Sunday, 28 April 2013

Fancy a Pint? The Swan Inn Gets a New Punter!

Ah! Spring is FINALLY here!! After what seems nothing short of a new Ice Age, we have suddenly arrived full swing into spring! The sunshine of the past week or so has brought out all the lovely spring flowers, so the garden is filled with colour once again, the birds are getting frisky, and the butterflies and bumble bees are embracing the early sunshine.

What better time to take you by the hand and take you through the changes at the Swan Inn?

You might notice Fred, the new customer seated on the settle at the back of the room. It's another Woodside Doll, from their cheaper range. He does have a slightly similar look to the barman, so maybe they are related (well this is a country pub!!).

You might also have noticed the little canine companion, which was a little stocking filler a few months back. And what else? well, there is the table and chairs, picked up from The Dolls' House in Northleach, as I felt the pub needed a bit of furniture in it. I'm not entirely convinced that it's right for the pub, but I love the chairs that go with it.

Charlie has seen a few changes also; gone are the narrow benches (there's one still under the window)  to be replaced by a lovely settle (from Northleach again!). I seem to have misplaced his dominoes somewhere though! I have also been thinking of dirtying the fireplaces a bit too, adding some soot, to make things look more realistic. What do you think?

Behind the bar there is a new swan! the old one was really a white duck, and when I saw this little china swan, I thought it might look a little more graceful behind the bar. 

I also got some new things for the kitchen. The mixer was another of those 'heart over head' purchases that I was discussing in my last post. I think I can just about get away with the period, but it doesn't really matter, as I do love it! The knives, jars of pickles, utensils and bowl of eggs were all purchased at a dolls' house fair just a few miles away near Milton Keynes.  I think the maker for most of the items was called Dollshouse Delights (sorry if this is not the case!!).

I also got the little broom, dustpan and brush from the same maker. I like little dolls house brooms and brushes, they remind me of Beatrix Potter's Tale of Two Bad Mice.

My next little project will be to make some little curtains, or perhaps just a pelmet in gingham fabric for the window above the sink. 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Recent Purchases (and a Note of Caution!)

Hello! I was going to post a few pics of some recent purchases I had made at dolls' house shows and shops over the past couple of months. It occurred to me as I was taking the first few photos, that despite the fact I love all the things I have bought, I had mixed feelings when I actually got home and tried to place the items. I realised that I had been buying things simply because I liked them, and not because I had a place in mind for them in my dolls house. To put it another way, I was buying with my heart and not using my head!!

Take the first item I have shown you; the bonheur-du-jour, made by Escutcheon who had returned to Miniatura in Birmingham after a long absence, I saw a similar one in a book of dolls' house miniatures and had loved it, so when I saw this one, I snapped it up! It only really occurred to me later, back at home, that I didn't really have anywhere to put it!

 I have put it into the main bedroom, in the corner, but I had liked the arrangement I already had there, and the pink upholstered chair just didn't look good next to the bonheur-du-jour, so that meant rearranging the bedroom even more.

I have put the pink chair next to the dressing table, but am still not happy with the result, I think it doesn't work next to the chinese Chippendale chair. Or am I taking this whole thing way too seriously!?!!

I also purchased this exquisite hand painted china plate (the photo really doesn't do it justice!) which came from Escutcheon too. Again, I have absolutely no idea where to put it! It still hasn't found a home and is currently sitting on the floor of the bedroom!

Another purchase made at Miniatura has ended up in the library, after much placing and replacing in different rooms! Can you see what it is?

It's a beautiful pie-crust edge table, made by John Hodgson. I have an almost identical life sized version of this table in my bedroom, so knew I had to have it, trouble is, where could it go? Fortunately, I am happy with it being in the library, though it is hard to see all the fine detail on the table when it's so far back in the room.

I bought a few more miniature books by Ellie de Lacy. You may have noticed the book shelves need a lot more filling!! I hope the picture above isn't too dark for you to see one of Ellie's books on the desk, which has a sweet little silk page marker!

