Thursday, 29 January 2015

A Little Time For "In The Pink"...... My Cake Box

Despite having to spend time sorting out my real life house I have managed to sneak off down to the bottom of the garden to play with my cake box project.
 The second coat of pink has gone on and I have wallpapered the inside with a Streets Ahead design from Bromley Crafts
 I also decided to have a 'faux' slate roof which allowed me to use up a scrap of paper I had in my stash. It always feels nice when I use something from the leftovers, it vindicates my hoarding!
 The skirting has also gone in but I left a little gap to allow for the opening of the back wall. This will be hidden by the cake stand.
 I have put in two very basic white shelves on the back wall in order to add a few books and extras. The window shelves have been given a lace trim, the door a fake lace blind....
 ......and the cake stand also has a thin lace edging.
I have found it quite difficult to buy lace for dolls house use but have now discovered a very simple solution. I am sure everyone already knows about this little tip but I will share it anyway because I was so pleased with myself. A normal piece of lace from Hobbycraft, much too wide for minis, but if you cut the lace into small sections you end up with lace strands perfectly sized.
I can't believe it's taken me eight years to work this out!! Anyway you can see how I have used this piece of lace cut to size in my little cake shop.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The SIlla Design Centre.......My Third Dolls House Project.

The Silla Design Centre was the project that changed everything for me. This was the project that really began my collecting and made me realise that this was not only a way to fill my empty nest but now a real passion.
Once again I bought this DHE Marshall and Snellgrove kit on Ebay. It was unbuilt and completely untouched. This is a fabulous kit for a shop and all the mouldings and small details have really been thought about. It is a big kit but even now I love this building.
 After the Bakery I wanted to do a shop with proper display windows and this kit certainly fulfils the brief. There is plenty of room for these DHE chairs and units. Red, white and black are the colours for this project clean, crisp and modern. 
 The design centre was created to showcase a group of modern chairs that I discovered on Ebay. This iconic sixties chair had to go in the shop window. 
I also had a go at making topiary rose trees which I was quite proud of and have stayed intact amazingly. The roses are from Hobbycraft which was fast becoming my second home
 I tiled the roof with cardboard roof tiles by Peter Clark which are a fabulous product as they keep your dolls house light, are really easy and incredibly reasonably priced.
The window boxes have my own topiary trees and flowers from larger stems of artificial flowers. By now I had also discovered the model railway shelves in Hobbycraft and had started collecting all sorts of scenic materials.
 These are the green topiary trees I made with quite nasty wooden flower pots. As you can see the tall tree is a little ragged! 
The attic floor is for the young and trendy owner. They have a little studio room with kitchen by DHE and a futon bed. Food is obviously important to them as the kitchen island is full to over flowing.
 I'm not sure but I think some of these pieces come from Country Contrast and Platts Mini Packages.  
You can't beat a black and white bathroom. I would quite like this myself!! 
 This house was my first attempt at bringing the back of of the opening door into the whole project. A very simple idea to be sure.
These black and red 'tiles' are made from corrugated card and I remember being quite chuffed at my daring at the time! You can see why I love this house though, the windows are brilliant both inside and out. 
The first floor is the gift and home sections. On one side there are handbags, luggage and perfumes. 
 On the other: vases, retro china, by Just Ann and Bill and kitch.  
 Most of the items are in fact beads of all types and are a great cheap way of creating an effect.
The downstairs showroom is completely open plan and in the showcase for all these wonderful copies of beautiful modern chairs.
 The floor is self sticking walnut strips and they are also quick and cheap, especially if you are doing a large house for the first time.
 Most of the lights are DHE but a couple of the funky ones come from Elf Miniatures.
 As does this desk and laptop.
 Of course there had to be a couple of black and white cats and this one was my very first purchase from Miss Sally's World
While I was working on this project I discovered Blogland and began to stalk various blog sites in earnest. What a huge resource this is. So many wonderful people sharing their ideas and inspirations. It seemed like every day I was able to learn something new. I was now completely hooked and will always be grateful to the many hobbyists and artisans who take the time to share.
Blogland also introduced me to dolls house fairs and I made my first trips to Miniatura and KDF and what an eye opener they were to this novice! I was the archetypal kiddie in a sweet factory and came away full of wonder and ideas. 
In fact I was already building my next project and looking to finding a way to have a work area in the house where I could dream away to my heart's content! 

