25 March 2013
What a busy three days I've just had.
On Friday I went to the Ideal Home Show at Earl's Court, London. It's a vast showcase for all manner of real-size home and garden improvements, combined with a market place for all manner of gadgets and products to try, and buy. I loved the Ideal Home Magazine room sets - and being a miniaturist, I was sizing them up (or should that be down?) for their dolls' house potential - watch this space! As an added bonus I was able to see The Jives Aces play a few lively numbers as they were there to entertain the crowds - sadly I didn't bring my dancing shoes so all I could do was toe-tap along.
Then on Saturday - it was setting a 5am alarm call to get to the 60th Miniatura at the NEC in Birmingham. The weather forecast had given everyone a real panic, and snow had already swamped the North and was invading the Midlands. But after numerous texts, and road and rail checks The Dolls' House magazine team set out - Anthony and Charlie with the stand, boxes of magazines and books, and photography equipment by car, and Karen and I by train. I'd like to say a huge thank you to Karen who had to miss her son's birthday party to be at the show with us.
The snow was falling before we'd even got to London. Once beyond the city, as the train sped through the countryside, it looked like a Christmas card out of the window with everywhere laden with snow. Very pretty to look at but not really what was wanted in mid March. Amazingly we all made it and had the stand up and running just in time for the show opening at 10am.
Visitor numbers were down by a third over the two-day show, but those who made it surely had the Dunkirk spirit. Many stand-holders did very well despite the weather. I think that miniaturists were rewarding themselves for having braved the sub-zero temperatures (and boy, it was bitterly cold!). Show organizer, Muriel Hopwood, told me how one lady from Wales, had telephoned to check that the show was running before getting her husband to remove two foot of snow from their driveway so that they could travel. That's dedication.
I was delighted to meet all of those who came by the stand. The feedback about our publication was so positive, with lots of lovely comments about our editorial and photographs. Good to meet so many subscribers too. One lady was particularly keen to say how much she enjoyed the current issue - such a good read - exactly as I had hoped it to be! And I was so pleased to see that cover star Josephine Parnell had the magazine on her stand, cleverly displayed with her rag doll family.
I was challenged by lots of queries over the weekend, the most common one being about period style, choosing the right fixtures and fittings, wallpapers and furniture. But I also tackled questions about children's dolls' houses, and vintage collections. Luckily I've got over 14 years experience of making miniatures myself as well as being an Editor! It was good to hear about your dolls' houses - and it was a joy to meet a family; grandmother, mother and son, who all had dolls' houses, and spoke as one with enthusiasm! Ah, but the miniatures on display ... surely as beautifully made as those at the first Miniatura back in September 1983!
It was great talking to the stand-holders and hearing about sales and commissions, plans for the future; the success of the multi-lingual publications from Dateman Books - who actually had their best Miniatura ever, Tim Hartnell of Anglia Dolls' Houses moving house and looking forward to a larger workshop, talking babies, boots and glitter with Amanda Campbell, seeing Glorious Twelfth's incredible Tudor-style dolls' house on display at the show (and it sold on Saturday too), Ralph Keemar's incredible 1930s shop with detailed living accommodation above. Everything that is great about this hobby of ours.
There were so many amazing dolls on display with those from Carol Bull of Bags of Character always raising a smile....as did seeing the little animals moulded out of foil by Peter Kelsall of Herdwick Landscapes in a quiet moment on Sunday as the visitors dwindled before snow threatened homeward their journeys. Whatever you wanted for your dolls' house, it was here, all that planning by the Hopwood family worth every penny - although the weather no doubt added some extra worry lines!
For Team Dolly it was a very long weekend, with that early morning start on Saturday and late home arrival on Sunday, but it was all done with a smile….and frozen feet!
Grab your Easter bargains
21 March 2013
Ready to show off
19 March 2013
I love it when dolls' houses and miniatures go on show, so it was good to hear from Eastbourne Dolls' House Club this morning. Club member Maggie Allcorn emailed me about their recent display at the Brighton Modelworld exhibition. She says of the experience,
The feel good factor
14 March 2013
Newcomers to the wonderful world of dolls' houses always comment on the friendliness of others. Whether they are joining the hobby for fun or setting up in business, it seems there's always someone keen to help.
I've heard of selfless souls lending a hand with wiring, offering tips about making minis and pointing out where to go to buy a particular item. Then there are the friendly craftsmen prepared to go that extra mile to make sure commissioned pieces are just what we dreamed of.
Head to a fair
The ideal place to find yourself among such friendly people is a dolls' house fair - where you'll often find much more going on than simply buying and selling. Take Lyndsey Fairs' event next month, for example, where visitors will be treated to an unusual display of architectural models by Richard Vickers, including a couple of the National Trust's Belton House at Grantham.
Like many fairs, this event will also have a charity stand. It will raise money for the chemotherapy ward at the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire. More than £1,200 has already been collected for this good cause through Lyndsey Fairs. If you have any dolls' house books, dolls' house items or unwanted gifts such as bottles and smellies, please take them along to the fair and give them to the girls in the foyer.
7 April, The Woodland Suite, The Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa, Lincs, LN10 6QG. 10.30am-4pm.
Note: always check with fair organisers before traveling to a fair as they can be subject to change.
13 March 2013
I've just been reading about a five-bedroom flat for sale in Knightsbridge, London. It is on the market for £68,000,000! That is a staggeringly large sum of money although the prestigious address of One Hyde Park is obviously going to command much more than anywhere in my street....hang it, the whole of my town!
Looking through the images of the flat's interior, granted it is chic, very much the penthouse and the only property at its address to occupy an entire floor, but apart from the enviable cinema lounge, the decor really wasn't my cup of tea.
Of course for a fraction of the asking price you could buy and kit out an incredible dolls' house. Maybe a replica of this London flat, and you'd still have money in the bank. Something to think about when you are pondering whether to buy that new dolls' house or not.
Just do it...it's a bargain!
Fairies...not just the bottom of my garden
11 March 2013
I spent an enjoyable saturday at a local craft fair, enchantingly called The Fairy Tale Fair.
You can read about it here:
I love seeing creativity on show, whether it is in miniature or in real size. I'd certainly love to see a craft fair made in miniature..it could be an extension of the popular shopping genre that we all enjoy. And it makes the perfect excuse if you like making lots of a similar types of item: bags, teddy bears, hats, aprons, jewellery.... what's stopping you? And as every craft fair has a tearoom there's a good reason to make lots of scrumptious fare there too. With bunting and balloons to complete the decoration it sounds like the perfect idea for a dolls' house club to work on. We'd love to see your photographs of just such an event.
Retiring in a onesie
6 March 2013
I emailed Jackie Lee, founder of The Dolls House Emporium this morning. It made me laugh when I got this reply...
Thank you but I have retired from The Dolls House Emporium and today I am buying a onesie.
Way to go Jackie!
Jackie Lee's 'mini me'
4 March 2013
I was delighted to discover that upon retiring, Jackie Lee, the founder of The Dolls' House Emporium, was given a suprising present by her staff....not just a floral bouquet, but a little version of herself. The unique doll was a special gift made by a local artisan. This has to be so much better than a mantlepiece clock surely? Jackie will be greatly missed by her staff but is bound to be kept in touch with events as her daughter Amy continues to lead the sales and marketing team.
Years ago I had a guided tour around The Dolls' House Emporium's HQ, and I met Jackie in person. She struck me as a very capable business woman who has built up a company with an excellent reputation. For many miniaturists it is their first introduction to the world of dolls' houses.
Now, if I ever get to retire (not for many years yet) ....I know what I'd like to receive. Colleagues, take note!