didn't have enough or wasn't happy with what I had.  I am still stuck for black door knobs; can't find any in the UK.  There is 'sort of' one vendor in the States that I've found so may have to wait on those until I get back there.  The postage from the States is just silly and if you get slapped with import tax as well it is just not viable.

I am hoping my notebook will be a huge help when I am show shopping so I can check if I already have something or not.

I am currently buying lots and lots of furniture kits (House of Miniatures) in the States off American EBay which a kind neighbour is taking in for me until we get back there in September.  They will get added to the lists when I can physically check them off.  Meanwhile I must remember not to buy any more furniture!!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Bad day

As this is my first attempt to write an infinitesimally detailed account of a build from start to finish it behoves me also to write about my not doing it!

I have hit a wall today with the build and am bordering on weepy, overwhelmed by it.  It seems I just can't go forward in any direction for one reason or another.  This is the first build which has seemed too complex and fraught with problems.

I have said before in this blog that I usually have a ten step plan/order of build and it just bowls along - tick, tick, tick.  Yes, there are minor hold-ups and teeny things to wrestle with but I have had an overall picture/plan and they have succumbed to that.  I am not finding that with this project at all.

Having been stopped from doing the vestibule because I need door hinges (and then black door knobs which I can't find any where in the UK) I thought I would move on to finishing the housekeeper's room today.  It needs flooring, skirting, quarter scale coving, door finishing, chimney breast, fireplace.

The fire can't go in - (a) I haven't built it yet (b) I don't have a fire surround.  This means the chimney breast can't go in; this means the skirting can't go in.  I can't do the door for the reasons I said (no hinges or knobs).  I don't have quarter scale coving so can't tidy up the ceilings and any way the chimney breast isn't going in because.......  etc etc etc.

I can do the floor as long as I leave it unfinished round where the fireplace is going.

OK, you might think this isn't enough to get wound up about, but multiply this by eleven which is the number of rooms in the house that all this applies to and you can see where I am coming from.

So, don't abandon me, if you don't hear from me for a while I am just trying to assemble the things I need to be able to go forward. 

If you are doing your first project and keep feeling like this - take heart and keep pushing forward.  I may not have been as 'defeated' on previous ones but they have taught me enough to know it will all happen and it is more about being patient and to keep on keeping on and it will come together.

By all means walk away from it rather than wind yourself up but not so far that you don't return.  This is how all those half finished dolls houses languish in sheds and attics forever.

So, meanwhile I might just do most of the basement flooring and make some furniture.

Watch this space.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Photos from Fairfax House

If you want to see some photos from Fairfax House to help or inspire go and look at my other blog:  Dollshouse Trips and Shows.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Door hinges or the case of the mad dollhouser

Right I hold my hands up to being slightly barmy when it comes to this hobby.  My saving grace is that in real life I am not quite so potty. (Not everyone agrees)

I don't like the way that the door kits we buy look when they are inside a house.

They come with a complete frame around them which does a couple of useful things.  It allows the door to be pinned top and bottom so it can open and close.  They act as a door stop so the door doesn't just swing to and fro on both sides of the door opening.  They add stability to the structure as they are a complete frame around the doors.  Why don't I like them?

Firstly they prevent you being able to take the doors out when you paint, stain or varnish them and there is no easy or successful way of getting into the door jamb properly.  With the door out (see earlier post) painting is easy and you get a successful finish.

Secondly, look at the doors in your home...  they do not have a 'shelf' across the bottom.  The 'outside' doors do, as this prevents dirt, draughts, rain and snow (!) entering your house but your interior doors do not have some sort of step across them.

If you saw them off (see photo below) you now don't have any way of opening the door as one pin at the top isn't sufficient to keep it in place.  The simple answer is to saw off the step and then just glue the door in a fixed position in place.  Why do we want them to open?

If we insist on them opening (and I do) they need hinging in some way.  Theoretically you could make a small hole in the floor of your house to drop the bottom pin in (you can still see the pin in place in this photo) but I can't devise a way of getting that hole in just the right place.  Suggestions welcome.  Don't just tell me to measure carefully.  Tried that

after the cut
Instead I am going to add hinges.

