Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Dolls House and Miniatures Fair - York

Dolls House and Miniatures Fair
(Established 2002)
York Race Course
Sunday 3rd June

 I managed to get to the York Show at the eleventh hour.  With current health issues and moving into a new house/garden and wanting to be around to help the family I wasn't able to make a decision until the last minute this year, but we made it.

When we do this show we go to York for two plus days, especially for the Spring Show when the weather is usually nice as York is such a lovely place to visit.  I commend it to anyone who could take a mini break there (or even an extended holiday) just remember to build in the June or November show!  It is on the 18th this year.

We go on Saturday arriving in time for lunch at our very favourite restaurant of all time - Trinacria .  It is not at all posh but has the most wonderful cook/chef.  They do arancinis to die for and I have never eaten anything there I didn't love. 

On Sunday I go to the show and my other half tootles around on his bike seeking out various ice creams (home made Italian, or in Trinacria's case Scicilian) and cakes and coffee - so he is one happy man.  Not sure he takes in much of the fascinating scenery.  By the time he picked me up from the show he was ready again for cake and coffee at the lovely Goddards.  As a miniaturist and somewhat passionate about beautiful houses this is high on my hit list.  A modest (by grand houses standards) Arts and Crafts House once belonging to the Terry (chocolate) family.  If you are doing an Arts and Crafts project this is one to visit for sure.

we had our tea and coffee and cakes on the terrace at Goddards

I am afraid I was very forgetful about taking photos but I do have this one through the car window as we were leaving York for our trip home - you get a glimpse of the Minster.

We also squeezed in a quick flit to Beningbrough Hall but I confess to not doing the house or gardens as I was bone weary from the show.  We have been there before and, again, another trip worth doing if you are in the area.  This time you have 300 years of house to go at and on a grander scale - but still not overawing. (is that a word or did I make it up?)  We stopped in at their Farm Shop and I bought a couple of white foxgloves for a little empty corner behind my Buddha.  In the twenty four hours or so behind a car seat they managed to bend their stems to accommodate it!  I promise you they will be lovely when fully grown and open.

Beningbrough foxgloves

So to the show itself....

It is a bit naughty of the organisers to claim 'over 90 vendors' year after year when the numbers have steadily declined to 72.  Yes, I know there are folks out there who would sell their souls to be surrounded by 72 traders all selling their miniatures.  Part of the loss this year for me was a bit significant in that there were two vendors missing I had particularly gone there for.  Hey Ho.

I did see a lovely display by a family group called Raven Miniatures.  I googled them but without success.  They had created a lovely scene of our 1/12th friends looking at their very own model railway which was actually happily chugging round its lovely little track.  I have an email for them if anyone wants to follow up for any reason -

They had a second display of a BBQ complete with smoke rising from the grill - a light bulb and some oil it seems......

As I mentioned I am not super fit right now so maybe I was under par in general - all I know was I couldn't find anything I really wanted.  This has happened every time at the last few shows that it worries me - am I just not well, jaded as far as the project goes or just come to a natural end with the hobby?

I love coming up with an idea, researching it and doing the actual build of the house.  I enjoy some basic furnishing but every time on the previous four projects the enthusiasm peters out when it comes to endless shopping around for bits and bobs to dress the scenes.  With every build prior to this I had another project waiting in the wings so I felt OK about not quite finishing and passing the story along to someone else.  This time I am determined this is my final build and it will be carried through to the end and kept by me...... BUT..... I confess to being less than enthusiastic when it comes to looking for  things to finish the story.

Here's what I bought....

A bowl of eggs - I am not sure if I got rid of the one I had that looked like this or if I still have it

sort of tells its own story!
 I did like this buy - some things from the Luggage Lady (Sue Popely)  Beautifully in scale and made of leather.

 Talking of scale I also managed to get some liquorice all sorts, also spot on with their size.

 This is where it all goes wrong.....

I have seen these musical instruments many, many, many times on the web and at shows and have always decided I didn't like them enough to buy them and I would wait until I could afford some 'better' ones.  Stopping by a stall and desperate to buy something I spotted these on musical instrument stands.  One was a very nice metal stand which really gave the violin a boost in its appearance and for that reason alone I asked for a violin and a cello and two matching metal stands.  After saying she wasn't sure if she had any the vendor picked out two stand boxes and carefully opened both checking their contents (so she knew they were plastic?!) and voila I now have two instruments I am not fond of on two plastic stands which don't fit either instrument properly and I am over twenty pounds lighter in cash.

I bought my French post-grad student a very nice espresso coffee maker for her apartment.  I am sorry the photo doesn't do it justice.  It is a piece by Delph Miniatures and, as always, nicely done.

Finally I bought a cat only to discover when I got home I have the very same one!  My excuse is that the house has been empty now for about three months and I don't have a clear mental picture of each room any more.  Hey ho, we now have two cats.

So for me not a fabulous trip BUT do not let me put you off, it is a jolly good show for anyone with stamina and optimism - I know of a couple of ladies who had a whale of a day.


