Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Just When I Thought I Might Get In My Workroom......

We went to Sheffield yesterday to see my daughter who is coming to the end of her second year studying Archeology. This visit was planned to collect most of her 'stuff' as she is off to travel around Europe as soon as her last exam is finished.
Very clever girlie. Get Mum to come up to see me, buy me lunch and then take home all my dirty washing!!!
We had a marvellous day. Took Lily in her new car crate
from Pets at Home. Marvellous piece of kit as she was driving me mad in the car. Now she sits in her carrier and doesn't jump about like a mad thing.
I also found a dog friendly pub in a nearby village The Rockingham Arms,
in the village of Wentworth. The village itself was so pretty and I would have loved to explore it more but it was pouring down all the time we were there.
These charming cottages were in the rightly named Paradise Square.
We will definitely be going back again. The food at the pub was great and the bars were full of locals with their dogs which made us feel very comfortable with our new addition!
So now I have days of washing, drying and ironing ahead of me. I know, I know, I should just pile it in her room for when she returns but I can't. I am just not made to leave a mess behind a closed door, it will bother me. Plus she won't do it properly, well not my way!
Ok, I'm controlling, what can I say.
My other problem for the week is that my father is at last, well my fingers are still crossed, going in to hospital to have a replacement hip operation. It has already been cancelled twice so we are not holding our breath until Thursday. Poor old sod has been waiting since last October, in pain and more or less house bound.
My mum doesn't drive so I will be on call for a few weeks to take her out and about. I am beginning to think I will have to get up with the birds in order to find some time to myself!!
Still I am enjoying reading everyone's blogs and even have some time now to post comments. There is life after Lily......and the washing......and the cat ( but that's a different story! )........and elderly parents......

Friday, 27 May 2011

Where Have All Those Years Gone?.........

This morning I saw my youngest son off to his last day at school. I can't believe that my days of school reports, packed lunches and windy sports' fields have come to an end.
It seems impossible not only that I am 20 years older but that my children are all grown up.
I always thought that their first day at secondary school marked their first real steps out of the home but leaving school has really been the major turning point for me.
At their school it is traditional for the Upper Six to attend in fancy dress. They all meet at a playing field in the village and then do a last walk down the high street to school.
 My son's group chose the "Where's Wally?" characters and Power Rangers. He got a great costume off Ebay and his grandad's walking stick.
 A bit early for me to be taking photographs but they look ready for a good time.
Off he goes for the last time. I really could have sat and cried, he's my baby, he can't possibly be ready to go off into the big,wide world!!
Well in reality he is hoping to go off to the wonderful world of university and he'll still be costing me a fortune but you know what I mean!!
In a fancy dress mood here are pictures of his older siblings on their last day. 
 My eldest, now a very cool 22 year old who has a few more muscles! Their theme was "Super Heroes".
My daughter as a 21st Century Tin Man, following a "Wizard of Oz" theme. She is now a truly wonderful 20 year old.
Now I have got to find the cat and head for the vets, a task definitely designed to bring me back to the present!!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

A Few of My Favourite Things..........Part 2, Lidi Stroud

During a visit to Miniatura a couple of years ago I came across the amazing work of Australian artisan Lidi Stroud. Lidi's basket and wicker work cages were just what I was looking for and I have been adding to my collection a couple of times a year.
It was also a pleasure to meet Lidi at the Kensington Festival this year. Lidi has been travelling with her charming husband, Peter, and incorporated the show into their plans. 
 These are my two latest additions. The basket will be filled with lots of wizarding shopping and the bird house will find a place in the Magical Menagerie.
 While shopping at another stand I caught up with the Stroud's doing their own browsing and much to her husband's concern I told Lidi of my passion for Sarah Hendry's work. Needless to say Lidi could not resist and one of Sarah's Pocket People is off to Australia!
 These three cages, all hand-made in wicker, are all destined for the Magical Menagerie where I hope to hang them from the rafters. 
 Each little door opens so I should be able to place a small bird or animal inside.
I just loved the shapes of the smaller cages too. I hope to add to my collection a piece at a time especially now Lidi has an Etsy shop AbsoluteBasketcase.
You can see more of Lidi's marvellous work on her CDHM profile page.
Oh and here are a couple of pictures of Lily helping in the garden!
A puppy plant!
Now where's that hose?!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

A Few of My Favourite Things..........Part 1, Erika van Horn.