I found two of them in my box of 'bits' but they came with 8 stupid screws that clearly were not going to work with door hinges.

round heads on the screws
There is no way this hinge will close with these in it.

flat and they sit in the rebate

I did have two other screws that fit in the rebate nicely, so logically they exist somewhere.  I have ordered some hinges and screws so am wondering what I might get.

You then have to make rebates in the door and the frame for your hinge plates to sit in.  You can't just add them on to the surface of the side of the door and the frame for two reasons.  If they did go in it would leave a big gap (the thickness of the hinge) down the door jamb.  The other reason is they won't go in the small space that's there any way.

right and wrong
You can just see the rebate in the edge of the door if you look carefully - this is correct.  The rebate on the door frame is not!  If like me you are rubbish at 3D visualising, please go and stand in front of a door in your home that opens the way you want yours to in your project and mark up with a pencil where the rebates will go.

side not top

I now have two rebates one on the top - wrong! and one in the side, right!

To make all these I marked out the length of the hinge plate and made two vertical slits with a knife across that mark cutting down into the wood.  I then used the knife like you would if you sharpened a pencil with it - just whittling away a bit at a time until I had cut out what I wanted.

I'll try to remember to show you the finished assembled objects as soon as I get my hinges and can do all the doors.


Many of these posts have a video version.  I did make one for this section (but will be a while before it gets posted) so if you want to check them out just click on the link at the top of the left hand column on How-to videos under the heading of My U-Tube Videos. You can subscribe to them in the same way that you do for the blogs.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Next hold up

Here I was happily painting away trying to get stuff ready to assemble into a finished vestibule (aka hall) when I hit the next snag; but first the painting.

engraved locket
No, that photo is not purporting to be a photo of an engraved locket, that is the colour of the hall walls; a very pale grey. Don't worry about the rough edges door trim will go there.  You will also notice I don't bother masking off those areas or avoid paint then though I tell everyone else to!  I am sure it must be best to leave naked wood so it can bond nicely to other naked wood but I honestly have never found a problem with it.  The glue seems to work OK over emulsion paint.

On to the trims.


The inspiration picture is from the Georgian House (that photo is copyright of National Trust of Scotland).  They claim that the colours of the drawing room came from some research on another house.  It looks astoundingly modern (and therefore so pleasing) to my eye, so I am happy to go with that idea for my hall.  

Accordingly the dado rails are painted white.  They are correctly positioned here in the Georgian house at about 2' 6" (75cms) and so meet the demi-lune spot on.  I don't have a demi-lune made up yet, or even in a kit in my hands (they are stockpiling in Naples for me). Even though I am pretty sure they stand at 2' 6" (two and a half inches high) I didn't want to risk it being just slightly out one way or another so I will be placing my dado rail at the more common-place (if too modern) alternative arrangement of three feet (three inches) from the floor instead.  That way I know my demi-lune will fit below it; always assuming it ends up in the hall any way.

The skirting boards have been masked off with tape and the tops painted white as in the reference picture.

cornice all ready
The cornice are painted in the awful ceiling paint I chose so they match and look like plaster.

wishing well
The skirtings are then finished with the darker grey, so we are good to go........


First of all this construction needs the trompe l'oeil picture stuck on the back wall and some wooden flooring down in that space and a light fixed there as if coming up from downstairs.

I could do that...  BUT..... I also need to get the door at the back of the hall fixed in on the 'loose' walls before they go in place, as it won't be possible to do that afterwards.  To do this they need to be hacked about and have hinges put on them.  I am waiting for the hinges to arrive......

..........everything goes on hold

OK, soon ......

Monday, 22 June 2015

What paint to use for what

Yesterday I said I'd tell you why I use silk emulsion for woodwork.....

Basically I am a firm believer in as near perfect scale as I can get.  This will be affected by material choices and how much you can afford to pay.  The clunkiest of furniture in materials, which are too thick when translated up twelve times, are always the cheapest.  The most beautiful are always out of my budget but made from wonderfully scaled thickness of wood and slimness of leg and so on.  I am pitching somewhere in between.

Other things that affect scale are colours and how light interacts in the rooms.  

If you over-light a room it does look odd, so even light has to be in scale.  