This chair was also added to the library recently, after sitting in the attic for months with nowhere to go! I bought it in a sale at a nearby dolls' house shop. It was only by chance that I noticed it matched a chair I had in the library already. so it made sense to put this with the other one!

I suppose this is really just a little note of caution, to think about where things are going to go perhaps, before rushing in to buy them. There will always be things that you buy simply because you love them, but you need to keep an eye on the practical side of things too sometimes!!

Or maybe I really am taking this whole miniatures thing far too seriously!!!!?

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Book Review


For my first book review I have chosen two books by Brian Nickolls; Making Dolls' Houses and Making Character Dolls' House, Both published by David and Charles. My reason for choosing these books first is that there are the books that all three of my dolls' houses were based on plans taken from them. If you have a keen eye, you will probably notice the houses I have built on the covers of the two books.

Making Doll's Houses contains the plans for the Tudor building, David's father built a copy of this house, and later I furnished the inside as a 1930's shop.

The second book, Making Character Dolls' Houses, was where I got the plans for my Georgian House and The Swan Inn.

The books both contain detailed plans, and written paragraphs telling you how to complete each house, step by step. And there are pictures of the completed projects on most pages too, which helped me to visualise how it would all look when I had finished.

Building a dolls house following plans from a book has plusses and minuses; on the plus side, you can adapt and change things, you have all the measurements required along with the correct shapes the pieces that make up the dolls house should be, and a fairly useful guide to what has to be done, and how to do it. The minuses are that you have to measure and cut each piece (though commercially made doors and windows could be used instead and plans adapted accordingly), some of the instructions aren't so clear as they could be to a novice builder like me, and some of the projects require a level of carpentry skills that may surprise you (for example the Georgian House pillars and balustrades need to be turned on a lathe).

One thing I would strongly advise you to do is check the measurements and plans well before cutting, on the Georgian House  I routed out a groove in the base of the house, following the plan, only to find that the position of the groove was wrong, and should have been 9mm further forward, fortunately I spotted this before assembling the dolls house. The plans for the Swan Inn project also had a mistake in the position of the smallest window on the first floor.

Despite these small errors, both books give a wide variety of projects, and cater to newbies and experienced house builders alike. The projects are presented well, and are fairly easy to follow for the most part.

I would recommend these books to anyone thinking of building a dolls house from scratch. If you already have a kit house to build, these books won't be much use, though do give some useful tips on construction and tools required. They might also provide inspiration for current and future projects.

I believe that these books are now out of print, but many second hand copies are on sale. There are both hardback and paperback versions of these books available.

I hope you enjoy these books if you find them!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Who Knows Where The Time Goes?

Can it really be the 8th of April already? I saw with some surprise that my last post was back in February, what happened to March? It really does only seem a week ago since I was last posting on my blog, but the past month has rushed by in such a blur, I find myself plunging deep into April!

I had a lovely birthday, and had lots of little treats all of that week (not least Fi's wonderful little birthday post, and her Pineapple mug she sent me; once I had worked out it was from her!!).  AM sent me a copy of Le Grand Livre De La Maison Miniature for my birthday too, which was so very kind, and is a lovely book! (What HAS happened to AM, B.T.W?)

I also visited two dolls house fairs and went to a dolls house shop in the Cotswolds last month. More on all of those another time.

I promise to do the first book review I promised to do ages ago, as soon as possible! I have managed to keep up with most blogs I follow, and apologise if I have failed to leave a comment, I will do my best to rectify that as soon as possible also!!

The video above is one of my favourite songs, sung by Sandy Denny, who was a singer in the band Fairpoint Convention, until her sad, untimely death. I am sure you'll agree that she had a fabulous voice, and the song is both beautiful and moving. (Nina Simone has done a nice cover version of this song too!).

(I don't think my blog is an appropriate place for politics, but the tune above could just as easily have been Ding Dong the Witch is Dead from the Wizard of Oz!!  Ding Dong! the Witch is dead, which old witch? The Wicked Witch! Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is dead!!!!')