Who's for a slice of cake?
30 May 2013
July's issue of The Dolls' House magazine has just arrived back from the printers. We've really been looking forward to this issue because we all fell in love with one of its principal themes - cake!
The front cover was a close-run competition before our Publisher finally opted for the pastel-shade delightfully pretty shot of one of Kim Saulter's vintage kitchens. It is strikingly different from last month's atmospheric bedroom. But that's the beauty of miniatures - so many styles, so many looks, so many wonderful choices to be made. Our second option was using a photograph of one of Caroline MacFarlane-Watts' wonderful cakes...it looked fabulous too. But luckily she has given us one of these as a prize in our fabulous creative competition (we have three prizes in total).
We are running the Great Mini Bake Off, which is your opportunity to show us - and other miniaturists - how creative you can be when it comes to making a mini cake or teatime treat. The first prize is a shop kit from Barbara's Mouldings - plus every entry in the competion...so a prize as big as you bake it! Go on, you know that you want to join in the fun!
There are plenty of features in July's issue to inspire you, including a profile of Cakey Bakey Art find out more here, and fabulous chocolate shop, Choccywoccydoodah. I visited the shop's Brighton branch to see for myself the edible eddifices. Wow! That's all I can say, just wow!
And inside July's issue we've got some amazing projects; including this one by talented contributor Louise Bardwell. She transformed one of Streets Aheads' market stall kits into a fabulous vintage kitchen stall. We asked her to think 'Cath Kidson' and she did us proud! The items would be just as good in your dolls' house kitchen or regular dolls' house shop or mini cafe. But you worked that out for yourself didn't you?
And while you're sitting down with a cup of tea and slice of cake, do enjoy our next installment of letters from our ladies maids. I'm so enjoying their correspondence.
Love my job? Oh yes!
Pride and Prejudice returns!
28 May 2013
Just heard some news that has sent me twirling around in my office chair with excitement. I am a lifelong fan of both Jane Austen (I read all her novels at school and have reread them many times since plus devoured all the films and TV adaptations) and also P D James (I'm currently reading Death in Holy Orders, which is the 11th novel in the Adam Dalgliesh detective series). So I thought all my Christmases had come at once when James penned her follow-up to Pride and Prejudice, Death Comes To Pemberley, which takes place several years after the events in Austen's book.
Ultimately I confess to being just a little disappointed by James' murder mystery, even though many of the characters from Austen's novel pervade the pages of the newer book. But I shall not be deterred from viewing the TV adaptation of Death Comes To Pemberley. Word is that the BBC is putting together a three-part series to be shown towards the end of the year. Yippee!
The story takes place in Pemberley, six years after Darcy and his beloved Elizabeth tie the knot. The two are hosting a magnificent ball and have invited many friends and family members over, but when Elizabeth's sister Lydia shows up unannounced and uninvited, the jovial atmosphere turns into a much darker one as a murder story unfolds.
For me, there can be no other Mr Darcy since Colin Firth played the part. However, Matthew Rhys (The Americans) looks the part so I have high hopes that he will make a good match with Anna Maxwell Martin (Becoming Jane), who will play Elizabeth in the drama and Matthew Goode (Match Point), who will play the charming scoundrel Wickham.
From a miniatures point of view, I have always particularly enjoyed reporting on those dolls' houses with an Austen theme. I can only hope that the TV drama inspires more Regency style projects, perhaps with a thrilling murderous theme!
It's Tudor time
23 May 2013
Tonight I'll have to download BBC2's programme on Anne Boleyn as I'm out working backstage on an opera (La Traviata - wonderful!). But the programme, which starts at 9pm, sounds fascinating. The Radio Times website says the following....
On Friday May 19, 1536, Henry VIII's second wife Anne Boleyn became the first British queen to be executed, but the circumstances of her death remain shrouded in mystery and contradiction. Hilary Mantel, Philippa Gregory and David Starkey are among the leading authors and historians sifting through the evidence to try to determine why Henry had her killed.
Now you'd think it had all been said over and over, the whys and wherefores of Anne Boleyn's rise and fall. But it seems not, and I for one don't mind. I'm intrigued by the Tudor court and the power play between the key families, and their increasingly odd-ball ruler. Everyone had to keep their wits about them if they were to keep their heads. So I'll be very happy to hear the three big names discussing the royal ones just one more time!
Tree house fantasy
16 May 2013
Over the years many collectors have told me about the wonderful dolls' houses made for them when they were children. Decades may have passed but they remain nostalgic for the simple box houses created for them by their father or a kindly uncle. But none could have been as memorable as the hand carved models created for his daughters by former tree surgeon Rob Heard, who was featured in the Mail Online this week.
Rob, 47, from Somerset, creates the 'bough houses' from Leylandii, a tree that has no real use once felled. Each creation is a fantasy abode with towers, turrets and winding staircases. They remind me of the little fairy homes created from sticks, bark and leaves by the two little girls in the film FairyTale: A True Story, based loosely on the story of the Cottingley Fairies - although Rob's are on a far grander scale.
Mr Heard was reported as saying: "I started making the bough houses for my daughters to play with and they are very much for the kids. I love it when we have taken the sculptures to fairs and children rush up and start touching them. Their parents are always screaming for them not to touch them. But I want them to be art you can play with."
A wonderful sentiment and this story has certainly left me nostalgic for the Christmas present my parents made for me when I was seven - a four poster bed with pretty embroidery anglais bedding for my Caroline's Home dolls' house.
Click here to see Rob's bough houses: http://bit.ly/15PiUPS
15 May 2013
Apologies for missing out the diagrams for John Cutts' settle project from issue 182. You'll find all the instructions and diagrams necessary here;
Grand Designs Live
14 May 2013
Last Saturday I spent a tiring day visiting London. First up was
the Excel centre to see the Grand Designs Live Exhibition.