Colours need to be brought down a tad and look better if they look a little subdued otherwise they jangle on the eye.  One of the worst offenders for me is 'shine'.  Very highly varnished furniture and very glossy paint simply don't look real.  So, when it comes to gloss-painted wood I actually don't want gloss paint.  If you do, then you would also be better to spray it (car paint touch ups for example) as it will give you a much better finish in this scale than brushing it on and it leave less 'pools' which always seem to settle in nooks and crannies.

By a process of trial and error I have arrived at a couple of ways of reproducing scaled down glossed wood.

The first is by using the aforesaid silk emulsion and the other is by using Cuprinol's 'Garden Shades' range of paints.

first coat

It must be the easiest way to preserve all the fine details in the wood and absolutely the easiest to apply.  It goes on like a stain so it just washes on with no gloops and globs of paint settling anywhere.  It is meant to preserve and colour outside wood so it has a good pigmentation, giving you an acceptable finish in one coat.  

However for a great finish give it a gentle rub down when bone dry and a second coat.  You can rub it down with nothing more fancy than a scrumpled up brown paper bag.  That provides enough abrasion to remove the nibs.  If your wood is poor quality you might need to use a fine (more than 220 grit) sandpaper.

Second coat it and when bone dry you can denib again if you want to and if its not quite shiny enough for you, go over it with some clear shoe polish - old-fashioned wax type (Kiwi) in a tin.  Furniture polish doesn't seen to do the same job no idea why.  If you want it to stop looking spankingly 'just painted' then use a mid-tan shoe polish to dirty it up a little.

decanted paint and three brushes

I think you can buy sample pots of Garden Shades - to be truthful I have never looked as our shed is painted in the green I like for front doors so I have been using that for four years.  I just decant a little into one of those small jam jars you get in hotels.  Never ask if they have any, after breakfast, as you will get a lifetime's supply!

Typing this I realise I am an eejit - if they do sample pots then their white would do the wood trims better than my silk emulsion!!  Check out their site for colours:  Garden Shades

(Aaaaarggggh, they do sample pots.)

As for brushes - I have a zillion from real life and this hobby, but only use these three.  The half-inch Hamilton is ten or more years old.  The middle paintbrush is a number 12 flat and just as old, the smallest one is a number 8 flat and maybe three years old - its predecessor didn't wear out. I used it for glue because I was to lazy to get a glue brush and it never recovered from the shock!!

Here's the rest of the housekeeper's door first coated.

no paint puddles in the creases

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Bargain paint

I bought these three pots of paint from B & Q on old fogy Wednesday when I get my 10% discount for being decrepit.  

sample size pots

The two Dulux Timeless Classic are what I went for.  I knew they had the two shades of grey that I wanted; they are  125ml for £3.52 (discounted £3.17).  

For the white woodwork I wanted a silk finish emulsion - I'll tell you why in a moment.  You'll find that in the general run of sample pots it is very rare to get sample whites and you will never get it in any finish other than matt.  Valspar however will mix you a sample pot with a silk finish.  In addition they have literally thousands of paint chip colours and even lights to show you what they look like in daylight and other lights - this might be important to you (?).  They also offer a paint match service whereby you can take in just about anything and they will create a mix to colour match it.  I must say I have had this done twice in the States and can only say they were roughly in the ball park, not spot on.

I got my plastic pot (much better than a tin to open and keep clean) of white and tootled off to the checkout.  The Valspar came in at 236ml for £2.58 (£2.32 after discount).

So, no brainer - nearly twice as much for a third off the price - Valspar from now on.

Friday, 19 June 2015

More treasures and thoughts

A nice size parcel arrived for me today from the terrific Jennifers of Walsall.  

Literally the night before the York show I had tried out some trim that I bought from them and realised I had miscalculated badly in all sorts of ways when I came up with that decorating notion.  Usually I just bite the bullet when the error is mine but, this time, as I was off to the show the next day and the trim was costly (for me) I scribbled out an order from my 'to-be-ordered-from-Jennifer-when-you-have-the-money' list and resolved to ask if they wouldn't mind refunding the trim and sending me the stuff on my list.

Yes they would, so here are my goodies.


