A fair day out
31 October 2012
The sun shone yesterday as I took a trip out yesterday, with contributor Nick Scahill, to the International Antiques and Collectors fair at Ardingly Showground in East Sussex. Nick is an expert on antique fairs and auctions and has a keen eye for his specialist subject area - Victoriana. While I was looking for dolls' houses and miniatures.
Through the gates and into the first of many display areas, Nick challenged me as to how long it would take me to find the first dolls' house. Barely had he finished his sentence when I said "over there!". It wasn't a particularly antique specimen (more of a boot sale bargain) but the stall holders explained how their 12-year old grand-daughter no longer played with the house - although it has been much enjoyed.
Nearby I came across a stall with two antique dolls' houses...much more my cup of tea..but without a personal history attached! I love the way that they were displayed with dolls and vintage clothing. I was warming to this adventure!
The Ardingly site is huge - and included covered and outdoor pitches. I did wonder how those outside would fare when the weather was not as kind. As it was the ground underfoot was pretty muddy! As Nick continued his hunt I peered behind boxes and bags, piles of books, crates, teddy bears, furniture, mirrors and mannequins for more dolls' houses. And I discovered quite a few as well as boxes of dolls' house furniture.
This dolls' house, displayed on a lovely pine kitchen table, was waiting to a new owner to take it home and give it the love it needs! Let's hope it didn't end up back in that van.
While this one was proudly standing on a banana box - a plantation house maybe?
I have to admit that I was in my element; antiques, homewares, unexpected treasures, and Nick's witty commentary over genuine antiques and fanciful (and overpriced) reproductions. Fortified by coffee and chocolate we enjoyed our own Bargain Hunt! As I love photography, I was able to add some unusual images to my own picture collection as well as my dolls' house album.
And while Nick came away with a couple of bargains, I was very restrained when it came to splashing the cash, with just a couple of pretty blue bottles for my glass collection (and not even miniature!). But next time, oh yes, I'll be prepared.
I'll be showing off more of my dolls' house finds in a future issue of The Dolls' House magazine.
Home improvements - step 1
30 October 2012
When Bic announced the launch of a Biro specially for women, I threw up my dainty little hands in horror. Did Bic imagine that we ladies had been struggling to write with great big 'Man Pens' for all these years? Would I swoon with pleasure at the prospect of a Biro in a feminine pastel shade? Then came Cadbury's announcement of a chocolate bar for women. Hello? I'm actually quite accomplished at eating 'Man Chocolate' too.
However, I put my feminist principles to one side when I came across the Haynes Women's Home DIY manual. With its bright pink cover and photographs of polished finger nails gripping tools, I figured it was time that I took their advice: "If you want something doing, do-it-yourself." The embarrassing truth is that I don't have a clue when it comes to DIY, whether that's dolls' house sized or full scale on the home front. I can't draw a straight line even with a ruler and my family jokes about not letting me use scissors.
Imagine their surprise when I announced my intention to tackle some home projects All By Myself. This month's goal has been to refurbish the stairs and landing. The first step - taking up the old carpet - was harder than I'd imagined. Having failed to take Haynes' advice to equip myself with a tool kit first... I struggled to lever up an edge with my (dainty) fingers, a dinner knife and my eyebrow tweezers before eventually going in search of a (broken) craft knife.
Of course, I'd fallen into that (dare I say typically female) trap of failing to read the manual first. But having succeeded in ripping up the old carpet and disposing of it at the local tip, I felt immensely pleased with myself. This was liberation.
However, I can't help but feel that I'd have had a pleasanter day had I been decorating a dolls' house hall instead. How much easier to purchase an inexpensive, yet impressive stair carpet from the likes of The Dolls House Emporium, or even a length of ribbon, and glue that to a miniature staircase. Yes, I'd have stuck glue in my hair and the carpet would be wonky, but it wouldn't matter so much. It wouldn't need vacuuming either. After all, a woman's work is never done!
Getting creative for Christmas
29 October 2012
I know it's halloween this week - and bonfire night follows hot on its heels - but when I get emails about creative Christmasy stuff in my inbox, I can't help but think of leaping ahead to make for the December celebrations! Of course, I don't really need an excuse to make anything, whether it's for my dolls' house or my real house. I get a real buzz from being creative. Over the weekend I had my sewing machine out - adapting a pattern that I took from an existing favourite dress. But now I've seen this catalogue, I'm thinking about running up a few Christmas gifts for friends and family...while I still have a little time on my hands.
