Sunday, 30 May 2010

Small Ones, Tall Ones Some as Big as Your Head.....Part 2

Second day with my potion bottles. I had filled them with everything that came to hand, they had hardened nicely and now I had to finish off the jars. I had tried making lids before and had not had a lot of luck. I just could not get the circles to stay still long enough for me to tie the cord around. They seemed to have a complete life of their own. I then received some very good advice with regards to type of cord, material and how the fabric should be dampened first.
I realised on being given all this help that the mixed fabric that I had bought was too thick and even dampened was not suitable. Plus all the cord, twine and ribbon I had collect was either too wide or too thick. Off to Hobbyland for embroidery thread in witchy colours. While I was at Sainsbury's I had and epiphany...Really cheap dishcloths looked to be ideal for my lids, cost 49p (please don't bring up the collection of now defunct fabric quarters...).
I got them home and they were perfect, stretchy, easy to cut,muslin looking and 49p for loads!!
I set too with food colouring and coffee to stain them and left them over night. The jars that had lids I decorated with embroidery thread and the labels I had made using coffee stained photo paper and vintage labels found on the internet. Some of the edges I burned using joss sticks which was easier than using a lighter I discovered. I sealed all the labels too with two coats of spray gloss varnish.
The dish cloths turned out nicely when wrung out the next day and sat as good as gold when I hung them over the top of each jar. No flipping or sliding at all. I then cut round each square of cloth to make the circle. The jars above are the largest I have made and I think they are my favourites.
I have quite a collection now but I am learning that a lot seems to only go a little way when stocking witch scenes and I have my lotions and potions department to stock as well as the kitchen in my witch house.
Mistakes to avoid? Using rock salt and red hot scenic water, guess what? they melt....duh! Spending days and nights making labels that are far too big for anything but the largest of jars because you didn't check against the jars! Grrrr.... Mixing up the lids of your jars and then having to sort them all out and still getting it wrong.
I have enjoyed making these though and would now like to fill some with specific fimo or paper clay items, bones, fingers, eyeballs, tongues etc. Next week maybe!

Friday, 28 May 2010

Small Ones, Tall Ones some as Big as Your Head.....Part 1

Yes, I know, showing my age with that title but it seemed appropriate to what I have been up to this week. I have had to work in my front room because a wonderful lady has been painting my kitchen following my husband's accident with a flaming grill pan a few weeks ago. Like a lot of houses my kitchen seems to lead into everywhere else and I did not plan very well for the disruption or the duration and I realise now why I hate camping!
This has meant trying to work on my lap in a very organised way while watching the French Open on television.
A couple of posts ago I asked how to cover tiny jars with material as I had just started messing around with potions for both my house and shop. I have moved on to the kitchen in my house and had this vision of jars of super ingredients filling the dresser and shelves. I then made the mistake of trying to dress both the bathroom and kitchen before really preparing what I needed.
I have found that I need to have everything to hand when I dress even the smallest piece of furniture, I cannot make items up as I go along. So I abandoned the kitchen, left gaps in the bathroom and set to with scenic water and fimo deco gel.
I filled a few jars with odd thing I had to hand, herbs, beads, ends of fimo canes etc, the odd fimo bits I seem to have accumulated and began to play. The deco gel is used straight from the tube and is then baked at a very low temperature so I read, and can be coloured with oil paint in very small , very small quantities. sounds easy I thought. I poured into egg cups, added paint and mixed, oh dear they did mean very small quantities, much smaller than I had thought. Literally the tip of a cocktail stick.
Start again. Much better colour. Hmmm now how to transfer into these very small jars.....Ahh now I remember why I bought those syringes! Now play hunt the syringes. Finally I have some jars filled and in the oven baking on my glass tile. 20 minutes later I remove and they have cooked. It worked but the deco gel goes very cloudy, it looks like soap or creamy lotion to me so if the jar is filled you can't really make out what is inside.
Then I turn to the scenic water. I have wanted to play with this for about two years, which is when I bought it! Instructions tell me to heat, colour and pour. All very simple. So I pour a small amount into my egg cup, melt in microwave for 15 seconds and it melts beautifully but removing it is difficult cos the egg cup is red hot! Oven gloves no good for removing egg cups. Kitchen top now covered in gloop and I am running fingers under the tap!
Start again. Egg cup on plate, gloop melts, remove carefully with folded tea towel. I didn't add colouring first but transferred hot scenic water, in syringes to jars. I liked this effect as the ingredients could be seen really clearly.
Now I was on a roll. Out came the herbs plus anything that looked like it would fit in a jar. I mixed all the colours and glooped and syringed for all I was worth. I had great fun. Some worked some didn't, the kitchen looked like a scene from CSI but what the hell it was being painted the following week.
And this is what I have been doing while the kitchen is being painted. I was a bit embarrassed when a syringe was discovered under the microwave. I think she believed me!
Here are some of my new jars. Part 2 tomorrow, the one in which lids become airbourne!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Aren't I a Lucky Girl?......