Being addlepated has its compensations - it means that unless I  have made a point of making a record of an order I haven't clue what's coming after I've ordered it.  As I said on this occasion it was a scribbled note, on a scrap of paper, written in a hotel bedroom the night before the show - what chance my knowing what was in this box.  It was like being at the bran barrel for a lucky-dip.

First, we have three of our eight (!) fireplaces.

drawing room


housekeeper's room

.... and the coals to light them

.... and the glue to make them.

I do have this glue from about four years ago and it probably is OK, so I suppose I should have checked but - hey ho - go mad and splash out on some fresh.  Glue and paint do deteriorate over time.

the only way to bond metal cast items really well

I gave the next item a lot of thought.  I was going to build floor to ceiling shelves along one wall of the library - plain shelving can't be that difficult to do.  Then I started getting ambitious - I would like them to be trimmed nicely, maybe some drawers or cupboards so they're not so boring, didn't want them to look like Ikea flat pack shoe-ins.....  Ultimately it seemed like a good idea to compromise by not spending on a lovely large finished piece but to settle on a kit instead.

good old Mini Mundus

Sadly I am fairly sure I don't have room for the pediment trim on top but, at least I have a decent size bookcase to go at with trims and drawers.  Many of their curies would have been 'displayed' in drawers to keep them free from dust and daylight so this arrangement makes sense.

I am getting to be very fond of the Turkish rugs you can find everywhere.  Unfortunately the largest I have been able find for my fifteen by twenty-one foot drawing room is twelve inches (actually only eleven and a half, if I lob off the fringes) by eight.  It might work if I use two of them.  I have been challenged to find someone who has two rugs the same in  that size and with a hint of green in there somewhere for my drawing room - I think I have got it here.  Well done, again, Jennifers.

I have given up on finding the historically accurate pattern!  I know when to quit.

not convinced about the fringes

nicely woven

Having two rugs rather than one huge one in real life means that it is marginally that much easier to roll them up for dancing.  As I have gone to this much trouble we are only having a musical evening ahead of us and maybe a little cards.  The rugs are staying in place.

wonder what's going in there

Jennifer's has two sizes of these domes in their repertoire and I think this is the large one (you'd need to check).  If it is any help to anyone you are welcome to two of these, just send me your address and I will post them off to you.  I am fairly sure I will do one as a butterfly display and just hang on to the other for now in case (no pun intended).

1.25 inches diameter and 1.75 inches tall.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Basement walls go up

I think that heading should read 'basement walls go up at last'.  Once the housekeeper's cupboard was in place I was able to add in the other dividing walls in the basement area.

three rooms at last

From the left:  the kitchen is (roughly painted) white, the servants' hall a 50:50 mix of white and Regency Cream from Craig and Rose.  B
ehind the servants' hall there is a corridor which is painted green and is lit.  The housekeeper's room is full strength Regency Cream.  

just a smidgen of wall showing

Before fixing the walls in place I put up both doors to check they were OK and that they didn't impinge on the windows.  I knew the housekeeper's wall would be a close call and there is just a smidgen showing in this photo.  I am fairly sure it would be hidden by the window frame, but I nudged it over a little any way.

The floors were only glued in at the bottom as I didn't want glue trialing across the ceiling as I slid them into place.  All the rooms above these will have cornice or coving of some sort which covers any tiny gaps.  Down here I might add in some quarter scale coving to just finish them off.

I have just read about a mini caulker (!) but I am not rushing out for one of those.

the kitchen

In this picture you can just glimpse the back corridor leading off from the kitchen, this will be more noticeable when it is lit.

servants' hall

This is quite a small space but still something of a luxury in a modest house.  It was an important room in the servants' area.  It would be the place they would be if they were not working in any other room.  This didn't mean just sitting idly doing nothing; they would have been cleaning something or maybe sewing or whatever task needed doing that could be done there.  The table would be cleared and pulled out from the wall for their main meal of the day.  They usually ate some time before the family dinner, especially in this house as the sisters were now dining at the more fashionable hour of 6 pm rather than the more usual time of around 3pm.  That said every home would dine at a time which was convenient for the master of the house.  Mid-afternoon dinners also suited a society that rose early and depended on daylight for their needs.  By 1830 oil lamps were in common use and the days had become more easily extendable.  By this time it was also becoming common to take luncheon or nuncheon in the early afternoon to stave of the pangs until dining at six o' clock or later.

the housekeeper's room

This long narrow room may be a challenge to furnish and light.  Luckily the fireplace is on the right hand wall which means no chimney breast, so that won't impinge on the space.  In terraces the chimney breasts were shared via the party walls which is why you see stacks of eight or more pots.  They would carry the flues from two houses.  In many buildings one side of your house would have chimney breasts in the room and in the other side of your house your fire surrounds would be on a flat wall as the breasts had extended into next door's rooms.  

