Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Emporium's Hat & Shoe Department Opens For Business......

I have had a wonderful day dressing the first floor of my Emporium while watching the snow fall in my garden. I love getting all the pieces I have been stashing away out of their hidey-holes and putting them all together. 
Firstly I gathered all the wonderful hats from Kat that I have been collecting for over a year now.
  I have displayed them on simple plain wood grocery stands that I have stained and aged a little bit. The hat stands have been painted to match the hats. I was intending to decorate the hat stands but decided against it because I thought the displays would look too crowded and I did not want to detract from the fabulous hats.
 The shoes were next and I found lots of tiny pairs that I bought ages ago really cheaply which will do just fine on the shelves as well as others that have been made by some very talented people - which reminds me, where are the gorgeous lavender boots I showed on a post a little while ago? Mmmmm, will have to look for those in a minute!
 There a shoes by Kat in leather, by Julie all fluffy and spooky and by CampCactus all delicate and beautifully natural. The empty shelf is waiting for new stock yet to arrive, it is a newly opened shop after all. I am thinking wellingtons in lots of witchy colours, very trendy!
 On this display there is a fabulous matching set with a hat by Debie that amazingly was perfect for the shoes and bag bought from Kat. The glittery shoes were, I think from DHE but I can't really remember.
 Once again these were basic white wood units but they do a fine job. I also have a couple of up to the minute Steampunk hats by Kat, including the wonderfully quirky flying hat which always makes me smile! So Esme Weatherwax I always think.
 This table display shows of lots of shoes mainly bought from Minutaria and Etsy with two pairs from CWPoppets. It was simply coincidence that they all came together like this but I am like the way they compliment each other. There is also a little candle display from Julie which was just right!
 To liven up the plain wooden units I added a few of the decorative brackets Angela Downton is now selling on Ebay. They are really pretty and an incredibly simple way to liven up plain pieces of furniture. I also edged the door of the shoe cabinet with the really tiny ones.
The shop floor now looks ready for all those well dressed witches out there.
 Due to my having to use a flash today my gorgeous Abyssinian cat by Sarah Schiff can't be seen in all his glory unfortunately but her cats are a weakness of mine. They are so lifelike!  
 I have still got to put up mirrors, signs etc to bring the whole look together but it is coming along nicely. I also want to make a few shoe/boot boxes to scatter which will be a challenge! I am terrible with measurements but it will be fun having a go!
I will have to design a logo for Witch E.T.Grubb's to make sure she stands out on the High Street!
 A cosy section to try on all the new styles with comfy cushions by who else but Julia, beautifully sewn as usual. Julia has been poorly recently so I hope seeing her lovely work in place will cheer her up. The very sexy boots are by The Dolls Cobbler whose work is the devil to get hold of but I managed to find
Mainly Minis in the US who do supply to the UK. If you have half an hour to spare take a trip through this website, they have some unusual as well as beautiful pieces for sale mostly handmade. 
Lots to do still, including the lighting when I will be fitting LEDs for the first time, but what a nice way to spend a cold, snowy day!

Monday, 29 November 2010

The Big 200 and My Give Back!

I have now reached an amazing 200 followers! To celebrate this mile stone I am going to have a special giveaway, or as I read on another blog recently, a 'give back'.
In view of recent posts 'give back' seems much more apt as I have been overwhelmed by all the kind thoughts and advice so many of you have sent me.
 All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post and be a follower of this Blog.
I have a 1/48th dolls house kit all ready for three winners. I saw these a couple of weeks ago at a craft fair and they look ideal for a mini project. I will also send a couple of surprise treats with each house because it is nearly Christmas!
The draw will take place on Monday the 7th of December so the winners will receive their packages before Christmas. Good Luck! 

We met with a number of professionals on Friday and I have to say the sense of relief I feel is huge. I have done all I can now and have found the best care and advice possible in view of the situation. The rest is out of my hands, other than to try and minimise any social effects that occur if the **** truly hits the fan. 
So, time to look forward and there is always Malaysia to escape to!
Happy days!!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Time Out......