What I like about this type of catalogue is that it sparks off all kinds of ideas because it contains materials for a wide range of crafts; paper, sewing, painting, jewellery...what more could you want? Flipping through the catalogue has already sparked off a miniature project in my mind that will almost certainly find its way into The Dolls' House magazine. Watch this space!
We're loving The Paradise
22 October 2012
I'm loving BBC's lavish period production, The Paradise. The drama is based on the 1883 novel by Emile Zola, The Ladies' Paradise and tells the story of innovative businessman John Moray and how he created the first department store. It is full of pretty frocks and fripperies, with a burgeoning love triangle among the key characters. Then there's all those wonderful displays of gowns, hats, gloves and fans. Not to mention an attentive gaggle of personable shop assistants on hand to show off bolts of cloth and wrap purchases. Discussing the series in the office we all think it is perfect inspiration for a miniature fashion store. Could it be your next project?
Meanwhile, Christmas is looming over the horizon and many High Street stores already have their Christmas card displays on show - so the rest of the festive trappings won't be far behind. We've been working with this selection box courtesy of Dollshouse Mania - just one of the many exciting Christmas parcels to come into our offices. Can't wait to bring you a sneaky peak of exactly what December's issue has in store. You'll love it!
Fabulous mini museum could be yours!
18 October 2012
We've just heard that a fabulous miniature museum and its incredible contents is being raffled to raise funds for a good cause. Buy a ticket before 31 March 2013 for a chance to win and help the American Red Cross at the same time. Visit www.minimuseumexhibitraffle.com
Dolls' house delight
16 October 2012
We share an office with Making Jewellery magazine and we're frequently showing off our respective wares. But for Katie Wood, MJ's Assistant Editor, seeing our lovely miniatures had re-kindled an interest in her childhood dolls' house. Dug out of the attic, there are imminent plans for its makeover! The house was bought at auction and is roughly 1:12 scale (the clock face on the front panel is a particularly lovely feature).
The Dolls' House magazine is no stranger to hand-made dolls' houses being transformed into elegant new homes so we can offer plenty of advice. Luckily Katie is undaunted by the task ahead, and I can't wait to see what she does with her dolls' house. Hope to keep you up to date here on the blog.
Looking at art
15 October 2012
During a few days away from The Dolls' House magazine office I took the opportunity to visit Tate Britian to see the Pre-Raphaelite, Victorian Avante-Garde exhibition (it's on until early January 2013). I'm a huge fan of the Pre-Raphaelite group of artists. Maybe some of you will have seen the TV drama series about them that was on a while ago? But if you, like me have a Victorian dolls' house, you can't have escaped the leading members of this artistic group; Millais, Rossetti, Holman Hunt.
The artwork was stunning - and I enjoyed ambling through the seven rooms of the exhibition space admiring all the paintings - the famous ones, such as Light of the World (a must for any mini Victorian schoolroom wall), as well as some I didn't know.
Although the majority of the exhibition was dedicated to paintings there were a few pieces of furniture, including William Morris' bed - a solid four-poster with beautiful embroidered panels (again, another idea for miniaturists). But my eye was drawn to a woven-seated Sussex chair - I have an exact 1:12 scale replica in my dolls' house!
First blog post
8 October 2012
I'd like to welcome you to my very first blog. As Editor of The Dolls' House magazine it is very exciting to have this wonderful website. It's been hard work here in the office getting material ready for the printed magazine as well as for the web, but luckily we're up and running! I can't promise you that there won't be a few teething problems, but we'll iron those out as soon as we can.
Over the weekend I decided to move my own dolls' house from standing on the floor to standing on a pine coffee table. I knew that this would make the basement kitchen and scullery much more accessible. It took quite a while emptying the rooms I must admit! I used a separate tray for each room's contents. With the rooms empty I gave each room a quick dust. Then it was heave-ho to get the dolls' house up and onto the table, before putting all my lovely miniatures back into position. I feel that my dolls' house is a real showcase now for my hobby (even if I now need a stool to reach its attic nursery!).