My housekeeper's room will be allowed a small fire as an extra usable fire for the kitchen - toasting, keeping things warm etc.  The sisters were comfortably off by choosing to live in slightly unfashionable Lyme Regis, so they could afford such things.  They also liked the range and the housekeeper's fire lit as the they felt the benefit of the heat in the rooms above.

The winter of 1829/1830 was a particularly cold one.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Take a look at the Georgian House

If you are working on a Georgian project you might want to flit over to another of my blogs and take a look at the Georgian House, Edinburgh.

Dolls House Shows and Trips

Reality steps out of my story

I received this marvellous little gift  today from a mini correspondent.  She sent me this entirely unearned gem for my project.  Thank you hugely Janet R.

I have been craving two little drum cupboards form Masters Miniatures so Janet has probably done me a double favour as I might very well treat myself to them just so I can display this ammonite properly.

I was pleased on several levels:  someone was kind enough to send me a gift, it fitted my notion of my project perfectly, it was even sort of on my list of things to get in that I have found someone who makes 'pretend' ones.

However, my ammonite is real - how good is that.  It also came from Charmouth which is a fossil hunting area near to my characters' Lyme Regis house and they most certainly would have gone fossil hunting there and would have been pleased to find such a perfect six inch ammonite.

Just in case you think that six inches is large, take a look at these:  Largest Ammonite.

I am getting worried that this corner of my dollhouse passion is leading me to another interest.....

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Let there be light

I have got my first light in place - albeit it is one you'll never see!

hidden corridor light

Don't panic I do know they didn't have lights like that in 1830.  You need a ton of imagination to follow this.  

The cupboard on the right is at the back of the Housekeeper's room and had to go in first to determine precisely where the next wall would be.  Once that was settled it was easy to determine where the corridor at the back of the central room (servants' hall) would start and finish.  If you look carefully you can see that I have painted the wall green at the end which will be visible from the kitchen when the walls are in place.  I want a light in the corridor to draw your eye so you realise there is a corridor there when the walls are in.  Any old light would do as it will never be seen again (or accessed!!) when the walls go in place.  This is a leap of faith on my part as I have no means of testing whether it works or not before it even goes in (!)

sticky tab had better hold

I had a bit of a mental tussle with myself as to how to stick it in place.  A lot of the cheaper lights come with a sticky tab which I normally remove as I don't like the looks of them.  I did find a glue that holds them in place after much trial and error - more of that when I come to do the proper lighting.  This time because it won't be seen I thought I'd just use what was there.  I wonder if there is a risk of the glue softening with heat from the light and it falling off - should have waited to test it before putting in the walls.  Hey ho, the wires will hold it up enough to do the job.  I am also hoping the white shade will soften the light as they would have been lucky to have the odd candle lantern dotted here and there in these areas.

crude but does the job
This is a bit of a crude fit - again because it won't show.  Hole through floor and hole through back wall - all done.  Worse part is threading the wire up through the hole.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Change to my Dolls House Shows Blog

I have just changed my 'Dolls House Shows' Blog to  'Dollshouse Trips and Shows'.  I realised after just visiting six (!) dollhouse related places I had nowhere to share them; that blog seemed a logical place.  So if you want to see the places and things I look at with my hobby in mind, this is a blog to visit over the next few days as I catch up on those six places.

DollshouseTrips andShows

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Housekeeper's linen cupboard finished and in place.