I took all your advice today and had a time out wrapping presents. A little early I know but it is something I enjoy doing and it was a task I could do without having to think too much. I plugged in my ipod and listened to the wonderful "Emma" by Jane Austen.
Gosh it made me feel better!
It also prepared me for a traumatic afternoon in conference as we try to minimise the after shock. I certainly didn't feel as tense and tearful. Plus when we had finished with the professional I could stand back and think I am doing my best but there are things I cannot change.
So thank you everyone who has sent me such wonderful messages and for all the warm vibes that have been coming my way from all over the world.
We still have a long way to go but I feel so much better.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Some Days are Just Bad............

Have been absent for a while because of a huge cloud that has settled over our home. Times are very difficult at the moment and I am finding it very hard to deal with normal fun things like blogging.
It is so painful when someone you love and care for get themselves involved in a situation that you know can cause them nothing but heart ache.
I am powerless to change anything or make any of the problems go away and for a control freak like me it's unbearable.
They say what can't be be cured must be endured but it is so hard when you can see nothing but pain and distress for the weeks and months to come.
So I am doing what I do best, keeping a steadying hand, preparing for the worst and so, so hoping for the best.
I have been keeping up with everyone's blogs in the wee, small hours even if I am too weary to leave comments. Lots of Christmas preparations going on in Miniature Blogland I have seen.
To cheer me up and keep my mind of the real world I am planning a 200 follower giveaway.
Wow 200! Thank you to everyone who pops in. I am hoping to post more details tomorrow everything being equal.

Friday, 19 November 2010

How Many Injections?!

Off we went to visit our local nurse to talk about what precautions we need to take before flying off to Malaysia. My husband is six foot one and 16 stone but is a total worst scenario freak when it comes to 'foreign' illnesses and has already decided to have every injection known to man. I think he would even pack the morning after pill if they let him.
I am, surprisingly, very relaxed about such things. Mainly I suppose because my children have travelled to all sorts of places and stayed in the most revolting hostels with very few bad effects, so if they have survived I feel sure I will. I take it for granted I will get an upset tummy, the change in water effects me just passing through the Watford Gap after all!
Anyway we talk to the nurse and I can see my husband hanging on her every word. Oh yes he says, let's have the Rabies injection. We don't need it I say. Of course we do he says. No we don't there has not been a case of Rabies in the area we are visiting for three years.......Oh, he says, but.....
AND, I say, I do not intend getting close enough to any animal that can bite me that badly unless it has been rather nicely stir-fried and served with a delicious sauce!!
How long are you going for? says the nurse wearily.
So we ended up with Hep A, Hep B, typhoid, dyptheria, and tetanus. Sounds like more than enough to me. Plus we have to take a course of Malaria tablets with us 'just in case'.

Thank you everyone who left such funny and helpful messages to my last post. I will be talking you through my journey as and when each stage is reached. Thank you Sans for your lovely offer I may take you up on it! It sounds like an escape route of the most pleasurable kind.
I have now seen our itinerary which I will share with you another day......suffice to say it led to a rather heated discussion. Has this man never been on holiday with me before? A good clue for him would be the fact that that I have not got my hair wet, except for in the shower, since 1976!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Travelling? For or Against........

Like many people of a certain age my husband feels the need to travel. He longs to visit far flung places. He wants to have adventures. He is wants to learn to scuba dive, go white-water rafting, eat strange food and meet new people.
Well as he is not a celebrity, so I was not able to get him accepted for "I'm a Celebrity......", and now we are on our way to Malaysia and Borneo this January.
At the risk of seeming like the most boring person in the world - I don't travel well, yep just like fine wine.
I suffer from awful motion sickness for a start, I never pack the right things, I hate being too hot and I am terrible with new people. 
My husband keeps telling me that now the children are grown we should be off exploring the world - I didn't think there was anything better than Disney World. 
Plus, like a lot of married people with jobs and hobbies and children, we don't actually spend an awful lot of hours in the day on our own........we are now planning to do that for 19days!!!!! My God the thought is terrifying!
He has planned it all for us: Kuala Lumpar, Kota Kinabalu, jungle trekking and camping, diving, rafting, a romantic hotel on the beach and lots of quality time for us to enjoy.
I have planned to buy an Ipad to make sure I have something to do in the awkward silences after dinner or for when we've had a row because I am not going to climb that bloody mountain.
So have a thought for me in your prayers tonight and search your miniature networks for shops I can visit in Kuala Lumpar.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?........