  1. What it sounds like to me Marilyn, is that your initial disappointment of not seeing 2 particular vendors at the show, brought on a case of Show Fatigue. This has happened before to me too. The last show I attended, I actually came home with half the money I took and that was A FIRST for me!
    And although you may have found yourself with 2 of the same cats;
    at least you KNOW you like them! ;D
    Judging from your photos I would say that you've brought home some Wise as well as USEFUL purchases which you'll eventually slip into place inside Dalton House; without regret! :D

  2. As always Elizabeth you are absolutely right. I may not have bought much but, in truth, it is always lovely to be surrounded by a zillion mini things (even if they don't help you) and some lovely vendors - a handful of whom I have got to know over the years and are a joy to talk minis to. Just so relieved that even you can be attacked by Show Fatigue - good job it isn't catching. Marilyn

  3. So happy to see your post this morning! I have been to York, back when I was young and energetic. Three of us drove all over GB, crazy Americans driving on the "wrong" side of the road but we managed to do OK. York stand out in my mind as one of my favorites in a country where there are so many favorites. The cathedral is stunning, the countryside even more so. It was before my "mini-days" and would love to go back and hit all of the wonderful shops. Good to see you back, please take care.

    1. Hi Beth, I am so pleased you have had a flavour of the 'old country' and remember York in particular. The shops and countryside around York are still lovely and we are lucky to still have many beautiful places left to spend time in. If you are interested in history and buildings the UK can still offer it in bucketfuls. I really am 'back'. I hope to begin to dress the house again this afternoon - chicken pie for lunch to make first..... M

  4. Would love to be able to visit a show with 72 vendors in such a beautiful spot as York as there are very few in this part of the world. I have the opposite problem...I love shopping for the bits and bobs to fill a dollhouse project but drag my feet on finishing the house itself. There are always new ideas to inspire and delight and that makes it more difficult to decide on a plan...right now my dolls house is based on my grandmother's birth year of 1888....BUT the Edwardian era is also a favourite. Decisions...decisions...decisions....lots of fun to contemplate the possibilities. You bought some lovely things...especially like the eggs. Cheers, Alayne

    1. Hi Alayne - looks like we need to pair up - I'll build and decorate and light and you can do the twiddly bits! M

  5. It sounds like a great get-a-way with a little bit of fun for both of you! Shows and crowds of people overwhelm me, so even if I had a million dollars to spend, I'd likely come home with little more than a headache and a sore back! You can probably spiffy those instruments and stands up and make them lovely and unique. I like the allsorts and the purses, too!
    Glad you're back to working on Dalton House and looking forward to the next post!

    1. Thanks Jodi. I am also getting to the point of simply hating crowded places. I went out for a traditional English tea yesterday - you know the thing, three tier cake stand with dainty sandwiches and tiny cakes and a pot of (good) tea, it was lovely but the packed eatery with a noise level like a school cafeteria meant it was eaten pdq and swiftly left. M

  6. Ha ha, Marilyn, you can always set up the twin cats in a double act. Can't tell you how many times I've done that to myself.
    As for smaller fairs and waning interest in the items that are on offer, I think that might be a global trend. Here in South Africa, our miniature fairs are certainly dwindling. I'm blaming two things. The first is bad. Lots of 'miniaturists' are looking to make a quick buck by reselling cheaply bought and not necessarily to scale miniatures, or they are mass producing items that are really shoddily put together. Since we are makers ourselves, these kind of items don't really appeal. At every show I walk away with my eyes still feeling hungry for some real artisan pieces. The second reason is the internet. Any day of the week, one can log on and choose from litteraly thousands of well made pieces, from artisans all over the world. Maybe we are subconciously starting to expect the same when we visit a miniature fair. When I visit fairs now, I go there hoping to see one or two pieces that really inspire me, and to chat with my friends. Maybe its time to change our view of the role that fairs play in our miniature collecting lives.
    As for the plastic music stands - can you paint them to make them look more like metal? If the scale is good, you could possibly accessorise and adapt them to become something stunning.

    1. Spot on Megan - I am famous for my champagne taste and beer pocket and it extends to the mini hobby too. I so love the wonderful creations made by highly skilled people that I can never afford and so hate the nasty clunky cheap end of the business. This time because I had a good amount of money (no fairs in a long while) I decided to just buy a couple of really nice pieces and not to feel guilty about 'silly spending' on a 'silly' hobby. Curses - there were only maybe four or five quality traders and sadly nothing there for my project. I hope I am wrong but it seems there aren't enough young talented people coming through to replace the now 'retiring' artisans of yesteryear so, as you say shows get smaller and much less quality items. The York show was decidedly as you describe - a couple of inspirational vendors and some nice catch up chats. It is probably still worth going just to be among a mass of like-minded folk, especially as for many of us this is a solitary hobby - my friends and family have absolutely no interest in it and just humour me. M

  7. I think you did very well with your selection of minis (regardless of the duplicate cat which you can always find a home for). I do agree with you, however, regarding the "clunky" instrument stands. I'm quite sure - with a bit of lateral thinking - you'll be able to come up with something finer to do the job. I've since seen said instruments in situ and they're perfect for your Music Room so not all bad!

    1. Thanks Irene. I think I am far too picky, no-one else would faff about such detail. I am going with my usual 'long term temporary' for various things in the house and just keep an eye open for 'better'. Music stand vendor never even answered my email! As for the cat - think I will open a cats home.... found another one in my stash - I now have three black and white cats...... and, obviously, a tiny brain.


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