At last my camera is fully charged so I can show you the fantastic selection of baskets made for me by Glenda of Peppercorn Minis. I asked for witchy colours and these fit the bill perfectly for both my house and shop. They are beautifully made and so cute. Glenda also kindly included one of her weaved mats and a some extras which are much appreciated. This is one of the many things I love about Blogland, that I can make contact with a lovely lady in New Zealand who shares my passion for minis. What a great way to share expertise. Much apreciated Glenda not only for your generosity but for taking so much trouble when you are about to move home.

And then today I get a package from a little nearer home! Nikki of Witch & Wizard Miniatures put the items she had left from KDF, very few following her huge success, on Etsy Sunday night. I really should not have looked know how that song goes! Well here are the great pieces that I really shouldn't have.....The chimenea was one of the items I didn't buy at KDF as I bought the hatstand but there was only one left and I thought it would be fab for my potions and lotions department in Witch E.T.Grubb's shop. The photos do not really do it justice it has a great shape and texture plus the coals really glow beautifully. Then I had to buy another pumpkin to go with my other one, I actually wanted to but everything was going so quickly I couldn't get my fingers going quick enough! The pumpkin bird box is really cute,I missed these completely at the show so I was really pleased to be able to buy one of these.
The dragon skull is for the shop, it is so unusual and perfectly crafted, a super item. Then I found this mandrake sack and two of Nikki's lovely bead flasks. Oh no I thought Nikki has mixed up my order. I contacted her straight away and discover that this lovely, generous artist had included them for me as gifts because she thought they were seconds so would not be happy selling them. How unbelievable is that!
And by the way Nikki's idea of a second is a perfectly gorgeous item in anybody else's book.
So I have been a very lucky girl this week, being shown such kindness and generosity by two lovely people.
Thank you both very much.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

What happened to my tidy life?

My eldest son is off travelling with my camera charger. I order a new one which arrived promptly but unfortunately does not work. This means I cannot take any new photos. I looked through my blog picture folder and thought about my boy and how life changes. When I bought him home 21 years ago I was a thirty something, professional with an organised life and an organised home. He weighed six pounds ten and was roughly the length of a small drawer.
Yet over the next couple of weeks his 'stuff' filled a nursery, the kitchen, the washing machine and the front room. Only the dining room was a baby free zone and that wasn't any use cos we were both so exhausted no one came for dinner anymore anyway!
The house was simply full of him and two more children later they filled every available space both inside and out.....I asked myself why such small creatures needed so much stuff and so much room!
My miniature life has had quite the same effect as my tiny babies. I started off with the kitchen table, one house and a basket of bits and pieces.
Then it became two houses, fimo and its tools, ribbon and a few paints. Now it was the kitchen table and the sun room floor and a very large plastic box.
Then comes dolls house number three. More paints, and papers, and a mitre and a bremel etc etc etc.
Plus my grand plan is now a whole street of shops all along........where? Plus I had boxes of stuff now for the current project, the next project and just because it was cheap!
Time for drastic action we had a sun room off the kitchen/diner, hardly ever used, and I had a huge bottle of coins that was now full. I cashed in the coins, removed all the furniture and bought a few cheap, off the shelf kitchen cabinets, put them together and here is my own little room and workshop. The first room of my own I have had since I was eleven years old and I love it.
I have a complete length for my street of shops, cupboards and drawers for all my kit, a view of the garden and I don't have to clear anything away until I want too.
The only problem is........Where am I going to fit Diagon Alley??? The kitchen, the front room, the dining room......................some things never change!!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The List and Kensington Part Two......