In one word.....slowly!
I am continuing to make pieces for the outside of the Emporium. I can't believe how long everything takes to make, I will never shake my head at the prices of miniature floristry again. 
 I have noticed a lot of use of natural materials in miniature work lately so I have made a few mini wall 'trees' using small twiglets from the garden. I have let them dry completely for weeks, then I sprayed with a matt varnish.
 Now I have added bunches of leaves. These leaves have all been punched from different coloured papers. I have then added veins using very thin felt tipped pens. To add a variety of colours I then used either a water colour pencil for the edges or brushed them with a metallic embossing paste from a palette of colours I bought ages ago and was never quite sure what to do with. the finish is much nicer than I expected to be honest, paints and me are at the very beginning of a relationship! You know how it is - good days and bad!
After the punching, the veining, the painting and the embossing, all the leaves are 'cupped' to give them shape.
These are two items I find invaluable when making up flowers and things. The blue foam circle is used as a base for 'cupping' petals, flowers and leaves. I used to use a mouse mat but they are a bit too hard. This pad is just right.
The glue pot has a tiny metal needle to allow for precision glue lines or tiny dots of glue. I use mine all the time for all sorts of projects. Like most of my flowers resources they are from Fine Flowers in Miniature which is run by a lovely couple who travel all around the country with their flower kits and 144th house kits.
 Some of you may recognise this vine as the fabulous work of Nikki, which I bought a while ago. The wiring work is so realistic, my photograph does not do it justice. I have attached it to the wall with a dab of paper clay which I will paint and then cover with a tiny, leaved bird nest I think.....not sure whether to add tiny leaves or fruits to the vine or simply leave it in its glory?????
 I have also made these two little holly trees using the same method as above. I am still playing with how many leaves I want to add. I quite like the wood but they do look a bit bare. I have also made some   
orange berry clusters too add.
 More work in progress. A couple of hanging plants, the berries, holly leaves with the berries. and a selection of leaves from kits wired and ready to be planted in the wall troughs of the Emporium.
When I look at what I have achieved this week and the size of the troughs around the Emporium, I must admit my heart sinks! But I am sure the gardens of Rome were not built in a day! 
Have a fabulous Sunday everyone wherever you garden.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Emporium Goes Green....& Thank You After Dark

I have spent some time on the Emporium trying to soften up the outside and finishing off a couple of jobs. Firstly I added moss and greenery all around the shop.
I have always used the greenery produced for miniature railways which I can buy easily from all types of craft shops.
It sticks to anything but is a bit messy to use, a bit like when you use glitter, a little bit seems to spread a very long way!
The lead flashing has finished off the edge between the shop front extension and the main front panel. I was going to use this on the roof ridges but decided against it, I thought the tile edges were cleaner and I have put a little bit of moss along the join.
I have been building a collection of toadstools from Nikki and Lory of 64tnt especially for this shop. I have all different colours and sizes.
At the moment I have placed them in little groups around the front bays of the shop. I started with a little patch of the green moss....
.....when this had dried I stuck on a small ball of paper clay which I then covered before 'planting' a variety of smaller toadstools. I will be able to tell if the have stuck firmly when the clay is dry tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
The 'tradesman's side door has been decorated with dried acorns and a tiny pumpkin, flowers from my usual kits and outside lighting from Lorainne of DFLY Miniatures!!
I want to create a warm autumnal feel around the shop to help soften the stark lines on the grey, so lots of flower and vine making still to be done.
A lovely package arrived for me this morning from the extremely talented After Dark After All who has a fabulous selection of items for sale on Etsy. I recently purchased some fab pieces but unfortunately when they arrived a few of the more delicate pieces had snapped off in transit. I wasn't sure what glue to use on the fimo as I have not had much luck with repairs in the past so I contacted the buyer for advice.
She was very helpful and the repairs were successful. Plus I was offered free postage on my next purchase.
 This lovely pumpkin board was my next purchase, doesn't it conjure up Autumn!
 But look what I also found in the package! A very unexpected extra which I adore....all these wickedly spooky pumpkins.
And a bread wreath and ghostly cookies. I know we keep saying it but the artisans we deal with in our little miniature world are simply the nicest of people. Also I think they truly value their customers unlike all the other mainstream shops I have to tackle in my real life.
Thank you, all of you who make my mornings so pleasant!