As there is still not any sign of me getting back into my workshop I thought  I would start a series of blogs showing a some of the pieces I have been collecting for my current Diagon Alley project.
I hope you will enjoy taking inspiration from these marvellous artisan's work.
I have recently begun collecting pieces by Erika Van Horn of EV Miniatures from the US.  
 I have this marvellous vampire open book for Flourish and Blotts.
I especially like the the way the pages are aged as well as the book mark.
Of course this book of wands was a must for Ollivander's Wand Shop and will look perfect on the shop counter.
 The delicate candelabra will probably find a home in The Leaky Cauldron. 
 The candles are partly burnt down and dripping candle wax a technique I have so far found impossible to emulate.
Erika has a whole range of butterfly items which have sold out really quickly so I was pleased to have acquired these two wonderfully fragile specimens.
These are for either the Magical Menagerie or the Apothecary. 
Erika only produces a few items at a time and she has a lot of fans so I am delighted to have a few of her items in my collection. I missed out on the miniature reliquaries range recently which were very unusual but I will definitely look out for these in the future.
Erika also has an Etsy shop and blog where more of her wonderful work can be seen.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Better Late Than Never!........Kensington 2011

Best laid plans and all that, but I can at last sit down and put a post together. As mentioned before I have a set pattern when I go to Kensington and Miniatura. First to Anne Willis of Fine Design  for an owl before she sells out. Then on to Sarah Hendry of Pocket People for a cat and kitten maybe. Then to Michael Mortimer of Nine to look at his marvellous furniture. 
Then I go to the stand of Jain Squires and Julie Campbell. This time I was blown away by the the huge range of dolls these two talented ladies had on show and my budget went completely out of the window. 
I just couldn't resist buying these fabulous characters from Jain 
and believe me I could have bought more!
I have included lots of photographs so you can see the incredible detail of each character.
My first choice had to be this pedlar witch. She is ideal for Diagon Alley up from the country to sell her wares.
 I especially liked her back pack full of pumpkins.
 Jain always seem to think in 360 degrees so her characters have interest from every angle which makes them even more special.
 Her tray is brimming with all sorts of magical pieces and she seems a very happy witch. 
I saw this wonderful character on Jain's blog a few months ago and thought it was destined for a lucky collector.
Now in her full glory on Jain's stand I could not resist her!
 The only excuse I have is that I have learned that if I don't buy the ideal piece when I see it I may never get another chance......yeah, I know it didn't work on the husband either!
 The truth is I just had to have her because she was so vibrant and colourful.
 Even her hat is stuffed full of goodies.
 I am sure that all the Hogwart students would be stocking up on sweeties as well as books.
 A full tray of candies set to make your fillings tingle!
With two witches destined for the cobbled streets of Diagon Alley it seemed only right to choose a wizard to accompany them.
 I chose this character because he was so different to the usual wizard with robes and beards.
 My Alley is post 'He Who Must Not Be Named' so this scarred and troubled wizard is perfect.
 Who knows what terrible events led to his injuries.
Perhaps the silver frog is a clue to his special role or skills. 
I was also sorely tempted by the three 'Alice' characters that Jain had on show. I loved the darkness of Alice and could see her in a really surreal tea party........
But I resisted having absolutely no plans for any Wonderland projects and the whole of the fair still to get round!
I will probably regret my resisting in the future but I will hopefully still be married!!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