I have finally finished something and got it in place.  At last I feel as though I have now actually started this project.  It has been a long time coming; can't believe the previous three projects were each built, decorated, furnished and finished in six months.

keyhole plates in place

knobs added

When it was all glued together and dry I gave it a 'coat' of tan show polish just to 'dirty' it up a little and to give it a light sheen.

hope you can see the difference - three more doors to polish

So then it was all done and buffed and ready to go in place.

bit of a gap on the right - sort of sorted now

Here it is at the back of the housekeepers room so cutting down the length of the room a little.

not quite the tunnel this looks like but is still 13 inches long

If you are a glutton for punishment and look at the videos there will be one showing how the cupboard was built.  I only post one video a week and have a few in hand so it will be a while before that one turns up.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Spending and considering

This is just a couple of pointers in hopes of helping someone out there.  There are two things I have come to realise the last couple of days.....

When to spend a bit more
Firstly I spend a lot of my time saying don't spend/splurge on this or that - not necessary BUT when it comes to paint....   usually when we are buying paint for our projects we buy tester pots so they aren't more than a couple of pounds.  This is where you should buy the best quality paint you can and spend that little bit more.

On this build for the first time I have paint from the Little Greene Paint Company (on-line purchase) and from Craig and Rose (via B & Q).  They are finished in one coat and go on with little or no brush strokes.  The white B & Q paint is just awful in comparison.  It still isn't giving a good cover after three coats and leaves brush strokes like ski tracks.  Fortunately I can put up with it as it is used on the kitchen walls as distemper which never looked great but it was a quick way to freshen up an area that got grubby.  Yes (!) my mother painted to 'coal hole' with it.  The Philips sisters like a clean looking kitchen and have abandoned the blue keep-flies-away walls in favour of a frequent refresh whenever they are away from the house.

I know the quality is hugely different between these paints.  I painted the housekeeper's room with Regency Cream from Craig and Rose and decided to mix it 50:50 with the B&Q white for a lighter shade in the servants' hall.  I can not see a scrap of difference.  The pigment in the Craig and Rose was so good it could be loaded with equal amounts of the poorly pigmented B&Q white and not change a jot.

This is pretty much the first build where I have changed a lot of the interior spaces by adding in different walls.  If you want to go down this route you really do need to consider the impact it will have on the order of the build.

Right now I am being frustrated at every turn by not being able to do this or that because of these changes.  There is a major issue if you want to have any kind of light that stands on a piece of furniture.

For example, I have an oil lamp to go in the housekeeper's room, probably on a small desk.  This would be her only light, therefore my only way of lighting her room.  Right now I don't have a desk and am not certain where it will go in her room.  I may not find a suitable piece and the lamp could go in all sorts of places.  Wherever it ends up the wire will have to travel down through the furniture, across the floor and exit at the back of the room.  The back of this room is in effect a wall to wall cupboard which then blocks the access to the back wall of the building.  This means i have no way of taking wires out through the back wall after the cupboard goes in.  If i can't put the cupboard in I can't locate the inner walls as they need to be a tight fit against the cupboard (in situ).  So the whole ground floor is on hold until one oil lamp is sited! 

I am sure people do work this way and well done them, but not for me.  I have eleven rooms to go at and can't bear the thought of every one of them being stymied whilst waiting for a particular light or a stick of furniture to 'turn up' first.  I very much want the bones of the house finished and then I can settle to installing lights and fires, decorating, flooring and then furnishing and dressing the rooms.

I hope I have struck on a solution: in this build I will add exterior chimney breasts and all the various wires that can't get to the back because of added walls will have to exit via the chimneys.  I think I am going to need exterior chimneys any way to accommodate the fires. 

In a terrace the rooms on one side of the house had internal chimney breasts and the rooms on the other side had external with the fires flat on the wall.  The chimney stacks were shared between the houses so that's how they worked.  This works for my house just fine because I don't want chimney breasts in my right hand rooms as they are already small.  This means the fires need to be shoved 'outside'.  That should be fun! 

Friday, 12 June 2015

From York Show (7th June) part 3.

This is the third and final instalment of 'How I Became a Pauper' - the biography of a doll's house addict.

The Ironworks and Black Country Miniatures

This is not an age issue; I have always had a terrible memory for names of any sort.  I spent my last few years working as a primary teacher and was lucky if I knew the thirty plus names by the end of the year!  Other teachers knew most of their next year class before they moved in!  I can tell you every little detail about an individual but, as for their name, it is often just a big black hole.  