Arrived at 12 and left at 5. A mix of interesting and expensive products to improve your home.
Watched Kevin McCloud attempting some cooking at the Miele kitchen stand. Then on to the exhibition.
Packed with over 500 stands from garden and room designs kitchens to bathrooms kitchens and everything that goes with them.
I found just the one dolls' house by Qubis designs. A modernist functional house that doubles as a coffee table.
After avoiding all attempts to tempt me to buy all manner of interesting objects it was on to the Prospect of Whitby (an old Thames side pub) for a refreshing pint.
Onwards, walking along the Thames path to St Katherine's dock (next to Tower Bridge) a fascinating old dock now turned into arather up-market marina with plenty of shops and restaurants. A bite to eat at the Dicken's Inn and on to the last destination of the day.
Walking over the Millennium bridge from St Paul's, it started to rain, so a quick dash to Tate Modern.
A very tired walk along Bankside past The Globe and Southwark Cathedral to London Bridge station and home.
Kensington high treat
14 May 2013
The Kensington Dollshouse Festival in May is always a joy to visit. Charlotte and her team have got the event running like well-oiled clockwork. For the dolls' house team we welcomed Anna Evans to take our pictures at the event. We use the photographs to support forthcoming editorial features.
Anna was suggested by a friend of hers who works on one of our other magazine titles. Normally we'd take Anthony (busy with family activities) or Norman (see his blog to find out where he spent the day) to do the honours but neither in this case were available. With so many beautiful minatures to be seen we needed to find an alternative snapper. And I must say Anna was lovely to work with! Of course for Karen and I we know what's in store but for Anna it was a whole new experience. But it's always rewarding to see the show through a new pair of eyes. You can read Anna's report in our August issue.
Apart from stopping for lunch at one of the many places available on Kensington High Street, it was a full-on day with barely a sit down until the train ride home! Luckily the miniatures kept me occupied and time just flew by. And of course the stallholders are all so nice and it's a joy to catch up with them and have a chat. Miniaturists really are among the friendliest of people aren't they?
But do I ever remember to buy something for my own dolls' house? No! But, between you and me, I am thinking about re-inventing my dolls' house and the plans for that are really quite exciting..of course, I'll keep you posted, if I actually find the time to implement the miriad of ideas buzzing though my head. And the inspiration for my plans....well, The Dolls' House magazine itself! Apart from being the Editor I am as inspired by the publication as any other reader.
Meanwhile, I hope that you managed to see BBC2's programme on the recreation of the Pride & Prejudice ball. I thought it very well done - and loved the section on food...so many different dishes, and those ice creams and jellies! But did you catch that glimpse of the doll's house at the dance school? It looked like a beauty lurking under the staircase. Now, I'd like to know more about that please.
A murder mystery
7 May 2013
My sister works at Preston Manor in Brighton; an Edwardian townhouse on the outskirts of the city. Indeed years ago, I worked there myself as part of their 'role-play' team, where I would dress up as the head housemaid for visiting school groups to learn about the duties of Victorian / Edwardian servants. It was an interesting experience. I still enjoy hearing about what events are being planned, so their latest venture caught my eye.
Earlier this year, the Royal Pavilion & Museums (who run Preston Manor) invited eleven young writers from Brighton & Hove's Little Green Pig creative writing group to the Manor. The writers, all aged between 12 and 16, created a fictional murder mystery, inspired by the house and its contents.
The story is told through a website in which the player must investigate the events leading to the death of the victim, Elizabeth Frankson-Yew. The website, created by Brighton based developer Say Digital, provides 360-degree panoramic views of eight rooms in the manor, and clues in the form of short stories hidden in key objects on display.
Murder in the Manor puts visitors directly into the crime scene as they explore the sinister rooms of Preston Manor. Visitors will investigate the possible motives of suspects, including some quirky guests and eccentric inhabitants as they unlock the secrets of the Edwardian Manor House. If they follow the hidden clues and solve the mystery, their prize is £1 off admission to Preston Manor in the real world.
Murder in the Manor is an Arts Council funded project supported by the Renaissance in the Regions programme. It aims to open up the house to younger audiences by presenting it as not merely an historic house, but as a place of creative play and inspiration.
The website can be found here at www.murderinthemanor.org.uk
I've taken a quick peek this morning but am yet to solve the mystery myself. I must say that the visuals are beautiful, and it's good inspiration for anyone looking for some room ideas for their dolls' house...even if you're not planning on a murder!
Lovely little pins
2 May 2013
In the old days when I came across a picture that I liked in a magazine, I'd tear it out and keep it in a ring binder file. This became a style guide whenever i was decorating a room - real size or small. And I'm sure I'm not the only person to have done that! Today Pinterest is the digital equivalent, and it can become highly addictive!
Working on The Dolls' House magazine Pinterest is a useful tool as it enables all of us in the editorial team to contribute to mood boards for the issues that we are working on. We can build up a portfolio of images to help galvanise any particular theme.
When the issues are finally published the boards are made public to provide an added source of inspiration for the readers. The latest board is all about shopping for ladies wear and compliments our June issue - on sale today (complete with extra 16-page suplement).
Of course working with digital Pinterest means that I am now longer surrounded by cuttings and files that all need house room, but I still have access to lots of pictures. And lovely they are...you will lose count of the number of times that you say 'I love that' or 'I want that'!
Looking at the pictures, and being side-tracked by alternative avenues of research, just makes me want to create, re-style, repaint and design...and I will get around to it, once I've finished pinning!
Make a cup of tea, and log onto our Pinterest boards here http://pinterest.com/dollshousemag