A Day of Freedom!........The Kensington Dolls House Festival 2011

I took a whole day off from the puppy on Friday to attend the Kensington Dolls House Festival. This is my favourite show as it doesn't take me too long to travel there and the range of exhibitors is amazing. There are always a lot of artisans from Europe at this show and I really enjoy looking at the different types of styles.
Two artisans that I do not remember seeing before were Gerd Felka from Germany who had the most beautiful collection of glass pieces, including some miniature bottles in very interesting shapes; and Elizabeth Causeret. I am not sure why I have not noticed Elizabeth's work before as it is absolutely perfect for the mini projects I have been working on for the last two years!
 I had already been more than a little naughty by the time I got to Elizabeth's display so I only bought these three pieces but I could have bought a whole lot more!
 The cask and drip cup were perfect for the bar of The Leaky Cauldron. The cup is so fine and delicate, amazing work.
The pitcher too looks perfect on my new pub table by Michael Mortimer. Unfortunately Elizabeth does not seem to have a website so you can't see the huge range of perfectly formed stoneware she produces but a lot of her pieces are sold by Swan House Miniatures in the US, the prices here are an awful lot more than I paid though. 
I now have a collection of miniature artisans whose stands I visit as soon as I arrive at either Kensington or Miniatura.
There are two main reasons why I highlight where these stands are on my map: firstly, they are always very popular and can sell out of certain pieces very quickly, secondly, I know I will want to buy particular items from them and have learnt that cash can disappear very quickly from my hot little hands at these fairs. So I now make sure I visit my favourites first.
 Michael Mortimer is always highlighted for me now as he produces such beautifully made oak pieces.
 This pub table and chairs were just what I wanted for the front area of The Leaky Cauldron.
Again they are perfectly scaled and will soon be full of wizard good cheer!
Another artist whose work I cannot resist is that of Sarah Hendry of Pocket People. She makes both cats and dogs all of which are then hand painted in the most amazing detail.
 This time I decided on a tabby cat and playful kitten.
Light was pretty poor today but I hope you can see the detail in the coats and expressions of these cats. I have been slowly building a collection of Sarah's cats for a while now and never tire of looking at them. For me she is the best miniature cat artisan I have come across because I like the sculpted look rather than the furry kind. 
Sarah does not have a website but will always email pictures of the cats she has available and send by post.
As I have not made anything for a while now due to the new arrival, I did feel a little stir-crazy at the fair, which means I have lots of things to show......but at the moment I will finish with yet another photo of Lily.
Tomorrow I will come clean about my addiction to the characters of Jain Squires but shhhhhhh, please don't tell my husband!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Lily Would Like to Say Thank You.....

 A big "Thank You!!" to everyone who has commented and email-ed my new mummy with both encouragement and much needed advice recently.
Poor Mummy is a little shell-shocked but is getting better every day. At the very least she has stopped putting me in the bath every other day and I have nearly persuaded her that puppies only eat roasted chicken fillets.
I haven't quite got the hang of not treating everyone like a chew stick and the garden seems like a long way away when a puppy needs to pee but sitting down does seem to bring nice treats and makes everyone happy!!
I had my second injection today but we still have to stay in the garden for another two weeks. Which is just as well as I am not fit to be seen at the moment. I have a huge bald spot on my back from being micro-chipped. Now is that any way for a puppy princess to be presented to the world!

Lovely Packages Containing Lovely Things.......

I am a sucker for packaging and I have recently purchased two items that arrived with all the attention to detail that I enjoy.
My first little parcel is from Bassom Bear who I have recently discovered when trying to work out how to use Artfire
 Pretty little personalised box, nice....Shredded tissue, nice....
 And inside a gorgeous tiny, fully jointed teddy bear for my Toy Shop. He is just beautiful and so well made. He reminds me of the bears that used to line the walls of Gamages Toy Emporium ( I am not as old as the writer of this piece, but it has the right feel for the visits I remember in the 1960's).
 I love the added touch of his own designer label on his bottom.
 He is a real cutie and has settled in amongst all the other bears in the Toy Shop. Lots of empty spaces still to fill though!
 Next to arrive were the wonderfully packages mini glitter house kits from true2scale. I ordered the Haunted House, of course
 ......and a Little Church which will go in the Toy Shop.
 Both kits are presented in their own tasteful envelopes which really make you feel you have purchased something special.
This seller also has a marvellous blog which is well worth a long visit for lots of tips and helpful advice.
I can't wait to start these kits. They are a perfect project for me at the moment as I have a feeling I will be working in small time spurts at the moment!