In the excitement of sunshine on the outside and potion bottles on the inside I had forgotten to post the photos of the other items I was lucky enough to buy at the Kensington Festival. Here goes.....The super hatstand and pumpkins are by Nikki of course, aren't the flasks fab. The gardening tools and sleepy mandrake will be at home in the potting area of my witch house.
I also got a selection of bottles and flasks from Nikki. The dragon skin ones will probably go in my shop but they are so great I really want them in the witch kitchen fully on display. Below are a dragon crate complete with bones, eggs and dragon blood, a frog dissection board and one of the packets of dragon skin I bought. I am so pleased that Nikki had so many smaller items on her stand because it meant I can add her pieces all around the house. I think Michelle already spied one in the bathroom. My wish list said 'anything from Nikki Rowe' so that's another tick for me.
The next items should have been on the list don't know how I managed to forget them, David Ward's super cast iron cats. I bought two sets for different houses they have such friendly expressions.
Now what about this great set of wood working tools for my dolls house maker in my toyshop, not on the list again but in my defence they are a necessary purchase. I will probably add some paint and sawdust but they were a good price and will provide a base for the wood working table. They are from Pride of Plaice who specialise in food but always have a few extra interesting items.
These fun items are all from Sally Reader Miniatures who specialise in tiny figures of all different types. I couldn't resist these for my toy shop as they bring back happy childhood memories. They have a lot of detail considering how tiny they are and will stand out brilliantly on the shop's shelves. I can see myself  collecting a few more of these for the toy shop.
And characters from the absolutely best programme ever - The Magic Roundabout.
Lastly, when I posted my lists I received a comment saying that there should be one surprise item that I should buy because it called to me, well this is it. I saw him earlier in the afternoon but my budget was tapping me on the shoulder saying, 'Wait and see how many pennies you have left' So I was a good girl and did what I was told, which surprised me and would certainly have surprised my husband had he been there!
So after I had made all the previous purchases I counted my very depleted cash and discovered I had enough with £2.00 to spare, fate I thought. And here he is.....
How fabulous is he?! The photos really don't do Sarah's wonderful artistry justice, her cats really do seem to move they are so beautifully crafted believe me he is cat royalty personified, I know he is looking down his nose at me. I have put him in the house at the moment but I think he will live in the shop as I can see him looking down on all the customers who have the cheek to enter his shop!
I know Julie of Bellabelle also purchased a lovely sleeping cat from Sarah of Pocket People who is just purrfectly at home in her Toy shop.
On another subject, 'Going Postal' by Terry Pratchett on Sky 1 next weekend. Hmmmm, haven't enjoyed the others so I will be interested to see how they deal with this book.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Witches Need Lotions & Potions......

Have moved onto the bathroom and began to experiment with the whole potion thing. This was a very bog standard DHE  pine bathroom set which I crackled. Then I added the lovely chair from Angela and a bespaq plant holder.  
It's not quite finished yet but most of the gaps are filled. Lots of goodies around the bath, chocolates from a lovely Ebay seller and my first lotion bottles and of course her cat and a good book from Treefeathers.
As I made all these extra shelves every where it's only right that I fill them. I have been astounded by how much beads cost, especially larger ones. Now I know you worked this out a long time ago but never having been a crafter I am only just discovering ways of getting things cheaply. Anyway I have begun buying bits of costume jewellery from Sainsburys when they are 50% off, yes I know I should also go to local car boot sales and trawl through but we have so much football and tennis going on at the weekends that I just can't face them. I am a terribly lazy shopper and Sainsburys is about as far as I go most weeks.
These lotion and perfume bottles are made from necklaces that I have broken up. They were just the right colours.
One of David Ward's kittens is sitting in the wash bowl, are mine the only cats that sit in sinks? One of Nikki's dragon eggs is there ready for making her face mask and a couple of fluffy towels.
As you can see I still have plants to make for the corner.
There are still a few gaps here, I have been good and waited rather than just fill it up with what I have left. Really pleased with the perfume bottles and I have made a couple of potion bottles where I have practised with scenic water, not too sure about this yet - practice makes perfect....
The towels are budget flannels that I have just cut to size, they look nice and fluffy.
On the chair is one of Nikki's fabulous pumpkins and The Wizard of Oz  from Dateman Books.