This company is a case in point.  I have loved their work from day one of this hobby and seek them out at every opportunity but can I remember anything beyond 'Black Country'.....

They are The Ironworks and Black Country Miniatures and they make breathtakingly detailed stuff.  I was looking at the teeniest tiny pieces of brass in a 'kit' which they sell to enable you to make a campaign chest with all its trims.  Indeed the exquisite keyhole plate covers I showed you, which I bought from Jennifers of Walsall, were made by this vendor.

This time I bought their perfectly proportioned and weighted Georgian door knocker.  Apologies as this is not a good photograph of it.  It comes in two pieces so it needs really to be glued on a door to look right.  

I also picked up the keys and might buy another.  There are only two modern keys in this set, so I still get seven from it.  I will paint them black first and see how they look before splurging a whole two pounds on some more.  Aren't they lovely for just that small amount of money - you can keep the clunky variety.

This is someone else I should try to walk past with my eyes closed.  I often don't want things but I have to buy them.  Jacqueline Wheatley Miniatures (who I just googled as Jennifer Wheatley, which sort of proves my earlier point) makes a myriad of pretty things but I am enamoured with her husband's lovely, perfectly scaled and beautifully made things.  I am especially dotty about his wooden spoons and can't get enough of them, especially as every one is different.  I have no idea if my 1830 kitchen 'supports' these items but I sort of don't care as I so want them.  I am afraid I can't find an email or website for her.  It is a case of catching them at a show I guess.

Uh-oh this is my daft buy from the show.  Every show I go to I always seem to buy an unnecessary and expensive (for my budget) item.  This time it was some some Susan Bembridge Designs wallpaper.

I am still 'loosely' looking for wallpaper but wasn't super-focused on the task.  I hadn't seen anything that worked for the period or my colour scheme (green/yellows) so I stopped by Susan Bembridge's table.  Again, this is someone I know from being at various shows and looking at her work on line but had never considered buying as she is pretty much focused around Georgian/Victorian and I haven't done either until now.  I was vaguely aware she might not be in my usual price bracket but stopped any way.  Bit of a conversation with her and I went through her sample book looking for an important paper such as something for the dining room.  En route, not having found an important paper, I saw this and thought it would do nicely for another bedroom; it does have a buttery yellow background.  Four pieces please - duly rolled and wrapped and then came the surprise that it is £11 per sheet.  I am useless at being embarrassed and couldn't possibly say it was too rich for my blood so I stumped up the money and beat a swift retreat.

Can I just say this is no fault of the vendor only the idiot purchaser!  My flipping housekeeper had better appreciate it!  (lovely paper quality and print)

Newtonwood Miniatures has a glass cabinet that I like to peer in at shows and wish I could have everything I see.  Luckily they also have some things I can buy such as these hooks for the servants hall, fire irons for one of the rooms and yes, three! boot scrapers.

I have no idea how that happened and to be honest with you I have no idea what they cost me.  I am really, really lazy at not totting up things.  I look at the individual prices and decide if I can buy the item and then hand over whatever total anyone asks me for.  I know, I can hear you all screaming at me from here.  The even stupider thing is I am not generally like this - it is a miniature show mode - I claim it is because I get really, really tired.  So, on this occasion I picked up the fancy-shmantzy boot scraper and the lady who served me went to get me some already wrapped fire irons rather than taking the ones from the display, she took the hooks off me and made a nice little bag of them all and I paid her.  When I got home I discovered two more boot scrapers, so these will be going begging when I can get round to it.

Just before leaving their stall I spotted this lovely fireplace.  The detail is very fine and I like the marble inset.  It is so like many of the fire surrounds I have been looking at in the houses I have visited the past couple of weeks.  This is certainly destined for the drawing room.  It is a pity it is on a side wall.  That reminds me - it is also very, very slim as Adam fireplaces were.  These preceeded a time when everyone had a deep mantelpiece filled with clutter.

I have overspent by so much it is scary but I remind myself that you have to get this stuff when you see it, it may not come around again, so if it gets bought in June 2015 rather than November 2018 it will all come out of the same pot really???  Economics is not my strong point but I would have been good in politics.