Monday, 8 November 2010

New goodies on a wet day......

 A little while ago Julia of BearCabinMiniatures stitched me a beautiful siamese cat with my daughter's name and birth year. I thought it would be nice to do the same for my sons and I asked her for two Halloween pieces to go in my soon to be started Leaky Cauldron. 
They have arrived and as you can see they are perfect. I am going to pop them in to their Christmas stockings, and see how long it takes them to work out what they are.........
Julia has lots of lovely pieces in her Etsy store perfect for stocking fillers. I have a few of her cushions in various projects not only witchy settings and they look lovely.
 I have also received this little piece of fun from a US Ebay seller teresanlm who has the most unusual miniature pieces mostly of the medical kind for anyone into hospitals. I love the details of this little piece. 
It is very carefully made and has real character. The cage has been simply but effectively made just right for a Magical Menagerie. Sooner or later I will have to have a go at cage making so I can pile them up high in the shop.....
 ......hmmm quite a lot of things I am going to have to have a go at soon!!
These are another new Ebay find, I have had a couple of really successful purchases lately and this seller will really interest those of you who like to paint their own china pieces or pots etc.
I purchased these Halloween pieces from facetmulti but he has a whole range of finishes including lots of unfinished shapes and designs ready to painted.
The pieces are very reasonably priced and of an excellent quality very delicate not huge and lumpy like some cheap china pieces can be. Great postal rates as well for UK buyers, have a look and see what you think. I am very pleased with my little collection.
I had become very disillusioned with Ebay but over this Halloween period I have been looking on the US site under an 'artisan' search or 'signed' and have seen some lovely work by sellers new to me. 
Some of it is very specialist, well what I actually mean is it goes for lots and lots of pounds, but the pieces are lovely to look at an enjoy. 
Thankfully everyone is gearing up for Christmas now so I can turn my mind to building materials and starting the heavy work. Firstly, however, I must get back to making flowers for the Emporium's wall troughs.  

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Sevilla es stupenda!

I had a wonderful time in Sevilla with my Spanish class. A beautiful city, friendly people and delicious food what more could you ask for.
 The architecture is stunning both quirky and stylish. We were really lucky to visit during a public holiday which meant the city was full of families enjoying their city and each other.
 We stayed in a hotel very close to the centre which meant we were able to walk everywhere which is a must for me when travelling. I love to walk the streets soaking up the atmosphere and seeing all there is to be seen.
 The lovely weather also means lots of stops at the abundance of outdoor cafes and tapas bars where you can just sit and watch the world go by. What I also enjoyed was the fact that very little English was spoken, which meant we had to practice our Spanish. Of course we weren't always accurate but the locals seemed very amused by our attempts. Luckily my request for 'agua con gas y ajo' was questioned and ice 'heilo' substituted!
 I also loved the tapas which is on offer everywhere. Lots of little plates to taste which really suits the way I like to eat. I did pass on bull's tail and tripe I just couldn't bring myself to eat it but I'm sure others would love it.
 There are also lots of little lanes to meander down, tiny shops to investigate and flamenco to enjoy.
 For those who love to shop Sevilla has a fabulous selection of high quality shops on offer selling everything from Spanish bullfighter's hats, which were gorgeously stylish, to beautiful woollens. I was almost tempted by a fabulous pair of leather boots but decided against them as I was not sure they were made to survive an English winter, but they were yum... 

The flight was bearable as it was from Stansted which is only 15 minutes from home, I am not a great one for travel. If you are looking for a couple of days away from home to re-charge and enjoy slipping into a different culture I would highly recommend Sevilla.
Lots of helpful Spanish bloggers sent me directions to miniature shops in Sevilla but unfortunately my street map was not up to the task so I will have to leave that idea for my next visit as I will definitely be going back.