Just a few finishing touches and I will only have the kitchen left to do in the house. Getting there!
Oh and my lovely giant tortoise is from Jenny Kelm a great way to move your books around.
There seems to be quite a big space in the middle of this room, I think I might have to have a look at Glenda's lovely rugs.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Just Because You Asked........

Here are the mannequins that some of you glimpsed through the windows of my Sid Cooke shop. This is the black collection front and back view. Every witch need an LBN!
The wicked witch outfit was made for me by Simply Silk, the one at the back was an Ebay buy and the rest were made by Ebay seller Ickle_Co a very talented and helpful lady.
Here they are I hope you like them.
My Spanish witches
Classic purple witch outfit
The well-dressed wicked witch
The Water Witch

Definitely the witch you would not want arriving at the ball!
The Flower Witch
As you can tell my Witch Emporium is definitely in the promland of costumes! I want to have shoes for each dress and either a matching broom or hat. I can't believe that out of the huge collection of hats I have from Kat, Debie and my lovely Dutch lady I am still don't have a hat for each dress. Ho hum that's minis for you.
Hope you enjoyed this Debbie and that you feel much better in the morning.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Off With the Old......

Still without camera although new charger arrived today so I will have some new photos tomorrow. So I thought I would clarify the extent of my witch project. My initial idea was to build a house/shop for a witch. So I began collecting ideas and items long before I had chosen my house. After about a year I realised that I was never going to fit everything I wanted into a joint venture and bought the Tudor House just for my witch to live in....
This is the project I have shown recently and at the moment I am making potion and food jars for the kitchen and bathroom in this house. There are still lots of finishing jobs to do but the real hard work has been done.
And this is my next main project a Sid Cooke Empire Stores that will be my Witch E.T Grubb's Emporium. Ground floor dress department, 2nd floor hat and accessories department and 3rd floor for lotions and potions. You can just see some of the mannequins for my very discerning witches through the windows.
As you can see so far it has only been part built but I wanted to get an idea of how my hats and mannequins would fit. I have collected hats from Kat the Hat, Debie of Piskies and Poppets and a lovely Dutch lady who sells on Ebay occasionally, and witch brooms and bags and cloaks so it will be nice to get my teeth into this shop soon.
I know that Julie had a number of problems with her Sid Cooke kit but I have to say mine went together beautifully. I actually bought mine on Ebay for an absolute song so was expecting the worse but I think I got lucky and bought an old kit from before the business was taken over. Hardly any sanding needed, no missing parts and everything fitted together exactly.
I would say though that the interior mouldings are extremely disappointing, that there aren't any. Interior doors bog standard Dijon, plastic window frames without interior archtrave and the absolute worst thing - the three exterior doors are only moulded on the outside, very lazy.....
If I had paid the retail price I think I would have felt a little cheated.
So those are my two witchy projects that should last me a year or two especially if I have many more mini days like today. I should have known not to try anything new today as when I sat down to plan out my kitchen furniture at my worktable, somehow I managed to knock off my kitchen range, which smashed into many pieces. Grrrrrr! I was so cross as it was the most expensive item I have ever bought and it took me ages to choose it. I can't even bring myself to look for a new one yet I need time to sulk!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Top Secret Project......

While I was wide awake last week worrying about trips to Indonesia (Luke my 21 year old), AS exams (Lloyd my 17 year old) and 1st year uni exams (Grace my 19 year old), I thought about hat boxes for my witch emporium.
This is how the project has started. Small boxes that I bought from Hobbyland  and paper clay hat shapes. I intend to glue the hat shape to the box lids. My colour scheme for the shop will be a very traditional purple and orange so I have painted the boxes and hat shapes in those colours. No photos yet........grrrrr.
I also found a fab product for texturing paper, it's like paint with bits in, and I have covered some of the hat shapes with this to add texture.
I think I will also cut out some cardboard circles slightly larger than the lids to make a definite hat brim.
I intend to decorate the hat boxes with ribbon, feathers etc plus I want to design a designer label for the shop which will also go on the box.
Any ideas of where else I can go with this are very welcome. Plus I need a name for the shop. Being an 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here' fan I was going for Witch E.T. Grubb's Emporium. What do you think? Too sad, as my kids would say.
Have loved reading everyone's Kensington stories, we all seem to have had very different shopping lists but ended up buying very similar items from Nikki. I had fun yesterday morning playing with my new items and placing them in their new homes or planning where they will be going.
I have also been busy making toiletry and perfume bottles for the bathroom of the witch house and tomorrow I am going to have a go at proper potion bottles with scenic water and fimo the whole shebang, wish me luck! Oh and does anyone know how you get those tiny circles of fabric to stay on the top of the jars, previously mine simply sit half on half off or go flying across the room! And trying to tie the ribbon around the top of the jar......well let's just say it's been frustrating. 