Monday, 26 January 2015

Truly Scrumptious Bakery and Cafe......My Second Project

During the re-vamping of The Manor House I discovered that Ebay was full of unwanted dolls houses that could be bought for a fraction of the retail price so I bought a DHE fully built but undecorated model.
I think it was their Baker Street house and I was attracted to it because of the roof garden that I thought would add a new area for me to play with
 This time instead of simply painting the outside I visited Maple Street Miniatures, which is about 45 minutes from where I live, and bought brick effect papers and carpet. My visit to Maple Street opened a whole range of materials for building houses and I really enjoyed looking at their ready built houses that they have on show. To be honest I don't actually visit the shop anymore, it is a bit of a mess and all of their products can be bought on line. At the time though it was like an Aladdin's cave.
 Of all my houses this is my least favourite and will be the first one to go once I run out of room completely. It is too tall and to deep and I don't know what possessed me to think of setting it up as a shop and cafe. It simply doesn't work.
 The downstairs is the bakery, the middle floor is the cake shop, the 3rd floor is the cafe and then there is the roof terrace for afternoon tea. The hallway is used to display wedding cakes and individual cakes.
 One of the reasons I wanted to have a cafe was because I had decided I wanted to have a go at making cakes and bread. I had bought a couple of books by the talented food artist Angie Scarr and was keen to play with some Fimo.
 The cake room was still a work in progress when I took these photos but it is much tidier now. I bought a whole range of cakes off Ebay but I think most of the shop fittings came from Matlock Miniatures
 As you can see I did have a go at making bread and managed to fill the shelves. They were not too bad as a first attempt.
 As you can tell this project has a blue theme that I chose because it is a very fresh clean colour. I can't remember where I got the wedding cakes from but the cats were bought later during a trip to the  Kensington Dolls House Festival. They are hand painted by David Ward who is only available to buy from at KDF but he does have an email contact. 
 The roof terrace turned out quite well. I didn't make anything here and it does look quite sweet when lit up. That is part of the problem now when I look at this house, I don't really see anything of me here. Yet at the time I felt I was very involved in the house, now I just think 'blah'.
This is also the time I noticed that the inside of the door is really a waste of space and could be used to enhance the interior.
This project is as complete as it is ever going to get. I won't tweak it now and even if I decide to keep the house I will eventually change the whole interior. 
The good thing about this project was that it opened lots of new doors for me I started to make a few things for myself, I began looking at houses as a staging area for pieces I really liked as opposed to items I would buy just because they fit with the room.
Another good thing about the looking back is that I re-discover pieces I have forgotten about. There is a pink cake and a few cats that will definitely be given new homes!!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Manor House My First Dolls House Project......

I am sure there is an immutable law in Physics that for every action there is a reaction. Well the creation of my wonderfully organised garden work shop has had a reaction on my real home. We seem to be living in chaos. I had spread so much of my stuff all round the house that now every room looks like a bomb has hit it. So for the next week or so I will be decorating and re-organising the rooms I have vacated. 
In the meantime I thought I would share a trip down my dolls house Memory Lane beginning with my very first dolls house project, The Manor House by Dolls House Emporium.
 This was originally built for my daughter, Grace, as a Christmas present when she was eight years old. Then when she went off to University I got a bit broody and started playing around with it then decided to give it a complete re-decoration.
 I bought a lot of the furniture from DHE as I really didn't know then how many other sources there were for this wonderful hobby. I can remember being quite surprised by how expensive it was just to furnish one room. I was also surprised by how much enjoyment it gave me, all those lovely parcels arriving in the post!
 This house has been left exactly as I put it together so of course there are many things that I would change now, notice how stiff the towels and dressing gown look. The main trademark of all my projects began here though. I always try to stick to one colour scheme in each project.
 This house is most definitely pink and all the furniture is 'mahogany'. I like the flow sticking to a scheme gives a project, I want the houses to have a continuity when you open them, I like that control of the scene. 
 The kitchen marked a change in my approach as I had discovered by the time I reached this room that Ebay was a huge resource for dolls house miniatures. I discovered Bespaq miniatures and bought what I thought then were absolute top of the range pieces. I remember feeling incredibly guilty by the price of these kitchen units but by now I was hooked and expanding my tastes and sellers.
 Ebay seemed full of lovely people who made, actually made, clothes, hat boxes, cakes and a thousand and one other things for dolls houses of every type. A whole new world had opened up to me, there was no going back.
 I also decided that I would have cats in the house. I was very much a cat person then and bought quite a few by Heidi Ott I think. I was still to discover Blogland so I don't have any record of where I sourced everything in this house but most of them are available from DHE or Ebay.
 I have used standard dolls house lights in all the rooms and it still works amazingly.
On the outside are flowers again by DHE that still look vibrant today although the tacky wax is not always as tacky as it could be.
By the end of this project I was itching to start another, it had been so much fun and I absolutely loved tracking down pieces for the interior. I felt a real sense of achievement that I had actually finished a house and it looked nice.
I wanted to do it again!
I think I will always keep this house as it is now because it shows how my houses started. Of course there is so much I could improve upon. It is filled with items I would probably not buy today and my own personal input is minimal but it is where I discovered my hidden creativity because in my next project I began to think of ways I could make things for myself, I started looking at every day objects in a totally different way and for the first time in many years I had something that was all for me!!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

"In the Pink" For a While Today Plus Magical Plants Galore.......

I only managed to spend a couple of hours on my new project today as Wednesday morning I always play tennis in the morning and by the time I walk the dogs and do all the other daily chores.......well you know how it goes.
 To avoid the outside of my little shop box looking too 'clean' I have used this Texture Paste. This is a great product that I found again when having my mass sort out. It is like a very thick paint that you can brush on and then create a texture or pattern. I simply put on a thin coat and then used a medium stencil brush to create a rough rendering..... can see the difference here between the wooden window frame and the wall. I bought this pot from my local Hobbycraft a few years ago and it has kept really well, no drying out at all. You can add as thick or thin a layer as you like and then weather or paint it.
 I have made up and painted the McQueenie cake stand and a few laser cutouts that I had in my stash. 
First coat of pink on the woodwork surrounds. I am not great with colour mixing so always approach colour choices with a bit of trepidation. Usually I start of much to insipid and then build up depth gradually which may be the reason I end up painting so many coats!
I also raided through all my leftovers for flooring and skirting off cuts ready for when the outside painting is finished.
That's what I really like about these small projects, you can use up lots of leftovers and odds and sods that have been lying around....just in case!
I also decided to get out my magical plants and put them in a makeshift display box rather than have them shut up in the drawer again.

 I have built up a fabulous collection by Tallulah Belle OriginalsNikki Rowe.......
........and 19th Day Miniatures. These are all destined for my Hogsmeade shop Roots and Shoots but that will be a long time coming so in the meantime at least now I can enjoy them.
Been pretty cold and chilly here today but I am pleased to say my little oil filled radiation is keeping the workshop pretty toastie.