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Kensington and my list........

I had a fabulous day at Kensington yesterday. No massive scrum like at Christmas, calm and pleasurable shopping. My only complaint being that I couldn't get there until 1.30pm so lost out on a lot of Nikki Rowe's fantastic magical creations! I am sure you have already seen who the early birds were! So I didn't get a dragon eye book which I had lusted after but I did get lots of other lovely things from Nikki.
Anyway my list, I made my way to Julie of Bellabelle Dolls to say hello and look for characters for my witch shop and toy shop. She has agreed to make me a slightly smutty potion making witch, a tick on my wish list!

Moving on I went to Kathryn and Alan of Templewood Miniatures where I purchased these 144th house kits for my toy shop. The market square kit even has mini mini dolls houses inside, how cute is that!? I also picked up a couple of more flower kits to keep me busy. Previously I had bought a very fine tipped glue bottle from Kathryn which I told her I had found to be the best thing ever for detailed work and it never gets gummed up! So another tick from my list, doing well so far.
Off upstairs I came across these flower kits for foxglove and hollyhocks which were too witchy to pass by. They were a little bit pricey but unusual plants were on my list. Tick...Next stop was at my favourite whitewood furniture maker Rob Lucas of World of my Own, unfortunately there is not a website but mail order is available. I am a great fan of whitewood furniture cos it is reasonably priced and you can do what you like with it. This is what I bought.

This furniture is so well made and perfectly scaled with lovely clean lines. I have learnt to my cost that furniture scale can vary a lot especially at the economical end of the price range. So rocking chair tick, potion table tick, dolls house making table tick, unit for toy shop tick. I know the round table was not on my list but....I am going to cut it down as a coffee table for my witch sitting room and I have been looking for something to fill that space for a long time: so I think I can be let off!

 A visit to Mouse House Miniatures gave me a tiny teddy and a basket of vegetables, teddy tick but a big cross for the basket. I just couldn't resist it I love Charlotte's food minis and it had a lovely raw, country quality ideal for my witch. My bag was definitely filling up now and noticeably heavier, my budget which we all carry with us was making itself known but not too badly yet so off I went to Shoebutton Bears.
 Here are my little cuties. I adore their bears as they are really tiny and can come in lovely costumes. I was very good and only bought two as there was still a lot left on my list! But teddies tick.
Then going downstairs I met a little huddle including a little girl who looked just like Lola, I had bumped into Kate of Whittaker's Miniatures and Michelle of Michelle's Mad World plus another enthusiast whose name I didn't catch. They were really welcoming and we came clean about our purchases, I soon found out why Nikki's stand looked so bare!
The lovely Kate had made gifts for us bloggers, a super pile of books with a frog and potion bottle - as my daughter would say 'How kind is that?!' I was really touched, the miniature community is a real haven from all the cross and disappointed people I deal with every day, a mini haven.
Still lots more to look for, unfortunately I could not find any scissors or candles or glasses so it will be back to the internet for them. No 'toy maker' figure to tempt me but as I have two dolls to come from Julie this was just as well! More disappointingly I was unable to find a fairy for my cage, Penny Thompson did not have any of her tiny ones, I think getting to the show late meant I did miss out on a few things.
I was still within budget, hooray, and was doing well with my list no silly purchases yet and lots more to look at. 
I do not have any more photos today because Number One son left for Indonesia on Thursday with my camera charger and spare battery. Don't you just love 'em. I have ordered new ones but at the moment the camera is dead poor thing.
Still to come Nikki Rowe, old favorites for my toy shop, the one thing I just had to have, fabulous kitties and what every toy maker needs.
But no rats, again I think I was too late. On the good side I think my Spanish exam went well so my delay should be worth it, fingers crossed!